The Blog (archived)

Category: Collecting

Hanging Onto Things Which Might Be Useful

Monday, January 12, 2009

Some people can easily throw things away. Others, like me, like to hang on to things which might come in handy one day - even if that day is a very long way down the track. I’ve just enjoyed one such example of delayed usefulness which justifies hanging onto things … for a long time!

Most years letterboxes in my area are graced with a few small promotional calendars given away by politicians or real estate agents. They are envelope-sized cards which have small magnetic strips on the back, for sticking on the fridge. I throw away most of the calendars, but not before peeling the magnetic strips off the back and saving them - because they might come in handy one day.

Fifteen years after I started collecting these little magnets, I’ve finally found a use for them.

Fridge-magnet bean stock indicatorAs shown in the photo, they help me to keep track of what types of green coffee beans I have in my cupboard, and roughly how much of each type I have left. Printed labels for each coffee are stuck to the magnetic strips, and positioned to indicate roughly how much is left in each bag. It’s much easier than sorting through a growing mountain of cotton bags piled on top of each other to see what’s there.

When I began collecting them I had no idea what the little magnets might be used for - just a conviction that their potential to be useful justified keeping them. Their usefulness may have taken many years to eventuate, but that’s no obstacle to a true collector. It just proves what I always suspected: as long as storage space isn’t an issue, nothing potentially useful should be thrown away in case it might be useful one day.

Even if that one day is a long time coming!


On The Collectors TV Show

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My drought of media appearances has been broken, with the inclusion of a segment about my collection of navel lint on the ABC (Australia) TV show Collectors last Friday.

A frame from my Collectors show segmentNow why would a shy and private person like me want to be on TV? That’s what I ask myself whenever a media request turns up. I don’t do radio interviews, and have been selective about newspapers and magazines. Being on TV isn’t something I desire or need, but while I’ve declined some requests, I’ve made exceptions for others.

My appearances on the Tonight Show and Enough Rope With Andrew Denton both involved free trips (to Los Angeles and Sydney, respectively) - a compelling lure to someone who loves travel. The Collectors show was different, as a Perth crew came to my home for filming.

In this case the appeal was contributing to a show I feel enthusiasm for. They showcase a huge range of collections - from traditional antiques to the strange and quirky, from serious to light hearted. While not everything they feature interests me, I love the diversity of it all. The show goes beyond the stereotypical antiques collector, and documents not just the things collected but the tremendously different people who collect them.

Collectors who could be described as eccentric appear on the show, and they are treated with dignity and respect. Some collections generate a laugh, but the humour is not at the collectors’ expense. This was an important consideration for me, as my lint collection is not exactly conventional.

Another frame from my Collectors show segmentMy segment was filmed in the comfort of my home, with just three people present - producer, camera man and sound man. Plus me of course. With no audience, and the ability to re-take scenes I messed up, it wasn’t nearly as intimidating as the Tonight Show!

The producer, David De Vos, directed the shoot with creativity, kindness, and understanding of the fears that non-celebrities have. The film crew were very patient and professional, putting me as much at ease as I’ll ever be in front of a camera (I prefer to be behind one). Considering the limitations of what they had to work with - me, and three jars of lint - I think they and the editors did a great job.

With this latest contribution to Australia’s cultural heritage behind me (sounds more impressive than showing my belly on TV), I can continue my life as an anonymous normal person. Or at least as normal as I want to be!


Do Dummies Get Navel Lint?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

book-dummylint.gifIntroducing the latest book in the popular Dummies series - “Lint Collecting For Dummies: How to pluck a Guinness world record out of your navel”.

Could this be my own instructional book describing how to achieve recognition for a navel lint collection, like I did?

No, it’s just a joke. The book cover shown is a fake one, produced at the Dummies Book Cover Maker website. Here, anyone can type in a name and subtitle, select a few options, and be presented with a realistic looking book cover based on what you type in.

If you ever wanted to see what “Genetic Modification for Dummies” might look like, or any other title, now you know where to go.


Birthday of Lint Collection

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Today marks the 23rd anniversary of that fateful day in 1984 when I began collecting the lint from my navel each day. I’m still collecting it, and still hold the record for the world’s largest collection.

Belly button fuzz jarThe main collection is sealed and stored in a safe place, with my daily harvesting being added to a separate small container. In recognition of my collection’s birthday I have transferred the past year’s lint from the small container to the main collection, together with the lint from the tiny container I carry while travelling. An updated photo of the collection is now on the Navel Fluff page.

This small container I add to each day (pictured) is noteworthy. Just when I thought everything that could be made from clay had been made, this turns up! It was very kindly sent to me by Brenda Beasley of South Carolina, who is herself a collector (of statues of liberty and related paraphernalia; see her website). It’s perfect for storing tiny balls of lint - I wonder if its makers ever imagined it would be used in gathering the world’s largest navel lint collection.


Lint Collection While Travelling

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Anyone familiar with my daily habit of collecting my navel lint may be wondering if this habit continues when I’m travelling, and away from my collection.

On reflection, I don’t suppose anyone has thought about it, but I’ll provide some reassurance anyway. I have a very tiny plastic container, the width of a little finger, which I keep in my toiletries bag. When away from home - even if camping - I routinely store my navel’s lint in this container, then transfer it to the main collection when I get home. This ensures the collection remains complete, which can only enhance its value. So now you know!