Lisa Katayama's Urawaza: Secret Everyday Tips and Tricks from Japan is a perfectly charming, utterly 21st century household hints book that is sure to surprise you at least five times, in a most delightfully useful way.
The household ingenuity captured herein really caught fire in the post-war period, when Occupied Japan's poor economy made a virtue out of frugal and clever homebrew products. The name Urawaza comes from gamer slang, referring to the programmers' back-doors that let players gain points, levels and advantage by doing something unexpected, and it's the perfect appellation for the surprisingly satisfying knowledge that you can keep your cut flowers longer by dropping a copper penny in the water, carry a heavy box more readily if you stack it atop a lighter one, and so on.
Each of these Urawazas comes with a technical explanation of why it is believed to work, and the book itself is framed as a kind of commentary on the dying away of ingenuity in our era of cheap, specialized products. The writing is great, and Joel Holland's infographic-style illos are the perfect complement to the text.
I've had a fabulous weekend at Chicago's C2E2 festival as part of my Radicalized book-tour, and now I'm heading to San Francisco for an appearance on Monday night at Berkeley Arts & Letters at 7:30PM with Richard Kadrey. Then it's on to The Revolutionary Reads series at Ft Vancouver (outside of Portland, OR), and then […]
This morning, CBC's flagship weekend programme Day Six aired its latest episode (MP3), a conversation between host Brent Bambury, me, and Tim Maughan, the author of an outstanding debut novel called Infinite Detail. (Image: Jason Vermes/CBC)
If you’re into tech at all, you should definitely consider unleashing your inner tinkerer on a Raspberry Pi board. If you’re intimidated, don’t be. It’s a statistical probability that people half your age have created cooler things than you can imagine with the versatile kit. Not sure where to start? The Complete Raspberry Pi 3B+ […]
Are you super organized? You’re going to love the Genius Pack G4 and its seemingly limitless, well-placed compartments. Not that organized? You’re still going to love this piece of luggage because it’s so well thought out that it practically does the packing for you. We’ve all tried to stuff a piece of carry-on so full […]
Despite government legislation and improving caller ID technology, robocalls and scam artists are rampant on the phone lines – up to 35 billion a year in the US alone. They can be annoying at best and a financial threat at worst, but there’s a way to take security into your own hands. One good example […]