Monday, September 16, 2019

KSC - a review of Florida's high-tech tourist trap

Bas relief of the original 8 astronauts of the Mercury program
(click image to enlarge)
I visited the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) at Cape Canaveral last week. It has been over 20 years since I last visited the Center, and the changes were significant. As is the way of things ion the Sunshine State, bits and pieces of old Florida are eventually replaced with a newer more Disneyfied versions. the Center has not escaped that evolution.

The Center used to have a field where various rockets -- from the Redstone to the Saturn -- were displayed, a large building holding capsules and other space hardware and two tours. One tour was of the old Mercury and Gemini facilities (the Mercury pad was particularly striking with the blockhouse very near the launch pad and stuffed full of tube powered analog computers and, as its center piece, the large red button you pushed to launch the rocket). The other tour was of the Apollo facilities and featured launch control, the VAB and the Shuttle landing strip.

Upon entering the Center on this trip the first thing I noticed was the change to the rocket field, now called the rocket garden. It now had large buildings along its perimeter and pathways, some elevated, wound between the rockets. The effect was to obscure both their actual size and their size relative to the other rockets. It was difficult to compare them to each other.

The Saturn rocket has been moved and is now housed inside a very large building. Again, its size is somewhat obscured by not being as easily visible as well as now being contained in a larger structure. On the plus side the Shuttle Atlantis was now also being displayed. It was hung at an angle in a large building with its cargo bay doors open and, with two levels of walkways, you could get a very good look at it.

The museum that had the capsules and hardware was no more. I assume some of the stuff got scattered, but I never saw the Mercury, Gemini or Soyuz capsules, not the Skylab mockup. In place of the museum were a number of 3D and Imax movies. I didn't watch any.

I think the old Mercury and Gemini pads got disassembled -- it is a shame they didn't at least move the Mercury blockhouse. Launch complex 34, where the Apollo Moon missions took off from has been leased by SpaceX. They've constructed their own launch tower.

The Center used to be the best tourists trap in Florida and I think it still ranks up there as one of the best to visit. It's a shame some of the history seems to have been lost or minimized, but I suspect it is a better stop for families these days. Regardless, if you're in Florida be sure to schedule a visit.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Space Oddity

Get ready for a celestial weekend with Mathias Skaarup, Mads Kronborg, 
Martin Havn and Kristian Bæk Michelsen.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Never Forget

My father, Norberto, was a pastry chef at ­Windows on the World in Tower One. For 10 years, he made many fancy and famous ­desserts, but the sweetest dessert he made was the marble cake he made for us at home. … Whenever we parted, Poppi would say, ‘Te amo. Vaya con Dios.’ And this morning, I want to say the same thing to you, Poppi. I love you. Go with God. – Catherine Hernandez

Monday, September 09, 2019

Gone fishing

I'm going to be gone for a few days. Meanwhile, entertain yourself with this short video of some Russian grenade-assisted fishing. What could possible go wrong?

Saturday, September 07, 2019

The war and peace of impossible ambitions

A happy ape (click to enlarge)
To some people, the impossible is impossible. One fine day, they wake up in the morning knowing that they will never hold the moon in their hands, and with the certainty, perfect peace descends on them. - Elizabeth Bibesco

Friday, September 06, 2019

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Tokyo nostalgia

In 1966 a German film crew loosely recorded a day in the life of a Japanese family. There is no narration. There are scenes of them dining, various factory, market and shopping district scenes. In the street scenes it is surprising how many people are dressed in the old style. You don't see that much anymore, instead these days you see kids in the weird anime inspired costumes and what-not.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

War Bonds

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These are newspaper ads for WWII War Bonds. Financing the war involved printing money. The bonds, which actually had a poor rate of return, were used to remove excess cash from the economy to control inflation. As you can see in these examples patriotism, the sacrifice of the soldiers, and the separation from husbands/boyfriends/sons (or the girl back home) were the themes of the ads.

These examples, and those after the jump, are from Duke University's Digital Repository. There are more at the link.

Monday, September 02, 2019

On the assembly line

Hopefully you have the day off from your worker bee job. Regardless, have a good Labor Day.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

An Illustrated Guide to the Apocalypse from 1047

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In the 8th Century Beatus, a Spanish monk, created an illustrated book of the Apocalypse as described in Revelations. In the ensuing years his work was widely copied. These pictures are from one such copy: the 11th Century manuscript The Beatus de Facundus.

I found them at Flashbak's post Beatus of Facundus : A Vivid Illustrated Guide to the Apocalypse (1047). They are only a small sample, Flashbak has many more (which are also larger), as well as further explanation about them.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Hornussen - a popular Swiss sport

Hornussen is an old and popular Swiss sport. It has been described as a cross between baseball and golf, although that doesn't really capture its play and rules well.

A puck, called the hornuss, is mounted on a rail and driven down field by a player swings a rather odd, long and flexible bat. In the field are players of the opposing team who wield giant rackets to try to knock the hornuss down. If they successfully knock it down the offense scores no points, otherwise one point is awarded if the hornuss travels at least 100 meters, and additional points are awarded for each 10 meters that it travels beyond that.

Teams alternate at bats. Games are said to be leisurely, and skill rather than physical strength is important so a wide range of players can, and do, participate. The below video has an English narration that explains the sport further.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Look at the bright side

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As we all know, it is not a picnic to have to enter the Witness Protection program because you witnessed Guido getting greased in a pizza parlor, That said, its not all doom and gloom either.

Yes, having too change your identity and go into hiding from Mafia hitmen is a strain, but it has its bright sides as well, so cheer up.  Starting a new job, exploring a new neighborhoods and making new friends are just a few of the under appreciated perks of the Witness Protection program.

[Insert cliché about making lemonade from lemons here]. Also, good luck with your new life.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Walking in Suzhou

Today's video is a walk in Suzhou, a city in southeast China. It is rather long, but nicely filmed. It starts out in the backstreets and eventually works its way to a more prosperous district along a scenic river/canal. It is a pleasant looking place, especially along the canal.

The camera work in the video is well done. He frequently pans left or right to look at alleys, side streets, shops and cafes. He'll also stop at intersections and rotate 360 degrees to give you a sense of place.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Playing games

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This is a small series of artwork and photographs of people playing games. They are from the Smithsonian Institutions online archive where there are more examples. If you have the inclination, tear yourself away from a game of computer solitaire and check out the archive.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Deep thoughts or small talk?

Milton visiting Galileo (click to enlarge)
Almost every time we get together with family or friends, the conversation ends up being about food. - Steve Chen 

Monday, August 19, 2019

A minor Cold War drama

Mathias Rust landing at Red Square in 1987 (click to enlarge)
In the spring of 1987, in a rather odd stunt to promote world peace, a young German named Mathias Rust flew a circuitous route from Hamburg to Moscow via Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. When he arrived in Moscow he landed near Red Square. From the Rare Historical Pictures post Mathias Rust, the teenager who flew illegally to Red Square, 1987 (which has more details of Rust's flight):
Around 7:00 p.m. Rust appeared above downtown Moscow. He had initially intended to land in the Kremlin, but changed his mind: he reasoned that landing inside, hidden by the Kremlin walls, would have allowed the KGB to simply arrest him and deny the incident. Therefore, he changed his landing spot to Red Square. Heavy pedestrian traffic did not allow him to land there either, so after circling about the square one more time, he was able to land on a bridge by St. Basil’s Cathedral. After taxiing past the cathedral he stopped about 100 metres (330 ft) from the square, where he was greeted by curious passersby and was asked for autographs. When asked where he was from, he replied “Germany” making the bystanders think he was from East Germany; but when he said West Germany, they were surprised.

Rust was arrested two hours later. He was charged with several violations, the most serious being that he had illegally entered Soviet airspace. Rust argued that he was merely trying to promote world peace. He carried with him copies of a plan he had developed for a worldwide democracy, which he referred to as “Iagonia”. Rust’s trial began in Moscow on 2 September 1987. He was sentenced to four years in a general-regime labor camp for hooliganism, for disregard of aviation laws, and for breaching the Soviet border.
Rust was released early and went on to live an eccentric life. In 1989 he fell in love with a West German nurse, only to land in jail again when he stabbed her when she rejected his advances. He was released after 15 months, converted to Hinduism and was engaged to the daughter of an Indian tea merchant. He got in trouble with the law again in 2001 and 2005. Currently he claims he is an advisor for an Swiss investment bank and is still a peace activist of sorts.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

An old shingle mill in action

Prior to asphalt and other modern materials, wood shingles were widely used on roofs. The above video show an old shingle mill in action as it cuts the old-timey wedge shaped wooden shingles from a log.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Rosie the Riveter, WWI style

Click any image to nelarge
WWII leading to a lot of women in the workforce, personified by Rosie the Riveter, is well known. Less well known is that in WWI a lot of women were also employed in industries. These pictures, and those after the jump, show some of those women on the job.

They are taken from The Public Domain Review's article Women at Work during World War I where there are more.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Showing off

Finnish cavalry stunt from the 1930s
(click to enlarge, from Hippodrome Almaty)
If there hadn't been women we'd still be squatting in a cave eating raw meat, because we made civilization in order to impress our girlfriends. - Orson Welles

Monday, August 12, 2019

Restoring a broken 1880 Martini-Henry target pistol

The above video is from Andre Will Do It, a YouTuber who shows the steps he takes to restore old guns and equipment. There are more of his videos at the link.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Wilson House, a mid-20th Century time capsule

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In 1959 Ralph Wilson, owner of Wilsonart a laminate company, designed and built his home. It was his residence as well as a test-bed and model home for his company's products. I imagine modern hipsters drool over it since it is a well preserved example of 1960's interior design. It is quite striking and stylish.

From the Wilsonart webpage:
The Ralph Sr. and Sunny Wilson House represents a hybrid of ranch and modern-style home architecture. The open interiors and U-shaped plan reflect the influence of the California Case Study House - a series of architectural experiments from the early 1940s and 1950s that were offered as better solutions for residential living.

The interiors of the Wilson House feature extensive use of decorative laminates in innovative applications, most of which had never before been seen in the home. The kitchen countertops reveal some of the earliest work in post-forming, a process where laminate is bent and wrapped to form continuous curves from the top to the side edge of the counter. Other applications include laminate clad built-in cabinetry in the kitchen, laundry, and bathrooms—even in the shower! The house also boasts some of the earliest undermount sinks in laminate tops – considered an innovation even today. While these types of installations are commonplace now, they were virtually unheard of in the late 1950s.

The Wilson House was featured in Ralph Wilson Plastics Company advertisements, as well as in the editorial pages of the nation's top trade magazines. It represented an ideal of design for affordable and fashionable residential housing and had a profound influence on future uses of laminate. Today, the house stands as one of the best residential examples of the mid-century modern style in the state of Texas.
There are more images after the jump, as well as more information and pictures at: Wilsonart's The Wilson House,  Mid-centuria's The Wilson House: A Laminate Laboratory and Roadside Wonders' The Wilson Laminate House.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

A sculptor draws doctors operating

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Barbara Hepworth was a 20th Century English sculptor. Her statues were similar in style to Henry Moore (she was a fellow student with him in her formative years). In 1947 her daughter fell ill and Hepworth ended creating a series of drawings of surgeons at work in the operating theater. Hepworth's comments from Tate's Sculpture and the scalpel:
“In about the middle of 1947, a suggestion was made to me that I might watch an operation in a hospital. I expected that I should dislike it; but from the moment when I entered the operating theatre I became completely absorbed by two things: first, the extraordinary beauty of purpose and co-ordination between human beings all dedicated to the saving of life, and the way that unity of idea and purpose dictated a perfection of concentration, movement, and gesture, and secondly by the way this special grace (grace of mind and body) induced a spontaneous space composition, an articulated and animated kind of abstract sculpture very close to what I had been seeking in my own work.  
From the very first moment I was entirely enthralled by the classic beauty of what I saw there; classic in the sense that architecture and function were perfectly blended and purity of idea and grace of execution were in complete harmony.”
Considering how abstract her sculptures are, it is interesting to see her drawings. It is striking how detailed her faces and hands are, while the rest of the image is barely sketched.

HT: Flashbak.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Illustrations of every day Japan by Masashi Shimakawa

click any image to enlarge
These pictures, and those after the jump, are by the Japanese artist Masashi Shimakawa. He illustrates scenes of everyday life. His use of color, shadow and light is excellent. I particularly like his night scenes.

You can find more of his work at his website and his Instagram account.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Thursday, August 01, 2019

The illusion of endless cycles

Toilet paper roll, patent: US465588 (click to nelarge)

She’s a manner of speaking. Even the flowers don’t come back, or the green leaves. There are new flowers, new green leaves. There are other beautiful days. Nothing comes back, nothing repeats itself, because everything is real. - Alberto Caeiro

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Martin Mars Water Bomber startup and taxi

It used to be used to fight fires in Canada, but it is now retired. It is the World's largest flying boat.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Photographs of old photographers

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Not exactly self-portraits, but close enough. These pictures, and those after the jump, are a series of photographs of old-timey photographers, some posed and some of them candid. They are from La boite verte's post Des photographes à l’ancienne. There are many more examples at the link.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

A small market in rural Laos

Usually the walking videos I post are in cities, this one is a tour of a small market in rural Laos. It occupies a short stretch of a dirt road and is very basic, but it does seem well stocked with food, as well as having some clothes and other commonly needed items. I suspect a lot of the women buy the food for their meals on a daily basis at a market like this.

Monday, July 22, 2019

NASA's space tourism posters

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The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has posted Visions of the Future, which contains a number of hypothetical posters for space tourism. To those of us of a certain age it is just a reminder of the sorry follow-up to Apollo. Ah, what might have been.

Anyway, this is their blurb for the posters:
Imagination is our window into the future. At NASA/JPL we strive to be bold in advancing the edge of possibility so that someday, with the help of new generations of innovators and explorers, these visions of the future can become a reality. As you look through these images of imaginative travel destinations, remember that you can be an architect of the future.
There are more posters after the jump, and a few more. as well as more information and larger size downloads, at the JPL link.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Homemade wheat beer and crayfish

The above video is from Li ZiQi, an extremely popular Chinese 'Oriental Lifestyle Foodie', making wheat beer and eventually cooking a meal of crayfish and enjoying the beer. Her videos are very beautifully filmed and well edited.

She has a carefully curated image as a young Chinese girl living a simple rural life and demonstrating traditional cooking and crafts. From her About page on her online store:
[Li ZiQi is] a girl who lives in the mountains and forests in the village of northwestern Pingwu, Mianyang City, Sichuan Province, China.

Li Ziqi didn't own happy childhood. When she was a child, her parents got divorced and her father died early. She started living with her grandparents. Their life was poor but affordable. Li Ziqi's grandfather was a cook in the village. When there was a ceremony going on, such as a wedding or a funeral, her grandfather would be in charge.

In her videos, she shows how to cook various dishes, which she had learned from her grandfather. Besides cooking, she also learned how to make bamboo baskets, grow vegetables, and make carpenter handiworks.


Li Ziqi's works convey a positive attitude toward life. Ziqi's videos can help people fulfill the "dreams of the countryside."

These are the dreams of many people at home and abroad, especially Chinese people. Many people show great interest in Li Ziqi clothing. In front of the camera, she always appears in a set of Chinese Han clothing which is made in rough fabric.

Also, her videos help more people learn and understand Chinese traditions and culture. The spirit of struggling for independence and self-reliance conveyed by her life experience has attracted great attention at home and abroad.
Additional information, including biographical information and a brief interview of Li ZiQi, can be found at Li ZiQi - A Modern Chinese Fairy.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Colorized pictures from a 1903 Russian costume ball

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In 1903 Tsar Nicholas II, to celebrate the 290 anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, hosted a costume dress ball in the Winter place in St Petersburg. These pictures from that ball were colorized by Olga Shirnina and they certainly are beautiful. Of course the ball occurred in the sunset of an Age, in 15 years it would be swept away.

These pictures, and those after the jump, are from the vintage News post Dazzling Color Photos of the Legendary Romanov Costume Ball of 1903 which has more of the colorized photos, as well as a number of black and white ones. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

"What did you do at work today?" "I pulled over a submarine."

Above is a video of the Coast Guard cutter Munro boarding and seizing a semi-submersible drug carrying submarine in the Pacific. I originally saw the video at Borderland Beat.

The title of the post is from plixplop in the comments to the video.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Hornsby Chain Track Tractor and new links

Click to enlarge
This is a post that adds a couple of new links to Flares. When looking for a graphic to illustrate it I searched on 'chain links' (I guess if nothing else I'm hopelessly cliché). Anyway, I found the above image of a fellow riding his Hornsby Chain Track Tractor.  If you're interested, The Old Motor has a post with information about them -- The 1908 Hornsby Chain Track Tractor.

As for the new links, under 'Recommended' in the far right column I've added:
  • The Volokh Conspiracy is a go to site for me, a non-lawyer, when it comes to current legal matters. The discussion in their comments sections are particularly enlightening as multiple views and opinions are hashed out in them. 
  • Victory Girls is a blog I frequently followed links to, so I added it to Flares' link list so I didn't have to rely on stumbling across a link to find my way there.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Say Something

Get ready to throw in the towel this weekend with A Great Big World featuring Veronica Ballestrini.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Preparing to restore a Rembrandt

Viewing Rembrandt's The Night Watch
(click image to enlarge)
The Rijksmuseum has started Operation Night Watch, a project  to evaluate and eventually restore Rembrandt's painting The Night Watch. Rather than remove the painting to a lab for the process, a glass enclosure has been built around the painting and the process will the viewable by the public. The Operation Night Watch website also has numerous videos detailing the work.

From their press release:
On 8 July 2019 the Rijksmuseum starts Operation Night Watch. It will be the biggest and most wide-ranging research and conservation project in the history of Rembrandt’s masterpiece. The goal of Operation Night Watch is the long-term preservation of the painting. The entire operation will take place in a specially designed glass chamber so the visiting public can watch.

Never before has such a wide-ranging and thorough investigation been made of the condition of The Night Watch. The latest and most advanced research techniques will be used, ranging from digital imaging and scientific and technical research, to computer science and artificial intelligence. The research will lead to a better understanding of the painting’s original appearance and current state, and provide insight into the many changes that The Night Watch has undergone over the course of the last four centuries. The outcome of the research will be a treatment plan that will form the basis for the restoration of the painting.

Monday, July 08, 2019

1939 in Sheridan County, Kansas

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These pictures are from the site Photogrammar which is an archive of photos taken between 1935 to 1945 by the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information.

The site has an interactive map. I randomly clicked on a box inside of the map and got pictures from 1939 which were taken in Sheridan County, Kansas. It looks like it was a hardscrabble life, but I've read that, during the Great Depression things were generally better on farms than in the city, so maybe they considered themselves lucky.

Enjoy these pictures, and those after the jump. Of course there are many, many more at the link.