Sunday, January 29, 2023

Riding a jet powered scooter

A fellow at Warped Perceptions builds and tests a jet powered scooter. It seems dangerous to me, but who am I to question another man's ambitions. At his YouTube channel you can see a lot of other crazy projects he's embarked on. 


Wednesday, January 25, 2023

A helicopter ride in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan

A helicopter was transporting some British, German, Polish and Japanese tourists to a camp at the base of a glacier in the mountains of Kyryzstan. It crashed when it attempted to land. The ground at the landing site gave way. The pilot attempted to recover, but the copter ended up rolling down a hill. Above is video from inside of the helicopter by one of the passengers. Below is a picture of the helicopter after the crash.

All things considered, it is amazing how quiet the passengers are during the crash. Surprisingly there is no screaming -- if I had been aboard my Navy training would surely have clicked in and a stream of hysterical cusswords would have spewed out of my mouth. Nobody was killed, but there were some serious injuries.

From a Daily Mail article David, the person who shot the video, describes the crash:

The weather on that day was almost perfect for a flight. There was barely any wind and the skies were clear. We took off around 8:30 in the morning. The flight time was estimated to be around 45 minutes. We climbed to about 4500 meters in altitude, which is close to the maximum altitude this helicopter can manage.

The glacier base camp was at 4010m. At about 9:05am, I started to record the video which would eventually capture the crash. The descent to the base camp was very calm and we barely felt any turbulence.

The helicopter slowly lowered over the landing platform, which was really just a smoothened-out part of a gravel hill, about 100m from the main camp and was marked with two spray painted oil barrels. When we finally touched down, the wheel on the right side seemed to slide away, perhaps because of a hole underneath or a rock getting lose.

As a reaction to this, the pilot started to accelerate again and pitched the helicopter to the left rather rapidly. At this point he had already lost control of the machine.

We were probably too heavily loaded and too high in altitude for a sudden go-around manoeuvre. While trying to gain altitude again and turn the aircraft around, we violently hit the ground with the wheels and bounced off again. 

After that it seemed for a moment like the pilot was regaining control again as he was trying to fly a curve back towards the lower parts of the valley. At that time, we were already too low and flying directly towards a steep wall of ice and gravel. We collided with the wall head-on and the force of the impact threw everyone and everything to the front of the cabin.

The wreckage rolled down sideways until it came to a stop at the bottom, right next to a small glacier lake. All of the passengers and their luggage, including us, lay piled up in the front of the cabin.

I was buried under several large backpacks and the Japanese tour guide who was lying on top of my legs, making it impossible for me to move. The panic set in when I felt the stinging of kerosene around my feet as my shoes were being drenched in it and the fear of being burnt alive at any second made me struggle even harder.

Eventually, I managed to push myself out and scramble towards the back of the cabin. Luckily for us, there was a large hole torn into the side by the impact, through which we could escape. Help was already on the way and people from the base camp came running over to offer their help. They barely had any medical equipment though, so they had to transport the badly injured on wooden boards or pallets. 

Click image to enlarge

Sunday, January 22, 2023

The gift of reading your mind

Click image to enlarge

I Don't Need Any Approval - Satish Verma

No, no― I will not
keep any hope.

First thing will be
a breakdown. To cleanse myself.
Then― burn the cenotaph
of black bridge.

The fringe vocabulary
repeats the axe's argument.
You can kill a star without
dust and slogans.

You were thirsty. Don't
drink large tears of
sky. No sun, no moon was
worthy of witnessing a
fall of pride.

The evil thoughts. Do
they come on their own? You
did not try to invite them?

I will not purchase the gift
of reading your mind.


Friday, January 20, 2023

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Sword and sandals

Click any image to enlage

In the mid 20th Century Hollywood was producing successful movies such as Spartacus and Ben-Hur. In the 1950s and 60s the Italian film industry responded by producing their own historical/mythical themed movies. These films are known as sword and sandal films. They were low budget, focusing not on lavish sets, but rather featuring muscular men (most of the leads were body builders). In addition, they showcased buxom young ladies, both as heroines in need of saving and Eeeeevil vixens up to no good. They also featured sword fighting, manly grunting and dancing girls galore. 

Back in the day, when there were only broadcast channels on TV, they would be shown on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. They were a chore to watch. The plots were ludicrous, the special effects were cheesy, and the acting was bad. The inept acting was made worse by the awful dubbing they did for English speaking audiences. 

These images, and those after the jump, are posters for some of these films. They are from 100 Years of Movie Posters post Italian Epics. There are more examples at that link.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Walking in Mombasa

Mombasa is a Kenyan port city on the Indian Ocean that is centuries old. I believe this walk is through the old city area. The streets are narrow and winding, and most appear to carry one-way traffic. It must be a nightmare to get from point A to B if you're not familiar with it. While the buildings are showing their age, many are nicely painted and have very interesting architecture and decorative flourishes. It looks like an interesting place.


Monday, January 09, 2023


Click any image to enlarge

Khrushchyovka are Soviet era apartment blocks. They were designed to be cheaply and quickly built and intended to give every Soviet citizen a home. They were constructed very shoddily. The apartments were small and had low ceilings with poor wiring and plumbing. They were up to five stories tall and had no elevators. They are ubiquitous, and falling apart, across the area of the old Soviet Union. 

I was amused by the East German toy above. It was their version of a sort of Lego blocks, but from the looks of it all you could do with it was to stack square apartments to make Khrushchyovkas. That seems about right.  

Immediately below is what I assume was marketing for the new housing. Following that are some pictures of the interiors of the apartments. They were small and cramped.


Saturday, January 07, 2023

Darkness from light

Shot at Dawn
The Survivor by Chris Abani

I am twenty-four
led to slaughter
I survived.

The following are empty synonyms:
man and beast
love and hate
friend and foe
darkness and light.

The way of killing men and beasts is the same
I've seen it:
truckfuls of chopped-up men
who will not be saved.

Ideas are mere words:
virtue and crime
truth and lies
beauty and ugliness
courage and cowardice.

Virtue and crime weigh the same
I've seen it:
in a man who was both
criminal and virtuous.

I seek a teacher and a master
may he restore my sight hearing and speech
may he again name objects and ideas
may he separate darkness from light.

I am twenty-four
led to slaughter
I survived.


Friday, January 06, 2023

Wednesday, January 04, 2023

270+ pounds of meat

The above video is set in a rather nice-looking Uzbekistani restaurant. They are cooking shawarma, or maybe it is doner kebab. A huge pile is made by layering beef, lamb and what-not. It is then cooked using a vertical rotisserie. They also make the flat bread that is used to either wrap it or to make a sandwich. It looks like it would be a very tasty meal.

The equipment and preparation procedures are complex. I always wonder, especially for more exotic and complex meals, how we traveled from a caveman's campfire to today's dishes. A thread of history that will be forever opaque.


Monday, January 02, 2023

Paintings by Harald Sohlberg

Click any image to enlarge

Harald Sohlberg was a late 19th early 20th century Norwegian artist. He was a neo-Romantic painter. I quite like his use of color, it is simple, but often times surprising in its subtlety. From the link:

Sohlberg remained committed to the landscapes of his native Norway. He visited parts of the country that had not previously attracted artists and helped establish for them an artistic identity. For example, he later lived in the small town of Røros, which was heavily marked by its copper-mining history. While other painters tended to seek out areas of unspoilt landscape, Sohlberg was drawn to this collision of nature and culture and frequently included such elements as roads and telegraph poles in his works – always carefully chosen for their potential symbolic value.

Sohlberg’s early training as a craftsman was to shape his entire career, providing the grounding for what was to become his ‘signature style’. In the course of the 1890s, he replaced his earlier use of free, impasto brush­work with a glazing technique he had learned during his apprenticeship – and which was looked down on by many of his colleagues as unpainterly. Although a modernist in many ways, he also incorporated more traditional and academic methods, such as the use of transfer grids and rulers. Precise drawing was the foundation of all of his work, and this would then be covered by layers of coloured primer, and glazes of transparent paint. It was important to Sohlberg for his pencil-work to remain visible, and he also frequently accentuated his use of a horizontal-vertical grid, not only for its draftsmanly qualities, but for its marking out the symbolic dimensions of the composition, with the horizontal signifying the earthly and the vertical the supernatural or spiritual. Like Munch, he worked with a simplified palette – frequently white, black, blue, red or green – which helped capture something of the specific Nordic light, atmosphere, and mood. He also insisted that each painting must have one ‘dominant’ colour, which he would exaggerate with emotive effect. 

Glazing is a technique where, over a base of a color, you lay thin layers of transparent colors (in acrylics you're laying down thin washes of watered-down paint that is more tinted water than paint out of the tube). The effect if very vibrant. I doubt that these images do his painting full justice, but they are still striking. 

Harald Sohlberg

Sunday, January 01, 2023

The birthing pains of a new year

Trying to remember the details
of your New Year's Eve party
through the fog of last night's alchohol

He realised at once that a mistake had been made: he had been sent the wrong hangover. Somewhere in northern Rhodesia there was a bull elephant who had got drunk on fermented marula fruit, rampaged through a nearby village, and fallen asleep in a ditch, and was now pleasantly surprised to find itself greeting the day with only the mild headache that follows a couple of bottles of good red wine… Perhaps if he got in touch with the relevant authorities he could get this unfortunate little mix-up corrected, but he would have to do so without moving his head or opening his eyes. Otherwise he would die from the pain. ― Ned Beauman