Wednesday, April 10, 2024

The puzzle of mechanical stitching

I had never considered the complexity of the problem engineers faced in designing a sewing machine. With hand stitching, you push down through the fabric and the reverse the needle to push back up through again drawing the thread along. Sewing machines simply push the needle up and down without reversing it, so new methods of sewing needed to be designed. 


Sunday, April 07, 2024

Old-timey gas pumps

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These are images of old gas pumps. Being a new technology at the time, their design and methods of usage had yet to be standardized. These are from the Flashbak post The Industrial Beauty of Vintage Gas Pumps. There are more examples at that link. 

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Making shovels

We visit a small factory in SW Asia (I think it is in Pakistan, but it might be in India) where they are making shovels. As is always with these types of videos, the work is dirty, laborious and slightly dangerous looking.


Sunday, March 31, 2024

Happy Easter

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In this Victorian Easter card we have an old geezer getting knocked silly by rabbits tossing Easter eggs at him. I guess it is all about the end of winter, but it seems rather uncouth nonetheless. Anyway, Happy Easter and I hope you're more civil and in the spirit of the holiday than our rabbit hooligans.  


Saturday, March 30, 2024

Things that cannot be undone

Corpse of a 1951 Lincoln Lido Coupe
(click image to enlarge)
The Debt - Paul Laurence Dunbar

This is the debt I pay
Just for one riotous day,
Years of regret and grief,
Sorrow without relief.

Pay it I will to the end —
Until the grave, my friend,
Gives me a true release —
Gives me the clasp of peace.

Slight was the thing I bought,
Small was the debt I thought,
Poor was the loan at best —
God! but the interest!


Friday, March 29, 2024

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Gone fishing

Gone Fishing by Teresa Trotter
(click image to enlarge)

I'm headed out on a vacation and won't be around for a bit. I have some posts lined up to auto-publish. They are a kind of low effort, but truth be told, most of my posts are low effort so you probably won't spot a difference. If nothing else my spam bots will be happy that they can run amuck. In the meanwhile, don't click on any links in the comments.


Sunday, March 24, 2024

Paintings by Artem Rogowoi

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This is a small collection of paintings by Artem Rogowoi. He's a contemporary Ukrainian artist. He's previously worked in art restoration, and uses his knowledge of earlier painting techniques in his works. 

Artem Rogowoi

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Cooking burritos in the Capathian Mountains

Since she's white I suppose some knuckleheads would accuse Mairia of cultural appropriation for her theft of a burrito recipe. However, to me it looks to me like a tasty example of cultural diffusion.


Sunday, March 17, 2024

Prints by Suzuki Harunobu

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Suzuki Harunobu was an 18th century Japanese print maker. He is the first printmaker in Japan to produce full color prints (prior to him printers used 2 to 3 colors), as such he was extremely influential in the development of Japanese prints. He was from a samurai family and was well connected and popular in his day. He is best known for his idealized images of pretty young women. 

The image at the top of this post is one such print. She is Ôsen, a waitress at a teahouse in Edo. We tend to think that being a 'celebrity for the sake of celebrity' is a modern thing, but of course it isn't. She was renowned for being a beauty, with the teahouse having towels with her image on them, as well as selling prints, picture books, and even dolls of Ôsen. Today, instead of being a teahouse waitress, she might be an influencer of some small fame. Who knows?

See how when spring begins to fail
each opening flower fades;
So too there is a time of age
and death for beautiful maids;
And when the fleeting spring is gone,
and days of beauty over,
Flowers fall, and lovely maidens die,
and both are known no more.

(Burial of the Flowers - Cao Xueqin) 

Friday, March 15, 2024

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Saying goodbye in Fiji

A woman, who had married a person from another village and who's much older now, returned for a funeral. This is how her relatives gather to say goodbye to her when she leaves again. It is an elaborate ceremony, featuring prayers, singing a hymn, speechifying and drinking a fair amount of kava and grog. Large parts of it are in English.  

This is from the YouTube channel of Uraia Tabua, He has a lot of other videos documenting everyday life in Fiji.


Sunday, March 10, 2024

Paintings of tavern exteriors

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This a is collection of paintings of taverns as seen from the outside. Some present a dignified face to the world, others a riot of neon competing for attention. Duffy's Tavern, pictured below, is in my neck of the woods. It is a pleasant island bar with good burgers.

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

Inside a teapot factory

I guess I should have known that teapots were cast, but I never thought about it. Then again, I am a coffee drinker and rarely think about tea at all.


Sunday, March 03, 2024

Eric Sloane paintings

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Eric Sloane was a mid-20th century American artist who primarily painted rural scenes. He started out as a sign painter, but moved on to fine art where he had considerable success. He painted in the Hudson River Valley School style. He was also very interested in weather, and so many of his landscapes feature elaborate cloudscapes as well. Oh, and barns, he painted a lot of barns. 

He also was an author and book illustrator. In addition, his interest in meteorology led him to work with the U.S. Airforce in producing materials.   

Eric Sloane

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Animalcules and you

Animalcules is an old term for microscopic organisms. Since it is scientifically imprecise it has fallen out of use and has drifted into the realm of archaic words. That's too bad, I think it is a wonderful and descriptive word. Anyway, on to the topic of this post, these are some microscopic videos from the YouTube channel Journey to the Microcosmos

On the microscopic scale, our body is an ecosystem. Our bodies host parasites, symbiotics and wandering travelers. These videos show some of the little creatures, and how they interact with us.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Artwork of Bernard Buffet

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Bernard Buffet was a mid-20th century French artist. He painted and produced prints and he was very prolific creating 8,000 pieces over his career. He was an expressionist and anti-abstract, preferring figurative art. He was popular with the public, but less well regarded by the élites of the art world. Eventually, because of his flamboyant and ostentatious lifestyle, the general public began to turn on him as well and his reputation dimmed. Currently, his popularity with collectors is increasing as his works are reevaluated.  

Bernard Buffet self-portrait

Friday, February 23, 2024

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

A weekend market in Nepal

This video is a walk through a market in eastern Nepal. It is a weekend rather than a daily market, so I suspect it is much more of a social event than regular daily shopping. It certainly is crowded, and the crowd is cheerful and energetic.


Sunday, February 18, 2024

Old photographs of American indians

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These photos are from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They are very much a product of their time. If you looked at portraits of English ladies and gentlemen of the same era you would see the same type of posing, with a stern expression on their faces and dressed in their finery.

Photos served a different purpose in those days than they do today. Pictures are common today. Every phone has a camera, innumerable photos can be taken effortlessly, and so candid events are captured. In those earlier times photography was sufficiently complex and exotic that sitting for a portrait was the event. Today you might photograph your lunch to post to Instagram, in those earlier days the act of being photographed was not so frivolous. It was a rare record of you and your family and so it must be treated as a matter of some significance.    

Wednesday, February 14, 2024


With the Super Bowl over NFL fans have nothing, aside from mock drafts, to look forward to this off-season but other sports to fill the gap. May I suggest Bossaball, which is a combination of volleyball, soccer, gymnastics, kids' bouncy houses, and Bossa Nova music. Just watch the video -- it will all become clear.    


Sunday, February 11, 2024

Trails in paint

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Roads are designed. Their routes are chosen and surveyed, their beds prepared and paved. Paths have a different genesis. They are merely a convenient path between two locations, in fact a path may start as a game trail. As the phrase 'the beaten path' suggests, they are formed by people repeatedly walking along them. They develop slowly and exist only as long as they are used. They are 'form follows function' in its most primordial sense.