Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Happy May Day Comrades!

Once again, it is that most wonderful time of the year... May Day! Yes, that magic day when, as we stand in our bread lines, we can reflect on the wonders of communism: the Little Red Book, rocket forces parading down main street, and struggle sessions until the wee hours of the night!  

Above is a uplifting music video by the North Korean girl band the Moranbong Band! As you can tell, the North Korean damsels are far superior to the undulating, mini-skirt clad, South Korean K-Pop hussies that pollute the air waves! Be still my beating heart! How I would love to go to the nearest People's Hall and attend one of their shows, where I could robotically clap as I absorbed their inspiring message!


Sunday, April 28, 2024

Paintings of wagons

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Wagons used to be ubiquitous, but with the onset of internal combustion engines they've been replaced by trailers. They are now nostalgic elements of bygone days. In their prime they were the Conestoga wagons that carried America's westward migration, haulers of freight and passengers, Gypsy caravans, workhorses on farms, and so forth. Now, they are rarely seen.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Walking in David

David sits astride the Pan-American highway in western Panama. It is primarily an agricultural hub, but other investment monies are strengthening its economy. As you can see from the walk, it looks like a well-tended and solidly middle-class city. I imagine that there is a fair number of expat retirees who have moved there.


Sunday, April 21, 2024

Whiling away the hours

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The Turks have a proverb which says that the devil tempts all other men,
but that idle men tempt the devil.
- Charles Caleb Colton -

That the Devil finds work for idle hands to do is probably true.
But there is a profound difference between leisure and idleness.
- Henry Ford -

As peace is the end of war, so to be idle is the ultimate purpose of the busy.
- Samuel Johnson -

People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.
- A. A. Milne -


Saturday, April 20, 2024

Crossing the Atlantic with coffee

Sunset in the mid-Atlantic

I'm back from my vacation. Since, in my youth, I had crossed both the Pacific and Indian oceans I decided to add an Atlantic crossing before geezerhood did me in. So, I booked a cabin on a repositioning cruise from Barbados to Lisbon Portugal. I sailed aboard the Royal Clipper, which is a larger version of the Star Clipper I did my earlier Caribbean cruise aboard. 

There were only ~140 passengers aboard, which was half capacity. That was nice. Most of the passengers were European and I ended up hanging around with a Canadian couple, a few British, and a cheerful Dutch fellow. Strangely, and in the 'it's a small world' category, I also met an American who had been aboard the carrier that relieved my carrier task force in our deployment to the Indian Ocean during the Yom Kippur War. We got to swap many a sea story.

As for my odd selection of pictures below...  when I suggested the crossing to my wife she looked at me like I was crazy. I took that as a no. Instead, she flew to Portugal with her sister and brother-in-law and did some touring while I was bobbing around in the ocean for days on end. She asked me to send her pictures of my travels and so, swell guy that I am, I annoyed her by documenting my trip via pictures of the coffee pots, coffee shops, and cups of coffee I encountered in my transit. Always remember, it is the little things that are important in life.

To avoid the worries of flight delays and short connection times I built a lot of time into my schedule. As a result I spent one night in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was a good thing; my flight was delayed and I eavesdropped on a couple of businessmen who were in a panic over making their connection. I felt their pain. Above is the coffee machine in my hotel room.  

Above is the coffee shop at the Hilton Resort I stayed at. At one of the restaurants they had fish and chips on the menu for $68. That seemed a bit pricey to me, so I subsisted on over-priced ham and cheese sandwiches from the coffee shop instead.   

Above is a pigeon who befriended me in the seating area outside of the coffee shop. He was always hopeful I would slobber some crumbs about. I confess to considering catching and eating him to spare myself from dropping $68 for fish and chips.  However, since I figured the other guests would be aghast at that, I resisted the thought and the little fellow survived.

This is the coffee station on the ship. It was open 24 hours a day and the coffee was good enough. The only drawback to it was the number of tea choices cluttering the area. Plus, the tea drinkers, who had to fiddle with hot water and tea bags, took longer that the coffee drinkers to fill their cups. That can be a crisis when you're getting your first morning cup of joe.  

These are the espresso machines behind that bar. They were a welcome addition to your coffee choices.   
This is a cup of espresso in a cafe in Ponta Delgada, Azores. The Azores were the only stop on the crossing and Ponta Delgada was a pleasant, touristy little city. Being on dry land that wasn't rocking back and forth was a welcome change.
My hotel in Lisbon didn't have a coffee maker in the room. Instead, you had to go to the lobby and buy one out of this vending machine. All the labels were in Portuguese, so you had to guess and experiment to get something close to what you were looking for. When you did get it, it was some sort of instant coffee concoction. In Lisbon they gasbagged on endlessly about Portuguese coffee culture. This machine seemed to lack that bragged about culture, but it was serviceable.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Egyptian pyramid functionality

To modern eyes the pyramids are evocative, but mysterious structures. Why were they built? This video discusses a theory about how the pyramids were intended to be used.

The original burial structure for pharaohs was a mastaba. It was a tomb surrounded by storage rooms. These rooms were full of supplies that the Pharoah would need in his afterlife. Of course, eternity is a long time, and the supplies would eventually run out, impoverishing our ghostly Pharaohs.

That wouldn't do. Contrary to the prevailing notion that pyramids were sealed to protect their wealth from grave robbers, pyramids and their associated temple complexes were designed to be accessible. Their storerooms would be ceremonially resupplied to assure the dear, departed Pharoah of a comfortable life beyond the veil. It was only when central authority began to collapse that pyramids were sealed to protect their interiors.


Sunday, April 14, 2024

Our friend the tin can

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I remember being 20 years old and I'm living by myself for the first time with my buddies and what you're worried about day to day is what am I going to eat for dinner?
I don't know how to cook, so I've got to get canned food.
Those are the only worries you have in the world.
- Brad Marchand -

The first meal was an object lesson of much variety.
My father produced several kinds of food, ready to eat, without any cooking,
from little tin cans that had printing all over them.
- Mary Antin -

I live out of cans a lot. But I try to indulge only in healthy canned food.
- Dwight Yoakam -

The path of civilization is paved with tin cans.
- Elbert Hubbard -


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.