Victorian era exercise equipment

Tuesday, October 17, 2017
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Ladies and gentlemen of the Victorian era naturally wanted to be physically fit, particularly if they rode trains and might have to fend of a railroad lunatic or two. However, physical labor was for the lower classes, so they needed a rather more civilized and gentile method of exercising.

As the Daily Mail chronicles in their article Inside the Victorian gym, the Swedish physician Dr. Gustav Zander solved their dilemma by inventing numerous exercise machines for use in spas and gyms worldwide.

Pictures here, and after the jump, are some of his machines. There are more, as well as information about Dr. Zander at the above Daily Mail link.

On pondering nature

Saturday, October 14, 2017
Anonymous, Eyes on the Fly.
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“Everything made by human hands looks terrible under magnification--crude, rough, and asymmetrical. But in nature every bit of life is lovely. And the more magnification we use, the more details are brought out, perfectly formed, like endless sets of boxes within boxes.”

-- Roman Vishniac

Shake, Rattle and Roll

Friday, October 13, 2017

Get ready for a domestic weekend with Big Joe Turner and his band.

Soviet Photography

Thursday, October 12, 2017
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Sovetskoe Foto (Soviet Photography) was a magazine aimed at amateur Russian photographers. It features articles on technique, equipment and examples of photographers work. These are covers from Sovetskoe Foto, and as you can see many of them in the style of Soviet realism so familiar from their propaganda posters.

They're from the Magazine Rack's archive of  Sovetskoe Foto, a site that digitizes magazines. At that site the contents of the magazines are archived as well, so you can flip through them and get all their content. There are more covers after the jump, and many more at the link.

Making paper in Bhutan

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Columbus Day

Monday, October 09, 2017
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One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. - André Gide

Victorian Railroad Lunatics

Saturday, October 07, 2017
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We have scary clowns popping up on roadsides, the Victorians were plagued with railroad lunatics. When railroads were a new development there were numerous reports in the papers of normal people going berserk and causing all sorts of mayhem on them.

It was thought that the very act of riding a train could trigger such behavior, From Atlas Obscura:
As the railway grew more popular in the 1850s and 1860s, trains allowed travelers to move about with unprecedented speed and efficiency, cutting the length of travel time drastically. But according to the more fearful Victorians, these technological achievements came at the considerable cost of mental health. As Edwin Fuller Torrey and Judy Miller wrote in The Invisible Plague: The Rise of Mental Illness from 1750 to the Present, trains were believed to “injure the brain.” In particular, the jarring motion of the train was alleged to unhinge the mind and either drive sane people mad or trigger violent outbursts from a latent “lunatic.” Mixed with the noise of the train car, it could, it was believed, shatter nerves.

In the 1860s and ‘70s, reports began emerging of bizarre passenger behavior on the railways. When seemingly sedate people boarded trains, they suddenly began behaving in socially unacceptable ways. One Scottish aristocrat was reported to have ditched his clothes aboard a train before “leaning out the window” ranting and raving. After he left the train, he suddenly recovered his composure.
There was also a concern that insane asylums were often situated close to rail lines and that escaped inmates would gravitate to the trains to escape the area and cause all manner of mischief in the process.

Finally, trains allowed women to travel alone, and so there was an aura of sexual danger in riding them. From the same article:
After going on a particular train ride, female novelist George Eliot stated with tongue firmly in cheek that upon seeing someone who looked wild and brutish, she was reminded of “all the horrible stories of madmen in railways.” Elliot seemed to relish the excitement of a possible confrontation and sounded rather disappointed when the figure turned out to be an ordinary clergyman.

Djelem Djelem

Friday, October 06, 2017

Get ready for a weekend of gypsy hipsterism with the Barcelona Gipsy Klezmer Orchestra.

Chatting with Sasquatch

Thursday, October 05, 2017

In the above video a fellow by the name of Mike Paterson chats with his buddy Nephetia (sp). What sets this conversation apart is the fact that Nephetia (sp) is a Bigfoot, and a talkative one at that!

I'm not sure why the picture of the tent and the "orbs" accompany the audio. One would think a video, or at least some pictures, of Nephetia (sp) would be more useful in establishing the authenticity of this little woodland coffee klatch.

Then again, no need to be a cynic. After all, if you can't believe what you find on the internet, what can you believe?

A taxi driver and his passengers

Wednesday, October 04, 2017
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Ryan Weideman is a New York based taxi driver and photographers. For years he's taken pictures of the passengers in his cab. He's published a collection of his photos in the book In My Taxi: New York After Hours.

From the Publishers Weekly blurb about his book:
A self-described ``photographer-taxi driver,'' Weideman presents duotone portraits of punks, white- and blue-collar types, prostitutes, club kids and others who rode in his cab before plunging back into New York City's anonymous throng. After migrating east from the California Bay area in 1980, Weideman began driving a spacious Checker cab--capable of accommodating seven passengers--on a 5 p.m.-5 a.m. shift. In a terse, mercurial introductory essay evocative of the city's intensity, he tells tales of life as a cabbie, explains how he captures his subjects on film and reveals their myriad reactions, from enthusiastic to wildly negative. The motley New Yorkers here exhibit many attitudes: some glare menacingly yet comply, some seem exasperated, still others smile, attempt sexy poses or appear blase. Weideman occasionally sets up the camera so that his countenance8 dominates the foreground, separated from the action behind him. These transitory glimpses of radically dissimilar individuals are a sincere, blunt, affectionate document of New York's multicultural night life. 
Via Vintage Everyday.

It's Good To Be King

Monday, October 02, 2017

Sad news about Tom Petty. He suffered a heart attack and is now off life support with no brain activity. He is not expected to survive. RIP Tom, you were a king for sure.

Engravings of 19th Century China

Sunday, October 01, 2017
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The book China, in a series of views : displaying the scenery, architecture, and social habits of that ancient empire was published in 1843. As the title implies, it was a guidebook to China when it was still largely unknown and mysterious to Westerners.

These, and the images after the jump, are some engravings from that book. They are particularily fine examples of plates from travelers' books of the time. The scans are from Old Book Illustrations. Enjoy.

The Do Nothing Machine

Saturday, September 30, 2017

From the YouTube description by CaptainHarlock999:

The Do Nothing Machine, built by Lawrence Wahlstrom, plus stationary engines by Rudy Kouhoupt at the end. Craftsmanship Museum, Carlsbad, CA.

From the museum website at - According to a newspaper article (paper unknown) from about the early 1960's, the inventor of this engineering marvel was Lawrence Wahlstrom, a retired clock maker. He worked in the newspaper business and for the telephone company, while also acting as caretaker and landscape gardener for a Beverly Hills estate for 40 years. He always enjoyed tinkering with clocks and had attended a clock school to learn about their repair. Somewhere along the line he acquired a fascination for gears. After coming across a surplus WWII bomb sight containing a complicated cluster of gears, he got it working again. He also realized that people prefer to be entertained rather than educated, so he began adding more and more gears to his assembly over a 15-year period starting in about 1948. The first known publicity photo of it appeared in 1950.

Over the years, the number of gears continued to grow, reaching either 744 or 764 depending on which account you read. Like the motion of the machine, the actual figure is somewhat fluid. It attracted a lot of media attention over the years, appearing in magazine articles and on TV shows. It was seen on both the Art Linkletter show and the Bob Hope show. The family archives also contain a telegram arranging for Mr. Wahlstrom to appear on the Garry Moore show in November, 1954. Life Magazine gave it a full page in the April 20, 1953 issue, and Popular Mechanics gave it ½ page coverage in the February, 1954 issue. In February, 1955 it was also featured in Mechanix Illustrated magazine. There were also many other newspaper and magazine articles documenting its constant evolution.

Called by its inventor variously a "Flying Saucer Detector" or other nebulous and facetious descriptions, his goal was to add at least 50 gears each year to the constantly growing project. As noted in Popular Mechanics in 1954, "We all know someone who works harder doing nothing than most of us work doing something, but we can't possibly know anything that works harder at nothing that a machine built by a California hobbyist. The machine has over 700 working parts that rotate, twist, oscillate and reciprocate—all for no purpose except movement."

At some point after the Do Nothing machine came into the possession of the Antique Steam and Gas Museum in the Joe Martin Foundation's home town of Vista, CA. It was put up for auction, where Mr. Wolf purchased it in about 2003, repaired it and for years took it to several shows a year for the public to enjoy.

96 Tears (& The Gallopin' Gaucho)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Get ready for a liquid weekend with the Religious Knives and Mickey Mouse.

Watercolors of WWII airships

Thursday, September 28, 2017
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During WWII airships were used by the U.S. Navy for antisubmarine patrols. These are illustrations by the artist Adolf Dehn of those LTA craft. They are taken from Travel for Aircraft's post Adolf Dehn and WW II’s LTA Aviation in Watercolor. More are at the link.

Making a Rover Imperial motorcycle

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

This early silent film documents the making of a Rover Imperial motorcycle. It starts with casting the engine block and goes through to test driving the completed motorcycles.

A crime scene?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

“Tradition does not mean a dead town; it does not mean that the living are dead but that the dead are alive. It means that it still matters what Penn did two hundred years ago or what Franklin did a hundred years ago; I never could feel in New York that it mattered what anybody did an hour ago.”

-- G.K. Chesterton, What I Saw in America

Gangsta's Paradise

Friday, September 22, 2017

Get ready for a weekend of hardcore ukulele rap with Les Ukulélés Girls.

Celebrities of yore

Tuesday, September 19, 2017
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These images are a series of covers from the magazine Motion Picture. The magazine covered Hollywood and its stars. The covers are from the beginning of the industry through the late 1940s. That was at the height of the movie studio system, so the images of the stars were carefully controlled and you don't see the sort of celebrity buffoonery featured on the covers of current celebrity magazines.

The images are from MagazineArt. There are more after the jump, and many more at the site.

Pessimism and Optimism

Monday, September 18, 2017

Stream Of Life by Rabindranath Tagore

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth
in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth
and of death, in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Whoo-hoo! Captain Beefheart to commemorate the return of power. Take that Irma.

Welcome to the stone age

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Still without power, I've drifted from the post-apocalypse to the stone age. To keep myself busy I've taken up painting in caves. Above is a drawing of a herd of deer running past a mystical being known as a power plant. The ancient ones say power plants used to charge cell phones and TVs and whatnot. I'm not sure I believe such silly superstitions.

Living the post-apocalyptic life style

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Power is still out, so I've pretty much transitioned to a post-apocalyptic life style. Well, except for the fact that there are no zombie hoardes or raiders with mohawks driving hotrods, and I can drive to the local Starbucks to charge my cell phone.

Still, Florida in the summer with no A/C isn't very pleasant. I did see a power truck from Ohio today, so the calvary is on the way.

Never Forget

Monday, September 11, 2017
I'm busy wth clean-up after Irma to post much but this dark date is still remembered.

Hunkered down

Sunday, September 10, 2017

I'm in Irma's bulls eye. My fabulous estate -- Chateau Le Dumpe -- has been battened down and we'll see how well I ride this out. I expect to lose power, so it may be a while before I get back on. One good thing about this all, no annoying politics for a bit.

La Grange/Tush

Friday, September 08, 2017

Get ready for a hirsute weekend with ZZ Top.

Anthropomorphic machine art

Thursday, September 07, 2017
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Boris Artzybasheff was a prolific 20th Century illustrator best known today for his series of anthropomorphic machines. Among his other work were magazine covers, book illustrations and advertisements. Enjoy these few examples, there are more at the following link.

From Machines Alive! The Whimsical Art of Boris Artzybasheff (some ads NSFW)

Roasting cashew nuts in Belize

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

New & Improved Antifa Head Gear

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Comrades and comradettes of Antifa -- if you want to crack a suspected fascist's skull, or throw a bottle of urine at a pig while staying safe from those pesky cell phone videographers, then the new and improved Invisibilty Helmet is just what you need!

Get one today and be your stylish and anonymous best as you take to the streets to thump white supremacists, Trump supporters or any innocent bystanders that cross your path.

River Steamboats

Saturday, September 02, 2017
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French and English inventors started working on powering boats with steam in the 18th century. By the 19th century steamboat design was well evolved, with both screw and paddle wheel powered variants. To begin, they were commonly used on rivers and lakes where the waters were more placid than the open ocean. The riverine craft are what we associate steamboats with today.

We think of them as the craft on the Mississippi river of westerns, with elegant gamblers and southern belles at the rails. In reality they were rather more mundane and workmanlike craft.

Here and after the jump are several photos of the old boats.

Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye

Friday, September 01, 2017

Get ready for a weekend of departures with Rotem Or and Alon Lotringer's cover of the Leonard Cohen classic.

Beer and onions in the afternoon

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
The Last Day of Pompeii by Karl Bryullov

Nostalgia - Billy Collins

Remember the 1340's? We were doing a dance called the Catapult.

You always wore brown, the color craze of the decade,
and I was draped in one of those capes that were popular,
the ones with unicorns and pomegranates in needlework.

Everyone would pause for beer and onions in the afternoon,
and at night we would play a game called "Find the Cow."
Everything was hand-lettered then, not like today.

Where has the summer of 1572 gone? Brocade and sonnet
marathons were the rage.
We used to dress up in the flags
of rival baronies and conquer one another in cold rooms of stone.

Out on the dance floor we were all doing the Struggle
while your sister practiced the Daphne all alone in her room.

We borrowed the jargon of farriers for our slang.

These days language seems transparent a badly broken code.

The 1790's will never come again.
Childhood was big.

People would take walks to the very tops of hills
and write down what they saw in their journals without speaking.

Our collars were high and our hats were extremely soft.

We would surprise each other with alphabets made of twigs.

It was a wonderful time to be alive, or even dead.

I am very fond of the period between 1815 and 1821.

Europe trembled while we sat still for our portraits.

And I would love to return to 1901 if only for a moment,
time enough to wind up a music box and do a few dance steps,
or shoot me back to 1922 or 1941, or at least let me
recapture the serenity of last month when we picked
berries and glided through afternoons in a canoe.

Even this morning would be an improvement over the present.

I was in the garden then, surrounded by the hum of bees
and the Latin names of flowers, watching the early light
flash off the slanted windows of the greenhouse
and silver the limbs on the rows of dark hemlocks.

As usual, I was thinking about the moments of the past,
letting my memory rush over them like water
rushing over the stones on the bottom of a stream.

I was even thinking a little about the future, that place
where people are doing a dance we cannot imagine,
a dance whose name we can only guess.

When clocks were art as well as timepieces

Tuesday, August 29, 2017
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Clocks are ubiquitous and understated today. However, when clocks were expensive, complex and somewhat exotic pieces of machinery they were often wrapped in elaborate sculptures and other decorative flourishes.

Here are a few examples, and there are more after the jump.

Machine to set up a row of dominos

Monday, August 28, 2017

Above is a video of a machine to set up rows of dominos so's you can knock them over. The machine is made out of wood and is an amazing example of engineering and woodworking. The article Wooden domino row building machine has, along with the video, a large number of photos detailing the step-by-step process of building the domino row making machine.

The Woodgears site has many other projects as well. Found via SwissMiss.

The Hidden Buddha

Sunday, August 27, 2017
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The Makomanai Cemetery outside of Sapporo, Japan, wanted to highlight the huge Buddha statue they had on their grounds. They hired Tadao Ando to do just that, and he solved the problem by hiding the statue. From Spoon and Tamago's  article Ando Tadao’s Hill of Buddha:

“Our idea was to cover the Buddha below the head with a hill of lavender plants,” said Ando. Indeed, as you approach “Hill of Buddha” the subject is largely concealed by a hill planted with 150,000 lavenders. Only the top of the statue’s head pokes out from the rotunda, creating a visual connection between the lavender plants and the ringlets of hair on the Buddha statue’s head.