Monday, August 31, 2015

America’s Smallest Brewery

My mother always told me that good things come in small packages. I don't think she was referring to  this nano brewery though.

Above Average has the story.

An Abundance of Tomatoes

A bumper crop of San Marzanos. I've already made a lot of sauce but the tomatoes just keep on coming. I've also roasted and frozen trays and trays of lovely little Juliet mini Romas. And there's pesto too! 

FLEUR DE LYS-SHAPED BOOK OF HOURS Fetches $28,800 At Auction

Fleur de Lys-shaped Book of Hours, 18 x 8 cm. Likely created in Paris circa 1553. Contains eleven lobe-shaped miniatures. Sold by Christie’s on June 6, 2006 for $28,000. Only one other manuscript of this format from the same period has been recorded (in Leon Gruel’s “Manuel historique et bibliographique de L’amateur de reliures,” 1905, II, pp.9-11, pl.G), and that particular work was made for Diane de Poitiers and Henry II.


Smallest, Cutest Mammal in the World

The adorable Kitti's hog-nosed bat, aka bumblebee bat, from Thailand is the smallest mammal in the world. The average full grown adult is only 1.2 inches long and weighs around .07 ounces.

Via I Have Seen The Whole Of The Internet

Inside the Reality of Hoarding

"Compulsive hoarders aren’t typical clutterers. They’re not normal collectors. They struggle with a psychiatric disturbance that, though related to obsessive-compulsive disorder, is not well understood.”

Tesla Watch

This steampunk-style Tesla watch is made of copper, a leather strap, and two false thermionic effect lamps. It can be yours for $60 US. If I didn't have toothpick-sized wrists I'd buy one.

Via Curiosites de Titam

Where Ice Cream Trucks Go To Die

When I was a kid the music heralding the arrival of the ice cream truck would set me salivating. The tinny music was a sign of summer. I can't remember the last time I saw (and heard) one of these trucks. Of course I live in a neighbourhood that is devoid of children. It is as if the Pied Piper took them all away.

But ice cream trucks are indeed a dying breed in many places. In the1960s 30,000 ice cream trucks plied their trade from Eastbourne to Edinburgh in the UK. But today, just 5,000 ice cream vans remain on British roads. Where do the old trucks go to die? One of their final resting places is an ice cream van “graveyard” in the quiet seaside village of St Leonards in East Sussex, England.

Olivia Howitt has done an interesting piece on the vans for BBC travel.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Female Spies and Gender-Bending Soldiers Changed the Course of the Civil War

I've read a lot about the American Civil War and when my sons were young we did a road trip to a whole whack of Civil War battle sites. But I had never heard about female spies and the huge impact they had on the course of the Civil War. Without Rose O’Neal Greenhow’s spy ring, the Union might have ended the months-old war with a swift victory over the Confederates in July 1861. Elizabeth Van Lew, a feminist "spinster" ran another spy ring that was instrumental to the fall of the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, on April 1, 1865, leading to Lee’s surrender eight days later. Sarah Emma Evelyn Edmondson, a Canadian expat who had served as a Union soldier as her male alter-ego, Franklin Thompson also engaged in Civil War subterfuge.

Confederate spy Rose O’Neal Greenhow, 48, and her 9-year-old child,
Little Rose, in the courtyard of Old Capitol Prison in D.C., where she was being held
on suspicion of treason in 1862. (From “Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy”)
Union Private Frank Thompson, who was born Sarah Emma Evelyn Edmondson
in New Brunswick, Canada. (From “Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy”)

These women and others are featured in a fascinating post at Collectors Weekly that is based on Karen Abbott's narrative nonfiction book, "Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy". I've added the book to my reading list.

The Birth Of The Bicycle

In 1818, Baron Karl von Drais of Baden, Germany was looking for a substitute for the horses that had starved to death in the recent volcanic winter, caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815. He came up with the "Draisine", a 'running machine' consisting of two in-line wheels beneath a seat and handlebars. It was propelled by the rider pushing off the ground with his feet.

Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

The draisine pictured above was built circa 1818 and was donated to the Smithsonian in 1964.

Via The Presurfer

NYMZA Aeros – The Airships of the 1850’s

"Aeros' were aircraft that were designed, built and flown
by members of the Sonora Aero Club in California during the years 1850 to 1858.

These aircraft were navigable airships, built at a time when the only means of flight was the aerial balloon, which lacked maneuverability and was subject to the whims of the wind. A member of the club, Prussian born American artist C.A.A. Dellschau,  kept a secret record of all their activities and experiments. According to  Dellschau these aircraft may have flown as far as the giant redwoods
area of California where one of their airships became accidentally entangled in the branches of a giant California redwood, resulting in the death of its pilot, who fell from the Aero and broke his neck.

It all sounds rather fantastical and perhaps it is. Exhaustive research has found nothing to substantiate the existence of the Sonora Aero Club except for a few gravestones in the Columbia Cemetery where several of the surnames are found. However UFO writer Pete Navarro suggests that a coded story is hidden throughout the drawings, which he interprets to mean that the Sonora Aero Club was a branch of a larger secret society known only as NYMZA.

Read entire article here


This Robot Will Help You Win The New Yorker’s Cartoon Caption Contest

Each week The New Yorker invites readers to submit captions to cartoons drawn by the magazine’s illustrators. Writers have to generate a quip that’s funny and also perfectly mimics the magazine’s sensibilities. A deep knowledge of The New Yorker is a prerequisite. Or is it?

The Verge collected all the first, second, and third place winning entries going back to when the magazine introduced the competition in 2005 — 1,425 in total. They ran them through a Markov text generator program that analyzes the winning captions and generates new, randomized entries that echo the original set.

Drawing by Michael Crawford, Contest #487, August 31, 2015

Scroll to the end of the article to play and let me know if you win.


Which Plants Are Toxic To Pets?

Most of the time, plant eating is harmless to pets, but it can be dangerous if a cat, dog or horse decides to eat a toxic plant or a plant that’s been treated with pesticides.The ASPCA has compiled a comprehensive list of frequently encountered plants that have been reported as having systemic effects on animals and/or intense effects on the gastrointestinal tract.  There are 998 items on the list!

If you think that your animal is ill or may have ingested a poisonous substance, contact your local veterinarian or our 24-hour emergency poison hotline (US) directly at 1-888-426-4435.

Complete list here

Thanks Bruce!

That Time 1.5 Million Balloons Caused Chaos In Cleveland

Cleveland's Balloonfest '86 was a United Way fundraising effort that attempted to break the world record for biggest simultaneous balloon launch. It went wrong when 1.5 million helium-filled floaters were let loose into the sky, got caught in a storm, drifted down to earth and chaos ensued.



Internationational Landscape Photographer Of The Year

The 101 winners of the International Landscape Photographer of the Year 2015 have taken some stunning photographs.

View the top 101 images online, or by downloading a pdf version of the eBook here

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Jesse Chen Nails "I'm A Creep"

Jessie Chen found out that Postmodern Jukebox was looking for a singer and thought she'd give it a shot. You never know right?

The Lifecycle of A Monarch Butterfly

Watch a caterpillar wrap itself in a cocoon and emerge as a beautiful monarch butterfly.


Haitian Artists Pose As Tarot Characters

The Ghetto Tarot is a photographic interpretation of the traditional tarot deck in the ghetto. Together with a group of Haitian artists in the Haitian slums, Alice Smeets replicated characters from the Rider Waite Tarot deck.

Artist's site

More: Medium

Friday, August 28, 2015

How Emmett Till’s Murder Changed the World

Emmett Till was abducted at gunpoint from his great-uncle’s home on this day, Aug. 28, 60 years ago, by two white men who accused him of having whistled at a white woman in a grocery store. His body was found in the Tallahatchie River three days later. He had been brutally beaten and shot in the head


Photos of New Orleans Ruins on the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Photographer Seph Lawless was recently commissioned by The Guardian to photograph and document the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as it appears a decade after its landfall.

While many parts of the city have made great strides to recover in recent years, other neighborhoods are still abandoned and in ruins.


The Architecture of American Houses

This survey illustrates the history of American housing architecture. From 17th century Postmedieval English abodes to 19th century Tudors all the way through the “McMansions” of the 1990s.

More: Pop Chart Lab


How Worcestershire Sauce Is Made

Pharmacists John Lea and William Perrins began commercially manufacturing Worcestershire Sauce on this day in 1898, based on an Indian recipe brought to them by Lord Marcus Sandys,  an ex-governor of Bengal.

The recipe is top secret but even if I knew the exact ratio of ingredients I wouldn't want vats of decomposing onions and anchovies taking up space for years on end.

Via Dr. Caligari's Cabinet

The Dance Of The Weedy Seadragons

Named for their resemblance to the plant life around them, a male weedy seadragon seduces a female with some fancy fin work. Two months later, however, its the male who's left carrying the eggs

Living off the coast of south Australia, weedy seadragons (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus) are the only known species along with sea horses and pipefish - where the male carries the eggs. Although the eggs start out in the female, she lays about 120 of them onto the tail of the male where they are then fertilized and develop until they hatch.

Feeding on plankton, larval fishes and small shrimp-like crustaceans, seadragons resemble swaying seaweed making them difficult to find in their natural habitats, even though they can grow to about 46 cm in length.

How "Wine Bricks" Saved The Wine Industry During Prohibition

During Prohibition people found ways to sneak around the law. Winemakers, facing ruin because of the law, found an ingenious way to sell the product of their vineyards. Instead of making the wine on their premises, they created "wine bricks" out of concentrated grape juice for home brewers (and bootleggers) to dissolve and use in the privacy of their own homes.

The bricks were marked with warnings that they were for non-alcoholic consumption only. The “warning”  helped people make wine at home. According to VinePair’s Adam Teeter:

If you were to purchase one of these bricks, on the package would be a note explaining how to dissolve the concentrate in a gallon of water. Then right below it, the note would continue with a warning instructing you not to leave that jug in the cool cupboard for 21 days, or it would turn into wine.
Via Smithsonian

August 29, 2005 - The Storm We Always Feared

On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina unleashed her fury leaving at least 1,833 dead.  New Orleans will forever exist as two cities: The one that existed before that date, and the one after. Browse through the extraordinary archive of The Times-Picayune's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage.

You might also want to read Sheri Fink's Five Days At Memorial for a sense of the horror people experienced and the ineffective response by those who should have been in controlIt's a powerful work of nonfiction.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Marigold Harvest in China

Farmers pick marigold in Minzu Village of Caohai Township of Weining County, southwest China's Guizhou Province, Aug. 2, 2015. There are 23,000 mu (about 1,533 hectares) of marigold fields in Weining County.

Photo taken on Aug 2,2015 shows marigold field at Modern Agricultural Park

Marigold species have been used traditionally as culinary and medicinal herbs.

Thanks Bruce!

A Tent That Can Help Millions

Abeer Seikaly, a Jordanian-Canadian architect, designer and artist, has designed a tent that collects rainwater, folds up for easy transport and collects solar energy. It has the potential to change many lives across the world by providing some of the basic human rights to displaced people: a home, water and energy.

Read more: 1 Million Women

The Incredible World Of Cat Eyes

Philadelphia-based photographer Andrew Marttila’s macro photography allows us to see cats in a new way. Their eyes look like pieces of jewelry.


Dictionary Stories

Dictionary Stories is an interesting Tumblr project by Jez Burrows, composed of stories written entirely using example sentences from the New Oxford American Dictionary, with nothing added except some punctuation to piece them together. The words that spawned each sentence are underlined.

The League of Ordinary GentlemenA retired teacher. A topiary gardener. An army officer of fairly high rank. A brilliant young mathematician. A highly esteemed scholar. President Kennedy. One of the great stars in the American golfing firmament. Detective Sergeant Fox. The Honorable Richard Morris Esquire, chief justice of the supreme court of our state. When you put these men together, you’re bound to get fireworks. Unfortunately, we do not have the time to interview every applicant.

Read more here

London's Covent Garden Filled With 100,000 White Balloons

French artist Charles P├ętillon has unveiled his first large-scale public art installation in London's Covent Garden Market Building. "Heartbeat" features 100,000 giant white balloons, stretches 54 metres in length and 12 metres in width and incorporates gentle pulsating white light to symbolize the beating of a heart and reflect the history, energy and dynamism of the district.

Via Junkculture

Inside Mussolini's Secret Bunker

Italian dictator Benito Mussolini lived at Villa Torlonia in Rome with this wife and children between 1925-1943. Fearing possible air raids and gas attacks during WW2 he built secret underground bunkers and an anti-gas chamber under their home.
The bunker had 3 escape routes and was equipped with a double set of steel, gas-proof doors, and a sophisticated air filtering system that could provide oxygen for 15 people for 3-6 hours. The bunker was opened to the public in 2014.

Images: Reuters/Remo Casilli


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Banksy's Dismaland Trailer

Banksy's trailer for his recently opened Dismaland Bemusement Park.

More fun than a barrel of monkeys!
Via HUH.

The Cashew Tree of Pirangi

The cashew tree of Pirangi  in Pirangi do Norte, Brazil covers an area between 7,300 square metres (1.8 acres) and 8,400 square metres (2.1 acres). It is the size of 70 normal sized cashew trees and has a circumference of 500 metres (1,600 ft).

Its spread over a hectare of land was created by the tree's outwards growth. The branches touch the ground because of their weight and create new roots.

It is said the tree was planted in 1888 by a fisherman named Luis Inacio de Oliveira who died at the age of 93, in the shade of his tree.  The tree produces over 60,000 fruits each year.