Tales from the Loop!

Simon Stålenhag was featured by Caine back in 2016, and there is some interesting news out: a TV series based on his Tales from the Loop is coming out April 3! I’m a little bit excited because I had no idea this was in the works, and also I just bought his book The Electric State. Soundtrack composed by Philip Glass and Paul Leonard-Morgan.

Here’s the trailer, it looks suitably unfathomable and weird and slightly creepy to me:

Looking forward to this very much!

 

Tree Tuesday

A frosting of fungus ©voyager, all rights reserved

I found a few nature made pieces of wood art the other day while I was walking with Jack that I thought I’d share today. I’d prefer to share your tree photos, though, so now that it’s springtime, why not take your camera for a walk and grab some pictures of your local trees in bud or bloom. I think all of us would like to see the progress of spring in your part of the world, and I love reader submissions. Really, I do. Don’t be shy, our address is over there in the sidebar, underneath the colourful percolating head where it says email here.

Wormwood ©voyager, all rights reserved

A Tiered Garden ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

Jack, March 23, 2020 ©voyager, all rights reserved

Can I go back to bed now, Mummy? ©voyager, all rights reserved

All that white stuff behind Jack is snow. Which is what it did here yesterday. Thankfully, it was all gone by this morning, and no shovelling was required, which made for a pleasant change. Despite the snow and cold, it’s definitely spring, and not just because the calendar says so. I know it’s spring because Jack has started his annual shed. You can see it starting on his shoulders just below his collar. See how it’s clumping into tufts. Soon those tufts will turn blondish and then they’ll fall out along with a tsunami of single untufted hairs, all of which will need to be vacuumed up if I don’t brush them out first. Luckily, we have super-powered brushing tools (Thanks, Marcus), but even deploying them daily won’t keep up. The more you brush Jack, the more hair it loosens up, and the more brushing he needs. You can spend half an hour at a time brushing Bubba and get a grocery bag full of hair and think you’re all good, and then an hour later, you could do it all over again. I had hopes that it wouldn’t be as bad this year because he didn’t seem to put on as much hair as usual, but if today is any indication, my brushing arm, which is also my vacuuming arm, is still going to get a good workout over the next month or so. I’ve included Jack’s photos from the start of winter below the fold in case you want to make a comparison.

Jack, October 3, 2019 ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack, October 3, 2019 ©voyager, all rights reserved

Bonsai Tree – Well, Thats Officialy Weird…

Previous Post.

Today, the terminal bud started definitively growing. There is no longer any doubt that it is alive and that last years’ growth did not go down the drain. Persimmon seeds are rare, so I am a bit fussier about this tree than I am for example about pomegranates or hibiscuses. So these last two weeks I was worried that the terminal bud is dead.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

However, I did not worry that the tree itself is dead. Because it did, in fact, begin to grow just one day after my last post. Only it did not start to grow at the tip. It sprouted a second trunk near the base. Which grows slowly, but steadily, ever since. This week the leaves started to get bigger and I have started to turn the plant 90° clockwise daily in order to achieve straight growth.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

However, this is not something that I expected. From pictures on the internet I have assumed that Diospyros kaki are small to medium-sized trees with strong apical dominance, akin to apples or pear trees. But this type of growth, where new suckers start growing at the root base and outpace in growth the main stem is usually the domain of shrubs and bushes, like the common hazel Corylus avellana. And even there it usually does not happen during the second year already, it usually takes a few years to establish the main stem first.

I can only speculate about the cause, so here goes: The root-trimming stopped the inhibition of one of the two buds at the base of cotyledons. Those remained underground in this plant, unlike for example in apple, where they rise above the ground. And since cotyledons are modified leaves, they have buds at their base, only those are usually extremely inhibited and do not start growing unless the main stem is damaged.

This gives me some information about the plant.

First, I will see next year what the root system looks like, but this might mean I will get multiple plants out of this, or one plant with multiple stems. Or that it will be very difficult to get bonsai out of this plant at all because the plant has insufficient apical dominance for that.

Second and more important – it means this species should be strong enough to handle even severe trimming and should be able to start growing even from older wood from extremely inhibited buds. That is, in fact, a very good property in a bonsai tree, because those might need to be scaled back occasionally by trimming several years old branches.

So while this was really unexpected and it is a bit weird, It is not bad news and it makes me hopeful that it will go well. We’ll see how the growth pattern develops from now on, I won’t interfere with the trees shape for at least a year at all.

The Art of Book Design: True Detective Mysteries

McFadden Publishing. True Detective Mysteries, June 1928.

There were many imitators over the years, but True Detectives Mysteries (later known simply as ‘True Detective’) is the original true crime magazine, and ran from 1924 until 1971, under McFadden Publishers and from 1971 – 1995 under several other publishers.

Bricks and Mortar and Water – Part 2

This is Part 2 (Part 1 here), which may or may not extend into Part 3 (spoiler: it will! (spoiler: most likely but no promises)).

Anyway, I arrived at the aqueduct, and was duly impressed:

Here’s an attempt to get the full length in one photo.
© rq, All rights reserved.

Getting closer to the brick texture here.
© rq, All rights reserved.

View from the other end – it was definitely a shifting light kind of day.
© rq, All rights reserved.

Of course, where possible, I have to climb onto things, so here’s a view back towards the mountains. I walked quite a distance across the top, but not all the way – some few metres along, the arches seemed slightly too damaged to risk (that mossy-grassy patch in the photo, actually), and my formerly brick-laying Lithuanian colleague agreed.
© rq, All rights reserved.

There were also figs.
© rq, All rights reserved.

Now I don’t actually remember what I was going for in this photo…
©rq, All rights reserved.

… but my Lithuanian colleague was kind enough to take a photo of what I looked like taking it.
© rq’s Lithuanian colleague, All rights reserved.

A window into the world.
© rq, All rights reserved.

That’s all for Part 2, then – Part 3 will take a closer look at the decrepit brickwork and the arches, because there’s a few interesting things, if you like that sort of thing. :)

The Art of Book Design: True Confessions

Fawcett Publications. True Confessions, August 1922.

The originator of yesterday’s pulp magazine, Wilber Hamilton Fawcett, went on to establish this well-known pulp magazine in 1922. It became wildly popular and survived well into modern times. It folded sometime in 2018, but specific information is difficult to find.

via: The Internet Archive

Excuse me, I’m a Little Horse

Kestrel’s little horse is looking better, bit by bit.

Progress! I thought it might be interesting to see how the layers of fine pastel dust build up. People who have never done this before don’t realize that it just takes time and patience; you don’t have to glob the pastel on there, thin tiny layers are the way to go. The nice thing about pastels is they are very slow and you have a lot of control, but it takes many layers to get a nice deep rich color. I’d also like to point out that I changed the markings from the living horse a little bit. It’s one of the nice things about painting; if you don’t like where a particular thing is, you can just move it over a little, or add on an extra blob here and there! 

©kestrel, all rights reserved

©kestrel, all rights reserved

©kestrel, all rights reserved

©kestrel, all rights reserved

Aaaand… now it’s time for some details with acrylics! Acrylics kinda scare me because they are very fast. They dry out so quickly in my area I sometimes can’t even get the paint on to the model, because it dries on the brush as I’m trying to apply it. There are products that slow down the drying time on acrylics and I am using them here.

Although the acrylics are perfect for details, you just can’t get that same degree of blending and shading as you do with pastels. Some people use an airbrush for the blending, but I don’t have one, so it’s pastels for me.

©kestrel, all rights reserved

He’s starting to look like a horse now. In case anyone wonders, eyes are about the last thing you do. It would be very sad indeed if you did the eyes, got them perfect (NOT easy, especially at this scale!) and then the model fell over into a puddle of paint and ruined them. So, you save them for the very last. They really help to bring the piece to life.

It’s starting to look like I’ll be able to get him done by the deadline!

It’s a Damned Yellow Composite

Nightjar has sent us some bright yellow flowers to brighten our week.

Today’s flower is a… well, let’s call it a DYC, Damned Yellow Composite. I can never tell them apart and it’s not really important. And I also can’t identify the flies (I think?) that are visiting the flowers, so it’s all around an ID fail from me. I still hope they cheer you up!

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

Making Kitchen Knives – Part 15 – Tumble Time!

I was on and off working on this project in February. I have filled my tumbler with very fine sand (one that is used to fill in the spaces between concrete pavement bricks) and walnut shells and I polished the blades with increasing grit belts, then I stuck them into the tumbler for a day or two until I thought I can get the scratches all out after 12 hours evaluation.

It was still more time consuming than I would like to, mostly because many blades were ever so slightly bent, a problem that I really hope to solve with plate quenching in the future. On a bent blade, the concave part gets polished quickly, but the convex is a pain in the ass.

So I progressed slowly and at 150 grit I stopped, thinking that the fine sand can take the scratches out in time. It did, however, it took over a week in the tumbler, so next time I will go probably somewhere around 240 or perhaps even 320 grit before going to the tumbler. The blades did have a nice sand-blasted like look to them, so they were de-facto good to go functionally, but I thought they might be still improved by putting them in the tumbler some more. So I did, into a mixture of jeweler’s rouge (Fe2O3 powder) and crushed walnut shells. And I was right, they have now a very nice satin finish that I think is perfect for kitchen knives.

A mirror polish can be a bit sticky, so for kitchen knives, it is not the best option. I will see how sticky this polish is in a bit, but it looks good. Unfortunately, pictures do not give it justice, I won’t even try.

Time-wise, I have spent about 110 minutes per blade with this polishing process to achieve this result. So an improvement of 58%, but with a different look in the end.

Here is the blade line-up from worst to best:

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The first left blade has a slight crack on the edge. Not from the tumbler – that would be possible, but it did not happen – but from the one time where I forgot that the blades are drying on a rug and I took it to wipe my hands. All twelve fell to the floor and this one cracked near the edge and will have to be re-ground to a different shape – I do not know which yet. It was also one of the curly ones and that might have played a role too.

The second blade from the left would be perfectly OK if I did not mess it up. There is a place about 1/3 from the tip where I run accidentally not over the edge of the platen but over the corner. I nearly ground through the blade there, making an unseemly spot where it is paper-thin. I will probably prototype this to a much smaller blade, like a peeling knife. A lesson for the future.

The third and fourth are the remaining two of the curly-wavy blades. One will be re-shaped into a fish gutting/filleting knife for my uncle, one will remain an all-purpose kitchen knife, only with a slightly narrower blade than intended. It will be more similar to the knife I gave my mom and my brother.

The next five blades have a slight bend to the right side that I was unable to straighten out. They will be functional, but cutting straight will be a bit difficult, so not ideal for bigger things like cabbage, but still OK for carrots, leeks and onions, and sausages.

The last three are what I intended to achieve. 25% success rate – a disaster. But I am still learning, so hopefully next batch comes out better.

 

Maps

This post has been planned since late last summer, before I fell off the map (har har) for a while. It’s slightly out of date, as it were, but here goes – before posting the new content, I’ll clear up all the (two!) posts I had planned previously.

Anyway.

Not a new story, but (via the CBC):

Canadian Geographic has created a giant floor map, and an accompanying Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada, to change the way kids — and adults — look at this country.

“We hear so much about truth and reconciliation and what does it mean in reconciling our understanding and knowledge,” said Charlene Bearhead, an education advisor for the map and the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada.

Unreserved host Rosanna Deerchild sits on the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada floor map, which is the size of a gymnasium. (Stephanie Cram/CBC)

The map does not contain provincial boundaries, names of provinces, or many of the current names of cities and towns. Instead, it outlines the different Indigenous communities found across the country, the languages spoken, and the treaties signed with the Crown.

[…]

“For the most part Indigenous people walk on the map and it makes sense and they are like, ‘I know where this is, I know the story of this place for my people,'” said Bearhead.

“Non-Indigenous people walk onto the map and have this blank look on their faces,” a reaction Bearhead recognizes once they realize there are no provincial boundaries drawn on the map.

After a bit of confusion, Bearhead said what often follows are lengthy discussions of Indigenous histories and experiences.
Story in full at the link.
And in addition to that, here’s another one:

“People always say that mapping is a colonial tool, or a tool of colonialism, and it certainly has been used in that way, but I think the power of mapping is that there is so much power in it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be oppressive,” said Annita Lucchesi, a doctoral student in the cultural, social, and political thought program at the University of Lethbridge.

“It can be liberating. It can be healing. It can be empowering, especially when it’s being used by people who have been historically oppressed.”

The Southern Cheyenne cartographer is creating an atlas of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across Canada and the U.S. So far, Lucchesi has helped document over 3,000 cases, some reaching as far back as 1900.

[…]

“The beauty of maps is we can share as much or as little as we like and it still makes sense. We get to decide where those boundaries are. We get to decide what colours to use, what symbols to use, we can put cultural ideas on them. They’re so flexible and there’s so much freedom in that that it’s really a liberating form of storytelling.”

Lucchesi said she hopes that through her work with Indigenous mapping, new relationships between Canada and Indigenous peoples can be created.

“Through mapping we’re able to tell stories to each other that help us to build better relationships, help us to understand one another a little bit better so that we can respect the sovereignty of Indigenous peoples.”

Story at the link.

For more maps of Turtle Island, see here, with other links, too:

Native Land is a Google Map of the territories and languages of the indigenous peoples of the United States and Canada. The map consists of two main layers, one showing the ‘territory’ of First Nation and Native American tribes and the other showing the geographical spread of indigenous languages.

[…]

Natives of North America is another interactive map of the Native American Nations. Obviously one of the biggest problems in mapping Native American territories is that official boundaries between the Nations did not exist and these territories were constantly shifting.

[…]

The Invasion of America is a fascinating map of Native American land cession between 1776 and 1887. During this period the United States seized over 1.5 billion acres from the Native Americans.

“It is just a flu” Should Never be Comforting Phrase in the First Place

I do not know whether this applies to the anglophone world, but in Germany, and to the same extent in CZ, “flu” and “cold” are treated as more or less synonymous. And because the common cold is, well, common, most people when they say they came down with flu, what they really want to say is they had/have a bad case of the common cold.

One of my former colleagues thus thought that flu is something trivial and she always disparaged me when I said that flu is a serious illness and not something to be flippant about. I do not know how she managed to live for over thirty years and get herself a kid without encountering real flu, but she was among the lucky ones in this regard I guess. A healthy, strong woman in her thirties.

But in 2008 her luck ran out. In the morning she came to work as normal, but just mere two hours later she began to have fever and chills and got a splitting headache. She excused herself from work at noon and went home and did not return for two weeks.

When she came back, a rare thing happened – she acknowledged that she was wrong and I was right in our previous discussions about this. She just had a case of real flu and for a few days during that time, she actually feared for her life, because there were times when the fever made her see double and she was barely able to go the loo.

It is a sad reality that some people – I dare say many people – actually, really need to experience some hardship first hand to be able to believe it is real. Be it flu, or poverty, or discrimination.

When some people were saying that Covid-19 is just another flu in a derogatory and dismissive way, I rolled my eyes so hard I nearly strained them. Even if Covid-19 were just a new strain of flu, a new strain of flu would be terrifying. Even old and established strains of flu can be terrifying when they encounter an unvaccinated person who never got flu before.

“It’s just another flu” should have been a call to arms, not a placating head pat, even if it were true.