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    I'm writing this from window seat 37A of Delta flight DL2288—nonstop service from New York City to San Diego, California. Up here, with Manhattan pinched between an index finger and thumb, one remembers forgotten perspectives.

    Down there, Chisel & Mouse do something important; they digitize and 3D print our favorite architecture. They handcraft with moulding and plaster-casting the cities that we hold close to our hearts. Scaled to the nearest meter at 1:5000, Chisel & Mouse develops elegant shrinking machines for our fears and dreams. Chisel & Mouse is now offering three series' of precise 3D cityscapes—three also being the number of menu choices for 2288's in-flight breakfast.

    New York 'Blue River' Cityscape By Chisel & Mouse

    Classic Series: nine precise cityscapes—London, Manhattan's southern tip, Venice's Canal Grande, Berlin, Los Angeles, Rome, Paris, Chicago, Boston, and Amsterdam. All Classic Series' models measure 30 cm x 30 cm, are enclosed by a removable perspex frame, and about half of them are 20 percent off.

    Chisel & Mouse London Cityscape

    Blue River Series:similar to the Classics, Chisel & Mouse adds confident strokes of a brilliant blue hue to highlight the waterways of each city in their Blue River Series—Amsterdam, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, New York, London, Venice, Rome.

    Chisel and Mouse Cityscape Detail

    Large Cityscape Series: London at 1:2500. New York at 1:5000. Both models, made in resin, measure 70 cm x 70 cm and are displayed via a wooden frame. 

    Three series, meticulous details — Chisel & Mouse truly captures the geography and presence of each grand, glorious, populated city, but looking out the window at an unrecognizable town topped with snow reminds me of Zimbabwe artist, Zayd Menk. Zayd spent 3 months supergluing a .0635:100 scale model of midtown Manhattan out of e-waste earlier this year. He wished to re-create a town, local to him in Zimbabwe, to shrink his world by the thousands, but there wasn't enough readily-accessible information online for him to do so. We don't all live in Paris, New York and Venice, and Zayd shouldn't have to be looking out the window of a Boeing to hold his world between his fingers.

    London Chicago New York 'Blue River' Cityscapes

    On that note, a magic piece about Chisel & Mouse is that they offer a bespoke model making service. It doesn't come cheap, but the heavy research, the amount of work and the quality of the end product is well worth the priceless reminder of perspective.

    To dreamers, these models are one thing, but to the people living inside of them every day, they are much different. Towers and rivers shrink. Crowded streets empty. We can hold our worlds in our hands. We can look down on our fears. We can hang our aspirations on the wall.

    New York 'Blue River' Cityscape by Chisel & Mouse

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    A company called Greenpoint Technologies designs luxury aircraft interiors for VIPs. Their portfolio is pretty jaw-dropping and I'm still going through it, but first I wanted to bring you news of this Aerolift they designed.

    In short, the Aerolift is an elevator that deploys from the belly of a 747. It allows you to transport four thin, rich people from the tarmac to the interior of the airplane.

    The benefits of the Aerolift are numerous. On the way up to the cabin, you pass through the below-decks cargo area, allowing you to appraise the organization of your luggage. This provides you with an opportunity to berate your staff if you don't like what you see.

    While the capacity of the aircraft is 100 passengers, the Aerolift can only carry four, allowing you to select three attendants to take the vertical journey with you. The other 96 can scuttle up that stair truck, which should serve to reinforce their position and worth.

    The price of the Aerolift is obviously not listed, as this is a "If you have to ask how much it costs…" level of add-on. However, we can think of at least one alternative to an Aerolift that is presumably within the same price range, or perhaps even cheaper. For those of you considering either of these options, we have worked out a helpful comparison chart for you below:

    Which One is Right for Me?


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    National Geographic's photo contests always draw incredible submissions from around the world, and this year is no different. Perhaps the best part is that entrants willingly yield the rights to their photos, allowing NG to make each one freely downloadable as wallpapers for your desktop, tablet or phone.

    You can check out the 2018 Finalists here. We've just gone through the list, and here are our ten favorites. (The captions are written by the photographers themselves, with our enlightening commentary placed after each photo.)

    UNREAL

    PHOTO AND CAPTION BY JASSEN TODOROV

    "Thousands of Volkswagen and Audi cars sit idle in the middle of California's Mojave Desert. Models manufactured from 2009 to 2015 were designed to cheat emissions tests mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Following the scandal, Volkswagen recalled millions of cars. By capturing scenes like this one, I hope we will all become more conscious of and more caring toward our beautiful planet."
    I bet the plane gets better mileage than any of those cars.

    THUNDERBIRD IN THE DUST

    PHOTO AND CAPTION BY NICHOLAS MOIR

    "A rusting Ford Thunderbird is blanketed by red dust from a supercell thunderstorm in Ralls, Texas. The dry, plowed fields of the Texas Panhandle made easy prey for the storm, which had winds over 90 miles an hour ripping up the topsoil and depositing it farther south. I was forecasting and positioning a team of videographers and photographers on a storm chase in Tornado Alley—this was our last day of a very successful chase, having witnessed 16 tornadoes over 10 days."
    Suddenly the production design of Blade Runner: 2049 doesn't look as imaginative.

    MID SHED

    PHOTO AND CAPTION BY MIKE DEXTER

    "CHAMELEONS SHED THEIR SKIN REGULARLY THROUGHOUT THEIR LIVES BUT, UNLIKE SNAKES, IT PEELS OFF IN BITS AND PIECES RATHER THAN AS A WHOLE. This flap necked chameleon, mid shed, was tentatively making its way across an open sandy area putting itself at great risk from predators. My aim was to capture an image that depicted the vulnerability of the situation so I lay down, transporting myself into its world."
    This chameleon is known to his friends as "Ashy Larry."

    AN ASTONISHING CHASE

    PHOTO AND CAPTION BY THOMAS VIJAYAN

    "After many days of following a cheetah on the second last day of my trip this cheetah target a gazelle cub and started running towards the gazelle exactly the way i wanted and I was able to capture it running in between the black grass with a dust forming behind its legs creating a magical frame. But the end was more astonishing. The cheetah started playing with the gazelle fawn like its own cub and then after sometime set it free to its mother. Even the animals value the life of other animals."
    Too bad they don't value the emotional wellbeing of other animals. You don't think that gazelle cub is traumatized? One time when I was a kid I got chased through a parking lot by a bully. He didn't catch me and beat me up but it still messed me up for a while. Plus I ruined my favorite shirt with motor oil from hiding underneath a Plymouth. If you're reading this, Mike Gallinari, fuck you! You owe me a shirt.

    HUNGRY HIPPOS

    PHOTO AND CAPTION BY MARTIN SANCHEZ

    "I found a hippo party and decided to join! AND WE ALL DECIDED TO PLAY HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPO! :)"
    "Well, one of you has to move or we'll be stuck here forever! I told you I can't back up, there's no room--can one of you do a three-point turn?"

    THUNDERSTORM IN ATHENS

    PHOTO AND CAPTION BY ALEXANDROS MARAGOS

    "A severe summer thunderstorm in Athens, Greece with the Acropolis between lightnings. June 23, 2018."
    Or as the Greeks call it: "Zeus wildin' out."

    VAN GOGH BAOBABS

    PHOTO AND CAPTION BY MAGGIE MACHINSKY

    "In a time when approximately 1/3 of the world's population can no longer see the Milky Way with the naked eye, Madagascar is a rare, isolated paradise untouched by modernization or light pollution. This is a 47 minute exposure of the sky trailing over the iconic 800+ year old baobab trees of the famed "Allee des Baobabs" in Morondava, Madagascar with the setting moon illuminating the foreground."
    You will see something similar if you eat broccoli and take LSD.

    UHHS & AHHS

    PHOTO AND CAPTION BY LILIAN KOH

    "A juvenile grouper is fighting for its life while the lizard fish trying to ingest it. Story after this shot was the juvenile grouper managed to break free from its jaw. Alive but can barely swim, however it took 2 breaths before it was eventually eaten by a prowling snapper nearby."
    Lizard fish eat with their mouths open. I guarantee you these fish don't swim in schools…because they got no class.

    AN OVERCROWDED TRAIN JOURNEY

    PHOTO AND CAPTION BY NOOR AHMED GELAL

    "Thousands of millions people travelling on the roof an overcrowded train heading for Dewanganj, Jamalpur, from the city of Dhaka to celebrate Eid-al-Fitr with their families."
    "Dude STOP LEANING ON ME"

    "REDYK"

    PHOTO AND CAPTION BY BARTLOMIEJ JURECKI

    "The traditional and counting more than 1,900 animals, sheep grazing called "Redyk". From the Low Beskid in mountains to the city of Nowy Targ, Poland. shepherds bring back the animals to the owners who will take care of their sheep during the winter. Animals will come back to the mountains in the spring. It has been a tradition for many centuries to take the flock of sheep to the mountains for grazing."
    Man in the car: "Boy, this traffic is baaaaad."
    His wife: "If you say that one more time I swear to God I'm divorcing you"

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    We are a fast growing fast paced company looking for an agile individual that will help contribute to our growing success. You’ll have an opportunity to work alongside industry leaders and learn from their experience and expertise. You’ll have the opportunity to master new skills, sharpen your current skills and

    View the full design job here

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    Thanks to NASA, we've all seen photos of Mars. It's red, dusty and featureless, so some of you jerks might now be bored by the miraculous spectacle brought to us by those eggheads in Houston.

    Well, now they've upped their game, equipping their InSight Lander, which is currently hanging out on the red planet, with an air pressure sensor that can record air vibrations. They've also given it a seismometer that can record "lander vibrations caused by the wind moving over the spacecraft's solar panels." NASA can essentially distill the data from these two sensors into an approximation of what the wind sounds like on Mars, which they have released here. (Note: Use headphones for the full effect. It's pretty bass-y.)

    "The InSight lander acts like a giant ear," said Tom Pike, InSight science team member and sensor designer at Imperial College London. "The solar panels on the lander's sides respond to pressure fluctuations of the wind. It's like InSight is cupping its ears and hearing the Mars wind beating on it."
    "Capturing this audio was an unplanned treat," said Bruce Banerdt, InSight principal investigator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. "But one of the things our mission is dedicated to is measuring motion on Mars, and naturally that includes motion caused by sound waves."

    Surely some famous DJ will remix the sounds for their next set on Ibiza. And if it's a hit, they can plan to have a follow-up track ready in a couple of years. NASA's Mars Rover planned for 2020 will be bringing two actual microphones.



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    The picture above comes from "Furniture of the Pilgrim Century" by Wallace Nutting (1921).

    Here are four links to articles in the New York Times that set me pondering.

    The first says the antique furniture market is collapsing because nobody wants the old stuff, but the article gives hope for modern makers. How Low Will Market for Antiques Actually Go?.

    The second says nobody wants the old stuff because people aren't using their living rooms or dining rooms since everyone congregates in the kitchen. Why Are Antiques So Cheap? Because Everyone Lives in the Kitchen.

    The third article points out that our society exalts the expert but we would all be happier and have a lot more fun doing stuff if we were a little more tolerant of mediocrity. In Praise of Mediocrity.

    The last article says the internet facilitates hobbies and crafts because people who are spread out all over the world are getting together in small little groups. This is not only true, it's AWESOME! And it's great seeing confirmation in print. Online Hobbyists Can Reaffirm Your Faith in the Internet.

    I find the last two articles true and encouraging. I find the first two true but depressing.

    It's the second article that ultimately I found most important. It's true adults do not entertain as much as previous generations did. We don't even eat meals together like our forebears did. We don't have staff so if you entertain, chances that guests who want to talk to the hosts have to hang out in the kitchen and help. Adults are also working longer hours so entertaining at home can easily become a big chore (or never happen).

    What is interesting to me most of all is that historically it's not so much a change as much as a return to earlier patterns of living.

    When the Bible says (King James Genesis 26:8-9)

    {26:8} And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac [was] sporting with Rebekah his wife. And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she [is] thy wife: and how saidst thou, She [is] my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her.

    The reason Isaac and Rebekah were outside was that there was no privacy inside.

    Rooms and privacy came later. Before the invention of the chimney (12th century) almost everyone slept in one big room. The lord of the manor might have an area with some partitions, but heating was a big fire in the middle of the room with a hole in the roof. Just about everyone else slept in common spaces. A hayloft would have been dry and warm. Average people didn't have much in the way of possessions, so a big blanket chest might be all one would need. Peasants and serfs would have had their animals living inside to protect against their theft and also share the heat.

    Without a separate fireplace going, the communal areas around the kitchen or really the main fireplace were where people gathered. The house was a place you slept, ate simple meals, and stored your few possessions. The Church, the local pub, the village common, and the street was where you socialized.

    In the Victorian age, when the industrial revolution gave rise to a large middle class, their private homes became miniatures of what rich people lived in. The parlor, the living room, and the upstairs bedroom. For the first time the kitchen was in the back, tended by a household staff in all but the poorest houses. The poor were crammed into single rooms and largely bought ready to eat food. Water, if the place was lucky to have running water, probably only came into a tap in the basement or kitchen. Bathrooms with plumbing come into play in the second half of the 19th century. By the turn of the 20th century, the basic design of middle class private house was widely understood: public rooms, private rooms, and a kitchen in the back, with room for live in staff. After World War II, private house ownership exploded but labor was in short supply. Cities, New York City especially, provided an alternative model of middle class and upper middle housing before WWII, with a small maid's room and bathroom tucked in near the kitchen in the back of the apartment (with a second service entrance). But the white brick buildings that rose up in the post war period contained a nice kitchen in the middle of the apartment and no provision for staff.

    As fewer and fewer families had anyone staying at home during the day (because everyone works), there was far less incentive and energy to entertain, show off their furniture as a symbol of wealth, and with the advent to television, live collectively.

    In many ways we are returning to our roots. Everyone works, comes home at what used to be workaholic hours, and has little time for hours of socializing. We don't have the energy to emulate the very rich who still have staff and entertain. The furniture associated with that live-style sits unused. The new generation just doesn't bother. I have been amazed by a new style of multi-bedroom apartments in NYC that don't have living rooms. The apartment has bedrooms spoking off a central room with kitchen appliances. This model was presumably developed with roommates in mind, but families are also renting them. In more spacious suburban homes, the "den" has become a relic as family members spend more time in their rooms, alone with their electronics.

    The future of furniture is a subject that interests me deeply. What will future woodworkers build? What is the point of building a nice dining room table if you don't plan to use it? Will we be inventing new furniture forms or just tweaking the old designs? Will the old techniques still have a place in this evolution? Or are we all destined to be building square melamine boxes? This blog entry is the start of an occasional series as I try to understand these questions. Before I can go forward I think I need to go backward and understand the social reasons why the furniture we have looks and is used the way it is. I think I also need to understand the difference between building a piece of furniture because it's an interesting project and building a piece of furniture because it's needed.

    A lot of writers talk about people wanting experiences rather than objects. There is truth to this, especially in New York City where space is at such a premium, but humans have pretty much been thrilled about consumption since commerce began. I don't think I am ready to write off the possessions concept any time soon. Of course I want to learn how to encourage people to want to build things. In the next months I will be going to the library, discussing ideas with colleagues and experts, scratching my head, and trying to understand my world and where we are headed.

    In other news - our BT&C hardened planing stops are [finally] available.

    ___________________

    This "Tools & Craft" section is provided courtesy of Joel Moskowitz, founder of Tools for Working Wood, the Brooklyn-based catalog retailer of everything from hand tools to Festool; check out their online shop here. Joel also founded Gramercy Tools, the award-winning boutique manufacturer of hand tools made the old-fashioned way: Built to work and built to last.p


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    With the proper technique, splitting firewood with an axe in the traditional way--i.e. placing logs vertically atop a stump--can be done safely. And by encircling the log with bungie cords or an old tire, the task can be made relatively efficient, as one does not constantly need to retrieve halves and reposition them on the stump.

    But one prerequisite for hassle-free splitting is that the logs need to have been crosscut fairly square, so that the logs sit plumb upon the stump. If the person working the chainsaw wasn't careful, you're in for a headache.

    For this situation, or for the inexperienced splitter concerned with having an ax-cident, there is an alternative way to split that you may not have seen before. (Apologies for posting a vid with such a click-bait-y title, the "you've been [doing such-and-such] wrong" is the phrase I hate the most.)

    Crazy Russian Hacker didn't invent this method, of course. As one commenter pointed out, "[It's] amazing how the old ways are forgotten. My grandfather split wood this way, he learned it from his grandfather, who learned it from his father a Swede lumberjack."

    I don't doubt that someone will do this, leave too much overhang on the log to be split and send it flying back towards them, but you've got to let Darwinism take its course. I'm going to give this a shot out at the woodpile.



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    Back when I visited Festool's factory in Germany (image below), I got to see workers assembling a variety of their power tools. At their workstations, the workers had these cool automatic screwdrivers hanging overhead. When they needed to drive a fastener, they grabbed the tool, brought it down to the work and the screw was automatically driven with the correct torque.

    I didn't get to see who made these wondrous driving tools, but I think I've just found out. My wife used to work in a manufacturing facility that employed identical tools, and she believes it's a German company called Deprag. Sadly their videos are kind of awful, though the tools are very cool:

    Is it me, or does it sound like the narrator's wife and children are being held hostage to force him to record this? In any case, Deprag's latest versions are designed with automatic screw/nut feeders:

    Prior to that innovation, they had screw-feeding machines:

    A Chinese company called G-Wei makes similar tools. Here's a video of how they're used on a production line:

    It reminds me a bit of those overhead flex shaft grinder workstations.



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    For anyone interested in consumer electronics or particularly photography, no trip to NYC is complete without a visit to B&H. Manhattan's legendary photo supply store, which now sells everything from drones to TVs to surveillance equipment, demonstrates why brick-and-mortar can still be king in an age of online shopping. The floors of B&H are crawling with friendly, knowledgeable salespeople who know their products cold and will spend as much time as necessary in order to help you out.

    Beyond the excellent service, the most amazing part of B&H is undoubtedly their overhead conveyor belt system. When you order something from a salesperson, you don't actually take the product; instead they beam your order down to the basement, where invisible staff load a basket with your goods. You're given a ticket and are free to roam around the store, empty-handed, while your goods zip overhead towards the cashier area:

    While this is touted as a customer convenience, it was undoubtedly devised to prevent shoplifting. B&H was founded in the high-crime New York of the early '70s. By the bye, if you're interested in B&H's history, here it is, condensed into a couple of minutes:


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    Brought to you by MAKO Design + Invent, North America's leading design firm for taking your product idea from a sketch on a napkin to store shelves. Download Mako's Invention Guide for free here.

    Navigating the world of crowdfunding can be overwhelming, to put it lightly. Which projects are worth backing? Where's the filter to weed out the hundreds of useless smart devices? To make the process less frustrating, we scour the various online crowdfunding platforms to put together a weekly roundup of our favorite campaigns for your viewing (and spending!) pleasure. Go ahead, free your disposable income:

    Pluto Wireless is a portable power bank designed to seamlessly integrate into your daily routine. If you're sick of cable clutter (especially when traveling), you might want to give this a try.

    ONAK 2.0 is a handy portable canoe that packs up into a rollable container to make the process of going downstream easier (if you bring a bike along you don't have to find your way back to your original location.)

    I don't typically prefer suitcases that tell you how to pack, but the Carry-On Closet 2.0 gives you the option to use their included packing system or go without. With the packing system, the suitcase folds out into a mini closet ideal for business travelers or those of us who tend to throw everything into their suitcase haphazardly.

    Tired of your office's ugly, bulky calendar?  This minimal calendar cleans things up a bit and leaves room for multiple people to block out dates with tape or markers.

    People are going cray for CrunchBox on Kickstarter, mainly because it's easier to clean and a tad more eco-friendly than its plastic counterparts. If you need an excuse to start packing your lunch more, here it is.

    We've covered Pigzbe more in-depth before, they are worth including in this roundup as well. The founder of the company that designed Pigzbe, Primo Toys will also be speaking at our speaker series during CES.

    Do you need help designing, developing, patenting, manufacturing, and/or selling YOUR product idea? MAKO Design + Invent is a one-stop-shop specifically for inventors / startups / small businesses. Click HERE for a free confidential product consultation.


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    Description The Creative Director is responsible for the creative leadership and management of the Company in two defined areas: product development and visual presentation. The Creative Director mentors, inspires and directs designers and production staff from concept to implementation. The Creative Director works closely with Marketing, Sales and Finance to

    View the full design job here

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    Skate phenom Jeff DeChesare, a/k/a Jeffwon Song, wants you to know how skateboarding videos are actually made. That 360 Inward Heel that he makes look so effortless? It is--when you've got the power of Hollywood magic and computer graphics artists behind you:



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    Even if you're not a graphic designer or typographer, you likely recognize this:

    That's the Snellen Chart, devised to measure visual acuity. Lots of us looked at this chart as children so that doctors and optometrists could determine if other kids would get to call us "Four Eyes" or not.

    The Snellen Chart is pretty old; it was devised by Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Snellen way back in 1862. It was more than a century before two Australian optometrists, Ian Bailey and Jan E. Lovie-Kitchin, created a more accurate chart by tweaking the font:

    This latter chart, today referred to as a LogMAR chart (that's Logarithm of the Minimum Angle of Resolution), is pretty widespread. But it isn't a complete font. It only uses the letters required to measure visual acuity, which the researchers reckoned were these:

    Now a Norwegian advertising firm, ANTI Hamar, has collaborated with typographer Fábio Duarte Martins to create the missing 16 letters, building the LogMAR chart out into a font in its own right. They're calling it Optician Sans:

    The font can be downloaded, for free, here.

    You're welcome, Four Eyes.


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    Is there such a thing as common sense? You might want to believe there is, but when you read that people accidentally die while taking selfies in front of charging bears or alongside tall cliffs, the answer would appear to be no.

    Is there such a thing as common aesthetic sense? Not within the ranks of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. Each year some PA employee is tasked with hanging holiday decorations on the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. Look at how this numbnuts chose to place the decorations:

    Image credit: Rick Loomis for The New York Times

    This finally raised an outcry among irritated commuters, who then lobbied the PA to move the decorations. The PA responded by launching a poll for what they're calling the "Great Holland Tunnel Decoration Debate:"

    If you'd like to cast an online vote, you can do so here.