Friday, 24 December 2021

als ich vom himmel fiel

Miraculously on this day in 1971, en route from Lima to home in-land in Iquitos after graduation ceremonies, seventeen-year-old Juliane (nรฉe Koepcke) Diller not only lived through a catastrophic airplane crash, the cabin broken up by a lightening strike at altitude and tumbling three-thousand metres from the sky still belted into her seat, which took the lives of ninety-one others (her mother included), as sole survivor, she wandered through the rainforests of Peru alone for eleven days before finding civilisation and medical care for her injuries though wholly ambulatory and only sustaining a broken collar bone and a gash to her arm prone to infection. Somewhat of a wild-child, daughter to a pair of biologists, Koepcke was raised in the jungle and had acquired the skills that helped her to persevere. Scouting for filming locations for Aquirre—the Wrath of God, the 1972 historical epic with Klaus Kinski leading a retinue of conquistadores down the Amazon in search of the legendary seven cities of gold, director Werner Herzog would have also taken that flight, had it not been for a change in his itinerary. Subject of a 1988 documentary, Herzog and Koepcke toured the crash site together. Like her parents, Koepcke also studied biology and continued their research in Peru, specialising ultimately in chiroptology, and presently is the chief library for the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology in Munich.

Friday, 3 December 2021

your seat cushion will become a flotation device

Via our peripatetic friends at Things Magazine we are treated to a collection of airliner seatback safety cards from dozens of airlines variously fossilised in different eras with different fashions. Having flown for the first time in a long time recently, we can appreciate how such instructional, disaster deconstructions can be surprisingly engaging and demanding of ones attention that these artefacts can be and creative ways that different companies over the years sought to satisfy a regulatory requirement and engender confidence. Much more at the links above.

Thursday, 11 November 2021


Although one might be forgiven that the initial summary conclusion of semiotician—a student of processes and signifiers, like flow-charts and equations—Charles K. Bliss (*1897 - †1895, born Karl Kasiel Blitz in the Austro-Hungarian Empire but migrated to Australia after the war and release from concentration camps via Shanghai) was that the strife in his homeland was caused by the inability to communicate, we suppose that one only need look at his Blissymbols as a precursor (see also) to our extended character-set of emoji. The constructed ideographic writing system first expounded in 1949 and elaborated subsequently, even assigned its own ISO script block. Originally championed as a heuristic for teaching grammar to those with learning challenges, a set of Blissymbols were adapted into the universal suite of directional and informational glyphs found at train terminals, airports, stadia and hotels following the tourist explosion and jet-setting of the 1960s. More to explore at the links above.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021


Reminding us of the escalator that ascends from the valley to the summit of St Moritz and other similar locomotive attractions, we could appreciate this bit of colourful infrastructure to revitalise an older resort hotel on Gran Canaria without completely razing the existing building. Studio Lopezneeiraciaurri was commissioned to renovate the complex and included a yellow funicular to transport guests up and down, turning this relic from the 1970s into the most modern property around and serving to help us realise that experiential and novel people-movers have an established history as tourist draws.

Saturday, 2 October 2021

net promoter score

Incredulously and with much the same hubris and spirit that the American baseball commission calls its big annual play-off the World Series (it’s not) or organisers an international beauty pageant Miss Universe (she’s not), we learn thanks to the always authentic and as-advertised Miss Cellania that unsurprisingly there’s not only no US airline placing in the top ten globally, because America can’t rise to the challenge to compete on the world-wide stage, there’s a separate ranking for North American airlines. The US doesn’t even manage to sweep this category with Air Canada placing third.

Friday, 13 August 2021


Via friend of the blog Nag on the Lake we learn that in anticipation of our promised flying cars and jet-set future in the mid-seventies, Winnebago ambitiously teamed up with a helicopter service (that sourced its craft from army surplus) to offer a flying recreational vehicle that could go anywhere, with a spacious and luxurious cabin fully equipped with all the comforts of home, sleeping six with full kitchen, bath, generator and colour television.
Many more details and specifications at the links above, including footage of the model in flight. Though out of the range of most like its predecessor which also burned through nearly three hundred litres of fuel per hour in flight and required a qualified pilot, we also learned from the comments section that such ostentation is not only relegated to the past but there’s currently for hire an amphibious plane, the Grumman Albatross, with similar accommodations.

Monday, 9 August 2021

typically tropical

Best remembered for the 1975 Song of the Summer “Barbados,” reaching its pinnacle of popularity on this day those decades hence, the duo comprised of recording engineers Jess Calvert and Max West, the track was covered by the Vengaboys in 1999 as “We’re Going to Ibiza.” Typically Tropical performed the song on Top of the Pops, rounding out an album called Barbados Sky, and three years later received a song writing credit for the Hot Gossip disco number “I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper,” inspired by the Star Wars craze. “…Or are you like a droid—devoid of emotion?”

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

saut de seconde

Introduced for the first time on this day in 1972 and originally delegated to the Bureau International de l’Heure (BIH, the International Time Bureau at the Paris Observatory) to schedule their addition or subtraction, leap seconds (see also) are a way to adjust Universal Coordinated Time and synchronise the invariable atomic clocks that informs most civilian timekeeping with observed solar time, the Earth’s rotation prone to go off-kilter a bit due to geological, climatic changes or meteor impacts. Though implemented as a means to ensure accuracy and uniformity in an increasing interconnected and networked world and announced six months in advance, the irregularity of leap seconds can also reveal flaws in underlying programming, the pictured time-stamp causing Linux-based systems to crash back on that date.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

antonio di padua

Priest and Franciscan friar and Doctor of the Church, Anthony of Lisbon (*1195 - †1231 in the commune west of Venice) is one of the most popular and quickly canonised among the cult of the saints and was acclaimed in his lifetime for giving powerful and persuasive sermons, even keeping a school of fish in rapt attention once and reputation for care for the poor and sick. Invoked in the name of lost things—credited first with the restoration of his own psalter full of notes when Anthony feared it was gone forever—his extensive patronage (see previously) includes things prone to going missing like mail, mariners, shipwrecks, travellers and lost souls, though not all who wander… Anthony in the extended sense is also the protector of the elderly, fisherfolk, amputees, Native Americans, harvests, watermen, horses, travel hosts and counter-revolutionaries.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

santa bona

Early eleventh century Augustinian nun venerated on this day, Bona of Pisa, helped conduct pilgrims on their journeys and is considered the patroness of tour guides, couriers, flight attendants as well as her well-touristed home town. Her father a Crusader in the Holy Land, Bona made no fewer than four sojourns there to visit him and see to his well-being and after being taken hostage by pirates and necessitating a ransom and rescue by her compatriots, redirected her focus to the route of Santiago de Compostela, undertaking the arduous trip ten times and leading others along the way.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

sleeper car

Via the always interesting Maps Mania, we learn more about the happily resurgent phenomenon of night trains (previously) whose network could once again connect the continent and in response to shifting attitudes, expectations and environmental awareness—including legislation to outlaw short-haul flights where alternative and less polluting modes of conveyance are possible. There’s an informative article and even an interactive route-planner to plan one’s future over-nighter and experience waking up in a new city. 



Sunday, 2 May 2021


why are you still here: our houses get sick of us never leaving too—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lots more to see here)  

fake id: the unfortunately inevitable rise of counterfeit vaccination credentials  

disaster girl: meme as NFT (previously) nets a half-million dollars at auction 

comically overwrought: an oral history of the Crying Dawson gif  

resident evil village: games company produced a musical, gory puppet show to promote its latest instalment  

sunshine state: Florida will make it illegal for social media to deplatform politicians, with a especial carve-out for Disney—via Slashdot  

euphonium: found poetry in the history of acoustic waves  

web curios: Waxy lets us know that the fine and well-connected newsletter returns after a sabbatical of nine months with the folding of Imperia   

windows on the world: artwork by Liam Cobb that fills one with Wanderlust—via the morning news

Saturday, 24 April 2021


Courtesy of the New Shelton wet/dry, we are directed towards this helpful and thorough-going comparative resource of map projections (see previously here, here and here) from Jason Davies that covers the range of interrupted maps, two-dimensional flatten of the globe focused on choice areas of less interest that go far beyond the Spilhaus or transverse Mercator projection that’s a favourite television news studio wall-hanging to butterfly maps, the Berghaus Star, Foucaut’s Stereographoc equivalency globe, the loxodrome and the pictured geopolitical bounding box with animation and interactive features.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

vss imagine

Expanding its fleet of suborbital space planes with a third vehicle, Virgin Galactic has commenced test flights with its chromed, mirrored craft that’s reminiscent of a space ship from Buck Rogers or Perry Rhodan and has a superb retro-future aesthetic. More at Design Boom at the link above.

Saturday, 27 March 2021

tenerife airport disaster

Prompting strict enforcement of standardised instructions, safety protocols and English as a common-working language for air traffic controllers and flight crews, the deadliest accident in aviation history occurred on this day in 1977 when two Boeing 747 passenger jets collided on the runway in foggy conditions on the Spanish island. Five hundred eighty-three people were killed. Members of the Canary Islands Independence Movement had planted a bomb at the larger Gran Canaria airport and called in the threat, this terrorist incident causing planes to be diverted to the smaller regional Los Rodeos airport in the northern part of Tenerife, causing the taxiway to become congested and arriving and departing planes sharing the single runway had to wait their turn in deteriorating weather conditions. A mutual misunderstanding tragically caused the KLM and Pan Am flights to start at the same time.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

safe countries of origin

Surreal and more than a bit menacing—via Maps Mania—we are referred to No Fly Free Zone and its regular recitation of flight guidelines and entry-restrictions and rule-making exceptions issued by the International Air Transportation Association for member states. The globe with air routes is interactive and a public-address system jingle is used to punctuate announcements.

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

ten and two

Things Magazine directs our attention to directed to a thoroughgoing and informative appreciation of the engineering and triangulation of technology, style and their limitations, constraints that have gone into the Apple Watch, including a lesson of the anatomy of classic
watchmaking (lugs, bezel, face and hands) and a historical inventory of the iconic dials that inform and inspire Apple’s gallery, including the “error-proof” California Dial trialled by Rolex, the evolving chronograph with an array of complications, diving watches and models coordinated with Greenwich Mean Time, introduced by Pan Am realising that their pilots and crew needed to reference multiple time-zones.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

if your friends don’t mask—and why they don’t mask, well they won’t fly this airline

Though I think it is going to take a lot more than a catchy commercial to restore my confidence in plane travel, we did like this promotional piece from Alaska Airlines, whose residents are arguably more reliant on that form of travel than many of us—via Pasa Bon! to the tune of Safety Dance. I admire their energy and commitment to mitigating as much risk as possible, in any case. If you let the video play through and forward to the next, there’s a quit good supercut of 1980s television spots for the carrier to watch.

Saturday, 12 September 2020

arrivals and departures lounge

Though it was endearing to see a family undertake a cancelled trans-Pacific vacation or to tour airports with a sense of nostalgia and Wanderlust, Singapore Airlines’ plans to take travellers aloft on actual flights to nowhere both starting and ending at Changi airport (the city state bereft of domestic travel opportunities) seems wasteful and perverse. What do you think? Circling the runway is very resource intensive and an economy that need to maintain such circulation seems childish and like a bit of grifting that we’d do better to move beyond and not let a cloying attempt to save a market with no rehabilitation further take down the environment with it.

Thursday, 16 July 2020


houstonia: a century of the Texas city told though iconic photographs—via Things Magazine

bovine flatulence: a strange fast food campaign touts its efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions and improve animal welfare

triple word score: a Star Wars round-up including Scrabble tiles in the script of Galactic Basic, Aurebesh (previously)

eggs over easy: an introduction to Britain’s influential pub rock scene of the 1970s and its lasting legacy

when she walks, she’s like a samba: a deconstruction of the complex Girl from Ipanema (see also July 2019), the second most covered song in history

le vetture tranviarie: engineer Arturo Tedeschi redesigns a tram car for social distancing (see previously)

eponymous first album: quarantined residents in of a senior assisted living centre recreate iconic record covers

unclaimed baggage: more on the small town Alabama store (previously) that resells the world’s lost luggage—via Duck Soup