Thursday, 2 February 2023

i think that i shall never see a poem lovely as a tree (10. 517)

Penned on this day in 1913 by journalist, writer and soldier Joyce Kilmer—best known for these twelvelines of verse—in Mahwah, New Jersey, those couplets, despite or because of their endurance and familiarity, by dint of being a rhyme practically everyone knows are the subject of disparagement and dismissal for being overly simplistic and sentimental and conversely celebrated with popular appeal as a heuristic that romances and rediscovers the virtues of delivering a simple and satisfying message. “Trees” is recited at Arbor Day events and upheld in the tradition of planting memorials in his name with several trees vying to have been the poet’s inspiration. Sergeant Joyce Klimer Triangle (he was killed in action during the Second Battle of the Marne in WWI) in Brooklyn, a traffic island, is the smallest park in New York City, though his memory is honoured akso with a much larger green space in the Bronx.

Friday, 13 January 2023

8x8 (10. 413)

rummaged in the roots: with only the dead in their graves as witnesses, we learned that the Hardy Tree of St Pancras succumbed to blight, via Strange Company  

terracotta army: archeologists are hesitant to unseal the tomb of China’s first emperor—and for good reason, via ibฤซdem, more here 

genuary 2023: a month of generative coding to make beautiful AI artefacts—via Web Curios  

alphaputt: this typographical, twenty-six hole course

know your meme: incredibly, there has never been an indexed search engine of the internet image macros—via Waxy

fossil fuel: industry scientists had a preternaturally accurate grasp on the consequences of burning oil five decades ago—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

ucluelet: the largest Rogue Wave on record—see previously  

vauxhall: a tour of south London in the 1980s—via Things Magazine

Thursday, 3 November 2022

7x7 (10. 269)

memorymoog: Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo shares his synthesizer collection  

erry & merry: the portfolio illustrator Walter Schnackenberg whose subject and style was informed by Toulouse-Lautec’s Parisian cabarets 

unalloyed: scientists discover a way to synthesise a cosmic compound that may be a cheap and abundant substitute for rare earth elements  

star-bellied sneech: verification for sale 

astronomicum caesareum: an exploration of an intricate, antique tome commissioned to prognosticate one’s destiny  

waverly abbey: an ancient yew in Surrey is accorded the UK Tree of the Year title  

ondioline: a demonstration of this precursor to the synthesizer from Jean-Jacques Perry—via Pasa Bon!

Saturday, 15 October 2022

the levelled churchyard (10. 227)

Strange Company’s invaluable Weekend Link Dump invites us to pass an hour in the cemetery of Old St Pancras—not only famed for its connection to the literary circles of Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens and Mary Wollstonecraft as well as the iconic telephone box via the tomb of Sir John Soane but moreover attracting visitors to what has been deemed the Hardy Tree, after the former junior architect turned novelist involvement with the expansion of the train network (see also). The building of the Midland Railway necessitated the removal of many graves, a number of the headstones of them were rummaged in the roots of this tree, inspiring the author later to reflect in the titular poem, “We late-lamented, resting here,/Are mixed to human jam,/And each to each exclaims in fear,/‘I know not which I am!’” Much more to explore at the links above.

Friday, 7 October 2022

7x7 (10. 203)

silphium: an ancient superfood of the Mediterranean world thought extinct possibly rediscovered in Turkey—via Strange Company 

unsung heroes: a LEGO diorama depicts a crew keeping the sewers unblocked—with more links to fatbergs  

mlle musidora: reviving a forgotten icon of the Belle ร‰poque—see also  

centaur chess: machines can handily beat grand masters but a computer-human team is unstoppable  

the legend of sleepy hallow: the wild ride behind the Headless Horseman

pendant lighting: Ambience Studio upcycles LEGO bricks into a colourful lamp  

pommes bleu: the annual optical spectacle that the intersection of the sun and these stained glass windows of the chapel of Rennes le Chรขteau draws pilgrims

Monday, 3 October 2022

tree talk (10. 192)

Via Waxy, artist Kelton Sears, employing a vertical scroll going upwards presents a GIF-driven, happy comic–reminiscent of Cordell Barker’s “The Cat Came Back”–to reflect on our aboreal friends and the way we experience the passage of time—with humour and insight. 


 

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

dispersal agent (10. 133)

While I can’t say whether it is the most efficient pastime, once I get settled and can establish a routine in a new workplace I have taken to gathering oaknuts, acorns, hazelnuts, pinecones and chestnuts from that have landed on pavements (and on my path—for the most part because I don’t want to turn this into more of a compulsion than it already has become—I get some looks but there are quite some spent seeds for the taking) during my lunchtime walks in the city during the week. I amass a sizeable bounty having filled my pockets daily and when I go on my walks in the woods, I try to toss them into a patch of land that I assess ought to have a tree. Maybe the forest will accrue in a decade or so, we’ll see. What do you think? I am surely not the only one who does this.

Thursday, 16 June 2022

monkey puzzle tree

Native to Chile and Argentina and described as a living fossil like the Wollemi pines, the Araucaria araucana, which goes by the above common name (as in it would puzzle a monkey to climb these reptilian and rangy branches) and also known as the piรฑonero is endangered in its wild habitat but a popular decorative tree with a reputation of being hardy and adaptable to a wide array of climes. The scaly leaves individually have a longevity of about twenty-four years and after maturity at forty years, the trees begin producing seed that are edible like pine nuts. Its Australian relatives, also to include the bunya pines which produce cones as big as soccer balls, share a common ancestry when that continent, Antarctica and South America were joined as Gondwanaland.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

7x7

tidal power: Japan trials subsea turbines as a stable source of limitless green energy  

rethink the week: Stephen Fry and a host of animators believe that the time has come for a four-day work week—previously  

bosco verticale: Milan’s forested apartment block recreated in LEGO  

young macgyver: an unaired pilot spin-off of the original—remember when it was a huge reveal to disclose our hero’s first name?  

baad mambia: voicing AI output from Janelle Shane (previously) of Strong Bad from the flash animated series Homestar Runner—via Waxy  

mapped sonification: mouse around noisy cities and imagine how things will be different when our built environment isn’t designed to accommodate the internal combustion engine  

blue planet: World Oceans Day 2022 focuses on revitalisation—previously

Friday, 3 June 2022

bergpark wilhelmshรถhe

H and I had visited the sprawling landscaped park outside of Kassel some time ago but neglected to blog about it here, so we were happy to have the occasion to revisit and share impressions of the Baroque giardino all’italiana built for Landgraf Karl I von Hessen beginning in 1696 on the anniversary of the presentation of the water elements (Wasserspiele) by Giovanni Francisco Guerniero in 1714, switching on the cascades and waterfalls for the first time. The landgrave had met the architect in Rome whilst on a Grand Tour and engaged him to realise his grand plans for the largest garden on the continent, and though making a solid first impression which delighted his patron, Guerniero fled back to Italy once it became clear that planning errors and cost-overruns meant that the project could not be finished. Atop a pyramid, atop on octagon, is a copper statue of Hercules, surveying the watercourse. Successive occupants of the palace expanded and contributed to the character of the park over the years, adopting new styles and eventually veering away from the French formal style to more of an English garden and it was finally completed after a century and a half of construction. Open to the public, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013.

Sunday, 29 May 2022

wasserfall eisgraben

Taking advantage of the fine weather and long weekend, H and I headed just south of the Schwarzes Moor and took a long hike through the Hochrhรถn to the cascading valley of pools that is the main drainage outlet of the marshy region, flowing into the Fulda river. Named for the cold winds that flow through the rift—and it was quite brisk for the end of May—this watershed courses over basalt boulders and goes deep underground after emerging from the forest. This area below the boglands is part of a larger nature preserve and criss-crossed with wooded paths and is a protected biome. Introduced spruces harvested for timber in the nineteenth century displaced much of the original forest but logging was stopped in most areas in 1971 and native sycamores and elms are returning. Discovering the waterfall at the end of the Wanderweg was especially rewarding and are eager for more exploration soon.


 

Friday, 20 May 2022

6x6

from juno to jupiter: famed composer who championed the synthesizer Vangelis passed away, aged 79  

of angel and puppet: an exploration of innocence through the finger puppets of Paul Klee—see previously

the pรบca of ennistymon: a sculpture of a mythological chimera almost gets cancelled  

fern gully: spelunkers in China discover a massive ancient forest in a sinkhole  

capable of completing the kessel run in less than twelve parsecs: the Millennium Falcon was the last ship build at the Royal Pembroke Dockyard  

v’ger: Voyager 1 beaming back usual telemetry to mission control—via Boing Boing

Friday, 6 May 2022

7x7

⚠️: a pictogramatical survey of caution wet floor signs—via Pasa Bon!  

load-bearing bifurcation: engineers incorporate sturdy, often-discarded tree forks in construction  

thameside tv: clips from London’s first pirate station—see also  

no tofu: the Noto typeface (previously) a suite of emoji  

unit patch: the more inscrutable badges of the US Space Force—see previously  

pocket mac: the process of designing a fake vintage product 

: Unicode Consortium’s growing list of astronomical glyphs, magical charms

Friday, 22 April 2022

earth day

Organisers Denis Hayes and Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson who championed the establishment of the annual observance in support of environmental protection and better stewardship of the planet in congress—plus drumming up the earnest support of the United Auto Workers union which without the backing of the labour movement probably would have had no staying power—chose the date strategically as to time the holiday outside of college exams and Spring Break, student activism being among the important targets to carry the cause forward, and with the happy coincidence that the date range included the anniversary of the 1838 birth of John Muir—an American of Scottish extract regarded as the Father of the National Parks, avid naturalist, ecologist and conservationist who co-founded the Sierra Club and pushed the government to establish a nature reserve in the Yosemite region of California. 

Reportedly unbeknownst to Nelson and Hayes, the first 1970 celebration fell on the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Soviet revolutionary Vladimir Lenin (New Style, 1870), causing some media outlets to speculate at the time that it was not an unfortunately coincidence but rather signaled that the environmental movement was a “Communist trick” to subvert and indoctrinate the youth—apparently into caring for Nature and the world around them and engendered guilt over polluting and over-consumption. The themes for this year include Sustainable Fashion, the Great Global Clean-up, the Canopy Project (reforestation) and Climate and Environmental Literacy.

Friday, 15 April 2022

paas

Though the pictured eggs are on our Ostereierbaum and are not generated by an artificial intelligence, we thought that they did have some of the same swirly effects as these iterations of Easter eggs created by Janelle Shane (see previously) and her neural networks, including Artstation and Midjourney (previously). The output “seasoned” with the Ukrainian traditional pysanky and krashanky patterns are inspired, as are the giant looming eggs in the style of a matte painting. Incidentally, scholars believe that the abundance of eggs for this time of the year is owing to the prohibition of eating them during Lent coupled with the fact that chickens couldn’t be persuaded to stop laying them, so they needed to be consumed quickly as soon as possible once the restrictions lifted. The name of the titular, ubiquitous and arguably less artful colouring dye comes from the Dutch Pasen for Eastertide.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

8x8

many years later, as he faced the firing squad, colonel aureliano buendia was to remember that weird folgers commercial where it implied the brother and sister were hooking up: first drafts of the greatest first lines in literature 

stories and studies of strange things: the life and legacy of Lafcadio Hearn (ฮ ฮฑฯ„ฯฮฏฮบฮนฮฟฯ‚ ฮ›ฮตฯ…ฮบฮฌฮดฮนฮฟฯ‚ ฮงฮตฯฮฝ / ๅฐๆณ‰ ๅ…ซ้›ฒ) itinerant author and journalist who introduced the Western world to Japan 

censored: people in Russia are frantically downloading Wikipedia in the wake of the threat of Roskomnadzor to ban it 

haunted art: an exhibition of the lingering possession in US museum collections 

the rites of spring: an arboreal celebration  

frozen chosen: unusual Antarctic ergot 

uncanny valley: AI rendered stories read by humans  

no set back: great authors on rejection

Friday, 18 February 2022

7x7

pigeon fancy: Emil Schachtzabel illustrates unnatural selection in prize breeds  

act local, think global: a twenty-question quiz about one’s bioregion, immediate surroundings and a challenge for low-scorers 

onomastic terminology: petrichor, overmorrow, interrobangs and other proper orthonyms  

wysiwyg: Jane Austen used straight pins to edit the rough drafts of her manuscripts before word processors and correction-liquid  

device orchestra: various peripherals, gadgets and appliances perform “Seven Nation Army”  

pandemic cartograms: our unvaccinated world  

hodowla goล‚ฤ™bi: profiling Poland’s pigeon keepers, moving up in the pecking-order

Sunday, 30 January 2022

root directory

A happily reactivated Present /&/ Correct shop blog (do check out their sundries) brings us this interesting series of studies curated by Wageningen University of hand renderings of root systems (see also here and here) of trees and plants whose subterranean presences and connections can be far more substantial and wide-reaching than we surface-dealers can fathom.

Thursday, 27 January 2022

8x8

i just think they’re neat: an orchestral ballad extolling the qualities of the tuber—via Pasa Bon! 

pulsar: a mysterious, suspected white dwarf star called GLEAML-X is far more energetic than physically possible  

eurhythmics: the greatest music teacher of the twentieth century, Nadia Boulanger whose pupils included Igor Stravinsky and Quincy Jones  

nu descendant un escalier № 2: the Marcel Duchamp research portal  

great green wall: an ongoing project to grow a corridor of trees across Africa 

meta-maps: gazetteers that interpret atlases from the collection of David Rumsey 

 bande dessinรฉe: Belgium’s new passport design pays homage to the country’s comic artists  

fire sale: a curious inventory of lots for sale with the closure of the Drury Lane theatre  

his father’s eyes: a giant New Zealand potato, Dug, is subjected to genetic-testing for proof that it is a tuber

Friday, 21 January 2022

6x6

wheelie bins: a collection of municipal-issue recycling bins from across the UK—via Pasa Bon! 

filmovรฝ plakรกt: a gallery of vintage Czech movie posters  

1 000 trees: drone footage showcases Heatherwick studios’ Shanghai shopping centre  

northwoods baseball sleep radio: a fake game with no jarring sounds designed for podcast slumber  

holkham bible picture book: a 1330 curiosity that illustrates select passages from the Old and New Testaments  

the great british spring clean: projects and programmes (see also) sponsored by Keep Britain Tidy