January 2011

Posted by Ellen

For Milan's second annual LED Festival, Chiara Lampugnani dreamed up some night-flying butterflies that flit up Canonica and Paolo Sarpi streets.

Posted by Ellen

 

Today is the last day of Milan's second annual LED Festival, a celebration of outdoor lighting in the city that a hundred years ago became the first in Europe to electrify its street lights and street cars. This year's festival featured sixty installations totaling more than 600,000 LED bulbs.

On Via della Spiga, artist Fabrio Novembre hung out laundry in lights, alluding to a Sophia Loren movie, Iori, Oggi, Domani--Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. 

It just doesn't seem fair, somehow, that when they dole out the cinematic icons, Milan gets Sophia Loren while here in Philadelphia we have to make do with Sylvester Stallone....

Posted by Ellen

 

The kids used to have their friends over, and they'd go down in the basement and rassle and stuff. They're all grown up now, more or less; they're not living at home any more, and so we sold the house. Basement and all.

Posted by Ellen

 You don't see all that many pictures featuring slush. The slush featured here is in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, but I think the takeaway is that Slovenian slush and American slush are kinda hard to tell apart.

Posted by Ellen

Arthur Havard was fourteen years old in 1911 when his picture was taken at work one day, outside the #6 shaft of the coal mine in South Pittston, Pennsylvania.

Havard's job was to drive the mules that hauled coal along tracks from the working face deep in the mine all the way up to daylight. Many boys worked in the mine for years as mule drivers until they finally grew big enough to wield a pick and work as regular miners.

It was another world back then. Yet it wasn't all that long ago; Havard's children were born in the 1920s, and some are still alive today.

Here is a description of how children worked in the mines of Pennsylvania, provided by the son of a mule driver like Havard:

My dad was a 'mule driver' in a Western Pennsylvania bituminous coal mine as a youth. His job was to guide the mule and coal cart on tracks out of the mine. On the way out, he would make sure that no clumps of coal would fall off the cart. If they did he would have to pick up the coal, climb to the top of the load and replace the fallen coal on top of the load. The coal company had a bell at the exit tunnel hanging down to ring as it was hit on the way out. If the bell did not ring, the team who cut, dug and loaded the coal would not be paid for a full load. He could never let that bell not to ring. That team of miners were his relatives and neighbors in the same Coal Patch.

Posted by Ellen

This view of a juvenile bivalve mollusk (sp. Lima), enlarged 10x, won 12th place in Nikon's Small World competition for photos taken through a microscope. Because the specimen was virtually transparent, making it difficult to see under the microscope, special "darkfield" lighting techniques were necessary. The beam of light was blocked in the middle and scattered with mirrors around the periphery, so that it reached the specimen only from the edges and at a very low angle.

Dr. Gregory Rouse, whose mollusk this is, curates a collection of invertebrate sea critters at Scripps Institute in San Diego. His most recent publication: "Deep-sea swimming worms with luminescent 'bombs.'"

Posted by Ellen

 Militarily speaking, the Greek War for Independence from the Ottoman Turks went pretty badly for the Greeks throughout the 1820s. Their first leader, the heroic Alexander Ypsilanti, died in battle almost immediately; his successors were provincial military strongmen who squabbled with one another and could not sustain focus on the overall goal. Even when Greek warriors succeeded in wresting a town or an island from the Turks, they often failed to hold onto it for long, as ships belonging to the Ottoman ally Egypt patrolled the sea and starved out the Greek "victors."

But in the non-military propaganda war, which is what we see here in this 1826 painting by the Belgian-French artist Henri Decaisne, Greece performed magnificently. The philohellenism then fashionable in England, France, and Germany--the worship of all cultural things Greek--kept the war in the Western spotlight and provided the rebels with financial support, Romantic young volunteers, and ultimately military rescue and a Western-imposed peace settlement.

The British navy routed the Turks and Egyptians. Greek armies followed up on the naval victory with another round of attacks on the Turkish-held cities. Finally, in 1830, the crumbling Ottoman regime in Constantinople was forced to accept Western terms for Greek independence.

Decaisne called this painting, "Failed Military Operation."

 

Posted by Ellen

Shown here a few birthdays ago is the same birthday girl from yesterday's post, back when she wore Shirley Temple curls and made straight A's at Eliot Jr. High (now Eliot-Hine Middle School) in Northeast Washington, D.C. It was around this time that she trained her dog, Spike, to bark twice in response to the question, "What's the cube root of 8?"

Posted by Ellen

Mom turned eighty last week, which cannot be. She was always the youngest mother, and she's still much too young.

The celebration, I'm told, included a football game in Arizona. The right team won (Oklahoma).

Posted by Ellen

As the year turns, the astronauts in the International Space Station have been steadily circling the globe about 400 miles above us. A couple of nights ago, when they were flying over the ocean near North Korea, they picked up their little Nikon digital camera and pointed it westward, toward the Asian mainland. That's Beijing in the upper left, Tianjin in the lower right, glowing out into space.

This is what new years will be looking like for a long time to come.

Meanwhile, may 2011 bring health and glowing good cheer to you and yours. This past year wasn't all that great; there is plenty of room for improvement. 

Good mornings, y'all.