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  • Michael Krakovskiy 1:09 am on December 1, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Empire State Building observatory, Fancy, Glass, , , , online ticketing system, Patrick's Cathedral, ,   

    Top of the Rock 

    I have been looking forward to the opening of the “Top of the Rock” for a long while. As soon as the online ticketing system became available, I got the tickets for the first day, and the first sunset that this observation platform became available to regular shmoes like me.

    The entrance, which is located in the underground concourse is decorated with this fancy Swarovski Crystal chandelier. Top of the Rock chose two somewhat strange marketing alliances – with Swarovski and with Target.

    The elevator ride to the observation platform features a ceiling-projected movie of cheesy historical images and newsreels. Though that you can see exposed and lighted elevator shaft which is much more impressive.

    Once you get to the multistoried observation platform, you start to notice and and photograph hundreds of interesting things otherwise unseen from the ground. The rooftop of the building where you work.

    The cross of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

    You get to stand basically face to face, on the same level with the spire of the Empire State Building, only separated by the annoying bulletproof glass. The spaces between panes allow you to take decent pictures, and the top setbacked platform does not even have the glass. That’s where you can entertain your superhero daydreams – by quietly standing there, of course, and not by jumping off of it.

    Besides the glass and the loud tourists, the only annoyance that I can name is a little bit of sewage smell. I am pretty sure that came from the plumbing vent that you can see in this picture.

    Overall, I have to say that the whole experience was superior to the Empire State Building observatory. Online ticketing interface allows you to buy tickets for specific time, avoiding lines (the guy who coded the ticketing system even dropped me an email on my previous entry). You get to see the Empire State Building itself, as well as views of Central Park. The top deck without the glass is very cool.

    Unfortunately I forgot my own camera and had to borrow co-worker’s Nikon, so I’ll be back with my own gear, the long lens and possibly a tripod. One unsettling thing about Top of the Rock, though, is that the ticket (but not the website) states that you are only allowed to take pictures for non-commercial purposes. That’s not very nice. I did see a lot of people with tripods and fancy cameras though – hopefully they are not going to hassle me.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:00 am on August 8, 2004 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Dielectrics, , Glass, , Rocco's restaurant, , , Vera Mukhina   

    Thorough The Drinking Glass 

    I’ve been thinking about soda (aka pop) a bit lately, so there’ll be a few soda related posts. Here’s the first one.

    My childhood memories about soda come down to three things: Soviet drinking glasses, Soviet soda machines, soda siphons and the little booth in Odessa run by a cantankerous married pair.

    The mass produced Soviet glass is a legendary piece of glassware.  I took me a while to figure out how to translate the Russian word for this type of glassware –  “граненый”.  “Edged” immediately came to mind, but the proper term is “paneled”. 

    The Soviet paneled glass was designed in 1943 by the sculptor Vera Mukhina (best known for her sculpture “The Worker and Collective-Farm Girl” and  it’s shape was possibly suggested by Kasimir Malevich (famous for his painting “Black Square“).

    The author of the article linked above suggests that the popularity of the glass came from the fact that worker’s hands became accustomed to things with edges such as hexagonal nuts.  The cheapness and robustness of the glass indeed made it very popular.  So popular that is became a symbol of alcoholism in Russia after being featured in countless anti-alcoholism posters and cartoons.

    There’s a similar glass that is popular in American restaurants, but it is a little different: the panels do not reach the top of the glass and they come in a number of sizes:

    American style paneled glass

    I bought 8 very similar glasses today since I gave up on looking for the real deal on eBay. Also this seems to be a similar glass used in Rocco’s restaurant, the subject of the show on which I am currently hooked.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 1:10 am on January 3, 2003 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Black light, Carnival glass, Depression glass, , , Glass, Luminescence, , , radium/phosphorus paint, , , Troitskaya Tower   

    Watch Out, Radioactive Man! 

    Ok, since we are on the subject of things that fascinate me. How about radium glass?

    When I was little, I’ve read in some book about special red glass from which the red star on top of Kremlin was made of. It turns out that a little bit of radium must be added to the glass mix in order to get a deep red color.

    From here:
    When seen from below, from the ground, the stars do not seem particularly large, yet the points of each one are 3 to 3.75 meters apart. The lighting inside the stars is controlled from a room in the Troitskaya Tower. The framework of the stars is made of stainless steel and they are faced in special three-layer glass which is ruby-red on the outside and milk-white on the inside. Each star is lit by a 3,700 to 5,000 watt bulb and, to protect the bulbs from overhearing, cooled air is forced into the stars through hollow rods 24 hours a day. The stars are so designed that they can revolve smoothly in the wind.

    Oooh, oooh, look at this picture of the star being installed. Man….

    Anyways, back to my rant.

    Turns out that besides being popular as an ingredient in all sort of “medicinal” remedies, from enemas to pills, radium was used in many sorts of glassware. The color of radium impregnated glass has a very distinctive look. These days such items are called “Depression Glass” because it was very popular during the Great Depression or “Radium Glass”. A very distinctive feature of such glass is that it glows when exposed to uv light (aka black light).

    Here is what green radium glass looks like with and without uv light.

    Freaky, huh?
    My cigar ashtray is made out of the same greenish glass.

    There is also “Carnival Glass” that was popular in the 1920s. It is sometimes made of radium glass, but with a glaze made of iridium and other unobtaniums.

    There is not too much radioactivity in this glass, so it’s pretty much considered safe. I would not reccomend eating off it, but for collecting it’s ok. There are tons and tons of this stuff on eBay.

    Oh, I forgot to mention that I want to add a radium/phosphorus paint to the hour and second arms and numbers on my watch. The modern “glow in the dark” paints suck.

     
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