The League Of Objects Made In Different Places

And here’s what I spent much of my Sunday sitting in the armchair and reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (thanks for recommendation, badger). For a minute I thought about where all the stuff that surrounded me was made.

Matcha tea is from Kyoto Japan, so is the bowl. The cigar’s components hail from Nikaragua, Ecuadore and Sumatra. The water is from Fiji. The ashtray is probably made in China (my radium glass ashtray broke) and so is the window fan that sucks out all the smoke. The armchair is made in Italy. Tilde the cat is probably made in Brooklyn (even though she looks sullen, she was not posed at all).

I wonder if Michael Chabon got the name for one of the title characters from this old hotel a couple of block from the Empire State Building.

Blinking Tema’s Stuff

Thanks to the wonders of the WaybackMachine Lebedev watchers can track what everybody’s favorite Russian designer has in his office at temporal markers A B C and D. If you open these links in different tabs of your Firefox browser (you are not using IE still, are you?) you can use a technique that astronomers call “blinking” to see the changes in Tema’s fine equipment.

The most puzzling change is from B to C to D. It looks like he didn’t like the new Herman Miller Mira and went back to good ol’ Aeron.  I am surprised that he isn’t using dual monitors yet. 

Also notice how the picture on the monitor does not reflect the changes up to D.

So far the only exact matches to my equipment is the chair and the wastebasket. My Intuos2 is a smaller 4×5, my Griffin powermate is black, not silver, my camera is a cheaper but better Digital Rebel, instead of post-its I use a police memo binder with a reporter’s pad inside, my keyboard, trackball and mouse are made by Logitech, the dual screens are Viewsonic VP171b, the computer is a Shuttle XPC. My cigar ashtray which gets used only a few times a month is made out of radium glass. My cellphone is cheap and looks like a brick, but thanks to all those Verizon towers that irradiate everyone around, has awesome reception. And for pens I use whatever is left from my office supply therapy.

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.