The Tolomeo Mini Table Task Lamp is a standing luminaire for orientable direct task lighting. Fully adjustable articulated arm body structures in extruded aluminum. Joints, tension control knobs and base in Polished Die-cast Aluminum. Tension cables in Stainless Steel. Diffuser in stamped, Anodized Matte Aluminum, rotatable 360 degrees on lampholder with incorporated on/off switch. Available in Polished Aluminum, White or Black finish. Shown in Aluminum finish. One 100 Watt 120 Volt E26/G16Cl incandescent lamp (not included). Also available with Fluorescent lamping and in a smaller and larger size. Designed by Michele De Lucchi and Gerhard Fassina in 1987-1991. UL Listed. Made in Italy. Shipping: Shipping information will be emailed to you within two business days after placing an order. Dimensions: Base: Diameter 7.75 in. Fixture: Overall Length 40.5 in. Height 21 in. Reach 26.75 in.
For the Beaver to Poop On!
An exhaustive article about the “Brass Rat” – MIT class ring featuring the school’s mascot, a rat-looking beaver:
“The Brass Rat is traditionally worn with the Beaver “sitting” or “shitting” on the wearer until graduation. This represents the hardships imposed on students at MIT. In addition, the skyline of Boston is facing the student, representing the outside world awaiting. After graduation, the ring is turned around, and the Cambridge skyline is visible to the graduate, as a reminder of times spent at MIT.”
Fans of Harry Harrison can choose to order the Brass Rat in stainless steel instead.
This must be the ugliest class and overstated ring in existence. The Canadian engineer’s iron ring, by comparison is a marvel of good taste (even though technically it’s a pinky ring).
My favorite part of this trivia was the hack of welding the Brass Rat to the finger of the Statue of the Three Lies (as the model for the statue supposedly went to MIT).
Overheard Inside The Stainless Steel Worm
A slightly non-standard conductor’s announcement:
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a red signal against us” (instead of the usual “ahead of us”).
Fellow passengers use slang from a certain industry:
“West 4th is the money stop” (because so many people get off there. Budum-pum.)
Poetry in Motion
Came up with this during my morning subway ride:
Magnetic flux in a white glass tube
Bounces greenish light
From stainless steel guts
Of a stainless steel worm
That travels beneath the waves.
An empty Greek cup
That held a drink
Of infusion of coffee beans
Is clenched in a hand of a woman who sleeps
Not seeing any dreams.
A holy book in hands of a man
Holds a promise of mystical lore
Wrapping words of wise men
Of time gone by
Around holier word of fore.
A cat in a box
With plastic doors
Looks outside with fear.
The stainless steel worm
Makes no sense
To a being with claws and hair.
Keys in a clip
On a belt of a man
In a jacket of steely-blue cloth
Can open doors
In a tower of grey
Containing amazing wealth.
A plastic red sack
With symbols of black
Carries cheap and expensive treats
That smell of a place
That is far, far away
Not connected by rails.
The ceramic song
Of passing stops
A swirling mosaic sets
In the minds of passengers riding the worm
That eats the electric thread.
Shaker and Baker or Gaudi, not Gaudy
When I was in my teens, I wanted to become an architect. I read books about architecture, and one of my favorite pastimes was trying to tell the architectural style of any buildings I saw. I did that in my native city of Odessa, Ukraine and on the trips to Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev. For a while I really favored the Gothic style. I really liked the soaring feeling of gothic churches. But then I’ve seen a rather plain building with rounded, yet also soaring shapes. The only decoration on the building were relief plaques. The building was rather old, yet depicted on the plaques were an airplane, a light bulb, a telegraph key and I think a radio. My dad explained to me about Art Deco style.
Here, in America, I learned about different art movements of the beginning of the century. It gets pretty complicated. There is Art Deco, Art Modern, Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts and Shaker style. Why I like these styles? Well, it’s because I think that they have just the right proportion of beauty and utility. This is a sort of a mental cheat sheet that I have (embellished with links, of course):
Shaker Style: Shakers are a now mostly extinct religious sect. In fact they are a splinter of the Quaker movement, and were called shaking Quakers because their praying during which they shook. I can’t distinguish Shaker Style from Arts and Crafts, and indeed they are very similar. Genuine Shaker items are very expensive, but these days many manufacturers make shaker style furniture and kitchen cabinets. Although great designers and craftsmen, there are very few Shakers remaining. I bet it’s all because they are supposed to be celibate.
Arts and Crafts: Started in Great Britain. A bunch of designers and architects were pissed off by the poor quality and gaudiness of early mass produced things. Their motto was something to the tune of “turn artists into craftsmen and craftsmen into artists”. Simple bordering on austere designs, natural materials, muted colors, handmade look. The radically new idea was to take away most of decoration, but at the same time turn structural elements into decorations. Instead of hiding beams, supports, joins and other elements of construction, the designers would instead show them off. The solidity, strength are considered virtues. The proportions are usually more down to earth, not meant to dwarf a person. Think Frank Lloyd Wright and Newcomb College Pottery. Basically heavy duty, expensive hand made crap for rich people with good taste.
Art Nouveau: Started in France. The name is derived from the name of some gallery or exhibition or something like that. The idea was to create a whole new style for the new century. Just to be different. The designs are organic (meaning that things looked as if they were grown, not built), proportions – elongated. Not a single sharp edge to be seen. Think Aubrey Beardsley, Tiffany (who names their son Louis Comfort?), Gaudi and what he did in Barcelona. I would also call H.R. Ggiger’s stuff modern Art Nouveau, although I don’t know if that’s correct. In general a style for eccentric rich people.
Art Deco: Very similar to Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau. The major difference is that instead of making things look hand made, the fact that things are made by machines now is celebrated. Elements of the design are very industrial, proportions – soaring. There is a wide variety in colors used – sometimes they are muted, even dark, sometimes – absolutely outrageous. Shining stainless steel is not out of place, and neither is polished black lacquer. Think Chrysler Building, Empire State Building and other New York skyscrapers, early Polaroid cameras, bakelite rotary phones (in fact anything made out of bakelite), cathedral radios, turn of the century cars.
The thing is, Art Deco is easily corrupted. There is a style that is sometimes derogatively referred to as “Bronx Modern” or “Flatbush Renaissance”. Gaudy, ugly stuff. Like much of Italian furniture sold in Brooklyn. Or like Joey Tribbiani’s apartment in “Friends”. Such perverted Art Deco is rather common. Do not confuse it with true, beautiful Art Deco.
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.
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.
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.