July 6, 2012
The year of 1928 was somewhat lacking in interesting commemorative stamps. Of the six stamps, three were overprinted definitive stamps and one was a small (although not badly designed) Valley Forge commemorative stamp. Oddly, the two stamps that stand out design-wise commemorate a minor event. The International Civil Aeronautics Conference stamp issue of two stamps, a two cent red stamp and a five cent blue stamp, both feature extremely clean designs that feature early aircraft. The two cent stamp features the Wright Brother’s airplane they used for the first powered flight and the five cent stamp shows a 1928 airplane flying over the Washington Monument and the Capital Building.
The conference itself was held on the 25th anniversary of powered flight and took place over a number of days. The visiting dignitaries traveled to a number of important and historic aviation sites including the Army Air Corps laboratories in Ohio, Kitty Hawk in North Carolina and Washington, D.C.
June 24, 2012
Chicago held the Century of Progress Exposition in 1933 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding. To commemorate the occasion, the United States Post Office released two commemorative stamps.
The Chicago Century of Progress: Fort Dearborn stamp was issued on May 25, 1933 to commemorate the exposition of the same name. Two different stamps were issued for this event, the green one cent stamp and the purple three cent stamp. The Exposition was held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Chicago in 1833. Pictured on the one cent green stamp is Fort Dearborn, an early outpost that was used to protect the area’s first settlers. Both these stamps were popular with the stamp buying public and attendees of the Exposition.
An additional souvenir sheet was issued of this stamp (and the purple three cent stamp) consisting of a sheet of 25 stamps. This was during the period that the Post Office began releasing multiple souvenir sheets and other variations such as large imperforate sheets of previously issued stamps as a method to raise funds. Stamp collectors eventually complained about the expense, but this sheet of 25 stamps cost only 25 cents and didn’t have a major impact on most stamp collectors of the time.
the second stamp being the purple three cent Chicago Century of Progress: Federal Building stamp. The exposition highlighted the progress that Chicago and the United States had made in technology and other fields over the preceding 100 years. The design of the stamp features the Federal Building, one of the iconic structures featured at the Exposition.
A souvenir sheet of this stamp was also issued as a sheet of 25 three cent stamps. Although it sold reasonably well, some stamp collectors felt that the Post Office was releasing too many variations of stamps to raise funds. A few years later, the complaints became so common that the Post Office stopped the practice and only released occasional souvenir sheets. Although not a commemorative, a third stamp, a green 50 cent airmail stamp featuring a German Zeppelin was issued with the Federal Building in the background.
April 23, 2011
Here’s an aquarium I ran across – the Labyrinth Aquarium by Opulentitems. This would be the ultimate cool aquarium. It has six globes and the lights and filter stuff are all hidden. The fish can swim between the different fish globes through the tubes. Unfortunately, it’s a single setup – it would be even cooler if it was modular and you could keep adding fishbowls and connectors like you can with a hamster trail. Still, it’s a nifty fish tank (although cleaning would be quite the bother).
It’s not cheap – the whole thing costs $6,500. Probably not going to be buying one soon (or finding one at a garage sale). The company also describes it as a rare aquarium with “rare” filtration and lighting. This just struck me as a bit strange, as I assume that manufactured lights and aquariums, no matter how cool, wouldn’t really be rare. Still, it’s a nifty looking aquarium.
April 18, 2011
I remember playing the computer “Life” game years ago (Commodore 64 years ago!). Basically you place a number of “organisms” – dots or similar – on a grid. When X number of dots are in contact, a new dot is formed, if Y dots are not touching a dot, it disappears. There are variations, and I don’t remember the exact numbers for the games I played, but it was fun watching the patterns evolve and disappear from different starting patterns.
I came across an audio version of the “Life” game (or cellular automation to be fancy) recently. It was developed by Batuhan Bozkurt and in addition to moving “dots” (squares in this case), it produces sounds when each “dot” touches an edge. The note and pitch vary depending on where it touches. Because the often replicating patterns, it usually creates rather pleasing “new age electronica” sort of music. The name of the program is Otomata and it can be played on line without any downloads, etc. Definitely worth checking out.
April 17, 2011
Apparently cow-nose rays (a type of stingray) migrate in huge schools of up to 10,000 rays. I always thought rays looked quite cool, especially the types with the swept back “wings” – the ones with the round “wings” are nice too, but they don’t look as ascetically pleasing to me. They migrate northwards up the Gulf of Mexico in the spring and then back south from Florida in the fall. The accompanying photo was taken by Sandra Critelli when she was looking for whale sharks to photograph. She has a lot of other extremely nice photos of sealife on her photography web site.
March 21, 2011
Mount Roriama is an amazing mountain that is on the border of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana. It is surrounded on all sides by 400 meter tall cliffs. Atop the cliffs the summit is bare sandstone with only a few shrubs and small marshes (most of the nutrients are washed away in the daily rains).
The mountain was first “discovered” in 1596 by Sir Walter Raleigh (although the natives of the area knew about it long before). Mount Roraima inspired Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World and more recently, Pixer’s Up movie.
March 8, 2011
The Multicolr (yes, they spell it that way) Search Lab is an extremely cool image search engine that uses colors instead of search terms to find images. You can select up to 10 different colors (or pick the same color more than once to emphasize that color) and the program searches through 10 million creative commons licensed images on Flickr to find images with those colors. If you find one you like, you can just click on it and you’ll be taken to the original Flickr image. It’s a lot of fun mixing odd colors to see what is found – the images are often quite striking too. The Multicolr Search Lab is provided by idée and they also have a couple of other interesting search pages on their site, but the Multicolr one is the most fun in my opinion.