‘Human beings can aquire a certain solitude, even in the middle of New York City’

gif of new york on camera

Every thing in the world, every event, is like a dewdrop on a multidimentional spider’s web, and every dewdrop contains the reflection of all the other dewdrops. But you see, the hermit finds this out through his solitide, and so also human beings can aquire a certain solitude, even in the middle of New York City. It’s rather easier, as a matter of fact, to find solitude in New York City than it is in Des Moines, Iowa.

Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety

How Japan uses blue LED light panels on station platforms to prevent suicides

Tokyo runs 13 billion passenger trips each year, making its train stations some of the busiest in the world.

Using sound design and various other psychological nudges, rail stations are able to bring some order to the chaos. One of the most effective tactics has been its use of blue LED mood lighting to prevent suicide attempts.

Photo by Allan Richarz/City Lab

Writes Tokyo resident Allan Richarz for Citylab:

According to a study by researchers at the University of Tokyo published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2013, data analyzed over a 10-year period shows an 84 percent decline in the number of suicide attempts at stations where blue lights are installed.

Operating on the theory that exposure to blue light has a calming effect on one’s mood, rail stations in Japan began installing these LED panels as a suicide-prevention measure in 2009. They are strategically located at the ends of each platform—typically the most-isolated and least-trafficked area, and accordingly, the point from which most platform jumps occur. Some stations, such as Shin-Koiwa Station in Tokyo, bolster their LED regime with colored roof panels, allowing blue-tinted sunlight to filter down on to platforms.

Whether it comes to the iPhone or infrastructure, Richarz’s piece is yet another reminder how everyday design can impact our lives.

Meet the flying train, a hybrid train and plane

image of hybrid train planeWhile Elon Musk is helping to combine hyperloops and space travel, the Russian architecture firm Dahir Insaat wants to build a hybrid train and plane that transports 2,000 people at a time.

The flying trains reach speeds up to 300mph, not much faster than the speediest train in the world, the 267 mph Shanghai Maglev. Even if it looks like a giant lego piece, most people would still rather ride in it than sit in traffic.

Furthermore, I wonder how we’ll look at any concept of transportation once SpaceX’s vision to fly people across the globe in 30 minutes becomes a reality.

These owls in a Tokyo cafe are named after musician and band names 🦉

James Mollison of TOPIC ventured into one of Tokyo’s animal cafes where you can sip your coffee with your animal of choice (cats, dogs, and rabbits). But this coffee shop was a little different.

Tokyo’s Pakuchi Bar is apparently one of eight owl cafes in the big city. The owner, Tomo Nanaka, owns 30 of them which she allows in public on the weekends and on special holidays. Even more, she’s named them after musicians and bands.

Below are a some of my favorite.

From left to right: Kurt Cobain, The Chemical Brothers, Beck, and The Cure.

There’s a video too.

(All images via James Mollison)

A timelapse of the Pas-de-Calais region

The Pas-de-Calais department hired a creative agency to promote travel to Northern France.

After taking 350,000 photos, the result is a beautiful look in both timelapse and hyperlapse formats at the diversity of the Pas-de-Calais region’s environment with an emphasis on architecture, landscape, and sport.

This video project was commissioned by the Pas-de-Calais department to promote its territory. While waiting for an original and creative idea, we opted for a dynamic video only realized in timelapse and in hyperlapse.

Through various themes (nature, memory, sport, …) we have, for two months, crisscrossed the Pas-de-Calais to capture the best of this beautiful department.
3 intense minutes to make you want to discover or rediscover this space so rich, conducive to change of scenery and the meeting of a marked culture.

Golden Gate City: San Francisco (1939)

Image taken during the San Francisco World’s Fair 1939

A few weeks ago, I blogged about a trip through New York City in 1911. This week’s archival videos goes back in time to San Francisco, 1939.

Some observations:

  • The cable cars ran on cables because the city’s hills were so steep. They also required ‘turntables’ (first time I’ve heard the term not in reference to hip-hop) to flip them around the other way. Both the cable car and trolleys (slightly different) are both staples of SF to this day.
  • The SF Mint factory not only produced US coins but also those for the Philippines. As they said about the California Gold Rush in 1849, “If you want to make money in a gold rush, sell shovels.”
  • I wonder if those golf courses looking over the Golden Gate still exist?
  • The seals of SF still lounge like royalty and sure run the show

Heed the motto: “San Francisco by the Golden Gate. City upon memories and visions of progress for tomorrow.”

Born to dive: This group of people spends 60% of their day underwater

Born to dive: This group of people spends 60% of their day underwater,
Image via James Morgan

The Bajau sea nomads are people from the Malay Archipelago (Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia).

Aquatic life is literally in their DNA. According to a study from the journal Cell:

They are renowned for their extraordinary abilities, diving to depths of over 70 m with nothing more than a set of weights and a pair of wooden goggles (Schagatay, 2014) and spending 60% of their daily working time underwater (Schagatay et al., 2011).

They’ve evolved to harbor extreme breath holding capabilities with up to 13 minutes underwater. For over thousands of years, the Bajau people have developed expanded spleens due to their dependency on diving underwater for food.

No one knows what originally compelled the Bajau to dive other than their need to survive and feed entire families.

Without experimentation, evolution does not exist. It is through struggle and adaptation we evolve.

Learn more in the video below.

Turkish musician Görkem Şen plays his Yaybahar at the sea 🎼

Turkish musician Görkem Şen uses a Yaybahar, an acoustic instrument that combines a hodgepodge of drums, coiled spring, and strings that he plays with a wrapped mallet.

Although the device looks antiquated, the sound is classical electronic. It reminds me of William Orbit’s ‘Adagio for Strings.’ It also pairs well with the beauty of the seaside.

Two birds, one stone. And deep space vibes.

‘Whatever diminishes constraint, diminishes strength’

Poetics of Music in the Form of Six Lessons, books

“I shall go even further: my freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraint, diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self of the chains that shackle the spirit.”

—Igor Stravinsky, Poetics of Music in the Form of Six Lessons

‘Time is to clock as mind is to brain’ 🕰️

Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time

Time is to clock as mind is to brain. The clock or watch somehow contains the time. And yet time refuses to be bottled up like a genie stuffed in a lamp. Whether it flows as sand or turns on wheels within wheels, time escapes irretrievably, while we watch. Even when the bulbs of the hourglass shatter, when darkness withholds the shadow from the sundial, when the mainspring winds down so far that the clock hands hold still as death, time itself keeps on. The most we can hope a watch to do is mark that progress. And since time sets its own tempo, like a heartbeat or an ebb tide, timepieces don’t really keep time. They just keep up with it, if they’re able.

— Dava Sobel, Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time

New York: Where dreams are made up

wells-baum-421064-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Wells Baum

There’s the dream. And then there’s the reality.

The dream is that you can survive the concrete jungles of New York. The reality is that you’re another part of the rat pack, rushing from Brooklyn and New Jersey to midtown.

The rat race never ends.

Even those who start as far away as New Haven begin a jam into different species. Everyone is a stranger.

The quiet car contains opposites. It goads the loudest minds.

Stepping off into Grand Central Terminal is the great equalizer. You have no choice but to join the frenzy.

Strolling faster than anyone else, you’d think you’re getting ahead. But only for a spare moment. Someone else has clipped your wings.  Who do you think you are, anyway?

Spare some change, sink at the moment. Time alludes you. The day is one big drop, a flash drive of memories.

Into the City and back out again, only to do it all over tomorrow.

The evolution of the price tag

Can you imagine having to haggle over everything you bought in a store?

But as businesses got bigger in the 1870s, shopkeepers needed a way to streamline pricing for both sales clerks and customers alike. Two department stores helped pioneer the price tag: Macy’s in New York and Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia.

They adopted the Quaker’s concept of one price on all items, no questions asked. Price tags thus removed the hassle for both stores and the customers.

The price is right, usually

Dynamic pricing still exists though. Whether it’s an Uber surge or last-minute airline tickets to Tahiti, we churn across the internet looking for the best price.

 

Colombia’s rainbow river 🌈 is the most beautiful in the world

Labeled the most beautiful river in the world, the Caño Cristales or Cano Crystals gets its blend of colors (orange, red, blue, green, and yellow) from the way light and move over the macarenia clavigera plant.

Tourists were told to stay away from the river in the early 2000s because it was a guerilla haven.  It appears to be open today.

Remember to frame that vacation photo

Photo by Wells Baum

If you want to remember a vacation, you’re almost better off framing a picture rather than just posting it on your Instagram feed.

According to recent research, owning a physical photo is more likely to encourage someone to share their experience with others. It turns out that digital images are terrible cues.

“Back in the old days, we’d wait until we finished a roll of film and then bring it to the store to get printed. So waiting for the pictures kept the experience top of mind. Then, we’d take the pictures around to our friends one by one (or group by group) and get to share our experience over and over again. Now, we simply post it on social media once and we’re done.”

However, it’s not all digital media’s fault. It’s also our dwindling attention spans driven by the urge to consume what’s next. To echo Om Malik in a recent New Yorker piece: “We have come to a point in society where we are all taking too many photos and spending very little time looking at them.”

Apps like Timehop and Facebook’s “One year ago today” feature attempt to revitalize old posts to conjure up past memories. I personally recommend reviewing “On this Day” in Day One journal, not just for vacation recall but also to gain perspective on all life’s milestones, ups, and downs.

Whether it’s in the form of a framed photo, a souvenir, or relived Facebook post, you can extend any fond memory with subtle reminders.