How many caps does a single household possess? As a partial answer to that question, I did a quick sweep of our apt, and the above inventory is what I found. I barely touched the fridge, my art supplies or the spice cupboard. Didn’t even open the liquor cabinet. And I excluded most duplicates. Total number of caps: 98. Fascinated by the notion of an industry which is built upon the production of a single item in all of its iterations.
Better than any museum or guided tour of Montreal was our visit to a really big industrial glass factory. We’re talking production of 500,000 beer bottles in any 24 hour period. This doesn’t include the liquor bottles, mayonnaise jars or other glass vessels that get produced at the same time. I’ve been to a number of factories (glass in particular), but this place was outright SCARY and DANGEROUS and LOUD and GREASY and BEYOND FASCINATING!! I think the word I am looking for here is gobsmacked!
Friends of friends of ours live in Montreal, and the husband works on the line in the factory. He very generously showed us around to every station of the plant. Truly, this was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. I do wish the videos were longer and that I could have taken more footage, but I think that would have broken the rules. What really stuck with me was the level of extreme hazard. I’m talking weaponized molten glass! We have come to think of factories as largely automated or adhering to strict safety measures, but this was anything but. One false move and WHAMMO…there goes your finger or your hand or, for that matter, your whole freakin’ arm. And this doesn’t even begin to address the slippery floor. All those machines need lubrication, and it’s inevitable that in the process of doing so, all the other surfaces get covered in many layers of black oil. It immediately brought to mind the book Fast Food Nation, in which the writer Eric Schlosser describes conditions in our nation’s meat packing industry. I have an entirely new level of respect, and concern, for anyone who manufactures the things we use. Especially at an industrial scale. As a contrast to my experience, look at this sanitized, but highly educational video of the glass making process.
Did I mention how hot it was?
Sometime soon we will probably get another car. Ugh! Our trusty Subaru is still going at 14 years of age, but the issue of dependability looms large as we enter the winter months. If we had our way, we would keep the same vehicle forever. That sentiment is far from realistic. We’d also like to get something with a lot better mileage rating. But, advances in technology and fuel usage aside, the automobile industry suffers from what I consider to be an incredible lack of ingenuity when it comes to design. The over-contoured look is so so boring. I long for the days of boxy. Ultimately, it is safety, reliability and efficiency that counts, so this rumination is just that. But still. It made me think about my husband growing up in England during the 70s. He occasionally gets nostalgic about their family car…the DAF. Mostly he just remembers its tortoise-like speed, and something about the rubber belts that needed regular tightening. But damn if it wasn’t cute. These photos are a jumble of models, all found at this massive archive from the Netherlands. Personal preference is for the DAF 44.
These are decidedly creepy. I know. But I find it fascinating that so much trouble (likely to our benefit) has been taken to make these models so thoroughly life-like. All of them are used in medical and surgical training. As you can guess, there is an entire industry devoted to making these models, many of which I deemed either too weird or graphic to post. But if you want to know more, go here and here.
I keep meaning to take photos of the various packing materials that accompany most computers and electronics. I ordered a new Magic Mouse the other day and was finally driven to take out the camera. I like how abstract the shapes are.
Whether one realizes it or not, we live in a world suffused with numbers. They are all around us. Some more blatant than others. Used to classify everything from a corrugated box to a tube of toothpaste, they have little or no relevance to either me or you. But they sure are pretty. My archive is steadily growing.
It’s a little thing, I know. But it’s near to perfect. This soy sauce dispenser was designed by Masahiro Mori back in 1958. It’s won untold numbers of awards, is still in production and nearly ubiquitous. If you’ve ever used one of these pieces you would have noticed that there is nary a drip from the spout. The lines are elegant and the piece itself fits the hand with no distraction. To me, it’s a kind of benchmark for the design world. I’d like it if the realm of mass production accorded the same amount of respect commanded by this little soy sauce bottle (shoyusashi) to the rest of its mighty output. Imagine. To purchase one for yourself, click here.