Easybreath mask and snorkel innovation

May 21st, 2014 by LB

masque-facial-snorkeling-easybreath-innovation by Tribordeasybreath-see-and-breathe-underwater-as-easily-as-you-would-on-land-1

After many years of few changes in the old mask and snorkel setup, this is an interesting innovation. It just won the 2014 Oxylane Innovation Award (I have no idea what that is, but I suspect it’s just the first of many awards for this contraption).

The French company Tribord has come up with a way to allow snorkelers to breathe by both mouth and nose and without fogging the mask, as well as allowing diving without water entering the snorkel at all. This means you can swim and breathe more normally, see better and dive up and down easily. And the snorkel bulb above water makes you visible to boats.

The strap is also far better in design. A regular mask’s single strap constantly slips especially if you like me you have long fine hair. This 3-strap fit looks way better. But these aren’t available in women’s /teens’ sizes yet, nor are they available in N. America yet. In the UK they’ll be carried by Stockport.

I’m not very acquisitive and I seldom appreciate new gimmicks but this goes beyond gimmickry and I would very much like to have one. It’s the first innovation in a while that has interested me.

Having been snorkeling lately while visiting friends in Ecuador I had a cheap snorkel with a faulty valve that let in more seawater than it let out every time I tried to clear it. An old fashioned non-valve snorkel would have actually been better, but those are primitive and hard to clear. Even with a good mask and snorkel it’s generally a constant struggle to maintain a clear mask and an empty snorkel.  This is the first time I’ve seen anything innovative along these lines.

(To read the English subtitles on the video you may have to disable the Italian titles – go under the CC closed captioning button):

Mick Jagger in Peru

May 16th, 2014 by LB

Cuzco - woven mantas in antique weaving shop

Cuzco Mick Jagger textile shop

I was talking to the very knowledgeable owner of a shop of antique weaving in Cuzco, Peru, and after a while he mentioned that Mick Jagger had been in the shop two years before. When I asked if Jagger was in Peru to do a gig, he said no, he had come to see Machu Picchu. I guess he he missed it the first time he was in Peru, when he came to shoot Fitzcarraldo with Werner Herzog in 1980. Sadly—or not depending on how you feel about Jagger’s acting—he didn’t make it into the final film. Jason Robards had originally been cast as Fitzcarraldo and Jagger was to play his sidekick, but when Robards developed amoebic dysentery and had to bow out, thus delaying shooting, Jagger could no longer continue because the Stones were cutting an album. In a way I’m glad because I think Robards was spectacularly wrong for the role. Watch the video if you want to see his hammy and lightweight performance. But Jagger seemed promising as the simpleton sidekick. Some disagree. In the end it was probably fortunate that the role went to Kinski, and I can’t imagine Jagger tolerating Kinski’s on-set tantrums and quasi-criminal manic episodes.

The textile collection in this shop should be in a museum. The Peruvian government should consider paying the market price for its entire collection and displaying it all. It’s a crime that these pieces are slowly leaving the country. They represent multiple eras from every region of the country, and every one contains a message. What appear to be geometric designs are often animals representing family and cosmological origins and relationships. There is so little hand weaving left in the world. Much as I would like to collect more of it myself, it seems wrong to see it scattered to the winds even if that means Mick Jagger’s place.

Fitcarraldo - Mich Jagger and Jason Robards inIquitos

Peru Cuzco textiles shop weaving

Fitcarraldo Mick Jagger and Jason Robards in Iquitos, Peru

Jagger playing the fool in Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo

When you have oil pipeline companies, who needs satire?

April 29th, 2014 by LB

giant U.S. oil company and the end of satire

Giant U.S. oil/energy mega-corp Kinder Morgan has applied to triple the size of a pipeline across British Columbia, bringing dirty bitumen-laced oil from the Alberta Tar Sands. “Public” hearings to assess the application have been notoriously non-public. An economist friend of mine found the above excerpt in Kinder Morgan’s application, revealing the company to be capable of Swiftian satire in content if not in literary ability. As another friend remarked: this may mark the end of satire, friends.

“Pipeline spills can have both positive and negative effects on local and regional economies, both in the short and long term. Spill response and clean-up creates business and employment opportunities for affected communities, regions, and clean-up service providers. This demand
for services and personnel can also directly or indirectly affect businesses and livelihoods. The net overall effect depends on the size and extent of a spill, the associated demand for clean-up services and personnel, the capacity of local businesses to meet this demand, the willingness of local businesses and response opportunities, the extent of business and livelihoods adversely indirectly) by the spill, and the duration and extent of spill response and clean-up activities.”

In short, B.C.’s employment crisis will in part be solved by…. oil spill clean up jobs.

Voilà. Farce economics!

SOURCE: Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Application (hard copy). PDF version of the application is here. Opposition from the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby through which this pipeline does and will pass can be read here.

Jón Gnarr, Mayor of Reykjavik, on his dream for Iceland

April 14th, 2014 by LB

Reykjavik
Photo of Reykjavik by Gunnar Steinn /
Made by Iceland

Jón Gnarr, mayor of Reykjavik and member of The Sugarcubes, shared Made by Iceland‘s photo on Facebook and wrote this:

My dream

(It’s pretty naive but I just have to get it off my chest)

I think Iceland offers a unique opportunity for the world. It is a small community with only 350.000 inhabitants, highly modern and educated within less than 3 hours flying time to London and 5 hours to New York and endless possibilities, beautiful nature and security for families, good schools and solid infrastructure. And don’t let the name scare you. The weather is not so bad. The average temperature in Reykjavik is actually higher than that in New York!

There are so many ideas that could be tried out here to see if they work, and then be exported around the world and adopted to bigger places for the benefit of mankind.

Iceland is a stable and peaceful nation with a low crime and corruption rate and offers renewable electricity that is about 35% cheaper than in the US. Everybody speaks English, many speak German, French, Spanish, Polish and many other languages.

Human rights in Iceland are among the best in the world, women and LGBT among others. Iceland is the best place in the world to be a woman. Here nobody cares if you are gay and you will not be discriminated against.

In my dream scientists, artists and creatives, entrepreneurs, designers, philanthropist and dreamers will flock to here and join hands to make something special happen. Something that has never happened before.

I dream of a UN Peace University. An international Research center for Arctic studies, climate change and global warming. Research and development of electric cars. Peace conferences and peace talks. Artistic happenings. Natural history museum. An international institution of non violent communication.

I want to make Iceland the Home of Hope for Humanity.

So please come before Sauron and Ronald MacDonald take over the place :)

Arhuaca mochila bags of Colombia

April 13th, 2014 by LB

IMG_5388mochillaxx

I first saw these cylindrical handwoven bags in Medellín, Colombia, worn by a couple of delegates at the UN World Urban Forum. I noticed them because they looked unusually sturdy, very finely handwoven in wool, and beautifully patterned. After I arrived in Bogotá I realized they are actually common. They’re called mochilas and are a traditional artisanal bag made by the Arhuaca people in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Maria mountain range. Traditionally they were made either from agave fibre, hemp or wild cotton, thought after the arrival of the Spanish they were also made from various wools. You can  also see synthetic fibres used (see top left in photo below) as well as disappointing mass-produced versions. Traditionally the patterns indicated families via their totemic animals, often very abstracted.

“Starting in the 1960s, the arhuaca mochila left the geographical arhuaco, penetrated large Colombian cities (especially Santa Marta, Valledupar and Barranquilla), and is used primarily by young people today as a way to claim their indigenous culture. In 2006, the backpack was nominated as the Arhuaco cultural symbol of Colombia in the contest organized by the magazine Semana.” It now seems that the bag has more generally become a symbol of Colombia and have been adopted by a wide range of people dressed in varying degrees of casualness. More here.

It felt a little weird to be following people around and stealthily photographing their bags.

These bags are not cheap in Bogotá, by the way. They’re cheaper in towns where they are made such as Santa Clara, but frankly they shouldn’t be. As with most weaving, it takes an enormous amount of labour to make a single bag and the weavers should be paid appropriately.

The bag I bought is the minimalist white one at right in the very last photo.

Textile museum, Bogota

Mochila bags, Bogotá Mochilas arhuacas - via Wikipedia Photo above via Wikimedia Commons Arhuaca mochila bags of Colombia IMG_5420mochillax Mochila bag, Colombia The one above is particularly beautiful. Mochila bag, Colombia Mochila bag, Colombia Mochila bag, colombia Mochila bag, Colombia Mochila bag, Colombia

Bogotá - mochila

Mochila bag, Colombia Mochila bag, Colombia Mochila bag, Colombia Mochila bag, Colombia

This one is a bag in a different style and from jute:

Mochila type bag, but of jute

Bogotá - Arhuaca mochila bags

mochila (& UN Habitat bag)

mochila

mochila

mochila

Bogotá - mochila, Cafe Color

Bogotá - Arhuaca mochila

Bogotá - men with mochila

Bogotá - mochila

 

Sophisticated sundial clock in Medellín, Colombia

April 12th, 2014 by LB

Medellin_5180

A little hard to tell from these photos how beautiful this clock is. Depending on which side of noon you are, you view either one side or another. I believe noon hits (more or less) the circle in center. ON the top of the two black polls is a tiny mirror that depending on angle hits grooved lines from 1-12 that run horizontal on the curved walls. One of hundreds of beautiful, functional objects in Medellín’s many, many free public spaces.

It’s one of the most interesting cities I’ve ever visited, and one of the best run. Its generous provisions of civic space and enjoyment is actually really moving. The new few posts will gives some examples of this.

I’m really glad the UN Habitat World Urban Forum was held here this year, or I may never have experienced this place. (I attended as part of my research for my upcoming book on UN Habitat ’76 in Vancouver.

sundial clock, Medellín, Colombia

Medellin_5178x

Medellin_5181x

And thanks to Carlos from Medellín who has lived all over the world, speaks a ridiculous number of languages and was a great guide for this UN tour of the city.

Carlos with sundial clock, Medellín, Colombia