Daily Archives: August 5, 2010

The Mast Brothers

The life of a mariner is one given over to wanderlust—the quest for adventure, crossing unseen horizons to secure precious goods—only to bring them back to their home port. This same love of adventure and curiosity defines the brotherhood of Rick and Michael Mast. They share a fiercely independent spirit, leaping into the unknown and trusting that they’ll find the answer through endurance and dedication to their craft.

They began their voyage in their apartment, using a homemade machine to process cacao beans. Over time they cultivated their creation, sourcing beans from family farms in Madagascar, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and Ecuador. Each bar is handmade with incredible reverence for the process and history of chocolate. They are bound in ornamental papers and golden foil like a collection of rare books. Each bar offers its own story of flavors, and no two are exactly alike.

The Mast Brothers are now planning to navigate the mighty Atlantic, sailing to the Dominican Republic in search of beans and a deeper connection with the folks who grow them. Before they begin the next chapter, The Scout spent time with Rick and Michael documenting their story. Photo by Mindy Best.

via The Scout

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“The brainchild of longtime friends Colin Foord and Jared McKay, MORPHOLOGIC concocts installations that combine sound and light to transform the minute creatures that inhabit our coral reefs into strange, abstract works of surreal art. In the process, they bridge the gap that has long divided science and art. But don’t let appearances fool you; their work also captures a world that speaks volumes about the social interactions in the concrete spaces we create far above the ocean’s surface.” – Jorge Casuso, Miami New Times

Morphologic Studios

Morphologic Studios on vimeo

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‘The Lynx Nudibranch’  (Natural History Episode 14)
Last week we spent a moment making eyes with the oyster (Spondylus americanus). This week we’ll spend a moment with a diverse community of animals and plants that have colonized the upper shell of the very same oyster.  
Read the full description here: bit.ly/d6mR8O

‘The Sun Coral’  (Natural History Episode 9)
This week’s video features a cluster of identical Tubastrea coccinea coral polyps feeding on passing plankton (rotifers). The film is sped up 10 times to emphasize the feeding abilities and coordination between the sticky tentacles and the polyps’ mouths. 

Tubastrea coccinea or ‘Sun Corals’, have an unusual background story, being the only invasive stony coral to become established in the Caribbean basin. Native to the tropical Indo-Pacific Oceans, they were first noted living on ships’ hulls in Puerto Rico and Curacao (Southern Caribbean) in the mid 1940’s. Over the ensuing decades, they eventually spread elsewhere throughout the entire Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico on the prevailing water currents. It is believed that these sun corals may have originally entered our region as larval stow-aways in the ballast water of intercontinental ships that passed through the Panama Canal. 

‘Cleaner’ Pt. 3  (Natural History Episode 21)
The sun anemone shrimp (Periclimenes rathbunae) is the least common of the three species of Floridian anemone shrimp. While the other two anemone shrimp (P. pedersoni and P. yucatanicus) act as cleaners to passing fish, the sun anemone shrimp doesn’t seem to engage in this behavior. Instead, it spends its time living almost exclusively upon its namesake sun anemone (Stichodactyla helianthus). Aquarium observations suggest that this shrimp may supplement its diet by occasionally nipping off and eating the tentacles of the anemone. This parasitism suggests a more complicated symbiotic relationship than the sort of simple mutualism that these shrimp are often categorized by. 

‘Transmission’  (Natural History Episode 19)
The tiger flatworm (Pseudoceros crozieri) is a stunning species of flatworm that can be found living on rocks and mangrove roots along the shores of the Caribbean. Colonial orange tunicates (Ecteinascidia turbinata) constitute the tiger flatworm’s only food-source. At 35mm in length, it is considerably larger than the previously featured red flatworms. As simultaneous hermaphrodites, the tiger flatworm often travels as pairs and mate regularly. Their pseudotentacle antennae help aid them in finding mates by detecting chemical cues in the water. 

Locomotion in this larger flatworm species is accomplished by rippling muscle contractions along the edges of the animal, and aided by a slippery mucous slime. The video is shown in real time.

‘The Lettuce Slug’  (Natural History Episode 18)
Lettuce sea slugs (Elysia crispata) are a commonly found in protected nearshore Floridian waters where green macroalgae proliferates. They belong to a clan of sea slugs, the sarcoglossans, that are characterized by their ‘sap-sucking’ feeding habits of algae. These slugs slowly patrol mangrove roots and rocks searching for green algae upon which they feed. They store some of the chloroplasts from eaten algae in their tissue, giving it the green coloration. The chloroplasts continue to function, providing the slug with photosynthetic energy. The ruffles along the back of the lettuce sea slug are called parapodia, and help provide more surface area for the chloroplasts to inhabit. They also camouflage the slug amongst the leafy algae that they live amongst. It is very easy to swim past a lettuce nudibranch without ever noticing it.

‘Purple Forest’  (Natural History Episode 7)
This week’s video features an aquascape comprised of the beautiful purple macro algae Asparagopsis taxiformis. However, if you pay close attention to the left 1/3 of the screen, you’ll notice something… moving with claws… Nestled amongst the algae is a perfectly camouflaged decorator crab (Microphrys bicornuta). Keep paying attention… at 26 seconds into the clip you’ll notice a tiny isopod crustacean float by in the current and descend helicopter-style right onto the crab’s back. The unsuspecting isopod has no idea that it has landed upon an algae covered beast. Furthermore, it appears that the crab is not aware of the unexpected visitor until the isopod begins to explore its decorated exoskeleton. 50 seconds into the clip the isopod meets its fate with a few swift snatches of the crab’s claws. Without missing a beat, the crab continues scavenging amongst the rocks and algae. And life on the reef goes on…

Decorator crabs are amazing creatures in that they pick up pieces of their surrounding habitat and place them on their carapace (back, exoskeleton) in order to blend into their surroundings. Decorator crabs that live amongst sponges decorate with sponges, those that live amongst zoanthids use zoanthids, and so on. This instinctual logic is truly remarkable. The crab in the video has attached small pieces of the Asparagopsis upon itself, and as a result is all but indistinguishable from its surroundings.

‘Corynactis viridis’  (Natural History Episode 6)
In this video a single Corynactis viridis corallimorph polyp (about 8mm in diameter) is seen capturing and digesting tiny plankton as they flow past in the current. As the tentacles capture food, they retract towards the animal’s mouth, located at the center of the polyp. The mouth is likewise transformable; capable of extending, expanding, and enveloping food items. The total elapsed time was roughly 12 minutes and sped up 1200% in order to demonstrate the hydraulic muscular contractions and contortions that the polyp goes through while feeding. 470nm LED light is used to highlight the fluorescent orange ring around the outer diameter of the polyp.

‘Transparency’  (Natural History Episode 12)
Featured in the the video is a unidentified shrimp that lives commensally on Ricordea sp. corallimorph polyps. Unlike the other commensal anemone/corallimorph shrimp (Periclimenes pedersoni, P. yucatanicus) that are active fish cleaners, this shrimp moves considerably less. In fact it is nearly invisible. The transparency of this shrimp is such that if you look carefully in the middle of its abdomen, you’ll notice its beating heart. Even the fluorescent pink ring around the edge of the unidentified ricordea polyp’s mouth is visible through the shrimp’s tail.

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Acid, Delirium Of The Senses | Dangerous Minds


Here’s a clip from Acid Delirio Dei Sensi (Acid, Delirium Of The Senses), a very obscure acid exploitation film directed by Giuseppe Maria Scotese. Italian language bootlegs on DVD are available of this over-the-top psychedelic mindbender. I’ve yet to find one with English subtitles.

While few people have actually seen the film, poster art for Acid Delirio Dei Sensi is coveted among collectors.



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The Rural Studio: Proceed And Be Bold!


Rural Studio, Samuel ‘Sambo’ Mockbee

“Proceed and Be Bold!” is a catchphrase used by the incredibly talented Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee, cofounder of Auburn’s Rural Studio (and winner in 2000 of a MacArthur ‘genius’ grant, among other awards).

The Rural Studio was developed within the Auburn School of Architecture with intent to get students out of the classroom and in to hands-on experience with members of a community that would actually be utilizing their work. In the past, the students’ hands-on experience consisted of them building temporary works…a beam or truss, which would later be torn down. D.K. Ruth, who hired Mockbee at Auburn, discussed with Mockbee that one could take such materials and (rather than a temporary exercise) they could “build something substantial”. The idea for Rural Studio was less pre-conceived notions of what architecture is – be it for glass skyscrapers or McMansions – and more a noble architecture of decency for poor people – beautiful whether built with carpet squares, car windshields, or tires. Mockbee died December 30, 2001 but left behind were stunning, noble works for people in one of the poorest areas in the country.

The Rural Studio is still going strong.


via deep fried kudzu (ginger):

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Frédéric Chopin / Arthur Rubinstein, Waltz Op. 64…




Frédéric Chopin/ Arthur Rubinstein, Waltz Op. 64 n°2 in C-Sharp Minor.

Photograph of Chopin statue in Parc Monceau in Paris by Hazboy

via Points de Fuite

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America in color from 1939 – 1943

These images, by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, are some of the only color photographs taken of the effects of the Depression on America’s rural and small town populations. The photographs are the property of the Library of Congress and were included in a 2006 exhibit Bound for Glory: America in Color.

More photographs via Denver Post


Going to town on Saturday afternoon. Greene County, Georgia, May 1941. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Jack Delano. 


Switchman throwing a switch at Chicago and Northwest Railway Company’s Proviso yard. Chicago, Illinois, April 1943.


Shulman’s market, on N at Union Street S.W. Washington, D.C., between 1941 and 1942. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Louise Rosskam. 


House. Washington, D.C.(?), between 1941 and 1942. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Louise Rosskam.


Women workers employed as wipers in the roundhouse having lunch in their rest room, Chicago and Northwest Railway Company. Clinton, Iowa, April 1943.


Mrs. Viola Sievers, one of the wipers at the roundhouse giving a giant “H” class locomotive a bath of live steam. Clinton, Iowa, April 1943. 


Worker at carbon black plant. Sunray, Texas, 1942. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Worker at carbon black plant John Vachon.


Hauling crates of peaches from the orchard to the shipping shed. Delta County, Colorado, September 1940. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Russell Lee.


Headlines posted in street-corner window of newspaper office (Brockton Enterprise). Brockton, Massachusetts, December 1940. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Jack Delano. 


Woman is working on a “Vengeance” dive bomber Tennessee, February 1943. 


View in a departure yard at Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company’s Proviso yard at twilight. Chicago, Illinois, December 1942. Reproduction from color slide.


Garden adjacent to the dugout home of Jack Whinery, homesteader. Pie Town, New Mexico, September 1940. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Russell Lee.


Grand Grocery Company. Lincoln, Nebraska, 1942. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by John Vachon.


Road cut into the barren hills which lead into Emmett. Emmett, Idaho, July 1941.


Wisdom, Montana, April 1942. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by John Vachon.


 A crossroads store, bar, “juke joint,” and gas station in the cotton plantation area. Melrose, Louisiana, June 1940


Putting the finishing touches on a rebuilt caboose at the rip tracks at Proviso yard. Chicago, Illinois, April 1943.

via Denver Post

hat tip:  dangerous minds blog

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Pie Lab

Project M, the graphic design and communication “boot camp” for the greater good led by John Bielenberg, has conceived of the Pie Lab as a brick-and-mortar node for community engagement in rural Hale County, Alabama. Through the act of simply bringing people together, Pie Lab is a design idea with a real stake in a community’s co-creation. (Emily Pilloton)

PieLab is a pie shop meant to gather communities together. It’s founded on the idea that simple things, like delicious pie and good conversation, can bring us together and spread joy.

Pie+Conversation = Ideas.
Ideas+Design =Positive Change

Pie Lab



Project M Lab

Photos by Brian W. Jones

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On a farm near Evansville, Wisconsin


The contrast and contours of the landscape on a farm near Evansville, Wisconsin

by Todd Klassy



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