Small Streams

Pollock’s Toy Museum
January 26, 2014, 5:45 am
Filed under: art, education, eutechnics, technology, thinking, Tourism, toys | Tags:


Pollock’s toy museum has been a destination for us since we moved to London. How things make us think has been a hobby horse of mine for the past couple of years. So I was happy that Liz and I could take a short excursion to Central London and walk amidst the toys.

The museum is housed in, well, a house, or at least an “up and down” with not too many conversions. The downstairs holds the toy shop and the lobby, and the staircases and the upper floors display the dolls, dollhouses, games, etc.

Some of my fascinations are construction toys …

20140126-105510.jpg viewing toys and …

20140126-105634.jpg mathematical instruments.



I also found the war games interesting. Never too early to build a distaste for the kaiser.

Of course, the reason for Pollock’s being is the toy theatre. There must have been a hundred of them.


They also had some interesting specimen boxes.



If you ever want to get the imaginative juices flowing or at least cop some ideas for your doll house, I highly suggest it.

Folding Paper
January 29, 2012, 8:45 pm
Filed under: art, math, research, technology, thinking | Tags:


Just finished watching Between the Folds, a gem of a documentary about origami. Lots of stuff about the art and science, the emotion and technique, and the history and trajectory of paper folding.

The documentary ends with a profile of MIT Professor Erik Demaine, who linkage computer maker Xiaoji Chen calls the “happiest genius in the world.”

I can see how one enthusiasm leads to another for Demaine: math, paper folding, genetics, and glass blowing — well, I’m not sure how the glass blowing fits in . . . but Demaine says it’s all about having fun. Maybe fun will lead to a cure for cancer as Demaine and others figure out how and why proteins fold, or maybe to nano computers in space.

I guess I should fold some paper while I’m inspired, but I’m more interested in approximating logarithms with musical scales.

Slide Rules
January 21, 2012, 8:43 am
Filed under: education, math, thinking | Tags: ,

Went to hear Doug present on how to use a slide rule at HackPgh last night. 20120121-084355.jpg

I found out how to use the scales for finding squares, square roots, cubes and cubed roots. I also learned that with the bigger slide rules there is no end of exponentiation.

I’m most interested in slide rules with elliptical functions. Pictured is a specialty slide rule for doing duct work.

Another Monkey
January 16, 2012, 3:30 pm
Filed under: math, thinking | Tags:

The slider is a circular arc. If you made a circle all the way around, there’s no telling where the multiplication ends.

Here’s what an article I’m reading says:

the entire multiplication table forms a 45 degree-45 degree-90 degree triangle formed by the factors


My Ignorance
January 15, 2012, 10:42 pm
Filed under: education, observer, technology, thinking, work

Heard this on Eames:The Architect and The Painter

“You sell your expertise, you have a limited repertoire; you sell your ignorance, it’s an unlimited repertoire.” — Richard Saul Wurman

My Other Vehicle Serves Data
January 1, 2012, 9:35 am
Filed under: education, eutechnics, research, technology, thinking | Tags:

The hula hoop is not a meme. . . [it’s] a meme vehicle. — James Gleick, The Information


If things make us think, the Digicomp is an infectious way to get us to think about numbers and computing.

Boingboing just posted a story on the Digicomp emulator. I hope to check it out soon.

Cutting Up Circles
November 13, 2011, 1:18 pm
Filed under: drawing, math, thinking, video | Tags:

In order to make a base 10 adding wheel one has to divide a circle into ten equal parts. With the help of this guide to making a pentagon, I came up with this:


This has the benefit of all the pentagram’s golden ratio goodness. In order to make a proportion wheel (circular slide rule), you’ll need to use a logarithmic scale for numbering an inner and outer circle. Check out the solar physics site for more.

Binary Adding Machine
August 7, 2011, 9:20 am
Filed under: education, eutechnics, maps, math, media, mind, technology, thinking | Tags: , ,

Matthias Wandel, an engineer who works in wood, created a binary adding machine, a wonderful thing, a thing that makes you think. I’ve seen a similar adder created with K’nex, but it wasn’t as aesthetically pleasing.

The K’nex binary adding machine uses hinged rods that work like logic gates. Xiaoji Chen created much better looking gates with wooden slats and rivets. She’s modeled the adder in Processing.

January 2, 2011, 10:08 am
Filed under: awareness, cities, ecology, railbelt, technology, thinking, Tourism, walking | Tags:

This story in the NYTimes caught my fancy. It’s about urban adventurers, sewers, media, the wilderness, and the unconscious. Two or three men and a media entourage take a trip through the sewers and tunnels below New York.

Futurama and others have already explored NYC’s underground as metaphor, but these earnest explorers — one of them a climber of Mt. Everest — show the satisfactions of life in the urban wild.

When you’re not worried about getting caught or dying, . . . it’s really nice being underground.

Wilderness is, indeed, our refuge, though I would hope for one less smeared in feces. I also think of the brook corralled into a sewer and think that maybe it will see daylight again, someday.

I must also mention that writer Alan Feuer’s scene setting, commentary, and picaresque detail (cough drops and whisky for breakfast, anyone?) turns the travelog inside out in a delightful manner.

As I Please
September 27, 2009, 10:17 am
Filed under: awareness, drawing, politics, thinking | Tags: ,

Have been thinking about political stuff (g20), but I offer this instead.