Cute set made from wire. Found in a farm house in Zhongdian, Yunnan, China.
This is one of a series of images floating around the internet, forwarded to me by Bruce Sterling. It's labeled as somewhere in Russia, but that might be only a tasteless joke. But in any case it's a handy lamp.
For thousands of years humans have transported heavy goods on their backs using a head held tump line. The loads a fit porter can carry are astonishing. Some can manage 100 kilos (220 pounds), which considering their own body size is incredible. These guys in Nepal can manage both heavy and awkward loads with ingenuity. Keep in mind that the coke bottles below are heavy glass (made to be washed and re-used many times), and are filled. Just one wooden tray would be a load for most of us. I've seen these porters pack in refridgerators, heavy lumber, furniture, and mother-in-laws. These photos are by Jeff Greenwald.
A discarded flashlight becomes an ideal broom handle. Photographed by Jeff Greenwald."The little girl with the flashlight broom worked in her mother's lodge in the village of Chomro, in the Annapurna mountains of Nepal."
The title of this set of photos from the Flickr photo stream of Clear Path International is "Hobby De-Miner". Clear Path International is a non-profit devoted to serving the survivors of landmines. As the unnamed photographer explains, "We ran into this boy collecting scrap metal from the Vietnam War alongside the road near Da Nang. Often, while searching for scrap, people that do this will find a bomb and attempt to dismantle it and sell the metal. Many are killed or injured."
The equipment apparently works. Here is a piece of iron found and recovered.
World traveler and author Jeff Greenwald sent me this photo of a improvised kersone lamp. He writes: "The light bulb/kiwi tin lamp was photographed some years ago in an inn along the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, probably in Hikkaduwa."
Looks dangerous. Probably is. I found this streetuse weapon on Matthias Wandel's website, where in addition to the air gun he documents his other benign and geeky pursuits, including what he calls his "insane contraptions." He writes:
Air guns are normally small air powered rifles that shoot relatively small projectiles, primarily used for target practice. Usually, they are pumped up with an internal cylinder, activated by hinging the barrel towards the stock. My home made air guns experiments however take their lineage more from potato gun technology than target practice rifles
The nice thing with an air gun like this of course is that it can be used to shoot all kinds of stuff. AA batteries, for example. Or Pens, or sticks of wood. Or filling the barrel with water. One Idea I got relatively late was to try to shoot the big chocolate covered peanut M&M's. They are about the shape and size of a marble, but not as heavy, and not as round. I wasn't expecting to put one through 1/2" plywood, but I figured with 1/4" plywood, I'd have a chance.
The Wasp sucking machine in action on my roof. This machine was the fulfillment of a childhood fantasy!
In addition to this photo of a bike where the police rider used their handcuffs as bicycle lock -- previously posted on Street Use -- here is another one with the same idea (found on this guy's blog).
Don't know much about this other than the tiny hint posted on a English/Russian blog says:
"One Russian blogger made a camera from the two matchboxes and a tin beer can. Somebody submitted us his camera and photos he made in St. Petersburg."
Two shots of the camera itself, and one photograph made by the camera.
I like this thrifty way curbside restaurants in China served up napkins: in a toilet paper roll, from the inside out. Cheap, and handier than cut napkins.
This lovely web site is collecting all the ways in which landlords prevent people from sitting, or sleeping, on their property. We are talking here about city life, and the way the commons have been diminished by ... what? Liability issues? Homelessness? Law and order? I have no idea why sitting is so verboten. But there's no end to the ways in which bottoms can be kept away without calling too much attention to the intimidation.
At the airport in Kumming, China I spied this battery charger in one of the halls. They offered adapters and voltages for almost any device you had. I was in a hurry to catch a plane otherwise I would have found out more about it.
I love these traffic lights I saw in Suzhou, China (near Shanghai). Rather than the simple three-bit information of red, yellow, green, you get the count-down time for green and red. So you know exactly how many seconds of "go" you have left, as well as how long that red light will last. Rather than causing people to game the system, it simply makes driving around much easer and less stressful. Really, why don't we do that everywhere? I know that some European cities have count-down clocks on green lights, but I had never seen them on the red as well.
Chinese farms are the ultimate in thriftiness. Old tires are recycled into all kinds of useful gear. Here is a horse feed tub made from a tire turned inside out. I saw these everywhere.
And here is a water bucket for dropping into a well sewn from old tires.
Japan is famous for the fantastic and various things you can buy in vending machines -- often standing in the most incongruous places. China has a few of these as well. This drinking-water vending machine was standing on a tiny back alley in Suzhou, a city near Shanghai. I couldn't tell where/what it was hooked up to, but many of the homes in this area of the city, which neat and substantial, had no plumbing. So perhaps rather than have a spigot with unlimited water, they decided to meter it out. You bring your 5-gallon jar and fill 'er up. Don't know how much it costs.
Pedicabs drivers need a big bell -- all the momentum they are riding on is hard to stop quickly. These guys in Suzhou had a cool set of bells using an old gear to hold more than one bell. The circle of bells were struck by an armature in the center, turned by the rotation of the front wheel. It made a great big ring! Very cool.
Throughout Asia in my travels I found glass shards used to line the top of walls to form a cheap alternative to barbed wire to keep introders out. Glass bottles and window glass are common sources. An entire wall will have this along the ridge, perhaps on several levels. This method was very common several decades ago, but has been eclipsed by strips of metal pikes in many places as they develop. It looks neater than broken glass but I doubt it is more effective. This stuff looks very scary.
I saw a couple of this very clever transport devices for moving a dozen or so live chickens and roosters (near Dali, Yunnan, China). You get some large sacks, poke some holes in the top, weave the birds into each so each head is sticking out, and then you can throw the entire sack on a bicycle or truck. The birds were quiet and seemed to like the swaddling.
These fishing rafts are made from chunks and pieces of styrofoam bundled into nets to form pontoons. The pieces are bigger than foam peanuts, but not much bigger. The rafts are about 12-15 feet in length. Their deck is made of bamboo, covered with mesh. Here they are stored against a wall.
The majority of farm houses and barns in China are built with home-made sun-dried mud-and-straw bricks. They are stacked up using wet mud for the mortar (thus the origin of the contemporary contractor's term "mud" for mortar). By employing string levels a remarkably rigid, straight, and durable building can be made from earth. But in Yunnan I saw how the locals use small bamboo twigs as a type of rebar. They lay these very strong sticks (bamboo has a tensile strength similar to steel) along one course of bricks every tenth row or so, just as we might add rebar in wet cement. The bamboo serves the same purpose and its use probably predates rebar and concrete.
Coming up are a bunch of examples of street use technology I saw on my recent trip to Yunnan, China.
This one is a very nice cobbler's sewing machine used by cobblers to fix shoes on the street. It's hand cranked, uses heavy canvas thread and has a very long neck allowing you to shove the shoe onto the anvil throat. Very nice machine.