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How Candles Are Made

From Factory Monster (great name), a video of how candles are made in a South Korean candle factory. I like that there’s no music or voiceover, so you can hear the sounds of the production. I also enjoyed the charmingly janky English subtitles:

Blah blah powder for hardness. Yellow powder for pure white color. Irony, huh?!

Can someone who knows something about making candles tell me why that hole is made in each of the candles with the metal rods? It was unclear from the video what its purpose is.

If you’d like to ruin/enhance the rest of your day, Factory Monster has a trove of making-of videos shot in Korean factories and workshops: retreading old tires, distressed jeans, chain link fences, customized Vans sneakers, and making a knife from an old motorcycle chain. (via the kid should see this)

Reply · 10

This Woman Deconstructs 100-Year-Old Books To Restore Them

Sophia Bogle is an expert at restoring old books and I was riveted by this video of her taking viewers through the deconstruction and restoration process, including a tour of her workshop and some of the tools she uses (e.g. a repair knife she designed herself to resemble a fingertip).

But reader, I gasped when she signed her work…I don’t think I could do that! (via boing boing)

Reply · 2

Waffle House’s Magic Marker System

I thought for sure that I’d previously written about the secret jelly packet & pickle-based system that chefs at the Waffle House use to “store” all of the orders that come in for food during service, but I can’t find it in the archive. But no matter — the Waffle House training video above runs us through their whole system, including a detailed explanation of their Magic Marker System, which involves zero actual Magic Markers and instead is about arranging condiment packets and other items on plates in a code:

Now let’s talk about our breakfast sandwiches. Just like omelettes, these sandwiches have the same four positions: ham, sausage, bacon, and plain. To mark a sandwich, place two pickle slices in the appropriate position. Here you can see I put two pickle slices in the number three position, which tells me this is a bacon sandwich. If I add a slice of cheese to the plate, I know this is a bacon cheese sandwich. To make this a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, I’ll add this right side up mayo packet to the right side of the plate.

Don’t let this mayo pack confuse you - as long as you see two pickles on the plate you know this is a sandwich. When marking a sandwich, this mayo packet and pickles means a sandwich with eggs. If a customer wanted the eggs on their sandwich to be scrambled instead of the standard over well egg, I’d move this mayo pack down to the bottom of the plate to show that the egg is scrambled.

That sounds pretty complicated and they’ve likely faced pressure to change the system over the years, but I bet it works really well in practice and cuts down on errors. I love stuff like this…seeing how different organizations manage their core processes, especially in non-conventional ways. See also Nightclub Hand Signals and The Quarryman’s Symphony. (thx, erik)

Reply · 4

How to Comment on Social Media

Rebecca Solnit with a cheeky & hilarious piece on How to Comment on Social Media.

1) Do not read the whole original post or what it links to, which will dilute the purity of your response and reduce your chances of rebuking the poster for not mentioning anything they might’ve mentioned/written a book on/devoted their life to. Listening/reading delays your reaction time, and as with other sports, speed is of the essence.

7) If you’re a man and that O.P. is a woman, her facts are feelings and your feelings are facts, and those forty-seven increasingly lengthy responses you fired off were clearly a rational reaction. If she reacted negatively to them, do not forget to rebuke her for being emotional.

I hate to say it, but the reason I am not enjoying Mastodon so much these days is because I see stuff like this on there regularly:

9) Which is why the person who said, or rather typed, offhandedly “people should bike more” really means all people need to bike everywhere under all circumstances and is callously indifferent to people who: live in Siberia and can’t bike through -40 blizzards; are physically unable to cycle; can’t afford bikes; and let us not forget those who have bicycle-related trauma. Which is why anyone who could say “people should bike more” is a fascist who needs crushing.

🎯

Reply · 4

Ayo Edebiri Draws a New Yorker Cartoon

In June 2021 (pre The Bear), New Yorker cartoonist Zoe Si coached Ayo Edebiri through the process of drawing a New Yorker cartoon. The catch: neither of them could see the other’s work in progress. Super entertaining.

I don’t know about you, but Si’s initial description of the cartoon reminded me of an LLM prompt:

So the cartoon is two people in their apartment. One person has dug a hole in the floor, and he is standing in the hole and his head’s poking out. And the other person is kneeling on the floor beside the hole, kind of like looking at him in a concerned manner. There’ll be like a couch in the background just to signify that they’re in a house.

Just for funsies, I asked ChatGPT to generate a New Yorker-style cartoon using that prompt. Here’s what it came up with:

A New Yorker style cartoon depicting a man standing in a hole in the floor of an apartment, holding a shovel with only his head and shoulders visible. A woman floats beside him, with a concerned expression.

Oh boy. And then I asked it for a funny caption and it hit me with: “I said I wanted more ‘open space’ in the living room, not an ‘open pit’!” Oof. ChatGPT, don’t quit your day job!

Reply · 1

Learn How to Dance Like David Byrne (From Byrne Himself)

This is an absolute delight: a pair of videos of David Byrne teaching us how to do a few dance moves. The first video shows more moves; the second one was recorded for “a social distance dance club” during the pandemic:

The dance club was open for 2 weeks in April 2021 and allowed for people to come together to dance however they wanted while masked and a safe distance from each other. It played a variety of music (including a couple of David Byrne and Talking Heads songs), and people who signed up to attend were encouraged to use this video to learn this routine in advance so that everybody could dance in sync for the final song of each hour session.

Ayun Halliday wrote a great post for Open Culture about Byrne’s dancing.

Reply · 0

Motion Extraction

In this video from his YouTube channel “about anything”, Posy demonstrates a video filtering technique called motion extraction. A commenter calls this video “a tutorial, a demonstration, and a work of art”, all rolled into one. It’s really lovely and informative. My jaw actually dropped at the “how can you tell which stones were disturbed on the path” part.

Reply · 1

If You Wish to Make an Apple Pie From Scratch, You Must First Invent the Universe

At the beginning of the ninth episode of his 13-part series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, Carl Sagan says:

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.

Taking a page from Sagan’s book, Zack Scholl made a site called Recursive Recipes, which allows you to drill down into the ingredients of some common foods, replacing them with other recipes.

A recursive recipe is one where ingredients in the recipe can be replaced by another recipe. The more ingredients you replace, the more that the recipe is made truly from scratch.

Here’s what the apple pie recipe looks like when you make everything you can from scratch:

how to make an apple pie from scratch

You don’t quite begin at the Big Bang, but if you start with soil, a cow, and some seawater, it’s still going to take you almost 8 years to make that pie. The wheat needed for the flour, for instance:

Plant winter wheat in fall to allow for six to eight weeks of growth before the soil freezes. This allows time for good root development. If the wheat is planted too early, it may smother itself the following spring and it could be vulnerable to some late-summer insects that won’t be an issue in the cooler fall weather. If winter wheat is planted too late, it will not overwinter well.

This reminds me of Thomas Thwaites’ Toaster Project, in which he built a toaster from scratch:

Thwaites reverse engineered a seven dollar toaster into 400 separate parts and then set about recreating steel from iron ore rocks, plastic from microwaved potatoes and copper from homemade bromide mush.

(via waxy)

Reply · 5

How to Navigate Using Nature

A quick and breezy introduction to some basic wayfinding techniques from Fran Scott and BBC Earth Kids. Unless you went to camp as a kid or have spent a bunch of time outdoors, at least some of these techniques will be new to you. I’d never heard of trees growing in a check mark shape. From natural navigation expert Tristan Gooley:

Obviously, all green plants need sunlight. So it’s logical that plants will, all things being equal, tend to grow more abundantly on the side the light comes from. In the northern parts of the world, where the sun is due south in the middle of the day, that means plants are growing more abundantly on the south side.

Try noticing this in a tree the next time you take a walk outside. You should see that there’s more tree on the south side, unless there are other factors-for instance there are amazing examples of glass buildings that can make trees grow the wrong way. But generally speaking, there should be more of the tree on the south side.

Gooley is the author of The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs: Use Outdoor Clues to Find Your Way, Predict the Weather, Locate Water, Track Animals — and Other Forgotten Skills and several related books. (via the kid should see this)


How to Apologize

Elizabeth Spiers for the NY Times on how to apologize (given the recent spate of celebrity non-apologies): I Have a Question for the Famous People Who Have Tried to Apologize.

The first step in a good apology is acknowledging harm. The second is expressing genuine regret, and where possible, acknowledging our shortcoming. Our intentions are not always good. Sometimes we’re selfish. Sometimes we don’t know what we’re doing, and sometimes we fail to consider the consequences. If we can admit these things, it helps repair trust.

Then we vow, in good faith, to not perpetuate the same harm again.

The last step is repair. This means directly addressing the harm done — not via self-flagellation on YouTube nor with any expectation of forgiveness.

I posted about how to apologize a few years ago after reading Katie Heaney’s piece on, wait for it, celebrity non-apologies:

Here are the six components of an apology from Beth Polin:

1. An expression of regret — this, usually, is the actual “I’m sorry.”
2. An explanation (but, importantly, not a justification).
3. An acknowledgment of responsibility.
4. A declaration of repentance.
5. An offer of repair.
6. A request for forgiveness.

I think about these components whenever giving or receiving apologies — it’s a great framework to keep in mind.


How to Enter the Flow State, “a Unique Mental State of Effortless Engagement”

A short TED-Ed video on the flow state of creativity and how you might enter it more easily.

Flow is more than just concentrating or paying attention; it’s a unique mental state of effortless engagement. And those who more frequently experience flow report higher levels of positive emotions, creativity, and feelings of accomplishment. But what exactly is flow? And how can we find it in our daily lives? Explore steps you can take to increase your chances of finding flow.

While I am not feeling particularly in the groove today, over the past several weeks I’ve been in the flow state a lot, working on a couple of projects for the site. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that feeling for more than a couple of hours every few months and booooooy does it feel good. There is almost nothing that fills me with as much joy as the “effortless engagement” of being in the flow state. I’m very glad it’s back in my life — I’d been afraid it was gone forever. (via open culture)


See How Pencils Are Made in a Japanese Factory

I have said previously that “even on my busiest day, I will drop everything to watch a video of pencils being made”. Still true! This video from Process X of a Tokyo pencil factory really hits the spot. My favorite part of watching pencils get made is always the sharpening of the finished pencils by belt sander.

See also How Pencils Are Made, A Visit to an American Factory That’s Been Producing Pencils Since 1889, and A History of Pencil Lead and How Pencils Are Made. (via the kid should see this)


How Rubber Bands Are Made

From natural rubber to hundreds of bands in a box, here’s how a Japanese manufacturing firm makes rubber bands.

Fun fact about me: I always have a rubber band or two on my wrist…I’ve been wearing them for no particular reason since I was 17. So this video is right up my alley. (via digg)


How to Make the Potato Chip Omelette from The Bear

If you were left hungry by the food in season two of The Bear, Binging With Babish has got you covered. In this video, he recreates the potato chip omelette that Sydney makes in the second-to-last episode of the season. And then, he makes an adjacent dish, José Andrés’s tortilla española with potato chips. Just to contrast, here’s Andrés making it:

Double yum. See also How to Make Perfect Soft-Scrambled Eggs, Hey, Let’s Watch Jacques Pépin Fry Eggs (and make omelettes), and 59 Ways to Cook Your Eggs.


How Rebar Is Produced in a Japanese Factory

The immense scale of the factory and the intense temperatures involved (along with a musical soundtrack that sounds like Interstellar by way of Philip Glass) makes this video about how rebar is made compelling viewing. There are several scenes from this video that would not be out of place in this collection of Real-Life Infrastructure That Looks Like Sci-Fi. And there’s a color gradient moment near the end that’s really lovely. (thx, alex)


The Absurd Logistics of Concert Tours

I was totally fascinated by this look at the absurd logistics of concert tours and now have a newfound appreciation for all the people involved who collaborate to make the magic happen (and perhaps also a little bit more forgiving about the high price of tickets (but Ticketmaster can still go to hell)).

Now, to an outsider, the load out process might look chaotic, and the pace of the tour may seem unsustainable or unmanageable. But though grueling and exhaustingly complicated, these massive, nation-wide tours function remarkably smoothly considering the variety of variables.

(via open culture)


How Precise Metal Machining Is Done

I’ve always wondered about the process for making pieces of metal that appear to fit together perfectly, so perfectly that you can’t see any sort of cut or seam. In this video, Steve Mould explains how wire EDM works, in part using cheese.


An AI Artist Explains His Workflow

No matter which side you come down on in the debate about using AI tools like Stable Diffusion and Midjourney to create digital art, this video of an experienced digital artist explaining how he uses AI in his workflow is worth a watch. I thought this comment was particularly interesting:

I see the overall process as a joint effort with the AI. I’ve been a traditional artist for 2 decades, painting on canvas. And in the last five years I’ve been doing a lot of digital art. So from that part of myself, I don’t feel threatened at all.

I feel this is an opportunity. An opportunity for many new talented people to jump on a new branch of art that is completely different from the one that we have already in digital art and just open up new way of being creative.


How to Carve Marble Like Italian Master Donatello

In a video for the Victoria and Albert Museum, sculptor Simon Smith shows us how Renaissance sculptor Donatello might have approached carving a piece from marble, which Smith calls “the Emperor of all stones”.

It’s all about trapping shadows. Carving is all about having deep cuts here and lighter here and the angle here and how the light plays on it. And certainly in relief…because relief carving like this, it’s kind of halfway between sculpture and drawing. If you’re doing a three-dimensional sculpture, if a form runs around the back you just carve it so it goes around the back, but with this you have to give the illusion of it running around the back like a drawing. You’ve got to make something look like it turns around and comes out the other side even though it really is just going into the block. And that’s all about angles and shadow and light.


The 13 Levels of Complexity of Turntable Scratching

My post last week about The 13 Levels of Complexity of Drumming got me interested in Larnell Lewis, but I also started going back through Wired’s Levels series to check out some of the ones I’d missed.

First up is DJ Shortkut explaining the 15 levels of turntable scratching. DJing is one of those things that I enjoy the output of but don’t know much about, so it was fun to have it broken down like that. Beat juggling is incredibly cool and looks super difficult to master. 🤯


The 13 Levels of Complexity of Drumming

I love Wired’s video series on the levels of complexity of various activities, and they got someone really good to show us about drumming. Larnell Lewis is a Grammy Award-winning musician and a professor of music at Humber College in Toronto and his tour of the 13 levels of drumming, from easy to complex, is super clear, entertaining, and informative. Aside from the names of some of the drum kit pieces, I did not know a damn thing about drumming before watching this and now my eyes have been opened to how amazing drummers are to be able to do all of that (and look cool as hell at the same time). Like, I can’t even comprehend how they keep all those rhythms going at the same time…it just seems like magic to me. Watching Lewis’s solo at the end gave me a real boost this morning.

Some of my other “levels” favorites: A Demonstration of 16 Levels of Piano Playing Complexity, Robert Lang on the 11 Levels of Complexity of Origami, How to Draw a Self-Portrait in 11 Levels of Increasing Complexity, and Tony Hawk on the 21 Levels of Complexity of Skateboard Tricks.


Restoring a 100-Year-Old Animated Film

You’ve probably seen the work of animation pioneer Max Fleischer; he made the old Popeye, Superman, Betty Boop, and Koko the Clown cartoons waaaay back in the early-to-mid 20th century. Films from back then are often not well-preserved, so when a copy is discovered in a film library or private collection, great care must be exercised in restoring the film for future generations to enjoy.

This video follows the restoration process of Fleischer’s 1924 Koko the Clown film Birthday, from scanning a 35mm print from 1930 to the digital retouching. The fully restored print doesn’t seem to be online anywhere, but you can see a couple of before-and-after comparisons here and here.


How Noiseless Props Are Made For Movies And TV Shows

Insider has been doing a whole series of videos on how movie props are made (view the entire thing here) and I found this one on how prop makers rely on noiseless props to be particularly interesting. To cut down on distracting on-set noise (so dialogue can be heard, for instance), they swap racquetball balls for pool balls, silicon chunks for ice cubes, and paper bags made out of coffee filter material for real paper bags. So weird to watch those objects in action without their usual sounds. (thx, caroline)


How to Draw Fantasy World Maps

I am not a particular fan of fantasy games, but I do like watching people draw and talk about their process, particularly when it’s accessible to beginners. On his YouTube channel, JP Coovert shows people how to draw maps for fantasy games, books, and other media. Here’s a few examples to whet the appetite.

(via the kid should see this)


A Guitar Made From Ikea Furniture

Tchiks is a luthier from Belgium who, after his daughter outgrew her crib, turned it and a bunch of other Ikea products into a guitar.

The guitar started out as a joke. I remember going upstairs and telling my wife “I’m gonna make a guitar out of Zoé’s old bed”. She rolled her eyes to the ceiling and asked me “why”. Then I immediately thought “This is the way”.

It sounds good! Like any good craftspeople, luthiers can get a little fussy about their materials and the specs list for the Ikea guitar at the end of the video pokes some gentle fun at that:

Body: baby crib, chair, shelf
Neck: baby crib
Fretboard: photo ledge
Knob: chopping board

(via linkfest)


The Rules for Travelling on the Autobahn Through East Germany to West Berlin

This is fascinating: an instructional video from 1988 for British Royal Military Police personnel to watch before travelling the 103 miles of autobahn across East Germany to West Berlin. (A Cold War refresher: West Berlin was completely surrounded by East Germany — the city was not on the border.) Those in transit had to follow many rules:

Approach the Soviet sentry who will be standing close to the small hut on the left of the road. He will salute you. You must, irrespective of your sex, status, or form of dress, return his salute.

They also couldn’t stop anywhere but a few designated areas, could only deal with Soviet personnel (and not East German personnel), were forbidden from speaking Russian, and obviously couldn’t take photos. What a time capsule!

See also this video that reconstructs that journey, from someone who was stationed in West Germany in the late 80s. (via open culture)


Making a Very Tiny Watch Screw

This is pretty amazing: a guy making a 0.6mm screw for a watch using a very precise watchmaker’s lathe. It’s so small! I love that the hardest part is trying to find the impossibly tiny thing after it detaches from the high-RPM lathe. (thx, mick)


How Vinyl Records Are Made

So, here’s how they make vinyl records at Third Man Records in Detroit. As you might expect, the process is a bit less automated than what you’d imagine for digital music media — those records are human-handled dozens of times before they are finally placed into their jackets.

Vinyl is in the real world. It’s not something that exists only on your computer or your phone, it’s three-dimensional. Your nervous system is designed to take in the sound. It heals you. It’s a nutrient. It’s like vitamins. You feel it. It’s like getting a massage or eating a beautiful sandwich.

See also this slow-motion video of a vinyl record playing, recorded with an electron microscope. You can see how the soundwaves are encoded in the grooves. (via open culture)