Crate of Curios part 17

It is Sunday night again and this time the cold front ‘Leandros’ is promising us all possible weather phenomena starting with torrential rain and ending with snow. Whilst appreciating the leftover warmth in the radiator, let’s get to it without further ado.

  1. Fear of the new is anything but new and even things we consider rather nice and harmless now used to cause uproar in their early days. Bicycles, for instance were supposed to freeze the lovely features of the female pedallers into a ‘bicycle face’ (which sounds rather similar to the infamous Resting Bitch Face). However, ladies took the risk and bicycles became good business.

2. Archaeology is not only mud and ditches, but also state-of-the-art imaging technology as shown here to restore the text of one of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

3. I wrote about Doorkins Magnificat, the cat of London’s Southwark Cathedral in Crate No.6 – they held a memorial service to her, that I, although an agnostic, found very moving. So now I’m happy to report that the old Cathedral has a new feline inhabitant – Hodge. And yes, he also has a Twitter account.

4. We might consider drones annoying for a number of reasons, but there’s no denying that they help the Andrews brothers produce stunning top-down photography – as Abstract Aerial Art thoroughly proves.

5. Today’s poetry spamming comes from the pen of the Russian poetess Marina Tsvetaeva and from the year 1916.

And that was it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!


If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 16

Here we are again, it’s yet another lazy lockdown Sunday and what better pastime could there be than to make a cup of tea (although as an exception I made coffee today) and open the new Crate of Curios. Let’s get to it!

  1. Clowns tend to be more a matter of phobias than a hilarious stage act these days (looking at you, Stephen King), but there are still interesting things to discover about them. For instance, since 1946 all members of Clowns International get to have their personal stage makeup immortalized on an egg in Clown Egg Register. Originally these were actually emptied-out chicken eggs, but now for practical reasons they have moved on to ceramic eggs.

2. The Guardian has gathered a lot of interesting facts about Emily Brontë and “The Wuthering Heights” into a handful of nifty charts. However, if you see her compared to an emperor penguin somewhere, they are actually talking about her sister Charlotte.

3. Living in the city it’s sometimes easy to forget where our food comes from. OneSoil has gathered data about different crops grown in the US and Europe and made a fascinating map of it. Check out their Random beautiful fields feature!

4. How do Hollywood filmmakers know how the dwellings on desert planet Tatooine should look like in order to provide shelter for its inhabitants? Now they might Google, but first of all they visit the Michelson Cinema Research Library. In December 2020 it was taken over in its entirety by the Internet Archive, so after a period of uncertainty, it has finally found a forever home.

5. In a time period of pervasive employee surveillance, it’s rather refreshing to see the animation studio owners William Hanna and Joseph Barbera taking a stance on time clocks.

And that was it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!


If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 15

And finally we made it over the finish line and tumbled into 2021. Will it be better or worse than 2020? Who knows. Probably the best way is to keep taking things day by day and enjoying the small things in life at least for the time being. And speaking of small things… it’s time for another Crate of Curios.

  1. Unless there’s a terrorist attack or some conflict between countries, we don’t really hear much about India in the news. Yet in a similar vein as elsewhere, people in India are taking to the streets in order to try and improve their lot – or at least keep it from getting worse. And in this spirit, protesting farmers in India have made their own rendition of the well-known Italian folk protest song “Bella Ciao”.

2. You think you know how to microwave your food? Think again. Most likely you are not doing it in the most optimal manner.

3. Orchids are generally considered the gracious swans of the flower world, but even they have an occasional duckling. Gastrodia agnicellus from Madagascar keeps itself quietly underground and only surfaces to flower and disperse its seeds. Although it looks rather like a flesh-eater, it’s actually a member of the genus of potato orchids.

4. Ever since the race to develop vaccines for Covid-19 started, mRNA has become one of the buzzwords. It sounds new and scarily unknown. However, the research behind it dates back to 1990 and owes much of its existence to the stubbornness of the Hungarian biochemist Katalin Karikó.

5. After 2020, it feels like a very practical approach to be prepared for every survival scenario.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!


If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 14

Here we are in a mellow after-Christmas mood, ready to open yet another Crate of Curios. So let’s get to it!

  1. Cats, as we all already know, are the rulers of Internet and generally fascinating creatures. Those among us who do not cohabit with any, might not even know that one of their strange features is chirping when stalking their prey. This is thought to be either an expression of frustration or excitement or a more or less successful attempt to mimic the sounds of the creature they happen to be hunting. Ekekekkekkek has a great collection of the chirps on Instagram, but this feature is not unique for house cats, as proven by this Chilean güiña.

2. How came there always seems to be a little room left for dessert no matter how much you’ve eaten before? The culprit is to be found in our hormonal system.

3. Could the color of dried blood ever be fashionable with anyone except vampires? Well, in fact it has had its heyday in royal court.

4. This beauty is the very rare South Philippine Dwarf Kingfisher.

5. Did you know how the different types of screw drives are called? Me neither before I found this nifty little chart.

And that was it for this time. Happy reading and until the next Crate that’ll be opened already in 2021!

Crate of Curios part 13

This week has passed unnoticeably as the lockdown lasts – days merge into a mellow river of time recently illuminated by the lonely Christmas lights on the streets. In short, it’s Sunday again and time to open a new Crate! So, here we go without further ado.

  1. If you for whatever reason happen to be wondering what the national animals of European (and its neighbouring) countries might be, you can see all of them on this gorgeous map (link leads to larger resolution version).

2. The maddening crowd might be everywhere – especially if one happens to be an urban dweller, but there are still places in the world where you can in a very literal sense get away from it all. Tristan da Cunha, the tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic, is even more remote than Napoleon’s geographical prison St. Helena.

3. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the recently passed US Supreme Court Justice, was known both for her tireless work to advance women’s rights and her sublime sense of fashion expressed by her robe collars.

4. To put it shortly – “Man has no garden, creates a stunning nano pond.” The man in question is ethnobotanist James Wong.

5. Lest we forget that writers are also humans who eat, The Paris Review is running a fascinating column called ‘Writers’ Fridges’.

And that was it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!

Crate of Curios part 12

Lockdown is proceeding along with the winter months of 2020 and bookshops will be open from tomorrow on! As relishing small joys is all 2020 has been about, let’s waste no time in diving into yet another Crate of Curios.

  1. Gingerbread houses seem to be the place for major overhaul this year. I already touched upon charcuterie chalets in Crate no.9, but now it’s time to modernize the construction itself and move from the Middle Ages to Mid Century Modern gingerbread architecture.

2. An interesting table I came across, that shows the crossroads between tea-making and philosophy (well, ontology in particular) and examines how far the concept of tea can possibly stretch.

3. If you ever gave much thought to the ex-Soviet countries, I’m quite sure that mind-enhancing drugs were not a part of that mental image. However, Czechoslovakia was the leading manufacturer and exporter of LSD in the 1960’s. (Picture is of the rock group ‘Plastic People of the Universe’ – one of the most famous psychedelic Czech bands of the era.)

4. Although now we are very familiar with the concept of x-rays and their effects, it was not always so. Marie Curie, when working to extract radium wore ordinary lab clothing and often handled the materials with her bare hands. As a result, her notes and other belongings are still radioactive and will continue to be so for the next 1500 years.

5. Instead of poetry spamming, today I’ll add a literary tweet by Tom Waits.

And that was it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!


If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 11

This week is only 2 hours from ending, and thus I’m in a hurry to open this Crate of Curios before it’s done. Here we go!

  1. Most people have probably heard of Burning Man festival and its reputation for out-of-this-world costumes and installations. Well, established in 1986, it’s becoming an establishing presence and now it has a young rival kicking at its heels – welcome to the scene the 10-year-old Wasteland Weekend!

2. Why is Athens full of similar residential buildings? There is a good reason for that. The polykatoikia was a bottom-up solution for the post-war housing shortage in the Greek capital. (the illustration is by Josh Kramer).

3. This week’s poetry spamming originates from the pen of Iain Crichton Smith.

4. Grant Snider has a beautiful short comic on shadows.

5. Remember when Jon Stewart used to run “The Daily Show”? Then you might just remember this epic rant on deep dish pizza as well. No dish has even been dissed so thoroughly.

So, this was it for this week. Happy reading and until next time!