Whatever we put into our mouths passes out sooner or later, though it is usually much altered in form when it makes its second bow. It’s one of those untidy facts of life that we prefer to ignore, or at least conceal, flushing the byproducts of our collective appetites away into the local sewer, in whose hidden precincts it is transformed yet again before being sluiced into the nearest waterway, out of sight and out of mind. Which is just where we want it.
Our fellow travelers on planet Earth are less concerned with appearances than we are, however. Most are content to let things take their course and then move on. Take this somewhat weathered remembrance of things passed, for instance. (The rather blurry fingertips at the bottom of the shot give you some idea of size and proportion.) I think it’s otter scat. The fish scales and skin are suggestive, as Holmes would say, and the locus in quo — the margin of a beaver pond — is otterly consistent with the hypothesis.
Want a closer look? (There’s no accounting for taste, is there?) Then right-click on the image. Whatever your feelings about the aesthetic, one thing is certain: Somebody had a good dinner.
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Nothing lasts forever. I know that. Still, I admit to being a little surprised when my Canon PowerShot A590 IS failed in its fourth year. After all, my old Olympus OM‑1 — it turned 30 some years back — is still serving its new owner well. It wasn’t as if the PowerShot had led an especially hard life, either. Yes, it had seen plenty of use afloat, afoot, and awheel. But it had never been dropped, drowned, or exposed to salt spray, nor had any batteries ever oozed corrosive fluid into the workings. In short, while the PowerShot had been used hard, it had hardly been abused.
No matter. It failed. And that was that. On first inspection the problem appeared to be mechanical, rather than electronic. (I’ll have a better idea once I strip it down.) This left me with an empty place in my camera bag: The little Canon was my go‑to camera for all those times when a digital SLR was just “too much gun.” The upshot? I soon found myself shopping for a replacement… Read more…
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Where would we be without duct tape? We’d come unstuck in a hurry, that’s where. Duct tape makes hard repairs easy, big jobs small, and quick fixes more or less lasting. No great skill is required, and you don’t need any special tools. Duct tape even has history on its side. Like so much modern gear, from the venerable Grumman tin tank itself to the latest in MREs, duct tape was forged in the fires of war.
When Uncle Sam needed a way to insure that ammo cans stayed watertight in the steamy heat of the Pacific Theater during World War II, surgical-supply company Johnson & Johnson was the first to find a solution. By sandwiching gauze between a latex adhesive and a waterproof backing they invented a new kind of tape. It was everything the War Department wanted. It was tough. It was flexible. And it kept the water out.
Scuttlebutt has it that GIs nicknamed the stuff duck tape, because it shed water just like a duck’s back. Be that as it may—pragmatic historians note that the waterproof backing was originally cotton duck—it wasn’t long before duck tape was drafted to do a lot of jobs besides sealing ammo cans. And when the GIs came home at war’s end, duck tape came with them… Read more…
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