Archives for October 2010 | A Continuous Lean.

We Build the Ladders by Which We Climb.

Oct 31st, 2010 | Categories: San Francisco, Video | by Michael Williams

A look inside the San Francisco Fire Department’s ladder factory, the only one of its kind in the United States.

[Thanks to Terry V. for the heads up.]





Nerd Alert Part II | Apollo 8 Tower View

Oct 31st, 2010 | Categories: Video | by Michael Williams

Clearly I’m obsessed with these Apollo Saturn V rocket launches. Previously I posted the Apollo 11 liftoff from camera E-8 (bonus nerd points for knowing the camera name), but while the video was amazing the voice over guy was pretty lame. The above film is of Apollo 8 (the first ever spaceflight to leave the earth’s orbit and see the dark side of the moon) was shot from the tower to give a different perspective on the massively powerful Saturn V rocket. This Apollo 8 video’s creepy soundtrack (which to me sounds like a mix between something from the movie Scarface and a coffee maker) also trumps the Apollo 11 film, but who’s keeping score. Enjoy!





Archival Calendars

Oct 29th, 2010 | Categories: Americana, Photography | by Michael Williams

During the 1930s the U.S. Government commissioned a huge photography project to document the Great Depression and in doing so created some of the most iconic and enduring images of American life. I really fell in love with a set of photos of the White Motor Company from my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio and I thought it would be cool to make my own personalized calendar from the images. Lucky for me the files are available in high enough resolution to print a normal size calendar through the Apple printing service. I selected about 14 of my favorite pictures (which seem to be copyright free, at least for this clearly non-commercial use) laid everything out in iPhoto and submitted the job straight through to Apple. About two weeks and $28 later I was in business.

More information about the photographs from the Library of Congress:

The black-and-white photographs of the Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information Collection are a landmark in the history of documentary photography. The images show Americans at home, at work, and at play, with an emphasis on rural and small-town life and the adverse effects of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and increasing farm mechanization. Some of the most famous images portray people who were displaced from farms and migrated West or to industrial cities in search of work. In its latter years, the project documented America’s mobilization for World War II. The collection includes about 164,000 black-and-white negatives; this release provides access to over 160,000 of these images. The FSA-OWI photographers also produced about 1600 color photographs.

The White Motor Company calendar was a nice way to celebrate some of these amazing and iconic images, not to mention my own hometown’s wartime industrial strength. I’m already thinking of a railroad worker themed 2011. [Additionally, do like me and be sure to thank the LOC for the personal pleasure (and totally non-commercial use) of their photos. Donate online here.]

Here’s a better look at the gent in the above image.





Pure Americana from the Rural South

Oct 28th, 2010 | Categories: Americana, Flickr Find, Photography | by Michael Williams

Athens, Georgia based photographer Evan Leavitt has become a bit of a Flickr superstar through his documentation of the rural South. Leavitt’s photos incorporate a post production texturing effect to make them appear somewhere in-between a photo and a painting. In some instances it gets slightly too HDRish for me, an effect I’m not particularly fond of, but more often than not the photos turn out to be wonderful moments in a weathered and seemingly forgotten land. Somebody get Jen Bekman on the phone and get this guy on 20×200. I’d buy about 100 of these as photos if I could. The good news is, Evan is prolific with his art and continues to share through his photostream. Which means I continue to enjoy my daily trips to the rural South.

Friendship Baptist Church Estab. 1831 Wilkes County, GA

Barrow County, GA





WWII | On the Home Front

Oct 27th, 2010 | Categories: Vintage, WWII | by Michael Williams

One of my early collectable items were war ration books from WWII. During the war, the U.S. government set up roughly 8000 war ration boards to control the consumption of strategic materials like gasoline, rubber, sugar, meat, butter and so on. The ration boards issued every family ration books to ensure equality and control those crucial items. It is those types of civilian war time ephemera that has long been a source of interest and intrigue for me. In college I took a lot of classes centered around the second world war and the home front was frequently discussed. V-Mail was another favorite WWII collectable. I still have deadstock boxes of V-Mail forms that I own to this day. For my most recent birthday my grandmother (knowing of my interest in old WWII stuff) sent me an old leather war ration envelope that she found. The soft leather envelope is still embossed with the initials “J.B.S” in gold lettering and fits two ration books perfectly. Sort of a funny thing to use, a leather ration envelope. It makes you think that during those days the war was not a short term thing and government rationing was a real part of daily life.





Toast | Autumn Outfitters

Oct 26th, 2010 | Categories: England, Shopping | by Michael Williams

Recently I have been sort of enamored by the British brand Toast. To be honest I wasn’t too familiar with the company, but the more I look at it the more I like what I see. I especially enjoyed this orange anorak jacket which I am seriously considering buying. I also am fond of the variety of accessories that Toast has done for fall. The wonderful wool blankets from Canadian maker MacAusland’s Woolen Mills, the flannel “hottie” covers, the Dietz storm lanterns, the chunky knit socks and the awesome glassware (like the bedside flask that is pictured below). Granted the brand is mostly womens and I don’t know if a guy should be wandering around town with a flannel-covered hot water bottle, but I appreciate the aesthetic. That or I am just a sucker for an orange anorak. [Toast]





ACL Field Trip | Ramblers Way Farm

Oct 24th, 2010 | Categories: Made in the USA, Maine | by Michael Williams

A few weeks back I headed up north for a weekend of rest and relaxation amongst nature. The trip coincided with some seriously severe weather and as much rain as I have ever seen in New York City. The FDR turned into a few miles of standing water that must have been about two feet deep at some points. Not exactly what you want to drive through at five in the morning. Eventually we made it up to Maine most of the rain had all but subsided by the time we stopped in Kennebunk to visit the folks at Ramblers Way, the Maine-based clothing maker and the its Rambouillet sheep farm. The Maine farm produces a portion of the fine rambouillet wool that Ramblers Way eventually will have processed into fabric, organically dyed and then eventually sewn (in Fall River, mass.) into a line of super-fine worsted wool garments.

Ramblers Way was founded by Tom and Kate Chappell — the same people that started the Tom’s of Maine in 1970 — with the mission to produce a collection of wool apparel that is comfortable, natural and entirely sourced / produced in the United States. That’s how I was first introduced to the brand actually, through research on domestic manufactures for The American List.