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          A virtual Cabinet of Curiosities

    I finally went and bought a Digital SLR... a Nikon D40, a lovely instrument (though I miss the split circle with micro-prisms that SLR viewfinders used to have before Autofocus was invented...)
    So, what did I do to celebrate this auspicious purchase? Of course, I started testing it by snapping close-ups of diverse objects around the house. The photos came out better than Id expected, considering I didn't bother to read the manual at that point - it really is a good camera! - so I decided to share some of them on this site.
    Here, then, is a potpourri of various objects I've accumulated over the years that are interesting, or curious, or just lovely. Call it a virtual Cabinet of Curiosities...

[Click any photo to see a larger version]

Pentremites Godoni, or Sea Bud, fossil A green bakelite pencil sharpener
A fossilized Pentremites Godoni, a.k.a. Sea Bud, an extinct marine invertebrate from some 350 Million years ago. Most people think of Bakelite as black and plain. Actually it came in many beautiful colors, like the lovely translucent green of this old sharpener.
The "brass canary" toy Knit cacti
The brass canary... a vintage toy that warbles like a real bird when air is forced to bubble through the water in the little tank at the bottom. Three of my daughter's crop of knit Cacti. She sure has a knack for this unusual horticultural art form (among many others).
Cylinder lock cross-section Cross-sections of a shell
A cross-section through a cylinder lock, which I produced years ago to illustrate how it works. Retaining the cut spring coils in place was tricky business... As you see, I love cross-sections: they give such unexpected and instructive insights into how things -- man-made or natural -- are built.
Oil painting of mother and children in a boat 125 ml of electronic components in an Erlenmeyer flask
An oil painting (Italy, early 20th c. ?) of a mother and children in a boat. Painter unknown, but I love the serenity of the moment he captured. 125 ml of electronics... A lab flask I collated to represent half a century of progress. Contains IC's, raw silicon chips, and a lone vacuum tube.
A small Venetian mask Bear Michael, my old teddy bear
A small Venetian mask, a subtler variation on the Sun-and-Moon motif that fills the souvenir stores in that magnificent, watery city. Bear Michael, my good old Teddy Bear, wearing one of my own sweaters. It arrived from England in the fifties, and has been with us ever since.
The Pill Cam by Given Imaging A crystal radio set from the 1920's
The incredible Pill Cam by Israeli startup Given Imaging... a tiny TV station that transmits diagnostic images of one's intestinal tract as it goes thru! A Crystal Radio set from the 1920's. "Type approved by Postmaster General", a label issued by the BBC reassures the user.
A razor blade sharpener A Jemez storyteller doll
A sharpener for disposable razor blades. One shudders to think of the conditions that had made this one seem like a good idea in its time... A small "storyteller" doll by F. Yepa of the Jemez pueblo. I like the way the children play around instead of sitting quietly as in most such dolls.
Manganese dendrites A travel inkwell
No, these aren't fossilized plants; they're Manganese dendrites, a crystalline mineral growth exposed in a slice of rock. Few would recognize this today: a silver plated travel inkwell, just the thing for the mobile writer. Quill not included...
    Okay now -- enough play, it's time I sat down to read the manual, so I can get the most out of my new camera. More photos later!
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