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An Xiao Busingye Mina

Face mask patterns, Kunming

Got obsessed with rain cover designs for motorcyclists and cyclists in Kunming and filmed a few variations as people zipped by — a tarp to cover bike and person, a tarp for two, an umbrella on a stand, an umbrella in hand, a covered wagon. The tarps in particular double as a tarp for your bike when it's parked. And then I met Mark Clifford (@mouscula), who had the perfect soundtrack for this little study.

A fidget spinner and lighter mashup spotted by friends Jason and Larissa. One arm has a lighter function — basically, a heated surface that can light a cigarette. The device is charged by micro USB. Like any good meme, fidget spinners draw on long precedents, which predate shanzhai culture and give a hint as to deeper cultural undercurrents that they tap into. I think back to Greek worry beads (kombolói), but also, appropriately, to cigarettes, which this invention clearly understands.

At the world epicenter of fidget spinners. I see them in my head, spinning spinning spinning in Berlin, New York, Manila, suddenly viral, suddenly memetic.

In the context of a country where clean water can be difficult to find, how do you convince the client that they can trust your water, especially if you're doling it out for free? Trust always requires multiple factors. Context helps — at Manila's airport, this water dispenser behind the security line benefits from the fact that it operates within a trusted institution accessible only to a small percent of the population. A diagram of the water treatment process reassures discerning travelers who want to know what exactly the water has gone through. And certification on the side indicates that the machine (or at least its company) was reviewed, with instructions for use and getting in touch about questions. The most subtle is also the most obvious: the know how to make, deliver and station a machine like this in an airport suggests a certain level of skill.

Back on the road again, this time with this beauty, convertible prototype number 2 of Bag X, from @ksenia_oojh, with many thanks to your feedback so far. Testing now in two continents, four countries, 8000+ miles, underneath airplane seats, stashed in waiting rooms, hauled up mountains, and carried down subways, from business meetings to nature hikes, rain, shine and hot desert wind. Video to come.

Giant sequoias are some of the oldest living beings on earth — I was stunned to learn they can live up to 3000 years, longer than the Roman kingdom, republic and empire combined, longer than the history of capitalism, longer than the founding of China's first empire (Qin) till the Communist Party. Two trees of this age could take us from the invention of writing to the Common Era, and from the Common Era to a millennium from now. The most natural cause of death for a sequoia isn't fire but weight — over time, they become too heavy for their shallow root system and topple. Like a dead whale, they then become an ecosystem of their own, with branches thicker than many trees and a base taller than a car or even a truck.

How do you talk about the size of Manzanar War Relocation Center? Video feels like the only way to capture some of it. 814 acres split amongst 36 blocks, each of which contained 14 barracks, 2 latrines, a mess hall and a recreation center. There was a hospital, a children's village, a garden, a baseball field, rooms for judo and kendo, and a space for earning $16/mo. making camouflage netting for a war being fought far away. Over 10,000 were forced to relocate their lives and families here, amongst over 100,000 sent to 10 camps across the United States designed to concentrate the ethnic Japanese population in the country, along with a select number of people of German and Italian descent as well. I'd grown up hearing stories of Manzanar but not its sheer size and the scale of overall internment. A driving tour in the summer heat gives me just a glimpse of what it must have felt like to live here for three years, uncertain about the future. (Audio recorded on site at an exhibition at the Manzanar museum, a building converted from one of the main recreational centers.)

A re-creation of a watchtower at Manzanar War Relocation Center (read: concentration camp). The machine guns were pointed inward.

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