What Ever Became of…Laserdisc Players?

I will readily admit that there are some weeks when I have come across some sort of remembered technology item that I thi9nk would be great for this little feature–and then there are weeks like this one, in which I have vapor lock of the brain and a hard time thinking of much of […]


What Ever Became of…Pocket Watches?

A co-worker of mine, admittedly a bit of a quirky fellow, just in general, mentioned the other day that he is in the market for a good pocket watch.  I am not sure if he plans on using said pocket watch at work every day, or just trying to fancy himself up for […]


What Ever Became of…Instant Cameras?

The demise of the Polaroid Instant Camera and the stopping of manufacture of film for said cameras and the efforts of such wondrous innovators as The Impossible Project have all been well documented here.  Recently, however, I have become aware of the existence of other instant cameras made by other companies, in other […]


What Ever Became of…HUDs on Cars?

I remember seeing several years ago ads for a Heads Up Display being offered as an option on new Cadillac models, hooked up to an infrared camera that would allow the driver to see objects at a greater distance at night.  The heads up display was also supposed to revolutionize the driving experience, […]

Atomic Awesome, Big Complicated Machines, Technostalgia

Mesta memories #22: Gear Drives


One of the things that always stand out to me when I’m looking at pictures of old factories and machinery, is the enormous gears that are used almost everywhere. The herringbone-toothed gear shown above is a great example.

The Mesta Machine Company made a great variety of large gear drives for heavy industry and power production. The following pictures show some of the monstrous gears that Mesta made on a regular basis.

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Intrigue On The Orient Express


Hercule Poirot solved a murder aboard the Orient Express. James Bond fought a rival spy aboard it. Ray Bradbury featured it in a short story. It defined luxury in an era of rail travel, and was the must-ride train for Europe’s wealthy. The Orient Express, first run in 1883, would eventually connect Paris to Constantinople.

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What Ever Became of…Painting Portraits?

In numerous movies, one of the ways to show that a character has a ridiculous ego is to have him walk into a room with a giant portrait of himself on the wall, often doing something mildly absurd.  This always seems all the more out of place because nobody gets such things done […]


What Ever Became of…Flip-Up Sunglasses?

I always thought of the whole flip-up sunglasses thing as a bit of an early 1990s phenomena.  The other day though, I was watching Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, and I noticed that at one point the principal flips up the lenses, just the lenses, of his shades.  That movie is pretty fairly 1980s, […]


What Ever Became of…Air Races?

This weekend is an exciting weekend in the world of aviation sport, because the 50th anniversary of pretty much the only air race that is still held in North America is occurring – the Reno Air Races!  This is an event I would like to see one day, but this wasn’t the year.  I […]


I Want to Ride My Bicycle

Cycleway 1

When I was growing up, I was like most middle America kids were and likely still are—I learned to ride a bike, and there were times when that was the way I had to get around. I never had anything real fancy, just a cheesy BMX bike, and when I went off to college I even took the old banana seat bike we all learned to ride on, because I figured no one would steal it.  (Sadly, it was actually stolen.)  So, I would say I had an appreciation for bike riding, I had some good times out riding around, and it worked well to get me around sometimes.

But something happened, in the first few years of having a driver’s license, that created an intense dislike in me for road bikers, I’ll call them.  The sort of middle aged guys dolled up in spandex who rode in giant slow moving packs along the rural community where I lived; clogging the roads and keeping me from driving at a normal speed just drove me crazy.  And thinking about it just irritates me all over again.  I am older, wiser, and I dare say a much calmer driver now most times than I was then, but the thing is, when I was a kid, my parents had me read the section in the Texas drivers handbook on the laws governing bicycles on the public roads before I could ride out on the road.  Clearly stated was the fact that you are supposed to ride single file, to the right, so as to not impede normal traffic flow.  So it really grates at me to see people not doing this.

I don’t bring any of this up to start a bikes on the road debate, or to bring out the haters on both sides (although I realize this is a possibility, given the topic), but to introduce an interesting project from the late 19th century: an attempt to build a bicycle highway from the suburbs of Los Angeles into downtown.  Sounds sort of like some modern urban renewal projects, green space and bike paths and the like.  Since I can enjoy riding a bike on one hand, and enjoy the separation of automobiles and bicycles in some circumstances on the other hand, and have not enjoyed my limited experiences in LA traffic on the third hand, it is too bad those this particular project did not pan out.

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