Darjeeling Second Flush

The summer harvest of Darjeeling teas is called Second Flush. While the first flush teas are usually grassier and more delicate, the second flush are darker, fuller, and haven often a musky note.

I enjoy both, typically a first flush in the morning and a second flush in the afternoon. My two tea suppliers from India couldn’t be more different. The one I showed pictures of here packages the tea in aroma sealed bags. The other one has a narrower selection of top quality teas, and more competitive prices.

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The battered DHL envelope contains a cloth that has been hand sewn together, to contain the individual teas. They are protected by celophane bags,

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inside of which are brown paper bags, wrapped in reflective foil, and all tied closed with individual strings.
I truly appreciate the care they take at Tea Emporium to protect the goods, and I am sure their down to earth way of doing this is at least as good as vacuum sealed plastic bags.

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Last year’s Second Flush harvest left me a bit disappointed. I found the teas I sampled too musky. This year it looks like we have some solid, full bodied teas again. Up above and below you can see the exceptional Pussimbing Organic DJ-70.

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Unboxing photos of high tech goodies have become popular, but nothing can beat unboxing these teas.

Monotony (Iceland I)

This post is the first of many trying to put the 2000+ images I took this summer in Iceland in some unconventional order.

Let’s begin with the simplest aspects of the landscape. In contrast to Hamlet, very often there are fewer things in heaven and earth than you would expect. In fact, you might just see a flat gray plane all the way to the horizon, and above it a similarly gray sky.

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One travels in this landscape on roads that dramatically increase the complexity.

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What is striking is that all this must have been moved and put in place at some point. Enormous volcanic eruptions
have covered this landscape with lava and ash.

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Slowly growing moss patiently tries to withstand the ubiquitous erosion, caused by wind and meandering rivers.

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It is hard to believe that most of Iceland was covered with trees, until the Vikings needed the wood for their boats, houses, and fires.

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Yosemite in Winter


In 1993, when it still rained in California, winter was a desperate time for weekend backpackers, because the Sierras were packed with snow.


On the other hand, if you dared, you could have places all for yourself that would be packed with humans in the summer. But don’t let this snow free picture of Yosemite Valley betray you.


A little further on, the vast granite plains were slush covered, and even further, we there was deep snow and no trace of the trails.


Higher altitude cleared things up a bit (assuming good weather).


The peace was treacherous. Picking this spot below as a camp site and ignoring the pretty clouds below was a dumb idea. The night became the second stormiest night of my life.


The Event Horizon

When you go back in time to explore your (or any) past, there are natural barriers. I have done the explorations here with the aide of pictures I took, mostly digitally since 2000, but relying on scanned film negatives for earlier years.

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I started keeping these negatives since I got my first DSLR, a Nikon F801, in 1989. So the images in this post are from that year. Going further back will be an interesting challenge. There exist slides that I took with a pocket camera and little ambition. My serious interest in photography only developed when I got into arthouse film.

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The first two images were taken at the early morning at the Rhine river near Bonn. The next one is from the botanical garden in Münster. Begin at the bird and its reflection in the center, and work your way through the emerging reality of a seemingly abstract image.

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This one is a dead tree trunk in the center of a dried out fish pond.

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Let’s end peacefully with a floating leaf – a motif that has become a favorite.

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The images of this post were taken in 2002 in Sweden. They were among the very last I took with my little Fuji Finepix 1400. This is not because she stopped working or I didn’t like her anymore, but because she was stolen on the way back.


What we see here is a swamp. The cold climate limits the little pests (bugs) and the larger pests (alligators) to the acceptable.


Instead there is an abundance of mosses and lichens with which you can scrub your back in the sauna.


Walking on it feels kind of funny, in particular when there is suddenly water underneath.


No wonder they have trolls there.

Showing and Hiding (Spheres XI)


A long time ago, we have looked at Soddy’s Hexlet, where a chain of six spheres is interlinked with a chain of three spheres.

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There are variations of this. For instance, you can have two interlinked chains of four spheres each.

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The alert visitor will have noticed that I am only displaying halves of spheres. This is because it is easier to add the other halves on one’s mind instead of thinking them away in order to see what’s behind.

There is more. If you take a suitable chain of five spheres, you can fit 10 around and through, but you will need to make three turns until the chain closes. This means that the spheres will touch their immediate successors, but intersect the ones after one and two turns, respectively.


There still is more, of course, which we leave to the reader to explore. Finding these chains is not difficult, provided you do this in the 3-dimensional sphere, and place the spheres inside complementary tori with suitable radii.

Decay (Museum Hombroich II)

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There are more things to see and do at the Museum Island Hombroich than to visit the pavilions. Artists in residence produce landscape art, and concerts are given.

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I wonder how this sculpture has withered since I took these pictures in 1992. This one is part of a full circle of such outcroppings.

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Mechanical structures clearly without purpose alternate with objects that are equally clearly of daily importance but could as well be just pieces of art.

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An outdoor museum where the objects are exposed to the elements defies the usual purpose of a museum: the preservation of its artifacts.
Here at Hombroich the time has just been slowed down a bit, making it the main object to contemplate.

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Karana Mudra (Museum Hombroich I)

When the Cold War ended, a missile base near Neuss, Germany, became obsolete. The area was bought by the industrial real estate agent Karl Heinrich Müller, and turned into the Museum Island Hombroich.

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Visitors are greeted appropriately by an Asian statue, holding his hand in the Karana Mudra gesture to ban evil spirits.

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Meticulously landscaped by Bernhard Korte, the area is populated with small buildings (landscape chapels),
by Erwin Heerich that contain Asian or contemporary art, or just empty space.

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Soft glass roofs and narrow doors create a balance between diffuse and directed light.

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The geometric harshness of the buildings disappears in the fading light.

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Little Things

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When hiking the rugged trail at the bottom of Clifty Canyon, you are in the shade most of the day.
This might make you miss the little things on the way, like this offering of leaves on a ledge of the canyon wall.

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Often, wood and rock combine to natural still lives.

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Or rocks make shelter for the little people,

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offer drawing tablets for future artists,

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and resting grounds for the elderly.

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In Chains (Annuli I)

A cube can be sliced half so that the cross section is a regular hexagon, and this even in four different ways.


In particular, we can place regular hexagons into space so that the corners all have integer coordinates, and the hexagons face four different directions. This suggests to interlink the hexagons, for instance like so:


The mathematician immediately will ask to put as many of such linked hexagons into space, and this automatically drives the discovery of new structures or leads to connections with the already known.

In this case, it turns out that feeding one hexagon through the center of another is not so smart.


When the center spot is taken, any further hexagon through either of the first two must be placed by breaking the symmetry. Above we have threaded three hexagons through a horizontal red hexagons in a rotationally symmetric way, and placed a mirror image of this tetrad below. While these two pieces are not yet interlinked, they can together be translated as to create a very tight interlinked system of annuli (replacing the hexagons with smooth annuli).


This works in all directions, and being stuck somewhere within this tangle will look like this: