Have you ever heard of The Biggest Little Railway in the World? It was
“a temporary 71 mile (114 km) 1.25 inches (32 mm) O-gauge model railway from Fort William to the City of Inverness, the two largest settlements in the Scottish Highlands. It has been described as a crackpot project to run a model train the length of the Great Glen Way by an army of madcap enthusiasts, geeks, and engineers in the best spirit of eccentric Britishness.”
56 volunteers built it over the course of 12 days and also drove the engine called Silver Lady along it. The track included a temporary bridge across the Caledonian Canal, a huge trestle bridge and a spiral loop near the end that enabled the train to climb five metres over a very short distance.
The model train achieved what the real railway didn’t: It ran from Fort Williams to Inverness.
There is a five-part Channel 4 TV series about this incredible project that you can watch in its entirety here:
Futility Closet: Thinking Big. (5 x 45min)
I watched it over the past few days and enjoyed it thoroughly even though I’m neither a train nor model train enthusiast.
World Unicycle Tour is just exactly what it says: Ed Pratt from Somerset, England, cycled around the world on his 36″ unicycle starting on 14th March 2015 and returning home on 27th July 2018, racking up some 22,000 miles. Read more about him and his tour or take a look at his route. For a while, he also kept a blog, the first entry of which is here.
The best bit though is his YouTube channel Ed Pratt Unicycles the World where he posts videos from his trip weekly. I’ve spent the past few days catching up by watching all of his videos, and they are exceptional. A few highlights: Germany, Ed cycled trough the Upper Middle Rhine Valley (I used to live there), How to film camels on a cycle tour, Ed unicycles China (trailer), Ed unicycles Australia (trailer), Taped a GoPro inside my wheel (also check out the second perspective – so weird, but fun!), Ed Unicycles New Zealand (first episode), and the most recent series (ongoing): Ed cycles South East Asia.
I don’t know why this guy only has 32,000 subscribers on YouTube, but I hope he gets a wider audience because his project is laudable – he collects donations for “School in a bag”, and his videos are interesting and well-edited with a fantastic soundtrack.
Link via MetaFilter: Have wheel, will travel. (What a great title, btw!)
Deutsche Welle: Baby squirrel chases man so relentlessly he calls police. “A man in Germany felt so besieged by a rodent that he called the police emergency number. The baby squirrel has been taken to an animal sanctuary.”
Update: Baby squirrel who captivated Germany is safe — and female. “”Pippilotta” stole the headlines last week after following a man “relentlessly” through the streets of Karlsruhe. According to animal control officers, this is common for squirrels who have lost their mothers.”
This story reminds me of one of my favorite This American Life stories: Squirrel Cop, which is also available on YouTube in two parts – one, two.
ESA: Good evening, Kraftwerk / Guten Abend Kraftwerk, guten Abend Stuttgart! (YouTube, 11:48min)
“On 20 July 2018 around 21:50 local time, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst welcomed the legendary electronic band Kraftwerk and 7500 visitors to the Jazz Open Festival on Stuttgart’s Schlossplatz – live from the International Space Station, where he will live and work until mid-December 2018. During the call with space, Kraftwerk founding member Ralf Hütter and Alexander played a special duet version of the track Spacelab, for which Alexander had a tablet computer configured with virtual synthesizers on board.”
Alexander Gerst’s Horizon Blog: Good evening, Kraftwerk!
““Here in the European Columbus laboratory, the successor to the Spacelab, the European Space Agency ESA is researching things that will improve daily life on Earth. More than 100 different nations work together peacefully here and achieve things that a single nation could never achieve. We are developing technologies on board the ISS to grow beyond our current horizons and prepare to take further steps into space, to the Moon and Mars,” Alexander said.
However, as Kraftwerk founding member Ralf Hütter emphasised, Alexander’s appearance was not only about greeting Kraftwerk and the audience in Stuttgart but also about “music as the universal language of the world”. After addressing the crowd, he and Alexander played a special duet version of the track Spacelab, for which Alexander had a tablet computer configured with virtual synthesizers on board.”
Alexander Gersts Horizon Blog: Guten Abend Kraftwerk!
“Nachdem Alexander Gerst sich mit einem „Good Night Earth“ vom Publikum verabschiedet hatte, fuhren Kraftwerk mit ihrem fulminanten Set fort, während die Zuschauerinnen und Zuschauer sich wohl noch ein paar Mal verblüfft fragten, ob das, was sie da gerade gesehen und gehört hatten, auch wirklich live und real war. Wir können sagen: Das war es.”
Peter Bence: Toto: Africa. Piano cover, YouTube, 3:54min.
Peter Bence “is an internationally acclaimed virtuoso pianist, recording artist, composer and producer who holds the Guinness World Record for being the “Fastest Piano Player”.”