Sunday, February 26, 2012

tubistes, steamfitters and rocketeers

There have been many different names given to those who work on, or with, pneumatic tube systems: engineers, tubistes, diagnostic scheduling technicians, steamfitters, operations coordinators, postmasters, sorters, petit facteur télégraphistes and who could forget the cambrioleurs aspirateur, or vacuum burglers!

But now I have a favourite: the rocketeers.

Thanks to the Big Apple blog for highlighting the use of the term rocketeer to refer to postal works in the New York City postal pneumatic tube system. Does anyone know the names of any other occupations associated with these tubes?

Image from Between the Seats blog.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

beautiful books

My Modern Met posted an entry recently about "book surgeon" Brian Dettmer, and his literary scultpures made from encyclopedias, medical journals, illustration books and dictionaries. These two just seemed worth sharing here ...

Thanks Pamela for sharing this with me!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

pneumatic post cartoon of the week

The Simpsons: Marge Gets a Job

Marge: "Where does it go?"
Homer: "Don't worry baby, the tube will know what to do"
Image from Gizmodo. See episode on YouTube and read about it on The TV IV.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Pneu Pneumatics in Pneu York City?

Could there be a new pneumatic system being considered in New York City? The blog City Atlas reported recently on a presentation by those involved in a New York state-funded research project looking at extending pneumatic tube trash systems elsewhere in Manhattan.

Something for pneumatic tube lovers to keep an eye on.

Image from GSAPP.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

monitoring and maintaining the tubes

While pneumatic tubes are celebrated for their efficient transportation of solid objects, sometimes the system blocks, clogs, and stops. In hospitals this can require urgent repair. The Otago Times reported on one incident of emergency surgery that was needed on a pneumatic system in Dunedin, where the piping was cut in several places to retrieve samples that had become blocked.
At the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, a pneumatic tube work committee meets biweekly to review problems and concerns. Their troubleshooting guide is laminated and blu-tacked near each sending/receiving station.
Pneumatic tube company Pevco have recently released an automated mobile email alert system for hospital engineers, while their Houston branch offers three day training for hospital engineers including hands-on maintenance scenarios.
Pneumatic tube engineers need to be creative. In her Cabinet article, Molly Wright Steenson writes how in Paris, in the times of the Poste Pneumatique, a tubiste would relieve blockages in the system by reversing air pressure and drawing the carrier back to the station. When this didn't work, the tubiste would try another tactic - fire a pistol into the tube which created a sound wave that allowed calculation of the location of the blocked item. Surgery of this system required sloshing through Paris' sewers to the area of blockage.

For those interested in clogging tubes and engineering creativity more generally, you will want to see
Gregory Whitmore's wonderful video about blockages and all other kinds of monitoring, maintenance and mayhem associated with pneumatic tube systems on Roosevelt Island, New York. The video was made as part of the Fast Trash exhibition in New York in 2010 (read the pneumatic post about the exhibition here and for more about maintenance here). Here is a sneak peak:

Nature Abhors a Vacuum :: EXCERPT - "JAMS." from gregory whitmore on Vimeo.

All images in this post are stills from this video. See here for the longer version.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

stitching seed cells

Following a previous post about Anna Dumitriu's experiments in bacterial communication, I thought I would share the embroidery I finished last year, inspired by Annie's postcard of seed cells. More about pneumatic tubes next week I promise!