Thursday, April 24, 2014

Some Elevator History...!

I reckon that most of us have ridden in an elevator, but have you ever wondered about who invented them? The answer just might surprise ya!

What we might consider to be a modern invention really isn't new at all! In fact, the elevator goes back a lot further than you would believe!

APRIL 23, 2014
Who invented the elevator?

Although elevators may seem like a modern invention, devices used to transport people or goods vertically have been around for thousands of years. According to the writings of Vitruvius, the Greek mathematician Archimedes created a primitive elevator in 236 B.C. that was operated by hoisting ropes wound around a drum and rotated by manpower applied to a capstan. In ancient Rome, a subterranean complex of rooms, animal pens and tunnels stood beneath the Colosseum. At various intervals, elevators powered by hundreds of men using winches and counterweights brought gladiators and large animals up through vertical shafts into the arena for battle.

In 1743, Louis XV had what was referred to as a “flying chair” built to allow one of his mistresses to access her quarters on the third floor of the Palace of Versailles. Similarly, a “flying table” in his retreat ch√Ęteau de Choisy allowed the king and his private guests to dine without intrusion from the servants. At the sound of a bell, a table would rise from the kitchen below into the dining room with an elaborate meal, including all of the necessary accoutrements.

By the mid-19th century, elevators powered by steam or water were available for sale, but the ropes they relied upon could be worn out or destroyed and were not, therefore, generally trusted for passenger travel. However, in 1852, Elisha Graves Otis invented a safety break that revolutionized the vertical transport industry. In the event that an elevator’s hoisting rope broke, a spring would operate pawls on the car, forcing them into position with racks at the sides of the shaft and suspending the car in place. Installed in a five-story department store in New York City in 1857, Otis’ first commercial passenger elevator soon changed the world’s skyline, making skyscrapers a practical reality and turning the most valuable real estate on its head—from the first floor to the penthouse.

Who would have thought that the elevator went that far back? I sure didn't! Guess our ancestors were a lot smarter than we thought they were! That's a good thing!

Coffee outside this morning. I have some apple pie that I'll share!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"Blue Jeans" On Western Wednesday...!

The history behind the creation of "blue jeans" is a facinating one, to be sure!

Like many other things in life, things went a little different than Strauss expected. Strauss' goal wasn't to be a fashion creator, but to sell a load of dry goods to the miners along the west coast. Being unable to sell a large amount of canvas, he decided to create work clothes using said canvas. The rest, as they say, is history!

Levi Strauss patents copper-riveted jeans

Acting at the behest of a Reno, Nevada, tailor who had invented the idea, Levi Strauss secures the necessary patents for canvas pants with copper rivets to reinforce the stress points.

Born in Buttenheim, Bavaria, in 1829, the young Levi Strauss emigrated to the United States in 1847. Strauss initially went into business selling dry goods along the East Coast, but in 1852, his brother-in-law encouraged him to relocate to the booming city of San Francisco. He arrived in San Francisco in 1853 with a load of merchandise that he hoped to sell in the California mining camps. Unable to sell a large supply of canvas, Strauss hit on the idea of using the durable material to make work pants for miners. Strauss' canvas pants were an immediate success among hardworking miners who had long complained that conventional pants wore out too quickly.

In 1872, Strauss received a letter from Jacob Davis, a customer and tailor who worked in the mining town of Reno, Nevada. Davis reported that he had discovered canvas pants could be improved if the pocket seams and other weak points that tended to tear were strengthened by copper rivets. Davis' riveted pants had proven popular in Reno, but he needed a patent to protect his invention. Intrigued by the copper-riveted pants, Strauss and his partners agreed to undertake the necessary legal work for the patent and begin large-scale production of the pants. Davis' invention was patented on this day in 1873. In exchange for his idea, Strauss made the Reno tailor his production manager. Eventually, Strauss switched from using canvas to heavyweight blue denim, and the modern "blue jeans" were born.

Since then, Levi Strauss & Company has sold more than 200 million pairs of copper-riveted jeans. By the turn of the century, people outside of the mining and ranching communities had discovered that "Levi's" were both comfortable and durable. Eventually, the jeans lost most of their association with the West and came to be simply a standard element of the casual American wardrobe.

Fate has a way of taking us off the path we have laid out for ourselves sometimes. This time it seems to have been a fortunate turn of events, not only for Strauss but for us all!

Coffee out on the patio this morning...again! Fresh fruit anyone?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Small History Of The Clove Tree...!

Most of us have used cloves before and probably have some hidden in the pantry somewhere. I personally love the smell!

At one point in history, the clove trade was ruled with a heavy hand by the Dutch. Thanks to one tree (named Afo) and one adventurous French missionary, the iron fist of the Dutch was broken and the trade in cloves expanded!

The Clove Tree That Defied An Empire
By Will on Monday, April 21, 2014

In the 1600s, the Dutch United East India Company controlled the Indonesian spice trade. All clove trees that didn’t belong to them were destroyed, with only 800–1,000 tons of cloves allowed out each year, giving them a monopoly on clove prices. However, one free tree remained. A Frenchman stole some seeds from it and took them to other countries, taking away the company’s monopoly on the trade.

The Dutch United East India Company (abbreviated “VOC” for the Dutch title) was founded in 1602 and soon forced the Portuguese out of the Southeast Asian region they were competing for. Clove trees only used to grow on two islands in modern-day Indonesia: Ternate and Tidore. They remained a closely guarded secret until the Portuguese and the Dutch arrived in the region. In 1667, the VOC gained complete control over the clove trade with the capture of the last harbor where non-Dutch-owned cloves could be purchased.

Beginning in 1652, the VOC introduced a policy of extirpate. Any clove trees that weren’t owned by the company were uprooted and destroyed by fire. Consequently, the company made huge profits with their control on the clove trade (among other spices) and to conserve this, punishments were harsh for those who defied them. The death penalty was handed out to anyone caught with a clove tree or seeds. All clove exports were limited—only 800–1,000 tons were allowed out of their control with the rest of the harvest being dumped in the sea.

But one tree defied the iron grip of the Dutch. Known as Afo, growing on the slopes of the Gamalama volcano on the island of Ternate. Somehow, Afo survived the policy of extirpate and was found by a French missionary turned entrepreneur who took some of Afo’s seeds in 1770. The seeds were taken to the Seychelles and Zanzibar (currently the world’s largest clove producer), thus ending the VOC’s trade monopoly.

Afo is estimated to be over 400 years old and still stands today, albeit a shadow of its former self, protected by a brick wall from locals who once tried to use it as firewood.

The Dutch ruled most of the trade in spices for quite a while. I would imagine that many fortunes were made in the spice trade, much like the tobacco trade.

Coffee out on the patio again this morning. How about some key lime cookies...?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Another Nautical Mystery This Monday...!

The sea has so many mysteries attached to it, we will never hear them all. Some go back a long, long time.

This particular one has been told and puzzled over for many years, and so far no explanation has been found. That's the making of a real legend if you ask me. I wonder if we really want to find out the answer? Sometimes the truth is no where near as interesting as the unanswered mystery, ya know?

When it comes to describing the discovery of the apparently abandoned Mary Celeste in 1872, words like “spooky” and “unsettling” simply don’t cut it. This brigantine merchant ship was found in the Atlantic Ocean with its cargo and valuables completely untouched, packed with six months’ worth of food and water but not hide nor hair of a single passenger or crew member. Though its contents were wet and it was a bit worse for the wear, the ship was still seaworthy after being out for just a month. The fact that all reasonable explanations – from storms to piracy – seem to have been ruled out has spurred more outrageous theories of alien abduction or sea monster attacks. Today, the fate of the Mary Celeste remains one of history’s most famous and puzzling maritime mysteries – but this is far from the only story of its kind.

So, what do you think about the missing crew of the Mary Celest? What happened to all of them? Aliens? Pirates? Bad storms? Maybe a sea monster! Whatever happened, it's still unsolved and that's our favorite kind of Monday Mystery!

Coffee out on the patio again this morning. Chocolate meringue pie, anyone?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter Sunday...!

Not many folks celebrate Easter the way we used to around my house. Guess that isn't unusual, considering the mindset of the general public nowdays.

Easter isn't really about candy and colorful eggs and new clothes for church going. Used to be people understood the real reason why we celebrate Easter and holidays like it, but no one wants to be reminded of that any more. Instead of harping on something that is lost to many of us, I'll merely post a few Easter related cartoons. That sound OK to you?

Disney had a way of finding the best music to go along with his 'toons!

There might be a few of you that remember the olden days when guys like Gene Autry sang some of the favorites of the times...

Well, that's enough for this morning. I hope everyone has a great day!

Coffee out on the patio this fine and sunny Easter!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Remember These Things...?

There may be a whole generation of young folks out there that have never had to use a pencil with an eraser. That's kinda sad when you think about it.

When I was still in school(back in the Dark Ages) wood pencils were the norm rather than the exception. Sure, there some kids that used the newer mechanical pencils, but they were not very common. I guess that my generation made a lot of mistakes because I remember places selling just the erasers without the pencils, know what I mean? Boy have things changed!

In 1770, the first version of the rubber eraser was sold by an English optician and engineer named Edward Nairne. Edward got his invention by accident—he meant to pick up bread crumbs to erase some pencil markings, as was common at the time, but his hands landed on a nearby piece of rubber. After he discovered how well it worked, Nairne began marketing and selling rubber cubes as erasers. br/>
Later that year, coincidentally, British chemist Joseph Priestly made the same observation about rubber’s properties. It was Priestly who named the substance (previously simply referred to as “vegetable gum”) for its ability to rub out pencil marks.

Early versions of the rubber eraser were perishable and smelled foul. Charles Goodyear, the man most associated with rubber, solved both problems in 1839 by adding sulfur, a process he called “vulcanization.” Rubber erasers first found their way onto pencils in 1858, but the US denied Hymen L. Lipman a patent for the combination because it simply joined two existing inventions. Yet in the next decade, Lipman did indeed get a patent, and his Faber company started producing pencils with pink rubber ends.

Today, some rubber is still made from the latex of the rubber tree, Hevea Brasiliensis, but other types use synthetic materials like styrene and butadiene.

Man, I'm old enough to remember using a Big Chief tablet and a No. 2 pencil! You had to be careful on those tablets, because it seems to me that the paper was very easy to tear! Now I really feel old!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Going to be in the 80s the rest of the week!

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Different Way To Become Smarter...!

If you have ever wished that you could take a pill and become a little smarter, then this might be just the thing for you!

According to this article I found over at KnowledgeNuts, there is research that supposedly proves that cannibalism could just be the key to gaining more knowledge. Imagine being able to eat your way to smartness! Might be just the thing for those having trouble in college, ya know?

Some Animals Can Consume Knowledge Through Cannibalism
By Flamehorse on Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The above statement got everyone looking for proof, because even a rotter of a movie can’t throw around scientific statements without there being some truth to them. It turns out that this fact is a fact, true, and very difficult to believe. Experiments from the 1960s show that it even works in rats and mice.

The scientist who came up with this experiment is Dr. James V. McConnell, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Michigan (USA) in the 1960s, who had a hunch that planarians (flatworms) could be trained to run mazes. He proceeded to do so. He first trained them to be afraid of the heat of a bright light, which, after many attempts, made them curl up to protect themselves. Soon they were curling up whenever they felt the heat or saw the light.

Then he chopped them up and fed them to planarians unaccustomed to the bright light and heat. This second group curled up the first time he shone the light on them. McConnell was naturally thrilled and took the experiment to the next level. He taught a group of planarians to run a maze. This took a long time of course, since planarians are very simple animals, and the species in question was microscopic.

After 150 attempts, the flatworms could find their way correctly every time. McConnell pronounced them knowledgeable of how to run the maze. Then he first tried cutting the head off one worm and grafting it onto another. This didn’t work because the head wouldn’t stay on. Then he ground up this batch of worms and tried injecting them into a second group. This failed because the worms were about the same size as the point of the needle, which crushed them.

He might have been stumped at ths point, had it not been for a worm enthusiast named Jay Boyd Best, who wrote him a letter suggesting that feed the worms to a particular species of cannibalistic planarian. So McConnell acquired some specimens of this species of flatworm and fed the trained group to this new group. The new group was able to run the maze correctly the first time, but not correctly every time until they practiced 100 times. He trained a separate control group to run the maze, and this group required about 150, just like the group he ground up.

McConnell became famous for a time, even though the very premise of his research seemed too much like a Frankenstein story to grab the scientific community. He did, however, receive a fast promotion to full professor and made it onto some science shows like Watch Mr. Wizard. Scientists who found his work interesting then took the next step, performing the same experiment with mice and rats, and they found that it still worked.

Such experiments continue to this day and continue to raise eyebrows.

Now I don't know this for sure but I think it might be more than a little time before these "smart pills" would ever be on the market. I have to admit that there are more than a few folks I think would benefit from something along these lines! Heck, we could start with passing them out in D.C. and go from there, ya know? Couldn't hurt!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. I'll share some sausage gravy and fried 'taters!