Thursday, February 28, 2019

Baking Soda vs Baking Powder.

Baking Soda, Box, White, Powder, SodiumHave you ever wondered what the difference is between baking soda and baking powder?  I've wondered since some recipes call for one, or the other or both. My mother always told me you interchange the two because they are different.

Baking soda is the common name for bicarbonate of soda or sodium bicarbonate. It has been around for a very long time.

Its what you used to make your volcano erupt when you mixed it with vinegar.  The baking soda is a base while the vinegar is an acid and when mixed, carbon dioxide is released.

When you bake using. baking soda, its this same reaction that causes the baked item to rise.  Many times the acid in the mix is provided via lemon juice, yoghurt, molasses, or other item.  Baking soda is stronger than baking powder but you really don't need much soda.  If you use too much, the baked item tastes odd.

The baking soda begins to react as soon as it hits the liquid so you do not want to wait very long before baking or it might not rise as much.  In addition, baking soda is effected by the expiration date and should be used before then.  If you aren't sure, a bit of vinegar to a bit of baking soda and watch the reaction.  If the reaction is anemic, you shouldn't use the baking soda.

Baking powder is actually a mix of baking soda and cream of tarter with a bit of cornstarch thrown in sometimes.  Most baking powders are double acting in that the first time it reacts to the liquid and the second time, it reacts to the heat. Baking powder does not need an acid to react, only liquid but baking soda needs something acidic.  Baking powder makes your baked goods a nicer brown color.

If you need to test your baking powder to see if it is still good, you need to add 1 tsp powder to 1 cup hot water. If there is a reaction, your powder is still good.  Baking powder has only been around since 1843 when Alfred Bird created it for his wife who was allergic to eggs and yeast.  In fact, he snagged a contract with the war department to supply baking powder to be used in hospitals to make light foods for the sick.

In 1855, Rumford formulated and patented its version of baking powder, the first calcium phosphate based baking powder.  In 1866, another company started producing Royal Baking Powder and the owner spent over half a million dollars a year on advertising.  The first double acting baking powder hit the market about 25 years later.  A few more improvements and we have our current version of baking powder.

It is also recommended that you do not try to use baking soda when baking powder is required since baking soda is four times as strong as baking powder. This means one tsp of baking powder causes as much rising action as 1/4 tsp of baking soda.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Where In The World Should I Go In March?

Desert, Dunes, Dune, Oman, Landscape
The Desert in Oman.
 I've got the urge to throw off the chains and head off to who knows where.  Its almost March and I got a list of great deals to travel to this next month.  I got to wondering where one should go if they wanted to visit somewhere else.  Where should one go in March?

Of course, one can go anywhere but there are some places that are totally recommended by those in the know.  One place to check out is Oman.  Oman is considered a great getaway for those who prefer less glitz than Dubai.  Oman still has villages from the 17th century that seem never to have changed.  This country has deserts, mountains, and beaches, everything a person could want.  March is considered the best time to visit because its right before the the humid summers and just after the winter rush.

Another place to visit in March is Patagonia Chile when tourism is slowing down because its the end of their summer.  The weather has not quite changed so its still quite nice and its a great time to visit the national park there.

Then of course, there is Dublin, Ireland where one can enjoy a five day celebration for Saint Patricks day beginning on March 14th.  On the 17th, you can watch the annual parade through areas of packed pubs and lots of spectators.  Dublin also is home to the Jamison Distillery and Guinness Storehouse.

If that's a bit too crowded for your taste, check out Lake Louise in Canada.  Lake Louise is located in the Canadian Rockies where the snowfall reaches its peak during this month.  Average temperatures are in the low 30's so its enjoyable without freezing or turning into a popsicle.

One could always head for Bermuda for something warmer if that's too cold.  Its not quite warm enough to swim at this time of year but one can still enjoy a great game of golf or long walks on the beach.  March is just before the peak tourism season so its possible to get good prices at local hotels. Of course, if you don't like Bermuda or its too crowded , check out Belize which is still relatively to get to and find places to stay.

For a nice warm spot, heat for Qatar, a country filled with high end shopping and dining.  Qatar hosts an International Food Festival from mid to the end of March.  One could also check out Pearl-Qatar, a man made island known as the Arabian Riviera.

March is a great month to visit Delhi India because its just at the end of the dry season and its about the time of the Holi, the Hindu celebration of the beginning of spring.  Holi is great because its extremely colorful.

If you enjoy food, Qatar is not the only place hosting a food festival.  You could head out to visit Carmel by the sea in California to visit their GourmetFest filled with parties, food and wine tastings and other great activities.

The last suggestion is that people head for Tulum, Mexico, a lovely town with temperatures in the mid 70's to low 80's.  The great thing about this town is that it is located near some Mayan Ruins and a Biosphere Reserve.

Its always nice to dream of visiting places after a nice long winter when you're tired of snow, rain, or dreary weather and want something different.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The 8 Most Expensive Spices in the World.

Vanilla, Food, Organic, SpiceNeither of my parents used spices very much in cooking.  I think their favorite spices were salt and pepper broken up with the occasional sprinkle of Italian Spices.  Myself on the other hand, I have a full cupboard filled with spices from Argentina, India, European, and Asian.  I love, love, love cooking with spices.

I've always known that the most expensive spice in the world is Saffron because its made up of hand picked stigma from the Crocus Sativus flower.  Each flower produces three stigma and it takes between 50,000 and 75,000 flowers to produce enough for one pound of Saffron.  It takes about 20 hours to hand pick that many stigma.  That's one reason that a pound of Saffron goes for about $5,000.

The second most expensive spice in the world is Vanilla.  A pound of vanilla beans run about $200 per pound for several reasons.  One reason is that Vanilla flowers must be hand picked and once ripe, the beans must be picked by hand daily.  The best pods are produced in Mexico and Madagascar which may be one reason Mexican Vanilla is considered better than regular versions.  When I went to Mexico in December, people wanted me to bring back bottles of Mexican Vanilla for them.

Third is a spice called Mahlab made out of the seed kernel of St. Lucia Cherries.  The flavor is a cross between cherries and vanilla and goes for about $68 per pound.  Originally it was used in perfumes but eventually made its way to the kitchen.

If you ever do any Indonesian cooking, you'll know about Kaffir Lime leaves which are leaves from a wild lime also known as the Indonesian Lime.  Its got a sweetish flavor.  I know the local Asian stores in Fairbanks have them in frozen form.  They go for about $35 a pound.

Fifth is Cardamon, often found in Chai, or in Indian cooking.  It runs about $30 a pound since it requires a labor intensive method of harvesting. Cardamon is usually sold in two versions, the black which is smokier and used in curries or the green which is more expensive and is used in coffee or sweeter dishes.

This is followed by cloves at about $10 per pound on the international market.  Aside from being used in cooking, cloves have medicinal value  and are used in perfumes due to its spiciness.

Cinnamon goes for $6 per pound internationally. Its actually the inner bark of one of several types of trees.  The best comes from the Cinnamomum tree found in Sri Lanka but the less expensive comes from Cassia or Chinese Cinnamon.  Most people use the powdered variety in cooking when they make pumpkin pie or cinnamon rolls.  

Eighth  is black pepper, the most used and traded spice in the world. Most people have a shaker of salt and a shaker of pepper on the table.  Its only $3 per pound but at one point was used as money.

If you look at how much you pay at the grocery store, it may breakdown to be a lot more because those have been processed into small quantities and are not in bulk.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.


Monday, February 25, 2019

When Did Commercial Bread Become Popular?

Toast, Toaster, Food, White BreadMy parents have always purchased that soft white bread at the store.  The kind you touch and it starts squishing.  As a child, I loved to make dough balls out of it and shoot it at my siblings because it mushed too much in the mouth.  It made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches even more sticky.

Although commercial bread has been available for a very long time,  it was often made out of stone ground flours until someone figured out how to take the bran out of it to make white flour.

The early white flours had to be made by hand and 28 percent of the grain was lost in the process of making white flour so production was limited consequently, the upper class wanted it.  They considered it the best because they could afford it.  The lower classes had to be satisfied with whole grain bread.

The first roller mill appeared in Europe in 1830 when an engineer figured out a process to make separating the germ and bran from the rest of the flour but within 30 years another engineer added more rollers, and sieves to shift the flour from level to level and the end result was a much nicer flour.

Around 1873, an American improved on the Swiss rollers so the machine could more efficiently separate bran and germ from the mix to produce a great white flour. Around 1910, they began treating the white flour with nitrogen peroxide to make it even "whiter".  

Even up to the early 20th century, bread was sold in whole loaves which were cut at home.  In fact, cookbooks of the time included instructions for cutting bread for women, children, and men.  Each required a different thickness.

In 1917, a jeweler invented the first commercial bread slicer but bakeries of the time felt women would not appreciate buying pre-sliced bread.  It took 11 years before one of the slicers was used in a bakery and by 1930, about 90% of the purchased bread was sliced.  

The idea behind Wonder Bread and other early breads is a streamlined process that produced a perfect loaf of bread described as a white ultra soft, perfectly sliced bread referred to as "American" bread.  Wonder Bread made its first appearance in 1921 in Indianapolis as a 1.5 pound loaf of bread.  The name and the balloons came from an employee watching a local balloon race.  He was filled with the wonder of all those colorful balloons moving across the sky.

Over time, another company bought it out but kept the bread and began marketing it.  Wonder bread became the first nationally distributed bread.  Since then, science has shown that whole grain breads are actually more nutritious than the soft white bread many of us grew up on.  It wasn't until World War II that flour producers were required to add eight nutrients to the flour.

Since then, the desire for white bread has been pretty stable but other breads are being made and marketed based on the demands of the consumers.  I love artisan breads but they don't always make the best sandwiches because of the irregular size and shape of the loaves.

I tend to make my own bread right now because it has to be flown in and is often moldy by the time it gets here and hits the shelves.  Furthermore, I love making bread because it gives me a way to work off stress easily and it doesn't take me much time. I do know people who swear that certain foods such as grilled cheese sandwiches are perfect when made with soft while bread.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Electric Stoves - Just Over 125 Years Old.

Ceramic Hob, Cook, Glow, Spiral, KitchenAlthough the first record of an enclosed fire comes from China back in 200 BC, the first record of a stove doesn't appear till almost 1500 in Florence, Italy.  

As time passed, the stove went through wood, to gas, before an inventor came up with an electric stove in 1892  in Canada but it was installed in one hotel.  Although an electric stove designed by another company appeared at the Chicago World's fair in Chicago back in 1893, the first United States patent wasn't issued until 1896 by a third person.

It appears these early "electrical stoves" sold in the early 1900's were actually more like the modern hot plates and were often referred to as "disk" electric stoves.  Automatic controls were added to stoves in 1915 and by the 1920's were integrated with the stove.  During this same period, the stove transitioned from a hot plate to the more modern look

During the first 20 years of the 20th century, the number of electric stoves increased as they became better and their popularity increased during the 1920's because they were  easier to clean, cheaper, and cooked food faster.  In addition, stoves and ranges were sold together as a unit from the beginning.

Many people at the time complained that these stoves cooked food so fast that the art of cooking was being sacrificed for a bit of money and time. These early models used circular coils heated by an electric current.  Unfortunately only cities really were wired for electricity so most of the early stoves were installed in urban areas.

It wasn't until the government began to string electrical wires across rural areas in the 1930's and 1940's that electric stoves became available to more people.  Furthermore, once World War II ended, people began buying more and more electric stoves because the advertising campaigns promised to make a woman's life so much easier.

An add from 1948 advertises an electric stove with push buttons and a double oven but the basic set up of heating didn't change until the 1970's when companies began introducing glass ceramic burners.  The most recent change is the induction coil which uses electromagnetic induction so burners do not heat up as they have in the past.

I'll look at the history of stoves and gas stoves later on. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The History of Hair Dryers

Woman, Hair Drying, Girl, Female, Person I did make it home yesterday even though I wasn't sure I would't.  The village weathered a nasty windstorm but by late afternoon, things calmed down enough to get a flight to land.  I lucked out to be a passenger on the only airplane trip out the whole day.  The good news is that I made it home but they forgot to load the luggage on the plane so I didn't have any of my clothing or anything else.

Now for the topic of the day.  Hair dryers and blow dryers.  The thing that many women need and almost all hotel rooms have them.

The first machine resembling a hair dryer appeared in 1888 in the salon of French hair dresser, Alexandre Ferdinand Godefroy.  He called it the "hair dressing device" and it looked like a vacuum cleaner because it was a long tube connected to a heat source. There device had a valve to release the steam produced during the drying process, otherwise the hair might have cooked.  The device was designed to speed up the process of fixing extremely long hair into loopy, curly, updos but it  didn't circulate air very well so it didn't save any time.  The machine itself was extremely clumsy so it didn't take off.

Unfortunately, nothing happened in the development of hair dryers until the first hand held units appeared in the 1920's just as shorter hairstyles became popular.  The first hand held units were grey metallic gun like models that helped flappers get the fluffy hair we are used to.  Up till this point, hair was dirty and stringy more often than not.

The problem with the first models of hand held dryers is that their metal casings were hard to use, they only drew 100 watts of power, and took a lot longer to dry hair so a woman's arms could get tired holding them.  Some of the early machines came with pedestals to hold up arms so women didn't get as tired holding the hair dryers.

Even with this, they were considered modern marvels.  At about the same time, new hooded models became available in salons but these evenly heated the hair and became quite popular in the 1930's.  These machines were made of metal so they looked like tall metal helmets with long metal pipes leading to the heat source.

 During the war, women joined the workforce and didn't spend as much time fixing hair but once the war ended, women had time.  So salons began advertising themselves as the place for women to spend their leisure time.  They showed women reading magazines while sitting under dryers.

In an effect to bring the salon into the home, the first bonnet hairdryer arrived in stores in 1951.  It had a shower cap like headpiece connected to the motor via a hose and was a whole 300 watts of power.  By the 1960's these bonnet type hair dryers advertised they could dry hair in just 22 minutes because it used 500 watts of power.  The 1960's also caused hair dryers to be made out of plastic instead of metal making them lighter and more portable.

During the 1970's safety regulations were finally put in place but prior to this, all hair dryers had been unregulated and often shocked people with electrical current.  They came with automatic off switches and would no longer electrocute people if dropped into water.

Now blow dryers are quite common, cheap, and so much safer than in the past.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The History of Perms

Woman, Girl, Curler, HairstyleThe other day, I stumbled across a picture of a woman with curlers in her hair but what made it scared were the wires running from the hair up to a weird contraption.  Its like the Frankenstein of hair salons. It was labelled as a perm machine.

Having grown up with various older aunts, grandmothers, etc who gave themselves the home perm, this was shocking.  Totally shocking.

The idea of perms is recent development historically.  The first development in this area arrived in 1870 when Marcel Grateau, a French Hairstylist, invented the first long lasting wave using heated curling irons.  When the tongs burned a piece of paper, they were ready to use on the hair.

About 35 years later,  Karl Nessler, a Swiss Hairdresser, invented a wave machine that melded a chemical  process with a thermal process to produce longer lasting results. Karl used Sodium Hydroxide on the hair before heating the rods to 212 degrees.  It took 6 hours but when done, the person had a permanent wave.  When Karl was developing his machine, he tried it out on his wife.  She suffered through burned hair until he got it right.

Over the next few years, inventors discovered a mixture of borax and ammonia worked better on the hair but it was a stinky solution.  Women set their hair regularly but got perms once every three months.

In 1928, African American woman, Marjorie Joyner patented her dome shaped machine that used electrical current to heat hair divided into one inch sections.  Although it was designed to change tight curls into waves on African American hair, it worked on straight hair to turn it into nice wavy hair.  By the 1930's all beauty salons had these type of machines.

In 1931, another male hairdresser, Ralph L. Evens, introduced a heatless method.  Women came into their salon, where the stylist set the hair and applied a bisulfate solution to it.  They drove home and the next day, they washed it out of their hair.

It wasn't until 1941, the cold wave appeared on the market.  This development meant those old electrical perming machines disappeared because they weren't needed. The process used a chemical which was healthier on the hair but still took 6 to 8 hours to work. Its development opened the way for modern perms.

In the 1970's the perms changed from an alkaline mixture to an acid wave which is what is used by most salons when they give perms.  It is the preferred choice.  Perms have certainly come a long way since their inception.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  I've never had a perm because I have naturally curly/wavy hair but my mother still goes in every three months to get her hair done.  Its her one expense she find money for in the budget.  Have a great day.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Baked Goods Sales Funded Montgomery Bus Boycott!

Baked Goods, Croissants, Puff Pastry  While getting more information on Rosa Parks, I came across a woman who didn't get arrested, didn't lead a march but did work behind the scenes to raise money for those helping with the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

She worked as a cook in Montgomery, provided midwife services, and was an activist but she came up with a plan to help out in her own way. She was also a single mother raising six children with no formal education.

Her name - Georgia Gilmore and she and several other women cooked and baked foods they sold to other African Americans who had swore not to ride the buses until they were desegregated. While the leaders  such as Martin Luther King met at Holt Street Baptist Church to provide leadership, Georgia was there selling food.

She arranged for other women to make dishes such as fried fish, stewed greens, pork chops, pound cakes, and sweet potato pies they then sold at beauty parlors, churches, and cab stands.  She did this so women who worked for white families would not come under suspicion of actively being actively involved in the boycott. and be fired. It also kept them from being evicted by white landlords.

All the money they made was used to help support the alternative transportation system.  The money paid for gas, insurance, vehicle repairs so the fleet of cars, trucks, and wagons conveying workers around could keep rolling.

Georgia Gilmore named her group "The Club From Nowhere" because they provided money out of nowhere. The group started by scrounging together $14 to buy supplies to make fried chicken sandwiches and from there, it took off. Every week, she'd report the amount of money, she and her group made which was usually $100 to $200 per week.  She inspired another group of women to start doing the same thing.

At one point during the boycott, she ended up testifying at Martin Luther Kings' trial about the time she was kicked off the bus even though she paid the money.  Apparently, her employer, the National Lunch Company, discovered this, fired her and black listed her.

Instead of worrying, she opened a restaurant - The Georgia House, in her home to support herself.  King and others would often hold meetings at her house because she would keep information quiet and she'd feed them. Whenever anyone important came to town, she'd feed them including Robert F Kennedy and Lyndon B Johnson.  She died on the 25th anniversary of the Civil Rights March to Selma after preparing food for those who planned to recreate the march.

I'd never heard of her but I love what she did.  The one thing, I found interesting is that she'd quit riding the bus long before the boycott because she didn't believe in the way they treated African Americans.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.


Friday, February 15, 2019

Dr Who and Rosa Parks

Setra, S6, 50 Years, Coach, Collect

I just got my new season of Dr Who to watch.  I've not seen any of this season with the new female doctor but I hit the episode on Rosa Parks and was impressed.  The basic story line was that someone from another time to keep Rosa from refusing to give up her seat and the Doctor and her companions had to keep history on track.

Rosa Parks came from a family who valued education but she had to drop out in the 11th grade to care for her dying grandmother.  When she was 19, she married a man 10 years her senior but he encouraged her to finish her diploma. She spent much of her life working as a seamstress but she also worked at the chapter secretary for the local NAACP  beginning in 1943.

Even in 1955, when she took action, African Americans were required to sit in the back of the bus, drink from separate water fountains, restricted to certain schools, certain libraries,  and certain eating establishments.  She and others wanted to change that through action.  When she chose not to move when the "Whites Only" part of the bus had to be changed, she sparked something big.

Although, she used her one phone call to contact her husband, word spread throughout the community. On the day of her trial, in which she'd been found guilty, the African American community began boycotting the bus system.  This boycott lasted 381 days where people carpooled, rode African American taxi's, or walked causing the buses to be almost empty because African American's made up 70 percent of the ridership. 

The boycott also caused financial problems with the bus company because they were no longer transporting full buses while leaders who organized the boycott faced violence and the taxi's were targeted when they were accused of breaking certain laws. 

 In addition, she was named as a plaintiff for one of the court cases that went all the way too the Supreme court claiming segregation on the bus was illegal based on the recent decision which stated segregated schools were illegal.

On December 20, 1956, the court's decision arrived in Montgomery, ending segregation on buses forever.  It wasn't smooth sailing because Rosa and her husband received threats, both lost their jobs and eventually, they chose to move to Detroit.  There, she started a training program in her husband's name to help the youth of that city.  

In 1999, she the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award given to civilians by the Government. In addition, when she died in 2005, she was the only woman in history allowed to lie in state in Washington D.C.

The one new piece of information, I gained from the show was that in 2014, they named a recently discovered asteroid after this lady who made history.  I'd love to hear what you think.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Just Another Normall Winter Day

House, Snow, Buried, Winter, December  I sit here writing this entry this past Monday evening for publication on Wednesday.  I woke up to several feet of snow in front of the apartment door and couldn't leave till it had been shoveled. 

The administration delayed school until 10:45 due to the blizzard. When I headed out at 9:30, my front door looked like that house.

The walk to school wasn't too bad except for the wind.  Over the day, the snow quit and it cleared up except for the wind.  By the time I headed home, the wind was horrendous.  It literally pushed me across the snow to my house.  I don't think I could walk back to school with those gale force winds pounding everything.

In addition to the stormy weather both the cell phones and internet were up and down all day but I think the internet was down more often than the cell phones.  It made the school day challenging.  They tried testing students online but they only managed about half the students scheduled once the internet came back up.

As I sit here, I hear the wind buffeting the building.  Its loud roar is shaking the building enough to make sleep tonight problematic.  I am heading off to a conference in Anchorage for the weekend. Originally, I was set to leave on Friday but weather reports indicate it is going to be awful so I asked to leave on Wednesday because the weather looks promising otherwise I can't get out till Sunday.

Out here, they fly small 6 to 9 seat planes so they are at the mercy of the weather way more than the big jets.  Conditions have to be just right and so we spend a lot of time praying and hoping to get out.  I will probably teach until I get the call the plane is due to land and then rush out.  That's the usual way it works.

If we are lucky, the weather will clear up just enough to get the plane when scheduled, otherwise, you just rebook for the next one or the next one after that.  I've switched to the service that has a better record for getting there. 

I am so hoping to get there on time because its an educational technology conference and I want to see all the cool things.  I'm also scheduled to present on Tuesday so if I can't get out till Sunday, I'll still get there in time to attend part of it but I want to see all of it.  So I hope and pray.

I'll let you know if I made it out.  Have a great day and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Shades Still Under 100 Years Old

Girl, Portrait, Panel, Mask, Masked  Using some sort of shades to cover or for medical treatment have been around for a very long time but its only been recently they've been used to protect the eyes.

Records have been found indicating the Roman Emperor, Nero, watched  gladiator games through polished gems while in 12th century China, they wore flat polished quartz lenses to protect their eyes from glare.

Furthermore, judges wore these glasses to hide their facial expressions from the people they interrogated.  However, there is a painting done by Modena where the subject is captured wearing what looks like sunglasses.  Sometime in the 1600's eye glass manufacturers managed to create a prescription set of sunglasses.

Then in 1752, James Ayscough began experimenting with tinting lenses green or blue to correct specific vision issues but he was not concerned with protecting eyes from the sun's rays.  In fact, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the medical profession used amber or brown colored lenses to treat the light sensitivity of patients suffering from Syphilis.

Hollywood stars discovered these glasses and were soon wearing them everywhere.  In 1929, Sam Foster, yes the founder of Foster Grant sunglasses, began marketing his mass produced glasses on beaches at Atlantic City, NJ.  He had his stand in front of Woolworths on the board walk and within one year, they hit the main stream..  These sunglasses were a bit different in that they were designed to protect people's eyes from the sun.

During the 1930's, the Army Air Corps commissioned Bausch and Lomb to develop eye-glasses designed to protect their pilots from high altitude glare.  Bausch and Lomb settled on using a specific dark green tinted lenses which absorbed yellow rays, making it easier for pilots to see.

Less than ten years later in 1936, Edward Land , founder of Polaroid corporation, patented polarized lenses which protected the wearer from UV rays.   He used them in the sunglasses his company marketed. 

About the same time with World War II looming on the horizon, Ray Ban developed anti-glare aviators glasses which used the newly invented polarized lenses.  About a year later, Ray Bans were marketed to the general population and Hollywood adopted these making them stylish.

Over the years, the styles  of sunglasses reflected the current styles of regular glasses. Many years later, Foster Grant launched a memorable campaign "Who's behind those Foster Grants?" which made wearing sunglasses trendy.  Then during the 1970's Hollywood stars made them even more trendy by launching their own brands. 

After a visit to my eye doctor a few years ago, he recommended I wear sunglasses to protect my eyes from possible cataracts and to keep them in good shape.  I'm to wear them anytime I go outside so I keep a pair in my car, my coat, my bag, or anywhere else I might need to have a pair, just in case. 

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, February 11, 2019

What's A Washer Without a Dryer?

Washing Machine, Laundry, Tumble Drier Last Friday, I looked at the history of washers and today, I'll look at the history of dryers because the typical consumer buys a matched set.  I have one of those stackable sets that fits in a corner in the hallway next to the bathroom.

The original dryer was nature.  People hung clothing out in the sun by draping them on bushes and later using some sort of clothes line.

Then someone got the bright idea of using the heat from a fire to dry clothing  in a barrel filled with holes but the first commercially patented dryer didn't appear until 1892.  It consisted of a rack that used the heat from a stove rather than an open fire so the clothing didn't smell of smoke and wasn't covered in soot.

An inventor in North Dakota got tired of hanging laundry outside in frigid winters so he turned his shed into a drying room by hanging clothing there with a stove but worked on creating an electric dryer.  Eventually, he developed both an electric and a gas powered dryer but had to strike a deal with Hamilton Manufacturing Company to get it produced and marketed.  The first automatic dryer named "June Day"  hit the stores in 1938.

By the end of the 1940's, Hamilton and other manufacturers were selling over 60,000 dryers per year.  In 1955, G.E. made a major change to its dryers so it dried clothing in half the time.  But over the years other changes were made to improve the dryer.

The first one in 1946, manufacturers moved the controls to the front while adding a timer, a cool down cycle, temperature controls, and placed an exhaust to get rid of moist air.  In 1958, they began using 30 inch drums with a negative pressure system that's still used today.  One year later, a sensor was added to shut down the cycle when the clothing was dry. and soon after, the permanent press cycle was added. Although dryers have been around for a while, many people couldn't afford them due to the high cost but in the 1960's prices started dropping making them more affordable.

It wasn't until 1972, manufacturers added an electric starter to gas dryers.  Two years later, they added micro controllers designed to time dry cycles.  Then in 1983, the delayed start was added to dryers so people could run dryers when energy demand was down.

So now, we have dryers with lots of buttons to electronically control the drying cycle.  I'm still of the hang it out when you can but use the simplest machine possible because I don't have the time to figure out everything.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, February 8, 2019

160 Years of Washing Machines.

Laundry, Washing Machines, Housewife  I remember when I was little, there was one old lady in the neighborhood who washed her clothing using one of those old machines.  She'd fill the machine, let it churn for a while and then squeeze the water out of the clothing using some sort of roller device on the side.  She'd then empty the water from the machine, refill it and throw the clothing back in for a rinse cycle before repeating the process. Eventually, she'd hang the laundry outside on a line.
At the beginning of the 19th century, an American filed the first patent for a washing machine that required people to pour hot water into a tank, throw clothing in and move them around, before taking them out and wringing between two rollers.  The water was then drained.

The very first modern washing machines appeared around 1850 during the industrial revolution when people began earning enough money to buy time and labor saving devices.  The first two patents filed for washing machines appeared in 1851 and 1858 and both are often identified as the first modern washers because they were rotary machines.

About 20 years later, the Shaker communities improved on the basic idea till they had a product they could sell to the public.  These machines were fairly large and created to perform as small commercial machines.  One of their top machines was displayed at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876.  Until 1908, home washing machines had to be powered by humans while commercial machines were powered either by steam and a system of belts. 

What changed in 1908, thanks to Thomas Edison's discovery of electricity, was the way washing machines were powered.  In that year, Thor, the first electrically powered washing machine hit the market. The Thor was a drum type machine with a galvanized tub.  This invention changed the things forever.  Several companies jumped in selling their version of the machine.  The drum was run by electricity but much of the rest of the work was still done by humans.

It wasn't until the 1930's that someone managed to create a fully automatic machine.  One could adjust the pressure, the water temperature and the time it washed in these new machines but they had to be anchored to the floor because there was no drum suspension. In addition, the were connected to the running water using temporary slip on connectors.

By the 1920's wooden tubs had disappeared and in the 1950's, a spin free element was added.  The 1950's also brought us the automatic machines with the more modern buttons to control washing and rinsing temperatures, etc.

There was Maytag which began in 1893 to make farm implements but the owner added a wooden type of machine to his offerings in 1907.  Soon after, the owner devoted his manufacturing company to making only washing machines.  Many people grew up watching those commercials with the "Maytag Repairman" who never got called to fix the machines.

Then there was the Whirlpool corporation which began in 1911 to make electric powered motor wringer washing machines.  Just five years later, they were producing machines faster than they could make them.  They sold many of their machines through Sears.

The first computer controlled machine appeared in 1998. Now you can buy a machine with so many choices on every cycle that its easy to do a variety of fabrics.   Keep an eye on here because I'll cover the history of the dryer since we tend to buy them in pairs.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day. 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Silk Is Over 4000 Years Old.

Shiny, Purple, Silk, Royalty  Silk, just the word has a luxurious sound associated with it.  It's a fabric marketed to all as something you want, you desire, that will take your life a step above ordinary.  This from a fabric that's been around since 2300 B.C.

Silk is said to have been introduced by the wife of the mythical Yellow Emperor around 3000 B.C.  There is archeological support for this claim.   In 1927, half of a silk cocoon was unearthed by the Yellow River in Northern China, dating between 2600 and 2300 B.C.  Furthermore, some silk threads and fabric have been found dating back to about 3000 B.C.

At first, silk could only be worn by the Emperor, his closet family, and the highest of those in government.  Inside his place, it is believed the Emperor and his family wore white silk but outside in public they wore yellow, considered the color of the earth.  Over time, the wearing of silk spread to other classes.

In fact, silk became so popular that it was used in musical instruments, fishing lines, rag paper, bow strings, etc in addition to clothing.  Eventually, even the common person could afford to wear silk.  By 200 B.C, silk became more than just clothing or used industrially, it took on the character of money.  Farmers could pay taxes in either grain, silk, or both as well as the wealthier paying their servants in silk.  Before long, it was used as currency for foreign trade and this caused the rest of teh world to learn about it.

Silk cultivation arrived in India about 500 years later and from there, two monks brought a handful of silk worms to Byzantium Empire to be used to create it's own silk industry.  The Byzantium Empire kept the mechanics of producing silk to themselves and undercut the price of regular Chinese silk but couldn't compete with the high quality silks.

The use of silk continued spreading across the known globe, to the Mediterranean Sea where silk production settled in Andalusia, making it the center for European produced silk in 1000 AD but it continued spreading until Italy took over as the production center in the 13th Century and France gained an edge in the 17th Century.  All though this spread, only royalty bought and used silk due to its cost.  It was too expensive for everyday people to wear.

During the 19th century when industrialization took off, the popularity of European silk fell and the cheaper Japanese silk took over due to the opening of the Suez canal.  Furthermore, the production of the synthetic materials such as nylon began replacing silk in stockings and parachutes.   In addition, World War I and II disrupted the production of silk both in Japan and Europe due to the necessity of it for war use.

At the end of World War II, Japan's silk production began and Japan became the largest producer and essentially the only exporter  of raw silk until the 1970's when China took over and they now produce about two thirds of the world's production.  The United States has the record as the largest importer of silk in the world.

I love silk and have quite a bit of it.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  In another week or so, I'll talk about the different types of silk fabric because its not all the same.  Have a great day. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

You've Come A Long Way in 80 Years.

Sunscreen, Skincare, Protection, Lotion If you look at older photographs, you'll notice everyone wears hats when they go outside.  Women on wagon trains wore extremely wide brims while women in the city had thinner brims but often combined hats with parasols. 

Have you ever wondered why?  They didn't have sunscreen.  In fact, sunscreen is a recent development that recently celebrated its 80th year of existence. 

Back in the early 1930's, Australian Milton Blake created a sunscreen ceme in his kitchen which he sold to Hamilton Laboratories to market to the public.  At about the same time Eugene Schuller, founder of L'oreal cosmetics, created his own version of sunscreen to market but neither creme protected people from sunburn very well.

However, in 1938, a young man got sunburned while climbing a mountain on the Swiss-Austria border.  His name was Franz Greiter who was majoring in Chemistry back at his Swiss university.  As a result of the sunburn, he was motivated to invent the first sunscreen with an SPF of 2 , which was marketed as "Glacier Creme" locally but later by a company called Piz Buin after the war. 

One of the first real sunscreen products in the United States was released in 1944 by Benjamin Green.  He called his "Red Vet Pet" short for Red Veterinarian Petroleum.  It was a ugly red sticky jelly similar to petroleum jelly but it was heavy and smelled.  It was used by military men who needed protection.  It worked by forming a physical barrier between the sun and the men's skin. 

At the end of the war, Mr Green modified his recipe by taking the Red Vet Pet and adding cocoa butter, and coconut oil to make a better sunscreen.  This formed the basis of the first commercially released Coppertone Suntan Creme.  Even this creme was thick and it was more like wearing paint rather than the light weight lotions we are used to. About 10 years after the original release of Coppertone Sun Creme, Joyce Ballentyne drew the famous little Coppertone Girl.  She based the character on her three year old daughter.

Although Franz Greiter's Glacier Creme sold well, especially to mountaineers, he didn't disappear from the scene. In 1962, He introduced the SPF rating system we see in all sunscreen products today but the United States FDA did not adopt it until 1978.  One year prior to this, water resistant sunscreens hit the market.  In 1988, the FDA adopted the first UVA filter which joined the already approved UVB filters.  Sunscreens have continued to improve so now you can get them in spray form, easy to spread lotions, or  ones that can be used on your face so your eyes don't sting.

Just remember to use it if you are going outside, even in the winter.  I wear 50 +++ on my face every day of the year, even when its dark and there is a blizzard going on.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A Short HIstory of Broadway.

New York City, Manhattan, 34Th Street If you watch enough TV or Movies, there is always that one character who is trying to make it on Broadway but the closest they've gotten is an off-off-off-Broadway show that last one night or one week before shutting down.

I have only been to New York a few times and that was when I spent time in one of the airports between planes.  I've never been to the city, mostly because I've never had a reason but friends of mine go to conferences and always try to find a ticket to some show.  Time for a bit of history on Broadway and its theaters in New York City. Broadway does not refer to a street persay, it refers to a district.

It began back in 1750 when two men opened a theater on Nassau street in New York.  It sat 280 people when full and focused on presenting Shakespeare and  ballad operas.  One of the most famous ballad operas of the time was "The Begger's Opera" by John Gray.  Unfortunately, the revolutionary war caused all theaters to shut down but they began reopening in 1798 with the construction of the Park Theater which seated 2000 people.

Once the Park Theater proved it's success, the Bowery theater opened in 1826, followed by more and more theaters.  The most popular type of show at this time in history were the blackface minstrel shows.  In fact, Niblo's Garden was considered a night spot, it was more of a theater because it presented both musical and non-musical acts.

During the 1840's P.T. Barnum opened his entertainment complex in Lower Manhattan, and another theater The Ascot was built during the same decade but met with protests because the lower class disliked the superior attitude of the rich who visited the theater. This riot lead to a class system of theater showings.  The rich went to the operas, the middle class attended the melodramas, and the lower class enjoyed variety shows.

In addition, the musical as we know it premiered in 1866 with the  opening of the "Black Crook", a show that lasted for 5.5 hours and lasted for 474 performances.  Shortly after, Burlesque began and within 20 years, Vaudeville joined the ranks of entertainment in New York City.  However, real estate prices were climbing so theaters began moving to Broadway near Madison Square and Union Station.

Transportation helped eliminate poverty in the area so that plays made more money because they ran longer, prostitutes moved out so more woman ventured to the theaters, and light operettas by Gilbert and Sullivan became the rage.  Just after the turn of the century in the early 1900's, electric lights hit Broadway theaters beginning with the Red Mill.  Theaters preferred using white light bulbs since the colored ones burned out so much quicker.  This is why Broadway gained the nickname of "The Great White Way."

During the 1920's, most shows had  little plot because they were written to showcase the lead actor or actress.  This was also the time of Zigfield Follies with their song and dance became quite popular.  Then at the 1930's, Broadway hit its stride in blockbuster shows that ran for long periods of time and kept going to modern times.  One such examples is Oklahoma that had over 2000 performances or Phantom of the Opera with over 9000 shows, or Cats with over 7000.

Shortly after World War II ended, the Tony awards began.  The Tony's were designed to recognize achievement in the Broadway theaters.  This award was followed by many others including the Obie which recognized the off and off-off Broadway shows.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, February 4, 2019

A Quick Hisotry of Diapers.

Baby, Boy, Diaper, Blue, Smile, Crawl The other day, I was changing a friends baby.  Out here in the bush of Alaska, most people use disposable diapers because they may or may not have running water or they may or may not have access to a washer and dryer.  Furthermore, energy is extremely expensive out here so disposables cut down on your electric bill.

My aunt said she used disposable diapers in the 1950's with her kids but I didn't believe her because as far as I knew, they'd only been around since the 70's but it turns out I'm wrong.

In ancient times, people used moss, milkweed, skins, and other things as diapers.  Even in Elizabethan times, they had a kind of cloth diaper that wasn't changed all that often.

Diapers were really not in use as we know them until the safety pin was invented in 1849.  This invention allowed people to use a square piece of linen, cotton flannel, or other soft material as a diaper.  They folded it into a triangle so the widest end went around the waist and the point came through the legs where the person pinned the ends together to make a "diaper".

In 1887, a woman created the first mass produced diapers which were easily folded into the triangular shape.  It was also about this time that bacteria and germs were discovered leading women to boil diapers to keep them clean.  Unfortunately, the people had to use what they had such as knitted shorts as covers until 1910 when the first rubberized cover appeared but it wasn't very popular because children ended up with diaper rashes. 

Diaper services came to the rescue for cleaning diapers beginning in 1935, just in time for the war.  As women replaced men in the work force, they had less time to boil diapers and this service made their life easier.  Five years later, the first pinless diaper appeared but it used buckles instead of safety pins. 

The first real disposable diaper came from Sweden, called a paper diaper,  but it was actually a disposable pad made of creped cellulose tissue the mother put on her child and covered with rubber or other material.  It showed up in 1942 and since it was during World War II, cotton was considered essential to the war so other materials had to be substituted.

Just after the war in 1946, an American housewife invented "Boaters" which were cloth diapers inserted inside a plastic shower curtain.  At about the same time, Chicopee began marketing the first disposable diapers but they were still nowhere near what we use today.  In fact, Johnson and Johnson was responsible for importing Chou disposable diapers from Sweden and they were marketed for traveling families because of the cost.

Over the next few years, the field of diapers jumped with new inventions from the prefolded diaper offered by diaper services, to inserts one place in cotton diapers to keep them clean.  My aunt used these.  She said you placed them on the diaper and when they were soiled, you threw them out after placing a new one in.

Not much happened with disposables until the 1960's with the release of Pampers.  Pampers were made with cellulose fibers instead of paper, softer insides made of rayon, and when done, the diaper could be completely pitched.  Pampers were an instant success possible due to the price, the convenience and were offered in two sizes.

The earliest Pampers came without tapes but by the end of the 1960's someone figured out how to add tapes to make them even easier to use.  Soon Proctor & Gamble and Kimble Clark were going head to head to take over the disposable diaper market and their use spread around the world even to third world countries.

In addition, this struggle caused more and more improvements to happen until today's disposable diapers.  Although disposable diapers are the first thing most new parents think about, cotton diapers are still around with grandmothers who knit those solid covers and diaper services still pick up and drop off daily loads for those who don't want to wash their own diapers but want to use the cotton ones.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, February 1, 2019

The Historical Importance of Salt.

Salt, Spa, Wellness, Wood, Salt, Salt  Most people today see salt as either as something to add a bit of flavor to cooking or something to be avoided due to its connection with high blood pressure but alt has not always been seen this way throughout history. 

It's use is recorded back to at least 6050 BC  Its been used as currency, appears in folk tales, and other things.

In fact, some of the earliest books written on salt appeared in China around 2700.  The author wrote about 40 different types of salt and included two different ways of extracting salt.  Of course, the government figured out that one could raise money by taxing salt so they did so. 

The term "Not worth his weight in salt" came from Ancient Greece because slaves were traded for salt.  Roman soldiers received rations of salt as a part of their pay.  The term " salarium argentum" eventually evolved into the term salary which is what we make today.  Furthermore, most explorers and early trading companies carried salt with them for purposes of trade.

In addition, salt played a significant part of many world religions always representing purity.  Even the Bible has references to salt such as "Salt of the Earth".  Salt also played a interesting played a part in the history of many countries.  In the United Kingdom, around the Cheshire region, there are records of the area producing salt, while Venice grew to prominence due to its salt monopoly. Other places such as Tuzla in Turkey and Salzberg Austria were named for the salt produced in the area.  Salzberg had four major salt mines that attracted a tourist trade. 

In fact, the Dutch managed to bankrupt Spain by blocking the importation of Iberian salt in the 16th century.  One direct cause of the French Revolution was the salt tax people had to pay to the government because the cost increased from 14 times the cost of producing salt in 1630 to 140 times the cost of producing salt in 1710. 

Even during the days of world exploration and expansion, salt played a critical role.  The Europeans used salt in  either the wet method of salting fish on board or a dry method on land to preserve fish after finding salt in the Great Banks of Newfoundland.  These preservation methods made it possible for Europeans to travel farther afield.  Even in America, salt played a part when William Clark of Lewis and Clark headed west looking for salt among other things and salt helped build the Erie Canal because salt was one of its main cargoes.

Even in the Civil War, the Union fought hard to capture Saltville, Virginia in 1864 because it had an important salt processing plant used by the Confederates to provide their troops with salt.  In addition, the lack of salt caused many of Napolean's soldiers to die on the retreat from Moscow because their wounds did not heal due to a deficiency of salt in their bodies.  Furthermore, General Howe was thrilled when he captured General Washington's salt supply. 

As you can see salt played a huge part of history, economics, medicine, and so many other facets of life.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.