June 28, 2016
Lewis Carroll's Typewriter
Over 20 years ago I found in an antique shop in London a small handwritten note by Lewis Carroll in which he asked for help operating his new typewriter.
I had known that Carroll had a typewriter, but adding this note to my collection made me eager to learn more.
After some research, I wrote an article for a small Lewis Carroll journal titled "Lewis Carroll's Typewriter" in which I described the Hammond No.1 typewriter that Lewis Carroll (whose real name was Charles Dodgson) bought in 1888.
At the time I had no idea that the typewriter still existed but in 2012 it came up for auction at a small auction house in England and I was lucky enough to be the high bidder.
The purchase of this elegant machine caused me to re-visit my research and to discover — through the wonders of an internet that had not existed in the early 1990s — a lot more information about James Hammond and his remarkable machine.
I wrote a long article for an exhibition catalogue expanding my original research, [and] this time I was able to illustrate the article with pictures of the actual machine.
The article is much too long to republish here but I offer [below] an excerpt which might put this typewriter into some context.
The design of the original Hammond has been compared to that of a piano, and it is certainly a work of art in addition to being a fine piece of engineering.
Dodgson's machine included four separate typefaces, each stored in a compartment on the top of the typewriter.
The entire machine is enclosed in a wooden cover inside of which is mounted an instruction label, which Dodgson signed "Rev. C. L. Dodgson Ch. Ch. Oxford." Presumably this was because he took the machine with him on his summer travels to Eastbourne.
Within a week of receiving his machine Dodgson, ever the inventor, had devised two improvements.
The first involved the loading of the paper — Dodgson's method was slightly more difficult but much less likely to result in damaged paper.
The second improvement made his typewriter more like a modern word processor, for it produced a justified right margin.
He achieved this by counting the number of characters in each line and adding an appropriate number of spaces between words to produce lines of uniform length.
Though this process was certainly tedious, Dodgson used it on occasion to produce documents that looked professionally printed.
This, along with his references to its function as "printing," is an indication that he considered his typewriter to be essentially a home printing press, a view that vanished but today [once] again prevails in our expectation of producing professional-quality publications on home computers.
Dodgson used his typewriter for composing correspondence, entertaining his child friends and, in one instance, producing one of his desktop publications.
He did not, however, rely heavily on the typewriter.
The machine always remained something of a novelty to him and was more frequently used for the entertainment of children than for serious writing.
Although Dodgson composed tens of thousands of letters in his lifetime, and several thousand of these are still extant, a careful search has brought to light only 15 typed letters.
When Charles Dodgson died in 1898, his Hammond typewriter was not included in the sale of his effects; it was purchased by his brother Wilfred from the estate for £6.
Wilfred used the machine in association with his career as a land agent and was still using it as late as 1908, when he received a letter from Hammond Typewriter on 26 March replying to his letter of the 25th in which he requested some new ribbon.
The letter reads, in part: "We are very glad to hear that you find the machine after all these years such a true servant to you that it is still enabled to do the work which you require of it."
The fully illustrated article that accompanied my first exhibition of the typewriter occupies eight densely packed pages in a now sold-out catalogue, but if you're interested in knowing more about both the eccentric inventor James Hammond and Lewis Carroll's use of his typing machine, let me know.
It may just be time for a reprint.
Super-Cute (Kawaii) Animal Erasers
From the website:
• 30 erasers will be randomly selected from the group pictured above
• Some animals may be duplicated, but they will be different colors!
• Size: approximately 1" x 1" (some are shorter or taller than 1")
• Great as collectibles, incentives, party favors, gifts, etc.
• Eco-friendly and non-toxic
Assortment of 30: $13.80.
That's 46 cents apiece in case you were wondering — I mean, I certainly was, to have performed the calculation....
June 27, 2016
Videre est credere.
Or, to put it another way:
is worth a thousand words.
[via Atlas Obscura]
bookofjoe's Favorite Thing: TrashStik — Trash pickup stick taken to the max
Tons of magnolia tree leaves fall on my gravel driveway, sometimes so densely they form a kind of carpet.
They can be slippery when wet.
I've been picking up the leaves by bending over for each one for nearly 33 years and I must say that as a Medicare card-carrying geezer, sometimes that makes my back ache, no matter that I'm still running half-marathons and whatnot.
Anyhoo, I happened on this tool recently and bought one and just road tested it, as it were: excellent.
Like the peel-to-size window shades featured here last Friday, it's fun to use.
That's the mark of a great tool or item.
But I digress.
One last thing: wear shoes when you use this puppy —
those stainless steel tines are sharp!
June 26, 2016
A 2011 visualization.
[via The Guardian]
No more being wrong half the time when you insert a USB cable
I stumbled on the solution a long, long time ago but judging from what I see every day around me, it's not obvious.
Watch the video up top, made just for you by me using Google Glass, and see how a little round sticker can make life just that much less annoying.
After all, it's not only a game of inches, like in Al Pacino's classic speech in "Any Given Sunday" (below),
later memorialized in that TV car commercial, it sometimes is a matter of black or white, right or wrong.
There's no gray area when it comes to plugging something in: it's in or it's not.
Don't go there.
But I digress again.
768 self-adhesive dots —
192 apiece red, blue, yellow, and green — cost $2.99.
Cheap at twice the price.
June 25, 2016
Will Knight's Spider Web Farm — "Over 16,000 webs collected since 1977"
From Atlas Obscura:
The "Original Web Site," this farm in Northern Vermont encourages orb-weaver spiders to build their daily webs and then sells the preserved masterpieces.
Will Knight's Spider Web Farm, the only one in the world, is a rather small operation.
Two garage-sized barns are packed with wooden frames in built-in grids hanging from the ceiling.
These square frames are ideal spots for spider webs, and the abundant orb-weaver spiders that live on Knight's farm make themselves at home.
As the cells fill with webs, Knight (after shooing the spiders out of harm's way) sprays each web with white spray paint to make it more visible, and then passes a wood plaque through the hole, saving the web.
Add a few coats of lacquer, and Knight has perfectly mounted and preserved an intricate work of arthropod art.
According to a sign on the property, more than 16,000 webs have been collected since 1977.
Though there is not necessarily much to see on the farm, (depending on the timing of a visit, all of the webs may have been recently harvested, or the spiders hiding) the unique webs for sale are reasonably priced and Knight himself, now 87 years old, is a delight to talk to.
Just don't call him Spiderman — he prefers Spiderwebman.
Mevo — First camera to stream directly to Facebook Live
I thought Google Glass, back in mid-2013. was going to be the beginning of bookofjoeTV but I was wrong, three years premature.
This is no humbug: Mevo has cracked it.
YouTube caption: "Mevo is the first camera to stream directly to Facebook Live. With Mevo's Facebook Live integration, Livestream is providing Facebook's 1.6 billion users the most compelling way to leverage the power of the social platform's new live video service."
Look for bookofjoeTV in this space — via Mevo x Facebook Live x Livestream — real soon now.
Maybe: one last thing, not to rain on your parade or anything — Mevo starts shipping at the end of July according to its website.
Until I actually can try one out it's gonna remain vaporware to me — and my cash is gonna stay in my wallet.
June 24, 2016
No more arguing about which way the toilet paper roll goes
Levolor Peel-to-Size Window Shades
What a genius invention.
Remember when you used to have to take your broken shade — or your best between-bracket measurement — to the hardware store, where the guy would cut a shade for you that, if you were lucky, would actually fit when you got back home, at least close enough that you didn't have to return to the store for a recut (if the shade was too big; too small, too bad for you, ka-ching — but I digress...)?
Then there were the companies that did it by mail: pretty much the same deal as the hardware store, except you didn't have to leave home to get back a shade that was too small — ka-ching!
To add insult to financial injury, there was a couple weeks' wait from the time you ordered till you received your mismeasured unusable shade.
Then came the peel-to-size revolution, which now lets you order from Amazon and receive your shade in 2-4 days.
You follow the excellent directions (below)
— so simple even a TechnoDolt©® can do it (one did) — and in 20 minutes you've got your window shade in place and Bob's your uncle.
Bonus: sizing the shade by peeling off long strips to make it fit properly is fun, like when we were back in kindergarten: how often do we have that sort of gratifying stuff in our lives anymore?
Not nearly often enough, IMHO.
A shade costs $17.11.
June 23, 2016
The giant pink slugs of Mount Kaputar can reach up to 7.8 inches in length
Perfect size for a New England-style hot dog bun.
Wait a sec....
To see these striking creatures up close and personal you'll need to book a flight to Australia.
From Atlas Obscura: "The small alpine forest at Mount Kaputar's peak is believed by scientists to be the result of unique circumstances that have preserved a tiny remnant of Australia's geological past. Measuring only 10 by 10 kilometers (roughly 6.2 miles squared), this forest is teeming with life found nowhere else in the world."
BehindTheMedspeak: How to get rid of bad breath — for $1.29
You think the headline's just a teaser like with TMZ and the New York Post and their ilk, don't you?
Well, you are wrong.
Do you have bad breath?
Find out by taking this simple test.
The Oolitt Flexible Tongue Scraper is far and away the best single thing you can buy or use to eliminate bad breath.
Why is this?
Because the primary source of bad breath for 99% of the population is the pool of thick gunk lodged at the base of the tongue which no toothpaste/toothbrush/toothbrushing technique/mouthwash can eliminate.
The only way to clear that nexus is by physically removing it.
The Oolitt does just that.
Over a few weeks of use you can learn to suppress your gag reflex and go further and further back in your mouth — and when you start to bring out gobs of thick, yellow, horrible-smelling gunk that you have to physically remove from your scraper because it's so tenacious, you'll be smiling through your disgust because that garbage is in your sink instead of your mouth.
Trust me on this.
As an anesthesiologist bending over unconscious people's mouths and lifting their tongues forward and up prior to endotracheal intubation — prolly 20,000 ± 5,000 times — I've smelled (though early on I learned to breath only through my mouth during this procedure lest I nearly pass out from the stench that sometimes rivalled the very best Époisses de Bourgogne... but I digress) the hydrogen sulfide enough that I probably incurred permanent brain damage just from inhaling trace concentrations.
Do yourself and your loved one(s) a favor and get an Oolitt for yourself — even better, order enough for the whole krew.
From the website: "The back of your tongue harbors disease and odor-causing bacteria, which can only be removed with a tongue cleaner. Oolitt Flexible Tongue Scrapers are the most effective tools for removal of bacteria and prevention of bad breath."
Cheap at ten times the $1.29 price.
One more thing: they're pretty much indestructible and last forever, but I like to change mine up every three months or so.
June 22, 2016
Schmidt's Insect Sting Pain Index
[via Atlas Obscura]
bookofjoe's Favorite Thing: Solid Wood Toilet Seat
Truly "The Throne."
More than one visitor has asked me where I got the seat they sat on in the guest bathroom.
Right here: $52.99 and cheap at twice the price.
Should you ever have occasion to use my bathroom, every subsequent time you sit on default white plastic, for the rest of your life, you will remember your few moments of bliss atop the solid wooden iteration in Charlottesville.
This seat really comes into its own in the winter, when its inherent makeup makes initial butt-seat contact not a thing of dread but [heh], rather, a warm, welcoming "hello."
June 21, 2016
Gray Cat observes a sudden summer rainstorm
YouTube caption: "Comfortably dry, she surveys my southern perimeter earlier today. Neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor hail keeps her from her primary mission. Her motto: "On guard for me [joe]."