Monday, December 30, 2019

Plans for my New Year's Eve party

Click image to enlarge
Tomorrow is New Year's Eve so I've started planning my New Year's Eve party. Above is my inspiration. Of course, considering my abundant charm and urbane wit, finding a couple of bikini clad cuties to dance around will be no problem. However, the giant martini glass filled with booze is a bit more of a challenge. Wish me luck.

Oh, and I hope your New Year's Eve party plans work out as well.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Drawings of the northern lights

Click any image to enlarge
I live in Florida, so aurora borealis displays are something I am not familiar with. That said, I guess I fit the demographic of the audience these were drawn for in the days before photography.

They are from the Public Domain Review's article “Firelight Flickering on the Ceiling of the World”: The Aurora Borealis in Art. There are more after the jump and at the link.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Walking in Montevideo, Uruguay

Time to work off our excess holiday calories with a little walking. 'Course sitting in a chair and watching a YouTube video of somebody else walking might not count, but let's not quibble over details, and so today we're off to Montevideo, Uruguay for a pleasant stroll.

It starts out in a nice looking shopping district, winds its way through it and on to some side streets, a monument in a park and an indoor market. The architecture of the area is fantastic -- a lot of old Spanish colonial style buildings.

Soooo... sit back and enjoy your virtual calorie burning exercise.

Monday, December 23, 2019

To those at sea

Christmas celebration of a U-boat crew by Felix Schwormstadt, 1915
(click image to enlarge)
In my younger years I spent a few Christmases underway or in distant ports. It is a loneliness that is hard to explain. And so, a wish of fair winds and following seas to my fellow sailors this holiday season.
Christmas at Sea - Robert Louis Stevenson

The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;
The decks were like a slide, where a seamen scarce could stand;
The wind was a nor'wester, blowing squally off the sea;
And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.

They heard the surf a-roaring before the break of day;
But 'twas only with the peep of light we saw how ill we lay.
We tumbled every hand on deck instanter, with a shout,
And we gave her the maintops'l, and stood by to go about.

All day we tacked and tacked between the South Head and the North;
All day we hauled the frozen sheets, and got no further forth;
All day as cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread,
For very life and nature we tacked from head to head.

We gave the South a wider berth, for there the tide-race roared;
But every tack we made we brought the North Head close aboard:
So's we saw the cliffs and houses, and the breakers running high,
And the coastguard in his garden, with his glass against his eye.

The frost was on the village roofs as white as ocean foam;
The good red fires were burning bright in every 'long-shore home;
The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys volleyed out;
And I vow we sniffed the victuals as the vessel went about.

The bells upon the church were rung with a mighty jovial cheer;
For it's just that I should tell you how (of all days in the year)
This day of our adversity was blessed Christmas morn,
And the house above the coastguard's was the house where I was born.

O well I saw the pleasant room, the pleasant faces there,
My mother's silver spectacles, my father's silver hair;
And well I saw the firelight, like a flight of homely elves,
Go dancing round the china-plates that stand upon the shelves.

And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me,
Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea;
And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way,
To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessed Christmas Day.

They lit the high sea-light, and the dark began to fall.
"All hands to loose topgallant sails," I heard the captain call.
"By the Lord, she'll never stand it," our first mate Jackson, cried.
..."It's the one way or the other, Mr. Jackson," he replied.

She staggered to her bearings, but the sails were new and good,
And the ship smelt up to windward just as though she understood.
As the winter's day was ending, in the entry of the night,
We cleared the weary headland, and passed below the light.

And they heaved a mighty breath, every soul on board but me,
As they saw her nose again pointing handsome out to sea;
But all that I could think of, in the darkness and the cold,
Was just that I was leaving home and my folks were growing old.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Different sounds of Christmas

By this time of the year I imagine most of us have heard some of the same Christmas music over and over again. With that in mind I usually look for foreign Christmas music to post. I've done Japan and Brazil in the past, this year I feature the Tamils of Sri Lanka.

Above is a Christmas song and dance. Christmas dances seem to be very popular with Tamil Christians -- there are a lot of YouTube videos of kids dancing in what I imagine must be the Sri Lankan version of Christmas pageants. I must say the notion of dancing to celebrate the holiday is appropriate.

Below are a few more examples of songs and dances.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

'Tis the season of Chistmas parties

Cover for Rex Stout's Christmas Party Murder
(click image to enlarge)
After all, what is your host's purpose in having a party? Surely not for you to enjoy yourself; if that were their sole purpose, they'd have simply sent champagne and women over to your place by taxi. - P. J. O'Rourke

Friday, December 20, 2019

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Defenders of the bibliotheca

Library confusion, by Sam Hood, 1952
(click image to enlarge)
Medieval book curses:

If anyone take away this book, let him die the death; let him be fried in a pan; let the falling sickness and fever size him; let him be broken on the wheel, and hanged. Amen.

For him that stealeth, or borroweth and returneth not, this book from its owner, let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him. Let him be struck with palsy, and all his members blasted. Let him languish in pain crying out for mercy, and let there be no surcease to his agony till he sing in dissolution. Let book- worm gnaw his entail [and] let the flames of Hell consume him forever.

Who folds a leafe downe
ye divel toaste browne,
Who makes marke or blotte
ye divel roaste hot,
Who stealeth thisse boke
ye divel shall cooke.

He who entrusts [this book] to [others’] hands, may all the gods who are found in Babylon curse him.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Skating on thin ice

As somebody who won't live in a climate where palm trees can't thrive I'm a bit disturbed at the thought of living somewhere where there is all that ice that escaped the refrigerator. To each his own I guess.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

DIY engine kits

Turbo jet engine
(click any image to enlarge)
These are a few kits from Engine DIY, a company that sells RC and model engine kits. They have wide variety of interesting kits. Of course they're having a Christmas sale so if you have a young, or for that matter an old, engineer that you're looking for a gift for one of their kits might solve your problem.

Inline 4 cylinder engine
Steam powered car
Electrolysis of water hydro generator
16 cylinder Stirling engine
2 cylinder-Stirling engine electricity generator
Galileo pendulum clock

Friday, December 13, 2019

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Climbing Perch Fish Curry

A Bengali couple cooks a meal of Climbing Perch Fish Curry. It is a simple meal. They start by catching the fish in the mud of a rice paddy, then go through an elaborate process of washing and cleaning the fish. They chop the spices and also grind some of them using a brick and what looks like a piece of tile. After they cook the fish over their fire they eat the meal using their hands to scoop up the rice and perch.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

An old-timey carwash

Click any image to enlarge
The Auto Wash Bowl  was an early approach to commercially washing cars. Because so many roads back then were unpaved, dirt and mud would get caked on auto undercarriages. The Auto Wash Bowl was invented to solve that problem; cars would drive in and circle it for a few minutes until their bottom was cleaned. They would then exit to an area where the rest of the car was washed.

They lasted from 1921 to the early 1930s when they were replaced by more modern automatic car washes. From the Vintage Everyday article The Auto Wash Bowl in Chicago, ca. 1920s which has more pictures and information about them.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

The Day of Infamy

Click image to enlarge
On the morning of December 7, 1941, I had relieved the watch in the port engine room [of the USS Utah]. I had been on watch about 20 minutes when the first torpedo hit the ship on the port side. It was about 5 or 8 minutes before I could hear someone hollering that the Japanese were attacking us.

I ran up the ladder to the third deck. On the port side was our sleeping quarters, and water was already washing over my bunk. I went to the starboard side of the ship, went up to the second deck to our locker room and mess hall. There were several other men there. One asked if he should take his dress blue uniform with him. I told him he wouldn't be needing that for a good while.

I grabbed an extra pair of dungarees, a carton of cigarettes, and went on top side. A friend and I sat down on the side of the ship and slid into the water. We swam to Ford Island where we were picked up by a party. They took us to the USS California to unload ammunition. That evening we were taken to an ammunition ship that was tied up at the docks in the shipyard. We spend the night there. - Cecil Camp (source)

Friday, December 06, 2019

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Greyhound Bus ads

Click any image to enlarge
These are color advertisements for Greyhound Bus from the mid 1940s to the mid 1950s. The early ads focus on soldiers returning home and later they focus on travelling to see different parts of America.

In his Civil War: a Narrative Shelby Foote talked about the long campaigns meant that the primarily rural soldiers traveled far and developed a different sense of the nation. Similarly, in WWII many of the young men had traveled to Europe, Africa or Asia. In the years after, and before the wide spread of the car culture or cheap airfare, these young men and their families wanted to see distant places in the States. Greyhound buses provided them with a means to travel long distances.

These ads, and those after the jump, are from the Ad Access section of Duke University's digital repository. 

Monday, December 02, 2019

Revenge and forgetfulness

Click image to enlarge
To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it. ― Confucius