Men’s Shaving Brushes

When I was a kid in the 1950’s, Dad always used a shaving brush, shaving cup and shaving soap to work up a hot lather. I never asked him anything about this ritual because I’d seen it all on Gunsmoke and the other old-time TV shows. There was a quaint old custom that obviously went out of fashion in the 19th century.

I used sensible twentieth century shaving aerosols. In January 1970 Gillette’s patent registration for “The Hot One” was accepted. That was a chemically-driven foam that became hot when dispensed. It used hydrogen peroxide to generate the reaction. I adopted it immediately, but I noted the foam only stayed hot for about fifteen seconds, after which it became just another shaving cream. As I recall, that product was pulled from the market after about a year due to skin reactions reported by some users. After that, I went back to various popular brands of foam shaving aerosols for  a number of decades.

Researching this post, I’m reminded what a huge market for men’s shaving products there is. There are articles on hot shave dispensers, how to shave with a straight razor, and even on individual brands of shaving cream.

In the 1990’s I discovered you could still buy a shaving brush like my dad’s, and I bought one. I used that pretty regularly for the remainder of my working career. One can buy a “shaving cup,” but I generally just use a heavy wide-brimmed coffee cup of the sort used for soups. You can also recycle the bath soap chips you’d normally discard when they get down to a certain size, and I find so functional difference between that and a dedicated shaving soap. I’m not a purist for any one shaving method, and I keep an electric shaver around for a quick lazy retired man’s shave. I even keep a can of Burma Shave around.

My shaving brush, rinsed in very hot water and then used to work up a good hot lather, softens the whiskers and prepares them for the shave better than any other method I’ve tried. I like the fact that I don’t have to rinse a load of excess shaving aerosol off my hands before I begin shaving.  It’s still the smoothest, cleanest way I know of to shave.

Dad was right after all!

1,380 total views, 1 views today

UK Monopoly Board

I was watching the BBC comedy show As Time Goes By. The girls were playing Monopoly. They were calling out the street names and they had them all wrong! I’d never heard of those places. No Boardwalk, Marvin Gardens or Park Place. On a hunch I checked it out in Wikipedia. Sure enough, the British version uses British place names! Photo below is a screen capture from Wikipedia.

8,994 total views, 3 views today

National Jukebox

A friend sent us the link to the US national repository for “heritage” music and early recordings — from the dawn of the recorded audio age. These Library of Congress recordings are generally all around 100 years old. They’ve been digitized – a massive undertaking, and, given their age and the sound quality of early recordings, a challenge. As you’d expect, this is really vintage stuff, but I doubt it can be found elsewhere in the public domain.

Quotes from  the Library of Congress web page

The Library of Congress presents the National Jukebox, which makes historical sound recordings available to the public free of charge. The Jukebox includes recordings from the extraordinary collections of the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation and other contributing libraries and archives.

The National Jukebox debuts featuring more than 10,000 78rpm disc sides issued by the Victor Talking Machine Company between 1900 and 1925.

These selections are presented as part of the record of the past. They are historical documents which reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times. The Library of Congress does not endorse the views expressed in these recordings, which may contain content offensive to users.

Selections I monitored:

  • I pagliacci [Victor 3239, 1901]
  • Air for G string [Bach, Victor Herbert’s Orchestra, Victor 70047, 1911]
  • Waiting for the Robert E. Lee [Victor 16511, 1912]
  • Temptation rag [Victor 16511, 1910]

3,974 total views, 2 views today

Home-Made Squirrel Detector

Since we published C.Bear’s story “The Elusive Mr. S”, we’ve already received a request from a fan who wanted to know, “Where can I get one of those Squirrel Detectors?” Actually, it’s so simple that we make our own. Now, you can do the same. Just follow these simple instructions. Before you know it, you’ll be in the squirrel detection business as well.


1 cedar shingle
1 helical copper wire coil
1 dipole receiver antenna, approx. 1-1/2 in long
1 used watch or motherboard battery
1 5/16 or 3/8 steel nut (metric OK)
1 tube Duco or Ambroid household cement

Figure 1 (click picture for larger image)

click picture for larger image


Locate a cedar shingle in good condition, not too weathered. First, split it along the grain so you have a piece approximately 3 inches wide. Now trim it to a more compact length, say, about 5 inches long. Plan your cut so that the 5″ section includes the feathered thin edge of the shingle. The feathering enhances detection of birds, while not impairing squirrel detection in the slightest.

Exact dimensions are not critical in any part of the construction.

The detection parts consist of a (1) power source, (2) receiving and (3) transmitting antenna, and (4) the actual detector.

1) Any old battery will do, as this is a very low-power device. Flat batteries are easier to glue to the shingle.

2) You can wind your own receiving coil with a stiff copper or baling wire. Wrap several turns around a form (a magic marker is about the right diameter). Carefully bend the last 1/4 inch upright to impress your friends.

3) Fashion your dipole (transmitting) wire from matching wire stock.

4) Locate a good 5/16″ or 3/8″ nut. We favor sprocket nuts from old Schwinn bicycles, but anything of about the right size will do. Metric is excellent, and will enhance old-world bird detection as a bonus. Chrome-plated nuts are hard to find, but they do show off your detector to the best advantage.

Now, glue the parts into place. Referring to Figure 1, along a left to right center line, glue your receiving antenna, transmitting antenna, battery, and detection nut. Allow to dry overnight.

No wiring or soldering is required. The parts are already interactive. Although no particular voltage is required, locating a battery holder allows you to more easily replace your battery with a fresh one, if desired.

Finishing touches: Perfectionists may want to spray varnish the assembly with several coats of marine spar varnish. Cedar is excessively absorbent, so be warned you will need several coats for a uniform gloss. On the other hand, natural cedar ages gracefully to a fine grayish patina, so we side with purists who deem the detector “finished” once the parts are glued into place and dried.


Now comes the best part. You are ready to test your genuine, original new Squirrel Detector (though truthfully there is so little that can go wrong).

Take your detector to a park, garden, back yard or wooded area that squirrels are known to frequent. You can place your detector on your car dashboard, or aim it in your hands in a sweeping motion around the grounds. Either method works equally well. When you see a squirrel, go “Beep! Beep” to train your detector. Thereafter, when you see a squirrel, go “Beep! Beep!” to keep your detector in prime condition.

Congratulations! Your detector is already trained and working!


Your squirrel detector is also capable of detecting some bird species (assuming you used the end of the shingle with the feathered edge):

When you see a duck, go “Quack-Quack!”

When you see a goose, go “Honk! Honk!”

When your friends see your detector in operation, not only will you be the talk of the neighborhood, you alone will hold the secret of how to construct a genuine Squirrel Detector!


1. Results may vary. Do not be discouraged if you don’t start detecting squirrels right away. Try a different park. Since you are responsible for fashioning your own detector, we can offer no warranty, expressed or implied.

2. Not intended for use in the Mojave, Gobi or the various continental ice shelves.

3. Your Squirrel Detector already has the built-in Language plug-in. On hearing the special cue words “Beep! Beep”, “Quack-Quack!” or “Honk! Honk”, savvy bystanders in any country will have no trouble understanding what’s going on here.

4. Never point your device at large, menacing wild animals.

Copyright Alex Forbes May 15, 2005

2,528 total views, no views today

Vonnegut Speech, or Urban Legend?

Everything below this paragraph has been forwarded to someone, from somewhere. It obviously originates from e-mail and/or chat groups, but beyond that, I have no idea of the authenticity or origin of the material. But it was new to me, and I enjoyed it, so I put it up on I hope you enjoy it too.

The speech is pasted below this article. Some of you have already seen it. It struck me as awesome the first time I read it (the speech), and I continue to like it today.Skip the article if you want, but read the speech at the bottom.

‘Vonnegut Speech’ Circulates on Net 6:13pm 4.Aug.97.PDTA copy of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s recent MIT commencement address made heavy email rotation on Friday. The characteristically pithy, funny, thoughtful speech was passed from friend to friend stamped with such comments as “worth a read” and “check this out – it’s great.”

And it was great. Trouble is, it wasn’t Vonnegut’s. “Kurt Vonnegut Jr. had never given a commencement address at MIT,” said Robert Sales, associate director of the school’s news office.

It turns out the “speech” was actually a column penned by the Chicago Tribune’s Mary Schmich. The column ran on 1 June – five days before UN Secretary General Kofi Annan delivered the actual commencement address at MIT. That speech “was a lot longer and maybe not as clever” as the purported Vonnegut address, Sales said.

Much of Schmich’s column – which consists of advice for graduates – sounds like stuff Vonnegut might say: “Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours…. Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how…. Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements…. Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Nobody – least of all Schmich – can figure out why Vonnegut’s name was slapped onto her column. “Some prankster apparently decided it would be funny. Why is it funny? If you can figure that out, you’re a genius,” she said Monday.

Perhaps the act itself wasn’t funny, but some of the fallout has been. First of all, there’s the fact that (ahem) Wired News ran part of the column as its Quote of the Day on Friday. Also, Schmich says she’s gotten as much attention from the incident as just about anything she’s written. “My email’s just flooded with messages,” she says. And she says she’s actually been accused of plagiarizing Vonnegut – and vice versa. On Friday, she managed to reach Vonnegut, who, Schmich says, said the whole thing is “spooky.”

In her column on Monday, Schmich writes that she wrote the piece “one Friday afternoon while high on coffee and M&M’s.” And, she insisted, “it was not art.”

In part, Schmich blames the “cyberswamp” of the Internet for all the trouble. “At newspapers, things like this have to go through a barrier before they go out to the world,” she said. But on the Net “anybody can put anybody’s name on anything.”

Nonetheless, she added, “No one involved in this did anything bad, except the person who started it.”

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '97:Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now. Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 P.M. on some idle Tuesday. Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself. Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how. Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone. Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room. Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them. Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future. Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders. Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

1,094 total views, no views today

1895 Eighth Grade Final Exam

This item was passed to us by a friend. It has been circulated on the web, and I passed it on to one other site. Hats off to the Salina Journal for finding and reprinting this century-old 8th grade exam.

As we read this, of course we’ll all try to see how many of these questions we could answer today. Some references, such as tare weight and bushel, have more relevance today than you think. Some are obsolete. Some questions reflect obsolete teaching methods, such as the methods used (or not used) today to teach sentence structure.

Our initial reaction was that the reprint illustrated the reliance on force-fed rote memorization of yesteryear. On further reflection, most of the questions are still appropriate. They stress a broadness of education which seems largely lacking today. Enjoy testing yourself; the questions are tough for 8th graders or adults!


In 1885 the 8th grade was considered upper level education. Many children quit school as soon as they could master the basic fundamentals of the 3 R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic). Most never went past the 3rd or 4th grade. That’s all you needed for the farm and most city jobs. Child labor laws were not in existence. Additionally today’s education has much more focus on technology and sociology than the grammar and geography of old. It’s a different world with different requirements and capabilities needed to succeed.

Could You Have Passed the 8th Grade in 1895?

This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 from Salina, KS. It was taken from the original document on file at the Smoky Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, KS and reprinted by the Salina Journal.


8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, KS - 1895Grammar (Time, one hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.

2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.

3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.

4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.

5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.

6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.

7 – 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.

2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?

3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts. per bu., deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?

4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?

5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.

6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.

7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per m?

8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.

9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?

10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.

2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.

3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.

4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.

5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.

6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.

7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?

8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, and 1865?

Orthography (Time, one hour)

1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic orthography, etymology, syllabication?

2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?

3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?

4. Give four substitutes for caret ‘u’.

5. Give two rules for spelling words with final ‘e’. Name two exceptions under each rule.

6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.

7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: Bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, super.

8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: Card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.

9. Use the following correctly in sentences, Cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.

10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)

1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?

2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?

3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?

4. Describe the mountains of N.A.

5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fermandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.

6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.

7. Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.

8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?

9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.

10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give inclination of the earth.

1,196 total views, no views today

Bin Laden Toilet Paper

Talking Crow Productions is proud to present a little cgi program that allows you to roll your own roll of Osama Bin Laden toilet paper. A single sheet is displayed below. Licensed from our programming branch Very Mature Productions, Inc. (less-known producers of the text-to-speech file 3,379 Bottles of Beer On The Wall, an unpublished 609,861KB WAV file).

Click this Bin Laden TP link to operate the program.

Sample finest quality tissue

917 total views, no views today