December 29, 2006

String - 25 Uses and Beyond: Truth and Fun

post your string uses

What is String?

  • The twining of two or more distinct threads
  • A thread made of two ends, spanning the distance thinly, and able to be twined with another such thread

History
When was the first string invented? It depends on how you define string. Is it the twining of two long threads, a strip of animal fur or skin, a strong blade of grass? It seems reasonable to presume string was among the first things humans used when trying to figure out the way to hold their wooly mammoth britches up, or to afix a sharp stone to a stick to create a spear. I wasn't there and I am not an anthropologist, so I don't know.

  1. Cat's Play
    You've surely seen Fluffy having a one kitty party with a ball of yarn, haven't you?
  2. Eyeglass Repair
    The geeks may inherit the earth, but if they use this technique, they will look silly doing it. Revenge of the Nerds viewers have seen tape in the same manner.
  3. Mouse Lasso
    What's he trying to catch, a cockroach? All the power to him, though I don't think mice eat bugs.
  4. Electrical Testing Apparatus
    Ben Franklin used this in various experiments, including his now famous zapped-by-the-key kite routine.
  5. Underwater Worm Release Program
    Rarely successful for releasing worms back into the wild, it has served as a way to catch fish, though a hook and pole will increase your chances.
  6. Clothes
    You'll need a lot of more strings and a treadle, but with some know-how and a loom, you might be on top of fashion before you know it.
  7. Bikini Savior
    I know you ogling men keep hoping that thin spaghetti strap doesn't do its job, but as a holder-upper of sundry swimwear, it is par excellance.
  8. String Cheese
    Milk is liquid and cheese might technically be too, but this yummy mozzarella can be torn off in string-like portions.
  9. Baloney
    Tall-tales, to be exact. A good yarn is always a good time. The less true and more believable the story, the better. If you can work in something about a big blue ox, you've done well.
  10. Plant Noose
    No, it isn't a form of lynching, but as a way to assist the plant to grow one way or another. In my house, plants all die, so I forgo the string.
  11. Reminder
    Remember Ernie (of Burt and Ernie fame) used this on Sesame Street. He tied a string on his finger to remind him of the string on his finger about the string on his finger.
  12. Dental Floss
    Nasty plaque needs to be dealt with aggressively. Floss after each meal or else gum your food when you're 50.
  13. Shoe Laces
    Betcha think, "Oh, I knew that one." Laces are strings doing undercover gumshoe work.
  14. Suspenders
    You got it, thick strings. This brings us back to mammoth britches, but not the kind Clydesdale men wear.
  15. Violin Music Makers
    No strings, no music. If you heard me play, you might not think strings are such a great thing.
  16. Tow Rope
    That's 'tow' not 'toe'. If you lived in Illinois like we do, you'd know the value of a tow rope whenever the weather conked your car.
  17. Blinds Thread
    Look at the blinds on your window. See that string going vertically? Without it, all you've got is a bunch of plastic strips, too much sunlight and not enough privacy.
  18. Bookbinder
    In high quality books, bookbinders thread parts of the book together to create sections they then put together.
  19. Baseballs
    Ever slice one of these babies open? It is mostly string. You've also got the lacing on the outside, use of which is crucial to a good curve ball or slider.
  20. String Beans
    These tasty beans aren't made of string, but if you break one open, you'll see where they get their name. There's a thin string following the length of the bean.
  21. God
    God is not a string, and, in fact, is not able to be described in physical terms, but in Jonathan Edwards's famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, the preacher uses the image of God holding man over hellfire and brimstone: "... you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it..." I hope it is a strong thread. I thank God he hasn't let go.
  22. Dating
    Stringing someone along is not the most honorable of dating methods, but it exists.
  23. A Mathematical Theory
    It all deals with cosmology (not cosmetology -- I had to look this up). It uses terms like excitation modes, Planck length, and supersymmetry. and deals with quantum gravity. Frankly, I no have idea what I'm talking about.
  24. Art Form
    Ever make a Cat's Cradle or Jacob's Ladder? A little yarn, a rainy day, nimble fingers and you've got yourself a good time. Follow-up with some cardhouses.
  25. Barbed Wire
    Thorny and prickly as it may be, this metal barrier is a form of string.

December 21, 2006

Not For Use In Rubber Band Shooting Competitions - Alliance Brites Rubber Bands reviewed

The Alliance Brites multicolored bands are long and thin.

When shooting, you'll find them to stretch to almost two feet. They are finely cut, and have a nearly consistent parallel cut. In general, this provides for a straighter, more predictable shot, but this is only true for the short events. The thin cut, unfortunately, in combination with the length, results in too much elasticity, reducing the release snap and weakening speed sustained over distance.

The length in particular, creates severe air wobble, and the band hits with more of a buckshot effect rather than a sharp rifle hit. This impact dissipation is frustrating, as a band shot will not so much as tip a pop can.

These are, however, excellent bands for training use, especially for young shooters who need to learn rubber band shooting safety. They should not be considered competition-level bands.

Home offices will be impressed by the Alliance Brites' usefulness in banding papers. The colors, in my experience don't stain or hurt documents through over-tautness, but dry rot has occurred in some over the years, and they'll need occasional replacing.



Brilliant Choice for Reading and Frightening Cockroaches - GE 200 Watt Soft White Bulb reviewed



Light BulbGE 200 Watt Soft White BulbLight bulb
Some days need more light than others, and on the dim afternoons, when all is bleak and lonely, this little light is the one to shine.

At 200 Watts, this soft white bulb will reach into every corner. Cockroaches will find your abode no home for their families. However, its use is more than the bane of vile vermin. Though it ubiquitously streams its luminance into the nests and nooks of nasty insects, the bulb brings forth ease for all readers no matter how light or deep the book.

When Saturday hits, and there's a rain dropping down gray clouds and overcast skies, flip the switch with one of these in the socket. Find your next favorite book, and begin a new reading adventure, confident your bulb will be there throughout each page.

With the right shade to disperse the light, this bulb will brighten the room in a smart way without the inconsistent irritating buzzing of a fluorescent tube. You, and a hot chocolate, can sit on the laziest of chairs and linger through the longest of books without ever so much as one eye tiring.

It will last 750 hours. That will bring you 150 five-hour Saturday afternoons, or, if you read at a pace of 150 pages a Saturday, around 105 of the last Newberry Winners and Honor Books, going all the way back to 1974. Those are superb books deserving the whitest of lights, and this beauty will give these books the glory they earned.

Buy several and make your home a happy place for you and your books, and an unhappy one for the six-legged beasts which now roam.

--Brockeim

December 20, 2006

A Better Coffee Maker I Will Not Find - Proctor Silex 46801 Simply Coffee Coffee Maker reviewed

Proctor Silex 46801 Simply Coffee Coffee Maker No 21-gun salute sent this soldier home. No military honors, no flag-draped coffin. The president of these United States never called with condolences. Still, I mourn, for no soldier she could ever be, only bringing me peace.

This month, my 'Proctor Silex 46801 Simply Coffee Coffee Maker' would pour no longer. The glass which shone through and held so gingerly the coffee she made for me broke.

Across my counter are where she, my dear coffee maker of a half dozen years, spilled her love. The brown stains, the small puddles yet unsopped, the ring of coffee grounds surrounding where she once sat reminds me of how she was not highborn. Her pedigree was low, and she loved me well.

The stories of our time together are too many to tell, but with many friends, or alone, or on the ways to places afar, she helped me through.

12 cups were the most this mother could bear for me. I narily requested more than two, but there were times when 12 was what I asked. Whether I made French, or Colombian, or even the most flavored of coffees, her basket held the grounds. She never turned to look askew at me, never begging me to buy another. She cleaned as easy as she brewed, and poured as if she lived in the finest mansion. A simple paper towel was all she needed to clean her generous face. Her mouth opened wide for water, and she returned the water as amply as she received.

I have bought another coffee maker, but the cups she, my 'Proctor Silex 46801 Simply Coffee Coffee Maker' shared are in my blood forever.

"How shall the burial rite be read?
The solemn song be sung?
The requiem for the loveliest dead,
That ever died so young?"

Stanza I, "A Paean" by Edgar Allan Poe





December 19, 2006

Merry Christmas


It is never early to wish anyone a Merry Christmas.

While this is not a religious blog, please allow me to indulge in saying this day reminds me that the God I believe was born humble, in uncertain circumstances, to later die for unworthy people. I am one of those unworthy.

I am Brockeim, but Jesus is Lord.

Ten Cups Worth of Simple Grinding - Toastmaster Coffee Grinder reviewed

We spend mornings together. Evenings are better spent separately, but mornings are when our friendship is the most piqued and perky. At about 6:00 a.m. I awake all haggard and gravel-voiced, not seeing any clear reasons for daylight. My view and the sun both lift more quickly when this coffee grinder is at work.

I like coffee fresh, and carefully prepare it from carefully storing my beans to using only the heaviest cream and clover honey to sweeten the taste. To have the flavor I prefer most, I grind each pot's beans. Of all the options, the Toastmaster Coffee Grinder is all I need.

When it whirs, it purrs, happy to help me through the day's waking labor. I treat it well, never abusing it with harsh cleansers or hot water.

I have made ten cups of coffee ground from this device. That is probably the limit of the grinding bowl.

I never ask much of this one-speed friend. It turns on when I press the button. It turns off when I release the button. How fine a grind is based on how long it grinds. I only make one kind of coffee, so additional settings are not necessary. It wipes clean with a dry paper towel. Most of you only use a simple brewer, and will be happy with this grinder.



December 18, 2006

50 Uses for a Tin Can

What is Tin?

  • Chemical symbol: Sn
  • Atomic Number: 50
  • Atomic Mass: 118.69
  • Density: 7.28g/cm3
  • Melting point: 232 degrees
  • Medium weight density (more than aluminum and zinc, less that gold, lead, mercury, silver and copper)
  • Forms alloys readily, creating pewter, bronzes, solders, fusible alloys and bearing alloys
  • Non-toxic
  • Resistant to corrosion
  • Attractive appearance

History
The population of Europe and America was growing exponentially. People were moving to cities, and away from farms. Getting food to them became a complex task. It would spoil en route, or needed to be dried and salted. The fresh taste of the farm would be exchanged for mold and disease, or tasteless food. Necessity, as always, is the mother of invention and one British man took it upon himself to find a solution.

Peter Durand invented the tin can in 1810, a year after Abraham Lincoln and Edgar Allen Poe were born. King George III liked it and gave him the patent. Unlike today, this sturdy can required hammering to open it. The tin can key opener was patented by J. Osterhoudt in 1866, just after the Civil War ended. A few years later, in 1870, William Lyman invented the can opener, close to what we now use.

Variations on the can developed over the years to allow for thinner construction, lithographed images, and different sizes. Aluminum and steel cans came down the line, for less expensive production.

Let's consider this humble can. It has served you well since you were young. It does more than what you might think.

Note
Now, we aren't shy to tell you that behind almost every link is a related product you can buy. Maybe it isn't related -- it could be we just thought the product was interesting and used the word in the title. Peaking is free! If you do buy something, we'll have found one more thing a tin can is good for. It'll help support this little page and are sometimes as fun as this list. Either way, we hope you have as much fun as we did, and maybe even learned something. Frankly, before working on this project, we had no idea some of these things existed. We liberally used homonyms, synonyms, intentional spelling errors, and word play to find these gems. A number of them are odd price guides for strange thing. One man's rusty metal thing is another man's antique chocolate mold (see #20).

Can you find the connection in each link?

Telephone
One string, two cans. If you live in the city, and have a friend across the way, you can tell secrets through the night.

Worm Keeper
When you're gone fishin', it is important to have a strong collection of worms. Fish, these days, like their bait natural. It is healthier than fabricated lures.

Watering Can
It misses the handy spout, but for quick houseplant watering, it can't be beat.

Pencil Holder
Point pens downward, in case the ink spills. Point pencils upward so as to not dull the lead.

Bug Keeper
With a cellophane cover with holes. Lightening bugs are fun, as are caterpillars.

Shelf Prop
It helps to also have a book or large brick to give it extra height.

Toothbrush Holder
Cover with wallpaper. Replace when necessary.

Camper's Cookware
Boy Scouts, take notes. Use one not lined with plastic.

Lamp Shade
The light will be strangely dim, as the shade will cover most of the bulb, but, with a decorative touch, it can make for an interesting ambiance. Consider poking holes in the sides for starry affect.

Trucker's Urinal
He'll never admit it, but during a long drive in the pouring rain, when he's in the middle of a great big convoy, what's he going to do?

Home for Disenfranchised Turtle
For the snapper who lost big-time in the tech stock fallout, or went through a messy divorce. He has to pay child support on each of those hundreds of eggs (he got around).

Cookie Cutter
Perfectly round every time. Try is with bologna too.

Height Extenders
Hold a string looped through each, place under shoe. Six year-old boys will feel on top of the world. Gary Coleman might find them helpful if he runs against Arnold in the California Gubernatorial Race.

Candle Holder
Fill with sand. We tried it. It really works. Lacks romance but makes up in economy.

Home for Ambitious Hermit Crab
Look, he was sucked into a bad real estate deal during the 1980s by a squid, but what do expect from a cephalopod?

Paperweight
Stop losing bills and other important papers. Great for office organizing.

Ash Tray
For those of you who haven't the guts to quit.

Golf Ball Receptacle
When the boss isn't looking, convert that pencil cup into something more useful.

Cowboy's Coffee Cup
Yup. When the range calls to you, and you've got to see those cattle into town, you'll want to start the morning right. Make ours black.

Jell-O Mold for that Redneck Home-cooked Look
Say, ma, where's all them fancy berries ya normally let float in the Jell-O?

Decorative Candy Dish
When painted, no one will know the difference.

Fence Post Shooting Gallery Target
Especially useful in the desert, where there are few ducks.

Coffee Can When It Grows Up
Mmm, good to the first drop.

Rolling Pin
You need a bigger one for bread, but if you need to roll a few cookies and don't mind the lines the can makes, try it.

Marriage Celebrators
Tied behind your getaway car after the wedding ceremony, with a big "Just Married" poster

Giant Donut Hole Maker
"Is there anything a donut can't do?" -Homer Simpson, culinary epicurean

Bombshell
No, not like Marilyn Monroe, but we like the way you think. We mean something like a Molotov cocktail.

Collector's Item
Antiquers love the ones from the 1800s.

Sand Castle Maker Tower
Show Donald Trump how to make a real tower.

Musical Instrument -- drum/tom-toms
Popular during "Little Drummer Boy" performances.

Rain Catcher
See how much it rains. Place away from any trees to get an accurate reading.

Megaphone
Be the first on your playground to call out to that cute girl on the swings.

Circle Tracer
This will entertain the young ones for hours.

Sapling/seedling growth area
Plant them in the can in late February, and have a prefab garden ready when the weather warms up.

Mosquito Breeding Pool
Impress your friends with a West Nile arsenal.

Thumbtack and Small Screw/Nail Keeper
Surely your dad used these in his garage too. Coffee cans are also useful for larger odds and ends.

Paint Mixing/Rinsing Can
Watercolor painters will love the price.

Can of Corn Baseball Hit
Means essentially a lazy fly ball, from 1896. It referred to a grocer lightly knocking a can of vegetables from a high shelf that he would catch softly. Had there been no tin can, what would Sammy Sosa or Barry Bonds catch?

Soldiers
That's why "One Tin Soldier" can ride away.

Sundial Base
Does anyone really know what time it is?

Model Rocket Body
We tried this in third grade, but it blew up. Play carefully.

Maxi-Poop Scoop
When plastic baggies aren't strong enough when your heavyweight thoroughbred does his business in the local park, you can use a tin can to scoop it up and toss out. Bring two just in case.

Trash Can for an Extremely Small Person
Friends of Oscar the Grouch may find this a useful gift.

Loose Change Dish
Why is it loose? The pennies were at a bar all night looking for some hot dimes.

Plumb Line
Fill with soil, tie string through, and let hang. Great for use while building tree houses.

Carnival Pyramid Game
Give that man a Kupie Doll!

Window Prop
Useful on hot days when you want the window open just a smidgen.

Car Traction in Ice
Useful when stuck. Crush the long way and place under the tire at both ends. If the can breaks to reveal sharp edge and may flatten your tire. Use only when desperate.

Bombshelter for Beetles
This is why they've remained alive for so long.

Sword Hilt
For use with a wooden, blunt-tipped sword with tennis ball on tip. It can protect young hands.

December 17, 2006

Here's Looking at You, Kid

Here's Looking at You, Kid
Casablanca, anyone? No one needs to tell you what this movie means to American cinema. Big screens used to have big movies, and Casablanca was among the biggest. It missed the cast of thousands as seen in "The Ten Commandments," but it has that essence of greatness just the same. Why? See the movie, know the reasons.

Sweeter Than Any After Dinner Mint - Poems in Praise of Practically Nothing

Poems in Praise of Practically Nothing (Classics of Modern American Humor)
by Samuel Hoffenstein

No one should ever think of "Poems in Praise of Practically Nothing" as a romantic book. But to this truth I say it is as romantic a book as you'll find on any shelf dwelt by Byron or Neruda.

When the evening candles are lit, and the music entangles her perfume and traces her smile, and you pause to wander through the volumes set upon the wall, you would not be wise to pick up even the slimmest selection of T. S. Eliot's poetry. Your wisdom would be questioned if you glanced even for a moment at Shelley or Keats, no matter how much their words may smolder. Your brilliance will lay in picking something better than the ordinary. With discretion, you could find "Poems in Praise of Practically Nothing" as nothing ordinary. She will think you chose it spontaneously. Instead, you planned to share it with her long before the wine was purchased.

She, your lovely date, will have never heard one line you will read to her from Samuel Hoffenstein's collection. She will have heard "She Walks in Beauty" a sickening number of cliched times, but you can presume she has never heard the poem called "I":

Nothing from a straight line swerves
So sharply as a woman's curves,
And, having swerved, no might or main
Can ever put her straight again.

Always tasteful, but with a slight wink and nudge, Hoffenstein will help take off the edge of a new relationship.

The poems taste like Ogden Nash, but are seeped in the spice of Edward Lear. Where they lack in depth, they burst in flavored multiple entendre fun. With your beautiful friend sitting beside you, you'll read together and laugh. Rather than musing with intellectual stares and murmurs, you both will enjoy the evening. The value of a traded smile is worth more than any discussion of melancholy and Keats.

This book is humor, through the vehicle of light verse. In its day, it was quickly known as a classic, and favored by Dorothy Parker and H. L. Mencken. 100,000 copies were sold as of 1941. This book is a sure thing, and should be strategically placed on a shelf prior to any date.