History of Bathing

History of Bathing

Prehistoric humans noticed that swimming in a certain part of the river caused the dirt to come off very effectively. This was because animals were butchered in the river and the animal fat caused a soapy discharge and was the basis for early soaps.

The history of bathing is interesting because the popularity of being clean has changed often throughout history. Ancient Egyptians were obsessed with cleanliness to the point of plucking all bodily hair (Cleopatra was bald as balloon). The ancient Greeks and Romans saw bathing as not only pleasant but also an important part of an active social life. Europeans in the colonial era, however, were disgustingly filthy and most believed that bathing lead to sickness and immorality. People often carried flowers or perfumed handkerchiefs to block the smell of the stinking unwashed masses.

The oldest evidence of bathtubs, toilets, and plumbing comes from the Indus River Valley civilization of about 6000 years ago. Their cities were meticulously planned in a grid pattern, complete with a sophisticated drainage system. Houses had their own wells and bathrooms, with clay pipes taking waste water to the drainage running along the main streets.

For citizens of ancient Rome, communal bathing was a daily activity and was considered to be the center of a wealthy roman’s social life. The baths were also very egalitarian as the fees were well within the budget for a free Roman. The first step was the apodyterium where the bather stores their toga and garlands. Next up was the frigidarium, a cold water tank, followed by the tepidarium which was a warm room. The last and best room was the caldarium which had hot baths and lots of interesting people with which to mingle.

During the middle ages, Kings and aristocrats had bathing facilities usually consisting of a wooden tub filled with heated water. Common people in the countryside washed in rivers and lakes while their urban counterparts generally had to make do with washing their hands in whatever fetid, brackish water was available. From time to time, bathhouses became popular but were often abandoned due to puritanical religious zealots and/or plagues.

The first of what we would consider to be modern porcelain bathtubs was invented in 1883 by John Kohler and was prominently advertised as a “Horse Trough/Hog Scalder” for sating horse’s thirsts or boiling dead pigs. As indoor plumbing became more prevalent, bathtubs became more ornate with faucets and heated water.



The first mechanical shower was patented in 1767 and was operated by a hand pump. The dramatic rise in shower use coincided and was affected by the concept that keeping clean is good for a person’s health. In the United States most people take one or more showers a day, which ironically can be bad for your health, washing away beneficial oils and bacteria.

History of Wood Doors

The oldest wood door in the world was discovering in Switzerland while digging underneath an Opera house. Built around the same time as Stonehenge, the 5000 year old door has “a clever design that even looks good.”(http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-11593005)



The world’s largest wood door is in the United Arab Emirates and is dedicated to the country’s president Sheikh Khalifa. The door is made of teak and stands more than eighty feet tall. (http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/inspiration-behind-the-forthcoming-worlds-biggest-gate-in-uae)



Cavemen got tired of predators wandering into their caves and causing trouble so they decided to create a barrier that would be easy for humans to get through but hard for animals without opposable digits. While stone and metal were often used in monumental doors such as in Temples and government buildings, wood was the common man’s material. The exception was King Solomon’s temple, whose door was made of olive wood. Asian doors from antiquity often included rice paper framed by bamboo.

Moving up to the High Middle Ages, the designs become unique to a historical period and region. For example English doors from the Tudor period (1485-1625) are very different from English doors during the Baroque period (1625-1715). Discussing the obvious inferiority of wood doors during the British Victorian period (1837-1901) to those of the American Victorian period (1840-1910) seems like a good way to get into a fist fight with a woodcarver. These detailed changes are meticulously cataloged by the woodcarver’s guild of London (est. 1208 AD).

We can touch upon a few of these design periods as some of the styles are still popular today.

Colonial Doors 1607-1780

As the name implies, these doors are of a style adopted by the European colonies. They were generally constructed with wood slates and little decoration. As the colonies became more cosmopolitan, the main entry doors were often carved in patterns akin to their European counterparts.

Beaux arts/Art Deco

Any respectable art history student would be very upset with the above pairing but the two styles are very complicated and inspired by the respected art movements of the times.


The greatest advancement in wood door technology is the ability to make doors that don’t warp with heat and humidity. Making doors out of wood composite with a nice solid wood veneer mitigates the negative atmospheric effects.

The History of window screens



My parents went camping in Alaska during the summer one year. Waking up in the middle of the night, they observed that the screen on the tent had developed fur. The “fur” turned out to be thousands of mosquitoes sticking their stingers through the screen mesh.

The first attempts to increase air circulation while keeping bugs out was the utilization of cheesecloth. Cheesecloth is a thin cotton cloth used primarily in the cheese making process (what a surprise!). The problem with this material as a window screen is it damages very easily.

In the 1830s, most Americans used sieves to make meal for cooking. A Connecticut company, Gilbert and Bennett, had been making horsehair sieves for many years before they decided to experiment with materials that might sieve better than horsehair. They found success using a weaving loom and fine metal wire. This new wire mesh was used to make cheese and meat safes, ox muzzles, and other quaint inventions well suited to a time before electricity and refrigeration.

When the Civil War started in 1861, the Gilbert and Bennett Company lost all of its customers in the south and ended up with a large screen surplus. An inventive employee (name lost to history) applied a protective paint to the mesh and sold it as insect screening. This invention quickly became popular and coincided with the rise of freight trains and the telegraph, creating economies of scale and new distribution options. Soon families could sleep inside screened in porches during hot weather. For better or worse, the confederate states were initially locked out of the window screen market.

Up until the turn of the last century, most people still believed in the Miasma theory of disease, which says that most diseases are caused by bad air. This led many people to keep windows and doors shut for fear of invading Miasmas. In 1900 Dr. Walter Reed successfully proved that Malaria was caused by mosquitoes carrying the disease, rather than bad air or contact with infected persons. This changed things dramatically from a public health standpoint, leading to the near eradication of parasitic disease in the United States by the 1950s.

The Panama Canal was originally a French undertaking but during the 13 years they were in Panama, most of their workers died of Malaria or Yellow Fever and the rest fled in terror. The United States took over and quickly ran into the same problems with disease. Luckily Colonel William Gorgas was appointed as the chief sanitation officer and he was aware that mosquitoes were the problem, not Miasmas. Congress disagreed but fortunately President Roosevelt was intelligent and gave Gorgas the necessary funding. In addition to poison and pesticide, all buildings and beds were outfitted with screens.

There are many types of screening and screen materials available today but most are not terribly concerned with the prevention of disease. The two most common materials are fiberglass and aluminum. Aluminum is tougher than fiberglass but oxidizes and becomes brittle over time. Fiberglass is still quite strong though, kick a screen in the middle and the frame will bend while the fiberglass stays intact. Black screen is better than grey in the sun because black absorbs while grey reflects. Sunscreen is (you guessed it!) meant to reduce glare from the sun. Pet screen is thick vinyl that allows cats to climb up window screens for a better look at nearby birds and squirrels. Brass or copper screens are mainly for aesthetic purposes but they also don’t oxidize and will therefore last a very long time.

Renewable Energy Types

It is indisputable fact that world economy has entered upon a new phase – an implementation of renewable energy resources in both industry and society. Such wide distribution is preconditioned by two main factors –a need of non-fossil resources and a variety of natural premises. In this context, production and usage of alternative energy sources become more and more reasonable. Moreover, some countries have found a true solution of their energy problems, most of which are related with export of fuels and dependence on prices of other states. Renewable energy is likely to change the face of global production in future regardless the attempts of large TNCs to broad their spatial structure of mining oil and natural gas.

The idea of renewable energy usage essentially leads to a discussion of the most promising natural preconditions and world leaders in related production.

First of all, much was done to implement solar energy, provided by established solar panels, solar collectors and solar power plants. Of course, generation of this type of energy is a prerogative of those states, which possess the highest temperatures and lasting sun period within a year. However, most of the biggest producers are represented by highly developed countries, which own both big investments and large power stations. So, they include the United States, Germany, Spain, Ukraine, France, China, Australia, Belgium, etc.

Wind energy industry is based on wind farms, wind turbines and wind power stations. To date, it is an achievement of both developed and poor countries. For instance, small windmills are established in Mongolia, where the lands can offer required wind speed. Among other developing countries, which are eager to succeed in wind energy production, are India, Turkey, Brazil, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Russia. Certainly, this list is much supplemented by global economic leaders.

Tidal and wave power are received after the conversion of energy of tides into electricity. In accordance, tidal energy has the potential energy and kinetic energy of water waves. The calculations conclude, all the energy of tides of the oceans is estimated at 1 billion kW. Therefore, countries having an access to seacoast and big waves are potential producers of tidal power. Already existing “generators” feature France, England, Ireland, the US, Russia, Japan, Canada, Portugal, Spain, etc.

Rivers are also of high benefit in energy production. In particular, hydro energy includes all the possibilities of conversion water current into electricity. The absolute record-holder is Iceland, which uses only 6% of its potential. Iceland is followed by Norway, Canada and Sweden, which possess powerful mountain river flows. To date, there are states, which crucially develop their hydro energy opportunities and construct new stations. Among them it is appropriate to name China (much due to capacity of Yangtze River) and Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo River). It is impossible not to mention Brazil and Paraguay, engaged in development and enlargement of Itapúa Station.

Geothermal energy is naturally reasonable in zones of volcanic activity, where underground warm waters are reached with the help of well-boring. Iceland is the world leader in this case too: five geothermal stations provide 25% of energy safety in the country. The other geothermal power generators are established in the USA (mainly San Francisco region), Philippines, Italy, Mexico, Israel, etc.

Guest post is by Maria Kruk, an author for Patentsbase.com

The Story of Graffiti

It is not a rare occasion, when going along the street you clash with some puzzled and giant inscription. Vivid colors and intricacy lead you to stare, guessing and having a hunch what is written on the wall or building. That is the first impression people get about graffiti, embellishing their buildings. Indeed, graffiti style has emerged not long ago, but simultaneous simplicity and involute plot leave us nothing but astonishment and excitement. It is an issue of street-art culture, which signifies that modern art is not a prerogative of rich and intelligent people, but talented ones.

Graffiti is recognized as street art style that embraced outdoors of New York in 1920s. However, there are some ideas that it was only an outburst of this art, which has accomplished a long history of its development since ancient times.  As strange as it may seem, petroglyphic drawings in Egypt and Greece are likely to be the first steps towards graffiti, which were executed on statues, temples and even pyramids. They carried either religious or warning meaning. Medieval graffiti is associated with pre-Columbian America and the culture of Maya people and, in addition, Vikings in Northern Europe, who were engaged in runic writings. In Early Modern Period graffiti was left by soldiers in various parts of the world, who were eager to leave some written mark about their conquest or stay in the mission station.

All in all, at the beginning of the 20th century people faced graffiti style, which slightly differs from the modern version. Moreover, the culture of this street art style was enriched with new methods, terms, authors and, of course, ideas. A critic is also included, which features the question: are graffiti images an art or an act of vandalism? There is no doubt that most of the authors (so-called writers) strived for expressing own social and political perception, but it did not obstructed to make images (tags) alerting and well-performed. Mainly, they were observed on the streets of American cities, where young people “imprinted” their dissatisfaction with the President or certain politicians.

Many tags were created in order to point out musical preferences. For example, the most prominent tag of the 20th century is “Clapton is God”, which appeared in Islington station (London subway) in 1967. In this way fans of rock-musician supported the release of his new album “Bluesbreakers” and the rock-n-roll culture.  The decades of 1970s and 1980s are a period of protesting punk rock movement. Especially, it covered streets of Manhattan, where the most visible tag was an upside-down martini glass – a symbol of Missing Foundation (punk group of 1984-1992). By the way, Manhattan is also a native place of the first recognized graffiti writer – TAKI 183; his tags were all over NYC, pointing his name (Taki is simplified from Demetrius) and address (183rd street).

To date, lots of countries have admirable and talented writers, which decorate both their native streets and make great tags in different parts of the world. Some cases might be underlined. Miss Van started with painting incredible dolls on Toulouse streets and nowadays moved to Spain, sharing her art with fashion industry (Fornarina collection, particularly). Banksy is the most well-paid and the most mysterious painter of modernity. He hides real identity behind the pseudonym of Bansky and paintings criticizing politics. He alerts an attention with his nihilism and anti-capitalism views, which only encourage people to attend his gallery exhibitions all over the world.

Hudson Plane crash driven through New Jersey

These are some great pics of the plane being transported through small town New Jersey, I’m sure some people were very surprised that morning.





“The Fog of War” five lessons from Robert Macnamra

Five Lessons

note: These comments are for WWII inclusive




“Belief and seeing are both often wrong.”

            Agree. They are always wrong; the real difference comes from perspective.


“Proportionality should be a guideline in war”

            Disagree. In order to win, it may be necessary to destroy the enemy’s moral and this may not be possible to do with a proportional guideline.


“Rationality will not save us”

            Agree. The smartest most intelligent calmest person will be completely irrational under the right circumstances.


“Emphasize with your enemy”

            On the Fence.  On a policy level, empathy should play a part. Once a war is in progress, however, empathy may cause hesitation to inflict the necessary damages.


“Maximize efficiency”

            Disagree. Historically efficiency causes many side effects and by-products. In war we may call these collateral damage or unnecessary civilian deaths.

Wings of a New Century Chicago 1933

A Century Of Progress:

Please Click for Full Size images




Table of Contents

Table of Contents





1933 Chicago International Exposition World’s Fair

A Century Of Progress. My Grandfather went as a boy and brought back some souvenirs. Please Click to enlarge all pictures


The Adler Planetarium and Pallazzo Pool

“Dead Man” Review


Dead Man


I chose this film because I am a big fan of westerns and this is one of my favorites because it is a unique and compelling interpretation of the genre. This is to say that while the film has many of the elements of a classic western, I see it as an anti western because at this point industry has moved in and for all intensive purposes the west has been won. I think it effectively portrays the end of the frontier way of life. I also particularly like the style and acting throughout, particularly with respect to the portrayal of Native Americans.

 Dead Man is not a western in the traditional sense and many would no doubt argue that it should not be classified in the western genre.  There are elements in the plot and narrative that make this a western film, but the main characters are in most ways the opposite of the western hero or antihero.  One way to examine the heroes of the early western films and the antiheros of the later films is to look at this film which turns these traditional characters on their respective heads.  We can define and understand the classic western genre better by looking at a purposefully made reversal.  The point of view of Johnny Depp’s character William Blake is also a polar perspective from the traditional western.  The director tries to establish an anti- western set in a western setting.  This is confusing until we realize that the reversal is meant to show a hero who is simply not possessed of the same chivalric qualities of the classic western heroes.

The film is written and directed by Jim Jarmusch who is known for his experimental style. He describes this film as a “Psychedelic western” and the surreal quality of the film supports this description well.

There are several elements that make the film work stylistically, the most prominent being the soundtrack. The film is scored by Neil Young and consists of an electric guitar played throughout. The sound serves as transitions as well as emphasis at key points. The other element that enforces the overall surreal quality is the use of high contrast black and white film. The frame is often off balance and the shot composition seems cluttered yet fascinating at times. This provides us with a very compelling visual narrative.

The theme of the film is that Blake is killed near the beginning of the film and is being led into the afterlife. We see imagery of death throughout the film, particularly during Blake’s peyote vision quest where he embraces a dead fawn and paints his face with blood. The most disturbing image of this kind is of a marshal Blake kills and lying on the ground, resembles a Christian saint. The disturbing part comes when the bounty hunter Cole crushes the dead marshal’s skull like an orange. This adds shock and defines the sadistic nature of the pursuer.

            The film begins on a train going from east to west and each time Blake falls asleep the landscape changes and his neighbors evolve from well-dressed ladies and gentlemen to fur clad trappers shooting buffalo out the windows for fun. The landscape and attire of most of the characters in the film are initially the same as they would be in any classic western. For example, in the first scene, looking out the train window we see the familiar massive desert rocks that are the backdrop to so many previous westerns.  This pretext is quickly dropped as Blake enters the town of Machine where the traditional small western town is covered in soot and beaten, suspicious characters.  The town does have a western feel to it and could be the result of the kind of industrialization that the heroes in The Wild Bunch are fighting against.

 Quickly, however, and for the rest of the film, Blake is moving through large forests that have no resemblance to the standard western frontier. The trees progress from thin white birch to giant redwoods as Blake nears the end of his journey.  Though the forests have the same qualities inherent in the classic frontier scene, such as isolation and primitiveness, the open impressive landscapes that are a staple of the western genre are gone.

            The central characteristics of the western hero are determination and toughness.  They know exactly what to do in every situation even if it is incorrect, and are immovable once set in motion.  The hero in westerns is a representative of good and comes to the aid of civilization while at heart still in his element in the wild untamed lands.  These characteristics and theme are very much lacking in the film as Blake is certainly not tough and blindly moves in the direction fates takes him.

  He starts out as an educated easterner, complete with plaid suit and top hat, moving out west because his parents died and his girlfriend left him.  He is lost even before he enters the wilderness and looks like an overweight ten year old would bully him around.  His trade is accounting, probably the most civilized and out of place occupation in the west at that time.  Blake is also extremely passive throughout the entire film, a characteristic that would never be seen in a western character.  This is seen in an almost comic light because at first he kills people with a surprised, confused look on his face. Blake’s initial embodiment of civilization makes for great irony later on because the bounty hunters tracking him are being paid by the steel mill and yet are the embodiment of the frontier.

 Although he eventually becomes quite good at killing people, he can not provide food or navigation for himself and must rely to a large extent on his Indian admirer: “Nobody”.  Nobody was kidnapped and taken to England where he studied poetry. As a result he was given the name “he who talks loud, says nothing” but prefers to be called Nobody. Blake does not in fact have a destination and is lead around by Nobody the entire film.  Blake is shot in the chest after being denied a job and meeting a woman who is spoken for. We first meet Nobody as Blake wakes up to find the obese Native American digging in his chest to get the bullet out. Nobody regards Blake as a dead man from this point on and moves to abandon the “stupid fucking white man” until he comes to the conclusion that William Blake is the spirit of the great poet William Blake. An ardent admirer of the poet, Nobody resolves to take the spirit to the place where “the sea meets the sky” so his spirit can return to the afterlife. Nobody also greatly admires Blake’s natural prowess with regard to killing white men.

As Blake progresses further into the wilderness, civilization is gradually stripped from him and it is his motives that remain distinct from the western hero.  In short, he has no motives or desires past food and survival, and the latter is debatable.  In fact the only expression of need is a complaint of hunger when Nobody eats all the peyote and leaves Blake hungry.  Even his reasons for killing people seem ambiguous at times.  He completely turns his back on civilization by killing marshals and anyone trying to collect the reward on his head. He also embraces nature to an extent that it seems as though all memory of the civilized east is lost.

            The roles of the Native Americans are very distinct from their traditional roles in that they are more than one dimensional characters.  The Indian in genre westerns is generally hostile though is also infrequently regarded as a child of nature.  In the film, Nobody is given depth of character and Blake himself picks up some customs from his admirer.  Nobody dresses Blake’s wounds and takes him to a village which is adorned with totem poles and other cultural items.  This village contrasts with the town of Machine as it is clean and well kept, not a soot covered mud pit. The Native American culture is given a central role in this film whereas in genre westerns are never given more than a cursory glance.

            The greatest similarity between Dead Man and the classic western is with respect to the villains.  They are representatives of the large smelly smokestacks we see when Blake first comes into town.  Mr. Dickinson, the owner of the steel mill, hires the “finest killers of men and injuns” to go after Blake for killing his son, but seems much more concerned with recovering his horse than avenging his son’s death.  The hunters; a boy, a loudmouth, and a cannibal set off and are soon shown to be much more evil than expected (except for the loudmouth, who is just stupid).  The director makes a point of showing gruesome acts by the hunters and other people on the trail, particularly the Cole the cannibal, to create the image of what a frontiersman is like in this version of the west. This can also be seen as a contrast to one of the classic depictions of Native Americans as savage cannibals.

            The film ends with the death of all the main characters which seems proper as we can’t imagine an epilogue. Blake is going on to the spirit world and Nobody and the remaining bounty hunter kill each other simultaneously.

            The director commented that westerns were a “Fantasy world that America has used to process its own history” and tries here to convey a sense of fairness if not realism. Looking at the film as an accurate version of a western is not correct because although we have to suspend reality, Dead Man does not magically capture what the west at that time was like.  Jarmusch instead creates almost the polar opposite of the genre western to show a radically different point of view. That view is certainly more modern and gruesome but not more or less accurate than the western films that preceded it.