Friday, December 30, 2011

Another Teaser

I'm on vacation, so I have time to do some Daily Apples for you. Since a lot of people enjoyed the last teaser, I thought I'd give you another one.

What do you think this is?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I'm headed out of town for Christmas. I'll see you when I get back in a few days -- and boy, do I have the Apples planned for you.

Until then, have a very Merry Christmas!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Apple #563: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas

Christmas is only seven days away. On this blog, that's practically tomorrow. So an entry on "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" seems appropriate.

Here it is read by Perry Como, with illustrations by Florence Sarah Winship from a children's book published by Whiteman Publishing in 1958.



  • Our conception of Santa Claus as driving a sleigh pulled by reindeer originated with this poem.
  • Santa's appearance as a fat, pipe-smoking elf was solidified in our imagination with this poem, too, but that depiction first appeared in Washington Irving's Knickerbocker's History of New York. That's significant, for reasons you'll see later on.
  • This poem, now attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, was originally published in the Troy Sentinel 1823 with the title "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Anonymous. It was very common at that time for poems to be published without an author's name, but recently, this poem's authorship became a bone of contention.


Clement Clarke Moore: theologian, scholar, poet.
(Image of an 1840 engraving from the Poetry Foundation)


    • Clement Moore was a religious and classical scholar. He translated the poems of Juvenal, constructed a Hebrew dictionary--the first of its kind in the very early United States--wrote political treatises, wrote letters to his local newspaper's editor, published lots of scholarly papers about classical Greek literature, and was generally a learned and highly respected man.
    • He also published a book of poems. This book was not published until 1844, when he was 65, and he did so grudgingly, at his children's request. One of the poems in the book is "A Visit from St. Nicholas."
    • Since that book's publication, Moore has been widely considered to be that poem's original author.
    • However, in the meantime, the family and descendants of a certain Henry Livingston, Jr. have maintained that Moore was not the original author, Livingston was.


    Major Henry Livingston, Jr., reputed author of "A Visit"(Image from Mary Van Deusen's genealogical site on the Livingstons)

      • Major Livingston fought in the Revolutionary War, after which he became a farmer and surveyor and justice of the peace in Poughkeepsie. He was also a lover of classical literature and he wrote several poems, publishing them often anonymously except for the pseudonym initial "R." His poems were witty, humorous, and often written for children.
      • Livingston's family didn't know that Moore had taken credit for "A Visit" until they saw Moore's book of poems in 1860. By this time, Henry Livingston had died, so Livingston wasn't available to say whether that was his poem or not. But the family maintained among themselves that Moore took false credit for the poem.
      • Seven generations later, one of Livingston's descendants, Mary Van Deusen came along. She had grown up hearing that Livingston was the poem's true author, and she found out about a guy named Don Foster who claimed to be a literary sleuth. Remember that book Primary Colors, written by Anonymous, which was a barely-fictional account of Bill Clinton's campaign for the 1992 Presidency? Well, Foster is the one who figured out the book's true author (Joe Klein). She thought, hey, maybe this Foster guy can establish for certain whether Livingston is the true author of "A Visit."

      Donald Foster, "literary sleuth" and English professor at Vassar(Photo from Vassar College)

      • By this time, Foster was pretty famous. People were contacting him left and right asking for help with this sort of thing. Because in addition to the Primary Colors thing, he also found a little-known poem called "Funeral Elegy" and demonstrated that Shakespeare was its true author. That got all sorts of people all excited -- a new poem by Shakespeare?! Wonderful! -- so Foster was very much in demand. In fact, he complains about how much in demand he was in his book. But he decided to take up Mary Van Deusen's case.
      • He wound up writing a book called Author Unknown in which he details his method of proving authorship of all sorts of disputed works. Basically, he looks at patterns of word choice, rhythm, grammatical patterns and so on. He says these kinds of language choices are as distinctive as a fingerprint and once you know a person's language style, you can identify their work whether there's a name on it or not.
      • One chapter in his book is about "A Visit." In this chapter he says with absolute certainty that Clement Moore is not the author of "A Visit," and that Major Henry Livingston is.
      • How convenient, Foster said, that Clement Moore waited until after Livingston died to step forward and say that he had written this poem. This wouldn't be the first time Moore had plagiarized, Foster said. Moore once upon a time donated a manual about sheep farming to a nearby library. He wrote on the inside cover that he had translated it from the French. But in very small print inside is a note that someone else was the manual's sole translator.
      • In fact, Foster said, Moore was a cranky old classics scholar who hated children. Never mind that he had nine children of his own, he wrote all sorts of poems that were all about scolding naughty children. And besides, the other poems he wrote had completely different meters and styles than "A Visit."
      • "A Visit" is written in anapestic tetrameter. That means each line has four (tetra) big beats per line, and each one of those four stressed syllables is preceded by two unstressed syllables (anapest): da-da-DUM, da-da-DUM, da-da-DUM. the CHILdren were NESTled all SNUG in their BEDS.
      • Foster said that the only other poem Moore wrote using an anapest meter was "The Pig and the Rooster," and that was a finger-wagging poem about how bad it is to be lazy and arrogant. Nothing like the fun-loving St. Nick in there.
      • By contrast, Livingston's poems are bawdy, full of fairies and elves and talking animals and various imaginative and fantastic creatures. He uses the word "all" a lot in his other poems too, just as "A Visit" says "all snug in their beds." He also uses the phrase "Happy Christmas" in other poems where pretty much everyone else says "Merry Christmas."
      • In short, Foster said, Moore was far too cranky and mean ever to have written "A Visit," while Livingston had practically written it several times over in other poems of his.
      • Well. It turns out that Foster was pretty much full of it.
      • That Shakespeare poem he apparently discovered? Turns out Shakespeare didn't write it after all. Other scholars elsewhere have definitively proven that some other guy, John Ford, wrote it. Foster had also gotten involved in trying to identify the author of the note left behind in the JonBenet Ramsey case and accused someone who had already been cleared by the police, someone who could not possibly have committed the crime.
      • Foster's claims about "A Visit," too, turn out not to hold much water.
      • A dealer in antique documents who is used to proving provenance and authorship, Seth Kaller, was the first one to say that Foster's theories are hogwash. He said Foster "cherry-picked" which poems and documents to consider. Anything that didn't agree with his theories, he ignored.


      Seth Kaller, dealer in antique documents, rare stamps, and coins, and champion of Clement Clarke Moore.
      (Photo from Seth Kaller Inc)


      • Moore was a stodgy child-hater? Not so, Kaller says. Look at this poem he wrote for his granddaughter: "The house is all too dull and quiet;/ I long to hear you romp and riot/ When e’er you’re full of harmless fun,/I dearly love to see you run."
      • Moore was a bah-humbug Christmas hater? Not so, says Kaller. The Museum of the City of New York has a copy of a letter Moore wrote, in poem form, to Santa Claus the year before "A Visit" was published.
      • In fact, Moore was friends with Washington Irving (remember that bit about the Knickerbocker Christmas? I told you that would be important). Both Moore and Irving were members of the Knickerbocker Group. Irving was perhaps the original Knickerbocker, which meant he was a Dutch New Yorker, and he wrote and published all sorts of humorous, satirical stories about early Dutch New York.
      • Besides publishing stories, one of the things the Knickerbockers did was to make St. Nicholas the patron saint of the New York Historical Society.


      Thomas Nast's engravings of Santa Claus, like this one, were influenced by 'Twas the Night before Christmas, which he asked his wife to read aloud to him.(Image from Musings of a Sea Witch)

      • Oh, and that manual that Moore donated to the library and supposedly claimed to have translated himself? The so-called incriminating note at the beginning was in someone else's handwriting, not Moore's, and it awkwardly meant to indicate the fact that the book was donated by Moore, not translated by him.
      • Other historians besides Kaller picked up the case as well, demonstrating with still other letters and documents and historical timelines that, first of all, the anecdotal stories that filtered down through the generations about Henry Livingston were factually incorrect on several points (various people had died before thus & so was said to have happened, for example).
      • Second of all, the literary analysis they conducted showed that Moore's writing was influenced by Irving's, that a playfulness and joy pervaded other poems of his, that he used the phrase "Happy Christmas" in a poem that Foster conveniently ignored, etc., etc., and so in sum, Clement Moore should be officially reinstated as the author of "A Visit," now known as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."
      • OK. So why did I bring all that up? If Clement Moore was and still is considered the poem's true author, isn't all of the above just a tempest in a teapot? Well, as one person put it elsewhere, "the Internet never forgets." There are sites out there that still say that Henry Livingston may be the poem's author.
      • Maybe, Poetry Foundation, it's time to correct that?

      Here is the poem in its entirety:

      Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
      Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
      The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
      In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

      The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
      While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
      And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
      Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

      When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
      I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
      Away to the window I flew like a flash,
      Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

      The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
      Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below.
      When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
      But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

      With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
      I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
      More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
      And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

      "Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
      On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
      To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
      Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

      As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
      When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
      So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
      With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

      And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
      The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
      As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
      Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

      He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
      And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
      A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
      And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

      His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
      His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
      His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
      And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

      The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
      And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
      He had a broad face and a little round belly,
      That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

      He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
      And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
      A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
      Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

      He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
      And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
      And laying his finger aside of his nose,
      And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

      He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
      And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
      But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
      "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"


      Santa from 1901
      (Image from Nancy Marshall's The Night Before Christmas site)



      Related entries: Santa Facts

      Sources
      Nancy H. Marshall, The Night Before Christmas site, biography of Clement Moore

      Twas the night before Christmas Poem
      David D. Kirkpatrick, Whose Jolly Old Elf Is That, Anyway? Literary Sleuth Casts Doubt on the Authorship of an Iconic Christmas Poem, The New York Times, October 26, 2000
      Mary S. Van Deusen, The Livingston Branch
      Reader comments on Author Unknown: Tales of a Literary Detective
      brothersjudd.com Review of Donald Foster's Author Unknown

      Steve King, Today in Literature, December 23, 1823: Santa Anapests

      Ted Mann, Ho, Ho, Hoax: Did Clement Moore rip off "The Night Before Christmas? Scarsdale Magazine, November 30, 2006
      Michael Hill, 'Twas a Christmas poem whodunit, AP News, December 8, 2007

      Seth Kaller, The Authorship of The Night before Christmas
      Collaborative essay "All About 'A Visit from St. Nicholas'" by students of Paul Schacht's 2005 SUNY Geneseo class
      Jennifer Ciotta, Who Wrote 'Twas the Night Before Christmas? A Literary Debate

      Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas and comments thereon
      Poetry Foundation, Clement Clarke Moore, Henry Livingston, Jr.

      Monday, December 12, 2011

      Apple #562: Christmas Lights

      A Daily Apple reader, Zim, stopped by and looked for an entry on Christmas lights. Not finding any, he (or she?) suggested I make one. Your wish, Zim, is my Daily Apple.



      Zim, I'm assuming you mean strings of lights like these.
      (Photo by Camelot Living)

      • It all boils down to the fact that Christmas comes at the darkest time of the year, literally in the weeks when we have the least daylight. For centuries people have been lighting lights and candles and luminaries and Yule logs and fires, all sorts of methods of illumination to try to combat the darkness of winter.
      • So the first Christmas lights weren't light bulbs but candles.
      • But the direct ancestor, the parents let's say, of the Christmas lights were the candles on the Christmas tree.
      • That's right, people used to put open flames on the branches of very sappy and flammable pine trees. It was very dangerous, and there are some reports that families used to light the candles on the tree only once and only briefly on Christmas Eve, and they all stood waiting with buckets of water at the ready in case the whole thing went up in flames. Which did happen sometimes.


      Christmas tree decorated with candles, date unknown. I wonder if everyone is so close to the tree because they want to be ready at a moment's notice in case the whole thing goes up in flames.
      (Image from the Christmas Archives)



      • A lot of sources say that the Germans were the first people to have the lit and decorated Christmas tree, or that Americans borrowed the tradition from German immigrants who lit and decorated their trees.
      • But actually, a German fraternity (back in the day, fraternities were more brotherhoods of adult men rather than collections of hard-drinking college guys) called Black's Fraternity researched the origins of their Christmas tree traditions, and they maintained that the first decorated tree was in Riga, Latvia, in 1510.
        • Here's another little aside for you: legend has it that even before the lit-up tree in Riga in 1510, a 7th century monk who was from England but who was doing his monk thing in Germany decided to use the triangular shape of the fir tree as a way of demonstrating the Holy Trinity. This caught on, but over time, the use of the symbol changed somewhat. In the 12th century, Germans were hanging fir trees from their ceilings upside down, as a representation of the Trinity.
      • OK, back to the lights. So people were putting candles on their trees. Not so safe. Especially since they affixed the candles to the branches by melting a pool of wax on the branch and sticking the stub end of the candle into the wax.
      • They tried various alternatives. One guy invented a clip-on candle holder so that you didn't have to mess around with the wax. Some people used oil lamps because they could be attached to the branches and they didn't have the open flame problems that candles did. But the oil lamps were heavy and fell in among the branches, or smoked, and in the end weren't that much safer.


        Clip-on candle holders looked something like this. These are currently available--apparently they're coming back into fashion again. Note that these candles are outside and they are not lit. Probably the safest choice.
        (Photo from Mother Goose Online)

        • The real innovation happened thanks to Thomas Edison.
        • Edison invented the incandescent light bulb in 1879. To put his invention on display for people and to prove how wonderfully his bulbs worked, he put on a magnificent light display around Menlo Park. Some sources say this happened "during the Christmas season" in 1879, and other sources say he did this on New Year's Eve 1879-1880. So I'm not sure we can officially call this the first display of Christmas lights per se.
        • But the first Christmas tree decorated with electric lights happened not long after that. The Library of Congress says that it was Edison's friend, Edward Johnson, who first put incandescent light bulbs on a string and wound the string around a Christmas tree. The lights were red, white, and blue, and there were 80 of them. This was in 1882. Oh, and the Christmas tree also revolved. The miracles of modern electricity.
        • Although people were delighted by the display, electricity and electric lights remained far too expensive for most people to afford them. In 1900, a sixteen-foot strand of lights cost $12. Posh! you say. That's how much they cost now! Ah, but in 1900, $12 was roughly equivalent to today's $300.


        This is the first known ad for Christmas tree lights. It appeared in Scientific American in 1900.
        (Image from Gizmodo)



        • According to some estimates, before 1903, today's average Christmas tree would have cost today's equivalent of $2,000.
        • Various innovations were made to the electric Christmas lights. They were made so they didn't get as hot, they were strung on parallel wires so that if one bulb went out, the whole thing didn't go out. Slowly, the cost for electric lights began to go down and indoor electrically lit Christmas trees began to get more popular.
        • It's not clear when exactly the first outdoor electrically lit Christmas trees began to appear. But the first really public and famous one was lit by President Coolidge in 1923. Previous Presidents had had indoor electrically-lit trees, but this was the first Presidential outdoor one. It was a 48-foot tree with 2500 lights.
        • Two years later, in 1925, the first strings of outdoor lights were available for sale to the public. They were still expensive, got too hot, and weren't all that easy to use, but their popularity began to spread.


        These two girls are standing next to their outdoor Christmas tree, some time in the 1920s. I can't tell if it's got lights on it or not. Those might be lights in that left photo. Anyway, that tree is pretty short and scraggly compared to our standards today. 
        (Photo was on sale at eBay. Probably by the time you read this, it won't be any longer.)


        • It took various New Deal programs in the 1930s that brought electricity to more people, especially in rural areas, for the electric Christmas lights to begin to gain a foothold among the majority of the population.

           
          Here's one house decorated with electric lights in 1937. At that time, each bulb used 9 watts. By comparison, a typical string of 50 mini lights today uses about 25 watts. Fifty of those 1937 bulbs would therefore use 450 watts. Yikes.
          (Photo from Papa Ted's Place)

          • During World War II, people were supposed to conserve electricity and there simply weren't as many resources available to manufacture non-essential things like Christmas lights. But even though people weren't supposed to use them, especially not outdoor lights, they wanted to buy them. People saw Christmas lights, especially on their indoor Christmas trees, as a source of comfort, a sign of home and family and warmth in a difficult time. But because of the shortages, there simply weren't enough available to meet the demand.
          • After the War, Christmas lights boomed along with everything else. Throughout the 1950s companies began to innovate all sorts of features and variations. There were bubble Christmas lights, miniature ones, sparkling ones, twinkling ones, blinking ones, elfin ones, star-shaped ones.


          This is what the bubble lights looked like. Apparently they contained a liquid that, when heated, would bubble, causing the light to flicker. Sounds kind of like a mini lava lamp.
          (Photo from Chuckman's Photos on Wordpress)


          Here's one family and their Christmas tree from some time in the 1950s. Nice curtains! Note also the electric candles on the windowsill at the left.
          (Photo from 1950s Atomic Ranch House)

          • Outdoor light displays boomed too. In 1957, Rockefeller Center boasted of its sixty-five foot lit-up tree. The Miracle Mile in Los Angeles featured 27 giant illuminated snowmen. Communities held outdoor lighting display competitions, and it wasn't long until suburbs across the country were lined with Christmas lights.
          • That's pretty much been the situation ever since. In the 1980s the large cone-shaped lights returned to general popularity. In the 1990s, the trickling icicle varieties became popular, even though those used far more electricity than the single large bulbs.
          • Now the strings of LED lights are popular. They're way more energy efficient, but I have to say I find them hard to look at. Something about the low light especially in the ones that twinkle makes them not so easy on the eyes.


          The 2011 National Christmas tree on the Ellipse in front of the White House. There are way more than 2500 lights on that tree.
          (Photo from the Fairfax at Embassy Row)




          More resources: Skating at Rockefeller Center


          Sources
          Brian Murray, Christmas Lights and Community Building in America
          Gizmodo, Christmas Lights, the Brief and Strangely Interesting History of
          Library of Congress Everyday Mysteries, Who invented electric Christmas lights?
          The Christmas Archives, The Chronological History of the Christmas Tree
          Home of the First Christmas Tree
          Howstuffworks, Christmas mini-lights

          Sunday, December 4, 2011

          Apple #561: Asphalt Planers, Pavers, and Rollers

          A few months ago, they re-paved my street. No, I don't know who "they" is. The city? Some contractors? Anyway, they scraped off the old asphalt one day and then they came back on a different day and put down new asphalt. The construction equipment was pretty huge and loud and impressive, so I took some pictures.

          Naturally, as your intrepid Apple Lady, I have also looked up what these machines are, so I'll provide a little bit of information about each one.


          Asphalt or Cold Planer
          (Photo from Baucm.com)



          Asphalt Planer or Cold Planer

          The first machine may have been the most impressive. This one I thought of as the asphalt scraper. But actually, to people who sell these sorts of things an asphalt scraper is a shovel. This machine is called an asphalt planer or a cold planer.

          I had to split the video into two parts so I could upload it to Blogger. Part 1 is the faraway big picture version; part 2 gives you some close-up views.

          video

          video


          The teeth of this machine is a rotating cutter drum with spikes on it. As the vehicle moves slowly forward, the drum underneath spins so that the spikes bite into the pavement, chopping the pavement into pieces. The drum gets pretty hot, so a system continually sprays water over the drum to keep everything from overheating.



          Drum for tearing up asphalt


          Drum with more teeth for tearing up concrete.
          (Photos and drums from Trackless Vehicles Ltd.)



          There are some smaller walk-behind versions of this type of machine. They're referred to as "hand" cold planers, I think because instead of sitting in a big giant honking thing to operate it, you can walk behind it and push it with your hands, even though it is power equipment.


          Here you can see the underbelly of a hand cold planer. Even though I didn't see one of these in action, I thought it might be helpful to show you this version. Because according to the specs I've seen, the drums on the big honking machines are 7'2" long, which is apparently the standard.
          (Photo from Taguchi Industrial Co., Ltd.)



          The chopped-up pieces of asphalt or concrete are funneled up out of the machine on a conveyor belt that extends out of the machine. The conveyor belt has to be very sturdy and durable to carry lots of debris, it has to withstand high temperatures, and it's usually tracked so that the pieces don't slide back down the belt but are carried up and out of the machine. The pieces drop into a dump truck that follows behind the planer.


          This is a different type of machine, a miller, but it also uses a conveyor system. The inset shows you what the conveyor belt looks like.
          (Photo from Everpads)



          There are lots of varieties of asphalt planers. Some are as wide as a highway lane, others are half-lane widths or narrower. You can get them with two, three, or four tracks (like wheels).

          The enormous planers like the one I saw weigh somewhere between 6.5 to 8.5 tons.

          In all cases, the drum seems the most crucial part. People selling used cold planers online (there are a lot of them for sale, surprisingly) talk about the relative newness or sharpness of the drum as its main selling point. The Roadtec RX60b, which is what is shown in my video and which apparently they don't make anymore, has a standard 7'2" drum and a 750 horsepower engine. A used 1998 asphalt planer, by the way, sells for $85,000. Newer ones don't have prices posted, so you know they cost a sweet bit of cash.


          Asphalt Paver

          That machine went by on day one. Day two (I don't actually think it was the next day, but a few days later) they came back with more machines. This time, they were laying down new asphalt.

          To lay down the asphalt to their satisfaction, they used 3 types of machines. The first was the asphalt paver.


          Asphalt paver with two guys helping to spread out the asphalt more evenly.
          (Photo by the Apple Lady)



          The asphalt paver has a dump truck driving in front of it, feeding in the new asphalt. The paver itself is made up of two major components, the tractor and the screed.

          The tractor part is pretty much the drive train, the thing that makes it go. It also includes a means of getting the asphalt from the hopper in the front to the back of the machine. Some pavers use an internal conveyor system to move the asphalt within the machine, others have simply a chute that lets gravity carry the asphalt to the back of the vehicle.

          In sort of the mid-section of the paver, the tractor distributes the asphalt onto the pavement. I had thought in my photos that the back end of this machine had all sorts of nozzles lined up across the back and the nozzles were spraying the asphalt onto the surface. But now, since my photos aren't clear enough and based on the descriptions I've read of these various equipment types, I'm not so sure.

          At the very back of the machine is the screed. The screed vibrates and tamps down the asphalt. It's heated, either by diesel fuel or by electricity, which helps melt the asphalt and keeps it from sticking to the screed.

          The screed is where a lot of asphalt-paving-equipment people focus their attention. The screed comes off and you can buy different ones with different specs, depending on the thickness of the material you're putting down, or how wide the road surface is that you want to pave at one time, or how compressed you want the asphalt to be.



          Diagram of a Carlson Paver with some of the parts labeled to try to entice you to buy it. The label that I think is most interesting is the "extendable walkways," which explains how the guy in my video could stand on the back of that machine and not melt his shoes or get hurt.
          (Photo from Carlson Paving Products)



          Pavers weigh about 34,000 pounds. I don't know why I keep looking up how much these things weigh. I guess I'm trying to get at the hugeness of these machines.

          Once again, I've got some videos for you. The first one zooms in but not quite clearly enough to see how the asphalt is put down on the pavement.

          The second one follows the paver for a bit, then swings back to the roller running behind the paver.

          video

          video



          Asphalt Rollers or Compactors

          Now we come to the third part of the process, which was compressing the asphalt still further. They did this using rollers or compactors.

          There are lots of different kinds of rollers which vary in size from 1 ton to 5 tons, and they vary in complexity. The point of the rollers is to pack down the asphalt and to make it smooth and even. In resurfacing my street, they used two different kinds of rollers.

          The first kind was larger, and it had a roller in front and in back. These are called articulated rollers. As you can see in the photo below, there's a joint where the two halves connect. That joint allows the two rollers to move independently of each other, which requires a lot more control on the driver's part. This also enables the operator to get a lot closer to the edge of the road bed, for example, or to move one side to smooth out one particular section or another.



          Articulated asphalt roller
          (Photo by the Apple Lady)



          Like the pavers, the rollers require water to be sprayed over the business end of the equipment. The hot water and resulting steam keeps the asphalt from sticking to the roller and allows the asphalt to be compressed evenly without getting picked up onto the roller in clumps. In the photo above, you can see the steam coming off the top of the rollers.

          According to one manufacturer, the water is distributed from the on-board water tank over a mat which allows the water to spread all across the roller evenly. The mats are called cocoa mats because they're made of coconut husks.

          Here's more video of the articulated roller in action.

          video



          More shots of the articulated roller. The construction people are looking to the left because that's where the paver is. They're following it, tamping down the asphalt that the paver has just put down. The roller pretty much drove backwards, away from the paver, compressing the asphalt, then went forward again to catch up the paver, then backward again and so on down the street.
          (Photo by the Apple Lady)




          The back end -- or maybe I should say the left side -- of the articulated roller.
          (Photo by the Apple Lady)



          The second kind of roller they used was a static steel-wheel roller. These don't have that joint in the middle like the articulated kind do. They're called "static" because the rollers don't vibrate (some types of rollers do).

          These also spray water over the rollers to keep the asphalt from sticking.

          One resource says you have to be careful with these not to drive them back and forth over the asphalt too much because they can squash the asphalt down too much, pushing it sideways, and making it too thin in places or even making cracks appear. And you just put that asphalt down too.


          Static steel-wheel asphalt roller.
          (Photo by the Apple Lady)



          Technical Note:
          Splitting an avi file in half was trickier than I expected. The first 8 programs that people recommended crashed or didn't work or produced useless files, etc. Finally I tried VirtualDub. It actually worked, produced files that would play, and came with instructions for how to use it. Kudos to AfterDawn!


          Sources
          Roadtec Cold Planers
          Dimensions Guide, What is the size of a Cold Planer?
          Machinery Trader, Roadtec RX60B for sale
          Answers.com, How is an asphalt paver made? Originally from Gale's How Products are Made, 2002
          King Machinery APELLC, Asphalt Pavers and Asphalt Rollers
          Global Security.org, Military Field Manual 5-436, Chapter 3: Equipment Used in Bituminous Operations
          Leeboy, Asphalt Pavers
          Dynapac, Pavers
          Machinery Trader, Roadtec Asphalt Pavers for Sale
          B&W Equipment Company, Dynapac Static Rollers and Dynapac Tandem Rollers
          Ritchie Wiki, Asphalt Distributors

          Tuesday, November 29, 2011

          Apple #560: Bathtubs

          My apartment lacks a bathtub. I've got a shower, no bathtub. On cold, blustery nights when I'm tired or achy or just want to have a nice warm soak, I long for a bathtub.

          So I'm going to ruminate about bathtubs.


          Look, she's saying, "What would I do if I didn't have a bathtub? Oh, I'd be bereft."
          (Photo from Home improvement blog)

          • The whole bathing-in-a-receptacle thing goes back thousands of years.
          • On the island of Crete, somebody found a 3,000 year-old, five foot-long tub-like deal on a pedestal. Some people say this is the ancestor of the modern bathtub.
          • Wealthy people in ancient Greece also had bathtubs in their houses. I'm not sure how the Greek baths were filled but they were self-draining.
          • The Romans had their public baths, but some wealthy Romans also had private baths in their houses. Their baths were more like enormous shallow swimming pools. Ah, that must have been the life.
          • Even when the Dark Ages came along and they snuffed out all sorts of advancements in engineering and philosophy and government and intelligence, they didn't entirely flush good hygiene along with it (oh, I am on fire with the puns).
          • In those days, for the most part, people were afraid of bathing. But a very few wealthy people had bathtubs. These ladies of the house had a special room where they had bathing parties. The water was heated and brought in by servants and scented with rose petals and herbs. Sometimes the ladies bathed by themselves or with other ladies.


          Here, one of the titled lords of the house is having a bath -- they had a receptacle brought into their bedchambers -- and he's having food brought to him as he bathes. Now there's an idea.
          (Photo from the Clawfoot Bathtub Warehouse)

            • Still, it was only the oddball wealthy who bathed. It took the bubonic plague before Europeans in general started to think about washing. Even then, bathing didn't quite catch on across Europe for some time.
            • By the late 1800s, Victorians were bathing in portable receptacles that were brought into their bedrooms in front of the fire and filled with hot water. These were considered "hip baths" and you were meant to sit in them with your legs hanging out.
            • Other bath tubs at this time had a shelf that jutted out into the interior of the tub, and that was where you were supposed to sit. I can't find any photos of bathtubs like that, but I know I've seen some at antique stores.

            This is a contemporary drawing, I know, but it's the best image I could find that showed how those hip baths were used.
            (Photo linked to from Discworld and Pratchett Paraphernalia)



            A variant method of using a Victorian hip bath
            (Photo from Venus Observations NSFW)

            • Eventually, as running water became available, Victorians started converting bedrooms into bathrooms. The bathrooms usually adjoined another bedroom and the now-bathroom still had the fireplace and stained glass windows and other bedroom decor.


            I don't know when this brown marble bathtub was made. I suspect perhaps it's Italian, 19th century? Or maybe it's older than that. The lady at the top of the tub is holding some kind of ewer which is actually a spout from which the running water would have emerged. So this marble tub would have been connected to pipes of running water.
            (Photo from About Chinese Antique)

              • In an interesting turn, as people became more concerned with hygiene, they stopped using the running water in the converted bedroom and went back to the free-standing tubs. They put tiles on the floor to make it easier to clean, and the brass and copper pipes were left exposed so that the owners could be certain they were clean and germ-free (hah). The free-standing tubs were more desirable than the tubs connected to pipes because the servants could move the tub to clean underneath it.



              English roll-top copper tub, popular from around 1890-1930. The handles on the side made for easy carrying. These were available in a wide range of sizes, anywhere from 4 feet long to 7 feet long. You could also have them painted in a color of your choice.
              (from Meryl's Short History of Antique Bathtubs)

              • At about the same as some people were going back to the free-standing receptacle, other people were trying out the clawfoot tubs. These could be connected to running water pipes, and it was possible to clean underneath them, swab down the bathroom tile and all that. The feet were practical but also decorative and sturdy.


              Clawfoot bathtubs are popular again now, so I had trouble finding an period image of one. Here, the feet are painted to match the tub. More often, the feet on the early clawfoot tubs were made of iron, and the tub itself was made of tin.
              (Photo from Elle Fowler's blog)

              • Right around this time, which is about the 1870s or so, is when a guy named J. L. Mott started making bathtubs. His products were all made of iron or cast-iron, and he made tubs of all sorts for various purposes. The first bathtub for people was promoted as a dual-use appliance. What you bought it for first and foremost was hog-scalding. Then if you felt like it, you could also use your hog scalder for your biannual bath.

              J. L. Mott's first bathtub / hog scalder.
              (Image from Clawfoot Bathtub Warehouse)

              • The problem with all these receptacles, whether they were made of cast iron or copper or zinc, was that they all corroded. If they didn't corrode, they turned color or rusted, or they were hard to keep clean at the welds. Who wants to take a bath in a bunch of corrosion? Not me.
              • In the 1850s, tub-makers in England began to experiment with various glazes. They tried various ceramics and glazes. They hit on porcelain and for a while, that was The Thing. A solid porcelain tub could be made with very smooth, rolling, sensuous curves that people found very appealing.
              • With the advent of porcelain, bathtubs and bathrooms became more luxurious. Tubs were made within very intricate cabinets or with lots of carving and decoration.


              J. L. Mott luxury bathroom featuring a combination bathtub and shower.
              (Image from Clawfoot Bathtub Warehouse)



              What could be in this cabinet?

              Why, of course! It's a fold-out bathtub!

              Manufactured by the Mosley Folding Bath Tub Company in Chicago in the 1880s, this bath system features an onboard ten-gallon copper water tank, which is heated by a kerosene burner. The tub is 76 inches long and 25 inches deep. The original advertisement boasts that this tub is "available at a moment's notice."
              (Photo from Tiny House Blog)

              • The porcelain was lovely and everything, but it had its problems. It scratched very easily. And those solid porcelain tubs were super-heavy. People who sell antique bathtubs today warn their customers that if they want to install a Victorian tub in their home, they'd better make sure their floors are thick and bolstered enough to hold up all that weight.
              • People still liked the porcelain, though, and nobody knew of another ceramic that worked better. So they coated tubs made of metal -- iron usually -- with porcelain.


              This is a clawfoot tub from 1899 coated in porcelain enamel.
              (Image from Victoriana Magazine)

              • Then in 1911, Kohler -- which had also marketed their early bathtubs as hog scalders -- came up with the idea for the built-in tub. They cast the tub all in one piece with an apron that didn't just roll over at the top but went all the way down to the floor. Homeowners liked these built-in tubs because the fact that it was built-in meant it had been shipped directly from the factory and no one else had used it first.
              • Since the standard bathroom was 5 feet long, the built-in tub was also 5 feet long. Actually, that made the well in which you sat less than 5 feet long (a source of some discomfort for many people who would like to be able to stretch their legs to their full length in the tub).
              • In the 1920s, as cars began to be available in other colors besides black, people started to want their house fixtures available in other colors. That went for bathrooms, too. So the built-in bathtubs started to be manufactured in all sorts of colors besides just the hygienic white.


              Bathroom suite in Spring Green sold by Kohler in their 1939 catalog. Note the separate, small dental sink.
              (Photo from Rejuvenation Archives via This Old House)

              • Here I must depart from my lovely chronology to debunk some bad history. In 1917, H.L. Mencken published a false, facetious article called "A Neglected Anniversary," in which he discussed various tidbits related to baths and bathtubs, and he said, revealing his poor opinion of Americans, that Americans did not use bathtubs until Millard Fillmore had one installed in the White House in 1842.
              • The whole thing was a lie. Mencken made it up. He even published a second article in 1926 admitting as much. "This article was a tissue of somewhat heavy absurdities, all of them deliberate and most of them obvious."
              • Obvious or not, people bought the story, hook line and sinker. In spite of the veiled mockery of Americans and their bathing habits, Americans and Europeans both were quoting his article as fact, apparently never bothering to find out if any of what he had said was true.
              • They continued to quote his article's "facts" even after Mencken revealed his trickery in 1926. In fact, people still assert that the first bathtub was installed in the White House in 1842 bathtub thing to this day. (It's still not true.)
              • One historian suspects, though she cannot prove for certain, that Mencken had a purpose in writing this fake article. “Through his hoax,” she said, “Mencken demonstrated to himself and to selected friends that the American public would believe any absurdity, as long as it appealed to their imagination or emotions.”
              • In recalling the success that politicians have had in convincing the public of this or that assertion, simply by stating it several times, I think that Mencken's supposed theory still holds water. Even if his bathtub tale itself does not.


              H. L. Mencken, American literary critic who made no secret of his annoyance with "American sham, pretension, provincialism, and prudery."
              (Photo from Helian Unbound)

              • Oof. Sorry to introduce that crusty guy into our discussion of lovely, relaxing bathtubs. I'll try to make amends forthwith.


              A present-day built-in bathtub with all sorts of decorative amenities
              (Photo from House Beautiful)

              • Today, bathtubs may still be made with a metal base that is then coated with some type of enamel, or they may be made entirely of acrylic or fiberglass. If you want to see how both types are made, complete with helpful diagrams, check out How Products Are Made - Bathtub.
              • There are a lot more options besides the 5-foot built-in tubs, though. Some people are going back to the old clawfoot varieties, as I mentioned, or they're buying newly made clawfoots that look like the old porcelain ones.
              • There are also scads of other variations that you probably never even considered. I'll show you a few of those here for your bathtub enjoyment.


              Free-standing clawfoot bathtubs are also very useful for giving your circus lion a bath.
              (Photo from Wisconsin Historical Images via Flickr)




              This solid copper bathtub looks like a free-standing antique, but it's recently made and considered very luxurious. It's 65 inches long, can hold 71 gallons of water, and when empty, weighs 154 pounds. I don't know what they do about the corrosion situation, but it's probably something clever and expensive.
              (Photo from Eastern Refinishing)



              Sunken whirlpool tub. I'd be too worried about splashing and getting water all over the floor. I guess you wouldn't have to fill it all the way to the top.
              (Photo from Modern House Designs)



              Illuminated bathtubs are a fairly new species on the scene. I'd like to get in this one and try it out.
              (Photo from Mix Possessions)



              Ovoid-shaped, for the nesting sort.
              (Photo from Home Design Gallery)


              If you're really into shapely tubs, perhaps you'd like the shoe-shaped tub. No joke. This is the Audrey tub, available in three styles, all with similar mosaic on the outside, from Mosaic artists in Italy.
              (Photo from Homedit)



              Or maybe you're more traditional, and you prefer the wooden bathtub. These are made to order by hand in Maine.
              (Photo from Bath in Wood of Maine)



              These are called Kali'-Art bathtubs. The sites that talk about these tubs don't explain that phrase, but they do say these tubs have acrylic interiors and wood exteriors (this one is oak) with leather finishing on the corners. The headrests -- the things that interest me the most -- are optional extras. These bathtubs cost between $7,400 and $13,400.
              (Photo from Trendir)



              In my super dream luxury home, this is the bathtub I'd choose, mainly because of that fireplace right next to it. The room looks warm and cozy, yet the tub looks long enough for stretching out. Yum.
              (Photo from Home Design Gallery)


              Sources
              Old House Journal, Coming Clean: The History of the Bathtub
              About Chinese Antique, A Short History of Antique Bathtubs
              ClawfootTubs.com, Clawfoot Tub History
              Clawfoot Bathtub Warehouse, History of Bathtubs and Some More Things You Might Not Have Known
              Professional Bathtub Refinishers Association, The History of Antique Claw Foot Bathtubs
              Millard Fillmore's Bathtub
              Mental Floss, Notable Bathtubs in History