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)

      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

      Monday, November 28, 2011


      I didn't finish my Daily Apple for tomorrow.  I apologize.  But it is in the works and I should have it done soon. In the meantime, I'll give you a teaser.  See if you can guess what it's about.

      Sunday, November 20, 2011

      Apple #559: Getting the Wind Knocked Out of You

      A week or so ago, a bunch of friends and I were watching a football game. After one play, one of the players was lying on the field not moving for a few moments. It turned out not to be serious, and we speculated that maybe he'd just had the wind knocked out of him. Then we realized we weren't sure what causes that.

      What exactly happens when you get the wind knocked out of you?

      • Basically, your diaphragm stops working correctly.
      • Normally, your diaphragm, which is the muscle beneath your lungs, contacts to pull air into your lungs and relaxes to push air out.
      Diagram of the diaphragm. This seems the opposite of what you'd expect, but when the diaphragm contracts, the area in your chest enlarges and allows air to rush in. In other words, you inhale. When the diaphragm relaxes, the chest cavity gets smaller, air rushes out, and you exhale.
      (Photo from Merck Manuals)

      Here's the motion of the diaphragm in a video:

      • The diaphragm is controlled by a bunch of nerve cells called the solar plexus. Medical professionals call this bunch of nerves the celiac plexus.
      • The solar / celiac plexus lives pretty much in the central-most part of you. It's below the xiphoid process, behind the stomach, but in front of the aorta (major artery from the heart). In other words, it's tucked away in that soft spot beneath where your ribs open out.
      • A sudden, strong blow to your solar / celiac plexus shuts off those nerve cells which in turn stuns the diaphragm muscle, and it spasms.
      • I always thought "spasm" meant that a muscle flutters or twitches. Nope. "Spasm" means that a muscle suddenly and involuntarily contracts and stays that way for some time.
      • So, when your diaphragm spasms, that means it zaps into contracted mode and it stays that way. It's stuck in the position that pulls air into your lungs.
      • That's another weird thing about all this because when you get the wind knocked out of you, it feels like you can't get any breath into your lungs, can't inhale. But your diaphragm is stuck in the inhale position.
      • But since it's stuck there, it can't contract any farther to bring in more air, nor can it relax to push air out, allowing you to inhale new air. So it feels like you've got no air in there.
      • The only thing to do when you're in this situation is wait for your diaphragm to relax out of its spasm -- which it will do shortly, though when you feel like you can't breathe, "shortly" will seem like a long time.
      • You can help your diaphragm relax by lying on your back, bending your knees and pulling your legs up to your chest.
      • Then take long, slow, calming breaths. As your breathe, concentrate on making the breathing happen. This will help get your diaphragm working again as well as helping you to calm down, and it will also get more oxygen circulating so your whole system will start to feel better.

      It happens to animals, too. Here, one cat knocks the wind out of the other.

      Nemours, KidsHealth, Getting the Wind Knocked Out of You 
      Straight Dope, What happens when the wind gets knocked out of you? and message board on the subject 
      Motorcross Action Magazine, Just Breathe: Getting the Wind Knocked Out of You 
      SportMedBC, Getting the Wind Knocked Out of You 
      Merriam Webster, solar plexus and celiac plexus

      Sunday, November 13, 2011

      Apple #558: Aerial Cable Cameras

      This topic seems like bad timing, given the recent news about the Sandusky/Penn State nightmare. But I was asked to find out about how skycams work before that whole story broke, and in spite of my horror and disgust at that news, I discovered over the weekend that I do still like to watch football. Probably many of you out there do too. So I'm going ahead with this.

      Specifically, longtime Daily Apple reader Demarcus wanted to know, how does the camera that flies over the football field work? He said at the last football game he attended, he'd noticed wires coming from each of the four corners of the stadium, and that the camera hung from the nexus of those four wires. Beyond that, he couldn't really figure out how it works.

      The Skycam travels along cables over a football field to provide aerial images of the game in action.
      (Photo from Wired)

      This video below shows examples of the kinds of shots that are possible with these aerial cameras. In this gane, the camera used is called a SpiderCam.

      • These aerial cameras are typically referred to by the brand name Skycam, but there are lots of brands and manufacturers who make aerial cameras. Another common one is Cablecam.
      • [side note: Skycams are not to be confused with SkyCams which are stationary cameras mounted on tall buildings and other various key locations around the country and which are used to photograph weather events.]
      • Whether it's a Skycam or a Cablecam or some other aerial cam, they're set up in essentially the same way, with three major components.
      • Component 1. The wires or cables. The cables are made of very sturdy braided Kevlar. There are four of them, as Demarcus correctly noticed, and the camera hangs where the four reels intersect. The cables extend to each corner of the stadium, runs through a pulley and down to a reel and winch. Because of the cables, the camera systems are sometimes called cable cameras.
      • Component 2. The camera itself and the on-board motor and controls. The most recent version of hte Skycam uses a Panasonic AK-HC900 2/3" IT CCD camera, which is an HD camera that, in 2004, cost around $35,000.
      • Above the camera is a box that includes motors that allow the camera to pan and tilt, various electronics, and Steadicam stabilization sensors. A fiber optic cable carries the signal from the camera up to the central control (component 3). The camera and the black box together are sometimes known as the mobile spar.
      • The mobile spar is three feet tall and weighs somewhere between 25 and 45 pounds. It can whiz along the cables at speeds up to 40 mph.

      A Skycam, as of 2006. Inventor Garrett Brown was awarded an Oscar for making this.
      (Photo from GizmoWatch)

      On the Cablecam, the box with the motor in it is flatter and more rectangular than the Skycam. This Cablecam also has a microphone attached to the bottom of the camera.
      (Photo from Sports Video Group)

      • Component 3. The rest of the system is up in the booth, or somewhere remote from the camera. This is the computer which tells the camera what to do, and may be referred to as central control. Most of this system runs on Linux, or a version of it (specifics about the operating system have continued to change as the technology improves, but this is still generally true).
      • Two people control the system. One person operates a computer which directs the camera itself, adjusting the lens, its tilt and focus. Another person, the pilot, directs the reels to tighten or loosen the cables as necessary, thus moving the camera system over the field. The pilot watches a rendering of what the camera is doing on a computer screen and directs the reels using a mouse.
      • Initially, the system was controlled using a joystick.
      • [side note two: I find the use of the joystick pretty interesting, since the idea to use the above-the-field-camera in football came from video games. One guy who pilots the camera for his job says, "it's tricky. . . . It's like a video game."]
      • [side note three: the superimposed on-screen yellow first down stripe is another idea that came from video games. I agree with my dad, that this is one of the best improvements to television coverage of football games maybe ever.]

      I really wanted to find a diagram of the black box where the camera motor is housed so I could see how those innards work. The best I could find was this schematic from Cablecam, which describes lots of pieces of the system, but in a fairly general way. It's hard to see much of the detail at this size, but you can see it better at this larger size, which especially helps in reading about how the winches and reels work.
      (Diagram from Cablecam, hosted at Free Image Hosting)

      A reel and winch controlling the cables in a Skycam system.
      (Photo from Digital Producer Magazine)

      • The systems have multiple built-in back-up plans so that if a reel does snap, another one is there to catch the camera or a program is in place to move the camera out of the way.
      • But on at least one occasion that I know of, the Skycam actually did malfunction and drop to the field. This happened during a Saints-Seahawks game in 2007. Play was stopped and the network looped a whole bunch of commercials until someone got the camera fixed.

      Skycam way too close to the field in this football game in 2007.
      (Photo from Awful Announcing)

      • The whole system is constructed so that neither the spar nor the reels should interfere with play. But the aerial camera does sometimes make its appearance in shots of the field taken by other cameras, which some viewers find annoying.
      • It also happens sometimes that players will look up at the aerial camera and smile and wave or otherwise play up to it.
      • The guy who invented Cablecam and who was often on the field before the game helping with set-up, said that during warm-up, kickers often try to kick the ball so that it will hit the camera.
      • That was in 2005, and I don't know if anyone's succeeded in hitting the camera yet. I hope someone does, as that would be an achievement with major bragging rights.
      • As of 2005, it cost about $40,000 to $50,000 to use an aerial camera per game. Costs may have come down a bit since then, but man. That's a lot of money for one camera in one game.
      • The aerial cable camera was invented in the 1980s, but its uses were limited due to limitations in the computer software. In the 1990s, it was used more often and in more applications. In the SuperBowl in January 2001, it entered the world of football as EyeVision. The aerial cable camera's fortunes have only gone up from there.
      • Its use has spread to other sports and other venues. It's now been used in tennis, hockey, boxing, soccer, Major League Baseball, the Olympics, X-games, ice skating, swimming, bowling, even the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. Lots of film crews have also used aerial cable cameras to help them get a specific shot, in movies, TV shows, and commercials. It's even been used at the Academy Awards.
      • Today, Cablecams and Skycams are used in about 200 events each year.

      Photographer Emanuel Schwermer using a cable cam to film a car for a commercial.
      (Photo from Emanuel Maximilian Schwermer's site)

      More resources:

      Two-page spread detailing all the types of cameras used in a professional football game.

      Photo showing how the cables are attached to the roof of a stadium.

      How the yellow, superimposed first-down line is done.

      Henry Fountain, "A Chance to Peek Over the Quarterback's Shoulder,"
      The New York Times, January 6, 2005
      Eric Gwinn, "Working the angles,"
      Chicago Tribune, November 11, 2004
      Monday Night Football: Behind the Scenes, Digital Producer Magazine, December 3, 2004
      Michael Hiestand, "Suspension sends Irvin Message," USA Today, December 1, 2005
      Greg Wyshynski, "Chatting with NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood about Winter Classic," Yahoo! Sports, December 21, 2010
      Cablecam, What We Do
      Skycam, skycam in action

      Sunday, November 6, 2011

      Apple #557: Roadrunners

      I've had a number of requests, which is always very exciting for your Apple Lady. I'm going to take them in turn. Up first is road runners. What do they look like in real life? Do they bear any resemblance at all to the cartoon Road Runner? What are some facts about them, like what do they eat and so on?

      First, here's the cartoon Road Runner (Fastius tasty-us)

      Note the blue feathers with a tuft of darker blue feathers on top, the yellow beak, the long plume-like tail, orange legs which are super long, and the characteristic Meep Meep. Any resemblance to the real life roadrunner?

      A real-life roadrunner
      (Photo from White Wolf Journeys)

      • Feathers: not blue but mainly brown and white speckled. Also a patch of bright red or orange above the eye.
      • Tuft of feathers on the head: a real road runner does have a little mohawk or crest of feathers, but it's brown, not blue
      • Beak: not yellow but brown, and not thick and curved upward but long and pointy with a downward curve at the end
      • Tail: long, but the feathers stick straight out, not in a curvy plume
      • Legs: not very long at all, more of a pinky-beige color
      • Vocalizations: of course you didn't expect a real roadrunner to say "meep meep." Their primary sound is a cooing almost like a pigeon. They make a variety of other sounds, including crows, clacks, and clucks.
      • Name: the cartoon Road Runner spells his name in two words. The real life roadrunners spell their name in one.

      Real life roadrunner running
      (Photo from Picture Depot)

      • The real-life roadrunner does not run so fast its legs become a circular blur, but it can run up to 18 miles an hour. When running at top speed, it holds its head and tail in line with its body and parallel to the ground.
      • The Greater roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) is actually a type of cuckoo.
      • Roadrunners live in the desert, mainly on the ground. They can fly, but they don't. They walk or run.
      • They eat mainly venomous desert-dwelling animals such as snakes, scorpions, spiders.
      • Their speed is what enables them to catch prey as intimidating as rattlesnakes, though sometimes two roadrunners will team up to go after larger snakes.
      • A roadrunner will use its wing like a matador's cape, and when it's distracted, snap the rattlesnake's tail and with the snake's tail firmly in its beak, crack the snake like a whip, banging the snake's head against the ground until it's dead.
      • It will swallow the snake whole. It make take a long time to work the snake through its system and it may even walk around with the end of the snake hanging out of its mouth, but it will eventually swallow the entire thing.

      Roadrunner with a snake by the tail
      (Photo from Canku Ota)

      • They can also snatch dragonflies or even hummingbirds out of the air.
      • Roadrunners have also been seen hopping straight up into the air to knock down and eat small birds lingering at feeders.
      • They've adapted well to desert life. Their skin is black which helps them warm up after a cold night in the desert and retain more heat at the end of the day.
      • They also have special salt glands in front of their eyes. Excess salt is excreted out of these glands, which allows them to go longer without water. In fact, roadrunners don't have to drink water, but they can often get enough moisture from the animals they eat.
      • They reduce their activity levels by half during the hottest part of the day. In winter, when food is very scarce, they eat mostly plants.
      • They make their nests in low-lying bushes or cacti.

      Roadrunner nest
      (Photo from Gardening for Wildlife)

      • Roadrunners have adapted to desert life so well, they've expanded their range from southern California as far east into Missouri and Louisiana.
      • Other species of roadrunner live in Central America, Costa Rica, and Bolivia. Still other species live in Southeast Asia.

      Real roadrunners go anywhere they please. They do not keep only to the roads.
      (Photo from Gardening for Wildlife)

      So how did the animators get from the real-life roadrunner to the cartoon blue version? I could not find a satisfactory answer to this. Chalk it up to artistic inspiration, I suppose.

      I did discover that
      • Chuck Jones, the animator and creator of the Coyote & Road Runner cartoons said, "'I first got interested in the coyote as an animal while perusing Mark Twain's 'Roughing It' at the age of 7. 'I thought of it as a sort of dissolute collie. And actually, that's just about what a coyote is! No one saw it more clearly than Mark Twain.''
      ''And we had very strict rules about Road Runner,'' he added, citing the list in his book, which includes the following: (1) The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going ''beep beep.'' (2) No outside force can harm the Coyote - only his own ineptitude or the failure of the Acme products. (3) No dialogue ever, except ''beep beep.'' (4) The Road Runner must stay on the road; otherwise, logically, he would not be called Road Runner. (5) All materials, tools, weapons or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation. (6) The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.
      Perhaps Chuck Jones' book would have more information about where his Road Runner came from.

      Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist

      Here's another interesting difference between cartoon Road Runner and the real-life roadrunner. The cartoon bird's chief characteristic is how he eludes capture, while what makes the real-life bird so interesting is the ways in which it captures other animals, especially animals that you would think would be its predators. Cartoon: preyed upon. Real-life: predator.

      But they do have one thing in common, which is that they are quite wily. (Yes, as opposed to the coyote, har har.)

      Desert USA, The Roadrunner
      Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Greater roadrunner
      Field Guide to Birds of North America, Greater Roadrunner
      Canku Ota, How Roadrunner Became the Leader of the Birds
      Glenn Collins, Chuck Jones on Life and Daffy Duck, The New York Times, November 7, 1989

      Saturday, November 5, 2011


      Don't forget to set your clocks back one hour tonight!

      That's one extra hour of sleep. Ahhh.

      (Photo from Stylelist)

      Daily Apple entry on Daylight Saving Time