Yesterday, I posted a piece on the historic reason for the counterintuitive shape of ketchup bottles.
If ketchup gets stuck in the bottle, why make the neck so narrow? Alert reader Ellena from Quebec wrote to me that she saw an article the next day in the German language magazine Der Spiegel about students at MIT who had developed a nano coating that could be applied to bottles (such as ketchup) that they've dubbed LiquiGlide. It allows the contents to slide effortlessly out of the container.
Although I applaud their efforts, I have to wonder how many of us old bottle types will wind up with a pile of ketchup in our laps when we flip the new coated bottle over and give it a good shake.
At some point, most of us have had to deal with ketchup that doesn't come easily out of the bottle. Some people pound the bottom, others stick a knife up the neck and loosen it up to allow it to flow.
If you've experienced this frustration, you may have wondered why someone designed neck of the bottle that way.
Long ago, ketchup had a runny consistency and manufacturers designed their narrow-necked bottles to try and slow the flow. Consumers however, preferred thicker ketchups and while the product inside changed, the recognizable bottle shape remained the same.
With graduation so near, one of my students yesterday was asking about various career possibilities when she brought up the idea of photography. I gave her some general pointers about how to develop a career plan, but also informed her that due to the weak economy and the increasing availability of good cameras and editing equipment, the photography market is somewhat down in our area. She then asked, what about selling photographs, "what's the most a photograph has ever sold for?"
That I did not know, so I looked it up and was surprised by the answer I found. The most expensive photograph ever sold at auction was one titled Rhein II by Andreas Gursky. Not only was I surprised by how much the photograph fetched, but I was surprised by how bland the image was.
Rhein II by Andreas Gursky
Obviously it is a photo of the Rhine River in Germany, but there are a few more surprising things about the picture. Gursky photoshopped it to remove the industrial skyline from the background and a dog walker in the foreground.
So, what was the selling price of this photograph? On November 8, 2011, it sold for $4,300,000!
Not only that, but I was surprised to see that six of the top eight priciest photographs sold since the recession began. You can see the Wikipedia list HERE.
If you solved the cipher this last weekend, you would have discovered that the clue told you that this man was the "black sheep of a black family." Rob, asked "Doesn't that make him the white sheep?" Well, yes it does.
William Hitler's father was Adolf Hitler's half brother, Alois Hitler, Jr.. Alois had left Germany and traveled to Ireland, where he met Bridget Dowling, William's mother. Alois and Bridget were married in London in 1910 and settled in Liverpool, England, where William was born in 1911. Alois abandoned Bridget in 1914 and returned to Germany, where he committed bigamy in 1916 by marrying another woman.
Alois Hitler, Jr. (William Hitler's father)
Bridget raised William in England, but he visited his father in Germany once in 1929 and met his half-brother, Heinz Hitler (Unlike his half-brother, Heinz was a devoted Nazi and served in the German military on the Eastern Front. He was captured in January of 1942 and tortured for several months before dying in a Moscow prison). William returned to Germany again in 1933, hoping that his uncle Adolf's rise to power would benefit him. Adolf helped his nephew get a couple ordinary jobs, but William started threatening his uncle saying that unless he got a better job, he would become vocal with family secrets. Adolf offered William a high position in the Nazi government if he would renounce his British citizenship. However, William became nervous and fled the country and back in England became a vocal opponent of his uncle Adolf.
William Hitler with his mother in the USA
William Randolph Hearst brought William and Bridget to the lecture tour in United States where they were when the US entered World War II. William Hitler petitioned President Roosevelt to allow him to serve in the armed forces. President Roosevelt granted the request and in 1944, William joined the US Navy and even earned a Purple Heart during his service.
William Hitler joining the US Navy
In 1946, he became a naturalized citizen and to protect his anonymity, changed his name to Patrick Stuart-Houston. Patrick Stuart-Houston was discharged from the Navy in 1947, married, and settled on Long Island. Stuart-Houston and his wife had four boys: Alexander Adolf, Louis, Howard Ronald (died 1989), and Brian William. Stuart-Houston (né Hitler), died in 1987, after a quiet career in medical laboratory services.
A few years back, scrapbooking achieved a small revival of sorts. I say revival, because it was really a pretty common hobby around the turn of the century (late 1800s to early 1900s). Mark Twain himself was numbered among these many scrapbooking enthusiasts. And I've always found it interesting what people kept in scrapbooks. Not the items themselves (e.g., photographs, sketches, newspaper clippings, pressed flowers, bills of sale, programs), as these stay rather consistent, but what they represented to the people who remembered them. I particularly enjoy reading old obituaries. Modern obituaries don't often speak to the character of the deceased, but more often to their accomplishments. Today I am featuring a small letter to the editor placed in a Carrollton, Georgia, newspaper not long after the death of Jacob C. Grow. It is found in the scrapbook of my great-grandmother Mary Grow Goodner (Jacob's daughter). Jacob died December 3, 1903, in Gainesville, Texas.
+ + + + +
Rev. J. C. Grow.
Mr. Editor:–Will you please give me just a short space in which to say something of my old friend and schoolmate, Rev. Jacob C. Grow, who departed this life a short while ago. Jacob Grow was one of the best men I ever know or that anyone else ever knew. He was a noble, upright, Christian gentleman, as near faultless as a human could be. He was raised by as saintly a mother as ever lived in our county. I never will forget that on one occasion I heard a gentleman telling Mrs. Grow of her sons' Christian conduct during the war, how nobly and religiously he overcame temptation, of how it made the old mother rejoice to hear of her son's loyalty to his God. There are but few of us left in Carrollton to day who knew and remember Mr. Grow, but those few will testify to his unswerving Christian man-hood. A good man is gone from our country. A great and shining light for the Master's cause has been extinguished. I wish we had many more men like him.
A funny thing happened today in class. While I was teaching a student exclaimed, "Oh no, I've broken my... my... Hey, Mr. Maas, what's this part on eyeglasses called?" He was pointing to the long part that goes above the ears and comes off the frame around the lens.
So I looked it up. It's called a "temple." Makes sense I suppose. And now you know too.
I know the trend for sometime now has been for people to do their banking online. I think most people enjoy the convenience of having their bank come to them and it definitely saves the increasingly expensive cost of postage. Back in 1916, William H. Coltharp of Vernal, Utah, found a unique way of using the mail to bringing banking to the town and save money in the process.
Bank of Vernal
In the 1910s, Vernal, Utah, had a population of a little over 800, but was keeping an eye toward future growth as the county seat. A fine town like Vernal needed an upscale brick bank to express its cosmopolitan outlook, but the nearest brick works was in Salt Lake City over 170 miles away. Shipping the bricks would cost over four times the purchase price.
Parcel Post Wagon, c. 1914
It was then that Coltharp hit on a novel idea. The United States Mail had in 1913 begun domestic parcel post service. To encourage people to use the service, rates were kept rather low. Coltharp did the math and realized that he could mail the bricks from Salt Lake City cheaper than having them delivered by wagon, so he had the Salt Lake Pressed Brick Company bundle the bricks into packages of about 50 pounds (to stay within parcel post weight limits). The company would mail about 40 crates (or one ton) of the packages a day.
Postmasters along the route expressed their frustration with the volume of weighty crates and the US Mail quickly realized that if Coltharp's scheme caught on, it would hopelessly clog their transportation systems and strain their mailmen. So in response, Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson, allowed the remaining bricks be sent to Vernal, but issued a new regulation allowing only 200 pounds per sender each day and stated, "it is not the intent of the United States Postal Service that buildings be shipped through the mail."
"The Parcel Post Bank" Today
The bank was completed the next year and was nicknamed "The Parcel Post Bank" by locals. The building still exists and still serves as a bank at 3 West Main Street in Vernal.