Monday, March 2, 2015

The Unique Ulu

 



Man has always been creative, finding ways to better his life wherever he may be.  Eskimos were no exception to this statement.

Living in a harsh environment, he had the same basic needs as humans anywhere.  One concern surely was how to harvest the animals they killed for their food, clothing and shelter.  There was a need for something to be used for skinning the pelts, for cutting them into clothing and for the strips utilized in making laces.

They needed to cut the meat into chunks to be transported back to their homes.  They had to cut whale blubber into usable sizes.

At some point an unknown Eskimo had the idea to create a cutting instrument, a knife if you will.  It was dubbed the ulu - pronounced ooh-loo.  It has a wooden handle to allow you to press down on it to facilitate the cut.  The handle was made originally with muskox bone, walrus ivory or moose antlers.  The blade made of slate which could be sharpened to maintain its edge.  Now it is made with steel.

Because it has a curved blade the cut can be made with a rocking motion, allowing the user to push down on the handle with greater force than can be used with an ordinary knife.  Because it pins the meat down solidly onto the cutting surface, it isn't necessary to use a fork to assist in the cutting.

Archaeologists have found an ulu determined to be about 3,000 years old.  The slate curve is still very sharp.

The one above has a design etched into the blade.  There is the word Alaska, in the middle the outline of a ship, and at the bottom it says:  Inside Passage.  It was a gift from my son, purchased when he was assigned to Alaska while in the service.  What a special gift from a very special person.


Friday, February 27, 2015

To Touch The Sky

Louise McPhetridge Thaden was born in Bentonille, Arkansas, in 1929.  Her childhood was spent in a rural environment and she learned hunting and fishing on trips with her father.  Airplane barnstorming was in its heyday then and she had a desire to learn to fly.  This was further fueled when she secured a ride on with one of the barnstormers.

She went on to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, but left in 1925 after three years, before getting her degree.  She got a job in Wichita, Kansas, at Jack Turner's lumberyard.  He in turn introduced her to Walter Beech Aircraft owner and his wife, Olive.  Beech liked her enthusiasm and interest in flying and offered her a job with his company branch in Oakland, California.  Along with a salary, she also received free flying lessons.

Her flying certificate, number 850, was signed by Orville Wright.  She also met Herbert von Thaden, a former US Army pilot.  They married in 1928 in Reno, Nevada.

She became very active in women's aviation, competing in national contests.  She won the first all women transcontinental race called he National Air Derby and held August 19, 1929.  She beat out Amelia Earhart, Poncho Barnes, Blanche Noyes and many others.  Later that year she joined in with many of these same women in forming the international organization, The Ninety-Nines, for female pilots.

She apparently was game to try anything.  In 1932 she teamed up with Frances Marsialis and together they set a refueling endurance record.  It was 196 grueling hours on constant flying in an event the press dubbed  "The Flying Boudoir."  All together they completed 78 air-to-air maneuvers where food, water, fuel and oil was passed from one aircraft to the other using ropes for the conveyance of the supplies.

In 1936 women were, for the first time, allowed to compete in the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race with the male pilots. She and Blanche Noyes flew together.  They experienced some problems along the route and were surprised when a crowd surrounded their plane when they landed.  They had not expected to win, but they did.

She retired from competition in 1938 to raise a family.  She wrote her memoir titled "High, Wide, and Frightened which was published in 1938.  Her book was reprinted in 2004 by the University of Arkansas Press.

Louise stayed active in aviation in many roles until her death in 1979 at the age of 73.  What an active and adventurous life she enjoyed.


Monday, February 23, 2015

8 Thoughts on Snow



1.     There's one good thing about snow, it makes your lawn look as nice as
        your neighbors.  -  Clyde Moore
2.     If you walk on snow you cannot hide your footprints. -  Chinese proverb
3.     No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.  -  Stanislaw Lec
4.     You can't make cheesecake out of snow.  -  Yiddish proverb
5.     The snow doesn't give a soft white damn whom it touches.  -  e.e. cummings
6.     A lot of people like snow.  I find it an unnecessary freezing of water.  -
              Carl Reiner
7.     I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.  -  Mae West
8.     Where does the white go when winter melts?  -  Anonymous


Monday, February 16, 2015

Call Me Anytime

The 1800s were busy times for inventors.  Two of them were Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell.  Gray (1835-1901) was prolific in coming up with ideas, getting at least 70 patents in his lifetime.  Bell (1847-1922) was another busy man.  He obtained 18 patents on his own and another 12 with collaborators.

In 1876 they both arrived at the U. S. patent office to submit applications for a patent for the telephone.  It has been said that Bell arrived one hour before Gray, and thus, his patent was accepted and he is known as the inventor of the telephone.  Some insisted Gray was the first but didn't get there in time to get the documentation he deserved for his invention.

Did they each know of the other and the work that was being done?  I really don't know.  Some folks do like to talk with others about what they are working on, and it has been reported that Bell's co-inventors were not happy about his diversion to the phone, for they were busy with something else they felt he should also be involved in.  But was this known prior to the patent, or did the information become public later?

Gray wasn't left out of recognition for his inventions.  His 70 patents testify to that.  And he did go on to found Western Electric as well.

The phone has changed much over the years.  Young people today would not believe some of the things that happened over its evolution.  I'm thinking in particular of party lines - shared lines where the intended recipient was alerted to incoming calls via ring patterns.

Do you remember the movie "Pillow Talk" starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson.  It came out in 1959 and they portrayed two parties sharing a phone line.  They despised each other and would argue over the phone about the other tying up the line for extended periods, limiting their own ability to make and receive call.

Of course they lived in New York City in rather posh circumstances.  All the more unrealistic to today's young people to imagine the necessity of sharing your phone and line with a complete stranger who has the ability to listen to your entire communication life.  Because of course you could not at that time conceive of taking your personal own phone with you wherever you might travel.

So thank you to Alexander Graham Bell, but also to Elisha Gray for all the work you both did to advance civilization's communication abilities.

Monday, February 9, 2015

A New Station Opens

 

          1894, Little Rock, Arkansas,  expanded their fire department across the river
          to include Argenta, which years later would become North Little Rock.  The
          move was documented in the station's records:

June 14, 1894    Moved to Argenta with one hose cart collard with 2 men from Little Rock, Julian Davis, C.M. Gaynor, 1 man from this side named James O'Riley.  Went to work on the 14th of June.  One minute man went to work June 16th.  List of things sent over 2 horses, 500 ft. new rubber hose, 250 ft. binam hose, old hose, 2 spanners, 1 plug wrench, 2 slicker coats, 3woolen blankets, 2 reflecting lamps, 1 wash basin, 1 monkey wrench for hose cart,, 2 lamps for cart.
                                Co. No. 6  Log Book Entry    Little Rock Fire Department


 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Four Chaplains of the USS Dorchester




(This blog was originally posted February 4, 2013.  I hope you find it of interest. - Karen)


The Four Chaplains of the USS Dorchester

This was written many years ago, when I was in a song writing phase.  I read about these four men and remember them every February 3.  I would encourage you to look them up, to read about them.  They are Father John Washington (Catholic), Rev. Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed), Rabbi Alexander Goode (Jewish), and Rev. George Fox (Methodist).  Four men who truly represented the best of their faith, working together to help all, regardless of the other's faith.  May they rest in Peace.

                                PRAY, CHAPLAIN, PRAY

          It was February third, back in nineteen-forty-three
          The men on the Dorchester faced an angry sea
          And on the way to Greenland in the bitter, biting cold
          Just after midnight they sailed toward heaven's fold.

  (Chorus)     Pray, Chaplain, pray
                     Pray for my soul
                     As I am sinking under
                     In the deep dark cold
                     And as the waves are breaking
                     And I am going down
                     Pray, Chaplain, pray
                     Pray I am glory bound.

          In the Wednesday darkness just after the ship was hit
          Four Chaplains reached for glory as they faced the deepest pit
          Side by side they worked to help save all the men they could
          Side by side they prayed as on that dying ship they stood.


  (Chorus)

          Over nine hundred sailed out on that dark heavy sea
          Over six hundred went down to face eternity
          The Four Chaplains joined them in that black watery deep
          And with the men they prayed for they sleep that final sleep.

  (Chorus)

                     Pray, Chaplain, pray
                     Pray I am glory bound.

 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Symbiosis



A symbiotic relationship is one in which two entities are so wrapped up in each other that neither one can function independently.  I think this is  perfect representation of  this situation.

I like things that are bit unusual.  I found this cypress root that was exposed when exploring a problem with water pipes caused by roots invading an area.  It "spoke" to me, crying out for me to pick it up and take it home.  How could I say No to such pleading eyes.

I took it home, cleaned it up, let it dry awhile, then set to sanding it down.  When finally satisfied with the end product I then applied several coats of polyurethane.  I'm not sure exactly how many coats, but I'm sure it was at least fifteen.  The final piece is about 10 inches tall.  I still enjoy looking at it all these many years later.

Not everyone enjoys the unusual as much as I do, but that's okay.  I respect their opinions, but it doesn't change how I feel about this particular piece.

How do you feel about the unusual?  I'd love for you to share your thoughts.