George H.W. Bush

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George Herbert Walker Bush  1924 – 2018

“You don’t see anybody trashing this president … Whether they agreed with him on certain policy positions or not, people respected him and liked him.” – James A. Baker III

He was that rare figure in Washington: a man without enemies — or with very few, at any rate. –  Adam Nagourney

We love this photo of the former president skydiving on his 80th birthday.  Particularly the way the Army parachute team is looking after their former Commander-In-Chief. – ed/pub

Bridgeport Brass

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Not too long ago we spent half our hours in smoking darkness.  Candles, oil lamps, then kerosene lamps followed.  Just in time for indoor plumbing to make its appearance.  After the glory of a home with a pump in the kitchen came water delivered via pipe into the residence.  Next, the most amazing of inventions, hot water showers!

With us just about the whole way, from 1865 at least, Bridgeport Brass Company supplied the tools, devices, and materials to make it happen.

This company was organized in 1865 to make brass clock movements, and later made hoop-skirt frames, kerosene parlor lamps and the first successful kerosene bicycle lamp, exhibited at the World’s Fair in Chicago, in 1893 . . . Forgotten Landmarks

A few years after The Great War local farmland was consumed by developers.  The new crop of housing sprouted faster than summer corn.  About the same time our pile of bricks was hurriedly stacked, a more ambitious heap was raised up the hill.  Three stories of cells, each to have both cold AND hot water.  The water pipe?  Brass pipe manufactured by Bridgeport Brass Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut.  Shaft-mounted roller dies had stamped a repeating trade name along the length of the pipe.  Plumrite.

Decades later discovered disconnected within wall cavities, a usefulness lost to cracked threads after its three-generation life expectancy, a few feet of Plumrite are saved from the scrap yard.

Here we have a piece of c.1928 Plumrite brass pipe in use as a pipe clamp.  Certainly lends a touch of patrician elegance to the old chap, what?  Genteel, experienced, ready to fasten together the most fractious of violin tops with good manners and charm.

Four Seasons

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We’ll have a cold wet autumn and deep snow this winter.  So the ‘old timers’ warned me.  Not sure there’s much difference between them and me, at this point.  🙂  And I’ve no particular inkling of impending doom-like weather.

But as Issac predicted and warned before the massive Storm of 1900 inundated Galveston – at one point water levels rose four feet in four seconds;  not a wave or swell, but a change in depth – so too have the learned tolled their predictions.  Which are largely coming true.

Down to 8˚ the other night, and we’re still officially mid-autumn.  Yesterday hours of drenching 40˚ rain.  Not a day to be putting in a water service.  Today a bit of clearing.  One last opportunity before the fifth ice age covers Philadelphia up to William Penn’s nose.

Democracy – 2018 –

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California is burning.  Mid-term elections seem largely forgotten.  A few candidates hang by a chad, screaming foul.  Charges fly.  Voter suppression.  Illegally handled ballots.  Racism!  Existing laws broken and court orders ignored.  Is this politics, mommy?

Politics concern the whole world around us, from what we teach in schools;  to where we send our military;  to whether we fix our roads;  to how we handle crime, poverty, addiction, mental health, and the homeless;  to whether pink slime can be included in our burgers;  to a hospital’s obligations to the uninsured.  Laws.  Products of politics.  We live by them.  Some work, some don’t.  Some bad ones need to be changed, and some good ones need to be protected.  Democracy turns on participation.  Around the world, people continue to fight for the right, as did our forbears.

So we fight to make it work.  In some areas, with clear majorities, it works quickly and efficiently.  Where razor-thin margins appear, vote counting and recounting slows.  Ballots are “found”.  Tabulation numbers shift daily.  Judicial Circuit Courts issues judgements, duly ignored.  The process slows to a crawl.

It’s a really fine mess we’ve got ourselves into, when officials cannot publicly provide voter data as mandated by law.  Hey, don’t rush them.  Provisional, mail-in, and early voting ballots are mere suggestions of citizen intent.  In the right hands, they can swing a national election!

Clearly, the honey tastes better on the other side of the fence.  Call me when it is all over.  🙂

Quaker Oats

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Over this Veterans Day weekend, swamped with keeping the boat moving forward, quill never made it to parchment.  Several half articles popped their heads above the hedge but that blasted rabbit got away every time.  Notably, Quaker Oats Instant Oatmeal was on sale;  a winter favorite, our review was imagined as steamy and satisfying … until the words MADE IN CANADA came into focus.  There’s always Heinz Catsup, but that would be too easy …. Maybe next week, the Apex Tool article will finally be finished.  And we will get the Quaker Oats angle;  our top muncher is on it.

Quaker Oats was founded in 1901 by the merger of four oat mills: The Quaker Mill Company of Ravenna, Ohio (founded 1877), which held the trademark on the Quaker name and was acquired in 1901 by Henry Parsons Crowell, who also bought the bankrupt Quaker Oat Mill Company, also in Ravenna.  

The company’s roots are in Akron, Ohio. Ferdinand Schumacher, a pioneer miller born in Hanover, Germany, in 1822, used medieval period milling techniques to manufacture oatmeal on a mass scale.  

Hands On The Earth • Apple Cider

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Romance is in the air.  A brisk windy autumn day, the Schuylkill River brown and full from upstream storms.  Clouds break up long enough for a sunny stroll to my favorite produce stand.  To my true autumnal love, fresh apple cider.

Dave tells me he can sometimes get four gallons of cider per bushel of apples.  The latest press, just a day ago, is giving him a respectable 3.7 gallons.  The pint of cider I enjoy was made with nearly four apples.  And why, Dave, is cider brown?  That’s because it oxidizes as soon as it is pressed.  The flavor is not affected a bit.  The fresh cider tastes like healthy goodness.

If you hear crunch-crunch through the leaves behind you, it may not be a prospective paramour trying to catch your glance.  They may just want to know where you got your cider.  🙂

Breakstone’s Butter

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ADVISORY:  Some images and text may be disturbing to our  celiac  readers.

Americans eat lots of butter. A hundred years ago, EIGHTEEN pounds per person per year.  Thankfully, we’re down to about six pounds per capita  *burp*  Personally, ATB staff have reduced their consumption to sub-Japanese levels, under 0.6 kg per year.  There may be easier ways to live forever, but restricted fats is not a particularly difficult path to a healthy diet.

When we do fall off the wagon, or more appropriately, jump upon the dairy wagon for a healthy dose of converted cream and salt, we reach for the best.  Breakstone’s.

  • 1882: Isaac and Joseph Breakstone (Breakstone Bros) opened a small dairy store on New York City’s Lower East Side.

The best butter?  Attractive marketing?  Hard to say.  Delicious, yes!  And the only brand to display a two-pack, a pair of quarter-pound sticks in a single carton.  Perfect for our dietary pacing.

Owned by Kraft,  manufactured by Keller’s Creamery, under license by Kraft.  Keller’s butters go back over a hundred years, so it is all a creamy mystery as to who is running the shop.  Keller’s Creamery appears to manufacture butter for many labels at its plant in Winnsboro, Texas.  Our spies report townsfolk friendly but protective of their slippery secrets.  Me, I stay away.  Lest I return to a dozen pounds a year  🙂