Sort of Fabulous

So, I just found this rather awesome post combining two of my favorite things–vintage advertisements and how people did it back it the day…

Check more of ’em out!

how to water plants while out of town…

how to make a water filter…

These things are on DOZENS of topics! Household hints like rewebbing a chair, a breakdown of swimming strokes, pretty ladies of numerous ethnicities, science stuff, birds of the world, ju-jitsu moves (which I may have spelled incorrectly), Highland clans (including where my ancestors hail from), gardening tips, freshwater fish, and fortune telling cards.  There’s even a series on Hindu deities (not too sure why this surprises me).

Look, its Lakshmi!

Although, take them with a grain of salt…some of the advice written is no longer advisable!

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Male Anti-Masturbation Patents from 1859-1915


Oh, this is capital!

I’ve been neglecting this blog, but its not forgotten…

Originally posted on prettyawfulthings:


It should come as no surprise that an archival search of the U.S. Patent Office yields an embarrassment of riches regarding various contraptions for guarding against “self-abuse” (masturbation) and “nocturnal seminal emissions” (wet dreams) in human males.

[B]etween the years 1856 and 1918, a total of 36 [American] applications for such strange devices received patents.

The problem with a nation that has historically been both fascinated by invention and tortured by prudery.

Coiled springs, compressed rings, pubic hair tethers, refrigerated envelopes, electrical shocks, clamps and metal pockets.

“It is a deplorable but well-known fact that one of the most common causes of insanity, imbecility, and feeble-mindedness, especially in youth, is due to masturbation or self-abuse.”

– Ellen Perkins, 1908

Via Scientific American for the grisly details for these “innovations”.

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Plant Divisions: Ferns and Horsetails


I’ve sort of forgotten about you extra little blog of mine…but this, this has me inspired! What an awesome blog to check out!

Originally posted on Tentative Plant Scientist:

All plants in the Pteridophyta Division are known as ferns and most have the easily recognisable fern-shape, with fronds that unfurl to form distinctive self-similar shaped leaves radiating from a central point. These ferns are often grown in gardens and like shady areas with moist soil. Their leaves have also been used to demonstrate fractals, as explained here.

However there are a smaller number of plants in the Pteridophyta Division that have very different forms, some do not even have leaves, others look more like clovers than ferns.

What makes pteridophytes different to other plants?


Pteridophytes differ from lycophytes (see previous blog about Lycopodiophyta Division) in that most have true leaves, called macrophylls. There are a few exceptions, such as Psilotales (see below) and horsetails (Equisetum).

Fern leaves grow by unfurling, starting off as tightly coiled balls. The manner of unfurling varies from species to species.

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Birding Basics

Whether you are interested in birding, or just interested in nature, a great resource is the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  They have one of the largest libraries of bird vocalizations in the world, and a youtube channel with tons of great footage.    The following four clips are from their site, and offer the best introduction for what to look for when birding that I have run across yet.

Categories: Civil War, nature watching, zoology | Tags: | Leave a comment

Originally posted on Mr. Barlow's Blog:

The Fibonacci Sequence is the series of numbers:

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, …

The next number is found by adding up the two numbers before it — and it is in nature …

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Beach-combing the Chesapeake: Mole Crab

mole crab anatomy

Atlantic Mole Crab (Emerita talpoidia)

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda (Crustacea)
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Decapoda
Family: Hippidae
Genus and species: Emerita talpoidia

This is a mole crab.  Aren’t they just cool looking?mole_crab

Mole crabs are not “true” crabs. Instead they are a related group of organisms which are found on beaches around the world.  There are 10 recognized species in the Emerita genus, one of which is local to the Chesapeake Bay area.

During the summer mole crabs live in an area of the inter-tidal zone known as the “swash zone”. The swash zone is exactly what it sounds like–the area where the waves come and “ssssssssssssssswash” ashore, from the area where they crash onto the beach to the extent that they come inland.  The mechanics of the swash zone are actually a lot more complicated than this, but that is probably another topic for another day!

The mole crab burrows in the sand and uses its antennae to filter feed. These guys eat plankton and detritus.  They are easily found by digging in the area where the wave hits the beach and retreats, as well as when they are washed too far ashore at high tide to be able to dig into the sand.  Mole crabs need sand that is mostly water to “dig” in, otherwise they get stuck and look dead (like these guys–when you put them back into the water, they zoom off and dig in).


Females are about an inch long (sometimes up to 1 1/2 inches) and males are no more than about a half an inch.  Their life span is thought to be about 2-3 years, and they are capable of reproducing in their first year.

Also, the Hubby says he’s heard they make pretty good bait for fishing (just found this site, which has some awesome pics, a great explanation of how to catch them, along with advice on using them as bait).

And…for you adventurous foraging types, mole crabs are apparently EDIBLE for people!!

(I am so trying this next year!)

Categories: beach combing, zoology | Tags: | 1 Comment

Ladybug Mimic Spider


This is just totally awesome!

(and I need to get back over here and start blogging again, lol)

Originally posted on Mr. Barlow's Blog:

In evolutionary biology, mimicry is the similarity of one species to another which protects one or both. This similarity can be in appearance, behaviour, sound, scent and even location, with the mimics found in similar places to their models.

For example, take a closer look at this cute ladybug and you’d be surprised to find that it’s actually a spider.

More pictures here.

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Our favorite “hardtack”

Let me preface this by saying the following:

Our favorite hardtack is not really hardtack.

You see, hardtack is…well, not very tasty. Its seriously just flour and water (perhaps a pinch of salt), baked and then ‘seasoned’ (by 1863 Union specifications, kiln-dried).

Back in the day, hardtack was about the consistency of  a weevil infested hockey puck.  To make it somewhat palatable, soldiers would place their ration of hardtack in their fire buckets overnight.  The water would re-hydrate and expand the hardtack and in the morning the soldiers might break it up and turn it into “biscuits” (similar to the camp bread recipe I posted a while back).  Hardtack might also be ground up and used to thicken stews and soups or broken into chunks to cook in stews and soups as “dumplings”.  If soldiers needed to eat their ration of hardtack in a rush, they poured boiling hot coffee over it which killed off the weevils and re-hydrated the hardtack enough to keep all of one’s teeth in place.

Okay, so maybe loosing a tooth in it is a stretch.

Or maybe it isn’t–scurvy is caused by the lack of vitamin C, resulting symptoms that include spongy gums and loose teeth, and the diet of Civil War soldiers (on both sides) wasn’t very nutritious.  Diseases from bad diets (as well as from poor hygiene, bad water, skeeters and loose morals*) were responsible for 2/3 of the 600,000+ Civil War deaths.  The soldier’s diet trifecta consisted of hardtack (or johnny cakes for the Rebs), salted pork and coffee was only occasionally supplemented (mainly while in camp and garrison) with canned goods, rice, beans, and fresh produce or meats (less so for Confederate soldiers as the war dragged on).

So, we really like this stuff instead:

A Sailor’s Diet

In one container combine the following:
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned or quick oats.
3 cups unbleached flour.
1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
1 teaspoon baking soda.

In a separate container, mix:
1 1/2 cups buttermilk.
3 tablespoons honey.
1/2 cup melted bacon drippings or shortening.

Combine the two sets of ingredients. When the dough is thoroughly mixed, roll it out on a floured board to a thickness of about a quarter inch. Cut out circles of dough with a large drinking glass dipped in flour and put them on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 5 1/2 minutes at 450° F. Let the hardtack cool on a wire rack before serving with jam or jelly.


Cooking Notes:
1)we add an extra squeeze (proly an extra tablespoon) of honey
2)we use butter flavored crisco for the shortening
3)FYI: the dough will be very dry, if it is too dry to work, add a wee bit of extra buttermilk

*Soldiers during the Civil War, on both side, frequently frequented prostitutes.  Gonorrhea and syphilis were pretty common, and eventually lethal, due to lack of effective treatment. In fact, there is even an entire (quite interesting) book on the subject (though not entirely without controversy), called The Story the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell: Sex in the Civil War by Thomas P. Lowry, M.D.

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Of Kangaroos and Casserole

It all began at the ‘Eland Dinner’, held in 1859 at the London Tavern, when all the braver naturalists assembles to see if they thought eland should be introduced to the national diet.1

Once upon a time there was a fellow by the name of Francis Trevelyan Buckland. Frank, as he was known, “set standards for the sensory appreciation of British wildlife, especially vertebrates, that have seldom been matched and never exceeded. Not content to confine his fascination to the more usual diagnostic characters (appearance, morphology, and the like), Buckland also set himself the challenge of demonstrating, not the mere edibility, but the actual palatability of British and exotic wildlife.”2  In other words, Frank was no vegetarian.  Not only did Frank eat wildlife, but he led the brief but popular natural history fad of eating exotic species as a way of studying them for England, otherwise known as zoophagy.

Born in England to William Buckand, a noted geologist and palenotologist of the time and his wife Mary (who was a gifted natural historian in her own right), Frank grew up in a well to-do and well connected family.  He attended Oxford, where he received his B.A. and then trained and worked as a surgeon briefly, before quitting his post and turning to natural history.  Frank became a popular author and lecturer, particularly among the working classes, his most noted work being his Curiosities of Natural History.

…in 1860 (Buckland) initiated the Acclimatization Society to further the search for new food.  A French Société Impérial d’Acclimatation had  already been in existence for six years, awarding medals and prizes for domestication of the kangaroo, the Australian emu, the Tibetan kiang ad the South African peetsi.  After all, it seemed unsatisfactory to many people that only four new species of animals had been domesticated within historic times–the turkey in the 16th century, the musk-duck in the 17th and the golden and silver pheasants in the 18th.  Sheer patriotism demanded some gustatory return for the vast and rapid expansion of the British empire: it was absurd that Englishmen in Queen Victoria’s glorious reign should still be eating the same monotonous diet as their midieval forefathers.1

Frank came by his interest in tasting the animal kingdom quite naturally–dinner at his father’s house included meals as varied as horse tongue, puppies, and crocodile.  Nor were the Bucklands some sort of natural history culinary pioneers–in addition to the aforementioned ‘Eland Dinner’, others of their field studied such dishes as well.  Frank, however, elevated the consumption of broiled porpoise, elephant trunk soup and accidentally barbecued giraffe (there was a fire in the giraffe house at the zoo) into an institution.    While this seems quite odd, or even sacrilegious to our modern palates and sensibilities, the work of these men (via the Acclimatization Society) actually contributed to the advancement of the British fishery and aquaculture by promoting hatcheries and bringing attention to the problem of pollution causing decreased fishery productivity.  With the institutionalization of tasting wildlife, comes the institution of breeding it.

As a result of his work in the advancement of the commercial fishery, Frank Buckland would be appointed as “Her Majesty’s Inspector of Salmon Fisheries”, and remain in that position until his early death at the age of 54 (perhaps of tuberculosis or lung cancer)–even today there is an award for British scientists whose research focuses on the issues facing the fishing industry.  Frank Buckland is mostly remembered (though only by those with a quirky interest in science and history) for his diversely experimental palate, of which I would bet kangaroo was a part (it may not have been served in casserole form) though he should really be remembered for bringing the knowledge of scientists to the working classes and the knowledge of the working classes (from fishermen to rat catchers) to scientists (Darwin’s writings even include material from his better work, despite Darwin’s personal dislike of him).  But I also think that perhaps Frank Buckland is the sort of fellow that would prefer it that way…

His great merit as a writer was his power of rendering natural history attractive to the multitude; this he did to perfection… Whilst other writers of popular natural history simply compile, Buckland described from his own quaint and singular points of view.  His descriptions were therefore vivid, and, if not always consistent, were eminently readable, and doubtless have served their own good turn by attracting many to the study of nature and natural objects.
~From the obituary of Frank Buckland in Field, Land and Water

References and Links of interest:
1) The Heyday of Natural History by Lynn Barber (Chapter 10: The Pioneer of Zoophagy)
2) A bit about Frank Buckland, from the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR=one of my favorite sites!)
Frank’s Wiki page
Blog post on zoophagy with an image of a 1905 menu of “Filet of Bornean Rhinoceros” (now critically endangered)
Blog post detailing a bit about Frank Buckland
About Frank Buckland’s legacy–the founding of the Buckland Foundation, which awards the  Buckland Professorship to further research in understanding the problems of commercial fisheries.
A book about Frank

Frank Buckland’s Curiosities in Natural History, reprinted in 2008

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Mae McCaw’s Brown Bread (~1910)

1 c whole wheat flour
1 c white flour
2 c wheat germ
2 c dried fruit (like rasins)
1 c nuts (opt)
1 heaped tsp salt
2 level tsp baking soda dissolved into 2 c buttermilk
12 oz molasses

Steam 3 hours in well-greased 1 lb coffee cans. Uncover and dry off in slow oven for 15 min or so. Cool on rack and store in cool place in cans.

Updated Directions: In a covered container large enough to accommodate three 1 lb coffee cans, place filled coffee tins covered with aluminum foil and tied with string. Add water to the container so the tins are submerged half way. Place lid on kettle and bring water to a boil for three hours—add more water as needed. Uncover and dry off in oven at 325 for 15 min. Cool on rack and store in cool place in cans.

I haven’t tried this one out yet, since I’m still working on an alternative to the coffee can part of it. There are some issues with modern coffee cans that didn’t exist with older ones (polymer coatings, lip of the can, etc)…so the goal is to either find an old one, or to get some Pyrex lab beakers about the same size.

UPDATE: Hubby’s coffee doesn’t have a polymer coating…and…if you use the “right” kind of can opener (the sideways ones), you can take the can lip right off!

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