Windows will be squeaky clean with the squeegee.
- Squeegees are a flat tool that are typically used to assist in the cleaning of large, smooth surfaces.
- ‘Squeegees’ are also known as ‘squimjims’ and ‘squilgees’, and they are commonly used to clean windows.
- Most squeegees have the appearance of an uppercase letter ‘T’, consisting of a long bar with rubber strip, or ‘blade’ as it is called, and a handle that depending on its use, can be quite short or very long.
- A squeegee is typically used by placing the blade on the wet surface to be cleaned, and pulling the tool across the surface, applying pressure to the blade towards the direction the tool is moving, and in so doing, ensuring liquid and grime are not missed.
- Squeegees are manufactured with either a plastic or lightweight metal body, and along with the rubber strip, they sometimes include a sponge or textile strip that allows the user to scrub or wash a surface before using the blade that removes the liquid.
- The usefulness of the squeegee comes in its ability to move or remove large quantities of liquids, including cleaning solutions and dirt in a short time.
- Water was removed from ship decks by squeegees (‘squilgees’ they were called at the time) as early as the mid 19th century, and later they were utilised to clean streets and floors and used in the photography industry, before the invention’s eventual application for windows.
- In addition to cleaning surfaces of liquids and dirt, the squeegee has been applied to clean chalkboards and whiteboards, re-ice rinks, used in the screen-printing industry to apply ink, as well as enabling six people to be freed from a failed elevator during the 2001 September 11 attacks in the United States city of New York.
- While the invention of the modern style squeegee intended for windows has been widely attributed to the 1936 tool produced by Italian window cleaner Ettore Steccone, earlier models were already in existence, a notable one of which is that invented by Wilbur Cornelius in 1883 in Indiana in the United States, which had two rubber blades, a similar form to modern style ones, and was specifically designed for use on floors and windows.
- The term ‘squeegee’ is likely to be a derivation of the term ‘squeege’ meaning ‘to press’ or ‘to squeeze’.
Rosenberg A, Ettore Steccone: Inventor of Modern Squeegee, 2014, Oakland Tribune Online, http://www.italystl.com/ra/1333.htm
Kazoos are not just for the casual amateurs!
- A kazoo is a small apparatus that can produce music by a person humming, singing or speaking into the mouthpiece.
- The shape of a kazoo is often compared to that of a submarine, and it features holes at both ends, with another in what is generally a raised cylinder on the top.
- To produce a good sound, a user should hum into the kazoo or make the sounds ‘rrr’, ‘doo’, ‘who’ or ‘brrr’ and avoid blowing, and in doing so, a buzz-like sound is added to those made by the user.
- Kazoos distort the sound entered by the user, due to the vibration of the membrane that is located at the bottom of the hole in the top of the instrument, and this is caused by the changing air pressure made by the sound.
- It is thought that the earliest form of kazoo was used by traditional African tribes to manipulate one’s voice, made of a cows’ horn and spider egg casings.
- There is a museum dedicated to the kazoo, located in South Carolina’s Beaufort in the United States, which opened in 2010.
- By the late 1870s, patents for buzzing musical instruments with similar functionality to the modern kazoo surfaced, however it was not until 1902 that the modern style shape was patented, by George D Smith from New York, in the United States.
- The name ‘kazoo’ is believed to have been given to the instrument in 1883 by inventor Warren Frost, and the word is possibly an onomatopoeia (a word that imitates a sound) of the noise that the instrument makes.
- Quality kazoos are commonly made of metal, while other variants typically produced are made of plastic or wood; and not only have they been used as musical instruments, but also as toys.
- Kazoos were first used in a professional music recording in 1921 by the Original Dixieland Jass (or Jazz) Band, in the song ‘Crazy Blues’.
History of the Kazoo Through Patents, 2013, Association of American Kazoologists, http://kazoologist.org/history.html
The whistle does not break the silence – it shatters it!
- Whistles are noise-making devices that produce sound due to a burst of air movement, and the air often comes from a person blowing into the device with their mouth.
- Whistles consisting of wooden or bone pipes have been crafted since ancient times, and they had notable applications in Ancient Greek and Roman culture, where they were used to keep the timing of galley boat rowing strokes.
- Whistles have a wide range of potential purposes, with common applications including to enforce authority, to signal, to alert and to entertain.
- One of the modern style whistles, known as the ‘pea whistle’, was invented in 1883 by Joseph Hudson, a toolmaker from England, and it was the first portable modern device that could produce such a commanding shrill sound.
- Most whistles function by a burst of air being split by a bevel, part of which exits out the top hole in the whistle, while the other half enters the chamber and exits a second hole to create the sound.
- The modern pea whistle is one of the most popular style whistles in the world, and it was inspired by the noise Hudson’s violin made whilst breaking, as it produced a trill sound when the string broke.
- A small ‘pea’, usually made of a synthetic or natural cork, is located in the chamber of a pea whistle, and it is used to manipulate the stream of air when the device is blown into.
- Whistles were quickly adapted for refereeing sport matches, and one was first used in a football game in 1878; and they started replacing police officer’s cumbersome hand rattles from 1883.
- Materials that whistles are created from include metal, such as brass, although cheaper variants will often be manufactured from plastic; and the sound of the device is altered by the material used, its thickness, the size of the device, the size of the holes, the angle of the bevel, and the force of the air.
- The design of the modern whistle has remained largely unchanged since its invention, although ‘pea-less’ variants are available, and tend to be more reliable due to the lack of moving parts.
History of the Whistle, 2016, Granville District Football Referees Association, http://gdfra.org.au/history_of_the_whistle.htm
How much stress can a stress ball take?
- Stress balls are objects that fit in the palm of one’s hand, and are used primarily to relieve stress by manipulating or throwing the item.
- ‘Stress balls’ are also known as ‘stress relievers’, and they are commonly found in both offices and homes.
- Although typically of a spherical shape with a diameter of approximately 5.7 centimetres (2.25 inches), stress balls can come in all shapes, colours, designs and sizes.
- Stress balls can range from soft and squishy to hard, and depending on their firmness, they can provide noise, texture, absorb force, be smooth, or have a weightiness, that helps to relieve stress.
- Many stress balls contain gel or other substances, which affect the density and flexibility of the object, and they may also include noisemakers including chimes.
- Stress balls originated in Anicent China around 1368 AD as hard Baoding Balls, that are still used today, and these traditional balls are intended to be rotated in one’s palm, and are said to stimulate a person’s acupressure points on the hand.
- Stress balls are among the most common promotional objects, often featuring company logos as a marketing strategy, and they are frequently given as gifts.
- American Alex Carswell invented the first of the modern style stress balls, in 1988, and his invention contained a microchip that when thrown at something, activated a glass shattering sound, as Carswell wanted to convey the sense of something breaking.
- In addition to relieving stress and muscle tension, stress balls are commonly recommend by doctors and physiotherapists for hand rehabilitation, while other benefits may include hand coordination.
- Modern stress balls are typically made of foam, rubber, plastic, and synthetic textiles, or a combination of these materials, while the traditional style Chinese balls are often formed from stone or metal.
A garden gnome’s friendly smile may not be as it seems…
- Garden gnomes are human-like figurines based on dwarves, typically used in gardens for decorative purposes.
- ‘Garden gnomes’ are also known as ‘lawn gnomes’ or are simply called ‘gnomes’.
- The stereotypical garden gnome is a bearded-white male with a red hat, though variations exist.
- Garden gnomes have their history in statues that were placed in gardens during the Renaissance period in Europe, and in some of the 17th century statues, dwarves were depicted.
- Some of the earliest manufacturers of garden gnomes were Johann Maresch and Adolph Baehr, who became partners in about 1841 and established a factory in Germany.
- Early garden gnomes were made of clay, porcelain or wood, while modern ones are typically made of resin, plastic or ceramic; though cement, plaster and cast iron materials have also been used.
- Gnomes, and garden gnomes by extension, traditionally are symbolic of good fortune; and they were likely to be first used in gardens because they were seen as protectors and night-time helpers.
- Garden gnomes are generally painted in bright colours, and they are often depicted holding a garden tool or other object.
- As a common practical joke, or as an act of vandalism in extreme cases, garden gnomes have been stolen – ‘kidnapped’ – from gardens, and been taken on a journey and photographed at places of interest.
- Garden gnomes were popularised in Germany during the 1800s, and from there, the ornaments were distributed to England and other parts of Europe.
No bath is the same without a rubber duck.
- Rubber ducks are popular buoyant, duck-shaped toys that are stereotypically yellow.
- Rubber ducks are typically played with in the bathtub, especially by young children, and they have been used to encourage children to be less fearful of having a bath.
- A ‘rubber duck’ is also known as a ‘rubber duckie’ and ‘rubber ducky’; and in 2013, the duck was included in the Toy Hall of Fame.
- The rubber duck originated in the late 1800s, and was originally made of the newly available hard rubber, and as they were intended as a toy to chew on, they were not hollow, so they were not buoyant.
- Since the 1950s, flexible PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic has been used to make rubber ducks, and they are usually relatively soft and squeezable, sometimes making a squeaky noise; and many variations to the common simple-shaped yellow ducks have since been produced.
- Sesame Street’s Ernie popularised the rubber duck in 1970, when he first sang a song about his own ‘Rubber Duckie’, the Muppet’s favourite toy, and the song became a hit and had significant impact on some aspects of western culture.
- The modern style of the rubber duck is believed to be based upon one that was patented in 1949 by Peter Ganine, a Russian-American artist, and it is said that at least fifty million ducks of his design were sold.
- Rubber ducks are collected by a small population of people, and the largest collection, as of 2011, that was recognised by the Guinness World Records, included 5631 unique ducks, and these were owned by Charlotte Lee of the United States.
- The largest floating rubber duck in the world, as of 2016, made its debut in 2014, and it was created from inflatable vinyl with a steel pontoon for a base; was 18.6 metres (61 feet) in height; and owned by American Craig Samborski; though other giant rubber ducks exist or have existed and have been placed in harbours and other waterways around the world – an idea originally birthed and designed by artist Florentijn Hofman from the Netherlands.
- Rubber duck derbies are events held around the globe, often as fundraisers, consisting of thousands, or as many as a hundred thousand ducks set afloat in the race, and the first to cross the finish line is designated the winner.
Meyer L, Rubber Ducks and Their Significance in Contemporary American Culture, 2006, Celebri Ducks, http://www.celebriducks.com/pdf/rubber_duck_history.pdf