Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Ever Wondered How Those Wonderful Appliances The Washing Machine And Dryer Came About?

Welcome my fellow learners, especially the ladies. Today we are going to learn about the history of the beloved washer and dryer.

In today’s age, most people take it for granted that they will have clean and dry clothes at the touch of a button. But did any of you stop and think how clothes used to be washed? And usually done by us poor suffering under appreciated women.

Before the birth or even thought of electricity people cleaned their clothes by slapping them on rocks or using harsh sands, before rinsing them off in nearby streams. Then of course all the water was pure and unpolluted, and washing powder or softener was never heard of.

However the earliest washing machine was called a scrub board and was invented in 1797, this was just an oblong piece of wood with a beveled surface, this was used to rub the clothes up and down it, and is also where the phrase came from scrubber woman. However, a little known American call James King, first invented a hand operated washing machine with a drum to put the clothes inside in 1851

But it was a man named Hamilton Smith that patented the first rotary washing machine in 1858, this was improved upon by William Blackstone who loved his wife so much, that he built her for her birthday the first machine to use inside the house. And those where the days when a woman appreciated a household appliance when given one.

However, the first ever electric powered machine was invented by Alva J Fisher around 1907 and was thus manufactured by the Hurley Machine Company from Illinois, this monster was aptly named THOR. This machine came with a galvanized tub, and was powered by an electric motor.

Dryers were first invented in the 1800s in England and France, the earliest known machine was known as the ventilator and was thought of by a Frenchman called Pochon.

So there you have it, a quick summary of how our can’t live without machines first came into being. However, ladies, before you start nagging the husband about how much laundry you have to do, spare a thought about those poor scrubber women who only had the use of a piece of wood to clean clothes.

Monday, 24 February 2014

The History Of Wigs And How The Have Progressed

Welcome my fellow learners, today I am going to talk about the history of the wig, and believe it or not you men should also read this, I think you will be shocked with what you read.

Anyway, away we go then.

Many years ago before we even learned how to walk like an Egyptian, the real ones cornered the market on wigs. Believe it not, both the men and the women indulged in this extravagance. Depending on their social standing, would mean the difference of scratching your head to death from using a wig made from sheep’s wool or vegetable fibers, to having luscious locks made from real human hair, which begs the question of “who is the poor soul running around baldy”?

Now, how ridiculous where these Egyptians, they walked around sporting beautifully made wigs, but in fact most of them actually shaved their heads due to the blistering heat. And then put wigs on their heads to protect them from the sun, boggles the mind!!!!

Other civilizations caught on to this trend, such as the Greeks, Phoenicians Assyrians, and let’s not exclude my ever loving blood thirsty Romans. But the Romans as usual took it a step further, and actually attained the hair for their wigs from slaves. And now, all you modern ladies out there, the Roman women actually used these hair pieces as extensions for their own hair, which means that all the hair extension ideas available today, are in fact stolen from ancient cultures.

Many of us who love to watch historical dramas or movies, will have seen at least one drama about Louis Xlll who actually sported a wig most of his life due to premature baldness. By the end of this Sun King's rule, wig wearing had spread beyond the nobility. Kings across Europe wore wigs as part of a nobilities wardrobe.

Another memorable royal who wore wigs was Queen Elizabeth I of England. Wigs by then were so common that most people wore them. The name wig was actually the name of a long curly wig that Charles II wore, but at the time was known as the periwig. These shorter versions can still be seen today, mostly worn by solicitors, barristers, or lawyers in modern day British Courts of Law

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The History Of Maids And Their Place In Society

Welcome my fellow learners, today’s topic is about the common maid, how they originated, and how they have evolved in today’s society.

When hearing the word maid, one automatically thinks only the rich and wealthy could afford one. While this was very true many years ago, today is a totally different story. However, I am getting ahead of myself, so lets start from the beginning shall we.

Throughout history being a maid was associated of being at the bottom rung of all social societies. However, without these ladies, a gentle woman would not have been able to run her household efficiently.  While a maids wages were to be honest a joke, especially for the work she was required to do, the one good thing was she got free room and board.  A maids duties were long arduous and varied, ranging from cooking, cleaning, house hold maintenance, and in some cases looking after the mistress of the house children.

However, did you know that maids came in all shapes and sizes, a ladies maid for instance was higher in rank that of a chamber maid. So even then there were social statuses for even the hired help.

A prime example of this is, and many of my English readers will remember the popular series of Upstairs And Downstairs, which depicted the different life and styles of the help and the elite.

Anyway, enough of that, where was I? Oh yes, different types of maids. Like I said the lady’s maid only answered to the lady of the house, her social standing was higher and her wages more. Her main duty was to look after her mistress, in such things as clothing, hair stylist and even a seamstress.

Even the cook had a kitchen maid and scullery maid, to help her perform her duties within the kitchen. But did you know that a kitchen maid had a chance of promotion to head cook in time, but the poor old scullery maid would never advance in her choosen career.  

Other maid jobs included a parlour maid, chamber maid, and the nursery maid. These 3 ladies were all assigned specific duties within a household, and never crossed paths until their chores were completed.

In today’s age, the job of a maid has radically changed. It’s not often that they will live in, but instead come daily, weekly or even monthly when required. However, her have basically remained the same.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The History Of Architecture, And Buildings Still In Use Today

Hello my fellow learners. Today we are going to look at some of the oldest architectural buildings still standing, and why architects are a source of gold.

Ok, let’s begin. We have all heard about the Seven Wonders of the World, but did you know that only one of these beautiful structures still exists today? This would be the magnificent Great Pyramids of Giza, however, it is a sad but known fact that this great Pyramid is starting to decay and crumble.

But stop, before you dash off to book your plane ticket, wait, there are plenty of other ancient structures still kicking that demands your admiration too. These range from a church that is over 2000 years old, to a timber built Buddhist temple, and believe it or not these 2 remarkable buildings are STILL in use even today.  

Istanbul in Turkey has a long and checkered past, ranging from blood thirsty wars, to the peaceful loving people of today. However, in a place known as Santa Sophia there still stands a monolith, housing a church, mosque and museum that were built in 537AD. This structure stands like a beacon shining over the occupants of Santa Sophia offering hope and inner peace.

Ah back to those Romans again, this race of people are infamous for building some of the most exquisite structures ever known to man. The Pantheon housed in Rome was originally built as a temple in 117AD by a man known as Hadrian, and has been used in various forms or other throughout history. It is THE most well preserved out of all the Roman buildings ever constructed, however, today people can now view it as a museum and a Roman Catholic church.

The Colosseum also built by Romans once housed over 50,000 of them, anyone who has seen the old movie Ben Hur with Charlton Heston will remember the legendary chariot scene, which was supposed to have been shot in the Colosseum, this was the staging area where many people were sent to die at the hands of the infamous gladiators, and yes I too have seen the movie Gladiator, this was a good depiction of what horrendous deeds were done.

These examples are but a drop in the ocean of what still stands today, however, none of these magnificent buildings would be around without the help and design of architects, that folks are why these professionals are still solely needed today.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

The History Of Sewers And How They Were Started

Hello my fellow learners, today’s topic is about the history of the plain old sewer system. Ok I know boring right. Well read on you may be quite surprised with what you learn?

Well, it seems that there is some controversy on who exactly invented the first sewerage system, the common consensus say that those blood thirst Romans are at it again, and they were the first people to invent, and use a sewerage system.  While others state that a Londoner called Joseph Bazalgette was the first to implement them in the 19th century.  So let’s see why this gentleman decided to do this.

Anyone who knows their history will remember the cholera epidemic raging in London from around 1853 to 1854, which killed over 10,000 people. At the time people mistakenly thought it was due to foul smelling air, thus creating the phrase the Great Stink in 1858. People living in or around the Thames area were more affected by this smell. Our ingenious Mr. Bazalgette rightly concluded that the foul water from the old sewers, combined with all the underground rivers was creating a putri dish for cholera. By 1866 Joseph devised a network of sewers to divert all this dirty water to a treatment water works.  

However, this gentleman was not the person who actually invented the sewer system. So let’s get back to those Romans. Call them what you will, but you have to admit they were technologically advanced for their time period. Many historians believe Romans made the first sewer system between 800 and 735 BC give or take a few years. These clever Romans built a channel and named it

The Cloaco Maxima, which I have to ask, what was it with these people that everything ended with a max or maximus???? Your comments on this question would be interesting. Anyway, to get back to the topic. This was originally built for the land surrounding the forum, and the sewers were slowly built around it.  All of the contents from the Cloaco Maxima were dumped into the Tiber. However, and there is always a but, most of the commoners just dumped all their waste into the street, which eventually led to the main drain and was swept away.

Monday, 10 February 2014

What Are Sidings And Do We Really Need Them?

Hello my fellow learners. Today we are going to discuss the value of roof sidings, and do we really need them, or is the housing or roofing industry just scamming us for more money.

I don’t know the average age group of the people who read my blog, but if you were born more than 40 years ago, or even longer, many of you will remember the way houses used to be built. Just look at some of the older period houses that are still around now, I don’t seem to recall seeing much siding on these, there were a few but not many. Is this just another gimmick for home owners to spend their hard earned money on? Only time will tell. 

Before siding, houses were built to withstand all climates, having properly done damp proof courses, and using materials to ensure the interior of a home was waterproofed.  Many years ago, in a little country called England, there was a craze for a while for stone cladding to be put on the exterior of homes. Done correctly this gave the home amazing curb appeal. However, it turned out that year’s later people started noticing damp on the insides of their homes. It turns out, that this revolutionary cladding was actually absorbing the moisture through the stone and trapping it. Also, when all this came to light, people looking to sell their homes having this cladding on, it were finding it incredibly difficult to sell. As most surveyors could not tell what was happening underneath the cladding.

Anyway, enough of my rant, if you haven’t already guessed it, I personally don’t like the idea of sidings. But that is just my personal opinion.

So on to what kind of siding is available, and what their advantages and disadvantages are?
They say that any home improvements or repairs done will only improve the value of it. However, can one person’s style really appeal to everyone?  According to public opinion sidings can improve the appearance, curb appeal and value of a home.

The most common materials available for sidings are wood, asbestos (which totally amazes me since when has this material ever been safe?) aluminum, vinyl, hardboard composite, fiberglass, and cement fiber.

Asbestos thank the lord is no longer used, fiberglass and hardboard composite have been replaced by aluminum, wood and vinyl.  

I just want to add a little note that if this siding was so revolutionary, then why not make it in vinyl, aluminum, and wood in the first place.

Ok let's take a closer look at the 3 I have just mentioned.

Wood and beveled wood is one of the oldest sidings ever to be used, however, even though done right it can look incredibly beautiful, the maintenance is extremely high. Being made from wood, it can rot, and will need regular painting to keep up its appearance.

Aluminum siding is lower in maintenance, comes in a wide range of colors, and the good thing is that it is already pre-painted, however, due to this material, denting can be a major concern. And I quite frankly think it makes a house look like a pre war big bomb shelter.

Last but not least is vinyl, which to be honest, of all the choices that are available I prefer this one. It’s cheaper, comes in a range of colors, and can be installed horizontally or vertically, unlike its counterparts. However, the biggest drawback with this is it’s prone to cracking in cold climates.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

What Type Of Roofing Material To Choose For Your Climate

Hello my fellow learners, and welcome back. In my last article I talked about the history of roofs, this one is a continuation of it but more in-depth. I have a friend that recently moved from Spain to Bulgaria. Her and her husband decided to build their own house using a plot of land they purchased.  Now we all know, (or should do) that the climates in these 2 countries are vastly different. Bulgaria has all 4 seasons, but their summers last longer. Depending on what part of Bulgaria you reside, in will depend on what kind of weather you get. Anyway I digress, as I was saying they built their own house and made one huge colossal mistake, her husband installed a flat roof.

So what I hear you saying! Flat roofs are notorious for leaking if not done by a professional, that has the right amount of angle and venting to allow water to disperse. Below is a list of what type of materials are better suited to different climates. 

Clay Tiles 
This type of roofing material is better suited to hotter climates, such as California, Arizona and New Mexico. These tiles are known to resist most insects, rot, fire, mold and in some cases depending on how well maintained they are, even time. However, hold your horses, the drawbacks with this type of roofing is the weight! If you have matchsticks for support beams for your roof, then you will definitely have to get them either replaced or reinforced, otherwise your roof will end up in your living room.

Sheet metal has been around for centuries. It is known to keep houses warm by reflecting the heat, and also keeping them cool.  But, if you are anything like me, all I can picture are the ugly metal sheets I used to see on industrial buildings years ago. But, stop the press, with today’s technological advances sheet metal is now manufactured to be astatically pleasing to the eye, and comes in a rainbow of choices for color.

Asphalt Shingles
This is the most common roof material available, due to the fact the price compared to their counterparts is very attractive. It is also durable and again comes in a variety of colors. This material can be utilized in any climate, however, depending on the quality of the asphalt you could find over time that the sand like granules will start to come off.

So people, using this information, please be aware the next time you decide to re-new your roof, always speak to a reputable roofing contractor for the best materials suited for your climate.

Monday, 3 February 2014

How Roofs Began

Hello my fellow learners, today we are going to talk about the history of roofs. Ok I can see the eyes rolling and the yawns starting already. But stop a moment, we all take for granted the roof over our heads, but can anyone really say how they first began, and what they were made out of? Yes I thought not.

Ok let’s begin. Did you know that the first known roofs were made from earth and plants, these were known as Sod roofs, and some examples still exist even today. While they provided good insulation, they were not unfortunately waterproof, pests like rats and mice were known bed companions due to this type of roof.

As per usual the Chinese led the race by creating the first known clay roof over 5.000 years ago. Greece and Babylon were a close second using earthenware tiles, and the bloodthirsty Romans stole the Greeks idea on clay tiles incorporating them into many English structures.

Approximately 735AD thatched roofs starting popping up, and can still be seen today, but need specialized roofers to maintain them. Around 300 hundred years later wood shingles were created. But stop, let’s go back to thatched roofs for a moment, in the 12th century the then reigning King John issued an edict abolishing these roofs due to potential fire hazards, and replacing them with clay tiles.

In the 19th century mass production of these clay tiles began, these revolutionary tiles led the race for nearly 100 years. However, concrete began to replace them, with the advancement of technology, pigments were introduced mimicking their older counterpart’s clay.

In the 1970’s people started to be more aware of their environment, as a result of this Germany created the first ever green roof system. Around the same time a little known material called Asphalt started to appear. This material rapidly became popular due to its inexpensive manufacture.

Even with our vast leaps in technology, roofing materials over the last 200 years have basically stayed the same, with our eggheads just tweaking them to make them more effective. However, glass, polymer etc have started to appear. And who knows in the future what will be covering our heads.