Category Archives: Uncategorized

Glass Slide Projector Awesomeness

Moment of nerdiness this week:  I got REALLY excited when I found the original lens for my glass slide projector.  I was visiting my grandparents and my grandpa and I were rooting around in a box of lenses and I saw the projector lens and said something like “OMG that must be the original lens for my projector!”  I don’t think my grandpa knows what OMG means, so I probably didn’t say it exactly like that.

Not the original lens, but an adequate replacement.

The original lens has found its way home again!

Ok, so you probably don’t know what the heck this projector is even for.  I think the most accurate term for this device is “magic lantern” and it is a lot like a regular film slide projector except that it projects glass slides.

There is definitely fun to be had with such a projector and I have a few photos of my maiden effort at such fun.  Again, this was just a first test so expect an update with more photos at some point.

Easter Bunny Cake Carnage!

I’m writing this post so that next year I don’t make a bunny-shaped cake that looks like an unfortunate hunting incident (see example of real life hunting incident below.  Thanks Lauren and Jake for the photo!)

Real bunny carnage. Not a sight for the squeamish.

Pieces and parts of my failed bunny cake attempt

Even if my baking attempt didn’t result in a perfect product, the cake part still tasted delicious.  Here is the recipe with a few modifications to avoid the falling apart problem in the future:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 egg whites

-Coat mold with Crisco (not oil, not butter!).  Don’t be skimpy!
-Flour the mold.  Be sure to tap off excess flour.  If any surface is not covered with flour–cover it!
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees
-Sift flour.  Sift again with baking powder and salt added
-Cream butter and sugar until fluffy
-Add milk, vanilla, and flour to this mixture
-Beat eggs until they reach soft peaks.  Fold into the above mixture slowly
-Place batter into mold.  Try to avoid disturbing the floured surface as much as possible
-Gently tap the mold to reduce air bubbles
-Attach lid and place on a baking sheet
-Bake for about one hour
-Remove from oven and let cool before removing lid

Cast iron bunny cake mold

Bunny cake with simulated carnage (strawberry sauce)

I’m not sure my grandma was amused.

Cabinet of Curiosities

When I was a kid, I imagined that there was a secret door in my closet.  On the off chance that a burglar entered the house, I planned to run into the closet, shimmy past the clothes rack, and squeeze through the child-size secret door to a safe room that only I knew about.  Perhaps most of us imagine secret places like these; I think this is one reason so many people are captivated by The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

I don’t think I have ever really left the idea of a secret place behind.  I like dusty attics full if boxes that haven’t been touched in years, forgotten corners of museums (like the Field Museum’s botany hall), and cozy places to hide away and read a book.

In the past few years, my apartment has become more and more like the places I used to imagine; part museum, part living space—a place to display collections and combine them in interesting ways.  My aesthetic is like a cabinet of curiosities in the Renaissance sense: a room filled with items that range from natural history to art to relics of the past.  As I’ve discovered, creating this collection hasn’t come at great expense.  When most things you enjoy are considered “old junk” by everyone else, you are in luck.

As I’ve worked on decorating my living space, I’ve tried to renegotiate my relationship to all this “stuff.”  I strive not to own anything so precious that it can’t be broken.  Unlike museums where most everything on display is for viewing only, I want my friends, family, and guests to open up drawers, pick things up, and possibly drop them if that is part of the discovery process.  I used to enjoy storing away my little collections for an imagined future when someone would open up my boxes and discover my “treasures.”  Now I find that future rather difficult to imagine, so I’ve moved most of my things out into the open.  Here are a few images from my little corner of the world.  And if you are in the market for an old roller skate key, let me know.

Reply by 4/1/1946

Wedding day: April 20, 1946

This week I tried out the “My Maps” feature in Google maps.  “My Maps” allows you to create custom maps and add your own content to specific locations including images and notes.  For my first project, I used the names and addresses of people who attended the wedding of my grandparents, George and Libby Krtouš, in 1946.

Most of the guests lived in Chicago’s Czech neighborhoods which included Little Village, Lawndale, and Pilsen.  The Czechs began to disperse beginning in the 1930s, many moving to the western suburbs.  You can see the spread of attendees and the beginnings of that shift westward. This isn’t a large dataset, but I think it is a nice illustration of a general trend, a snapshot of a community in transition.

Unhealthy snacks. A stuffed mammal. The powdered wig search continues.

Flying in a plane is like this photo in that you are not on the ground.  Flying in a plane is not like this photo in that you are off the ground for a long time and everything looks like a model railroad display from your window.  On my way to London, thousands of feet above the ground,  I ate a shrimp appetizer off of a china plate, linen napkin on my lap, glass of wine on my fold-out table.  It felt strange to be so civilized while hurtling through the air encased in a metal shell.   Outside my window it was night but I could see the lights of cities like the flames of thousands of bonfires far below me.  I thought about the light places and the darkness between them.  Some time in the past the light places were safe havens from the wilderness.  Today I wonder if the dark places are actually more humane and sustainable than the cities and their twinkling lights.

As promised, I finished my London scavenger hunt.  I’d give myself a B- in terms of success, but I certainly made an effort.  I couldn’t for the life of me find a dog on a bridge or someone in a powdered wig, but I give myself bonus points for showing up at Parliament on Fat Tuesday to watch members of the House of Lords and House of Commons run a relay race that involved running with a pancake-filled griddle pan.

Here’s the scavenger hunt list with links to photos.  Enjoy.

Stereotypically English/European

Ordinary Objects

Out and About

Extra Challenge

London Scavenger Hunt

Tomorrow I leave for London.  I haven’t traveled internationally since the introduction of body scanners, so I took a look at the TSA website to catch up on anything I had missed.  Have you ever looked at the list of items prohibited in carry-on luggage?  A few examples:
  • Meat cleavers
  • Sabers
  • Swords, including fencing foils
  • Bows and arrows
  • Cricket bats
  • Pool cues
I laugh at this list in part because I know that someone has tried to bring this stuff in their carry-on luggage.  After one such incident, someone at TSA probably had to send an email to the website administrator saying something like “Can you please add “meat cleavers” to our list of prohibited items?”  Come on people.  Do you think you can fit a pool cue in the overhead compartment? I don’t think so.  One item I would like to see added to the list is “curling broom.”  If “cricket bat” is on the list, surely “curling broom” should be too.

Curling. Don't even think about bringing that broom in your carry-on.

Traveling is an adventure, and what better way to enhance your adventure than with a little scavenger hunt!  I called up my friend betsy yesterday and asked her to create a list of items for me to find and photograph while I am on my trip.  Entertaining photographs earn extra points.  The gauntlet has been thrown down.  Will I be able to find each item on the list?  Find out next week when I upload the scavenger hunt photos.  Take a look at the list of challenges, organized by category, below.

Stereotypically English/European
  • a punk
  • a jar of marmite
  • a man in a powdered wig
  • a mini
  • a baby on the tube
  • the London Olympic mascot
  • a building pre-dating the London fire

Ordinary Objects

  • a key
  • a cup
  • a clock
  • a cake
  • a ticket

Out and About

  • a boat in use
  • train tracks
  • a scrap of paper found on the ground with something hand-written on it
  • someone in a large hat
  • a dog on a bridge
  • twins
  • an unhealthy children’s snack
  • a street sign that you don’t understand the meaning of
  • someone exercising
  • something you would buy if you had the money
  • something you wouldn’t buy even if someone paid you the price of the item
  • a street performer
  • a three-tined fork
  • an ear of someone you have never met
  • a stuffed mammal

Extra Challenge

  • a photo taken from a rooftop (you must be on the roof and it cannot be a roof for which you need buy a ticket to go on)
  • an autograph (from anyone you meet while in england.  preferably not anyone famous)
  • a photo of your feet in the ugliest shoes you can find

Where do you buy your hats? And other improper questions

As a kid I spent two weeks each summer at my aunt’s farm in Waupaca, Wisconsin.  The farm, like many old properties, was rich with the leftovers of life from the people who lived there in years past.  Though I never had the chance to go up into the attic of the old farm house before it was demolished, I heard that it contained election posters, a dried bouquet of flowers, and other items left behind by the first owners. The barn had relics inside that included a cream separator,  whetstone, J.C. Higgins bicycle (which I took apart a couple years ago and haven’t put back together—sorry Aunt Connie!), and a yellow refrigerator.

I was excited to find the book “Manners for Millions” by Sophie Hadida, published in the early 1930s, during one of my searches.  A couple years ago when I was up for a visit I typed up the manners quiz from the front of the book, unsure of what to do with it.  Below is the quiz with an answer key.  Quiz your friends! Quiz your enemies!  Good luck.  And if you want to learn more about manners, such as why you shouldn’t ask a woman where she buys her hats, then you’ll just have to buy the book.

From, “Manners for Millions: A Correct Code of Pleasing Personal Habits for Everyday Men and Women”
by Sophie C. Haida, 1936

pgs. 2-3 Intelligence Test

Pronounce aloud:
address (on envelope)
address (sermon)

Of the following sentences which are correct?
1. Was you there?
2. What kind of piano have you?
3. One of the boys were there.
4. The man who I saw was ready to pay refused at the last moment.
5. She did not like him telling her what to do.
6. The aunt and guardian were on the porch.
7. Mr. Roger’s s home burned.
8. The dress sets well over the hips.
9. Hens set.
10. I laid down for one hour this morning.

Here are two forms of introduction:
“Mr. Ogden, this is Miss Mannerly.”
“Miss Mannerly, meet Mr. Ogden.”
Which is correct?

With which hand is it correct to convey food with the fork to the mouth?

***Answer key***
right: kol-um
wrong: kol-yum

right: koo-pon
wrong: q-pon

right: a-dult
wrong: ad-ult

right: ad-DRESS
wrong: AD-dress

right: ad-DRESS
wrong: AD-dress

right: se-CRE-tive
wrong: SE-cre-tive

right: q-li-na-ry
wrong: kull-in-a-ry

right: lar-inks
wrong: lar-nyx

right: bron-ki-al
wrong: bron-i-kal

right: hy-DRAN-ge-a
wrong: hy-DRAIN-ge-a

right: sick-la-men
wrong: sigh-kla-men

right: sac-ri-LE-geious
wrong: sac-RE-LIG-ious

right: strenGth
wrong: strenth

right: hite
wrong: highth

right: mu-NIC-i-pal
wrong: MU-na-cip-l

right: ac-CLI-mate
wrong: AC-cli-mate

numbers 4 and 7 are correct

Neither is correct.  Both forms are considered atrocious.

Either hand is correct at times; but you have to know the times.

Hipster Dreams Explained!

Do you wake from a night’s sleep befuddled by your dreams of being a hipster?  Your concerns are not unfounded.  The average citizen is untrained in the art of dream interpretation.  The good people of The Star Series have created the Egyptian Dream Book to instruct you in the ancient practice of deciphering the phantasms that occupy your sleeping unconscious.

This book is not available in an ordinary five and dime store.  In fact, you may not be able to find it in your locality.  For the betterment of the reading public a selection of words that pertain to hipster dreams have been reprinted below.

The Star Series includes such tantalizing titles as “Selected Vaudeville Jokes,” “Tramp Jokes: Recitations & Monologues,”  “Irish Yarns: Fun Wit & Humor,” and “Funny Rhymes: A Choice Collection.”

Hipster Dreams as Interpreted by The Egyptian Dream Book:

  • Bar: To see in a dream a liquor-saloon, bar or wine-shop, gives assurance of a long life.
  • Beard: A very long beard seen in a dream means an unfortunate undertaking; if it is moderately long and white, honors are to be bestowed on you; if it is black, luck is in your favor; if a bearded woman appears in your dream you will soon be wed.
  • Beer: To see one’s self drinking beer in a dream is a threat of serious trouble.
  • Bicycle: Many troubles and losses will be the lot of whoever dreams of a bicycle.
  • Books: To see one’s self reading a good book in a dream, a promise of honors and fine position; if you are reading a wicked book, expect nothing but shame and disgrace.
  • Cigarettes: To see one’s self smoking cigarettes in a dream, or to simply gaze at cigarettes, is a sign of very short-lived joy ahead.
  • Clothing: A dream in which any kind of clothes play a dominant part, announces sorrows, illness, and death.
  • Coffee: To see yourself drinking coffee in a dream, means many disagreeable incidents ahead; if you are roasting coffee-beans, you will have arduous and ill-requited work ahead of you.
  • Glasses: Old fashioned spectacles or eye-glasses, in a dream, tell you that you are very blind and silly in your waking hours.
  • Music: In a dream, to make music or to simply hear some, is a promise of money and bliss in the near future.
  • Mustache: Many quarrels and insults will torment one who dreams of mustaches.
  • Reading: In a dream, to see yourself reading some serious work, means that you will soon be advanced in your profession; if the book read is a novel, you will enjoy fleeting satisfaction.
  • Tattoo: Regrettably, the authors of The Star Series were unable to reach their Cairo dream correspondent for an interpretation of this word due to recent governmental changes.