Thursday, 28 May 2015

The Evoloution of the Humble Drinking Straw

It's been a while but here is the return of "History of Everyday Items". I hope you enjoy.
Marvin Stone was sipping on a mint julep with some buddies, but he was not enjoying it. In the late 1800s, when this happy hour took place, natural rye grass was the tool used to slurp up your booze.
But Stone found himself decidedly displeased with what the natural straw was doing to his drink. The grass had a habit of falling apart in the liquid, leaving grit as an unpleasant extra cocktail ingredient. So Stone decided to follow an idea we've all once thought about, though with usually nothing productive to show for it; he'd do drinking better.
He started by wrapping a piece of paper around a pencil to create a cylindeical shape. Then he removed the writing utensil and glued the curled pieces of paper together. It seems simple—almost kindergarten fare—but this directed bit of messing around with crafts was huge. And it was an immediate hit with local drinkers who were thrilled to enjoy their beverages sans sediment. Bolstered by the enthusiasm over his paper tube, Stone patented a paraffin-coated manila version in 1888.
At 8.5 inches long and wide enough to stop lemon seeds from getting stuck, Stone's straw improved the slurping experience of, um…every beverage worthy of one. Drinking not only became easier with the improved liquid to mouth elevator, but the cocktail also wasn't muddied by the transportation method.
Just two years after his patent went through, Stone, who owned a paper cigarette holder company, was selling more hand-wound straws than smoke-holders—which was awesome—but the sales left many tired fingers. So: Another innovation.
A machine invented in 1906 by the rebranded Stone Straw Corporation took the winding process hands-free. The technique turned out to be good for spinning other materials into tube shapes, too. Mass-produced radios were outfitted with spiral-wound tubes in 1928 using Stone's process, and now everything from electric motors to batteries to transformers contain the thing.
The Invention and Evolution of the Drinking Straw, from Mint Juleps to Milkshakes
The next big shift in straw-based beverage consumption also happened over drinks, but this time of the soda fountain variety. While watching his daughter fail to drink a milkshake with the standard rigid paper straw, Joseph Friedman, who worked in San Francisco in real estate and optometry while inventing on the side, came up with an idea that would better transfer the milkshake from a tall glass to his small daughter.
The fix was a very clever bit of DIY engineering. He stuck a screw inside a straight straw around the 2/3 mark. Then, he pulled a piece of dental floss around the straw but in the grooves of the screw, which imprinted depressions in the paper tube. This trick allowed the straw-for the very first time—to lean toward the lips of the sipper.
Friedman's patent application, submitted in 1936, makes a descriptive case for the design upgrade. "A view of any soda fountain on a hot day, with the glasses showing innumerable limp and broken straws drooping over the edges thereof, will immediately show that the problem has long existed." No one likes a limp straw. The patent was granted a year later.
It took a decade for Friedman to get the business up and running-including finding the money and talent to build a machine to churn out his bendable sippers. "He himself was not a skilled machinist with an engineering background, but he was smart enough to know where to find the talent," explains National Museum of American History archivist Alison Oswald.
His Flex-Straw Company had initial success in hospitals by offering a disposable replacement to the hollow glass sticks used at the time. Only later was it marketed it for home and child use.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

A Fitting Finale

The Atlantis World sees the conclusion of A.G Riddles Origins trilogy and it delivers a fitting end to a great series. But be warned this book requires a lot of concentration as it weaves a even more intricate narrative than the other books combined.

The author manages to deliver a book that while keeping the feel of the other two books still deliver a completely different experience. As mentioned before this book requires a lot of concentration and can leave you feeling exhausted at times. This for me was an excellent experience as it made me feel like I was working for my entertainment.

I have listened to this entire series on Audibook and have been very impressed overall by their productions. Stephen Bel Davies does an excellent job in narrating the series and delivers a very consistent performance across the trilogy.

4.5 Headphones

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Truth or Fiction ?

Agent Storm on the surface is a fascinating look into the world of radical Islam and how it operates. This is told through the eyes of Morten Storm, who's story takes us through his journey from a troubled Danish youth to that of a radical Islamic and then to that of a double agent.

As many other reviewers have pointed out this book requires you to place you trust in the author. There is no way to verify his story and association with various intelligence organisations. A quick Google search does nothing to clarify the matter.

Be it fiction or fact this book does highlight how certain Islamic groups target disfranchised youth with the view of radicalising them. It also went a long way in giving me a better understanding of the different views of Islam and the issues this causes.

In the end I found this book a fascinating read that has left me with a thirst to find more out about the Islamic faith. I have put aside the question of validity and marked this book according to the high level of engagement I received from it.
3.5 Stars

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Wolf Hunt 2

Time for another review from the Lazy Book Reviewers own Pamellia Smith.

Wolf Hunt 2 is the second book with our heroes, George and Lou. Once again they have been hired/drafted to deliver a possible were wolf to some big shot that they do not care for. If you don't already know this then here is a fact...for Lou and George, things just don't always go as planned.

This book starts out with a bang! Lots of humorous one-liners and guns a-flashin'. No matter how dire the situation the author shows us the bond between these two loveable thugs is binding and unbreakable. 

The book is a good read. Towards the middle I was starting to get bored...just too much gore and one liners. Then the tables turned and the book became very interesting again. I don't think I read such a good ending to a horror book in a long time...actually maybe never. 

I assign this book 3.5 stars, but because of that ending.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Simply Perfect

I have had the pleasure of reading some very good books lately. But it has been a long time since a story utterly enveloped like Red Rising did. I found myself completely drawn into the story as the world around me evaporated just like in the scene from the Never-ending Story (that shows my age).

So what is it about this book that elevated it above all the other excellent books I have read recently. For me it was the completeness of the book. From the character development to the world it was set in. The author winds the narrative through it all and as he does the world becomes more and more real.

Red Rising tells a tale that's very essence is as old as time. It is how this tale is delivered that makes this book stand out in the crowd. Halfway through the read I was already planning how I could get my hand on the next book in the series. I have not done this for a long time and that indicated to me just how fantastic a read it was.

So my hat goes off to Pierce Brown for this truly masterful piece of writing. I recommend this book to all that are interested in being thoroughly entertained. 

5 Stars & LBR Tick Of Approval

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Best New Young Author Around

Book three in the Orbs series by Nicholas Sansbury-Smith like its predecessors did not disappoint. From the first page I was catapulted back into a world slowly dying as Earths water is drained by some particularly nasty aliens. Mankind's tentative hold on existence continues to slowly erode.
As I have come to expect from this author all the three boxes for a great Sci-Fi read are ticked:
- Gripping Narrative
- Engaging and believable characters
- A plot that twist and turn right to the end
Talking about the end this one had me speechless as it blindsided me, especially seeing that I thought I had picked it. If you have not checked this author out yet then do so soon. He is in my opinion one of the most exciting young writers I have seen in a long while.
4.5 Stars

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Wolf Hunt

Time for another review from Pamellia.
This book was so much fun! If you want to rough up a business associate but just don't have what it takes to do such a job, you better call George and Lou. Yes, the protagonists in this book will handle any thing from breaking fingers to blowing out knee caps. All for a fee, of course. These fellows even have an agent lining up work for them just like rock stars.

The book opens with our heroes trying to break the fingers of an elderly person. It's nothing personal, they have been hired to do this. However, both George and Lou are having a bit of a problem with this assignment. It's a good way to open up this story of two guys that are know for not always being 100% successful.

Then George and Lou get a job to transfer a man, in a cage, to a certain laboratory. They are lead to believe this man is a werewolf. Ha! Yea, right....right? The man pleads with them, saying there is no way he is a werewolf. He wants freedom. Will he be able to convince these two large men they can trust him. Read the book and find out.

Lots of laughs in this book. The comedy continues throughout the book. However, the book does turn violent and bloody. The characters are carefully developed and we learn more about everyone. 

4 Stars