The Bloody History of Chocolate

Since I wrote about how neither the idea or the ingredients in apple pie is particularly American, I think I should give equal time to the New World’s greatest contribution to civilization–chocolate!

Cacao pods  (Source: Wikipedia user Luisovalles (Own work))

Cacao pods
(Source: Wikipedia user Luisovalles (Own work))

I love that the genus of the chocolate tree is theobroma, literally “food of the gods”.

Sit down with a nice hot cup of cocoa or your favorite chocolate bar and read the interesting and informative article here.


As American as Apple Pie?

800px-FoodApplePieAs the Thanksgiving holiday in the US approaches, thoughts turn to the food that we are thankful for. One of my traditions is to bake an apple pie using the recipe that, so my father told me, was my grandmother’s. While she would probably be shocked at my using frozen crusts instead of rolling out crusts from scratch, I always think of her when I make it.

The expression “as American as apple pie” gets bandied about a lot, without much thought to whether apple pie is American at all. So, is it? Continue reading

Edwardian Camp Equipment

I’ve camped quite a bit in the past, and as I get older, I’ve started thinking about adding a bit more luxury into my camping experience. This blog post gives me some ideas on how to do just that!  I can envision a steampunk encampment using this equipment!

Preindustrial Craftsmanship

This is a re-post from an earlier entry.  Say what you will about British imperial policy of the 19th and 20th centuries.  They certainly worked out minimalist travel with a fair amount of style and comfort on a very personal level.  These old catalogs give

From The Army and Navy Co-operative Society Store, London 1907

1907-11907-21907-31907-41907-61907-71907-51907-91907-101907-11There are some excellent items here that should give some inspiration for fabricating some classic and classy gear.  From an era before the activity of “camping” was fully segregated from “regular living”.

Much more of this to come…

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Horrible Histories–Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin is one of Steampunk’s favorite scientists and rightly so for his revolutionary ideas concerning evolution, not to mention his prodigious beard.  While his adventures on the HMS Beagle make for great reading, On the Origin of Species can be deadly dull reading.

Fortunately, along came the award-winning BBC “children’s” TV show Horrible Histories.  I’ve put the quotation marks there because it’s just as entertaining for adults, at least this adult. You can find lots of excerpts and some entire episodes on YouTube (although it looks like you have to pay for the full episodes). Continue reading

Perfectly Innocent Phrases Guaranteed to Scare a Whovian

Reblogging this Dr. Who post for Fun Friday. #10 is so true! Enjoy Whovians!

Aldy's Nerd Blog

One of the downsides (or upsides, depending on how you look at it) to being a Whovian is that you learn to be afraid of a lot of perfectly safe, ordinary things. Like angel statues. And your own shadow. And practically everything to do with Christmas. Here’s a list of sentences that sound like omens of doom to any New Who fan. Out of context, they sound harmless. In context…well, see for yourself.

1. “Are you my mummy?”

2. “Delete.”

3. “The angels have the phone box.”

4. “There is something on your back.”

5. “Hey! Who turned out the lights?” (Combine with “Count the shadows” for a double whammy.)

6. “He will knock four times.”

7. “There’s a crack in my wall.”

8. “Tick, tock, goes the clock.”

9. “Egg. Stir. Min. Ate.”

10. “Written by Steven Moffat.” 

Sorry for that last one. But we all know it’s true.

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Airships over California!

If you tracked the frequency of Google searches, you’d find a large spike last week for “Bay Area airship”, but not because of a sudden invasion of dirigibles over the San Francisco Bay.

The Germans were the acknowledged leaders in airship technology during World War I. But they lost the war anyways and as part of war reparations, Luftschiffbau Zeppelin built an airship for the US–USS Los Angeles (ZR-3).  After the successful tests of this airship, the US Navy commissioned two airships from the Goodyear Zeppelin Company. The two airships were christened the USS Akron (ZRS-4) and the USS Macon (ZRS-5).  The ships were huge, only slightly shorter than the Hindenburg.

USS Macon entering Hangar One

The Akron was assigned to Lakehurst, New Jersey. She had an accident-plagued career that lasted less than two years which ended with its crash into the ocean off the New Jersey coast with the loss of all but three of her crew. Continue reading

Spooky Lego Victorian Houses

Victorian on Mud Heap (Creator:  Mike Doyle, Source: Mike Doyle Flckr stream, see link in text)

Victorian on Mud Heap (Creator: Mike Doyle, Source: Mike Doyle Flckr stream, see link in text)

One of the hobbies that my sons and I share is building with Lego.  While we’ve made some pretty cool creations (maybe I’ll share my steampunk private railway carriage some day), we’ve achieved nothing that compares with Mike Doyle’s amazingly detailed Victorian homes.  The twist? They’re deserted and falling to ruin.  His use of a monochromatic color scheme in these is both inspired and realistic.  Many more examples on his Flickr stream.