Category Archives: History

SCISSORS: Extraordinary Ordinary Things

Have you ever needed a pair of scissors and couldn’t find one? No doubt you were extremely frustrated. Although scissors are one of mankind’s most low-tech inventions (two strips of metal joined at a pivot point), their uses are manifold and there seems to be no substitute. Imagine trying to cut a piece of paper without a pair of scissors, cutting out an article from a newspaper or magazine without scissors, opening a package tied up with string without scissors, etc.

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Soap: Extraordinary Ordinary Things

I remember as a child my parents always insisted I wash my hands with soap before sitting down to eat. I have never forgotten this, and sometimes get odd looks because of it.

In a restaurant, I always go wash my hands before the food is delivered even though no one else at the table does. Worse, when I visit friends in their homes, I do the same thing. I imagine they must think I have some kind of mania about cleanliness on a par with Lady Macbeth: “Out, out, damned spot!” While the good lady does not explicitly mention soap, there is a Lady Macbeth soap on the market anyhow. I don’t have a cleanliness mania. But I do have due consideration for the advice I received from my parents—and continue to receive from the medical community.

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The Fork—Extraordinary Ordinary Things

If you are anything like me, when you hear the word “fork,” you probably automatically think of “knife” because the two go together like bread and butter, ham and eggs, shoes and socks, New York and skyscrapers, New Year’s and resolutions, and a host of other tightly conjoined tandems. However, the idea of a fork and a knife working together in common cause, e.g. eating, is relatively new. The knife in human history preceded the fork by many centuries. In its earliest manifestation, the eating fork was once a multi-bladed knife.

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The Slide Rule— Extraordinary Ordinary Things

Have you ever held an abacus in your hands? Chances are yes. Many grade schools use this ancient calculating device as a way of introducing students to some fundamental aspects of mathematics.

Have you ever held a slide rule in your hands? If you are a so-called “millennial” or slightly older, chances are not. Why? Because the slide rule, which in its day was considered by many as the eighth wonder of the world, has virtually passed away without a trace.

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