Wednesday, January 19, 2011

There's a knot for that.

My grandpa used to tie some of the most complex knots to do some of the most simple tasks, like tieing down trash to take to the dump in his handcrafted trailer. He had all sorts of knowledge with tools and he employed this wisdom many times over in his work, constructing things from scratch or scrap, much like the afore mentioned trailer. There he was showing me all the ways to tie a good secure knot, and I remember nothing of those lessons. Being a kid and more interested in the attention being shown by my grandpa, I idolized him and felt pretty special that he cared enough to share his knowledge with me. Luckily this treasure of a book, "Knots, Splices and Rope Work, a Practical Treatise" can still be downloaded today. Though it won't replace a grandpa, at least it has that old fasioned feel and charm to it.

Download the book here

Few realize the importance that knots and cordage have played in the world's history, but if it had not been for these simple and every-day things, which as a rule are given far too little consideration, the human race could never have developed beyond savages. Indeed, I am not sure but it would be safe to state that the real difference between civilized and savage man consists largely in the knowledge of knots and rope work. No cloth could be woven, no net or seine knitted, no bow strung and no craft sailed on lake or sea without numerous knots and proper lines or ropes; and Columbus himself would have been far more handicapped without knots than without a compass. - A. Hyatt Verrill

Alpheus Hyatt Verrill, known as Hyatt Verrill, (b. July 23, 1871-d. November 14, 1954) was an American archaeologist, explorer, inventor, illustrator and author. He was the son of Addison Emery Verrill (b. 1839–d. 1926), the first professor of zoology at Yale University.

Hyatt Verrill wrote on a wide variety of topics, including natural history, travel, radio and whaling. He participated in a number of archaeological expeditions to the West Indies, South, and Central America. He travelled extensively throughout the West Indies, and all of the Americas, North, Central and South. Theodore Roosevelt once stated: "It was my friend Verrill here, who really put the West Indies on the map.”

During 1896 he served as natural history editor of "Webster's International Dictionary". He illustrated many of his own writings as well. During 1902 Verrill invented the autochrome process of natural-color photography.

Among his writings are many science fiction works including twenty six published in "Amazing Stories" pulp magazines. "When the Moon Ran Wild' (1962) was published posthumously using the name Ray Ainsbury.

My imagination leads me to believe, he was probably an amazing grandfather too.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A President with Grit

I have been couped up in a hospital for a little over seven months. The reason fit for a different sort of blog. I bring my current circumstance up as evidence in this months book selection. Being worried and idle for such a time, has sparked an interest in the western genre for me. I needed a good read that reminded me of the strong stoic pioneer that yearned for new surroundings and a wild frontier. I found that strength and admiral character in Theodore Roosevelt and his book, "Stories of the Great West".

As a youth Theodore Roosevelt was an enthusiastic student of Western history and pioneer types Later as ranchman and hunter he grew to know intimately and to love deeply the rough free life of the Western plains Mr Roosevelt's interest in history probably was inherited but his fondness for outdoor life grew out of his grateful love for his foster mother the green earth who took the delicate youth in her rough but kindly embrace and gave him a sound body and a clear vision It was during the quiet evenings and the otherwise idle hours spent at Elkhorn his Dakota ranch that Theodore Roosevelt penned most of the fascinating pictures of frontier and ranch life that make up this present volume. - from publishers note

Download book from Google ebookstore