Never use spray furniture-cleaning products (e.g., Pledge), even those with lemon oil.
Dust with a soft cloth or a vacuum with an extremely soft-bristle nozzle attachment.
Wax gently about once a year with beeswax-based clear paste wax applied with the grain, not in a circular motion, using a very soft cloth; later (15 min.–24 hrs.) buff gently with another clean, soft cloth.
Keep room humidity and temperature constant (i.e. use humidifiers or de-humidifiers as necessary)
Place away from sources of high heat and out of direct sunlight.
Don't place rough-textured or plastic objects directly on the antique.
Illuminate as evenly and dimly as possible since light fades wood, veneers, etc.
A "soft clean cloth" could be a cheese cloth, soft cotton cloth, diaper, or—for cleaning or buffing but not waxing—clean, very soft shoe-polishing brush.
Wet cleaning: If wet cleaning is necessary, use a solution of water with 1% detergent (e.g. Orvus, Triton X-100) applied with a soft cloth (use Q-tips for crevices) then dry immediately with another clean soft cloth.
Antique furniture's patina matters, not its shine whether you value an object's historicity or potential monetary worth.
Re: #1, all spray furniture-cleaning products leave an oily residue and many have ingredients that can harm wood; oil or silicone in such products can darken or become opaque with age, resulting in a dark, dull and often irreparable finish.
Re: #2, avoid feather dusters, broken feathers of which can cause little scratches, and be careful of using dust rags as loose threads can catch on pieces of veneer or marquetry and pull them off.
Re: #3, spread the wax on in a thin, even coat and rub evenly and gently to bring up a high polish. The goal is to seal not thickly coat the wood.
Re: #4, inexpensive humidity sensors can be purchased from conservation suppliers.
Re: #5, excessive light can accelerate a finish's aging and degradation causing a cracked, brittle or "alligatored" appearance, and the heat generated from high light-levels can cause damage to finishes by softening them.
Re: #6, plastics can over time adhere to some finishes or cause discoloration.
Re: #7, move lighting sources, objects' locations on or relative to the antique, or the antique itself to avoid areas of discoloration forming on the antique from uneven illumination.
Tip: If the finish becomes dull between applications of wax it can be buffed to restore the luster of the finish.
Tip: If you are moving antiques, do not wear belts, buckles, jewelry or other items could scratch the surface.
Tip: Grasp antique furniture at its sturdiest area. E.g., Lift chairs by the seat, not arms; the latter are built to resist only downward pressure. Also, don't drag antique furniture as it stresses the wood, especially the legs and feet or tables, chairs, sideboards, etc.
Tip: Remove mold or mildew with a soft cloth moistened with a solution of 10 parts water to 1 part bleach.
Tip: Rely on professional assessment and repair--not home remedies--of serious spills, stains, or scratches.
Tip: A stripped and refinished or heavily restored antique is considered of lesser monetary value than one of close or equal quality but that retains its original finish.
Tip: Unfinished antique wood should never be wet cleaned.
A note about Bakelite repair: If your have a broken piece of Bakelite, slow-setting Araldite® is often recommended. It's important to first remove any glue that's present from previous repair attempts if any. Do not use ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate (the ingredient in Super Glue and similar products) as it dries brittle and cracks easily.The edges to be adhered must be clear and rough. Use a bit of sandpaper to rough the edges slightly if necessary. Mix the Araldite® glue, apply a generous amount on both surfaces, press together firmly--squeezing out any excess glue--and then secure the pieces together (e.g., strips of tape) so they absolutely cannot move. Let it set at room temperature or more for at least 72 hours (some online sources recommend "several days.")
A note about repairing chipped veneer: If you need to glue back on a bit of broken-off veneer, remove all old glue first using fine sandpaper. Don't trim the edges of the veneer chip. Use carpenter glue so you can reposition the chip a bit if necessary to ensure the gains aligns. Make sure all excess glue is removed and then clamp or weigh down the chip. First cover it with a wax paper; also, if clamping, set a buffer block of scrap wood over the newly-glued area and use another block or a soft cloth to protect the other side. Leave it clamped for 2 to 3 dayes. Note: some online sources recommend hot or liquid hide glue for repairing bits of veneer instead of modern commercial products.
2014 is the 40th anniversary of the creation of commercial role-playing games (RPG).*
In 1974, Gary Gygax (1938–2008) and Dave Arneson (1947–2009), both influenced by tabletop wargames and fantasy fiction, created Dungeons & Dragons(D&D). In 1977, the Dungeons & Dragon's Basic Set was published by the company Gygax and Arneson co-founded, TSR, Inc., and Gygax next wrote the more complex three-book Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.
Tabletop wargames, a major influence on Gygax and Arneson, descend from chess but are less abstract. They are strategy games that first became popular in the 1950s in the U.S. through the Avalon Hill gaming company.** Before that time, wargames existed as instructional tools for military officers--for instance Kriegsspiel (1812) used by the Prussian army--however, popular wargamming arguably descends more directly from the game H.G. Wells created in his 1913 book Little Wars. The book transforms typical improvisational play with toy soldiers into a parlour game version based on codified rules.*** (Read Little Wars at the Gutenberg Project website.)
Both tabletop wargames and RPGs use dice and probability. In wargames, dice and chance tend to stand in for battlefield or strategic conditions generally termed "friction," which are not encapsulated by the rules, e.g., weather conditions, the "fog of war" (Nebel des Krieges, a concept identified by Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831), troop morale, etc.)
In role-playing games, the dice serve the same basic function but relative to friction operating almost always at the level to the individual character (the player character (PC)) not a military unit.
The various polyhedral dice used in many RPGs are sub-cultural icons and are designated by their number of sides, e.g., d4, d6, d8, d10, d20, etc.****
Fantasy fiction was the second influence on Gygax and Arneson. It dramatically expanded as a literary genre following the tremendous popularity beginning in the 1960s of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (1954).***** The genre includes many unremarkable "Tol-clones" written since the 1960s as well as comparatively more worthwhile works. As I see it, the genre as it exists now descends from three literary categories pre-dating Tolkien, the first two of which influenced Tolkien and the latter two of which are now generally considered to be as sub-genres within fantasy fiction:
1) mythology and myth-imbued lore, primarily those of medieval Germanic peoples (e.g. the Prose Edda, penned c. 1220 by Snorri Sturluson, and Beowulf, of the Nowell Codex that was penned c. 975–1025); 2) a type of tale Tolkien describes in his 1947 essay "On Fairy-Stories," which include works by George MacDonald (e.g. The Princess and the Goblin, 1872) and William Morris (e.g. The Well at the World's End, 1896); and 3) fantastical or horror pulp fiction, such as that published in the 1920s magazine Weird Tales, including works by H.P. Lovecraft (e.g. "The Call of Cthuhlu"); this category also falls into one often termed weird fiction.
I spent many hours during my teenage years playing tabletop role-playing games. Some fellow Generation X gamers include Steven Colbert, Conan O'Brian, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Jon Favreau, Ewan McGreggor, Seth Greene, Patton Oswalt, Joss Whedon, Jack Black, and David Boreanaz. Vin Diesel is a major D&D fan. He's been interviewed about role-playing and cites Dungeons & Dragons as an influence on his Riddick films. (On the set of Riddick in 2004, he introduced Dame Judi Dench to D&D.) Wil Wheaton is also a fan and an enthusiast of tabletop gaming in general. He hosts the program TableTop on the Geek & Sundry YouTube channel. Among the Baby Boomer generation, Stephen King is a D&D fan.
The second part of Jerry Whitworth's excellent article "The ’80s – Geek Edition" gives a good sense of the evolution of RPGs, in part from from the perspective of the comics art profession.
Tabletop RPGs that I played the most often, some of which are still in production:
Images; top: "The red box," the 1983 revision of the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set, this product probably more than any other introduced people to tabletop RGPs; second from top: polyhedral dice (okay...my polyhedral dice actually--unused for about 20 years now, alas--photo by yours truly); middle: the first edition of The Lord of the Rings; second for bottom: a webisode of the Geek & Sundry program TableTop; bottom: the cover of an edition of Middle-Earth Role Playing (MERP).
*What's a role-playing game? The short first two paragraphs devoted to the topic on Wikipedia are as good of a definition as any I've encountered.
**The Avalon Hill brand is, like the Dungeons & Dragon's brand, owned now by Wizards of the Coast (WofC). As a teenager in the 1980s, I played numerous Avalon Hill tabletop wargames, too. That quality tabletop wargames possess that chess lacks I term "military simulation," others use the term "battlefield emulation." I find it difficult to describe. It's something like a concern for the historicity of the simulated military encounter or some history-based technical detail that not only the aesthetic of the game but also at least some of the rules attempt to impart. This degree of military simulation varies widely from game to game.
Regarding the emergence of tabletop wargames in the 1950s, perhaps it reflects, in part, American society's heightened awareness of military matters as the U.S. moved into its second decade of almost unrelenting war or concern for war: the Second World War followed by the Cold War and the Korean conflict.
***Wells' game may reflect British society's formality and preoccupation with the British Empire, which in 1913 was arguably at its height, as well as the fact that the upper- and middle-class lifestyles afforded the leisure time (and indoor space during inclement weather?) necessary for Wells' game. As others have pointed out, it's ironic the Wells, a pacifist, created Little Wars. Perhaps him doing so points to just how pervasive the aforementioned societal preoccupation was. Nonetheless, Wells notes in his book that "much better is this amiable miniature [war] than the real thing." (See Michael Rundel's "HG Wells' 'Little Wars': How An Icon Of Sci-Fi Invented Modern War Games 100 Years Ago.")
*****Some might include certain historical novels set in the Middle Ages in the fantasy category, too, but this is a gray area. There are historical novels involving magic as the novel's characters understand it. An example is Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy. To the characters, magic is a reality--it seems to be a real, operative thing in their world--and thus within some such novels it is described as such, usually from a first-person point of view. Another gray area is what I call naturalistic fantasy: works that, like a historical novel, are devoid of magic or the supernatural except as they might exist in the perception of characters, but that are set in a time and place imagined by the author and not corresponding to reality. George R.R. Martin's fiction comes close to this type of fiction. Compared to Tolkien's fantasy, for instance, Martin's is less mythic in tone, less concerned with magic, and is more informed then are Tolkein's works by anthropology and the dynamics of power and politics, gritty subjects than, say, philology and mythology, which inform Tolkien's works greatly).
From George Packer's article in The New Yorker, "Change The World", about Silicon Valley, its bubble, its arrogance, its sincerity, its influence.....
A few years ago, when Barack Obama visited one Silicon Valley campus, an employee of the company told a colleague that he wasn’t going to take time from his work to go hear the President’s remarks, explaining, “I’m making more of a difference than anybody in government could possibly make.” ..... Like industries that preceded it, Silicon Valley is not a philosophy, a revolution, or a cause. It’s a group of powerful corporations and wealthy individuals with their own well-guarded interests. Sometimes those interests can be aligned with the public’s, sometimes not. Though tech companies promote an open and connected world, they are extremely secretive, preventing outsiders from learning the most basic facts about their internal workings. ..... Evgeny Morozov....: “They want to be ‘open,’ they want to be ‘disruptive,’ they want to ‘innovate'.... The open agenda is, in many ways, the opposite of equality and justice. They think anything that helps you to bypass institutions is, by default, empowering or liberating. You might not be able to pay for health care or your insurance, but if you have an app on your phone that alerts you to the fact that you need to exercise more, or you aren’t eating healthily enough, they think they are solving the problem.” ..... There are fifty or so billionaires and tens of thousands of millionaires in Silicon Valley; last year’s Facebook public stock offering alone created half a dozen more of the former and more than a thousand of the latter. There are also record numbers of poor people, and the past two years have seen a twenty-per-cent rise in homelessness, largely because of the soaring cost of housing. After decades in which the country has become less and less equal, Silicon Valley is one of the most unequal places in America. ..... Joshua Cohen, a Stanford political philosopher who also edits Boston Review, [founded Stanford's Program on Global Justice and is a half-time professor at Apple University for Apple execs] described a conversation he had with John Hennessy, the president of Stanford, who has extensive financial and professional ties to Silicon Valley. “He was talking about the incompetent people who are in government,” Cohen recalled. “I said, ‘If you think they’re so incompetent, why don’t you include in a speech you’re making some urging of Stanford students to go into government?’ He thought this was a ridiculous idea.” ..... In his office, Cohen freely criticized the tech industry for its casual optimism in assuming that its products can change the world. He said, “There is this complete horseshit attitude, this ridiculous attitude out here, that if it’s new and different it must be really good, and there must be some new way of solving problems that avoids the old limitations, the roadblocks. And with a soupçon of ‘We’re smarter than everybody else.’ It’s total nonsense.”
But, when it came to Apple, he insisted that anything he said about the company had to be off the record, including the titles and the content of the courses he teaches. When I asked how he viewed the relation between the information revolution and inequality, he hesitated. He started to answer, then hesitated again: “Um. I don’t have any deep thoughts about it. I wish I did.” This seemed surprising, since Cohen, an expert on democracy and justice, co-edited a book called “The New Inequality,” in the late nineties, before it was a hot topic, and has devoted many pages of Boston Review to the subject. I had imagined that his perch at Apple University would give him the perfect vantage point to think about just this problem. ..... [Nate Levine of start-up Delphi:] “They’re ignorant, because many of them don’t feel the need to educate themselves outside their little world, and they’re not rewarded for doing so.... If you’re an engineer in Silicon Valley, you have no incentive to read The Economist. It’s not brought up at parties, your friends aren’t going to talk about it, your employers don’t care.” [Levine] found that college friends who came out to the Valley to seek their fortune subsequently lost interest in the wider world. “People with whom I used to talk about politics or policy or the arts, they’re just not as into it anymore. They don’t read theWall Street Journal or the New York Times. They read TechCrunch andVentureBeat, and maybe they happen to see something from the Times on somebody’s Facebook news feed.” He went on, “The divide among people in my generation is not as much between traditional liberals and libertarians. It’s a divide between people who are inward-facing and outward-facing.”
The 4th Bin [offers] pickup of e-waste "for ethical reuse and recycling from local residents and businesses." According to the EPA, over 2,000,000 tons a year of discarded electronics leach heavy metals into landfills and pose health problems to workers in developing countries where some e-waste is sent for processing.
You can find a list of things [The 4th Bin] takes here. For residences or businesses, schedule a pickup and get a price quote here.
What happens to your stuff? It's either refurbished and resold or, if it can't be used, broken down for recycling of parts. Since February 2010, the company has collected over 1.2 million pounds of e-waste.
A quarter honoring a dinosaur whose remains were discovered in Alberta back in 1974, the Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai., is being made available for purchase on April 16, 2012. It glows in the dark to reveal a likeness of the fossilized skeleton.
Surströmming is one of the world's foulest-smelling dishes. Thank you, Sweden. When the can of fermented Baltic herring is opened, all smell breaks loose. It's probably more myth than anything else that the cans explode a lot, though they do expand as the fermenting takes place. In any case, the airlines, again sensibly, will have nothing to do with it. We've never seen it in New York, not that we've looked that hard. For some reason, there isn't much demand in these parts for canned fermented herring. When we mentioned to someone at the Swedish Consulate that we wanted to track down some surströmming, he said, "Oh, I don't think that's a very good idea."
Many linguists point to Ocracoke Island, part of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, as being closest to the English of the time of the first English colonial settlements--an English that is often presumed by the same linguists to have changed little in accent at that time since Shakespeare's era.
Somewhat similarly, American spelling in many regards preserves British spelling of the early 1800s, thanks to Webster, more than current British spelling does. Melvyn Lord Bragg highlights this fact--with examples--in his 2003 documentary, The Adventure of English.
I've recently returned from my annual holiday trip home to central Iowa. While there, a state legislator told me Rick Santorum would carry the local county on Jan. 3rd or come in a close second-place behind Ron Paul.
I was incredulous relative to Santorum doing so well. About 48 hours later, the first polls were released showing that a surge in the former US Senator's popularity had been occurring. I then recalled a pundit on ABC's This Week having said earlier in December to not underestimate the potential dividends of Santorum's months-long hard work in Iowa. It reminded me of the value journalists find in informed, honest, and sufficiently forthright sources near to the action, and in their own experience. We'll see if the legislator’s prediction and the pundit's observation hold true. Based on my own inexpert observations while in Iowa, I think Santorum may in fact win or come in a close second-place in the county that I was in, but I think Romney will win the state.
The only frontline observation of my own that I make with any confidence is that yard signs are thin on the ground! I saw only five signs in four days in and around a town of 15,500 people fairly near Des Moines. Also, I saw not one bumper sticker! When I was growing up in Iowa, forests of candidate yard signs cropped up in neighborhoods. Farmers put them in fields and ditches, and sometimes even painted the sides of barns with their favorite candidate's name. Even in December 2007, while driving along I-80, I recall seeing Clinton, Obama, and Edwards signs galore--at least one barnside proclaiming HILLARY in red, white, and blue, and plenty of signs for Huckabee, McCain and others.
Does the disappearance of the yard sign reflect a lack of voter enthusiasm, or perhaps indecision—an unusually long wait-and-see stance by Hawkeye Republicans? Or maybe smaller campaign budgets? Maybe lesser focus on Iowa by the campaigns? Has the rise of social media or the dominance this cycle of televised debates displaced the need for the valiant foot soldiers of Iowa caucus campaign advertising, those brave little signs that endure wind, snow, the rare defacement attempt, and the more common assault from dog urine? Here's to the return of the humble yard sign.
UPDATE: Nate Silver's Iowa 2012 GOP caucus analysis - Updated Jan. 2, 2012 at 12:11 PM ET
Chance of Win
UPDATE: Unofficial caucus results from my parents' precinct in Jasper County, Iowa - Updated Jan. 3, 2012
161 votes: Santorum 48 Gingrich 39 Romney 31 Paul 29 Bachmann 8 Perry 4 Huntsman 2
Every Tree in Town is a series that documents every spruce tree in the old mill town of Willimantic, Connecticut. The series of 1,017 photographs was created as Matthew Jensen systematically walked the 89 miles of streets within the city limits and documented some 2,187 trees. The trees in the series are cultural artifacts from the town's industrial past and the Victorian-era immigrant population who came from Northern Europe, where the trees are native. Today, Willimantic's population is a third of what it was in its heyday, and the pervasive trees remain as the last living link to the past.
View the photographs in this series, which was featured on the front of the Hartford Courant and was curated by the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art for an exhibition in Ridgefield, CT.
Set of thirty 10" x 14" photographs. Also available in sets of three and six. It's free to register on artspace.com to make your purchase and participate in future sales on ArtSpace.com.
From Tyler Cowen's "The Inequality That Matters," The American Interest, January-February issue:
For 2004, non-financial executives of publicly traded companies accounted for less than 6% of the top 0.01% income bracket. In that same year, the top 25 hedge fund managers combined appear to have earned more than all of the CEOs from the entire S&P 500. The number of Wall Street investors earning more than $100 million a year was nine times higher than the public company executives earning that amount. The authors [Tyler Cowen quoted] also relate that they shared their estimates with a former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, one who also has a Wall Street background. He thought their estimates of earnings in the financial sector were, if anything, understated.