The 1980’s Bond Knitting Machine in this year

Back in the 1980’s, an Englishman by the name of Roger Curry, set out to design a knitting machine which would be simple to use and could produce machine-knitted garments that would look as if they had been hand-knitted. What he created was the Bond knitting machine which was a very basic, manually operated machine.

It was called ‘Bond’ after a famous shopping street in central London, which at the time, Roger Curry described as “the epitome of British fashion sense.” And Bond street is just as well-known now for its up-market fashion shops, as it was in the mid-1980’s.

The first Bond knitting machines to be sold in the UK were the Bond Original and later the Bond Classic. These machines could handle all the popular yarns including wool, cottons, mohair and even hand-spun wool but it didn’t handle well, yarns finer than chunky knit. These knitting machines were simple enough that hand-knitting patterns for sweaters, for example, could be adapted for use on them.

1988 saw the introduction of the Bond Elite knitting machine which in addition to the chunkier yarns could also handle 4-ply and double-knitting yarns. The Bond Elite came complete with a row counter, tools for helping create fancy stitches, a needle pusher, an illustrated instruction book, and an instructional video which demonstrated how to set up the machine and how to knit with it. One of the innovative aspects of this particular model were its four, double-sided keyplates which made possible different stitch sizes, and by turning them around, they could also be used for picture knitting (known as intarsia).

One of the drawbacks of the Bond knitting machine was that it wasn’t possible to knit ribbing. If you were knitting a sweater with a ribbed hem and cuffs, the garment had to be removed from the machine in order to knit the ribbing by hand. But by 1989 a ribber attachment had become available. Today, Bond knitting machines remain popular, being lightweight and virtually maintenance-free, and can still be bought secondhand in the UK.

Electronic World – How We Use Electronics in Daily Life in this year

Using electronics today is so much a part of our daily lives we hardly think of the way the world would be without electronics. Everything from cooking to music uses electronics or electronic components in some way. Our family car has many electronic components, as does our cooking stove, laptop and cell phone. Children and teenagers carry mobile phones with them everywhere and use them to take and send pictures, videos, and to play music. They send text messages on the cell phone to other phones and to their home computers.

Wireless internet is becoming more common all the time, with laptops set up in cyber cafes where people can drink coffee and check their email all at the same time. The computer user can do all the web searching in relative privacy thanks to the electronic accessories which can be added to the computer. Conversely, more and more transactions are being sent electronically across the airwaves so security is becoming a larger issue than ever before. Merchants who sell products online must be able to assure their customers that information submitted at a website is not being accessed by unauthorized personnel.

Music is a prime user of electronics, both in recording and in playback mode. Stereos, record players, tape decks, cassette players, CD drives and DVD players are all the result of advances in electronics technology in the last few decades. Today people can carry a playlist of hundreds of songs around with them easily in a very small device–easily portable. When you add Bluetooth or headphones the music can be heard by the user, but does not disturb those nearby.

Electronics technology in cameras has increased dramatically. A digital camera is available to most Americans at a price they can afford and cellphones often includes a fairly sophisticated digital camera that can capture still pictures or even video pictures and store them or transfer them to a computer where they can be saved, shared digitally with family or friends or printed out in hard form with a photo printer device. Pictures obtained through a camera or by means of a scanner can be edited, cropped, enhanced or enlarged easily through the marvel of electronics.

Literally thousands of everyday devices that we use constantly make use of electronics technology in order to operate. These are products ranging from automotive engines to automated equipment in production settings. Even artistic efforts benefit from computer modeling prior to the committing of valuable artistic media to create the finished product.

Electronics devices are being used in the health field, not only to assist in diagnosis and determination of medical problems, but to assist in the research that is providing treatment and cures for illnesses and even genetic anomalies. Equipment such as MRI, CAT and the older X-rays, tests for diabetes, cholesterol and other blood component tests all rely on electronics in order to do their work quickly and accurately. Pacemakers and similar equipment implanted in the body is now almost routine.

Which Are The Best Train Sets For Adults? in this year

Are you wanting to know which are the best train sets for adults?

Even though some people believe that toys are only for children, the truth is that many adults find train sets very appealing.

It’s a very fulfilling hobby that teaches you a lot about many disciplines such as history, carpentry, painting, engineering and much more.

Plus, when you have finished putting together a model train set and outfitted it with all the bells and whistles, it is a magnificent show piece to put on display for all your friends and family.

There are a variety of train sets for adults which include Lionel, Bachmann, MTH trains and more.

If you are a beginner then it may be best to go for the beginners’ options just to test the waters and figure out if this is truly a passion or just a fleeting phase.

Doing some research will help you to better appreciate all the features with respect to the model train hobby as well as give you ideas pertaining to the various types of toys and accessories which are offered.

Like some other hobbies, this will require time and money to get started.

You will need to purchase the set and all the accessories that go along with it. This is the exact reason not to splurge on sets, if you aren’t too sure about your dedication to the hobby.

Adults tend to prefer the diesel model train sets. Diesel trains don’t actually use diesel in their operation but instead electricity. Their designs however, were made to look like the real diesel locomotives. Prices vary but there is something out there for every budget.

Not only is the price important but the size as well. Sizes are represented by letter and number. For example, the HO scale (1:87), the N scale (1:160) and the G scale (1:22.5). Beginners just starting out usually start with the HO scale train sets.

Most of the new models of railway sets have digital command control (DCC) which means that more than one locomotive can be controlled separately on the same track.

In the past, train sets had only one power pack with one controller. The controller powered the supply of voltage to the track which would control the direction and speed of the locomotive. So for instance, if you put two locomotives on the same track they would be able to move in the same direction and at the same speed.

DCC allows you to give a constant voltage to the track and the electronics decide which locomotive will move and at what speed and direction. This will give you more options for expanding your railroad and it also makes it more fun.

You should look for a good quality locomotive which can sometimes be determined by the sheer weight of it. The best quality locomotives tend to be heavy and solid. Other characteristics of a quality locomotive is the material with which the wheels are made. Steel wheels conduct the power to the motor so the more steel wheels, the more enhanced the conductivity of power.

As you can probably tell there are a few considerations in choosing the best train sets for adults.

Jay Gatsby, Hero or Villain? in this year

Most people have heard of the book The Great Gatsby. A lot of people have read it although I assume most of them were made to read it on school. Whatever the case if you have read it you must have wondered about the title. Wasn’t Gatsby a materialistic gangster who made millions from selling illegal alcohol then tried to steal someone’s wife. Doesn’t sound very ‘great.’

Its supposed to be all okay because he was only doing it so he could win Daisy’s love back, but Daisy is married with a child and some people, myself included, think he doesn’t even really love her, He just wants her as a status symbol to show off like his new car. Why should we like this guy again?

It because of how pure he is. When he was younger he thought he would never achieve success as James Gatz, so he destroyed that identity and became a new man, free from all the vices that halt everyone else. He became the ideal candidate to achieve the American Dream.

Ever since then he has had one goal in life, to overcome every obstacle that stood between him and his dream. Since he had already created a whole new identity why not go a step further. If he needed to be educated, cultured and rich to impress Daisy then he would. Its like watching a pitcher throw a perfect game, its something you could never do yourself, but you really want the guy to succeed because you want to watch something special. That’s why the reader should be cheering him on, this is a once in a generation chance to prove everybody wrong and show the American Dream is attainable.

Is we look at some Great Gatsby quotes you see all the bad he did was because of the corruption of others. He had to lie about his past because of the upper classes notion that they were the ‘dominant race’ and they had to ‘beat down’ all challengers to their title. ‘Daisy wouldn’t marry’ him if he was poor, but if she wasn’t so shallow he never would have had to start his illegal business. He doesn’t even want his material possessions, the only worth he sees in them comes from ‘the measure of response it drew from [Daisy’s] well-loved eyes.

You feel sorry for him because he had such a clear and noble goal. He thought if he only worked hard enough that he could live the life of his dreams, but everyone else couldn’t accept that, they had to drag him down to their level and down their in the dust and corruption, Gatsby’s dream died, and so did he.

So maybe it he was a gangster, and maybe he lied about his past, but he only did it because it was the only way to survive in the broken and corrupt world that he lived in.

Mezcal, Methanol, Moonshine and Myth in this year

It’s hard to separate fact from fiction from fear-mongering, when trying to understand the relationship between the Mexican agave-based spirit mezcal, and methanol poisoning resulting in blindness or death as the worst case scenarios. The purely physical science treatises are in large part beyond my level of comprehension. At the other end of the spectrum one finds lay literature without references backing up claims and allegations regarding the likelihood of hangovers, headaches and the much more serious harmful effects; it’s all cloaked in words and phrases like “as little as,” “likely” and “probably.” And it ignores aspartame.

Introduction

Is it appropriate to equate mezcal which has been produced essentially safely and without incident by families in the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca for generations, with American moonshine, with deaths due to deliberately adulterating a spirit for purely profit motive, with concoctions created by naive youth, or with reports from third world countries in which ignorance of safe spirit production results in imprudent means of production or the use of equipment which contaminates? It is suggested that the alarmists draw their data from such sources.

For the past 25 years I’ve been drinking mezcal sold at small, family owned and operated artisanal distilleries (palenques as they’re known in Oaxaca), without incident. And so have my Oaxacan friends and compadres, hundreds of thousands of villagers who have been patronizing their neighborhood producers (or palenqueros), and more recently visitors to Oaxaca anxious to sample and take home what they cannot find at their local bars or source from retail liquor outlets.

Otherwise all I have to rely on is my cursory review of online literature (including but not restricted to International Center for Alcohol Policies, UPI, Methanol Institute, National Institute of Health / U.S. National Library of Medicine, World Health Organization; a list of links referenced is available upon written request), and my background in social anthropology. It was my Darwinian academic training which lead me to an internet search so that I might be able to prove what I considered to be a reasonable hypothesis, and put into perspective the tall tales I’d been reading. Regarding the latter, I have read that mezcal not certified by a regulatory agency is fake, illegitimate, results in hangovers, and may even lead to blindness or death from methanol poisoning. Have imbibers of agave-based spirits been extremely lucky all these years, decades and perhaps even millennia?

The two lines of thought regarding the origins of distillation in Mexico are that indigenous groups learned to distill long before the arrival of the Spanish, or, that the Spanish learned distillation from the Moors and so brought that knowledge with them in the first half of the 16th century. The former theory gives more credence to my thought process, although 450 years of trial and error and perfecting safe distillation is nothing to sneeze at.

Just like the early Zapoteco natives of Oaxaca learned to dye with the cochineal insect, and in due course presumably through trial and error that the mineral alum served as the best available mordent or fixer, it is suggested that so too did the invaders and the indigenous peoples of Mexico learn how to distill safely. Following the same analogy, it is likely that long ago wool dyed red with cochineal dramatically faded from the sun or through washing, until the best available mordent was found; and so perhaps dating back hundreds of years indeed native Mexicans (and Spanish) succumbed to unwise distillation practices. They have learned the benefit of using alum; and of taking off the methanol, and using predominantly clay or copper or other “safe” metal compounds during and for distillation respectively.

Methanol Explained

Even the healthiest among us, and that includes those who do not imbibe alcohol, have methanol in their bodies. Humans get it in small amount from eating fruits and vegetables. It is not only absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract, but also through the skin and by inhalation. Methanol is metabolized in the liver, converted first to formaldehyde, and then to formate (formic acid). As a building block for many biological molecules, formate is essential for our survival. On the other hand, high levels of formate buildup after excessive methanol intake can cause severe toxicity. An EPA assessment reported that methanol is considered a cumulative poison due to the low rate of excretion once it is absorbed.

The primary uses of methanol are for industrial and automotive purposes. It is found in antifreeze, canned heating sources, copy machine fluids, de-icing fluids, fuel additives, paint remover or thinner, shellac, varnish, windshield wiper fluid, and more. This is known as denatured alcohol. Government regulations in fact dictate the inclusion of high levels of methanol as a compound in such products, knowing its toxicity and wanting to ensure that the public buys its liquor (in which levels of methanol are controlled, as opposed to other alcohols), in order to maintain healthy tax revenue.

But Government dictates do not prevent the drinking of denatured alcohol or it being used to fortify other beverages. In fact the literature on non-commercial alcohol, which is sometimes referred to as unrecorded alcohol, cites these “surrogates” or non-beverage alcohols, as one of three categories of drinks which potentially create health risks. They are drunk alone (i.e. the classic skid row cases), and used as “cocktails” when they are added for example to fruit juices. The other two are “counterfeit” products and illicit mass-produced drinks, and traditional drinks produced for home consumption or limited local trade (licit or illicit). It is suggested that artisanal mezcal falls into the second part of this third category. So yes, there is the possibility of health problems arising as a consequence of consumers imbibing Mexican mezcal with higher than “safe” levels of methanol.

Spirits Health Risks in Mexico and Internationally

In central Mexico, as born out in the literature, much more than anything else the singular health problem related to mezcal and other traditional alcohol consumption is alcoholism resulting in liver cirrhosis.

In an article centering upon global methanol poisoning outbreaks, the World Health Organization cited examples of adulterated, counterfeit and informally produced spirits in Cambodia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Libya, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Turkey and Uganda. Mexico is conspicuously absent from the list.

In an article centering upon the quantification of selected volatile constituents in the Mexican spirits sotol, bacanora, tequila and mezcal, while methanol was the most problematic compound and at times the samples taken were far above the levels recommended by international as well as national standards, two points are particularly noteworthy: methanol levels were not of toxicological relevance; and, other legally obtained drinks such as German fruit spirits were found to have significantly higher methanol levels.

In an article entitled “Noncommercial Alcohol: Understanding the Informal Market,” the International Center for Alcohol Policies reported that much of the perceived health risk stems from patterns of drinking such as chronic consumption and binging, use of low quality ingredients, adulteration, and lack of control during production or storage. In Russia and other republics in the former Soviet Union samagon is cheap and easy to make using household equipment. Kenya’s poor fortifies its grain spirit, chang’aa, with surrogates. Brazil’s national drink cachaca or pinga is sometimes fortified using industrial alcohols, some of which have been noted above.

And what about the United States’ renowned moonshine, the usually high alcohol content spirit typically made using corn mash as the main ingredient? Poorly produced moonshine is contaminated mainly from materials used in still construction, such as employing car radiators as condensers (glycol from the antifreeze or lead from the connections). In addition, methanol can be added to the spirits to increase strength and improve profits.

The 1994 reported poisoning from ingesting mezcal produced in the Mexican state of Morelos cite the spirit having been spiked with methanol. It is suggested that this was an aberration, though of course is noteworthy. Somewhat surprisingly, there was relatively little reported about the incidents, and they have not to my knowledge received attention in the broader English literature centering upon methanol poisoning.

As suggested, methanol is not the only potentially harmful constituent. Lead as well as other toxic metals can poison not only as a consequence of employing unsuitable distillation equipment but also through the use of a contaminated water source. Volatile compounds such as acetaldehyde or higher alcohols can be produced in significant amounts due to fault in production technology or microbiological spoilage. There have been occurrences of certain fruit and sugarcane spirits containing the carcinogen urethane.

When is Methanol Safe?

Returning to methanol, one must now ask what is the safe maximum level of its ingestion. It was only in 1981 that the sugar substitute aspartame was approved for dry goods, and two years later for carbonated beverages. It is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol which makes up a whopping 10% of its composition. The absorption of methanol into the body is sped up when “free methanol” is ingested, and this form of the chemical is created from aspartame when it is heated to above 86 degrees Fahrenheit (i.e. when making sugar-free Jello). In 1993 the FDA approved aspartame as an ingredient in numerous food items that would normally be heated to above that temperature.

The EPA recommends consumption of no more than 7.8 grams of methanol daily. While the amount of aspartame in a diet soda can vary, it has been reported that a single can produces 20 mg of methanol in the body. It is no wonder that aspartame accounts for over 75% of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA. Chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting aspartame. The range of afflictions reported is alarming.

The current regulation for the maximum amount of methanol in mezcal is.3 of a gram per 100 ml. It is an arbitrary standard. Query how much mezcal one must ingest to reach the EPA maximum limit of methanol of 7.8 grams daily. The FDA states that as much as.5 of a gram per day of methanol is safe in an adult’s diet. Should the Mexican standard be higher, or lower?

It is no wonder that the study referenced earlier identifying volatile constituents in Mexican spirits, did not find toxicological relevance in the face of analyzing samples far above recommended levels. Furthermore, as distinct from household foodstuffs and drink containing aspartame, ethanol (i.e. mezcal) serves as an antidote for methanol toxicity in humans.

Conclusion

There is indeed confusion in the literature regarding recommended maximum levels of methanol and at what level health risks kick in, both dealing specifically with Mexican spirits, and where they are noted merely tangentially or not at all. However there is also considerable consistency:

1. There is a paucity of reliable research and resulting literature stemming in large part from the fact that statistics regarding non-commercial spirits are essentially non-existent for various reasons (i.e. unrecorded since no precise government or other reliable quantitative figures exist);

2. There is a lack of collaboration between local authorities, NGOs and international experts;

3. Methanol poisoning is relatively rare in circumstances where traditional, safe distillation processes which have been passed down through generations are practiced (i.e. throughout Mexico, current United States moonshine operations, etc.; subject to 1., above);

4. There are umpteen other reasons why there are health risks associated with both licit and illicit spirit production;

5. There is a concern that strict government controls encourage the consumption of non-commercial or informally sold alcohol and increase harm;

6. High quality artisanal non-commercial traditional spirits are by and large safe, both aside from and notwithstanding the issue of quantity of methanol;

7. They often constitute an extremely important part of local culture, often with ceremonial significance (i.e. consumed in a plethora of rite of passage events), and provide a source of national pride.

Aside from my Darwinian suggestion that the days of dangerous mezcal production have long passed, and acknowledging the issue of still construction, it is noteworthy that almost all artisanal distilleries in Oaxaca consist of either copper alembics or similar production equipment made in equally standardized and carefully monitored workshops and factories; or in clay pots. In both cases they are essentially free of harmful levels of chemical compounds.

If there is a lesson to be learned, it is perhaps that one should never drink artisanal mezcal, commercial or otherwise, while consuming government authorized products containing aspartame.

Mighty Mighty And The Ten Best Twee Songs Ever! in this year

Those of us who spent our adolescent years poring over coffee stained copies of The Catcher In The Rye or Tess of the d’Ubervilles whilst bitterly rueing the fact that not a single girl in our school, college or workplace had the good sense to notice the painfully shy bookworm sitting tongue tied beside them, often took refuge in a particular form of popular music. Spurned and tormented, we squandered our teenage years in the self-imposed exile of our back bedrooms, consoling ourselves there by listening to a flutter of indie bands that had somehow cornered the market in self-pitying heartbreak and juvenile angst. We took a perverse pleasure in the confessions of these kindred spirits, as they meekly extolled the trials and tribulations of loveless lives that mirrored our own lachrymose existence.

The Smiths, in this respect, were beyond comparison, and in Morrissey they possessed a songwriter without equal in the miserablist pop pantheon. There were other bands, though, that had plenty to say on the subject of unrequited love. A whole genre of indie-pop, whether you call it twee, shambling or C-86, after the NME’s legendary mix-tape, was absolutely mired in it. Whilst bands like The Wedding Present (and for me David Gedge was the unofficial spokesman for the legion of shy-hearted boys who couldn’t summon the courage to front-up at the Friday night disco) enjoyed a lengthy spell in the limelight, many of their C-86 compatriots simply faded into obscurity. In some cases, no doubt, this was a blessing in disguise. However, bands like The Servants and Birmingham’s Mighty Mighty surely deserved to be more than a footnote in indie-pop history.

Pop Can: The Definitive Collection 1986-1988, on Cherry Red, attempts to set the record straight. Comprising all of Mighty Mighty’s excellent singles, B-sides and EPs alongside a few choice cuts from their debut album, the otherwise underwhelming Sharks, with a handful of tracks from the ‘lost’ second album The Betamax Tapes (finally released in 2013), Pop Can certainly does what it says on the tin, gathering together the best moments of this short-lived combo.

The album, whilst not arranged in chronological order, does kick off with debut single “Everybody Knows the Monkey” a jittery affair that sets the tone (Orange Juice and a dash of vox organ), for the frothy content of Pop Can. Other highlights of side one include the souped up single “Built Like a Car”, which reached no. 6 in the Independent Chart, their highest ranking effort, and the supremely catchy follow up, “Law”. Thankfully it’s the C-86 version that appears here, rather than the inferior “dance remix” that Chapter released on 12inch in late 1987

Side two commences with “Is There Anyone Out There for Me”, which probably remains the band’s best known song, reaching no. 44 in John Peel’s hallowed festive fifty of 1986. This is also the Mighty Mighty song that unsurprisingly appears on Cherry Red’s definitive compilation, Scared To Get Happy, The Story of Indie Music 1980-1989. The song boasts a terrifically effervescent chorus that also captures the brutality of adolescent loneliness, with Hugh McGuinness haplessly pleading for true love to come his way-

‘Is there anyone out there for me, is anyone else lonely / I can’t stand another summer of if only’.

Other stand-outs on side two are “Let’s Call It Love”, and a pair of tracks from The Betamax Tapes; “Touch of the Sun” and particularly “Unsteady” which brings to mind the literate/sophisticated pop of Lloyd Cole or Prefab Sprout. Whilst lyricist Mick Geoghegan may not quite rank alongside Cole or Paddy McAloon, “Unsteady” does signpost the more mature direction the band would surely have travelled in, had they continued –

‘Do you remember that letter of mine / When I changed my mind every other line / Now that I’m sure, will you condescend / to be introduced, as my unsteady girlfriend’.

Rather strangely, Mighty Mighty went on to noticeable posthumous success in Japan, whilst remaining prophets without honour in their own land.

Well, we’re all big boys now! Decades separate us from our former, self-pitying selves. Long gone are the days when David Gedge’s plaintive ‘aaaaaargh’ of despair reverberated through Leeds city centre streets at closing time. Even when taken out of its original context, though, the music still stands the test of time. Pop Can is full to brimming with sweet-toothed vignettes, fizzing over with tales of lost love that you can sing along to. Ultimately, this is a truly worthwhile trip down memory lane and a fitting tribute to one of the genre’s lesser known practitioners.

While we’re on the subject of the genre that dare not speak its name, here are my top ten twee related songs.

1. The Sun a Small Star: The Servants

The distrait, dreamy vocal, the sepia-tinted harmonies, the golden splashes of guitar that rained down on verse and chorus alike should all have ensured that “The Sun a Small Star” became a staple of mainstream radio for decades to come much in the manner of The La’s “There She Goes”. However, the track, which was taken from the sublime E.P of the same name, flatlined on release, managing just a solitary week on the Indie Charts reaching no. 47 in November 1986.

2. Is There Anyone Out There for Me: Mighty Mighty

The song that sound-tracked a succession of lovesick summers in rain-swept South Wales as Thatcher battered the valleys into submission. The dry humour, the self-pitying sixth-form poetry, and a star-spangled tune that still manages to send shivers scuttling down the spine, as well as bringing a tear to the weary eye!

3. Almost Prayed: The Weather Prophets

The sun-dappled guitar licks, alone, were enough to give many of the fair-skinned wallflowers who bought this, The Weather Prophets’ debut single, a serious case of sunburn and the passing decades have done little to diminish its luminescent beauty.

The group, formed by Peter Astor and Dave Morgan, after The Loft had raised the roof for the last time, went on to achieve minor chart success when “She Comes from the Rain” peaked at no. 62 in March ’87. Their second album, Mayflower, from which this track is lifted, is arguably the best album of a sub-genre that (Wedding Present aside) can’t be said to have produced anything approaching a classic 33rpm record.

4. The Word around Town: Westlake*

Having dismissed his Servants, David Westlake released one eponymous Mini-LP, through Creation records, before decamping for a career in academia. “The Word around Town” is the record which reserves Westlake’s place on the shortlist of best British lyricists of the decade, alongside the likes of David Gedge, Robert Lloyd, Elvis Costello and Morrissey. A masterpiece of literate pop which includes this wry piece of self-analysis:

“The word around town among those for whom nothing is sacred / Is that the Emperor’s clothes don’t exist but he’s beautiful naked”.

* Be careful to avoid the demo version which is currently doing the rounds on the Small Time compilation.

5. My Favourite Dress: The Wedding Present

“Some rare delight in Manchester town / It took six hours before you let me down / to see it all in a drunken kiss / A strangers hand on my favourite dress”.

David Gedge, the George Clooney of Indie pop, may baulk at the company he is asked to keep here. There was always something fundamentally more muscular and unwholesome about this angry young man’s amatory musings, allied to the bellicose guitar bursts that characterised songs like “Brassneck”, that put their C-86 compatriots to shame. For a start, there was the sense that Gedge’s dysfunctional relationships were actually with real women, rather than the imaginary girlfriends his fey counterparts and more often than not, his devoted followers were unhealthily fantasising over.

The band released two classic albums, George Best and Bizarro, before the law of diminishing returns took over. Nevertheless, they enjoyed spectacular chart success, racking up a half-century of hit singles between 1988 and 2005.

6. Pristine Christine: The Sea Urchins

This jubilantly jaunty single was the debut release on Sarah records (unofficial home of twee) and spent six weeks on the Indie charts. Their love affair with Sarah was short lived, though, and they sought solace in the enticing arms of Cheree records in the fleshpots of London, before splitting up for good in the summer of 1991.

7. She’s Always Hiding: The Servants

A passively beautiful pop song, posited somewhere between Galaxie 500 and Real Estate, with a closing guitar solo that drifts along languorously, like an Indian Summer, before dissolving in the shimmering haze of our subconscious. Why David Westlake traded in the sublimely graceful sound of these early Servants singles for the more claustrophobic tones of their dowdy albums will forever remain one of pops most puzzling career moves.

8. Untidy Towns: The Lucksmiths

Although latecomers to the “anorak” scene (the Melbourne based combo were only formed in 1993), the group can lay claim to having produced the most consistent body of work the genre yielded on either side of the world. These bashful boys chalked up eleven, mostly fine, albums before parting company in 2009. Influenced by all the usual suspects (The Smiths, Orange Juice and The Go-Betweens) they also acknowledged a debt to the bittersweet love songs of Britain’s most underrated wordsmith, Billy Bragg. “Untidy Towns” is a random selection, there are over a hundred genteel vignettes as heart-warming as this one tucked away in their backpack.

9. Fabulous Friend: The Field Mice

If New Order hadn’t discovered Arthur Baker and the New York club scene, as they struggled to come to terms with the death of Ian Curtis and Joy Division, they would have been forever frozen in time as The Field Mice! Dinky little tunes like “Sensitive” and “Emma’s House” couldn’t knock the froth off a pint of bitter, but that’s all part of the band’s frangible charm.

10. I’m In Love with a Girl Who Doesn’t Know I Exist: Another Sunny Day

The title alone merits its inclusion on this list, managing as it does to sum up the whole raison d’etre of the genre in one indisputably sorrowful sentence. Harvey Williams, the young Werther of twee, deserves recognition, though, for his work as ASD and as a guitarist with their Sarah records’ stable mates The Field Mice.

The Different Uses of Farm Tractors in this year

The field of agriculture has provided us with a lot of things especially on the supply of the food that we consume daily. Aside from the food, it has given us the raw materials in making different kinds of products. Farmers or people who engage in agricultural business could not supply as with what we need without the help of the agricultural tractors. These machines are very useful in farming and that the owner must realize that he can do a lot of tasks with a tractor.

Some may just think that a tractor can only transfer materials from one place to another but this idea is wrong. Different attachments can be placed to farm tractors which make it even more efficient in an agricultural field. There are a lot of ways where a farmer can make use of the tractor that he must have knowledge of so that there is no need to purchase other machines which a tractor can perform the work by itself.

First of all, you can use it to till your own land. By attaching a plow on your agricultural tractors, you can just drive them through your land and cultivate it without too much effort. It can break down large lumps of earth and with the help of this machine you can prepare your land for planting and farming.

Once you have cultivated your land and prepared it for farming, then you can now use a different attachment to your farm tractor. Tractors manufacturers have built an application like the drill or planter so that you can conveniently sow your seeds with the help of this machine. You can just drive through your vast land area and distribute the seeds on where you want them to be. After you have started planting, you can easily pull a sprayer to keep the insects away from your plants.

Furthermore, you can use it as your own vehicle to bring and transfer materials from one place to another. If you have loads of things for your animals for instance, then you can just haul everything in your tractor and drive it to where you want the materials to be.

These are just few of the many uses of a tractor. It is very easy to maneuver and has a lot of uses if you know how to do with it. It can perform multiple tasks with the different applications that you can attach. When you know everything about this, you will surely admit that you have invested your money on very efficient equipment. Moreover, it has also saved your time from manually doing other tasks which farm tractors can do efficiently.

With a very efficient machine like this, all you need to do is make sure that you have followed all the safety precautions on putting different kinds of attachments and you must know what you are doing. You must be able to find out more about its different uses and what you can do to utilize everything that an agricultural tractor can do with your farm.

Top 10 Doris Day Movies in this year

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1922, Doris Day aspired to be a professional dancer but a car accident forced her to reassess her career as she spent part of her teenage years in a wheel chair recovering. Taking to singing on radio instead it wasn’t until 1948 that Doris made her first movie as Miss Georgia Garrett in “It’s Magic” (originally known as “Romance on the High Seas”). And so her movie career began which would span 20 years and 39 movies before she left the big screen and went to the small screen with her TV show “The Doris Day Show” which ran from 1968 – 1973.

Often regarded as the “eternal virgin” thanks mainly to a series of movies where the subject of sex was taboo, Day was in fact a very accomplished actress capable of delivering comedy, romance as well as heavy drama and of course was able to sing and dance as well. A seriously well rounded star who was top box-office star for 1963 and is often regarded as the ‘all-time’ top female box office star.

During her career she starred opposite some of Hollywood’s major stars such as Gordon MacRae, David Niven, Clark Gable, Kirk Douglas, James Stewart, Gig Young, Howard Keel, James Garner, Jack Lemmon and of course Rock Husdon whose trio of movies that they made together are some of her most popular.

Whilst it’s fair to say that some of Doris Day’s movies were remarkably similar with a recurring theme of being either a career minded young woman or duped by a man they worked well and made for some marvelous movies made memorable usually by at least one musical scene showcasing Day’s wonderful singing voice.

From out of her 39 movies it is actually quite difficult to narrow it down to just 10 but here is my personal choice for the “Top 10 Doris Day Movies”.

#10 Teacher’s Pet (1958)

The first movie to see what would become a very familiar storyline as Doris Day plays a career minded woman duped by a man pretending to be someone else. Here we watch Doris Day play Erica Stone a lecturer in journalism who ends up being duped by James Gannon (Clark Gable) a bit city newspaper editor who initially wants to give Stone a piece of his mind but ends up falling for her. The trouble is he pretends to be someone else when they meet and you know it will cause problem when his true identity is revealed.

Although “Teacher’s Pet” would be the first of these romantic-comedies which featured very similar storylines it was noticeable for the fact that Doris Day played things straight, whilst still delivering that charming and lovable performance which would fill many of these romantic comedies. Instead we had Clark Gable delivering the comedy as James Gannon with a wonderful array of face pulling with makes “Teacher’s Pet” a hugely enjoyable movie.

#9 Young Man With a Horn (1950)

In all fairness “Young Man With a Horn” or “Young Man of Music” as it is also known is not really a Doris Day movie rather than a Kirk Douglas movie with Doris Day in a supporting role. But the story of Rick Martin (Kirk Douglas) who learns to play the trumpet from legendary musician Art Hazzard and goes on to become a troubled star musician is a brilliant movie full of drama, emotion and music as well as a little comedy.

It is a brilliant performance from Kirk Douglas in the lead role but Doris Day is equally as good even in the lesser role of songstress Jo Jordan who ends up becoming a close friend to Rick. Although she only gets to sing 4 songs in the movie each one is beautiful done and in between each of these songs Day shows what a talented actress she is, so natural in every scene.

#8 It Happened to Jane (1959)

In the same year that Doris Day would make her first movie with Rock Hudson she also made another romantic comedy, this time with Jack Lemmon and Ernie Kovacs. In “It Happened to Jane” Doris plays Jane Osgood a career minded mother who breeds and sells lobsters who finds herself taking on the might of Harry Foster Malone (Ernie Kovacs) the owner of a train line which cost her a lot of money in dead lobsters. With the help of her best friend, lawyer George Denham (Jack Lemmon) she battles Malone in anyway she can but despite her troubles things may turn out alright in more sense than one.

With the exception of “Teacher’s Pet” prior to “It Happened to Jane” the majority of Doris Day’s romantic movies had largely been largely musicals. But here we had Day showing her ability in a more straight forward romantic comedy with barely a musical scene in sight, except for one heavily manufactured one featuring “Be Prepared”. What makes this movie feature in my “Top 10 Doris Day Movies” is the combination of Doris Day and Jack Lemmon who between them light up the screen with a perfect amount of comedy.

#7 The Thrill of It All (1963)

“The Thrill of It All” would be the first of Doris Day and James Garner’s 2 movies together and see once more Doris Day taking on a familiar role of a house wife and mother. During a dinner party Beverly Boyer (Doris Day), wife of obstetrician Gerald (James Garner), regales the hosts with a tale about how she used ‘Happy Soap’ to wash her children’s hair, as it happens her hosts are the owners of ‘Happy Soap’. Before she knows it Beverly is the new face of ‘Happy Soap’ making adverts, appearing on bill boards and being wined and dined at big socials. All of which ends up annoying Gerald who barely sees his wife causing a rift in their happy marriage.

Although their second movie together, “Move Over, Darling” would end up a bigger box-office success I prefer “The Thrill of It All” out of Doris Day and James Garner’s 2 movies together. It’s for the most rather routine with Doris Day playing that beautiful and slightly kooky house wife to James Garner’s tall dark and handsome husband but it’s full of memorable, funny scenes. The fake posing for the billboard and the swimming pool full of suds are two of just many innocently amusing moments in a movie full of them.

#6 On Moonlight Bay (1951)

In her 20 year movie career and despite making several movies which used the same sort of storyline Doris Day only made one sequel which was “By the Light of the Silvery Moon”. The predecessor to it was the beautifully titled “On Moonlight Bay” which saw Day take on the role of Marjie Winfield a tomboy who falls for Bill Sherman (Gordon MacRae). The trouble is that Bill has some unorthodox views on relationships and marriage and also on a few other things which end up annoying Marjie’s father George.

Although “On Moonlight Bay” has a storyline, in fact it has a few storylines it is very much a musical with numerous musical moments featuring either the wonderful Doris Day or the equally wonderful Gordon MacRae and often together. But it is the way everything comes together to make a thoroughly pleasant and charming movie, completely innocent and a lot of fun.

#5 The Pajama Game (1957)

This would be the last of Doris Day’s movies which were firstly musical and drama second but it is surprisingly good fun. Set in the Sleeptite Pajama Factory Doris plays Babe Williams a union rep who finds herself coming up against new superintendent Sid Sorokin (John Raitt) who falls head over heels for her, except business and pleasure start to make things rather messy especially as Babe’s fellow workers want a rise.

“The Pajama Game” has it roots as a Broadway musical and what makes the screen version work is that it feels like you are watching a stage musical. With many of the Broadway cast reprising their roles for the movie and with a vibrant styling which really brings it to life it is a very entertaining movie. And of course it features Doris Day at her feisty best as she plays up against John Raitt whilst delivering plenty of cheerful musical numbers.

#4 Love Me or Leave Me (1955)

During her career Doris Day performed in a few movies which were based or inspired by real people, in “Love Me or Leave Me” she stars as Ruth Etting in a fictionalized account of the jazz singer’s life. Having been spotted by Chicago hood Marty Snyder (James Cagney) Ruth goes from a wannabee singer to a major star, but with Snyder controlling her life the public image Ruth presented was vastly different to her unhappy private one.

What makes Doris Day’s performance in “Love Me or Leave Me” so brilliant comes in hindsight of information that Doris Day revealed in her autobiography. Day herself suffered an unhappy marriage to Martin Melcher who basically controlled her life and much of which almost mirrors what you watch in “Love Me or Leave Me”. As such there is a real sense of pain and emotion in many of the scenes in the movie where Snyder inflicts his rage and control over Ruth. Plus of course being a movie about a singer means we get plenty of brilliant musical moments including renditions of “Ten Cents a Dance” and “I’ll Never Stop Loving You”.

#3 By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953)

As already mentioned “By the Light of the Silvery Moon” is the equally beautifully titled sequel to “On Moonlight Bay” and follows a very similar storyline with Marjie Winfield still having relationship issues with Bill who having agreed to marry her before heading off to war returns not quite ready to walk down the aisle. And that’s not the only problem as other member’s of the Winfield household are having a few issues.

To many “By the Light of the Silvery Moon” is inferior to “on Moonlight Bay” and basically just rehashes the whole storyline, which in all fairness it does. But to me it has a lot more charm especially with the wintry setting and memorable ending on the frozen pond with a wonderful family sing-a-long. It also helps that Day is at her cutest best as Marjie easy on the eyes and easy to fall in love with.

#2 Pillow Talk (1959)

It may come as a surprise to some but Doris Day and Rock Hudson only made 3 movie together, although it often feels like more because Day made several similar movies all of with quite similar handsome stars. Their first movie together was “Pillow Talk” with saw Day playing Jan Morrow who shares a party phone line with Brad Allen (Rock Hudson) much to her annoyance as he hogs the line with calls to and from various women. But when Allen finds himself in the company of Morrow he has a bit of fun pretending to be an out of town Texan called Rex Stetson, except what started as a bit of fun turns into more when they genuinely fall for each other.

As already mentioned Doris Day made several similar movies and here again we see her being duped by a man pretending to be someone else. It is the best version of this type of storyline thanks to the amazing chemistry between Doris Day and Rock Hudson making it extremely funny and quite romantic, which in an ironic way is quite funny thanks to certain revelations about both of the stars. And despite the concept of Day being duped by another man had already been done it is the one most people remember with Day delivering her kooky, face pulling comedy to the max whilst Hudson charms his way through every scene.

#1 Calamity Jane (1953)

And finally my number 1 Doris Day movie in my list of “Top 10 Doris Day Movies” and it has to be the award winning “Calamity Jane”. In “Calamity Jane” Doris Day stars as Jane a feisty Indian tracker in the town of Deadwood who likes to boast a little too much. When the owner of the local saloon is desperate to get someone to perform, Jane boasts she can bring back acclaimed stage performer Adelaid Adams from Chicago to perform on their small stage. But having headed off to Chicago Jane mistakes Adelaid’s maid Kate for the big star and returns with her instead. Well it all comes out that Jane didn’t bring back Adelaid but her and Kate become friends leaving to a bit of unexpected rivalry in the romantic department.

From the opening scene with the lively “The Deadwood Stage (Whip-Crack-Away)” right through to the credits “Calamity Jane” is an out and out classic musical full of big musical song and dance numbers which makes the storyline almost unimportant despite not being that bad. But why “Calamity Jane” is my number 1 movie is because it showcases everyone of Doris Day’s wonderful talents from dancing, singing, comedy as well as a touch of drama and alongside solid performances from Howard Keel, Allyn Ann McLerie and Philip Carey there is not a single dull moment in it’s entire length.

The Six Essential Elements of Child Development in this year

As a caring and involved parent, you want to assist your child’s development in any way you can. Why not acquire educational toys geared toward encouraging growth in all of the developmental areas? Authorities differ slightly on how to organize these domains. However, a good standard to follow is that set by Drs. Dorothy and Jerome Singer of Yale University, who identify six essential elements of developmental play that can be cultivated through the use of age-appropriate educational toys:

  • Motor development: the development of gross motor skills that use large muscle groups for activities such as running, kicking, balancing, jumping, hopping, lifting, climbing, and swinging, and the development of more delicate fine motor skills, such as the pincer grip of thumb and forefinger.
  • Eye-hand development and vision: the development of keen powers of perception and of the ability to use the eyes and hands together in coordination to perform a task.
  • Cognitive learning: the development of the ability to learn new knowledge and to process, understand, and apply this knowledge to different ends. Developing this area helps a child improve his or her capacity for mental activities such as reasoning, interpreting, comparing and contrasting, evaluating, judging, inferring, predicting, sequencing, and visualizing. It also helps children master specific content knowledge relating to vocabulary, mathematics, science, and so forth.
  • Hearing, Listening, and Voice: the development of skills relating to the senses and communication. Developing this area allows a child to discriminate between different types of sensory input, processing those that are important and screening out ones that are not.
  • Social/Emotional: the development of skills relating to how one interacts with other people and how one behaves oneself.
  • Creative/Imaginative: the development of skills relating to pretending about the world and using the imagination to explore new ideas and possible solutions to problems.

Which Educational Toys to Get

To develop gross motor skills, look for toys that require large, yet controlled movements from your child. As they begin to stand and walk, provide younger children with wooden push and pull toys. As they gain more control over their muscles, get them wagons, play strollers and shopping carts, tricycles, and kid-powered ride-on cars such as the Plasma Car. Look for toys that develop more specific gross motor skills, such as hopscotch sets (hopping), jump ropes or the Spin Master Stomp Rocket (jumping), or hula hoops (rotating body). Sports equipment also promotes the development of more varied gross motor skills.

To develop fine motor skills, look for toys that require your child to perform precise, controlled hand movements. For example, get lacing cards or activity books or boards that have the child perform life skills such as buttoning, tying laces, zipping, snapping, cutting, and locking and unlocking.

To promote eye-hand development and vision, seek out toys that require children to use keen perception in concert with hand dexterity. For example, get nesting and stacking toys such as the Melissa and Doug Geometric Stacker; blocks and other building sets; peg boards; puzzles; and art activities such as drawing, cutting, painting, sculpting, or lacing beads. Also look for toys that increase your child’s sense of perception, such as I Spy books or puzzles that require children to differentiate between different sizes or colors of the same object.

To develop cognitive skills, look for toys that require the use of logic, identifying patterns, finding solutions, and solving puzzles. For example, get games that require children to use clues and deductions to solve problems, such as the classic board game Clue or FoxMind Games’s Logix I. Or get science and nature kits that develop children’s powers of observation and investigation, such as Battat’s Bug Catcher Set. Or get toys and games that teach content skills and problem-solving skills, such as Melissa and Doug’s See and Spell. Or get building sets or model sets by makers such as Meccano that require children to think about how pieces can and should fit together.

To develop hearing, listening, and voice, look for toys that appeal to the senses. Get musical instruments such as shakers, drums, whistles, triangle, tambourines, and xylophones to encourage children to play with and compare different sounds. You can also get toys that help children discriminate between different sounds, such as sound puzzles.

To develop social and emotional skills,look for toys that require your child to interact with other people. For example, games such as FoxMind Games’ Babylon teach skills like taking turns and good sportsmanship. Building toys such as wooden unit block sets or Legos encourage skills such as cooperation and sharing as children work together to construct something.

To develop creativity and imagination, look for toys that encourage your child to create things or to pretend or role-play scenarios. For example, Uberstix construction systems can be used to build an infinite variety of structures. Art and craft supplies give children practice with making things. Dolls, dollhouses, Battat toy vehicles, and toy dinosaurs can all be used as props to make up stories and recreate real-life scenarios. Costumes, props, and copies of real-life objects can all also be used in imaginative play.

The Burning Volkswagen Kombi – A Fiery Problem For A Classic Van in this year

The air-cooled Volkswagen Kombi is an iconic vehicle that just oozes character. Kombis are practical too. You can drive them to work, carry the family around and go camping in them, and you still see them being used on a daily basis as well as being restored for occasional use. There are still plenty of young guys and girls who would like to own one as their daily driver.

Volkswagen kombis do have one disturbing fault though. They catch fire, and then it’s goodbye Kombi.

So just why do they catch fire, and what can you do to stop yours burning?

I haven’t found a definitive article in a VW magazine yet, but I’ve been driving my 1976 2 liter bay window as my daily driver for over 14 years, so I’ve taken an interest in the problem and learnt as much as I could. I’ll answer the question as well as I can.

There are actually a few different things that can cause the Kombi to burn, but they all come back to fuel getting loose in the engine bay. Kombis have a fuel tank in front of and above the engine, a hose going down from that to the fuel pump, and another hose going up through the tinware to the carbies.

Kombis are old now, and they have a lot of age related problems unless they’ve been rebuilt. Even then, it’s most likely not everything has been brought back to as new condition.

One of those old-age problems is perished and cracked fuel lines. Chances are yours have been replaced, but check them anyway. When they crack they can leak gas everywhere. One spark and your Kombi is history. Also, right below the engine are two hot heat exchangers that have the exhaust running through them. I don’t know what causes the biggest problem, heat exchangers or sparks, but it’s largely irrelevant when your van goes up in smoke.

So check those fuel lines, and if you buy a kombi don’t drive it anywhere with old and cracked fuel lines. Replace them! And don’t forget to check the hose from the fuel tank to the pump. It’s out of the way and easily overlooked.

If you’ve undone the fuel hoses a few times, make sure you haven’t cut through the hose with the edge of the hose clamp. It can happen, and then you have gas dripping down onto the engine.

The fuel hose runs through the tinware surrounding the engine. The tinware plays a very important role, it’s essential for keeping your engine cool. It’s nearly as important as the radiator on water cooled cars, so don’t discard it. But do check where the fuel line runs through the tinware. There should be a rubber grommet protecting the fuel line from the tin. Mine eventually perished, and it was one of the few parts I couldn’t buy new, so I wrapped the fuel line in a larger diameter piece of hose to stop the rubbing,

Another old-age problem is where the fuel lines go into the carbies. There is a brass inlet pipe that is part of the carburetor, and they come loose. You can imagine what happens. All of a sudden the gas that was going into the carby is spraying all over the engine. Goodbye Kombi!

I was very lucky. I was buying parts from a long-time VW mechanic, and he told me about that particular problem. I checked the inlet pipes not long after, and one of them actually pulled right out of the carby very easily. I put it back in with loctite and check both inlet pipes regularly. If yours are loose, check with your mechanic and get them fixed before you drive your van again.

My Kombi also had loose inlet and outlet pipes in the fuel pump. They got put back in with loctite, and they also get checked whenever I’m doing maintenance on the engine.

I’ve come across another problem too. There is a rubber elbow near the fuel filler. Mine perished, and I could smell gas, but couldn’t find the leak. Eventually I found fuel dripping of the bottom of the Kombi below the filler. Needles to say that got replaced before I drove it again.

I’m not saying that I’ve listed everything that can make a Kombi burn, so if a vee-dubber tells you other causes, listen to them. And keep a good eye on your kombis fuel lines. If you smell gas find out where it is coming from and fix it. It must be very depressing sitting on the side of the road watching your beloved Kombi going up in smoke.

And it does happen. You’ll read about burning Kombis in VW magazines and on forums, and I’ve heard of a couple of incidents personally. My wife was driving to work one day and up ahead was a column of smoke and the local fire crew. As she drove past she saw a kombi burning. The burnt out shell ended up in a holding yard near where I lived for a few weeks.

A couple of months later the attendant where I got gas told me about his Kombi. His wife was driving it, smelt gas and went into a gas station to get it checked. The mechanic couldn’t see any leaks so she kept driving. The Kombi burst into flames and that was the end of it.

Don’t let it happen to you.