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Books Read in 2019
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HOW TO BUY AN ELEPHANT
29 July 2019
I thought surely we had gone through all of the books (in the 2 rooms that Ned has been clearing), what with packing up some 25 boxes of books to be donated and another several boxes of "to keep" books (though lord knows where we will keep them.
But Walt opened a box from the garage yesterday, thinking it was paperwork he moved from his office to our house, 45 years ago, when there was no room for it in the office. I'm sure he has used it a time or two, but mostly it has been gathering dust for 45 years.
But this box was more books, including one amazing books called "How to buy an Elephant," subtitled "things you never knew you wanted to know."
It is the most marvelous collection of useless information that you ever want to read. Collected in 1977, it seems to be mostly government documents from the mid-to-late 19th century, including the leading article, which is "how to buy an elephant." This particular informative article seems to have been written in the 1970s. Elephants are apparently cheap. Then-current prices were $7,500 for African elephants and $15,000 for Asians, with $2.60/lb for shipping, the elephant weighing 600-800 lbs.
According to this article, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 made it illegal or virtually impossible to import Asian elephants. I'm sure Trump has reversed that by now.
(And BTW apparently nobody has been able to determine whether or not elephants snore)
There is a host of other intriguing titles in this book, some of which make you wonder why someone thought they were necessary (like "How to Sweep a Carpet," "How to Climb a Ladder," and "How to use a Broom").
But then there are marvelously helpful chapters like "If Attacked by a Bull," "What it Feels like to Drown" and "Skunk Farming."
I did like "Method of Restoring the Apparently Dead," which was written by the Royal Humane Society in 1879.
There are a couple of pages on Sniggling for Eels and I feel so much more informed having read this: "To sniggle for eels, procure a strong top rod, or a long slender hazel stick, slip a small quill over the taper end, leaving the extreme end of the quill whole, a tailor's button needle or a stocking needle not more than two inches long is also a requisite...." It goes on and on and on. But I don't have a clue what they are talking about.
But that's ok. It's 103 degrees here and entirely too hot to go sniggling for anything.
"Pneumatic Railways & Rapid Transit in New York City," was written in 1874. "For several years the people of New York city have been agitated on the subject of rapid transit from one end of Manhattan Island to the other....An ingenious individual has devised a plan whereby the space above the heads of the standing passengers maybe utilized. He proposes some additional straps on which a few passengers cab be suspended horizontally, very much as dried fish in a museum are hung up on the wall. The position would be uncomfortable but comfort is a secondary or tertiary consideration altogether..."
Sorry they never did that...what a photo op.
There are a couple of pages, written in 1873, on Fish Culture, which includes this great graphic of "mode of discharging ova." It mentions that in Europe, fish are so common that "this food should be served to domestics only at stated intervals or on fast days."
What's interesting about the fish section is the discussion of the problem of things that poison the fish and methods they plan to try which will solve the problem.
We haven't come far in 100 years!
There are four pages on "When and Whom to Marry," but I loved this warning on persons to be avoided: "You should not receive the attentions of a thin, sallow-faced, sour dyspeptic. His foul stomach will kill the health of yours. I mean that by his gloomy, draggy, low vitality and cheerless, dismal disposition, he will drive you to dyspepsia or something worse, and you will find that you might as well go and be a nurse in a hospital or live in a graveyard as to extract comfort and happiness from your alliance with such a living corpse.
There is also a lovely description of an ignoramus: "Low narrow head, animal face, obstinate disposition, entirely unsuited to an educated, well endowed woman."
This will probably end up in the "donate" boxes, but it's sure been a fun adventure reading through it today!
PHOTO OF THE DAY
softball tournaments are boring when you aren't playing...
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This is entry #7066