Monday, 20 October 2014

History of the Microwave Oven

It has been a while since I have done o history of everyday items. So I thought I would kick things off again with an item we all use the good old Microwave.

Percy Spencer
The man was Percy Spencer.  At the age of just 18 months old, Spencer’s father died and his mother soon left him to his aunt and uncle.  His uncle then died when Spencer was just seven years old.  Spencer subsequently left grammar school and, at the age of 12, began working from sunup to sundown at a spool mill, which he continued to do until he was 16 years old.  At this time, he heard about a nearby paper mill that was “electrifying”, which intrigued him.  Given that few in his town, a remote community in Maine, knew much of anything about electricity, he began learning what he could about it and managed to become one of three people who were hired to install electricity in the plant, despite having never received any formal training in electrical engineering nor even finishing grammar school.

At the age of 18, Spencer decided to join the U.S. navy after becoming interested in wireless communications directly following learning about the wireless operators aboard the Titanic when it sank.  While with the navy, he made himself an expert on radio technology: “I just got hold of a lot of textbooks and taught myself while I was standing watch at night.”  He also subsequently taught himself: trigonometry, calculus, chemistry, physics, and metallurgy, among other subjects.

Fast-forward to 1939 where Spencer, now one of the world’s leading experts in radar tube design, was working at Raytheon as the head of the power tube division.  Largely due to his reputation and expertise, Spencer managed to help Raytheon win a government contract to develop and produce combat radar equipment for M.I.T.’s Radiation Laboratory.  This was of huge importance to the Allies and became the military’s second highest priority project during WWII, behind the Manhattan Project.  It also saw Spencer’s staff rise from 15 employees to 5000 over the course of the next few years.

World War II Radar
One day, while Spencer was working on building magnetrons for radar sets,  he was standing in front of an active radar set when he noticed the candy bar he had in his pocket melted.  Spencer wasn’t the first to notice something like this with radars, but he was the first to investigate it.  He and some other colleagues then began trying to heat other food objects to see if a similar heating effect could be observed.  The first one they heated intentionally was popcorn kernels, which became the world’s first microwaved popcorn.  Spencer then decided to try to heat an egg.  He got a kettle and cut a hole in the side, then put the whole egg in the kettle and positioned the magnetron to direct the microwaves into the hole.  The result was that the egg exploding in the face of one of his co-workers, who was looking in the kettle as the egg exploded.

Spencer then created what we might call the first true microwave oven by attaching a high density electromagnetic field generator to an enclosed metal box.  The magnetron would then shoot into the metal box, so that the electromagnetic waves would have no way to escape, which would allow for more controlled and safe experimentation.  He then placed various food items in the box and monitored their temperature to observe the effect.

Early Radarange Microwave Oven
The company Spencer was working for, Raytheon, then filed a patent on October 8, 1945 for a microwave cooking oven, eventually named the Radarange.  This first commercially produced microwave oven was about 6 feet tall and weighed around 750 pounds.  The price tag on these units was about $5000 a piece.  It wasn’t until 1967 that the first microwave oven that was both relatively affordable ($495) and reasonably sized (counter-top model) became available.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The First Man In Space

Starman tells story Yuri Gagarin the first man in space and by doing so tells us the story of the start of the space race. It is easy to forget that the USSR was miles ahead of the US in the early years of the space race and had an impressive list of firsts. Which included first object put in space and the first man and woman in space. 

The author has crafted a well-balanced book that delivers both  an entertaining and informative read. I entered this book with only cursory knowledge of Yuri and was fascinated to see how the son of a potato farmer became the first man in space. Even more fascinating was his life afterwards and how he was used as a political tool in the emerging Cold War. I am drawn to books on the Soviet Union like a moth to light and this one did not let me down. I always love having a peek behind the Iron Curtain.

As mentioned before to tell the story of Yuri is to tell the story of the start of the space race. The author goes to great length to give the reader an understanding of how much Yuri's flight and other achievements of the USSR impacted on the psyche of the West. It is easy to forget through the fog of time that the space race was a direct reflection of the might and threat posed by the Superpowers, and in the beginning the Soviets reigned supreme.

4 Stars

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Reason Why I Love To Read

This author reminds me of why I love reading so much and why I like reading Indie authors. I still remember reading this authors first ever offerings and being mightily impressed by his storytelling talent. Since then I have read with great excitement each of his new books. It has been a pleasure to see him build up his fan base. I was even happier when he was picked up by a publisher. After all this is a reflection on the power and importance of the Indie author movement. It is the power of the reader to shape the industry. No longer are we restricted by what the publishers think we want to read.

This book left me speechless in a good way but not good when trying to write a review. Nicholas Sansbury Smith just keeps going from strength to strength. I have been reading this author since his first offering and I am continually blown away by his story telling talents.

Orbs II starts off right where Orbs left off and hits the ground running at full tilt. The story of earths demise by some damn thirsty aliens continues. All your favorite characters are found right where left them struggling to survive and searching for someway to hold on.

The narrative as I have already elude to screams along at a frightening pace with the right mix of action, thrills, horror, despair and it's fair share of white knuckle moments. The character interactions and development is also of high standard and this draws you further into the storyline. The introduction of a new story arc keeps only adds to the enjoyment of this book. When I reached the end of the book one thought entered my head,"please sir can I have some more".

I for one am glad to see this author has been picked up by a publisher and I am predicting a bright future for him. So what are you waiting for you will
not be disappointed by what this author has to offer. 
5 Stars & the LBR Tick Of Approval

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Blimey That Was Close!

This book left me gobsmacked on just how close we came to a nuclear accident taking out a fair chunk of humanity, and we are only talking about from the US side of the Cold War. Eric Schlosse's books takes a look at the nuclear arms race and the controls and structure put in place around the use and storage of the weapons.
This book had me shaking my head in disbelief so much I ended up with a sore neck. In a brillinat piece of writing the author delivers history of the highest level. There is no sugar coating of the facts to be found here. What you get is a fascinating insight of the US's race against the USSR in the war of nuclear deterrents.
5 Stars

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The Blackwater Saga Part One

 Nex up on the batter's plate is another offering from Pamellia Smith. We are doing something new with this one and Pamellia is revieweing an entire series. I will be spreading the reviews out over the week. The series is called the Blackwater Saga and here is what Pamellia though of the series overall.
I think Mr. McDowell liked this story. I think he felt for the men that were dominated by the women. I think he enjoyed writing about the old south. He was a story teller, perhaps the best story teller of our time. He was lost to us by his death much too early.
I give this Saga a solid 5 stars.
Reccomended to anyone wanting to read a good story.
This first book of the saga that covers the flood (duh) and the after effects of the flood. How it changed the community, the government and most importantly the Caskey family including their servants. The immediate clean up, picking out what has to go and what is gone stay and the re-building.
The author's writing style brought me into this story in a holistic way. I could feel the fear the residents of Perdido had when it came to the Perdido river's current and especially the junction where the Perdido and Blackwater Rivers met. A real vortex that I could see and feel. When Mr. McDowell described the heat, I felt very does that happen? It happens with a good writer who knows how to bring his readers into a story.
When I finished reading this first book I was over-joyed that I had only scratched the surface of the whole saga and immediately started on the next book in the series.

Mary-Love Caskey starts this book out with the oddest prayer, over a meal, most of us have never heard, “O Lord, protect us from flood, fire, maddened dogs and runaway Negroes.”I'm not certain why I find this so humorous, but I do. McDowell uses this prayer to help us understand something about the childhood of Mary-Love. Being the first generation in her family following the war between the states had to be a tough life. I can only imagine how her mother's life changed and how sad it was for her. I believe this is the main reason Mary-Love is as “hard” as she is...yet she does have some deep love as we see later on in the book.
Elinor has now given her only child, Miriam, to Mary-Love and her daughter, Sister. Elinor wanted freedom from Mary-Love, her mother-in-law, and giving her daughter away bought her that freedom. We learn more about this trade as the story progresses, right up until the very end of the saga.
Sister is tired of her mother's domineering personality . McDowell finds a way for her to escape...will Sister be willing to sacrifice the life-style she has always known. There is a lot of sacrificing in this saga.
Because of the horrible flood almost everyone in Perdido believes a levee will protect them. So an engineer is hired and the levee is built. Oscar Caskey, Mary-Love's son and Elinor's husband, is active in the local government as well as managing the Caskey lumbar business. I believe he and Elinor had a marriage with much love.
Through various actions and interactions McDowell shows strength of Mary-Love's personality. Mary-Love has always been successful with her little power games, but she has problems with Elinor responses that often confuse her.
The author brings up the time issue of the conception of Elinor and Oscar's second child. This was never really investigated by the author and I think it was just one of those many things that Oscar learned to accept about Elinor. He loved her, knew she was different and accepted her just the way she was.
I enjoyed the way McDowell starts to peak our interest in ghosts and how they may be existing in Oscar and Elinor's new home. Frances, their newest daughter, is concerned about the ghosts, but she learns to handle this situation like so many other situations she is involved in.
Stay tuned for the next two books in the series.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The Mighty Bunnies Reign Supreme

For my oversea readers you will be wondering what the hell I am going on about. Today in Australia was the National Rugby League (NRL) Final and my team the mighty South Sydney Rabbitohs have won the equivalent of the NFL Superbowl. So please let forgive this self indulgence but the Lazy Book Reviewer is a very happy man.

This is if the first time the have won the final in  43 years. The history of the club being one truly of the people. In the late 80's they where removed from the competition due to financial issues. The fans marched in the streets in protest and the team was reinstated into the competition. It was a struggle for a long time for the club. That was until Russell Crow came to the rescue and bought the team and started the long road to success. Today was a great effort with Sam Burgess playing the full 80 minutes despite fracturing his cheek bone in the first 10 seconds of the game.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Good Ole Fashion Fun

This book won’t win any awards for originality but it does deliver a very solid tale that is well worth the price of admission. We have seen this type of story in numerous books, comics and movies but this familiarity works well. It like the feeling you get when you settle into your favorite chair with a nice beverage in one hand and the TV remote in the other. This feeling allowed me to quickly settle into the story and it did not take long for it to have me hooked.

The book is well set out with the plot moving at just the right pace to keep you interested. There is the right mix of thrills and spill built into the narrative and the characters feel right for the story. The author is to be commended for delivering a great story that feels like catching up with an old friend. If you are looking for an entertaining read that won’t tax the ole grey matter then this is the read for you. I for one will be investing in the next installment.

4 Stars