April in Florida, Part IV

After Part III

April 23-30, 2005

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Reader Bull was, of course, able to answer yesterday's question:

"The complete mark is BY ROYAL LETTERS PATENT. It is Walter James Holroyde's 1882 British Patent Number 1,406 for a cork splitter."

Many readers know that Don Bull has written more (and better) about corkscrews than anyone else ... ever. In law we would call his THE ULTIMATE CORKSCREW BOOK the "standard work on the subject". He has more than half a dozen major titles under his name ... and his personal collection is the envy of everyone.

"Legs"? Yes, some corkscrews have legs. Here are a couple of unusual ones: one for its size (small) and the other for its color (flesh).

PS: Reader Kevin from AZ (formerly from Bangkok) used this photo to convince his wife not to buy a motorcycle:

Below is an actual emergency room photo of a gentleman who lost control of his motorcycle on a country road in West Virginia.

Troopers believe that he was traveling at a speed of approximately 75 mph at the time of the accident. He was unable to negotiate a curve in the road. Unfortunately for him, upon striking the ditch and being ejected from the bike, he landed back end first on a fencepost from an old barnyard fence that was downed on the side of the road. You can probably picture what happened next, but the attached picture really says it all.

The good news is that after about 6 months, this man made a full recovery after suffering a shattered hip, broken leg, several broken ribs, internal injuries, and "soft tissue" damage. Doctors credited his recovery to the fact that the post lodged itself so tightly that there was little or no blood loss.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

This is Maud's patent of 1896. The spikes bite into the cork once there has been sufficient penetration by the screw; this allows the cork to turn as the screw digs deeper. Any 'bond' between the cork and the glass is thus broken, allowing the cork to be lifted with less pull.

Monday, April 25, 2005 (pre-journal)

A corkscrew collector from "down-under" writes:

"I hope you can help me out. Being in Florida, I guess the weather is similar to Sydney. Do you have problems with the humidity ? I have noticed some corrosion spots on some of my Thomasons. Please see attached. Maybe you can use your 'internet force' and get some advice from the thousands of readers. I don't want to use anything too abrasive."

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Air Show is almost here. Do you remember it from years past?

PS: I didn't have a chance to flip (*) any of my Thomason corkscrews to see if any of them were under the same form of attack that have been worrying those wonderful little engines 'down-under'.

(*) Brass pieces lying in a case or mounted against a wall might be more susceptible to having their 'dark' sides savaged by humidity than those sides that perpetually gaze into the sunlight.

PPS: Being 'toady':

Mystery of toads that explode in the night

From Roger Boyes in Berlin

AN OUTBREAK of exploding toads is perplexing the residents of Hamburg. The affected creatures seem to behave quite normally, croaking and languidly snapping up flies. Suddenly, after nightfall, they start to balloon to more than three times their normal size and can barely crawl before popping. Their entrails are expelled distances of up to one metre.

Thousands of the green amphibians have died this way. "It is a deeply shocking sight," said Werner Smolnik, a leading activist from the Nabu environmental protection group.

A meeting of wildlife experts has been summoned to explain the phenomenon, which has occurred near a lake in a fashionable part of the city. Tabloid newspapers have already called it the "Pond of Death."

Dogs and children have been warned away. The force of the explosions is impressive. "It's like hitting a slightly rotten orange with a golf iron," one Green activist explained yesterday.

Heidi Mayerhofer, a biologist who has been called in to find an answer to the riddle, said: "The worst thing is that they're not dead immediately. They have to fight for their lives for minutes on end despite the fact that their entrails have been shot across the park."

The experts' main concern is that the illness could spread. "We cannot exclude some possibility of humans being infected," Herr Smolnik said. Water samples from the lake have been taken for analysis but no obvious bacteria or deadly pollution seems to be present in the water.

Other explanations are a virus or a new breed of aggressive crows. The birds have been seen attacking toads and one theory is that the toads swell up as a defence mechanism which then gets out of control. Alternatively, the toads could be committing suicide in order to protect the toad community as a whole. Attacks by crows have certainly diminished since the toads started to blow themselves up.

Germans are particularly attached to toads and they have become, in some respects, a symbol of the Green movement. The Government has allocated 153,000 for toad tunnels underneath roads to protect the animals from traffic.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Crud strikes 'up-over', too!

Are Thomasons not safe anywhere?

Is BrassoTM the answer? Help!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Two of these are marked "Dry Monopole". The silver one in the middle is not marked. Yep, the handles are supposed to be Champagne corks; not only their shape, but the ridges in the roof for restraining wires tell you that. Hey, but who uses a corkscrew to pop open a bottle of Champagne?

PS: According to my friend, Jon Titley, there is only one way to open a bottle of Champagne: decapitate it! I first saw Jon do this at Tiger Tops in Nepal about nine years ago (*); using a local knife he took a vicious swipe at a standing bottle of Madame Bollinger's finest ... and within a micro-second the neck of the bottle (along with the cork) separated itself from the contents, flew across dining room of the lodge and landed in my lap. Of course, I kept it as a souvenir.

(*) Back then both Jon and I fielded different elephant polo teams at Tiger Tops; my team was called the Screwy Tuskers1 ... Jon had a motley group of mercenaries under his command; his group was stationed in Kathmandu, when they were not being guns-for-hire in some dusky African country.

1 Which morphed into the Screwless Tuskers.

Thursday, April 28, 2005 (pre-journal)

Over our house they were practicing for this weekend's Air Show.

Friday, April 29, 2005 (pre-journal)

'Flat' corkscrews:

PS: For anyone who thinks I was joking about opening a bottle of Champagne with a blade, read on. You too can own a Champagne guillotine: the Flying Colours Hot Air Balloon Team will sell you one.

Champagne Sabres

A tradition for over 200 years - the only way to open Champagne!!!

Napoleon's victories on the battlefield have gone down in history. The great general often invited his soldiers to commemorate their victories. During these occasions the dashing young cavalry officers started the custom of opening bottles of champagne with their sabres. The art of "Sabrage" was born, and this noble tradition is carried on by the Flying Colours Hot Air Balloon Team.

The Art of Sabrage is a technique of opening a Champagne bottle by using a sabre to hit the glass ring at the top of the bottle below the cork and the weakest point of the bottle seam.

"In victory, you deserve Champagne, in defeat, you need it." - Napoleon Bonaparte

Saturday, April 30, 2005 (pre-journal)

Jennifer Wilbanks: "I hate those big Georgia weddings!"

Written by Morgan Truce

Jennifer: "Even Greyhound is more exciting than John!"

DULUTH, GEORGIA (AP) Jennifer Wilbanks was supposed to get married to John Mason this weekend, but instead got on a Greyhound bus and traveled across the country. "I always liked those long trips on the Greyhound," says Jennifer. "My family is pretty well-off and they always travel by plane, but I like Greyhound. Sitting for hours and hours on a cramped bus gives me time to sort out things in my life. I was supposed to get married to John Mason and have a big wedding with hundreds of guests and 14 bridesmaids and 14 groomsmen, but I chickened out and ran. I've always been pretty good at running."

John Mason was left in Duluth this past week having no idea what happened to his pretty fiancé and was being hounded by the police to take a lie detector test to clear him from suspicion of foul play. "Now I don't know if Jennifer was afraid of big weddings or if she was just not wanting to marry me. I just don't understand ... who wouldn't want to marry into a family of lawyers?"

Jennifer's father, Harris Wilbanks spoke to reporters after hearing that his daughter was found alive in Albuquerque. "This is costing me a bundle! I laid out all that money for flowers, the caterer, the band, the gown, and a million other things. I won't be able to get a dime back ... And to top it off, I'll probably have to wind up driving out to *&^%(%# Albuquerque to pick Jennifer up. I probably ought to just leave her there and make her take the bus home!"

At Greyhound company headquarters, officials were busy this morning trying to come up with a TV ad to capitalize on all the publicity. "We've contacted Jennifer Willbanks and she has agreed to appear in a series of TV ads for Greyhound. We're thinking about having her shown in a fancy wedding gown on one of our buses. We think we can work in a shot of her going down the aisle and then into the little bathroom at the back of the bus. We're not sure if we can contract with John Mason to appear in the ads. Jennifer is going to be the new focal point for our Greyhound Bus advertising campaign."

Saturday, April 30, 2005

The piece to the right of the Rotary Eclipse is a bit of a mystery: sans markings except for a small ivory-like button on the top of its tilted 'penthouse'. But, so many hands have rested there while the other arm has pulled the handle it is not surprising that the lettering on the button has worn thin.

Reader Bull will know the answer.

Next: May

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