Category Archives: Misc.

Why Phone Keypads and Calculator/Keyboard Keypads are Arranged Differently

Prototype Push Button Phone (1948)

John T. asks Why do keyboard keypads number 7,8,9 on down and phone keypads number 1,2,3 on down? It’s not clear why numbering pads designed for calculation have 7-8-9 at the top, although the practice of placing the larger numbers above the smaller can be seen as far back as the late 19th century on early mechanical cash registers, often […]

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The Story of Honest Abe’s Family Tree


The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader The Abraham Lincoln bloodline shed its last drop in 1985. Or did it? ROOTS A year after Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith’s death in 1985, a 17-year-old boy appeared in court to accept a million-dollar settlement from the Lincoln estate. Beckwith was the last of the 16th president’s three great-grandchildren to […]

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Charles Dickens and a Stalker


For all Charles Dickens knew, his second American tour starting in 1867 might be a trip into hostile territory. His first tour in the country during 1842 left him disillusioned, and his subsequent books American Notes and Martin Chuzzlewit offered stinging criticism of the America he experienced. But he was desperate.  Between his banished wife’s monthly stipend and supporting his […]

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From Wallpaper Cleaner to Kid’s Toy- The Origin of Play-Doh


The story of Play-Doh began when Kutol, a Cincinnati based soap company, was about to go under in the late 1920s. Cleo McVicker, just 21 years old, was tasked with selling off the company’s remaining assets, which at the time comprised mainly of powdered hand soap. Once that was done, the company would be too. Cleo, however, managed to turn […]

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Robert Frost’s Commonly Misinterpreted “The Road Not Taken” and the Role it Played in the Death of His Best Friend


Robert Frost is one of the most critically acclaimed American poets of the 20th century, which is a roundabout way of saying you almost certainly studied one of his poems in school. Most likely, it was a short piece called The Road Not Taken- a poem famous for being one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted poems ever written, and […]

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A Dinner Jacket, the Nazis, the “British” Accent, and What This All Has to Do With the BBC News


The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is an institution known and respected the world over for its relative impartiality and objectivity compared to many other news sources, with numerous surveys showing that the BBC is one of the most trusted sources of news in both the UK and the US. But we’re not here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about […]

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The Story Behind the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


In the fall of 1885, poet, essayist, travel writer and novelist, Robert Louis Stevenson, had a nightmare so terrifying that his tossing about impelled his wife to wake him up. Rather than being grateful, however, Stevenson chastised his bride, barking: “Why did you wake me? I was dreaming a fine bogey tale.” A longtime sufferer of consumption (see: Why Tuberculosis […]

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One Bad Line- A Dark and Stormy Write


The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Alas, life just isn’t fair. Consider the case of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, a successful 19th –century author who was forgotten by history, then rediscovered…but only so that readers could ridicule him for one really bad opening line. BAD TO THE BONE It’s a rare author who can generate a single sentence […]

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Melting Cars, The “Walkie Scorchie” Skyscraper


The 525-foot skyscraper at 20 Fenchurch Street in London, England earned the nickname “Walkie Talkie” thanks to its unique design. Slim at the bottom and wider at the top, locals could not help noticing its similarities to a handheld, two-way radio. However the Walkie Talkie also has another nickname- Walkie Scorchie. Construction began on the skyscraper in 2011 amidst controversy […]

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Are Fireman’s Poles Really a Thing?


John asks: Are fireman’s poles really a thing or is that just something in TV and movies? Fireman’s poles, sometimes simply referred to as “fire poles” are a staple of fictional fire-fighting and Ghostbusting. Though these devices have helped save real world firefighters valuable seconds over the decades, they’re now in a strange state of flux and nobody really knows if they’re […]

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French Connection UK and Their Infamous “FCUK Fashion” Campaign


Back in the mid 1990s, the UK based clothing company, French Connection caused a quite a stir in Britain when a keen eyed marketer noticed that the company’s initials bore a striking resemblance to a certain four letter word and suggested they begin using it in their advertising. The CEO of French Connection, Stephen Marks, thought this was a brilliant idea and […]

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