The fascinating inspirations behind common inventions and creations - from Barbie to Sweet and Low to Mt. Rushmore.
The slinky was born aboard a World War II ship.
The Barbie doll was inspired by a German sex toy.
Weight Watchers began with a Jewish housewife in Queens, New York.
Eureka! explores the fascinating stories behind these famous creations and many others-from blue jeans to the Taj Mahal to Mickey Mouse-detailing the relationships between inspirations and their inventors. Readers will delight in the intriguing-and sometimes surprising-origins behind the ideas that have shaped the world.
Book Review | 'Eureka!: The Surprising Stories Behind the Ideas That Shaped the World'
'Light bulb' moment explored: Forehead slaps changed globe
By Scott Coffman * Special to The Courier-Journal * August 7, 2010
The central conceit of this extremely enjoyable book is ingeniously simple: Begin each chapter with a somewhat vague description of a historical figure -- who may or may not be recognizable by name alone -- and then fill in the remaining pages with the person's story, complete with the "Eureka!" event that changed lives and history.
The story of the author's moment of inspiration -- the one that was the gestation of the book -- is entertainingly told in the forward. Wagman-Geller also describes the criteria for the stories included in the book: Some stories fell to the wayside not because they were less than riveting, but because they lacked a "light bulb" moment. Other stories had the requisite "slap to the forehead" origins, but not enough verifiable information was available about the creators and their handiwork.
The disparate subjects included never fail to entertain: the name Anne Made Grosholz may be unfamiliar, but only a hermit would be unfamiliar with her life's work; Pierre de Coubertin created the most famous quadrennial event in the world, even if you didn't know it; uncover the connection between the allegedly treasonous Alfred Dreyfus and racing great Lance Armstrong; learn the shocking last request of Bill Wilson, self-described as "just another drunk" and yet a savior to millions; discover the daughter of immigrants who created one of America's most enduring icons; and learn the identity of the "boy born on the wrong side of the tracks..." and how his Eureka has "... changed the way (the world) does business."
These are truly fascinating mini-biographies -- 40 in all -- that deftly condense reams of information into digestible chunks of a few pages in length. The subjects are disparate, so if one fails to entertain, the next surely will. The author indicates she is at work on a sequel, and such a book would be welcomed wholeheartedly.
Scott Coffman is a writer, cartoonist and bookseller who lives in Louisville.
Other books in this genre:
A grocery store can’t expect repeat business if its checkers unleash Armageddon. This truism governs Debbie Devil, dedicated supermarket checker and horny, estranged wife of Satan. Debbie sets her sights on Joe Thorvald, a God-fearing, Lutheran. If she can get him to eat a mushroom his soul and his hunky body will be hers.
Debbie tells her sidekick, Bertram, a British cook, to change Joe’s memory, body, circumstances, era, and life, until the Lutheran becomes a man who will eat mushrooms. But there will be only so many attempts on Joe’s soul before she unleashes Armageddon out of spite.
God sends the angels General Lee and Pedro Erickson, a Mexican-Swedish chef, to protect Joe. They fight back with Heaven’s culinary weapons, tacos and Swedish meatballs.
Along the way, Joe changes into a fun-loving dinosaur and a Greek warrior with an ass harder than bronze before being sent to Hell for nonpayment of his hospital bill. Can Lee and Pedro Erickson save the soul of a Lutheran hunk and prevent Armageddon? Ja caramba.
Her fingers touched the pages and held the quill
Lightly they pressed; a panoply of enumerations
Not mere whimsy, but tethered in grit
Fingers and palms held fast the measure of them,
The weight, infinite, She balanced these:
Her virtue, reputation, and devotion to the Divine
Juxtaposed to the demands,
Could she follow them?
Did she dare?
Her nib grazed the page
Ink blotting and boring through porous threads
Seeping down the fluted mahogany leg.
This book is a brief guide on how to manage worry, stress and anxiety this fallen world hands us. It is a fact that no one is exempted from experiencing these burdens. All of us has experienced them at one point in our lives. We are not called to bear these things. The Lord offers a remedy, a miracle cure, far better than what human technology can offer. Learn and discover it in this book.
This guide will discuss briefly but in a straight forward manner the reasons and effects worry has on us and how to beat it God’s way. You will soon realize that no amount of medicine and worldly security can give peace and contentment in your life; for only God can fill an empty heart. Experience God’s peace in your life like never before. Discover God’s faithfulness as He fulfills every Word and Promises He gave you and receive real happiness and peace you deserve that only God can give. Worry ends where faith in God begins!
It is pure torture to watch a loved one slowly lose everything and know there is nothing that can be done for them
It is so important to reassure your loved ones during the early stages of this disease. The more worked up they get, the more inept and useless they feel. Nobody should feel this way, especially those in the early stages of dementia. It’s not easy to be patient under normal circumstances. It’s even harder the fifteenth time you’re looking for a cell phone or car keys. You must force yourself to always exercise patience. If finding their phone is important to them, then it should be important to you. Telling them not to worry about it, or it’ll show up, doesn’t help at all. You might as well be talking to a wall. Finding a lost item will become a fixation for them. Drop whatever you’re doing and find the item. Be sure to include them in your search. Chances are they’re going to follow you around anyway.
This is a memoir of my journey caring for two loved ones, and experiencing the loss of a third loved one to this terrible disease. Witness with me, up-close and personal, the different stages of dementia- from early signs, diagnoses, progression, and finally the heart wrenching end. Learn from my experiences to identify the early symptoms sooner. And, more importantly, learn how to care for your loved one so that they never walk alone…
Lightning ripped across the northern California sky, then splintered down through the rain and disappeared behind our neighbor’s house. Letting the door slam shut behind me, I ran away from the warmth of our porch light into the darkness of our backyard. My mom would’ve killed me if she’d caught me outside that late at night. Especially in a thunderstorm, and on the night before my fifteenth birthday, with the big party she had planned for tomorrow. But I had to get out of the house before I fell asleep and they came for me. And they were coming!
A gust of wind blew my hair against my face. I swiped it out of my eyes just in time to see a plastic lawn chair tumbling through the air. I covered my head with both arms, but a leg of the chair smashed against my elbow. Ouch!
I dropped onto the wet grass, pulled my knees into my chest, and rocked nervously back and forth. Water soaked up through my nightgown and my underwear, making me shiver.
None of these things mattered, though. Because something far worse was happening inside my head. A memory of me as a little girl, on the night my grandpa Dahlen disappeared from his cottage, was trying to claw its way into my consciousness. And I didn’t want to think about that night. Ever.
Still, I couldn’t stop it, which didn’t make sense. I was awake, and outside, where I was supposed to be safe, yet the aliens from my dreams were somehow messing with my thoughts, rearranging things, trying to make me think about that night! But how?
And why? It happened eight years ago, and my grandpa was dead now.
Although, before he disappeared, he’d—
No! Stop, Courtney! I yelled at myself.
I bit my fingernail and took a deep breath, hoping to calm down.
No luck. I was remembering the musty old-books smell from my grandpa’s bookcase. Butterflies rushed into my stomach and I sprang to my feet.
“All right. Is that what you want me to do?” I shouted into the rainy darkness. “Remember my grandpa? What happened that night? If I do that, then will you leave me alone?”
I wiped the rain from my eyes, and suddenly it was like I was right there, in the cottage. His notebook sat on the plaid couch, opened to a map he’d drawn of the ancient wormholes linking the alien world to our own.
I stumbled backward over a tree root and my butt hit the ground; my head clunked against an even bigger root. Oww! I started to sit up. But suddenly the memory I’d been running from took over the screen in my mind. I fell back into the wet grass and watched the scene unfold as if I were seven years old again, right there in the cottage.
It was raining outside, and the air smelled like old, musty books and burnt hamburgers. I glanced over at my grandpa Dahlen. He was busy in the kitchen, forking ears of corn out of a pot of boiling water. Standing tiptoe on the comfy reading chair, I reached up to the bookcase and ran my fingers along the dials of what he called his ham-radio/alien-transport machine.
“Courtney!” Grandpa stared at me over his steamed-up glasses.
“Fine.” I plopped down on the reading chair and crossed my arms over my chest. Then I lowered my eyes. Blood was seeping through my shirt again from earlier in the day, when my grandpa’s nun friend had stopped by with a guy with a tattoo gun. They’d come to give me a tattoo. I hadn’t wanted a tattoo! But my grandpa had told me it was important, and the way he’d said it, I’d believed him. So now I had a blue mark on my rib cage that looked like four dead bugs arranged in a square.
“So tell me this, Grandpa,” I said. “If these aliens who visit you are really your friends, then why do they make you keep everything secret?”
He turned away from the steaming pot and eyed me with suspicion. “Because people are frightened of what they don’t understand. And frightened people can be dangerous, Courtney,” he said. “Now come sit down for dinner.”
I slipped into a wobbly kitchen chair, rested my elbows on the wooden table, and stared down at my burnt ham- burger. “Mom doesn’t believe in aliens, so does that make her dangerous?” I asked.
Grandpa chuckled. “Your mother is only interested in facts and evidence. Even when she was a child, she had no tolerance for intangibles. Or even comic books, for that matter. Can you imagine?” He set a plate of corn on the cob in the center of the table, then sat down across from me. “But dangerous? No. I think we’re safe from her.” He flashed me a wink.
I winked back. People always told me that I shared his silvery-blue eyes. Hearing someone say it would make my mom cringe, though, because she thought Grandpa was crazy. And the last thing she wanted was for me to turn out like him. But she and my dad were spending the weekend with their old law school friends on Lake Tahoe, so they’d dropped me off with Grandpa on their way.
“Well, if these alien things are real living creatures, then did God make them?” I asked. “Or are they just imaginary?”
I smiled proudly. I was about to finally get the truth from him.
“How’s your burger?” he asked.
“But you didn’t answer—”I started to protest, when a bang on the front door made me jump.
My grandpa ran over and covered his ham-radio/alien-transport machine with an afghan.
More quick pounding! Grandpa shoved his notebook under the couch.
I tried to read his expression, to see if he was frightened or just cleaning up, but he wouldn’t look at me. He rushed to the door and glanced through the peephole, and I held my breath.
When he unlocked the door, three men barged into the cottage.
I immediately recognized them as professor friends of my grandpa’s from when he’d taught at Berkeley. But what were they doing out here at night? I mean, hadn’t they heard of cellphones?
They stared over at me. “Hello, Courtney,” said one, a tall man with a thick beard and black suitcoat.
I shot my grandpa a pleading look, like Make them go away. But he quickly shook his head. I stomped into the guest bedroom and slammed the door.
“They’re coming,” one of the men whispered, loud enough for me to hear. He sounded worried. Which made me worry. About what, though, I wasn’t quite sure.
I bit my thumbnail, and it tasted like wormy dirt from the woodpile. Gross! I wiped my mouth with the bottom of my shirt.
“She’s not safe,” another man said.
Not safe? I froze. “She”? As in me? My heart started racing, and suddenly I couldn’t get enough air into my lungs.
I grabbed the black metal latch of the window next to me and opened it. The chirr-chirr of crickets filled the bedroom, and I breathed in the smell of wet leaves. Pressing my face against the screen, I glanced up at my grandpa’s ham radio tower, standing tall along the side of the house. The siren on top of it glistened with rain under the silvery moon. It would sound off if any bad guys snuck into the backyard and tried to mess with my grandpa’s things. Or that’s what he’d told me, anyway.
Suddenly a familiar shiver trickled down my neck. Oh wow!
I turned away from the window and locked eyes with Astra. “Nice of you to show up,” I said.
She was a few years older than me. Like eleven, maybe. She was sitting cross-legged on the floor next to the closet; her eyes shone bright green against her pale skin and black hair. She bit into her plump bottom lip, which meant she was worried about me. “You think I’m going to climb out the window and run away?” I asked her.
She didn’t answer. For an imaginary friend, she wasn’t very talkative. But she seemed to show up whenever I was in trouble. And there was no getting rid of her; our minds were connected. My grandpa said she was probably a real person somewhere, and that we shared consciousness because we came from the same bloodline. As crazy as the idea seemed, I liked to think that there might be someone real out there who would understand me if we ever crossed paths. Most people just thought I was weird like my grandpa.
“I’m glad you’re here,” I told Astra.
Outside my door, I could hear the men pacing around on the creaky wooden floor boards.
“When?” my grandpa asked.
“We don’t know,” another man said.
I didn’t like the sound of that. My stomach tightened with nerves. I sat down on my bed and rocked back and forth, staring at Astra.
“You’re crying,” she said. Or I could hear her voice in my head, anyway.
“No I’m not.” I swiped my cheek. Then I looked down at the spot of blood on my shirt. “I got a tattoo,” I said, trying to change the subject.
A siren wailed outside. The alarm! I jumped up, turned toward the window. But the bedroom door burst open behind me. I spun back around, and my grandpa stood in the doorway.
“Grandpa! What’s happening?” I started toward him. He quickly shook his head and then pressed his finger to his lips: Stay quiet.
Grandpa looked scared. And he was never scared. My heart pounded against my rib cage. Astra was gone. This was bad.
Bright light lit up my grandpa’s face. It was coming through the window behind me. Oh no! I whipped around to see who was there, and someone grabbed me from inside the room.
I started to scream, but a hand covered my mouth. My feet lifted off the floor. Frantically I twisted my head around to see who it was, but I was being dragged backward, down the hall, into the bathroom. Kicking at the bathroom wall, I bit into the hand covering my mouth, and for a second my head was free. I whirled around to see my grandpa, his finger gushing blood from where my teeth had cut into his skin.
“Grandpa? What are you doing?”
He whispered something in my ear. Then he lifted me up, ignoring my flailing legs.
The next thing I knew, I was underwater. Screaming!
It’s Christmas Eve, and Renee is a mess. She has barely slept or eaten for two weeks. Her hair is ratted, her eyes are puffy and bloodshot, and her clothes are filthy. In the throngs of an anxiety attack, she decides to commit suicide by jumping off a nearby bridge, though the thought of it terrifies her. As she drives toward the bridge through the Virginia countryside, she considers driving into an oncoming cement truck. But at the last moment, she can’t do it. Then, she sees a dark, foreboding man hitchhiking. On a whim, she stops and picks him up. What does it matter anyway? But she immediately regrets her decision.
Who is the intimidating, tattooed hitchhiker – and what are his plans for her?
A recent graduate of UCLA, Molly McAlister has just landed her first job and loves it.
The problem is her demanding boss, who seems to think he’s in charge of her free time too. Under threat of layoff, her boss manipulates her into giving up Christmas with her family in Florida to pet-sit his two beloved purebred poodles.
When Molly arrives at his house in Santa Monica a few days before Christmas, she learns she must also watch two ill-tempered Rottweilers, Darth and Vader, who scare her to death. His hypercritical wife seems to think Molly is a maid too, and leaves her a long list of chores and rules. Molly’s expecting to have a miserable Christmas, but things start to look up when she meets the boy next door and his family. Unfortunately, they’re embroiled in a neighborhood feud with her boss.
The first story in this new, sweet holiday series. Who would ever think that being stranded at the Denver airport for three days over Christmas could be fun? It turns out to be the adventure of a lifetime for thirteen-year- old Jack and his younger siblings Ethan and Lily who are traveling alone from their mother’s in San Diego to their father’s in Florida. Jack is a bit of a wheeler-dealer who is thrilled to be out from under parental supervision, Ethan a comic book enthusiast and caricature artist, and Lily a budding matchmaker who won’t take no for an answer. Together, they learn to fend for themselves in an adult world and bring Christmas cheer – and even love – to other stranded passengers.
Failure. It has plagued Aaron for the past years. It has awaited him at every turn and knocked him down time and time again. But now he is at the edge of his rope as failure has left him far from home with nothing but his dreams. However, this is not the end of Aaron's story. Instead, it is just the beginning. For he does not know what he will find this stormy night as he slowly makes his way back home after another failure. He does not know what will be waiting for him when he arrives at the crossroads of his life. And it is here at this crossroads that he will find the beacon of hope he has been searching for.
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