This place matters

This place matters

Monday, October 19, 2015

You Suck

In England and Ireland, people don't vacuum with a vacuum cleaner, they Hoover with a Hoover, whether that Hoover is a Dyson or a Bissell or a Shark. 
It just occurred to me that this is really weird. I live in Canton, Ohio, birthplace and headquarters of the Hoover Company, and we do not Hoover with Hoovers. We don't even vacuum with a vacuum cleaner; here in Canton we sweep with a sweeper.
The first device to be called a vacuum cleaner was invented by a Herbert Cecil Booth around 1901, though it ran on an internal combustion engine and had to be pulled along on a horse-drawn carriage. Legend has it that when booth first got the idea for using suction to remove dust, he tested the idea by placing a napkin on a restaurant seat, putting his mouth up to the napkin, and sucking. Which is probably the grossest way he could have tested this ever. If he was at a restaurant, one assumes there were tables, which are a lot less likely to play host to people's butts than chairs. And why exactly wouldn't he use a clean table and cover it with, say, cookie crumbs, rather than sucking years old bits of food and dirt off a chair in a public place? Herbert Cecil Booth: good at inventing things, bad at testing them.
The first portable electric vacuum cleaner started its life as a Bissel carpet sweeper. A carpet sweeper is one of those mechanical do dads that restaurants use when they want to fail to pick up crumbs without disturbing guests. In 1908, a janitor named James Murray Spangler got tired of failing to pick up crumbs, so he tweaked it - adding a soap box, a fan, a broom handle, and a pillow case. He sold his patent for the device - then called the Electric Suction Sweeper - to a leather goods maker named W.H. "Boss" Hoover. Thus the Hoover Company was born.
Still doesn't explain why Brits call it a hoover while Cantonites call it a sweeper.

Living In Sin
Adrienne Rich

She had thought the studio would keep itself;
no dust upon the furniture of love.
Half heresy, to wish the taps less vocal,
the panes relieved of grime. A plate of pears,
a piano with a Persian shawl, a cat
stalking the picturesque amusing mouse
had risen at his urging.
Not that at five each separate stair would writhe
under the milkman's tramp; that morning light
so coldly would delineate the scraps
of last night's cheese and three sepulchral bottles;
that on the kitchen shelf among the saucers
a pair of beetle-eyes would fix her own--
envoy from some village in the moldings...
Meanwhile, he, with a yawn,
sounded a dozen notes upon the keyboard,
declared it out of tune, shrugged at the mirror,
rubbed at his beard, went out for cigarettes;
while she, jeered by the minor demons,
pulled back the sheets and made the bed and found
a towel to dust the table-top,
and let the coffee-pot boil over on the stove.
By evening she was back in love again,
though not so wholly but throughout the night
she woke sometimes to feel the daylight coming
like a relentless milkman up the stairs.

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