Posts by Ilyce R. Glink
- Spaces5 days ago
Stanley Mason may be the most famous inventor you’ve never heard of.
You use his inventions almost every day: the squeezable ketchup bottle, granola bars, the square plastic milk jug, microwavable cookware, floss dispensers, the disposable diaper. But you probably didn’t know that one man was behind them all.
Mason, who died on this day in 2006 at the age of 84, is responsible for dozens of inventions over his lifetime, many of which are still used today.
Foaming toothpaste, warming shaving cream, the Playtex plastic-underwire bra, stringless peel-open Band-Aid packaging, Tupperware designs, Pepperidge Farm’s signature packaging, hair dye, baby wipes—you can find at least one of Mason’s inventions in almost any home around the country.
His first invention, besides a fishing lure he sold to friends at the tender age of 7, was the disposable diaper, contoured to fit the shape of a baby’s bottom.
"My wife asked me to put the diaper on the baby," he told the Seattle Times. "I held up the cloth diaper, and it was square. I looked at the baby and it was round. I knew there was an engineering problem."
- Spaces7 days ago
Without today’s birthday boy, you might still be getting out of your chair every time you want to change the channel on the TV.
Robert Adler, inventor of the first practical, wireless television remote control, was born on this day in 1913. His remote control had what may be the second-best remote control name ever: The Space Command. (The best remote name ever really has to go to the Space Command’s predecessor, the Lazy Bones.)
Television remote controls were developed in the early 1950s. Electronics giant Zenith, where Adler worked, introduced the first remote control, the Lazy Bones, but it wasn’t quite remote—the control was connected to the television with a clumsy cord. The next iteration also had a great name, the Zenith Flash-Matic, but it too was problematic. The Flash-Matic used light beams pointed at photo cells in the television set. That seemed to work well enough, unless the television was exposed to any direct sunlight, inadvertently triggering the remote control functions.
- Spaces8 days ago
On this day in 1766, James Christie held his very first auction in London.
Fast forward nearly two-and-a-half centuries and Christie’s has become one of the most powerful auction houses in the world, selling billions of dollars in fine art, furniture, jewelry, wine and collectibles each year.
Although Christie’s specializes in selling artwork created by masters like Picasso, Warhol and Cezanne, it has branched out over the years. Recently, the auction house offered bidders a few more niche items, including pricey pop culture garb like Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry and Madonna’s stage costumes, and turn-of-the-century playground equipment.
Here are five of Christie’s more unusual auctions:
Elton John’s car collection: In June 2001, Elton John auctioned off 20 of his cars saying that he didn’t have time to drive them. Included among them were Jaguars, Ferraris, Rolls-Royces and Bentleys that went for more than $3.3 million together.
- Spaces20 days ago
What difference does a year make?
For mortgage rates, it makes more than a full percentage-point difference.
One year ago today, on Nov. 21, 2012, the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit 3.31 percent, the lowest rate on record--ever. This morning, the average rate is 4.22 percent, according to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
Even though today’s interest rates aren’t breaking any records, they are still historically very low. That phrase -- "historically very low" -- is casually thrown around a lot these days, but it’s true. Here's why. 9% was a steal for more than a decade
Consider this: To take out a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in the early 1980s, you had to pay a staggering 18 percent for the privilege. While 18-plus percent may have been abnormal, double-digit interest rates weren’t.
- Spaces27 days ago
The artist and his family lived on the grounds from 1883 until his death in 1926. His son Michel bequeathed it to the Academie des Beaux-Arts in 1966, and the home and gardens underwent a 10-year restoration process. They officially reopened to the public in 1980, and most of the little details that were so important to Monet -- like the bold green color of his shutters -- remained untouched.
Monet enlarged his home, dubbed the House of the Cider Press because a nearby square contained a press, to its current 40 meters by 5 meters (about 130 feet by 16 feet, or 200 square meters/2,150-ish square feet). Photos of the interior are strictly forbidden -- but we've found a few from Flickr that are in the Creative Commons. Don't tell anyone!
- Ilyce R. Glink at Spaces28 days ago
Today, interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage are hovering at around 4.16 percent.
That’s super cheap, especially compared with the rates 32 years ago when Freddie Mac released its weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey, showing that interest rates were above 18 percent for the last time in history (we hope).
For a brief spell in 1981—from Sept. 11 to Nov. 13—interest rates topped 18 percent for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, according to Freddie Mac’s surveys of mortgage lenders.
The surveys date back to 1971, when interest rates were about 7 percent. They began really climbing that decade, to more than 12 percent. Then, within the first four months of 1980, they jumped from 12.85 percent to over 16 percent. They wobbled around before hitting 18.63 percent on Oct. 9, 1981—the highest rate ever recorded.
Inflation was the main reason for these, well, inflated rates. In the mid-1970s, the inflation rate—measured by the Consumer Price Index—was above 5 percent (compare that to today’s rate, which is 1.3 percent). By the end of the decade, inflation was above 10 percent and began creeping up to 15 percent.
Today is Robert Van Winkle’s 46th birthday. Not familiar with Mr. Van Winkle? Actually, you probably are.
When Robert Van Winkle took the name Vanilla Ice as a young rapper in the 1990s and unleashed the single “Ice Ice Baby” on the world, it flipped mainstream perceptions about hip-hop music on their heads.
Now, as a grown man and father of two, he’s trying to do the same for real estate -- hopefully with more hits this time around.
Vanilla Ice is now a home flipper, but really, he’s been one since his early 20s when, as a newly famous millionaire, he bought homes around the country, intending to live in them. Finding it impossible to use them all, he instead sold the homes at a profit. He became hooked on what he felt was a simple and intuitive process.
“When I sold the homes, I made money on every single one of them -- hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said in a 2010 interview with “DIY Life.” “I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. It can’t be this easy.’”
Ivanka Trump, the daughter of real estate mogul and general celebrity busybody Donald Trump, turns 32 today.
She works for her dad as executive vice president of development and acquisitions at the Trump Organization. And if that wasn’t enough real estate in her life, she married real estate developer Jared Kushner, who owns Kushner Properties with his father, Charles. (Of course, she's also worn many other hats professionally: She’s a former model, a writer and principal of Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, and she sells all kinds or products through the Ivanka Trump Lifestyle Collection including fragrances, shoes, handbags, glasses and clothing.)
Kushner Properties owns the Puck Building, a historic New York City landmark in the hip Soho neighborhood that features two gilded statues of the mischievous character Puck in Shakespeare’s "Midsummer Night’s Dream."
- Ilyce R. Glink at Spaces1 mth ago
One year ago today, at about 8 p.m. Eastern, Superstorm Sandy hit the Northeast coast.
One of the most powerful storms to batter the area, Sandy brought with it an 8- to nearly 14-foot storm surge and nearly 100-mile-per hour winds, devastating residents along the coast.
A total of 380,000 housing units were damaged or destroyed in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, estimates the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which itself doled out $1.4 billion in assistance to more than 182,000 survivors and another $2.4 billion in low-interest disaster loans.
That’s just a fraction of the total amount of damage, though. According to a National Hurricane Center report, the storm was second only to Hurricane Katrina for the costliest damage in the country’s history. Sandy amounted to nearly $50 billion in damage; Katrina racked up double that.
Damaged homes and vacant lots remain throughout the entire region. Many former homeowners have simply picked up and moved on with their lives, while others proudly display signs shouting, “We are staying!!!”
Some people try to avoid public bathrooms at all costs. British architect Laura Jane Clark wanted to live in one.
A former underground public restroom turned cozy, upscale flat in south London is Clark’s brainchild. The now 34-year-old discovered the abandoned bathrooms while wandering around the Crystal Palace neighborhood back in 2005.
“I just kind of fell in love with them,” she said. “They were all boarded up, but I could peek through and see the existing space and features. It was quite interesting to me, even though it was full of rubbish and just disgusting at the time.”
The 600-square-foot space was built in the late 1920s and had last been used sometime in the 1980s. It had a space for men’s and women’s toilets, a skylight, the proper electrical and gas wiring, and, of course, plumbing.