Weird Universe Blog — December 4, 2023

Gladys Sellew’s 15-cents-a-day diet

Back in the 1930s, sociologist Gladys Sellew decided to find out if it was possible to survive spending only 15 cents a day on food. I think, in today's money, that would be about $3/day.

She used herself as a test subject and, five years later, reported that not only was it possible, but she actually only spent an average of 13 cents a day on food.

She said she was going to remain on her frugal diet for the rest of her life.

Austin American Statesman - June 3, 1942

The headline below claimed that she gained weight on her diet, but in the picture above it sure doesn't look like she had any extra weight on her.

Hartford Courant - Feb 24, 1941

A typical day's meal plan:

Austin American Statesman - June 3, 1942

By way of comparison, here's a more recent version of an experiment in frugality: "Spending $5 a day on food. Is it possible?"

Posted By: Alex - Mon Dec 04, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Food | 1940s | Dieting and Weight Loss

Miss Tall International

Instead of "Miss Tall International," I prefered the old name for this contest, per this 1952 entry.

"Miss California Tip Topper of '52": Sonia Smevik, 18, 6'1 3/4" crowned by Actor John Hubbard. L to R background: Peggy Mcconnell; Pat Hostetter; Marlize Schrad; Toby Guthrie; Joan Wark; Pat Hart; Phyllis Foresberg".

Posted By: Paul - Mon Dec 04, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests | Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues | Excess, Overkill, Hyperbole and Too Much Is Not Enough | Human Marvels | Twentieth Century | Twenty-first Century

December 3, 2023

Hand Waving and Heart Disease

Back in 1997, Dr. Alan N. Rennie reported in the British Medical Journal a correlation between arm movement and heart disease. People who moved their hands and arms around a lot while talking seemed more prone to heart disease. Rennie offered this possible explanation:

The most obvious explanation of these findings is that type A personalities are prone both to gesticulation and to coronary heart disease. It is possible that people with coronary heart disease move their arms more because they are otherwise physically inactive or their disease causes them to become agitated. However, my own suspicion is that arm movements over a lifetime may be a factor–combined with other known factors–in the development of coronary heart disease.

Good to know that my lazy lack of movement actually has a health benefit.

Chicago Tribune - Jan 10, 1997

Posted By: Alex - Sun Dec 03, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Health | Disease

Gorey by Grimes

There are other tracks from this album on YouTube, but this cut should give you the general idea.

Tammy Grimes on Wikipedia.

Edward Gorey on Wikipedia.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Dec 03, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Death | Literature | Music | Vinyl Albums and Other Media Recordings | Children

December 2, 2023

The Psycho-Expander

Expand your inner psycho.

Popular Mechanics - June 1924

Posted By: Alex - Sat Dec 02, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Advertising | 1920s

Telescoping Fish Knocker

Not being a fisherman or sportsman of any sort, I had no idea until now that there existed a special tool for whacking your caught fish on the noggin: the fish knocker or fish bat. You can buy a variety of modern ones, as seen here. But I like the patent on a collapsible model.

Full patent here.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Dec 02, 2023 - Comments (5)
Category: Sports | Tools | Lakes, Ponds, Rivers, Streams, Swamps and Other Bodies of Fresh Water | Patents | 1950s

December 1, 2023

Sedimentary Geology and the Civil War

I'm sure Hippensteel's new book (Sand, Science, and the Civil War) is quite interesting (especially if you're a Civil War buff), but the extreme narrow focus of his argument made me laugh. From a review:

It "describes the influence of sedimentary rocks and sediments on the tactics employed by both armies during the Civil War and the effects of these materials on the weapons, fortifications, and landscapes from the conflict". Hippensteel believes that "sedimentary geology and sedimentary rocks were important on far more battlefields than either igneous or metamorphic rocks," and that this influence "has been underappreciated by historians."

More info: University of Georgia Press

Posted By: Alex - Fri Dec 01, 2023 - Comments (4)
Category: War | Environmentalism and Ecology | Books | Nineteenth Century

Christmas in Vietnam

Now that it's December 1st, I feel we can start the Christmas music season here at WU.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Dec 01, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Holidays | Music | War | 1960s

November 30, 2023

The Saw Lady

Natalia Paruz calls herself the "Saw Lady," because she's one of the very few musicians who specializes in playing a carpenter's saw. From her wikipedia page:

Paruz is considered to be the most knowledgeable about the history of the musical saw, and her own home is a pilgrimage place for saw enthusiasts and students.
The December 3, 2011 'Washington Post' crossword puzzle had Paruz as a question: "Down 5 - Instrument played by Natalia Paruz".

More info:, yer sweet chimneys

Posted By: Alex - Thu Nov 30, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Music

Dial Comes to Town

Posted By: Paul - Thu Nov 30, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Family | PSA’s | Technology | Telephones | 1940s

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