The Vernepator Cur was once a ubiquitous dog breed in the UK and the American colonies, and it had a job: for six days a week, it ran tirelessly in a wheel in the kitchen that was geared to turn a meat-spit over the fire (on Sundays it went to church with its owners and served as their foot-warmer).
The Vernepator Cur (AKA the "turnspit dog") was bred to replace the children who once labored in kitchens, turning spits until their hands blistered, and their heyday was 1750 to 1850. But by 1900, they had dwindled away, thanks to the rise of spit-turning machines called clock jacks.
The turnspits were mentioned in Shakespeare; they fascinated Darwin, and their cruel lives led to the founding of the SPCA.
Back in the 16th century, many people preferred to cook meat over an open fire. Open-fire roasting required constant attention from the cook and constant turning of the spit.
"Since medieval times, the British have delighted in eating roast beef, roast pork, roast turkey," says Jan Bondeson, author of Amazing Dogs, a Cabinet of Canine Curiosities, the book that first led us to the turnspit dog. "They sneered at the idea of roasting meat in an oven. For a true Briton, the proper way was to spit roast it in front of an open fire, using a turnspit dog."
When any meat was to be roasted, one of these dogs was hoisted into a wooden wheel mounted on the wall near the fireplace. The wheel was attached to a chain, which ran down to the spit. As the dog ran, like a hamster in a cage, the spit turned.
Turnspit Dogs: The Rise And Fall Of The Vernepator Cur [Kitchen Sisters/The Salt]
(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
CutiePi is a tablet based on the Raspberry Pi: compact enough, but more open, versatile and hacker-friendly than mainstream models from Apple, Microsoft or the Google coprosperity sphere. CutiePi is a complete Raspberry Pi in a tablet form factor, minus the trouble of connecting monitor or power supply. It’s slimmer because of using Compute Module, […]
I am addicted to Thinkpads in large part because of the trackpoint (AKA "The Nipple") -- the little wiggly joystickbetween the G, H and B keys that allows me to control fine mouse-movements without bending my hand into the RSI-inducing trackpad position; between that and the amazing, best-in-class warranties, I am a committed Thinkpad user, […]
You can buy microcontrollers for as little as 3 cents, if you order a lot of them, a staggeringly cheap number even if you’re so young you don’t know a Zilog Z80 was $10 in 1978 money. But are these cheapo parts any good? Hackaday says they’re terrible, but Tim finds a role. [it] surely […]
Want to keep the dentist away? A little tooth care at morning and night isn’t bad, but it won’t keep the stains from smoking or fried foods at bay for long. If you enjoy your food and want to avoid the consequences, an upgrade from that old analog toothbrush can make a huge difference. Among […]
If your office works at all, it uses Microsoft Office. Those icons for Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook are as familiar around some workplaces as the coffee machine. So familiar, in fact, that they get taken for granted – and rarely used to their full potential. Whether you need a crash course in the essential tools […]
It’s a great time to be a maker. 3D printers are on store shelves for anyone to buy, and coder kits like Arduino and Raspberry Pi are letting kids as young as 9 or 10 dive into the Internet of Things. Here are a few examples of our favorite tech toys, all priced low enough […]