A Captivating Story of Wedding Gowns

Traditional White Wedding Dresses

Weddings are a symbol of love and commitment between the couples, but in ancient times it was more like a business venture. Wedding gowns selected by the bride’s family represented their wealth and status. Sometimes they stitched their jewels on their dresses. This meant the bride wore her best outfit, rich in color and fabric, such as velvet and silk. Metallic outfits were common among the nobles. Queen Victoria’s cousin, Charlotte, was married in a metallic dress. The brides from poor backgrounds wore their best dress to the church on their wedding day. In Celtic culture, red was the choice of brides. In the 13th and 14th centuries, many brides wore mustard colored dresses, green was also a popular choice.

The white wedding dress originated from the palaces and spread throughout the 19th century. The royal brides in England and Europe until then wore gold and silver dress. This trend was discontinued by Queen Victoria in 1840 when she wore a seminal white gown saturated with orange blossom. A decade later, the first women’s magazine in America called, Godey’s Lady Black said that white is the perfect color for a bride’s dress. From then onwards, brides started wearing a white dress for their wedding. Since white was a difficult color to maintain, it could be afforded by the rich women only. The first recorded example of a white wedding gown was that of Henry IV’s daughter, Princess Philippa, who wore a tunic and a mantle of white silk, a border of ermine and velvet color. Anne of Brittany’s third marriage to Louis XII of France saw the bride wearing white and Marguerite of Valois wore white ermine, covered by a blue coat with a five-foot train.

Cultural Wedding Gown Designs

In the 1920s, wedding gowns were shorter in the front and had longer train in the back with a cloche-style veil. The trend of wearing white dress reduced during The Great Depression as people could not spend money on a wedding gown that they were not going to wear again. The economic boom in the latter half of the 20th century saw white color becoming popular with weddings of Princess Diana, Grace Kelly.

In countries like China, India, Japan, Vietnam, red color is considered to bring good luck. Today, brides can select from a lot of colors, wedding gown styles and fabrics to walk down the aisle. Though the style can vary from bride-to-bride, the traditional white and light-colored dresses continue to rule.

How Bounce Houses Started

Inflatable Bouncy Houses

Bounce houses or inflatable structures were first designed in 1959 by John Scurlock, a mechanical engineer in Louisiana when he saw some of his employees jumping on the inflatable covers for tennis courts. He was a pioneer of inflatable tents, domes and his biggest achievement was the design of the safety air cushion used for catching people jumping from the building or heights.

When he saw his employees having fun, he was struck with an idea of an inflatable floor for fun. His idea soon developed and started a company in New Orleans called Space Walks. They came out with inflatable mattresses, called ‘Space Pillow’, and quickly evolved into bounce house structures. In the meantime, a few students in England used this concept to raise funds. The word ‘moonwalk’ was used to describe these inflatable structures because it made people feel like as if they were walking on the moon.

In the 1960s, the bounce houses were a little big and high. In 1968, Scurlock’s wife Frances started the inflatable rental company and eight years later built a custom facility to produce and rent out the products. They promoted the space walk for children’s events such as birthday parties, fairs, picnic. The only problem with these inflatables was that it did not have any enclosure which posed as a safety threat. In 1967, a pressurized inflatable top and two fans were added, but it heated up faster during the summer. Walls and circulating air were added later.

Inflatable Water Slides

Soon, their son, Frank Scurlock set up the rental concept all through the U.S. under the name of ‘Space Walk’ and ‘Inflatable Zoo’. On Thanksgiving Day in 1986, he came up an inflatable indoor play park know as Fun Factory. A year later, he opened a second unit in Memphis, Tennessee that was called Fun Plex.

In 1974, a new product called Jupiter Jump was launched that had inflated columns supported by netted walls, thus allowing the air to pass. Gradually, castles and animals were launched called as ‘Inflatable Zoo’.

In the early 90s, Frank came up with inflatable water slide called Aqua Tunnel. Bounce House structures are made of PVC or vinyl and nylon and the structure is inflated using a powered blower. Cheap quality inflatable structures are also made of polyester and filled with air using a pump like an airbed. These do not last long. But fret not, they are illegal in the US and UK.

History of Criminal Defense Law and Lawyers

Criminal Defense Attorneys

In order to convict a criminal defendant, the prosecutor must prove the defendant guilty. During this process, the defendant is provided with an opportunity to present a defense. There are many types of defenses – Insanity, Automatism, Intoxication, Mistake of fact, Necessity/ Lesser Harm, Self Defense, Duress, and Legal Duty.

The idea that criminal defendants should not be held guilty because of their mental state has been deep-rooted in the Anglo American law since ages. As early as 1581, a legal treatise established the difference between good and evil. Around the 18th century, British courts had convoluted on this difference, which came to be known as the ‘wild beast’ test. For more than 100 years, the American courts regarded M’Naughten case, a Scottish woodcutter who made an attempt to assassinate the prime minister, to pass verdicts. In 1954, an appellate court rejected the ruling and ‘irresistible impulse’ test for a broader and medical-based determination. In the Durham vs. United States, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that a defendant will not be held responsible if his act was because of mental disease or defect. This ruling was found to be vague and difficult to apply and in 1972, a team of federal judges upturned the ruling in support of the Model Penal Code test.

By the 1960s, the American Law Institute came up with a model insanity defense stature to allow medical and psychiatric evidence. In 1981, John Hinckley Jr. shot the U.S. President Ronald Reagan and a few other people. He claimed that he was trying to impress actress Jodie Foster. He was acquitted on grounds of insanity. It created a furor calling for the abolishment of the law. In the 80s and the 90s, it was made difficult to obtain an insanity plea and again moved towards M’Naughten test. The ‘guilt but mentally ill’ ruling in many states is considered to be a great development in insanity defense law.

Infamous Criminal Defense Trials

Charles Darrow is considered to be the greatest criminal defense lawyer in the U.S. He is known for defending teenage killers Leopold and Loeb accused of murdering 14-year-old Robert “Bobby” Franks to the Ossian Sweet case. In the Leopold-Loeb trial, Darrow with the help of witnesses proved that the teenagers were mentally ill.  In the Scopes Trial, Darrow defended John Scopes where he was pitted against William Jennings Bryan. The Butler Act, forbade the teaching of The Evolution Theory, was put to test. During the course of the trial, Bryan was asked to stand as an expert witness on the Bible.

The Ossian Sweet case is a good example of self-defense. Dr. Sweet and 3 family members were brought to trial for attempting to throw a black family out of the home in Detroit. Darrow along with Thomas Chawke defended Ossian’s brother Henry, who had confessed to firing a shot, was found not guilty on the grounds of self defense. The charges were dropped on others too.

These are some of the examples that tell us how criminal defense laws have been used in certain trials.

A Historical Slice of the Wedding Cake

Wedding Cake Designs

Since ancient times, weddings have never been complete without cakes. The ancient Roman wedding ceremony would culminate with a food fight where breaking a wheat or barley cake on the bride’s head was considered as a sign of good fortune. The newlyweds would then eat the crumbs, which was called confarreatio. The guests would then gather the crumbs as a sign of good luck. The guests were given an assortment of nuts, dried fruit and almonds dipped in honey. Records suggest that in 1487, 260 pounds of this sweet assortment were eaten at Lucrezia Borgia and Alfonson d’Este’s wedding.

In 43 A.D., the Romans marched into Britain and introduced this custom. The invasion of the Normans in 1066 introduced French customs into British culture. Increase in trade with Europe brought about many changes that are still in vogue. In Medieval England, the sweet rolls were piled high for the bride and groom to kiss over without knocking down the stack. A French pastry chef saw this tradition, went back to France and stacked sweet rolls into a tower and thus, made the first Croquembouche. Years later, French pastry chefs Avice and Carême modified the same recipe using choux pastry to create Croquembouche, an alternative to wedding cakes in Europe. The first sweet cake was Banbury Cake made in 1655.

Wedding Cakes with White Icing

In 1703, Thomas Rich, a baker’s apprentice, fell in love with his employer’s daughter. He wanted to make an elaborate wedding cake and surprised his bride with a tiered steeple of St. Bride’s Church, London. Thus, layered cake was born and Rich made his fortune by selling tiered cake modeled on the church.

Back then the cakes were covered with lard to keep it moist. Just before serving, the lard would be removed and later mixed with sugar and applied on the top of the cake like icing. During the Victorian era, the cakes were white in color that symbolized bride’s purity. Before this, the cakes were colored white to indicate wealth because icing could be achieved with refined sugar only. Once Queen Victoria used white icing on the cake, it was called royal icing.

Modern Wedding Cakes

The first edible cake or the modern wedding cake was used at the wedding of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany. This cake had separate layers with dense icing in between the layers. The same method is applied to modern cakes, but because the size is usually larger, the dowels are used to support the cakes.

The slicing of the cake, today, means the first combined act as newlyweds, but earlier the bride would cut the cake and hand it over to the groom’s family. This meant the bride’s duties were transferred from her parents’ house to her husband’s. This tradition came to an end with the invention of multi-tier cakes and icing. Today, wedding cake is an industry in itself.

Mammoth to Man-Made Tents

The Evolution of Party Tents

From prehistoric days to modern-day camping events tents have been a part of human life. The earliest tent ruins have been found in France dating back between 500,000 and 400,000 B.C. The tent made of animal hides was covered over a wooden framework and pinned down by stones. It was 11 X 3.5 meters long and animal fur, grass, seaweed was used as carpeting and bedding materials. Another tent was found in Russia dating back to 40,000 B.C. These tents were made of mammoth hides.

Around 450 B.C. circular shape portable tents called, Yurts were used by the nomads. These tents were augmented with stones at the base. The word ‘yurta’ or ‘yurts’ is Turkish in origin that accommodated 4 to 5 people. The surface area was approximately 18 to 20 square meters, 1.5 meters high and a small gap for ventilation was 3 meters above the ground. These tents were common during the reign of Genghis Khan and Tamerlane.

By 300 B.C., Roman soldiers started making tents out of the calf or goat skin for the military forces. Each tent could house eight soldiers; the officers had luxurious tents according to their ranks. It is said that a Roman soldier spent 28 years of his life in the camp and, therefore, small-scale cities, such as Turin, York, were born. The Roman tents continued under the Byzantine rule and gradually, influenced European models.

Banquet Tents

The Ottoman Turks used tents to hold banquets, receive guests and conduct other ceremonies. These also had baths and bathrooms, a concept inspired by the Romans. Usually red, blue and white color tents were used. The American Indians called their tents, tepees or wigwams where small pieces of bison hides were sewn together. Women and dogs helped in transporting the oval-shaped tents that had a small opening at the summit to allow smoke escape. Soon, the horses started carrying tents in the 16th century and tents became bigger.

During the civil war in 1861, American soldiers started calling their tents ‘Pup Tent’ because they believed that it was not even fit for a dog. Unlike the cotton satin fabric and aluminum poles, the earlier pup tent was made of cotton duck material and wooden poles. Today, it is used by hikers because of their small size as it can accommodate two adults easily.

Around the 70s, robust, lighter materials came; poles were made of aluminum and synthetic materials such as rayon, polyester, nylon replaced canvas to beat the harsh weather conditions. The modern tent is a technological marvel safeguarding the person from inclement weather while spending their days outdoors.

The Folklore of All Hallows

Halloween Celebrations Of Old

Come October 31 and we all gather to celebrate All Hallows’ Evening or as we all like to call it, Halloween. Its origin lies in the ancient Celtic festival called Samhain (pronounced as sah-ween) which marked the end of the harvest season. The Gaels thought that on October 31, the dead would come back to life and create havoc by damaging the crops. Therefore, people sacrificed animals, and carved fruits and vegetables to appease the dead. They lit bonfire to honor the dead and help them on their passage.

But Christian missionaries in the first millennium A.D. tried to change this practice by converting their religion. The Celts practiced their religion with the help of their priests, Druids, who proclaimed themselves as scholars, scientists and priests. To wipe out pagan holidays like Samhain, Pope Gregory the First passed a new edict in 601 A.D. to his missionaries saying not to change the customs and beliefs, instead use it. For instance, if a group worshipped a tree, rather than cutting it down, bless it and continue worshipping. Therefore, November 1st was considered as the Christian feast of All Saints. As a result, Druids were considered devil worshippers and had to go into hiding. But the belief in travelling dead was too strong to be eradicated.

Make It A Private Or Corporate Event

The church again tried to replace the day with a feast in the 9th century. This time, they came up with November 2 as All Souls Day, but all in vain. The evening before All Saints Day was considered as a day of supernatural activities, accompanied with food and drink. Gradually, All Hallows Eve became Hallow Evening. Stories of leprechauns and fairies came up, soul cakes in England became important and it was considered as a day of the forecast.

The Irish and the Scottish immigrants introduced this festival in North America in the 19th century. By the late 20th century, it spread to countries, such as UK, Australia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, and Canada. Traditional activities included bonfire, masks and costumes to appease the evil spirits, visiting haunted houses and carving jack-o-lantern. People dressed in their costumes roam from door to door demanding treats because earlier people believed that the souls of the dead roamed the place along with witches, fairies, etc. As the years passed by, people started dressing up like witches, ghosts, performing tricks in return for food and drink, which is called as mumming. Other Celtic traditions that are still practiced today include bobbing for apples, carving  vegetables and fruits.

Today, Halloween is like a masquerade party where men and women disguise and parade on the streets.

The History of Hair Extensions

European Hair Extensions

Ever wondered why there was a hair malfunction in your family whenever you saw your aunt with bouffant, your cousin with flowing tresses while you stood there with thin über-straight hair? It has nothing to do with DNA. The origin of hair extensions dates back to Cleopatra.

Believe it or not, the first documented proof of hair weaves was seen among the Egyptians in 3400 BC. They wore wigs, sewn-on hair pieces and braids that were made of human hair and dyed sheep’s wool. They used resin and beeswax to attach the extensions. Bright blue, red, gold were popular, in addition to the conventional black. Cleopatra’s favorite color was peacock blue. Braids also originated somewhere around 500 BC, an indicator of age, religion, wealth, depending on the type of knots and twists.

The extensions among European and American women in the 1700s gave way for powdered wigs. A white powdered wig, called Perukes, indicated high rank or birth. When King Louis started turning bald, he started using Perukes because he didn’t want people to think of him as weak. The trend soon followed with the nobles. Both men and women wore extensions and their weaves were huge and like a beehive. Horse hair and frames filled with wool were woven into the natural hair, while hair extensions were built over the frames.

Keratin Hair Extensions

During the Romantic era, the fake hair swung into action with Apollo knots that had tighter curls attached closer to the scalp in mounds. Beginning of the 1900s, saw a weave called ‘Switch’, what we know as clip-ins, becoming popular as they could be easily removed. These weaves used only human hair and cost around .95 for a bunch and went up to $25.

In the 20th century, to get the Pompadour look, hair extensions and hair frames had to be used. Other popular weaves were frizzette, plaits or switches. By the 1940s, long hair became popular and the demand for long hair extensions increased even though artificial hair in those days could easily damage the real. The 1960s encouraged the era of big hair, such as Beehive wigs and hair extensions became common for many years until the 70s.

Hair weaves were common among the African American women in the 80s, which gave way to chemical relaxers and extensions. In the 90s, the hair extensions became less expensive, especially the clip-in hair extensions.

It is the age of hair extensions – synthetic or real, different colors, texture – are available in the market. The powdered wigs might not exist today, but human experiments and creativity have made human hair extensions immensely in vogue.

Exploring Food Allergies

Common Food Allergies

Food allergies have been around since antiquity. Lucretius, the Roman philosopher, in 50 B.C. had observed, ‘What is food to one person, may be bitter poison to others’. The first recorded food allergic reaction was somewhere around 430 – 370 BC when Hippocrates found that the cheese made some people sick. Many Greek writers witnessed aggressive reactions to honey, eggs, strawberries, oysters, shellfish and nuts.

In  1905, Dr. Francis Hare from Australia wrote in his book, The Food Factor in Disease, that migraine was relieved after the patient consumed special diet that excluded fats, carbohydrates and sugary alcoholic drinks. He explained that diseases such as asthma, epilepsy, bronchitis, hypertension, degenerative diseases, etc. were related to food allergies. The term ‘allergy’ was introduced by an Austrian pediatrician, Clemens Von Perquet, in 1906, to describe unwanted reactions to food and other substances.

Englishman Dr. Alfred Scofield in 1908 wrote in a journal how successful, he was in treating a boy suffering from angioedema and asthma because of an allergic reaction to eggs. In 1917, Dr. Longcope and Dr. Rachemann mentioned how 6 patients had reacted to food with urticaria and renal insufficiency.

Modern Allergy Testing

The first food allergy test was conducted by Carl Prausnitz and Heinz Kustner in 1921 when they came up with the Prausnitz-Kustner test/ Passive Transfer test. They found that a particular element in the blood resulted in deadly reactions. Kustner who had a reaction to fish, extracted a bit of blood and injected it into Prausnitz’s arm. Next day, the extract was again injected into the same spot resulting in a red itchy bump. Prausnitz was also given fish extract before it was extracted from Kustner’s blood and had no reaction. They called this unknown component found in the blood as Regain. For a brief period of time, this test was used to determine food allergies.

Another major development was when Dr. Albert Rowe in 1931 documented in his book, Food Allergy: Its Manifestations, Diagnosis, and Treatment, that food allergies can lead to symptoms affecting different parts of the body, irrespective of the age. Three years later, Dr. Warren T. Vaughan studied an entire village in Clover, Virginia and found that 62.6% were allergic to food, 23% to inhalants, and 14.4% to contact allergies. Between 1942 – 1953, Dr. Arthur Coca observed the food allergens changed the pulse of the human body. In 1956, the Pulse Test was introduced. In 1960, an allergy molecule (IgE) was discovered by Japanese couple Kimishigo and Teruko Ishizaka. This discovery explained the series of events leading to an allergic reaction. Today,  Skin Prick Test, Blood Test, Oral Food Challenge and Trial Elimination Diet are conducted to find food allergens.

Of Traditional Birthday Parties

Kids’ Birthday Party Themes

Picture this: it is a Sunday afternoon and you are watching dozens of pizza, fizz-based drinks and cakes being gobbled by children singing out in chorus ‘Happy Birthday to you.’ As their clattering reaches earsplitting levels, you begin to wonder if it was as grand and elaborate as it is now.

The introduction of the calendar made a structured calculation of birth dates for the ruling monarchs and successors, while the birthday omens examined whether the ruling monarch can bring prosperity to the kingdom. According to the author of Birthdays, ‘During the rule of Ptolemy V, the ancient Egyptian King, the concept of horoscopes and celebrating birthdays were considered important omens. The celebration was not restricted to the rich, but many Egyptian households also celebrated by buying garlands and animals for sacrifice.’

Some believed the Greeks baked moon-shaped honey cake to please Artemis, the goddess of the moon. They lit candles so that the smoke from the candles would take an offering to the sky. This tradition continued in Europe, where candles were lit the entire day for celebration and also to ward off evil spirits.

Birthday Cake and Games

Many others think that it originated in Germany as they would bake bread in the shape of baby Jesus in swaddling cloth. The Germans would place a big candle in the middle of the cake, symbolizing ‘the light of life,’ to keep a watchful eye on the young ones and ward off evil spirits. This candle was marked from 1 to 12, and the candle would be burned only up to the mark of that year’s age. They called it Kinderfest. Blowing out candles meant making a silent wish and blowing all candles at once meant that the wish would be granted.

The Victorians in the early 1800s adopted this idea to showcase their wealth and simultaneously brush the etiquettes of their children. These extravagant parties were organized by the mother with the help of a sizeable staff, which included fruit or nut cakes decorated with candles, formal dance, gifts from the parents to the child, and from child to the servants. The invention of cookstoves saw two-layer cakes gaining popularity in the 1840s. A decade later ice cream, goody bags, celebrating parties outside followed. The song ‘Happy Birthday to You’ featured in a musical, started being used in parties in 1934. Molded birthday cakes and icing became popular in the middle of the 19th century.

Parties in the 20th century were theme-based, smaller in size with children of similar age attending the party. Mothers passed on the responsibility of preparing the guest list to their children. The use of appliances in the 1920s removed servants from middle-class homes and since mothers did not want to end up cleaning, they would often pack their children to the movies.

Around 50s, children started considering it as their right to celebrate the birthday with mother’s being a part of this celebration. As women started working, this expectation shifted slowly. By the 90s, birthday parties became a paid entertainment and the trend continues to change till date!

The Foundation of Personal Injury Law in the U.S.

Personal Injury Lawyers

Personal injury laws are a kind of tort law that finds its root in Biblical times. In earlier days, an individual who harmed another person was expected to repay. Today, individuals who harm others are punished through personal injury law. By the 17th century, most claimants could receive compensation in the court for any wages lost because of personal injury. Personal Injury claims date back to the 1860s that consisted of bizarre, but successful claims, such as fall caused by croquet hoops, bites by fish and ferrets, head injuries caused by bacon kept in boxes.

By the end of the 20th century, many tort scholars wrote about “enterprise liability.” Works of Guido Calabresi and legal opinion of Roger Traynor played a vital role. It was stated that those who preferred to engage in business activities and earned a profit from those businesses should pay for the accident cost connected with them. The strict liability law is restricted to product injury cases involving manufacturing defects. For instance, in the 70s Ford Motor Company was involved in a well-known product liability case. They released Ford Pinto, which tended to burst into flames when involved in accidents. It was proved that the manufacturer knew about the defect, but released it anyway. Many scholars have argued that the 19th century tort law was dominated by strict liability law.

Medical Malpractice & Auto Accidents

Around the Industrial Revolution, the personal injury lawsuits became more prevalent. The Robber Barons era saw corporations enjoying maximum power; therefore, laws were formed to protect workers from wrong treatment by their bosses or industry. This meant that the corporation could be sued for personal injuries when at fault.

The Common Law in the 17th century recognized that the if someone is hurt by another person, compensation should be granted to the injured person. At this time, the settlement was only awarded for physical injuries caused due to accident. There was no compensation for non-physical injuries, such as mental trauma. A personal injury law was made famous in the 1970s, when singer Connie Francis was awarded $2.5 million when she was raped at Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge. The court found that the motel did not take appropriate steps to avoid the attack. A hotel must offer sufficient security and not allow people to loiter.

The personal injury lawyers started advertising in 1979 when Jacoby & Meyers made a decision that it was not unethical to advertise on television. Until then, the Yellow Pages were used for advertisement purpose. The role of personal injury law has changed drastically from the 19th century till date. Today, person injury laws include auto accidents lawyer, medical negligence, birth injuries, product liability, to name a few.

The Rise of Traditional Wood Shutters

Interior Wood Shutters

Shutters are designed to control light for ventilation and protection. It is believed that the first ancient shutters were made of marble in ancient Greece. The ancient Greek homes were made of sun-dried mud bricks and roof of clay tiles. These marble shutters were fixed with louvers and were sound compared to other window coverings. With passing years, the popularity of shutters spread to the Mediterranean region and their form changed from marble to wood. It became an important accessory when King Louis XIV of France persisted it to be a part of his palace. This helped the women to doze off comfortably without having to shut the circulation and allow the cooks to control sunlight when cooking. Movable louver shutters emerged so that amounts of light and air could be controlled from entering into the room. The wood shutters provided more insulation, acted as a barrier for insects and, when pointed downwards, they could prevent rainwater from entering in.

The houses in medieval Europe had rectangular windows and solid shutters that were closed using a large iron bar for security reasons. During Tudor and Elizabethan period, glass windows were used as the top part of the window because they were expensive. Wooden shutters were used for the other half of the window sash which remained shut all the time. In the 15th century, hinged glazed window slash replaced wood shutters. Interior shutters started being used for decorative purpose rather than functional purposes. Woodwork designs for shutters became the main ornamental element in 18th century English houses.

Wooden Plantation Shutters

The colonization of America by the Spaniards brought shutters to America. The South adopted this trend and used shutters in their plantation manors, and hence the term ‘Plantation shutters’ developed. These shutters had wider louvers and were painted in white color. While in England, wooden shutters had narrow louvers. Many shutters in cafe impersonated the original shutters where the bottom half was a window as the glass was not affordable back then.

During the Victorian period, wood was a major part of a house construction, and people started using it for their shutters. The stone brick houses built before the wooden houses had low-level windows that restricted the use of shutters.

Many integrate shutters into their homes because of their aesthetic and convenience factor. Plantation shutters are available in various sizes and shapes and can be made with different materials. Today, design flexibility helps shutters fit in an exceptional space either on the exterior and interior of your homes.

The Rise of Hair Salons Through the Ages

Professional Hair Styling

The profession of hair dressing dates back to ancient Egypt, where hairdressers decorated their cases to keep tools, scissors, lotions and other styling materials. In ancient Greece and Rome, wealthy men had their servants as personal hairdressers, in addition to dyeing and shaving.  As the Greeks were into beard trimming, they first opened a barber shop. In 296 BC, barber shops were common and brought back the tradition of Rome. Romans were particular about their appearance and they called their barber shop as Tonstinae. These barber shops also introduced waxing, manicure and pedicure. The demand for hair care increased in 1092 when Roman Catholic clergymen were asked to remove facial hair.

The 18th century was all about wigs and so hairdressers turned into wig makers. By the late 19th century, wigs were no longer in use and the salons gained the reputation of being a bad place. In the 1600s, Europe started seeing men styling women’s hair. One of the most popular hairdressers of that time was Champagne who opened his hair salon in Paris and styled wealthy Parisian women till his death in 1658.

The addition of plumbing and shampoo bowl saw the salons gaining popularity. Hairdressers started using hydrogen peroxide and synthetic hair dye to change hair color. In 1890, a hairdressing academy was started by Frenchmen Brisbois and Federmeyer in Chicago.

Modern Hair Salons

End of the 1800s, saw the transition from barbershops to salons all over the world. But women were still styling their hair by their servants. Salons started advertising in a big way to get women out of their homes. Around this time, a self-made entrepreneur Martha Matilda Harper opened the first public salon called ‘The Harper Hair Parlor’. She invented the salon recliner chair, but never patented her invention. She started training schools and employed the girls in her salon.

The roaring 20s saw almost 25,000 hair salons open in the US. From the 1900s to 20s, bobby pins, hair dryer, perm and hair color became popular. It was the age of Jazz and Coco Chanel, and short bobs. Since many salons refused to cut women’s hair, they went to barbershops.

The 40s era was about hairspray, relaxers and other styling products. Beauty salons became the go-to-place for women to escape from their mundane life, get pampered and indulge in gossip. In fact, military outposts started beauty salons for their employees to boost the morale of their female employees. Bouffant hairstyle invented by Raymond Bessone created waves in his gilded mirror and fountain salon in London. The term ‘salon’ officially took over the beauty parlor. Soon, men and women started frequenting the same parlor and Unisex salon was born. Salons soon opened in departmental stores and cruise ships. The 70s is considered as the golden age of hair salon as stylists were in demand. Considering the history of salons, they continue to grow till date.

History of Criminal Laws in the U.S.

Criminal Defense Attorneys

The early legal codes, such as the Code of Hammurabi to the Law of Moses laid the foundation for creating principles and customs into law, but it was the English Common Law that led to the growth of criminal law in the U.S. During Henry II’s rule, a centralized system of courts and judges representing the interest of the Crown was imposed on the Anglo-Saxons. The judges traveled to the countryside and found that the different regional traditions interfered with the king’s new law. They came up with the common law for the entire country that allowed them to find which behavior represented crimes and what kind of punishment should be given.

The English Common Law was introduced to America during the colonial period, which eventually became part of the country’s legal code. Many at that time feared that if the judges were given the right to decide which actions were criminal, citizens could become a victim of judicial unpredictability. Therefore, the 17th century colonists came up with uniform, standardized and predictable codified system of law. The state and federal government started formalizing laws by coming up with statutes and taking cues from different sources, such as case law, administrative rule and constitution of other states and federal governments.

According to the set of rules, there were two types of crimes – felony and misdemeanor. In the case of serious crimes, there was a jury comprising of members of the community, who decided if they had enough evidence to convict the accused. There were no district attorneys and lawyers at that time. As colonists settled further west, their criminal justice system was modified. Religion played a major role in  influencing their law making decisions. The Book of the General Lawes and the Libertyes of the Massachusetts Bay Colony of 1648 contain Biblical references. Lying, idle, drunk and sexual offenses were considered crimes.

American Criminal Law

By the mid 1700s, a reform movement was in progress to create a uniformed legal system.  The American Revolution (1775 – 83) sped up the process. The victory of the colonist over Britain brought freedom and a new legal system providing protection and rights to the citizens. The next few decades were an experimental phase as court decisions and legislation were formed to create a modern criminal law system.

The Pennsylvania legislature in 1794 passed a bill establishing the difference between first degree murder (intentional or planning a murder leads to the death penalty) and second degree murder (accidental killing that leads to imprisonment) was established.

Today, the U.S. system of common laws, identifies what the crime is and what is not. Criminal cases brought before the court are categorized as a misdemeanor (minor offense that can be settled by paying fine), felony (serious crimes resulting in harsher punishments) and treason (crime against your country, such as selling secret documents to another nation, etc.). Criminal law continues to grow and is often subjected to change based on the morals and values of the time.

All About Basketball Camps

The Evolution of Basketball Camp

The YMCA institutions in the US first understood the significance of imparting physical education to young boys to help in their overall development. They also found that YMCAs that had introduced sports to their program did well. Therefore, YMCA gave physical education an important recognition alongside spiritual and intellectual activities that was introduced by Dr. Luther Gulick, YMCA International Training School in Massachusetts, USA. This was adopted in 1891 when Dr. Naismith introduced indoor basketball to the “unruly” YMCA students to keep them occupied and beat the harsh winter condition. The YMCA graduates traveled widely and as the sport became popular, it encouraged the idea of basketball camps.

The number of players in 1900 was limited to just 5 players. In 1966, Howard Garfinkel and Will Klein formed the Five-Star Basketball at Camp Orin Sekwa, New York. The thought behind the camp was to provide high school players a chance to develop their skills before the season and gain opportunity in the competition. Soon the word spread about the camp and players from across the country started attending camps in New York. The boys wanted to improve their skills from the best coaches and play against the nation’s best flair. The camp also became the perfect place for young coaches to perfect their skill and learn from the cream of the crop teachers such as Brown and Daly. Coaches such as Bobby Knight, John Calipari, used the camp as a medium to augment their knowledge of the game.

Professional Basketball Coaching

With Pete Newell, a new era started in the history of basketball camp. After coaching the gold-winning U.S. team at the Summer Olympics in 1960, he announced his retirement. He started his instructional basketball camp in 1976 and was a mentor and a scout for NBA teams. The concept of the camp spread when it was found that Newell was working with Kermit Washington. Watching Washington’s improved game, many other players wanted to work with Newell, which made him start a camp.

Known as the America’s Basketball Guru, Newell called his annually held camp as ‘Big Man Camp.’ He was able to attract players because of his great footwork. The camp was seen as a standard place to go to for all the players coming out of college. It is said that, ‘Since the time the camp opened, every person wanted to spend at least one week of their summer trying to get closer to Pete.’

There are various basketball camps held today with the intention of helping players focus on their footwork and learn basic fundamentals and at the same time improving their defense skills.

From Celebrity to Next-Door Backyard Pools

Swimming Pool Design

The Great Bath excavated at the site of Mohenjadaro (in Pakistan) dating back to 3rd millennium BC is considered to be the first swimming pool. The first artificial pool was built by  the ancient Greeks and the Romans for athletic activity and military exercise. The Roman emperors also owned private swimming pools that had fish, and it was called Piscina. During the 1st century B.C., Lord Gaius Maecenas built the first heated swimming pool in Rome.

The popularity of swimming pools spread further after the first swimming competition was held in the 1896 Olympic Games. In 1907, the Racquet Club of Philadelphia, USA came up with the world’s first above ground swimming pool and in the same year; swimming pool was installed on the cruise ship, Adriatic. Post World War I, interest in swimming grew further as standards improved and training was given utmost importance.

Backyard Swimming Pools

After World War II and publicity by Hollywood films such as ‘Million Dollar Mermaid’ made it desirable to have a backyard swimming pool. The stars were shown relaxing at home next to or in their swimming pool in magazines and movies. It was the movie stars who first owned swimming pools as they built enchanting homes, plush landscapes and was considered a status symbol. Pools back then could be afforded by movie stars and millionaires and not the hard working family next door.

The late 20s and early 30s saw firms experimenting with a portable above ground pool made of heavy canvas  tanks that were supported by wooden barrels or steel. By the 40s, manufacturers experimented with Masonite, steel and aluminum frames. The liners were made of synthetic fabric which was fixed over the rail. Like earlier concrete pools, it lacked circulation, therefore, had to be filled with fresh water. The 50s and 60s saw coated steel walls held by the posts made of galvanized steel or aluminum and a 2-inch wide top rail. The interiors were made of vinyl liners to withstand the harsh weather conditions in winters. In 1958, circulation system evolved. Oval-shaped pools were followed by rectangular and square pools. The PVC vinyl liners, mosaic tiles, emerged in the late 70s and the 80s. The 80s also witnessed manufacturers working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to include water safety information packets, safety signs and decals with every purchase of the pool. By the 90s, consumers were provided with a range of options.

From elaborate designs to various features, backyard swimming pools have become ubiquitous.

The Origins of Masonry

Stone and Brick Masonry

Whether it is the pyramids in Egypt, the Great Wall of China or the Colosseum in Rome – these architectural structures are the iconic examples of masonry. The birth of masonry can be dated back to the first agricultural age with the expansion of the Fertile Crescent between 9,000 to 7,000 BC. At this time, fire was used to craft mortar. Mortars made of mud was used to smear rising walls to give stability and protect against weather. Stone was preferred to bricks and in the absence of stones, bricks were made of clay and silts. With passing years, men understood the art of quarrying, cutting, using chisels to carve stone with precision. Since, fire was used to build brick walls, it brought information of burned brick, leading to the creation of brick kiln. Masons gradually understood how to turn limestone into lime and lime mortar, thus replacing mud.

Around the fourth millennium, Mesopotamians started building stone and brick palaces and temples; Egyptians started constructing pyramids and stone temples in the third millennium. Greeks also improved upon their temples made of limestone and marble. When the Romans learnt about this art, they made huge masonry arches and roof vaults in palaces, aqueducts, and baths. Europeans and Islamic countries brought masonry to new heights during the medieval period. The craftsmen in Islamic countries built splendid palaces, markets, mosques of bricks and clay tiles. The Europeans focussed on building stone fortress and cathedrals with pointed vaults and buttress.

Modern Masonry Design

Simultaneously, craftsmen in Central America, Asia, South America were perfecting their architectural structures using cut stone. During the Industrial Revolution, machines were invented in Europe and North America to quarry and mold bricks and transport it to the building site. Mathematics was applied to analyze the masonry arches and the stone cutting.

End of the 19th century saw masonry materials being replaced by metal. Concrete was poured into wood, heavy masonry vault was replaced by light steel and concrete roof structures. Then came the Concrete Masonry Unit (CMU) or the hollow concrete brick that revolutionized masonry as a craft. Concrete block was not only less expensive than cut stone but required less labor. It  could be used with brick and stone facings to build low cost walls. An important invention by the Britishers was the brick cavity wall that led to the building of tighter walls. This later helped to adapt to thermal insulation, which became available in the 20th century.

Over the years, masonry design has been the choice of many architects because of its beauty, durability and various techniques.

History of Haircuts And Hairstyles

The earliest known hair braiding dates back to Paleolithic era when the statue of Venus of Willendorg, also known as the Woman of Willendorf, was unearthed in Austria. Later, the Venus of Brassempouy, about 25,000 years old was excavated in France, that had the checkerboard-like design with shallow incisions at right angles.

Moving to the Bronze age, men started using razors once in a while. And in ancient civilization, women colored hair, curled, made ponytail in various ways. They set waves and curls using wet clay, dried under the sun and then combed out; or made a jelly like substance using soaked quince seeds, or curling tongs and irons.

While in Roman times, women wore a bunch of curls on top, created waves, or braids. Gradually, the hairstyles got so complex that noblewomen had to get slaves and stylist to maintain their style. They used wood ash, quicklime, sodium bicarbonate to lighten their hair and oak apples, leeches marinated in wine and vinegar to darken their hair. The hair was made to look voluminous by using wigs, hairpieces, pins, comb and net. Until the Middle Ages, women grew their hair as long as it would grow.

During the 15th and 16th centuries, European men started keeping their hair till shoulder length, wearing bangs or fringes, and in the 17th century, they started growing beyond should length. Short hairstyles grew popular during the Neoclassical period with Bedford Corp style popularized by politician Francis Russel who protested against the tax on hair powder. Another popular style was the Titus wig (layered short hair) introduced by French actor Francois-Joseph Talma. During this time, Japanese men started opting for random cropping called jangiri or zangiri.

Between the 16th and 19th centuries, the hairstyle of European women became elaborate and included decorations such as flowers, pearls, ostrich feathers and small wooden objects. While, in England, red hair was in vogue and borax, sulfur, saffron was used to dye the hair. Pouf style (volume at the front of the head), using perfumed pomade and white powder became immensely popular.

During World War I, women started opting for shorter hairstyles, such as bob, shingle, crop cut covering it with cloche hats. In order to create waves, they started using hot scissor irons and  permanent waving became trendy. In 1930s, women again started growing their hair long.

Men wore short hair, parted in the middle or the side, combed straight back using creams and tonics. During the Second World War, men started aping the military cut. The 50s saw women going for curls in a variety of styles and lengths, bouffant, beehive; 60s was of shortcuts, as a pixie cut; 70s hair was longer and straighter. Afro-Americans started wearing their hair naturally, but were replaced by hairstyles such as cane rows, dreadlocks by the end of 1970. The 80s saw hair pulled back with scrunchies, ponytail being secured by claw-style barrettes, etc. Today, men and women can try from a wide range of hairstyles.

Tracing the Roots of Drain and Sewer Systems

Home Draining Systems

In ancient times, human dwellings were built next to a water body that acted as a source for  sewage disposal. It was during the prehistoric period (modern-day Iran) that the first sanitation system was built. While in Greece, an inverted siphon system with glass covered clay pipes were used in the palaces. With increasing population, the demand for a complex sewer system grew. The cities in Harappa and Mohenjodaro had a complex network of brick lined sewage drain and flush toilets that were disposed through an underground drain made of bricks while the drains from the houses were connected to public drains.

Between 46 BC and 400 AD, drains in Roman township and barracks in England had hollow elm woods rammed with the downstream pipe providing an opening for the upstream pipe. A major development in cities like Rome, Constantinople (modern Istanbul), Fustat, was the system of sewers to collect waste water. This complex sewer system proved an example for modernization of the sewer systems where the wastewater is routed to sewer treatment facilities.

The basic drain plan remained the same, until the 16th century, when Sir John Harington came up with a flush toilet for Queen Elizabeth I that released waste in cesspools. Despite the innovation, many cities did not have a functional sewer system till the Industrial Era. Everyone depended on rain or rivers to wash away the sewage on the streets.

Septic Systems and Septic Maintenance

The Industrial Revolution led to pollution and outbreak of waterborne disease, such as cholera and typhoid. In many big towns, the houses would discharge their waste into cesspits which overflowed onto the pavements emanating foul smell.

Since England was the first country to see industrialization, it came with disastrous penalties. So, they came up with a modern sewage system to counterattack the sanitary conditions. In fact, River Thames was an open sewer in the early 19th century, led to frequent outbreaks of cholera. The suggestion to modernize the sewage system was made as early as 1856, but was denied due to lack of funds. However, the Great Stink or the Big Stink in 1858 made the London authorities acknowledge the proposal of Joseph Bazalgette, a civil engineer at the Metropolitan Board of Works. According to his design, the waste was diverted to the Thames Estuary, away from the main population. Six main sewers of almost 100 miles long – 318 million bricks, 2.7 million cubic meters was excavated and 670,000 cubic meters of concrete were used. The first comprehensive sewer system was built in Chicago and Brooklyn in the late 1850s.

But by the end of the 19th century, some cities started adding chemicals and sedimentation system. In the US, the first treatment plant was built in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1890. By early 20th century, public health interventions led to a reduction of waterborne diseases, thus increasing the life expectancy.

Heartbreaking Tale of Divorce

American Divorce Proceedings

The first recorded divorce in New World dates back to the 17th century when a woman was granted a divorce from her disloyal husband by the puritan court in Massachusetts. All through the colonial years, divorce and scandals were driven by adultery. Thomas Paine, editor of the Philadelphia Magazine, fervently asked for divorce reform when he separated from his wife in the 1770s. Divorce became common and less considered to be a disgrace. Abandoning was the most common crime mentioned in the petitions during the 17th and 18th centuries.

In the 1800s, feminists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton fought for the right to divorce and the country eventually saw divorce rates increase from 9,937 in 1867 to 25,535 in 1886. This led to the formation of an anti-divorce group to obtain divorce statistics. One of the divorce reasons at that time was the breadwinner not being able to financially support his family. By the 1900s, the reason for divorce became ambiguous – women married blue collared job holders and if they could not live up to the standards of the American society, it was a good enough reason to get divorced. In the 1920s, women got to vote and started working, which led them to openly talk about their sexual desires. This led to adultery.

There Are Many Reasons For Divorce

In the 60s, though divorce was still considered a stigma, the social policies became more moderate. This made it easier for people to use deceiving practices to surpass the system. The ‘no-fault’ divorce revolution started in Oklahoma in 1953, but gained momentum in the State of California in 1969, which was soon followed by other states. A mutual consent and/ or a waiting time of 6 months to 2 years was a must in some states, while, in other states, fault grounds, such as incompatible differences, no affection were taken into account. In 2010, David Paterson, the New York governor, signed a bill removing the prerequisite of mutual consent for ‘no-fault’ divorce into law. There are many who still seek Fault grounds as it can shorten the waiting period or affect decisions related to divorce, child custody and support, alimony and so on.

In the 70s, the divorce rate climbed by 40 per cent and leveled off in the 80s. Mediation is another way of resolving divorce cases. It allows the party more privacy and control, saves money to obtain similar results. Another option is the Collaborative law, where both the parties are represented by their lawyers and try to work out a settlement without involving in any litigation. If the parties do not reach any mutual consent, their lawyers are substituted by new counsel.

Since the 90s, a few states have passed the Covenant Marriage laws where the couples need to undertake counseling before being granted a divorce or submit their differences to Mediation. Divorce is never granted until all questions regarding child care and support, property, assets, spousal support are answered.

Of High Stakes and Casinos

Casino Card Games

The source of gambling is unfamiliar, but it was supposed to have first begun in China in 2300 BC. There are many gambling stories associated with different cultures. It is said that all children in Rome were taught gambling and to throw dice. According to the historians, a dispute between the rulers of Norway and Sweden was settled using dice in 1020 AD. King Olaf of Norway won the disputed land.

The card game was invented by the French in 1387 and cards were printed in Germany by Johann Gutenberg in 1440. During Napoleon’s time, an Egyptian-inspired card game, vingt-et-un, now known as Blackjack or Twenty-One, was quite popular.

The English came up with Hazard, a precursor to the dice game and poker games, an amalgamation of games inspired by the Persians and Italians. The poker game progressed when betting was introduced by the French and bluffing by the British.

Casino Nights

In order to accommodate different gambling activities, it was played in a specific location. The first gambling house called the Ridotto was built in Venice, Italy in 1638 during the carnival season. It was a four-story house for playing different card games accompanied by some food and beverage for the gamblers. It was shut down in 1770 by the state government when they found that it led to bankruptcy. The term ‘casino’, originating from the Italian word ‘casa’, was referred to small club houses meant for social gatherings. Shutting down of large spaces pushed gambling to smaller venues, which were a hit.

In America, the gambling places were called saloons, which became the hub for drinking, gambling and meeting new people. Beginning of the 20th century saw gambling being banned by state legislation and reformers. But in 1931, it was officially recognized in Nevada and America’s legal casinos were set up. Just like the Venetians, many politicians thought of making money through illegal gambling and were sure that newly constructed Hoover Dam will bring in more tourists to Nevada. Soon, casinos attracted gamblers to Reno and Las Vegas, where Strip, a neon-themed casino and glamorous stage shows started being held. By 1978, gambling was legalized in Atlantic City, New Jersey and in the late 80s, the Native American tribes set up their casinos which changed the casino culture in the US.

In the 90s, online gambling emerged after the Free Trade and Processing Act was passed in the Caribbean. The worldwide online gaming revenue is expected to touch $7.1bn by the end of 2014.