I got a preliminary report from my brother-in-law out in California. At the half way point of his California expedition he has found 18 new birds putting his life list close to 600, one of his goals. For total species, he is well over 100. Imagine finding over 100 species in 10 days. I am still sticking with my 250 bet.
A friend sent me a curious website on spanking machines. Check this out.
THE SPANKING MACHINE: A RESILIENT MYTH IN POPULAR CULTURE
My personal favorite is the water wheel powered German multi-user machine from 1856. Although the one that shoots off the 32 caliber blanks and delivers an electrical shock seems quite a bargain at $32.50
This brought back memories of grade school and how the principal had a paddling machine. There were always great descriptions from the older kids about the machine and its preparation for use. There seemed to be numerous adjustments which took a dreadfully long time, and there was a special emphasis on the fact that it had to be plugged into the wall thus ensuring in our minds that this was a machine of some respectable power. The preparation of the victim of course involved the baring of one's buttocks.
On the few trips that I had to take to the office, I always furtively searched for this machine. It had to be about somewhere. There was a metal cube about the dimension of a modern refrigerator but only half as tall. It had that gray crinkly paint that was used on fine machines back in the 50s and chrome letters in the front. I could not identify any purpose for this machine then or now and in my heart I knew that this was the paddling machine. I imagined the miscreant to be seated in the machine like one of those saunas where all you saw was the persons head. I was frightened by those saunas, why I don't know, but it seemed to be the perfect mode for this paddling machine. All that would be visible would be the miscreants head grimacing in pain as this machine applied a good warming to his bottom with the efficiency of my mother's automatic washer--a marvel at the time along with television and the automatic transmission. I never worried about the contradiction of how ones bottom got paddled if one was sitting.
Well I can't say that I ever suffered the indignities of automated punishment, but it was certainly a fact of life for us grade school kids, exceeded only by the electric chair and the atomic bomb for sheer terror. The fifties was a rather cool time to grow up. While we may have been deathly afraid of the paddling machine we were also fascinated by it as well as electric chairs and atomic bombs. Pain, suffering and death had a rather romantic appeal to it as well as the terrifying aspect. Fortunately we all seemed to grow up with out the terrors of any of these devices unleashed on us.