The Only Publication Devoted to “The Voices of the Industrial Revolution”
and Related Technologies

Publisher's Blog Page

This page, like other blogging pages, is devoted to personal opinions on a wide variety of subjects, in this instance, my opinions. Some related to Horn & Whistle, and others may not be even remotely related. You don't have to agree with what I say here, but you might find some of this very amusing, mildly amusing, maybe educational; perhaps you'll strongly disagree. But in any case I sincerely hope that you will find this interesting, if nothing else! So let's begin!

It Makes No Scents

Why is it that so many products that we buy today have to have some overpowering and really obnoxious perfume added? The thing that got me started on this particular topic was a package of trash bags that my wife recently bought. They were coated or lined with what I can only consider a really bad smelling perfume of some kind. Ostensibly, this was to mask the smells that might arise from some trash such as garbage, but what advantage is there in covering one stink with another? I found out that the scent is supposed to be that of the aloe plant, but having smelled a real aloe plant, I can tell you that the artificial stink added to the trash bags isn't even remotely close.

What is even worse is that if the bag contains garbage, then you end up with a composite smell, that of garbage and the fake aloe scent. So instead of solving a problem, the makers of these scented trash bags compound the problem. This could be considered the olfactory equivalent of rubbing salt into a wound. But this problem isn't just limited to trash bags. Some soaps, dishwashing liquids, and household cleaners all have some perfume added, and sometimes really terrible perfume. But perhaps one of the worst offenders in my opinion are room sprays that are supposed to take unpleasant smells away from bathrooms, for example.

I made an interesting discover a few years ago. I had an empty spray bottle, and I put plain water in it. I soon found that spraying water mist into the air very quickly dissipated unpleasant bathroom smells. So evidently the way these things work is to put a mist of fine droplets in the air which then must attract scent molecules and either fall to the floor or perhaps get sucked away by the bathroom vent fan. In either case, however, the end result is the elimination of the bathroom smell but without leaving an equally bad, or in some cases, a worse perfume scent behind. I have since discovered that hair spray and a very dilute amount of dishwashing liquid when sprayed as a fine mist will also work very well. Denatured alcohol likewise is very good, but I would not recommend using that as its vapor can be explosive, and it will also spoil some wood finishes.

The point is, however, that it is not necessary to use an overpowering perfume to remove other odors. I realize that of course my perception of what smells good and what smells bad is like any other similar personal perception. It is very possible that some people may indeed like the scent of new trash bags or bathroom sprays, but how about leaving the consumers with a choice. One of the scents I really enjoy is "New Car" smell. I also like the smell of lubricating oil on hot metal surfaces. When I was a child and a teen, there were numerous pumping stations in and around Boston that still ran receprocating steam engines to power the pumps and I always remember the nice smell that was present in all of these plants. Another scent that I enjoy is the interesting smell that you often find around church pipe organs, a composite of shellacked wood, special leather, and other trace scents that I can't quite identify but really in my opinion smell nice. Likewise I have always enjoyed the smell of a newspaper pressroom.

Why couldn't trashbag makers and room deodorizer spray manufacturers incorporate some of these secnts as well. I have had many people, both men and women, young and old, mention that they like the smell of newspapers, so a newspaper scented room spray could in fact be a big seller. As for me, until such scented products come along, I will continue to go out of my way to get unscented trash bags, and when necessary, spray a fine water mist in the air to eliminate unpleasand garbage and cat litter box odors from my home.

Attention Young Ladies! Please, Get Out and Stay Out
of the Fryers' Club

First of all, I did not misspell the name of the club. You might think at first that I meant "Friar's Club, but I did not. What I refer to here is a peculiar vocal defect which is called Vocal Fry, that is often used by young women as a way presumably to sound sophisticated or maybe for emphasis, but usually as an affectation. I refer of course to a certain creaky, buzzy voice sound of either low or indeterminate pitch. Unfortunately the resulting sound is all high frequency harmonics and as such is really unpleasant. I have looked at on-line videos of the human voice and have seen how it is produced, but my question is WHY do so many folks feel the need to do this?

I also do not know why it is mostly younger women who do this. Perhaps they think that if they talk with a lower frequency, they will sound more like men and thus maybe be taken more seriously. The problem, however, is that when you force a voice out of its normal pitch range, all kinds of bad stuff results. If you make most sound producing devices try to produce frequencies lower than what might be considered normal for their basic design, the result can be indeterminate pitch, distortion, and often the production of lots of very high frequency harmonics. Wind and brass instrument players know what happens when they try to play their instruments at pitches below that at which they were designed to play. This seems also to be true with voices, which then means that artificially trying to talk with a lower than normal pitch will not improve tone quality, but rather degrade it to noise. At any rate, if any of you young ladies are reading this and if you think you are sounding either good or impressive when you do this, wake up! You're sounding terrible.