QC Blog: March 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Christmas in March

Are you busy filling out your census? It's not hard, right?

Here's an update of what I've been working on this week. I was following a pattern in a Quilt in a Day book called Stockings and Small Quilts. Eleanor Burns' sister Patricia Knoechel wrote it. Aren't they cute? They're pretty simple and I'm using them for a wedding shower this weekend.
Mark and I went to see John Oates (of Hall and Oates, my favs, of course) in a solo concert last week in Kent, Ohio. It just so happened that the Kent Stage Theater was right across the street from a charming little quilt store, the Katie Brook Quilt Store, where I was lucky enough to while away an hour or so before the show since they were open late on Thursdays. I found some fabric that might go with a new project I'm working on, but limited myself to only 1/2 yards (a lot of restraint for me).

The following day, my friend and I attended a quilt show in North Hills. The same store I visited in Kent had a setup there as well. They carry a lot of embroidery panels that were really pretty. The show was really a good one. Every few years there are a lot of hand quilted quilts in the shows (probably due to the time it takes to quilt them). I enjoy seeing that. Quilt shows are great inspiration to keep working on your quilting.

I'm in the process of quilting a baby quilt on my Voyager machine, but can't seem to get the tension right. I changed from a regular bobbin to a pigtail bobbin and the thread keeps breaking and driving me crazy.

That's all for now.

Monday, March 15, 2010

2010 Census - what does this have to do with fabric?

This week you'll be getting your 2010 census in the mail. We all know that the census is used to allocate government funds and to form legislative districts.
As a genealogist, I want to stress the importance of filling out your forms for your great great grandchildren. No one will be able to see the answers to these questions for 70 years. Be accurate. Make sure you print very clearly and legibly. Spell everyone's name correctly. Give the correct age.
The census is an invaluable tool to find family members and learn who they were and where they lived at a certain point in time. There are only ten questions in this 2010 census. They are extremely simple. To paraphrase the questions are these:

How many people in your household?
Are there any additional people living there?
Is the home owned or rented?
What is your telephone number?
What are the names of all the people living there?
What is their sex?
What is their age and date of birth?
Are any members Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?
What is each member's race? (multiple choice answers)
Does any member sometimes live or stay somewhere else?

That's it. It should take no more than 10 minutes to fill it out. And this is the really important part ---MAKE A COPY of the form you fill out. Keep it with your important papers. Let it be something that is handed down in your family. If you have kids that don't live at home, ask them to make a copy for you and keep the whole family's records together. Remember, your own family can't access these records for 70 years, so if you had a copy it would make genealogy record keeping so much easier for your family's historian.

How does this relate to fabric, you're asking? Let me tell you a story.

It took Census workers about 8 years to tabulate the data from the 1880 census. The Bureau appealed to their workers to find a more efficient way to tabulate the data. A man named Herman Hollerith, a statistician who worked for the Census Bureau, riding the train on his way to work one morning, found his inspiration while watching the conductor punch holes in tickets. The conductors could punch codes onto the ticket indicating a passenger's height, hair color, build, eye color, etc, so only that unique passenger could use the ticket. Hollerith designed a similar paper card and punch hole system to record the information the Census Bureau needed. One column was used for a person's sex, another two for their age, two for the year, etc.

He made the card the size of a U.S. banknote and then created a tabulation machine based on an 18th century machine invented by Joseph Jacquard, that had automated the weaving of fabrics. Jacquard was a French silk weaver, who invented a way of controlling the warp and weft of threads on a silk loom by recording patterns of holes on a series of wooden boards, looped together with a series of cords. (That was the fabric part)

Hollerith succeeded in producing the machine that Charles Babbage (considered the first computer pioneer, designing analytical computing engines) and Ada Lovelace (possibly the world's first programmer) had dreamed up in the 1930's. The machine allowed the user to input census data using punch cards, store the data, process the data, and output the data. The 1890 census count was completed in 3 months. He not only solved the Census problem, his punch card system was the basis for computing for the next 70 years.

In 1896, Hollerith quit his job at the Census, and started the Hollerith Tabulating Machine Company. The company rented it's equipment and maintained the right to produce the cards. The card was able to represent an account, a transaction, a part, an invoice, or a check and as a result businesses could automate their processes. His company merged with two other companies and was renamed CTR (the Computing, Tabulating and Recording Company). By 1914, the company was suffering some hard times and sales were lagging. Hollerith hired Thomas J. Watson, the top salesman at National Cash Register Company. Watson was an effective leader. To boost employee moral he increased sales commissions, provided employees with insurance and paid vacations and demanded absolute loyalty. Under his leadership, sales soared. By 1924, the company had expanded and changed it's name once again to International Business Machines (IBM).

By 1918 over 100 million card were being produced. All data was transcribed to punch cards. The card became the perfect medium for entering, manipulating and storing data. Cards had become the universal medium for handling data and IBM machines processed the data. This set the stage for the computer revolution.

Herman Hollerith and his punch cards truly changed the course of history.

Filling out that 10 question census doesn't seem so hard now, does it?

(Don't forget to make a copy for yourself!!)

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