Spooky Insights from KHTHeat


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With Halloween this weekend, we thought we’d share some “tips and treats” we found online you can use to be the smartest goblin at the dinner table.

  • Halloween originated in Ireland over 2,000 years ago and is typically believed to be the birthplace of Halloween. Some historians believe it originated around 4000 B.C., which means Halloween has been around for over 6,000 years.
  • “Halloween” is short for “Hallows’ Eve” or “Hallows’ Evening.” In an effort to convert pagans, the Christian church decided that Hallowmas or All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2) should assimilate sacred pagan holidays that fell on or around October 31.
  • Halloween has been called All Hallows’ Eve, Witches Night, Lamswool, Snap-Apple Night, Nutcrack Night, Samhaim, and Summer’s End influenced by the ancient Roman festival Pomona, which celebrated the harvest goddess of the same name.  Many Halloween customs and games that feature apples (such as bobbing for apples) and nuts date from this time.
  • The first Jack O’Lanterns were actually made from turnips. The term jack-o’-lantern is in origin a term for the visual phenomenon ignis fatuus (lit., “foolish fire”) known as a will-o’-the-wisp in English folklore – uses “wisp” (a bundle of sticks or paper sometimes used as a torch) and the proper name “Will”: thus, “Will-of-the-torch.” The term jack-o’-lantern is of the same construction: “Jack of [the] lantern.”
  • According to Irish legend, Jack O’Lanterns are named after a stingy man named Jack who, because he tricked the devil several times, was forbidden entrance into both heaven and hell. He was condemned to wander the Earth, waving his lantern to lead people away from their paths.
  • The word “witch” comes from the Old English wicce, meaning “wise woman.” In fact, wiccan were highly respected people at one time. According to popular belief, witches held one of their two main meetings, or sabbats, on Halloween night.
  • A persistent fear of Halloween is called Samhnainophobia
  • The owl is a popular Halloween image. In Medieval Europe, owls were thought to be witches, and to hear an owl’s call meant someone was about to die.
  • The largest pumpkin ever measured was grown in 2014 by Beni Meier weighing 2323.7 pounds  recorded at the European Championship Pumpkin Weigh-off in Germany.
  • The Guinness world record “pumpkin chuckin” shot is held by a pneumatic cannon dubbed “Big 10 Inch” at 5,545.43 feet (1,690.25 m). Team American Chunker, captained by Brian Labrie of New Hampshire, launched his pumpkin 4,694.68 feet (1,430.94 m) on November 1, 2013, in Bridgeville, Delaware, the longest shot in US event history.
  • The fastest time to carve a pumpkin is 16.47 seconds achieved by Stephen Clarke (USA) on October 31, 2013. The jack-o’-lantern is required to have a complete face, including eyes, nose, mouth and ears.
  • Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats and food to placate spirits who roamed the streets at Samhain, a sacred festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year.
  • “Souling” is a medieval Christian precursor to modern-day trick-or-treating. On Hallowmas (November 1), the poor would go door-to-door offering prayers for the dead in exchange for soul cakes.  The first known mention of trick-or-treating in print in North America occurred in 1927 in Blackie, Alberta, Canada.
  • Black and orange are typically associated with Halloween. Orange is a symbol of strength and endurance and, along with brown and gold, stands for the harvest and autumn. Black is typically a symbol of death and darkness and acts as a reminder that Halloween once was a festival that marked the boundaries between life and death.
  • Cats and fires have a permanent place in Halloween folklore. During the ancient festival, bonfires were lit to ensure the sun would return after the long, hard winter. Often Druids were said to throw cats into a fire, often in wicker cages, as part of divination proceedings and also throw the bones of cattle into the flames and, hence, “bone fire” became “bonfire.
  • Scarecrows, a popular Halloween fixture, symbolize the ancient agricultural roots of the holiday.
  • Scottish girls believed they could see images of their future husband if they hung wet sheets in front of the fire on Halloween. Other girls believed they would see their boyfriend’s faces if they looked into mirrors while walking downstairs at midnight on Halloween.
  • According to tradition, if a person wears his or her clothes inside out and then walks backwards on Halloween, he or she will see a witch at midnight.
  • Dressing up as ghouls and other spooks originated from the ancient Celtic tradition of townspeople disguising themselves as demons and spirits. The Celts believed that disguising themselves this way would allow them to escape the notice of the real spirits wandering the streets.
  • The average American will spend over $75 on Halloween totaling over $6 billion dollars.




What does Kowalski Heat Treating and the Bic Disposable Razor have in common?


A quick Google search produced the answer to that question.

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Happy Anniversary to the Bic Disposable Razor!

Kowalski Heat Treat & Bic Disposable Razor are both 40 this year!!

And we both deal with blades. Although ours are way bigger and should never touch your face. You know, like saw blades, swords, knives, mower blades. Get the idea?

A Challenge: Go ahead, shave half of your face, your head or (if you’re so inclined) shave one leg. Send me a photo of the results and a panel of experts (the guys in the shop and my wife) will pick a winner to receive a brand new Kowalski Heat Treat logo mug. And a runner-up will receive a KHT t-shirt for your effort. Have fun!



Puttin’ the Squeeze On

Two blank facing pages from an old pamphlet. There is very old, yellowed tape on the binding which has been broken. The paper is water stained, torn and yellowing. The edges are rough and corners are dog-eared.

Without question, the best part about Fall is heading out into the country to enjoy all the changing colors and finding fresh apple cider. There’s something about cider (heated of course… and topped with mini marshmallows) that makes me smile. For fun, I thought I’d pass along some history of cider making in the U.S. I found on-line, thanks to Chris Lehault from Serious Eats.

According to Chris, America’s love affair with hard cider, and sweet cider, dates back to the first English settlers. Upon finding only inedible crabapples, the colonists requested apple seeds from England and began cultivating orchards and grafting wood to produce the proper apples for eating and cider. Since it was trickier to cultivate barley and other grains (for the production of beer), cider became the beverage of choice on the family dinner table – even the children drank Cinderkin, a weaker alcoholic beverage made from soaking apple pomace in water. By the turn of the eighteenth century, New England was producing over 300,000 gallons of cider a year.

As settlers moved west, they bought along their love for cider, with the help of John Chapman (better known as Johnny Appleseed). Chapman, actually a missionary, traveled west ahead of the settlers and grafted small, fenced in nurseries of cider apple trees in the Great Lakes Region and Ohio River Valley (many of the original trees are thought to still exist today). It was not uncommon then to find small cider orchards on homestead grounds. After spreading throughout the country, cider’s popularity waned at the turn of the century as eastern and German immigrants brought with them a preference for beer, and furthered diminished enjoyment by Prohibitionists who burned trees to the ground and the Volstead Act, which limited hard cider production.

Luckily today, cider can be found on the grocery store shelves, in farmers markets and at local roadside stands. The best is the pure kind – fresh squeezed apple juice cider, made by combining multiple apple types, and pressing out the juicy goodness.

Here’s my favorite recipe: Mix a whole bunch of apples, press out the juice, drink.

This weekend, get some cider, heat it up in the microwave, add in a little cinnamon, (and marshmallows) and enjoy the flavor of the season. And if you know of a good orchard where they still make cider the old fashioned way , shoot me an email at skowalski@khtheat.com and I’ll share with our readers.



Hope We See You In Detroit!

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COBO Convention Center – south elevation. 

We’re fine tuning our plans for the upcoming Heat Treat 2015 – ASM Heat Treating Society Conference & Exposition, Oct 20-22 at the COBO Convention Center in Detroit MI.

At the show, be sure to stop at the Kowalski Heat Treating Booth #732 and see all of the new and exciting developments we’re bringing to our customers, from vacuum hardening to rack salt to salt austempering / marquenching, to deep cryogenics and close tolerance specialty flatwork. Don’t forget to ask us about our new N2Clean Controlled Atmosphere Processing, the nation’s finest socially responsible PIA flatwork facility!

Better yet, shoot me an email at skowalski@khtheat.com and reserve a time to chat.

And don’t forget, we’ll be giving away an Apple iPad Air to the customer with the toughest PIA (pain in the #%$) Job, so bring us your pain!

If you are not planning to attend the show, you can still be eligible to win our PIA Job Contest – To enter, just send us an email at winanipad@khtheat.com describing your heat treating struggles and we’ll enter you into the contest.



Playoff Baseball & Mr. October.

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Reggie Jackson watches the flight of his third home run – on three pitches – against the Dodgers in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series. Photo: AP


As the days grow shorter, and the nights get cooler, I find myself turning to the post season and a keener interest in the MLB playoffs.  Now that my beloved Tribe has been eliminated, I as many others do,  think of exciting playoffs.   For me, a guy who would overcome so much, and at times had a “PIA Job” of his own – Mr. October, Reggie Jackson.  Although he is long retired now,  I have great memories growing up of crowds chanting “Reggie, Reggie, Reggie” as he stepped to the plate.  His uncanny ability to foul off pitches he didn’t like was amazing until he found one he could hit – and hit he did.  Here’s some history on Reggie’s early career (thanks, Wikipedia!) – few things I found amazing.

Hall of Famer – Reggie Jackson

  • played 21 seasons for five different teams (can you name them all?)
  • helped his teams win 11 divisional pennants, 7 league pennants and 4 World Series titles
  • remembered for hitting 3 consecutive at bat World Series home runs in ‘77
  • 563 home runs, 14 times an All-Star and multiple MVP awards
  • in High School, starred in football, baseball, basketball and track & field, breaking all sorts of records (.550 avg and several no-hitters)
  • also tore up his knee and broke 5 cervical vertebrae and told will not play sports ever again
  • a highly recruited football player, he decided on Arizona State College, as other schools did not regularly draft black athletes at the time
  • walking back to the dorms, while still in his football uniform, he stopped by the baseball field and asked the coach if he could try out – on the second pitch he saw, he hit a home run – and three more after that
  • first college player to hit a ball out of Phoenix Memorial Stadium
  • after being signed to a major league contract ($85,000) he played single A, double A and minor leagues before debuting in the majors in 1967.
  • For more information about “Mr. October”, visit his Wikipedia page and enjoy the playoffs as we get ready to another great World Series.

TRIVIA: Reggie had his number retired on two MLB teams – call me if you can name the teams and know the numbers.
BONUS: What was the food he’s famous for? (I always love these!)



Hey, it’s the 40th Anniversary of the 1975D Lincoln Memorial Penny!

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And it’s our anniversary, too!

We checked with leading numismatists and the overwhelming consensus is that the 1975 and 1975D penny is worth … (drum roll please) … one cent today. Hasn’t increased in value much, huh.

But Kowalski Heat Treating has logged big gains in value over the last 40 years.

To our talented employees, KHT puts food on the table, cars in the driveway, investments and jobs in the neighborhood, and vacations every year.

To our amazing customers, KHT saves products from the scrap pile, provides expertise in all forms of distortion sensitive heat treating from salts to cryogenics to controlled atmosphere processing and everything in between.

And our biggest value? Taking on all sorts of PIA (Pain In The @%$) Jobs! Helping customer’s bottom line and helping them get a better night’s sleep knowing we’re on the job.

So, “A penny for your thoughts.” Let’s talk about your PIA jobs. We were born to solve tough problems!

Also, I hope you are going to Heat Treat 2015 at COBO Convention Center in Detroit Oct 20 – 22. Look for KHT’s Booth number 732 and stop in to win an iPad Air! Click HERE for details. 

Shoot me an email with an idea of when you expect to stop by the booth and I will be sure to be there. (I like to walk the show, too.)