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Venetian blinds are window coverings composed of a number of horizontal slats arranged in parallel. The vertical space between the slats is slightly less than the width of the slat, allowing the blind to be effectively closed by rotating all the slats to 0 or 180 degrees.

The slats are sometimes connected together using string or cables, which allow the blind to be pulled up or down, eliminating the space between the slats and completely exposing the window.

Other models of venetian blind have the slats fixed in their vertical position, usually by a wooden or vinyl frame. However, to qualify as a venetian blind, one must be able to change the angle of the slats within the frame. If the slats are fixed, this window covering is a shutter.

Venetian blinds were patented (#2223) by John Hampson of New Orleans, Louisiana on August 21, 1841. Some sources credit Hampson with inventing the venetian blind, however this type of blind has been found to be in use hundreds of years before Hampson was born. Hampson’s contribution to the blind was in inventing (or at least patenting) a method for changing the angle of the slats and keeping them synchronized in position.

Early Venetian traders are thought to have brought the blind from Persia to Venice. Freed Venetian slaves, returning to France, are thought to have brought the blind with them. In France the blind is called "Les Persiennes". The blind quickly became popular in England where Victorians were ready to embrace any window covering that didn't involve the usual heavy drape.

Update Aug 18, 2003: the term "slats" can be interchanged with "louvres"

Sources:
www.todayinsci.com/cgi-bin/indexpage.pl?http://www.todayinsci.com/8/8_21.htm
www.nortexinfo.net/McDaniel/0821.htm
inventors.about.com/library/blexpertarchives1.htm
www.mae.ncsu.edu/homepages/silverberg/AdaptiveShading/history.htm

I let myself collapse into the warmth of my bed, still not certain of whether this is what I want. My eyes fearfully scan the room for one last grasp for security, something to keep me fixed firmly in this place, but in reply only the red numbers of my alarm clock stare blankly at me. It should be about sunrise by now, but the dawn light refuses to enter my room. The blinds are closed, as usual, defending against the invasion of light, and the door is firmly locked. Rolling over, my head faces down at the cheaply constructed carpet; it was a coarse sea of nylon needles that impales the feet a thousand times. Stepping from the bed was always a horrific experience, which is partly why I never let myself stray from the bed. But the light, wooden box I received sits on the opposite desk, alluring me with its blindingly bright yellow-and-green painted pinstripes. After enduring its invitation for a few minutes, I finally have no choice but to give in to the temptation, and drag away myself from the soft blue quilt on which I lay. As I near it, the box frightens me, intimidates me with its eye-catching colours, and the carpet whispers to go back to bed lest I feel its needles a few seconds more, but I am determined now. It opens with a gentle click, and six stamp-sized pieces of paper lay scattered at the bottom; it amazes me how such a bright and vivid image can be printed onto the stamps, as the intricate Wizard of Oz characters seem eerily lifelike. Suddenly, the curiosity rips away the ego of my mind and pulls my hand into the box, and moments later, I realise it had placed the paper on my tongue.

Nothing happens. I can feel the rough, awkward texture of the paper against my tongue and the sourness seeping through my saliva, but the room remains and the walls are as solid as ever. My eyes wander slowly towards the bookcase of pulp fiction magazines and second-hand science-fiction novellas. They look away with their cold spines towards me; suddenly, they send a pang of regret through my body. The bookcase full of these books towered to the high ceiling, and yet I had never read a single word of their browning pages. With the locked door and always-closed windows, they were my only possible visualisation of The Outside; I had never seen that place and only postulated its existence, but had always been too scared to read the tales that might give me an insight to that world. The books were far too frightening, in any case; their spines were bright and colourful, with wild typefaces and graphics that burned the eye with their boldness. I could never touch those books. I still can’t feel the effects of the paper. I’m afraid to move, now, so I let myself sink lower in the warm bed and gaze blankly at the ceiling. It always was a high ceiling, possibly twice my height and unreachable even from standing on the desk. Oddly, it seemed to be getting closer now; I know I should be afraid of this ever-closing gap, but somehow I am calm, and it seems only natural that the ceiling should be rippling,

fal

ling,

disin te gra ti n g

and disappearing.

 

 

So this must be the sky of The Outside?

It seems oddly large and infinite, a burning blue extending beyond any distance imaginable. The light was almost unbearable; though I had thought the hundreds of books in my bookcase to be loud enough visually, but now this sky was screaming out with life and energy. The room is contorting oddly; there must be an earthquake of some sort. I do not know much of these, or why they occur, but I know that they involve some sort of room shaking and seem rather dangerous. It seems normal, however, and I wish I could feel the effects of the paper soon. To my side, the blinds slowly seem to be turning to water, and suddenly crash to the ground in a cascade of rippling reality; the carpet warps from the wetness and begins to shrivel at the edges, finally appearing to be ruined entirely.

No matter, this is fine, this is normal, I shall fix it in the morning, and restore its protection of the underlying floor. Through the window, though, disturbs me greatly. It seems like an ethereal surrealist masterpiece, with the green expanse of grass and bushes extending on the infinite plane outside. My eyes cannot stand this raw energy of colour, the greens bleed into the agonisingly blue sky and overwhelm the senses, but paradoxically the outside world seems so real, if I could only reach out and walk amongst the bleeding colours... My mind snaps back into the room, pulled angrily back onto my pillow for a reprimanding from my conscious. Now, I can feel the effects, and now, The Outside is too much to bear; that place overflows with

bleeding greens

and

vivid blues

and overwhelms my mind, which had been numbed by years of that dim room. As the room began to swirl ch

aotic

ally,

the bookcase fell and the books were scattered across the floor. The window is becoming a rainfall also, cascading in a stunning display of shimmering water. As the world outside begins to throb like a heart in the body of reality, it pulls me away from this dark, immobile place; I hurriedly snatch some Asimov short stories and some steampunk fantasy — no time to pick and choose, now — before launching myself through the window.

The water coats me and I land in the unnaturally light grass. I fearfully glance behind, and see that the blinds have solidified again, locking that room away once more.

I am not here right now. Please leave a message after the beep and I will return your call.

?

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