August 19, 2005
Free iPod shuffle
No joke — but you have to work fast.
If you write 50 reviews of local businesses by August 21 (that's Sunday) you earn a free 512MB iPod shuffle.
You don't qualify for a drawing or any of the usual nonsense, you get the iPod.
Want to find out more?
Cactus Ironing Board
When it's open you have a large ironing area, a handy sleeve arm and a useful secondary shelf.
To shut it, flip a switch on the side
and it pops upright, becoming a cactus.
There's even a little wheel on the bottom so you can move it around your place.
Comes with a green cactus cover.
"Worth every single penny — even if it doesn't come with the cheesy blonde in the picture."
$323 (£200; €288) here.
Erik Fearn's Extreme Workout
It happens twice weekly in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
From the Far Eastern Economic Review's blog, Travellers' Tales, comes the above photo of one Erik Fearn of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
It appeared in the Malaysia Sun newspaper.
His solution: strap on a scuba tank and rebreather for his twice–weekly speedwalks, performed with 13 lbs. of books strapped to his back "to build stamina."
He told the Sun's reporter that, as exercising outdoors became a real hazard, "One day I thought of my scuba diving equipment, after all when you're diving what do you breathe? You breathe clean fresh, filtered, compressed air. So I thought, 'Why not?'"
Indeed — why not?
He also wears his scuba gear while scooting around on his motorcycle.
As he told the Sun, "I'm an athlete. I can't risk my health by breathing this air."
You GO Erik!
'On Fire' Light Switch Cover
Hand–painted, not some cheap printed look that'll start to wear off in about six flicks of the switch.
Comes with matching black or white screws for your plate.
Perfect stocking stuffer for your gamer.
Have I finally lost it and imagined I've become Steve Jobs?
No – at least, not yet.
Rather, it's a domain name that's mine for the asking should I decide to use it to recruit additional members of my crack research team.
As a rule, I don't actively advertise for help; rather, almost all members of my team made inquiries after being referred here by current or past members.
Fyi: the average time here is about three months.
Burnout usually occurs around that time.
So turnover is high, no question.
The .jobs domain debuts next month and will allow any employer to advertise for help by using their domain or company name followed by ".jobs".
As the .jobs website says, "No documents needed. Your website URL is enough to apply."
$125 a year.
Rubbermaid Cedar Bin
Rubbermaid has added real bits of cedar wood to its tough plastic to create a new storage organism (above).
It looks like the old ones but smells of cedar instead of plastic and your stinky sweats.
They were able to retain the wood's scent without transferring cedar oil to contents stored inside.
At Target now and stores everywhere later this year.
"The Cedar Storage line includes several different sizes and features including 18–31 gallon Roughneck Tote baskets, two Latching Totes, a Wheeled UnderBed Box, and two Stack N'View Totes with a clear top, all under $30."
The reason I'm not sending you to a link where you can buy it at Target is that my crack research team, after over four hours of nonstop work, was unable to come up with one.
Believe me, they'll be hearing about this failure when their 16–hour shift ends. But I digress.
If you want one of these boxes call your nearest Target to see if they actually have them in stock, then go.
Most people make the mistake of going, then calling.
'Man Overboard' — by Tim Binding
This book was reviewed recently in either the Economist or the Financial Times; regardless, I ordered it from amazon U.K. after the rapturous comments of the reviewer.
Just now, as I was seeing if any of the author's other books are available at amazon U.S., did I notice that I could've simply ordered "Man Overboard" there, since it was published in this country on June 3.
Really, though, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference from my end: amazon has so removed the formerly almost insurmountable difficulty of/barriers to buying from the U.K. that when you order and all, it's really pretty much the same.
And as I've noted here before delivery from amazon U.K. seems every bit as fast as from the states.
This remains a mystery to me since in my previous experience buying from other U.K. merchants it seemed like months would elapse before the item arrived.
But enough idle chit–chat.
Commander Lionel Crabb was a highly–decorated British Navy World War II frogman who disappeared under mysterious circumstances during the historic visit of Communist Party leader Nikita Krushchev to London in 1956 aboard his country's then–revolutionary warship, the Ordzhonikidze.
Its capabilities surpassed any ship in the Western world and intelligence agencies were under intense pressure to learn more about it.
Tim Binding has taken what's known of Crabb's extraordinary life and woven a tale full of mystery, philosophical depth and extraordinarily excellent writing, deeply touching at times and hilarious at others.
- From the novel:
On days like this, sitting in front of the long pane of glass, staring to the distant hills, I wonder if it's true, that there was another me before this time began. I feel as if there cannot have been, that I am merely a flaw suspended in a perfect crystal of green, raised up in a world bereft of sense. I am submerged, drowned in the shadow of my own enigma, discordant chants my only companions. I hear a multitude of them calling me, muted sounds of admonishment, Minella singing out across the water, the bell chimes of the Holy ministries, voices that grow clearer as I rise up to break the surface, my ears popping with the hiss of the airlock and the click of the door.
That's how it's done, see. They don't call you in, hand out orders, the way you might imagine. That's not their way. It's not that they don't believe in a rigid hierarchy, the structure of duty. It's just that once you're in, they simply nudge you in the right direction, let you come to the task under your own breath.
Conspiracy is a marvelous thing, the way it hunches the body, lowers the tone. He looked over his shoulder once and laid his elbows on the table. Any moment now, I thought, he'd start pulling at his ear. He loved his work, and when his ginger was up, it showed.
"Don't you read the papers any more?" he said, his voice rising despite himself. "Don't you know what's happening this week?"
"Grace Kelly's getting married."
"And it's not to me."
"I mean in London."
"Got me there, Smithy."
"Bulganin and Khruschev? Their first visit to the West? Ring any bells?"
"Yes, and all of them cracked ones."
"They're coming in on the Ordzhonikidze."
Ah. The Ordzhonikidze. The murky waters were clearing.
I felt a sudden chill wash over me, as if the Thames had just pulled me in and the tide was running fast. I could feel its grip dragging me out to sea, the land slipping through my fingers like dry sand. I wanted to say no, but the words came out wrong.
On the way back cabin life became even more combustible. I jumped ship at Singapore, thinking I might stay and learn the lingo, but it was no good. I was keen but I was also tone deaf. If there's one thing you need when you want to talk turkey to a Chinaman, it's a sense of pitch. Otherwise you'll say something you shouldn't and end up floating down the Yangtze with your throat cut from ear to ear, and quite right too.
I tried other oddities, anything that came to hand. I didn't want a normal job, something in an office, running after bits of paper, wiping my shoes on the back of my trousers for fear of what the boss might think. I wanted something out of the ordinary, something that had no right to work, something ridiculous, or downright dangerous. Wasn't that a bit like the world was anyway, a bit ridiculous, a bit dangerous, a bit bloody marvelous? Isn't that how it is for us? The world all in bits? I could see how the rest of London coped, on trains and buses, sharing the everyday burden, but I couldn't see myself joining in. Not that I thought any the less of them. If anything I thought the less of me. A square peg if ever there was one.
Consider that the above excerpts come from the first 20 pages of the 245–page book and you can see how I would fall in love with it.
But I can't help myself.
- From the website:
Made from high quality satin stainless steel with double wall construction to keep contents at their original temperature.
As you fill them the balance point changes and they straighten up so that you can tell from a distance if they need a top–up.
"In a suitably swish black presentation box."
Each cup measures 3" (7.5cm) in diameter.
$65.47 (£40.49;€58.30) here for two.