August 27, 2005
Better hurry 'cause it's going fast, as the Beatles' song went.
An enterprising young man named Jose started the site four months ago: it shows and tells you, with detailed photos and plans, how to make perfectly functional furniture out of free Fedex packaging materials.
Dan Mitchell, in today's New York Times, wrote about the site and noted that Fedex's lawyers are all over poor Jose like a cheap suit, trying to get him to shut it down before they go to court to pound him to a pulp for trademark infringement, etc.
So if you think it might be nice to make your own furniture using his guidance I'd stop reading two paragraphs ago and get over to the site and print out everything because I guarantee you won't be able to do it much longer — if indeed the site is still up at the time you read this.
There are instructions and photos for a couch, dining table, bed, and two desk designs.
Monkeypod Wood Twist Stool
Carved from a single piece of kiln–dried monkeypod wood.
17.5"H x 11"W x 11"D.
Ever tasted them?
Ever seen one?
Not until I saw the photo above, which accompanied Nick Fox's informative article which appeared in this past Wednesday's New York Times Dining section, had I any idea what a fresh date looked like.
Fox wrote that the fruit is crunchy and juicy like an apple but sweet as honey and tastes just like a date.
Here's the article.
- An Old Friend Without the Wrinkles
They have the crunch and juiciness of a Granny Smith apple, but they can be as sweet as honey.
Hard, yellow and hanging from a withered stem, they don't look like any fruit that most Americans have seen.
But the taste is familiar, just like a date.
And that's what they are: dates, fresh off the tree, unlike the brown, soft, dried ones that are widely sold.
Their two- to three-month season is just beginning.
Hard yellow dates are loved by millions in the Middle East, But Ben Laflin, 83, said he also enjoyed them as a boy on his family's date farm in the Coachella Valley of California.
He began developing a market for the yellow dates after he offered some to Tadros Tadros, a friend and an Egyptian date farmer.
"I said 'It's beautiful,' " Mr. Tadros recalled.
"He said, 'Are you sure? Because for us, it's considered not ripe.' I said, 'There are a lot of ethnic people who love to have the fruit in that stage.'"
In the 15 or 20 years since the two men began selling them, fresh dates have remained obscure.
Only one variety grown commercially in the United States - Barhi - can be eaten fresh.
Of the 6,000 acres of date trees in the Coachella Valley, the center of the nation's date industry, only 40 are planted with Barhis, said Sam Aslan, an Agriculture Department conservationist in Indio, Calif.
The two major date varieties, Medjools and Deglet Noors, are full of tannins and must mellow with age before they can be eaten.
Even in the Barhis, a stem can have both sugary jewels - usually the deepest yellow, with a spot of brown - that will make you smack your lips, and others that will make you pucker up.
"I spend a lot of time talking to people who've never tried them before," said Robert Lower of Thermal, Calif., who sells fresh dates at farmers' markets.
"They usually like them, but they're an acquired taste."
While the astringency can be satisfying to Middle Eastern palates, Rawia Bishara, a native of Nazareth who owns the restaurant Tanoreen in Brooklyn, sweetens fresh dates.
She pits them, fills them with almonds and steeps them in a rosewater bath. (Most stores that sell the dates will have the ingredients.)
In the Arabic nomenclature used by date farmers in the United States, these dates are "khalal," the second of four main stages of datehood.
They come after the green "kimri" stage and just before the soft, gooey "rutab" stage.
Almost all the dates sold here are in the final stage, called "tamar," when they are firm and dark.
Over the past few years, more markets have been carrying khalal dates.
"When we first got them, people would say, 'What are these things?' " said Charlie Sahadi, the owner of Sahadi's, a Middle Eastern market in Brooklyn.
"Now it's no longer an ethnic item. It's a mainstream item."
For the next month, they will be available from the Jewel Date Company in Thermal, (760) 399-4474, for $4 per pound plus shipping; and Tadros Tadros, Palm Desert, Calif., (760) 564-3387. Call for price.
Ceiling Fan Blade Brush
I don't know how I've managed all these years without one.
Probably because I don't have a ceiling fan. But I digress.
And besides, you might very well have one — or more.
So enough of the snarkiness: let's cut to the chase, shall we?
From the website:
- Remove Dust and Allergens From Ceiling Fans
This vacuum attachment brush holds blades in place as it cleans the top and sides, sucking up dust rather than sweeping it onto your floor.
Includes swivel adapter and universal connector.
$9.95 here. (Ceiling fan — and somewhat less–than–ecstatic–looking lady pictured above demonstrating the device — not included.)
Note: though the website makes no mention of it, I strongly recommend that you turn the ceiling fan off before using this device.
I cannot be responsible for what happens if you don't.
Though I must say that if your fan was installed really well, it might turn into a great home amusement park–type ride that you could sell tickets for — Wheeeee!
André Carrilho — World's Greatest Caricaturist
I first (knowingly) happened on his work while reading this past Sunday's New York Times Book Review.
There, illustrating a book review, was a black–and–white drawing — about 3" x 5" — of Donald Trump, Martin Scorcese and Ricky Jay.
I stared at it for a while in wonder.
It was clearly those three men, yet they were rendered with such flair and fluidity I simply found it hard to believe what I was looking at.
The name at the bottom of the cartoon, in teeny–tiny type, was "André Carrilho."
I googled him and first up was his own website.
It's a nice introduction to the work of this 31–year–old Portuguese master of line, shape and form.
A few drawings (from his website) appear above.
It started innocently enough, with the weird extension cord.
Our attention was drawn by the bizarro shower head.
And now a third strange form of apparently inanimate matter emerges, this time in the kitchen in the form of a two–headed spatula.
Sure, they style it as "The Grabber" and say it's for picking up food.
We know better.
From the website:
- For All The Control You Need
Double spatula heads are tension–spring held and activated by thumb control to securely grasp hold of foods.
The 6" x 2" angled spatula heads have wire construction, allowing fats and liquids to drain off.
All stainless steel construction.
This is sure to be a "most–reached for" tool in your kitchen.
$29.99 here. (Asparagus not included.)
We will not harm you.
Resistance... well, you know the drill.
of colors from Flickr."
I like shiny things
and bright colors.
LEGO Alarm Clock
Would getting up in the morning be easier if you made your own alarm clock?
I mean, you know the old phrase, "You made your bed, now lie in it"; well, you made your alarm clock so get up.
From the website:
- This colorful clock makes a great addition to kids' rooms.
Plus with LEGO building plates on the top and bottom you can build clocks right into your LEGO creations.
Features include alarm, night light and Max and Tina mini–figures.
Hey — throw in Max and Tina and you got me.
Recommended for ages 5+ (but they do not require proof of age to make a purchase so go ahead — it's cool).