November 07, 2007
Mona Lisa Makeover
Lawrence Van Gelder's "Arts, Briefly" column in the October 23, 2007 New York Times brought the news that once upon a time Da Vinci's iconic figure had eyebrows and eyelashes, unlike her present visage.
Here's the Times report.
- The Mona Lisa’s Digital Makeover
Once upon a time, Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” had eyebrows and lashes. Two fingers on her left hand were in a different position. Her face was wider and more expressive. She held a blanket that is barely visible today. So says the Parisian engineer Pascal Cotte, who maintains that his highly detailed digital scans of this 16th-century portrait of a Florentine merchant’s wife allowed him to burrow through layers of paint to “see” its past, The Associated Press reported. Mr. Cotte, 49, estimated that he had spent 3,000 hours analyzing data from scans he made in the Louvre’s laboratory three years ago. He said his analyses also revealed the painting’s colors as they looked on the easel, before age, varnish and restorations affected them. Although some art historians have expressed skepticism about Mr. Cotte’s findings, he said he hoped his technique could guide restoration work around the world. “To communicate our cultural heritage to our kids, we need to provide the maximum of information,” he said.
The Associated Press story cited above is here.
Much more here on Cotte's website.
NetRunner — 'Exercise while working or surfing the net'
Hey, that sounds interesting.
Just in (at 1:25:41 p.m. EST, if you must know), the following:
Do you feel like you don’t have enough time to exercise and get all of your work done?
Would you like to be able to surf the internet, watch a movie, and exercise at the same time?
Well, now you can with the NetRunner [top].
What is the NetRunner?
The NetRunner is a new, innovative laptop holder for your treadmill. If you like to surf the web, watch a movie, or need to work but don’t have time to exercise, than you’re in luck. You can do all of that and EXERCISE at the same time with the NetRunner. Simply strap your laptop to the console of your treadmill using the NetRunner. It takes less than 30 seconds to set up! You can now work, surf the internet or watch movies, and walk your way to better health every day.
Why would I use the NetRunner?
It's simple! the NetRunner is for busy people who want to:
• Save time by combining activities
• Live a healthier lifestyle
• Lose weight
You can walk or run while using the NetRunner. By allowing you to combine exercise and work, there is NO EXCUSE to skip your workout!
Will the NetRunner fit my equipment exercise?
The NetRunner can be adjusted to fit virtually any exercise machine that has a console such as a treadmill. You can adjust it to fit almost any laptop or portable DVD player. What do you have to lose (other than your waistline)?
Does Steelcase know about this?
I saw the ad below in this past Sunday's New York Times Styles section.
You can see the bag on the Prada website (top and below)
if you've got a lot of time to unearth it.
It's buried in the Fall/Winter 2007 Collection, where it's number five of 22 items in Women's Accessories.
I guess it's all show and no tell for Prada 'cause there's not a clue about how or where you can buy one.
But perhaps their philosophy is that if you don't already know things like that, you really shouldn't be carrying one.
Anyway, you know my crack research team isn't going to accept that for an answer.
They've spent the past couple days digging deep
in finding the bag in Orange:
Pop-Up Make-Up Brush Set
Useful in confined spaces.
From the website:
- Pop-Up Brush Set
Must-have makeup brushes stay protected in your vanity or purse
Make-up artists know that good brushes make the make-up, no matter what make-up you use.
This set is everything you need... and it travels and stores like a dream.
Open the protective rigid case and up pop brushes for eyeliner, lips, shadows and blush — nine in all.
They stand ready, making it easy to choose the right one.
The creation of an actress and former makeup artist, this brush set contains the quality brushes essential for makeup application.
The natural hair bristles are the highest quality sable and can be cleaned with mild shampoo for years of use.
Ideal for travel or everyday.
Case closes to 3" x 5" x1".
Would you pay $6,000 a pound for one of these?
Long story short: Large white truffles the size of a baseball are selling for $4,000 a pound wholesale and up to $6,000 a pound retail — "... if they can be found."
Here's the article.
- An Elusive Treasure Becomes Rarer Still
There are never enough white truffles. Their rarity and their seductive, earthy aroma help drive epicures wild.
But as the white truffle season starts this year in northern Italy and Croatia, some people in the business say they have never seen such scarcity. They fear it may be a sign of what’s to come.
Last year at this time, said Paulo Lima, export manager of Appennino Funghi e Tartufi outside Bologna, his company was shipping 35 kilograms (77 pounds) of white truffles every week. This year he’s been unable to ship more than a kilogram (2.2 pounds) a week. He said wholesalers are paying $4,000 a pound in the United States, where the weak dollar makes imported delicacies even more expensive.
Joe Bastianich, a partner in Del Posto, Babbo and other New York restaurants, said large truffles, the size of baseball, are selling for as much as $6,000 a pound, if they can be found.
“Basically what it means is we won’t make any money on them, because I can’t charge more than $10 to $12 a gram,” he said.
A serving of truffle is often five or six grams.
One reason for the scarcity is the weather. Since early spring, little rain has fallen in the heart of truffle country in Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, the Marche and here in Tuscany. The summer was unusually hot, parching the earth.
“It’s not that we’re not finding truffles; we are,” Mr. Lima said. “But they’re as small as raisins. They’re around, but they didn’t grow.”
A lack of snow last winter had an even more damaging effect, said Rengenier Rittersma, a Dutch researcher at the European University Institute in Florence, and a leading truffle authority. Snow penetrates slowly into the subsoil, providing the humidity essential for truffle growth.
But the weather could not be wholly to blame, many feel. Dr. Rittersma says he thinks overharvesting is taking place, a reason for long-term concern.
“There are too many cavatori,” he said, using the Italian word for truffle hunter, “and they search for truffles all year long.”
After the white truffle season, which ends around Christmas, hunters, enticed by ever higher demand and prices, have been searching for black truffles and, later, for summer truffles.
While truffle hunters need to pass a test from the forestry service to get a license, the test involves mostly scientific information. New hunters, enticed by stories of buried treasure in the woods, go digging without being taught how to protect the terrain, knowledge that old-timers have.
“The terrain, then, is constantly being disturbed,” Dr. Rittersma said, “and the truffle mycelium” — the underlying structure that supports truffle growth — “has no time to rest, no recovery period. The truffle is a very fragile plant in a fragile environment, and once the environment is destroyed, it doesn’t return.”
In some areas, the truffles’ environment is being completely destroyed. Dr. Rittersma said that in northwest Piedmont, vineyards are replacing much of the woodland, because of the growing demand for Barolo and other wines.
“So all the different oaks and hazelnut trees, in whose root systems the truffles are hidden, have been cut down,” he said. “And vineyards have been planted even on north-facing slopes. It’s the funeral of the truffle.”
Alessandro Bonino, export manager of Tartufi Morra, one of Alba’s oldest and most respected firms, could not remember a worse harvest than this year’s. “But I’m still young,” said Mr. Bonino, who is 39. He recalled 2003, another year of high temperatures. “We had very few white truffles, but more than we have now,” he said.
One hope may lie in an area that truffle lovers, especially Italian ones, once laughed at: Croatia, whose truffles are now considered by many to be on par with Italy’s. Croatia’s harvest is not quite as bad as Italy’s.
“The climate is not that different,” said Mr. Lima, who recently visited there, “but they have truffles.”
And these days, no matter what the price, there are people who will pay.
“All of a sudden there’s Russia, Dubai, Vegas,” Mr. Bastianich said. “It’s pinching the global demand. Now everyone is rich, and everyone wants to eat truffles, and they don’t care what it costs.”
But perhaps you're not in the market for a baseball-size white truffle.
I can see how that could be the case.
Well, you came to the right place.
I've discovered two ways to get a cheap truffle thrill in the privacy of your own home:
• Black Truffle Butter — $4.99 for a 3 ounce container.
Note that these products are highly perishable and begin to deteriorate the moment you open them.
Invite your friends and family over and enjoy them ASAP.
Fairshare Fountain Self-Filling Champagne Glasses — by Zoë Stanton
Aren't they wonderful?
From the website:
The Fairshare Fountain evenly shares a bottle of champagne between up to six people causing a celebratory spectacle.
The set of six flutes are hand blown Pyrex glass.
Made to order.
[via Christine Muhlke and the New York Times]
Keegy.com — 'A hybrid mashup web application that generates the edition through robots that learn from anonymous user interaction'
I happened on it when I saw in my statistics that visitors were arriving from there.
You could look it up.
Tec Touch Gloves — 'It's the nubs'
From the website:
- Tec Touch Gloves
Control your electronics while wearing these high tech gloves.
Controlling your iPod or mobile phone is almost impossible while wearing most winter gloves.
Now you can stay cozy and in control with Tec Touch Gloves.
The tips of the thumb and index fingers have a special rubber nub that makes it easy to hit phone numbers or rotate a clickwheel.
Zoned construction provides optimal dexterity and insulation.
The glove shell is 100% nylon for durability, while the insulating liner is 45% nylon, 50% polyester and 5% spandex for comfort.
Here's a video demonstrating their use.
I wonder if they play well with the iPhone.
Black or Brown.