May 22, 2015

Chalkboard Table Runner


"... A 25-foot roll of working chalkboard paper that can be used to draw on, write down place settings, label foods, jot down messages, or play games like tic-tac-toe when bored in between courses."


[via The Green Head]

May 22, 2015 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

May 21, 2015

Narita Airport's new terminal 3 is designed around a running track


Last month Tokyo's Narita Airport opened Terminal 3,


a facility designed exclusively to service low cost carriers.

Blue lanes indicate departures


and red lanes are for arrivals.


[via Spoon & Tamago]

May 21, 2015 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 20, 2015

Giant Playing Cards


From the website:


Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 10.31.11 AM

At approximately 10 times the size of standard playing cards, these King Size cards feature the same semi-gloss coating and texture as traditional playing cards.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 10.31.29 AM

Each of the 52 cards (plus 2 jokers) is printed in full color on coated card stock the size of a sheet of letter paper.


Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 10.30.58 AM


May 20, 2015 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 19, 2015

Once upon a time in old Japan: The golden age of soba delivery


Nowadays when we order takeout we open an app, push a few buttons, and 30 minutes later someone shows up on a motorcycle with your food. But in the olden days in Japan it was obviously a bit different. Demae, which literally means 'to go in front of,' is thought to have originated as early as the mid-Edo period in the 1700s.

Above left: "Date is unknown.... Note the symmetry and balance achieved through combining bowls and stackable plates. Above right: in the 1950s there were contests held to see who could deliver the most soba. Pictured here is the winner of such a contest, carrying meals for about 100."

"Demae was primarily reserved for [the] wealthy..., who would send servants to let the shop keepers know that they wanted delivery. Over the years demae evolved into a more mainstream practice. And one of its most popular forms became the delivery of soba noodles, an affordable dish that carried around without losing flavor or appearance."

"Deliverymen developed a skilled technique for stacking towers of soba noodle bowls and then carrying them on a bike to places like universities where they had frequent customers. Astonishingly, some of these photos are from soba shops that are still in business today!"


Above, around 1945, is the second generation owner of Sunabahonten, a soba shop that's still in business (and has been since 1923). The store is located in Tokyo's western suburbs of Mitaka (Gmap).

[Small world: I lived in Mitaka in 1968/69 while attending International Christian University as an Education Abroad program student from U.C.L.A. Among the things I remember vividly is buying a container of hot octopus-stuffed rice balls at the train station to take back to my little apartment for a bedtime snack.]

Pictured below (middle)


is Asamatsu Miyakawa, the owner of the Kakinokizaka Sarashina soba shop in Tokyo (Gmap). The photo was taken in 1939 as Mr. Miyakawa was making a delivery to the Tokyo Metropolitan University.

[via Spoon & Tamago]

May 19, 2015 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

May 18, 2015

Iyashi Octopus Suction Massager — ""


The instant this appeared on my screen I thought "Flautist!"

Now what does that say about her — and me?

Never mind.

From the website:


The Iyashi Octopus Sucker Massage is one of the most unique massage tools we've seen in Japan.

It be turned inside out to massage your feet and hands.

Just slide in your hand and let the "octopus" get to work.

Or you can keep the suckers on the outside and use it to apply a special quasi-acupuncture suction session to your back, neck or other parts of the body.

Iyashi Octopus Sucker Massager

The suckers firmly but painlessly pull on the skin, applying a shiatsu-style massage that helps improve blood circulation and the flow of water in your skin.


Features and Details:

  • Size: around 22 x 12.5 x 14.5cm (8.7 x 4.9 x 5.7")
  • Material: silicone
  • Fully reversible
  • Washable




N.B.: My favorite phrase of 2015 is "quasi-acupuncture suction session."

And you can quote me.

May 18, 2015 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

May 17, 2015

Princess Elizabeth at 16 in 1942


Photograph by Cecil Beaton.

[via History in Pictures]

May 17, 2015 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

May 16, 2015

Nessie Ladle


It's hard to prove a negative, isn't it?



Judge for yourself.

May 16, 2015 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 15, 2015

"Only two per cent of lost cats (including indoor cats) ever make it home"

Photo 3

The headline up top — along with a picture of a cat — was also the boldface headline of an ad that appeared one day last week alongside a New York Times article (not about cats) on my computer.

It got my attention in a big way.

Is it true?

Just two per cent?

Who knows?

Although the number seems awfully low as I think about it.

Nevertheless, it wasn't the two per cent per se that got my complete and undivided attention: rather, it was the possibility that Gray Cat (above and below, pictured around noon today) could slip out an incompletely unclosed door unnoticed in less than a second while I was walking out to get the paper or the mail and then vanish forever.

That scared me.

As I continue to barely manage to do what needs doing each day in this, the second year of (as remarked upon here previously) my fourth episode of major depression (the others occurred in 1977, 1991, and 2001), my take on events both actual and possible has altered markedly from how I reacted when I was well.

Everything is difficult now and every possible negative event seems catastrophic as well as likely, just the opposite of how I would normally deal with and view both actual and hypothetical scenarios.

Photo 2

The result of reading that lost cat headline was that it immediately made me start to think quite obsessively about the fact that a couple years ago, after I'd declared Gray Cat an indoor cat for life after considering the pros and cons for several months (much influenced by feedback from the many cat people among those reading boj), I removed her collar with all its attached identifying information, figuring that since she was always indoors, it was an unnecessary encumbrance that added nothing to the quality of her life and probably annoyed her, though I must say that I couldn't detect any difference in her behavior or mood after I took it off.

A parenthetical note: After bringing her in full time, I couldn't detect any change in her mood or overall demeanor in the days, weeks, and months following the end of her life of freedom in the great world.

That's not to claim such changes didn't happen: all I'm saying is that I couldn't tell.

I didn't, for example, find her hiding under beds or in closets or in the almost invisible little nook above the refrigerator under a kitchen cabinet, or going on a hunger strike or the like in protest.

But I digress.

After about three days of considering that compelling figure of two per cent (!), giving the subject hours of thought, it became obvious to me — self-evident, in fact — that I needed to put Gray Cat's collar back on and keep it on forever, regardless of her indoor status.


I mean, it stands to reason that having my phone number and email address on her collar (yes, she has a chip, implanted shortly after I adopted her from the surrounding neighborhood in 2007 when she was, as I later learned, three years old) should improve the odds of my reuniting with her.

Yes, for those wondering: it is a breakaway collar whose functionality I tested when I bought it by buying a second one for stress testing by me as to the amount of force required for it to break should the collar snag on something, an event far more likely, it seemed to me then and still does now, to occur outside the house than indoors.

The only thing I didn't reckon with was how very unhappy — and willing to demonstrate her dismay — Gray Cat would be being pinned between my kneeling legs as I buckled the old collar in its previous configuration, using the same hole in the collar (sixth from the tip of the part with the holes) as I'd used before.

Even after practicing the act of fastening the collar several times before actually going ahead and putting it on, Gray Cat managed to pry one forepaw free and sink an unclipped, needle-sharp claw about an eighth of an inch deep into the distal pad of my right middle finger as I labored to complete my task.

That hurt.

And it bled like stink.

All fine now, though, and all is now well: her collar is back on since Wednesday of this week and and she hasn't evidenced any overt discomfort or unhappiness with it, and I'm significantly less anxious.

In the end, that's what this was all about, wasn't it?


Photo 4

a photo taken 15 minutes ago of (relatively) newly collared Gray Cat napping atop the treadmill motor housing, invitingly warm when the machine is set at 1.5 mph, my current preferred boj pace, down some from the 2.0 mph I operated at 10 years ago, in boj's early days.

And yes, I am quite aware of the dust accumulations on the treadmill and printer: they are representative of things in general around here, in my current incarnation.

You should see the inside of my microwave!

On second thought, maybe not.

When I'm in my usual state of good mental health, there's no dust to speak of and the microwave is spick-and-span.

Just about now, such things don't really matter at all to me; in fact, I don't even notice them consciously unless someone draws my attention to them.

Lucky for moi, Gray Cat doesn't seem to give a meow about the state of domestic affairs vis-à-vis housekeeping, as long as she gets her daily doses of love, full water and food bowls, and a clean litter box.

That last is something I pay close attention to, fer shur.

May 15, 2015 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (19)

May 5, 2015

Golden Goose Egg Scrambler — "Scramble eggs without breaking the shell"

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 1.43.44 PM

Who'd a thunk?

From the website:


Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 1.43.52 PM

Have you ever enjoyed a scrambled hard-boiled egg? Trust us, you want to.

Take the Golden Goose Egg Scrambler for a spin and serve up a perfectly scrambled egg — without cracking it open! This ingenious device lets you scramble the egg from within its own shell.

To create the flawless "Golden Goose" scramble, place a raw egg in the elastic insert and secure the two sides with the locking ring. Then just wind the nylon cords and pull on the integrated handles to use centrifugal force to scramble the egg.

The locking ring makes sure the egg isn’t going anywhere, while the dishwasher-safe inserts cradle the egg and keep it whole while it scrambles. Within seconds, you'll create a beautiful golden egg you can crack open or boil.

Features and Details:

  • Food-safe and dishwasher-safe inserts
  • Abrasion-resistant cords
  • Locking ring to prevent drops
  • Ergonomic handles
  • Made from lightweight recycled materials


Just the thing for the kitchen tool aficionado who thinks she — or he — has got everything.

Still a tad skeptical? Watch the video.

$19.99 (eggs not included).

May 5, 2015 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

May 4, 2015

The Chemistry of Throat Lozenges


[via Compound Interest]

May 4, 2015 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 3, 2015

Keramikus (Black Ceramic Knives)


From the website:


Keramikus is a family of kitchen knives made of black ceramic and fitted with faceted handles.

The family consists of three knives of various size, shape and purpose: Vegetus for paring, Usubus for slicing and chopping, and Shefus, the chef’s knife.

Black ceramic knives are hardened in furnaces for longer which makes them stronger than white ceramic.

Keramikus knives do not oxidize, rust or disseminate bacteria.

They are safe, easy to care for, and can be cleaned with aggressive detergents.


Set of three: $144.

May 3, 2015 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 2, 2015

The Eight Grades of Hungarian Paprika


From thekitchn


Paprika is considered the national spice of Hungary and it appears in the country's most celebrated dish, goulash. Hungarian paprika is made from peppers that are harvested and then sorted, toasted, and blended to create different varieties.

All Hungarian paprikas have some degree of rich, sweet red pepper flavor, but they range in pungency and heat.

The eight grades of Hungarian paprika are különleges ("special quality"; mild and most vibrant red),csípősmentes csemege (delicate and mild),csemege paprika (similar to the previous but more pungent), csípős csemege (even more pungent), édesnemes ("noble sweet"; slightly pungent and bright red), félédes (semi-sweet with medium pungency), rózsa (mildly pungent and pale red), and erős (hottest and light brown to orange).

In the US, what is marketed as Hungarian sweet paprika is usually the édesnemes ("noble sweet; slightly pungent and bright red") variety.

May 2, 2015 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

May 1, 2015

Tamago-maki Egg Roll Sushi Towel


From the website:


The Tamago-maki Egg Roll Sushi Towel has an original and very "Japanese" design that will make you or your kid the envy of anyone who spots you holding the unique item.

It looks just like a large roll of egg, rice and other fillings, strikingly similar to the kind of dish served at Japanese izakaya.

The hand towel suitable for all ages but young kids in particular will love it, and the towel even has a name tag so you won't lose it.

Still, the design is so special that will doubt anyone will ever confuse it with another yellow towel in the changing room! 

Features and Details:

  • Size: 340 x 340mm (13.4" x 13.4")
  • With name tag
  • 100% cotton



May 1, 2015 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

April 30, 2015

World's 20 Largest Economies in 2030


[via Bruce Sterling]

April 30, 2015 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 29, 2015

Sand Spilling Funnel


From the website:



Create fun sand sculptures at the beach or in a sandbox.


This funnel has one chamber for sand and one chamber for water that combine the two at the tip as droplets of falling wet sand to engineer truly unique sand sculptures."




[via The Green Head]

April 29, 2015 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

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