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September 11, 2004

Camper's Dream Ice Cream Maker


You load ice and rock salt in one end of the blue plastic globe, and ice cream ingredients - cream, sugar, and flavorings - in the other.

You play with the ball, rolling it around for 20 minutes.

Voila, a pint of delicious ice cream.

Perfect for the backyard, the beach, or wherever.

$24.95 here.

September 11, 2004 at 09:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack



This website, though burdened with an unwieldy name, has much of interest within it.

For example: "Jennifer King and Timothy Fredel, the founders of the site, over a twelve-month period personally visited over 1,000 San Francisco hotels, restaurants, cafes, entertainment houses, shops, and service providers."

They then created a series of 12 illustrated individual neighborhood guides,


focusing on only those establishments that fit the "rugged elegant" aesthetic.

The guides:

Cow Hollow
Hayes Valley & The Civic Center
Jackson Square
Noe Valley
North Beach
Pacific Heights
Presidio Heights
Russian Hill
The Financial District
The Marina
The Theatre District & Nob Hill
Union Square
plus The Hidden Treasures of San Francisco


If nothing else, the guides' color palette will make a pleasant display.

September 11, 2004 at 07:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Luis Barragan, architect of solitude


Louis Kahn and Tadao Ando have cited Barragan's minimalist style as a great influence on their work.

His 1948 home in Mexico City, visited by 10,000 people a year (that's only 40/working day, so you won't be rushed or jostled), has just been placed on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites, the only Latin American addition to this master roster of the world's most important and beautiful places.

Barragan's home is one of only a dozen or so 20th century sites on the list.

Barragan, born in Guadalajara in 1902, trained in engineering and never formerly studied architecture.

His home's facade has no color, and is deceptively simple from the outside, only revealing its beauty and tranquillity when entered.


No Barragan building exists outside Mexico.

He won architecture's highest award, the Pritzker Prize, in 1980.

Barragan said, in his acceptance speech, "It is alarming that publications have devoted to architecture have banished from their pages the words beauty, inspiration, magic, spellbound, enchantment, as well as the concepts of serenity, silence, intimacy and amazement."

"All these have nestled in my soul, and thought I am fully aware that have not done them complete justice in my work, they have never ceased to be my guiding lights."

Once past the concrete facade and inside his two-story brick home, Barragan's words begin to sink in.

The spacious rooms have high, wood-beamed ceilings, stairs with no support structure or handrails, floors of black volcanic rock, large windows and the occasional brightly painted wall.


Abstract paintings as well as sculptures and paintings of horses are scattered throughout the house.

A large metallic ball reflects passers-by as they go up the stairs to Barragan's bedroom.

The dominant image in the simple room is a large figure of Jesus Christ, which hangs over his small bed.

The garden is filled with trees and vines that spill over onto the pink and orange roof terrace.

At the side of the house is a secluded patio featuring a fountain, a small pool of water, and large, empty terra-cotta pots.

The 5,200-square-foot, four-bedroom house was restored after Barragan's death in 1988 and was opened to the public in 1994.


The trust, which owns the home, spends $26,000 annually to maintain the structure, whose furnishings and decor are arranged just as the architect left them.

UNESCO's recognition of Barragan's house will not only urge restoration of the few remaining houses, apartments and public monuments that he designed, but it will serve as a launching point for preserving modern architecture in Mexico in general, Morales said.


''This will allow us to figure out what we need to defend in the future, the day-to-day architecture, a lot of which is high quality but gets destroyed for lack of knowledge,'' Morales said.

[via Fiona Smith and the Associated Press; courtesy www.barragan-foundation.org; images © Barragan Foundation, Switzerland/ProLitteris, Zurich, Switzerland]

September 11, 2004 at 06:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The best chocolates in the U.S.


They're made by Larry Burdick, up in Walpole, New Hampshire.

He started in a tiny kitchen off an alley in New York City in 1987.

I know, because I visited him there in the early 90s - absolutely fascinating.

He's a quiet, soft-spoken man with a fierce passion for excellence in chocolate.

He trained for many years under world-class chocolatiers before setting out on his own.

He's obsessive about his work, both the quality of his ingredients and the precision and crafting of his artisanal products.

I happened to see his ad in the current (September 13) issue of the New Yorker, and I was delighted.


Because a one-column, two-inch ad like his costs about $5,000.

So he must be doing well enough to afford to target his real audience.

He also has a store in Cambridge near Harvard, where I always stop when I'm in Boston.

His website is as nicely done as everything he touches.

His signature chocolate mice


were for years given to patrons at the end of a meal at one of New York's 4-Star restaurants.

Here's how good his chocolates are: when I receive mine, I hide them, so no one else knows I have them and I therefore can eat each and every one.

September 11, 2004 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: A 'Flicker of Hope' for the burned


Each year, 30,000 American children receive massive burn injuries affecting more than 70% of their body surface.

Disfigurement and physical impairment subsequently create great challenges (many children survive such massive burns, unlike adults - the seat-of-the-pants formula used in the Burn Unit is: % of body surface area burned + age in years = likelihood, in %, of death).

The isolation that follows, along with social difficulties and destroyed self-esteem, is hard to overstate.

Flicker of Hope Foundation is an Alexandria, Virginia-based support group aimed at helping children and adults with burn injuries.

Its founder, Dave Borowski, was severely burned in a fire at age 6 weeks.

He started the group last year; since then, many otherwise isolated individuals have found it life-saving, a way back into the world.

The group helps participants overcome their self-consciousness with both peers and strangers.

Meetings are open to family and friends, and the group also raises money for scholarships for burn survivors.

Borowski said that the group affords members "a chance to talk about dating. It's hard for everybody, but especially for those who have sustained burn injuries. But it will happen."

The group meets the second Wednesday of every month.

To register or learn more, call 703-698-1626, or email info@flickerofhope.org, or visit the website.

"He who saves one life, saves the world." - Maimonides

September 11, 2004 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Extreme Ironing


This new sport began in 1997, when Phil "Steam" Shaw of Leicester, England, decided to take his ironing into his garden and told his roommate, "I'm extreme ironing."

The picture above shows extreme ironists pressing a shirt atop a kayak.

The new sport, like Jeff Bezos' Amazon.com, has gotten big fast: the first Extreme Ironing World Championship was held in Germany in 2002.


Visit the website to keep up with pressing new developments.

Here's Liz Seymour's story from yesterday's Washington Post.

Iron(ing) Men

Here's a sport that didn't make the roster at the Olympics: extreme ironing.

It started about seven years ago when Leicester, England resident Phil "Steam" Shaw came home from work and wanted to go rock climbing, but found a pile of laundry that needed to be pressed.

He took his ironing board, iron and a long extension cord into his garden and told his roommate: "I'm extreme ironing," according to media accounts.

Extreme ironists have pressed shirts atop Mount Everest, while riding a bicycle or kayaking in the Atlantic Ocean.

The first Extreme Ironing World Championship was held in Germany in 2002.

On the Web site, www.extremeironing.com, which says it has received more than 1.2 million hits, newcomers to the sport are warned to be careful.

"Budding extreme ironists are advised to start ironing in the safety of their back garden before progressing to mountainsides, woods or public places."

September 11, 2004 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'A first impression is a lasting impression'


People decide what kind of relationship they want with a new acquaintance within the first 10 minutes of their meeting, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

So the old saying, "A first impression is a lasting impression," holds up after all.

No wonder speed-dating is so popular: people intuitively know this old cliche to be true.

September 11, 2004 at 06:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799) - anodyne for turbulence


Why is it that we are able at times resolutely to banish a secret sorrow - since the idea that we are protected by a most benevolent Providence affects us so strongly - and yet we almost succumb, within the next half hour, to this same sorrow?

That's the way things are with me, at least. But I couldn't say that I regard my sorrow from a different point of view the second time, or see it in a different context - by no means.

If this were what took place, I would not even have jotted down this observation.

Rather, I believe that the moral sensitivity of man is different at various times, stronger in the morning than in the evening.


To seek on the grand scale everything that one observes on the small, and vice versa.

For instance, everything the child says and does, the man will almost certainly do in other matters in which he is and remains a child; for, after all, we're only children a few years older.

To be sure, we no longer hit the table which we bump against; yet we've invented, for other but similar bumps, the word "fate" and have learned to blame it.


How much depends on the way things are presented in this world can be seen from the very fact that coffee drunk out of wine glasses is really miserable stuff, as is meat cut at the table with a pair of scissors.

Worst of all, as I once actually saw, is butter spread on a piece of bread with an old though very clean razor.


Lichtenberg's aphorisms, collected in a volume called "The Waste Books" (above), have to be among the top three investments one could make for $10.36.

September 11, 2004 at 03:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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