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October 23, 2004

'Veg Out - Vegetarian Guide to Washington, D.C.'

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This new book by Andrew Evans is selling fast: I just purchased the last one in stock at amazon (but don't worry, they're getting more).

It's a slender, $12.95 volume ($10.36 at amazon) which surveys 145 D.C. area restaurants, most not strictly vegetarian or vegan but incorporating such offerings into their menus.

The author is a travel writer/vegetarian who lives in metro Washington.

The book includes a fold-out map.

The anonymous Washington Post Food section review noted that the author's assessments are "indiscriminately glowing," so perhaps the book is best used as a geographic aid rather than an informed source re: quality.

October 23, 2004 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

World's best - and cheapest - drain opener: Zip-It

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I learned of this wonderful device via Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools.

It's elegantly simple: a slender 20"-long piece of thin white plastic with sharp little barbs running up the sides.

After your sink or shower or tub starts draining slowly or not at all, and after [before, in my case, now] multiple applications of industrial-strength Liquid Plumber or Drano, you take this nifty little thing and simply push it down the drain to the hilt.

The inventor made the end you hold large enough not to slip down the drain.

Then you slowly pull the Zip-It out, trying not to barf when you see the horrible stuff that's draped all over the barbs.

"Eeewww," is what I said the first time I used it (quite successfully, I might add) to clear a recalcitrant drain.

If you've got a really weak stomach, you might want to ask a friend to do this for you.

In fact, it might be an excellent way to find out who your real friends are.

$2.69 here.

The instructions on the back of the packaging say "Throw away after each use," but I can't see why you'd necessarily have to do that: the thing looks tough enough to last forever.

I suppose they want to be off the hook - so to speak - if you cut yourself on one of the sharp barbs while cleaning it, and the wound subsequently gets infected, gangrenous, and you lose the extremity.

They can say, "Hey, we warned you not to do that."

And they can, for all the good it'll do 'em: the instructions do say, "DO NOT attempt to clean - sharp edges could cause injury."

Zip-It's also "Nontoxic and environmentally safe."

Made in the good ol' U.S. of A.

Guess for some reason they didn't see the need to farm this one out to the Third World.

October 23, 2004 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: What's in your water?

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Who knew that there was an Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (OGWDW) tucked away in the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)?

And that the website offers you a free report on your water quality if your home is served by a public water system (i.e., if you don't use a well)?

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the agency is required to tell you:

• What contaminants have been found in your water

• What the level of each contaminant is

After you've read your report, you may want to go further, and test for things not measured by the EPA.

If so, you need to find a state-certified laboratory.

Depending on how many contaminants you want to test for, count on paying from $15 to many hundreds of dollars for detailed results.

October 23, 2004 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

World's highest resolution global air pollution map

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It's just been created by European scientists using satellite pictures from space.

The map highlights areas with a high concentration of nitrogen dioxide, and displays a picture averaging out 18 months of data to take account of seasonal variations.

The European Space Agency provided the data and published the map on its excellent website, which is full of interesting things.

October 23, 2004 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Ballerina autobiographies - riveting reading

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I've read the five I know of, and enjoyed each and every one immensely.

If a ballet dancer is famous enough to have her autobiography published, you can be sure she is an extraordinary woman.

No one gets to the apex of this profession without an insane rage to dance, and all that accompanies insanity: tidal-strength emotions, erratic, often psychotic-like behavior, and fierce passions given and received.

"Winter Season" by Toni Bentley (below)

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is the one I just finished, as a result of learning of its existence amidst the huge brouhaha over her controversial new book, "The Surrender."

Because bookofjoe Version 2.0 is now G-rated/Disney approved/SFW, I will refer you to Charles McGrath's October 15 New York Times review of "The Surrender." But I digress.

Other wonderful accounts of a great dancer's life include Allegra Kent's

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"Once a Dancer"

and

Gelsey Kirkland's

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"Dancing On My Grave."

An interesting thing the three preceding books have in common: they all describe the absolutely overwhelming, intense affairs of their authors with Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Ah, but he cut quite a swath back in the day....

Then there's Suzanne Farrell's wonderful

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"Holding on to the Air," written with the aforementioned Toni Bentley, and - best of all in my opinion - one you've probably never heard of.

It's Joan Brady's 1982 memoir, "The Unmaking of a Dancer."

Long out of print but available used at amazon, this book, the first of its genre, is superbly written and heartbreakingly evocative.

The author would go on to become a very renowned writer, winner of the 1993 Whitbread Award for Book of the Year for her novel "Theory of War."

October 23, 2004 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FoundItemClothing.com: 'Real Genius' T-shirts

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From the website:
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After a recent viewing of "Real Genius" I was compelled to own an

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"I Love Toxic Waste" t-shirt.

However, my search for the perfect shirt was extremely frustrating.

Unable to find a decent replica of the shirt, I decided to make my own.

With the help of some talented friends, I reproduced the t-shirt with the accuracy and quality that I wanted.

During the course of the project, my appreciation for Val's

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other

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t-shirts grew as well.

I realized that if I was going to recreate one shirt

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I might as well make them all (or at least those worth remaking).

Every aspect of the original shirts has been studied and recreated with great fidelity.

In my search for the right shirt, I was surprised by the number of other people looking for the shirts.

So, founditemclothing.com was born, with the goal of making the shirts available to all.
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Well.

It appears this guy's done all the heavy lifting; all you gotta do is fork over your $18.95.

October 23, 2004 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Job - 'A classic existentialist hero'

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Louis de Berniéres, in his introduction to The Book of Job.

The great British novelist is among the leading writers and thinkers who've been specially commissioned to write introductions to various volumes of The Pocket Canon, a series of slender, pocket-sized books encompassing categories as diverse as history, fiction, philosophy, love poetry, and law.

They're published in the UK and sell for 1£, and you can order them from amazon uk.

More from de Berniéres:
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Job's comforters are possibly the most irritating characters in all of literature, and Job more than once tells them they are completely intolerable.

Elihu is the most annoying of them all, and ... says nothing interesting or original, in the manner of sententious bores the world over.

That phrase about "the patience of Job" could not be further from the mark. Job is ... exasperated by his comforters, reduced to abject misery by his afflictions, and disillusioned and furious with God.

"The defiance of Job" would have been a far more apposite figure of speech to have passed into the language.

Job's despair is so well depicted that we get a distinct and lasting impression of his character, the most notable feature of which is his absolute refusal to disengage his intelligence, be a hypocrite, or give up his case.

This makes Job a very modern figure (in literature if not in real life), one who asserts his individuality and integrity in the face of all conventional wisdom or arbitrary power.

He is, in other words, a classic existentialist hero.

In the modern age in the West there has been a great falling off of religious faith, because although Jesus Christ and a deluge of sophistical theology did much to improve God's image for a few centuries, Job is still winning the argument, and "The Book of Job" is still insidiously subversive.

October 23, 2004 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Universal Design Family Workshop at the Japan Society - 1 P.M. Today

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Sorry for the short notice, but this appeared in tiny print following a brief item buried in yesterday's New York Times.

The Japan Society of New York, in conjunction with the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, has been presenting a series of events as part of its "Universal Design: Design for All People" symposium.

The symposium explores the growing movement to create objects that are simple to use, regardless of age or ability.

Today's event, from 1 to 3 p.m., focuses on the theme that design should be accessible to everyone.

To that end, it's a family workshop, free for kids ages 5-10 and $10 for adults.

The Japan Society's program officer, Ryohei Yamamoto, said, "Most design is for 35-year-old right-handed men. Why can't a person with disabled hands open a bottle?"

The workshop will be led by Satoshi Nakagawa, founder of Tripod Design, a Japanese company.

From the Times:
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He will lead exercises - for instance, trying to open a bottle of water with gloved hands or trying to tear a candy wrapper after using hand lotion - to help children see the problems that universal design tries to solve.

After a discussion, each child will take home a Handy Birdy pen, a Tripod ballpoint (it resembles a sculptured penguin) designed so that the weakest hands can grip it.
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Reservations are required: phone 212-752-3015.

The Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street in Manhattan.

October 23, 2004 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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