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February 26, 2005

Flash + Chill = USB Fan Card Reader


For $49 you get this totally cool, flash device which provides ventilation + information.

What more could anyone ask?

• Fan wind speed and angles are adjustable


• USB 2.0 port with USB 1.1 interchangeability

• Accepts CF/MD/SM/MS/SD/MMC/MS-PRO cards

• Windows and Mac compatible


Too cool.

February 26, 2005 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"What is often mistermed as plagiarism is more precisely 'talent.'" — R. Buckminster Fuller


I stumbled upon this provocative statement just now.

The rest of Fuller's thought: "'Plagiarism' is an ethical off-shoot label of the false property illusion described in our phantom captain chapter."

The above statements are from his first published book (1938), "Nine Chains to the Moon."


The first chapter of that first book is one sentence long — but, as I recall, many years after first reading it, that one sentence is ten pages long.

And yet the sentence/chapter is perfectly clear, understandable and logical, and reads beautifully.

So much so that I just went to Amazon to buy another copy of the book (I've read and given away three or four over the years) so that I can reread that sentence.

In it, Fuller (top) provides the best description of the wonder and mystery of consciousness I've yet encountered.

February 26, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Guinness Shoe


I guess there's no limit to where product placement can go.

Above, a stylish shoe from British designer Vivienne Westwood's Spring-Summer 2005 collection.

February 26, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Why do bags form below our eyes?


It's a question I've had since forever, so I figure there may be others who've also wondered.

Below, Dr. Rhoda S. Nairns, clinical professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine and president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, gives the most complete, understandable and logical answer I've ever come across.

It appeared in the February 2005 issue of Scientific American, in their "Ask the Experts" feature.

Dr. Nairns omitted two things that perhaps she takes for granted you'd be aware of.

I, on the other hand, know that one should take nothing for granted insofar as it involves joeheads.

Let me note the two most important things you can do to mitigate the severity of dark circles and bags under your eyes:

1) Avoid sunlight to the face. It destroys skin, rendering it prematurely old and inelastic.

2) Avoid cigarettes. The constituents of cigarette smoke age blood vessels prematurely, destroying the microcirculation. When subcutaneous tissues don't get blood, they also stop receiving oxygen and die. Dead connective tissue sags.

Without further ado, here's what the dermatologist had to say.

    Dark circles and bags under the eye occur for several reasons: the skin there is much thinner than it is elsewhere on the body and becomes looser as we age.

    This very thin skin also sits on top of underlying purple muscle and blood vessels and therefore appears darker.

    In addition, some people have hereditary pigmentation in this area.

    As we age, fat comes out of the space enclosed by the eye socket, called the orbit, and forms a puffy area under the eye.

    This fatty tissue can fill with water, making the hollow appear even deeper.

    The condition becomes even more noticeable when water is retained in the fat pad, which can occur for a variety of reasons, including eating too much salt, lying flat in bed, not getting enough sleep, allergies and monthly hormonal changes.

    Treating the hollow space under the eye is straightforward and can be done by injecting a filler such as Restylane.

    Immediately after this procedure, the so-called tear trough is softened, and any visible pigmentation becomes noticeably lightened.

    A carbon dioxide (CO2) laser also can be used to resurface the skin, which tightens and thickens it as well as lightening the coloring.

    For hereditary pigmentation, CO2 laser resurfacing and bleaching creams are sometimes helpful.

    As an option, a surgeon can perform blepharoplasty to fix the fat pad under the eye.

    Simple, nonsurgical measures to reduce the puffiness and darkness of under-eye circles include avoiding salt, using cold compresses on the eyes, getting enough sleep, treating allergies, as well as sleeping with your noggin higher by resting it on two pillows or raising the head of the bed.

February 26, 2005 at 01:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Universal Lid — 'A lid for every pot'


That's an old Jamaican saying about how there's a match for every person, no matter how seemingly outlandish she/he may be.

So don't give up hope.

But we're here to talk about pot lids.

I mean, the kitchen kind: what you think, anyhow?

You know the sign on the wall in the anesthesia storeroom?

It reads, "Say No To Drugs!"

That's our policy.

Now, where was I? Oh, yeah, this nice invention.

The Universal Lid (above) is a stainless-steel top with a glass inset so you can see what's going on in your saucepan or frying pan without lifting the lid.

Comes in two sizes: the small one (10.25" diameter) fits 7.75" to 9.5" pots, and costs $14.99; the large one (13" diameter) fits pots 9.5" to 12" and costs $17.99.

Dishwasher safe.

Well, my crack research team was feeling really good about this item, very impressed with themselves.

Me, the more I looked at it, the more one thing bothered me: that metal knob in the center looked like it would get really hot, and it obscured the view down inside the pot.

Besides which, to lift it you'd have to expose your forearm to heat and hot oil spatters exploding out the side.

So I said to the team, stop celebrating, party's over.

Go back into the virtual world and bring back a better version.

Hours later, looking beaten and frazzled, they slumped out of the computer room with the one below.


Nicely done.

Sure, it costs a bit more ($24 here), but consider: it's got a heat-resistant handle off to the side so you don't get burned, thus opening up an unobstructed vista in the center.

Bonus: it's 13" across and meant for pots and pans 8" to 12" in diameter, so one lid does it all.

Stainless-steel, with a tempered-glass dome and concentric rings that fit snugly over your pots.

OK, OK: take the rest of the night off.

February 26, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Art of Perfume


Anastasia Brozler (above) is the 38-year-old founder/owner of Creative Perfumers, a haute couture perfume company she started in 1999.

Born in Vienna in 1966, Brozler previously was head of perfume marketing in Europe for L'Oreál and Estée Lauder.

Michael Clerizo interviewed her for the February 19 Financial Times and explored with this artist of scent the underpinnings of her world view and ordering of things.

I found the story most interesting, not least because of Brozler's extended soliloquy about Doogle, her teddy bear and most treasured possession.

I have found that many women in positions of power, authority and influence have an enormously strong attachment to such beacons from the past, so much so that many — if not most — travel with a teddy bear or similar object tucked securely in their luggage.

Here's the article.

    Six years ago, Anastasia Brozler, former head of perfume marketing in Europe for L'Oréal and Estée Lauder, founded Creative Perfumers, a haute couture perfume company that provides clients with "unique-to-you" perfumes and colognes. Born in Vienna in 1966, she divides her time between her home in the Netherlands, where she tends a six-hectare olfactory garden, and the London offices of her company. If Marcel Proust had ever had the chance to meet Anastasia, he would have learnt that, as with the taste of a madeleine, objects hold several novels' worth of memories - and provide useful aesthetic pointers.

    1. It all goes back to childhood.

    "The things you really love, they come from different sources. For me, the first place they come from is childhood. As a child, I was always interested in going into places where I was not supposed to go. One of the places was my grandmother's bedroom. My grandmother, always on her bedside table, had a tiny chair that came from Russia." The chair is silver plated and 3½ inches high with a back, seat and legs decorated with arabesques in blue, red, purple and white enamel. The seat lifts, revealing a miniature box.

    "In the first instance, that you could go into this room was already a thrill and the second thrill was to see this chair. I knew that it was special, that it had something very magical about it. In those days we all read "Alice in Wonderland". I remember running into my grandmother's bedroom, seeing the chair and pretending I was Alice in Wonderland, that I could lift the seat and discover a little door in there and suddenly everything would change.

    "The chair was left to me by my grandmother and now it sits on my bedside table. It is not solid silver, it does not have any precious stones, but for me it's very special. I love it. It follows me wherever. We were raised in Egypt, in Spain, in England, lived in Austria and Germany and this has always followed me. With this chair, I hang on to my childhood memories."

    2. Even a teddy bear isn't just for Christmas.

    "From my childhood I also love my teddy bear, Doogle. He is too ugly to show anyone. Doogle was meant for another child but I just grabbed him when I saw him, when I was two, and decided that I wouldn't let him go. It caused a terrifying moment for my parents because it was Christmas and there were several teddy bears under our Christmas tree. There was a pink one meant for me and a black and white one meant for someone else, that was Doogle. I just went for that panda bear. I instinctively knew that he wasn't supposed to be mine, so I never let him go because I knew that if I let him go he would never come back.

    "He's been in fires, he's been soaked. He's been through everything. When I was a child, if I didn't have him I would go crazy. So my mother took enormous patience in restoring Doogle, sewing on bits and pieces, and giving him complete face lifts. Almost the only thing left that was original were the ears but about four years ago even they wore out and are now covered with black velvet. Now he goes everywhere with me. I'm sure that there are many, many people who travel with their teddy bears. They just have better-looking teddy bears."

    3. When it comes to perfumes, nature knows best.

    "My attraction to oils and scents began in Cairo. We used to visit the souks where stalls sold oils, and essences. There is one oil I would own even if I weren't in the perfume business, Gaharu oil. It's from a tree called Aquilaria Malaccensis. The tree is found in jungles in Asia. When the tree is attacked by parasites it produces a resin to protect itself. You cannot see this resin, you don't know whether Aquilaria Malaccensis has it.

    "I went to the jungle to see how Gaharu oil is obtained. One jungle I visited in Malaysia is owned by the indigenous people there. These people know which of the Aquilaria Malaccensis trees have Gaharu wood. They knock the tree with a tool; if the resin is there, the tree has a particular sound. The Gaharu wood is obtained from the trunk of the tree during a ritual. Women are not allowed to take part in the ritual, so I had to sit very far away and watch.

    "After the ritual, the wood is soaked in big copper drums and then distilled. It becomes this sort of red gooey, heavy oil. Just a drop of it is sufficient on your wrist, behind your ears, to make you feel tremendously peaceful."

    4. Always carry an emergency fund.

    "As children, one of my sisters always had a full piggy bank, the other one had a piggy bank that was often full, and mine was always empty. As soon as it rattled with coins, I cracked it open and went to the sweet shop.

    "I am a true spender. Because of this my parents, before I left for my first trip around the world when I was 18, gave me a piece of jewellery, which is also a moneybox. Koechert, the royal jeweller in Vienna made it in about 1890."

    It is a gold pendant, about three inches long and shaped like an arrow quiver, that opens lengthways. Rolled up inside is a $20 note. Brozler removes a pin hidden in a tiny cavity near the hinges and with some difficulty prises the note from the pendant. "It holds just enough to get you home in a taxi or to give someone a tip. I always used to get into situations like that. So when I was travelling around the world my parents said that this is one thing that you need. You won't be able to spend the money inside because it is so difficult to remove. It's a curiosity, too; the only one of its kind in the world.

    "When somebody really knows you and loves you and knows all your faults, the gifts they give you are tremendous. This gift is acknowledging one of my faults with a beautiful piece of jewellery."

    5. The "unnecessitities" of life are also important.

    "The other things that I absolutely love I put together under the headline of the un-necessities of life. There is absolutely not one thing among the things that I adore that is necessary. For example, I love everything you put on your head. This was given to me by my fiancé" - a solid gold winged insect, about 1½ inches long and decorated with pearls and a ruby - "and I thought 'what a beautiful brooch', but when I saw it has a hairpin, it suddenly meant even more to me. You pin it to your hat or in your hair and it appears to hover over you.

    "I adore small hats, but big hats are glorious if you don't want to socialise. You can't say hello, you can't embrace, nobody can see you. The smaller the hat the better.

    "This hat sums up all my hats in that it is almost like a little black dress. It's just a plain thing, a totally simple skullcap with grey and white pheasant feathers, which you can adorn with whatever you like. I am totally into hats of the 20s, 30s and 40s. They just add this tiny little touch to your clothes. The beautiful thing about a small hat is that you don't feel it, and you can see everyone, you can embrace, you can kiss people, you can talk.

    "I also love old gloves. Luckily, in the olden days women used to have 10 or 15 pairs of glove made at the same time. You can still find, in antique stores, boxes with stacks of the same glove in different colours inside, wrapped in tissue paper and tied with ribbons.

    "Once I came across a muff, the absolute peak of the glove because it is useless. When you wear a muff you can't do anything, you can't carry anything. You need people around you to help you all the time. It's fantastic!"

February 26, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NASA World Wind — See the world from your computer screen


NASA has just issued free software that lets you zoom around the globe, dive to the surface, and track fires, floods and storms anywhere on our blue planet from the comfort of your chair.


World Wind is an open source application that knits together 10 terabytes of Earth imagery, then displays it on demand.


When NASA first offered it last year, 100,000 download requests a day caused it to collapse, and it went offline.


Now it's back, new and improved, with a bigger server.

Coming soon: hiking trails, U.S. census data, oodles of features.


No need to spend a penny when your tax dollars have already paid for this magnificent website.

You could spend the rest of your waking life here and never run out of interesting things to see.

[via Douglas McGray and Wired magazine]

February 26, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nike Lance Race Altimeter Watch


Here's something to fool around with during boring meetings.

Raise your arms over your head as if you're stretching and surreptitiously glance at your watch's altitude readout: is it different from when your hands are resting on the table in front of you?

Endless fun for the easily amused — yeah, that's you.

$179 here.

February 26, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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