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March 31, 2005

Parmigiano–Reggiano Butter

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When Parmigiano–Reggiano cheese is made, the cream that remains after the milk is skimmed off is used to make a rich (83% butterfat) butter.

Florence Fabricant, in yesterday's New York Times Dining Out section, wrote, "It's a pale, unsalted, cultured butter with a lovely whiff of pungency that gives it real character on a slab of country bread. It is also good for finishing a risotto or melting over tender asparagus."

When's dinner?

You can buy the butter at Fairway Markets in New York, where the Montanari & Gruzza brand (above) sells for $5.69/half-pound.

I couldn't find a single online source so unless one of my gourmand readers furnishes a lead I guess those of us outside Gotham and Italy will just have to be content with dreaming about how good it might be.

March 31, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Medicated Contact Lenses

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Dr. Edwin Chow of the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore invented the lenses.

Using a well-established nanotechnology fabrication method for creating small channels, he is the first to have succeeded in transporting drugs successfully to the eye through contact lenses.

Why is this a huge advance?

For one, when someone applies an eye drop, about 95% of the solution is washed away with tears, even if the drop has been successfully applied, no small feat.

Some of the medicine then drains into the nasal cavity, where it can enter the bloodstream and potentially cause side effects.

The new lenses solve these problems in a straightforward way.

First, drugs to be administered are added to the solution from which the lens is to be molded.

The mixture of molecules, after it hardens and sets, contains a network of tiny channels 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

These channels act as conduits for the drug(s) to be released when the lens comes in contact with eye fluid.

By adjusting the channel size, medicine can be administered over the course of hours or days.

[via the Economist]

March 31, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

MorphWorld: Calvin Klein's new lingerie model into Paris Hilton

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The model pictured above, who has recently begun appearing in her Calvin Klein skivvies in near-full-page ads in the New York Times, looks so much like Paris Hilton (below) that I'm still not certain it isn't her.

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But why would the über-it-girl sell herself to Calvin Klein for a few pieces of silver?

I mean, she's still trying to shake off the vestiges of her home movie which, it must be admitted even by Ms. Hilton, elevated her above the teeming masses of wanna-bes into true superstardom.

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She's already the Moschino girl, besides a zillion other things she's endorsing: what does she need with Calvin Klein?

But it sure does look like her.

I'll tell you what: the model in the ad could make far more money as a Paris lookalike than she's pulling down now — and she wouldn't have to get undressed to do so.

Believe it or not, a guy who remarkably resembles Bill Clinton grossed over a million dollars a year going to events and meetings while Clinton was president.

I mean, he made more than Clinton did during those years.

Bet the impersonator was rooting really, really hard for Bill back on election night in November, 1995.

On another subject entirely, I am delighted to report that the New York Times via PC is now a reality for Mac users like myself.

It isn't the Times website but, rather, the actual paper, ads and all, as it appears on the newstand in Manhattan.

Ever since the Times began offering this version for PC a couple years ago I've wished I could try it and then, a couple weeks ago, I saw an ad for the PC version that said, at the end, "For PC and Mac OS X."

I signed up in a New York [Times] minute.

The website also lets you subscribe to many other publications in digital format.

Now, I won't say it's perfect, at least for me on my iMac G4 17" flatscreen, but it is usable.

The scrolling and navigation functions are a bit clunky and intrusive but hey, as Samuel Johnson said of the dog that walked, albeit clumsily, on its two hind legs, "The wonder is not that it walks awkwardly, but that it does so at all."

And, best of all, as I learned to my delight just now, you can find an ad you want to refer to, do some stuff, and use the material you like in your blog or whatever.

The Paris doppelgänger appears on page A9 (below)

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of today's paper.

What you see is what I see.

WYSIWIS.

Not WYSIWYG, but close.

March 31, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Irish artists pay no taxes

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Well, in the U.S. it's usually the well-heeled who, through their army of lawyers, advisors and accounts move their money around in such a way that they end up paying no taxes.

So on the surface, I can't say that I mind all that much that since 1969 Ireland has granted artists tax-free status on their income.

The latest list published by the Irish government lists 1,512 musicians, writers and artists who are exempted from income taxes on their creative work.

The people of Ireland, seeing such native Irish as Elvis Costello, Sinead O'Connor and the playwright Conor McPherson on the list, perhaps might have turned a blind eye much as do the British when the list of the Queen of England's enormous holdings are published, but the fact that more and more artists from around the world are immigrating to Ireland to take advantage of this potential windfall has got their knickers in a twist.

The novelists Frederick Forsyth and Michel Houellebecq, singer Lisa Stansfield and the members of the band Def Leppard are just a few of those who've moved to Ireland to take advantage of the Emerald Isle's generosity.

The Arts Council, a national financing body in Ireland, said the exemptions are needed to support artists who make less than the minimum wage and whose income varies from one year to another.

The council reported that in 2001 more than half of the tax-exempt artists earned less than $12,900 and that 87% earned less than $64,000.

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Now the country's Labour Party is suggesting that writers, artists and musicians earning more than $156,000 a year should lose their tax-free status.

[via Brian Lavery and the New York Times]

March 31, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Earth — As seen through gamma-ray eyes

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What if you were a space alien like me: what would the Earth look like with your gamma-ray vision?

NASA has produced a new image of your (usually) blue planet that depicts it radiating gamma rays.

Earth is constantly bombarded by particles from outer space, where my home planet peacefully orbits its double-star. But I digress.

The particles, in your English language, are called cosmic rays.

They hit the atmosphere and bounce off, back out into space.

That reflection is what these images show.

Dr. Dirk Petry of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland said, "If our eyes could see high-energy gamma rays, this is what the Earth would look like from space."

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Earthlings — you cannot imagine how beautiful is is.

March 31, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Croxetti

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Croxetti (above) originated in the Middle Ages, when cooks of noble Ligurian families would press a thin sheet of pasta between two wooden molds engraved with the family's coat of arms on one side and symbols on the other.

Frequently the symbol was the Christian cross and over time such pasta came to be called by the generic name croxetti.

Croxetti, because of their irregular cut and rough surface, combine superbly with classic Ligurian sauces such as pesto, walnut sauce and fish sauce.

Made in Italy; $6.49 for 10.5 oz here.

March 31, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Elephant That Thought It Was A Truck

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Sounds like a newly unearthed Roald Dahl story but it's actually an accurate description of a 10-year-old adolescent female African elephant named Mlaika residing in a semi-captive group in Tsavo, Kenya.

The original paper describing the elephant and its remarkable ability appears in this week's issue of Nature magazine.

Detailed acoustic analysis has shown that Mlaika makes sounds uncannily mimicking the trucks she can hear rumbling down the highway about two miles from her home.

The African elephant thus becomes the first non-primate land mammal other than humans to have the ability to imitate sounds.

Here's a link to a recording of the elephant that thinks it's a truck.

Henry Fountain wrote about this elephant with a gift for mimicry in a story which appeared in Tuesday's New York Times Science section: it follows.

    The 10,000-Pound Parrot

    In Rosanne Cash's country song "My Baby Thinks He's a Train," the evidence for the title's conclusion is compelling.

    As Ms. Cash writes, "He makes his whistle stop, then he's gone again."

    In Kenya, a 10-year-old elephant named Mlaika seems to think she's a truck.

    At least she has been heard imitating the low rumble that trucks make on a nearby highway.

    Mlaika's mimicry is described in the journal Nature, along with a report of an African elephant that lived in a Swiss zoo with Asian elephants and learned to imitate the chirping that only the Asian species makes.

    The two findings show for the first time that elephants - like primates, birds, bats and some marine mammals - are capable of vocal learning. The discovery has important implications for understanding how elephants communicate.

    Dr. Joyce Poole, research director of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya and an author of the Nature paper, said that in 1998 she was invited to visit an orphaned group of elephants at Tsavo National Park in southern Kenya.

    "The keeper there said one was making a very strange sound," said Dr. Poole, who has been studying elephant communication for about two decades.

    The sound, she said, was "nothing like I'd ever heard an elephant make before."

    The elephants lived about two miles from the main Nairobi-Mombasa highway, and Dr. Poole said she could not distinguish between the elephant and the highway sounds.

    "I began to get suspicious that maybe she was imitating the trucks on the highway," she said.

    Analysis by specialists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution showed that the two sounds were extremely similar.

    Dr. Poole said Mlaika might have been bored in her stockade at night and made the sounds to amuse herself.

    The elephant in Switzerland, on the other hand, may have made the chirping noises to communicate with companions.

    Either way, the findings reinforce current thinking about elephant communication.

    Elephants have strong family bonds even though groups split up from time to time.

    One theory, never proven, is they imitate the voices of those they are close to in order to strengthen those bonds.

    By imitating a truck, Dr. Poole said, Mlaika showed that it might be possible for elephants to imitate one another.

March 31, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The man who wouldn't take 'no' for an answer

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Young Wil Haygood, growing up in the early 70s in Columbus, Ohio, dreamed of becoming an NBA star.

The problem was, he wasn't very good.

But every time he was slapped in the face by this news, instead of turning away, he walked forward, offering the other cheek.

Every March, when the NCAA tournament rolls around, he thinks back to eighth grade at Indianola Junior High, and the first in a series of devastating rejections that, somehow, didn't kill him but, rather, made him stronger.

Haygood, now a prize-winning reporter for the Washington Post, wrote an eloquent memoir of his hoop dreams that appeared on page C10, buried deep in the Style section of this past Monday's Washington Post.

Too bad, really, because it's the best article I've seen in the Post in a while.

No reason you shouldn't have a chance to enjoy it as well. It follows.

    A Walk-On Who Refused to Step Aside

    I am haunted by my March madness.

    It ended some years ago, but still, at this time of year, when college hoops are the rage, it seems to come back.

    I hear the commentators talking about hard-luck players, about unheard-of juco (junior college) transfers now dazzling on TV; about so many players envisioning a dreamt-of moment: A lovely jump shot slicing through the net with no time on the clock to send their team to the next round, and now Momma has to get to the game, drive all night if she must, borrow somebody's car if she must.

    But she must.

    We watch and wonder and hear the hopes and predictions of those talking about the game as if suddenly it has some kind of life-or-death angle to it.

    The fateful moments are a thrill to watch.

    But so many of them are lived away from the glare of TV, moments any proud ballplayer will come to store up in a suitcase as time goes on.

    How unlikely, how strange, my own basketball odyssey.

    I played at a Division I school.

    My name stenciled right there on my very own locker.

    And here I was a kid cut from the junior high basketball team.

    Cut from the high school basketball team.

    I was the walk-on who refused to walk on by.

    Here's what drove me mad: The simple pure bounce of a basketball on a playground.

    It could be 40 degrees or it could be 90 degrees.

    I played alone and I played with nine others.

    I played in rickety gyms and well-attended suburban gyms.

    I played in gyms lit by sunlight and in the gym at the mental hospital on the Ohio State University campus.

    My cousin, Toodie, was the janitor and opened the doors wide some weekend mornings and I scooted in, just after dawn.

    The place seemed to be asleep, save for me and my bouncing ball.

    It started at Indianola Junior High in Columbus, Ohio.

    I was cut from the eighth-grade team.

    Didn't see my name on the list posted outside the gym door.

    I had barely slept the night before.

    I had brought my gym bag to school that day like any other player hoping to make the team, believing in his destiny.

    I looked at the list, stood there, didn't see my name, tried to make it appear, squinted my eyes.

    Then I felt my eyes water up.

    A knot of kids had gathered round, snickering at those of us there who had slipped from the pier -- off the team.

    School bullies without any ballplaying talent were especially harsh: ha ha ha ha.

    A brittle nastiness to their laughter.

    Some mean girls giggled themselves away.

    After school that very day, when it was time to practice, I too went to the locker room.

    I sat at a distance from those who had made the team; I dressed in silence.

    I couldn't not be there.

    I loped out onto the court.

    The coach spotted me, hoped he hadn't spotted me, didn't have the nerve to tell me to get the hell outta the gym.

    He called the team together to go over that day's practice.

    I blurted my passions out: "Coach, please, give me another chance. One more practice. Please."

    He shot me a cold look, but as long as I didn't see his arm fling toward the door, toward the exit, telling me to get, I didn't mind the shame that Tutu and Skip White and Jim Hardesty and others who had made the team looked at me with.

    The next day turned into the next day into the next week into the next month.

    I dressed for every game, and got into several.

    I never scored a point the whole season.

    But it felt heavenly, being there, on that team, the March winds whipping around us as we walked home along the B&O Railroad tracks.

    Skip to the 10th grade, East High School junior varsity.

    I made the first cut; the last cut was now upon us.

    There'd be 12 players picked.

    Again, the night before final selections, I fretted, listened to an ABA game (the defunct American Basketball Association) on my hand-held transistor radio, scrubbed my practice clothes on my mother's washboard in our apartment.

    I slept with my pretty white high-top Converse All-Stars under the bed and dreamed.

    Next morning my name was not on the list.

    I squinted, hard, harder.

    I roamed the halls and cursed.

    The end-of-school bell rang out that day and I took my gym bag and marched off to the locker room.

    I got dressed for practice.

    I marched out onto the court.

    Coach Scott Guiler saw me, stared at me, probably wondered if I had noticed the list of those who had made the team.

    I walked over to him before he had a chance to throw me out of the gym.

    Another chance, coach, please; I begged in front of other players, players who had made the team.

    I didn't care about the strange looks on their faces, their hands on their hips, proud to have made the team, shaking their heads and rolling their eyes at me.

    Guiler said nothing, absolutely nothing.

    Then he blew the whistle to begin layups.

    I stood frozen.

    "Get in line. Everybody!" he bellowed, staring right at me.

    I stayed on the team the whole year.

    For the next-to-last game of the season, I was named to start at point guard.

    We played South High.

    I didn't have a family member in the stands.

    No matter.

    I felt upon the world's stage.

    I didn't score a point.

    I floated home.

    It was March.

    Next year, my 11th-grade year, the varsity coach, Bob Hart, expressed serious doubts I'd make the team.

    I had begun haranguing him first day of school, weeks before the beginning of practice.

    We went down the list of comparable players, with me demanding how he rated their skills alongside mine.

    I remember this happened outside his office; the sun was shining through the large gym windows.

    He said something about my weight, being too skinny, getting pushed around on the court.

    That previous summer I had worn ankle weights, ran in them up football stadium steps, hoping to build endurance.

    The coach didn't budge in his assessment: He doubted I'd make the team.

    He wore bifocals; I could hardly see the outlines of his eyes.

    He couldn't imagine the desperation beating in my heart.

    Just like that, a snap of the fingers, I left East and enrolled in West High School.

    I figured I had a better chance to make the team there.

    I made the first cut, not the second.

    The varsity coach, gray-haired, tweedy, severe-looking, would have none of my ghostlike reappearance on the court, which I tried, whereby his arms remained folded and he said, simply, "Thanks for trying out, son."

    I transferred yet again, Franklin Heights High School.

    It took two city buses to get there.

    My mom, who worked nights as a waitress, slept mostly during the day, thought I was still at East High.

    I used my lunch money for bus fare and wrapped sandwiches in the morning darkness at home.

    I made the first cut, not the second.

    I knew nothing to do save show up for practice again, which I did.

    Bob Cawley, the coach, pulled me to the side.

    There were words exchanged.

    I told him I had to make the team; from the fright inside me I somehow felt light as a bird -- and yet strong as a bull with determination.

    He relented.

    I wore number 30 at home, 31 at away games.

    The 10th game of the season, our team having scored 99 points in a blowout, Haygood happened to be at the foul line.

    We hadn't broken the century mark all year long.

    My shots swished through the net.

    After the game I was lifted on shoulders -- I remember the high school wrestlers, tight as a gang, had rushed the court and hoisted me -- and got my picture in the local newspaper for having scored the 100th and 101st points.

    It was March.

    My senior year Coach Cawley cut me.

    Told me there were sophomores whom he needed to play; I would be taking up space.

    I showed up in his office first practice and said, Coach, please, you've made a mistake, I can play; I need to play.

    Who knows why men do such things.

    The pure bounce of the basketball.

    Coach Cawley allowed me to stay on the team.

    Varsity practice wasn't until 7 in the evening.

    I never had bus fare to get all the way home to the eastside after school and then come back, so I waltzed along the edges of corn fields, threw stones, walked and walked until four hours had passed and it was time for practice.

    I scored 12 points against Dublin High.

    My first time in double figures.

    Ever.

    I walked through the hallways the following Monday proud as a king who had conquered a foreign foe.

    That senior year in high school I dreamed of playing for some big-time college program.

    I had my sights set on Marquette; I'd settle for less.

    They didn't write me, but I wrote them, bragging up my meager stats.

    They wrote back -- form letters, the noncommittal kind that they must have sent to thousands of other hopeful high schoolers -- which I proudly displayed on the dresser in my bedroom.

    At Miami of Ohio, I got cut from the junior varsity. I walked back out onto the court the next day.

    Coach Jerry Peirson looked at me as if I were nuts.

    This wasn't fantasy land; this was college, and scholarship players.

    I begged, pleaded; Coach said I could practice until he decided what to do with me.

    He seemed stunned at my intransigence.

    It was a reprieve, but the trek to remain on the team would be harder.

    Before the season began, halfway through a grueling practice, I saw Coach Peirson whispering in the ear of another coach.

    I was called over.

    I was told my ACT scores didn't meet NCAA requirements. I wouldn't be on the team after all.

    The coach seemed forlorn.

    I toiled through a season of intramural basketball on campus.

    I told myself it was my redshirt year.

    I hung out some days after class, basketball season over, with Warren Dorsey, a scholarship player, and we talked about the New York Knicks, we talked about the Los Angeles Lakers.

    We talked, in earnest, about the teams we'd someday play for.

    We weren't joking either.

    That summer, back in Columbus, I ran hills, ran sprints on my own in the park near my grandparents' house until the sun descended, then grabbed my ball and walked up to the Ohio State campus, where there were games illuminated by lamplights allowing us to play till midnight, and beyond.

    The next year, my sophomore year -- my name stenciled on my locker like all the other players, the uniform hanging beautifully on game days -- I got in plenty of games.

    It was only junior varsity, but JV in Division I is big-time ball still. (Besides, we sometimes practiced with the varsity, and on varsity that year was Phil Lumpkin, drafted his senior year by the pros; he played for the Portland Trailblazers. My buddy Phil.)

    Anyway, I torched Kent State with three long jumpers; torched Ball State with two sweet shots from the top of the key.

    Tammy, a girl I coveted, a girl I never kissed, saw those shots drop with her own eyes.

    I saw where she was sitting during warm-ups.

    We traveled to Rupp Arena to play fabled Kentucky.

    That place seemed scary, loud, with muscled players coming toward me as if windblown they were so quick.

    I didn't score a point.

    I loved being on the court, the lights and noise in my face.

    Toward the end of the season I hurt my knee against Western Michigan.

    Had to have surgery.

    Otherwise, it would have been on to a pro career.

    My madness knew no end.

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    [In the picture above Haygood is number 31 in the front row, pictured with the 1973-74 Miami University of Ohio junior varsity]

March 31, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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