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July 18, 2005



FunFact: Since 1981 amusement parks at fixed sites have had a special exemption from federal regulation unlike any other consumer product.

FunFact #2: Many states don't regulate rides or require public reporting of accidents. Florida, where a 4–year–old passed out and died on the "Mission: Space" ride at Disney World on June 13, does require public reporting — but it exempts big parks like Disney.

Who knew?

RideAccidents.com "is the world's single most comprehensive, detailed, updated, accurate and complete source of amusement ride accident reports and related news."

It includes a record of fatal amusement park accidents since 1972, including many from outside the U.S.

Let me just say this: If you spend any amount of time on RideAccidents.com you'll never again feel quite as comfortable about strapping yourself in for the big one.


The website is an online horror story.

[via Cindy Loose and the Washington Post]

July 18, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Dennis Severs' House


Artist David Hockney described visiting this house (above and below) as one of the world's five greatest experiences.

Dennis Severs was an eccentric California man fascinated by English history.

In the 1970s he moved to London and bought, for 20,000 pounds, a decrepit Georgian house in the then–dangerous Spitalfields Market area.

Instead of modernizing his new home, as most buyers of such properties do, Severs did the opposite: he restored it to be as true to the 1740s, when it was built, as he could.

There is no electricity and no indoor plumbing.


Jane Black wrote effusively of her visit to the house in an article that appeared in the June 26 Washington Post.

July 18, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'Voices of Summer: Ranking Baseball's All–Time Best Announcers'


Written by Curt Smith, who was a speechwriter for the first President Bush, this book goes back — back, back, wayyyyyy back....

Smith's All–Time Top 5:

1) Vin Scully

2) Mel Allen

3) Ernie Harwell

4) Jack Buck

5) Red Barber

His currently active Top 5:

1) Vin Scully

2) Bob Uecker

3) Jon Miller

4) Jerry Coleman

5) Milo Hamilton

The book is $10.17 here.

July 18, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ball Bearing Memo Stand


I've got a refrigerator magnet with the same functional design and it's just so stylish.

I like the idea of the ball bearing holding the item simply by employing gravity.

Much better in person than in two dimensions.

I'd use this iteration on my desk as a picture or postcard holder.

$8.99 here.

July 18, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Walking on cobblestones lowers blood pressure


Old ways are the best ways.

How else to interpret the results of recent work out of the Oregon Research Institute, as reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society?


Scientists there found that walking on uneven, river rock–like surfaces improved balance as well as reducing blood pressure in adults over 60.

Cobblestone–like walking paths are common in China. (Pictured above and below are parks and public spaces in Shanghai.)

Investigators from the research institute decided to perform a controlled study of walking on bumpy vs. flat surfaces after observing people in China exercising and walking back and forth over traditional stone paths.


Chinese medicine believes that the uneven surfaces of the cobblestones stimulate and regulate the "acupoints" located on the soles of the feet.

July 18, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

JigZone — A new jigsaw puzzle for you every day


What a great website.

Totally free, it offers:

• An online jigsaw puzzle "where you choose the level of difficulty from a simple 6 piece cut to a challenging 247 piece cut"

• A new Puzzle–of–the–Day emailed to you every day

• Your choice of a thousand pictures from their gallery for your puzzle

This is truly great internet functionality: you move the pieces around and do the puzzle at your own pace online.

This site would be a superb addition to psychiatric therapeutics: anything that engages even two neurons forces them out of their repetitive depressive cycling and thus moves the individual that much closer toward recovery.

Very, very nicely done, JigZone creators.

And sorry for distracting you from what you're supposed to be doing.

My bad.

[via GT — the most stylish girl in Milano]

July 18, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

NNDB — Intelligence Aggregator


What's that, you ask?

Me too.

"NNDB is an intelligence aggregator that tracks the activities of people we have determined to be noteworthy, both living and dead."

OK, tell us more.

"Superficially, it seems much like a 'Who's Who' where a noted person's curriculum vitae is available."

True enough.

"But it exists mostly to document the connections between people, many of which are not always obvious."

Oh, now I get it: kind of a six degrees of separation/Kevin Bacon thing.

"A person's otherwise inexplicable behavior is often understood by examining the crowd that person has been hanging out with."

I'd use the word "occasionally" rather than "often" but hey — let's not get overly analytic just now, if that's alright by you.

"Eventually, we will have synopses and analyses of creative works by the people in the database, including their books, films and recordings."


For fun, I put in my name but alas I guess I'm still in the almost famous/wanna–be division.

On the other hand, I put in the names of a few joeheads whose names occasionally appear in boldface type — they've made themselves known to me with requests (always assented to) — for confidentiality and voila, they came right up.

So I guess it does work.

Play around with it yourself and see what you come up with: heck, you've got nothing better to do.

Or let me put it another way: you've got nothing more interesting to do.

How's that?

Now scoot.

And no, I haven't a clue what NNDB stands for.


Note added at 7:51 p.m. today: I noodled around the NNDB website and came upon this page, which states in very clear language not once but twice that NNDB stands for Notable Names Database Weblog.

Gee, that wasn't so hard.

My crack research team will be out of commisssion for the next hour or so while I read 'em the riot act, take them out to the woodshed and do whatever else I can think of to get them thinking straight and flying right again.

What a mötley crüe.

July 18, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pocket Power – Emergency Cellphone Power From 1 AA Battery


"Finish critical calls — get hours of back–up power from a single AA!"

So reads the website for this little device, which lets you use an ordinary alkaline, lithium, or rechargeable AA battery to power your cellphone.

It's a lightweight aluminum housing into which you place your battery; the provided short length of cable uses one of an assortment of included adapters to connect to virtually any cellphone.


Comes in black, red, blue and silver.

$24.95 here (battery not included).

But wait: stop press.

How about finding out a lot more about this product from the company that makes it?

And then making sure they have the connector you want?

And then buying one for $19.99 here?

July 18, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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