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August 31, 2005

'60–Second Encyclopedia'


The book's subtitle is "The Most Amazing Things Ever Done in a Single Minute!"

Just out, it's a compendium of things that take 60 seconds.

No — for the moment we won't be going there. Ahem.

The book comes with a handy minuteglass so you can add your own observations.


Cindy Clark reviewed it in yesterday's USA Today.

$11.95 retail or $9.56 at amazon.

Some things are indeed best done quickly — or not at all.

Then there are those that benefit from a more leisurely approach.


The secret to happiness and success in life lies in knowing which is which.

August 31, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Glow–in–the–Dark Straws


"Funky plastic drinking straws."

    From the website:

    Add a colorful element to your guests' beverages with our funky GLOW STRAWS.

    Durable 8" plastic drinking straws have a glowing color pod inside that when activated glows for a few hours.

Make your party the coolest one ever.

Colors: green, blue, red, orange, clear.


$15 for ten here.

August 31, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Or filberts, call them what you will because either word is just perfect.

FunFact: The filbert bush blooms on St. Filbert's day and the name "filbert," originally a local term for the plant in the Mediterranean region where it flourishes, was extended to the nut.

It is my favorite nut out of all the nuts I have ever tasted.

This was nut the case when I was a boy: back then I preferred the assertiveness and familiarity of peanuts, especially in the setting of a ballpark.

But as I grew older the subtle taste and wonderfully supple mouthfeel of the filbert gradually grew on me to the point where I now pick them out of the mixed nuts first, ahead of even the pecans.

That's saying something.

My attention was drawn to hazelnuts last week when I read an article by Haig Simonian in the August 25 Financial Times.

He wrote that the price of hazelnuts has increased 500% in the past two years, with no end in sight.

What's going on here?

Said Rosanno Barbieri, a buyer for Nestlé, "I visit growers many times each year. But in all my career I've never seen anything like what's happening to hazelnuts."

Wrote Simonian, "Hazelnut production is relatively small and intensely concentrated. Turkey accounts for 80%–85% of the world's annual 700,000–900,000 ton harvest. Neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan make up the difference, along with Italy and Oregon."

Sounds like they could get a cartel going in a hurry, what?

Call it NutPec or something. But I digress.

Simonian noted that the hazelnut crops vary markedly in their quality, making futures contracts useless.

"Size and moisture levels can significantly alter a nut's taste."

In addition, the nuts do not keep.

I like everything about these wonderful nuts.

Their rich, burnished, coppery color; their shape, so elegant and fluidly curving; the sharp sound they make when they're cracked: everything about them is a pleasure.

Delicately separating the thin brown husk from the nut after cracking them open is a labor of love.

Jeez, where can I get some?


A note on a bit of internet arbitrage I've run across lately:

You will note, should you click on the link to the FT story, that what you get is not the story as it originally appeared online but, rather, one with all sorts of funny stuff and words highlighted in colors and suchlike.

This is because the FT, like many publications, buries its articles behind a subscription–only barrier like this.

But they haven't yet figured out, unlike the New York Times and other more disciplined and web–savvy organizations, that they have to hide the Google–cached version too if they want to prevent hoi polloi from accessing their article for free.

So anytime you find you can't get at something you'd like to see online, try clicking on the "cached" link below the Google search result: you'll be pleasantly surprised at how often it works.

Once in a while the crack — stop, hey, what's that sound, everybody look, nutshells abound... but I digress — research team persuades me to share some of our hard–won search expertise.

This was one of those times.

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

StarSeeker Chair


Much cheaper than a seat on the first commercially–available trip to the moon — and you don't have to wait until the rocket's ready.

If you're risk–averse then this is the only way to fly.

"StarSeeker is a motorized, portable vehicle that lets you cruise the universe in fun and comfort."

There is much to see.

"Unfortunately, the human body just isn't designed for looking overhead."


"Shoulders and back soon tire; arms too, if you hold a pair of binoculars for more than a couple of minutes."

Matthew Haughey brought this portable observatory, which fits easily into a car trunk and assembles in a couple of minutes, to my attention when he wrote about it in an August 24 New York Times story.

$1,950 here.

Canon's 18x50 image–stabilizing binoculars ($1,175) are recommended for use with the chair.

I own these binoculars and I can only say that they are awesome.

Take them places and you will see things you never knew existed.


And that's all I have to say about that.

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

National Bottle Museum


"Preserving the history of our nation's first major industry."

Bet you didn't know that: I sure didn't until I happened across the museum's website.


Nor did I know there was such a museum.

It's located in the quaint village of Ballston Spa, New York.


Visitors learn about early bottle making methods, view an array of hand tools used for fabrication, see a miniature model of a typical 1800s glass furnace and enjoy a permanent exhibit of approximately 2,000 old bottles, including many rare and almost unobtainable specimens.

The museum's research library is open to the public during museum hours.


Lampworking and glassblowing classes are taught on a regular basis, with one class weekly reserved for teens.

The museum is located off Interstate 87; Summer hours are 10 a.m.–4 p.m. daily through September 30; Starting October 1 the hours remain the same but the museum is closed on Saturday and Sunday; 518-885-7589.

August 31, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Fun with salt and pepper


From j–me® Design come these flexible salt and pepper shakers.

"Entertainment at any dinner party."

You get one for salt and one for pepper.


"Just twist the cap and sprinkle."

Study the demo up top for the advanced course.

£14 ($25;€21) here.

Oh, and in case you were hesitating because you thought you had to fill them with a tweezers and magnifying glass, not to worry: "Supplied with funnel for refilling."


No, your problem's not gonna be with using these or filling them but, rather, the fact that they're going to disappear each time you have a dinner party.

[via AW]

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

The Invention of Nostalgia — by Lawrence Raab

Before 1688 nostalgia didn't exist.
People felt sad and thought about home,
but in 1688 Johannes Hofer, a Swiss doctor,
made up the word. It wasn't what he himself
was feeling, but a malady he'd observed

in soldiers posted far from home.
Leeches and opium were the cures,
and if those failed, a return to the Alps.
Therefore: homesickness, nostalgia's symptom,
the way your stomach felt that first night

at summer camp, though if you cried
so hard you had to leave, later
you probably found yourself thinking,
They'd be swimming now, they'd be having lunch.
And you felt sad in a different way.

Imagine how many places you can't
go back to, how much it hurts
to want what's lost — all those days,
the ones that have left
their cloudy pictures in your mind,

and the smell of certain rooms, the light
through trees at certain hours, a time
before the first time you felt it,
like all the years before 1688
when no one had the right word to turn to.

August 31, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ball Cap Earband


What a dilemma.

You want to wear your favorite baseball cap but it's getting nippy: what to do?

Simple — stay home.

No, wait a minute, that's not right... hold on....

OK, we're all straightened out here — sorry for the interruption.

You get yourself one of these great–looking Ball Cap Earbands, that's what you do.

    From the website:

    Split in the middle, this ear warmer fits around your hat's bill, keeping head, ears and forehead warm.

    Four–way polyester stretch fabric has a soft microfleece lining and a jersey knit outer to repel wind and snow.

$19.95 here.


I must say, this product is something I think Floyd R. Turbo, one of Johnny Carson's great characters, would've raved about.

Floyd was this hunter who was kind of simple but a lot of fun.

Sort of like me, now that I think about it.

Do cap guns and squirt guns count?

August 31, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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