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September 1, 2005

Singelring — 'Freedom on a finger'


What's this?

I must say, that's one catchy slogan: it lets you take it anywhere you like without forcing your face into it.

That's my style.

Singelringen is a company whose flagship (and apparently only) product is the Singelring (above and below).

    From the website:

    Since rings have always been a way to tell who's engaged or married, we wondered why singles have never had a ring of their own.

    That's how Singelringen was born.

    Singelringen is for all those who, until now, have had a naked ring finger.

Where the founders of Singelringen would like you to go is to their website to buy a blue unisex Singelring ($49), which comes in four sizes.

The ring is made of "an outer band of light–catching azure acrylic melded to a weighty inner ring of silver."

But wait: there's more.

"A distinctive crescent shape cut into the acrylic allows the silver to shine though and signifies the wearer's openness to new conversations, friendships or romantic relationships."

And that's not all.

"Each ring also carries a unique number engraved inside the silver band."

Others who own one will then instantly recognize you as a kindred spirit and lightning might strike, is the general idea.

The founders are Swedish and the company began there; it's now in the U.K., Ireland, Denmark, the EU, the U.S., Japan and Finland.


Be the first on your block.

[via AR out of Iceland]

Tell you what: when they put a little transmitter inside that rings the cellphone of anyone in the vicinity who wants to receive the message, they'll have something.

September 1, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Shadowbox Art


Susan Gould's jewelry has been featured here in the past.

I like it a lot.

The other day a reader asked for help in locating or contacting the San Francisco–based artist/designer.


She said she'd been trying for weeks, without success.

I told my crack research team to drop everything and turn their considerable talents to finding what the reader wanted.

Because if we're not willing to do that then why are we taking up space on our beautiful planet?


Purpose — people have a purpose and everyone who drinks the bookofjoe Kool–Aid shares that purpose.

It's grape–flavored, by the way. But I digress.

The team came back with, as is often the case, more than they set out to find.


But wasn't that the case with Columbus as well?

    It's me, it's me, I'm home from the sea, said Barnacle Bill the sailor.

What was that all about?

Anyway, the team found Susan Gould's very own website, shadowboxart.com, which features not only the wonderful earrings she sells at Uncommon Goods, where I first encountered her work, but a whole lot more.


Browse around, see what's there, it's a pleasant place to spend a little time.

    Hey, big spender, spend a little time with me.


What's in that Kool–Aid?


Ms. Gould happily undertakes custom work using whatever you'd like her to incorporate into the pieces.

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

El Mirador — 2,000 years ago it was the New York City of the Mayan Empire


Mary Anastasia O'Grady edits the Wall Street Journal's "Americas" column.

Earlier this year she traveled to the ancient Mayan city of El Mirador, in the northern Petén jungle of Guatemala.

Her story, of wondrous things and even more spectacular ones yet to be revealed in the ongoing excavation, appeared in the August 23 Wall Street Journal.

El Mirador is 800 years older than the much better known city of Tikal and far larger, with thousands of ruins within its 15 square–mile area, almost entirely unexplored.

When you travel to a once–lost city buried so deeply in the jungle that the only way in is via a two–day mule trek or helicopter, you find yourself with enormous freedom.

O'Grady found the view from the top of the "Lion Temple" pyramid so intoxicating she decided to spend the night there — and there was not a soul around to tell her she couldn't.

Her story is a trip away from where you are to where you might be, if you let your mind wander along with her words.

Here is the article.

    It's a Jungle Out There, Full of Buried Treasure

    There is no such thing as a bad seat in the house for the wildlife show here in the northern Petén jungle.

    For that we can thank the late pre-classical Mayan empire (350 B.C.-A.D. 150) that built an impressive collection of monumental structures that are still standing.

    Late one afternoon from my perch atop the pyramid known as the "Lion Temple," I found myself eye to eye with a pair of huge black and yellow toucans meticulously preening in the quiet of an oppressive, rainy-season heat.

    Only a faint breeze stirred the leaves.

    On the other side of the pyramid, I peered down on two spider monkeys swinging in the highest parts of the trees by their spindly tails and limbs and angrily shaking the branches to shoo me away.

    No matter which of the 20-plus monumental temples you choose to scramble up, at the summit you tower above life and gaze across miles of lush green canopy and majestic Mayan history dating back thousands of years.

    During a visit here in the February dry season, I climbed the Tiger Temple -- 180 feet up -- to watch a spectacular blazing sunset simulcast with the rise of a luminous full moon.

    So breathtaking was the view that I decided to stay the night.

    The temple-top was rocky, the wind howled, the moon was like a floodlight, and a heavy dew left me shivering under a wet poncho, the "blanket" I had borrowed from a local to get me through the night.

    Still, I was delighted.

    As dusk faded the retiring jungle bid goodnight with a cacophony of chirping, whirring, whistling and cawing along with the throaty grunts of the howler monkeys.

    Butterflies fluttered, hummingbirds hovered and locusts lighted on nearby rocks.

    The long night gifted me with a perfect silence -- save the wind.

    I lay awake most of the night, puzzling over the mysteries of what Idaho State University archaeologist Richard Hansen, who is leading the recovery project here, says could well be the "first state-level society of Mesoamerica."

    At dawn the waking wildlife made itself heard again under a sky that seemed to stretch forever.

    I resolved to return on my summer vacation.

    There are 26 large ancient Mayan cities in the Mirador Basin, a low-lying area of 849 square miles surrounded by a ridge of limestone in the northern Petén of Guatemala and southern Mexico.

    Despite not having the wheel and its related benefits for transport, the Mayans constructed an extensive system of elevated causeways -- one as long as 12 miles -- throughout their empire to assist in trading and development between towns and cities.

    This city of El Mirador appears to be the biggest and probably was most densely populated -- the New York of the Mayan empire.

    The city of Tikal is Guatemala's main Mayan tourist attraction, but this still largely unearthed 15 square-mile metropolis of El Mirador, with its thousands of ruins -- from causeways, houses, funerary structures and a ball court to monumental towers -- is much larger and almost 800 years older.

    Step one in recovering this historical gold mine is to learn what is here.


    That's why a Guatemalan survey team, working for the Mirador Basin Project, is "mapping" the area to establish the layout of the urban jungle where many buildings now appear only as vegetation-covered mounds.

    Sophisticated laser technology is impressive, but there is no avoiding the step-by-step tromping through the forest.

    For that, Mr. Hansen says he has hired every "chiclero" he can find.

    Two that I met have worked the Petén for more than 45 years with their machetes, first shimmying up sapote trees to slash the bark and drain the sap that Wrigley and Adams used to make chewing gum before synthetics, and now for Mr. Hansen guiding the surveyors.

    Most of the pyramids were named by the chicleros, including "The Dead Woman," after the chiclera who was bitten by a fer-de-lance -- the jungle's notoriously aggressive and deadly viper -- and died there.

    The excavation of several large structures is also well under way.

    Structure 34, also known as the Jaguar Paw because of the impressively detailed masks on either side of the façade, is the most advanced excavation here.

    La Danta -- the tapir -- is the largest monument, reaching 236 feet in the air with a massive 2,034 foot by 1,083 foot base.

    A rope near the top helps explorers summit the last steep bit to take in an expansive view that includes the distant outline of the Mayan city of Nakbé and further away, Tikal.

    Tourism here is still primitive -- though I confess to liking it that way.

    Pyramid hiking in the tropics has left me wilted.

    But the thought of a bath motivates me to hurry back to camp.

    There I take a pail of brownish swamp water -- that's tannin, they tell me -- to a stall constructed of tree branches stuck in the ground and black plastic on three sides.

    I peel off my sweaty jeans and damp, long-sleeve shirt and using a water bottle sawed in half to scoop and pour, I bathe.

    It is nirvana.

    I skip dinner and crash.

    At breakfast in the dining tent rice, beans, tortillas and raw chopped onions with hot chilies are on the menu, as at every meal.

    So too is Cook Dominga's warm, homemade bread -- baked in a stone oven with the fire on top -- that melts in your mouth.

    Coffee is served from an enormous caldron using your mug as the ladle.

    I'm a happy camper.

    The basin's pristine biosphere, where one can glimpse everything from jaguars, foxes, monkeys and tapirs to tarantulas, armies of leaf-cutter ants, wild turkeys and, unfortunately in my view, many kinds of snakes, could be one of Guatemala's most valuable resources.

    With orchids blossoming throughout this ancient Mayan empire of exotic wildlife, the tourism potential is huge.

    But to get here you either have to pack in with mules on a two-day trek or you have to find a helicopter, as I did.

    To solve that problem and still preserve the forest, Mr. Hansen proposes the construction of a small railroad.

    That would minimize human impact while allowing the locals to turn this untamed jungle from a remote, buried treasure into an accessible tourist attraction that can economically support the population.

    Tikal, he points out, generates millions of dollars in tourist revenue every year and this promises to be much bigger.

    "If you build it, they will come," he says.

    Now all he needs is the money to build it.


    Where are the philanthropic tree-huggers when you really need them?

September 1, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

KoalKeeper™ — 'Separate good coals from ash'


Who hasn't lost sleep wondering if they've placed live coals in the trash along with the ash?

Me, for one: but that's probably because I let sleeping coals lie rather than try to clean the fireplace at bedtime.

Now comes the KoalKeeper™ to solve the problem.

From the website:

    What a great invention!

    Cutouts in this steel shovel let you separate good coals from ash.

    That means you keep embers necessary to get the fire going again once the stove is clean and you can be sure you aren't accidentally throwing burning coals in your ash can.

$14.95 here.


Dare I say... kewl?

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

French Links Tours


Rachel Kaplan, an American long–time resident in Paris, runs this company, which provides customized tours for visitors with singular or specialized tastes.

Her website, www.frenchlinks.com, offers a form you fill out outlining your particular needs, no matter how esoteric.

John A. Barnes, an executive with Pfizer, raved in the August 24 Wall Street Journal about the guide she provided him for his recent one–day visit to Paris.


Barnes's specific interest was the sights surrounding the dramatic events of August 1944 when Hitler ordered — and General Dietrich von Choltitz disobeyed — orders to burn Paris to the ground before retreating in the face of the Allied advance.

I will interject here that the magnificent 1965 book, "Is Paris Burning?",


describing those historic days, is as gripping a true–life thriller as you will ever read.

Anyway, Barnes's guide turned out to be a Frenchman who spoke impeccable English and had lived through the German occupation as a child.

The cost for the day was $750, which Barnes found well worth the price.


I would bet that hiring Kaplan's company, should you have the money and not much time, would be the very highest and best use of your sojourn in Paris.

September 1, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Femme style tricked–out wristwatch


We've seen this number before: an LED light and a magnifying lens built into an ordinary–enough–looking watch.

But I guess the basic black men's number was so popular they've decided to offer a more feminine take.

Now comes the pink version, with a 3X magnifier and a concealed LED light.


One button opens the magnifier, another turns on the light.

Quartz movement, luminous dial, second hand, leather strap, stainless-steel caseback, water-resistant to 90 feet.

Two sizes: Small has a 1"–diameter face and comes in pink, green or black.

Large has a 1.25" face and comes in black only.


$79.50 here.

September 1, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WorldCat — 'Window to the world's libraries'


Like most good things I find online, I stumbled upon this site while on Google looking for something else.

It was an elusive book I was seeking, and among the bookstores was this site.

So I clicked and voila, there was a search box to put a book or author's name into to see what libraries around the world had it.

I found my first book in 147 libraries.

I guess that's good.

But what fun, for an author, reader or just someone with too much time on their hands or bored at work.

Not you, silly billy.

Anyhow, check out the search function here and see what you see.

September 1, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

World's smallest umbrella


Look at a 3 x 5 card.

This umbrella folds up to just about that size (3" x 5.5" x 1.25").

Aluminum shaft and ribs; rubberized handle.

When open it has a 42" arc.

Black or Navy.

Weighs 7 oz.

$19.85 here.

September 1, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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