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September 8, 2005

This and that — A look back at a few of the past month's posts


It occurred to me this afternoon that it might be useful to hear some follow–up every now and then on things I've written about here and then tried or ordered.

I'll limit such retrospectives to things that proved to be extraordinary.


Susan Gould Jewelry (September 1) — Her wonderful earrings arrived and I'm so excited: I can hardly wait for Christmas to brighten the day of two girls who've been naughty and nice — or should I say, nice and naughty? — this past year.


You know who you are. But I digress.

Shadowboxart.com is Susan Gould's website.


Hazelnuts (August 31) — I didn't have to wait long for these to arrive after I worked myself up with longing writing about them.


The best filberts I've ever had, is what arrived here last week.

That I'm still on the first of the two 1–lb. bags I attribute to an impressive display of self–restraint.

Or maybe it's just the old marshmallow trick.

Two pounds (of hazelnuts, not marshmallows, booboo) for $15.18 here.


Signo Bit 0.18mm ballpoint pens (August 30) — they arrived Tuesday from Japan in a wonderful translucent case.


I can only say, do not — under any circumstances — let one out of your sight.

Because they are so stunningly beautiful and the fine line is so unbelievably narrow that people will lust after them.

Each pen's cap is wonderfully engineered to close ever so precisely: these objects are works of industrial art.

Bonus: I found a second source for them — in Japan, like the one in the original post — that sells the set of eight for $20.


Right here.


Parmigiano–Reggiano Cheese (August 15) — I ordered a one–pound chunk of Bonati–Riserva Speciale, aged three years in Parma, from Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge.


It was exquisite, just irresistible.

I'm amazed it lasted me three days.

$25.95/lb. here.

I advise opting for next–day delivery as mine, which came via 2–day delivery, was a bit too warm on arrival for comfort, though that didn't appear to matter once I got it inside.


OXO Mango Slicer (August 10) — It does what it says it will better than any other tool


I've used to deconstruct a mango.


$11.99 here.


Ventresca: 'The toro of Italian tuna' (August 8) — Impossibly delicious.


You will be astounded at the delicacy and subtlety of this fish.

I ordered four cans of Zoe Diva Select Yellowfin Belly and when the fourth one was finished I wished I'd ordered more.

$8 for a 4 oz. can here.

September 8, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mini Tripod Flashlight


This nifty new device from Stanley Tools has a lot going on in a





• One super–bright LED light

• On/off switch

• Fully–collapsible tripod mechanism

• Swivel key ring

• 3.5" long

There’s also a larger version (below)


with 6 LEDs and additional features:

• Multi–position head

• Low–power indicator light goes on when 6-8 hours of useful light remain

• 4–position switch (High/Medium/Emergency/Off)

• Pre–selectable run time with auto–off


It's 11" long and will sell for $35.

Both flashlights are on Stanley's website per the links above but I cannot find a retailer anywhere in the known world who's currently got them for sale.

In Donald Rumsfeld's unknown world I'm sure they're out but I guess the rest of us will simply have to wait until they make their presence known on this side of the looking glass.

September 8, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Frank Gehry building to be demolished


No joke: the University of California at Irvine (UCI) plans to tear down the 17,800–square–foot Gehry building.

Built at a cost of $2 million, the structure was completed in 1986, just 19 years ago.

Richard G. Demerjian, the director of campus and environmental planning for UCI, said, in yesterday's New York Times story, "Leaking roofs, failing ventilation systems and dry rot are among its afflictions."

I'm sure this came as less than welcome news to the folks who put up Gehry's $120 million titanium–clad Guggenheim Museum (above and below) in Bilbao, Spain.


Even Gehry's reputation as one of the world's most revered architects may not be able to save the Irvine building from destruction in the near future.

September 8, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Nightmare Alarm Clock


The company that sells it calls it the Puzzle Alarm Clock but I like my name better.

Perfect for someone you want to drive truly insane, or get one for yourself if you're going through one of your especially masochistic spells.

Here's how it works:

1) You lie there sleeping the sleep of angels, blissfully tucked in, when

2) RRRRRRING! — the clock's alarm goes off, loud and annoying as all heck

3) Then comes the good part: four puzzle pieces explode out of the top and scatter all over your bedroom

4) The alarm won't stop until you put the four pieces back


$52 here.

[via AW]

September 8, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Unknown Munch Uncovered


Experts in Oslo believe that a previously unknown painting by Edvard Munch has been discovered at the Kunsthalle Bremen museum.

The picture (above), called "The Girl and the Four Male Heads," was discovered when the museum removed another known Munch painting from its frame and found the new work underneath.

The painting has been taken to the Munch Museum in Oslo for closer examination and evaluation.

The art historians studying the picture believe it was probably painted in the years 1898/1899.

The painting shows a surrealistic image of a young woman seated in a rocking chair surrounded by the faces of four men, three in front of her and one behind her.

It is on public display during gallery hours at the museum through September 29 so if you should find yourself in Oslo with a little free time during the next three weeks you might want to stop by and have a look.

I wonder how many other great masterworks are hidden in just such a fashion.

I recall reading some years ago about a previously unknown work by Leonardo da Vinci that was found purely by accident while restorers were studying the picture with powerful high–tech imaging techniques.

I would bet that placing every one of the world's old masters under similar scrutiny would result in the discovery of sublime things.

September 8, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Picture Frame Calculator



Why not?

One side holds a 2.5" x 3.5" photo and then when you turn it around your dual–power (solar and battery) calculator is ready to compute out to 8 digits.

Plastic and aluminum with rubber buttons.

3.25" x 5.25".

$12.95 here.

September 8, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Temporary Autonomous Zones


The anarchist cultural theorist Hakim Bey (a nom de guerre of Peter Lamborn Wilson) admired the Pirate Utopias, islands used by 18th century pirates for rest and relaxation.

He morphed these into his conception of the temporary autonomous zone, or TAZ, "an enclave established by stealth or subterfuge under the nose of the authorities," wrote David Honigmann in his "Brain Waves" column in yesterday's Financial Times.

Honigmann's interesting piece noted that such places today are mostly in cyberspace.

Here's his essay.

    A Pirate Utopia of One's Own

    Last month the Irish sean nos singer Iarla O'Lionaird launched his new compact disc with a small set at the Real World studios in Box.

    In the August sun, Wiltshire glowed like Tuscany.

    World music worthies had dropped in for the launch and to socialise, like Bedouin meeting at an oasis.

    Ben Mandelson and Justin Adams swapped tales of buying a new bendir and life on the road with Robert Plant.

    Sheila Chandra smiled through gritted teeth at star-struck sales execs who remembered her from the TV series Grange Hill.

    The veteran producer John Leckie hailed the Cotswold stone buildings, with swans on the lake and cooks picking rosemary from bushes for the kebabs, as "one of the few first-class residential studios left".

    If I ever take a career detour into rock stardom, this is where I want to record.

    It has the atmosphere of a place where creative work can be done.

    Space dedicated to creativity is the goal of artists of all kinds.

    Virginia Woolf lauded the "room of one's own".

    Joseph Campbell thought it a fundamental requirement of sanity.

    "You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don't know what was in the newspapers that morning... This is the place of creative incubation... If you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen."

    A sacred place can be small.

    Jane Austen's was a table in the parlour of her family's house at Chawton with a squeaky door to alert her to intruders, so that she could quickly resume her embroidery.

    Po Bronson, the American writer, re-created the claustrophobic atmosphere of his first job as a bond salesman by working in a confined space with loud music in both ears.

    He now has a "cement closet".

    Most writers dream of booklined studies with huge mahogany desks, like Thomas Hardy's.

    Bronson has, at least, fewer distractions.

    Collaborative workshops have more complications than solitary garrets.

    In his "Incomplete Manifesto for Growth," Bruce Mau, the Canadian designer, notes that "people visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I've become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves."

    But this can be dangerous.

    A script-writers' assistant on the television series Friends is suing on the grounds that lewd banter between the writers constituted sexual harassment. (The lawsuit lingers on after the show, like the Cheshire Cat's grin.)

    Self-censorship is the antithesis of creativity, which thrives on the mulch of bad or not-quite-right ideas that finally produce one good one.

    Mau also advises that "Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces - what Dr Seuss calls 'the waiting place'."

    The innovation consultancy ?What If! [sic] recommends a technique it calls hothousing.

    "Make it isolated. Most of us don't get much isolation and when we do it's great. Hot-housing does not include mobile phones, faxes or secret early morning meetings. Ban them." (John Leckie recommends Sawmills studios in Cornwall, reachable only by taking a boat up the river Fowey, and then only at high tide.)

    The most successful hothousing is temporary: a rush of adrenaline that gets the job done.

    Live in creative bliss for ever, and you will never produce.

    The best description of this kind of space came from the anarchist cultural theorist Hakim Bey (a nom de guerre of Peter Lamborn Wilson).

    Bey championed the Pirate Utopias, islands used by 18th-century pirates for rest and relaxation.

    To admirers they were paradises of multicultural, gender-bending, non-hierarchical riotous living.

    Bey parlayed this notion into the idea of the temporary autonomous zone, or TAZ: an enclave established by stealth or subterfuge under the nose of the authorities.

    These can be squats, or bubbles of geographical space whose jurisdiction is unclear in the aftermath of a war. These days, they can be found in cyberspace.

    The essence of a TAZ, insists Bey, is the "tactic of disappearance".

    True creative space is a polder, an embattled refuge all the sweeter for being precarious.

September 8, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Dual–Laser Drill


Two lasers, two built–in levels, a "live tool" indicator light: that's a lot of technology for $69.95.

But wait: there's more.

It's also a 3/8" variable–speed electric drill with a lock–on button and sleeveless chuck and it's a Craftsman tool from Sears so you know it's gonna last.

They've tricked–out this puppy with laser beams that extend horizontally and vertically from the bit so your holes line up.



No, it won't count how many holes are in the Albert Hall — at least, not this iteration.

Maybe Version 2.0. But I digress.

Two levels — 1 for each axis (x and y) — keep things in line.

$69.95 here.

September 8, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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