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September 10, 2005

David Adamson — World's best digital printmaker

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Master printmaker David Adamson, who was trained as a traditional printmaker and had worked with as a stone lithographer in London, in 1984 purchased the first Macintosh computer sold in the Washington, D.C. area.

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Within a month Apple signed him to a developer contract.

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Though within a few years the Mac was capable of displaying true photographic quality images in full color,

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there was still no output device able to generate these images.

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Adamson turned to this problem and eventually purchased an IRIS printer in 1993.

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Digital printmaking predictably ran into a storm of protest and criticism from conventional printmakers when Adamson's first major show of his work, at his Washington, D.C. gallery in 1995, occurred.

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Nevertheless, he persevered, choosing to work with the very finest artists in the world.

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Chuck Close, William Wegman, Annie Leibovitz, Adam Fuss and Jim Dine are among a few of the artists who now collaborate with Adamson.

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Photos of some of his prints appear above and below.

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You can see them for yourself, and buy one if you have some spare change, at the David Adamson Gallery in Washington, D.C. (1515 14th Street NW, Suite 202, Washington, D.C., 20005; 202-232-0707; Gallery hours: Tues.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Sat. 12 noon–5 p.m.; Metro: Dupont Circle).

September 10, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ashtray–Plate — 'Eat and smoke'

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Once again German designer Mareike Gast combines two functions into one device.

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Her ashtray–plate lets you have a smoke, enjoy dinner, then flip it over to have a post–prandial puff without having to view the detritus.

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Gast writes, "Smoking and eating often go together — too close together."

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One side of the plate combines eating and smoking and the other separates the two.

[via AW]

September 10, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Some Things, Say The Wise Ones — by Mary Oliver

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Some things, say the wise ones who know everything,
are not living. I say,
You live your life your way and leave me alone.

I have talked with the faint clouds in the sky when they
are afraid of being behind; I have said, Hurry, hurry!
and they have said, Thank you, we are hurrying.

About cows, and starfish, and roses there is no
argument. They die, after all.

But water is a question, so many living things in it,
but what is it itself, living or not? Oh, gleaming

generosity, how can they write you out?

As I think this I am sitting on the sand beside
the harbor. I am holding in my hand
small pieces of granite, pyrite, schist.
Each one, just now, so thoroughly asleep.
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September 10, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Egg McToaster

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The Egg & Muffin Toaster is just out from Back to Basics, the small Bluffdale, Utah company that introduced the Smoothie Maker blenders that sold in the millions a few years ago.

The new device toasts your muffin and poaches your egg at the same time so you can enjoy them together.

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But wait a minute: do you actually know anyone who eats poached eggs for breakfast on a routine basis?

Or eats them at all?

Didn't think so.

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Anyway, 350,000 of the black toasters have already been pre–sold for the holidays.

Vicky Hallett of U.S. News & World Report raved about the device, saying it made great sandwiches 25 times in a row when she tested it.

Walmart sells them and they'll be available at Bed, Bath & Beyond and all the other usual places.

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$38.82 here.

September 10, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Does the sponge hold the secret of life?

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Jon Nordheimer wrote a story that appeared in the August 16 New York Times Science section that I thought was extremely interesting.

So why has it taken me nearly a month to get it up here?

Because I wasn't sure I understood the material well enough to put it on bookofjoe, that's why.

If something is unclear to me, in terms of its meaning or how to describe it properly, I won't post it.

Anyway, after rereading the piece a number of times over the past few weeks, I think I understand what the article is about well enough to bring it to you.

Long story short: the primitive — or at least, up to now considered primitive — sponge, seen as a crossover between plant and animal life, turns out to have some rather sophisticated features.

Among them:

• "Sponges have a sophisticated gene that in other animals controls the growth of eyes, brains and the central nervous system."

• "Alone among animals, they may possess archetypes of stem cells."

• "At any stage in the life of a sponge, these cells can transform themselves into any of the other five types of specialized cells that constitute a sponge."

• The specialized cells may be able to revert to stem cell archetypes when they are needed to perform another function.

Most astonishing to me: the sponge is capable of letting its body parts dissolve into individual cells which can float around in the water — but they are not dead.

The cells can find each other and reassemble into a sponge.

Remember that Terminator who could reassemble itself from blobs of molten metal?

Well, guess what: that was art imitating life.

With that introduction, here's the Times article.

    Scientists Find a Touch of Sophistication in the Genes of a Simple Sponge

    SpongeBob may be more complicated than he looks.

    A husband and wife research team at the University of Richmond has discovered that marine sponges, long considered some of the most primitive creatures on the planet, carry a sophisticated gene that in other animals controls the growth of eyes, brains and the central nervous system.

    Sponges lack nerve cells, however, so they can't produce the complex sensory organs of higher animals.

    The finding was not entirely unexpected, said April and Malcolm Hill, the research biologists who isolated the gene in the larvae of common marine sponges.

    There have been other genes isolated from sponges in recent years that might have pointed in this direction, said Dr. April Hill. "What makes our finding so unique is that sponges lack any type of organs associated with the central nervous system," she said.

    More than 8,000 species of sponges, which make up the phylum Porifera, have been scientifically observed as living creatures or fossils.

    Seen as a crossover between plant and animal life, sponges have come under greater scrutiny because they play important ecological roles in marine systems, acting as pumps and filters.

    They also play host to diverse numbers of bacteria, including some with cancer-fighting properties.

    Sponges evolved some 500 million to 1 billion years ago and - alone among animals - may possess archetypes of stem cells, the cells within a fertilized egg in humans that have the potential to develop into different kinds of cells, Dr. Hill said.

    The sponge cells of similar nature are called archeocytes, she said.

    At any stage in the life of a sponge, these cells can transform themselves into any of the other five types of specialized cells that constitute a sponge.

    She explained that some of the other cell types, in turn, may be able to revert to archeocytes when they are needed to perform yet another function.

    "The fascinating thing is how sponges are capable of letting body parts dissolve into individual cells," Dr. Hill added.

    The scattered cells can float around but not die, she said, and then find each other and reassemble into a sponge.

    In laboratory gene-sequencing experiments, the Hills studied the DNA of free-swimming sponge larvae in the first days of life before they attached themselves to a bottom structure.

    "We discovered that the sponge genome has a gene highly related to a family of genes found in higher animals that is involved in the formation of nerve and brain cells," Dr. Hill said.

    It appears, she said, that some ancient pathways used in sponge development have been modified and co-opted for other functions in more complex animals.

    Analyzing and clarifying these pathways in sponges, she continued, may eventually give researchers greater insight into the "toolbox" involved in forming and patterning the genetic blueprints that control the development of higher animals.

    The Hills, who first published their findings in the biomedical journal Development Genes and Evolution, said that last month they succeeded in isolating another sponge gene key to eye development.

    They are now at work with collaborators at the University of Zurich on a project to clone and characterize genes in the sponge genome associated with many developmental and disease processes, including the universal "master gene" that controls eye development in all animals.

    As part of this project, they are trying to use their newly discovered sponge genes to introduce sight to blind mutant fruit flies.

    Moreover, they are searching for evidence of other genes in sponges that function in more complicated ways in higher animals.

    Mitchell L. Sogin, director of the center for comparative molecular biology and evolution at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts, said the molecular machinery required to evolve a primitive nervous system "did not come out of the ozone" but must have evolved from even simpler forms of animal life.

September 10, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Carabiner Bottle Opener

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Anodized aluminum.

In bookofjoe green, black, silver or red.

$3.95 here.

September 10, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rockin' in Reykjavik — Iceland Airwaves Festival

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It starts on October 19 and runs through October 23.

Local and international rock artists — and there are a lot of them planning to be there — rock and roll throughout downtown Reykjavik.

Make sure you bring your earplugs if you plan to get any rest.

Even Juliette Lewis and The Licks will play.

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Shows happen all over town; pubs and bars host D.J. parties and all manner of other stuff.

Icelandair's offering a nice package: $539 a person for:

• Round–trip air fare from New York, Baltimore, Orlando, Minneapolis or Boston

• Two nights in a hotel — breakfast included

• A festival pass for all five days

Maybe I should give my Icelandic homeys a shout–out and find out more.

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Yo, AR....

For more information on Reykjavik go here.

For more about Iceland go here.

Tell you what: this country is serious about getting you to visit: they'll send you a free DVD video entitled "Iceland: The Way Life Should Be" for the asking.

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

Clever Hook

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From Linden of Sweden comes this wall–mounted hook that not only hooks, but grabs.

The heavier the item the stronger the grip.

The hook's designer tired of having his towels always falling on the floor so he created a hook to solve the problem.

The Clever Hook has two metal arms that work against each other.

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When something is placed on the lower hook it falls forward, its back end thrusting upward on the upper hook so its front end falls forward to lock in the item.

Simple but ingenious.

Lift up on the item and the action moves in reverse, releasing it.

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One–hand operation.

The hook comes with two wood screws.

It can hold 40 pounds if mounted on a strong wall.

It's durable and meant for both indoor and outdoor use.

The plastic version (below),

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available in five colors (gray, black, white, clear and red), costs $10.50 and the beechwood model (above) is $16.99.

September 10, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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