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September 24, 2005

Sometimes it's OK to judge a book by its cover


Like the one pictured above: you just know it's going to be good.

Certainly one of my top ten epigrams is this, from Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray": "It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances."

Aldo Buzzi is one of Italy's most accomplished, versatile men.

Now 95, he has been, among other things, an essayist, architect, screenwriter and indefatigable world traveler.

In this small (about 5" x 7", 150 pages) volume he reflects on meals, flavors, cooking, recipes, and all manner of other things, seasoning his book with memories of people, places and things that have caught his fancy for one reason or another.

Anecdotes, observations, named dropped shamelessly and unabashedly, this and that.

The book has line drawings by Saul Steinberg, who met Buzzi in architecture school in Milan in the 1930s and remained close friends with him until Steinberg died in 1999 at age 85.

Buzzi once wrote, "The writer who never talks about eating, about appetite, hunger, food, about cooks and meals, arouses my suspicion, as though some vital element were missing in him."

The book retails for $16.95 and costs $11.53 at amazon.

September 24, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Flash Memory Card Vault


I must admit that even after reading the description of this product in the catalog I still can't quite understand why anyone would buy it.

Read the website's description, in full, for yourself:

    Shock, Dust, and Waterproof Floating Card Vault Keeps Valuable Photos Safe Under Extreme Conditions

    Our versatile Card Vault comes with shock-absorbing foam multi-card inserts that fit all popular memory cards: MMC/SD Cards; Smart Media; Sony Memory Stick; or Compact Flash.

    Holds 4 cards snugly behind viewing windows so you can I.D. cards without opening the case.

    Anti-static materials prevent erasure due to static discharge.

    Built like a tank to be shockproof and crushproof, yet slim enough to slip into your pocket.

    Compression latch seals out dust, weather and water.

    Even floats if you drop it overboard!

Here's what doesn't make sense to me: why would you remove your memory card from your PDA or camera or whatever, then put it inside this box and go out kayaking like the guy pictured on the website (below)?


Wouldn't it make more sense just to leave the flash cards in their devices?

If you do feel the need to keep your cards with you while you're on the water, then I suppose you might want one of these.

3.9" x 3" x 0.75".

$24.94 here.

Hey, wait a minute: I just realized there are probably a lot of people who would prefer to keep their memory cards with them while they bathe or shower: now they can.

I guess I just have to learn to see the bigger picture.

September 24, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The most hideous bag of 2005


Ladies, we have a winner (above).

I'm sorry to say it's from Chanel.

I saw it in this past Tuesday's New York Times in an ad and I could not believe my eyes.

Even in black–and-white it was painful to look at.

Chanel calls it the Fluffy Sport Bag and would like you to drop $1,545 for one at any of their boutiques nationwide.

I tried to find it on their (predictably) horrible website but couldn't — no surprise there.

Go visit and get a free lesson in website design: do the opposite of everything you see on Chanel's and you'll do just fine on the internet.

What a nightmare.

And to think they must have paid a fortune for their exercise in Flash futility.

Ah, well — not my problem, thank goodness.

I did find a picture of their Tweed and Fur Flap Bag (below)


buried in their virtual wreckage: it looks as if it emerged from the same deranged design session as the Fluffy Sport.

September 24, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

John Deere Tractor Clock


For the tried–and-true, dyed–in–the–blue (green?) tractor fan.


Each hour on this great clock features a picture of one of a dozen of John Deere's most loved tractors since the 1916 Waterloo Boy took America's cornfields by storm.

When the hour arrives the clock makes the sound of the tractor model pictured.

The clock has a light sensor so it won't keep grinding away while you're trying to count sheep instead of avoid them.

Built–in hanging hook and desk stand.

Requires 3 AA batteries.

8" diameter.

$15.98 here (batteries not included).


September 24, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Turning Torso — by Santiago Calatrava


It seems to me striking modern buildings should be considered works of art and when they are named the architect should be noted just as we would with a sculpture or painting.

So with this new piece, the Turning Torso in Malmö, Sweden by the Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava.

Indeed, the building's website begins, "Based on a work of sculpture...."

The 623–foot–tall structure, above a former industrial district, consists of nine cubes twisting toward the waterfront.


It sits on the strait separating Denmark from Sweden and instantly becomes the tallest residential building in Sweden.

September 24, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

FlameOut® — World's first fire extinguisher foam in an aerosol can


Target began carrying the one–liter spray cans of aerosol foam on Labor Day weekend and FlameOut®'s scheduled to be in every one of the 5,100 CVS stores in the U.S. by the end of this month.

The company points out that less than 10% of American homes have a fire extinguisher (mine does) and that half of them wouldn't perform because they've expired.

I just went to check my two and indeed they're years past their expiration dates.

Maybe I should keep reading – and writing.

A can of FlameOut® is good for three years.


According to manufacturer Summit Environmental of Longview, Texas, the product addresses all three aspects of the "fire triangle":

1) It clings to oxygen, removing the oxygen molecules where contact is made with and around the fire.

2) It's an encapsulator and emulsifier (UL Listing 162), thereby changing the molecular structure of the hydrocarbons encapsulated and making the substances unable to be reignited.

3) It cools surfaces so quickly that one can touch the surface of a burning tire immediately after a fire is extinguished.

FlameOut® costs $19.95 a can but my revamped, supposedly new and improved crack research team simply could not locate it online at either the Target or CVS websites nor were they able to find it anywhere else on the web.

You'll just have to make the trip to Target or CVS.


Don't worry: I've already given these losers their 72–hour–notices: there'll be a whole new crew in place by Monday morning.

September 24, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Turning the pages at the British Library


Last November I remarked here on the superb online collection of the British Library, containing nearly 100,000 images of all manner of things from its nonpareil collections.

Now comes a joehead with a heads–up about a new feature of the website: "Turning the Pages."

It allows you virtual access to the complete texts of 14 landmark books.

"Leaf through 14 great books and magnify the details."


Among them:

• "First Atlas of Europe" — Compiled by Mercator in the 1570s (above)

• "The Original Alice" — A hand–written version of what would become Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland"

• "The Oldest Printed Book" — View the Diamond Sutra, printed in China in 868

• "The Lindisfarne Gospels"

• "Jane Austen's Early Work" — The History of England in her own hand (below)


This website is a model of what an interactive internet experience should be but rarely is: beautiful, easy–to–use, requiring no computer expertise and producing wonderful results with very little effort.

[via GP]

September 24, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Spotglo™ Seatbelt Light


Could this be the elusive, never–seen–but–oft–fantasized–about perfect bedtime reading light, masquerading as an auto accessory?

It starts off on the right foot: the device has 4 LEDs.

Three are the minimum required — in this writer's (and reader's) opinion — for sufficient light for delightful reading in bed.


Reading on in the website we learn that the focus — as it were — of the light is providing powerful light for a passenger without distracting the driver.


• 2 power levels

• Adjustable to provide light in two different positions

• Clips on and off seatbelt easily

• Glides smoothly on seatbelt for desired positioning

Tell you what: if the light's good enough I'll even wear a seatbelt in bed to finally solve the seemingly intractable problem of obtaining perfect bedtime reading conditions that do not disturb another person nearby who prefers to visit dreamland.


Requires 3 AAA batteries which provide 10 hours of light on "High" and 25 hours on "Low."

$19.99 for two lights here (Batteries not included).

[via Shawn Lea Zender's everythingandnothing.

September 24, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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