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November 22, 2005

Tom Toles' Take on the Titan Arum


The peerless editorial–page cartoonist of the Washington Post featured the Smithsonian's sensational, just–finished–blooming, overpoweringly pungent plant (below)


in today's offering (top).

I'm loving it.

"Reminiscent of long–dead rat with just a hint of brie."

Hey — where'd you put the crackers, anyway?



The 2003 titan arum at its best.

November 22, 2005 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

'Meet the new AT&T' (same as the old AT&T)


I laughed so hard this morning reading about how SBC has decided to use AT&T's brand for its business from this day forward.

The new logo is above,
the old one below.


The only thing that makes sense about this decision is dropping the brain–dead name Cingular in favor of AT&T.

Either way, you're putting mascara on a donkey.

That's my iteration of Henry Blodgett's famous email about putting lipstick on a pig, which was how he referred — in a behind–the–scenes, internal email that later got him fired from Merrill Lynch and banned for life from the securities industry — to one of the loser companies he was touting back in the dot–com frenzy era.

Because SBC — no matter what you call it — and its telecom brethren are all dead companies walking for sure, what with VOIP steadily advancing to swamp them.

Better get out those golden parachutes, men and women up in the executive suites — it's a long, long way down.

The Who got it right, way back in 1971.

November 22, 2005 at 03:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How to avoid 'voice mail hell' — My best post ever?


What do you want to bet this one does more for more people than even the one about the Sharper Image's dangerous, useless and expensive Ionic Breeze Air Cleaner?

Paul English, co–founder of the travel search engine kayak.com, has created a website with a list of phone numbers for 110 organizations along with tips for bypassing phone trees and 'voice mail hell' — the endless, confusing instructions to press this number, then that, on and on forever, which end with you being disconnected and enraged.

It's at www.paulenglish.com/ivr.

"ivr" stands for "Interactive Voice Response," the name of the brain–dead–on–arrival (ooh, I like that: bDOA — better get on that one right away. Hey, crack reseach team, wake up: go make bDOA™, bDOA® and bDOA© happen) technology that drives you mad.

Loretta Chao, in today's Wall Street Journal, wrote that the site is constantly updated by, among others, bottom–of–the–totem–pole call center drones from the companies themselves trying to do their best to strike back at the empire.

For example, there's an unpublished internal number to reach Best Buy supplied by an employee.

Here's a number I've posted before, one that takes an awful lot of digging to find on your own: amazon's toll–free customer service telephone number: 800-201-7575.

[via Loretta Chao and the Wall Street Journal]

November 22, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Leather CD Case


Holds up to 20 CDs.


Snap closure.


6.5" x 5.75".


May be debossed in silver with up to three initials.

In Rust, Chocolate, Light Blue or Black.

$35 ($40 with monogram) here.

November 22, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wikipedia gets real


I know something's important to me when I allot one of the precious spaces in my computer's bookmarks bar to a website.

Yesterday Wikipedia went up there.

It's now my very first stop for information about almost anything.

Like Google, Amazon, and OneLook, it is sui generis.

No, that's not Latin for "generous pig" — even in Fayetteville.

But I digress.

Wikipedia has slowly morphed from one of many internet experiments into a powerful collection of information, open–source and ever–evolving.

Like you and me.

Don Tapscott, in today's Wall Street Journal, wrote that it's "seven times bigger than Britannica... [and] available in 92 languages."

Oh, yeah, one more thing: he forgot to mention that it's free.

It is amazing to me how Encyclopedia Britannica's online iteration, so wedded to its past it simply cannot help but continue to rearrange its deck chairs as it slowly sinks beneath the surface, continues to offer a paragraph on a topic, then tries to sell you a subscription so you can read the rest.

When you don't understand the language you're doomed when you have to live in a foreign land — at least online.

Oh, did I mention?

The Britannica website is cluttered, confusing, difficult to use, ugly, and very, very slow.

Other than that, they've twigged the internet perfectly.

November 22, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Throwback toy: Wooden Pick–Up Sticks resurface


I've never liked the shiny plastic version that's been the de facto standard for many years now.

They don't look right and they don't feel right and they just don't work right when you're trying an especially delicate lifting maneuver using them as levers.

That's why this return to the classic of days gone by is most welcome.

These are longer than the ones from way back in the day, though: they measure 9.75" each, supposedly to make things easier for the little ones.

30 assorted colored sticks for $6.95 here.

November 22, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack



It occurs to me that you've been working far too hard lately.

See — great minds think alike.

In an attempt to help you chill every now and then and take time away from the blood–on–the–lips pace that's somehow taken over your office space (what a totally great movie),


I present to you GamesForTheBrain.com.

The site was created by German programmer Philipp Lenssen.

30 — count 'em, 30 — online games (above) from Anagramania to WordHunt are offered for your slacking enjoyment.

If you say I tipped you off to this site I will pretend I don't know you.

"Deep Black" doesn't begin to describe my role here.

I'm seriously debating moving to one of the Channel Islands to further cloud the trail.

November 22, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Herbal Keyboard Rest


Enough with gel.

From the website:

    Corduroy Stripe Herbal Keyboard and Mouse Rests

    Give it a rest.


    Rest your hard–working hands on these super–soft cotton corduroy wrist rests as you sit at your desk and the pain will dissolve away.

    Organic flaxseed filling conforms to the shape of your wrists for cushiony support that makes typing and using your mouse a real pleasure.

    Plus, you can heat or cool the fragrant lavender pillows for added comfort.

    An added bonus — the soothing mix of colors makes any workstation look smarter!

    Choose from a keyboard rest, a mouse rest or the matching set.

    Made in Oregon.

The keyboard rest (top) is $32 and the mouse rest (below)


$18 here.


November 22, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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