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March 4, 2006

'Domino' [The Movie]

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Long story short: This is the saga of Domino Harvey, actor Laurence Harvey's daughter who, as a young woman, took up a career as a bounty hunter.

True.

I watched it last night on DVD and I will lead off with my recommendation: don't.

Having said that, let me say I enjoyed it.

How can I say this?

I mean, if I liked it, shouldn't I be able to say you might like it if...?

You're right.

You might like it if:

• You're in a mood where you can be very easily amused

• You don't have a headache — because this movie is ultra–loud, with a big–time rap soundtrack and lots of crashes, bangs, booms, explosions and what–not

• You don't mind really gross scenes that almost make the characters in the movie wince and cringe

• You don't mind all of the above going on for two hours and eight minutes

• You like Edgar Ramirez, who steals the film as Choco, Domino's semi–psychotic (more like 95/5) sidekick

• You like Keira Knightly

• You wonder what happened to Jacqueline Bisset — she pops up as Domino's nutso/strangely street–smart and very resilient (you'd have to be) mother

• You enjoy seeing really good actors like Christopher Walken camping it up — he plays a reality show producer with, as his executive assistant played by Mena Suvari says, "the attention span of a ferret on amphetamines"

• You continue to wonder in amazement at the on–screen results of Mickey Rourke's unfortunate brief career as a prizefighter — his acting chops haven't changed but he looks totally busted

• You don't mind irrational, seemingly random jumps in narrative and time with interspersed interrogations of the arrested Domino by an FBI psychologist played wonderfully by Lucy Liu

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The real Domino Harvey (pictured below in 1994 at age 24),

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died on June 27 of last year at age 35 from a fentanyl overdose.

March 4, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Palm Peeler

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For a moment there I thought Palm had finally thrown in the PDA–space towel.

Not so.

From the website:

    Palm peeler won’t strain your wrist!

    No more forcing a straight peeler around the curves of a potato or an apple.

    This palm–held peeler gives you more control as you guide it over fruits and vegetables.

    The unique design of this peeler means it won’t tire your wrist because the palm of your hand does all the work!

    Just slip the ring over your finger — the peeler rests comfortably in the contour of your palm.

    Rust–proof 18/10 stainless–steel blade

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It seems to me that the website catalog copy understates the possibilities inherent in this device when used outside the kitchen space.

Off the bottom of my arm I can think of... wait a minute — that's not right.

Off the tip of my ear.

Yeah, that's the phrase I was looking for.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah — myriad other uses.

Well, consider for a start:

• Use it to plane wood

• Could be a handy shaver (for when you're really desperate)

• Self–defense (there was a reason they referred to you as "the little shaver" back in the day)

• A handy self–service cheese sample removal device for when you're browsing at Whole Foods

You get the picture.

$4.95.

March 4, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The ultimate water saver toilet... is a sink

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I was reading some girl's blog last evening, about how her toilet backed up and her landlord wouldn't send a plumber over right then and there but instead said to wait until the next day.

The girl said fine, she'd manage and so she started peeing in her sink, using a small step lift to back up to the bumper, as it were.

I got to thinking about this solution and it occurred to me that it takes a lot less water to wash out a sink bottom than to flush a toilet, even with the new low–water use versions.

Now, urine is sterile, which means that it's much cleaner than the water running through your pipes — so what's the problem?

It would seem to me that certainly men — and those women willing to get up on their high horse, as it were — could use this toilet–free option to their advantage both re: their own water bills and the overall conservation effort.

Just a thought.

March 4, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Folding Balcony Table

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When every available inch counts.

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From the website:

    When serving space is scarce, this innovative folding balcony table is a party giver's necessity

    It attaches securely to any balcony or deck railing up to 7" wide and provides extra space for serving drinks and side dishes, or use it as a grill center for sauces and tools.

    Folds flat

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    against the deck or balcony when not in use.

    Holds up to 50 lb. and measures 35"W x 16-1/2"D.

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$53.50.

March 4, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Helpful Hints from joe–eeze: 'Duct Cleaning — Good idea, or just a lot of hot air?'

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Jeanne Huber visited the duct space in a November 3, 2005 Washington Post Home section Q.&A. that, though it didn't appear on Fox, did seem to me fair and balanced.

Without further ado, her article.

    Duct Cleaning: Good Idea, Or Just a Lot of Hot Air?

    Q. Is duct cleaning for furnaces a good idea or, in most cases, an unnecessary scam?

    A. In most cases, it's unnecessary.

    The Environmental Protection Agency has been saying this at least since 1997, and the American Lung Association echoes the advice.

    Yet the duct-cleaning industry continues to grow.

    John Schulte, executive director of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association, says that one recent study found that of the $15.9 billion that Americans spend each year on indoor air services, $4 billion goes for duct cleaning -- equal to what's spent on asbestos and lead abatement, and more than the $3.4 billion spent on remediation, such as fixing leaks that lead to mildew growth.

    Clearly, something is out of whack.

    Either the officials' message isn't getting through or consumers don't believe it.

    The idea that ducts need to be cleaned seems to makes sense, especially when you realize that forced-air heating systems run as a loop unless they are equipped with heat-recovery ventilators or other devices that automatically vent some of the stale air and replace it with fresh outside air.

    Otherwise, the furnace generates hot air, which flows through one set of ducts to registers in rooms.

    There, the heated air increases the air pressure, forcing some of the rooms' colder air through return grates and back to the furnace.

    Inevitably, the circulating air picks up dust, hair, pet dander, dust mites, and whatever else is lightweight and capable of becoming airborne.

    The furnace filter is supposed to trap most of this before the air warms up for a new circuit through the house.

    But dust still inevitably collects on the registers (especially the return-air grates) and perhaps also in the ducts.

    Schulte says his association's members frequently find ducts padded with two inches of dust.

    "If you're the kind of person who would leave two inches of dust sitting on a desk, you might be willing to leave two inches of dust sitting in your ducts," Schulte says.

    His point: Cleaning away the dust blanket makes sense.

    But does it?

    In the mid-1990s, before the EPA came out with its advice to be skeptical, the agency and the National Air Duct Cleaners Association teamed up on a research program aimed at determining how indoor air quality is affected by duct cleaning.

    In 1997, the EPA released a 16-page handout based on that research.

    It was pretty damning.

    "Duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems," the report said.

    "Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts or go down after cleaning. This is because much of the dirt in air ducts adheres to duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space."

    The report went on to say that duct cleaning could be useful if there is visible mold inside ducts, but only if they are metal or other solid material, and only if the cleaning is done properly.

    Ducts with interior insulation can't be adequately cleaned and must be replaced if they become moldy.

    At the time, the EPA noted that the duct-cleaning industry was still in its infancy.

    So while the report noted a lack of evidence to back up the need for duct cleaning, a reader might conclude that evidence would point out the usefulness of the procedure if only the right tests were done.

    Now, though, nearly 10 years have elapsed, and the evidence still doesn't exist.

    The trade association, which represents 856 companies, publishes standards, sponsors training programs and serves as a referral agency for cleaners who agree to follow the association's protocols unless they inform the client of a change, perhaps because the customer doesn't want to pay for the whole procedure.

    The standards and training do reflect problems that the mid-'90s research uncovered.

    For example, duct cleaners now turn on their vacuum systems before they begin scrubbing at any dust built up inside ducts so that it is siphoned away rather than spewed into the indoor air.

    There is also a protocol to ensure that every part of the system is cleaned.

    Although there has been recent talk about it, Schulte says, the association has not commissioned any studies to answer the basic question of whether the air inside a house becomes cleaner once ducts are cleaned.

    Given that so much money is being made without evidence showing a need, you have to conclude that someone doesn't want to ask the question for fear of getting the wrong answer.

    Or maybe the answer's known, but no one dares to reveal it.

    Which brings us back to the limited circumstances where the EPA says that duct cleaning might be useful: when there is mold within metal ducts or when residents have unexplained allergies or other health problems that might be linked to dirty indoor air.

    Mold, a term that refers to a great many kinds of fungi, grows only on surfaces that are persistently damp, so if you have mold within ducts, there something is clearly wrong with your heating system.

    It could be a humidifier linked to the heating system, an issue related to an air conditioner that uses the same ducts to deliver cold air, or a leak.

    Whatever the cause, your first step should be calling in a heating and air conditioning expert to diagnose the problem.

    Cleaning the ducts won't, by itself, solve the problem.

    And if your ducts are made of insulated board rather than metal, they have fiberglass insulation on the inside and should not be cleaned aggressively because doing so might free the fibers and send them through your house.

    This type of ducting, once moldy, must be replaced.

    The EPA cautions that there is no evidence to support spraying ducts with biocides or encapsulants, which some duct-cleaners recommend.

    If health problems are what are prompting you to consider duct cleaning, the EPA recommends you visit a doctor for help in sorting out the numerous possible causes.

    Whether you have health problems or are just trying to prevent them, certain steps do make sense.

    Get a good furnace filter and change it regularly, or consider investing in an air cleaner.

    If you have a humidifier, make sure to empty and clean the pan regularly, or have a plumber connect it to a drain system so it empties automatically.

    And have a heating and air-conditioning expert check whether your ducts are sealed so that air can't leak out, or in.

    This is primarily an energy-saving measure, but it also can improve air quality because leaky connections can allow insulation fibers to get into the ducts in certain circumstances.

    For more information, "Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned?" summarizes the Environmental Protection Agency's advice on this issue.

    Go to http://www.epa.gov/ and type "duct cleaning" into the search box.

    From that page, you will find a link to advice about sealing gaps in ducts.

    From that document, you also will find a link to an overview of health problems that can be triggered by dirty indoor air and to air cleaners.

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Well, you're already more fortunate than I in at least one respect: most likely you're reading this before, not after, you've paid major money to have your ducts cleaned.

About seven or eight years ago I had a major home–improvement jones and had tons of work done, among other things putting on new copper gutters, painting the outside of the house, retiling and regrouting the bathrooms wherever time had loosened things up, major tree work to open up the view to the mountains and the northwest, and replacing my furnace and heat pump.

Well, after all that and with a brand–new heating and cooling system it seemed only smart to have my ducts cleaned.

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My house was built in 1967 and around thirty years old at the time I had them cleaned; the original owner/builder was a heavy smoker and very frugal and I strongly doubt he ever paid to have the ducts cleaned while he lived here; I certainly had never done it.

Long story short: having it done was a huge mistake.

But not for any of the reasons noted in Huber's article.

First of all, the registers and returns had never been removed since the house was built: doing so caused some of them not to be properly seatable again because of the inevitable shifting and settling of the property over time and consequent movement of the attachment screws and all.

But that's trivial compared to the main reason it was a mistake: after the duct cleaning was finished, every time the heat or fan or AC came on there was a tremendous amount of metallic vibrational and rattling noise throughout the house.

By cleaning the metal ducts down to their surfaces and removing the accumulated lining of years, the air moving through them and especially around corners now created a tremendous racket, with the vibration and noise from the basement source carrying into every room.

Also, the settled positions of the ducts in their mounts was disturbed and thus innumerable new sources of metal–on–on metal noise were created.

I am extemely covetous of silence — when I want silence.

I recall reading once that the four most important attributes of a home — or potential home — are space, light, silence and a view.

So.

My unhappiness from the first time I heard the loud sounds of air moving through my clean ducts lasted — intermittently, because like most things you get used to it — for years, until finally either the ducts became once again insulated with dust and debris or I simply grew accustomed to it.

Now things seem fine and quiet like they used to be.

But I'll tell you what: if you offered me $10,000 cash today to have my ducts cleaned — yes, you read it right, you pay me the money and then do it — I'd turn you away and close the door in a New York zeptosecond.

Or less.

March 4, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Balance Point Stool

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From the website:

    This is the stool crafted in Langenneufnach, Germany and designed with a special pneumatic column that creates a precise balance point to encourage the sitter to maintain a correct vertical spinal alignment.

    This balanced sitting helps develop the muscles of the back that contribute to proper posture and improved back strength.

    Unlike fixed stools this one has a range of motion (below),

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    allowing the stool seat to sway back and forth and side-to-side as the sitter moves, so the balanced sitting surface remains supportive even when reaching across a desk without having to relocate the stool.

    The patented air cushion provides a gentle seat that is adjustable for individual body weight due to a built-in pressure regulator that accommodates up to 250 lbs.

    The base is designed like an inflatable tire that is easy to move and will not dent furniture or scar floors.

    23" H x 16" W x 16" L.

    18 lbs.

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$199.95.

As I was fooling around with the pictures of this object I got to thinking about how it might be a nice "What am I?" post (below)

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but then I remembered that I discontinued that popular feature last year because it got really annoying, what with my having to remember to come back a week later with the answer.

March 4, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Glamour Stiletto Run

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You've been training for
this race your entire
life but never realized it.

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It's next Thursday, March 9
at 5 p.m. on PC Hooft Street
in Amsterdam.

The race is a promotion for
Glamour's first spring fashion
issue in The Netherlands.

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You sprint 70 meters in stilettos
at least 7 cm (2.75") tall.

The winner gets €10,000
($12,000; £6,860).

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Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana
are just across the street
from the finish line.

For those who simply can't get
enough of the stiletto lifestyle™,
there's more here.

[via Shawn Lea and everythingandnothing]

March 4, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Extreme Pen — Episode 2: What I Carry

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Don't look too quickly or you'll miss it (above).

It's a replacement ball point pen for the larger Swiss Army knives.

I keep it in my wallet for notes and what have you for when no one has a pen.

You wouldn't believe how useful it's been over the years.

70 mm (2.75") long and worth every penny of the $1.90 it costs.

I always keep a few extras around just in case but each one seems to last for years.

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Outstanding technology at a very reasonable price.

March 4, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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