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June 15, 2006

Doing Time Clock


By Josh Owen.

Official bookofjoe clock when he was in school.

June 15, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Toolbox Grill


That's different.

From the website:

    Toolbox Grill

    This race-inspired Toolbox Grill is the perfect portable charcoal grill.

    Special patented design uses top vents and a special charcoal basket, so there are no bottom vents needed and no worries about leaking ashes or charcoal during transport.

    The built-in feet and heat shield makes it safe even for use on wood or plastic picnic tables.

    Includes screwdriver-handled spatula, tongs, knife and fork to complete the toolbox theme.

    Measures 19" x 9" x 12".

    Weighs 18 lbs.


I mean, can you cook inside your toolbox?

Didn't think so.



June 15, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Droog Design — In the beginning...


There was the chandelier above, by Rody Grauman, consisting of 85 bare light bulbs hanging from 85 sockets and cords.

It was part of Droog's initial display at the Milan Furniture Fair in 1993.

Talk about breaking in with a bang.

Washington Post art critic Blake Gopnik ventured to Amsterdam for a visit to Droog headquarters; there he interviewed co-founder Renny Ramakers for an article that appeared in the June 11 Washington Post.

    From the story:

    "We have always said, and we still say, that for us, design is not a style... For us, it always starts with a story, a concept."

    The collection rejects the idea that ambitious design should be about a sleekly modern look. Instead, Ramakers... demand[s] a powerful conceptual component, a driving idea: audience participation, even violence, as in that sledgehammered chair; or danger....

    We think of designers as the people who take care of how things look, with maybe a touch of function thrown in. Droog's truly radical move is to insist that designers should care most about what an object means.

    "Modernism is only form and function," Ramakers explains. Whereas Droog products combine "form and function and emotion; form and function and a story."

    The emotions stirred by Droog — usually surprise and delight, but sometimes shock and even repulsion — are about how an object works, and how its look is born in an idea.

    What Droog has done, really, is to look for the radical energies and idiosyncrasies most typical of recent fine art and push them into design — an emphasis on politics and process, on ideas over craft andd mind over matter, all features borrowed from avant-garde art that make Droog stand out from its competition.


The chandelier is 28" in diameter and costs $2,090 (85 15-watt bulbs included).

June 15, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A.I. Bottle Opener


Each time you open a bottle it notes the event.

From the website:

    Bottle Cap Counter

    Take one down, pass it around… 99 bottles of beer on the wall.

    This fun little gadget is perfect for any party, BBQ or tailgate.

    It may appear to be your typical bottle opener, but a digital counter will let you and your friends know exactly how many beverages you’ve put away.



$9.95 (batteries included).

June 15, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Walk like a... millipede?


Henry Fountain, in his "Observatory" feature in yesterday's New York Times Science section, wrote about the recent rediscovery of the world's leggiest animal — a millipede named Illacme plenipes (above and below) — in Central California.

One of 12 specimens described in a paper published last week in Nature magazine has 666 legs.

The Times story follows.

    It's Got Legs, and Knows How to Use Them

    The millipede has a credibility problem. Despite the name, no millipede has a thousand feet. Most of them have a paltry 300 or fewer.

    The one that comes closest to living up to the name, Illacme plenipes, was discovered in the 1920's, in Central California. One specimen, slightly more than an inch long, had 750 legs, making it the leggiest animal in the world.

    Then plenipes scooted off, never to be seen again. Until now. A doctoral student at East Carolina University, Paul E. Marek, has rediscovered it.

    Mr. Marek, who is studying Appalachian millipedes for his dissertation, had heard about plenipes. Last Thanksgiving, while visiting his family in California, he and his brother decided to look for it. The original description of the species from the 1920's had included only a vague location. But Mr. Marek used his knowledge of millipedes, and of Central California ecology, and found it in an afternoon in San Benito County, east of Monterey Bay. (He is not disclosing the exact location for fear that millipede-seekers may harm the habitat.) The rediscovery was reported last week in Nature.

    Of Mr. Marek's dozen specimens, one has 666 legs. Plenipes embryos have only six legs; the creature adds four-legged segments as it grows, continuing to do so even after sexual maturity.

    Like other millipedes, plenipes displays extraordinary coordination when walking. The legs lift up, move forward and set down in synchronized waves, with three or four waves at any time.


The abstract of the Nature report follows.

    Biodiversity hotspots: Rediscovery of the world's leggiest animal

    The millipede species Illacme plenipes comes the closest to having its namesake's mythical 1,000 legs — individuals can bear up to 750 legs. Here we record the rediscovery of this extremely rare species, which has not been reported since its original description some 80 years ago, at a tiny locality of 0.8 square km in San Benito County, California. Because of the rarity and narrow geographical range of this delicate species, its fragile habitat must be protected at all costs.



Here is a link to the only known video of plenipes in motion.

June 15, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Portable Cordless LED Nightlight


Let's see: if you turn it on when it arrives and never turn it off it will last for 20,000 hours.

There are 168 hours in a week so that's 119 weeks = 2 years and 15 weeks.

So if you start using it next week, it'll go dark in October 2008.

I wonder what I'll be doing then.

But I digress.

From the website:


    It’s a nightlight, a flashlight, and an emergency beacon — all in one!

    The Safe-Light paints a faint but comforting glow of light on your hotel room ceiling — just the right brightness for finding items on your night stand, seeing your travel alarm clock and even helping you find the bathroom in a dark and unfamiliar hotel room.

    Press its button and Safe-Light becomes a flashlight.

    Select from two brightnesses and a pulsating strobe for emergencies.

    3" x 1¼" x 1".

    3½ oz.




June 15, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Wilbur B. Huston — 'The smartest boy in America' (in 1929) is dead


At age 16 he faced a panel of judges made up of — among others — Thomas Edison, Kodak founder George Eastman, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone and Charles Lindbergh, who grilled him and four other finalists in an oral examination to determine the winner.

Here's Patricia Sullivan's June 4 Washington Post appreciation of Huston (above, at age 17 in 1930 next to Thomas Edison), who died on May 25 at 93.

    His Youth Brightened by Edison, Physicist Reached for the Stars

    Before SATs, before Advanced Placement tests, before academic quiz shows, before self-conscious grooming of résumés by teenagers, there was Wilber B. Huston, "the brightest boy" of 1929.

    Huston, a 16-year-old high school senior from Seattle, bested thousands of boys across the nation and prevailed in a face-to-face interview with some of the greatest scientists, industrialists and academics of the era to win an all-expenses paid scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    His timing was perfect. The scholarship was awarded just three months before the stock market crashed, ushering in the Great Depression. And it came about almost by chance. Huston's grandfather read in the newspaper that the 82-year-old world-famous inventor Thomas A. Edison decided to encourage American boys to study science by sponsoring a scholarship contest. "This is a great opportunity for Bill. See that he applies," Huston's maternal grandfather wrote to his son-in-law.

    Newspapers called it Edison's search for a successor and "a quest for genius." Huston, who died May 25 after a 32-year career as a physicist with NASA, may or may not have been a genius, but he became a mission director at the Goddard Space Flight Center, where his team launched the Nimbus meteorological satellites, which have made significant contributions to earth science.

    In 1929, Huston was a skinny, bespectacled son of an Episcopal bishop who spent his boyhood moving from his birthplace of Detroit to Cheyenne, Wyo., Baltimore and San Antonio before his father settled in Seattle. He had skipped two grades, built a crystal radio set at 10, enjoyed marine biology and competed on his school's fencing team. He planned to go to the state university and hadn't applied for admission to MIT because he knew the $1,100 annual cost was too much for his father.

    For the Edison contest, he won the right to represent the state of Washington by acing the entrance exam for the University of Washington. In July 1929, he boarded a train for the three-day, four-night cross-country trip to compete for the prize.

    In New Jersey, the 49 rivals toured Edison's scientific laboratories, rode through the recently opened Holland Tunnel and visited Coney Island. The four-hour exam at Edison's old battery laboratory covered math, physics, chemistry and "general knowledge." Huston recalled that two questions in the last category included "Who is Jenny Lind?" and "When do you consider a lie permissible?" Most of the boys knew the name of the 19th-century "Swedish Nightingale." A lie is permissible, Huston said, "in case of serious trouble, pain and grief, and you do not benefit yourself in any way."

    Ten years later, it was revealed that four other boys finished so close to Huston in the written test that Edison decided to add an oral exam.

    No contemporary applicant to Harvard, Stanford or Chicago has faced a panel of judges who compare to those who grilled Huston and his rivals the day after their exam. Besides Edison, they included film-and-camera company founder George Eastman, automaker Henry Ford, industrialist Harvey Firestone, aviator Charles Lindbergh, the headmaster of Phillips Exeter Academy and the president of MIT.

    After the quiz, the group immediately announced Huston the winner. A moment of silence was followed by cheers, then the other boys hoisted him on their shoulders. The whole group hustled off to a trip around New York on the mayor's yacht and had dinner in a fancy restaurant. "I was impressed by the dinner as well as the check of which I managed to catch a glimpse: $20.00. (Remember, this was 1929)," Huston said in a family memoir that his son has posted on his Web site.

    The student awoke the next morning to a transatlantic telephone call from a London newspaper. Huston's photo was on Page 1 of the New York Times, accompanied by a long article and multiple photos inside the paper. The movie newsreels, having missed the announcement, came to his hotel for interviews. The media, which had created a hullabaloo around the event, dubbed Huston "the smartest boy in America," and unwanted publicity dogged him for years.

    Huston, who had planned to study chemical engineering, switched to physics and graduated in 1933. Unable to get a scholarship for graduate school, he went to work for Edison's son but four years later became fascinated with an evangelist's "moral re-armament" crusade. He worked for that campaign until World War II, when the need for scientists pulled him back to his intellectual home. He ended up with NASA and lived in Bowie until after his retirement.

    But in that heady first week of August 1929, Edison sent word to Huston that he wished to have dinner with him. Huston arrived at the grand Edison home to a formal family dinner, with servants in attendance.

    "The first course was a soup," Huston wrote in his family memoir. "After a few minutes Mr. Edison said something, and everyone laughed. I asked my dinner partner what he had said. 'I see he tasted his soup before he salted it' was the reply. Mr. Edison is famous for saying, 'I have no use for a man who salts his soup before he tastes it.' So I guess I passed both his examinations."


Below, Huston in 2003


at 90.

June 15, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Smudge Pot Redux


I always thought these were used by road crews back in the day — turns out it's true.

Now they've been cleaned up for the outdoor entertainment space to serve as lighting doubling as insect control.

From the website:

    Smudge Pots Provide Bug-Free, Torchlit Evenings

    First introduced in 1927 as warnings for road construction, Smudge Pots have made a comeback as outdoor lighting and insect control.


    The all-metal, powder-coated torches right themselves if tipped and have a nearly windproof flame.

    Use lamp oil or citronella oil.




Green, Red, Black, Metallic Bronze or Metallic Silver.


June 15, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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