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November 21, 2007

'Hylozoic Soil' — by Philip Beesley


It's an"... 8,000-cubic-foot thicket of acrylic, latex and metal that trembles, gasps and snaps at people who pass through it."

Tim McKeough featured the piece (above) in an article that appeared in the November, 2007 issue of Wired magazine, and follows.

    This Art Bites.

    A beastly building material — with eyes and probes.

    Walls. Some provide structural support and separate the kitchen from the dining room. Others suckle your scalp to extract your bodily fluids for sustenance. Take, for example, "Hylozoic Soil," an 8,000-cubic-foot thicket of acrylic, latex, and metal that trembles, grasps, and snaps at people who pass through it. The creator of this conceptual building material, Canadian artist and architect Philip Beesley, also designs respectable, less-aggressive public structures. But this latest work takes inspiration from hylozoism, the belief that all matter has life.

    "The first impression is that it's very benign," Beesley says. Indeed, the columns — made of over 70,000 delicate laser-cut components that converge in a skeletal canopy — appear harmless. Then you notice them swallowing like a forest of mechanical throats. A system of infrared proximity sensors, microcontrollers, strands of titanium nickel memory wire, and custom circuit boards helps "Hylozoic Soil" zero in on victims: Hundreds of frondlike fingers made of serrated Mylar, acetate, and polycarbonate reach out to greet you, as dense colonies of whiskers wave excitedly overhead. But don't get too close: Needles attached to tiny latex bladders are poised to pierce your skin, and collector barbs grab hair and clothing. "It has a lot of hunger," Beesley says. "It treats you much like any wild animal would treat a human: You're its food." The daring — or foolhardy — can tempt the predator at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts through early December.

November 21, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack



From the website:


The winter traction aid that brings you home — safely.

When winter whips up a quick blast of snowy, icy weather, you can still drive safely with easy-to-install AutoSocks.

High-tech hydroscopic cloth fibers, which become rougher with use, are arranged in a specific pattern that provides traction, optimizes grip and handles the watery film found between icy roads and your tires.


Designed for Norway's wintry conditions, AutoSock is easy to install and easy to use.

Just slip one AutoSock over each drive wheel, move forward to center it on the tire, and you’re ready to go.

AutoSock rides smoothly and quietly up to a maximum speed of 30 mph on slick roads and is safe for use with ABS-equipped cars.

Unlike chains, they won’t break and they even can be used on cars with minimal tire/fender clearance.

Your AutoSock kit comes with a convenient storage bag, gloves to keep your hands clean during installation and complete instructions.



November 21, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

WakerUpper.com — 'Free wake-up calls to your cell or landline phone'


So simple even a TechnoDolt™ can use it:

1) Enter a date, time and phone number

2) Wait for your call

November 21, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Chromatherapy — For Wine


Yes, it's finally here, after years of work out back in the skunk works.

From the website:

Illuminated Ambiance Chiller

Set the mood — festive or romantic — in a cool and creative way!

Durable plastic and aluminum provide lasting insulation when ice or water is added.

This illuminated wine/champagne chiller casts a warm glow featuring several different colors (yellow, green, blue, violet, pink, and red).


Select the "fusion" mode and these colors slowly change.

The "freeze" mode keeps your favorite in place.

Stays lit approximately 8 hours when charged.

Includes LED SMD power supply/charger unit.

Takes approximately 4 hours to fully charge.

Frosted semi-transparent finish.

Remains lit when plugged in.

11-3/8"H x 10-3/8" Dia.



The website features a demonstration video.

If it hasn't happened after 8 hours, well, tomorrow's another day.


November 21, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Virtual Money in Real Beijing


I read Mure Dickie's March 6, 2007 Financial Times article on the subject with interest, then put it aside.

One of my principles is that if something's interesting now, it ought to be interesting then.

Today's the day; the story follows.

    Beijing fears virtual money’s influence

    China has issued restrictions on the use of “virtual money” from internet games, warning such currencies could threaten real-world financial stability.

    The ban on using virtual money to buy “material products” is part of a wider tightening of controls that includes a renewed crackdown on the cafes where many of China's estimated 137m internet users go online.

    Beijing’s move highlights the blurring boundaries between online and offline worlds. Governments and judiciaries elsewhere are also struggling to decide how to regulate online economies that have spawned multi-million dollar businesses trading virtual items and currencies for hard cash. But few view them as a threat to the world financial system.

    The restrictions follow Beijing’s growing concern about the influence of currencies created by internet companies, particularly the wildly popular "QQ Coins" issued by Hong Kong-listed messaging and games provider Tencent.

    Tencent's messaging system is used by an estimated two-thirds of Chinese internet users and its QQ Coins have been accepted as payment by other companies as well as sold for legal tender.

    A formal notice quietly issued to officials last month by the Communist party and government departments, including the central bank, has ordered “strict differentiation between virtual exchanges and online commerce in material products”.

    The notice says: “The People's Bank of China will strengthen management of the virtual currencies used in online games and will stay on the lookout for any assault by such virtual currencies on the real economic and financial order.”

    Virtual money can only be used to buy virtual products and services the companies provide themselves, issuance will be limited, and users are “strictly forbidden” from trading it into legal tender for a profit, says the notice.

    The curb on virtual money reflects concerns that it has been used to circumvent China's strict laws against gambling.

    Tencent and other internet companies offer forums where people can play online versions of games such as mahjong using virtual money, although Tencent says it has “adjusted” its services in recent months and that they now “accord entirely with government instructions”.

    China is in the throes of a campaign to “purify” the internet, and most of the content of the notice was aimed at tightening controls over the country's estimated 113,000 internet cafes. It blamed internet cafes for fostering “internet addiction”, banned approval of new ones this year and toughened penalties for those that admit minors. Crackdowns in 2002 and 2004 had a limited impact.


All money is virtual.

November 21, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dashboard Monk


Serenity on the cheap.

From the website:

    Dashboard Monk

    Only when you grasp the essence of bouncing on a spring will you truly understand the meaning of sitting still.

    Park this peaceful, 4-1/2" tall Dashboard Monk anywhere you need a little spiritual inspiration.

    Each hard vinyl monk has an adhesive base and sways with the slightest provocation, reminding us that sometimes it is wise to bend like a willow.


November 21, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Pan-Fried Pizza — No Oven Required


That's different.

Mark Bittman's November 7, 2007 New York Times "The Minimalist" column featured an introduction along with his recipe; both follow.

    A Basic Pie: No Oven Required

    Not long ago, toppings for pizza were becoming unbearably fancy — hoisin-slathered duck, or fontina and truffles — or just ridiculous (you’ve seen the ones with pasta?). Pizza threatened to become something other than pizza. Fortunately, that trend has reversed.

    Nevertheless, it is still fun to innovate, or to adopt a pizza tradition you were not familiar with. My friend Ed Schneider, a sometime food writer and brilliant home cook, called me recently with a suggestion that sounded so good I tried it immediately: pan-fried pizza [top].

    Turns out, perhaps not surprisingly, that pizza fritta probably originated in Naples; you can also find it in Scotland, sometimes stuffed with chips, but enough said about that.

    The principles and ingredients are classic, the technique and results strikingly different from what pizza lovers have come to expect.

    Take pizza dough and shape it — small disks are best — then fry it in enough olive oil to crisp the bottom. Then flip it.

    If the toppings are hot (as, for example, tomato sauce might be) or the quantities small (a bit of grated cheese, rather than a pile), all you need to do from this point is drop them on top, then brown the bottom of the second side.

    If, on the other hand, you choose to load on the toppings, you must either cover the pan or run the whole thing under the broiler, so that they get good and hot.

    The result is a small pie, ultracrisp, with the wonderful flavor of olive oil permeating the dough.


Here's the recipe.

    Pan-Fried Pizza

    Time: About 2 hours

    2 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more as needed

    3/4 teaspoon instant yeast

    1 teaspoon coarse salt

    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for cooking

    About 2 cups any light, fresh tomato sauce, warmed

    Sliced mozzarella to taste

    Salt and black pepper

    Prosciutto slices and basil leaves for topping (optional).

    1. Combine flour, yeast and salt in a food processor. Turn machine on and add 1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoons oil through feed tube. Process for about 30 seconds, adding more water, a tablespoon or so at a time, until mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. (If mixture becomes too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time.)

    2. Put one tablespoon olive oil in a bowl and turn dough ball in it. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours. When dough is ready, re-form into a ball and divide it into 4 pieces; roll each piece into a ball. Place each piece on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle with a little flour, and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rest until each puffs slightly, about 20 minutes.

    3. When ready to cook, press one ball into about a 10-inch round. Use a little flour, if needed, to prevent sticking and a rolling pin, if desired. Film a 10-inch skillet with olive oil and turn heat to medium. When oil shimmers, put dough in pan and adjust heat so it browns evenly without burning. (If dough puffs up unevenly in spots, push bubbles down.)

    4. Turn dough, then top browned side with tomato sauce, cheese, a bit of salt and pepper, and, if you like, prosciutto and/or basil leaves. If top is now heavily laden, cover pan and continue cooking, or run it under broiler, just until toppings become hot. With only a couple of toppings, just cook until bottom browns. Repeat with remaining dough; serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

    Yield: At least 4 servings.

November 21, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sound-Activated Equalizer T-Shirt


Drive your mates in the cubicle farm wild!

From the website:

Sound Activated Tee

Be the party in this wild animated Tee with glowing equalizer display that reacts to any music or ambient sound!


Remote control fits in hidden pocket inside shirt (or in your pants pocket) to control display via on/off switch with high or low intensity options depending on proximity to sound.

Crank up the tunes (or hum a few lines) and watch your tee go crazy!

Requires 4 AAA batteries (not included).



November 21, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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