« December 7, 2007 | Main | December 9, 2007 »

December 8, 2007

The Pottery of Bernard Leach — Now Online


"The catalogue to the archive of Britain's most celebrated


20th century potter is now available on the Crafts Study Centre's website."


It's a searchable database of more than 15,000 papers, photographs, drawings, diaries and published works.

December 8, 2007 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Weather Forecasting Umbrella


From the website:

    Ambient Forecasting Umbrella — This Intelligent Umbrella Has You Covered!

    The utilitarian umbrella has received a lot of upgrades throughout the years. It's been made smaller and larger, lighter, stronger, easier to open, easier to close and even glowing. The Ambient Forecasting Umbrella, however, has received the ultimate upgrade — it's been made smarter. It tells you when you need to take it along with you.

    This umbrella has been injected with some wonderful technology in the handle. A built-in wireless receiver gets a daily weather forecast from Accuweather.com, and blue LEDs will flash to let you know if the forecast is rain or snow. The LEDs located at the bottom of the handle will flash in proportion to the chance of precipitation for your area; if there is a 100% chance, it will flash quickly, and if a 10% chance, it will flash slowly.

    The umbrella itself is also incredibly well made. When opened, the umbrellas 58" dual-canopy "gust buster" design resists strong wind gusts and keeps you fully sheltered from precipitation. Easy push-button opening action and full length storage sleeve with wrist strap.


    • Receives weather data for 150 U.S. locations from Accuweather.com

    • Blue LEDs in the handle indicate when rain or snow is expected

    • Dimensions: 41-1/2" L x 58" diameter (it is a large umbrella)

    • Network signal and low battery indicator lights

    • Takes a single "C" size battery (not included)

    • Top quality "gust buster" canopy design




December 8, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Night Air — by C. Dale Young

"If God is Art, then what do we make
of Jasper Johns?" One never knows
what sort of question a patient will pose,

or how exactly one should answer.
Outside the window, snow on snow
began to answer the ground below

with nothing more than foolish questions.
We were no different. I asked again:
"Professor, have we eased the pain?"

Eventually, he'd answer me with:
"Tell me, young man, whom do you love?"
"E," I'd say, "None of the Above,"

and laugh for lack of something more
to add. For days he had played that game,
and day after day I avoided your name

by instinct. I never told him how
we often wear each other's clothes —
we aren't what many presuppose.

Call it an act of omission, my love.
Tonight, while walking to the car,
I said your name to the evening star,

clearly pronouncing the syllables
to see your name dissipate
in the air, evaporate.

Only the night air carries your words
up to the dead (the ancients wrote):
I watched them rise, become remote.

December 8, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'Look for opportunities to practice standing on one leg' — Scott McCredie


McCredie's new book, "Balance: In Search of the Lost Sense," is a meditation on the wonder of human equilibrium.

I was struck by the penultimate paragraph of Daniel B. Smith's August 19, 2007 New York Times Book Review discussion of the book; that paragraph follows.

    From the review:

    Tales of "extreme equilibrium" ("Balance" also includes unicyclists, Chinese acrobats, and an 84-year-old competitive table tennis player) provide McCredie with something of a practical moral. At the start, he proclaims his concern over "an epidemic of falls" that is "mowing down the elderly like scythes." This sounds like tabloid hyperbole until you read the statistics. By 2040, at the current rates cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 million people will fall in the United States each year, "resulting in eight million injuries and 25,000 deaths." To counteract this trend, McCredie suggests balance training, in the form of anything from tai chi to ballroom dancing. He even includes an appendix of balance exercises. For example: "Look for opportunities to practice standing on one leg.... Do it while you’re waiting for the bus, cooking, brushing your teeth, watching TV or any time you find yourself standing around."


Having had several neighbors die after falls over the past few years, this advice resonates.

Where's my slackline?

December 8, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Linda Hesh's Desolation Row


From the Washington D.C. artist's "Desolation Project."

A series of eight different statements — printed on cardstock and measuring 4.25" x 11" — costs $25.

Just think of the possibilities.

December 8, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Experts' Expert: Super Bowl-winning quarterback Phil Simms on throwing the perfect spiral


You could read Reed Albergotti's front-page story in today's Wall Street Journal or, in even less time, watch the accompanying video and elevate your game.

It looks so easy when Simms (above) breaks it down.

But as he pointed out to Albergotti, "I've thrown over a million."

Practice makes perfect.

In case you can't see the video for one reason or another or simply prefer your information in text form, here's the article.

    How to Throw Like a Pro

    Former NFL QB Phil Simms on the secret mechanics of hurling a football

    Take a kidney bean, blow it up to the size of an eggplant, shave both ends to a point, cover it with slick leather and fill it with 75 quarters.

    Now go outside and try to throw it accurately.

    This is, in rough terms, the challenge millions of Americans will face this holiday season during ritual backyard football games. Never mind that footballs weren't meant to be thrown in the first place (the sport was derived from rugby, a game with no forward passes) or that no two coaches seem to agree on how this skill should be taught — the ability to throw a spiral remains one of the most unforgiving litmus tests of American manhood.

    It's also one of the toughest to fake. Physicists say a football needs to spin to be gyroscopically stable, but as soon as it's airborne, wind and gravity will try to knock it from its axis and make it wobble like a slow bicycle. That a quarterback can throw one of these things 60 yards and hit a moving target "is just amazing," says William Rae, professor emeritus of aerospace engineering at the University at Buffalo.

    For those who want to master the skill, Phil Simms, the 52-year-old former New York Giants quarterback, agreed to share his secrets on technique at his home in Franklin Lakes, N.J. Though he won a Super Bowl with the Giants in the 1986-1987 season, Mr. Simms says it wasn't until about 1993, when he retired and started teaching his two sons to throw, that he immersed himself in the mechanics of passing. Since then, Simms has become an NFL color commentator for CBS and emerged as an expert on passing technique. He has written a book called "Phil Simms on Passing" and tutored several promising quarterbacks (at no charge) from nearby schools. If he'd known what he knows now while he was still playing, he says, "I would have set records."

    Until 1906, football was a running game. The forward pass was foisted upon it when university presidents became outraged at the number of deaths on the field, which hit an estimated 18 in 1905. College football's rules committee, which included legendary coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, created the pass to spread the game out. It didn't become popular until the 1930s when the NCAA and the National Football League adopted a standard ball size.

    Since then, the popularity of the forward pass has grown to the point where it's hard to imagine football without it. Today, about 56% of NFL plays involve passing.

    Current NFL quarterbacks aren't always the best passing role models. Among the league's 32 starters, there are 20 different ways of throwing the ball, Mr. Simms says, few of which approach anything close to perfection.

    Mr. Simms says he first started to rethink his own passing technique when Jim Fassel came to the Giants as an assistant coach in 1991. Under his tutelage, Mr. Simms says he started clasping the ball with two hands, which reduced fumbles. He held the ball low at his chest instead of up near his shoulder, which improved his release time. By keeping his arm and body relaxed, his throws became more accurate. After retiring, he took his study further and created drills that reinforce specific aspects of his passing technique.

    The first thing he tells students is to take a deep breath and relax. Tension and a too-tight grip on the ball can be the downfall of a passer. Tight muscles inhibit movement at the joints, he says, causing the arm to work as one object, like a catapult. When it's limp and the joints move, the arm acts as a whip.

    Ball grip is a matter of preference, he says. Holding it over the laces helps add spin, but holding it without using the laces is OK, too. One grip has the middle and ring fingers over the laces and the index finger just behind them. But someone with smaller hands can grab the ball closer to the point, where the circumference is shorter.

    Most people throw by drawing the football back behind their ear and pushing it forward. But pushing the ball makes it difficult to impart spin, Mr. Sims says. Instead, the arm should whip, with the help of torque created at the waist.

    Another misconception is that a spiral can be achieved only by launching the ball as hard as possible. Softly thrown balls can have spin, too.

    Some of the drills Mr. Simms has come up with to teach these principles are unorthodox. So much so that a few coaches have refused to let their young quarterbacks train with him for fear he'll ruin them.

    Tom Martinez, who began coaching New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady when he was 13 and now heads up the quarterbacking branch of an invitation-only camp for gifted players, says he doesn't share the Simms philosophy. Instead of teaching one rigid technique, Mr. Martinez says he works with a thrower's existing style and tries to make it more consistent and repeatable.

    Those who think they have a good handle on the spiral would be well served by standing on the receiving end of the Simms version. After licking his fingers to get a better grip and setting his feet, he uncoils a series of identical passes that cover 40 yards with alarming speed, delivering a sting to the palms of anyone not wearing oven mitts. "I've thrown over a million," Mr. Simms says, modestly.

December 8, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wi-Fi Detector Shirt


From the website:

    Wi-Fi Detector Shirt — Signal Status for You and the World!

    Here at ThinkGeek we're pretty lazy when it comes to technology. We expect our gadgets to do all the busywork while we focus on the high level important tasks like reading blogs. That's why we hate to have to crack open our laptops just to see if there is any wi-fi internet access about... and keychain wi-fi detectors, we would have to actually remove them from our pockets to look at them. But now thanks to the ingenious ThinkGeek robot monkeys you can display the current wi-fi signal strength to yourself and everyone around you with this stylish Wi-Fi Detector Shirt. The glowing bars on the front of the shirt dynamically change as the surrounding wi-fi signal strength fluctuates. Finally you can get the attention you deserve as others bow to you as their reverential wi-fi god, while geeky chicks swoon at your presence. You can thank us later.

    Product Features:

    Glowing animated shirt dynamically displays the current wi-fi signal strength

    Animated decal is removable (Velcro fasteners) for easy washing

    Battery pack is concealed in a small pocket sewn inside the shirt

    Runs for hours off three AAA batteries (not included)

    Shows signal strength for 802.11b or 802.11g

    Black 100% cotton


December 8, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

« December 7, 2007 | Main | December 9, 2007 »