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March 14, 2008

Flying Saucer House For Sale

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It goes on the auction block tomorrow in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Opening bid: $100,000.

Here's Bill Poovey's Associated Press story.

    Beam me up, Scotty? Spaceship house up for auction in Chattanooga

    For auction: rare flying saucer house on Chattanooga mountain. Buyer needs fascination for outer space, tolerance for gawkers and at least $100,000.

    The home, an eye-catcher for almost four decades on a twisting road to Signal Mountain, will be sold to the highest bidder Saturday.

    Boldly built by the late Curtis W. King in 1970 — just after television executives grounded the original run of the Starship Enterprise — the circular house has multiple levels, three bedrooms, two bathrooms and an entrance staircase that lowers and retracts with the push of a button.

    Lois Killebrew, a Realtor who handled an open house at the first sale decades ago, said hundreds of people lined up to see the then-ultramodern structure ringed with small square windows and directional lights and perched on six "landing gear" legs.

    "It really looked like a spaceship ready to take off," she said.

    King and his family built it "because it was very unusual and they liked to do unusual things," Killebrew said.

    It's now more nostalgic than space age.

    John Kleeman of Litchfield, Conn., an attorney and space culture enthusiast, said the house is "definitely a one of a kind design. There are very, very few of these types of houses out there. How many I don't know."

    Kleeman considers the house to be a "national landmark."

    He knows of variations of the flying saucer design in Pensacola Beach, Fla., Connecticut and California but none quite like the Chattanooga version.

    The unique shape — sort of like two white Frisbees pasted together —

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    poses some interior decorating challenges. The curve of the exterior creates a sloping ceiling and short side walls, but there's also a striking curved bar and a custom designed bathtub.

    The flying saucer designs popped up about the time of the moon landings. "That's when all the excitement was," Kleeman said.

    The Signal Mountain house is larger than the prefabricated and movable UFO-shaped structures, known as Futuro houses, designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in 1968.

    Terry Posey, an agent with Crye-Leike Auctions of Cleveland, Tenn., said the current owner has had the property only four months and didn't want to comment.

    Posey posted a classified ad about the auction on e-Bay and said he already has a $100,000 bid from a prospective buyer. Leaflets promoting the auction say it would be a "great weekend getaway or unique rental property."

    Previous owners have used the house seasonally and at least one, Kenneth Bell, once dreamed of renovating it for his daughter.

    "For a young couple or a single bachelor it would be super," said Bell, who owned the property 18 months and never got around to updating it.

    Passers-by often stop to take photos. The house has been shown on an HGTV show and drew interest from a movie company that wanted to rent it.

    Kleeman, who with his wife and son operate a space museum and collect space artifacts, said he considered trying to buy the Chattanooga house, cutting it into sections and moving it. That was before he found out the exterior is mostly concrete.

    Kleeman said he saw the Chattanooga house in Douglas Curran's book, "In Advance of the Landing: Folk Concepts of Outer Space."

    "If you think in terms of human beings going into space being a transitional moment in human history, I think it is entertaining to a lot of people," he said.

    The house is in an area that is zoned residential, with a wooden, octagonal-shaped house nearby and an A-frame just up Signal Mountain Road.

    "I hope whoever gets it will take care of it," Kleeman said. "It's sure an exciting piece of architecture."

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"This is an opportunity to own a unique property and is ideal for that weekend getaway," suggests real estate agent Terry Posey on the site promoting the sale. "This is truly the most unique property we have ever sold! If you are into unique homes, space ships, flying saucers, "Star Trek," a mountain getaway home or investment properties, this is your opportunity. This property has never been offered at auction before."

All excited now, aren't you?

Place your bid here.

One more thing: you're really gonna like the neighbors.

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Trust me.

March 14, 2008 at 04:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Chalkboard Napkin Rings

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Designed by Jörg Gätjens.

From the website:

    Chalkboard Napkin Rings

    Meticulously crafted in workshops for the physically challenged in Germany, this design doubles as reusable place cards and napkin rings.

    Simply write the names of your guests directly onto the napkin rings with the slate pencil and remove with the sponge eraser (both included).

    Made of lacquered untreated maple.

    Ring size: 1.25"H x 2" diam.

    Set of 4.

.....................

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$65.

March 14, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

ilift Pocket Facelift

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Your pocket better be
plenty deep 'cause
this device will set
you back £250.

But before you
scoff, consider:

1) It uses four (4)
different technologies —

• Massage/Facial Toning;

• High Frequency

• Galvanic

• Infrared

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2) Suitable for all skin types

3) Only 15 minutes a day

4) No injections

5) No surgery

6) No toxins

Much more here.

So what're you waiting for?

Red or Black.

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£249.99.

[via Jonathan Margolis's "Technopolis" column in the March 15, 2008 Financial Times "How To Spend It" magazine]

March 14, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Shower Curtain Splash Guards

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From websites:

    Shower Curtain Splash Guards

    This simple but clever device is angled to wrap your shower curtain within the shower, preventing those gaps that let water out onto the floor.

    Set of 2 includes one each left and right units.

    Made of tough, break-resistant Lexan.

    Attaches to hooks out of sight.

    No tools required.

    14" long.

$6.99.

March 14, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Washington Post Op-Ed Columnist Michael Gerson Sticks a Shiv in Obama

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Back when I was in medical school, one attending was said to be so lethal that on rounds he could cut off your head and you wouldn't even know it till your chin hit your chest.

Michael Gerson — or perhaps the Post's headline writer, now that I think about it, or maybe the two of them working together — today snuck one in that made me smile with admiration at its subtle display of subliminal mastery.

Long story short: The headline of Gerson's trashtalking piece dissing Obama (gee, why are we not surprised? But I digress), "Pressure and the Prophet," is shown above, as it appears on the Op-Ed page under a picture of Obama.

Then we read the piece, which essentially tells us that in Gerson's opinion Obama was a flip-flopper on his now-essential-to-his-electability stance against the war in Iraq.

The prophet reference in the headline is to this line in the column: "For many Democrats, this prescience has given Obama the aura of a prophet."

Huh.

For the life of me, it's hard not to believe that I'm not the only person glancing at the headline who thought, oh, here we go again, Barrack Hussein Obama, student at a school in Jakarata, Indonesia from ages 6-10 "where classes were taught in Indonesian" (nudge, nudge), blah blah blah.

Give it a rest, already.

This kind of thing is why many, if not most, people laugh as they read punditry.

I guess Gerson, as the Post's resident righty along with Charles Krauthammer, owes it to his constituency.

But really, isn't "mostly say hooray for our side" really, really long past dated?

Wanna know what I think?

I think the Post is really smarting over the New York Times having swooped in and run point on the whole Spitzer affair (even linking to "Kristen's" MySpace page before it was taken down) whose ground zero, Washington, D.C.'s Mayflower Hotel, is within walking distance of Post headquarters.

Speaking of which, Murdoch's New York Post kind of dropped its ball there for a while, what, ceding the buzz to the Gray Lady?

March 14, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Not-Apple Calculator

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Could've fooled me.

Designed by Ippei Matsumoto.

From the website:

    10-Key Calculator

    Inspired by the number pad on a keyboard, this calculator has all the standard features and can easily be connected to a laptop or PC via USB cable connection to add number-pad functionality.

    It can also be used independently.

    One LR1130 battery included.

    1"H x 5.5"W x 3.25"D.

    Not MAC compatible.

....................

Say what?

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And another thing: What's with calling it a "10-Key Calculator," anyway?

I know my math isn't very good but I'll be darned if both I and each and every member of my crack math team don't end up every time we count the keys with a total of 23.

Go ahead, you try.

$58.

March 14, 2008 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Magical Thinking — Real, but ahead of its time?

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Every time I read something purporting to dismiss magical thinking as an artifact of the early days of man, I'm amused by the vehemence of the dismissal of the practice as foolish and illogical.

What happens a century or three down the line when "jaunting" — or its ilk — appears?

Here's a typical piece, by Shankar Vedantam from the February 5, 2007 Washington Post.

    A Game of Magical Thinking Leaves Reality on the Sidelines

    The 58 fans sitting before the big-screen television were watching the Super Bowl. Psychologist Emily Pronin was watching the fans.

    Pronin and the fans were at Princeton University, just up the road from Philadelphia. It was 2005, the year the Philadelphia Eagles returned to the Super Bowl after a gap of more than two decades. The audience at the student center contained mostly Eagles fans — and they were exerting all the mantras, incantations and spells they knew to get the game to go Philadelphia's way.

    Pronin passed out questionnaires to find out how involved each fan was in the game. The questionnaires asked how often the fans were thinking about the next play and how closely they were paying attention.

    At the end of the game, which the Eagles lost, Pronin asked each fan a simple question: How responsible did the person feel for Philadelphia's defeat?

    "Rationally, you should not feel responsible at all for the outcome of the Super Bowl," Pronin said. "But the more people perceived themselves as having thought about the game, the more they thought themselves responsible for the game's outcome."

    A sports event such as the Super Bowl is a perfect venue to examine a phenomenon that influences many aspects of life: Large numbers of people regularly display signs of magical thinking — they believe they have influenced distant events or can sense connections between things that have no known physical connection.

    Have you ever told yourself that something you want very much would happen if the next three traffic lights turned green as you drove down the road? Have you ever forgone a warranty on an expensive new electronic gizmo and then worried about whether your decision would cause the gizmo to fail? Have you ever worn a lucky shirt to a big game?

    Many people, of course, explicitly believe in the paranormal, but that is not what we are talking about. What interests psychologists such as Pronin is that people hold fast to beliefs in magical powers even as they explicitly say the beliefs do not make sense.

    "It points to the question of how we can be of two minds," said Jane Risen, a social psychology graduate student at Cornell University who has conducted experiments on magical thinking. "You believe something is true even as you know it is false. When you invoke a rational mind-set, you know one thing, but we still have these intuitions that lead us to something very different."

    When it comes to sports, magical thinking is merely funny. We implore the TV set to do our bidding and mightily exert our will to get an opposing team to make a mistake. But such thinking is less funny elsewhere in life: Magical thinking gets people to waste money on unnecessary insurance — buying expensive warranties on products that are unlikely to fail because they believe not buying insurance will make it more likely that the product will fail. And once people buy insurance, magical thinking prompts them to handle it carelessly because they believe they are unlikely to face a problem.

    In one experiment Risen conducted, volunteers were divided into two groups at random. Both were told about a student, "John," who was eagerly awaiting an admissions letter from Stanford University. As he waited, his mother sent John a Stanford T-shirt. One group of volunteers was told John immediately wore the T-shirt, anticipating good news, while the other was told he stuffed the shirt into a drawer and waited for the mail.

    Risen found that large numbers of people believed John was less likely to be accepted to Stanford if he wore the T-shirt before the admissions letter arrived — presumably because such behavior was presumptuous and "tempted fate." The feeling that a T-shirt can influence what the mail brings, of course, is magical thinking because there is no known physical connection between the two events.

    The psychologist argued that even if the universe does not punish presumptive behavior, the belief that it does can serve a useful social function: "What are the behaviors that seem to tempt fate?" she asked. "Most fall into the categories of hubris and greed... belief in the evil eye is common to many cultures."

    At a basic cognitive level, magical thinking also exploits the human tendency to see causative links between events that are merely correlated.

    "We're used to inferring causation when something happens before something else and conceptually there is some connection between the two," Pronin said.

    In another experiment she conducted, people were asked to stuff pins in a voodoo doll that represented an annoying person. When the annoying person (who was a confederate of the researchers) faked a headache, people who had wished the person harm seemed prone to believe their thoughts had triggered the headache.

    "When the sun goes down, we notice half an hour later it is colder out," Pronin said. "It seems reasonable to infer the sun going down is what made it colder. The process of inferring causation is automatic. It leads us to accurate conclusions in many cases, but on some occasions, the mind fools itself."

....................

I can't speak for you but me, I've always thought it gets colder not just when but also because the sun goes down.

March 14, 2008 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Taco Plates

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Finally.

Designed by Alissia Melka-Teichroew.

From the website:

    Handful of Plates

    A set of three ceramic plates folded like taco shells.

    This design allows you to keep the plate in one hand while eating your food with the other.

    Your meal won't drop on the floor.

    These plates are ideal for parties.

    Snacks and sweets presented on these plates look even better than on ordinary trays.

    The plates are natural coloured and have a transparent glaze.

....................

Handfulofplates_3

Set of three.

£43.20.

March 14, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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