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March 27, 2008

Word up: 'Mongo'

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New to my vocab as of yesterday, when I happened on it toward the end of a terrific Washington Post article by David Segal about Robin Nagle (above), anthropologist in residence in New York City's Sanitation Department.

Long story short: Mongo is "... a sanitation crew term for something plucked out of the trash for reuse."

Segal added, "Technically it's prohibited but apparently it will get you in trouble only if a supervisor has it out for you and can't nail you for something else. Otherwise, nobody seems to mind."

Here's the Post story.

    No Trash Talking at This Museum to the Clean Team

    Tidy Exhibit Honors New York's Rubbish Specialists

    The soon-to-be-unveiled museum devoted to the sanitation workers of New York — do not call them garbagemen — will prompt smart alecks to wonder: Are they just cranking out museums for anybody these days? When do meter maids get a turn? Hey, how about a wing of the Smithsonian for those dudes who wave in jets at the airport?

    Buh huh huh huh.

    You people. You know what you need? A little thought experiment. Let's imagine life without sanitation workers in the country's largest metropolis. How, exactly, would the Big Apple rot if nobody picked up the trash?

    Within a couple of weeks the city would be carpeted with trash — more than 120,000 tons of it, according to Robin Nagle, the Sanitation Department's "anthropologist in residence." (It's an unsalaried job that she talked the department into creating.) Rats would be rampant and bolder than ever. There'd be typhoid and dysentery. It'd get violent — the rich would hire private garbage haulers, plus armed guards to keep the riffraff from dumping in wealthy neighborhoods. The stink would be unimaginable. The tourist trade would crash, probably wrecking the economy.

    "At that point," Nagle says, "we could just push New York City into the river."

    So you see, the question isn't "Why do we need a museum for sanitation workers?" It's "Dear sanitation workers, shouldn't you guys have a much bigger museum?"

    Because, frankly, it's kind of a stretch even to call this a museum. It's more like a large exhibit, mounted in 13 storefront windows that wrap around a corner of a building at New York University, specifically the Helen and Martin Kimmel Center for University Life. Or it will be on Friday, when the show goes on public view for six weeks.

    From the sidewalk — yes, this is more like a Macy's storefront than, say, the MoMA — you will be able to gawk to your heart's content at a trove of rubbish-related history and objects: antique garbage cans, shovels, pitchforks, scale model garbage trucks, a collage of old photos, including an image of a 1961 copy of the now-defunct Sweep magazine.

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    A poster will provide a sense of the scale of the Sanitation Department's job in New York City: some 2,500 tons of Christmas trees collected each year, 400,000 tons of paper for recycling, 20,000 tons of autumn leaves, all of it collected from 6,000 miles of streets. Another poster pays tribute to the history of the department and its standout leaders. Among them, Col. George Waring, a commissioner who seemed to care about collecting the trash rather than using the job to enrich himself through kickbacks and graft. (The job was a Tammany Hall cash cow for many years.)

    In the 1890s, Waring figured out a way to instill pride in his employees — giving them uniforms, marching them in Labor Day parades, turning them into local heroes. When everyone else in New York was terrified of the Five Points neighborhood, Waring's squads were greeted there like the Red Cross in a war zone.

    Nagle curated "Loaded Out: Making a Museum," as it's officially known, and created the exhibits with the help of students at NYU, where she teaches when she isn't trying to enhance the Sanitation Department's image. It's been a passion of hers since she was 10 years old, when she and her dad went hiking in the Adirondacks and found heaps of garbage in an otherwise pristine campsite. ("Who did they think would clean up after them?" she remembers wondering.)

    Much of her academic career has been spent underscoring a simple point: Without an army of sanitation workers to handle a vast huge ecosystem of refuse, city life would be impossible. So where's the love? If the police and firefighters have their own museum in New York City, why shouldn't "New York's strongest"?

    "When you think about the history of the city, the key to growth and well-being is effective garbage removal," Nagle says. "You can't have a sparkling city without it."

    Nagle spent more than a year working with New York sanitation teams, sometimes hauling bags, sometimes driving garbage trucks. She ended up with a huge amount of material for a forthcoming book, "Picking Up," and a somewhat smaller collection of what is known as "mongo." It's a sanitation crew term for something plucked out of the trash for reuse.

    Technically it's prohibited, but apparently it will get you in trouble only if a supervisor has it out for you and can't nail you for something else. Otherwise, nobody seems to mind.

    "I would guess that about half of the guys mongo," Nagle says.

    A mongo sampler is part of "Loaded Out," including luggage, an electric fan, gloves, a framed photo of an old car, a vinyl record of a Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand duet. Typically, stuff like this gets repurposed in a variety of ways.

    "Some sanitation workers eBay their mongo, or they sell it in a yard sale," Nagle says. "One guy gave it to his church. Another guy found this really beautiful white cashmere scarf and he took it to the dry cleaner and gave it to his wife on Christmas. I don't know if he ever told her it was mongo."

    Let's hope not.

    Mongo is just one of the benefits of sanitation work. The pay is pretty good, too. Most sanitation workers are earning $56,000 a year five years into the job, and you can retire after 20 years of service, with about half your salary for the rest of your life. Take a bow, Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association, part of the Teamsters.

    "I had to go into a lottery just to take the exam," says Robert Attina, a supervisor. "Thousands of people apply. I think there were 200 people in the last class."

    On the downside, the work is dangerous. Nagle swears she has stats proving that New York City sanitation workers die more often on the job than New York City cops. Getting hit by a car is one of the biggest hazards.

    If she gets her way, "Loaded Out" will be just the beginning — or rather, step number two, since this is the second iteration of the exhibit, which first opened in a Sanitation Department building in Chelsea late last year. Nagle is planning a full-scale, permanent museum at a site that she would rather not identify. She'll start building just as soon as she persuades the city and private donors to cough up the many millions of dollars needed for construction.

    The more you contemplate life without sanitation workers, the more you think: Pay the lady.

March 27, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

rsstickr.com — The magic of Marcus Reimold

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When I had a look at it just now my jaw dropped.

I don't know how he does what he does but if he's not big — I mean huge — real soon now, I'll be gobsmacked.

March 27, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Upside Down Table/Ware

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By INV/ALT design.

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"Neodymium magnets are attached to the underside of Crate & Barrel ceramics and embedded in the surface of a pub table from Target."

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"Magnets hold ware underneath the table for storage; magnets embedded in the tabletop pull ceramics into proper place settings for symmetrical dining."

[via tolin.cn]

March 27, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Searchme.com — 'Only 971 free private beta accounts left!'

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That's what the site said after I got mine just now.

Long story short: It's a waycool new search tool that uses visual images in place of text.

OK, we've seen a zillion of those.

But this one's got the seal of approval of no-nonsense nonpareil "Mossberg Solution" columnist Katherine Boehret, who yesterday wrote, "Searchme, a search engine built from the ground up, is technically in private beta — meaning that it is still a work in progress and users must be invited to use it. The company gave me access to the site and created a link so that readers of this column could also use it: www.searchme.com/wsj."

Well, are you gonna wave goodbye to any meaningful work the rest of the day or are you gonna give in to your frivolous side?

I know what I'd do.

As Oscar Wilde remarked, "I can resist anything — except temptation."

Have fun and don't blame me when you get called on the carpet 'cause I don't know you.

March 27, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

We get email: From Lisa Carney, Inventor of High Tide Heels

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It came in late yesterday afternoon and immediately went onto today's list.

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Her correspondence follows.

    Well hello Joe!

    Thanks for your email prompting me to visit your "find" on your witty and clever website. I have a question for you. Would it be OK if I mention that I have recently taken an order for 100 pairs of those crazy shoes [High Tide Heels] from a website called www.higher-heels.com?

    It is quite a funny story... when they sent the order I replied, "Yeah, nice one, ha ha ha." The managing director had to convince me he was serious. Still in the process of getting the sample made and order secured, but it does amuse me so much, the attention these shoes get. I have had orders from Olympic swimmers, editors of oceanic and aquatic magazines and various mermaids and shoe addicts. Who would have imagined?!

    Lisa x

    P.S. Found some more photos in my archives… you are welcome to these... i have large files too.

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More from the queen of Australia's Eastern seaboard here.

March 27, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Remote Control Lawn Watering

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From the website:

    Remote Rain™ Water Control

    Water your lawn by remote control while you relax on your deck

    No more trips back and forth to the faucet through a muddy flower bed or thorny shrubs.

    Using the handy key fob remote included, you can turn the Remote Rain Water Control on and off from up to 100' away.

    Control unit attaches between your hose and faucet and requires four AA batteries (not included).

    Selectable codes avoids interference.

    Brass coupling.

    Soft grip.

$69.99.

March 27, 2008 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Is this D.B. Cooper's parachute?

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It's been over 36 years since D.B. Cooper stepped off the back steps of a hijacked Northwest Airlines jet in flight somewhere near the Washington-Oregon border and parachuted into legend, along with $200,000 he'd received in exchange for letting the plane's passengers off in Seattle first.

Kevin P. Casey's March 25, 2008 Associated Press story about the accidental discovery of what could prove to be Cooper's parachute follows.

The legend for Casey's photo up top reads, "FBI Special Agent Robbie Burroughs with the parachute found in North Clark County, Wash., working to find out if it is linked to the infamous D.B. Cooper case from 1971 in Seattle."

    D.B. Cooper's Parachute Possibly Found

    The FBI is analyzing a torn, tangled parachute found buried by children in southwest Washington to determine whether it might have been used by famed plane hijacker D.B. Cooper, the agency said Tuesday.

    Children playing outside their home near Amboy found the chute's fabric sticking up from the ground in an area where their father had been grading a road, agent Larry Carr said. They pulled it out as far as they could, then cut the parachute's ropes with scissors.

    The children had seen recent media coverage of the case — the FBI launched a publicity campaign last fall, hoping to generate tips to solve the 36-year-old mystery — and they urged their dad to call the agency.

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    "When we went to the public, the whole idea was that the public is going to bring the answers to us," Carr said. "This is exactly what we were hoping for."

    A man identifying himself as Dan Cooper — later mistakenly but enduringly identified as D.B. Cooper — hijacked a Northwest Orient flight from Portland, Ore., to Seattle in November 1971, claiming he had a bomb.

    When the plane landed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, he released the passengers in exchange for $200,000 and asked to be flown to Mexico. He apparently parachuted from the plane's back stairs somewhere near the Oregon border.

    Agents doubt he survived because conditions were poor and the terrain was rough, but few signs of his fate have been found.

    Carr spoke with the children's father, whom he declined to identify, early this month and learned the chute was white, the same color as Cooper's.

    And when Carr overlaid the family's address onto a map investigators made in the early days of the investigation, he learned another encouraging fact: They lived right in Cooper's most probable landing zone, between Green and Bald mountains.

    Carr hopped in his car and drove down. He dug around the property for about 45 minutes, unsuccessfully looking for a harness or other remains from the parachute, but the children weren't home, and the father wasn't sure exactly where they found it.

    There are no obvious markings on the parachute to indicate whether it's the type Cooper used, a Navy Backpack 6 with a 26-foot canopy, Carr said. He's hoping a member of the public who has expertise in the parachutes will come forward and confirm whether it's the right kind before the FBI bothers to excavate the property. Barring that, the agency could turn to scientific analysis of the fabric.

    "We've got to be pretty darn sure we're not wasting time and money here," he said.

    If it is Cooper's parachute, that will solve one mystery — where he apparently landed — but it will raise another, Carr said.

    In 1980, a family on a picnic found $5,880 of Cooper's money in a bag on a Columbia River beach, near Vancouver. Some investigators believed it might have been washed down to the beach by the Washougal River. But if Cooper landed near Amboy and stashed the money bag there, there's no way it could have naturally reached the Washougal.

    "If this is D.B. Cooper's parachute, the money could not have arrived at its discovery location by natural means," Carr said. "That whole theory is out the window."

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The legend for the Wikipedia graphic above reads, "Illustration of how the 727's rear airstair was used by Cooper to effect his escape. The airstair had not been designed for deployment in flight and was gravity-operated, meaning it fell open and stayed that way until the aircraft landed."

March 27, 2008 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Secret Code Wall Clock — Episode 3: Back to Black

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Far more costly than its white cousin but much more stylish.

It hurts to be beautiful.

From the website:

    Secret Code Wall Clock

    What are those mysterious words at the hour markers? Some kind of code? An alien alphabet?

    Wait for the hour hand to come around and each is revealed as "One," "Two," and onwards to "Twelve."

    12" diameter clock has an aluminum frame and glass front.

    Runs on 1 AA battery (not included).

$59.95.

March 27, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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