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August 1, 2009

'Will likely confirm Stieg Larsson's position as the most successful crime novelist in the world'


I can't speak for you but me, I automatically think of living writers when I read something like the headline above, to wit: "... in the world."

Isn't that a synonym for alive?

Larsson died in 2004 at the age of 50, before publication of his breakthrough bestseller (in English translation) "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," the first in his Milennium trilogy.

There is still one more unpublished (in English) novel to follow the one just released (above).

August 1, 2009 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Mascara Shield — 'No more raccoon eyes'



From websites:


Mascara Shield

Apply mascara without mistakes.

Nothing ruins a perfect makeup application like one little slip of the mascara wand.

With Mascara Shield, you can apply mascara without slip-ups — even when you’re rushing.

You won’t be delayed by having to repair mascara smudges when you have this clever shield in your makeup bag.

Even when you’re in a hurry, mascara goes on the bottom lashes without spilling over.

Also helpful when applying false eyelashes, using eye drops, or tinting eyelashes.




$7.49 (mascara not included).

August 1, 2009 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Atlas Obscura — 'Wondrous, curious, and bizarre locations around the world'


Wrote reader Tam Donovan, "I was looking for the Athanasius Kircher Society website (you long ago linked to it), which seems to have disappeared. In my search I stumbled upon (or was I directed to?) this cool website. Lots of stuff here, much like the previously mentioned."

Directed to.

August 1, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

AeroWalkers — Limousines for the feet


From the website:



Inflatable AeroWalkers provide gentle, effective exercise and therapy for feet, ankles and calves.

Just attach with the adjustable Velcro straps and rock feet back and forth while sitting.

Aids healing of strains, sprains and pain; can help reduce risk of deep vein thrombosis.

One size fits most.


"... while sitting."

And the picture above appears to be of a person sitting.

Yet they're called AeroWalkers.

What gives?


August 1, 2009 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Nicholson Baker on Amazon's Kindle


Long story short: Baker bought one, then read stuff on it. His review appears in the new issue (August 3, 2009) of the New Yorker.



I ordered a Kindle 2 from Amazon. How could I not? There were banner ads for it all over the Web. Whenever I went to the Amazon Web site, I was urged to buy one. “Say Hello to Kindle 2,” it said, in tall letters on the main page. If I looked up a particular writer on Amazon—Mary Higgins Clark, say—and then reached the page for her knuckle-gnawer of a novel “Moonlight Becomes You,” the top line on the page said, “ ‘Moonlight Becomes You’ and over 270,000 other books are available for Amazon Kindle—Amazon’s new wireless reading device. Learn more.” Below the picture of Clark’s physical paperback ($7.99) was another teaser: “Start reading ‘Moonlight Becomes You’ on your Kindle in under a minute. Don’t have a Kindle? Get yours here.” If I went to the Kindle page for the digital download of “Moonlight Becomes You” ($6.39), it wouldn’t offer me a link back to the print version. I was being steered.

I began to have the mildly euphoric feeling that you get ten minutes into an infomercial. Sure, the Kindle is expensive, but the expense is a way of buying into the total commitment. This could forever change the way I read. I’ve never been a fast reader. I’m fickle; I don’t finish books I start; I put a book aside for five, ten years and then take it up again. Maybe, I thought, if I ordered this wireless Kindle 2 I would be pulled into a world of compulsive, demonic book consumption, like Pippin staring at the stone of Orthanc. Maybe I would gorge myself on Rebecca West, or Jack Vance, or Dawn Powell. Maybe the Kindle was the Bowflex of bookishness: something expensive that, when you commit to it, forces you to do more of whatever it is you think you should be doing more of.

The problem was not that the screen was in black-and-white; if it had really been black-and-white, that would have been fine. The problem was that the screen was gray. And it wasn’t just gray; it was a greenish, sickly gray. A postmortem gray. The resizable typeface, Monotype Caecilia, appeared as a darker gray. Dark gray on paler greenish gray was the palette of the Amazon Kindle.

This was what they were calling e-paper? This four-by-five window onto an overcast afternoon? Where was paper white, or paper cream? Forget RGB or CMYK. Where were sharp black letters laid out like lacquered chopsticks on a clean tablecloth?

Monotype Caecilia was grim and Calvinist; it had a way of reducing everything to arbitrary heaps of words.

The real flurry over the new DX, though, has to do with the fate of newspapers. The DX offers more than twice as much Vizplex as the Kindle 2—about half the area of a piece of letter-size paper—enough, some assert, to reaccustom Web readers to paying for the digital version of, say, the Times, thereby rescuing daily print journalism from financial ruin. “With Kindle DX’s large display, reading newspapers is more enjoyable than ever,” according to Amazon’s Web site.

It’s enjoyable if you like reading Nexis printouts. The Kindle Times ($13.99 per month) lacks most of the print edition’s superb photography—and its subheads and call-outs and teasers, its spinnakered typographical elegance and variety, its browsableness, its Web-site links, its listed names of contributing reporters, and almost all captioned pie charts, diagrams, weather maps, crossword puzzles, summary sports scores, financial data, and, of course, ads, for jewels, for swimsuits, for vacationlands, and for recently bailed-out investment firms. A century and a half of evolved beauty and informational expressiveness is all but entirely rinsed away in this digital reductio.

But, fortunately, if you want to read electronic books there’s another way to go. Here’s what you do. Buy an iPod Touch (it costs seventy dollars less than the Kindle 2, even after the Kindle’s price was recently cut), or buy an iPhone, and load the free “Kindle for iPod” application onto it. Then, when you wake up at 3 A.M. and you need big, sad, well-placed words to tumble slowly into the basin of your mind, and you don’t want to wake up the person who’s in bed with you, you can reach under the pillow and find Apple’s smooth machine and click it on. It’s completely silent. Hold it a few inches from your face, with the words enlarged and the screen’s brightness slider bar slid to its lowest setting, and read for ten or fifteen minutes. Each time you need to turn the page, just move your thumb over it, as if you were getting ready to deal a card; when you do, the page will slide out of the way, and a new one will appear. After a while, your thoughts will drift off to the unused siding where the old tall weeds are, and the string of curving words will toot a mournful toot and pull ahead. You will roll to a stop. A moment later, you’ll wake and discover that you’re still holding the machine but it has turned itself off. Slide it back under the pillow. Sleep.

I’ve done this with Joseph Mitchell’s “The Bottom of the Harbor” ($13.80 Kindle, $17.25 paperback) and with Wilkie Collins’s “The Moonstone.” The iPod screen’s resolution, at a hundred and sixty-three pixels per inch, is fairly high. (It could be much higher, though. High pixel density, not a reflective surface, is, I’ve come to believe, what people need when they read electronic prose.) There are other ways to read books on the iPod, too. My favorite is the Eucalyptus application, by a Scottish software developer named James Montgomerie: for $9.99, you get more than twenty thousand public-domain books whose pages turn with a voluptuous grace. There’s also the Iceberg Reader, by ScrollMotion, with fixed page numbers, and a very popular app called Stanza. In Stanza, you can choose the colors of the words and of the page, and you can adjust the brightness with a vertical thumb swipe as you read. Stanza takes you to Harlequin Imprints, the Fictionwise Book Store, O’Reilly Ebooks, Feedbooks, and a number of other catalogues. A million people have downloaded Stanza. (In fact, Stanza is so good that Amazon has just bought Lexcycle, which makes the software; meanwhile, Fictionwise has been bought by a worried Barnes & Noble.)

Forty million iPod Touches and iPhones are in circulation, and most people aren’t reading books on them. But some are. The nice thing about this machine is (a) it’s beautiful, and (b) it’s not imitating anything. It’s not trying to be ink on paper. It serves a night-reading need, which the lightless Kindle doesn’t. And the wasp passage in “Do Insects Think?” is funny again on the iPod.

The paperback edition of “The Lincoln Lawyer” ($7.99 at Sherman’s in Freeport) has a bright-green cover with a blurry photograph of a car on the front. It says “MICHAEL CONNELLY” in huge metallic purple letters, and it has a purple band on the spine: “#1 New York Times Bestseller.” On the back, it says, “A plot that moves like a shot of Red Bull.” It’s shiny and new and the type is right, and it has the potent pheromonal funk of pulp and glue. When you read the book, its gutter gapes before your eyes, and you feel you’re in it. In print, “The Lincoln Lawyer” swept me up. At night, I switched over to the e-book version on the iPod ($7.99 from the Kindle Store), so that I could carry on in the dark. I began swiping the tiny iPod pages faster and faster.


Regular readers may recall my ode to the Kindle for for iPod app that appeared here on March 4, 2009, with a further appreciation on May 24, 2009.

Like Baker wrote, get an iPod touch (now $215) and you've got a pocketable Kindle — that also happens to be a wonderful computer.

August 1, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tool Band-it — Episode 2: Price Break


Work out while you do stuff.

Everyone's multitasking these day so why should the workshop be immune?

With one (even better, two) of these puppies wrapped around your guns while you mess around with your window treatments or car or down in the basement or out in the garage, you'll be the buffest dudette — or dude — on your block in no time.


When I first featured it in Episode 1 on November 26, 2007 it was $29.95.

From the website:


Tool Band-it™


Tool Band-it keeps metal tools and accessories within easy reach.

Lightweight, flexible armband wraps around upper arm and securely holds pliers, wrenches, nails, screws and more with powerful magnets.

Perfect for working in confined spaces or at awkward angles.


Prevents losing or misplacing tools and parts.

Rugged PVC poly/knit fabric adjusts to fit all sizes.

Holds up to 25 lbs.




August 1, 2009 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Help build world's largest LEGO light bulb


Construction begins today (Saturday, August 1, 2009 at 11 a.m.) at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., day one of a two-day collaborative build of an 8-foot-tall light bulb.

"... the light bulb will be assembled by museum visitors together with the help of LEGO master builders."

I can't speak for you but me, I'd love to watch and chat with these LEGO masters.

Above and below,


"Dan Steininger, master model builder at Lego Systems, Inc., builds a prototype of a light bulb at the Enfield [Connecticut] facility. The prototype is a model of the actual light bulb that will be eight feet tall and will be displayed at the Smithsonian," reads the legend for these photos published in the June 21, 2009 Hartford Courant.

August 1, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Duct Work Cover


Ever looked at one of your floor ducts and thought about what would happen if you accidentally dropped something important down there?

I have.

Most likely because there's one right next to my tower-of-treadmill-power to the left of my workspace (see photo in upper right of this page).

So this item might just make its way here for a look-see.

From the website:


Duct Work Cover

With these magnetic sheets on top of the vents, paper, jewelry, food and just about everything else won’t be able to slip through.

Keep debris (and valuables) from tumbling down the duct work with these protective magnetic covers.

When “stuff” falls into the vents it accumulates and decreases furnace efficiency.

Easy to use — just place atop vents.

10¾” x 5” — trim for a custom fit.

Washable and reusable.

Won’t hinder airflow.


Three for $14.95.

August 1, 2009 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

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