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February 22, 2010

Stellarium — 'Free open source planetarium for your computer'

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Joe Peach sent this link  to me, writing "I have bought commercial software on this subject costing up to $80."

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"This takes out the chaff and gives you the wheat!"

February 22, 2010 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Stack Chair

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"Vinyl wall sticker in the shape of the back of a chair marks the spot where you stack up your magazine and newspapers,

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eventually becoming your Stack Chair."

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£30.85.

February 22, 2010 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Chatroulette

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This site, created just three months ago by a 17-year-old Russian high school student named Andrey Ternovskiy, is the hottest new online phenomenon since Twitter gained traction.

So much so that it garnered a front page story by Nick Bilton in yesterday's New York Times Week in Review section which began, "Nothing can really prepare you for the latest online phenomenon, Chatroulette."

More: "The social Web site... drops you into an unnerving world where you are connected through webcams to a random, fathomless succession of strangers from across the globe. You see them, they see you. You talk to them, they talk to you. Or not. The site, which is gaining thousands of users a day and lately some news coverage, has a faddish feel, but those who study online vagaries see a glimpse into a surreal future, a turn in the direction of the Internet."

"Chat roulette" — it took me a while to get it.

February 22, 2010 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Don't cry over spilt milk bowl

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Dishwasher-safe

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silicone.

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$13.50.

February 22, 2010 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Mary Webb, a poet whom time forgot

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I first learned of her in Eve M. Kahn's January 29, 2010 New York Times story, which follows.

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Shining a Light On a Forgotten Poet

Mary Webb  [above, around 1920], a British novelist, deprecated herself despite having published six books and dozens of poems set in her native Shropshire. Known in the 1920s for her evocative descriptions of the countryside and racy plots involving abortion, patricide and premarital sex, she nonetheless called herself “wholly un-gifted” and sometimes felt “whelmed in remorse & terror” over her perceived literary mistakes.

A few celebrities, including the author Rebecca West and the prime minister at the time, Stanley Baldwin, predicted that Webb would become one of the era’s great writers. She did earn respectable fees from publications like The Spectator and The Atlantic Monthly, but she donated her savings to London’s poor and sometimes subsisted on bread and tea. Her schoolteacher husband abandoned her; she burned drafts of her novels to keep warm; and in 1927 she died of Graves’s disease, at 46.

Her now obscure novels, with titles like “Precious Bane” and “Gone to Earth,” are celebrated in small scholarly circles; a Facebook page is titled “Has No One Ever Heard of Mary Webb?” Posting on that site these days is Mary E. Crawford, a financial planner and amateur literary historian in San Mateo, Calif., who has acquired 600 pieces of Webbiana in the last 25 years. Ms. Crawford has organized a show , “Mary Webb: Neglected Genius,” that runs through March 13 at the Grolier Club at 47 East 60th Street in Manhattan.

Display cases on the club’s second floor are full of Webb’s poetry, scribbled on paper scraps, and warm letters to her unsympathetic mother-in-law. Ms. Crawford has also set out a singed manuscript of a novel that survived a cottage fireplace and a 1927 fan letter from Prime Minister Baldwin that ends, “Thank you a thousand times.”

“It’s a definitive collection that tells a story,” Ms. Crawford said during a recent visit to New York, while sorting through fragile first editions on her hotel coffee table. She and her husband, Bruce, have spent about $250,000 on Webb documents and maintain a “Webb site” for enthusiasts, marywebb.org. They wrote the show’s catalog (University Press of New England, $75) and have made four research trips to Shropshire, scouring archives for forgotten poems and correspondence.

They also surf the Internet for the latest Webb mentions: right now they’re hoping to hear back from a woman who paid $400 on eBay for a box of books that Webb inscribed to her sisters. “Cultural philanthropy,” the Crawfords call their pro bono hours.

Most previous owners of the couple’s holdings had kept them filed away and unpublished. The Crawfords instead have let Stanford University scan the material. In May Stanford will display the Grolier show at its main library and post the scans on a university Web site linked to marywebb.org.

“I want her to be re-evaluated by the academic community,” Ms. Crawford said, and then she read aloud from a few manuscripts. From a bubbly 1911 letter: “The wonder of things gets into my head & my heart to such a degree that it must occasionally find an outlet.” From an almost illegible late 1920s poem: “Under a blossoming tree/Let me lie down/With one blackbird to sing to me.”

On the back of that page, Webb listed the periodicals she hoped might run it: “Nation/Adelphi Terrace/Saturday Review/New Statesman.” But the poem, titled “Safe,” was still unpublished when she died.

February 22, 2010 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Felucca lampshade

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"A piece of flameproof cloth drapes over a bulb."

33cm x 24cm fabric; snap fasteners; 40W max.

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Two for £25.49.

February 22, 2010 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why I won't be renewing my New York Times subscription

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The penny (and dollars) finally dropped yesterday, when I went out looking for the Sunday paper but couldn't find it anywhere near the end of my driveway where it's always thrown — in spite of the fact that I've had a delivery box reserved for the paper, with "New York Times" printed on it nicely in Times script, mounted just below my mailbox ever since I began subscribing daily some 20 years ago.

I figured it couldn't be the weather since our subdivision's been plowed and the snow and ice have melted so that trucks and cars can once again make their way in and out (tomorrow marks the first time I've been able to get my trash out to the curb in four weeks, for what it's worth).

Anyway, not being the easily discouraged type, I decided to go out again and "take a fresh look" — as then-Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill once urged telecom analyst Jack Grubman to do at AT&T's stock rating in a thinly-disguised quid pro quo — and see if perhaps the paper might be hiding in plain sight.

Turns out it was hiding, all right, but not in plain sight.

Rather, it was way under my car, in a puddle of icy snow, so difficult to reach that I had to get down on my hands and knees and crawl under the vehicle to retrieve the soggy paper.

But after I'd gone back in the house and washed the mud and dirt off my arms and knees, hey, I was all set.

For this I'm paying $769.60 a year?

And that's not even mentioning the fact that anytime there's any snow or heavy rain, the paper doesn't come.

In fact, about every couple months, even in perfect weather, for no apparent reason there's no paper.

Of course, there's never a credit for missed issues.

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So perhaps you understand now why I'll be reading it on my iPad come spring.

February 22, 2010 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

What is it?

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Answer here this time tomorrow.

February 22, 2010 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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