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February 5, 2012

Blue Marble 2 — Planet Earth in Hi-Def (Eastern Hemisphere)


From The State Column: "NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has released another stunning image of Earth."

"Responding to popular demand, the U.S. space agency released its second 2012 version of the famous 'Blue Marble' image, this time focusing on Africa and Asia."

Blue Marble 1, featuring the Western Hemisphere, appeared here on January 26, 2012.

Go here to view an image that explains how composite images like these are created.

February 5, 2012 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Binchotan Water Bottle


Excerpts from yesterday's Wall Street Journal review

It may seem counterintuitive to purify your drinking water with a stick of charcoal, but the Japanese have been doing it for centuries. Binchotan — a carbon made from tree branches — is renowned for its ability to soften water and absorb impurities, including chlorine.

Technically, no fancy gear is required — just steep a stick in water overnight — but since there's nothing worse than getting "charcoal nose" when you're chugging water, Eau Good was designed to hold an included piece of binchotan in place. The solution is ingenious: Squeeze the bottle (it's made of BPA-free flexible plastic) until the stick settles into a dimple. To release, squeeze again.

The manufacturer recommends refreshing the charcoal after three months by boiling it for 10 minutes (purists would suggest refreshing binchotan every few weeks). After six months, you can put the stick in your refrigerator or sneakers to absorb odors, or crumble it into potting soil to fertilize and balance pH. (Unlike plastic water filters, most of which are also charcoal based, these sticks are completely biodegradable.) We binchotanized some New York tap water, and the difference in taste was dramatic.

Bottle: $20; replacement sticks (work with any container): $3.70. 

Both here.

February 5, 2012 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Experts' Expert: World's best library ladders


Architect Annabelle Selldorf, in the course of explaining in yesterday's Wall Street Journal why the Morgan Library in New York is her favorite room, said, "The balconies seem to float in the room— an illusion reinforced by the absence of a visible staircase. Instead, there's a pair of stairs marvelously hidden behind the walls. Of course, there's a trade-off: They're rather narrow, tight and uncomfortable to be on. We do a lot of custom library ladders in our projects, mostly from Putnam Rolling Ladder Co. — one of the all-time great New York Companies. They've been in business for over a century."


Apply within.


I've never been to the Morgan Library; it's on my list of things to see in Gotham should I ever find myself there.

February 5, 2012 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bang & Olufsen Wireless Speaker


I've been reading the reviews of the Beolit 12 (above), B & O's new AirPlay device, "a modern rendition of our classic Bang & Olufsen transistor radio from the 1960s."

No matter how good the reviews — and they're pretty good — I can't get past the fact that the device resembles nothing so much as a picnic hamper.

I guess I'm an outlier 'cause I haven't seen any other objections to its appearance, just surprise at its price: $799.

Me, if forced to add an AirPlay device to my batterie de acoustics, I'd opt for the Jawbone JamBox (below) at less than a quarter of the cost of the Beolit 12.


For years I've been baffled as to why Apple seems to be so in love with Bang & Olufsen gear, to the extent that it carries the line in its store.

Yes, I know that back in early days Steve Jobs furnished his Woodside mansion with a Tiffany floor lamp and Bang & Olufsen stereo equipment (below).


All well and good but for the past decade or so their stuff has seemed to me more and more Brutalist, way too physically imposing and just unappealing (below, the BeoSound 8).


But I guess that's just me.

[Steve Jobs photo by Diana Walker]


Note added at 8:03 p.m.: Reader Rauzliebling pointed out that the Jawbone is not AirPlay but, rather, Bluetooth.

February 5, 2012 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Universal Anesthesia Machine


About this talk: "What if you're in surgery and the power goes out? No lights, no oxygen  — and your anesthesia stops flowing. It happens constantly in hospitals throughout the world, turning routine procedures into tragedies. Erica Frenkel demos one solution: the universal anesthesia machine."

After watching it I emailed Ms. Frenkel that I want to replace the $50,000 high-tech bells & whistles machine I'm currently using with one of hers.


Because something is always malfunctioning or broken on mine and it's nearly impossible to get a repairman to visit my hospital in, shall we say, a financially-challenged and unsafe part of town.

I follow Ms. Frenkel on Twitter.

[via Richard Kashdan]

February 5, 2012 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Birth Announcement Pillows


From the website:


Surprise the proud new parents with a pillow that celebrates the newest addition to their family.

Inspired by mass transit systems' vintage "roll-stop" and subway signs from the 1920s and '30s, each customizable Birth Announcement Pillow commemorates the child's birth in regal, old-world style.

Each pillow features the child's name (up to 12 characters), birthday and time, weight, location, inches at birth, and her or his parents' names.

Linen and cotton removable cover.



February 5, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Me and my widgets — Episode 2: A wonderful, subtle Easter egg


After yesterday's Episode 1 appeared, I did what I always do and read it carefully for errors, typos and their ilk.


An aside: About 10% of the time, I discover something that's wrong or off or needs to be modified/corrected/expanded upon.

That's a pretty high yield, to my way of thinking.

And that's after exhaustive proofreading and rewriting and rechecking each word and photo and graphic in each post over and over and over again.

Anyway, nothing was wrong with yesterday's widget post but there was something there that only became apparent to me with the fresh look that accompanies a clear head after a good night's sleep.

Namely, that the clock face is white during the day and black at night.

An exquisite touch, embodying everything I love about Apple.

I've looked at those clocks for years without realizing what Apple did.

That's probably because I never had occasion before yesterday's post to see them on the same screen at the same time.

February 5, 2012 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Alinea Wine Cork Presenter


Dinner at Grant Achatz's acclaimed establishment — rated the best restaurant in North America in at least one survey — starts at $210.


And they'll be watching you like a hawk to make sure you don't make off with the cork presenter.


If you do, you'll find it was added to your tab when you review your credit card statement.


But perhaps you won't be heading to the Windy City anytime soon. 


Why not create an Alinea experience on the cheap in your own crib?


Get one of these puppies and a bottle of whatever, a bag of Tostitos and Bob's your uncle. 

From the website:


A means of dramatically presenting a cork to patrons.

Ten prongs gently hold the cork in place.

Stainless steel and wood.

Not machine washable.

Weighted bottom.

4" high.


$55.40 (cork — and wine — not included. As if.)

February 5, 2012 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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