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February 3, 2013

Goggles Umbrella

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From the website:


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Perfect fun for a rainy day.

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Peer out through the scuba goggle-shaped window from within the extra-deep domed 33"-span umbrella.

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A slip-resistant rubberized "periscope"

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adds a humorous touch.

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Iron, nylon, PVC.


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Grey or Yellow: $39.

February 3, 2013 at 08:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Blast from the Past: "The Elegant Universe" — Brian Greene


This post originally appeared on April 3, 2011.

When I happened on it last evening it gave me pause for a number of reasons: that was enough for me to decide to air it out again today.


Back story: in early 2000 Barnes & Noble held a contest in which entrants were required to explain, in 250 words or less, why a given book of their choice merited inclusion in what was to be called the Independent Thinkers series, a group of books selected for their original and provocative points of view.

Below is my submission for the contest.


Brian Greene's "The Elegant Universe," like any book, is an idea in two dimensions: words on paper. This brave text would put lightning in a bottle; its heart is nothing less than an explanation of how our everyday world is a kind of Potemkin Village, masking a violent, seething, unimaginably frantic 11-dimensional space of energy fields and matter exploding and vanishing within and around us.

The audacity of any attempt at a final "Theory of Everything" is always admirable and yet, ultimately, poignant and futile. In an attempt to understand all that appears mysterious by way of reason and mathematics, Greene shows how the greatest thinkers of modern physics open vistas of thought that appear tantalizingly close to success at explaining our universe. It is as if the belief of the leading physicists at the dawn of the twentieth century that everything important had been discovered, and what remained was only to fill in the details, never existed: what's past becomes prologue.

If indeed we are walking, talking, scheming, dreaming energy fields, composed of nothing but infinitesimally tiny vibrating loops of string-like stuff, sleeping and then waking each morning and resuming our 11-dimensional trip through time, each of us at a submicroscopic level indistinguishable from any other of the six billion souls on the the planet, so be it. The very idea of a shared nature, our common essence, is one so powerful and uplifting that the book containing it demands inclusion in the Independent Thinkers series.


I didn't win, place or show.

I still like the essay, though.


Looking back from today, it occurs to me only now (not at the time of the 2011 Episode 1 post) that thinking about Greene's book in a focused, concentrated way and then putting down those thoughts in 250 words was a catalyst for "Quantations," a book I wrote in 2001 and published in 2002.

February 3, 2013 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Zipper Cup


"The ceramic Zipper Cup has a cast partially pulled-down zipper

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cleverly designed to be the perfect place to hold your tea bag."

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Set of two: $40 (coasters included; tea bag not included).

February 3, 2013 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

We get REALLY weird email: "The Ear Wax Test"


From a reader who for his or her own protection from the authorities will remain unidentified (unless he or she chooses to unmask him- or herself publicly right here in this forum) comes the following email, complete and unexpurgated.

Have you ever tried the Ear Wax Test with Gray Cat? It's simple: Clean your ear(s) out real good with a Q-Tip or ear digger of your choice, then hold the wax-harvesting tool up to Gray Cat's nose, giving her time to sniff. Laurie goes NUTS when I do this — he licks and bites and slurps & gets all excited. Jane not so much. Of cats past, I had a boy Siamese and a boy tuxedo who loved it, too. A friend says her cat invades the bathroom trash can to dig out the used Q-Tips so he can roll in them. Weird!"

Res ipsa loquitur.

I cringe a bit in anticipation of what joehead Nation's about to deliver in response to this post: I will NOT be accepting packages for the next few weeks, let's just leave it at that.


Ear Wax Candy as pictured: $1.99.

February 3, 2013 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Blast From The Past: 4:01 a.m. Bottle Opener Series ('I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy") — Episode 15: Hammer Bottle Opener — "Hammer or get hammered!"


Catchy, what?


This post originally appeared on November 11, 2005, when a quarter of my readers hadn't even been born yet.


No matter: you're here now which is all that matters.

Bonus: It cost $9.98 back then but since has since undergone a sweet 20% price drop, now selling for a most affordable $8.03.

February 3, 2013 at 04:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Experts' Expert: Richard Blais ("Top Chef") on cutting boards


Rima Suqi went shopping for cutting boards with Blais — who won "Top Chef: All Stars" in 2010 — and learned a thing or three.

Below, excerpts from her January 30, 2013 New York Times story.

Mr. Blais, who lives in Atlanta, is the chef and owner of the Spence and HD1 there, as well as the Flip Burger Boutiques in Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama, and he has fairly strong opinions about chopping blocks in general. As kitchen tools, he said, they are "invaluable and often neglected," because many people spend money on showcase items like knives instead.

"You date knives, but marry cutting boards," he quipped recently while in Manhattan on a whirlwind shopping expedition for the latter.

Professionally, Mr. Blais prefers heavy wooden boards because "they don’t slide around," he said.

"And I like the way knives feel on them: I cut cleaner and chop better," he said. For seafood, however, he uses rubber boards by Asahi because "fish do have the odor of the sea," he said. "So I think something a little less porous is better."

He… liked Joseph Joseph's colored Cut & Carve boards [top], because "a lot of larger kitchens use colored cutting boards for specific food items: red is for red meat, yellow is for poultry, green is for produce and blue is for seafood."

"For the health inspector inside everyone, or someone worried about cross-contamination, it's a good way to stay clean and sanitized," he said.

February 3, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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