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March 27, 2013

"Paris is always a good idea" Pillow Cover

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Audrey Hepburn speaks.

By Canadian designer Sarah Walker.

Hemp and organic cotton.

12" x 18".

$39.

March 27, 2013 at 08:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Blast from the past— The long, strange trip of Elena Delle Donne, Episode 2: Sweet 16, baby!

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Episode 1 appeared here on November 16, 2009.

Talk about timing: yesterday's upset of North Carolina in Delle Donne's final game ever on her home court at the University of Delaware in the round of 32 was one of the most thrilling things I've ever seen.

Below, the 2009 post in its entirety.

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The most highly sought high-school basketball recruit of 2008 (above) lasted only 48 hours at UConn before she quit school and headed back home to Wilmington, Delaware last fall.

At the time everyone — including Delle Donne — thought it was a simple case of burnout.

Turns out it was something completely different — and wonderful.

Here's Selena Roberts's "Point After" column from the latest Sports Illustrated with the real story.

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Burning To Play Again

Don't spy from the tunnel or peek from the mezzanine. Sure, she could stay and watch a scene tantamount to Streep doing community theater, but Delaware coach Tina Martin resisted. Around nine o'clock on a night last January, long after the unranked Blue Hens had sweated out another basketball practice, Martin walked across a darkened gym and flicked the lights on for a freshman education major, Elena Delle Donne -- once the most celebrated player in high school hoops, the 6' 5" It Girl of Connecticut's 2008 recruiting class. "I left her alone," recalls Martin. "I went home. As much as I was thinking that I hope she is enjoying herself, I didn't think she needed me hiding in the background. She was sorting through so many emotions."

Like confusion and disillusion. Delle Donne was the nation's most famous basketball burnout, right? That's why she felt miserable -- "physically sick to my stomach," she says -- whenever she touched a basketball after deciding to pick UConn over Tennessee. That's why she lasted only 48 hours at UConn before darting home to Wilmington, Del., last fall. That's why she ditched the stage at Storrs, within a chest pass of the ESPN star makers in Bristol, to play volleyball on a campus in Newark, Del., across the street from an abandoned Chrysler plant.

But why did the leather of a basketball feel so good in her hands that January night? Why did the sound of a net gulping down jumpers have such a soothing rhythm to it? "Until then I thought it was burnout, I really did," Elena said, sitting in a dining room overlooking the court at the Bob Carpenter Center last Thursday evening. "It was something else, though." The answer to the mystery behind her retreat from the game can be found on the background image of her cellphone screen: a Halloween photo of 25-year-old Elizabeth Delle Donne -- or Lizzie, as she's called -- in a blue Cinderella costume with white pockets. Her smile is luminous. Her thick, dark hair is to die for. "She is blessed with amazing hair," Elena says of her sister.

There is a simple beauty about Lizzie that obscures so many complications. She was born blind and deaf and with cerebral palsy, a triangle of challenges that has left her in a lifelong helpless state. She communicates through hand-over-hand signs in her palm -- yes, as Helen Keller was portrayed in The Miracle Worker -- but she has a limited vocabulary. "She knows the signs that are really important to her: eat and drink, oh, and the sign for cheese," says Elena. "She loves cheese. Or swimming. She loves to swim. She'll sit in a hot tub. She loves the feel of bubbles."

Touch and smell guide Lizzie through each day. "We've never communicated verbally in our entire lives, but the love you can feel for someone without even speaking to her is incredible," says Elena. "When I hug her, she kind of giggles. She knows me. She knows my scent." This kind of connection doesn't travel through phone lines or cyberspace, over Twitter or Facebook. It took one day at UConn for Elena to experience the panic of being cut off from Lizzie. But what seems obvious now -- missing Lizzie was a case of homesickness -- was at first mistaken for hoops overload. It had to be burnout, Elena believed. Otherwise she'd be loony for leaving UConn, for skipping out on the national-title parties to come. "For anyone else, it wouldn't have been a big deal," says Martin, "but it happened to be the Number 1 player in the country and the Number 1 team in the nation. There was a lot of emotional stress. But this was about a young lady whose heart was saying, This isn't for me."

Sometimes it takes more courage to go small than to go big in our celebrity culture. Once Elena made the nervous goodbye call to Huskies coach Geno Auriemma -- "He was really wonderful about it," she says -- she stepped away from her identity as the LeBron James of women's basketball. She escaped into volleyball, which she had played in the fall of her senior year at Ursuline Academy. But the white orb felt weird in her hand, oddly light, as if made from Styrofoam instead of having the heft of a basketball. She missed that feel. She wanted to reconnect with hoops, but slowly, first by asking to shoot in the gym at night and then by texting Martin in February to see if it was O.K. for her to attend a game. "She stayed up on the concourse," says Martin. "She didn't want to be a distraction." Elena watched the team from behind a concrete pillar. In April she told Martin she wanted to play again -- and for Martin's team, which had finished ninth in the 12-team Colonial Athletic Association. And then Martin screamed for joy atop the Delaware Memorial Bridge. (Well, inside she did.)

Ticket sales are up for the still-modest Blue Hens. All eyes are on Elena, same as before, but the hype is drawn to a smaller scale. "I don't think she'll feel pressure from the crowds," says Martin. "What I hope she feels is a big embrace from fans who are saying, Welcome back." And welcome back to basketball, a love rekindled. In a number 11 practice jersey, the number she wore in high school, Elena Delle Donne took her place in the Blue Hens' layup line last Thursday evening, off the big stage, but feeling so right at home.

March 27, 2013 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Salt & Pepper Bots

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Constant readers know that one of my long-time obsessions is (are?) salt & pepper shakers.

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I also have a thing for robots, most likely the result of my belief that we are living in a simulation and therefore are ourselves — you, me, and everyone you know — bots.

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You don't believe me?

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Read Oxford University philosophy professor Nick Bostrom's 2003 Philosophical Quarterly paper entitled "Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?" on why it's more likely than not we are living in a simulation, then come back and rethink your position.

What, you're back already?

You say you never left?

Some people.

But I digress.

From the bot shaker website:

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Well, it was inevitable.

Passing the salt by hand just isn't efficient enough in a world of bullet trains, pizza delivery, and broadband.

Fortunately, the condiments have now come to life.

Salt & Pepper Bots will waddle wherever you tell them to.

Wind them up and — like mini Terminators — they'll march across the table to wage war on bland food.

Details and Features:

• No more reaching across the table

• Robot shakers will march to you

• 3.5"H x 2"W x 1.25"D

• Food-grade plastic

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$19.95.

March 27, 2013 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

3 Quarks Daily

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It would appear I'm late to the party when it comes to visiting this website, which features in a sidebar rave reviews from all sorts of luminaries, the great and the good putting their name out there including Richard Dawkins, David Byrne, Robert Pinsky, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Michael Chabon, John Allen Paulos, Clay Shirky, Andreas Ramos, and a whole host of other bold-faced names.

March 27, 2013 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

World's first self-powered digital camera

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Never again will a dead battery cause you to lose a great shot.

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From PetaPixel:

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If flashlights can be solar and mechanically powered, why can't digital cameras? A camera called the "Sun & Cloud" is the world's first digital camera capable of generating its own power so you don’t need to constantly be worrying about battery drain and recharging.

The "self-generating" camera can utilize both solar and mechanical power. On the top of the camera is a small solar panel that gathers sunlight in order to charge up— hence “Sun” in the name.

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For the "Cloud" part we look to the side of the camera, on which there's a convenient hand crank that lets you charge up the device even when there's no sun.

Finally, if you lack both sunlight and the motivation (or time) to crank out power by hand, there's USB charging for juicing the camera up faster.

Design-wise, the camera looks like a small plastic box (it's supposed to look "retro"). It comes in both white and black variants, measures 6" x 6" x 8", and weighs 200 grams (~7 ounces). On the front is a small high-powered LED flash that can help illuminate dark scenes. On the back is an LCD screen for reviewing photos and various buttons that make up the UI.

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Inside the camera is a tiny 3-megapixel CMOS sensor that has an ISO range of 100 to 800 and is capable of both still photos and video recording (AVI files with 30fps or 8fps frame rates). Data is saved onto SD or SDHC memory cards of capacities up to 2GB and 16GB, respectively.

There are three still photo shooting distances (a normal range of 150cm, a portrait range of 60-150cm, and a macro range of 25-35cm) and 15 built-in filters for lo-fi aesthetics.

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$199.

March 27, 2013 at 04:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Experts' Expert: Fiskars are scissors of choice for esteemed illustrator Barbara Nessim

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I know this because I saw the photo above on page two of this past Sunday's New York Times front section, captioned as follows: 

Below, excerpts from Carol Kino's March 21 Times story.

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Women who built careers as illustrators in "Mad Men"-era New York were few and far between, and one is Barbara Nessim. In the early 1960s she became known for brightly colored pop portraits of women, made with fluid, expressive lines, which appeared in Esquire, Harper's Bazaar and girlie magazines. During feminism's rise in the early '70s her focus on women and gender roles drew the interest of publications covering women’s issues, like Ms. (Gloria Steinem was once her roommate), New York, and Time. In the '80s Ms. Nessim became one of the first illustrators to work with computers, which may be how she is best known today.

Yet despite these contributions Ms. Nessim, 73, has never received her due. "It used to be that as an illustrator you were shunned," she said, speaking of the gulf between fine and commercial art. "People didn’t think of it as an art form." But today, she added, the tide is turning. Largely driven by the Internet, she said, "the world has opened up," and all sorts of barriers have been eroding. Now she is enjoying her first retrospective, "Barbara Nessim: An Artful Life," which is at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London through May 19. Last month Abrams published the monograph, which uses photographs, sketchbooks and other examples from Ms. Nessim's scrupulously kept archives to examine her work from the beginning.

"She's clearly a major figure in American art and design, and illustration in particular," said Douglas Dodds, the museum's senior curator of digital art, who organized the show. He learned of Ms. Nessim nearly 10 years ago when he saw her work in an important computer-art collection that was later donated to the museum. After including several pieces in the 2009 survey show "Digital Pioneers" he visited Ms. Nessim's spacious studio in the West Village, and was struck by her wide array of styles and approaches. Before long, Mr. Dodds said, "it became apparent that Barbara produced just so much wonderful material, and that someone, somewhere, desperately needed to mark that in some way with a retrospective."

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As Ms. Nessim showed a visitor around her studio, her versatility was on full display. Hovering on a wall like a pop Madonna was "Star Girl Banded With Blue Wave" [above] an editioned portrait of a futuristic-looking superheroine that Ms. Nessim made in 1966 for a Manhattan design store. On her desk sat several half-finished, surrealistic photographic collages of female facial features and body parts, reassembled as if to suggest ransom notes.

Then there was her most recent piece: a pastel portrait of David Bowie [below]

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that the V&A Magazine had commissioned for the retrospective "David Bowie Is." Her instructions were to present Mr. Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust phase, using the same style as her 1979 illustration of Joni Mitchell for a Playboy Jazz Festival program and to turn it around over a weekend. Being an illustrator means you "rise to the challenge," she said.

Kind but intense, Ms. Nessim is quick to divulge personal anecdotes while also dispensing life philosophy — perhaps an outcome of her 25-year teaching career at the School of Visual Arts and Parsons. She grew up in the Bronx with a mailman father and a fashion designer mother who had married late and worked full time — an anomaly for the era. Ms. Nessim always knew she'd be an artist, but was determined to earn a living. "I wanted to support myself before I got married," she said. "And I wanted to know who I was before I got married. I had very specific ideas."

Her ideas about art were hazier. In 1956, when she arrived at Pratt School of the Arts, Abstract Expressionism still reigned. Although she used abstraction for her class work, by her senior year she was also making small symbolic paintings populated with figures and stories from her own life, most featuring women. That’s also when she began keeping a sketchbook and maintaining a daily stream-of-consciousness drawing practice, an approach more typically found among fine artists. "That’s basically where all my inspiration comes from," she said of her scores of sketchbooks. "I don't edit myself because I want to know what I’m thinking."

Fortuitously Ms. Nessim's approach, which combined self-discovery with the techniques and concerns of fine art, dovetailed perfectly with illustration's new era. While artists were moving toward performance and Pop art, illustrators were retreating from the realism and narrative storytelling that typified the '50s and borrowing styles and techniques from painters like Matisse and Picasso. "The ways in which stories were told were becoming more conceptual, more psychological and emotional," said Stephanie Plunkett, the chief curator of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., which chose Ms. Nessim as its first artist laureate in 2009. "Barbara was part of that wave."

Ms. Nessim's look, typified by a flowing, sensuous line and planes of brilliant color, was also distinctive. "There was an economy to it, a sensuality to it," said the filmmaker Robert Benton, who was the art director at Esquire when Ms. Nessim emerged. "It was both very naïve and very sophisticated." Art directors sought her work out precisely because it was not overtly commercial. With time they were also drawn to its female-centric focus. 

 

March 27, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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