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November 27, 2020

GΓΌiro (wooden percussion frog)

Right after I featured the wooden frog impaled on a dowel pictured below in yesterday's "What is it?" β€” which had puzzled reader Michael, who'd emailed the pictures to me  β€” I posted it on reddit:

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Instantly, informative and entertaining comments (and upvotes) started coming in, with a number of peeps identifying the device as a wooden percussion frog.

Wrote one: "It is called a gΓΌiro and it croaks like a frog :)"

Another: "Rubbing a stick one way is a normal frog croak and rub it the other way for a frog mating call, my grandma has these at her farm along with some medicine bowls."

More: "I had 2 of these years ago, got them from Egypt."

And: "I remember elementary school music class... that was on the percussion table."

Can't stop: "I bought one of these in Kauai!! Had no one showed me what it was, I would have had no idea also! πŸ˜†."

Finally: "It makes a sound that attracts frogs when used correctly. Oddly enough there's a slightly different version that somehow gets earthworms to come to the surface. I need more coffee."

Not only did a number of people have them, oftimes found amidst grandma's stuff, but also there appeared a link to an instructive video (top) and links to places where you can buy one for your very own self:

$9.99 here, $19.99 (Medium) and $22.99 (Large) here.

As I think about it, this would also be a great gift for the child of someone you don't like much: drive 'em nuts.

November 27, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Walk a mile in my shoes

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Earlier this week I was walking along on my treadmill minding my own business when I noticed my shoes' soles were rubbing against the treadmill belt and making a noise.

I was wearing my most cushioned walking shoes, Skechers (below)

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whose heel foam padding measures 1.75" thick.

I've tolerated the shoe-belt contact in the past but for some reason that day I was determined to get to the bottom of it and make it go away.

I changed shoes, donning my Nike Vaporfly 4% (top) whose rubber road inserts on the soles had fallen off such that they were just foam on the bottom.

Guess what: no noise, no rubbing of shoe on belt. 

I measured the Nike heel foam padding: 1.25" thick.

Problem solved.

Lagniappe: The Nike shoe weighs 6.75 oz. while the Skechers weigh in at 19.75 oz. apiece, nearly three times more and over 3/4 of a pound more/shoe. 

If you're putting in serious miles in them, that's a huge difference in the load on your legs.

November 27, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Taxi Ceilings of Mumbai

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[Above and below, Mumbai taxi ceilings]

From Rachel Lopez's Instagram:

The world's largest gallery of #mumbaitaxi ceiling photos from India.

I take #kaalipeeli cabs, I look up and this is the art I see πŸš– β™₯

Wrote Lopez on pri

In Mumbai, any commute is an adventure.

No journey is without a traffic jam.

The roads are an obstacle course of potholes and pedestrians.

Google Maps often can't tell if the highway it's recommending is closed for repairs, yet again. 

If you need to take a taxi, cross your fingers.

Mumbai's 58,000 metered taxis (or kaali-peelis as the black-and-yellow fleet is affectionately called) are driven by a temperamental species.

They refuse short-distance rides.

They're picky about out-of-the-way destinations.

They're simply grouchy β€” even on a good day. 

But once you've scored a taxi, get in and look up.

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You'll notice a canvas that holds the most unusual art.

Approximately half the city's cabs decorate their ceilings and doors in some kind of colorful plastic or vinyl sheeting.

If you're lucky, you might get the common fruit design β€” photos of melons, berries, kiwis, even a sliced papaya, all cobbled together.

Continue taking taxis, and you may spend one ride under what looks like a tacky tablecloth your grandmother threw away.

There are neat geometrics, subtle two-tone filigree patterns, delicate cherry blossoms, garish zebra prints, and monstrous bouquets.

The truly fortunate may even see the unicorn of taxis: a fully mirrored ceiling with a chandelier affixed just behind the driver's head.

None of the designs have ever matched the upholstery on the seats, of course.

Perhaps Mumbai taxi art is just meant to clash.

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But taxi decor is not new.

Older car models were bigger and some would feature a shiny pole between the front and back seats.

Many had blinking lights inside β€” simply because they could.

Upgrades over the last five years, however, phased out the old models for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.

There is no longer room for poles.

Worse, factory-fresh models come covered in felt-like fabric that's not only dull, but also hard to keep clean, necessitating printed coverings.

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I took my first shot of a taxi ceiling in April 2017 β€” a chocolate-brown background covered in strawberries of unnatural hues.

It occurred to me that perhaps I wouldn't be seeing the colorful ceilings for long.

In the five years since app-based rides have entered India, they won over the middle-class with more transparent pricing, polite drivers, carpool options, and e-payment.

Mumbai taxi drivers have gone on strike several times in protest β€” driving even more commuters away.

I'll admit, kitschy decor is no match for the promise of a smoother commute.
 
But over the past month, as I've shared my shots of ceiling art on Twitter and Instagram, one thing's clear: Many Mumbaikars still take taxis.
 
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They need only a little prodding to look up.
 
And once they do, they're hooked.
 
My feeds are now full of friends and strangers, alike, sharing pictures of taxis they've taken across the city.
 
Many locals comment that they simply didn't pay attention to the variety of kaali-peeli designs before.
 
The drivers, however, remain unimpressed in the face of compliments about their cars and drive on.
 
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Still, it's more fun than the cold, gray inside of an Uber.

November 27, 2020 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

World Newspapers

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"World newspapers, magazines,

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and news sites in English."

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Free, the way we like it.

November 27, 2020 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

OXO Pie Server

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Using this kitchen implement, for the first time ever I am able to remove the first piece from an intact pie

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without making an appalling mess.

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Amazing.

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$9.99.

November 27, 2020 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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