Thursday, February 24, 2005

China/Spuds/A Wal-Mart World

Hello Mr. HappyTater

With the rapacious international growth of big-box megastores like Wal-Mart and Home Depot, you'd think there'd be more selection in the local produce aisle. By now, I think you've surmised I don't care much for these commercial behemoths. Fortunately or not, that's the way the world is headed. And who's leading the charge? America is still uptown-ranking, but the 'real' driver of that 18-wheeled pork wagon we call the world's economy is of course, China. They've been headlining the news lately, and with good reason. It's a huge market, steadily growing at almost triple that of the U.S. economy. Wal-Mart has thirty-one stores in fifteen Chinese cities, employing 16,000 people and providing those "everyday low prices" to hordes of newly-wealthy but spendthrift Chinese citizens. One store can make $60,000 in one day. America does a tremendous amount of trade with China, so much in fact that many folks are worried about inbalances and unfair practices, but that's for another discussion. Remember when your local American Wal-Mart proudly displayed "Made in America" products? What happened to all those signs? *hmmm* The real question here though is...shouldn't we expect the variety of foods on offer to match the variety of goods? Not exactly.

There are over 4,000 species of potatoes being grown in the Andes, their native home. Sadly, these varieties are endangered so you may never get to taste a black-colored puma maki or a mealy potato. What's available in your local grocery store is probably limted to Idaho russets, a bag of red "new potatoes", or if you're in a trendy large city, you may luck out with a whopping FIVE different varieties. OH-BOY! So you've got to wonder whether the American consumer is missing the boat, what with all the choices we have when looking to purchase oh...toothpaste or strawberry jam. Well buds and budettes, it seems we're missing a whole lot.

What you can do is this: run on down to you local Borders books, which may still have - for the low-low closeout price of $5.99 - a copy of a wonderful resource on vegetables & organic gardening: Botanica's "Organic Gardening" by Dr. Judyth McLeod. There's something about British writing; I can sometimes be found writhing in hysterical laughter at the mere mention of 'spanners' and 'bonnets', in reference of course to 'wrenches' and 'automobile hoods.' Rest assured, there's no shortage of weird-to-Americans terminology in this voluminous little text.

So now you're all set, the book lays it out, for six bucks. Potatoes are extremely easy to grow in a home plot. My crop of baby reds last year sprouted from rejects I let sit for too long, so I threw them in some soil in an old plastic storage bin with holes and *whoosh*, taters! For all you black thumbs, numerous resources to cultivate easy veggies exist everywhere on this here matrix of minds we call the internet. It's refreshing to know that we aren't slave to the store's paltry selections. It's also cool to realize growing your own food is only a few mouse clicks away. Well, add "dirt under the fingernails" for authenticity.

Which brings me to Bonsai Potato. And yes, it is exactly what is sounds like it might be.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

wright brother's inspired workspace

blu dot's 'paperclip desk'

the adjective "good" is, by default, dependent upon the viewer's background, taste, and expectations. i think i have good taste, and at least one other person agrees. naturally, it must then be taken as fact. or not. but let's not argue the details.

the folks at blu dot furniture appear to have that "good designer" gene. they've have introduced some novel designs to the ordinarily staid world of big-box shopping; you know, those homogenous "home improvement" stores like ____ depot. with the opening of its first manhattan store, the big HD knew it had to keep things funky. what this means for you, oh jolly consumer, is a new level of exciting product offerings.

affordable quality and lusty aesthetics haven't been seen in this retail sector since, well ikea and target. you might question the value in a $400 desk that looks simply of wires and plywood, but you have to admit the 'paperclip' is a pretty attractive place to pay your bills. this desk is freakishly similar to the 1903 wright flyer, but that's open to intrepretation. you can, however, play wilbur and orville with your own version of their famous kite. what better way to accomplish this feat than with a... kite (except you don't ride this one, unless you're a hamster). but wait; this model's been described by edmund scientific as "one of the finest examples of aerial artwork ever designed." maybe they haven't seen those chinese dragons that shoot bottle rockets from their nostrils....

all manner of new n exciting things

gotta make this one quick, so i won't forget stuff i've run across today. no logical sequence, just read and click, read and click....

follow mark lombardi as he takes us on a weird mindmapped tour of american politics and business via "the nation's invisible hand"....

it's still cold in the mid-atlantic, though today's high of 61 was a hint of spring's good fortune. if you want to fast forward your mood, and learn a little about surfing in jamaica (jamaica? they have waves? and surfers?) stop by quashi surfboards. their favorite spot is aptly named "the zoo." and yes, black people do surf. i know, you need proof. for a little more background, check out an interview with patrick & billy mystic, founders of quashi. they've even hooked up with a curious group of surfing barbers out of california....

  • look the part, and help the planet by scootering around on the cool little 145cc 4-stroke bajaj chetak.... they actually sound like a "real" motorcycle. okay, so it's not really a vibrating 81" flathead harley built by shinya at zero, but you get the point. my personal favorite and dream scenario? the 1941 "u" running on cellulosic bioethanol
  • i've waited a long while for a stylish drankin' flask clad in leather. this one by ghurka has naturally-cured leather for the eco-consious swigger.
  • if you demand THE absolute best corn husk wisk broom, or german lanterns, or handmade woodsaws, check out garrett wade.
  • need something to store your expensive new handmade tools? try a bag from duluth pack, or a messenger bag from crumpler
  • ladies, looks like your favorite white-haired style icon ralph lauren took the howard hughes theme and flew with it. don't fret kind fellows, there's stuff for us too.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

hello big world

this is my first blog. bow at my feet, weak earthlings of the planet...well, earth.

you know just last week, i asked the question "who reads blogs anyway?" after posing such an unheralded query, i decided to look at jim and adrienne's realtime kazahkstan storyboard and *bam*, here we are. their apartment over there is like, really, really nice. much fancier than the usual digs you'd find in 3rd-rate cities such as washington.

so once again, i've exclaimed to the high heavens that "the internet is the greatest thing since pocket pc2003, and tivo, compostable forks, or runflat tires. include in that list portable speakers and reissues of stuff i had in the 80's." remember cartoon express?

in other news, suzi is up to her old moodiful tricks again. join her for tales of mystery and intrigue in the sleepy hamlet of peegee cahntee. speaking of hometowns, i'm not in mine any longer, but i wish mummy were here to help keep my clothes in order. once again, leave it to the internet to save my life; this lit'l flick comes to us from our far east cousins and eventual corporate masters of efficiency.