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Drop Stop

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I have been using the Drop Stop ($20) for over 5 years and have a set for each car. Once installed (takes one or two minutes) I’ve forgotten about them, until I drop something between my seat and center console that would have otherwise fallen through the crack and under the seat or into the abyss. The Stop Drop stops the dropped item (pen, phone, money, wallet, etc.) from falling through. They come in black and tan, are made of soft pliable material that conforms to the space, have a slot for the seatbelt latch, and slide back and forth, unnoticeably, when adjusting the seat. They are easily removable and washable. I’ve given them as gifts and they have been very appreciated.

-- Paul Hanna

Drop Stop Set of 2 ($20)

Available from Amazon

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StunGod
2 days ago
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A product I didn't know about, but that I desperately need. I stared into that particular abyss over the weekend, and I'm now too embarrassed to take my car to a detailer. It's completely disgusting and probably a public health risk.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth

Square meals

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It’s likely that the term square meal originated in the restaurant culture of the California Gold Rush.

Most of the single men that were drawn to California then were temporary dwellers dependent on restaurants and hotels for their meals, so it is not surprising that “square meal” would first be applied to meals served in restaurants.

One of the earliest uses of the phrase I’ve found was in an advertisement for the What Cheer House in Marysville CA in 1858. The What Cheer said it offered three square meals a day for a moderate charge.

The term evidently was not known in the East. Most of the news about life in California was delivered by newspaper correspondents who wrote long stories about their experiences. One of those was J. Ross Browne, a frequent contributor to Harper’s magazine, who wrote in 1863 about a small shanty eatery called “The Howling Wilderness Saloon” that offered “a good square meal” for fifty cents. Browne explained that a square meal “is not, as may be supposed, a meal placed upon the table in the form of a solid cubic block; but a substantial repast of pork and beans, onions, cabbage, and other articles of sustenance that will serve to fill up the corners of a miner’s stomach.” [Above advertisement, California, 1861]

Other writers also felt it was necessary to explain to faraway readers what square meal meant. In the mid-1860s the term was often included in lists of colorful and unfamiliar Western slang such as shebang, grub, and muk-a-muk, plus sayings such as You bet, or Bet your bottom dollar.

By the end of the Civil War, the term had begun to spread across the country. A Union soldier from Wisconsin referred in summer of 1865 to enjoying his first square meal since joining the regiment. The reporter asked what he meant by that and he answered, “Four cups of coffee, all the ham I can eat, with bread, butter, pies, cakes, pickles and cheese . . .”

A few years later a restaurant in Memphis TN celebrated the opening of a new eating saloon where “A ‘square meal’ is served up smoking hot for fifty cents.”

What is most revealing about the slang term – suggesting what the mainstream American idea of a good meal was – is what did NOT qualify as a square meal.

For many diners, a meal in a Chinese restaurant did not qualify. Samuel Bowles, publisher of the esteemed Springfield (MA) Republican, who wrote of his travels to the West in 1865, explained that a square meal was “the common term for a first rate one.” He described a Chinese dinner he attended in San Francisco where the “the universal odor and flavor soon destroyed all appetite.” He was rescued from the situation by the chief of police who took him to an American restaurant where he enjoyed mutton chops, squab, fried potatoes, and a bottle of champagne.

Another New England paper ratified Bowles’ disdain for a Chinese dinner, stating, “An American generally has to go and get a ‘square meal’ after thus dining.” A possible reason for the rejection of Chinese food may lie in an editorial in 1872 in the New York Evening Post that referred to a political campaign amounting to a “dish of hotch-potch, instead of a square meal of honest viands.” In other words, people wanted chunks of meat [i.e., viands], not bits of food mixed together.

It was also clear that a square meal was not the same thing as a lunch. Back in 1858 the What Cheer House advised that in addition to three squares a day, regular diners there might also get “a lunch between meals, if they can keep on the right side of the Cook.” A lunch was regarded then almost as a snack. Boston’s Lindall “Dining & Lunch Rooms” had three departments, one “for the ‘regular square meals,’ one an oyster counter, and one “devoted to hot lunches of smaller orders of almost every dish.”

Guests from abroad were not always pleased with the squareness of American meals. The Londoner Walter Scott wrote in Our American Cousins (1883) about struggling with square meals in hotels where typically an enormous number of dishes of food were served, not in courses but all at once. As a waiter told another visitor, “What people want here is a good square meal; they are not particular about what they eat, if only they have a lot of things placed in front of them.” This style of service reportedly led to huge amounts of dumped food floating in the NY harbor.

In the 20th century some people began to mourn the loss of the good old pre-modern square meal – which was increasingly seen as the opposite of “fancy food.” A street reporter in Chicago in 1924 asked a woman whether she preferred home cooking to what was served in a “high class” restaurant and she answered that she preferred a good square meal with “fewer fancy frills.”

I think her answer would still resonate today, and I’d guess that many would say a diner was the best place to get a square meal.

© Jan Whitaker, 2019



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StunGod
2 days ago
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This really is fascinating. I've been using this term all my love, but never considered the origin.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth

Wifi Porter

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Wifi Porter

Price: $40  | Buy

Ten One Design’s upcoming Wifi Porter is a small device for sharing Wi-Fi access to mobile devices. Set it up once with its app, and other mobile users can join your Internet connection with a simple tap via NFC or with a quick snap of the QR code. Drops soon for $40.

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StunGod
3 days ago
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This isn't exactly an optimal solution, since it doesn't really do anything for laptops. That makes the corporate use case irrelevant, since 90% of that is people coming together in a conference room and trying to get their laptops to talk to the guest wifi or the networked projector. I could see it useful at an AirBnB or coffee shop though.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth
freeAgent
2 days ago
This is pretty cool, though you could do something a lot more universal by simply printing/framing a QR code on your wall for substantially less money. You could use something like this site: https://zxing.appspot.com/generator/ Then, pretty it up in a photo editor by adding colors or whatever (make sure it's still readable). Then just have it printed and maybe framed. QR codes are actually preferable IMO as you don't have to walk up to the thing. You just have to make sure it's not visible from a window.

Japanese company develops artificial meteor showers on demand

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A Japanese start-up built a microsatellite that was launched into orbit today. The satellite contains 400 tiny balls that can be released on demand and will burn brightly enough to be seen on Earth as they burn up in the atmosphere.

From Channel NewsAsia:

ALE Co. Ltd (Astro Live Experiences) says it is targeting "the whole world" with its products and plans to build a stockpile of shooting stars in space that can be delivered across the world.

When its two satellites are in orbit, they can be used separately or in tandem, and will be programmed to eject the balls at the right location, speed and direction to put on a show for viewers on the ground.

Tinkering with the ingredients in the balls should mean that it is possible to change the colors they glow, offering the possibility of a multi-colored flotilla of shooting stars.

Each star is expected to shine for several seconds before being completely burned up - well before they fall low enough to pose any danger to anything on Earth.

They would glow brightly enough to be seen even over the light-polluted metropolis of Tokyo, ALE says.

From ALE:

ALE is a Japan-based space entertainment startup that creates shooting stars on demand using microsatellites. Its mission is to contribute to scientific research through entertainment. It was founded in September 2011 by Lena Okajima, a serial entrepreneur with a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Tokyo.

Natural shooting stars occur when dust particles of several millimeters in size enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn due to plasma emission. ALE reproduces this artificially by inventing shooting star particles and using specially designed microsatellites. The process is as follows-we launch a microsatellite containing shooting star particles into outer space; we release shooting star particles from the microsatellite once it stabilizes in orbit around the Earth; the particles travel approximately one third of the way around the Earth and burn upon entering the atmosphere, becoming shooting stars visible from an area 200 km in diameter on the ground.

Image: ALE

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Aeromexico trolls the MAGAs

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I love visiting Mexico. Baja is amazing. The locals are incredibly friendly and helpful. Read the rest

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StunGod
6 days ago
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Best. Thing. All. Day.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth

You do not have to be good

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Words to live by. (From chapter 5 of Keep Going)

Mary Oliver has died. I have a friend who used to keep her poem “Wild Geese” folded up in his wallet. It begins:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Here she is reading it:

She grew up in Maple Heights, Ohio, about a half hour southeast of where I’m typing this. When she gave a (rare) reading in Cleveland, she joked, “I have to read ‘Wild Geese’ or I shall be chased from the city.”

She said she wrote it while in Cleveland, trying to coax a student to practice the end stop lines technique. “You write one and I’ll write one,” she offered, resulting in “Wild Geese.”

Later in the reading she was asked what it takes to be a poet.

“Read a lot of poetry; find poetry you really love. Don’t be afraid to imitate it. That’s how we learn most everything in the world — love and imitation. The second part is to seek primary sources, to go out into the world. Go to the art museum, yes, but go out into the forest, too. Pay attention to the world.”

This really is the great message of her work: Pay attention. And pay attention to what you pay attention to. (The message of most great art, really.)

It’s spelled out in her poem, “Sometimes”:

It’s there in “A Summer Day”:

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

It’s there in “When Death Comes”:

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

I think she did it right. And showed us how we can, too.

The opening page of The Steal Like An Artist Journal, painted by Heather Champ
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StunGod
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A bit of thoughtful beauty in a time that truly needs it.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth
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