Strange Laws

Friday 01.06.12

I am deep in the middle of that end-of-the-year-clean-off-my-desk thing and came across a clipping from the NYT. It’s a little story about how Switzerland, in an effort to strengthen its animal-welfare laws, has a new regulation on its books regarding the ownership of guinea pigs. Apparently, the little rodents are quite prone to loneliness, so it’s now illegal to own a single guinea pig. As with any new law, there are unforeseen problems that crop up. For instance, what happens when one dies? Do you buy a new one? That could go on ad infinitum. Or do you seek help from Pridska Kung, of Hadlikon, who rents the little guys (castrated males) for as long as you need them? A vexing problem, I daresay. Video via fuckyeahguineapigs.

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Gift Idea…Maybe Not

Wednesday 12.14.11

So, what the hell? I found this little “toy” at the local farm and garden center amid hundreds of small scale replicas of tractors, wagons, hay balers, combines and a whole array of farm animals. This piece (with the John Deere label affixed to the price tag) is part of a huge collection of precision cast miniatures of farm and construction equipment manufactured by Ertl Toys, a company that’s been around since 1945. This particular tanker is labeled anhydrous ammonia, which is a broadly applied and inexpensive source of nitrogen fertilizer used in farming. That said, it is also highly toxic and crazy dangerous to handle. And, as it happens, drug dealers now use it in the manufacture of methamphetamines. Hmmnnn, I’m not sure that inculcating our youngsters with this type of approach to growing food is the best way forward. Would a truck full of chicken poop be a better alternative? Anyway, maybe skip the chemicals and stick with the tractors and the cows.

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Gift Idea Numero 2: Tub Trugs®

Friday 12.09.11

I think these Tub Trugs are indispensable. I use them for countless chores and storage. I find the yellow ones to be especially lovely. The shallower designs are also new to me…so quite exciting. For even more sustainability there is a recycled plastic line as well. If you’re gonna get someone a gift, it might as well be useful, right? I’ll take one of each please. Oh, and by the way, these last forever!

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Euro, or Not?

Tuesday 11.15.11

I’ve been following the European debt crisis with some bit of fascination, fear, horror and disgust. How the F*ck did we get here? Although their debt crisis is different from our own in some ways, it’s also borne out of the same greed, speculation, mismanagement, ideological differences, growing divisions of wealth and the list goes on…and on. I posited the question some time ago to someone way more expert than I in the field of economics as to whether they thought the euro was at risk. As often happens with so-called experts, they dismissed my query as ridiculous. And amateurish. Well, fast forward a few months. While the likelihood of the euro-zone being disbanded is unlikely, it’s still a possibility. A previously unthinkable one. Anyway, all this talk of euros made me feel incredibly nostalgic for the former currencies of Europe: Those individual bills printed with beautiful illustrations and likenesses of famous people. I have favorites (see the 10 Francs note with Voltaire’s face) for sure. This little collection comes courtesy of Jacob Lewis Bourjaily. He has a site where he documents all the currencies of Europe bearing depictions of either scientists or mathematicians. I like his parameters.

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La Macchinetta

Wednesday 09.14.11

The Bialetti Moka Express coffeemaker is a miracle of design, simplicity and longevity: no filters, no glass, just coffee, water and a flame. It was designed by Alfonso Bialetti (who happens to be the grandfather of Alberto Alessi) in 1933. I know there is a profusion of brewing options out there and, depending on how much of a connoisseur one is, probably many “finer” solutions to procuring a morning cup of coffee. That said, I’ve had this little pot since I was 22. I lived in Italy at the time, and I thought I should do as the natives do. So I bought one. I’ve since graduated to larger versions this same design, but that aside, I’ve been making my coffee the same way for as long as that.

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More Pen Nibs

Thursday 08.25.11

“Made in America by Men Who Know Pens!” Do you think such men still exist? For now, the final post of things on a card. The stitching on this one is lovely.

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The Best Little Wood Stoves

Friday 08.12.11

I don’t want to proselytize too much, but these wood burning stoves are fantastic! In a recent conversation with a designer who is planning to build a studio adjacent to her home, I found myself waxing lyrically about the beauty and efficiency of our own Morso stove (we have the little Owl…the 5th image down). The Danish company has been around since 1853, so in my opinion it’s got some cred. These stoves are so efficient, that when used properly there is no smoke coming out of your chimney and virtually no ash left in the stove itself. I was originally looking at some really fancy (read: expensive) stoves, but we couldn’t imagine spending that kind of money on a design for which we were not even that keen. They were lovely, but essentially too cold and hard-edged for our humble little A-Frame. There had to be something else out there that embodied the essence of Scandinavian design, but with some warmth and character. Morso designs run the gamut from very classic Danish court style to ultra modern. And, what’s even better, they use 98% recycled materials in the production of their stoves.

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