The Solutions catalog offers all sorts of, well, solutions — or, as the company puts it, “products that make life easier.” Lest you think that Solutions products are akin to Kenji Kawakami’s 101, 99 More and The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventions: The Art of Chindogu, check out this sampling of potentially useful items:
If you need help with home improvement or getting organized, Solutions also provides a handy list of free clever tips.
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Posted February 22, 2006 by Mariva in decor, entertaining, gadgets, gifts, home, innovations, kitchen, resources, travel
Ever feel nostalgic for products or supplies that you remember from childhood, but haven’t been able to find in years? Your search may be over. The Vermont Country Store offers a wide variety of products that your parents or grandparents used — all brand-new and recently manufactured. How is this possible? The proprietors get permission to re-create vintage products as close to the originals as possible — including design and packaging — and bring them to market for another generation of consumers. If you’re not in the neighborhood of one of the stores in Weston or Rockingham, Vermont, you can order vintage games, classic New England apparel (warning: not for the fashion-conscious), long-lost fragrances and even food and beverages online. If you can’t find what you want, let them know, and they’ll consider re-creating it for you.
Posted February 15, 2006 by Mariva in bath & spa, business, decor, edibles, fun, games, gifts, home, innovations, kitchen, resources
Some people love February 14, in all its pink-blouse-and-red-sweater glory; others resent its existence and wish it would just disappear from the calendar. For those not celebrating romantic love today, I offer some alternatives:
Posted February 14, 2006 by Mariva in community, edibles, holidays, music, resources, social
It really makes you think —
Philosophy Talk: A couple of Stanford University professors discuss one broad, intriguing topic — such as time, happiness, forgiveness, virtue, propaganda, science, free will, democracy, beauty and so on — each week on a public radio program.
ScienceBlogs: A central location for a variety of science-oriented blogs, from fun stuff like Uncertain Principles (physics, politics, pop culture) to more obscure subjects like Aetiology (the causes, origins, evolution and implications of disease and other phenomena). My favorite is Cognitive Daily, because it’s like reading about a brain teaser every day.
Future Tense: Technology news and information in daily five-minute radio capsules. The February 1, 2006 report is kind of funny.
Science radio programs: This Week in Science, Science Friday, Earth & Sky, The Naked Scientists, Berkeley Groks Science Show, American Institute of Physics Science Report, Everyday Science (browse the archives of two-minute vignettes), Quirks & Quarks.
Scientific American Frontiers: A PBS series starring my favorite Army surgeon.
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Posted February 8, 2006 by Mariva in education, entertainment, fun, innovations, news, resources
I found out about the Free Budget Kit on one of Dr. Phil’s “Money Disasters” shows (which are like watching a train wreck — horrifying, but impossible to turn away from). But I was wondering, couldn’t Quicken or Microsoft Money — or heck, even an Excel spreadsheet, such as a template for a personal budget or a monthly budget — accomplish the same thing?
Posted January 30, 2006 by Mariva in finance, resources
When you’re away from home — whether spending a lot of time at the office or going on a picnic or a trip — you’ll appreciate Minimus. Here you can stock up on a plethora of individual- and travel-size products, including food and beverages, laundry supplies, personal care and over-the-counter medicines. You can also purchase preassembled kits and care packages of snacks, mini-meals, personal supplies and medical kits — some specifically for men, women, college students, air travelers, campers and even cold and flu sufferers. Many kits make ideal care packages for military personnel. And speaking of the military, the preassembled package called the "military field kit" — comprising an emergency blanket, a small flashlight and a rain poncho — is something you may want to keep in your car or home storage area.
Posted January 24, 2006 by Mariva in edibles, gifts, health, home, resources, travel
Just counting the legitimate, non-spam stuff, are you overwhelmed by email? You’re not alone. Email overload is a problem facing everyone from students and teachers to high-level executives to Congress. Too much email consumes your time, stresses you out and even impairs your mental acuity.
What to do? Organizing guru Julie Morgenstern says it all in the title of her new time-management book: Never Check E-Mail in the Morning. And Merlin Mann, proprietor of 43 Folders (no relation to 43 Things), seems particularly fascinated with email management and personal productivity. For those facing information overload, Mann advises canceling something and getting a fresh start with email, among other email management tips.
In addition, business columnist Penelope Trunk suggests getting control over your email by separating your email from your "to-do" list; responding to email within 24 hours even if it means composing short, non-"amazing" messages; and sorting by sender to find out if you can compile a single response to the few people who have been sending you the most messages.
(Update: Farai Chideya defines a "happy inbox.")
You can help others manage their own overload by avoiding common email pet peeves — and whatever you do, do not email and text message while intoxicated!
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Posted January 20, 2006 by Mariva in business, career, resources, social
We use technology all the time — telephones, computers, the Internet, television, cars and so on — but do you ever wonder how these things work? What happens after you press the "on" button or turn the key? In plain English, Marshall Brain (yes, that’s his name, and no, it’s not a pseudonym) demystifies everyday things from tattoos to airplanes to cell phones in How Stuff Works, a fun reference book featured on today’s Oprah.
If you’re not sure whether to invest in the book, start with the HowStuffWorks.com web site, which features explanations of Google Earth (how it works), dieting (how it works) and chocolate (how it works), as well as experiential things you may not have even realized had explanations, like laughter and dreams.
Posted January 19, 2006 by Mariva in books, education, fun, innovations, resources
Even if you don’t believe that the average person is chronically dehydrated, it’s generally a good idea to drink fresh, clean water as often as you’d like. I seem to be thirsty all the time, so I never go anywhere without a water bottle. Because of its durable and unbreakable nature, my container of choice is the Nalgene bottle, which never compromises the taste of water. It’s the perfect companion to the Thermos food jar.
There’s no question that Nalgene makes bottles extremely well. The company’s founder was an innovative chemist who developed unbreakable laboratory instruments and containers. Today, Nalgene is known in the scientific world for its wide assortment of Nalgene Labware, in addition to its consumer products for outdoors enthusiasts and travelers.
I have a variety of narrow-mouth bottles; my current favorite is the "Pretty Pink" 32-ounce bottle, although I like the "Sage Green," "Sapphire Blue" and "Vibrant Violet" translucent shades as well. A MiniGrip bottle fitted with an Easy Sipper (with a flexible straw threaded through the drinking hole) is perfect for staying hydrated during a long road trip.
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Posted January 17, 2006 by Mariva in health, innovations, kitchen, resources, travel
Googlism: Find out what Google "thinks" of you — or of anyone or anything else.
The Dialectizer: Turn the verbal content of a web page into any of a variety of funny dialects, including "Jive," "Cockney," "Elmer Fudd," "Swedish Chef," "Moron," "Pig Latin" or "Hacker." I sound quite cornpone when Mariva’s Guide has been Redneck Dialectized.
5ives: Lists of five things within a random topic, such as "five ways to get on the del.icio.us home page" or "five terrible fake ideas for a retro TV comeback."
Keepers of Lists is a similar idea to 5ives, but each list has a different number of things, such as "top 65 signs you’re obsessed with Harry Potter" or "top 33 things to do with a paperclip."
Dilbert’s Ultimate Cubicle: Kind of like Scott Adams’ Ultimate House.
Million Dollar Homepage: Yeah, I’m envious, too. A great idea like this is akin to winning the lottery, because it most likely can’t be replicated.
KidSites.com: A good directory of educational activities, coloring books, comics, crafts, games, sports, story books, companion sites to children’s television programs, and sites specifically for girls’ interests.
Bored.com: If you really need to visit this site, you might want to get a hobby.
Linky & Dinky: Even better than Bored.com.
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Posted January 11, 2006 by Mariva in business, education, entertainment, fun, games, innovations, resources