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Esther Schindler RSS Feed (Scottsdale, AZ USA)

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The People of Burning Man
The People of Burning Man
by Julian Cash
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $34.99
16 used & new from $19.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A celebration of creativity and free-to-be-oneself. Awesome photography., March 21, 2015
When Julian Cash asked me to look at his book, I didn't say, "Okay." I looked at the book description and responded, "SEND IT NOW!"

That's because, back in 2009, I was a speaker at a tech conference where the "speaker gift" was a photo session with Julian, who's well known for his "light paintings." The photo he took of me is so cool that it has been my primary "avatar image" ever since. And the only images cooler than that are the pictures he took of the *other8 speakers.

So when Julian told me he'd done a book about Burning Man -- an event I've never attended, but which has been lauded by friends who have -- I had no doubt he'd do an amazing job. Turns out... I was right.

If I had to categorize this book, I'd be forced to say it's a "coffee table book" because it's primarily photography. But that sounds very serious... and The People of Burning Man is anything but.

What makes this more than a "cool book of pictures" is that it captures the essence of Burning Man: "a crucible of creativity" that, as its website explains, is "dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance."

Cash organized the photos in non-standard and groovy ways: Welcome; Love; Self Expression; Values; the Burning Man event and staff (including Lamplighters); Fire; Danger; and several more. There are pages of tattoos; portraits of people in costumes and body paint (many of them otherwise nude); match-ups of images with professions (which one of these 9 people is the attorney? the import boutique owner?); an AMAZING set of attendee statistics (ethnic backgrounds, political affiliations, belly button type [94% inny]), and oh boy oh boy so much more. It's such fun!

And there's text to bind it all together, so that it's not "just" a photo album. I'm struck by his introduction for the Danger section: "Danger, life, death, fear, bravery, pain, and awareness are all tied together. The same fear that helps to keep you alive also limits how fully you live and appreciate life." DAMN that's good.

The result is a marvelous celebration of creativity and the "freedom to be me." I said, "OH COOL" at least once every few pages... and I bet you will, too.

William Morris and Morris & Co.
William Morris and Morris & Co.
by Lucia Van der Post
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.36
53 used & new from $4.15

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's worth it just for the photographs, March 1, 2015
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William Morris was many things, and he had many roles. This short book (85 pages) focuses on just one of them: Morris as a designer in the Arts & Crafts movement. You won't find anything much about his personal life, and the references to his socialism are just-in-passing.

It is, however, a beautiful visual appreciation of William Morris' skill in (to enumerate the chapters): craft, color, honesty, pattern, nature, and "legend." There's a bit of corporate background (how the company ownership changed, who owns the designs today, etc.). And a charming bit of life philosophy, every so often: "That thing which I understand by real art is the expression by man of his pleasure in labor. I do not believe he can be happy in his labor without expressing that happiness; and especially this is so when he is at work at anything in which he specially excels."

The primary reason to grab this small volume is the color plate photographs, most of which are via the Victoria and Albert Museum. Some of the photos are quite detailed, and all have at least some context. For example: "It was a basic tenet held by Ruskin, Pugin, Morris and others that honesty in design demanded that you did not try to create a three-dimensional illusion in a two-dimensional design. Wallpaper should not disguise the flatness of the surface but enhance it. This GARDEN TULIP design shows very little shallow relief effects, with little shading and a limited palette, but this enhances rather than detract's from the pattern's strength."

The photos have a mix of close-up design, design in context (such as a photo of Red House with design details pointed out), and contemporary homes using Morris designs (to demonstrate how relevant the designs are). There's a few people-images (e.g. a charming drawing of Morris and his daughters) and "and friends" (such as a panel by Burnes-Jones), but it's mostly fodder for Morris fans. Like me.

With such books, the accompanying text is secondary, but van der Post and Parry are actively interesting. It's wholly admiring of Morris (you won't find any real criticism), but I surely will not complain.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 31, 2015 9:44 AM PDT

Bushy Tailed Brown Squirrel Earrings in Silver Tone, Celebrate Fall, Harvest, Halloween, Thanksgiving
Bushy Tailed Brown Squirrel Earrings in Silver Tone, Celebrate Fall, Harvest, Halloween, Thanksgiving
Offered by Autumn's Glory
Price: $48.00
2 used & new from $23.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice "everyday" earrings, March 1, 2015
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These aren't the earrings you pull out for a special occasion (unless you celebrate a Squirrel Appreciation Day, and who am I to object to such a thing?).

But if you're looking for a set of affordable, comfy fall-themed copper-and-silver earrings, this set is awfully nice. They're lightweight, pretty, and reasonably well made. It's hard to tell from the photo, but the squirrel isn't just a stamped design; it's a little miniature critter.

Wolverine F2D Super 20MP 4-In-1 Film to Digital Converter
Wolverine F2D Super 20MP 4-In-1 Film to Digital Converter
Offered by Harold's Prairie
Price: $99.95
17 used & new from $87.47

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It won't blow you away, but this slide/negative scanner is a very good value for the price, January 26, 2015
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My husband used to be a professional photographer and darkroom technician, so he's incredibly picky about any kind of photographic equipment. The result is that we looked first at high-end scanners when we contemplated our collection of print photographs and -- more to the point here -- slides and negatives. The problem is: For most of those slides and negatives, the scanner would be used precisely once, to digitize the photo. So then I'd be out $1300 or whatever, and what would I do with the equipment afterwards? Not to mention that I've always had something better to spend that kind of money on.

So six months ago, based on the Amazon reviews, I invested in this relatively low-end slide scanner. I've been far happier with it than I expected to be.

The bottom line is that this is really fast and easy to use, just like it promises on the box. And because it's so easy to use, it does _get used_. Facebook is now peppered with the slides we took in the 1980s (which survived much better than expected). Sure, the resolution isn't nearly as good as my quality-centric husband might prefer, but frankly most of my pictures are just snapshots anyway.

I haven't tried it with negatives, yet, but we just unearthed and organized a whole box full of them. That'll be a whole new way to annoy my Facebook friends with Throwback Thursday pictures.

18k White Gold Plated Cubic Zirconia Twist Rings Drop Earrings (6.50 carats) by ORROUS & CO
18k White Gold Plated Cubic Zirconia Twist Rings Drop Earrings (6.50 carats) by ORROUS & CO
Offered by E Depot Express
Price: $29.99
2 used & new from $14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun bit of everyday sparkle, January 24, 2015
My new job has given me more of an opportunity to "play dress-up," so I've been wearing jewelry more often. As a result, when Mega Merchant asked if I'd be interested in looking at these earrings and giving an honest review, I was motivated. Hey, shiny!

In short: I like them. These earrings are unlikely to make anyone stop me on the street and say "OH WOW WHERE DID YOU GET THOSE?!" but they are pretty, they go with lots of clothes, and the value can't be beat.

The size is pretty much as shown in the Amazon diagram: These are dangly, but no so long that they'd get caught in a sweater. They definitely showed up against my curly long hair though, so they sure don't disappear.

What's a little less obvious is that the dangle charms are separate; you slide them onto the wire. That gives them a very nice movement, which I like. But I worry that one dangle will slide off in my totally-disorganized jewelry box at some point. I don't think this worry will keep me awake at night, but it's something else to fuss over. (I'm a grown up. I can handle this.)

The issue with any sort of costume jewelry is whether and how well it pretends to be the real thing. For high end stuff you want someone to assume that the "diamonds" are really diamonds. With inexpensive earrings like this, I just ask that it look fun rather than cheap. Nobody's assuming that I am going to wear 4-carat earrings to work, after all.

...And these earrings pass the test. The construction is good. They look like a fun bit of sparkle in my ears, which is just what I wanted. At this price, it's easy to convince yourself you need them. Or put it in your Amazon wish list to help someone who wants to give you a-little-something but has no idea what you'd like.

Orange Circle Studio 2015 Activity Wall Calendar, The Art of the Quilt (51134)
Orange Circle Studio 2015 Activity Wall Calendar, The Art of the Quilt (51134)
Offered by Arch Superstore
Price: $15.69
7 used & new from $15.69

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A really nice collection of quilts for hanging on your wall... the easy way. With patterns!, December 31, 2014
There's a section in William Least Heat Moon's Blue Highways: A Journey into America wherein he discusses how to judge a side-of-the-road diner: Count the number of calendars on the wall. A diner with one calendar hanging up (perhaps from the local high school's fundraising efforts) can be relied upon to be solidly good. One with TWO calendars is worth a special trip. And a three-calendar diner... well, that's a destination justified of a cross-state drive!

Every year I hang three calendars on the wall at home. I'm not sure if that says something about my cooking ability, or if it implies I have a hard time making a decision.

In any case, this year -- as with most years -- one of the calendars includes a quilting calendar to reflect my favorite hobby. This time around I chose The Art of the Quilt, which has photos of a dozen pretty quilts. They are not necessarily award-winners or avant guarde "art quilts;" in fact most are bed quilts, and they reflect a range of styles and sizes, from modern to traditional to cozy-country.

As with any photo collection, I like some more than others. My favorite probably is a yellow-and-cream queen-size quilt called "Lemon Meringue," which apparently was published from the magazine Modern Quilts Illustrated.

What makes this calendar a bit nicer is that it includes patterns for each quilt. Now, I've bought calendars with patterns before, and not once have I actually MADE one of them. But one thing I like about this one is that the instructions are on standalone sheets of paper that fit in a pocket on the last page; if I am motivated to make one of these (and that baby quilt is really adorable...) it'll be convenient to do so.

It's a nice calendar. You won't be sorry if you get it.

Not Before Time
Not Before Time
by John Brunner
Edition: Paperback
7 used & new from $2.07

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable sampler of an under-appreciated SF writer, December 30, 2014
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This review is from: Not Before Time (Paperback)
It all started when I referred to Brunner's short story, "The Warp and the Woof-Woof." When my friend gave me a blank stare, I tried to explain the premise -- a tale told from the viewpoint of a spaceman's dog. But I'm not sure he understood why it was cool (even if I gave him a story spoiler that I won't share with you).

When I couldn't find the short story online, I decided to buy this collection of Brunner short fiction, because I realized I didn't know any of the REST of them. Besides, one of my best-beloved SF books is Brunner's The Shockwave Rider, which was prescient about the role of the Internet and also is the source of the term "computer worm." I was sure I would not be disappointed.

And, largely, I was right. Some of these stories feel a bit dated -- the book first came out in 1968 -- but plenty of them will remind you why you loved pulp SF so much. "The Warp and the Woof-Woof" was, obviously, worth the cost of the book by itself. (It lived up to my memory!)

But since it isn't easy to find Brunner's short fiction (only the better-known novels like Stand on Zanzibar) you will appreciate knowing that the other tales include:
* "Prerogative"
* "Fair warning"
* "Singleminded"
* "A better mousetrap"
* "Coincidence day"
* "Seizure"
* "Treason is a two-edged sword"
* "Eye of the beholder"
* "Round trip"

Go on. Get the book. You won't be sorry.

Shape by Shape Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Walters: 70+ Designs for Blocks, Backgrounds & Borders
Shape by Shape Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Walters: 70+ Designs for Blocks, Backgrounds & Borders
by Angela Walters
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.71
50 used & new from $13.76

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quilting book I'll actually use, December 29, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I am not a perfectionist when it comes to quilting; it's supposed to be a hobby, after all. But I do subscribe to the belief that a quilt is more than piecework held together by quilt-in-the-ditch. In my view the quilting should be the voice harmonizing with the melody "played" by the piecework.

Unfortunately I have neither the talent to do in-depth machine quilting like Harriet Hargrave (see Heirloom Machine Quilting: A Comprehensive Guide to Hand-Quilting Effects Using Your Sewing Machine) nor the equipment and vision of someone like Karen McTavish (whose books on Mastering the Art of McTavishing make me swoon). Even when I'm pleased-as-punch with my quilt top, my ability to see "hmmm what should I quilt here" is limited. Even when I _do_. my skill at marking a quilt can most charitably be described as "kind of sucks."

Fortunately, now I have Angela Walters's Shape by Shape to guide me.

The premise with this book of 70 free-motion designs is that you choose a geometric shape (triangle, rectangle, circle), and then pick designs that fit in them. You don't have to mark anything, or if you do it'd be to put a dot 1" inside the sewing line. Certainly you don't have to figure out how to draw reliably on fabric, or go through reams of expensive quilting tracing paper. Everything has step-by-step instructions and diagrams that honestly are easy to follow.

So, for example, "Diamond 7" includes instructions like, "From the bottom of the diamond, quilt a swirl in the center of the diamond. Stop in the center of the swirl. Make sure to leave space between the edge of the block and the swirl...." And in four steps you have something that looks darned elegant, without making you feel that it'll take a month to complete.

So far I have used this book as both inspiration and instruction for a large table runner. Before I got this book I would have done a simple quilt-in-the-ditch, but adding a few fillips gave it just the zing it needed. I'm looking forward to my next project, because for-sure this will be the quilting book I reach for first.

Smart Weigh TZ5000 Sleek Cuisine Stainless Steel Digital Kitchen Scale with Large Backlit LCD Screen
Smart Weigh TZ5000 Sleek Cuisine Stainless Steel Digital Kitchen Scale with Large Backlit LCD Screen
Price: $29.99
3 used & new from $29.73

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's groovy. If you've owned other scales, you'll appreciate this one., December 21, 2014
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I've gone through a lot of kitchen scales over the years. If you haven't owned one, and you cook frequently, you might be surprised at how useful they are. It's a no-brainer for any kind of baking, because weighing flour gives far more predictable results, and when you need to whack 4 ounces of baking chocolate off a big bar of it, there's no real alternative. But a scale is handy for all sorts of things, such as weighing meat (e.g. the CostCo package of ground beef is 5 pounds, and you want to freeze it in 1 pound chunks). Since we roast our own green coffee beans, we want each batch at exactly 250 grams -- if nothing else, to keep the batches even, so the final one from the bag isn't short.

As I said, in the last 25 or 30 years we have owned quite a few of these. While a non-electric scale is inexpensive (and fine for, say, that chocolate measuring), it's not super-accurate. The electronic scales are far better, but I have found that their electronics last just-so-long and then give up the ghost. That was the case for the the last scale we bought, perhaps 5 years ago; halfway through measuring ingredients the screen would go blank, causing me to discover a whole new vocabulary of curse words. Thus it was time for a new scale -- and I'm glad we chose this one.

To begin with the Smart Weigh scale is completely flat. That doesn't sound like much, but scales with bowls or projections mean you often have to balance the food on the surface, and that's no fun when your hands are full. The larger width is excellent, too, since it means you can pile on, say, four pounds of sweet potatoes without creating an unstable tower.

The display is very bright, too. That backlight makes a real difference when your kitchen is dark and you need to peer under a large item to read the screen (because you have a few pounds of ground beef piled on top).

Mostly, I like the user interface. Some scales make it a pain to switch units (ounces to grams), but this one remembers which we use, and it responds to a change with a gentle touch. It's also pretty, which isn't important... but hey, it's nice.

I've owned a lot of kitchen scales. There's no question that this is my favorite.

Bad Grammar Expletive Funny Coffee Mug or Tea Cup by BeeGeeTees (15 oz)
Bad Grammar Expletive Funny Coffee Mug or Tea Cup by BeeGeeTees (15 oz)
Offered by CollegeStoreAndMore
Price: $14.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just what it promises., December 21, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'm a professional writer and editor, which means I get paid to be a nitpicker -- and my authors certainly give me reason to be one. So when I saw this mug, I practically shouted, "Shut up and take my money!" It absolutely was a present for myself.

Mug-wise it's just a mug. I haven't had it long enough to tell you anything about its quality, but I've run it through the dishwasher a few times with no discernible fading.

Note that the larger mug is tall rather than wide. That means it doesn't fit under my coffee machine's spigot easily (aww first-world problems...) but I don't mind. I smile at the coffee mug every time I look at it.

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