May 23, 2016

BehindTheMedspeak: Advice is worth what you pay for it


Without further ado, five tried-and-true doctor's tips to make your life healthier and better.

1) The BEST remedy for sunburn: 2 aspirin every 4 hours, starting as soon as possible after the burn, continuing until bedtime. I read this in a brief letter from a Florida dermatologist to the New England Journal of Medicine long ago, when I was in med school (early 70s): it really works. Funny that it appears nowhere in the medical literature and when I mention it to fellow doctors it's the first they’ve heard of it.

2) The BEST remedy for a wasp or bee sting (for the majority of us who are NOT allergic to such insults): make a paste of Adolph's Meat Tenderizer and a little water and rub it into the site. The papain — papaya extract, the active ingredient in Adolph's — breaks up the venom molecules, much as it does meat fibers when used in the kitchen as intended. The reason I don't deal with those who are allergic to stings is that they'll be dead of anaphylaxis long before they have time to make a paste — unless they use an EpiPen. I keep a bottle of Adolph's in my car's glove compartment.

3) The BEST remedy for non-specific back pain: lose weight. Most such pain is due to weak abdominal musculature and subsequent cantilevering of the belly outward, putting all kinds of non-physiologic stress on the lower back.

4) The BEST remedy for hypertension: lose weight. Most mild hypertension goes away when weight gets down to where it should be.

5) The BEST remedy for oral-medication-controlled diabetes: lose weight. Most such patients don't need their meds anymore once their weight gets back to normal.

May 23, 2016 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 22, 2016

"Is that a pizza shirt?"


I've long since lost track of how many times I've been asked — both in person and via email — about my favorite T-shirt (above).

I got it maybe 10 years ago and wear it from time to time just to see if it retains its smile-inducing magic.

Great ice-breaker and conversation-starter — if they don't usher you off the premises first.


Kathryn's Pizza Shirt

From $24.99.

Bonus: they now offer matching knickers 


and crew socks


to complete your unique ensemble.

And for those prepared to make a real commitment — as it were — and go all in, there's the pizza jumpsuit:


May 22, 2016 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

May 21, 2016

Every Top 5 Song from 1956-2016 (22,000 Songs) — Start with the year you were born and listen to the musical history of your life

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 7.25.18 AM

Wrote Mark Frauenfelder on BoingBoing: "Polygraph Studio created this great timeline of Billboard Top 5 songs from the last 60 years."

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 7.18.17 AM

May 21, 2016 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 20, 2016

joe's Favorite Thing: Measure Magnet


Pretty much self-explanatory.

I've had mine over 30 years.

I've given them to family members, friends, and girlfriends for decades.

One woman who got really mad at me and never spoke to me again after we broke up still has hers on her fridge (I know this because I'm friends with a friend of hers who's seen it).

But I digress.

From websites:


Features and Details: 

• 3.5"W x 4"H

• 5/16"Ø hole at top

• Brushed stainless steel exterior

• Strong magnetic backing [understatement!]

• Conversions for cups, fluid ounces, tablespoons, teaspoons, and milliliters



May 20, 2016 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 19, 2016

Shorpy Historic Picture Archive Vintage Photo Blog — "Thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to the 1950s"



From the website:





" is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images taken over a 100-year-long span from the 1850s to the 1950s."




"The site is named after Shorpy Higgenbotham [below], a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago."





[See end of post for the answer]




"Over 6,000 fine-art prints suitable for framing."



"Desk-size to sofa-size and larger, on archival paper or canvas."

Or you can just look.




Free, the way we like it.

[via reader Tom aka Gandalf the Gray]



May 19, 2016 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

May 18, 2016

IllumiBowl — Night Light for Your Toilet

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 4.43.10 PM

From websites:


Now you can add any color of LED light to your toilet bowl and see it glow.

That means no more stumbling around when you have to go at night.

Simply snap it onto the rim and let it shine: it will automatically turn on when someone walks into the bathroom.

There are eight color possibilities and patterned illuminations, making quite the show.

Features and Details:

• Sets to the color of your choice or a color-rotate light mode

• Turns on and off automatically via motion sensors

• Snaps on in the perfect, splash-proof location

• Easy to clean by wiping with a cloth

• Perfect for potty training children

• Battery-powered

• Fits any toilet


Still not sure?

Not ready to s*** or get off the pot?

Oops — that came out wrong.

So did that.

But I digress.

Watch the video, maybe it'll help you decide.


[via BoingBoing]

May 18, 2016 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 17, 2016

Face Development in the Womb (Video)

77 seconds of wonder.

[via BBC One]

May 17, 2016 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 16, 2016

Shark Fin Soap


3.5 ounce bar.



May 16, 2016 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 15, 2016

Trees "eating" things

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 7.09.48 AM

Wrote Rob Beschizza on BoingBoing:

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 7.06.53 AM

"My new favorite subreddit is r/TreesSuckingOnThings,

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 7.05.41 AM

a growing collection of photos of trees growing slowly to encase and envelope signs,

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 6.56.08 AM


Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 7.00.55 AM



and other things

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 7.02.33 AM

attached or adjacent to them.

May 15, 2016 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 14, 2016

bookofjoe's Favorite Thing: Screaming Meanie Alarm Clock


Below, my 2013 post featuring this unique alarm clock.


Once again this puppy saved my bacon when lesser alarm clocks failed me big-time.

It happened Tuesday when I was scheduled to be somewhere at 10 a.m. sharp.

I set my series of alarm clocks — starting with the digital one, then two travel alarms each set for 2 minutes after the previous alarm time, and then finally the Screaming Meanie, armed to go off 20 minutes after the first — and darned if I wasn't jolted awake by the Screaming Meanie with all three of the others simultaneously going off but somehow unacknowledged in the now almost audibly pulsating darkness.

See, I sleep with earplugs — really, really good earplugs (Mack's — about which more in a future post) and so an alarm clock has to be really loud to get my attention.

When the Screaming Meanie erupts it's as if your heart is on the verge of stopping — its klaxon-like, emergency-vehicle-siren squeal is SO LOUD it really seems like it could be capable of waking the dead.

When you absolutely, positively have to get up, this is the alarm clock you want on your nightstand.

If it should fail to do the trick, simply let me know and I will cheerfully refund twice what you paid for it.

That's the bookofjoe Way.

FunFact: This is the default alarm clock of long-distance truckers.





N.B. Originally featured in this space in 2004, the Screaming Meanie made encore performances in 2005, 2008, and 2013.

The 2005 post is very entertaining, even 11 years later: I laughed out loud as I read it last night. 

Your response may differ.

But I digress.

This is too good a machine not to be periodically re-introduced to a whole new cast of readers.

The name alone makes it a winner.

The device lasts, too: I bought the translucent green one (top) back in the 20th century and have dropped it and abused it too many times to recall, yet it still blasts that 120 dB alarm which pretty much stops my heart when it explodes in the dark and literally levitates me off the mattress.

I find it amazing that today's iteration is both cheaper ($27.64) and louder (120 dB) than the 2004 version ($29.99; 110 dB).

Oh, yeah, one last thing: you'll want to remove the 9V battery before packing it in either your carry-on or checked bag.

The reason is that there's no lock switch to prevent accidental pressure from activating the test mode. 

If this puppy goes off at the high (120 dB) setting inside a bag in an airport, you're gonna find yourself face down on the floor surrounded by people with automatic weapons with safeties off in a TSA yoctosecond.

Fair warning.

May 14, 2016 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 13, 2016

Solar Flare in 4K (Video)

YouTube caption:


On April 17, 2016, an active region on the sun's right side released a mid-level solar flare, captured here by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).

This solar flare caused moderate radio blackouts, according to NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center.

Scientists study active regions — which are areas of intense magnetism – to better understand why they sometimes erupt with such flares.

This video was captured in several wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light, a type of light that is typically invisible to our eyes, but is color-coded in SDO images for easy viewing. 


[via NASA and BoingBoing]

May 13, 2016 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 12, 2016

BehindTheMedspeak: Mack's — World's Best Earplugs


It's not even close.

Take it from someone who's used earplugs since he had a morning paper route in Milwaukee (the Sentinel) at ages 11-12 in 1959-60, requiring my presence at the newspaper pickup shed at 4:45 a.m. sharp seven days a week.

When I returned home at 6:30 a.m. to get one more hour of sleep while the rest of the house woke up, even with a giant fan next to my bed providing white noise, sleep would've been impossible without earplugs.

Alas, at that time the best available ones were Flent's Anti-Noise Ear Stopples, which worked fine but left a nasty slippery residue on your fingers since they were made mostly of wax impregnated with cotton to keep the wax together.

I used those every night from that time on even after I quit my paper route and moved on to being a night shift gas station attendant at the Clark station on 50th and Lisbon the summer after I turned 16, sleeping during the day with the aid of my trusty fan and those earplugs. 

Then, soon after starting college at U.C.L.A. in 1966, I happened on Mack's earplugs in some drugstore in Westwood Village. 

Angels sang and doves circled (figuratively) as I inserted them only to find they were 1) far more comfortable than Flent's; 2) cheaper than Flent's; 3) most importantly, far better at molding to the contours of my external ear canal and keeping noise out.

At that time Mack's were only available only in a light grey adult size which were way too big for me to stuff deeply into my ear (you're not supposed to do that, it says in the instructions, but if you don't you won't get nearly the sound attenuation possible from forbidden placement).

I cut the adult-sized plugs in two and used the halves as a pair.

The grey adult version (below)


is still their flagship and costs $3.76 for a box of six pair which, if you use them as I did and break each one in half, are actually 12 pair.

The bright orange kids version — half the size of their grey adult earplug — that I've used for decades fits an adult's outer ear canal perfectly.

These earplugs are made of silicone putty — there's no wax or cotton to leave any residue on your fingertips or in your ears.

They warm up to body temperature quickly once inserted and from that point on are unnoticeable.

Sound attenuation —22dB— dwarfs that of all other in-ear earplugs, whether they be made of wax, cotton, foam rubber, etc.

A box of the fluorescent orange kids version pictured below costs $2.48 for six pair.


They're far easier to locate than the light grey iteration after they occasionally fall out while you're sleeping, lodging in all manner of places.

I keep a third one under my pillow in case I wake up in the middle of the night from some noise only to find I've only got one earplug in situ.

Tip: do as I do and throw them out every two weeks and use a fresh pair.


Because they get dirty with shmutz: dust, ear wax, newsprint, cat hair (in my case — your circumstances may result in other types of hair/fur becoming embedded), etc.

A $2.48 box will last you three months if you follow this routine.

Oh, yeah, one last thing: about once every couple years I push one in too far such that I can't retrieve it with my fingertips.

No problema for me since knowing the anatomy of the external ear canal as I do as a result of my medical training, I can manipulate my outer ear such that while looking in a mirror I can stick a tweezers into my ear to pluck out the earplug in a Charlottesville yoctosecond and Bob's your uncle.

You, you won't want to try that at home.

Instead, find a friend who's not grossed out by the prospect and have her/him use a tweezers to remove it for you.

The bright orange color once again helps a lot in terms of seeing it, wedged down there in your ear canal.

If that's not happening, well, join the great unwashed in a hospital ER or urgent care clinic and they'll do it for you, but only after laughing at you behind your back and charging you an arm and a leg to be the butt of their jokes.

Fair warning.

May 12, 2016 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

May 11, 2016

bookofjoe cracks mainstream media once again


On page 7 of the June 2016 issue of Consumer Reports appears a tweet from me [above], posted on Twitter back in April:

Anyone getting a new/used car needs April issue of @ConsumerReports—they drill down so far, you can almost see the other side of the planet.

This shout-out from CR


comes a couple weeks after another tweet, featuring Gray Cat in all her glory [below],


made it onto page 2 of the April 2016 issue of Anesthesiology News,


which was the first time I've seen anything from my Twitter in published ink on paper.


Looks like my virtual world's starting to intersect with the real one, such as it is.

May 11, 2016 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

May 10, 2016

ExtenVac Vacuum Attachment


I can't speak for you but none of my regular vacuum attachments that can fit into the small vertical space under my fridge extend more than 7 inches.


I happened on this tool and took a flyer and lo and behold it gets right down under there and does good work, mainly because it's just under 1/2-inch thick and the end of the suction hole extends 30 inches under the fridge.

It also keeps the floor under my washing machine and dryer nice and clean.


The elongated opening on the bottom won't swallow huge items but it sucks up dirt and dust just fine.



May 10, 2016 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 9, 2016

The Brain Dictionary (Video)

YouTube caption:


Where exactly are the words in your head?

Scientists have created an interactive map showing which brain areas respond to hearing different words.

The map reveals how language is spread throughout the cortex and across both hemispheres, showing groups of words clustered together by meaning.

The interactive model allows us to explore the complex organization of the enormous dictionaries in our heads.

Explore the brain model yourself here.

Read the paper, published online April 27 in Nature, here.


Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 7.51.38 AM

Caption for graphic above: "One person's right cerebral hemisphere [front at right]. The overlaid words, when heard in context, are predicted to evoke strong responses from the corresponding location. Green words are mostly visual and tactile, red words are mostly social."

[via The Guardian]

May 9, 2016 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

« May 13, 2016