January 07, 2006
Programmable License Plate Billboard
An instant winner.
From the website:
- Programmable LED Car Plate Billboard
Ever wanted to tell that person driving behind you to stop tailgating?
How about just a friendly "hello" to a fellow motorist?
Whatever your message, you can say it with the world's first License Plate Billboard.
You can advertise your business.
You can tell that person behind you to slow down.
With the License Plate Billboard, you can let other motorists know what you’re thinking with the push of the included remote control button.
Store up to 4 separate messages or one long message up to 120 characters and have them scroll across the 147 LED lights of your billboard.
Made of stainless steel, the License Plate Billboard is durable, easy to install and sure to attract attention on the freeways.
Why pay good money for a license plate cover with some slogan on it when you can have one that lets you change the sayings whenever you want?
Get one for all your vehicles.
Measures: 12" x 6.5" x 0.5".
I wonder how long it will be till someone scrolls "YO MAMA" or some equivalent thereof and someone reading it, probably in L.A., takes it the wrong way, pulls out a piece and blows away the license plate — or the driver.
But, if you'd like to go where no one has gone before then this may be just the ticket for you.
The Red version (top) costs $49.95 here.
No problema — they've got yours too: $59.95 here.
Pierced Earring Converters
I'm no fashionista but you don't have to be a cook to know if it tastes good.
I must say that if you tried I don't think you could come up with a stranger–looking solution to the problem of wearing pierced earrings when you have no holes in your earlobes through which to insert them.
From the website:
- Finally you can wear the beautiful pierced earring styles you love, even though you don't have pierced ears!
Simple-to-use converters transform any pair of pierced earrings into comfy clip-ons.
Just slip them onto earring posts and enjoy instant clip-on comfort with no pain or pinching.
3/4"L x 1/4"W.
In gold plate or silver tone.
$8.99 a set here (earrings not included).
Out of Richmond, Maine comes Amy Bouchard and her company, Isamax Snacks, to become what may be the world's largest producer of whoopie pies.
Never heard of whoopie pies?
Join the club — I hadn't either until I read the December 26 Associated Press story in the New York Times.
Turns out whoopie pies are a New England regional specialty, akin to the Moon Pies — chocolate–and–marshmallow sandwiches dipped in chocolate — found in the South.
What's a whoopie pie?
It's a cream–filled cake sandwich (above).
When Isamax began just over a decade ago, its sales the first year amounted to $1,900.
This year they're expected to reach $1,000,000.
Here's the Times story.
- One Bakery Owner's Dream: Taking Whoopies to the World
Just over a decade ago, Amy Bouchard drew on her love for baking to create a business in her kitchen making whoopie pies.
In those days, she would crank out three at a time.
Now, Ms. Bouchard churns out 5,000 to 7,000 of the sweet Wicked Whoopies each day, shipping the cream-filled cake sandwiches nationwide and beyond.
The business has outgrown its bakery in a converted fishing goods shop and will double in size when it moves to a new site in January.
"I can't believe how many whoopie pies we can pump out of this place. It's like a whoopie explosion," Ms. Bouchard, her apron blotched with dark brown batter, said during a break from the pre-Christmas production frenzy.
It is indeed tight quarters for the dozen or so workers at Bouchard company, Isamax Snacks, where the sweet aroma of baking cakes permeates the air.
Big mixers whip up snowy filling, while a baker fills trays with batter and workers wheel carts to a giant oven that holds 48 trays.
Other employees hand-wrap the finished product in cellophane.
Ms. Bouchard and her husband, David, both former shipyard workers, took a traditional New England treat and ran with it.
Now they are at a full sprint, trying to keep pace with orders.
Devotees, Ms. Bouchard says, include Oprah Winfrey.
Sales have mushroomed from $1,900 a decade ago to $1 million this year.
Ms. Bouchard estimates the latter figure will double by next year.
Her husband acknowledges that the pies are still something of a regional culinary curiosity.
"We're trying to change that," said Mr. Bouchard, who hopes that the larger bakery will lead to a sales push beyond New England.
The Bouchards' success story began after Ms. Bouchard left her job at Bath Iron Works so she could be home with her young children.
Ms. Bouchard, who loved to bake, wanted a way to make money at home, and her brother told her she ought to sell her whoopie pies.
The business was born and christened Isamax from her two children's names, Isabella, now 13, and Maxx, 19.
Ms. Bouchard was soon filling her kitchen oven with whoopie pie batter, delivering orders with her children in tow and keeping her earnings in a jar.
At one point, as the stack of orders grew, she burned out several mixers in a week.
Gradually, she expanded the selection of flavors, going from traditional chocolate devil's food with vanilla cream filling to cake flavors like strawberry, pumpkin and oatmeal cookie, and fillings with peanut butter cream and raspberry.
"I didn't invent the whoopie pie, but I like to take something and make it better, then make it great," Ms. Bouchard said.
New England-style whoopie pies are a cousin to the Moon Pies found in the South, cookie-and-marshmallow sandwiches dipped in chocolate.
While Ms. Bouchard has competitors in her region, she believes her business is the first with a bakery devoted solely to whoopie pies.
A big break came in 2003 when Wicked Whoopies were featured on Ms. Winfrey's Web site and TV show.
"The phone would not stop ringing," Ms. Bouchard said.
National magazines and regional television programs also have shown interest in the product, whose suggested retail price is $1.39.
The bulk of Isamax's buyers are small stores and coffee shops, although bigger buyers like the Hannaford Brothers supermarket chain, based in Maine, stock them.
Distributors deliver them throughout New England and New York.
Mail orders have come in from all over the country. Ms. Bouchard said orders had been sent to Japan, among other countries.
Sherri Lawton of Parkville, Md., said she ordered a couple of cartons and a five-pound Jumbo Wicked Whoopie cake for a holiday party for 145 people.
"Everything I put out was gone," she said. But she admitted hoarding a few slices for herself.
"They really bring me to my knees," she said.
You didn't think I'd leave you like this, did you?
You know I'm not that kind of guy.
Here's the company's website, where you can read all about how they got started and stuff.
They now offer 20 different flavors and varieties, by the way.
But if you just want to cut to the chase and order some then by all means don't bother with the above but simply click here and voila — you're in the online store.
Ice Cube Bottle
I like it.
From the website:
- Make ice cubes without spilling water all the way to the freezer!
Just fill the plastic bottle to the line, cap it and lay it flat in your freezer.
When you need the ice, just shake the bottle, open the cap and out come seventeen 1"–diameter rounded ice cubes!
Container seals out freezer odor too.
Bottles can also be used as ice-chest coolers.
9-1/2" x 3-3/4" x 2".
Two for $6.99 here (Water not included).
When I first glanced a photo of this new device (above and below) I thought it was the latest iteration of the iRoc MP3 player, a most useful solid–state device which accompanied me — skip- and freeze-free — on my runs for about a year while Apple worked to produce its flash iPod incarnations, first the shuffle and then the nano.
But it's not.
Samantha Sordyl brought the StressEraser to my attention in an article in last Tuesday's Washington Post Health section.
Read the story (below), then we'll chat.
- Quick! Breathe Now to Relax
The Product: StressEraser (Helicor, www.stresseraser.com, $400), a portable biofeedback device. Insert your left index finger and observe a wave pattern indicating whether you are stressed or relaxed. Wound tight? The device guides you to tame your nerves.
Back Story: A panic attack about four years ago motivated Michael Wood to develop the product. Unlike other biofeedback devices that measure heart or breathing rates, Wood's unit illustrates the second-by-second battle between your stimulating and pacifying nerves, according to the company's Web site. You see which is winning by the shape of the waves and by the little triangles and squares that appear along the peaks and valleys. (More squares is better.)
Chill: "People will need to experiment with how to" affect the parasympathetic nervous system when first using the device, said Boston University clinical psychologist Stefan G. Hofmann, an anxiety disorder specialist. This is usually accomplished by slowing one's breathing; Helicor recommends exhaling and clearing your mind when a triangle appears on the screen. The device awards points for successful soothing; get 30 points per session three or four times a day, the firm says, and you'll eventually internalize calming behaviors.
Stress Test: For six weeks, I tried the StressEraser three or four times a week, up to three times a day. I got the hang of slowing down my system pretty easily; my forehead, neck and shoulders felt more relaxed after each session. I felt like I'd just awakened from a nap, but I was not groggy.
On Trial: Hofmann is to begin a clinical trial of the StressEraser this month, using 60 people diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. All will be treated with cognitive behavior therapy, which seeks to improve thinking habits, but half will also use the Stress-Eraser and the other half will use muscle relaxation techniques. Said Hofmann, who has no affiliation with Helicor, "I'm pretty hopeful that the device works."
Bottom Line: Expensive for something not clinically proven, but apparently effective in a sample of one. And keep in mind that controlling stress is very important to health and well-being.
This past Monday I was noodling around online and read, "I predict that most — if not all — physiological functions will ultimately become subject to our conscious manipulation."
I'm inclined to agree.
Tennis Ball Chaise
By Irish designer
Charles O'Toole (below).
A chair, silly billy — not an Irish designer.
What kind of a site do you think this is, anyhow?
Charles Furniture is at Studio 8, 32 Northbrunswick Street, Dublin 7, Ireland; tel: 353 1 6753840; fax: 353 1 6753827; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tell him bookofjoe sent you for special joehead pricing.*
[via Virginia Gardiner and the New York Times]
*On second thought maybe you better not mention how you found him — the "special joehead pricing" is two times the sticker price, this being a Bizarro world wormhole and all....
Online Handwriting Personality Quiz
"What does your handwriting say about you?"
Many major companies now use handwriting analysis as part of the interview and hiring process.
Shouldn't you have some idea of what they're gonna find out about you?
Wouldn't it be cool to change your handwriting and fool them into hiring you?
Here you go.
The part I like is you don't even need a pen or pencil to take the quiz.
Isn't the internet fun?
Remember — you didn't hear about this from me....
Don't hesitate to report back on the results... if you dare.
World's Best Scotch Tape Dispenser
I just bought another one (above) to put next to my treadmill setup as part of Version 2.0, under active development as I write this.
Did you know that over the past week about 50% of bookofjoe's posts have been created while I'm on the treadmill?
But I digress.
Absolutely no–nonsense/brutalist styling.
The permanent tape drum is built in to the dispenser so it can't get lost.
Heavy weighted non–slip base.
Made of high–impact plastic to pass your stringent drop test.
Holds up to a 1500" roll of 1/2" or 3/4" tape on a 1" core.
The thing that makes it great is that you can learn, after a little time working with it, to use it one–handed and get all swoopy and stylish with your tape–taking.
$6.99 here (tape not included).