February 26, 2008
Pollen.com — 'Enter your ZIP code and get your free allergy forecast'
We like free.
Here's Nancy Matsumoto's "Quick Fix" feature from today's Wall Street Journal about the site and several companions.
- Getting Pollen Counts
Problem: You suffer from allergies and want data on pollen conditions at or far from home.
Solution: Pollen.com offers free, two-day email alerts for U.S. locations according to ZIP Codes. Alerts are triggered whenever pollen levels in a ZIP Code reach 4.0 or above on a scale of 0 to 12. You also can see longer, four-day allergy forecasts. Free PC applications called Yahoo Widgets and Google Gadgets allow monitoring of local pollen activity using Yahoo or Google calendars on your computer desktop. Enter a ZIP Code at Pollen.com's sister site, www.pollenlibrary.com, to learn about the pollen-producing trees, grasses and weeds in your county. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology's site, www.aaaai.org/nab/index.cfm (click on "pollen counts") runs more than 70 pollen-counting stations in the U.S., Canada and Argentina, for which you can get email alerts. For pollen counts in Europe, try www.polleninfo.org, for all-English reports. The site includes links to pollen sites outside of Europe, though not all of them have good English translations.
Hoop Earrings — with a twist
From the website:
- Hoop Earrings
These earrings mesh sterling silver with colored rubber, producing simple and elegant works of wearable art.
These hoops sit on your ear rather than pass through, giving them an entirely unique look.
Brown rubber accent.
$75 CAD (click on "Jewelry", then scroll down).
Just a reminder: Starbucks closed today from 5:30–8:30 p.m.
All of the company's 7,087 U.S. shops will be closed for three hours to retrain servers and "provide a renewed focus on espresso standards."
Not to worry if you're traveling — shops in airports (and stores) will remain open.
What is it?
Answer here this time tomorrow.
Auracles — Focusable Ear Cups
[via James Ferguson's "Pat. Pending" feature in the February 8, 2008 issue of The Financial Times "How To Spend It" magazine.
World's first solar-powered Bluetooth car speakerphone
Long story short: You stick it to the inside of your windshield and get about 30 minutes of talk time for every 3 hours of sunlight exposure.
Not to worry if you live in Seattle — backup charging via your car's lighter socket.
BehindTheMedspeak: 'Mindless gossip feeds the brain'
According to a survey last year by Randstad USA, 60% of employees said gossip is their biggest annoyance at work.
All those unhappy campers might be surprised to learn that scientists have recently demonstrated that gossip is just as good as directed mental exercise in boosting memory and intellectual performance.
Oscar Ybarra of the University of Michigan was the lead author of a paper with that very conclusion.
The work appeared in the January, 2008 issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin; the abstract follows.
- Mental Exercising Through Simple Socializing: Social Interaction Promotes General Cognitive Functioning
Social interaction is a central feature of people's life and engages a variety of cognitive resources. Thus, social interaction should facilitate general cognitive functioning. Previous studies suggest such a link, but they used special populations (e.g., elderly with cognitive impairment), measured social interaction indirectly (e.g., via marital status), and only assessed effects of extended interaction in correlational designs. Here the relation between mental functioning and direct indicators of social interaction was examined in a younger and healthier population. Study 1 using survey methodology found a positive relationship between social interaction, assessed via amount of actual social contact, and cognitive functioning in people from three age groups including younger adults. Study 2 using an experimental design found that a small amount of social interaction (10 min) can facilitate cognitive performance. The findings are discussed in the context of the benefits social relationships have for so many aspects of people's lives.
Read the original paper here.
Dual Microwave Plate Holder — For when company shows up
What took so long?
Already named one of bookofjoe's Top 10 Inventions of 2008.
From the website:
- Dual Microwave Plate Holder
Save time and energy by heating up 2 platefuls at the same time.
Fits in any microwave.
Remember that you have to leave stuff in the incinerator — oops, I meant the microwave — longer when you're nuking for two.