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February 19, 2013

Heat-Sealable Body Bags

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From San Diego-based BioSeal come these nifty wetware sacks, marketed as "ideal for mass-casualty events."


February 19, 2013 at 08:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Sheet Grippers — Episode 2: The Downside


Apropos of the last line of "Some Like It Hot" (perhaps my all-time favorite movie): "Nobody's perfect," these excellent additions to the sleeping space are not entirely free of negatives.

Flautist nailed the main one in her comment (my italics):

These things are fantastic! My mother told me about them even MORE than 20 years ago and I don't know how I ever managed a night's sleep before then. I had been using those stupid thin sheets of foam stuff that you stretch over the corners of the mattress to (supposedly) anchor the fitted sheet in place, which quickly become totally useless. I recommend three of these gadgets on each side and two on each end. However, depending on how your mattress is made and what kind of shape its edges are in, forcing them onto the beading so they don't pop off can be a real bitch. Also, when they start getting old and brittle they'll crack wide open in cold weather (as two of mine did just a couple of days ago). Otherwise, outstanding.

Tam Donovan noted another downside in a subsequent comment:

Looks like they won't work on a Tempurpedic, since they require a roped seam. Ah well.

Other than those two negatives, there's not a thing wrong with these wonderful devices.

Which is a little like saying, when you're in high school and wake up with a giant zit on the tip of your nose, "Other than that pimple, my skin's perfect."

I mean, Flautist was being understated when she wrote that "forcing them onto the beading so they don't pop off can be a real bitch."

I have had way too many screaming, profanity-laced, sweaty, enraged sessions attaching mine over the years to recount their number — but I know it is high.

I dread the placement procedure so much that I rarely wash my sheets because of the fact that I will have to reattach my Sheet Grippers to the freshly laundered linen.

TMI? 2bad.

I have nearly broken fingers and bruised my knuckles repeatedly trying to force these extremely stiff and hard plastic pieces over fat mattress beads made even fatter by the fitted sheet and mattress pads — oh, yes, you've got to include the mattress pad in the stretched surface if you really want to sleep like a queen or king.

But suddenly it occurs to me that this could turn out to be a boon, letting me make the very sweetest lemonade from some very nasty lemons: Episode 1 of bookofjoeTV is gonna be a live, unexpurgated, uncut video of me attaching my Sheet Grippers.

Excitement! Unpredictable rage! Madness! Profanity! Insanity in real time! Yes! 

All of the above.

Stay tuned.

You think I was exaggerating about "Some Like It Hot" and the best final line in the history of motion pictures?

Judge for yourself:

February 19, 2013 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Cheap, fast & under control: bike flat repair kit


Michael Pusateri reviewed the Lunar Levers Combo Bike Tire Levers and Flat Repair Kit in yesterday's edition of Cool Tools as follows:

Every cyclist should have a flat kit to enable them to deal with a flat tire.

Most kits include simple levers to get the tire off the rim and a set of patches for repairing holes.

The Lunar Levers combine these two needs into one.

The levers themselves are better designed than standard levers to help you remove and remount a tire.

Ingeniously, the levers store the patch kit inside inside the levers themselves, snapping together to form a single space-saving unit.



February 19, 2013 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

"13 years of blogging: what's next?" — by Michael Pusateri

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Who the hell is Michael Pusateri and how come he gets his own byline and guest post here, when many far more bold-faced names have crashed and burned on the impossible slopes and scree of Mt. boj?

I'm glad you asked.

FunFact: Even he doesn't know he's being featured here.


My philosophy when it comes to the net is do it first, then say you're sorry.

So yo Michael: Sorry to have stolen your stuff.

I hope you'll give me time to take it down before unleashing your lawyerbots on me.

Others haven't been as kind.

But I digress from the main event, which is the republication below of his February 13, 2013 Cruftbox post recounting the arc of his blogging presence from its beginning on January 21, 2000.

I found it compelling reading, chock full of useful advice to take with me to bookofjoeTV, approaching steadily but inexorably on little cat feet from Kyle Weiner's ultra-deep black Brooklyn skunkworks. 


13 Years of Blogging — What's Next?

 This past January 21st marked the first day of the 14th year of Cruftbox. I've been blogging for 13 years now.

I've talked a little about where my blogging has been in the past, and compared it to social media like Twitter and Facebook. But I'm going to talk about where I think blogging is going next.

First, let me define what I mean by blogging since, like many terms, it means many things to many people.

Blogging is an individual's thoughts and interpretations on a particular topic, presented in a unified way that creates a fuller picture of the person and their ideas.

Not a perfect description but close enough for my purposes. Sure, there are the occasional group blogs that might qualify but most could be considered group sharing, not group blogging. Metafilter is a site for group sharing, not blogging. Comments are not blogging.

Many of the popular sites may have their origin in individual weblogs, but have morphed into online magazines, newsletters, and newspapers. Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, and The Drudge Report are all newspapers, virtually indistinguishable from print-originated newspapers. Even sites like Daily KOS, Redstate, Talking Points Memo, and Breitbart are almost exactly the same as supermarket tabloids. They focus on gathering information and reporting on the information to their particular narrative for commercial purposes.

Some may quibble about my distinction, but they are the types that quibble about everything in life, so we pay them no mind. ;)


Social Media and Your Digital Life

One issue going forward with individual blogging is how it continues in relation to social media, most of which is ephemeral, with an exceedingly short life of relevance.

I enjoy the social services as much as anyone. It's fun to get Likes, Retweets, and Favorites. The majority of stuff posted there is OK to fade away. Your photo of a plate of pancakes captioned as "Noms!" is not going to be something your grandkids are going to frame and hang in the living room.

Social services like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ aren't going away anytime soon, but at some point they will essentially be gone, due to evolution of platforms, trends, and relevance. Don't believe me? How are your usenet posts doing? Maybe your explanations in the AOL forums are still easily accessible? Or your witticisms on MySpace?

But there are things from the social feeds that are special, that you do want to keep, and that are important to you. But you need to realize that those things will fade unless you are the one to store them away. And you need to store them somewhere where you have a modicum of control.

I think that part of the future of weblogs is as a scrapbook of sorts for your social media "moments" that you want to capture and preserve within your own control and outside the remit of ever-changing privacy and usage policies.

A few groups are toying around the edges of this, but I think it's going to become more popular to exfiltrate your social media content to your own blog so you are not beholden to others. Thinkup is a start, but more focused on the analytics of social media feeds than sorting and storing the nuggets you feel strongly about.

The cost of storage and servers continue to plummet, in most cases far exceeding our ability to create content to fill what's available. Also,[increasingly there is trust and] faith in "the cloud" to store your content as a service you pay for, like you pay for gas, electric, broadband, and water. It would be fairly straightforward to offer a blogging platform that allows you to write traditional posts as well and store whatever you want from your social media feeds.

Talking about this with my friend Greg, he talked about assembling the individual "atoms" of social media into the large "molecule" of an event or experience. Being able to save and store these molecules outside the volatile ether they exist in now will become de rigueur.

My friend Eric Freeman used to talk about lifestreaming and how we'd end up with a way to keep track of our "digital life." Today, most of us in the First World are living a digital life with bits and pieces scattered across the web and Internet. [It is] time for people to take control of their digital life and bring it together in a way they like, rather than the way developers in Silicon Valley like.


Full disclosure: I crossed paths with the lifestream of Michael Pusateri yesterday, when I read his Cool Tools review* of a bike flat repair kit. His byline was linked and Bob's your uncle.

*Review appears here in upcoming 12:01 p.m. post. So I guess he gets an encore, what?

February 19, 2013 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack



From CSYCB : "We've all seen them and muttered 'What an idiot!' Well, now you can do something about it. Keep a pack of I PARK LIKE AN IDIOT stickers in your car and when you next see one of these goobers, give them a bonus bumper sticker. Guaranteed to make you feel better."*


Pack of 20: $10.

*Guarantee does not apply if targeted vehicle's driver is armed.

February 19, 2013 at 04:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

American Rock Tragedy, Episode 3: Shadow Morton, co-writer of "Leader of the Pack" is dead at 71

This has been a terrible month for geriatric types like myself: first Paul Tanner (inventor of the electro-theremin he played on "Good Vibrations") died, then Dave Clark Five bassist Rick Huxley crumped, and now comes the sad news that the naïve genius Shadow Morton — "he played no instrument, could not read music and wrote his songs in his head" — has breathed his last.

Below, excerpts from Margalit Fox's wonderful February 15 New York Times obituary.

Shadow Morton, a songwriter and producer who for a brief, luminous period in the 1960s poured the discontents of adolescence into original hit songs, including "Leader of the Pack" and "Remember (Walking in the Sand)," died on Thursday in Laguna Beach, Calif. He was 71.

By all accounts possessed of a brazen, naïve genius, Mr. Morton was almost single-handedly responsible for the wild success of the Shangri-Las, the Queens girl group he introduced and propelled to international stardom.

The group had its first hit in 1964 with "Remember," recorded more or less on a dare in a session frantically pulled together by Mr. Morton, who had never written a song before.

The result, with lyrics and music conceived by Mr. Morton in what he later said was about 22 minutes, was released on the Red Bird label and reached No. 5 on the Billboard singles chart.

A song of lost love, "Remember" was imbued with the lush, infectious strangeness that would prove a hallmark of Mr. Morton's other hits. It employed a narrative, quasi-operatic plot, spoken dialogue, chanting, unconventional sound effects (in this case sea gulls) and lyrics that encapsulated all the ardor and angst of the teenage years.

The song was followed later that year by "Leader of the Pack," written with Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry. It told the story of Betty, who falls for Jimmy, a young tough on a bike:

I met him at the candy store.

He turned around and smiled at me.

You get the picture? [Spoken]: Yes, we see.

That's when I fell for... the leader of the pack.

As the melodrama unfolds to the sound of a revving motorcycle, Jimmy, banished by Betty on her parents' orders, peels off on his bike, only to crash. "Look out!" the Shangri-Las' lead singer, Mary Weiss, cries over and over, but it is too late. Jimmy is dead.

The song, which reached No. 1, has been covered by artists as diverse as Bette Midler, Twisted Sister and Alvin and the Chipmunks; it remains omnipresent in movies and on television.

The nickname Shadow was bestowed on him by a Brill Building colleague to describe his habitually evanescent presence.

As a producer, Mr. Morton was best known for Janis Ian’s hit single  "Society’s Child," recorded in 1965 when she was 14; several albums by the psychedelic rock group Vanilla Fudge; and "Too Much Too Soon" (1974), by the protopunk New York Dolls.

George Francis Morton was born in Brooklyn on Sept. 3, 1941. When he was about 14, his family moved to Hicksville, on Long Island, which his parents thought would provide a wholesome atmosphere.

"They had the theory, 'My boy’s gonna get in trouble, so we're gonna move him out of Brooklyn,'" Mr. Morton told the music magazine Time Barrier Express in 1979.

Scarcely into their suburban idyll, the Mortons discovered that the parents of every budding juvenile delinquent in the city had had the same idea. To young Mr. Morton's boundless delight, he said, he found the largest gang "walking the streets of Bethpage and Hicksville that you ever want to meet."

In high school, Mr. Morton formed a doo-wop group. But, leaving school before graduating, he found himself at loose ends.

In 1964 he paid a call on Ms. Greenwich, an acquaintance from Long Island musical circles. She had hit the big time — working for the producer-songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in the Brill Building, Manhattan's vaunted hive of composers and lyricists.

Also in the office that day, working quietly at the piano, was Mr. Barry, Ms. Greenwich’s husband and collaborator.

"My Brooklyn alcoholic paranoia kicked in," Mr. Morton recalled in an interview with Vanity Fair in 2001. "I saw a guy sitting with his back to me, ignoring me — and being very impolite."

As Mr. Morton rose to leave, Mr. Barry turned to him. "Just what is it you do for a living?" he asked.

"I'm a songwriter — like you," Mr. Morton replied, with full Brooklyn braggadocio.

"What kind of songs?"

"Hit songs."

"Why don’t you bring me one?" Mr. Barry said, with audible skepticism.

Mr. Morton phoned a friend who had a basement recording studio. He phoned another friend, who had a four-piece band. He phoned a third, who knew some high school girls from Queens who sang locally as the Shangri-Las.

With these elements in place, Mr. Morton, on his way to the recording session, realized he lacked one thing: a song. Pulling his car over on a stretch of Long Island road, he wrote "Remember."

February 19, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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