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August 27, 2004

Solo Personal Water Ski Machine


Once upon a time, back in the 20th century, waterskiing required you to find a boat plus a driver and a spotter.

No longer.

Solo's new Personal Ski Machine makes you driver, spotter, and skier, all rolled up in one life-vest.

The unmanned boat, with a 70-horsepower motor, lets you use controls on your tow handle to steer and direct it.

There's also a "Kill" switch to shut down the boat instantly in case you're about to crash and burn.


$10,995 here.

August 27, 2004 at 09:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

World's best countdown timer - now improved


There are a number of relatively innocuous, small things that make my life much better in proportion to their actual cost or apparent usefulness.

One of these is the Pyrex digital countdown timer.

I first bought one for my kitchen many years ago.

One day, when I was in the midst of one of my recurrent fierce battles with procrastination, I thought to myself hey, why not start the task, do it for one minute, and then you can stop and do something else.

Just one minute.

I got my timer, set it to count down for one minute, and then focused on my report or paper or whatever it was until the alarm sounded.

When it did, I said to myself, do another minute.

Then, when that alarm went off, I thought, I can do five minutes more.

And so in 15-minute chunks, with brief 5-and-10-minute pre-alarm chirps from the device to let me know release was imminent, I finished whatever it was I'd avoided doing.

And so it's gone for any number of years, this little tool helping me push through my own otherwise implacable resistance.

Now Pyrex has made their timer better.

The price ($9.99) is unchanged but they've

•Made it so it runs on a AAA battery (included) instead of one of those disk types you can never find and never have lying around at home

•Made the hour and minute digits different sizes, so you can distinguish them more easily than the old version where they were the same size

•Moved the buttons so that the stop/start functions are easily distinguishable from the hour /minute/reset buttons. The old version had all three buttons the same size, placed vertically, with their functions printed in tiny letters that were really hard to see


•As noted above, the 5-and-10-minute pre-alarms

•When time runs out, sounds a loud triple beep for one minute, then shuts itself off

•Counts down 19 hours and 59 minutes by minutes; counts up to 19 minutes and 59 seconds by seconds

•Magnet on the back on the collapsible stand, which locks in place when open

•Concealed spring clip to hold recipes, etc. I clip the thing to my clothing when there's something I'm supposed to do in X amount of time. It's so light you don't even notice it

•Small size: 2.75" x 2.25"


A great tool.

August 27, 2004 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The reason why bookofjoe 1.0 ended


Hey, wait a minute - what happened to "Never complain, never explain"?

How about,

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." - Emerson

[Scott Ryan's essay "Rand, Emerson, and 'Philosophical Detection'" at the link above is well worth reading, by the way]


"The previous explanation is no longer operative."

That's what they say in Washington when they reverse themselves.

But this is Charlottesville, not Washington.

And I don't have to worry about being re-elected.

So I'll try to do better.

Let's see.

The best comment I've ever read on changing one's mind or opinion was by an 18th century English lord; I can recall neither his name nor the quotation.

I remember thinking, when I read it, that I needed to memorize it, stone-cold memorize it, so that - when confronted in the courtroom on the witness stand by a fierce cross-examination which reads into the record a statement I made under oath in another state in another case years ago, directly contradicting the statement I am making now - I could simply recite it and completely derail opposing counsel's line of attack.

But, foolish me, I didn't.

Ah, well.

Many joeheads have speculated in the "Comments" area over the past few days about why version 1.0 ended suddenly last Thursday, August 19, when it was apparently achieving critical mass at last and finally taking off.

Many more readers have emailed me directly with their thoughts.

Here is what happened August 19 to cause the events that followed.

Someone very near and dear to me was being hurt badly as a result of the remarks and comments and attitudes of others relating to the content of bookofjoe.

E.M. Forster, in "Two Cheers for Democracy (1951), wrote, "If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country."

In my case, it was a similar choice, and there wasn't even a second's hesitation on my part.

I will always choose those I love over myself.

In fact, one might even consider that a criterion for deciding whom one truly loves.

There was never any legal issue.

There was never any threat related to copyright violation.

There was never any problem with my great host, TypePad, about content, bandwidth, or anything.

In fact, TypePad never said a word about the fact that for my lousy $14.95 a month, I was exceeding my bandwidth allotment by 2,000% with the extraordinary popularity of version 1.0.

Now, I myself wouldn't bother reading bookofjoe in the new version 2.0.

Me, I like to look.

But hey, I sure like writing it.

So there you have it.

August 27, 2004 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

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