« November 16, 2004 | Main | November 18, 2004 »

November 17, 2004

Battery-powered devices - my grading scale


It's amazing how dealing with replaceable batteries can be easy or aggravating, depending on a number of variables.

After many years of such dealings, I've created a grading scale - A through F - for such devices.

A - uses AA or AAA batteries; battery compartment cover stays attached; requires no tools to change batteries

B - like A, except: compartment cover not connected, so that you can drop or lose it

C - like B, except: requires a screwdriver to open the battery compartment

D - like C, except: requires a special tool - hex wrench or, even worse, one provided with the device - to open the battery compartment

F - uses batteries other than AA or AAA, i.e. flat/disc/watch batteries which are hard or impossible to find when you need them

I think this is an OK first cut.

I welcome any additions, emendations, comments, etc. from the finest group of people on this - or any other - planet: my readers.

'Course, those on other planets may not be what you and I would call people.


How about we just call 'em "folks?"

November 17, 2004 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack


What's this?

Maybe it's something in the air or water here in little Charlottesville, Virginia, 'cause this quantum stuff is getting out of control.

I ran across Quantum-Therapies earlier today in an ad in my local alternative newspaper.

Wonder if they're new in town, or if it's simply my being totally out of it?

I mean, you've already got me flogging my tarted-up version


of what people far smarter than I can even imagine think about things quantum and suchlike, and now I find Nannette Morrison, L.M.T. has set up shop right here in Charlottesville as well.

She's probably a better bet.

I mean, consider that she's offering the following:

•Breathwork Therapy


•Vibrational Healing

•Massage Therapy (including Swedish, Tui Na, Aroma-Therapy, and BioMagnetics)

•Bio-Sonic Repatterning

•Past-Life Regression

•Herbal Body Wraps

•Quantum Healing

Me, all I have to offer is a $10.95 (list price, though in the spirit of full - but painful - disclosure, I must report that it's only $4.41 at amazon) flatpack of emergency toilet tissue masquerading as a book.

Nannette, on the other hand, has been a certified Rebirther for 20 years, as well as being a Teaching Reiki Master (Level 3).

She often combines the Edgar Cayce recommendations for use of massage, diet, nutrition, and castor oil packs with her own therapies.

In addition, she's written four books, all listed and sold on her website.

Me, I've only managed to write two.

And you can't even buy them on my website.

I mean, how do you spell loser?

Try J-o-e.

So really, I'd have to say that if it were my life in the balance, I'd definitely go with her instead of me.

But that's just me.

And you know how I can be.

November 17, 2004 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Got milk



This grass-roots organization is growing by leaps and bounds.

All about growth hormones, frankenfoods,


mad cow, cloning, and other fun stuff.

Spend a few minutes or hours here, and you'll never eat again.

Lots of ecofriendly products, links, and resources to fuel that latent paranoia.



November 17, 2004 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mr. Pea Sheller™


Who doesn't love fresh peas?

Frozen can't hold a candle to 'em.

But it's a pain shelling them.

Until now.

Lee Manufacturing Company brings you their amazing Mr. Pea Sheller™.

From the website:


    Shell A Bushel In About 30 Minutes

    Mr. Pea Sheller™ Does An Excellent Job Shelling Black Eye, Purple Hulls, Cream Peas, Etc., As Well As Butter Beans, When In The Fresh Ripe Green Stage. A Small, Efficient, Inexpensive Pea And Bean Sheller For The Home.

    Designed For Long Life.

    Saves Hours Of Tedious Work.

    Produce May Be Viewed When Shelling To Avoid Getting Foreign Objects In Peas.

    Very Little Splattering As Peas Roll Out Of Trough Into Your Pie Pan Or Any Shallow Pan.


What're you waiting for?

Only $39.99.

November 17, 2004 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bletting Medlars


No, I haven't stroked out.

As Count Alfred Korzybski, the founder of the science of semantics, wrote in his seminal 1933 text, "Science and Sanity":

"When in doubt, read on."

Best advice I've ever received.

And the statement "The map is not the territory," also from this book, might be the second-best. But I digress.

David Karp wrote an enlightening article about medlars for the New York Times Dining Out section on November 3.

It's a fruit that was once utterly unavailable in the U.S., but is now slowly - very slowly - working its way in.

The unique thing about it is that it is inedible when ripe.

To be fit for consumption, the fruit must undergo a process of rotting known as "bletting."

Read the story, then the feature about how to get some so you can try them yourself.

When 'Fresh' Isn't a Selling Point

There are certain foods, like fugu and absinthe, whose notoriety far exceeds their culinary significance.

Such is the case for the medlar, an unlikely candidate for the next food fashion.

To be edible, the medlar - which resembles a runty, russeted apple with an open bottom fringed by pointy calyx ends - must undergo a process of rotting known as "bletting."

But in the last few years, at least half a dozen farmers seeking alternative crops have started to grow this legendary fruit - once utterly unavailable in the United States.

And at least one prominent New York City chef is so intrigued by it that he's ordered a shipment to cook with.

Called "wineskins of brown morbidity" by D. H. Lawrence, medlars have been emblematic of autumnal decay.

The flesh is usually hard, white and puckery at harvest in late fall. But when bletted, the pulp turns brown and tastes like winy, sweet-tart apple butter with cinnamon.

Traditionally the pulp is mixed with sugar and cream or made into jelly. In "Notes on a Cellar-Book" (1920), the great English oenophile George Saintsbury called medlars the ideal fruit to accompany wine.

Native to the Caucasus, northern Iran and Asia Minor, medlars were cultivated by the ancient Greeks and Romans and subsequently spread throughout Europe, where they were popular in the Middle Ages.

Three of the Unicorn Tapestries in the Cloisters depict the fruit.

Medlars fell from favor in the 20th century, when more convenient late-ripening fruits became abundant.

With their need for bletting, medlars are not exactly fast food.

Lucy Tolmach, the director of horticulture at the Filoli Center, a National Trust for Historic Preservation property in Woodside, California, bletted some medlars by placing freshly harvested fruits stem-down on wood trays covered with straw, and stored them in a cool, humid cellar.

Three weeks later, they were soft and plump, like little baked apples. To eat, bite holes in the skins and suck out the custardy pulp.

Several dozen varieties exist, but differ little in taste. "Japanese medlars" are actually loquats, a related species that ripens in spring.

In the United States medlar trees mostly grow in private gardens, but two farmers in the Northeast recently put in small plantings.

Ezekiel Goodband, the manager of Scott Farm in Dummerston, Vermont, planted 30 medlar trees.

"There are lots of closet medlar people out there," Mr. Goodband said last month while showing three-year-old medlar trees just starting to bear.

Six years ago Raymond Tousey of Germantown, N.Y., grubbed his money-losing commercial apple orchard and planted specialty fruits, including 25 medlars. He sells the fruit at the Rhinebeck farmers market.

Persuading fancy New York City markets to offer medlars has proven more difficult.

Last year Steven McKay, a Cornell University extension agent who works with Mr. Tousey, took a flat of medlars to the produce manager of Eli Zabar's Vinegar Factory.

"I called later, and he said that Eli didn't want those ugly things in his store," he said.

Just last week, however, Wylie Dufresne, the chef of WD-50, who had been searching for medlars for years based on their reputation alone, ordered a shipment from Mr. McKay.

"We're always on the lookout for new ingredients, and the flavor profile sounds really intriguing," he said.

Most demand for medlars in this country comes from immigrants familiar with them from their homelands.

In Iran, medlars, called "azgil," grow wild in the forests near the Caspian Sea and are sold from street-corner carts.

Iranian markets in Los Angeles are clamoring for the fruit and are willing to pay $3 or $4 a pound, said James Shahbazian, who grows 15 medlar trees in Turlock, California.

Last week Elio Dal Molin, a retired stonemason in Silver Spring, Md., who comes from the Friuli region of Northern Italy, ordered 70 pounds of medlars from One Green World, an Oregon source.

What was he doing with all that fruit?

"I'll eat them myself," he said.

"Medlars where I come from were a big thing. We used them to flavor wine. But I never see them in stores."

Now maybe he will. So it goes in today's produce market: In time, everything old is new again.

How To Get Medlars

Medlars and medlar trees and jelly are available from several sources.

Raymond Tousey, Rhinebeck, New York Farmers' Market, municipal parking lot, East Market Street, Sundays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., through November 21; medlars, three for $1.

One Green World, Molalla, Oregon. (877) 353-4028; medlar trees ($21.95 each, plus $9.50 shipping); fruits, through November 24, two pounds by second-day delivery, $24.95.

Scott Farm, 707 Kipling Road, Dummerston, Vermont. (802) 254-6868. Call for availability and prices.

One Saint James Green, Southwold, England, www.numberonestjamesgreen.co.uk or 011-44-1502-726-039. Tiptree medlar jelly by mail order, 340 grams (about 12 ounces) for about $11, including shipping.

November 17, 2004 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Were dinosaurs gourmets?


A new analysis of coprolites found off Devon Island


above the


Arctic Circle suggests that marine dinosaurs, about 73 million years ago, dined primarily on lobsters, clams, and snails, rather than fish.

But how, you ask, can you identify a coprolite?

You're not the first to ask this question.

Here's an interesting Q & A I found on EnchantedLearning.com:

    Q: How do paleontologists tell the difference between dinosaur poop and other rocks? They look the same to me.
    from Brigid C., Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; July 27, 1999

    A: On the outside, they do look the same and are also made out of rock, but coprolites (fossilized poop) have an internal structure that includes the fossilized digested remains of a meal. For example, a recently found T. rex coprolite included crushed Triceratops bones. A rock wouldn't contain these.

November 17, 2004 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dumb and dumber


There are a few redundant phrases that are so lodged in popular parlance, they cannot be eradicated even though those who use them, when informed, say "you're right."

The most common of all: "free gift."

You see it everywhere, even in the fastidiously correct Economist.

I wrote their editor and advertising people, but received silence in return.

Tell you what: pay attention the next couple days to offers, and see if you don't come across this phrase.

It's redundant: all gifts - by definition - are free.

Then there's "repeat the procedure again."

I saw that one this morning, for a mouthguard you fit by biting after boiling.

"Again" is implicit in repeating something.

Another one is "continue on."

"On" is redundant.

Remember, bookofjoe is about simplicity.

But not just a slashing, raw reduction.

As Einstein said, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler."

November 17, 2004 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Moko revival


Moko - Maori face tattoo - is undergoing a revival.

A growing number of New Zealand Maori, in parallel with their growing political strength, are reaching back to their ancestors as they move toward the future.

Though it hurts like the dickens, and some moderns choose to have a injection from a dentist first, most Maori don't bother.

Moko has left the Maori, however, and become hip: more and more of the wanna-be cool are getting them.

Moko artist Rangi Kipa says society accepts women with moko more easily than men; most people having it done are between 18 and 40.

I look for Madonna to be sporting one any day now.

[via Kirsten Lawson and The Financial Times]

November 17, 2004 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

« November 16, 2004 | Main | November 18, 2004 »