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February 3, 2005

BehindTheMedspeak: 'Frank Must Die' - The Sequel


"Frank" is dead.

You may recall the story of David Dingman-Grover (above), a nine-year-old boy with a potentially fatal brain tumor he nicknamed "Frank."

His family had no insurance and could not afford the surgery he needed.

They put up an eBay auction, offering a bumper sticker saying "Frank Must Die" in return for the winning bid, which hopefully would be high enough to pay for the surgery.

Dr. Hrayr Shahinian, a plastic surgeon and member of the Skull Base Institute at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, heard of the boy's plight and offered to perform the surgery for free.

At 10 a.m. yesterday in Los Angeles, 9-year-old David Dingman-Grover was wheeled into the operating room.

Dr. Shahinian inserted a fiber-optic tube the width of a drinking straw into David's nose and up through the bony


cribriform plate


directly into the boy's brain.

Using this endoscopic approach, the surgeon then resected most of an embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, including the portion that was impinging on the boy's optic nerves and carotid arteries.

By a little after noon, David was awake and asking for his mom and Ben, his teddy bear.

He's being discharged home today.


"Frank Is Dead" - and may he never return.

February 3, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

m:robe 500i - worst product name of the 21st century


Unequivocally, the winner and grand champion.


What was Olympus thinking?

They've created what they call "the first digital music player with a built-in digital camera."

Looks really slick, too:

• 3.7" color VGA LCD display

• One-of-a-kind "no button" touch screen interface

• Plays 5,000 songs or stores up to 60,000 photos

• Put music and photos together and make your own mini-movies

• Connect it to your TV and enjoy the movies in big-screen style

• $500 ($100 less than an iPod Photo, which doesn't have a camera)

• Big, super-expensive ad during the upcoming Super Bowl

So what's not to like?

That name is what.


To think they could've simply run it by me and saved themselves the many millions of dollars this expensively misnamed device is gonna lose before Olympus finally kills it.

Aren't you glad you won't make the same mistake?

Because unlike Olympus, which would've had to pay my exorbitant fee if they'd asked for advice, you, as a joehead, get it absolutely free.

Yeah, yeah, you get what you pay for, blah blah....


Here at bookofjoe, we like to think we're the exception that proves the rule.

February 3, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

'I don't want to know' - not just a title of a great Zombies song


It's an essential ingredient of my everyday happiness.

Here's how it works:

When the phone rings, I rarely answer it.

Because I don't have to - it's one of the luxuries of running bookofjoe.

You call them - they don't call you.

But I take it one step further than those of you who say, hey, so what, big deal, I'm the same way.

Because I don't look at the caller I.D. either.

"I don't want to know."


Because if I don't know,


it doesn't exist.

Gang, if you want to live the quantum lifestyle, this is as good a place as any to start.

Maybe the call's from a lawyer badgering me about a case; maybe it's someone trying to sell me something; maybe it's a friend.

Who knows?

But if I look at the caller I.D. or, God forbid, answer the thing, well, then I'll know.

And if it's a call I didn't want about something I didn't want to have to deal with, then I'm stuck with the knowledge.

And it'll bother me, especially if it's something I was supposed to do.

Ignorance is indeed bliss.

Now, I'm just the opposite when it comes to getting news or information that disagrees with me or, even better, proves me wrong about something.

I'm passionate to know things, even initially disagreeable things.

Yes, I still have vestiges of the "shoot the messenger" mentality deeply embedded my psyche; however, it takes me no more than a couple minutes at the most to get over it and then proceed to find out more.

As I've said here previously, very, very few things in life give me more pleasure than finding a mistake or learning of an error in a previous post, then going back and correcting it.

That is true happiness.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is an excellent working definition, I just realized, of the quintessential nerd.

Count me in.


The lyrics to the 1964 song, by the way, are as good as the title.

February 3, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I have seen God - and his name is Jean Carlos Chera


Yesterday USA Today's Kevin Maney wrote about this 9-year-old Brazilian boy (above) who is, truly, otherworldly.

A five-minute highlight video of the child playing is online, and has swept the world in the past week.

Me being way behind the curve as well as the eight-ball, I didn't learn of it until I read Maney's story.

Then I went to find the video, to see for myself.

I have seen for myself.

This is a young Mozart of the body playing on the dusty fields of Brazil.

He's no bigger than the other kids out there, and he looks just like an ordinary nine-year-old boy.

Until he plays.

Then shots come cannonading off either of his magical feet into the upper corners of the goal; miraculous dribbling, juggling, and body and head control make the ball appear to be attached to his body by invisible strings.


I watched the whole video twice.

This 77-pound boy could well be the next Pele.

Already Manchester United and Portugal's FC Porto have contacted his family, even asking them to move to Europe.


February 3, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Expert's Expert: How to make tea


Tea, and the art of preparing it, is a recurrent theme here.

Those of you who happened to visit last December 28 may recall a discussion of various aspects of tea preparation, including whether or not to squeeze one's teabag (don't).

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal "Tricks of the Trade" feature by Sarah Tilton explored the subject of tea preparation with Ron Rubin, president and CEO of Republic of Tea.

His tips:

• Buy only tea leaves which are uniform in size and shape, not broken into tiny bits - these can lead to uneven infusion.

• To ensure freshness, make sure the tea comes in an air-tight container that doesn't let light in.

• Loose-leaf tea is always to be preferred to bagged teas. [Hey, I just realized the origin of the term "loose-leaf" as applied to notebooks. I'm slow, but I eventually get there...]

• Rubin starts his day with a cup of Darjeeling, which has the most caffeine; he finishes dinner with a cuppa white tea, which is at the milder end of the caffeine spectrum.


• When choosing your Darjeeling, considered the "champagne of teas," look for packages that carry the official "Darjeeling" logo, which indicates that the teas is certified by the Tea Board of India.

• Use filtered water to brew your tea - this improves the flavor.

• Steep it for precisely four minutes.

• When making green or white tea, don't let the water reach a boil - it can "create a bitterness."

Bitterness has no place here, either in our tea or our hearts.

Should you happen to wish a cup of tea while you're out and about, you should know that you cannot get a proper one at an establishment which also serves coffee.

That's simply a fact of life.


Perfect tea perfectly served only happens in a dedicated teahouse, of which there are a number in the U.S.

On an entirely different subject, the beginning of the headline of this post — "Expert's Expert" — is taken from a now defunct feature of The Financial Times called "Experts' Experts."

That particular feature is why I started buying the weekend Financial Times.

Then, about six months after I'd grown used to the paper, the column simply disappeared, without explanation.

But by then, as with anything powerfully addictive, I was hooked on the paper: I kept reading it and, finally, subscribed to the daily.

I made inquiries to the paper about why the feature — which in their incarnation polled, say, five or six experts on who they thought were the best spy fiction writers or race car drivers or what-have-you - was dropped, but never received an answer.

Now that Andrew Gowers, the editor of the paper, and an number of its writers return my emails, I just may, when things get a little slow around here, initiate a new round of inquiries.

Who knows?

I might get lucky.


You know the old saying: "Even a blind pig finds an acorn every now and then."

February 3, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

World's most expensive pool chalk holder


For your pool-playing friend who's got everything.

From - who else? - Tiffany & Co.'s Atlas Collection comes this stylish sterling silver pool chalk holder.

$165 here.

Wear it as a necklace pendant when you're not playing.

Not quite posh enough for your lucky pal?

Then step up to the next level, and add a matching triangle (below).


Cheap at $1,275.

Rack 'em up.

February 3, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

You GO T.O. - give Terrell Owens a gamer ball


Give Terrell Owens his due: he's a gamer and he's gonna play on his broken leg even though his doctor refused to clear him.

Now, I recall a couple weeks ago, during one of the wild-card playoff games, the analyst - I don't recall if it was Simms, Aikman, or Collinsworth, but I think it was Aikman - coming down really hard on New York Jets defensive end John Abraham, who'd been hurt, was pretty much recovered and could've played, but chose not to because he'd be a free agent after the season and didn't want to do anything to endanger the huge contract he'd be offered.

I thought that was pretty harsh.

But I also thought the analyst had a point: the player hurt his team, to which he was under contract, by not playing and instead putting himself first.

As it turned out, the Jets lost a thriller in overtime to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 20-17.

Would Abraham's presence have made a difference?

Well, let's put it this way: I don't think it would've hurt.

So when perhaps the best wide receiver in the world decides he's gonna play regardless of what his doctor says about how ready he is, I have to say, give this man a huge shout-out.


Because, between you and me, if it were Randy Moss, what do you think would happen?

Just the opposite, I assure you.

February 3, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Jeff Bezos makes bookofjoe an offer he can't refuse


Happened last night.

I was just doing what I do, going hither and yon online gathering materials to make you happy when I saw, clicking on Amazon, something new come up (above).

It was a letter from Jeff Bezos announcing the debut of "Amazon Prime."

Whoa, I thought, he's into meat now.

Bad time, what with all those Canadian cows dragging their misshapen prions across our Northern border.

And with a goat now coming down with Mad Cow.

Or maybe Jeff had decided to base his business on pure mathematical theory.

But no.

It's his latest brainstorm, and it took me about six zeptoseconds to accept his offer to sign up for Amazon Prime.

What it costs? $79 for a 1-year subscription.

What you get: "Unlimited two-day shipping for free on over a million in-stock items. Members also get overnight shipping for only $3.99 per item, and you can order as late as 6:30 p.m. ET."

But wait - there's more.

No minimum purchase, no consolidating orders before they ship.

"Considering that we normally charge $9.48 for two-day shipping on a single book and $16.48 for overnight [and don't I know it as well as anyone on the planet], many of our customers will find the program very rewarding."

It includes books, DVDs, music, electronics, kitchen, tools, health, personal care, everything Amazon sells.

They didn't waste any time, either: when I went to buy a new DVD ("Bunny Lake Is Missing," if you must know), there up top were




new buttons.

You GO Jeff!

"We expect Amazon Prime to be expensive for Amazon in the short term."

I'll say: considering I order from them 4-5 times a week on average, they're gonna lose a bundle just on me.

But you know Jeff Bezos: when analysts asked him how he intended to succeed with Amazon back at the beginning when they were losing money on every sale, his response was, "We're gonna increase our volume."


"Get big fast."

I like it.

It's my business philosophy too.

I lose money here on every visitor, reader and joehead.

You know my response?


Get more visitors, readers and joeheads.

February 3, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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