« July 24, 2005 | Main | July 26, 2005 »

July 25, 2005

Motion Sensing Mini Desk Barricade


Never again can someone claim they weren't warned.

"May we approach?" comes out of the courtroom and right smack dab into your office with this sly device.

It's a miniaturized version of those barricades with flashing lights that warn of various urban hazards.

This one, though, contains a motion sensor: when someone approaches it the yellow light begins to flash and lights up your caution sign.

You get a selection of 12 messages, each of which adheres to your light by static cling for removal and replacement as conditions warrant.

Among the sentiments:

    Caution: Enter At Your Own Risk

    No Smoking Zone

    I Don't Do Perky

    Attitude Adjustment In Progress!

    Don't Steal My Pen

Features on/off switch and long–lasting LED light.

Requires 2 AA batteries (not included).

6" tall.

$10.98 here.

July 25, 2005 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'Quantity has its own quality' — The photographic art of Chris Jordan


Lenin said it but it is applicable to many things.

Among them, the photographs of Chris Jordan (above, shipping containers; below, in order: discarded cellphones, recycled materials, and a mountain of sawdust).

He said of his work, in a story in yesterday's New York Times, "I want to give a concrete sense of our consumption, with the real quantities."

To achieve this goal he goes to wherever trash and junk accumulate and photographs what he sees.


Interesting guy: in 2002 at age 38 he abandoned a 10–year career as a corporate lawyer, which he'd been using to support his photography habit.

He even threw away his safety net by resigning from the bar.

I'm reminded of the guy in my medical school class who dropped out with a month to go in the fourth and final year.

I was astounded.


The last year of med school is a vacation, with electives and tons of time off and no stress or pressure whatsoever compared to the death march/crucible of years one through three.

Yet he bailed, leaving his M.D. behind.


Still amazing after all these years.


I guess Jordan's resigning from the bar stems from the same sense of being over and done with something.

July 25, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Biojewelry — The world's most unique ring


The dictionary definition of "unique" is that there's only one.

And I guarantee you that if you choose to participate in the bleeding–edge (literally) Biojewellery project ongoing in the U.K. you will own a unique ring.

Because it will have been grown from your own bone cells, retrieved via a bone marrow biopsy (below).


Five British couples signed up to take part this past spring.

Their bone marrow cells were incubated in a ring–shaped ceramic scaffold and fed liquid nutrients in a temperature–controlled bioreactor for six weeks.

After the coral–like bone formed fully around the scaffold, it was pared down to the final ring shape and a silver liner was inserted for engraving.


In September the results — along with still photos and a time–lapse video of the process — will go on display at Guy's Hospital in London.

After that, the couples will receive their rings.

Diamonds are so ordinary, really, when you consider them against this remarkable bespoke — in the truest sense — jewelry.

[via Sonia Zjawinski and Wired magazine]

July 25, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Do–Not–Call list for the dead — Admission $1


That's the price the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is charging for listing someone on its new Deceased–Do–Not–Call list.

The new directory was established just last week but the DMA will grandfather in those who passed previously.

The listing of names will be updated monthly.

Apply within. (Don't forget your credit card.)

July 25, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Hold–It — 'Never lose your straw again'



You know that slender hollow red plastic tube that comes scotch–taped to a can of WD-40?

It's called a straw and it's precision–engineered to fit into the can's spray nozzle head to precisely focus the WD-40 on the job at hand.

But after you peel off the tape to use the straw the tape doesn't work very well anymore, mostly because the WD-40 on it makes it very slippery.

And so, after a use or two the straw is lost and you end up using the rest of the can by saturating the nearby vicinity along with your intended target.

Well, guess what: someone invented a little doohickey called, sensibly enough, the Hold–It, to keep the straw from going missing.

    From the website:

    • Keeps straw attached to a variety of containers

    • Maintains straw under extreme conditions

    • Constructed of an extremely durable material

    • One–piece component that can be used again and again

$4.99 for 12 here.

Oh, for crying out loud, just get the dozen and give them to your friends or, better yet (and what I'd do), simply put the doohickies on their cans of WD-40 surreptitiously.

Though probably they've already lost their straws so your secret gift won't mean a whole lot.


Straws, minds, they all go eventually.

[via Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools]

July 25, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

No error is too small to be fatal


You know you're a nerd when the following sentence makes you euphoric:

"Just one extra or missing character in a cover letter or résumé can be costly."

Oh, my, the pleasure I derived from reading the line above in Susan Kreimer's article in yesterday's Washington Post Business section is almost impossible to describe, so great was it.

Maybe you should read the piece yourself; it follows.

    When Every Word Counts

    Sweat the Spelling On Job Applications; Errors Can Cost You

    Something didn't jibe when Paul Arnest compared the typed résumé with the handwritten job application.

    "Did you notice that your last name is spelled differently?" he inquired of the job candidate.

    The man's face fell.

    He was applying for a proofreading position in the printing industry, and he had aced the test.

    Yet, he couldn't even get his own name right.

    It was the kind of error he would be expected to catch, not make himself.

    He didn't get the job.

    "To the best of my recollection, he was perfectly qualified. He was an experienced proofreader," said Arnest, now program director in Compuware Corp.'s McLean office.

    "I don't think it was a deciding factor, but it certainly was a factor."


    The incident happened years ago, when Arnest worked for another company, but he remembers it as though it were yesterday.

    Even for those who don't aspire to be proofreaders, it's a useful lesson: Careful writing counts.

    In a recent survey of state agency human resources directors, 88 percent said accuracy in writing was "extremely important;" 71 percent also gave the same weight to solid spelling, grammar and punctuation.

    The remaining participants deemed these qualities "important."

    The survey, conducted by the National Governors Association, was released this month by the New York-based National Commission on Writing for America's Families, Schools, and Colleges.

    The commission found similar results in a survey last year of private-sector employers.

    "Careless or sloppy written submissions in the application process are a kiss of death," said James Harvey, a Seattle-based consultant to the commission.

    "After all, if you're careless with materials like this that help shape your career, how likely are you to take care with routine documents on the job?"

    Just one extra or missing character in a cover letter or résumé can be costly.

    "That's the sort of telling detail that employers notice when they're trying to make a decision about which one of several complete strangers to hire," Harvey said.

    So, proofread, proofread and proofread.

    Watch out for typos, misspellings and subject-and-verb agreement, cautioned Michele Molnar, a self-employed corporate communications writer living in Silver Spring.

    "You want your future employer to expect that you can handle the details and the big picture," she said.

    "It's very easy to make a mistake on your e-mail address, your phone number, simply because our eye skips over something so familiar. We think that's kind of like a no-brainer detail."

    At a time when you want to trust your own editing instincts the most, trust them the least.

    "We cannot catch our own mistakes or ambiguities as well as someone else can. You should find somebody who's good at this," suggested Lane Goddard, who co-owns a small publishing company in Springfield with her husband, David Hatcher.

    Together, they wrote "Landa List," a paperback guide to grammar, proofreading and punctuation principles.

    "Do not pick someone just because they're your friend," Goddard said.

    "Select someone who's frank."

    Managers can be sticklers for old-fashioned precision -- even in a tech-savvy culture in which e-mail communication frequently replaces formal cover letters.

    "You would not believe the number of people who use mostly lower-case letters in their e-mails when sending a résumé. They don't capitalize the pronoun 'I,' nor do they capitalize proper nouns. It drives me crazy," said Ann Dolin, president of Educational Connections Inc. in Vienna.

    She automatically deletes these messages without reading the résumés.

    "I figure that if these people are so nonchalant with me, they'll be even worse with parents and students. I own and operate a tutoring business where proper written language is a must."

    Not everyone is so strict.

    At Compuware, Arnest said, "We forgive slips. We're looking at the whole person."

    But why take a chance and trip up?

    "If you know the psychology of hiring, it's a rat race," he said. Hundreds of applications stream in for a single job.

    "You think of it like college admissions. You have all of these highly qualified people, and how do you decide? So very often, a little thing can make a difference."

You will note in the article above that Paul Arnest, he of "We forgive slips. We're looking at the whole person," was the guy who recounted the story about the man he didn't hire as a proofreader because he misspelled his own name on his job application.

Forgiveness only goes so far, I guess.


A note on this blog's


philosophy as regards the correct and precise use of language:

I employ the finest group of individuals money can't buy.

My staff writers, my copy editors and proofreaders, those who create the headlines; my photo researchers and fact checkers, my photo editors, the group that handles the voluminous correspondence generated by bookofjoe, each and every individual was vetted, grilled and examined with a scanning electron microscope before being brought aboard.

I run a tight ship: it moves at flank speed 24/7 and there's no room for a slacker anywhere from the top deck all the way down to the bottom row of oar pullers.

And yet approximately one in five — 20%! — of my posts contain an error when I first read them after they've gone up.

How can this be?

I correct them ASAP, to be sure, and every now and then a kind joehead chimes in with a helpful note on where I've screwed up.

But my goal is 100% accuracy.

Not 80%, not 99%: 100%.

Anything less and it's back to the woodshed with the guilty parties.

There's plenty of blame to go around, to be sure, but ultimately it devolves onto me — and I accept it.

That's the price I pay for trying to be of value.

And I will continue paying it until they pry my cold, dead fingers off my wonderful, clackety–clack noisy Matias keyboard.


Now give me ten more.

July 25, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ice Tubes



This polypropylene tray makes ten 3"–long, 1/2"–diameter ice cylinders (not cubes, though I suppose that's what most people would call them).

"Long, narrow ice cubes fit into water bottles!"


"Keep beverages chilled while traveling, shopping, running errands."

A set of two trays costs $5.49 here.

July 25, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

High Wind From the Sahara


Sometime today, tomorrow or Wednesday an enormous cloud of dust, roughly the size of the continental United States, will move across Florida.

Its origin?

The Sahara Desert.

Such dust clouds are not uncommon, say meteorologists, especially at this time of the year, when weather patterns called tropical waves pick up dust from the desert in North Africa, carry it a couple miles into the atmosphere and drift westward.

Such dust, if concentrated enough, "could effect people with respiratory problems," said Ken Larson, a natural resource specialist with the Broward County Environmental Protection Department, quoted in yesterday's Associated Press story.

What strikes me about such clouds is not the dust itself but, rather, what's traveling along with it.

How about infectious viruses?

Don't believe it?

Wait and see.

It's a small, small world and it's going to continue to contract until each and every one of us finally realizes there's nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

Apologies to Martha and the Vandellas.


Africa's problems are not confined to that benighted continent but, rather, they're ours as well.

July 25, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

« July 24, 2005 | Main | July 26, 2005 »