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July 28, 2005

eTraining with Jeff Galloway


Jeff Galloway is a very sensible running expert and coach.

His books are easily the single best source of information for the novice runner who wants to get in shape, not get hurt, perhaps run a race of whatever length and have an experience which might even be enjoyable instead of a pain threshold tolerance test.

Galloway's a former U.S. Olympian so he knows whereof he speaks and his goal is not to have you emulate his achievements or die trying.

I read yesterday that he now offers a personalized online training program ($249 for six months) via his website, jeffgalloway.com.


You start by answering a questionnaire about your fitness level and exercise goals.

Galloway then designs a customized training schedule and you're assigned a day of the week to check in with him via email.

He says the program works best for those who are regular about checking in since that lets him anticipate and prevent problems rather than try to solve them.

Same strategy I use in the OR: it's so much easier to avoid a disaster than deal with one. But I digress.

Not sure?


Buy one of his books and see what you think of his approach.

July 28, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Spracket® — 'World's First Conductive Speaker Mounting System'


You connect the wall mount to your audio source, then attach the other half of the Spracket® to the back of your speaker.

When you put the speaker in the bracket the music flows along with the electricity.


Maybe that's why the company that invented it is called Cewl Connections.

Ya think?

Watch the video and learn more on the company's website.

About $50.

July 28, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Seal–On™ Blotters — 'Clot on the spot'


Seal–On™ contains "micro–dispersed oxidized cellulose," a blood–clotting agent derived from cotton.

The product comes in the form of a spray powder, nasal sponges, adhesive pads, band–aids and new Blotters™.

Blotters™ are small, thin film strips which, on contact with blood from minor cuts, scrapes and nicks, especially from shaving, stop bleeding instantly and form a soft gel–like layer over the wound.

Ideal for legs, bikini area and especially underarms.

$2.99 for a 10–pack here.

July 28, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pedalite — Self–Powered Lighted Bicycle Pedal


The world's first non–battery–dependent bicycle pedal light.

It uses an energy storage capacitor powered by your pedaling: no battery of any sort.

Flashes white to the front, amber to the side and red to the rear.

Operates automatically once installed.

The pedals' LEDs continue to flash for up to 12 minutes after you've stopped pedaling.

$75.11 here.

July 28, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What's the 511?


I found out only two days ago when I read an enlightening article by Christopher Elliott in the New York Times about the stealthy rise of the 511 navigation system across the U.S.

Who knew?

Elliott wrote, "The 511 system, created by the federal government in 2000, delivers traffic, weather and tourism information directly to a telephone."

But it's still in beta.

So far only 26 states have started to create the extensive local networks envisioned back in 2000.

In some only one road in the whole state is covered.

RoadTripAmerica.com says the system is "nearly useless" in its current form.

The menu options and instructions in adjoining states differ and 511 doesn't handle border crossings from one state to the next very well at all.

Nevertheless, the Federal Highway Administration is optimistic and says about half the population will have access to the system by the end of 2006.

The entire country is scheduled to be connected "a short time later," according to experts quoted in the Times article.

I think "a short time later" is a synonym for "real soon now." But I digress.

Here's the Times article.

    The 411 on the 511 Navigation System

    Whenever Robert Schaller wonders about traffic conditions ahead, he punches 511 on his cellphone.

    A free, voice-activated system answers, offering the latest information on "even the most obscure highway I plan to drive on," said Mr. Schaller, a program specialist for the Defensive Driving Program of the Arizona Supreme Court.

    Listening to those traffic bulletins - well, that's another story.

    Arizona's 511 program, which cost $1.7 million to build, can be a little hard of hearing.

    "The system is very sensitive to background noise," he said.

    "Every tiny scratch or even breathing would send it off in a direction I didn't want to go. Today, I was yelling into my phone."

    The 511 system, created by the federal government in 2000, delivers traffic, weather and tourism information directly to a telephone.

    At least it is supposed to.

    But 511 has a long journey ahead of it.

    Some of the 26 systems remain primitive, covering only one road.

    Others can be difficult (possibly even dangerous) for callers to operate.

    And many are incompatible with the 511's in the next state, increasing drivers' frustration as they pass from one zone to another.

    "The way the information is delivered renders it nearly useless, or at least inferior to the other public notification programs that already exist," said Mark C. Sedenquist, the publisher of RoadTripAmerica.com, a Web site about North American road travel.

    He says scanners and citizens' band radios are often a better bet.


    Patience, say those behind 511.

    James Wright, who as 511 program director for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials coordinates the 511 deployment effort, says the network is still being built, and that when it is done, it will work just fine.

    "It is conceivable that 511 could eventually operate like 411 directory services, where you dial it and it says, 'What city and state please?' " he said.

    That's a happy thought.

    The Federal Highway Administration estimates that before 511 came along, more than 300 travel-information hotlines dotted the country.

    To make an informed road trip from Washington to New York, for example, a motorist would have had to dial 11 different phone numbers.

    The San Francisco Bay Area's system (www.traffic.511.org) showcases 511's potential.

    It allows you to calculate driving times based on traffic congestion, and will soon add the ability to receive e-mail, phone calls or map-enabled alerts on a personal digital assistant when traffic gets bad on your selected routes.

    But the current 511 network, which costs about $15 million a year to maintain, has notable gaps.

    In Central Florida, where I live, 511 assumes you are traveling down one road: the always-busy Interstate 4 corridor that connects Daytona Beach and Tampa.

    On the several times I queried it, 511 accurately reported that there were no delays on Interstate 4 in Orlando, Daytona Beach and the theme park areas.

    Then I asked about Tampa.

    "Sorry," a friendly female voice chirped.

    "That area isn't covered by this system."

    Compatibility is a challenge, too.

    Even systems that play nice together, such as those in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, have different menu options and instructions.

    New Hampshire's asks users to spell the name of roads using a keypad (a dangerous maneuver when you are speeding down a highway) while the other two prefer voice commands.

    Virginia's 511 offers a weather information option on its main menu, but North Carolina's does not.

    Kentucky's 511 can transfer you back to Virginia, but to none of the other adjoining states with traffic information numbers.

    "Compatibility between systems is very important to us," said John R. Njord, the executive director of the Utah Department of Transportation and the chairman of the 511 Deployment Coalition, a group of state and local transportation officials who have already installed 511 systems.

    "A person traveling down the highway doesn't care what state he's in. He cares about where he's going, and how to get the information."

    The glitches will be fixed.

    About half the population will have access to 511 by the end of next year, according to the Federal Highway Administration, and specialists say the entire country will have access a short time later.

    As the 511 system expands, it will also undoubtedly evolve.

    "People are trying to figure out what it can do," said Justin McNaull, a spokesman for the AAA.

    "And they're trying to figure out what it should do."

    It might incorporate wireless technology that works with onboard navigation systems, for example, lessening motorists' reliance on cellphones.

    Already, many states operate Web sites with the latest traffic information.


    Meantime, if escaping gridlock is a priority for you, I suggest taking a page from Mr. Sedenquist's rules of the road: keep the CB and scanner plugged in.

July 28, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Flower Herbal Slippers


They even sound soothing.

You could hide them in your desk and wear them while you're working: no one need know.

Wouldn't that be a nice secret?

    From the website:

    Do your feet a favor: sit down, slide into these sweet slippers and give those tired dogs a rest.

    Loosely filled with premium flax seeds you can snuggle your toes up to, these soft slippers are sweetened with aromatic herbs like valerian root and peppermint that soothe sore feet.

    Heat or chill these massaging miracles for added comfort, and for your feet's sake, slip in and sit down at least once a day.

    Slippers are intended for resting, not walking.

    One size fits most adult feet.

$25 here.

July 28, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'Building in Iceland? Better Clear It With the Elves First'


Above, the headline of Sarah Lyall's superb story which appeared in the July 13 New York Times.

Look carefully at the photo above.

It shows a section of road in the city of Kopavogur that in the 1970s was narrowed from two lanes to one when repeated efforts to destroy a large rock that was believed to house elves were thwarted by equipment breakdowns.

The rock, as you can see, is still there.

Some neighbors quoted by Lyall in her story believe the elves have moved because of increasing light and noise in the vicinity.

The article is very entertaining and thought–provoking.

I say thought–provoking because here you're dealing with what is arguably the most educated, rational population on our planet.

Lyall wrote, "A belief not just in elves but also in the predictive power of dreams, in the potency of dead spirits and in other supernatural phenomena, is closely linked to Iceland's Celtic traditions and punishing, powerful landscape — especially the harsh weather and the rocks that appear everywhere."

She continued, "Polls consistently show that the majority of the population either believes in elves — generally described as humanlike creatures who are fiercely protective of their rocky homes — or is not willing to rule out their existence."

Here's the article.

    Building in Iceland? Better Clear It With the Elves First

    Do elves exist?

    Like many Icelanders, Hildur Hakonardottir considers the question to be more complicated than it appears.

    "This is a very, very, very delicate question," Ms. Hakonardottir, a retired museum director, said.

    "If you ask people if they believe in elves, they will say yes and no. If they say yes, maybe they don't, and if they say no, maybe they do."

    Hypothetically speaking, what does she think elves look like?

    "Well, my next-door neighbor is an elf woman," she declared suddenly. "She lives in a cliff in a rock in my garden."

    Despite having seen the elf only once in 15 years - enough time to determine that she was "bigger than life and dressed like my grandmother, in a 1930's national costume" - Ms. Hakonardottir, 67, has no doubt of her existence.

    "My daughter once asked me, 'How do you know where elves live?' " she said.

    "I told her you just know. It's just a feeling."

    It is a feeling that many people in Iceland apparently share.

    Polls consistently show that the majority of the population either believes in elves - generally described as humanlike creatures who are fiercely protective of their rocky homes - or is not willing to rule out their existence.

    But while believing in elves is rooted in Iceland's culture, it remains a touchy subject.

    "You have to watch out for the Nordic cliché," the Icelandic singer Bjork told The New Yorker magazine several years ago.

    "A friend of mine says that when record-company executives come to Iceland, they ask the bands if they believe in elves, and whoever says yes gets signed up."

    Yet even Bjork cannot say no for sure.

    "We think nature is a lot stronger than man," she said in another interview, when the Elf Question came up.

    "A relationship with things spiritual has not gone away."

    A belief not just in elves but also in the predictive power of dreams, in the potency of dead spirits and in other supernatural phenomena, is closely linked to Iceland's Celtic traditions and punishing, powerful landscape - especially the harsh weather and the rocks that appear everywhere.

    "If there was a large stone in the garden, and somebody said to an Icelander, 'That's an elf stone,' would they blow it up? They wouldn't," said Terry Gunnell, head of the folkloristic department at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik.

    "It's not like they think there are little people living in there who come and dance outside," he added.

    "It's more a sense that there are other powers, other forces around them."

    This town, a port on the outskirts of Reykjavik, prides itself on its unusually high elf population.

    Tourists are invited to tour the known elf locations, including a large rock whose reputation as an elf habitat meant that a nearby road was diverted some years ago so as not to disturb its unseen residents.

    Elly Erlingsdottir, head of the town council's planning committee, said that made sense to her.

    Recently, she said, some elves borrowed her kitchen scissors, only to return them a week later to a place she had repeatedly searched.

    "My philosophy is, you don't have to see everything you believe in," she said, "because many of your greatest experiences happen with closed eyes."

    Recently, the planning committee considered a resident's application to build a garage.

    "One member said, 'I hope it's O.K. with the elves,' " Ms. Erlingsdottir related.

    Should the council determine that it is, in fact, not O.K. - usually this happens when a local mystic hears from the elf population, directly or through a vision - the town would consider moving the project, or getting the mystic to ask the elves to move away, she said.

    Such occurrences are not unusual.

    In nearby Kopavogur, a section of Elfhill Road was narrowed from two lanes to one in the 1970's, when repeated efforts to destroy a large rock that was believed to house elves were thwarted by equipment breakdowns.

    The rock is still there, jutting awkwardly into the road, but it is unclear whether the tenants are.

    "With the artificial lampposts, there's too much light for them, and there's also too much noise," explained Gurdrun Bjarnadottir, who has lived across the street for some 30 years.

    "A lot of people believe they still live there, but I think they've moved."

    In the same town in 1996, a bulldozer operator, Hjortur Hjartarson, ran into trouble as he tried to raze a suspected elf hill to make way for a graveyard.

    After two different bulldozers repeatedly and inexplicably malfunctioned, and local television cameras failed when trained on the hill, though they worked elsewhere, the crew halted the project.

    "We're going to see whether we can't reach an understanding with the elves," Jon Ingi, the project supervisor, told Morgunbladid, a Reykjavik newspaper, at the time.

    Local elf communicators were called in to arbitrate, and after a while, work resumed.

    "In my opinion, well, whatever it is, hidden people or elves, it has just accepted this and moved away from there," Mr. Hjartarson told Valdimar Hafstein, an academic researcher who in the late 1990's published "The Elves' Point of View," an article about elves and their effect on construction projects.

    "That's my opinion."

    Although he found many similar cases, Mr. Hafstein has grown weary of the subject. For a while, the Icelandic tourist board cited him as a national elf expert.

    "I kind of feel that I've done my part," he said.

    He recently completed a doctoral thesis (on Unesco, not elves) for the University of California, Berkeley.

    Although it is easy to find Icelanders who roll their eyes at elf conversations, it is not easy to find hardcore skeptics.

    But 73-year-old Arni Bjornsson is one.

    "Today, it is almost a fashion to say that you believe in supernatural beings, but I take this with a pinch of salt," said Mr. Bjornsson, who worked for 25 years as the head of the ethnology department at the national museum.

    But even he is not saying no, exactly.

    "If you were to ask me, 'Are you sure there are no supernatural beings?' I would say I don't believe there are," he said.

    "But I wouldn't rule it out."

July 28, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack



Elegance at teatime.


Intuitive "scoop–slide–steep."


$20 here.

[via EW and SM]

July 28, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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