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August 10, 2005

bookofjoe chosen as 'Desert Island Blog'


I've debated since Sunday whether to put this up.

Rex Hammock, a publisher in Nashville, Tennessee who writes Rexblog, chose mine from all the 14 million+ blogs out there.

Not kottke, not boingboing, but good old bookofjoe.

I was flattered beyond belief, as anyone would be, but as a rule I don't like to put up stuff that simply shines a flattering light on me.

But then I thought about all the critical, hateful, mean and otherwise unpleasant email I get from people who don't like me or stuff I write or disagree with it or whatever and I thought what the heck, why not?

"Desert Island Discs" is a very popular BBC radio show which began in 1942: the interviewer asks some notable what records she or he would want to have with them if they were alone on a desert island.

Rex also put up the Q & A he conducted with me online earlier Sunday.

Here's the Rexblog post.

    An interview with bookofjoe.com, the blog I'd take to a desert island: I gave up trying to participate in Steve Rubel's "my top ten blogs" meme (Technorati tag: 10blogs). After a few attempts, I couldn't even begin to whittle it down to ten. Besides, I have different types of blogs I follow: business, Nashville, media.

    However, while I couldn't come up with a top ten list, I quickly determined what the top one blog I'd take to a desert island is: bookofjoe.com from the self-defined "world's only blogging anesthesiologist." I saw bookofjoe referenced about a month ago and clicked through to it and have been in awe ever since. Throughout the day and evening, bookofjoe is a steady stream of wit and weirdness. I don't know quite how to describe the topics covered, but Joe finds some of the strangest and coolest products around -- not gadgets and tech toys, but handy or quirky items. He finds things to blog that make kottke, boingboing and all the gadget and cool-hunting bloggers look like poseurs (although they made the long list when trying to come up with my favorites). I know that a post from bookofjoe in my newsreader is going to give me a moment's break from whatever's stressing me. And Joe delivers throughout the day.

    When I decided to make this post about bookofjoe, I sent him an email asking some questions regarding his blog. He promptly responded and I discovered I have a nice Q&A that some of Joe's other fans may find interesting.

    Here it is:

    Rex: Why do you blog anonymously? You are, I assume from your cryptic "about page," an anesthesiologist (the world's only blogging one) living in Charlottesville, Virginia. Why not fill in the rest of the blanks?

    Joe: I'm not anonymous, really: anyone who wishes can find my name and street address and phone number without breaking a sweat. I just don't advertise them. But, for example, occasionally, on short notice I have a call-in session: I put up my phone number in a post and then take calls for a specified period of time. I'd say that's a heckuva lot less anonymous than 99+% of bloggers.

    Rex: How do you find the time to blog at such a firehose pace?

    Joe: I give anesthesia in the OR for cash money one week every three months. That leaves 12 of 13 weeks free.

    Rex: The question about which I'm most curious is this: Where do you find all that stuff you blog about? I'm assuming you are finding this stuff yourself as I rarely see you credit another blogger. Finding all those products would set you apart from other gadget or "cool hunting" bloggers. You also blog a lot about products you actually own or have tried -- are marketers beginning to send you stuff?

    Joe: My sources are:

    a. Newspapers. I subscribe to 6 (Washington Post, New York Times, Financial Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Charlottesville Daily Progress) and read each cover to cover daily.

    b. Magazines. I subscribe to the Economist, Sports Illustrated, Scientific American, New Yorker, Wired, Cabinet, Giant Robot and Zembla and read each one cover to cover as they arrive.

    c. Books. I read perhaps 2-3 books a week, about half nonfiction.

    d. Catalogs. I get 10-15 every week: they are the source of my more weird and wonderful posts. Yes, I find everything myself. I do not read other blogs, so never find stuff in them. I try to feature things you won't find anywhere else online.

    e. Readers and fans. About one post in 10-15 comes from something a reader submits. I get perhaps 25 suggestions a week and use maybe 2 or 3.

    f. Random stuff I see or hear about in the real world or online.

    I would sum up the sources of bookofjoe as follows:

    50% - newspapers 25% - catalogs 5% - magazines 5% - books 5% - readers' suggestions/submissions 10% - random stuff

    Hey, it adds up to 100%!

    I like to blog about stuff I use, true. Occasionally someone will offer me something after I write about them and I always accept. So far I've received: one jar of wasabi powder; one Wheel of Death amusement card; a box of hard-to-find-in-Charlottesville candy like piña colada Almond Joy; one Mad Dog Watches T-shirt.

    I would never write about something because someone asked me to, though. Many have tried this route. I always try to credit sources: look at the last line of many of my posts, which have a bracket and source credit and link whenever possible. Any time I take something from a published source it is always credited along with a direct link when possible.

    I do note that I am ripped off routinely by others, even some very well-known blogs and websites, which use stuff that could only have come from me, but without attribution. Hey, I don't have time to bother dealing with such things.

    Rex: Obvious question from people who read my blog will be this: There are no ads and no apparent affiliate store relationships. You don't seem to be offering consulting or other types of professional services related to the focus of your blog. So is there a "business model" related to your blog, or is your blog an expression of your passion for discovering cool stuff? Or what?

    Joe: No ads and no links appear because they cause clutter. No affiliate store relationships, now or ever. I like clean, clear expression and design and I like the way my blog looks.

    Also, it's always said that the secret to success in the blogosphere and the greater internet is to link to others and vice versa. I have always liked doing the opposite, so I decided to test this theory. So far the absence of outbound links (there were 671 inbound links from 411 sources last time I looked at technorati [this morning] does not seem to have proved this theory correct.

    Also, any income from ads would not change my life: if it's not enough to do that then it's not enough. There is no business model that I can think of related to bookofjoe, however: I fully expect that by 2010 I will be seeing a significant amount of income from whatever bookofjoe has morphed into by then.

    As you may have noticed, I have stated from the outset here that bookofjoe – the blog — is merely a placeholder for bookofjoeTV. I believe that now even more strongly than when I first mentioned it 2+ years ago. I do bookofjoe because it's the single most fun I've ever done on a consistent daily basis, from the moment I get up until I lay me down to sleep. I think it shows. I like to surprise myself and others, such that I can honestly say I haven't a clue what might appear tomorrow.

    I'll keep watching to find out what Joe discovers.




August 10, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

OXO Mango Splitter



I will say that I love mangoes but no longer buy them because it's just too much effort getting the fruit off the seed without cutting myself to shreds in the process.

That darn seed is mightly slippery when the juice is running down your hands and fingers.

There are those who believe the mango is the world's most delicious fruit.

Yes, I know that R.W. Apple of the New York Times declared the mangosteen to be the apotheosis of fruit but I cannot speak of mangosteens since I have never tasted or even seen one except in a picture.

It is illegal to import them into the U.S. because they can be infested with the dreaded Mediterranean fruit fly.

Anyway, I will say this: I have never eaten anything more delicious than freshly picked mangoes, purchased and consumed on small, twisty roads in the Jamaican countryside.

And don't get me started about the delectable wood–roasted fresh corn also for sale by the roadside... mamma mia.

From the OXO website:

    One simple press removes the seed and cuts the fruit in half.

    The Mango Splitter slices cleanly through the fruit and leaves almost nothing behind on the seed.

    Soft grips cushion while you press and the stainless steel blades are sharp and sturdy.

I'm outa here and over to get one.


$11.99 at the OXO website.

[via ohgizmo]

August 10, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Being a pilot triples your risk of cataract


Researchers from the University of Iceland report in the current issue of the journal Archives of Ophthalmology that commercial airline pilots are three times more likely to develop cataracts — clouding of the lens of the eye — than individuals in other professions.

According to a BBC report on the study, cosmic rays — highly energetic particles that bombard Earth from outer space — have already been linked to cataracts among astronauts.

The Icelandic scientists believe that cosmic rays may be the cause of the increased eye damage in pilots as well.

However, Dr. Michael Clark of the U.K. Health Protection Agency told the BBC that it was unlikely that cosmic radiation was the cause of the pilots' increased incidence of cataract formation.


Here's a link to the abstract of the article in the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Here's a link to the BBC story.

Here's a link to the WebMD story on the study.

August 10, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Jumbo Timer — 'Big and Loud'


Lots of that going around. But I digress.

    From the website:

    You can't ignore the amazingly long, loud ring of this jumbo all–purpose timer.

    It sounds an extended bell that'll bring you running, even from the deck or the next room, when the cookies are done or the lawn has enough water.

    The totally reliable old–fashioned spring mechanism tick–tick–ticks off as much as 60 minutes then alerts you in a most traditional fashion.

    A huge 6" in diameter, with easy–read bold dial.

    Sits upright in the included stand or hangs on the wall via keyhole slots.

    Durable plastic.

Cookies? Lawn?

That's not what a timer does here at chez bookofjoe. But I digress.

Being the traditional type and so fond of total reliability, I just might have to bite on this one.

$14.99 here

August 10, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The finest selection of tomatoes in the United States


Last Wednesday Sharon Waxman, who usually covers the entertainment industry in LA, went off the reservation and penned a mouth–wateringly scrumptious story for the New York Times Dining Out section about tomatoes.

Not just any tomatoes, though.

She moseyed on up north to Beserkely and the Berkeley Bowl Marketplace, which "boasts the largest produce section in Northern California all year–round, but in July and August it becomes a jaw–slackening, pulse–quickening bazaar for tomatoes of every imaginable kind."

My mouth is wet — tell me more.

Waxman noted that the store is housed in a converted Safeway supermarket, and that she saw 20 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, "at least 20 varieties of regular old tomatoes" and "10 different types of cherry tomatoes alone."

A photo of a small portion of the store's display is above.

Many people in the store said they came just to look, whether or not they needed tomatoes.

Waxman wrote, "Nancy Swearengen, a white–haired resident of nearby Montclair, said she comes here every week 'whether I need to or not — just to breathe it in.'"

The Times story follows.

    You Think You've Got Tomatoes

    The Berkeley Bowl Marketplace stirs up the worst kind of tomato lust.

    You can't help it.

    The sun is beating down outside like some kind of Provençal demon and here amid the sawdust-strewn aisles of this bland, low-lying store, there are 20 - 20! - varieties of heirloom tomatoes stacked, strewn and otherwise arrayed, taunting you, the defenseless shopper.

    Come hither.

    For $2.49 a pound.

    And if it only ended there.

    There are also at least 20 kinds of regular old tomatoes; Early Girls that are smooth and taut and round; Odorikos, with their pinkish - or is it fuchsia - glow.

    Pale green ones are ready to bread and fry at 99 cents a pound.

    I picked up a Brentwood Large tomato and weighed it: it was a pound and a quarter.

    Here at the Berkeley Bowl, there are 10 different types of cherry tomatoes alone: tear-shaped Santa grapes, pesticide-free Sweet 100's, red cherry, mixed medley.

    Like all the produce, each is identified in scrawled red ink on a plain sheet of white paper, folded over a wire strung above the bins.

    The store boasts the largest produce section in Northern California all year-round, but in July and August it becomes a jaw-slackening, pulse-quickening bazaar for tomatoes of every imaginable kind.

    As I stood there overwhelmed, a woman grabbed my arm.

    "Wait!" she urged.

    "You've got to smell these."

    She pulled a bag of Odorikos from her cart and shoved them under my nose.

    Her eyes widened, her eyebrows jutted upward.


    She pointed a finger across the aisle to where she had found them.

    Such passion is not uncommon at the Berkeley Bowl, where the carts bang into one another in the narrow byways, even on a weekday afternoon.

    And this, I was assured, was a particularly calm hour.

    "You have to be in a Zen mind-set when you come here," said Barbara Manierra, a college adviser, pausing over some waxy yellow heirloom varietals, Lemon Boys.

    "This is empty. You have to be very calm, and not in a rush. It can be a very intense experience - there's so much choice, and it gets very crowded."

    And because of its high quality and bargain prices, the Berkeley Bowl has an equal opportunity vibe.

    On this particular day, a yuppie in a polo shirt shopped beside a guy with dreadlocks, and a college student squeezed past a baby boomer in a tie-dyed T-shirt and a family speaking Spanish.

    Nancy Swearengen, a white-haired resident of nearby Montclair, said she comes here every week "whether I need to or not - just to breathe it in."

    "It's not just the 16 kinds of tomatoes, it's the vitality, the diversity," she explained.

    "I pick up good recipes. The whole nine yards."

    Glenn Yasuda opened the Berkeley Bowl in 1977 in a former bowling alley just down the street.

    At the time he was teaching business education at a local college, but had put himself through school by hauling produce at a wholesale market in Oakland.

    He was entering the organic produce business at just the right time (not everything is organic, but he says he tries), and has been so successful that in 1999 he moved into this converted Safeway supermarket.

    He is in the process of securing permits for a second store in southwest Berkeley.

    But Mr. Yasuda, 71, is almost impossible to find because he spends five or six days a week at the local wholesale markets, overseeing purchases.

    When I finally caught up with him by telephone, Mr. Yasuda said he had two workers in his office who needed his attention and he really had to go.

    Pressed to comment on what makes his store unique, he said: "I don't know. All the markets are pretty good. We do the same thing."

    Reminded that his customers seem to think the Bowl is rather special, Mr. Yasuda made an effort.

    "I think it's everything," he said.

    "Not just produce. Our grocery section, we have a lot of variety, we do a good job."

    And off he went to check the contents of the latest load.

    Mr. Yasuda can let his tomatoes speak for themselves.

    After buying nine pounds of tomatoes for $21.81, I sat down in a friend's kitchen to discover the textures and flavors of each (or as many as I could manage).

    The Pink Zebra looked like a cross between a Fuji apple and a peach; it was sweet, not acidic, with deep pink flesh inside.

    The Cherokee Purple was deep vermilion with dark green streaks on the outside.

    Cut open, it looked like a hunk of raw meat, with firm flesh and little juice.

    The Lemon Boy was pale on the inside, tart and less intense than the others.

    The Beefmaster looked like a gnarly pincushion on the outside; inside it had deep red flesh and burst with flavor.

    I also tried the Wilgenberg hothouse, the Miyashita Nursery, the Momotaro, Big Beef, Dr. Wych's Yellow, Zebras (striped bright lime on the outside, kiwi-colored on the inside), Pineapple Stripe (squat and small), Mountain Delight (orange shaped and deep yellow in color) and the plum-colored Black Prince.


    My favorite turned out to be the Red Brandywine, a huge, pumpkin-shaped tomato that was soft and red on the inside.

    It had a velvety feel and flavor, and was enough to quell the most serious tomato lust.

    At least until next summer.

    The Berkeley Bowl Marketplace, located at 2020 Oregon Street, in Berkeley, Calif., is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information: (510) 843-6929 or www.berkeleybowl.com.

August 10, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Auto Power Socket Multiplier


Suppose you've got more than one electronic device that needs charging while you're driving.

Now you can do three or four at the same time.

Get everything going at once with one of these nifty devices, which also avoid the problem of pulling your car charger out of the cigarette lighter inadvertently.

There's the standard 4–socket model or the 3–socket version with a built–in battery status monitor that uses colored lights — red, yellow or green — to indicate how much juice is left in your car's battery.

The 4–hole model is $14.95 and the 3–socket model with indicator lights is $17.95 here.

I wonder if you could piggy–back them: that way you could put the smaller capacity one into the car's socket and plug the larger version into it, giving you 2 + 4 = 6 sockets plus a battery status indicator.

Just an idle thought.

August 10, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Virgin Atlantic wants you to nominate the person who most closely fits the term.

You tell them in 200 words or less why your nominee is a "globe–flying leader among a 'new emerging business culture' who are 'rock stars of their industries.'"

I nominate Tyler Brûlé, the Fast Lane columnist of the weekend Financial Times.

I haven't a clue as to what he does but he seems to spend more time on airplanes than on the ground.

Darned good writer, too.

[via Joe Sharkey and the New York Times]

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

3M Scotch® Adhesive Remover Pen


The secret weapon of teachers, librarians, and obsessives.

    From the website:

    Return every book to mint condition with the Scotch® adhesive remover pen.

    The pH-neutral pen is perfect for removing all types of adhesive overspills, leaving books crisp and neat.

    Remove unsightly graffiti from desks, lockers, walls or glass, and lift grime and grease to make the busiest work sites sparkle.

    It's photo–safe and easy to use, so you can work quickly and confidently.

    With just a touch, every book and surface will look its best.



$3.49 here.

August 10, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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