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November 4, 2005

aPages: the new iPod?


Yo, Jeff Bezos, no reason you shouldn't benefit from my off–the–wall/mid–brain (I say mid–brain 'cause it's sure not left or right, that's for sure) thinking.

I read in this morning's papers that Amazon next year is going to begin selling access to individual books by the page, for as little as pennies.

Bezos told USA Today's Jefferson Graham, "We think this is a big deal."

He's right — but not for the reasons he thinks it's so important.

Rather, the ability to create a micro–payment system that's transparent to the user is the key that will unlock treasures not yet even imaginable, sooner than I expected to be streaming into any web–connected device anywhere in the world.

Among them, joeTV.

I found it most instructive, by the way, to observe how the four major U.S. newspapers played this story in today's editions.

The New York Times put in on the paper's front page — above the fold, under the picture of Lewis Libby (top).

The Wall Street Journal put it on the front page of one of its inside sections.

The Washington Post used an Associate Press feed rather than write its own story, then buried it inside the business section.

USA Today buried it on page 4 of its business section.

My rating of the four papers in terms of their websites, overall online usefulness and how well they "get" the internet:

1. New York Times

2. Wall Street Journal

3. Washington Post

4. USA Today

You can get a sense of their relative strengths from the way they handled this breaking news that, in the end, will make or break them in terms of how well they adapt to the fluid, rapidly accelerating transition from print to pixels.

This is not to say that even the Times has a passable website: it is dreadful — confusing, distracting, difficult to use and ugly.

Still, it's better than the others.

November 4, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Traveling Bartender










Measures 4"W x 3.75"D x 6"H.

$68 here.

November 4, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Can a person's eye color change as they age?


I know it can because mine has.

When I was a boy my eyes were brown.


Now they are green.

I noticed the change when I was in medical school and wondered how such a thing could happen.

Over the years I've asked many ophthalmologists about it and they've all said I must be remembering incorrectly because eye color doesn't change over time.

But guess what?

They were wrong and I am not crazy.

Anahad O'Connor, in his excellent "Really?" feature, in the October 25 New York Times, addressed the question and reported that "in a small percentage of adults, eye color can naturally become either noticeably darker or lighter with age."

Here's his column.

    The Claim: Eye Color Can Change as We Age

    THE FACTS It can bend light, bring the world into focus, and next to the human brain may be our most complicated organ.

    But for many people the most intriguing feature of the human eye is simply its color.

    Can it really change for no apparent reason?

    In most people, the answer is no.

    Eye color fully matures in infancy and remains the same for life.

    But in a small percentage of adults, eye color can naturally become either noticeably darker or lighter with age.

    What determines eye color is the pigment melanin.

    Eyes that have a lot of it in the connective tissue at the front of the iris, called the stroma, are darker, while those that have less tend to be lighter.

    The levels of melanin generally remain the same throughout life, but a few things can change them permanently.

    The first is a handful of ocular diseases like pigmentary glaucoma.

    Another is a condition called heterochromia, or multicolored eyes, which affects about 1 percent of the population and is often caused by traumatic injuries. An example of this can be seen in the rock star David Bowie, who attributes his contrasting eye colors, hazel and light blue, to a blow to the face as a child.

    The third cause appears to be genetics. A study in 1997, for example, looked at thousands of twins and found that 10 percent to 15 percent of the subjects had gradual changes in eye color throughout adolescence and adulthood, which occurred at nearly identical rates in identical twins.


    THE BOTTOM LINE Eyes can change color in some people because of genetics or injury.

November 4, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (51) | TrackBack

Grabby Grocery Bag Holder


Got bags?

From the website:

    If carrying shopping bags to your car and then into the house is cumbersome, difficult and hurts your hands, we have a solution for you!

    The Grabby Grocery Bag Holder's ergonomically–designed handle helps carry heavy loads of plastic grocery bags.

    Simply slip the handles of each bag over the loops in either side of the handle, then pick all the bags up at once with ease and comfort.

    It's also great for carrying clothes on hangers to and from the dry cleaner.

    The Grabby Grocery Bag Holder can hold over 50 pounds and up to 10 bags.

    No more sore and achy hands, or tangled plastic bags.

    You can efficiently carry more bags, more comfortably, in one trip.

    Best of all, the Grabby Grocery Bag Holder organizer is small enough to fit in your purse or pocket -- or store it in the glove compartment of your car for quick access when you go shopping.

    And the handle is magnetic, so you can stick it on a refrigerator or filing cabinet if that's more convenient.

$4.79 here.

November 4, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Crack team meme no dream


I thought it was just a cute turn of phrase, naming my doughty girls in the back office the bookofjoe crack research team, but it would appear that, like any good meme, it's spreading.

Just now I ordered a new fanny pack for the OR from backcountry.com and when I got to the page thanking me for my order received the message above.

Read the black print.

Be still


My heart.

What's in my fanny pack?

I never thought you'd ask.

Now that I think about it, it's kind of like that old "What's on your PowerBook?" campaign Apple ran back in the day.

OK, then, since you asked.

In the big compartment go:

• A hard case for my glasses because I don't use them except to drive — and even then I don't have to because I passed my most recent eye test without them

• A couple very small binder clips

• A couple rubber bands

• A couple paper clips

• A couple 3" x 5" cross–ruled yellow cards

• A Tootsie Roll pop (chocolate)

• Two Pilot G-2 07 black fine point gel pens

• A tank wrench (to open the emergency oxygen and nitrous oxide cylinders in case the OR piped gas system fails)

• A rubber tourniquet (in case I have to start an IV in the middle of a case)

• My wallet

• My car key

• My hotel room key

In the little compartment:

• My name tag (Dr. Stirt)

• A yellow cross–ruled 3" x 5" card with the super–secret numerical code that opens the doctor's dining room door (the code is 3-2-5 in case you're hungry and you're in the hood [literally, 'cause that's where the hospital's located, at 29th Street and Nine Mile Road in beautiful Richmond, Virginia]

• A Pilot G-2 07 Black fine point gel pen

I purchased this fanny pack:


It cost $24.95.

Reason I bought a new one is because I accidentally smelled my old one and almost passed out — it reeks.

I guess many happy years absorbing my panic–filled sweat trickling down the small of my back, soaking through my scrubs and into the fanny pack's back panel (the old one was from Patagonia — also red) finally took their toll.


November 4, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Height–Adjustable Padded Swiveling Rolling Chair


So I was paging through the Frontgate catalog earlier today and came across an interesting–looking chair (above).

They call it the "Rolling Garage Seat" but it instantly suggested itself as an excellent computer chair for me.

The thing I liked best was that it has a handy lever to (hydraulically) raise or lower the seat to any height between 16.5" and 21.5".

Looks like the seat swivels as well, beside being ready to roll all over the place on some decent–sized (3") wheels.

So I went to buy the chair but got this message.

OK, no problema — that's why Al Gore invented the internet.

I found the same chair here and here for $139 — $20 less than Frontgate.

Thanks, Al.

But I digress.

I like the red one so that's the one I purchased.

If you work for Rei Kawakubo you'll probably prefer the black iteration below.


Even nicer price: $129.95 here.

November 4, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: FlexiGel Strands


Above, the newest thing in wound healing.

They look like those clear rice noodles you see in Vietnamese soups but they're actually a highly sophisticated mixture of glycerine and hydrogel (a water–based gel) that, when placed into an open wound, swell and change shape to fit the contours of the wound.

In addition they keep the wound moist and trap debris.

They're used for diabetic ulcers, pressure sores, surgical incisions and first– and second–degree burns.

I first heard of them in Ranit Mishori's story in this past Tuesday's Washington Post Health section.

The major advantage of advanced wound care products such as FlexiGel is that they're non–adherent, so that they can be removed and changed without disturbing fragile healing tissues.

Surprisingly, the product is available over–the–counter at "specialty stores," wrote Mishora.

It's made by Smith and Nephew of Largo, Florida, and costs about $95 a box.

Contact the company here to locate a vendor near you.

November 4, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Shower Rod Hook


What with all the excitement here recently about the double shower curtain rod (below)


and some suggested improvements, it would've been easy to overlook this rather simple, kind of dopey–looking but probably quite effective solution (top) to hanging up things like towels, washcloths or clothes you'd like to air–dry in the bathroom.

It's got three hooks, snaps on without tools, and won't rust because it's plastic.

$2.99 here.

November 4, 2005 at 09:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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