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January 2, 2006

Announcing the first annual (that's optimistic!) bookofjoe reader submission contest


The penny dropped on Tuesday of last week while I was creating the post about the Ithaca College Cellphone Award.

Maybe it was also in part the result of reading Maureen Dowd's column in the December 24 New York Times: she had her brother — a conservative Republican salesman/father of three — write it, continuing a holiday tradition she started last year.

Here's how I plan to create cash flow with — monetize, is the term the venture capitalists use, I guess — bookofjoe.

Note that this is what I think I am going to do (of course, this plan may change or disappear completely before I reach the end of this post — though if that's the case, you'd hardly be reading this now, would you?).

But I digress.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah — bucks for quack(s).

I am going to accept entries for a bookofjoe post to be created in its entirety by someone other than me.

I was gonna say "a reader" but then I realized you don't have to be a joehead to enter my contest and win el Gordo.

I'm going to charge an entry fee to cover the tremendous expenses I expect to incur in in the course of reading and judging the flood of entries I will undoubtedly receive.

Then I'm going to use some of the proceeds for the winner's prize, a cash award to accompany publication.

The rest of the money goes to moi.

I figure if I charge $1 to enter and get 100,000 entries, then take, say, $25,000 out to give the winner, hey, I'll be able to do this for a living.

What — you're saying I'll be lucky to get 10 entries?


So anyhow, that's the first cut of my idea.

I'd been considering simply having a drawing and charging a buck a ticket but then I realized that's probably illegal, with it being gambling and all.

My way seems copacetic, doesn't it?

The thing I'm not sure about is how to receive your hard-earned money.

I could have you mail in a buck; I could set up a PayPal account to receive payment; I could gear up to accept credit cards online.

All that sounds way too cumbersome to me.

Maybe GoogleMicroPay will finally get outa delta and into beta and let me light this firecracker, what?

January 2, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Touch Control Lamp Switch and Dimmer


Very nicely done.

From the website:

    Touch Dimmer with Light

    No more fumbling for the light switch or pull-chain!

    Magic Tap™ converts any lamp to on/off touch control!

    Its three-way capability lets you vary the lighting intensity from dim to bright just by tapping.

    Saves electricity, prolongs bulb life — and it has an adjustable night light, too.

    Includes 6-ft. power cord.

    3.5" diam.


$19.99 here.

What the website doesn't mention is what I see as the most powerful application of this device, namely its potential for use as a foot switch.

Just tap it to turn a lamp on or off.

Superb for out–of–the–way or difficult–to–operate switches.

January 2, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Can you learn to control your own pain?


Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine's Department of Anesthesia Pain Management Center performed a complex, potentially far-reaching study of how ordinary people might learn to take consciously take control of the brain's pain centers to decrease their perceived perception of pain.

The interdisciplinary team of investigators have backgrounds in electrical engineering, psychology, radiology, anesthesiology and pain management,

Long story short: Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to observe brain activity in real time, the scientists trained a group of healthy research subjects experiencing mild, experimentally–induced pain to alter their brain activity while they watched a visual representation of their fMRI output.

The results of Part 1 of the study thus showed the scientists that "subjects could learn to voluntarily control brain activity in a specific brain region."

In Part 2, 8 patients with chronic intractable pain received the same training and real–time fMRI feedback: they noted significant decreases in perceived pain.

The investigators concluded that "people can learn to strengthen the function of a specific region of the brain and, through that change, the regions associated with the perception of pain. Is is similar to exercising muscles, but, in this case, the 'muscle' is an area in the brain."

Ever so gradually, functions once considered autonomic and not subject to voluntary control are losing their "walled-off" status.

I predict that most — if not all — physiological functions will ultimately become subject to our conscious manipulation.

Here is a link to the research group's findings as reported on its own website.

Here is a link to the paper reporting their results; it was just published in the December issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

[via AW]

January 2, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

bookofjoe invention exclusive: A fresh look at the kicking tee


Watching the slew of football games on TV this past week, I happened to look closely at a kickoff in a recent game.

The kicking tee went flying into the air on contact.

I then watched a few more kickoffs, paying close attention to the kicking tee, and saw that it was a round orange thing unlike the kicking tees of my youth, with their upright raised prongs supporting the ball.

I had the crack research team investigate further and they informed me that this round orange tee (above and below) is called the Kicking Kaddy.

It's supposedly superior to the old–school version.

As I recall, the kicking tee always went flying on contact back in the day as well.

But both the Kicking Kaddy and the old–fashioned version are failures from the get–go.



Because if the kicking tee moves at all when the ball is kicked, energy has been lost that should have gone into the ball and kick.

Even if one yard is lost from the unwanted friction, that's a yard that can make a difference over time, perhaps even decide the outcome of a tight game.

It's time for someone to take a fresh look at the kicking tee.

You could do worse than study the revolutionary epoch-3™ golf tee, a whole new approach to minimizing the effect of the tee on the subsequent shot.

Evolve Golf, creator the epoch-3 tee, claims that it reduces surface contact with the ball by 93% versus traditional wooden tees, increasing ball–launch speed and distance.


If you'd like to study the incumbent/Kicking Kaddy up close and personal you can get one for $19.95 here.

January 2, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

City of Legends — World's most exclusive retirement community


Doesn't matter how rich you are because money has nothing to do with getting in: the only people eligible to live in the exclusive development are former professional athletes.

Former major league strikeout king "Sudden" Sam McDowell (above) is Chairman and CEO; he was the driving force behind the creation of the place, located near a golf course in Orlando, Florida.

Bet sitting around the clubhouse there is great fun — the locker room that never ends.

Here's a link to an interview with McDowell, now 60, who himself hit rock-bottom after his career before putting the pieces back together.

January 2, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pocket Chainsaw — 'World's fastest cutting pocket saw'


From the website:

    Pocket Chainsaw® — Military–Survival Compact Saw

    World's fastest cutting pocket saw

    This portable tool used by the military comes in its own 3" carrying tin and is a must-have for any backpacker or outdoor adventurer.

    Whether you need wood for a fire or to clear away heavy brush or a trail, this survival cutting saw does the trick.

    Wrap the saw's 124 bi-directional teeth around the object you need to cut down — the teeth work on both the downstroke and upstroke, which means you can drop a 3" tree in 10 seconds.

    Ideal for survival, hunting, camping, and hiking — don’t think of going on your next trip without it.

    Many uses: Trim branches, brush, roots, cut firewood, lumber or clear trails and more.

    This portable hand chain saw wraps around wood to cut on three sides simultaneously.

    Perfect for survival safety.

    Keep one in the auto.


• 28" long

• Coated for corrosion resistance

• High strength heat-treated steel

• 124 bi-directional sharpened teeth

• Can be used by one or two persons

• Packed in compact carry-tin — 3" x 7/8"

• Military-Survival Model has ring handle-brackets for cut-your-own wood handles


$19.99 here.

January 2, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

'Completely stupid, useless and dangerous' — From the first finalist for this year's Best Comment of the Year Award


That would be Wolfie, who just hours ago contributed a screed (in the comments section) about yesterday's Neo–Nordic Skateboard Chair post.

Among other things, Wolfie wrote:

    Get your head out of the sand.

    According to your bio, you are in the medical field.

    We are shocked and appalled at your total lack of concern for any safety aspect in this dangerously designed piece of equipment.

    ...The mindless gravity of your [that would be moi] comment.

    Grab a brain, Joe, or better yet, look into buying one online, it's obvious you weren't thinking regarding this item, in any way, shape or form.



Contrary to Wolfie and his posse (I say "and his posse" because of Wolfie's choice of the pronoun "we"), I thought very deeply about the Neo–Nordic Skateboard Chair.

Now, there are those who say that my motto ought to be that of Surface magazine, i.e., "A mile wide and an inch deep," but hey, that's what I'm working with.

The great American philosopher Josiah Royce wrote, "Education is learning to use the tools which the race has found indispensable," and I have to think that if he were alive today he would most likely share Wolfie et al's sentiments.

But guess what?

I'm quick and Royce is dead.

And if he returns, then hey — let him start his own blog.

But I digress.

Without further ado, then, here is the superb comment in its entirety.

Not one word has been omitted.

    Wrote Wolfie:

    This is an emergency room tragedy waiting to happen. A chair with skateboard wheels on it? What fool decided this was going to be a functional piece of furniture? Completely stupid, useless and dangerous... And you are glorifying and advertising it like it's some cool new trendy piece of functional furniture? Get your head out of the sand and do some research into the injury rate of similarly designed items before you decide they're 'ideal'. According to your bio, you are in the medical field. We are shocked and appalled at your total lack of concern for any safety aspect in this dangerously designed piece of garbage. Not one of the adults or young people we showed this to could believe the mindless gravity of your comment, 'If I were the X–Games I'd name this the official chair and hope they'd send one.' This chair will most likely be responsible for a great many injuries, possibly worse. It's about the most dangerous item we've yet to encounter in ions. Grab a brain Joe, or better yet, look into buying one online, it's obvious you weren't thinking regarding this item, in any way shape or form.


"It's about the most dangerous item we've yet to encounter in ions."

I could not have said it better.

January 2, 2006 at 10:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Tilt! — Self-Leveling Furniture Glides


Something seemingly simple — the little doohickies you put on the bottom of table and chair legs — gets an upgrade.

Very clever: the inventor created a two—component furniture slider (above) that lets each leg independently find its level position on any type of indoor or outdoor surface.

From the website:


    Spare your hardwood floors — and yourself! — with ForeverGlides furniture sliders!

    Designed for indoor and outdoor furniture, these high-grade, space-age "feet" are actually resilient cushions that adjust their gliding surfaces to match floor and patio irregularities.

    Safe for hardwood floors, wood deck, brick, concrete, linoleum, parquet, and tile.

    Installs easily.

From $19.99–$24.99 (depending on size) for 20 in Dark Oak or Natural (for wood furniture); $24.99–$29.99 for 20 in Pewter or White (for iron furniture) here.

January 2, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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