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February 3, 2006

Treadmill Dancing: It ain't pretty — but it is what it is

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joeheads will know that I produce bookofjoe from atop my Smooth Fitness Model 5.15 (discontinued recently in favor of the new and improved 5.25) treadmill cranking out the RPMs at a steady 0.7 mph.

I now spend most waking moments and hours atop my moving walkway and I have come to realize several things about what I will call, for want of a better term, the "treadmill lifestyle™."

1) Working and watching TV and listening to superloud music on a nearby boombox is addictive. When I go upstairs to my iMac where I formerly spent most of my waking hours, sit down in my chair and do computer stuff, I feel out of sorts and not at all happy. Mildly restless, in fact, and unwilling to stay there very long before going back downstairs and hopping aboard the clueless train™.

2) When the Stones or Prince really start cranking (I'm talking volume set at Max — 10 on a scale of 10, so loud I can never hear the mailman, the UPS guy or the FedEx guy pounding on my front door about 30 feet away [it's a good thing I live in a Podunk town so they leave everything on my front step without a signature]) — I can't help myself: I start dancing — yes, right on my treadmill!

3) Like I said in the headline above — it ain't pretty but when

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joeTV goes live the camera's gonna be aimed at the treadmill — you'll be wanting to bag the video so as not to get sick should you decide to partake of the great tunes.

4) Walking backwards while slow sites load and all is an excellent way to avoid quadriceps overdominance. I try to spend at least a minute every hour facing the rear. (Your comments at this point, while unnecessary, are funny as heck, I must admit...)

5) Without any question my overall sense of well–being and enthusiasm has reached an all–time high with my adoption of the treadmill lifestyle.

Hey, Oprah's cool but me — I'm backing Jim Levine in 2008.

February 3, 2006 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Hands–Free Stirrer

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One scary–looking kitchen tool.

From the website:

    Hands–free stirrer keeps mixtures moving.

    Like having another pair of hands when making continuous-stir dishes such as risotto or custard.

    Uses the same motor found in power screwdrivers.

    Stirs from the bottom to keep even ultra-thick mixtures moving.

    Adjustable-height stainless steel shaft and special paddles in three sizes to fit pans from 1.5 to 4.5 quarts.

    Spring-loaded arms attach to saucepan rim.

    Steady no-splatter speed.

    Uses four long-lasting alkaline batteries (included).

    Almost 5 hours of continuous stirring (10 hours on intermittent setting).

    Shaft and paddles are dishwasher–safe.

    Folds for storage.

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Reduced (gee — why are we not completely surprised?) from $50 to $19.99 here.

February 3, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Where in the world is bookofjoe's readership?

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Every so often Sitemeter rolls out a new feature in its statistics package.

First came continents, then time zones, then countries where bookofjoe readers are located.

This morning, through the haze and cobwebs of my consciousness, slowly re–emerging from wherever it goes while I'm asleep, I'll be darned if I didn't espy a line that said, "Distance."

Huh.

I clicked on it and it said I had to go my manager page and enter my location to make it operative.

That makes sense; I can do that.

Not.

I was hoping for a city and state thingie but instead got the map pictured up top, with an instruction to click on where I was or enter my latitude and longitude in the boxes provided below the map.

I went to Google and learned that bookofjoe World Headquarters™ in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S.A. is located at 38.0218°N, 78.5321°W.

I entered those coordinates in the boxes.

But up came the bar graph below, showing that the great majority of my readers were about 7,000 miles away.

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That can't be right, I thought: most of my readers at the moment are in the U.S. (below),

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not on the other side of the planet.

And they're primarily in the Eastern time zone (below).

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I looked at the world map and the little yellow circle was somewhere in the Himalayas.

I looked out the window and I did see mountains but they sure didn't look like the Himalayas.

In fact, I could've sworn they were the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Huh.

So I decided to try the other method of providing my location, and clicked on the map where where I estimated my location to be.

The little yellow circle you see on the map up top appeared.

Then the page with the request for my location automatically filled in my latitude and longitude.

Then I clicked on the "Distance" feature again and got the bar graph below.

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That's more like it.

What with my rapidly improving computer skills I'm more and more thinking that my self–declared TechnoDolt™ label is a Bizarro World kind of thing.

February 3, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Secret Bookcase

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No visible hardware, 16" wide and just the thing to keep your eyes–only stuff in.

From the website:

    Hide your music and movies inside this pedestal stand

    Don't clutter shelves with video and CD boxes — keep them out of sight and neatly organized inside this pedestal cabinet.

    With a plant, photo, pottery or sculpture on top, it wil blend into the room like any piece of fine furniture.

    But behind its "secret" door, this stand stores up to 336 CDs, 144 DVDs or 80 VHS tapes!

    At slightly over three feet tall, it won't overpower the room and gives everyone in the family easy access to their favorite movies and music.

    No visible hardware for a clean, streamlined look; the door opens easily without handles.

    Each side has one fixed and four adjustable shelves.

    Made of MDF board with a rich cherry veneer finish.

    16"W x 13.5"D x 38.5"H.

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But wait a minute — if it "gives everyone in the family easy access" then where's the fun of having a secret?

I say tell no one.

I mean, you know you can trust me so if you can stay mum then it's all good.

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$189.

February 3, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Who is Verlyn Klinkenborg and why should we care?

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Besides having a sensational name, he's a member of the New York Times editorial board who occupies arguably the most valuable real world journalistic space on the planet.

Every now and then one of his essays appears in the New York Times — on the editorial page, directly below the editorials, rather than on the op–ed page where such lesser lights as Maureen Dowd, Thomas J. Friedman, William Safire, David Brooks and their ilk do their dog–and–pony shows every week.

So you know there's something special about this guy (above).

One of his very best "Editorial Observer" pieces appeared in last Sunday's paper; it follows.

    'No Messages on This Server,' and Other Lessons of Our Time

    I do not own a BlackBerry or a pager.

    I don't chat or instant-message or text-message.

    My cellphone could connect to the Web if I let it, but I don't.

    I don't gamble on the Internet nor do I game on it (or on any other electronic device).

    And yet I'm starting to twitch.

    I have three everyday telephone numbers, not counting Skype and a calling card, and two fax numbers.

    I have six working e-mail addresses, as well as a few no longer in use.

    A couple of weeks ago I started writing a blog for The Times.

    Part of my job, as a blogger, is to read and approve the publication of readers' comments.

    That is the equivalent of another form of e-mail.

    There are probably half a dozen Really Simple Syndication tools on my computer, and one or another of them is always unfurling the latest ribbon of news in the background.

    It is astonishing how old the morning's headlines seem by evening.

    Back in the dial-up days, computer users made brief forays onto a bulletin board or some outpost of the primitive Internet, all the while clocking connection time in order to keep costs down.

    Going online was like driving a Stanley Steamer — better for scaring horses and wowing the youth than for long-distance hauling.

    There was always a slightly neurotic edge to it.

    You could feel the seconds ticking away while nothing happened.

    But nowadays turning on the computer is synonymous with being online.

    Who turns the computer off?

    It's rarely worth severing that digital link.
    For some of us, the computer has become less and less a place to work and more and more a place to await messages from the ether, like hopeful spiritualists.

    I thought I was a fairly temperate user of computers.

    But in the past year or so I have become addicted to e-mail.

    I confess it.

    You probably know the signs.

    Do you tell your e-mail program to check for messages automatically every two minutes — and then disbelieve it when it comes up empty?

    Have you learned to hesitate before answering a new message so it doesn't look as though you were hunched over the keyboard, waiting?

    Do you secretly think of lunch as a time for your inbox to fill up?

    But the clearest sign of e-mail addiction is simply to ask yourself, what is the longest you've gone without checking your e-mail in the past two months?

    Anything longer than a broken night's sleep is good.

    I blame my e-mail addiction, in part, on the United States Postal Service.

    Seeing the mail lady pull up to our rural mailbox in her red station wagon with the flashing amber light on top is one of the high points of my day, whether there is anything "good" in the mail or not. (The "goodness" of mail is another question entirely.)

    When you think about it, the postal system is a remarkable thing, even in this new universe of instant-delivery systems.

    Its genius is this: The mail comes only once a day.

    All that expectation gathered into a single visit!

    And once-a-day-ness is built right into the system.

    I try to imagine the mail lady bringing every piece of mail to our mailbox as she gets it.

    In fact, that's exactly what she does, because the mail shows up only once a day at the local post office.

    I suppose I could tell my e-mail program to check for mail on a postal schedule — once a day — although minutes are the only intervals the software understands.

    But that would defeat the logic of e-mail, which is meant to arrive seriatim — hence, its addictive punch.

    The principle of snail mail is infrequency; the principle of e-mail is frequency.

    The real question is, what is the frequency for?

    I think of e-mail as a continuing psychology experiment that studies the effect on humans of abrupt, frequently repeated stimuli — often pleasurable, sometimes not, but always with the positive charge that comes from seeing new mail in the inbox.

    So far, the experiment has revealed, in me, the synaptic responses of a squirrel.

    It is a truism of our time that we now have shorter attention spans than ever before.

    I don't think that is true.

    What we have now are electronic media that can pulse at the actual rate of human thought.

    We have the distinct discomfort of seeing our neural pace reflected in the electronic world around us.

    Amid all that is wasteful, distracting, irrelevant and downright evil about e-mail, there is also this.

    We carry dozens of people, sometimes hundreds, around with us in our heads.

    They pass in and out of our thoughts as quickly as thought itself.

    E-mail is a way to gather these people — so many of them scattered across the globe — into the immediacy of our lives in a way that makes even a phone call feel highly formalized.

    It is the nearness of e-mail, the conversations it creates, that is addicting as much as the minute-by-minute stimuli.

    I try to remember that when I am getting twitchy, when I start wondering whether the mail server is down again.

    I tell myself that I'm just listening for a chorus of voices, a chorus of friends.

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If you liked the above then you're in luck: Klinkenborg recently started blogging for the Times.

February 3, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Twisted Tower [de Young Museum] Jewelry Box

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San Francisco's spectacular new de Young Museum (below),

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designed by Herzog & de Meuron, has had a "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"–like effect on designers in many areas.

You will recall how Richard Dreyfuss in the early part of that film became obsessed with building a strangely–shaped clay mound in his home, little knowing that it was a sign from the aliens that they'd be landing in a place that resembled his creation.

Maybe Herzog & de Meuron are aliens, now that I think about it.

Maybe we're all aliens.

I mean, "Stranger in a Strange Land" wasn't just the title of a book, you know....

But I digress.

From artist Miki Szabo comes the Australian lacewood jewelry box pictured at the top of this post, sculpted from a single slab of wood.

It uncoils to reveal seven silk velvet–lined compartments for your treasures.

Better make sure you really, really like someone before you give her this.

The box comes in two sizes: the small is 7" x 4" x 11" tall; the large is 10" x 5" X 16" high.

$1,050 and $1,950, respectively, here.

But perhaps you don't have a computer (I don't know why that amuses me so but it does which is why I keep repeating it): no problema.

Call 415-750-3642 and you can do it the old–fashioned way.

You know how to do things the old–fashioned way, don't you?

You just... ah, never mind.

[via Karen E. Steen and the New York Times "Currents" feature]

February 3, 2006 at 11:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

'Just One Look' — Or why it's over before it even started

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Psychologists at the University Pennsylvania recently reported that people decided whether someone was attractive or not when yearbook photos were flashed on a screen for 0.013 seconds.

Participants claimed they could not see the faces and were just guessing but the results showed they were accurate in their initial assessments compared to what they thought after being given a chance to re–view the pictures at their leisure.

Ingrid Olson, a researcher at Penn's Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and the co–author (with Christy Marshuetz of Yale University) of the paper just published in Emotion, a publication of the American Psychological Association, said, "We're able to judge attractiveness with surprising speed and on the basis of very little information."

No wonder Speed Dating seems prehistoric.

February 3, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Official Linux Red Hat Scarf

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A bookofjoe exclusive.

It's been a big week for Linux and freeware, what with Nicholas Negroponte's decision to bag Windows and use Linux in his revolutionary $100 wireless, self–powered laptop, coming to every country in the world in the not–too–distant future now that Quanta, the world's leading laptop manufacturer, has agreed to Negroponte's terms.

Bill Gates had a hissy fit at Davos, though, especially when Negroponte told insiders that he'd chosen Linux not simply because it was open–source and free but also because it was better.

Ouch.

Bet Ballmer threw a chair or three when he heard that.

Anyhow, in honor of the upcoming global Red Hat internet experience the official scarf (above) has just been released.

From the website:

    Ideal for society meetings and other get-togethers with the ladies!

    Purple nylon scarf features poised red hats abounding throughout.

    21" x 60".

    Hand wash.

$6.99.

February 3, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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