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April 9, 2006

VocationVacations® — 'Test–drive your dream job'

Vocation_vacations_logo

"Work is what you're doing when you'd rather be doing something else" is the best definition of the word I've ever come across.

Now comes VocationVacations.com which declares, "'Work' can be much, much more than just a four–letter word."

    From the website:

    Let's face it, most of us spend the majority of our waking moments at work — and yet few of us are actually doing work that we're passionate about.

    But who says it has to be that way?

    At VocationVacations we believe "work" can be much, much more than just a four–letter word.

    That's why we've made it our business to offer you the chance to test–drive your dream job — completely risk-free!

    No need to quit your day job.

    No need to tell the boss.

    Just spend a couple days on a VocationVacation, working one–on–one with a VocationVacations Mentor, to see what your dream job is really like.

    You can take a VocationVacation to truly explore a career change, to sample the "road not taken" or to enjoy a fun, unique learning experience!

    Whether your inner voice is telling you to go find your true calling or you're simply curious about a career change, VocationVacations can help.

    Our one–of–a–kind holiday adventures are empowering people everywhere to realize their dreams not only in work, but in life.

    While on your VocationVacations holiday, you'll work alongside an expert mentor who shares your passion and will offer invaluable insights into your dream career.

    You'll also receive two free sessions with a VocationVacations–affiliated Life/Career Coach.

    Imagine how great it would be if every day felt like a Friday.

    We know it's possible.

    So what's stopping you from going for it?

    Whether you're seeking a new career, a unique vacation, the perfect gift for a loved one or simply satisfying a curiosity, VocationVacations offers the experience of a lifetime.

    So go ahead — dream a little and explore which VocationVacations holiday is right for you.

    Test–drive your dream job and fuel your true passion today!

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I think this company has the right idea but they're thinking too small.

"Imagine how great it would be if every day felt like a Friday."

How about Saturday?

Can you do Saturday?

'Cause it seems to me that when I was back in the holding cell — oops, I meant the Ready Room — when I was on the University of Virginia Medical Center Anesthesiology faculty, Fridays weren't all that great.

Especially with my bad attitude, not wanting to do other people's work 'cause I'd finished my own sooner than expected.

Not a team player, was basically the rap on me.

Not your team, that's for sure.

I've decided to offer a bookofjoe VocationVacation.

It'll be a cross between the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

w00t!

April 9, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Motorized Pool Lounger

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It's always nice to know you've got not one but two motors under the hood, just in case.

Belt + suspenders, that's the ticket.

From the website:

    Motorized Pool Lounger

    Don’t Just Float — Drive!

    The Motorized Pool Lounger may be the most advanced pool lounger in the world — and it’s definitely the most fun!

    Two quiet but powerful motors will propel you around your pool in comfort and style, with easy-to-use joysticks that control two independent propellers.

    Why just float when you can drive?

    Features:

    • Built-in cup holder

    • Supports up to 250 pounds!

    • Large, comfortable armrests

    • Sturdy 0.35 mm PVC construction

    • 2 separate motor/propeller subassemblies

    • Independent power and directional control

    • Requires 12 x 1.5 volt D-Cell batteries (not included)

********************

Vrooooom.

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$149.95.

[via Brian Nelson]

April 9, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Brain–dead man performs laser repair while walking backwards on treadmill

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That would be me and my Sony boombox's cranky CD player.

After doing this and that — all manner of stuff, but different than the day before — I decided what the heck, maybe it's a dust mote in the eye of the laser/needle storm, so I puckered up my lips and... whistled.

Fixed.

Alert the media.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

April 9, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Stealth Ceiling Fan Blade Filters

P117043b

No one will know.

They resemble feathers on radar.

From the website:

    Easy–to–use filters fasten out of sight on top of ceiling fan blades to clean and freshen the air.

    Their non–allergenic materials offer double filtration for optimal dust retention.

    Each disposable filter adheres with self–adhesive strip for 8 weeks of continued use.

    10"L x 4"W.

    Unscented.

********************

8 weeks?

Why not 8 months or 8 years?

Because they'll work just as effectively then as on the very first day you stick them up top your fan blades.

A matched set of 2 is $4.49.

April 9, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'Michelangelo of the Motorcycle' — Rafaelle Proctor's Artistic Creations

Get_jjimage

Today's Washington Post Style section story by Neely Tucker explores the world of Rafaelle Proctor (above), the owner–founder of Artistic Creations, a business in Clinton (Southern Maryland) that doesn't advertise — because it doesn't have to.

People see one of Proctor's cycles and holler "Man! Who did the bike?"

The rest follows.

Here's the story.

    Michelangelo of the Motorcycle

    Springtime? Death's-Head! Point Your Ride to Rafaelle's

    The place doesn't advertise.

    You have to know somebody.

    You have to ride.

    Then maybe you end up in Southern Maryland talking to a heavyset brother named Rafaelle, a man like nobody else who makes your motorcycle look like nobody else's.

    Like, a Suzuki Hayabusa (but don't say any more than 'Busa) busts by you on Route 50.

    If you're quick, you catch up on the off-ramp, check out the paint job, holler, "Man! Who did the bike?"

    "Ray. Dude out in Clinton."

    So you wind up here, a garage tucked in across from an auto repair shop and next to a woodworking place at the dead end of an industrial park.

    It's spring now.

    Bike shows are coming up: Myrtle Beach, Miami.

    Rafaelle has a dozen cars and 20 bikes waiting for custom paint jobs, chrome, polish or motor customizing.

    Step in the office, the fluorescent gloom.

    Eyes adjust.

    Man, what a mess.

    Soda machine that's out of most everything, little orange lights blinking.

    Tires.

    Bike helmets.

    Dust.

    Invoices.

    Magazines (Super Streetbike, 2 Wheel Tuner).

    Parts catalogues.

    A painting of a woman on her hands and knees, one hand on top of a skull.

    A closed-circuit TV camera keeps an eye on the parking lot outside.

    Inside the mess is Rafaelle Proctor, owner and proprietor of the garage, which goes by the name of Artistic Creations.

    Short, curly hair and an ever-smiling face.

    He's wearing a blue garage uniform, his name stitched on the breast.

    He's sketching on an artist's pad.

    Daryl Bailey watches.

    "Just gimme, gimme --" He's a delivery driver for the money and a biker for the love and truth of it.

    Lives in Lanham.

    He's making up his mind about colors, wants something new for the summer.

    He bounces up and down on his toes, jiggling the brain for inspiration, peering at Ray's sketch.

    "Hot pink?" Rafaelle smiles.

    "You laugh." Bailey says. "Like a line of pink, a pearl white, a TSI blue -- you know? That's hot. That's hot now."

    He's thinking out loud.

    Then he gets it, gets how the bike will become the apotheosis of Daryl Bailey himself.

    "Orange is me. That's sorta mine."

    He settles on an image of the Grim Reaper, too.

    Rafaelle sketches, turns to pull out another marker, comes back to the pad.

    Desk is so crowded he has to balance the pad on top of the Rolodex.

    Then he spins the page around.

    He hasn't bothered drawing the entire motorcycle, only the skins of the bike -- the plastic shells that form its shape.

    It's in tangerine orange, a pearl white, outlined in blue.

    Bailey smiles. "Do it. Do it. How much?"

    "One grand. That's for you. Anybody asks, it was $1,800."

    Bailey deals out a credit card. Complains a little bit.

    "I was trying to get to you last Friday, man."

    "Shoot. Friday, I had 60 phone calls. 'S why I can't get nothing done."

    "Don't answer the phone. Get you a secretary."

    "She'd have to be big and ugly."

    Bailey laughs: "What, your wife?"

    Ray: "Nah, man. Guys would never leave."

    That is likely true, as guys tend to hang out even when there are no women present at all, save for the pictures of the nearly nude models on the walls.

    A cycle garage is something like what barbershops used to be: Some guys working, some guys jawing, some just sort of there.

    Rafaelle has what so many of them want from life.

    He used to step out of his little ranch-style house off Alex Ferry Road in Clinton 15 years ago -- a house his father had built with his father -- and think about a shop like this.

    His view from the front door, morning, noon and night, was the ugly end of industrial Americana: an air-conditioning warehouse.

    A waste management company.

    Traffic.

    Then Rafaelle would go off to work, wearing the FedEx uniform, hauling packages.

    He wanted more.

    There is a long history of men in this country who did not have complicated dreams or go to fancy schools but who worked through the brute force of American industry to realize things that they had only seen in their mind's eye.

    Creativity is not easily seen in oil pans and exhaust pipes and camshafts.

    But it is there, nonetheless.

    One day, Rafaelle had his pickup painted and lettered.

    The guy showed him how to do it.

    He learned.

    He read magazines about airbrushing.

    He practiced. His early stuff was awful.

    And then he got good.

    He turned himself into an artist, sketching out images freehand on transfer paper taped to the bike, then airbrushing it in.

    He started up a shop in 1999, did it on the side, nights and weekends.

    Opened this place in 2001, thought about quitting his day job.

    "My father asked me, 'Would you do it for free?' And I said yes. That's when I knew I was going to quit FedEx. I love racing, love bikes, love speed. I don't have to do anything I don't want to all day long. I just wake up and do stuff I love."

    The artist's portfolio: helmets painted to look like full-faced Spider-Man, complete with the visor that flips down and completes the face.

    Monsters, gargoyles, things with teeth. Nude women.

    Lots of skulls.

    Tweety Bird.

    Bikes with a leering Freddy Krueger; a Triumph emblazoned with a Union Jack.

    Flames -- flames are big.

    An off-duty cop, standing in the office, flipping through Ray's work, looking for inspiration for his bike: "Tired of looking like everybody else, man, I tell you that."

    Jerome Enoch is in here to get some motor work done, performance tires put on his Suzuki GSX-R 750.

    This is a high-performance Japanese sport bike, something like the Suzuki 'Busa, a top end in the neighborhood of 200 mph.

    You don't accelerate on these things, you detonate.

    Enoch also has two helmets he wants Ray to airbrush: one to be painted as the Reaper.

    The other as Darth Mal, from "Star Wars."

    The man goes for evil.

    Most guys who come out here do.

    Maybe they'll do the bike candy-colored green, but there'll be a skull ghosted on the gas tank.

    Bike art is of the Frank Frazetta school, goth/fantasy/prehistoric women with heaving breasts and loincloths.

    The kind of thing you used to see on the side of vans if you're old enough to remember that kind of thing.

    Another fine day for Rafaelle. Why not?

    Man is 33 years old, his own boss.

    Shop has grown to employ two people full time and two part time.

    Two partners do the motor and chrome work.

    Entrepreneurial spirit.

    Family enterprise.

    His wife, Rochelle, works as an administrator at Washington Hospital Center.

    They've got a baby boy, Malakai.

    Ray is such a damn red-blooded American it makes you want to grab a flag and hit somebody.

    Donny Harley, 41, is sanding down the bright blue skins of another Suzuki, peeling off the paint with a sander.

    The conversation around the shop turns to speed, and Harley tells the story about being a passenger in a car about 2 a.m. on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

    They were doing about 60 mph, he figures, when two bikes flew by, doing, what, 170 or better.

    "ZZZnniiiooowww! They were by us before you even saw them. So loud, it scared the guy driving so bad he goes, 'Hay-ya!' Lets go of the steering wheel, throws his hands up in front of his face."

    Guffaws.

    The afternoon spins out; it's April, warming up, bikes back on the street at last.

    LaRay Proctor comes by, Rafaelle's brother.

    So does Daryl Rice, a man who has put more than $18,000 into a Kawasaki ZX-12.

    His day job is at Metro, a bus mechanic.

    He bought the bike used, had Rafaelle trick it out, and now he can't take it out on the street without guys asking him where he got it done.

    It's that sort of word of mouth that's making this business work.

    "We reference a couple hundred people per year over to Rafaelle," says Bill Gash, general manager of Clinton Cycles, a shop a mile or two away.

    "They're looking for stock stuff to be painted, or their helmets, or a complete custom job. He always does a great job. People know his work."

    Rafaelle perches on a stool at the front of the shop.

    The spring sunlight falls across one shoulder, leaving him half in dark, half in light.

    He's airbrushing a skull with a rose clenched between its teeth on the gas tank of a Honda Shadow.

    The tank will be candy brandywine, which is, it turns out, the hot color this season.

    This is what real-life dreams look like on a Thursday afternoon, and the view from here is pretty damn good.

April 9, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CartDesk Virtual Office

Eeeeyiuygh

From the website:

    Innovative Cart Design!

    Introducing the CartDesk — a truly unique accessory for all travelers!

    The desk cart provides a wonderful experience for travelers needing a portable platform for holding up to 30–pound objects.

    It is just perfect for all laptop computers, projectors and display devices.

    The desk cart is not available from any other manufacturer or distributor!

    The design is covered by Patent #6,543,796 B1 and has a number of patents pending in the U.S. and internationally.

    The CartDesk has a number of special features that make it a great choice for the traveler:

    • Sturdy Construction — holds up to 30 pounds.

    • Supports All Laptops — even 17" laptop models fit within the desktop.

    • Meets Airline Restrictions — the desk cart is small enough to meet all airline carry–on restrictions.

    • Virtual Office — provides an instant office no matter where you travel.

    • Detachable Briefcase — the computer briefcase can be detached from the sturdy frame.

$129 when it goes on sale in July.

You could call the company (214-537-4039) or email them (sales@cartdesk.com): tell them I sent you and maybe they'll sell you one now, ahead of the general release.

2standing1

Can't hurt to try.

April 9, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Episode 2 — Hospital Infections

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I thought we'd solved this problem three weeks ago but I guess there are some outliers who haven't yet twigged.

Ceci Connolly, in a March 29 Washington Post story, pointed out that it's not just the cost in lives that's appalling, it's the price in dollars as well: hospitals lose tons of money because of their seeming inability to get a grip on the problem of their patients becoming infected once they've checked in.

Too many one–way trips, is what it looks like to me.

Here's the eye–opening article (along with my cheap, quick and couldn't–make–things–worse–than–they–already–are solution, offered in last month's post: open the windows).

    Infections Take Heavy Toll on Patients, Profit

    Hospitals Urged to Boost Prevention

    Pennsylvania patients who contracted an infection during a hospital stay in 2004 rang up charges that were seven times higher than patients who did not develop an infection, complications that cost insurers and individuals an extra $614 million, according to a state analysis being released today.

    Patients with hospital-acquired infections spent many more days in the hospital, underwent more extensive procedures and were seven times more likely to die, deaths that many experts say were largely preventable.

    Though the findings were from a single state, industry analysts said the problem of hospital-acquired infections is universal.

    "When people check into the hospital, they hope and expect to leave better off than when they arrive," said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tex.).

    "But some of the millions of Americans who pick up infections each year are lucky to check out, and a few never do."

    Doctors, nurses and patients' relatives have long known the risks of contracting an infection while in a hospital.

    But there has been little quantifiable data available on the cost of those infections, from a financial or a medical perspective.

    The average hospital payment for a Pennsylvania patient who did not have an infection was $8,078, compared with $60,678 for patients who did, according to the report by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.

    Pennsylvania is the first state to require hospital reporting of infections; five other states have similar laws but have not yet collected or published results.

    In a hearing scheduled for today, Barton said he will press for more public accountability.

    "We don't know which hospitals are safe and successful any more than we know how much they charge," he said.

    "Consumers should have the right to find out just how well their hospitals perform."

    In Pennsylvania, for instance, the 180 hospitals that reported infection data billed for an additional $2.3 billion.

    They actually collected $614 million for those cases because most insurance companies have negotiated discounts.

    Hospital representatives, stressing that they are dedicated to reducing medical errors such as preventable infections, said the council's analysis fails to account for the fact that some patients arrive older, sicker or possibly with a preexisting infection.

    The council's report "is not a comparison of like patients," said Paula Bussard, a senior vice president at the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.

    But some physicians said the medical profession for too long has accepted a certain number of infections as inevitable.

    When chief of medicine Richard Shannon discovered that more than half of the patients in Allegheny General Hospital's intensive care unit who developed a bloodstream infection from an intravenous tube died, he said, he set a goal of zero infections.

    By standardizing procedures and investigating every single infection within 24 hours, Allegheny cut the annual number of infections from 49 to three and reduced related deaths from 19 to one.

    Shannon had similar success in slashing infections related to ventilators from 45 to eight.

    "To those that argue that their patients are sicker, I say then all the more reason to perfect your processes, as no critically ill patient gets better with a superimposed hospital-acquired infection," he stated in written testimony prepared for the House hearing.

    "We have enough data to know it's possible to be infection-free even in a challenging environment like an intensive care ward," said Paul O'Neill, the former Treasury secretary who has become a leading proponent of health-care reforms.

    "We shouldn't be accepting this as a necessary phenomenon of getting medical care."

    On the surface, the financial incentives appear skewed toward treating more complex cases, such as those involving an infection, because most insurers pay more for the additional medicines, equipment, specialists and days in the hospital.

    But Shannon found that although the hospital bills more for those cases, its profit falls or vanishes entirely.

    For the 54 cases his staff handled involving an intravenous tube known as a central line, the average payment was $64,894, yet the average costs were $91,733.

    "Not only were we harming patients, but look at what this is doing to the bottom line," he said in an interview.

    He speculated that most hospitals do not realize it is possible to virtually eliminate infections and they "don't understand the economic imperative to do so."

    The federal government has teamed up with 1,300 hospitals nationwide to voluntarily report on the Internet steps they are taking to reduce errors, said Mark B. McClellan, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

    The goal is to let consumers know how often hospitals follow proven techniques, such as giving patients a prophylactic antibiotic within one hour of surgery, he said.

    Nancy Foster, who oversees quality initiatives at the American Hospital Association, said anecdotal reports suggest the voluntary program is "driving down rates of infections."

    But only one hospital in the District -- Georgetown University Hospital -- participates in the effort, and the CMS Web site does not include any information on numbers of infections.

April 9, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Force nothing

Dickinson492006

April 9, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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