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May 3, 2006

'... the delicious and always new pleasure of a useless occupation' — Henri de Régnier


The epigraph above was placed by Maurice Ravel at the head of his 1911 work for piano, "Valses nobles et sentimentales."

Henri de Régnier* was a French poet.

His observation is as good a description as any of the great fun I have here every day creating bookofjoe.

It's delicious, new and absolutely useless.

What could be better?

*If you read French you will find a more thorough treatment of de Régnier along with a detailed bibliography here.

[via Terry Teachout and the Wall Street Journal]

May 3, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Mini-Pen Throwdown: Two pens enter — one pen leaves


Constant readers will know that one of my obsessions is writing implements.

It is imperative that the best possible tool be available at all times.

For out-of-home (and out-of-body) experiences nothing beats the simple, elegant Swiss Army Knife pen accessory (below).


At 2.75" long, it fits into any wallet unobtrusively.

Now comes a new development in the portable writing space with, I must say, a most innovative and potentially useful feature.

From the contender's website:

    Wallet Notes™

    Wallet Notes keeps pen and paper always in your wallet!

    The size of a credit card, its slim cover contains a pad of 15 self-stick notes and a tiny pen with Flexigrip™ "wings" [top] for a stable grip.

    It fits easily in your wallet


    for instant access anywhere and pop-up tabs on the top and sides make it easy to retrieve.

    Set of three.

    3½" x 2¼".

    1 oz.


If there is one weakness possessed by the Swiss Army pen accessory, it is the difficulty with extended use: it's impossible to get a comfortable grip on the narrow cylinder.

The magnificent Flexigrip wings are a huge step forward.

I am tempted to purchase Wallet Notes, then bag the notes and use the pens until they run out of ink, then transfer the Flexigrip wings to a Swiss Army pen (assuming they fit) and from that point on enjoy my writing implement hack.

A set of three Wallet Notes costs $12.85.

The Swiss Army Knife pen accessory is $1.95.

May 3, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Bitter Stickgirl






Happy Valentine's Day


Freaked out


Open message to Stickguy


Forget it


Lonely Christmas

[via stickgal]

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

Instant Wireless Doorbell


No more "I hear you knocking but you can't come in" — now you can hear the doorbell but they still can't come in.

From the website:

    This portable wireless doorbell with 16 lovely chimes or songs lets you know when friends drop by or a family member needs you.

    Waterproof remote mounts easily on a door, an RV, anywhere (no tools needed).

    Portable receiver works up to 262 ft. away from remote and requires three AAA batteries (not included).

    Receiver: 2-1/2"W x 4-1/2"H; Remote: 2-1/2" x 1-1/2"; includes 12V battery.



No, they couldn't round it off to 260 or even 250 feet because that wouldn't be right.

In case you were wondering.


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

BehindTheMedspeak: 'How to avoid repetitive stress injury' — by Taraneh Razavi, Google Staff Doctor


It seems to me that Dr. Razavi is in as good a position as anyone to speak about this subject, what with Google's campus being so all-inclusive that employees literally need never leave since anything they might want to get done can happen right on the premises.

The doctor's essay appeared on Friday, April 21 in the Official Google Blog.

Google was gracious enough to allow it to escape into the great world, generally not the case with the contents of its in-house blog.

Here's the piece.

    Avoiding RSI

    From time to time, a resident physician at Google headquarters weighs in with her thoughts on healthy living. This is not medical advice, and you should check with your own doctor before pursuing any particular course of action.

    There is a Chinese saying that "To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short."

    In other words, how long can you tap on that keyboard or sit in that chair before you hurt yourself?

    We’re not designed to remain sedentary or perform fine motor movements for the long uninterrupted hours that we have to do in so many of our jobs.

    Evidence suggests that prolonged abnormal posture and repetitive movements contribute to neck, limb and back pain.

    These conditions are collectively known as overuse syndromes, or repetitive stress injury (RSI).

    RSI is no small matter.

    It accounts for 34% of all lost-workday injury and illness — and costs almost $20 billion annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    The National Academy of Sciences has concluded that an estimated $50 billion is lost by businesses every year from sick leave, decreased productivity and medical costs linked to repetitive stress disorders.

    The Academy has published two reports since 1998 which directly link repetitive motion to workplace injury.

    The damage sustained from RSI is due to structural changes in the muscle fiber as well as due to decreased blood flow. Nerves can also be involved.

    The immobile tissue and surrounding inflammation compress the nerve which can cause numbness or tingling and eventually weakness if the nerve is damaged severely.

    For those of you who need evidence, see this study on "Overuse Syndrome."

    In it, biopsies taken from hand muscles of injured and normal subjects demonstrated structural damage in the muscle fibers and correlated the damage with the severity of the injury.

    In another study, biopsies were taken from neck muscles: reduced local blood flow was found in the injured areas.

    The greater the pain, the greater the reduction in blood flow.

    Some of the most common RSI injuries are tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

    Work-related carpal tunnel syndrome now accounts for more than 41% of all repetitive motion disorders in the United States, says this study.

    And here's a telling title: "Hard work never hurt anyone: or did it?" -- it's a review of occupational associations with soft tissue musculoskeletal disorders of the neck and upper limb.

    So what should you do?

    The key to treatment is prevention.

    Research shows that injuries decrease and productivity increases when employers encourage stretch breaks and stress the importance of ergonomics.

    See for example this one at Ergonomics Now.

    Here are a few tips:

    • Breaks should be taken every 30-45 minutes for at least 5 minutes. If you need assistance there are free downloadable timers that will help remind you to do so.

    • Stretch your arms, hands, neck, and back during breaks. This yoga site demonstrates some exercises. Other sites are listed below.

    • Maintain posture alignment. Don't slouch on the couch with the laptop.

    • Work stations should be reviewed initially and with each office move. Adjust your chair, monitor, keyboard, mouse, laptop. Alternate keyboards and mice periodically.

    • Shift your gaze from the computer screen to the distance. And don't forget to blink!

    • Limit non-essential computer use. This may be heresy -- but do give the surfing, gaming, emailing, and text messaging a rest.

    • If pain occurs or persists see your doctor, who may recommend a wrist brace, ice packs, anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, cortisone injections, physical therapy and, most importantly, rest to allow healing. Don't procrastinate in addressing your symptoms -- the sooner you tend to them, the better off you are.


If you're unable or unwilling to hop aboard the treadmill office bandwagon, I recommend a ball chair (below)


just like the one I have in my office for times when standing just won't do.


May 3, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

No-Brainer Faucet Grip Covers


They're marketed as being ergonomically designed for those with weak grips but I see a much larger market in the kiddie sector, for wee ones old enough to turn on the water but not yet sure which end is up or which side is left or hot.

Besides which they're fun.


May 3, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

'You bring the person you love inside you' — Carlos Fuentes on loss


Fuentes (above) was interviewed by Deborah Solomon in her "Questions For..." column in this past Sunday's New York Times magazine.

Solomon asked him how he dealt with first the death of his son from hemophilia six years ago at the age of 25 and then that of his daughter Natasha at 29 last summer.

She asked him, "How do you get up in the morning after that kind of loss?

He replied, "You go on. You go on. You bring the person you love inside you. That is how you cope. You make him or her live within you. The whole experience I had with my children is in me. It is nowhere else I can see. I can see a photograph, I can feel sad, I can read a poem, but the experience of having them within myself is what matters."

So highly regarded is Fuentes that I'd be very surprised to learn he's not on the short list every year for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The selectors had better get a move on: he'll be 78 this year.

Solomon's column is one of the three best recurring features in the Times.

May 3, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Drag Strip Alarm Clock



From the website:

    Drag Racing Alarm Clock

    This bodacious Drag Racing Alarm Clock features a drag racing light tree and authentic revving sounds.

    Lights descend tree as alarm counts down to your wake-up time.

    When the lights go red, racing sounds roar down the dragstrip and, most likely, you leap out of bed.

    Want to hear it again?

    Hit the 5-minute snooze and pull the pillow over your head.

    Clock includes an alarm on/off switch, 5-second night light, thermometer and humidity gauge.

    Demo button lets you listen to the motorized mayhem anytime.

    Requires 3 AA batteries (not included).

    9.5"H x 5"W x 5.75"D.


What would really put this puppy over the top is if you wired it to your iPod such that when the alarm went off Jan & Dean burst into their great ode to the funny car, "Drag City."

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

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