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July 11, 2006

BehindTheMedspeak: Can reading in the dark damage your eyes?


Will each of the seven people alive today who grew up without hearing this over and over again please raise their hands?

Thank you.

Anahad O'Connor, in his "Really?" feature in the July 4 New York Times Science section, addressed the headlined question.

Here's what he wrote.

    The Claim: Reading in the Dark Will Damage Your Eyes

    The Facts: Everyone who has ever held a flashlight to a book at night has probably heard the dire warnings about reading in the dark. It will weaken your eyes. It can ruin your vision.

    But according to most ophthalmologists, while reading in the dark might strain your eyes and give you a headache, the notion that it can cause lasting damage is wrong. Most people can expect to experience some decline in their vision as they age, and genetic research shows that it is family history above all else that determines to what extent your vision will weaken.

    But some researchers argue that putting too much strain on your eyes as a child or young adult, like the kind caused by reading in the dark, or simply reading for prolonged periods in general, might contribute to the decline of your eyesight later in life.

    Population studies in the United States and other countries have shown, for example, that the rates and severity of myopia are always greatest among people who attain the highest levels of education, as well as those whose occupations require them to do a great deal of reading, like lawyers, editors and doctors.

    But most of those studies have not taken into account economic factors like limited access to eye doctors.

    One ophthalmologist who has studied the claim, Dr. Robert Cykiert at New York University Medical Center, is adamant that the strain reading puts on your eyes — in poor light or not — is safe. "It may create fatigue," he said, "but it cannot hurt your eyes in any way."

    The Bottom Line: Most experts say reading in the dark is safe, despite circumstantial evidence that constantly straining your eyes can weaken your vision.


I think it's equally likely that constantly straining your eyes and all their intrinsic structures will strengthen your vision.

Parents, you might want to forbid your children from reading this post — whether in broad daylight or other, less luminous circumstances — since not doing so will definitely undermine your arguments.

FunFact: The retina of a 60-year-old receives 25% of the light absorbed by a 10-year-old child in the same environment, a result of gradually increasing opacification of the eye's lens with aging.

Much of the disagreement and push-pull about reading in dim light may be explained by that simple fact.

The way a kid looks at things, there's much more light than the parent sees.

The parent says it's too dark and the child replies, "It's so bright I gotta wear shades."

More here.

July 11, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Paper Grocery Bags


An important part of the bookofjoe ecosystem for the following reasons:

1) They serve as the disposable part of my patented bookofjoe TRS™.

That stands for Trash Removal System and no — you won't find it here.

Gimme a break.

2) I put out three or four bags, open and on their sides, when I'm done unpacking the groceries — my two cats find it endlessly amusing to "hide" in them, sprinting between them like soldiers advancing on a battlefield.


When one cat is inside the other finds it enormous fun to leap atop the cat-filled bag, pawing at exploring limbs emerging to test the water, as it were.

But I digress.

I put a paper grocery bag inside an under-counter kitchen cabinet door festooned with my patented bookofjoe GBS™ (Garbage Bag Shelf — made from a piece of discarded wood long ago when I moved into my house) and have elegantly easy manual disposal at all subsequent times.

Except for when I run out of paper garbage bags, which just happened — for the very last time.

This disparity between supply and demand occurs on average once a month primarily because I generate far more garbage-filled garbage bags than enter the house as a result of my bi-weekly (bi- means every two, semi- means every half — the two are often confused) grocery shopping trips.

This cannot — and will not — stand.

To that end I have just taken extreme measures.

You will recall Hippocrates' dictum: "For extreme illnesses, extreme measures."

But I digress yet again.

I have sourced brown kraft paper grocery bags online and as I type these words they are speeding to me from wherever they're being shipped: don't know and don't care.

That's the great thing — or one of the great things — about the internet: location doesn't matter.

Just like time — because the internet is always open.

But I digress once again — hey, joe, isn't there a "three strikes" rule for digressions?

My default grocery bag, obtained at Kroger, Giant or Harris Teeter, is 17" high x 11.5" wide by 7" long.

N.B.: In the bag business the length dimension is referred to as the "gusset."

I just purchased 500 "Carry Market" bags measuring 17" high x 12" x 7" gusset.

Fair warning.

Sold, for $49.67 (scroll down to item #11766).

10¢ a bag.

Let's do the numbers.

I go through about three grocery bags a week.

That's 150 a year or so.

So I'm set until late 2009.

Sounds good to me.


I'll be here — will you?

July 11, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Riya.com — 'We use face recognition... to look inside the photograph so you can find the photo you want'


Say what?

Tell us more.

The site launched this past March as a Web photo storage system but founder Munjal Shah soon realized people were spending more time searching for the photos of other users than their own.

According to Leslie Walker, writing in the July 6 Washington Post, "He's revamping Riya to be a visual search engine for the entire Web."

Tell you what: there's a whole lot going on within Riya,


most of it way beyond my technical capabilities — but not yours.

July 11, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fuel Cell Flashlight — ' Better than batteries'


Is it happening?

First cellphones, now flashlights?

"Unlike traditional battery-powered flashlights, where brightness degrades with successive use, the [fuel cell flashlight] retains constant light output for virtually its entire charge."

Is it time to be green?

[via Stephen Bové]

July 11, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Videogame Gym Workouts


Coming soon to your home.

Mike Musgrove wrote in the July 6 Washington Post about the inexorable advance of interactive workouts.

Here's the piece.

    A Real-Life Workout

    Video games are starting to hit the gym.

    A Laurel-based company, Powergrid Fitness, announced this week that it has reached a deal with Gold's Gym in which some gyms in the chain will start carrying Powergrid's flagship Kilowatt device, which is both game controller and exercise machine.

    With the Kilowatt controller, players (or exercise buffs) push, pull and lean on the machine -- a small platform with a game controller rigged to the top of movable post -- to move their on-screen characters. Instead of using just their thumbs to play a game, the idea goes, users move their whole bodies. The resulting workout, the company says, can burn about 350 calories an hour.

    Powergrid's vice president of marketing, Jason Grimm, said racing games tend to be the most popular titles used with the device, such as Electronic Arts' best-selling Need for Speed Underground and a new motorcycle game called Moto GP. The first local Gold's Gym location to install the device will be in Glen Burnie, he said.

    The company also sells the $500 product at its Web site, www.powergridfitness.com. A $200 version of the device aimed more at consumer use is in the works and is scheduled to hit retail stores later this year.


Yo, Jason — put me on the pre-order list.

In the meantime the Kilowatt Sport (above and below)


is $499.95.

July 11, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Timer-on-a-Rope — Now in fashionable black-and-white


Got five minutes?

But I digress.

When I first espied this useful device last year in eye-popping yellow


I knew it was only a matter of time until the Issey Miyake set demanded a black-and-white iteration.

It's here.

From the website:


    Timer on a rope is a big help in and out of the kitchen.

    Never again will a roast be overdone, a cake ruined or the vegetables scorched.

    Plus, there'll be no more burnt pots and pans to scrub with this handy helper keeping an eye on the time for you wherever you are.

    Take it with you into the garden or out to the garage — it easily tucks into a pocket or hangs around your neck on the attached 30"-long cord.



Now I suppose I'll be hearing from the Corvette Owners Association about how come there's not one in candy apple red — hey, girls and guys: I don't make them nor do I sell them, I'm just the blogger.

Go beat on somebody else.

Price break: the original yellow model costs $9.99 but this more stylish version comes in at a sweet $7.98.

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

angieslist — 425,000 homeowners in 53 cities rate repairmen and contractors


As Lenin remarked, admittedly in quite another context, "Quantity has its own quality."

"Home service contractors reviewed and rated by real homeowners like you."

This website might save you a whole lot of grief and money.

July 11, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Morphing Magnifying Makeup Mirror


Say what?

From the website:

    Lighted Compact Mirror Mate™

    The perfect mirror for home and travel.

    This powerful mirror with 10X magnification is ideal for all your beauty needs.

    Open the top and use as a compact or raise the adjustable arm to use as a tabletop vanity.

    Lights up with two super-bright bulbs.

    Made of distortion-free glass.

    4 AAA batteries included.

    3-3/4" diameter.


But wait — there's more!



July 11, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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