« August 9, 2006 | Main | August 11, 2006 »

August 10, 2006

We get email: From Jennifer McKinley, co-owner of Plank — makers of Cor soap


At 1:48:33 (ET) today, precisely 133 minutes ago, while I was out sweating my way through a 30 minute run, in came the following comment.

Not one word has been omitted

    Hi, just had to weigh in.

    I am one of the owners of Plank and we did a TON of research on this before launching Cor.

    Yes there are dangers in ingesting LARGE quantities of silver which can result in argyria as shown by the ladies above [pictured in my post of June 28], but our soap has been FDA-approved and you will see in the insert when you purchase the soap the FDA certificate number.

    The amount of silver in our soap is about the same as is in a plate of mushrooms and the liver can easily excrete any silver which is absorbed into the body via the pores of the skin.

    As far as a topical application, we also had clinical studies done for the FDA lab and the results were completely benign.

    Silver has been used in hospitals and in bandaids and topical creams for treating bacteria for a long time, so our soap is completely safe to use.



Jennifer McKinley (pictured below, standing on her head


alongside co-owner Doreen Hing, the photo having been taken with a telephoto lens during a meeting of Plank's principals [as you read this the picture's being sold for a sum rumored to be in the high six figures to the National Enquirer — but I digress]), this is your moment.

I find your comments spot-on.

In fact, I'll go one step further.

I ordered a sample bar of Cor after my original post so as to see for myself how it worked.

Tell you what: my skin never felt or looked better than while my little bar lasted.

Like buttah.

Hey, don't take my word for it: get your own.

$10 for a sample bar here.

In my capacity (diminished, you say? feh) as grand panjandrum of bookofjoe I hereby declare Plank Cor the official beauty soap of bookofjoe.


That ought to send sales right through the roof.

August 10, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

World Flag Database


Guy King, in response to my request back on 4 August for contenders for "World's Best Flag," submitted the one above.

It's the flag of the International Federation of Vexillological Associations (FIAV — short for Fédération Internationale des Associations Vexillologiques), headquartered in London, England.

It's among myriad flags to be found here.

August 10, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Things I could easily live without: Close-ups of Jessica Simpson's zits


One of the downsides of making MTV your default treadmill office TV channel is that a couple times an hour, a Proactiv® Solution acne system commercial comes on with Jessica Simpson or Kelly Clarkson doing their level best to get you to buy some.

The most compelling — and unappealing — part of the commercials is the giant "Before" picture, with each pimple and blackhead magnified about a thousand times such that the worst ones measure about a quarter-inch across on the screen.

Yuck-o to the max.


I'd turn my head away but I simply can't resist looking.

August 10, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Q. What has three arms, three legs and opens easily to accomodate your needs?


A. Pop-Up Clothes Hanger (above).

That was a no-brainer, huh?


From a catalog and website:

    Three-Arm Tripod Base Easy-Open Clothes Hanger

    In the laundry room.

    At the campsite.

    In the guest room, when friends stay over.

    Three places to use our pop-up clothes hanger.

    It assembles in an instant to provide you with three strong arms, each with ten grooves for easy placement and separation of hangers.

    Perfect for sorting laundry, holding clothes while ironing and hanging delicates to dry.


    Use it for hanging your guests' coats or storing seasonal garments.

    It's like having an extra closet anywhere — at home, at work, at social functions.

    Holds up to 30 items weighing up to a total of 30 pounds.

    Stands on a tripod base that ensures utmost stability.

    Made of zinc-finished iron and ultra-strong molded plastic.

    Stands 54" high and 24" wide in use and folds way down


    for storage.


Consider that previous entries in this space (Episodes 1 and 2 of Instant Closet, on October 1, 2005 and June 11, 2006) required a wall or a door in order to strut their stuff.

This one requires only a floor.

No door required.


August 10, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Vanity Ketchup


Bruce Horovitz, in yesterday's USA Today, wrote about the new wave of personalized food packaging sweeping the industry.

Ketchup, mustard, M&M's, Wheaties, Jones Soda, more and more products are quite willing — for a nice chunk of your change — to put whatever you'd like on your bottles, boxes or food.

Here's the USA Today story.

    In trend toward vanity food, it's getting personal

    The age of the vanity ketchup bottle is upon us. If not all over us.

    Ketchup kingpin H.J. Heinz says it will sell customized messages on Heinz ketchup bottle labels — for up to $6 per bottle.

    Can personalized pickles be far behind? (Heinz is considering it.)

    The giants of the $500 billion packaged food industry are leaping onto one of the hottest trends in the marketing world: mass customization.

    For a premium price, folks already can buy M&Ms etched with their own names. And Wheaties boxes plastered with their own pictures. And Hershey (HSY) bars that beam personalized bar mitzvah kudos. And Jones Soda bottles with their dog's mug on the label.

    New technologies make it affordable to personalize. And in an age when consumers are accustomed to personalizing websites and iPods, why not food?

    "These companies are co-branding their products with the thing that matters most: you," says Tracey Riese, a brand consultant. "They don't give up the brand, but they get their most loyal customers to identify it with themselves."

    Customers prompted Heinz to make the move. "Consumers want products designed for themselves," says Wendy Joyce, senior brand manager. "This gives them a personal connection with the brand."

    Heinz will screen and reject any off-color requests, Joyce says. The customized bottles can be ordered at www.myheinz.com.

    Others in the vanity fray:

    Vanity chocolate • Last year, Master Foods USA, a unit of Mars, began selling customized M&M's with 8-character messages people create on any of 22 colors.

    But they don't come cheap. Minimum orders are four, 8-ounce bags for $45 plus $12.95 shipping. They're especially popular for weddings and bar mitzvahs.

    Within a few years, the division will sell $100 million annually, says Jim Cass, general manager of My M&Ms (mymms.com). Beginning next month, he says, the company will imprint corporate logos.

    Also, Hershey Gifts, a division of Hershey, sells customized, 5-pound chocolate bars for $50.

    Vanity cereal • General Mills has seen double-digit growth this year of its vanity Wheaties boxes, says Greg Zimprich, a spokesman.

    The boxes, which sell for $29.95, can be personalized with photos and words. They're sold (sans cereal) inside acrylic cases.

    For George H.W. Bush's 80th birthday, Barbara Bush got him one with a photo of him skydiving.

    Vanity soft drinks • Many credit Jones Soda with starting the trend in 1998, when it began selling "My Jones" personalized drink bottles.

    Folks submit photos and script for personalized labels. Minimum order: $34.95 for 12 bottles.

    Sales of personalized bottles have grown 40% annually, says Peter van Stolk, CEO of Jones Soda. "People never throw away these bottles," he says. "Our brand becomes a positive framework within the walls of their home."


Because, as KC & The Sunshine Company sang, back in the day, "That's the way I like it."

August 10, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

World's Biggest Ziploc Bag


Who knew?

From the website:

    Ziploc Heavy-Duty Dry Bags

    Keep your gear clean and dry in the field and organized at home with these Ziploc® Heavy-Duty Dry Bags.

    They're available in three sizes to tote everything from small accessories to clothing to tents and sleeping bags - we could keep listing, but we're sure you'll find hundreds of uses on your own.

    The heavy-duty, 4-mil. clear plastic construction resists puncture and gives you quick reference to contents.

    Because the bottoms are pleated, the bags stand up and stay open for convenient access.

    They also have rugged carry handles.


    • Large - 13" x 14-1/8", 2-1/4 gallon (6/order)

    • XL - 24" x 21-3/8", 12 gallon (4/order)

    • 2XL - 24" x 33-5/8", 20 gallon (3/order)


Perfect way to keep cooking stuff separate from clothing and whatnot when I load up my giant duffel bags for my occasional road trips to Richmond to give anesthesia.


August 10, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

FlightStats — 'Transform flight information into travel intelligence'


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), on its website www.faa.gov, has a link to "Airport Status and Delays."

In his August 1 column Joe Sharkey, who writes the weekly "On The Road" feature for the New York Times, noted that he routinely peruses the FAA site to update himself on what's happening in the world of commercial flight.

After years of being urged to explore other sources of airline information and resisting because he feared being drowned by a flood of disorganized, immensely detailed flight data that "can make your head explode," he finally broke down and visited FlightStats and it was as if the scales had fallen from his eyes: suddenly everything was clear.

As Meara McLaughlin, FlightStat's vice-president for development and marketing, said to him on the phone, "You have the ability to raise the veil."

Wrote Sharkey, "Essentially, every airport arrival and departures board is available in real time."


And much more.

Here's his column.

    A Web Site Devoted to Smarter Summer Fliers

    This will come as no surprise to anyone who has been in an airport in the last week, but for those of you who haven’t, here is a news flash:

    Air Travel Is a Mess.

    And I don’t mean merely your typical midsummer air travel mess. I am talking about the “got those stranded in the airport crying by the tote board blues” kind of mess.

    All week, I’ve been hearing from readers about missed connections and delayed flights as airlines are flying into the peak summer travel season with load factors — the percentage of seats filled — approaching 90 percent. With demand up and overall domestic capacity down, there is absolutely no slack in the system.

    “Right this minute, 6 of the 15 largest airports in the U.S. are virtually paralyzed with ground stops or ground-delay programs,” Meara McLaughlin wrote in an e-mail message to me last Thursday night.

    Now, I have spoken with Ms. McLaughlin on several occasions over the last few years, and she is not the excitable sort, so I knew she was right. In fact, Wednesday night, I had routinely perused the “airport status and delays” link at the Federal Aviation Administration’s Web site, www.faa.gov, and noticed that airports in the Northeast were reporting delays of as much as five hours.

    O.K., so we have trouble. Now what are we going to do about it?

    Ms. McLaughlin has one answer. She is the vice president for development and marketing at a Web site called FlightStats.com. For some time, Ms. McLaughlin has urged me to have a close look at FlightStats.com, which I have avoided doing until now, on the admittedly dubious theory that copious amounts of immensely detailed flight data can make your head explode.

    This turns out not to be the case. In recent days, I have spent many hours browsing and fiddling with the FlightStats.com site.


    Trust me, it is the real deal — an agglomeration of real-time information on the status of just about every airline flight in the world (including code shares), as well as conditions, including departure and takeoff times for flights, at more than 900 airports and 420 airlines worldwide.

    You remember that great line in the movie “Dr. Strangelove,” where the war-mongering Gen. Buck Turgidson begs the president not to allow the Soviet ambassador into the war room as nuclear Armageddon looms: “He’ll see everything. He’ll see the Big Board!”

    Well, Flightstats.com lets you see the Big Board. “You have the ability to raise the veil,” Ms. McLaughlin said.

    Essentially, every airport arrival and departures board is available in real time. (There is no fee.). There is also a wealth of historical and predictive data showing, say, what conditions are likely to be at any airport in the next 10 days. There are links that send alerts to travelers three hours before a flight time. Corporate travel managers can use one of the site’s features to monitor, in real time, the air travel status of employees on the road.

    “Right now, we’ve got a network air traffic system that really is struggling,” Ms. McLaughlin said, stressing the value of immediate, reliable information collected in one easy-to-use spot.

    “And when you have an interrupted traveler, it’s not like the airlines have a way to reaccommodate them. Not only are people running into trouble frequently, but the are faced with fewer resolution options,” she said.

    “If you have one airport with severe delays or a ground stop, that’s a problem. With six or eight, you have catastrophic delays. Airlines today can’t quickly rejuggle everybody; travel managers can’t rejuggle, because there is no slack in the system.”

    With 90 percent load factors added to volatile summer weather in a system strained to capacity, information is power, especially if you have no choice but to plunge into the system regularly, as is the case with most regular business travelers.

    By the way, have you heard that as of last Sunday, Los Angeles International Airport shut down one of its four runways for construction, reducing operational capacity by 25 percent at one of the world’s most important airports, with no reduction in flights?

    “Watch LAX,” Ms. McLaughlin warned.

    It isn’t as if the current mess in domestic air travel comes as a surprise. “Starting in May, the media have been, like, ‘Oh, it going to be terrible, just awful this summer,’ ” she said, adding: “That showed a certain degree of prescience. But what do you do about it? Well, when the going gets tough, the tough travel smarter.”

    For next week’s column, let’s hear from you about your own air travel experiences this summer, including horror stories.

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

Mattress Rx — 'Make your old mattress sleep like new'


Just because your old mattress is more like a hammock doesn't mean there's not hope on the horizon.


From the website:

    Matttress Rx

    Lumpy, saggy mattress?

    Don’t waste money buying a new one.

    Mattress Rx fits between your mattress and box springs, then easily inflates to just the right level to immediately eliminate sag and restore its original comfort.

    Fully adjustable — it corrects sag up to 5.5”.

    With correct support, your spine rests in a natural position — you'll experience less tossing and turning!

    Proper support helps eliminate back and neck ache and distributes body weight evenly for a better night’s sleep.

    Simply insert and inflate Mattress Rx with the included hand pump.

    Full/Queen size.


Whether or not your mattress sags, you could have an awful lot of fun with this....


$37.98 (mattress and box spring not included).

August 10, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

« August 9, 2006 | Main | August 11, 2006 »