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November 13, 2006

Ben Stein's 21 Iron Laws of Business Travel

Ben Stein needs no introduction.

His laws appeared in yesterday's New York Times Business section, and follow.

    A Maximum Traveler (and His Maxims)

    I am your humble correspondent, and, as such, travel constantly. I am on the road more than I am at home, flying hither and yon to educate and amuse and pay for the vast army of men and women who depend on little me to keep them alive and able to spend time at movies and nail salons and in front of computer games.

    As I travel, I join many similar millions. We talk, exchange stories, make systems and create rules and laws of business travel. Because I have no better friends than you who are reading this, I now share these rules in the hope that you will learn from them and achieve the Zen-like state of acceptance that we maximum travelers achieve.

    Herewith, for your peace of mind and so that you will not be surprised, are the Iron Laws of Business Travel:

    • Look around the boarding area for the person talking the loudest on his cellphone, smelling the most of stale beer. The more obnoxious he or she is, the greater the certainty that he or she will be sitting directly in front of you.

    • The likelihood that your seat will not recline is a direct function of the certainty that the person in front of you will recline as far back as possible.

    • The chance that your plane will leave on time is an inverse function of the importance of reaching your destination on time.

    • The likelihood that your flight will reach its destination on time is a function of how much time you have to catch your connecting flight. That is, the less time you have to catch that connecting flight, the more certain that your plane will be late; the more time you have to catch that flight, the more likely that your plane will be on time.

    • Late arrivals will be compounded by incompetence. If your plane is already late, for example, you can be certain that it (a) will not have a gate when it gets in, (b) will not have a crew to make the jetway meet the plane and (c) will not have a crew that, once it appears, knows how to operate the jetway.

    • The chance that the plane’s galley will run out of any desirable entree just before it’s your turn to make a selection is a direct function of your hunger.

    • The likelihood of not finding a taxi, or of your driver failing to show up, is a function of the probability of measurable precipitation. It is also a function of your proximity to downtown Manhattan. That is, the likelihood of a car appearing when you need it is lowest in New York City, highest in Anchorage.

    • The chance that your driver will know the way to your destination is an inverse function of your fatigue and your need to use the restroom — and of the density of traffic between the airport and the hotel.

    • The chance that your room reservation will be lost is a direct function of your exhaustion and frustration before reaching the hotel. The likelihood of a desk clerk caring much about whether you have a room is an inverse function of the room’s price. That is, the more the room costs, the more contemptuous the service. This is doubled in New York City.

    • The chance that you will get the type of room you reserved is also an inverse function of the room’s cost.

    • The more that you detest tobacco, the less likely that you will have a nonsmoking room.

    • The more urgent your need to use the Internet, the less likely that the connection will work.

    • The probability of your getting a room next to the hotel elevator is directly proportional to how many times you tell the desk clerk that you do not want a room next to the elevator.

    • The earlier your morning meeting, the more likely that an amateur porn movie is being filmed in the next room.

    • The chance of having bedbugs is a direct function of the snootiness of the hotel. The same is true of the likelihood that your bed will not be made properly, with about three inches of bare mattress showing at the bottom of the bed. The chance that housekeeping will be available or willing to fix the problem is zero at any hotel where the room costs over $300 a night.

    • The likelihood that your bank will call to tell you that you are overdrawn is the cubic function of how many miles you are from your bank, and how far your spouse is from the bank.

    • The likelihood of insomnia is a quadratic function of how early you have to wake up in the morning.

    • The likelihood that noisy construction will start before 8 a.m. near your room is perfectly correlated to the sum of the room’s cost, your fatigue level and the hour when your day begins.

    • The likelihood that your teenage child will appreciate your business-travel efforts approaches zero as a limit; it is certain that the appreciation will be zero if you have recently bought that teenager a car.

    • It never gets any better.

    • You just get older.

    Now you know. And now that you do, remember that acceptance is power, peace and serenity. And it is never cool to yell at a flight attendant or a gate agent.




November 13, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Human-Powered Light Bulb


From the website:

    Human-Powered Light: Static Electricity Bulb

    Turns a static charge into light.

    Sure, you‘ve seen static electricity at work: "static cling," bad hair days, a shock from a door knob — but now you can put all of that "body electricity" to good use and light a small neon light bulb.

    Body static electricity can be in excess of 10,000 volts — but amperage is so low, it's harmless!

    Hold on to one of the light bulb wires and walk across your carpet, dragging your feet as you go — this builds up a charge of static electricity that discharges through the light bulb in your hand — you power the bulb!

    Try it in a darkened room to see the full glow.

    You need to generate static electricity (think enough to get a small shock when you touch something metal) — that is how the bulb works.

    If you generate a large enough charge, the bulb glows in free air.

    The winter is usually when your house is closed up and air has less humidity, so that is when the bulb is most effective.

    Electricity has never been more fun!

    Ages 7 and up.


November 13, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How John Bolton can be confirmed — and why it ain't gonna happen


Bolton's become a piñata for the politicians and pundits, who're getting limitless mileage bloviating about whether or not he'll be confirmed by the Senate as U.N. ambassador.

Yo, John, guess what: you could make it happen — but you won't.

Because like all people in a position of power, you're too arrogant to listen to anyone but your own inner voice telling you how right you are and how wrong everyone around you is.

No matter, here is bookofjoe's Easy Guide To Confirmation™.

1) Lose the ridiculous mustache that makes you look like a goofy walrus: when people laugh at you, you're already lost.

2) Get a haircut — pretending you're still in high school, with that reverse mullet flopping down over your forehead, amplifies the silliness of your walrus look.

3) Comb your hair nicely, like a normal old white man in a suit.

4) Lose the wire-rim spectacles and get something that looks nice — and while you're at it, drop the yellow-tinted lenses: they're creepy and make you look suspicious and even more weird.

Do all of the above and you'll be a new person.

The Senate hates the old Bolton: look new, be new, get confirmed.

So easy, so simple that even I could do it.

But that's just the problem: you're not me.

You're much too smart to listen to me.

That's why you're going down.

I tried.

And no, I won't be sending you a bill for this advice.

After all, it's worth precisely what you paid for it.

If there's one thing I do, it's give good value.

November 13, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Helpful Hints from joeeze — How to wrap your package


Presentation is everything.

To that end, one of my up-to-now closely-held secrets, at long last revealed to the great world.

From the website:

    Colorful Tissue Collection

    Years ago I discovered a wrapping secret — colored tissue paper!

    It makes gift boxes festive, gift bags and baskets beautiful.

    Each pack has 24 sheets of 20" x 30" tissue in eight assorted colors.


There's nothing better for making a little thing seem, in the mind of the recipient, really big.

Choose Pastels or Brights (top).


November 13, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hey — I'm on the front page of today's UniqueDaily.com!


You could look it up.

But I know you're much, much too busy to go fooling around there trying to find which box.

So, because I like you — and because you're a joehead, the highest form of life on our blue planet, to my way of thinking — here's a shortcut.

November 13, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Caramel Limited-Edition Tootsie Roll Pops


I just placed my order.

That's one of the few benefits of working here: I get first dibs on everything cool.

Better get yours ASAP 'cause once this goes up they're gonna sell out in a sticky minute.

From the website:

    Caramel Tootsie Roll Pop — Limited-Edition

    Each 1-1/4" sucker is on a 3-1/2" stick.

    Individually wrapped.



21 for $3.95.

Cheap at twice the price.

Note to self: Email Gerry S. instanter before they're all gone — true, they're not pineapple but hey, we do the best we can.


November 13, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

'Sunlight is the best disinfectant' — Louis Brandeis

Though the five words in the headline above are oft-repeated, the actual words written by legendary Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in a December 20, 1913 Harper's Weekly article were, "Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants."

Let's not quibble — his observation proves more powerfully true in the early 21st century than anytime in the past.

Can anyone argue with the ever-growing, immense influence of YouTube and its ilk after last week's elections?

I think not.

Note to those who have flourished at the expense of others as a result of a lack of transparency: you are one video away from exposure.

Fear the clip.


November 13, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Flash Wristband — How to wear your heart, and a whole lot more, on your sleeve


Too cool for school but you can take it along anyway.

No one will know you're carrying.

From the website:

    Wristband Flash Drive

    Durable and stylish, the Imation Flash Wristband is the new way to transfer, share and save digital files.

    A convenient wristband form factor with an integrated 256MB USB flash drive provides users with maximum portability for easy, on-the-go data storage.

    • Locks securely to your wrist, bag or backpack

    • Standardized size designed to fit comfortably

    • Rubberized exterior protects drive from damage

    • No software installation required

    • Requires no external power supply or cables

    • Compatible with Windows® 98/98SE/2000/ME/XP, Mac OS 8.6/9.x and above, Linux® kernel 2.4 and above


Blue or Black.



November 13, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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