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August 16, 2007

'What is edamame?'* File under 'Things that make me go 'Huh?'


Tara Parker-Pope is the Health Journal columnist at the Wall Street Journal and she's excellent at what she does.

Memo to Rupert Murdoch: Double her salary yesterday or prepare to see her fly the coop to somewhere she'll be paid what she's worth — which is at least twice what she's getting now.

But I digress.

She also has a Health Mailbox feature which appears weekly and takes a reader question, then answers it.

But here's the deal: At the bottom of the column it says, "Email questions to Tara Parker-Pope at healthjournal@wsj.com."

My question, which I'm not emailing to Ms. Parker-Pope but instead stating here is, "Why would anyone in their right mind bother emailing a question to her when you can put the very same question into the Google search box and get an answer in less than a second — guaranteed — as opposed to a 1 in who knows how many questions a week she receives chance of being answered in her Health Mailbox?"

Now, it may well be that she also replies to all the ones that don't get published but I find it very hard to believe she's got enough time to research and write her own featured Health Journal column along with keeping up with Health Mailbox and give nonpublished questions the same kind of thoughtful, documented answers that appear in print.

Work with me on this and help me understand why you'd email her or anyone, for that matter (except me, of course... — joke), as opposed to going to Google and getting the answer for yourself.

Makes no sense to me and I have very little time for things that seem senseless or — even worse — boring.

*"What is edamame?" was the question that appeared in yesterday's Health Mailbox.

Here's Ms. Parker-Pope's answer.

    What is edamame?

    Edamame are basically boiled green soy beans, picked while they are still immature and eaten directly from the pod. I know that doesn't sound all that appetizing but they are surprisingly tasty. They are often served in Japanese restaurants and Sushi bars as an appetizer. Kids, including my 8-year-old daughter, actually love the slightly crunchy texture of edamame beans. (Although it may be tough to get some kids to try it at first.)

    Edamame dishes are often served hot, steamy and dusted with salt. Squeeze the beans out of the pods and pop them into your mouth, discarding the skins.

    Unlike most green vegetables, edamame are high in healthful fats. They have about 36% fat, 33% carbs and 31% protein. A serving has about eight grams of fat, including seven grams of healthy unsaturated fats. They have no cholesterol or sodium (although sodium goes up if you serve them with salt) and eight grams of fiber. They are also a source of iron, vitamin C and calcium.

    You can usually find frozen edamame at the grocery store or fresh varieties at Asian markets.


Here is a link to the Google search results for "What is edamame?"

For reference, the answer came back in 0.22 seconds.

Pictured up top are edamame in the pod; below,



August 16, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Jimmy Stewart Stamp Out Tomorrow


Aw, shucks, I know he was modest and all but isn't it past time already?

I mean, he died ten years ago.

41¢ at post offices everywhere.

Peter Ediden touched on the release in the following three-sentence-long item which appeared in yesterday's New York Times "Arts, Briefly" column.

    James Stewart, Immortalized

    James Stewart will be honored by a stamp bearing his image, The Associated Press reported. It will be released Friday by the United States Postal Service at ceremonies in at the Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, Pa., the actor’s hometown, and at Universal Studios in Hollywood. The photograph on the stamp is based on a portrait of Stewart, who died in 1997, as he appeared in a publicity photo for the 1949 movie “The Stratton Story.”


Here's the U.S. Postal Service press release.

    James Stewart

    With this 13th stamp in the "Legends of Hollywood" series, the U.S. Postal Service honors James Stewart, a quintessential American film hero whose lanky physique, drawling speech and naturalistic acting style made the characters he played seem "real." Art director Phil Jordan designed the stamp using a portrait of Stewart by Drew Struzan, who based his work on a photograph taken during the taping of "The Stratton Story." The painting on the selvage, also by Struzan, shows Stewart in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," the 1939 film for which he received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

    Stewart starred in more than 80 movies, giving effortless performances and often surprising colleagues by producing the same spontaneous looking reactions in repeated takes.

    He was born May 20, 1908, in Indiana, PA, where he starred in amateur theatrical productions as a child. He continued to act while he was a student at Princeton University, where he earned a degree in architecture in 1932. However, the allure of acting proved too great, and Stewart joined the University Players, a summer stock group headquartered in Massachusetts.

    Stewart's talent landed him auditions and screen tests with various movie studios. Soon after, he signed a contract with MGM and made his film debut in 1934. He quickly became a star. In 1939, he received his first Oscar nomination for his performance in the classic film, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

    Stewart often acted alongside many of the great leading ladies of the era such as Carole Lombard in "Made for Each Other" (1939), Marlene Dietrich in "Destry Rides Again" (1939) and Katharine Hepburn in "The Philadelphia Story" (1940).

    During World War II, Stewart served in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was a decorated B-24 squadron commander who flew 20 missions over Germany, including one over Berlin. His first movie after the war was "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946), a sentimental holiday favorite in which he portrayed George Bailey, a man who learns the importance of family and friends with the help of a guardian angel named Clarence.

    In "Harvey" (1950), Stewart played another signature role as Elwood P. Dowd, a martini-drinking "philosophizer" who believes he is always accompanied by a giant white rabbit. He went on to star in other famous films such as "The Glenn Miller Story" (1954) and "Rear Window" (1954). Stewart played a shrewd country lawyer in "Anatomy of a Murder" (1959), and also played a lawyer in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," a Western released in 1962. In Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope," "Rear Window," "Vertigo," and "The Man Who Knew Too Much," Stewart showed less familiar sides of his personality.

    In the early 1970s, Stewart made the move to the small screen with his first television situation comedy, "The Jimmy Stewart Show."

    Stewart's work was found in a wide range of film genres including thrillers, mysteries and screwball comedies. He was awarded many of the industry's highest honors and life-time achievement awards from every major film organization. By all accounts, he is considered one of the greatest actors of the "golden age of Hollywood."

    Stewart and his wife, Gloria, were strong supporters of numerous charitable causes and wildlife conservation. James Stewart died July 2, 1997.


Stewart was 41 when the photo on the stamp was taken.

August 16, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New bookofjoe interactive feature about to go live


You read it here first.

But then, where else would you read it first?


What do I take you for, anyway?

Never mind.

You may recall that from time to time I lament how much I hate running these days, my regular 38 minutes every 24 hours.

It's just so darned boring compared to everything else I do, such as creating bookofjoe and reading and watching NFL football.

Besides which, it hurts and makes me tired while I'm doing it, though I always feel no worse and most of the time much better about everything once I'm done.

The trouble is I've now relegated my run to the early evening portion of my program, around 7 or 8 p.m., so I have to think about it and how much I don't want to go all day long, besides which I can't eat anything for three hours or more before I finally mobilize my lazy butt.


Today I finally figured out a way to make my run interactive — with you.

Yes, you — I'm talking to you.

Who else would I be talking to?

You're the only one here.


I stopped by Seven-11 and bought a Virgin Mobile prepaid cell phone for $29.99.

That's not a misprint: For $29.99 you get the phone, a battery, a charger, an instant phone number and some talk time.

The one I got is pictured up top.

The guy who sold it to me said feedback was good on it (meaning people who bought it said good things about it, not the sound of fuzz and Jimi Hendrix-type effects and oh, never mind...) and that I should immediately plug it in for 16-20 hours to charge it up.


As soon as the phone's powered up and I figure out how to get it activated — it can't be that hard, can it, if Seven-11 and Richard Branson are behind it? — I'm gonna post its number here along with a day/date/time window when I'm gonna take your call(s — assuming, of course, that anyone decides to drop a proverbial dime on me) during which time I will be out for my run.

How's that for turning lemons into lemon soufflé?


August 16, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

FreshJarLids — 'Turn any glass jar into a vacuum-sealed container'


Mos def not TechnoDolt™-approved: if I tried to use these I'd be picking glass shards out of my face for a week.

Everyone else, be my guest.

From the website:

    FreshJarLids™ Kit

    Turn any glass jar into a vacuum-sealed container to preserve food's freshness, flavor, color and nutrients.

    Use the FreshJarLids™ Kit for longer-term storage of veggies, fruit, fish, pasta, cereal, dried fruits, nuts and more.

    Just place the lid on the jar, pump out the air, and remove the pump.

    Kit includes one pump with five 3-3/8"-dia. FreshJarlids.


August 16, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

bookofjoe Nokia Battery Recall Helper


I didn't know what else to call this post so I decided to simply say what it is.

Unless you've been aboard the space shuttle these past few days you've probably heard about the massive recall of Nokia cellphone batteries just announced.

Long story short: 46 million of the 300 million Nokia model BL-5C batteries made to date may have a defect that causes them to burst into flames while recharging: so far it's happened about 100 times.

Okay, joe, that's all well and good, but where's the help?


Is it out back with Walter Mondale's beef?

But I digress.

To find out if you have an affected battery, do the following:

1) Remove the battery compartment cover and look at the model number of the battery (top): if it's not a BL-5C, you're done — close it up and get back to work, already

2) If it is a BL-5C, remove it and turn it over and look at the tiny battery identification number as demonstrated below


3) Count to see how many characters there are: if there aren't exactly 26, you're not affected — put the battery back and get back to work, already

4) If there are 26 characters, go here, and type the 26 characters into the box at the bottom of the page, then click "Submit"


5) The next screen will either look like this:


or it will tell you that you do indeed have one of the affected batteries, with instructions on what to do to get a free replacement

There — wasn't that cool?

Now get back to work, already.


Full disclosure: Nokia has created a product recall website even a TechnoDolt™ can use: turns out I have not one but two (2!) BL-5C batteries for my trusty Nokia 6230 candy bar phone, purchased many years ago and somehow, after innumerable drops onto concrete and its ilk, still ticking.

August 16, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

yöghund — 'Bark if you like frozen yogurt'


The Fido Power™ movement is growing by leaps and barks.

Now comes yöghund (don't you just love the ¨?) Frozen Yogurt — "yoghurt voor hunds."

Get down wit it.

Available at independent pet stores in 23 states as well as supermarkets in the Northeast — wherever fine dog treats are sold.

August 16, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: 'The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow Into Depressive Disorder'


Shankar Vedantam's April 3, 2007 Washington Post story focused on an increasingly prevalent problem: differentiating normal sadness from pathological depression.

Here's his article.

    Criteria for Depression Are Too Broad, Researchers Say

    Guidelines May Encompass Many Who Are Just Sad

    Up to 25 percent of people in whom psychiatrists would currently diagnose depression may only be reacting normally to stressful events such as a divorce or losing a job, according to a new analysis that reexamined how the standard diagnostic criteria are used.

    The finding could have far-reaching consequences for the diagnosis of depression, the growing use of symptom checklists to identify those who may be depressed, and the $12 billion-a-year U.S. market for antidepressant drugs.

    Diagnoses are currently made on the basis of a constellation of symptoms that include sadness, fatigue, insomnia and suicidal thoughts. The diagnostic manual used by doctors says that anyone who has at least five such symptoms for as little as two weeks may be clinically depressed. Only in the case of someone grieving over the death of a loved one is it normal for symptoms to last as long as two months, the manual says.

    The new study, however, found that extended periods of depression-like symptoms are common in people who have been through other life stresses such as a divorce or a natural disaster and that they do not necessarily constitute illness.

    The study also suggested that drug treatment may often be inappropriate for people who are experiencing painful — but normal — responses to life's stresses. Supportive therapy, on the other hand, may be useful — and may keep someone who has been through a divorce or has lost a job from going on to develop full-blown depression.

    The researchers — including Michael B. First of Columbia University, the editor of the authoritative diagnostic manual — based their findings on a national survey of 8,098 people. They found that those who had experienced a variety of stressful events frequently had prolonged periods in which they reported many symptoms of depression. Only a fraction, however, had severe symptoms that could be classified as clinical depression, the researchers said.

    An estimated one in six Americans suffer depression at some point in their lives. Under the more limited criteria the researchers urged, that number would be 25 percent lower.

    "The cost of not looking at context is you think anyone who comes under this diagnosis has a biological disorder, so should more or less automatically get antidepressant medication, and everything else is superfluous," said lead author Jerome Wakefield, a New York University researcher who studies the conceptual foundations of psychiatry. "There is a trend to treat people in this somewhat mechanized way."

    Said First: "One issue this would play out at is at the level of medication. If someone has a normal grief reaction, you wouldn't give that person an antidepressant, you would favor counseling. If someone has major depression you would be more likely to medicate. So this could influence how clinicians think about medications or psychotherapy."

    Drawing the line between normal and abnormal suffering has long been controversial in psychiatry, because people who have no disorders often experience the same symptoms as those who do, but their reactions typically are less prolonged and intense. Where to draw the line involves a degree of subjective judgment: If the criteria are too strict, some people who are depressed may not receive help.

    After First oversaw the writing of the current edition of the manual, for example, a number of doctors contacted him about difficulties they had in applying the diagnosis, First said. One described a patient who was feeling acute grief after the death of her dog. The manual says doctors need not diagnose depression if symptoms follow the death of a loved one, and the doctor wanted to know whether the death of a pet met the criterion.

    That question, First said, illustrated how difficult it was to establish a set of criteria that could encompass the complexity of human sorrow: The death of a spouse or a family member, he said, was only one of many things that could cause an acute grief reaction.

    But he warned that people who are in pain after a divorce or other stressful event should not conclude that they simply ought to "buck up." They should seek the counsel of clinicians who would take the time to explore what caused the symptoms and whether they need treatment.

    Still, Wakefield and Allan Horwitz, a researcher at Rutgers University who studies the sociology of mental disorders, said their study, which was published in this month's issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, pointed out that sadness has increasingly come to be seen as pathological in the United States. They have written a book called "The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow Into Depressive Disorder."


    Pharmaceutical companies, the psychiatric profession and patient advocacy groups have all contributed to the phenomenon, Horwitz added. Companies stand to make more money from the one-size-fits-all approach, researchers find the cookie-cutter model of disease makes it easier to do studies, and psychiatry has come to think of itself as "the arbiter of normality," he said.

    Patient groups, Horwitz added, think that the stigma attached to mental illnesses would be reduced if they were shown to be more common.

    "The way in which people interpret their emotions is changing," Horwitz said. "People are starting to think that any sort of negative emotion is unnatural, that they can take medication and feel better. What that can also do is... make it less likely for people to make real changes in their lives that might be better than medications."


Here is a link to the abstract of the above-cited article published in the April, 2007 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry; the abstract itself follows.

    Extending the Bereavement Exclusion for Major Depression to Other Losses: Evidence From the National Comorbidity Survey

    Context: Symptoms of intense bereavement-related sadness may resemble those of major depressive disorder (MDD) but may not indicate a mental disorder. To avert false-positive diagnoses, DSM criteria for MDD exclude uncomplicated bereavement of brief duration and modest severity. However, the DSM does not similarly exempt depressive reactions to other losses, even when they are uncomplicated in duration and severity.

    Objective: To test the validity of the DSM exclusion of uncomplicated depressive symptoms only in response to bereavement but not in response to other losses.

    Design: Community-based epidemiological study.

    Participants: From the National Comorbidity Survey (NCS) of 8098 persons aged 15 to 54 years representative of the US population, we identified individuals who met MDD symptom criteria and whose MDD episodes were triggered by either bereavement (n = 157) or other loss (n = 710).

    Intervention We divided the bereavement and other loss trigger groups into uncomplicated and complicated cases by applying the NCS algorithm for uncomplicated bereavement to the reactions to other losses. We then compared uncomplicated bereavement and uncomplicated reactions to other losses on a variety of disorder indicators and symptoms.

    Main Outcome Measures: Nine disorder indicators, as follows: number of symptoms, melancholic depression, suicide attempt, duration of symptoms, interference with life, recurrence, and 3 service use variables.

    Results: Episodes of uncomplicated depression triggered by bereavement and by other loss have similar symptom profiles and are not significantly different for 8 of 9 disorder indicators. Moreover, uncomplicated reactions, whether triggered by bereavement or other loss, are significantly lower than complicated reactions on almost all disorder indicators.

    Conclusion: The NCS data do not support the validity of uniquely excluding uncomplicated bereavement but not uncomplicated reactions to other losses from MDD diagnosis.


The single best easily available resource for a depressed person is John McManamy's website, mcmanweb.com.


It has saved countless lives and will continue to do so as long as John and his supporters keep the metaphorical porch light on.

August 16, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Lights Out Sleep Mask


I just like the way it looks.

From the website:

    Lights Out Sleep Mask

    Designed to allow Rapid Eye Movement (REM), the ultra-soft Lights Out Sleep Mask promotes deep, rejuvenating slumber.

    Scientists have long known that REM sleep is the most crucial part of the sleep cycle.

    This lightweight, luxuriously cushioned mask blocks out light and is specially molded to allow complete eye movement (unlike many eye shades that can press against your eyes) for a deeper, more restful sleep.

    Has an elasticized strap with Velcro closure for a comfortable fit.

    9½ x 3¾ x ¼".


Black or Blue.


August 16, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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