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August 22, 2008

WiFi-B-Gone: bookofjoe MoneyMaker©™® — squared


Jonathan D. Glater's front page article in yesterday's New York Times Business section about how more and more universities are handing out free iPhones to incoming freshman was an eye-opener.

"The lone losers, some fear, could be professors," wrote Glater.

That's an understatement.

The only losers will be professors.

Naomi J. Pugh, a first-year student at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee, who received a free iPod Touch from the school, told Glater, "When it gets a little boring, I might pull it out."


Glater added, "She speculated that professors might try harder to make class interesting if they were competing with the devices."

How do you spell "Game over?"

But I digress.

Predictably, professors like Robert S. Summers, who's taught at Cornell Law School for about 40 years, did the old knee-jerk dance, to wit: Summers "... announced this week — in a detailed footnoted memorandum — that he would ban laptop computers from his class on contract law."

Said Summers of the iPhone, after its capabilities were explained to him, "I would ban that too if I knew the students were using it in class."

Yo, prof: the horse left the barn a long time ago.

Now to the good part.

What, you stopped reading 'cause you got bored?

Me too.

But I digress yet again.


Remember how TV-B-Gone became a smash hit the instant it came out, making its inventor, Mitch Altman, richer than Croesus?

Well, here's your big chance to do Altman one better, to wit: WiFi-B-Gone.

We all know there are portable (and illegal) devices that block cellphone transmission.

How 'bout one that interferes with WiFi so Canute the Great types like professor Summers can enjoy a year or two more of wireless-free classrooms?


And no — you can't have the ones that're available to certain government agencies.

Even if you know someone who works at Fort Meade or Langley.

Note added at 7:22 p.m. today: a reader in a secure, undisclosed location points out that jamming WiFi signals is illegal in the U.S.

I knew this to be true but didn't mention it because, well, I don't know why I didn't mention it in the original 4:01 p.m. post — perhaps because it seemed obvious.


I'm not here to cause trouble.

But it's sure fun to think stuff up.

Same as it ever was.

August 22, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Cut & Collect Chopping Block


Good idea.

From the website:

    Cut & Collect Chopping Board

    There's no danger of your hard work disappearing across the worktop or onto the kitchen floor.

    Chop, brush into the drawer underneath the board and head for the saucepan, kitchen or compost bin.

    Clever way to keep it all together when you're cooking.

    Beech with dishwasher safe tray.

    36cm x 26cm x 6.5cm.


Red or White.


August 22, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Strange days at Colson Whitehead's website


I stopped by to link to it just now and instead of finding the information I wanted about this singular author encountered what you see above.

You could look it up.

Lucky for us Google's cache retains his penetrating and entertaining blog entries, which began in August 2005 and terminated on June 14, 2008.

Anyone seen him since?

August 22, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ikea's got the funk


Glossy white, red or black plastic cast into the shape of a table lamp.


Base: 11"H x 5"Ø; Pleated plastic shade: 7"Ø; 40W max.



August 22, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Helpful Hints from joeeze: How to make clear(er) ice at home


"Water from the tap contains dissolved gases and some minerals. These separate from the water as it freezes and get trapped in the ice as bubbles and sediment, which looks milky. Commercial ice is made from treated water and in a machine that washes away gas and sediment as they're expelled from the freezing surface. You can make clearer ice at home with distilled water that you've boiled to expel dissolved air."

[via Harold McGee and the New York Times]

August 22, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

World's cheapest reading glasses


Millions of people buy reading glasses at CVS and Walgreen's, et al, paying (like me) $10 and up a pair.

That's if they happen to have the magnification you need.

Guess what my crack research team found?

A place where you can get six pair for $11.99 — and they'll deliver them right to your front door.

But wait, you say, there's gotta be a catch.

Well, yes, there is, but it's rather insignificant in terms of the big picture, to wit: shipping costs $5.99.

Which brings your grand total to $17.98 for six pair (delivered).

Why, that's only... hold on, let me get my calculator... $3 a pair.

Cheap at twice the price even without the home delivery.

Oh, yeah, I almost forget — you can get yours here.

And in case you were worried about or wondering whether generic cheap reading glasses are bad for your eyes, the answer — according to my eye doctor and everything I've read over the past several decades in the medical literature — is no.

August 22, 2008 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Last Words – by Kevin Brockmeier


My grandfather said, “O.K., I’m ready to go home.”

He said: “Can you work the lock? I can’t reach it from the inside.”

He said: “How does something like this happen? Why won’t the damn thing open?” The night before, he climbed over the rail of his bed, falling and bruising his hip, and so the hospital’s head nurse instructed that a protective net be fastened to the bed frame. The net was suspended over the bed, shoe-boxing him inside. He was 98. His heart was failing. The doctor had made it plain to us that any word he uttered could be his last. Maybe that was why every sentence he spoke seemed to cap itself off as I listened, becoming an enigmatic final pronouncement.

He said, “I never imagined I would end up trapped in here.”

He said, “If only someone had told me when I was a child.”

He said, “This is completely ridiculous.”

My mother had taken her cellphone into the hall, and for the moment I was alone with him. I didn’t know what to say. The net was zipped shut, but it would have been a simple thing for me to open it. If I did, though, I knew he would begin asking for his shoes again, trying to sit up and insisting that I drive him home. And perhaps that would be the right thing to do, I thought, to drive him home, but the decision had not been left to me.

In 1997, a few months apart and at the urging of my mother, we both moved to Little Rock, Ark. I was returning from graduate school, hoping to figure out a way to meet the rest of my life, and he was relocating from his apartment in Miami, hoping, I imagined, to do the same. We all believed he would live for another year or two, but instead he lasted for nearly a decade.

At first, the impression I carried of him was leftover from my childhood: he was my short, fat grandpa, as opposed to my tall, thin one. Once or twice a year he would visit from Florida, preparing Italian dishes, playing Banker-Broker with my brother and me and singing “Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life” as he walked through the house. Gradually, though, sitting over the dinner table or helping him through the grocery store, I came to know him better. He was born in 1907 into a home that was later demolished to make way for the World Trade Center. He left school at 14 to become a butcher: it paid well enough for him to help his family through the Great Depression and still buy a new car every year. He married late and fathered two children, the first before shipping out for World War II, the second after he was discharged. His wife died of breast cancer before I was born.

After he moved into the retirement center, the rare man among a multitude of women, he was approached several times by neighbors angling to strike up a romance. To them, he answered, “That phase of my life is over.” To me, he explained, “What do I want with a bunch of old bags?”

I took him to see the movie “Malèna.” He knew he was going to die soon, he said, and he wanted to brush up on his Italian so that he would be able to converse with his relatives when he saw them in Heaven.

Now here he was in the hospital saying, “If we could just find a way to undo the lock, Kevin, you could get me out of here.”

I said: “I’m sorry. I can’t open it for you.”

I said, “The doctors want you to stay in bed, Grandpa.”

I said, “Nobody here wants you to hurt yourself.”

For a moment he was confused. Then he was furious. In a flare of energy, he made two fists, punching the mattress on either side of his body. He said, “I guess you’re not as good a person as I thought you were.”

Not long after, I went home to get some sleep. When I returned the next day, my grandfather had taken on a surprising placidity. The net had been removed, and he lay staring at the ceiling, working his lips over his gums. Toward evening he noticed my mother standing beside him. He extended his hand. He said: “Well, I’m dying now. It was a pleasure to know you.”

Were these his last words? It depends on your perspective. He lived for another week, but by the next morning, he had already free-fallen into his past, beginning that slow dive of the mind that would carry him back through his retirement, his marriage, his youth and his childhood to the silence of his final sleep. They were not the last words to leave his mouth, but they were the last words spoken by the man I had come to know, or by the person I thought he was.

Brockmeier's essay appeared on the final page of the July 27, 2008 New York Times magazine.

August 22, 2008 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Telescoping Bag Dryer


From the website:

    Telescoping Bag Dryer

    Wash, dry 'n recycle plastic bags — save money and help save the planet

    After washing out zip-lock bags, clip them to our Telescoping Bag Dryer to air dry.

    Four arms extend and rotate up to 10" high with eight alligator clips to dry all size bags.

    White marble base is tip-proof.



$15.99 (bags not included).

August 22, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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