« March 20, 2013 | Main | March 22, 2013 »

March 21, 2013

bookofjoe's Favorite Thing: Screaming Meanie Alarm Clock


Once again this puppy saved my bacon when lesser alarm clocks failed me big-time.

It happened Tuesday when I was scheduled to be somewhere at 10 a.m. sharp.

I set my series of alarm clocks — starting with the digital one, then two travel alarms each set for 2 minutes after the previous alarm time, and then finally the Screaming Meanie, armed to go off 20 minutes after the first — and darned if I wasn't jolted awake by the Screaming Meanie with all three of the others simultaneously going off but somehow unacknowledged in the now almost audibly pulsating darkness.

See, I sleep with earplugs — really, really good earplugs (Mack's — about which more in a future post) and so an alarm clock has to be really loud to get my attention.

When the Screaming Meanie erupts it's as if your heart is on the verge of stopping — its klaxon-like, emergency vehicle squealing is SO LOUD it really seems like it could be capable of waking the dead.

When you absolutely, positively have to get up, this is the alarm clock you want on your nightstand.

If it should fail to do the trick, simply let me know and I will cheerfully refund twice what you paid for it.

That's the bookofjoe Way.

FunFact: This is the default alarm clock of long-distance truckers.


From $24.

March 21, 2013 at 08:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

There are two rules for success...


March 21, 2013 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Hello Hands Pen Gloves


"Funny little gloves for your pens. When you use your pen with Hello Hands, it looks like it's saying 'Hello.'"


Set of two: $8.23.


Set of seven (3 dots and 4 stripes): $29.08.

March 21, 2013 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Band-Aid — Reinvented for the 21st Century


Cristina Lindblad's March 14 Bloomberg Businessweek story, above, featured the AmoeBAND, a rethinking of the 1920 original.

Very nicely done.

March 21, 2013 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Broadsword Umbrella


From the website:


The Broadsword Umbrella is the only way to defend yourself against the rain.

Its massive handle looks like you could draw forth a blade and cleave the raindrops in twain before they even had a chance to hit the ground.

No form of precipitation will mess with you when you are armed with a Broadsword Umbrella.

Goes great with any business suit of armor or really, even just business-casual chain mail.

Details and Features:

• Two-handed handle of injection-molded plastic with a metallized finish, wrapped with a leatherette grip

• Includes a carrying case with a shoulder strap — the umbrella's scabbard

• Umbrella has a black exterior and a silver interior

• Push-button opening




March 21, 2013 at 04:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mythical Viking Sunstone Discovered


From The Economist: "Sunstones are legendary items supposed to have been used by Viking sailors in the days before magnetic compasses. Looking at the sky through one, it is said, would reveal the sun's direction even on a cloudy day or when that fiery orb was below the horizon."

More from the article below.


Dr. [Guy] Ropars [of Rennes University in France] thinks sunstones were real, and were actually crystals of Iceland spar, a form of calcite that polarizes light (and therefore reacts to polarized light). Light from the sky is polarized and, as he discovered in 2011, looking through a piece of Iceland spar reveals the direction of polarization, and thus the direction of the sun, to within 5°.

Dr. Ropars also believes the use of sunstones persisted until at least the 16th century. Their existence is mentioned in church records, and they would have been useful because although magnetic compasses were known by then, they were unreliable for reasons not then understood, such as proximity to the large amounts of iron in ships' cannons.

He thinks the block of mineral [pictured above] is such a stone. It was found in a wreck believed to be that of an unnamed English warship which an admiral's report from November 29th 1592 says was lost off the coast of Alderney, in the English Channel. Four centuries underwater have rendered it opaque, but it is the right shape and density to be Iceland spar, and it was discovered within a meter of a pair of navigational dividers of the sort used to measure distances on charts.

Dr. Ropars's latest research, just published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society (PRS) used spectroscopy to confirm the stone's composition as calcite. He also did further experiments with a recently mined (and therefore transparent) Iceland-spar crystal of the same size. He and his colleagues found they could locate the direction of the sun even more accurately than before: to within 1°. The Alderney crystal, as it is known, is thus almost certainly a sunstone. It didn't save the ship, though.


Below, the abtract of the PRS paper.


The sixteenth century Alderney crystal: a calcite as an efficient reference optical compass?

The crystal recently discovered in the 1592 sunken Elizabethan ship is shown to be an Iceland spar. We report that two main phenomena, with opposite effects, explain the good conservation and the evolution of this relatively fragile calcite crystal. We demonstrate that the Ca2+–Mg2+ ion exchanges in such a crystal immersed in sea water play a crucial role by limiting the solubility, strengthening the mechanical properties of the calcite, while the sand abrasion alters the crystal by inducing roughness of its surface. Although both phenomena have reduced the transparency of the Alderney calcite crystal, we demonstrate that Alderney-like crystals could really have been used as an accurate optical sun compass as an aid to ancient navigation, when the Sun was hidden by clouds or below the horizon. To avoid the possibility of large magnetic errors, not understood before 1600, an optical compass could have helped in providing the sailors with an absolute reference. An Alderney-like crystal permits the observer to follow the azimuth of the Sun, far below the horizon, with an accuracy as great as ±1°. The evolution of the Alderney crystal lends hope for identifying other calcite crystals in Viking shipwrecks, burials or settlements.

March 21, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

« March 20, 2013 | Main | March 22, 2013 »