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Projection Atomic Clock with Thermometer and Forecasting

January 6, 2006

I’m closing out rise-and-shine week with the first thing I see in the morning. My alarm clock. Now there are lots of specialty alarm clocks out there, and no matter how you prefer to be woken up, there’s probably an alarm clock for you. I saw one on the Today show last month that actually rolls around to the room, forcing you to get out of bed to wake up! My problem is rarely waking up. I usually get up before my alarm clock rings. In fact, I often wake up many times in the wee hours, wondering how much time I have left to sleep. Now most clocks can answer that question.

Weather ClockThis one answers it in a soft red numbers that project on the ceiling. Yep, just open your eyes, and there’s the time. Easy-to-read, yet totally non-disruptive: no glow ever-present on the nightstand, no having to lift a finger to press the button to illuminate the time.

Not only that, the time is automatically updated daily via a radio signal transmitted from Fort Collins, Colorado. The atomic clock maintains accuracy to within one second of official U.S. government time and even resets itself to account for Daylight Savings Time and Leap Year! But wait! There’s more. It also displays the current weather forecast, and precise outdoor temperature, sent wirelessly to the clock from an outdoor sensor you place outside your bedroom window.

Brookstone sells their private-label version of this clock for $80, but you can order the Oregon Scientific model from Amazon.com for $49.99. Given the identical appearance, it’s hard to imagine they aren’t both made by Oregon Sceinetific.
OS Clock
A few notes: 1. The clock may take 24 hours to synchronize. Don’t be put off if it doesn’t operate perfectly immediately. 2. The further you are from Ft. Collins, the more likely you will have trouble synchronizing.  That said, I’ve had some atomic clocks sync better than others, and some work better in NY than LA. This clock functions perfectly on some parts of my nightstand, and poorly on others, I found that that moving it 10 inches in one direction and making sure my water bottle isn’t next to it made a big difference. 3. If you order direct from Oregon Scientific, know that their return policy (I went through a couple clocks thinking they were defective before realizing that placement affected performance) is poor. Better to buy from Amazon or Brookstone and be able to return or exchange the product with fewer hassles.

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The Best Toothbrush

January 5, 2006

Some people are genetically predisposed to greater dental plaque accummulation and chronic halitosis. I’m one of them. On both counts. I’m also a mouth-breather, despite my corrected deviated septum. If you’re conjuring up a frightful picture, let me assure you, my mouth is minty-fresh almost all the time, since this predisposition has made me obsessive about oral hygene. And while some of the credit has to go to my dentist, Alan Zweig, today’s shout out goes to Oral-B. I’ve experimented with all kinds of oral care novelties… Does anyone else remember those tablets you could chew after brushing to see if you’d missed any spots? My first electric device was a Waterpik, which I got to flush stuck food particles from a particularly medieval orthodontic torture device called a pallet splitter, which was installed by some dentist-in-training at the NYU dental school when I was in 10th grade. Neither that horrible memory, nor the fear of electrocution from operating an electrically powered device in such close proximity to the bathtub stopped me from my quest for cleaner teeth. To me, the Sonicare electric toothbrush was revolutionary, though maybe not worthy of the hubris with which it is promoted: “Stop brushing. Start Sonicare.” Yes, my teeth really felt cleaner.

But in 2001, a landmark clinical study proved, much to the delight of Gillette stock holders, that the only electric toothbrush proven to clean better than manual ones was the Oral-B with 3D action. I ran out and bought one that day. Then last month, I noticed a new model: The Oral-B Triumph.

Oral-B TriumphNow most of the improvements in the basic 3D models have been superfluous features: timers, multiple speeds, tongue-scraping attachments and the like. Yes, tongue scraping is important for those of us with chronic hali – but I don’t need an electric implement for that task. But the Triumph offered the first significant improvement since 3D action: The FlossAction brushhead, which has tiny rubber wipers that really do provide superior cleaning action.

If you don’t already own an Oral-B toothbrush, The Triumph is currently on sale at Drugstore.com. for $89.97 – a 40% savings!  And even more exciting, if you already own an Oral-B “professional care” series model (5000, 7000 or 8000), you can buy just the brushhead, available most places Oral-B brushes are sold, including online at Drugstore.com.  And that should put a smile on your face.

P.S. If you’re still puzzling about yesterday’s pop vocabulary quiz, precocious, in the botanical arena, refers to a plant that blossoms before its leaves appear. The magnolia is a precocious tree.

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A Close Shave

January 4, 2006

Continuing in the rise-and-shine theme of launch week at BillyKnowsBest, today’s product is Nu Boss Shave Cream.

Nu Boss

For those of you who don’t know me well, I should tell you that I exhibited precocious secondary-sex characteristics.

One of the benefits of my Yale education was learning to use big words to say simple things, but since there’s not all that much to say about shave cream, I figured I’d sneak in a vocabulary lesson. Precocious you probably know: more developed, especially mentally than is usual or expected at a particular age. It’s often used in a derrogatory way, which is the way I generally heard it as a hair-splitting child. Personally, I’d take a hair-splitting kid over hair-raising one anyday, but that’s just me. And until they come with a generous return policy, I’ll leave parenting to the rest of you.
Before I digress too far, a quick quiz for those of you feeling linguisticly superior and are ready to skip the definition of Secondary-sexual charateristics: Define precocious as it applies to trees, and name a tree that is precocious. Anyone? Don’t google it. I’ll answer tomorrow. Back to secondary-sex characteristics. It almost sounds naughty. But it means those traits that distinguish males from females, but aren’t part of the reproductive system, whose organs are the primary sex characteristics.

A hundred and ninety-words to say what I could have said in seven: I started shaving at a young age. And I have a thick beard, sensitive skin and a general aversion to scented shaving products. And I have tried dozens of them: creams, gels, oils, soaps… at any given time, you’ll probably find half a dozen half-used shave products in my medicine chest as I continue my quest for the most comfortable shave. I once stockpiled a decade’s worth of Lancome aftershave when they discontinued it in 1989. Now that was an incredible product. I still haven’t found anything I like as much in an aftershave — Avon had one for a while, but discountinued it before I could secure a stockpile it. But I have found a shave cream I love. It’s formulated for African men, so it’s a small miracle that I stumbled upon it at the Sav-on drugstore in Beverly Hills, and while they no longer stock it, you can find it online at Africanmarket.com for $6.95. I bought a wholesale case.

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Sugar-Free Tang. Don’t Laugh.

January 3, 2006

Okay. Laugh. Tang. I bought it as a joke. “Wouldn’t it be funny,” I asked my partner Bruce, “if you showed up at someone’s house, and they offered you Tang.”So the very next day, I’m in the supermarket, and the Tang catches my eye, and not just Tang, but Sugar-Free Tang.

Sugar Free TangNow, it might surprise you to discover that there’s more than one Tang; in fact there are many different formulas around the world: Sour cherry in Turkey, mango in Saudi Arabia and a sweeter orange flavor in Brazil but a tarter orange flavor in Argentina. You can check out the Tang web page if you’re really interested in the history (like the special container that was invented for the Astronauts’ consumption), but what you really need to know is: IT TASTES GREAT!

Tang Astronauts

The Sugar Free variety comes in a canister of four individual tubs, each making 1.5 quarts, although I like it watered down — using a tub to make 2 quarts. It’s a refreshing, healthy and satisfying alternative to diet soda, and is sure to get a chuckle when you offer it to houseguests. If you have trouble finding it at your local supermarket, you can buy it online from Looneystuff.com.

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The Best Mattress – Royal Pedic Royal Latex 7-zone

January 2, 2006

How did you start the new year? Well-rested? If not, maybe it’s time to get a new mattress. And I can think of no better way to kick off my new blog than with a recommendation for my favorite mattress: The Royal Pedic Royal Latex 7-zone natural latex mattress. Royal Pedic BedQuite simply, it’s the most comfortable mattress I’ve ever slept on. I’ve bought one for my mother, sister and brother-in-law, and have recommended them to half a dozen friends, who all agree (as did six U.S. Presidents, including JFK and Ronald Regan!)

Now, buying a new mattress is never really easy. Manufacturers give nearly identical products different names for different retailers, making it nearly impossible to comparaison shop. Plus, how much can you tell by lying down on a bed in a show room. No wonder hotels like Four Seasons and Westin are doing a brisk business selling their beds. But none of them are built like the Royal Pedic. The latex core features seven firmness zones ergonomically designed to support the spine in a natural, comfortable position. It’s like sleeping on a cloud.

If you haven’t slept on one, buying a Royal Pedic mattress takes a lot of faith. They are primarily sold through interior designers (“the trade”), and there are only a couple of showrooms in the country where you can find them. If you’re in Los Angeles, you can check out their showroom at 341 N. Robertson Blvd. But trust me on this one.

A couple caveats:

1. Make sure you get the Royal Latex 7-Zone model (no pillowtop).

2. The mattresses are priced comparably to other premium, high end mattresses. But a 30% discount is offered to the trade. Order through an interior designer and save.

3. The mattresses are guaranteed if you buy Royal Pedic’s boxspring, although it’s ideally suited to platform beds.

4. It’s really important to turn the mattress often during the first year of ownership, and even still, big weighty people will find some compression in their “regular spot” after a few years of ownership.

5. Despite being a huge bionic woman fan back in the day, I’ve never slept on a Sleep Number bed, and I’ve slept on a few less expensive mattresses that were really comfortable, but everyone I know who has tried the Royal Pedic raves about it.