Index Knobber, Backnobber, and Jacknobber

I’ve been using products from Pressure Positive for about 20 years. They are great for self massage. I especially enjoy the Index Knobber, the Backnobber, and Jacknobber.

indexThe Original Index Knobber lets you apply deep pressure to muscles, and tendons, without stress to the fingers or hands.

The Orignal Backnobber (photo above) is solid chrome molly steel rod with wooden balls on each end, and can be used to apply deep pressure to the back muscles, using your arms (or even the knees, if you’re limber enough).

jackThe Original Jacknobber, along with a hard solid rubber ball (lacrosse), can be used to get deep tissue in the pelvis / hip, by resting it on while laying on the floor. Lacrosse balls can also be used for the back, by rolling around on it, very slowly. Cheap and effective.

It can really hurt to do this, if you’ve got trigger points, but over a month or two, the pain diminishes during the massage, and between massages, so it’s well worth it for chronic muscle / tendon pain.

I’ve been doing self-massage most of my life, and these 3 tools are “best in class,” IMHO.

None of these has ever broken, and 15 years after I purchased it, I asked the owner if I could buy the small wooden balls to replace the larger one on my Backknobber, and he sent them for no charge. Nice people to do business with. I have no business relationship with them, other than as a long term very happy customer.

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-- Michael Rostagno-Lasky  



Ear Syringe

For some reason my ears get clogged up with earwax (cerumen is the technical term) about two to three times a year. When it first happened, I was told to use a dilute solution of hydrogen peroxide and one of those rubber bulbs you use to clear a baby’s nose. This strategy never worked for me, and I would inevitably end up in a doctor’s office hard of hearing. I got tired of paying the copay for something that seemed so trivial, and did some research only to find that for about $12 you could order a near identical chrome syringe as the one they use in a doctor’s office and do it yourself. All it requires is standing (or sitting) in the shower, and carefully syringing your ear with warm water. After a few syringes full of warm water out pops the ear wax plug, and wham my hearing comes back all at once.

At $11, it’s probably one of the better investments I’ve ever made. With that being said, there are some precautions, and you should probably talk to your doctor before you do this yourself.

First, not everybody has wet earwax. Many asians have the recessive trait for dry earwax, and as such they have their own special tools for removing blockages. If you have any pain in your ear you’re better off going to the doctor to get it done lest you damage your tympanic membrane. Also, some people can be sensitive to temperature changes in their inner ear and can experience dizziness and vertigo (some instructions tell you to do it seated in case you fall over; this is made worse if you use cold water). I would also not recommend using these on children given that they have shorter ear canals, and are more prone to ear infections (especially if they’ve had issues with eustachian tubes). Definitely talk to your pediatrician first.

Finally, you shouldn’t be cleaning your ears too frequently. Cerumen serves many functions and as such shouldn’t be removed on a regular basis unless absolutely necessary. As it stands, if you find yourself needing to clean out your ears a few times a year these are great tools. It takes a little bit of time to learn how to aim into your ear canal, but once you get the hang of it you can save yourself an unnecessary trip to the doctor.

-- Oliver Hulland  

Ear Syringe, 4 Oz
$11

Available from Amazon



Steripod Toothbrush Sanitizer

I travel for a living, with limited space and staying in campgrounds 6 out of 7 nights a week. Most of my toiletries find their way into a single dopp kit, haphazardly tossed in as I try to avoid setting anything down in that puddle of questionable liquid on the counter.

This year I had the unfortunate experience of discovering what it tastes like to brush your teeth with a toothbrush full of lotion. I had to replace the brush because it wouldn’t lose the taste.

Days later I came across the Steripod Toothbrush Sanitizer. Traditional toothbrush covers don’t easily fit on many electric toothbrushes where these are universal. Gone is the snap cover that doesn’t always hold, replaced with a simple clip. The spring is strong enough that it won’t open on its own in your bag.

A simple rinse of your brush before brushing removes any taste that the sanitizer (which is infused in small pads on the interior walls of the sanitizer and is made from the herb thyme) might leave. I can’t vouch for the effectiveness of the sterilizing feature but the whole package has kept my toothbrush cleaner.

-- Matt Johnson  

Steripod Clip-on Toothbrush Sanitizer
$6 for a 2-pack

Available from Amazon



GoodRx.com

I recently needed to fill a particularly expensive prescription. The first pharmacy I visited, a big box retailer with a reputation for low prescription drug prices, quoted a price of $800.

A few moments later, I found the exact same prescription from a pharmacy just down the road for less than $300.

The market for prescription drugs in the US is ridiculously inefficient. Fortunately, companies like GoodRx.com are creating tools that can help you find the best prices online, making true price comparison fast and efficient.

GoodRx works by pulling in price feeds from most of the top pharmacy chains in the US, allowing you to search and sort by drug, delivery form, dosage, count, and pharmacy type. It’s trivial to compare prices for brand name vs. generic, and the website automatically sorts the results by price.

If you create an account on GoodRx.com, you can save searches for later reference, which is handy. Prices change daily, so it’s worth re-checking prices before refilling your prescriptions.

Once you find the best option, you can print out a “discount card” that contains GoodRx’s Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) information, so the pharmacist can find the GoodRx quoted price. (They’ll also mail you a card for your wallet if you request one.) Every time you fill a prescription using GoodRx’s group information, they make money via referral fees, so the service itself is free to use.

Out of curiosity, I had the pharmacy quote prices using the GoodRx rate vs. my major health insurance company’s negotiated group rate. GoodRx won by $150.

A quick search on GoodRx.com saved me over $500 in less than a minute. If you live in the US and need to fill a prescription, search here first.

– Josh Kaufman

GoodRx.com
Free

-- Josh Kaufman  



Fogless Shower Mirror

Shaving in the shower this morning I was trying to think of a tool that is really useful as I’ve appreciated all the tips others have provided.

Then I looked at the fogless mirror I’ve been using for nearly two years now. (Never ran across the smaller Shave Well shaving mirror recommended here back in August. Shave Well is 6×4″ as opposed to 7×5″ for this product.)

This fogless mirror, with the unfortunate company name of Toilet Tree, is the best we’ve found for this task.

Nothing fancy, just a mirror filled with hot water in a container. But it works. Even the silicone glue has been working great in adhering to the shower tile.

Simple and utilitarian, it the “#1 Selling and Ranked” product in its category by customers on Amazon.

-- Ira Altschiller  

Fogless Shower Mirror with Squeegee
$30

Available from Amazon



Mind Metrics

One of the self-tracking projects that I always wanted to do was to determine the impact of sleep, diet and exercise regimen on my mental and cognitive abilities. I needed an app to measure my cognitive or mental skills/abilities — rather than training or improving them. I also wanted measurement methods to be as close to scientific as possible. And of course the tests should take as little time as possible (preferably under 5 min), and run off portable devices. I settled on Mind Metrics — it’s an awesome phone app that lets me measure alertness, higher cognitive abilities such as attention and memory, and their combination.

For instance, in the alertness test you are asked to tap the sun as soon as it appears in the same part of the screen randomly every few seconds. You can control the number of trials and timing for both tests. After completing a preset number of trials, you get both average reaction time and average attention/memory score. You can see all your current and previous scores on the screen, and also e-mail them to yourself in comma separated format.

I’ve been using Mind Metrics to measure mental alertness in a couple of experiments, including finding the optimal time to go to bed (my finding was that going to bed between 11 and 11:15 leads to higher alertness next morning and better sleep), and validating orthostatic heart rate test (difference between standing and resting heart rate right after waking up reasonably well predicts mental and physical performance later in the day). I am currently using Mind Metrics to track my cognitive well-being on a daily basis.



LightDims

Found this tool at the local computer store. I used to apply small pieces of Post-It Notes over the LEDs on equipment in my home office. I replaced them with the original strength LightDims to cover several irritatingly bright LEDs and they work really well. I haven’t found anything else quite like it. I can still read the status of the LEDs, but they no longer light up my office like a Christmas tree.

-- Chris Knight  

DimIt light-dimming stickers
$6 – $14

Available from Amazon



Camelbak Eddy Bottle

At night I wake up with a dry throat and reach blindly for water. I used to knock over glasses and cups until I found this two years ago. It’s basically a sippy cup for adults. It has rubber mouthpiece that doesn’t open until you squeeze slightly with your lips, so no dribbling, and it has a straw so you don’t even need to tip it. Plus it’s dish-washable. I love my sippy cup.

-- Ross Reynolds  

Available from Amazon



Treadmill Desk Set-Up

geekdesk
Walking while working on a computer became a necessary and life-changing experience for me in 2010 after a nasty sciatic injury prevented me from sitting in a chair. I got lucky with the purchase of the electric adjustable desk frame from GeekDesk. (Reviewed here.) It cost $549 plus shipping. I saved a fair bit of cash by making a custom top out of a nice piece of birch plywood.

Finding a proper treadmill to fit under the desk was a challenge back then. The first one from Sears, bought on sale, was adequate but noisy. I bought quieter, second-hand machine and blew the motor after a few months. I got lucky on my third purchase with the LifeSpan TR1200 treadmill, specifically designed for walking while working. A small control panel replaces the upright arms and large display on standard treadmills.

Over the past three years, a great variety of treadmills and complete treadmill desks have become available and the technologies have greatly improved. Since you’re buying a tool that will get daily use, spend as much as you can afford. I ended up spending about $1,600 on the desk and treadmill (if you don’t count my two duds).

But think of it as an investment. Slowly walking an average of 4-5 miles per day while typing, talking on the phone, designing pages or cruising the news has provided many benefits. In the wintertime, I turn on a SAD lamp hanging from the ceiling for light and perceived well-being.

-- SalishSeaSam  

LifeSpan TR1200-DT3 Standing Desk Treadmill
$999

GeekDesk v3 Frame
$549

Available from Amazon



UpLift Electric Sit-Stand Desk Base

I’ve used this for a few weeks now in my home office and will never look back. A knowledge worker for 20+ years, I’ve spent my work life sitting. The increasingly virtual work culture means I now work from home most days, which supports even more sitting (I may work the extra hour I save commuting, and even the trip from my home office to the restroom is only a few steps, in contrast to the 100 yard trek required for the same purpose in my office.) And now research corroborates what my body has been whispering to me for a while: sitting is bad for your health.

I was able to easily attach this desk base to my existing desk top, which not only saved me some money but also allowed me to keep my existing office layout exactly as it has been. I stand for most of the day now, usually taking a short sitting break once in the morning or afternoon. I can even raise the desk to a height that allows me to stand on my rebounder (a mini-trampoline) and gently bounce while I work. The real benefit is the ability, with the touch of a button, to adjust the height of the desktop at any time, without disturbing any of my peripherals – the extra monitor, the external keyboard and mouse, the speakers – even in the middle of a meeting.

The flexibility of this desk helped me endure and shorten a back-pain episode that popped up recently. I tend to be a frugal person and the sticker price seemed hefty at first — but the product’s high quality and the likelihood that it will save me visits to the chiropractor justify the price… not to mention that just feeling a little less pain and stiffness is priceless.

-- Emily May  

UpLift 900 Sit-Stand Ergonomic Desk Base
$549