The Giz Wiz and MAD's Maddest Writer also loves boats!
As a matter of fact, I love boats so much I own three of them. Even my office floats because it's on a houseboat. And I've been writing a monthly boating column in POWERBOAT Magazine for 34+ years. POWERBOAT Magazine is devoted to the "go fast" set. People who own boats from manufacturers like Scarab, Hustler, Cigarette, Donzi, and Fountain. For about 20 years I was involved in the annual Performance Reports, a program that puts fast boats through their paces. The Performance Report issues help consumers determine which boat is best for them to buy. For about the past dozen years, I've zeroed in on uncovering the latest "marine" gizmos and gadgets.
In every issue of Powerboat I select two marine gadgets that I think boaters might find interesting. They run under the heading "Dick's Picks". There a a few on this page and two new one every month in Powerboat.
NEW! There are now videos the famous Powerboat Magazine Boat Tests at their website. And they're free. Check them out at:
Here are some Dickís Picks from Powerboat Magazine.
Pilemate has made keeping my boats securely docked among giant wakes a snap!
PILEMATE sounds like it might be something you pick up at the drug store for quick relief, but itís not. But it could offer quick relief for tying up your boat. PILEMATE is a strong, unsinkable device that slips over a piling. Thereís no installation necessary. I'm using 3 of them and they all installed in about 20 minutes! Once in place, the PILEMATE floats up and down around the piling during tide changes or storm surges and wakes. Since it floats, it eliminates the problem of trying to guess how much slack you should leave in the lines. This has helped a great deal because now my boats don't need slack and don't move back and forth in the slip depending on the tide. One PILEMATE serves two vessels, since both sides of the piling can use the same device. From watching the video of the PILEMATE in a storm, it makes sense that the piling you place it over be smooth and free of any nails, screws, old hardware, etc. Thereís even a PILEMATE ICE UNIT that adds two and a half feet to the length of the unit below the waterline. That way the ice freezes around the PILEMAN and not the actual piling. That should help keep the piling in place all year round. This a boom to marina owners. There are several sizes and colors available. Prices start at $550.00.
A wrench that takes batteries? Yes! And it's a big help.
Working on a marine power plant in a cramped engine compartment is not much fun. Worse is trying to use an adjustable wrench when you canít quite see the nut. A new device that should lessen those bruised knuckles is the Auto Wrench from Black & Decker. Itís designed to accommodate nuts and bolts up to 1-1/4 in. wide. Since its battery powered, it adjusts with the touch of a button. Black & Decker says it can replace up to 50 standard and metric wrenches. It has a maximum 220 ft./lbs. of torque and is constructed of professional heat-treated hardened steel. The wrench is engraved with standard and metric measurement scales, but to my mind itís easier to let the wrench close down on the nut by just pushing the open/close rocker switch. Heavy duty rubber pads on either side of the handle make it easy to grasp even if wet. Auto Wrench comes with 2 AAA batteries which should last through about 650 cycles. Its available now at places like Home Depot for under $30.
Innovation Lighting always lives up to their name by coming up with, well, innovative lighting. One of the newest is their 3-White LED Portable Battery Operated Light. Powered by 3 AAA batteries, this versatile portable light can be used just about anywhere: instrument panels, walkways, cockpits areas, the head, in lockers, engine rooms, or even as a cabin reading light. The 3 LED’s provide ample light but uses minimal power. It’s small (2.375" L x 1.250" D x 1.750" H) and can easily be removed quickly to use as a mini flashlight. There’s a built-in On/Off switch, and the unit is available in black, green, or yellow. All three colors are available in either a Velcro mount, belt clip mount or wedge & bracket mount. Price vary for about $17 to $20 depending on the type of mount purchased. Available at local marine stores, or contact the company through their website
Every year new models of wind-up radios add more features.
They’re a wonderful ‘stand by’ emergency gadget. The new Eton FR300 is really packed with important goodies. It has an AM/FM radio that also gets VHF TV sound, which are channels 2 to 13. It gets 7 NOAA Weather Channels and includes Weather Alert. But the newest feature is the cell phone charger. The unit comes with five cell phone adapter tips for models from most of the major manufacturers. So no matter where you go, if you lose all power including boat battery and cell phone power, you can still stay in touch with the news, the weather and friends. Just 90 seconds of cranking provides up to an hour of radio play. The hand-crank power generator charges the internal rechargeable Ni-MH battery pack. With cheapie wind up flashlights, the light goes out the second you stop winding. There’s a bright 2-LED white light system and a red emergency LED flasher and siren. It can also run on 3 AA batteries (not included.), but you lose the benefit of the exercise from cranking the handle!
Under $50 at electronic stores like Radio Shack and CircuitCity.
Does your battery need a brain?
Certainly if you’re running around with just one battery it does. Battery Brain ensures that you will never be stranded through a dead battery in your boat, car, truck, van, SUV, actually any vehicle using a conventional lead acid battery.Battery Brain monitors the battery and disconnects the electrical system if it detects the battery is losing sufficient charge to start the engine. Now there are other units that perform a similar function on the market, but Battery Brain has two higher end models that add different features. The lowest price model requires manual reset after it shuts down the battery power. The second model offers manual or remote control reconnection. But I like the top of the line model best because the remote can be used to disconnect the battery when leaving your boat or vehicle. That’s a nice anti-theft feature that you perform with just a push of a button. Prices range from about $40 to $70.
The Famous, Now-Infamous, MAD Magazine Circuit City (SUCKER CITY) Ad.
I've gotten dozens of emails asking me if I saw the Consumerist take on the MAD satire on the Circuit City Ad. http://tinyurl.com/662mca That story seems to have traveled far and wide, even to the Corporate Headquarters of Circuit City. And we were plesantly surprised to get his email from Circuit City:
To: The Editors of MAD Magazine From: Jim Babb, Embarrassed PR Guy, Circuit City Stores, Inc.
We sell magazines at a few dozen of our Circuit City stores nationwide, and by now you may have heard that some overly-sensitive souls at our corporate headquarters ordered the removal of the August issue of MAD Magazine, which features a clever parody of our company's newspaper ad. Most of us here share a rich sense of humor and irony...but there are occasional temporary lapses.
We apologize for the knee-jerk reaction, and have issued a retraction order; the affected stores are being directed to put the magazines back on sale.
As a gesture of our apology and deep respect, we are creating a cross-departmental task force to study the importance of humor in the corporate workplace and expect the resulting Powerpoint presentation to top out at least 300 pages, chock full of charts, graphs and company action plans.
In addition, I would like to send you a $20.00 Circuit City Gift Card, toward the purchase of a Nintendo Wii....if you can find one!
All best wishes, and keep up the good work!
Jim Babb Corporate Communications Circuit City Stores, Inc.
And the reply from MAD Editor John Ficarra?
Speaking from the magazineís international headquarters, MAD Editor John Ficarra said, ďWe at MAD were shocked and confused by this entire incident -- mainly because we had no idea that CircuitCity even sells magazines. Nonetheless, we accept their apology but hold out hope that their gesture of a $20 gift card is only an opening offer.Ē JF
GOOD DAYS AND MAD
If you like the stories of the mad way William M. Gaines ran a very successful MAD Magazine that I tell on The Daily GizWiz, then you should enjoy GOOD DAYS AND MAD. It's a biographical look at the 30 some odd years I spent working for Gaines and for MAD. All the strange stories are in there like the time Gaines took the entire staff to a subscriber's house in Haiti to beg him to renew! The book is no longer in print, but I have some copies of the Trade Paperback Version. It's the complete book, it's even the size as the original book. As a matter of fact, the only difference is that it has a softcover vs. the hard cover version. Retails is $16.95 plus S&H. But if you donate $20 (or more if you so wish) to www.animalhavenshelter.org I'll send you an autographed copy for free! So you get the book, free postage and a tax deduction. And it helps the dogs and cats at the shelter. Being a pack rat I have uncovered two more cases of brand new book so l make this offer good from now till I run out of books. (I still have full case left as of 6/1/08 so you'll be sure to get one.) After you make your donation online, email me a copy of the receipt (remember, you get the deduction) and tell me who to autograph the book to and where to send it. Sorry, but I can only send books to addresses in the US and Canada.
If you want to purchase the book without going through Animal Haven, it's also available at www.themadstore.com.