The Government’s Tobacco Regulator Is About to Get Tough

Reading time:

The Food and Drug Administration announced last week it was seeking public input on regulating menthol cigarettes, a necessary step toward banning or restricting sales. That’s the second major move since Mitch Zeller took the reins of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products in March. Zeller, who worked at the FDA in the 1990s, has been active in the public-health community for two decades and criticized the agency’s slow progress in the wake of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gave the FDA unprecedented authority to regulate tobacco products. Edited excerpts of his conversation with National Journal follow.

What are the big issues?

With all the progress that has been made over the last half century on tobacco use, it’s still the leading cause of preventable death and disease in this country. With over 440,000 people dying each year prematurely from tobacco use, we have over 300,000 kids becoming regular smokers every year. They’re not quite replacing those who are dying one for one, but three of every four smokers who die prematurely each year are being replaced. Every day, we have over 3,500 kids who light up for the first time. We have so much more work to do on this most urgent of public health issues, and our commitment to prevention is paramount.

What message works?

Don’t preach. Don’t lecture. Don’t just talk about the harms. Figure out a way to reach kids with an approach that will get their attention, that will make them more interested and more concerned, but that ultimately leaves the decision to them. But [help them] make that decision in a more informed, enlightened, self-confident way. We’re just in the research phase of the FDA commitment to public education; the first pieces of this campaign won’t start being unveiled until late in the year.

Last month, the FDA blocked four tobacco companies from introducing new products in the U.S.

Historically, in the unregulated marketplace, tobacco companies decided which new products were brought to market. For the first time, a science-based regulatory agency said some new products could come to market under the “substantial equivalence pathway” [proving they were no more harmful than products currently available], and some new products could not.

When is the decision on regulating electronic cigarettes coming?

When Congress passed the [Tobacco Control Act] four years ago, the initial grant of authority was only over cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco. FDA intends to expand its regulatory authority over all products that meet the definition of a tobacco product. We’re getting closer to being able to do that.

How will new FDA regulations affect innovation in the tobacco market?

It’s hard to say. E-cigarettes seem to be an example of consumers voting with their pocketbooks, that they are open to new and more novel ways of getting their nicotine. If the day comes when we have a more fully regulated marketplace for nicotine products, FDA will be closer to what I call a “comprehensive nicotine regulatory policy” that could respond to what consumers may be saying, which is, “We’re interested in products that may pose less risk.”

What are your own benchmarks for success?

[Making] an investment in enforcement, an investment in science. We have a major commitment to public education, and this is going to start to unfold, mostly in 2014, with a focus on educating kids in a meaningful way. A researcher in the United Kingdom, Michael Russell, wrote in the 1970s that people smoke for the nicotine, but they die from the tar. FDA has an opportunity to create a comprehensive nicotine regulatory policy that recognizes that at the individual level, there’s a continuum of risk. Different products with how long does nicotine withdrawal last pose different levels of risk. And FDA now regulates the full spectrum of nicotine-delivering products, from conventional combustible cigarettes to medicinal nicotine products at the other end–the gum, the patch, the lozenge. Policy gets made at a population level, not at the individual level. But within this framework of a comprehensive nicotine regulatory policy, [we can drive] current cigarette smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit from the most harmful form of how much nicotine in a cigarette delivery to the least harmful form.

Any other reflections on your first few months on the job?

I’ve been struck by, even in the discussions with the tobacco industry, the candor that has been mostly present.

Were you a little hard on your predecessors about the speed of change?

Yes. There’s been a certain reality check that has occurred as I’m back inside of government, and I see what–because of the way the law and the rules work–the public just doesn’t see, which is, these things take time. But having said that, there is still an opportunity to try to move things through with some speed.

Read Invicta reviews to buy the Men’s Invicta Russian Diver Chronograph

Reading time:

If you like to grab our attention  when you wear something look nice, if in case you like when other people start talking about your style, then you should be at the Invicta Russian Diver Chronograph for men, that is from the Invicta watches model number 7000. This particular timepiece is designed by the Invicta watch group to change you fortitude for timepieces. This is the men’ watch and it is true that it is manly; rather it is huge and also hulk of time pieces. With its eye catching blaze and designs, these watches are certain to grab attention of other people.

 Men’s Invicta Russian diver Chronograph

Certainly the Invicta is the top brand of the watch, that is in the eye of several watches lovers and enthusiasts and also the time piece collectors. The Invicta reserve watches from the unique collection of the invicta time pieces are well known for running in the complete spectrum of  a wide variety of sizes and also styles, designs for both men and women. As with any other types of watch brands, always there is one series that is very popular and stands out among the others.

Make online purchases

In fact, for the Invicta, this is the Russian diver series of time series. Sporting the eye catching style and unique design the Russian Divers watches from the huge collection of Invicta time piece tool the watches globe by the storm at the time the firm firstly introduced this series. You can also get the Invicta watch review through online websites before buying this particular series of watches from your online shops. This is the cost effective way to buy your watches from the online watches as they will offer a wide variety of offers and  discounts. In addition to this you can also avail the free coupons, so by using these you can save a lot money on your Invicta pro diver 8926c purchase.

Special features of the 7000 Russian diver chronograph watch

There are several online shops offering this series of watches at attractive prices. The online shops will allow you to buy your Invicta time pieces from your comforts of home. The signature piece from this particular piece from this Invicta series is happen to be the 7000 Russian diver chronograph timepiece for men. This particular model of the Invicta timepiece model will feature the large dial and also a special chronograph movement called as Swiss Ronda.

In this model the large hour numeral is in perfect sync with the large dial and it is very easy to read and see time; this is the most special and also unique time pies from the invicta watch groups. The best source to get the valuable info regarding this model is the online websites for Invicta watch review. All these features will separate the Russian diver models from any other models of time pieces.

The unique touch is given to this watch by the black leather band; it will look awesome and durable also. You can avail these types of Invicta watches to grab others attention in any events

Lose weight this winter: Your easiest at-home workout

Reading time:

Want to prevent winter weight gain? You don’t need fancy equipment or even a lot of time–just these six calorie-smoking moves from Denise Taylor, a personal trainer at Fitness by Design in New York City.

For best results, do all six moves three to five times a week. Each one gets your heart pumping and works major muscle groups. The repetitions suggested are just a starting point; do more as your strength and stamina improve. Use these moves all winter long and greet spring in sleek shape!


  • a. Position yourself as shown with feet spread wider than hip-width apart. Tighten your abs and bend your left leg, keeping right leg straight, and bend from the waist to reach both arms to the floor at your left side.
  • b.&c. Slowly raise your upper body and arms overhead in a smooth, arching motion.
  • d. Bend your right knee and bring both hands to the floor at your right side. Repeat the movement on opposite side. Do 20 reps.


  • a. Position yourself in a squat, with feet pointing slightly out. Tighten abs; place your hands on hips for balance. Make sure knees do not extend past your toes.
  • b. Leap straight up into the air, and land in the squat position. Do 15 reps.


a. Start with feet together as shown, knees bent and pointing to the right. Bend arms so they’re at waist height, and reach to the left. b. Jump straight up. c. As you come down, shift hips to the left, and land with knees bent and pointing to the left, arms reaching to the right. Do 15 reps.


  • a. Stand as shown, feet shoulder-width apart, arms by your sides.
  • b. Jump into a straddle stance–left leg in front, right leg in back. At the same time, scissor your arms–left arm in front, right one in back.
  • c.&d. Next, jump and reverse positions of both arms and legs. Keep your motions as smooth and flowing as possible. Repeat on opposite side. Do 15 reps.


  • a. Stand with feet hip-width apart. Bend knees into a squat and lean forward from the waist, keeping your back straight. Place hands on hips for balance.
  • b. Straighten legs and push your right leg behind you as high as you can without arching your back (think speed skating). Keep your right foot flexed. Return to squat, repeat on opposite side. Start with two or three 15-second sets; work up to 30-second sets.


  • a. Stand as shown, feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • b. Squat down, placing hands flat on the floor alongside of or in front of your feet. (Let comfort be your guide.)
  • c. Jump and push both feet back, straightening your body into a push-up position. Jump and push both feet back to squat; stand up. Do 15 reps.

Installing nitrous the right way

Reading time:

When applied properly, nitrous oxide is the easiest, least-expensive way to make power, and it’s relatively easy to install. To show how easy it can be to add a couple hundred horses by bolting on a bottle, we installed a Nitrous Works adjustable plate system. The 75-225hp kit is one of The Nitrous Works’ most popular because of its ease of installation and adjustability.

If you get greedy for more power later, you can swap out a few components (solenoids and plate) to bring the system up to a 325hp maximum. That’s potentially doubling the power of a mild small-block with the hit of a button! Of course, at higher power levels the engine must be configured to take the added horsepower, and an excellent fuel and ignition system is required. While those upgrades aren’t difficult, they can be time consuming and add considerably to the cost of the nitrous installation.

A squeezed 450 horsepower small-block will still be far less expensive and infinitely more streetable than a non-nitrous’d 450hp version of the same displacement.

Remember that the keys to safely making power with nitrous are providing enough fuel and retarding the ignition sufficiently. But enough soapbox preaching; it’s time to get dirty and install that nitrous system.

  • 1 A complete plate system from The Nitrous Works (TNW) comes with a plate, two solenoids, 16 feet of -4 nitrous line, a nitrous bottle, a fuel filter, nitrous and fuel jets, electrical switches and connectors, and mounting hardware for the bottle.
  • 2 To mount the bottle, strap the brackets to it and set it in place. Mark where to drill the holes, but be sure there isn’t anything under the floor where you want to drill (the gas tank, for example). The valve on the bottle should face forward and up, and the front should be higher than the rear (one pair of brackets is taller) so that the pick-up tube inside the bottle is located where the nitrous will be under acceleration.
  • 3 The most convenient place to mount the -4 nitrous line is parallel to the stock fuel line. Always be careful that the braided line clears all moving parts, and isolate it in rubber mounts to avoid abrasion. Before making the connection to the nitrous solenoid, blow debris from the line by having someone open the valve on the bottle while you hold the line away from the car with a rag. Don’t hold the line with your bare hand or allow the nitrous to hit your skin; the nitrous is at sub-freezing temperatures when released, and frostbite can occur.
  • 4 A TNW product that we highly recommend is its safety system. The system consists of two Hobbs switches that monitor fuel pressure and oil pressure. When either switch senses low pressure, a safety solenoid opens, releasing the nitrous into the atmosphere rather than your engine, saving a potential disaster. The vent tube should be routed to exit in front of the windshield to alert you of a problem immediately. However, be sure it’s not pointed at the windshield because hot glass and freezing-cold nitrous don’t mix well.
  • 5 Fittings are provided with the safety system to “T” into the nitrous and fuel-solenoid lines, but you will need to purchase one for the oil line. We also added Earl’s -3 Speed-Flex stainless-steel-protected extruded Teflon hose to replace the TNW hard lines to plumb the solenoids and the plate. That allowed us to mount the solenoids to the valve cover bolts on brackets we fabricated for a relatively clean installation. Don’t forget to install the nitrous and fuel jets.


Inadequate fuel supply is the leading cause of nitrous-related problems. Nitrous simply adds more oxygen to the engine. To keep your air/fuel ratio correct, more fuel must also be added in a proportional amount. If you are using a system configured for less than 125 horsepower, you can get away with using stock fuel lines, but you should add a quality high-volume fuel pump. If you plan to exceed a 125hp increase, it is recommended that you run a dedicated fuel line (-6 is recommended up to 300hp and -8 after that) for the nitrous system. Use the stock fuel line to feed the carburetor or run an additional -6 line for it and a separate fuel pump and regulator. That can be expensive, but you won’t regret the investment in your fuel system.

Regardless of the power level, most street cars can use the additional fuel pressure a quality high-volume pump provides. Mallory has eight models of electric fuel pumps. Its Comp Pump Series 140 is an excellent choice because it is capable of being regulated to work on bone-stock engines or very-high-horsepower applications. It is also easy to install and operates very quietly. If you’re using rubber lines (which is okay in lower-hp applications), then Mallory sends the necessary fittings. We upgraded our system with Earl’s -8 Perform-O-Flex line, requiring two 45-degree fittings for the fuel filter as well as one straight fitting and one 90-degree fitting for the fuel pump.

Of course, it’s difficult to set your fuel pressure or be sure it is adequate as you run through the gears without a good fuel-pressure gauge. We chose an Auto Meter Pro Comp gauge (part No. 5413) with an isolator so the gauge could be safely mounted inside the car. You will also need a -4 line to connect the isolator to your fuel source. Auto Meter offers these in 3-, 4-, and 6-foot lengths. The Mallory Comp Pump 140 comes with a regulator that allows you to vary fuel pressure from 6 to 12 psi.

Digidesign: Eleven Rack

Reading time:

In May, 2008 gp looked at new amp modeling software from Avid‘s Digidesign brand with the Spinal Tap referencing name “Eleven.” We were suitably impressed: “Every model has a large helping of the sonic depth and complexity found in a high-quality amp,” and “Eleven has the least latency of any modeling software I have tested,” were just some of the raves from yours truly.

Yet Digidesign was not done; they have come up with an audio interface that removes any remaining latency, as well as offering those glorious amp tones to the live performer in a two-space hardware interface called Eleven Rack, which, with its solid, striking coppery orange and black housing, appears simultaneously business-like and fashionable. Each unit comes with a full version of Pro Tools LE 8.0.1; this is essential as this software version–available to all Pro Tools 8 users–allows access to the full menu of recording features in Eleven Rack. With its wealth of I/Os and its phantom powered XLR mic input, Eleven rack is a fully functional DAW interface, but more about this after we jump into the live aspect of this device.

Jacking into the Guitar Input and plugging a set of headphones into the Phones output, I powered up and was immediately impressed by the glowing amber pointer lights on the six hefty Control knobs. The large, easy to read LCD screen showed a page containing instant access to the current amplifier settings (you can choose various patch or “rig” display views as the default–a rig contains amps, effects, speakers, etc).

Pushing the Edit/Back switch enters the rig chain page. There, the Scroll knob to the screen’s right allowed me to choose which element in the chain to edit (effects, amps, cab, etc.). Once chosen, the SW1 switch accessed the control section for that element. The amber knob lights change to green when effects are chosen for editing. Whether editing amp or effect related parameters, the lights switch to red when the parameter is moved away from the preset default, changing back to amber or green when returned to the original setting.

Finished gaping at the light show, I put on the headphones and began checking out the presets. I was taken aback that the sounds were not as I remembered from the software review; they rather tended toward trebly–becoming fizzy and raspy when distorted. I was sure that it was not my headphones (Sony Professionals) but having experienced less than stellar headphone outs on other pieces of exceptional gear, I moved along to plugging Eleven Rack into an amp–in this case, an Orange Tiny Terror.

The rack offers two brilliantly placed amplifier outputs: one on the front panel for easy access to any amplifier input, and one on the back for easy access to an amp’s effects return in case you want to bypass the amp’s preamp section. This second output can also be used for employing two amps in stereo.

Eleven Rack has a wealth of output routing (see specs), so setting up the amp version required holding down the Edit/Back button and choosing the Output 1 option. I also chose the “Rig Out No Cab” option to remove the speaker cabinet and miking emulations. I kept the amplifiers and effects in line, though you can also switch off the amps and just use the effects. Let me say right here that all this scrolling, switching, paging and controlling is incredibly intuitive–I barely had to crack the manual. On the rare instances I needed help I found the documentation easy to understand.

Keeping the Tiny Terror set clean, I started checking out the effects and amp sims. Aha!–this is the Eleven sound I remember–rich, complex, and deep, with no raspiness or digital fizz. The character of each amp managed to come through despite the coloration of the Orange head. At no time did I feel like I was playing through emulations. Volume and pick attack felt like the real deal thanks to the True-Z guitar input, which automatically changes the input impedance to match whichever amp or effect is first in the chain. This is not a simulation but, rather, an actual analog switching of the impedance to match whichever vintage amp or effect your guitar is plugged into. You can also manually control the impedance of the True-Z input and set it to a value that suits your particular playing style.

Running into the effects return of an Egnater Rebel 30 head sounded even better, but made me long for global control over Eleven’s amp outputs (there is one for the XLR Main monitor outputs). Digidesign states that the wildly varying outputs of different amps reflect their actual volume, but in the absence of this global master, some leveling of presets would have been welcome for auditioning purposes. (Digidesign is considering this among several other control enhancements for future firmware updates).

The original Eleven software didn’t include any effects. The array added here all sound very good, but is restricted to the basics–no Whammy pedals or ring modulators. If you miss your Moogerfooger, you can just load it into the effects loop and place it anywhere you like in the chain. I plugged in an Electro-Harmonix POG 2 and it sounded right at home. Of course when used in recording there is a wide array of Pro Tools effects plug-ins available.

A series of buttons on the face avails instant access to distortion, modulation, reverb parameters and the best delay pedal. The FX1 and 2 buttons go directly to the parameters of the effects chosen for those chain slots. You can repeat only the modulation effects in the FX1 and 2 slots, and/or add compressor and graphic EQ effects. You can therefore load your chain with two flangers or two choruses, but are only allowed one type of distortion pedal at a time–no running one 808 sim into another, or into a fuzz.

An expression pedal input allows control of either of the two wah models, the volume pedal within a particular rig, or the overall rig volume. It can also be set to change up to four effect parameters at once. I had fun shortening the length of the Tape Delay while increasing the feedback for some cool runaway repeat effects.

So far our Eleven Rack is a terrific sounding and feeling multi-effects processor/modeler, but where this Digidesign product comes into its own is in recording. It is recognized as a USB 2.0 audio interface by most DAWs, but as of this writing, to use all of its recording features you need the included Pro Tools LE. (Most features will work in Pro-Tools HD and M-Powered but not USB audio).

One of these features is the Eleven Rack control menu, which allows easy access to rigs, drag and drop arranging of effects, etc. The hardware is so simple to navigate you probably won’t miss the computer control function if you don’t use Pro Tools, but a feature you might miss is the way Eleven Rack can embed all the patch parameters in an audio track. This allows effortless recall of the exact sound used in tracking for punch ins performed hours, days, or months later. Cool! Also, only in LE will Eleven Rack’s reamping capabilities allow you to send a recorded mono dry guitar signal out of your computer through USB, for modification by the rack’s modeling effects and then back in to another stereo track, or out through the Eleven’s amp outputs to actual amps, miked in the studio.

Eleven Rack set up without problems and performed flawlessly to specs in all regards, whether live, or as a versatile recording interface with Ableton Live, or into Pro Tools LE. It sounded amazing through real amps or monitored through the unit’s Mains outputs while recording beautiful tones into a DAW.

Regardless of which recording software you use, by powering complex algorithms with its own DSP and allowing direct monitoring off of the hardware, Eleven Rack solves two of the major problems of software amp modeling–CPU usage, and latency. In doing so, Eleven Rack offers more than a wealth of great sounds, it makes modeling easier to use and more inspiring to play than ever.

Best Softball Bat – 3 Tips to Get One for Yourself

Reading time:

While a softball match is going on, the skills of the players is one of the factors which decides the success or failure of a team. In order to make good hit, players need to use a proper bat which can enhance the speed of their swings. The bat is the most effective weapon in the arsenal of a softball hitter. The material, length and weight of the bat are the three important factors which can influence how much impactful a hit can be. Read on to get the most effective tips to choose the best softball bat.

Get one with the right weight

While looking for a good choice, you can find one that is too heavy, too light, too short or too long for you. In this case, you can take the assistance of the store owner to select the best bat for you, particularly in case you are a beginner. This is vital, given the fact that a very heavy bat can slow down your swing speed while a very light one can cause you to swing too much. The weight of a bat is actually dependant on the strength of an individual. However, this hardly means that you will have problems in finding the right one for yourself. A good bat will not be too light for you but you will easily be able to swing it. Go for the bat that you can swing with both hands and not feel strain while doing so.

Get bats made of the best material

The material that goes into the construction of the bat is also important. You may choose from materials like metal mixture, aluminum or composite. Each material can be comfortable for you in a specific weather. Most softball bats are constructed of aluminum but they suffer dents after a few hits. Softball bats made of aluminum are also not ideal for cold weather. It is also a bad idea to use composite bats in cold weather, as these can suffer cracks; they are best used in warm weather.

Choose the right grip

Most softball players choose bats of tapers or handles that are 32/32 inch in diameter, as these can be handled more easily. However, this is based on the weight of the bat. Naturally, the size can be lower than this. You may pick from any of the 3 types of grips which are available – synthetic, leather or rubber. While synthetic and leather allow you a firm grip, rubber allows you to absorb the shocks from hits more easily. You need to go with one that allows you optimum comfort, given the fact that your performance can be better once you feel more comfortable.

By choosing the best fastpitch softball bats for yourself, you will be able to get more comfort and convenience and be able to improve your overall performance. It is best that you try out several bats in the store before buying one that feels right for you. Doing this will help you a lot in choosing the most suitable one for yourself.

Ten of the best

Reading time:

Despite being a microadventure and taking only 24 hours, Alastair’s Skye triathlon required a range of specialised equipment that would enable him to cycle, climb and kayak his way around the island. Among his most valued pieces of kit were an Osprey rucksack, a Mountain Equipment down vest and an Arc’teryx climbing harness

1. Mountain bike

Trek X-Caliber8

800/14 [pounds sterling] kilograms

The X-Caliber 8 is a reasonably light, responsive ‘hardtaii’ (it has no rear suspension) bike. The 29-inch wheels improve momentum and cornering, and help the rider cope with tricky terrain. Ideal for the committed amateur

2. Rucksack

Osprey Talon 33

85/900 [pounds sterling] grams

A well-ventilated, snug-fitting and lightweight pack with a quick-access hydration sleeve that’s handy for storing drinking water. The adjustable torso length allows you to fine-tune the fit.

3. Sea kayak

2,400/28.2 [pounds sterling] kilograms

A fast expedition boat capable of carrying a heavy load. The handy fourth hatch is easy to open while paddling, making it ideal for storing cameras, snacks and water. The wide hull gives excellent stability. The latest version has extra knee room for taller people

4. Down vest

120/285 [pounds sterling] grams

The most versatile and most-used piece of outdoor clothing I own. The Arete is lightweight, comfortable and very warm, with 95 grams of down filling. The zipped pockets are usefully large. A dedicated women’s version is also available

5. Trail shoes

90/315 [pounds sterling] grams

A durable and versatile off-road trail-running shoe that worked well during my Skye microadventure on the bike, in the packraft and along the ridge. The Roclite 315’s synthetic upper and mesh lining dried very quickly. The outsole provided excellent grip on the technical parts of the climb.

6. Climbing harness

100/310 [pounds sterling] grams

Lightweight and functional, the R-300 features unidirectional mesh that provides bridging support in one direction and flexibility in the other. Conical leg loops provide added comfort

7. Tripod

80/454 [pounds sterling] grams

A flexible, compact tripod that can cope with rough terrain. The aluminium construction can support a DSLR or a video camera. Add Joby’s Ballhead X to give the Focus a quick-release plate, as well as precise pan and tilt controls

8. Trousers

60/370 [pounds sterling] grams

Loose and comfortable when cycling, quick drying in the boat, and durable on the mountains, these softshell trousers offer great climate control and have a UPF rating of 30+. Crampon patches show they’re designed for serious use

9. Waterproof jacket

230/320 [pounds sterling] grams

A lightweight shell made from Gore-Tex fabric that’s specifically designed for fast-moving activities. The fully adjustable hood fits snugly over a helmet. The mesh-backed pockets and underarm pit zips allow you to ventilate effectively while on the move

10. Energy food

14.99/50 [pounds sterling] grams

A tasty, gluten-free flapjack with ten grams of protein per bar. It’s made by a British company that’s focused on creating genuinely healthy food. Available in six flavours–including coconut, berry and raisin–if you’re not a fan of bananas

Line 6 M13 & Rocktron Utopia pedals

Reading time:

Last year, i set up a near-perfect pedalboard with all my favorite analog stompboxes. I say “near perfect” because the massive board turned out to be bigger than most of the stages I was standing upon, and I hate being cramped when I play. Of course, there are some excellent integrated pedalboards available from Boss, DigiTech, Rocktron, Vox, Zoom, and others–and I’ve used most of them with stellar results–but I wanted to try something a little different at a recent opening slot for Beck’s half-sister, Alyssa Suede, at San Francisco’s Beale Street.

Line 6 must have been reading my mind (hey, get outta there!). The company’s M13 Stompbox Modeler ($699 retail/S499 street) looks like an expensive custom pedalboard, but its footprint is smaller than even a Wii Fit floor controller. The true-bypass multieffects unit includes 86 different stompbox models, a 28-second looper, tap tempo, an onboard tuner, MIDI In/Out, two expression-pedal inputs, an assignable effects loop, and 1/4″ stereo I/O.

In addition, Roktron’s compact Utopia series Guitar Wah ($139 retail/S99 street) and Volume/Expression ($109 retail/$79 street) pedals allowed me to incorporate two more of my essential effects into the system without significantly devouring added real estate. Another benefit was portability. I stuffed the M13, its AC power adapter, and all my guitar cables into a conventional messenger bag, and placed the very lightweight Utopia pedals in the front pocket of my guitar’s gig bag (along with the set lists, a roll of gaffer’s tape, and my guitar strap). In fact, my entire rig–a Prestige Musidan hollowbody, an Egnater Rebel-20 head and Rebel-112X cabinet, and the M13/Rocktron setup–was so streamlined that I was plugged in and ready to rock before the preceding band’s drums were offstage, and, after the set, I was packed up and tipping back a cherry cola at the bar within five minutes. Of course, getting your rig on and off stage faster than the Flash means little if the time you’re spending on stage is ruined by crap-sounding gear. Happily, I was a happy camper.

LINE 6 M13

Satisfying my military-bred sense of order, the M13’s effect models are divided into color-coded LEDs that match the finishes on the company’s four Modeler pedals: a green screen designates delays, blue is for modulation, yellow is for distortion/compression, and purple is for filter effects, while the best reverb pedal based on the Verbzilla pedal is illuminated by orange. If you’ve ever accidentally stepped on the wrong pedal in mid gig, and then turned yourself into a spastic buffalo while trying to quickly find and kill the jet flanger, this simple organizational method will keep you off the anxiety meds. You can run up to four effects simultaneously from an easy-to-grok pedalboard arranged into four channels With three different pedal options per channel. Three dual-function switches let you construct effects chains (called Scenes), enter tap tempo, control the looper, call up the tuner, and access system setup options. It’s all your choice whether to run the M13 as a “dumb” board of 12 separate on/off pedals, program it for a series of Scenes with multiple effects, or switch between the two modes. Tweaking on the fly is a gas, because the M13’s auto-save function instantly remembers every parameter adjustment. (If you suffer from buyer’s remorse, you can select manual save.) Everything about this unit is delightfully butt simple–as long as you download the M13 Advanced Guide ( At press time, the basic manual included with the unit omitted some essential data on programming Scenes and other operations.

Anyone familiar with the Line 6 Modeler series (DL4 Delay, MM4 Modulation, FM4 Filter, and DM4 Distortion) will know the score on the M13’s sonic muscle. Every effect sounds good, and the limited, stompbox-style parameters still offer enough options for refining the basic tones to your taste. Initially, I wasn’t thrilled with the clang-y coldness of some of the distortion sounds–I’d been using some boutique pedals for a while–but when I heard recordings of the gigs I played with the M13, the roar was pretty awesome. The distortions, fuzzes, and overdrives cut right through the band mix and drove rhythm parts and solos with absolutely raging timbres. I wasn’t really a looping guy, but the M13’s easy-to-use looper let me improvise a spacey, layered intro for a song without incident, so now I’m kind of hooked. Throughout ten club gigs, I always found the M13 to be a portable genius box that added to my tonal palette without damning me to programming pressures, sweating over multiple cables and connections, or otherwise making me crazy.


I’m never without a best volume pedal and a wah, so I was jazzed that the Utopias arrived at the GP offices the same time as the M13, as the light and compact pedals were perfect matches for the uber-portable M13 rig. Of course, there can be a compromise when utilizing lightweight materials, and, in the case of the Utopias, the trade off is pedals that feel a bit squishy. Under fire, however, any wobbles are negligible, and I was always able to perform smooth volume swells and precise wah manipulations.

The expression function of the Volume/Expression mated well with the M13, and, although I didn’t employ this utility at gigs, studio tests confirmed that parameter control was fast and flawless. In addition, the volume function has enough range to be perfect for subtle silence-to-scream swells, pedal-steel effects, and rapid on/off chopping. The Guitar Wah has a wide bandwidth, which makes it easy to perform vocal-esque yowls, low-end burps, funk chicka-chicka, and Mick Ronson-style midrange accents and tone shaping. I’m a long-time fan of some classic wahs, but, in action with a loud rock band, the Guitar Wah sounded as good as any wah I’ve used onstage.

Treat your feet right

Reading time:

You know it’s been a long winter when you go to put your best foot forward … and you don’t have one. A winter cooped up inside shoes makes for feet full of corns, calluses, aches, plantar fasciitis so you may need best shoes for plantar fasciitis. But if you put yourself on our foot-fitness program now, you can be sandal-ready this summer. If Cinderella’s stepsisters had heard about this program, one of them might have lived quite happily ever after in glass slippers, too.


Those glass slippers bring us to our first point. Corns and calluses are made, not born. Both are caused by continual rubbing, which creates the hard, dry skin that builds up and causes trouble. The prime cause is wearing shoes just because they look great, even when they don’t fit right.

“It’s not just tight, pinching shoes that cause problems,” says New York podiatrist Terry L. Spilken, D.P.M., who works with, among others the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. “Loose shoes can be just as bad for your feet, which slide around in them, creating the friction that ultimately leads to calluses and corns.”

The only difference between corns and calluses is shape: A corn is conical and compresses into the skin. Its shape concentrates the pressure on the area, making it more painful than a callus, which is flat.

“Realistically, I don’t expect every one to convert to properly fitting shoes. But at least I can make you aware of why you’re having the problem says Dr. Spilken. Shoes that fit right should support your foot without reshaping it. “You should have about one finger’s width between the shoes tip and your longest toe for some people this is their second toe),” says Dr. Spilken. The widest part of the shoe should correspond to the widest part of your foot.

A shoe store can only go so far in giving you sandal-pretty feet. When corns and calluses cause pain, go to a podiatrist. The doctor will examine you to determine what’s contributing to your foot problem. A corn on the top of a toe can hurt so much that you compensate by changing the way you walk. This, in turn, can create a whole new problem by putting too much pressure on your knee or hip. “You don’t want somebody to treat just a symptom,” says Dr. Spilken.


For some people, calluses and corns have a biomechanical origin. They’re caused by the way a person walks naturally. For these people, that can be corrected with an orthotic (a shoe insert), says Dr. Spilken.

Regardless of whether a corn or callus is caused by bad shoes or a biomechanical defect, the number-one treatment when there’s pain is to cut away the problem area with a scalpel. Do not try to do this at home with your razor or scissors. You can cause extreme damage and infection. When done by a podiatrist, this is a safe and virtually painless procedure.

If your problem is only mild calluses that don’t hurt, or if you’re mainly interested in preventive maintenance, you can begin your foot fitness program at home or at a pedicurist’s. At home, don’t use anything harsher than a pumice stone to slough off dead, dry skin. “Spend five minutes soaking your feet to soften them before using a pumice stone to gently scour away dead skin,” says Dr. Spilken.

When you’re out of your bath or shower, or just before bed, massage a moisturizing cream into your feet. Begin doing this daily. After a few weeks, you may be able to reduce this to once a week and still be callus-free.


Imagine how sore your arms would be if you had to keep them in one position for a whole day… and they had to tote your whole body weight, as well. Sound tiring? It is for your feet. That’s why Dr. Spilken says that exercise and movement of the feet is vital. “By keeping the joints limber and with a good range of motion you can minimize the chances of having pain.

These two exercises can help you become footloose, if not fancy-free. (1) Sit with your toes on the ground and your heels off. Press into the floor and release. Repeat five times. (2) Take a minute or two a day and make circles in the air with your foot while sitting.

Another good pick-me-up for your feet is a soak in hot water at the end of the day. “The heat is terrific for getting the blood go and for relaxing the muscles,” explains Dr. Spilken. Then moisturize. Put some moisturizer in the palm of one hand and rest one foot on the opposite knee. With the heel of your hand, knead your foot, in a circular motion, from one end to the other. Knead the arch with your thumbs. Move along the soles and sides of your foot. Flex each toe back and gently rotate it. Tug it gently. Switch feet and repeat.

How to shave

Reading time:

How you can avoid such a grisly fate–and how experienced shavers can get better results.

1 If this is your first time, or you haven’t shaved in a couple of weeks, use a beard trimmer to take your hair down as short as possible–just stubble on your legs.

2 Get into the shower and go through your normal washing routine. This way your skin gets warm and pliable, and the hair becomes soft. Never shave when you have goosebumps or you feel at all cold. That’s how you get razor burn.

3 Keep the shower running if you can step away from the direct stream (which otherwise will prematurely wash off shaving cream). If you can’t get out of the spray and the room is warm, turn the shower off, but keep a trickle of warm water running to clean the blade. If you can’t get out of the stream and the room is cold, turn your back to the water and do the best you can.

4 If you’re inexperienced or frequently cut yourself, apply a pre-shave oil to the problem areas. These are usually the ankles, the contours of the kneecaps, and the backs of your knees.

5 Apply shaving cream to your entire leg, from thigh to bottom of ankles. Ideally you use a shaving brush to apply it. A brush spreads the cream most easily and efficiently. A washcloth is next in preference, then your hands.

6 Start shaving. It’s okay to go against the grain, and it doesn’t matter if you shave from the thighs downward or ankle up. Just go slow and, around the problem areas, use short but smooth strokes. If you’re working in dim light, check for missed patches.

7 When you’re done, you’re not done. Rinse and look for spots you missed. Touch up the job. Repeat the process as necessary.

8 When you get out of the shower, use an alcohol-free moisturizer or aftershave balm. That will keep the legs from chafing. Swap out the blade after every two or three shaves.