Hair Loss

Doc:  You said you answer questions about anything, and I have one about hair loss.  I am losing my hair on my forehead and don’t know why.  Someone told me that my hair loss is due to my cornrows and he called it traction something or other.  I was too embarrassed to ask what he was talking about.  Do you know? - Anonymous


Anon:  Hey, I don’t even have to ask my wife (a dermatologist) about this.  The person you talked to was referring to something known as traction alopecia and you can find out all about it by clicking here.  (By the way, hair loss caused by traction alopecia is permanent.  There is nothing you can do to replace the hair unless you want to try a transplant.)


If that’s not enough information for you, click here.

Ham Radio - 73

What does the term “73” mean in amateur Radio?  I think it's an acronym. - Gary


Gary:  According to a site on the Internet, the first use of the code “73” is in the publication The National Telegraph Review and Operators’ Guide first published in April 1857.  At that time, 73 meant “My love to you,” but the meaning changed over time to things like “accept my compliments,” “my compliments to you,” and “best regards.”


Amateurs use 73 today to represent a friendly word between them.

Harley-Davidson Model Letters

All Harley-Davidson bikes have strange letter designations, like FLSTF for the “Fat Boy.”  What do all those letter mean? - Anonymous


Anon:  The use of letters for bike models goes way back in Harley’s history.  There are several sites that discuss the letters, but one good one is Harley-Davidson letters.

Hands Free Cell Phone Laws

Doc:  You seem to know a lot about technical stuff, so I thought I'd write and ask a question, which is:  Most states in the United States will soon have a law that makes it illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving unless the person has some type of hands free device.  I have been checking what's available and I found a Bluetooth speakerphone by BlueAnt (Supertooth Light).  Do you have any idea if this is a good product?  - Anonymous


Anon:  First, I really don't know a lot about technical stuff, just enough to get by.  Second, I'm sorry for the delay in answering your question, but I didn't have a good answer for you, so I had to do a little "detective" work before I could answer your question.


Third, for those who don't know much about the hands free cell phone laws that most states will probably pass soon, there is a lot of information on the Internet—click here.


In most situations, the laws will probably be two-phased, something like: (1) All drivers 18 years old and over will be allowed to use a cell phone only with a hands free device; (2) Drivers under the age of 18 will not be able to use a cell phone or hands free device under any circumstances.  I think the laws are good.


OK, with all that said, I checked the Internet for the types of Bluetooth speakerphones that are available.  The BlueAnt model you suggested looked good, so I bought one from Amazon to try it.


(Aside:  If you don't know anything about Bluetooth technology, click here.)


Here is my evaluation . . . The BlueAnt Supertooth Light Bluetooth Handsfree Speakerphone is a great product, but it's (obviously) necessary to have a cell phone that has Bluetooth in order to use it.  To test the device in my car, I called several people under a variety of situations such as with the windows open, radio on, and fan turned on high.  In all cases, the people at the other end of the phone said the noise-canceling property of the BlueAnt worked great and they couldn't hear the background noises, although the device wasn't able to cancel the radio when I had it "blasting."


The BlueAnt Supertooth Light Bluetooth Handsfree Speakerphone has a long battery life after fully charged, weighs only a few ounces, and fits easily on the visor in the car.  In addition, I also tried it in my office and it works great as a standard speakerphone. 


So, on a 10-point scale, my rating for the BlueAnt Supertooth Light Bluetooth Handsfree Speakerphone is a "10."


For more information, go to the BlueAnt website.


Finally, for those who don't want to buy a speakerphone, can't afford one, or don't have a Bluetooth cell phone, there is always this option: click here and scroll down to the photo.

Hands Free Cell Phone Laws - 2

Doc:  How many states have laws about hands free cell phone use when driving a vehicle? - Anonymous


Anon: While there are several articles on the Internet about hands free cell phone use, one of the best summaries is located here.


This website says, ". . . California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Washington, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws prohibiting driving while talking on handheld cell phones."


There is a lot of interesting information on that website, so check it out.

(Isaac) Hayes

Doc:  Over the years of writing your column, you have mentioned a song by Isaac Hayes that has a very long name.  I cannot think of the song and it's driving me crazy.  Would you, once again, tell me what the title is? - Anonymous


Anon:  I'm sure you're referring to Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic, one of my favorite songs and a song my boys could sing when they were about 5 years old, and you can listen to the song if you click here.  If that link doesn't work, just go to YouTube and enter the song in the search bar.


Note:  The person who uploaded the song to YouTube spelled his first name wrong—it's Isaac, not Issac.  Rock on.

(Isaac) Hayes Again

Doc:  You have mentioned a few times a song by Isaac Hayes that has a long title.  I can't think of it and don't know enough letters to search for it on the Internet.  Would you tell me what it is?  Thanks. - RC


RC:  I'm surprised how often I receive questions about this song from 1969.  It's probably because the title is so long and strange-sounding (and doesn't mean anything, by the way).  The title of the song is: Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic and you can listen to it if you click here.


In addition to a confusing title, many people have a tough time figuring out just what the song is all about.  Check out these (rough) lyrics.




I wanna come back

'Cause I like it like that

Your modus operandi

Is really all right, out of sight


Your sweet phalanges

Know how to squeeze

My gastronomical stupensity

Is really satisfied when you're lovin' me


Now, tell me, what, I, say?




I can't sleep at night

But that's all right

The M.D. tells me

My heart's on strike


Emanatin', originatin' from a love asphyxiation

He said I better slow down

Before you drive me in the ground

But what he doesn't know is I want another encore


Now, what, I, say?




Let me stop procrastinatin'

Standin' here and narratin'

Find my emancipator

She's a love educator


Cerebrum, cerebellum, and medulla oblongata

A slave's on a horse

Every time she explores

Just heard a discussion about a racial relationship


Now, what, I, say?




If you are interested in Isaac's website, click here.

(Note:  I understand, "Your modus operandi" and "Your sweet phalanges," but I'm really stumped with, "My gastronomical stupensity.")


You're a Doctor...maybe you can help.  I work in a building where we have a tower on site.  Whenever we switch to our backup 1 KW transmitter on site to do engineering work, we get this RF all over the building...phones, speakers...


The problem is that every time we go to the backup, my head just splits open with a massive headache.  It's bad, Doc.  Is there a medical explanation for this?  Maybe radio waves giving me brain cancer or something of the sort?  It hurts. Just curious. - Josh


Josh:  Yes, I’m a doctor, but only a Ph.D., not a medical doctor, so my comments here should not be interpreted as a medical opinion.


The information in some of the articles on the Internet suggest that your headaches may be caused by the backup transmitter.  The problem is that I can’t find any definitive studies indicating the seriousness of the problem.


I’m not sure where you live, but you might try to find a “pain” clinic who can help you alleviate the problem.  Good luck.

HeadOn Headache Reliever

Doc:  Does the product, "HeadOn" really work to get rid of headaches? - Anonymous


Anon:  I'm not a medical doctor and you shouldn't interpret my comments as medical advice.  However, if you search the Internet, you'll find thousands of articles that discuss the ineffectiveness of HeadOnclick here.


If you read some of the articles, you will notice that the Federal Drug Administration questioned the effectiveness of HeadOn.  The company couldn't produce any evidence to support any medical benefit, and that's why the commercial no longer claims that the product actually works.


While there are many good articles about this bogus product, one of the best discussions is by James Randi—click here.


I can't believe that anyone would buy this crap.

Heisenberg’s Indeterminacy

I’m just a college student, so I hope you’ll answer my question. Before my media class started the other day, one of the students mentioned "Heisenberg’s indeterminacy." (Please correct my spelling if you need to.) None of us wanted to ask him what it meant. Do you know what it is? - Krista

Krista: First of all, don’t cut yourself down by saying that you’re "just a college student." You stay there and learn as much as you can.

Heisenberg’s indeterminacy? What ever happened to college students protesting against "the machine," and cramming people in phone booths and VWs? My goodness. OK, here goes…

Around 1927, German physicist Werner Heisenberg (who died in 1976) developed his indeterminacy in relation to mapping subatomic structures. He said, "Certain information about subatomic systems can be obtained ONLY at the cost of remaining ignorant about other information." Read that again very slowly. It sounds a lot like "You can’t have your cake and eat it too."


Now, read the statement again, but this time, delete the words "about subatomic systems." We now have, "Certain information can be obtained only at the cost of remaining ignorant about other information." The indeterminacy now relates to any situation. For example,

Get it? Now let’s apply the indeterminacy to operating a radio station. The goal of those who run radio stations (or any business) should be to encourage as many people as possible to "obtain information/entertainment from their station at the cost of remaining ignorant about what other radio stations are offering."

How do you do that? Ask the listeners what they want, give it to them, and then tell them that you gave it to them (via on-air and off-air promos and advertising).

While Heisenberg’s indeterminacy was originally intended to apply to physics, a little change in wording shows that it relates to everything we do. We constantly collect information about one thing at the expense of remaining ignorant about something else. We can only hope that our focus is on the right thing—"Excuse me, General Custer, but do you think that you’re correct in saying that we should keep a lookout only for a place to camp?"

(Jimi) Hendrix Couch

Doctor: For $500 and the game, answer: The color of Jimi Hendrix's couch that is on display at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. - Tom


Tom:  I don’t know if you already know the answer and are just testing me, or if you really don’t know the answer.  Either way, I approach all questions the same.


I will admit that when I read your question, I didn’t know the color of Jimi Hendrix’s couch.  In fact, I can say that in all my life I have never thought about it.  Although I did see Hendrix perform in Chicago in 1968, when I left the theatre, I didn’t say to myself, “I wonder what color his couch is?”  Anyway, on to your answer…


I’m going to take you through the process I went through to find your answer just so you know what I had to go through.  And even though I have put in about two days trying to find your answer, I still don’t have all the information and will have to add another post when I do get everything.


OK.  Here is what I did:

  1. First, I went to the Internet to see if I could find the answer.  I did several searches and found several references to Hendrix’s couch, but there was no information about its color.  Dead end.

  2. Next, I went to the Rock + Roll Hall of Fame website to see if I could find your answer.  Although there were two links to Hendrix items (Jimi Hendrix Experience and Hendrix Exhibit), there was no information about the couch and there were no pictures of the couch.  Dead end.

  3. I decided to call the Rock + Roll Hall of Fame to see if anyone could answer your question.  I first talked to two people who didn’t know.  I was then transferred to Howard, the curator of the Hall of Fame exhibits.

  4. I explained the question to Howard and he told me that the couch is no longer at the museum.  Did you read that carefully?  He said Hendrix’s couch is no longer at the museum.  It's outta there!  He said the Hendrix family took it out of the exhibit.  I then asked him what color the couch is.  He said something like, “I think it’s either purple or a maroon color.”  I asked if he was sure about either color and he said, “no.”  Dead end again.

  5. I now knew that the couch was at the Rock + Roll Hall of Fame, so I knew I could verify the first part of your question.  The problem is that I still couldn’t verify the color of the couch.  Bummer.

  6. I then thought that there must be a Jimi Hendrix website.  Sure enough!  I found the official Jimi Hendrix website and went there to see if there is any information about the couch.  No luck.  Dead end.

  7. Hmm.  I found a “Contact Us” link at the bottom of the home page.  I clicked on that and asked your question.  About two minutes later, the email came back as “undeliverable.”  I tried again using another alternative, but had the same luck

  8. While reading through the Hendrix website, I saw that he had a sister…Janie.  I tried a few emails versions of that and finally I didn’t get a returned as “undeliverable.”  But I wasn’t sure if the email really went through.  Partial dead end.

  9. The next thing I thought was to find the owner of the Hendrix website.  After a few searches, I found it.  The website is owned by “Experience Hendrix, LLC” in Seattle, WA.  Not knowing if my email went through, I called the Hendrix office in Seattle.  To my surprise, the number was correct.  I explained my reason for calling (couch color) to the woman who answered the phone, but she didn’t know the answer.  She told me that I should talk to Janie, Jimi Hendrix’s sister.  Unfortunately, Janie wasn’t in the office then, so I left a message explaining the purpose of my call.

  10. What happened?  The email did get to her, and the added support of my phone message indicated an urgency to find the answer.  And I found it.  I found it from THE source.  Irrefutable.  Valid.  Reliable.  100% accurate.  And if you know the answer already, I’ll kick your hind end if I ever meet you.

So what did Janie Hendrix write to me in her email?  Here is what she said:


Roger:  The couch is a metallic brown.  My dad first bought it at Goodwill in Seattle.  Janie


So there ya go…straight from the source.  The couch is a “metallic brown,” and I bet not too many people know that Jimi and Janie’s dad bought it at a Goodwill store in Seattle.


End of story?  Not quite.  I mentioned to Janie that Howard (the curator) told me that the “Hendrix family took the couch out of the museum.”  Janie wrote back and said:


“The couch is still at the Rock Hall.  We borrowed it for the Cité de la Musique in Paris, France, and had it on display there, but it is currently back in Cleveland.”


What?  Wait a minute!  Back in Cleveland?  Can’t be.  That don’t be right.  Howard, the main Rock Hall guy, said the Hendrix family has it.  In other words, in the process of answering your question, I opened up a big can of worms.  No one seems to know where Hendrix’s couch is located.  Where do it be?  When I find out, I’ll post the answer in the column.


Tom…Thanks for the question.  What seemed to be a rather mundane question became a great learning experience for me.  In addition, I have met Janie Hendrix through email and have gained another good acquaintance.  She sounds like a great person.


In addition to that, I sent her an email that she thought was funny.  This is what I wrote:


Janie:  Thanks for your response.  I know you're a busy person.  However, I think I may have uncovered something.


Howard, the curator of the Rock Hall of Fame, said that the couch is no longer on display at the museum.  He said, "The Hendrix family has it now."  Maybe Howard doesn't know the couch is back at the museum.  This might be a good "Final Jeopardy" question:  “Where is the Hendrix couch?”


I'm sure you have heard many stories about Jimi, but I'd like to tell you one that I'm sure you have never heard.....


When my son, Jeremy (aka Buckwheat), was about 6 years old (he's 26 now), he had an imaginary friend who lived in his head.  I know, weird stuff, but a child psychologist said he was OK and he has turned out fine.  Anyway, his imaginary friend's name was Jimmy, and Jimmy "talked" to Jeremy.  (I swear that Buckwheat is fine now.)  One day, I was playing Jimi’s song, "Fire" and when Jimi said the lines, “Oh, move over Rover and let Jimi take over,” Jeremy said, "He's not talking to you."  I asked Jeremy what he was talking about and he said, "Jimmy (imaginary friend) thought that the guy in the song was talking to him."  My only thought was, "I hope this boy grows up to be OK."


Jeremy still remembers that, and when he hears "Fire" today, he will still say to me, in a joking way, "He's not talking to you."  (The imaginary Jimmy is no longer living in Jeremy's head.)


Thanks again for your time.  Where's the couch?


Tom.......Where’s my $500?




(Note:  Several weeks later, I was told that the couch was accidentally sent back to Paris.)


Doc:  I know this isn't a pleasant topic, but you said you would try to answer questions about any topic.  I also know that my question is anonymous and you don't know who I am.  My question is: I have read many articles on the Internet about genital herpes and they say that a person can get the virus only through sexual contact.  Is that true?  Can't a person get genital herpes from contact with other things, such as a toilet seat or something? - Anonymous


Anon:  First, I need to provide this disclaimer:  I'm not a medical doctor, so do not interpret my comments as a medical opinion.  However, I do know a few things about the topic because my wife is a dermatologist and deals with this situation almost every day with many of her patients.


Second, I understand why you may be embarrassed to discuss your situation, but you shouldn't feel this way if you talk to a specialist such as a dermatologist or urologist.  These doctors deal with these and other "embarrassing" situations every day and they will not make you feel guilty or whatever it is you are embarrassed about.


Third, yes, questions sent to me are 100% anonymous unless the person includes his/her name and/or email address in the question.  When I started this column in January 2000, the anonymity of people who submit questions was important to me and Joel Denver agreed.  Unless people include personal information, there is absolutely no way for me to know who submits questions.  So, on to your question . . .


From the information from my wife and other sources, the articles you have read on the Internet are correct—the only way to get genital herpes is through sexual contact of some sort.  Without ever telling me patients' names or other personal information, my wife has told me that she often sees patients with genital herpes who vehemently deny that they have had sexual contact with someone with herpes—that they must have "picked it up" from a public bathroom or other place.  She tries to explain that there is only one way to contract genital herpes, but some never believe her (or other doctors who tell them the same thing).


With that in mind, I told her she should tell these people that there are actually two ways to contract genital herpes: (1) sexual contact; or (2) drinking unsterilized Yak urine.  She can then ask the patient which of the two options best describes his/her situation.  (My purpose was not to make fun of people, but to emphasize that there is only one way to "pick up" genital herpes.  I'm not sure if she has used my suggestion.)


Finally, make an appointment with a specialist who deals with herpes, such as a dermatologist or urologist.


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