If things have been slow lately in the romance department, the Athena Institute for Women's Wellness in Haverford, Pa., might have just what you need: a love potion composed of pheromones, synthesized chemical compounds that mimic secretions produced by the human body.
Some scientists, like Winnifred Cutler, believe these secretions are designed to attract sexual attention. Cutler, who helped discover human pheromones and heads the Athena Institute, advises women that regular sex is good for their health. And it just so happens that the pheromones her institute markets may help a gal get on the road to wellness.
Scientific studies have actually shown that subjects who used synthesized pheromones had sex more often (a 47% increase in sexual intercourse) than those who used a placebo (a 9.5% increase). Because of differences in individual body chemistry, the Athena Institute's potions don't seem to work for everybody: About 75% of those who try them report positive results, while the remaining 25% don't notice a change in their sexual attractiveness.
There's a formula for men (Athena Pheromone 10X) and one for women (Athena Pheromone 10:13). Each costs about $100 for a sixth-of-an-ounce vial, which makers claim should last four to six months.
A Pen Mightier Than the Mouse? Some people are just more comfortable marking up documents with a pen than shifting chunks of text with a mouse. CIC Communication Intelligence Corp. of Redwood Shores, Calif., recognized this yearning and revisited an apparently outdated tool: the pencil. The result? The Handwriter, an ultra-thin tablet with a cordless pen that allows users to edit personal computer word-processor documents, spreadsheets and databases.
In text mode, everything you write on the Handwriter tablet turns to on-screen type, thanks to proprietary recognition software. In electronic-ink mode, your notes, sketches and drawings are transferred directly to the screen. The Handwriter also recognizes certain simple marks that represent editing directions, such as copy, cut, paste, insert and delete. Available for both Macintosh and Windows and compatible with most standard applications, the Handwriter sells for about $300.
Time for a Sharper Swivel: If you're completely enamored of ergonomics, you might want to try Sharper Image's swivel clock with trackball tuning. As its description suggests, the device is a clock radio that's fine-tuned with a smooth-gliding track-ball. It includes a large display of the time, room temperature, day and date on a screen that swivels in any direction and tilts to any angle, so you'll never have to crane your neck again.
Web Browsing by Hand: Apple's hand-held Newton computer has come a long way since the much-ridiculed debut model, and now you can even use it to surf the World Wide Web. Los Gatos, Calif.-based AllPen Software's NetHopper Browser, when used in conjunction with any Newton-compatible modem, gives a Newton with the 2.0 operating system full Web access.
It might not be quite as robust as a desktop PC browser, but it does support features such as forms--allowing users to submit information online--creates bookmarks and saves a 25-page library of recently visited pages. Many believe that Web browsers for hand-held computers and smart telephones will quickly become a popular method of accessing the global computer network. NetHopper (http://www.allpen.com.) costs $50.
Purpura and Pontoniere welcome nominations for the column. They can be reached at email@example.com