Friday, July 28, 2006

Not In My Refrigerator, You Don't!

I thought I’d heard the ne plus ultra in bad taste advertising a couple of years ago. It had to do with ads placed in public rest rooms so that gentlemen taking care of business could also be encouraged to buy more of what sent them there. Music, flashing lights, and an electronic voice would pitch to that briefly captive audience. Worse, they threatened that a version for women’s bathrooms would be next. Talk about tacky.

Now some equally warped genius has come up with a way to pay for his product development costs by forcing me (he thinks) to read an ad before my eyes are even open in the morning. A company called EggFusion uses finely tuned lasers to etch freshness and traceability information right on the shells of eggs as they are processed and packed. All well and good; it’s not a bad thing to know how old those eggs are in the back of the refrigerator. It might even be interesting to know where they came from. Stop there and I have no argument. Any bets on whether they did?

Of course not. All those square centimeters of blank shell canvas cannot be allowed to go unembellished. And so this September and October, CBS television is buying exclusive advertising space on some 35 million eggs to promote their fall lineup. Eggs will be transformed into mini-billboards with the CBS eye and show logos lasered on the shells. Puns will be rampant, from “Crack the Case on CBS” (“CSI”) to “Funny Side Up” for a Monday night comedy show.

The President of CBS’ marketing group, George Schweitzer, said he wanted to bring laughter to American kitchens. That’s fine. What I take issue with – what makes me dead set against buying any lasered eggs – is Mr. Schweitzer’s delight in the intrusiveness of the concept. “You can’t avoid it,” he said.

Wanna bet?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

One Giant Leap

Do you know where you were 37 years ago today? If you’re forty-something or older, you bet you do. You were glued to the television – any television you could find – as a never-before drama unfolded a quarter of a million miles away. For us on the East coast it meant staying awake so late we were guaranteed to have brain fog the next day. So what? We were watching history.

Back then, every rocket launch had full, many hours long network TV coverage. We were mesmerized by space travel. It was so new, so Twilight Zone. That night we saw John Kennedy’s challenge met – our men walked on the moon – and Americans were proud again. We were still stinging from Russia’s Sputnik success in the 50’s, but Neil Armstrong’s and Buzz Aldrin's footprints in moon dust stomped that Red Bear.

Today a space shuttle launch or landing barely rates 20 seconds on the evening news, sandwiched between eternal strife in the Middle East and equally eternal strife in Washington. I’m glad I’ve lived to see space travel become so common place. I hope I live long enough to see peace.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

How to REALLY Get Away From It All

Ever wished you could fly up to the International Space Station and get a whole new perspective on the world? For now it’s a vain hope unless you are an astronaut or obscenely wealthy. Most of us have to stare at the moon and be content to wonder what the earth looks like from up there.

Ah, but not for long. An enterprising hotel tycoon is thinking way out side the box – or the earth – and planning hotels in space. Robert Bigelow already has a prototype in orbit and plans to perfect his inflatable capsules over the next few years. What now looks like an overgrown watermelon will eventually be replaced by a three-story space habitat.

Bigelow Aerospace picked up on a cancelled NASA program for inflatable space station crew quarters. Congress pulled the plug on the program, but the technology didn’t die. So when you hop a rocket to the Bigelow Space Resort, you can take some pride in the fact that your tax dollars helped make it all possible.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Ain't Love - and Technology - Grand?

Here’s a story about good old-fashioned love in the heartland. And I do mean literally, hearts on the land.

Brian loves Stacy, but it was not enough for him to just buy her a nice dinner or go down on one knee to pop the question. He took her up – several hundred feet – to view his carefully planned proposal. Using Global Positioning System data and geographical software, Brian plotted the coordinates and then tilled his plea in a Wisconsin cornfield.

Stacy said “Yes”.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Of Silk Purses and Sows' Ears

This is in the category of “Truisms That Aren’t”. We’ve all heard them:
  • “You can’t get blood from a turnip.”
  • “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”
  • “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”
Well, it turns out you can. It takes innovation and creative thinking and a lot of time and money. But you can do it. Not only can you…but determined people did…back in 1921! And here’s the proof.

Next time you hear a truism, remember that there’s a “but….” at the end. And think of all those inventors and innovators who didn’t believe what they were told.