Friday, March 30, 2012

1708 Graphirillos

I heard about the controversy over the new graphic photos on cigarette packs and it got me thinking. The plan, in case you haven't heard, is to try to combat decades of Joe Camel coolville advertising aimed at kids by cigarette companies.
To do so, it's been decided that cigarette manufacturers have to go far beyond the increasingly detailed printed description of the hazards of smoking, (I guess because it’s assumed kids don't read anymore) and instead display graphic pictures of the consequences of years of hacking butts.
Blackened festering lungs. Cancer eating away at flesh. Lips falling off and throats cut out and such like. It’s thought that those pictures will be so appalling that no callow youth with an ounce of common sense could possibly buy or steal a pack.
The road to disappointment and hell is paved with wishful thinking. Because kids don't smoke to be cool. They smoke to be rebellious to be cool. And the grosser the pack's pictures the more rebellious they will become.
Witness the crowd of giggling and gangly youth at any graphic teen slasher flick.
As an aside, when the federal government banned cigarette ads, They banned them on radio first. Print ads continued for decades. I wonder which advertising medium the feds find more effective? Maybe every pack should have an embedded radio message.
I'm worried about something else. What sort of precedent will this set? On any liquor bottle you purchase will you have to look at graphic and bloody photos of car crashes? Maybe a pustulated cirrhotic liver? Or on the box of your Big Mac will there be pictures of morbidly obese jiggly sallow flesh? Will your bacon package have a picture of a blocked bloody artery, dripping with gooey cholesterol?
Be careful what you wish for.
America ya gotta love it.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

1707 Slowdown Load

It just seems sometimes like folks don't speak the same language. Or maybe it's just some companies try to bully their way into new interpretations of meaning.
Like the other day I was reading an article on AT&T's plan to slowdown data consumption. They plan to slow download speeds for their heaviest data users—those who exceed a recently invented monthly usage cap of 3 gigabytes. That data limit is equivalent to an hour of streaming video or 3.5 hours of music each day.
Which, you know, is probably one reason why you got your smartphone or tablet. That was all the hype wasn't it? That you would be able to do all those things on your phone. Nothing like watching Titanic or Avatar on a 3-inch screen by the way. Awesome.
Further, I would hazard a guess that AT&T contributed a huge amount of advertising dollars to precisely that hype in order to sell both smartphones and unlimited plans.
The article went on to say that the move by AT&T reflects its struggle to accommodate rising data traffic. Oh, and by the way, the move is aimed at the 17 million smartphone subscribers who signed up for "unlimited" data plans.
Um...what's wrong with this picture? (Other than it’s only 3 inches.) Yep, doesn't unlimited mean unlimited? Or does unlimited mean I signed your bloody contract and now you're unlimited by the law or any form of morality? Or does unlimited now mean you can actually in effect limit unlimited by slowing down the rate by which I try to use the unlimited?
That's a lowdown load indeed.
You can have all the food you want. One ant-sized spec at a time.
I wonder if there's a smartphone app for class action lawyers.
America ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

1706 Printed Confusion

Sometimes I wonder. Do I see things because I'm confused or because the companies printing them are?
Like the other day I picked up a prescription for my dad. It was, coincidentally, for an elderly dementia medication. It came with one of those pharmacy caution sheets that details all the contraindications and side effects and stuff.
I thought it was interesting that they found it necessary to caution addled old folks that they should notify their doctor if while taking this medication they became pregnant or were breast-feeding. Well yeah, some 85-year-old gets pregnant I'd be calling my doctor and Guiness Book.
The caution statement went on to say, "Side effects may include constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, and pain. Wow. If I had constipation and diarrhea, I'd be even more confused than the state I was in before they told me to take the medication they gave because I was confused.
But the next line really got me. After listing the above they then said if any of these side effects "continue or are bothersome check with your doctor." Diarrhea, headache and dizziness bothersome? No. No bother. Just business as usual in the world of the elderly.
I saw another printed piece I thought was odd. It was from Comcast but they aren’t the only company to do this. It was included in my bill—a little flyer asking me to convert to paperless billing. Comcast's pitch called it the "Eco Bill."
A noble sentiment—save the trees by cutting down on paper. It may even have convinced me¾if they hadn't also included in my billing envelope two additional pieces of paper trying to sell me something else.
Maybe I'm confused, but I think if they'd like to save the planet so bad, they should pitch their envelope stuffers too.
America ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

1705 Monkey Hear

I get the opportunity to go to a lot of public meetings. Which means I get the opportunity to hear a lot of public speakers. Or should I say public misspeakers. They sometimes come up with doozies.
Like the other day, I saw a guy talking about jobs and the economy. And he was looking right at his PowerPoint and still messed up a word.
I think it's so cool how Bill Gates and his ilk rebranded the boring A/V slideshow and converted it into the dynamic PowerPoint. Except somewhere along the line, the dynamic part got lost and it just reverted to an electronic boring slide show.
Especially since some speakers read them word for word. Thank you, Dear Speaker, but I can read the giant 3-inch letters on the screen just fine, that's why you put them up there. We don't have to read along together like "Singing Along With Mitch." If you're going to, at least add a bouncing ball to make it more fun.
In any event, the speaker was looking right at the word "median" and he pronounced it "medium." Instead of, "median family income," he said, "medium family income." So it came across as the income of a medium family rather than the median income of families of all sizes.
I saw another speaker yesterday talking about a screw up of something. He said, "It really threw a monkey into the system." Um, that's monkey wrench. It's more fun when you have a barrel of monkeys, it's bad when you throw a monkey wrench into the machinery. I had this vision of an actual monkey being thrown into a big machine.
A screw up to be sure, but much messier than a monkey wrench.
Even if you use a medium monkey.
America ya gotta love it.

1704 Be Cause

I read an article recently about investing. It brought up an interesting correlation. Interesting because correlations are not causes. The company I'm working for is currently having one of its best months ever. The same day we found that out the stock market went up 135 points. Coincidence or cause?
So I read the following correlation with a grain of salt. (Which, by the way, is really itchy on the eye.) Turns out stock investors do better when Democrats are in the White House.
If you had invested $1,000 of your money only during the 23 years Democrats were president since 1961, when John Kennedy took office, your would have $10,920 as of February 21st of this year.
If you had invested $1,000 in 1969 at Nixon's swearing in (and boy did he swear) and kept it in only during the 28 years of Republican administrations until George Bush II left the White House, it would be worth a paltry $2,087.
Hmm...Tough to get 1 percentary at that rate.
Why? The fact is, seven of the eight recessions since 1960 started when Republicans were president.
And since good times are about perception, it does make some sense. In a consumer driven economy, when consumers feel like the guy at the top is on their side and not the side of the folks that are vaporizing their 401Ks, they're much more likely to spend more freely.
Then again, folks are always looking for facts to confirm their beliefs. And bestow and withhold credit accordingly. I remember when I went to a stockbroker convention and a presenter kept waxing poetic about "the Reagan years" and how good they were for business. The other big surge in the stock market during the Clinton administration he just called "the nineties."
America ya gotta love it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

1703 Shoot Luke

Not long ago I was talking to a friend about the term wainscoting. I pronounced it that way. Like Scottish, I guess because I thought it had some sort of origin in Scotland. Wood halfway up your cottage walls to keep the sheep from chewing the plaster or something.
My friend, on the other hand, pronounced it wains–coating, as if you were coating the walls with something. I looked it up in an online dictionary that also had pronunciation sound snippets and we were both right—coating, cotting, potaytoe, potahtoe.
The dictionary further pointed out that wainscot originally comes from the words for wagon and partition. And referred to high quality oak boards. I was disappointed. I figured that someone named Wayne or Scott had something to do with inventing it.
Lots of words make me wonder that way. Like when someone says, "Shoot Luke, it's your dime." Why Luke? Was the apostle known for demanding to speak up? Or was he some sort of marksman of the soul? If Luke was a Marksman, was Mark a Lukesman? Or did Luke just want to leave a Mark?
I'm not even going to bring up all the words John ended up standing in for.
But I do wonder where lukewarm came from. Was Luke a tepid fellow? There is a definition of lukewarm that means "lacking in zeal" that dates back to the 1500s. Maybe his gospel wasn't as passionate as Matthew, Mark and John's. And it got a lukewarm response?
But no, sorry to disappoint. Turns out the Luke in lukewarm has nothing to do with the person. It's from the Middle English word leuk, l-e-u-k-. Leuk actually means tepid. So lukewarm means, literally, tepid-warm.
Neutral and redundant.
And as exciting as this ending.
America ya gotta love it.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

1702 Room for Approval

In reply to my commentary about naming rooms I got some interesting feedback from my friend Rick. I'd noticed that we often name our rooms for their purpose—bathroom, bedroom, living room—and yet we had certain words that didn't follow the pattern, like kitchen, den, foyer, and so on.
Kitchen I get, as it derives from a German word for cooking, and den is like the original room from our bearly primitive domiciles so it's great-grandfathered in, but foyer? I hardly know her. How does one foy anyhow?
Rick commented on the term "utility room." Aren't all rooms of some utility? Certainly we expect our rooms to be useful at a bare minimum. Maybe it's to distinguish it from that one non-utility room—the pristine white "Formal Living Room" you see in some places.
The there's the "Bonus Room." Is that where you go if you score? Maybe it's where you store all your comp cards from the casino. Rick thought Napoleon may have had a "Great Room" or two. I'm thinking he did a lot of his plotting in the Throne Room.
Rick also pointed out one of those great room conundrums. Why does a half bath not have a tub at all? Just a toilet and a sink. He suggested we combine those words and coin the name "tink." I'm in favor of "soilet". Makes more sense in some of the bachelor pad half baths I've been to. Not the kind of throne rooms you'd like to crown with the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.
Come to think of it, if he's anything like the ones in the Sound, I rather not have him waddling through any of my rooms. The good housekeeping seal had darn well better be house trained.
America ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

1701 House Room

I wrote recently about how a big builder's ads said, "You buy ours, we'll rent yours." And how that sounded an awful lot like auto sales, like a trade-in. Makes you wonder if they'll throw in a free undercoating for your new home to sweeten the deal. Or offer to change your HVAC filters for 5 years. That got me thinking about houses in general and about house words.
Like how we name our rooms. In many ways not very creative, nor consistent. And it's more than houses. Because another thing that triggered my roominations was when I was at a doctor's office and a sign indicated the way to the "waiting room."
There must be some more positive word. Waiting room. Sounds like the most boring place in the world. Some offices use the term “lobby” but that's no good. Like you're sitting in a bank. I once saw the word “lounge.” You expect a different sort of folk cooling their heels there.
For some reason I think of tight pants and chest hair, lounge lizards from the 70s. Definitely the sort of person to keep waiting.
Our houses are no better—the names so utilitarian. Bedroom, Bathroom, Family Room, and my favorite, Living Room. That one’s a broader category than the others. I'm in the bathroom bathing. I'm in the bedroom bedding down. I'm in the living room, um, living...
Interestingly, we also have the name kitchen. Which comes from the German word for cooking. But we don't call it the Cooking Room. There's also the strangest room in the house, the Den. After-dinner man territory. Why not call it The Release of Noxious Gases Room?
And don't even ask me what they do in a Rumpus Room.
"What you doing, honey?"
America ya gotta love it.

1700 Car Rentry

What goes around comes around. The automakers were on their lips, the worst collapse in history. Then some judicious federal leverage, a rewritten union contract or two, some bankruptcy tinkering, a few natural disasters in Asia, and voila, surging American auto industry.
No one has any pensions anymore but hey, there's always that 401K that's coming back now that the stock market is flirting with 13,000.
Or you could sell your real estate...
I saw an interesting billboard the other day that brought it home. Literally. It was from Quadrant Homes, the big mega-builder (as opposed to small mega-builder I suppose). Quadrant was the one that always advertised how spacious their homes were. And also made big investments in building large developments full of said mega-homes.
Imagine how over-extended over the yawning economic crater they might have been a couple of years ago. But you got to hand it to them, they're still around, and apparently finding new and interesting ways to sell homes.
The billboard I saw said, "Quadrant Homes, you buy ours, we'll rent yours."
This is not unlike kicking the can down the road isn't it? Hopefully a road where the rental market is sufficient to sustain someone actually owning two homes, one of which is now being rented. Owning more than one home—seems that paradigm had a problem a while back.
And if Quadrant goes bust, then what? Is someone writing a credit default swap on the paper?
Looks like the can they're kicking down the road is the proverbial can of worms.
It is interesting though. When I first saw the billboard, I was reminded of a stratagem that's always worked well for the auto industry.
You buy ours and we'll unload yours.
That's like a trade-in.
America ya gotta love it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

1699 1% Change

Weird economic factoids in the news lately. Like recently when I read that if it were a country, the revenues of a certain company would make it the 65th largest economy in the world.
That company is Costco.
Wow, can you imagine what it would be like to be Country 66? Just the whole aspirational factor alone. "We have to pull our country together so one day we can be like Costco.
"You, you will be the Minister of Aisle-end Sampling. Prepare the salty and cheesy foods in small size bites.
"You, you will be the Minister of Shrink-wrapping. Package things in large bundles and wrap them in numbers of three or more.
"You, you will be in charge of finding the magic land of Kirkland from which all generic products spring forth.
"You, you will be the Minister of Rebates—in charge of giving 1% cash back on every qualifying purchase with a card issued in the name of our country."
That old 1%. It keeps coming up. Like recently I read that of the $1.26 trillion spent on health care in 2009, 22 percent of it was accounted for by only 1% of Americans. That's about $90,000 a person. That darn 1%. But it was bipartisan one percentary. On the right, coronary bypass surgery for Type A CEOs and elective plastic surgery for their trophy wives.
On the left, Hollywood face-lifts shot up the curve.
Lastly, as the government struggles with revenue sources, one department has come through. The Transportation Safety Administration. Last year, passengers left behind a total of $409,085 in change when they passed through airport scanners. The unclaimed money goes to the TSA.
Hmm... Forget 1%. Let's make it 15%. No more taxes. Run the government on tipping. Almost sounds like a campaign slogan.
Keep the Change.
America ya gotta love it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

1698 Weather or Not

It's interesting sometimes how we come around to old solutions when we think we're launching new ideas. Like I realized when I was watching The Weather Channel recently. Well, I wasn't actually watching it since I don't have cable TV. But I heard an ad for it on the radio. I love it when the great advertising medium TV advertises on the radio.
They were advertising a new show they had, called "Ice Pilots." Sounds like proposed TV series frozen out of network contention doesn't it? But no, it's supposedly about the daring pilots of the northern territories and all the dangers they face. It sounded kind of cool.
But what got me was how The Weather Channel seems to have gone to the dark side. They now offer what all the new media buzz is about, "content." Their wonderful paradigm of just showing the weather, so you can see it whenever you want, has been replaced with actual content that only needs to have some nebulous tie-in to the weather.
Which, when you think about it, isn’t too hard. Not only is weather the number one preferred subject of small talk, it's in the background of just about everything. They could do whatever story they like.
"It was a hot day when Hansel and Gretel entered the dark forest."
"Rain fell as William Tell placed the apple on his son's head."
It's like what happened to my favorite channel ever, MTV. Since music is the background for life, they no longer have to concentrate on music. Do they even play music videos anymore?
"Hailing frequency Captain," said Ohura as the music swelled ominously, "We're approaching the planet of Hasbeen. Phasers set to marginalize. MTV and the Weather Channel are poisoned with the new television specialty channel virus—content."
America ya gotta love it.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

1697 Armapocalypse

If you ever need any proof about how extreme we are these days in our public discourse look no further than the words we invent. I mean really. What is it with news writers and pundits that every little warble in the wave of existence has to be treated like it’s the end of the world?
Maybe the Mayan calendar has everybody in a jitter. I bought one the other day by the way. It was a joke Mayan calendar—had lots of pictures of volcanoes and tornados and such. And the date only went to December 21st. Gotta love that dark end-of-the-world sense of humor.
Hey. It just occurred to me. If the Mayans are right, we've already celebrated out last Christmas. Bummer. Or perhaps not. One more year untangling Christmas lights and tracking down the shorts would be my personal end of the world anyhow.
My light-pocolypse.
And that’s what I mean. Words like that. I was reading an article the other day and the writer was talking about public benefit money. But then he went on to say if the 2.5 trillion the government spends on assistance keeps up, we were head for a debtpocalypse. That’s right, deptpocalypse. It's even hard to say.
At least use a word that more naturally leads into the suffix. I think it should have been debt-ageddon. Like the news writers said about our recent extreme ice storm. It was storm-ageddon.
Still, that's what I'm talking about. Everything's got "pocalypse" of or "ageddon" after it these days. Relax people.
Definitely the end of the world of good language we once knew. It’s a regular grammar-geddon. Or maybe lingo-pocalypse.
Must be that listless "final days" malaise we all feel.
I call it Mayan-aise.
America ya gotta love it.

1696 Techknowledgement

I was looking at the breakroom area at my work recently. And I was struck by an epiphany—an acknowledgement of global modern technology. Or is that techknowledgement?
In any event, as my eyes traveled along the counter area I saw a Keurig coffee machine. Next to that was a Bunn coffee machine. Seems when it comes to appliances, we really trust the Germans. Especially when it comes to appliances delivering something as important as the morning joe.
Next to our Bunn was a Gojo soap dispenser. One of those things you load with a bladder of soap for the ultimate convenience. I assumed from the spelling that Gojo was a Japanese invention. Neat interchangeable replaceable units is their forte. Henry Ford is an icon in Japan. Actually, though, the company started in Akron Ohio.
My bad.
Next was the towel dispenser. One of those with a sensor that detects your waving and delivers a swath of paper towel. This one was a Japanese device.
Where is the American ingenuity? I thought. And then the answer was delivered into my hands. Literally. The paper towel that came out of the dispenser was indisputably American. I glanced through the bathroom door and my heart warmed. So too was the toilet paper on the humble manual spindle. Soap, paper towels, and TP, when it comes to hygiene products we lead the world.
Then I read an article that reminded where else we're ahead. The U.S. Military is currently testing drone aircraft that not only don't need a pilot in the cockpit, but don't need one remotely either. That's right, a plane that has its own computer brain that decides to shoot whoever, whenever.
Um, didn't anyone in the Navy watch Terminator?
Because no matter how good we are with toilet paper, that kind of technology could wipe us out.
America ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

1695 Crime and Punishment

Read some interesting facts and figures lately. A recent poll found that 56% of Americans would vote out every single member of the House and Senate if they could. Wow. That's an amazing testimony to the resilience of the stability of our nation. 56% don't like our government and yet we still go about our daily lives.
I'm thinking surfing internet porn has its downside after all.
The poll went on to say 55% of liberals, 55% of moderates (which Rush Limbaugh calls liberals) and 58% of conservatives say they want all members of congress gone. Apparently that means the current Tea Party contingent in congress included. 58% of conservatives disapprove of them.
Tea Parties are like that. Clean plates! Clean cups!
Finally, 80% of all Americans disapprove of the job congress is doing.
Yahoo! Bi-partisanship at last!
Who says congress isn’t a way of bringing people together?
Speaking of people together, the prison system is getting alarmed. Turns out the number of men and women over age 65 increased by 63% between 2007 and 2010.
That means a huge problem for the prisons. They're not just dealing with guarding criminals, they're dealing with something far more scary—geriatric care. The price of Depends alone has busted budgets.
Because how many criminal types had the foresight to invest in long-term care insurance before they were incarcerated? And does a jail qualify as an insurance-approved care facility anyhow?
Maybe that accounts for the upswing in elder crime. Have you priced an assisted care facility lately? Much cheaper to commit some felony likely to get you 20 to life.
Hmmm. I understand America is looking to remove some congresspeople. Maybe a little felonious elder-extortion will do the trick...
"If you don't leave congress I'll pass gas on you and tell you boring repetitive stories till you scream for mercy..."
America ya gotta love it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

1694 At Simple Times

I look back to the times of my youth and realize how simple things were then—or at least different. I have no wish to return to the days of racism and sexism, rampant discrimination and segregated water fountains, but it would be nice to occasionally have the opportunity to cherish their simplicity.
Like the tooth fairy. Always a controversy-free entity, divorced from the soiled toils of daily life. Well not anymore. A recent story concluded that the bad economic times had hit the change under the pillow market too. The Delta Dental association published results that the average price per tooth had gone down from $2.52 to $2.10.
Further, the association figured out that the tooth fairy payout has correlated with the Dow Industrial Average for the last 13 years. Wow. I wonder if Santa has any connection with NASDAQ?
So maybe that's the secret to improving the economy, every parent right now, pay your kids more per tooth.
Heard another thing the other day about a modern change in a simple thing. A firm was advertising its website and it said to "go to Income At Home dot com." Then they clarified it and said "Income A-T- home dot com."
Why? Because the use of the squirrelly little @ key has become so prevalent that companies have to audibly spell out the word "at" when they mean the word "at."
And I am so behind the times on that too. Turns out some fancy pants computer trendsetters actually have a dedicated @ key on their computer keyboards. They don't even have to press "shift 2."
Attaboy Gunner. Maybe that keystroke will save you enough time to earn an extra quarter for your kid's tooth.
America ya gotta love it.

Friday, March 09, 2012

1693 Group Off

I deal a lot with advertising in this column. It's hard not to when you do a commentary on the everyday culture of America. Sometimes it makes you wonder.
Like recently, I drove by a billboard on the far northeast end of town. I was headed on a road back towards Lacey. The billboard was for a restaurant, but for a restaurant at the extreme southwest side of town, "Near Capitol Mall," as the billboard put it.
Capitol, by the way, was spelled wrong, with an "O" like the dome, and not with an "A" like the street and Mall. I always like it when outside advertising firms try to make their ads local and have no idea what local is. Like coincidentally, Capital Mall's outside ad firm did once when they said it was the "...biggest mall on the Olympic Peninsula."
The weirdest thing about the billboard was there's another restaurant of the same name not 3 blocks from the billboard, in the same direction I was going. Nice of them to advertise a place across town but if I was hungry I'd sure like to know about the one close by.
That ad group was off.
And speaking of a group off, so was Groupon. They disappointed the stock market with their latest earnings report, posting a $37 million loss.
Sounds like one of their advertising clients.
Oddly, their revenue more than doubled during the period, to $506.5 million. CEO Andrew Mason boldly proclaimed, "It's still the early days, we believe we are on the cusp of a great sea change in consumer behavior."
Let's see, a $37 million loss on $506 million in revenue. Wow, why does that remind me of that other sea change in behavior, um, the American mortgage bubble?
Someone needs to read the writing on the billboard.
America ya gotta love it.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

1692 Bap Ties

There's been an interesting inter-religious flap in the news of late. I guess it's just a part of our great country—freedom of religion means actual freedom to be different from your religion.
Here's the basic story. Turns out the Latter Day Saints, AKA the Mormons, have decided to baptize Anne Frank into their religion. As Anne Frank was indisputably a Jew, what with the evidence of her diary and all, certain Jewish leaders are upset.
The same flap occurred with Catholics when Mormons posthumously baptized dead Popes.
Now I don't pretend to know, nor as a non-Mormon can I know, the arcane intricacies of the Mormon Baptism process. But the way I understand it is that when Mormons do genealogical research they can posthumously baptize any ancestors into the church. Rumor has it there are different levels of heaven one can obtain in the faith and this helps facilitate entry into them.
"That's dumb," my dad said when I told him; "there's only one heaven." Um yep. At least so far as his Methodist religion is concerned. Whether there's a Jewish heaven, or the Catholic heaven restricts the entry of Protestants, someone more omniscient than I is going to have to sort out.
The absurdity here is if you really believe in your religion, it shouldn't matter what rituals some other religion is subjecting your dead ancestors to. To believe that the baptism makes a difference is to admit a smidgen of belief in the Mormon religion. Some other group could say they were officially renaming the Apostle Peter "Peter Pan" and they wouldn't freak out.
As the soon-to-be posthumously baptized Shakespeare once said. "Methinks they protest too much."
By the way, I just found out they posthumously baptized Groucho Marx. Now that's the most ridiculous thing I ever heard...
America, ya gotta love it.

1691 Apprehension

One of the many perils of modern times is our symbiotic—or should I say parasitic—relationship with our computers. I'm never entirely sure who is the parasite though, us or them.
But peril it definitely is. Consider if you will how much of your life your average computer sucks away. Life in terms of wasted time. I'm not talking about being addicted to Free Cell or Angry Birds, I'm talking about the daily mail. Or the daily junk mail. How many clicks of your mouse do you make each day deleting unwanted email?
Especially with the preponderance of Constant Contact type email formats filled with fancy graphics, bells, and possibly virus-infested and spyware whistles, it seems like every organization and their inbred brother is blasting out messages 24/7/365.
If I could get back just the clicking time I waste each morning deleting I think I'd add a year or more to my life. As it is my Accumulated Seconds Surrendered (also known as ASS) is killing me. Not to mention the carpal tunnel inflammation from all that clicking.
Then there's the stress-inducing and therefore life-shortening apprehension tension we all get from deciding whether to click on links. I really hate to get an email that has a link to "learn more" or finish out a piece of news from the organization that sent it. And I really really hate e-vites. I have no idea what will happen when I click one of those.
One time I did and found myself on a public list of attendees. I just wanted to go anonymously and relax. And then I got that organization's newsletter forever.
Maybe that's why Facebook and others keep adding advertisers but reporting lower click-through results. Folks are afraid they're one click away from e-viting an avalanche of spam.
The newest app?
America, ya gotta love it.

1690 Mortifilled

As you may or may not know, I have a morbid fascination with things related to burials and funerals. Is there a name for that? Morbidomortophilia? Burioholic?
In any event, my ears always perk up like Lazarus when I hear a new method of send-off to the great beyond. As I've mentioned before, I'd just as soon go with a minimum of fuss, so cremation is my choice, but if it were legal I'd actually rather go the greenest way possible and be composted. Seems to me a human composting plant would be the ultimate way of giving back to the community.
But in Alabama an interesting entrepreneur—or perhaps mortepreneur—has come up with an even more novel concept. Taking a page from the spreading your ashes book and adding in the diehard sensibilities of an avid hunter and NRA member, Holy Smoke LLC offers a truly explosive concept.
Packing your ashes into a shotgun shell for later dispersal.
Yep, your ashes will be packed into shotgun shells and then, according to your wishes, your relatives can fire them off wherever. A 21-gun salute perhaps, or even shot at live game. Or perhaps the cheating spouse that led to the heart attack that led to your demise.
As one of the founders of the company put it, "I will rest in peace knowing the last thing that one turkey will see is me—screaming at him at 900 feet per second..."
My cold dead hands indeed. Or in this case my cold dead ashes. Well, actually, pretty hot again when they've shot your wad.
Nice idea though. Alabama's certainly seen more than one shotgun wedding. Why not a shotgun funeral?
I'm sure folks will have a shell of a good time.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, March 05, 2012

1689 Nuts

A couple of odds and ends today.
Imagine this dialogue:
"What's the one nut that everyone's allergic too?"
Thank-you-very-much. I'm here all week.
So I was reading an article the other day about the Facebook Initial Product Offering and how much the business world thinks narcissistic gossip is worth (answer, $500 Billion) and I came across this interesting factoid. Last year Facebook reported 845 million users and a profit of one billion dollars. Sounds pretty impressive until you realize that in a whole year Facebook managed to gain a whopping profit of $1.18 a user.
Let's just hope your local coffee shop isn't run that way. Or Boeing factory. America would come to a grinding halt faster than you could post a Mayan calendar to a wall.
One question: Where can I buy that stock before the bubble bursts?
Talk about much ado about nothing. So how about much nothing about an ado. Great Britain's got it. Seems the former head of the Bank of England had to face some pretty rough consequences for his part in the run-up to the 2008 financial meltdown. Yep, they're stripping him of his knighthood.
Oooh. That is so harsh. Now no one will be able to call him "Sir"... Those English really know how to punish folks. I hope they don't unfriend him on the royal Facebook page too.
Lastly, big news from Amazon. Not content to be the most successful online store ever, they plan to open a brick-and-mortar store in Seattle later this year. Wow. Nothing like adding real estate, building maintenance, personnel, heating and power costs to your bottom line.
Worse, now folks can “showroom” them.
Odd move. Maybe they're trying to bring their profit structure in line with Facebook.
It's just plain nutty.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, March 02, 2012

1688 Roundabound

So I was driving through a roundabout the other day and thinking, there sure are a lot of them these days. You might even say roundabouts roundabound. Like someone made it worth someone else's while.
I actually like roundabouts. For the most part they're way faster than waiting at stoplights. And I really hate waiting at stoplights.
If I'm going from my house to the grocery store I use, I can go two ways. One involves two lights and five roundabouts. The other involves seven lights. Roundabouts beat it every time.
But it's not just the speed, or the good feeling that comes from continuous motion and progress, however slow. No, it’s the challenge factor. The miniature adrenalin rush that comes from knowing the other folks in the roundabout with you may screw up. The potential crash factor. It adds an element of danger.
Suddenly you're not just driving to the store, you're in a potential demolition derby, or a NASCAR race.
And that got me thinking. We've basically glorified a "California Stop" here. The drifting through an intersection that puts a lower premium on the stop factor of a red light when no one's obviously coming. We've institutionalized that mentality with a roundabout, where the situation remains fluid and filled with judgment and not arbitrary authority.
All good, but what about the wear and tear on our suspension and tires? All roundabouts are left-turning. Oh sure, you have to turn right to get on and off, but the bulk of the roundabout is a left-turning circle. Go fast—turn left. It's NASCAR in miniature.
So are car repair places profiting more from the NASCAR effect on tires and tie-rods? Was lobbying involved in their sudden popularity? Are roundabouts just a roundabout way of getting new profits for repair shops?
Or is this just an example of my bad circular reasoning?
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

1687 Politicks

I'm trying to figure out which pun I like better. The obsession with things political that leads to muscle spasms, known as politicks. Or the type of bloodsuckers that make their living off the body public. Also politicks.
Yeah, I know, bad. Puns can get away with being non-funny, but they shouldn't actually be depressing. That said, some interesting little politick-al tidbits in the news recently.
Governor Rick Perry’s approval rating has fallen to 40% following his failed presidential bid and national gaffes. And that's in his home state of Texas, where he was once the great white hope of neo-conservatism. The Texas that’s solidly Republican. He's currently less popular there than Obama, who has a 43% rating.
That one will be hard to forget.
It seems to happen to contenders from large states suddenly cast into the national spotlight. Forget about him being penalized for his mistakes. You might say Perry was Palinized.
Which by the way, doesn't bode well for Rick Santorum. With his shoot-from-the-hip contentious style, some folks are now calling him the male Palin.
Even odder are the things they're saying about Romney. He's been making gaffes that allow his detractors on both the left and right to portray him as elitist. Like saying, "I like being able to fire people" or offering off-hand to bet Perry $10,000, or saying "I'm not concerned about the very poor." They're also saying he's stiff and cold and out of touch with ordinary folks. Perhaps those folks clinging to their guns and religion.
Yep, just like the things they once said about Obama.
Romney needs to manipulate the message and the media. Like Santorum. Out of money, so he arranges an outdoor rally next an Occupy Wall Street encampment.
How to get free media coverage for days?
Just politicks as usual.
America, ya gotta love it.

1686 Fried Vocals

Scientists study the weirdest things. Now it’s that women are adopting vocal patterns once thought to be vocal disorders. Speaking in such a way that their voices crack in the low end of their vocal registers.
All right. Studying growly voices. Because, you know, finding a cure for antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis is too boring.
A recent study noted the prevalence of certain females ending their sentences with a crackly and gravelly voice. Sort of an imitation of a sexy Brittany Spears.
Folks imitating pop stars? How extraordinary.
What's really extraordinary? This aberration has an official scientific name. Vocal fry.
Yep, there are three main speech ranges. Falsetto on the high end, modal in the normal mid-range, and vocal fry on the lower end. Modal apparently includes soprano, alto, tenor, bass and baritone.
That's not all. Researchers in the study bandied about other technical terms, like "creak" when referring to the tone. "There are languages that use creak as part of the phonemic system," said one scientist, "The chances of it leading to vocal damage are very minimal."
Another pointed out "...the popular-music station on her teenage son's dial features "creaky" announcers, but she does not hear vocal fry on National Public Radio, which targets an older audience."
The article said, "Two speech-language pathologists trained to identify voice disorders evaluated the speech samples. They marked the presence or absence of vocal fry by listening to each speaker's pitch and two qualities called jitter and shimmer—variation in pitch and volume, respectively."
Creak, jitter, shimmer and vocal fry. It all sounds so frivolous. Maybe that's why scientists used to use Latin...
I guess I'm not that scientific. Or concerned. I think it sounds like what it's meant to sound like—sexy.
So, sorry scientists, I would like fries with that.
America, ya gotta love it.