March 2009 Archives

Proactiv vending machine

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Saw this Proactiv acne skin care vending machine at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport.  I think it's an odd place to be selling Proactiv because it's not really something you would buy as a gift and it's not something you would need immediately on a plane. 

Proactiv.png Now, if the machine sold Snuggies or Shamwow, that would be a different story.
Yahoo News: Perfect Running Pace Revealed

Steudel's team tested both male and female runners at six different speeds on a treadmill while measuring their oxygen intake and carbon dioxide output. As expected, each runner had different levels of fitness and oxygen use but there were ideal speeds for each runner that required the least amount of energy.

Overall, the optimal speeds for the group were about 8.3 mph (about a 7:13 minutes per mile) for males and 6.5 mph (9:08 min/mile) for females.

The most interesting finding: At slower speeds, about 4.5 mph (13 min/mile), the metabolic efficiency was at its lowest. Steudel explains that at this speed, halfway between a walk and a jog, the runner's gait can be awkward and unnatural.

"What that means is that there is an optimal speed that will get you there the cheapest," Steudel says.

Polygamy Porter

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Saw this while I was out in Park City, UT.  The beer's not bad, but T-shirt's even better!
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It's not really honey

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HoneyBucket.jpgIn marketing sometimes there are some shitty jobs.

UPDATE:
Found this toilet shaped MUG on the Honey Bucket website.  Enjoy a steamy hot chocolate in one of these!
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Butler County Ohio Water & Sewer Slogan

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ButlerCountyWater.jpgWe're sewage too!

Some entities just don't need to have a slogan.  Especially a monopoly like the Water & Sewer Department.

Bats in Space

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From NASA.gov: Bat Hung onto Shuttle During Liftoff

A bat that was clinging to space shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank during the countdown to launch the STS-119 mission remained with the spacecraft as it cleared the tower, analysts at NASA's Kennedy Space Center concluded.

Based on images and video, a wildlife expert who provides support to the center said the small creature was a free tail bat that likely had a broken left wing and some problem with its right shoulder or wrist. The animal likely perished quickly during Discovery's climb into orbit.
Here's the picture of the bat.
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From NYTimes.com: A.I.G. Bonuses of $50 Million Will Be Repaid, Cuomo Says

The New York State attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, said on Monday that he had persuaded nine of the top 10 bonus recipients at the American International Group to give the money back, as the Senate retreated on plans to tax such bonuses.
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"If the person returns the money, I don't think there's a public interest in releasing the names," Mr. Cuomo said in a conference call with reporters.
I am somewhat surprised that they've managed to get 9 of 10 to return the bonuses.  But, I guess the "threat" of being outed to the angry masses was a pretty effective tool.

I wonder if they just can't find the 10th guy or is the person thinking "screw you, I'm going to take my chances with the money".

Shepard Fairey art in Austin

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Here's a Flickr image set of Shepard Fairey's street art in Austin.

Street Art is one thing we really don't see here in Cincinnati.

More images from ObeyGiant.com
From NYTimes.com: A.I.G. Chief Expected to Offer Bonus Compromise

Edward M. Liddy, the embattled chief of American International Group, is expected to ask employees who received lucrative bonuses to give half the money back.

According to a person briefed on Mr. Liddy's plans, the A.I.G. chief will announce his plan during testimony this afternoon before a Congressional committee that is investigating the problems at company.
That's a "plan"?  Good luck with that.

Star Trek Fragrances

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From Trekmovie.com: Trek Spring Collection Preview: First Look At Genki Star Trek Fragrances

Genki Wear, known for its licensed science fiction jewelry and perfumes, has produced what might be the most unusual Star Trek product ever: Star Trek colognes and perfume based on the original 1960s television show.
One of the three fragrances is Tiberius:
gw_tiberius_t.jpg.jpegIf we're all basement dwelling loners like the Sci Fi channel thinks we are, will these scents ever be smelled in public?
CNN.com: 'Battlestar Galactica' at the UN

Fantasy and reality will collide Tuesday night at the United Nations, as writers and actors from the Sci Fi Channel's hit "Battlestar Galactica" meet UN representatives to discuss issues such as human rights, children and armed conflict, and terrorism. Also on the agenda: dialogue among different civilizations and faiths. The meeting happens just days before the two-hour final episode of the show airs Friday.
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"Traditionally, sci-fi has always been an opportunity to look at the human condition, and then extrapolate out. Science fiction has always held up a mirror to society and to humanity, and has asked tough questions about where are we going, and whether we're going in the right direction, and that's the nature of Battlestar Galactica," Howe said.
I think the last paragraph is what makes science fiction shows great.  It's not the space ships or battles, but a different way to look at human drama.  To explore conflicts in a way that's not possible when using contemporary characters.

From NYTimes.com: The Case for Paying Out Bonuses at A.I.G.

As much as we might want to void those A.I.G. pay contracts, Pearl Meyer, a compensation consultant at Steven Hall & Partners, says it would put American business on a worse slippery slope than it already is. Business agreements of other companies that have taken taxpayer money might fall into question. Even companies that have not turned to Washington might seize the opportunity to break inconvenient contracts.

If government officials were to break the contracts, they would be "breaking a bond," Ms. Meyer says. "They are raising a whole new question about the trust and commitment organizations have to their employees." (The auto industry unions are facing a similar issue -- but the big difference is that there is a negotiation; no one is unilaterally tearing up contracts.)
These employees would have caused the bankruptcy of A.I.G. which would have broken all their contracts.  The only reason A.I.G. is not bankrupt is because of the enormous sum of taxpayer money that has been used to prop A.I.G. up.  So, what do we get out of it?  Business as usual

We have to save them to save ourselves.  How many times will we have to hear this?  In the mean time, the employees that caused this may walk away with millions.

Perhaps a controlled bankruptcy backed by the U.S. government wouldn't have been so bad.

Darth Vader playing golf

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From TVWeek.com: Sci Fi Channel Aims to Shed Geeky Image With New Name

Sci Fi is coming off the best year in its history. In primetime it ranked 13th in total viewers among ad-supported cable networks in 2008. It's a top-10 network in both adults 18 to 49 (up 4%) and adults 25 to 54 (up 6%).

During its fourth-quarter earnings call, parent General Electric said Sci Fi racked up a double-digit increase in operating earnings despite the beginnings of the recession.
So Sci Fi's been having it's best year, so what do we do?  Let's alienate and make fun of the base!

Nevertheless, there was always a sneaking suspicion that the name was holding the network back.

"The name Sci Fi has been associated with geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that, as opposed to the general public and the female audience in particular," said TV historian Tim Brooks, who helped launch Sci Fi Channel when he worked at USA Network.
If you put it like this, it doesn't sound like an appealing demographic, but "double digit increase in operating earnings" can't be all bad.  Perhaps in this

"We spent a lot of time in the '90s trying to distance the network from science fiction, which is largely why it's called Sci Fi," Mr. Brooks said. "It's somewhat cooler and better than the name 'Science Fiction.' But even the name Sci Fi is limiting."
Syfy.  WTF?

So, exactly how is "Syfy" better?

"It gives us a unique word and it gives us the opportunities to imbue it with the values and the perception that we want it to have," he said.
All I want to know is if that means that more or less of those disaster of the week movies.  This week it's gigantic flying bugs.  Run! Aaaaaah! 

The network worked with the branding consultancy Landor Associates and went through about 300 possibilities before selecting Syfy.

"When we tested this new name, the thing that we got back from our 18-to-34 techno-savvy crowd, which is quite a lot of our audience, is actually this is how you'd text it," Mr. Howe said. "It made us feel much cooler, much more cutting-edge, much more hip, which was kind of bang-on what we wanted to achieve communication-wise."
I'd love to see that list of 300 other possibilities.  Maybe, "GeeksRus" or "Low budget Sci Fi Channel"?

I can't believe that they hired a brand consultancy and ended up with "Syfy".  If you pronounce it exactly the same as "Sci Fi" then what's the point?

Maybe that's it.  Maybe they'll pronounce it like Fifi- "See fee" with a little pink toy poodle logo!  That'll attract the female demographic.

The problem with the SciFi channel is not its name, but the fact that that very rarely produced good science fiction.  And when they did have a good show like Battlestar Galactica, they messed around with the schedule so much that it killed the momentum of the show.  They also failed to develop other shows that would interest their core audience.  A show like Josh Whedon's Firefly or even his new creation, Dollhouse would be better shows for SciFi than what will be left after Battlestar Galactica ends its run on Friday.  And now, apparently they've decided to forsake their core audience and seek the "general public" and "female" audience.  Guess what, the target demographic they desire will seek shows they want to see and it's not going to be the Syfy channel.

In these days with hundreds of cable channels, targeting a specific underserved market should be the strategy to go to.  Not to run from.  

Science fiction is a great genre in that issues that affect the human condition can be dramatized in a way that help us see issues in a different way.  You can show discrimination, religion, mortality, and other ideas in a way without the same old rhetoric that you get when you discuss these things in real life.

NYTimes.com: A.I.G. Planning $165 Million in Bonuses After Huge Bailout

The American International Group, which has received more than $170 billion in taxpayer bailout money from the Treasury and Federal Reserve, plans to pay about $165 million in bonuses by Sunday to 400 executives in the same business unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse last year.

Word of the bonuses last week stirred such deep consternation inside the Obama administration that Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner told the firm they were unacceptable and demanded they be renegotiated, a senior administration official said. But the bonuses will go forward because lawyers said the firm was contractually obligated to pay them.
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"We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the A.I.G. businesses -- which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers -- if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury," he wrote Mr. Geithner on Saturday.
I'm not too impressed with A.I.G's "best and brightest".  Why do these people still have jobs?

Bankruptcy would have taken care of these contracts, but the government could not let A.I.G go bankrupt because of the effect on the financial system.  But, by saving A.I.G., the government has saved the contracts that now reward the ones that created the losses.
CNN.com: 750,000 tickets for Jackson concerts sell in 4 hours

Tickets for Michael Jackson's 50 "final curtain call" concerts in London sold out in little over four hours Friday.

The tickets went on sale at 7 a.m., with fans queuing since Wednesday. They were limited to four tickets per household at a cost of up to $105 for general admission. VIP tickets cost up to $1,100. Around 750,000 were sold.
Would Michael Jackson have sold out 50 concerts in a U.S. city in 4 hours?  I have a hard time believing that there's that kind of interest for him here.
From NYTimes.com: 10 Drink Windshield Wiper Fluid at Ark. Day Care

Ten children drank windshield wiper fluid after a staffer at an Arkansas day care mistakenly put the liquid in a refrigerator and served it, hospital officials said Friday.
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The toxicologist warned that many antifreeze or windshield wiper solutions have bright colors, which can be mistaken for fruit drinks.

''I think the take-home message is not to have these products in the kitchen or where you're doing any kind of food preparation,'' she said.
Maybe another lesson is not to serve children brightly colored artificial drinks.  As a related note, I noticed at the grocery store that they still sell "Little Hugs"- the little artificially flavored and colored drinks in a tiny plastic barrel.

Here's a PDF of the nutritional content of  a Little Hug drink.

Basically, it's 80 calories, 60mg of sodium and 20g of sugar. No other nutritional value.  But, hey it's not poisonous!

Buy Made in the USA signs

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I've seen this exact Buy Made in the USA signs in 3 different places around town.  I wonder who put these up?  They've been up for about a month already.
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Tip of the Day

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I'm glad that Thorntons is looking out for us by reminding us to load up on cigarettes.

Jon Stewart calls out CNBC's Jim Cramer

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Who's the comedian here? Kudos for Jon Stewart for calling these clowns out.  But, really if you're getting your stock picks from Jim Cramer, you probably shouldn't have been in the market in the first place.
 

It's Just Crepes

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Itsjustcrepes1.jpgI went to It's Just Crepes on Court Street here in Cincinnati on Saturday.  I've been meaning to go for a while and this weekend's beautiful weather provided the perfect opportunity to enjoy one of their crepes outside.

They serve both savory breakfast crepes and sweet ones.  The savory crepes sound good, but it's hard to resist the dessert like qualities of a sweet crepe! I had a Nutella and Banana crepe while my sister had a "It's Just Fruit" crepe with mixed fresh fruit.

Here are the crepes being made.  The staff was very helpful in suggesting crepes to try out.
Itsjustcrepes2.jpgThe interior is simple and clean with some table and counter seating.  There are more tables on the left outside of the picture, but people were sitting there and I didn't want to intrude on their privacy by taking a picture of them and putting them on the blog.  We sat outside at one of the three cafe tables that face Court Street.
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The Nutella and Banana crepe
Itsjustcrepes4.jpgThe "It's Just Fruit" crepe.
Itsjustcrepes5.jpgWe got two different crepes with the intention to share, but the crepes are folded into a triangle and wrapped in paper for non-silverware eating.  I'll just have to keep going back to try out the different crepes.

I highly recommend It's Just Crepes.  And it's now open Sunday mornings.  It's great to have more weekend downtown breakfast options!
From WashingtonPost.com: The Wizards Fan Who Talked Trash to Obama

A story about a little trash talking from a Washington Wizards fan with the Chicago Bulls rooting President Obama

"Heckling and having a good time are two different animals," he explained. "I wasn't heckling the President and I don't heckle the players. I talk about their weaknesses. We was having a good time. He was talking trash and I was talking trash. I couldn't believe he was that laidback and real. I loved it."

And while they talked through much of the game, Rawls--who had never met a President--said no lines were crossed. "I wasn't disrespectful," he said. "I know my limits."

So, for example, he told the President that if he was rooting for the visitors, he was "gonna have to keep it to a low roar, because we're cheering for the Wizards over here." Obama, in turn, repeatedly needled Rawls about the Wizards' habit of letting leads evaporate, especially when the Bulls made a run.

"We was just going back and forth," Rawls said. "Once Chicago started coming back, he told me, 'Now I think you need to sit down.' When Tyrus Thomas dunked on somebody, he turned around, was talking smack. Then JaVale McGee had that alley-oop, and he gave me the high five. We was just supporting each others' team, having a good time."
President Obama being a sports fan is one of the things that makes him more personable and approachable than any other President.  But, he's still the President and there's a fine line between what is acceptable behavior and what is not.  I'm a big sports fan too, but I find a constant chatter of trash talking to be pretty annoying, no matter how humorous it may be.  Some people don't realize that there are fans that go to be entertained by the game and not by some idiot's commentary.
Business Courier: Development team might rename The Banks

In November, the developers started coming up with other possible names. The choices are: Riverfront District; Park District; Parkside; The Banks.
I like "Riverfront" or "the Riverfront", without District.  Just plain Riverfront.  As old reminder to Riverfront Stadium.  Second choice would be The Banks.  I think it's better to have something related to the river.  That's why Park District and Parkside just don't work fo me.


The Haney Project: Charles Barkley

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HaneyProject.pngI recently watched the Golf Channel's new reality show- The Haney Project: Charles Barkley.  In this series, Hank Haney, Tiger Woods's swing coach attempts to fix the horrifically bad golf swing of Charles Barkley. 

The first episode where Hank Haney is introduced to Charles Barkley was one of the funnier things that I've seen on TV.  Charles Barkley is his typical class clown self, but serious in trying to work out his swing.  Hank Haney is a serious instructor, but more than held his own with his own sense of humor.  Between clips of bad Barkley golf shots, an imitation of Barkley's swing by Tiger Woods, and non-stop banter, you have a pretty entertaining show.  The show is scheduled for 7 episodes, so we'll get to see how Barkley progresses.

One thing I got out of watching this is even more admiration for Tiger Woods.  Hank Haney asks Barkley if he's like to do a Tiger Day.  A Tiger Day is pretty much 12 hours of golf, hitting balls, and working out.  Tiger's extremely talented, but his hard work ethic and discipline is what separates him from everyone else.

Charles Barkley was in Cincinnati last month for a show at the Cincinnati Convention Center and I ran into him at salsa night at Havana Martini.  As a personality/celebrity, he's pretty approachable and quite friendly.  Maybe it's a little character rehabilitation for all the troubles he's recently created for himself.
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Wednesday Rib Night at Ikea!

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I saw this sign the last time I was in Ikea.  Today's Wednesday.  Might stop by to try this out.  As a side note, my office is 5 minutes away from Ikea so it's really convenient for me to stop by after work and eat or grab a quick item.  If you want to avoid the weekend crowds, try going after work during the week, there are no lines at all.
From Vogue.com: Gates of Heaven

Still, being a Microsoft child does carry unusual burdens. "There are very few things that are on the banned list in our household," Gates tells me. "But iPods and iPhones are two things we don't get for our kids." Harsh, perhaps, but understandable. After all, it's hard to walk around tethered to merchandise made by your father's most famous competitor. Still, Gates acknowledges the inevitable lure of forbidden fruit. "Every now and then I look at my friends and say, 'Ooh, I wouldn't mind having that iPhone.'"
From TheDieline.com: General Mills Retro Cereal Boxes
via daringfireball.net
Trix.jpgGeneral Mills is using some retro packaging for some of its cereal products.  Retro Trix is really cool.  Modern Day Trix scares me.  It's like a poster for attention deficit disorder fueled by high fructose corn syrup.

Check out the article for pictures of the other retro cereal brands.

NYTimes.com: Filibusters: The Senate's Self-Inflicted Wound

An interesting article on filibusters and their history.  Did you know that Senators were elected by the state legislatures and not by the people before the 17th Amendment in 1913?  Back then, the Senators were representatives of the interests of the State in which they were from.
From NYTimes.com: Propping Up a House of Cards

Another article about the disaster that's AIG.  The justification for saving AIG is that by saving them, we save ourselves.  That AIG is so big that if they were to fail, it would bring down the entire financial system.  That may be the case.  But, shouldn't that mean from now on, that we break up companies before they get this big or that we need to regulate these companies more than ever?  This is going to be a quarter of a trillion dollar bailout and we really need to learn a lesson from this.

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