November 28, 2008
Current TV Commercials: Ups and Downs
1. Subway "5 Dollah Foot Long" (above and below) — catchy song I can't help but keep singing to myself.
2. Fathead with Reggie Bush, where he's annoyed with the wanna-be who tries to touch him and become friends. His scowls and "get away from me!" body language: priceless.
3. iPod Nano — irresistible sound and graphics. Who wouldn't want one?
1. Samsung "We're all about tradition here," with some relic acting all pleased with herself for allowing her mired-in-the-past family to add a new flatscreen TV to their decor. Puh-leeze.
2. Bud Light "Drinkability" with all the people but the one gabbing suddenly frozen, doing whatever they were doing, then being forced to do stuff like drink a bottle of hot sauce to show how "they're all the same" isn't true. Just stupid.
3. FedEx vibrating chairs — there's something off-putting about everyone jiggling and congratulating themselves on how smart they are using FedEx and saving enough money to buy their tricked-out seats.
4. UPS whiteboard — the guy with the unctuous voice and manner, retro hair and Loro Piana sweater is so not what UPS is about.
Black Friday bonus — en español!
Flair Hair — You've got the look
From the website:
We all have "bad hair" days; some of us have "no hair" days.
When you need to cover your dome, you’ll want something that does the job, something that adds a little fun, a little flair; your very own Flair Hair visor.
This cool little item will keep you covered and its built-in visor will protect your eyes from the sun, all while giving you a distinctive 1970s Bjorn Borg-at-Wimbledon look.
Adjustable visor features Velcro closure.
Meeting with the queen not included.
Brown Hair/Black Visor (top): $19.99.
Blonde Hair/White Visor (middle): $14.99.
White Hair/White Visor (above): $19.99.
George Johnson on The Enduring Mystery of Missing Socks
His November 19, 2008 St. Louis Beacon column takes a fresh look at an old problem; it follows.
- Where Are All My Socks Going?
All my life, for as far back as I can remember, I have been losing socks. Not pairs of socks, mind you, but single socks. I first became aware of this peculiar phenomenon when as a young man I went away to college. When Thanksgiving rolled around that first year, I brought an enormous duffle bag of laundry home. My mother, instead of braining me, dumped the lot into the washer and dryer, and so discovered what I had not noticed — that few of my socks matched anymore.
That was 40 years ago, but it might as well have been yesterday. All my life, I have continued to lose socks. This last Christmas I threw out a sock drawer full of socks that didn’t match, and took advantage of sales to buy a dozen pairs of brand-new ones. Last week, when I did a body count, three of the new pairs had lost a sock!
Enough. I have set out to solve the mystery of the missing socks. How? The way Sherlock Holmes would have, scientifically. Holmes worked by eliminating those possibilities that he found not to be true. A scientist calls possibilities “hypotheses” and, like Sherlock, rejects those that do not fit the facts. Sherlock tells us that when only one possibility remains unrejected, then — however unlikely — it must be true.
Hypothesis 1: It’s the socks. I have four pairs of socks bought as Christmas gifts but forgotten until recently. Deep in my sock drawer, they have remained undisturbed for five months. If socks disappear because of some intrinsic property (say the manufacturer has somehow designed them to disappear to generate new sales), then I could expect at least one of these undisturbed ones to have left the scene by now. However, when I looked, all four pairs were complete. Undisturbed socks don’t disappear. Thus I reject the hypothesis that the problem is caused by the socks themselves.
Hypothesis 2: Transformation, a fanciful suggestion by science fiction writer Avram Davidson in his 1958 story “Or All the Seas with Oysters” that I cannot get out of the quirky corner of my mind. I discard the socks I have worn each evening in a laundry basket in my closet. Over many years, I have noticed a tendency for socks I have placed in the closet to disappear. Over that same long period, as my socks are disappearing, there is something in my closet that seems to multiply — COAT HANGERS! Socks are larval coat hangers! To test this outlandish hypothesis, I had only to move the laundry basket out of the closet. Several months later, I was still losing socks, so this hypothesis is rejected.
Hypothesis 3: Static cling. The missing single socks may have been hiding within the sleeves of sweat shirts or jackets, inside trouser legs, or curled up within seldom-worn garments. Rubbing around in the dryer, socks can garner quite a bit of static electricity, easily enough to cause them to cling to other garments. Socks adhering to the outside of a shirt or pant leg are soon dislodged, but ones that find themselves within a sleeve, leg, or fold may simply stay there, not “lost” so much as misplaced. However, after a diligent search, I did not run across any previously lost socks hiding in the sleeves of my winter garments or other seldom-worn items, so I reject this hypothesis.
Hypothesis 4: I lose my socks going to or from the laundry. Perhaps in handling the socks from laundry basket to the washer/dryer and back to my sock drawer, a sock is occasionally lost. To test this hypothesis, I have pawed through the laundry coming into the washer. No single socks. Perhaps the socks are lost after doing the laundry, during folding or transport from laundry to sock drawer. If so, there should be no single socks coming out of the dryer. But there are! The singletons are first detected among the dry laundry, before folding. Thus I eliminate the hypothesis that the problem arises from mishandling the laundry.
Hypothesis 5: I lose them during washing. It seems the problem is in the laundry room. Perhaps the washing machine is somehow “eating” my socks. I looked in the washing machine to see if a sock could get trapped inside, or chewed up by the machine, but I can see no possibility. The clothes slosh around in a closed metal container with water passing in and out through little holes no wider than a pencil. No sock could slip through such a hole. There is a thin gap between the rotating cylinder and the top of the washer through which an errant sock might escape, but my socks are too bulky for this route. So I eliminate the hypothesis that the washing machine is the culprit.
Hypothesis 6: I lose them during drying. Perhaps somewhere in the drying process socks are being lost. I stuck my head in our clothes dryer to see if I could see any socks, and I couldn’t. However, as I look, I can see a place a sock could go — behind the drying wheel! A clothes dryer is basically a great big turning cylinder with dry air blowing through the middle. The edges of the turning cylinder don’t push hard against the side of the machine. Just maybe, every once in a while, a sock might get pulled through, sucked into the back of the machine.
To test this hypothesis, I should take the back of the dryer off and look inside to see if it is stuffed with my missing socks. My wife, knowing my mechanical abilities, is not in favor of this test. Thus, until our dryer dies and I can take it apart, I shall not be able to reject hypothesis 6. Lacking any other likely hypothesis, I take Sherlock Holmes’ advice and tentatively conclude that the dryer is the culprit.
String of Pearls Trivet
White porcelain balls,
for one pot
Why are watchmakers like Amazon?
Long answer short: They prefer to present a smiling face to the world.
The back story, from Adam Andrew Newman's interesting article in today's New York Times: photographing watches with their hands at 10 and 2 is meant to make prospective readers think, "The watch is smiling."
"Watches in the 1920s and 1930s were almost exclusively set at 8:20."
Not any more, in the age of the dreaded smiley face.
- Why Time Stands Still for Watchmakers
The Ulysse Nardin wristwatch in an ad in the most recent Sunday edition of The New York Times is unlike 22 of the 24 watches featured in that issue’s ads, but chances are that didn’t register with most readers. For horologists, however, whose scrutiny of watches tends toward the Talmudic, it’s a lapel grabber: all the other watches — from brands like Rolex, TAG Heuer and Gucci — are set at 10:10, but Ulysse Nardin’s watch is set at 8:19. (The only other exception is an Oris wristwatch, one of four featured in an ad by the retailer Tourneau, which is set at 8:03.)
In a recent check of the 100 top-selling men’s dress watches on Amazon.com, which included models from 20 brands, all but three watches were set to 10:10. To be watch-shopping online and first notice that every model arrayed on the screen is set to an identical time can feel like crossing over into the Twilight Zone.
But the explanation turns out to be a simple matter of aesthetics.
Because brand names generally are centered on the upper half of a watch, hands positioned at 10 and 2 “frame the brand and logo,” said Andrew Block, executive vice president at Tourneau, the watch retailer, which has 51 stores worldwide. “It’s almost like an unwritten rule that everyone understands to photograph a watch a 10:10.”
In previous eras, the more popular time in ads was 8:20, which shared the attributes of being symmetrical and not overshadowing logos, but hands pointing down struck some as, well, a downer.
“It has the aesthetic of the smiley face to be 10 past 10, so we try whenever possible to opt for that,” Susanne Hurni, head of Ulysse Nardin’s advertising and marketing, said from the company headquarters in Le Locle, Switzerland. She says the company occasionally makes exceptions, as it does for models now advertised in publications including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, when watches have secondary dials and windows — for the day of the week, calendar day and year — that would be obscured by the hands at 10 and 2.
Klaus Peter Mager, a spokesman for Swatch, said his 25-year-old company, based in Biel, Switzerland, has always photographed watches primarily at 10:10, because “they’re smiling instead of a sad man’s face.” About 30 percent of the more than 400 models Swatch introduces yearly are photographed set at different times so that the hands don’t obscure functions, he said.
But Timex never deviates, even if that means the hands block features, said Adam Gurian, president of Timex, which is based in Middlebury, Conn. The company has an official time, 10:09:36, at which every watch — even digital models — is photographed for marketing purposes. Having the second hand at 36 tends to accommodate secondary language — like “Indiglo,” its dial-lighting technology — which appears centered at the bottom of watches.
To preserve batteries, the company ships many watches turned off at 10:09:36, which lends synchronicity to Timex displays in store windows.
At Rolex, watches are always photographed at 10:10:31, and for models that list the day of the week and calendar day, it is always Monday the 28th. A survey of hundreds of vintage wristwatch print ads posted online — in galleries at Adclassix.com, at the watch enthusiast site TimeZone.com, and on eBay — indicates that 10:10 was not always the norm. Watches in the 1920s and 1930s were almost exclusively set at 8:20.
The Hamilton Watch Company was among the first to clock in at 10:10; that time is favored in ads dating at least as far back as 1926. Rolex began consistently setting watches in ads at 10:10 in the early 1940s. Timex appears to have begun the transition in 1953, when its Ben Hogan model showed 8:20 while the Marlin model was set to 10:10.
Linda Kaplan Thaler, chief executive of the Kaplan Thaler Group, a New York advertising agency, learned about the 10:10 rule when her firm worked on a campaign for Rolex several years ago, and was drawn to the notion that it was like a smile.
“In advertising we would never expect someone to look at a watch and say, ‘The watch is smiling,’ but it’s just a feeling you get,” said Ms. Kaplan Thaler, co-author, with Robin Koval, of “The Power of Nice,” which features a big smile on its cover. The watch theme, she added, is typical of “subconscious cues that are used in print ads.”
Watchmakers are, naturally, fretting over how to sell watches to a generation that is in the habit of consulting their phones for the time, so it is perhaps fitting that the most-hyped phone has its own time-related intrigue. Many bloggers have wondered why the time on the iPhone in commercials, with few exceptions, reads 9:42 a.m., even when the capability being highlighted on the phone — like watching the “Pirates of Penzance” and being compelled to order calamari from a seafood restaurant — might seem atypical behavior over the day’s first cup of coffee.
The most popular theory is that it was 9:42 a.m. Pacific Time when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone at a MacWorld conference in 2007, a fact confirmed by live blogs from the conference, but two press officers from Apple did not return calls seeking an explanation.
Watch companies, meanwhile, have the unenviable task of creating ads that will be dissected by aficionados, who are by nature obsessed with precision. Ms. Hurni of Ulysse Nardin learned this painfully more than a decade ago, when preparing a watch with day, month and year features for a shoot. Ms. Hurni always sets the calendar date as much as a year ahead, ensuring that the ad will not look dated, but after she set the watch in an ad several months ahead to Sunday, March 19, 1996, some customers sent calendars to the company’s Swiss headquarters to underscore that March 19 would actually fall on a Tuesday.
That makes sense to Michael Sandler, the general manager of TimeZone.com, who several years ago noticed that an out-of-focus model in the background of a Patek Phillipe ad was wearing her watch upside down, a slip-up he doubts was recognized by nonhorologists.
“Watch geeks are interesting people,” Mr. Sandler said. “They’ll pick up on weird stuff like that from an ad.”
No, I didn't forget that I invoked Amazon in the headline up top, nor Chekhov's 1889 admonition that "One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it."
FunFact: In 2000 Jeff Bezos flipped the "frowny" curve under Amazon's name on its logo, adopted in 1998,
upside down so as to make it a smile and hopefully carry with it all that such an expression conveys.
You could look it up.
Cat USB Hub
From the website:
• 4 ports — 1 in mouth and 3 in back
• USB 2.0 high-speed — up to 480Mbps
• Plug-and-play — supports hot-swap capability
• Compatible with: Windows XP, 2000, ME, and 98SE
• Innovative design becomes a personal desktop accessory
Recycled Paper Water Bottles
From the website:
Paper Water Bottle
Questions the very existence of the plastic water bottle
Each day, Americans throw out 60 million plastic bottles.
Only 14% actually get recycled — meaning 86% become garbage or litter.
We looked at this as a radical problem requiring an equally radical solution.
Could we design a container that would leverage sustainability, be easy to transport, and enhance the consumer's drinking experience?
The 360 Paper Bottle is a sustainable vision of the future.
It is the first totally recyclable paper container made from 100% renewable resources.
Versatile in its range of consumer applications and made from food-safe and fully-recyclable materials, it decreases energy consumed throughout the product life cycle without sacrificing functioning.
It is paper packaging that stands up to all liquid categories.
Up in Indianapolis, my doughty correspondent is smiling as he reads that last sentence.
[via Patti MacGillivray]
Set of three
black silicone trays.
Think outside the