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October 21, 2008

theEssentials.com — Will Procter & Gamble's 'Secret Official Online Store' doom retailers?


Long story short: the giant company supports a website that exclusively carries its brands — and sells direct to the consumer, as little as a single tube of Crest toothpaste.

Here's Jonathan Birchall's front page story from the October 19, 2008 Financial Times, which seems to me to be a potentially huge deal but apparently didn't strike a similar chord with the major U.S. dailies, none of whom mentioned the news — at least not in the dead tree format delivered to my driveway every morning.

    P&G web move is challenge to retailers

    Procter & Gamble is testing its ability to use the internet to sell its toothpaste, household cleaners and nappies directly to US households, in a potential long-term strategic challenge to its retail partners.

    The company is supporting a website, theEssentials.com, that is exclusively selling its brands, with items such as single tubes of Crest toothpaste and bottles of Mr Clean cleaning fluid, to boxes of its Pampers and Luvs brand nappies and Gillette razors.

    The move brings P&G into direct brand competition with its retailers, underlining the extent to which e-commerce is contributing to changes in the way the two sides have traditionally worked with each other.

    In an indication of the sensitivities involved, the site is being operated by a third party, which owns the inventory. "We treat them like any other retailer as they buy product directly from us," said Paul Fox, a company spokesman, of the site, which is still covered by P&G's legal terms and conditions.

    However, as e-commerce expands, manufacturers of electronics, clothing and other goods have shown themselves increasingly ready to overcome traditional concerns over potential conflicts with their retailers.

    For consumer packaged goods companies, industry analysts argue that direct online sales are also a way to respond to lower prices from retailers' private label brands.

    In beauty products, P&G's rivals L'Oréal and Estée Lauder have been selling on the web for some time. Other leading consumer brands, including Kellogg's, have formed close partnerships with Amazon to drive bulk sales.

    In another indication of the flux, Wal-Mart, P&G's largest customer, is hiring a strategy executive whose tasks include assessing the potential effect of direct-to-consumer sales by its own suppliers.


Detroit made noises in this direction some years ago, exploring the idea of bypassing its dealers and selling cars direct to consumers.

Now that the whole industry is crumbling and dealers are dropping like flies, look for another attempt to eliminate the shaky, embattled middleman.

October 21, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Ponytail Hat


From the website:

    Ponytail Hat

    Keeps Your Head Warm Without Damp, Sweaty Hair Matted Against Your Neck

    The typical winter hat poses a dilemma: put your hair up and endure your tickling ponytail pressed against the back of your neck (not to mention the unflattering bump) — or keep your hair down and have it swing wildly across your face.

    We found a clever, comfortable solution.

    Made out of water-repellent, non-itching Polartec Fleece, the Go-Active Hat lets you simply put hair up and pull it through — making it perfect for winter jogs or a day of skiing.

    Keeps your head toasty and hair out of the way.

    Cut low to cover ears.

    One size fits all.



Black, Lime Green, Pink Daquiri, Periwinkle, Purple Rain, Red, or Brown.


October 21, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What is the most frequently mispronounced word in the English language?


Above, the top 20, with phenomenon the winner.

Hey, I came second.

You could look it up.

I wonder how the U.S. iteration — anesthesiologist — might've placed.

Wouldn't be surprised if the three additional syllables were enough to put it over the top and trump phenomenon.

[via Telegraph.co.uk and Milena]

October 21, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Pocket Chisel — 'Protects your pants'


Don't even think of going there.

From websites:

Pocket Chisel

Tired of chipped, dull chisels that endure getting bounced around in your tool box or banged up on your belt?

The Pocket Chisel’s heavy-duty nylon handle folds down over the blade to keep it protected when not in use.


It also puts an end to pants pocket blow-out.

The handle locks when opened and stays locked through serious hammering.

Precision tool-grade steel blade.


In 4 blade widths: 1/4", 1/2", 3/4", or 1".

$19.95 (pants not included).

October 21, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Can embedded RFID chips halt an epidemic of cactus theft?


They're the new new thing in cactus theft deterrence: microchips smaller than a dime implanted in young (30 to 50 years old) saguaro cactuses (above) in the Sonoran Desert, 120,000 square miles covering parts of Arizona, California and Baja California and Sonora in Mexico, in an attempt to stop large-scale pilfering of the prized plants, which can bring $1,000 or more.

Here's Ross D. Franklin's Associated Press story as it appeared in the October 12, 2008 New York Times.

    Theft Deterrence for an Arizona Icon

    Anyone swiping a saguaro cactus from the desert could soon be hauling off more than just a giant plant.

    National Park Service officials plan to imbed microchips in saguaros, Arizona’s signature plant, to protect them from thieves who rip them from the desert to sell them to landscapers, nurseries and homeowners.

    The primary objective is deterrence, but the chips also will help track down and identify stolen saguaros, said Bob Love, chief ranger at Saguaro National Park near Tucson.

    “There’s probably more of it that occurs than we’re aware of,” Mr. Love said.

    The largest theft occurred last year, when 17 saguaros were dug up and stashed for transportation later. The culprits were caught, but in other cases three to five plants were taken.

    Saguaros are unique to the Sonoran Desert, 120,000 square miles covering parts of Arizona, California and Baja California and Sonora in Mexico.

    They can grow to 50 feet, sprout gaggles of arms and weigh several tons. They can take 50 years to flower and 70 years to sprout an arm. And they identify Arizona’s landscape in everything from Road Runner cartoons to the state quarter.

    A 2000 census of the two districts that make up the park estimated that there were 1.3 million saguaros there.

    Plant pilferers typically go after the younger specimens in the 4- to 7-foot range, which are probably 30 to 50 years old. Plants of that size typically fit in the bed of a pickup. They can bring $1,000 or more.

    “Saguaros are the plant that gets the most money,” said Jim McGinnis, who supervises the Arizona Department of Agriculture’s office of special investigations and is its chief cactus cop. “Everybody wants a saguaro in their front yard.”

    The officials at Saguaro National Park, which covers 91,000 acres, are still planning the microchip project, said Mr. Love, the park ranger. A microchip like those implanted to identify dogs — smaller than a dime — is to be inserted into the plant with a syringe.

    Mr. Love said each chip was uniquely encoded. Waving a special wand within about a foot powers the chip to reveal its code.

    He said it was common to see trucks carrying cactus on roads near the park. “So if we saw something like that, we could momentarily stop them and wave these wands over them,” he said.

    Officials could also go to nurseries or landscape businesses and learn if their saguaros came from the park, he said.

    Mr. Love said the park would have to go through a study to ensure the chips do not harm the plants or create air quality, soil or endangered species issues.

    The microchips cost about $4.50 each. Wands or scanners to read them range from $500 to $2,500, Mr. Love said. Other costs include labor to insert the chips and to monitor for cactus thefts.

    “We would likely not just go out and implant, but would gather data, G.P.S. the locations, and record heights and widths and measures,” Mr. Love said.

    The Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona and Nevada began putting microchips in barrel cactuses in 1999.

    “Not only has it helped us with reducing the level of cactus that’s being poached, but it also has helped us with cataloging our resources within the park,” said Andrew Munoz, a Lake Mead spokesman.

October 21, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Pompom Rug — by Laure Kasiers


The Belgian designer writes, "This rug is made up of many pompoms which are held together by crossed straps to create a velvet surface. The straps are visible here and there, providing some insight to the structure and offering a colourful emphasis."


[via Milena]

October 21, 2008 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

After Great Pain, A Formal Feeling Comes — by Emily Dickinson

After great pain, a formal feeling comes—
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs—
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

The Feet, mechanical, go round—
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought—
A Wooden way
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone—

This is the Hour of Lead—
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow—
First—Chill—then Stupor—then the letting go—

October 21, 2008 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

What is it?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

October 21, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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