On the ropes
Here's a variation on the old saw, "Some days you get the bear; some days the bear gets you." In the case of ToulmeTire Inc. in Pascagoula, Miss., its high-flying advertising efforts recently got snagged by some pesky power lines.
The dealership sells passenger, truck, farm and industrial tires and does automotive service. As a promotion, it aired up a 20-foot-long, blimp-shaped helium-filled advertising balloon—bearing the names Firestone and Bridgestone on its sides—and tethered it to a 200-foot rope over the outlet.
Then the object did as blimps tend to do: It started to drift...right into some power lines in the shopping district. Police closed off the area and evacuated businesses, fearing electricity from the wires might cause the helium inside the balloon to explode.
Toulme Tire Owner Bill Toulme told The Mississippi Press that the helium caused the balloon to move downward and north into power lines above an empty lot. (Side note: the dealership did not temporarily close.) Shortly after a bucket truck from Mississippi Power Co. arrived, the balloon popped and fizzled, wrapping itself around the wires.
Until the electric company extricated it from the wires, the limp blimp caused brief power outages in the downtown Pascagoula area, the newspaper reported.
Just remember, Bill, you can't buy publicity like this: a front page picture and story in the paper; probably the local TV news, too. So who needs direct mail?
Mummy's the word
Hate to introduce a downer into this otherwise frivolous attempt at humor, but have you made arrangements yet for your, uh, final disposition?
There seem to be so many options. If you've got enough bucks, you can be buried in your favorite car, shot into space, take a final one-way sea cruise; or simply be cremated. But Summum, a religious group in Salt Lake City, would like to re-introduce you to the ancient art of mummification—with a more high-tech twist.
According to the ABC News Web site, Summum began researching mummification in 1979 by trying its techniques on 30 cadavers contributed by a local medical school. Unlike the traditional method—think Steve Martin and "Walk like an Egyptian"—Summum's practitioners clean and drain a body, then soak it for up to six months in a preservation fluid based on a "secret formula" by the group's founder and leader, Corky Ra.
Here's the rubber industry-related part (you were wondering why we're mentioning this?): After wrapping a corpse in gauze, it is then coated with a dozen coats of polyurethane rubber which, the company says, dries as tough as a tire. Following layers of fiberglass bandages (think glass-belted tires), the body's sealed with resin inside a bronze mummiform resembling those in ancient pyramids.
Get your calculator out: First, it'll cost you about $5,000 to ship a body to Salt Lake City for preparation. The basic mummification process costs $12,000, plus $36,000 for the simplest bronze mummiform, plus at least another five grand for funeral arrangements and mausoleum space.
At those prices, you'd better hope you also get a lifetime unlimited treadwear warranty and free puncture repairs.
When will it end?
For decades, women—and, yes, some men—have been trying to get some relief from that ugly monster known as housework and all its accompanying drudgery.
Would you believe that Ford Motor Co. has a better idea? Perhaps sooner than you think, you'll be able to continue to be a slave to your chores even while on the road. The auto maker has teamed with Maytag Corp. to create an appliance-filled 2000 Windstar minivan called "Windstar Solutions."
Automotive News said the concept came out of research at Ford on marketing to women. (Phew, gets us guys off the hook.) The vehicle is equipped with a refrigerator, microwave, cooler, trash compactor, utility vacuum and even a washer (where does the soapy water go?) and dryer. It also links consumers to their homes via voice-activated "Home Connection" technology, allowing a driver to turn on the oven at home, for example, while still in the van.
Just think, if all those gizmos are run by some kind of hand-held unit, couples can still argue over control of the remote. Alas, pretty soon we'll never have to leave our cars.
Dis ' dat
Quote du jour—Ace sportscaster and former football coach John Madden said it: "From the waist down, Earl Campbell has the biggest legs I have ever seen on a running back." (Hello, John, is there anybody in there?)
Yay, team—This from that famous philosopher "Anonymous": "Teamwork means never having to take all the blame yourself."
No cork sniffers, please—It's either a revolutionary approach or an abomination, depending on your druthers. But PlumpJack Winery in the Napa Valley town of Oakville, Calif., has stirred up the dregs, so to speak, by offering a luxury wine in a bottle with, ugh, a screw top.
At the hefty price of $135 per bottle, that price range has always been cork territory, while screw tops are for cheaper vinos. Kind of like running expensive ultra-high-performance tires on your sportscar on regular rims with hubcaps.
Hold that elevator—Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. said Harold Dynna has retired as general manager of its Firestone Fibers and Textiles plant in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada, after 33 years with the company. His replacement: Bill Muzak.
Hmm...Muzak in Woodstock. Imagine a sedate version of Jimi Hendrix's "Star Spangled Banner," suitable for elevators everywhere.
Turning cash into trash
A Laotian immigrant couple in Appleton, Wis., had an experience perhaps akin to throwing the baby out with the bath water.
For years, Ka Mai Xiong and Chao Vang had saved nearly $11,000 to replace their 15-year-old Toyota. After withdrawing the money from their bank for the purchase, they wrapped the cash in a white garbage bag. (See where this is heading?) The couple, who work factory jobs for minimum wage, mistakenly threw out their stash with the household trash.
By the time authorities were called, the couple's life savings had joined an estimated 120,000 similar-looking trash bags at a county-run landfill—with about three days' worth of garbage plus commercial and industrial waste.
Once their plight was publicized, more than $35,000 flowed in from well-wishers around the country. An entourage of officials went to the couple's home to present them with a check, though they only wanted $11,000. They were finally convinced to keep $15,000 so they could buy a better car that would need fewer repairs. The rest will go to charities.
Far as we know, that 11 grand is still there in the landfill, ripe for the picking. And the key word definitely is "ripe."
No dealer prep necessary
Enough already with the jokes about the Feds paying hundreds of bucks for hammers and toilet seats. When they set their minds to it, they can really open the collective taxpayer wallet wide.
It was recently reported that while consumers, in many cases, have been waiting for up to six months to get delivery on the hot new Chrysler PT Cruiser, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) quickly snapped up two of them. But the agency paid substantial premiums—just so it could turn them into scrap metal.
You won't see these bureaucrats cruising around D.C. in the retro-styled car. NHTSA bought the Cruisers from car dealers for about $10,000 over the manufacturer's sticker price for each so they could be smashed to smithereens as part of the government's consumer vehicle crash-testing program.
Now we know why they call 'em "crash-test dummies."