What do chicken feathers have to do with vehicles?
If you answered ``road kill,'' you'd be wrong. The U.S. Agricultural Research Service (ARS), a federal government agency, has developed a technology to process chicken feathers into a light plastic substance similar to fiberglass that it claims is durable enough to replace existing heavier materials in the production of automobiles and trucks.
According to an article on WardsAuto.com, ARS scientist Justin Barone said the project has been attracting the attention of the auto industry, especially in the European Union, where there are emissions regulations aplenty and pressure on manufacturers to build lighter vehicles that are heavy on environmentally friendly options.
Recreational vehicle and commercial truck companies are showing an interest in using a composite of bio-based polymer and fiber from poultry feathers for interior paneling, the story said. The material would be entirely biodegradable because it contains no petroleum. Additionally, Mr. Barone said the feather fiber could be used to make air-laid automobile headliners-the thermal and sound insulation between the inside and outside of the car. Use of the light material in vehicles also would translate into better fuel economy.
ARS said there's also interest in using the process to convert poultry feathers to weave seat covers for cars. One advantage: It's a non-petroleum-based fiber that, unlike cotton or wool, is unlimited in fiber length and diameter.
We can't resist wondering if the ARS' concept will succeed-or lay an egg.
This, that & other stuff
Mini-milestone-In March Chrysler Group sold its 11 millionth minivan.
That's a lot of them critters ambling along the nation's highways and biways. To mark that feat, the auto maker came up with some vantastic facts, just in case you're wondering. For instance, the 11 million minivans lined up front to back at the equator would circle the Earth almost one and a half times (and create one heckuva traffic jam, eh?). It would take 18,182 football fields to hold all those minivans. And that many vans can hold 6,416,667 hockey teams of 12 players each (not National Hockey League teams, though), 7 million baseball teams of 11 players each, or 3,850,000 football teams of 20 players each.
Will the owner of minivan No. 10,659,363 please return to the parking lot-your lights are on.
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Look out below-Two 20-year-old female university students in Sendai, Japan, got the surprise of their lives when they were run over by a pair of runaway truck tires that came loose, bounced down a hill and slammed into them.
A witness told the Mainichi Daily News that she heard a thumping sound and turned to see the tires, which looked as though they were joined together, hurtling downhill toward a group of four women. ``The next moment, two of the women had fallen to the ground and another woman was crying, asking them if they were all right.''
The newspaper's Web site said police were questioning the 23-year-old truck driver to find out why the tires fell off his vehicle as he was drove through the hilly district.
Thankfully, the two students sustained only minor injuries.
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Banned bull's eyes-You know you've made the big time (or is it Big House?) when you get banned from a prison reading list.
Such was the fate of AutoWeek, one of our sister pubs. Last year the mag heard from the U.S. Pen in Florence, Colo., that one of its issues didn't make its appointed round. Why? Prison officials deemed it ``nuisance contraband.'' That was probably because, editors surmised, the issue in question ran an ad for the Mini Cooper which featured peel-off bull's-eye stickers.
You certainly don't want any guards walking the corridors with those stuck on their backs.
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Sky-high insomnia-We were heartbroken to learn that Delta Air Lines is flying the ultra-cheap route by tossing the pillows on its aircraft in order to save bucks...apparently big bucks. A spokesman said the move could cut at least $500,000 a year, and maybe up to $1 million from expenses for the struggling airline. (We'll miss those flat bacteria-laden little tufts.)
Think of the kind of moola a tire dealer could save by simply deciding to put only four instead of five lugnuts on each of a customer's wheels (just kidding...please, please don't try that.)
Glad you asked
In order to be a better manager, you must be able to sum up a situation and get to the heart of the matter...often by asking a pithy, deftly worded question, right?
A newsletter called The Manager's Intelligence Report,'' which bills itself as ``an insider's fast track to better management,'' notes ``the art of management often involves asking questions. Lots of them.'' It goes on to pose 10 questions to ask ``as you travel throughout your organization.'' If you ask these questions as part of your routine, it says, ``you'll teach your people that their opinions matter.''
Here, then, are some suggestions, which the newsletter said were adapted from TeleProfessional:
1. What made you mad today?
2. What took too long?
3. What caused complaints today?
4. What was misunderstood today?
5. What cost too much?
6. What was wasted?
7. What was too complicated?
8. What was just plain silly?
9. What job involved too many people?
10. What job involved too many actions?
While you're at it, we've got others you might consider:
* ``You kiss your mother with that mouth?''-in response to some ``blue'' language from an employee.
* ``Gee, where did you get that shirt? Rob Don Ho's closet?''-to a worker who insists on habitually wearing loud Hawaiian shirts.
* ``Are you actually going to sit down at your desk and get some work done, or is it your designated day to cruise the hallways?''-no explanation needed.
* ``What do you mean, you looked at it and it didn't seem to be too low?''-to a tire tech after getting a call from a customer who just left the dealership and is now stranded with a totally flat left-front tire.
* ``Which part of `you're fired' don't you understand?''-no explanation needed, especially if you're Donald Trump.
Hopefully, these questions won't produce the ``conversations'' some people have with their kids. You know...where Junior always answers a question with a question.
Edited by Sigmund J. Mikolajczyk