In the new product development department, the other day I ran across a news story on the “wearable chair.” It’s a contraption of bands and extendable aluminum legs; you strap it to your keister and it allows you to sit wherever and whenever you want to do so.
It’s an ungainly looking device, to be sure, and it gives the people sitting on it a distinctly bionic, quasi-insectoid appearance. It seems like a pretty clumsy thing to wear around, and if you’re in a crowd it looks like it would take up space that might not be appreciated by the other people on, say, the subway train. Presumably there are rigorous weight limits for the wearable chair, too. It’s supposed to help with your posture, though — which doesn’t surprise me, because the photos of the product make it look like you need to sit in a particular, erect way or weight distribution issues would otherwise cause you to go tumbling to the ground. No slouching when you are strapped into the wearable chair!
I guess we’ll find out whether there’s a market for the wearable chair. It seems hard to believe that there are enough people who become so fatigued at the spur of the moment that they can’t find a chair or bench — or even spot on the grass — where they can sit, and would rather extend limbs from an exoskeleton on their butt and draw curious attention to themselves. Maybe modern people have become so lazy and in need of instant comfort that the wearable chair will be a big success. In a world struggling with obesity, however, it seems like we’d all be better off if people had to actually stand while waiting for a bus or train rather than plopping down wherever they wanted.
How long do you suppose it will be before somebody decides to combine a wearable chair with a standing desk?
I thought it was a sign of the apocalypse when McDonald’s started serving breakfast sandwiches between two griddle cakes several years ago — but in our modern culture, the envelope is always being pushed farther and farther.
So I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised to read that KFC is now offering various chicken and donut combinations at selected locations in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia. At those test locations, you can get a basket of chicken on the bone or chicken tenders served with one or two doughnuts, or you can order a sandwich made of a boneless piece of Kentucky Fried Chicken positioned between two glazed donuts, all of which is then served hot. The donuts apparently will be delivered to the test KFC stores already cooked, and when a customer orders them, they will be dipped into fryers and glazed with vanilla icing so they are served hot.
KFC has explained that it is conducting the test to determine whether customers are craving chicken and donuts on a national scale. I don’t think any kind of test of that sort truly is needed. When you combine the statistics on the growing American obesity epidemic (no pun intended) with the known fact that most people are powerless to resist donuts that are made available to them, it seems very likely that the KFC chicken-and-donut sandwich will be a smashing, calorie- and carbohydrate-laden success. Fortunately, I’m not going to be going near Pittsburgh or Virginia in the near future, so I won’t be tempted to give the sandwiches a try.
If the sandwiches are adopted on a national scale — and I have no doubt they will be — KFC or a competitor will have to figure out a way to push the culinary/calorie/carb envelope still farther. I’m guessing we’ll see bacon, cheese, and honey drizzle added to the combination next.
Here’s some very welcome news — it looks like The Far Side may be returning to the funny pages. (Well, perhaps not to the physical funny pages, because it looks like any new panels apparently will be offered online only, but you get the idea.)
Gary Larson’s The Far Side was unquestionably one of the most original — and funniest — cartoons ever conceived. It ran from 1980 to 1995 and brought a daily chuckle to millions of fans, including me. When it ceased its run we groaned, but clung happily to our favorite Far Side offerings. But recently The Far Side‘s official website posted a new cartoon, featuring the familiar Far Side cows, dogs, and women wearing cat-eye glasses being blowtorched out of an iceberg. Under the drawing was the announcement: “Uncommon, unreal, and (soon-to-be) unfrozen. A new online era of The Far Side is coming!”
I don’t think you can overestimate the significance of bringing a smile to people’s faces, especially in this era of so much rancor and discord. It would be a great thing if The Far Side made its return to brighten our days, Then, we could all start lobbying for a return of Calvin and Hobbes, too, and all would be right with the world.
For all of the talk about globalization, every once in a while we get a reminder that there are still a lot of differences between countries. One such reminder came this week, in a news story about a court ruling from France.
It’s a story about the unfortunate Xavier. a security technician who worked for a railway company near Paris. Xavier was sent on a business trip to central France by his employer. One night on the trip, the amorous Xavier had an extramarital relationship with a woman at her home one night — and then keeled over, dead, from a heart attack apparently related to the encounter. A health insurance fund concluded that Xavier’s demise was the result of a work-related accident, making the employer liable. The employer appealed, saying Xavier should be viewed, instead, as having interrupted his work-related trip for his tryst, so that the company was not responsible for his post-coital death.
Earlier this year a French court rejected the employer’s arguments. Under French law, any accident that happens on a business trip is considered to be work-related, even if the activity is not closely related to the purpose for the trip. The court ruled that French law protects employees engaged in everyday activities during business trips, unless they interrupted planned business activities, and the employer couldn’t show that Xavier was supposed to be working when he was having his fatal sexual encounter. And get this: the court noted that the insurance fund argued that sex was part of everyday life, “like having a shower or a meal.”
Casual sex with a stranger while you’re on a business trip is akin to taking a shower or eating breakfast? Only in France.
When I went to the grocery store yesterday, I walked down an aisle and saw, to my dismay, that Halloween stuff was on sale already — even though it’s just the beginning of September. But I was really stopped in my tracks when I saw this product for sale, right there next to the bags of candy and trick or treat decorations.
It’s a “Jokin’ on the John” motion-activated toilet seat cover. Put this on, and when the lid to the commode is lifted, you get treated to one of several jokes delivered by this crazy-eyed cackling witch. It’s one of a number of “Jokin’ in the John” products that can help you celebrate Halloween. Others include “Flush ‘n Stein,” a motion activated Frankenstein figure holding a plunger who is supposed to be put on top of the toilet and then tells jokes and sings a song, as well as a wisecracking ghost armed with a plunger and a mummy-type figure whose wrapping is toilet paper.
An entire “Jokin’ in the John” line of products, offered by Hallmark, of all places? Apparently the bathroom, one of the last bastions of peace and quiet and normalcy in an overdecorated holiday world, is viewed as the new frontier for holiday-themed “humor” products. It’s there, ready to be invaded by cackling witches and other intrusive figures whose handful of allegedly funny phrases would get old pretty darned fast. And speaking as a representative of the older generation that now has to make more nocturnal visits to the bathroom than they used to, I can’t imagine wanting to have any talking, motion-activated items in there to startle me when I stumble in at 3 a.m.
It’s bad enough that Halloween now gets celebrated for about two full months — can’t we leave the bathroom out of it?
The other day I was having dinner with friends. For some reason the conversation turned to The Villages, an enormous, sprawling, planned retirement community in central Florida, between Orlando and Gainesville, where tens of thousands of seniors live and residents ride around in souped-up and tricked-out golf carts. And one of my friends mentioned that The Villages is known for something else: it has apparently got an unusually high rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — higher than in surrounding, non-retiree communities.
I decided to check that out, and learned two things. First, The Villages is so big it has its own newspaper, at Villages-News.com. And second, the newspaper views the STD story as sufficiently serious to warrant a recent news story — one that treats the tales of wild sex and rampant STDs at The Villages to be an “urban myth,” attributable to an ill-advised comment by a Villages gynecologist in 2006 and a later book and news stories about individual seniors and their sexual escapades. The article notes that statistics indicate that there hasn’t been a surge in STD rates in The Villages, points out that in a community so massive — the article says The Villages now is home to 125,000 people, almost all of whom are 55+ and retired — some are going to want to drink and get frisky, and concludes: “So like any town in the country, it’s going to have a certain number residents who sleep around and acquire STDs.”
Well, okay then! I’m not sure that the Villages-News.com story fully debunks the STD story, but mostly I had this reaction as I read the story: who would have thought there is a place in central Florida where 125,000 seniors live together and drive around in cutesy golf carts, and that 125,000 people would view that as the ideal setting for their retirement?
This morning I can scratch another item off my bucket list, because I can now say that I’ve ridden in a classic, open Jeep.
The B.A. Jersey Girl brought her family’s vintage, early ’90s Jeep to the office yesterday, and we used it to ride over to Indian Oven for lunch. Riding in a classic Jeep is an interesting and pretty cool experience. With the low-slung doors and the open back end, you’re much more exposed to the world than you are in a car — even in a convertible. I’ve never been as motivated to buckle my seatbelt and anchor myself as I was when I first climbed into the Jeep yesterday afternoon.
But once you get used to it, a Jeep is a fun ride on a warm, sunny day. While the B.A.J.G. deftly shifted and navigated through traffic, I had a bird’s eye view of the downtown Columbus lunch hour crowd — and vice versa. Everything seemed a lot more vivid and immediate without the tinted windows and car ceiling to separate interior from exterior. And people tend to give a Jeep more of a once-over than they do a normal car, because Jeeps look so different. I’m sure the passersby yesterday were surprised to see two lawyers, hair flapping in the breeze, where you might expect to see surfers or armed security forces instead.
Now that I’ve ridden in a Jeep, I suppose my next bucket list item has to be riding in a tank. I’d be willing to give it a try, but I’d be afraid I’d look as goofy and out of place as Michael Dukakis on his ill-fated photo op ride. Then again, perhaps that already happened with yesterday’s Jeep adventure.