Monthly Archives: September 2008

A Splash of Infinity

by Sally Applin

Today I was walking down the cosmetics aisle at Target and the men’s cologne packages caught my eye. Especially the one with the big Pi symbol. It was next to one called “Eternity” and I just had to wonder: how would you pick between Eternity, or Infinity?

If you splash on a little Eternity, will it work?

Trend: if eternity isn’t working, consider splashing a bit of Infinity on yourself…

©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

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Rules are Made to be…?

by Sally Applin

In the past day or so, I’ve been wondering what constitutes a “trend.” I write about “trends” but how do I define them? I sort of see them as the activities of the first few cows that will inspire the herd to follow suit. That’s the best I can do at the moment.

There seems to be a more serious trend going on that I’d like to write about–and that is the trend to break rules. As a society we have laws and policies to help us function in a group together. Criminals are the ones who break the rules.

Trendsetters break rules of expected behavior. What they do is what everyone else is not doing–but it doesn’t necessarily make them criminals.

In the New York Times there was a recent article about the NFL and sweatbands. Sweatbands used to be worn on the wrist. Their function was to be used to mop up sweat off the brow. Sweatbands were worn on both wrists so they’d be handy. Players in the NFL have moved sweatbands up the arm and made them skinnier. They are now worn around the elbow or bicep to accentuate muscle definition. They are no longer used to mop up sweat, but the wearer thinks they benefit him by making him look good.

I can think of another trend that did that: extracting equity against the perceived projected appreciation of a property. It made mortgage companies look good in terms of profit, it made individuals look wealthier. It was the “bicep band” of finance.

Football players have a job to do and they know their game–whether or not they choose to wear a “bicep band” isn’t going to affect every other person in the country. It might affect their self-confidence which impacts how they play, and to some extent that will impact their team and maybe their pay, but it is contained within the realm of football.

Financial people on the other hand, did know better. They knew that they were putting on “bicep” bands that affected every homeowner. The realm wasn’t a stadium, it was a basic human need for housing. They knew that they were breaking the rules that help society function, and they were shameless about it. 

Football players know the rules of football and they use them. There are referees to be certain that in every game the rules of football are followed. If a player doesn’t follow the rules, chances are they aren’t going to have a long career in football. The team will suffer.

Financial people didn’t care about following the rules. There weren’t any active referees monitoring them and they felt confident to make up the rules to suit themselves.

If the people that are supposed to be upstanding and adhere to a code, can’t or won’t, then how do we remain a society and how does our culture shift? It isn’t my intent to sound melodramatic, but I think there is a big difference between the trend of “bicep bands” and the trend of flagrantly hacking the established moral compass.

Trend: I’m sad to say it, but I think the trend of “rule breaking” is growing.

©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

La la la, I Can’t Hear you! (But I can Still Read Your Review.)

by Sally Applin

I’m on vacation this week. I was supposed to unplug, but so far its been a bad experiment. Most things I need are online. The concierge only has listings for fancy restaurants, so if I want to go somewhere that isn’t a four star deal, I can’t count on the hotel to recommend anything. 

At the moment, I don’t have an iPhone. (I’m still in a contract for a few more months and I want to wait for the next hardware release.)

This is the first time I’ve been wondering if it wouldn’t be better to just have an iPhone for travel, rather than lugging a laptop around and paying big network fees in a hotel. If I had an iPhone, when I’m 5 blocks away from the hotel, I could find the nearest place to purchase sunscreen or a snack without having to walk all the way back. Maps would be available. I could look up that monument and see what its history is in context.

None of these ideas are new–the new part, is that I want to do that, and remain unplugged. Socially unplugged, not digitally unplugged. I’d like an iPhone with a “vacation-mode” where email sits on a server somewhere, and my phone number changes or routes incoming calls for the week to voicemail.

I don’t want to unplug from information–I want to unplug from people.

Trend: vacation still means being plugged in. How about an iPhone “vacation mode”?

©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

Spirit in the Sky

by Sally Applin

Today I checked out the “Jet Pack” demo at the Hiller Aviation museum in San Carlos, CA. They are hosting a two day exhibition, devoted to Jet pack and Rocket pack technologies. At the end of the thunderman.net lecture, I wasn’t sure if it was a “Jet” pack or a “Rocket” pack that I saw, but seeing a man blast off a deck, fly around 50′ overhead and zoom back to land was thrilling.

There’s more to it. The jet man doing the demo was sponsored by Go Fast, which is a company that produces highly caffeinated sports drinks. Go Fast has a stable of extreme sports athletes as their spokespeople. At the Q & A, the jet man seemed very…well, caffinated. He does so many flights, I was seriously wondering how long his renal function would be working. 

The jet man was really just a hired gun to fly. An ex-stuntman turned Rocket pack operator. Knew nothing of the science behind his craft, but really knew how to fly it. The whole scene, with the big tractor trailer truck for “Go Fast” and the rock music and his Nascar looking outfit, struck me as a cross between a sideshow and a horse race, with the jet man halfway between a jockey and racehorse. Highly strung, physically fit, jittery, and farmed out to risk his life while his managers made the money.

Seeing him fly really was amazing, but at the Q&A, I really got uncomfortable. It was open to questions and I asked the jet man how he trained, what he did to restore his adrenal function after several flights in a row, and if he ever just got really tired and collapsed.

Unfortunately, all he heard was my asking as part of the preparation question if he took caffeine, and he used my entire question as a pitch for “Go Fast.” He was in there though. He could rattle out the numbers and ratios and seconds he could fly at what speed for how much height and distance and how he could work out getting back. A savant almost about that stuff. Very narrowly focused. Like a racehorse.

The jet man looked like Skeletor. My friend pointed out that maybe he was thin to stay light so that he could go further on the fuel. (The current pack goes for 30 seconds.) I hope so. I felt very worried for him. He was doing what he loved, but there didn’t seem to be any monitoring of his health or welfare or well being. Just put on the suit, put on the pack, fly the loop and 3 hours later do it again. It seemed that his vulnerability in so many ways was so visible, and yet, the guy was heroic for even trying it.

I’m not sure what to think of the whole thing. The jet pack flight was an awesome experience to witness, but the jet man got me wondering about what the human body is designed to do, and what it can withstand. Are we built to travel by jet pack?

For one thing, we weigh too much. The average person is not going to be able to strap on a 100+ pound pack. For another, even if we could strap on a pack and get airborne, our chances of a smooth flight without crashing into each other is highly limited. We can’t even walk down a crowded street without running into one another.  About as much adrenaline as I could take, was when I lived in Manhattan and walked home up 5th Avenue at rush hour. Adding a jet pack to that already loaded stressful feeling seems like a recipe for disaster–especially when its combined with hundreds of other people doing the same thing at the same time.

It seems that with every generation, we get closer to having the jet pack technology more refined and the proposed uses more real. The technology does evolve, but at the current 30 second flight, there is a long way to go.

The questions for me is:  Will accelerated flying run the body into the ground?

Trend: Jet packs may be coming to an airfield near you, but its unlikely you’ll see them in town. At the moment, the closest people will get to getting a boost when walking through Manhattan traffic will probably be from drinking “Go Fast.”

©2008-2015 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

Burning the Soup

by Sally Applin

Yesterday marked the conclusion of Burning Man. I’m mulling over two parallel tracks here: one is that Burning Man may be a prototype of what its going to be like when Global Warming turns the world into a giant Mad Max Survival-of-the-Fittest Darwinist Dust Bowl. This year at Burning Man, due to the dust storms, Goggles were very popular, as were scarves and industrial boots that go at least to the knee. Coverage. Bicycles and other mechanical things were very popular as transport. The more neon, zebra striped, and custom, the better. Of special note about Burning Man is the sheer individuality of everyone, plopped into this one zone to “do their thing” in all their analog glory amongst the dust.

“Soup” (.io of all things then click on “what is on soup right now”) is this place where people just post what they want in a blog type format, but it seems to aggregate different media types. As with Burning Man, its people being themselves, doing their thing sans dust. There is the “everyone” mode which is sort of like strolling through a digital Burning Man in the most dust free environment ever: electrons. No bicycles though.

What Soup and Burning Man have in common is this new “free for all do whatever” mode. What they don’t have in common are skills. It could go either way. The cynic in me thinks that the people going to Burning Man are learning particular types of survival skills that are going to help them along later in life. I’m not sure if the Soup people will have what it takes if Global Warming continues.

Trend: I think these are going to either fuse, or battle it out. Its sort of up to us.

©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.