Cheesy, Melty, Crunchy, Gooey and…Earth Concious?

May 29, 2008

A beacon of the future?

Anyone with a couple thousand bucks can have a solar or wind energy system installed on the roof to help with energy costs. Likewise, trips to the recycling center and acting to reduce waste seem like ingrained practices that are as much a part of our weekly routine as watching Flava of Love re-runs and doing Windsor pilates.  

Sure baby steps are needed in the grandiose struggle of man vs. manmade natural problems but what if someone asked you to do something so unconventional and out of your element that it forced a change in the way you think about everything. Well this happened to me the other day…at TacoBell. For the record, I do not condone the fast food lifestyle because I don’t believe the convenience of hastily prepared, overly processed fare outweighs the astronomical calorie counts. However, two or three times a year, Taco Bell releases a little number called the Cheesy Gordita Crunch (CGC) which has somehow gotten its gooey, melty, cheesy, crunchy shell wrapped around my heart. When this item gets added back to the menu, I make a hurried run for the border. (Note* There was an unsuccessful online petition started last year to get this item added to the menu permanently)

After placing my order of two CGC’s and a large Iced Tea, I made my way to the hot sauce, napkin and utensil station to gather the appropriate accouterments for my meal. As I departed the station, I was approached by a woman names Inez who was only slightly larger than my gordita and sporting a Taco Bell logo’d shirt. Inez asked me, “You want spork?” Knowing that my CGC was manufactured for direct hand-to-mouth consumption, I kindly replied, “No thanks, napkins and hot sauce are all I need.” Looking someone dejected, Inez shook her head and sighed.

While I didn’t realize it immediately, Inez’s singular question had started a butterfly effect as her statement echoed in my mind. If all restaurants switched to sporks instead of fork and spoon combos, they would save money on dishwashing and ordering extra utensils. Likewise, if everyone carried around their own non-disposable spork and treated it much the same as a toothbrush, we could greatly reduce the amount of plastic cutlery that is filling up our landfills.

Obviously the spork is not the answer to all of our environmental concerns, but it does provide a model of ingenuity that we can learn from and hopefully apply to be more conscientious tenants of this planet. So just remember one thing when you’re sitting down to enjoy your dinner, whether it’s Hamburger Helper, Foie Gras and truffles or just another Cheesy Gordita Crunch, “YOU WANT SPORK!”

 


It Keeps Climbing and Climbing and Climbing…

May 29, 2008

This headline caught my eye this morning and I thought it was my obligation to pass it along to those of you who might care. “Robot Climbs Grand Canyon on AA Batteries”. So who do you think was behind the climbing power? The Energizer Bunny? Wrong.

The Robot Evolta — by Panasonic — kept climbing and climbing up a rope dangling from a Grand Canyon cliff for nearly seven hours on a pair or AA batteries that Japan’s Panasonic is billing as the world’s longest lasting. To prove the durability of the new alkaline batteries, Panisonic’s 5oz, 6.7inch blue imp clasped a rope with its arms and feet and just kept climing until the batteries stopped working — which happened to be some 1,740 feet or six hours and 46 minutes later. Robot Evolta can now be found in the Guineess Book of World Records.

Take that Energizer!

Want to know where you can get these extreemly long lasting batteries? For those of us in the States, we will have to wait a little bit longer. The Evolta batteries were launched in Japan in April and are expected to launch overseas later this year.

To read more about the Little Blue Robot that could…click here for the full article.

 Posted by Lauren


Going “Green” Means Two Things

May 27, 2008

I’m all for saving the earth. It’s where I live and all. You too, probably.

However, when it comes to “going green,” I tend to think and act in terms of dolla dolla bill y’all as much, if not more so, than in terms of hugging the nearest tree.

I suspect I’m not alone. In fact, I suspect I am in the great majority.

Times are indeed tough, as noted in our previous post regarding gas prices. When I moved to Rhode Island from Philly last summer, I suddenly needed a car. My first thought was “Prius.” But I did the math and the cost savings versus a traditional car just weren’t there. And that was the primary driver behind investigating a hybrid: cost savings.

Fact is, going green for me almost always means saving green. And as the cost of seemingly everything continues to skyrocket, my everyday behavior has changed dramatically. I’m shutting off lights. I’m turning off power strips. I’m coasting to red lights on the rare occasions I use a car. In my head, I’m hearing those pennies plink, plink, plinking down into my bank account, and it feels good.

As economic conditions continue to get cloudier, I remember my grandfather and the “waste not, want not” ways that not only got our family and millions of others through the Great Depression, but also taught our family and millions of others during times of relative plenty not to forget where they came from and what they went through.

I call this ethic “informed consumption.” It’s how my partner and I are living, and it’s how many other people are living right now. It’s what “going green” really means for many, many Americans. It’s not a cause; it’s a newfound commitment to a more reasonable and sustainable way of life. It’s checking ourselves before wrecking ourselves.

So when you’re marketing “green” concepts like energy efficiency to consumers, don’t be afraid to play up the less glamorous, less feel-good angle of cost savings at the expense of the more cuddly angles, like kids running through fields or the increased chances of survival for polar bears.

The thing is, America is more about “rugged individualism” than ever now. Self-interest almost always trumps communal interest–especially these days, when it’s becoming more “every man/woman for him/her self” seemingly by the minute. What’s amazing is that energy efficiency/environmental consciousness and self-interest aren’t mutually exclusive any more; in fact, they are joined at the hip. And because of that, we have a better chance of promoting both, and succeeding in those endeavors.

So marketers, be sure to see “green” for what it is: not as a political issue, but as an economic issue.

And once you do, you’ll likely sell quite a few energy-efficient, environmentally friendly products along the way.

Americans and polar bears will thank you.

Posted by: Joe Paone


Tips for Survival

May 23, 2008

As gas prices inch to $4.00/gallon in the Northeast and $5.00/gallon in other parts of the country (I’m looking at you California), there’s never been a better time to conserve fuel.  And since every gallon of gas burned generates the carbon equivalent of a 20-pound bag of charcoal briquettes, conserving fuel not only helps your wallet but also saves the environment.  (Didn’t you know?  Green is the new black?  Please don’t punch me.) 

So after perusing the internet, I’ve found some handy little tips for those people who find the commute to work taking a toll on their budget.  And because I’m such a nice person, I’m going to pass them on to you.

  1. Be a careful (read: good) driver – Don’t slam on the brakes or gun the gas pedal and try to avoid speeding.  I know, I know.  You’re late – aren’t we all?  But every 5 mph you go above 60 mph is the equivalent to paying an additional $0.10 per gallon.  True story.  So those of us who are perpetually late for our lives and speeding to make up for lost time – it may be costing us. 
  2. Keep your engine tuned – Keeping your car in good shape is a good general rule of thumb anyway, it will reduce your matainence cost overall if you change your oil regularly and make sure your engine is running properly.  But it can also improve your gas mileage by an average of 4% – so go and schedule that appointment at your local Speed-ee Quick Lube Car Repair. 
  3. Buy cheaper gas – I know, I know.  What a genius idea – revolutionary, really.  But gas prices can vary several cents by region and make a difference in the overall price to fill up your tank.  In the town I used to reside, gas was always about $0.08 cheaper than near our offices.  Gas Buddy can help you find the cheapest place in your area for regular unleaded.  (If you need super deluxe gas, you’re on your own.) 
  4. Drive less – What’s that?  I should get the Nobel Peace Prize for brilliant, innovative ways to save on gas?  You’re too kind.  But truthfully, we all rely on our cars to take us everywhere and it’s rare that we consider our other options for transportation, no matter how high gas prices become.   When I lived in Washington, DC it was not only more cost efficient but also entirely less stressful to take the metro into the city rather than wasting precious gas sitting in traffic on the Capital Beltway.  Perhaps you don’t have a great public transportation system in your area (cough, Rhode Island) – but there’s always carpooling to work with people making the same trip and splitting gas costs. 

Perhaps this list won’t make a huge difference on your overall fuel bill the next time you stop at the pumps – but desperate times call for desperate measures people.  And you know, there’s always those things hanging below your waist called legs.  I hear those things are pretty handy for transportation.

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Posted by: Ashley

 


Weird News of the Day

May 21, 2008

Stupid, but true.

Lost Parrot Tells Veterinarian His Address

Tokyo – A parrot named Yosuke flew out of his cage and got lost. So the smart little guy did the only thing he knew — he repeated his name and address over and over and over to anyone who would listen. Well, not anyone. The African grey parrot refused to speak to police after being rescued from a rooftop, but opened up freely to a local veterinarian. Yosuke provided the vet with his full home address, including street number, and even entertained the vet staff with songs.

Thieves steal 2,000 pound anchor, nobody notices

La Crosse, WI – Thieves stole a 2,000 pound, six-foot anchor mounted outside the Naval Reservist Station. No one noticed the gray-blue anchor was missing.

For months.

The anchor was reported missing Saturday.  A representative for the Naval Reservist Oversight Committee said the anchor must have been stolen sometime between December 31 and Thursday.

Undergarments Go Green

Tokyo – A Solar bra that generates enough energy to power a cell phone or an iPod is now available. And not only that, it contains a small pouch for water so you no longer have to carry around those toxic hard plastic bottles. The bra by Triumph International Japan Ltd includes a solar panel worn around the waist. But since the bra needs sun to work correctly, the bra will not be available for purchase any time soon as “people usually can not go outside without wearing clothes over it.”

Instead of TP…

Boulder City, NV – A Nevada company has created a personal cleaning product to eliminate the use of toilet paper. The product is designed to clean backsides more efficiently than toilet paper or standalone bidets.

“Using toilet paper to clean our bottoms is like trying to clean dishes with a paper towel,”  the founder said. “Our product provides a practical and more natural way to be clean, while reducing an average family’s toilet paper consumption by up to 75 percent.”

Posted by: Molly


Bring your “kids” to work….every day

May 15, 2008

We are a staff of 8 – 1 President, 1 Office Manager, 3 Senior Account Execs, 3 Junior Account Coordinators.  But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the other creatures that share our office space, contribute to the noise level, and make us laugh with their antics. 

I’m talking, of course, about our office dogs.   Three to be exact, who are all here on a fairly regular basis and make this office a very interesting place to work. 

Yes, Caster Communications is a dog-friendly environment.  (I’d say pet-friendly, but the presence of cats would probably make many of us sadly very sneezy.)  We have an open floorplan, a doggie door that leads to a fenced in courtyard, and a tolerant boss who laughs when someone has an “acccident” on the conference room rug.  Allow me to introduce our furry friends:

This is Layla.  The newest addition to our staff, she was recently adopted by Lauren and her fiance and accompanies her to the office every so often.  Layla is a shy and timid girl, only allowing herself to be a few feet from her mom at all times.  According to Lauren, she is a mutt in every sense and her one floppy ear is so very cute.  Layla plays well with the other dogs but does tend to growl if the smallest of the bunch stares at her toy for too long.  It’s not really an intimidating growl, just a warning to the curious pup – This is MINE.  Just so we’re clear. 

 

This little girl is Smokey, the youngest pup in our office and arguably the source of most of our amusement.  Smokey belongs to Miss Katie, who began bringing her in when she was teeny-tiny, only 3 lbs.  Being a puppy, Smokey tends to create mischief wherever she goes, usually in the form of a torn up pamphlet from the mail, a half-eaten sidewalk chalk, or a de-potted plant (twice the size of her!) from the kitchen.  It’s not uncommon for someone to find a little “present” from Smokey in various parts of the office, though she is getting better about waiting to do her business outside.  Though i’s hard to be mad – she is the cutest puppy you could ever meet.  Always excited to see everyone who comes in, her energy is seemingly endless.  She adores Mattie (see below) and follows her wherever she goes, much to Mattie’s dismay.  She’s grown so much since she first arrived, however – weighing in at a hefty 9 lbs today!   (Notice the product plug – Smokey loves her high-end tech!)

Last but not least, meet our original Caster mascot, Miss Mattie.  Mattie belongs to Kim, founder and owner of Caster, forever making her top dog.  Mattie, short for Matilda, is one of the sweetest pups you will ever meet and has been a good sport in the recent introduction of two other dogs in her territory.  She does tend to escape to the courtyard whenever Smokey refuses to detach herself from Mattie’s neck (Smokey is still too little to push the doggie door open) but tolerates her new little pal.  Mattie is generally quiet and good natured but without fail will bark at the UPS/Fed Ex/mailman every time he walks through the door.   The only time Mattie becomes sad and forlorn is when Kim travels, and the very weight of Kim’s absence is almost too much for Mattie to bear.  She mopes about, visiting each cubicle in hopes that perhaps Kim is hiding in there. 

So now you know our canine friends and perhaps get a sense of how zoo-like it can feel around here at times.  I really can’t imagine our office without them and every time I get the urge to buy a puppy, I am reminded at how awesome it is that I can bring him/her to work!  And then someone finds puppy poop on the floor, and the feeling slowly disappears.  🙂


New England Hospitality…An Oxymoron?

May 12, 2008

Recently I was travelling in California for business when I was called out for having, “…a rather New York sounding accent.”  Having spent my entire 27 years of life in New England, I’m sure I have picked up more than a few regional idioms to accompany my love of coffee milk, johnnycakes, lighthouses and quahogs. After I corrected the accuser (who was from Oregon) as to my state of origin, an interesting conversation about New Englanders and why they are less hospitable than people from other parts of the country ensued.

It has been pretty well documented that New Englanders tend to be surlier and a little less neighborly than their fellow Americans, even resulting in the moniker “the cranky yankee.” While this is a broad generalization of a diverse and cultured group, I can’t resist sharing my thoughts on why New Englanders don’t care about you or your stupid hospitality. 

Historically speaking, New England has strong Puritanical roots, which means eternal damnation for everything from wearing your knickers too low to cursing when your neighbors Clydesdale leaves a steaming pile on your front lawn. While living a sin-free life is like soooo 1500’s, the underlying ideology still exists contributing to a general doom and gloom mentality.

Another contributing factor is that we simply dislike any new neighbors. I believe this is the case because so many New Englanders have lived in the same home/hometown for generations so a new neighbor generally means one of three things:

A.) Property was just built so new neighbors are now obstructing what used to be a nice view

B.) Newcomers are replacing older, beloved neighbors whom used to bring me fresh strawberries in the summer

C.) Neighbors have teenagers who will undoubtedly contribute to downfall of the community

 

The third and most noticeable attribute of New Englanders is their lack of interest in exchanging pleasantries or making any sort of small talk. Sure, you can visit a B&B or local antique shop to enjoy some local folklore and chat about the weather, but I’m talking about gas stations, convenience stores and other bastions of everyday necessity that dot our great region. New Englanders simply don’t care if you’ve never seen snow, can’t tell a littleneck from a quahog or don’t know how to get to the Cape.  

 

Despite a rich tradition of crankiness, New England seems to be mending its surly ways. An unscientific poll of five people from five non-New England states resulted in each one recounting a positive overall New England vacation experience from the past three years. While it’s surprising that New Englanders haven’t lived down to their expectations, there is a popular bumper sticker that summarizes how most New Englanders feel about hospitality. It reads, “Welcome to Newport…Now Spend your Money and Go Home!”

 

~Nick