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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Friday Hodgepodge

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Four Things

1. Old Man Winter may be paying our area yet another unwelcome spring visit, this time during "peak bloom" of Washington's famed cherry trees. (Six to eighteen inches? Really?) So this may be the year to stay indoors, drink something warm, and learn the story behind Washington's cherry blossoms, instead:
Don't let the door hit your backside on the way out, this time. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
Yukio Ozaki, the mayor of Tokyo, was visiting Washington to witness the reception of Japan's prized symbol when word got out about the bonfire. Shortly after, Ozaki received Fairchild in his hotel. Fairchild had come to apologize, or in a less dignified way, to grovel. But Ozaki had a different reaction than anyone expected, illuminating just how little American leaders understood Japan. In reality, Fairchild's apologies were dwarfed by Ozaki's. While Washington cringed at burning a gift, Tokyo apparently viewed the problem as having given a faulty present. "We are more satisfied that you dealt with [the trees] as you did, for it would have pained us endlessly to have them remain a permanent source of trouble," Ozaki explained.
In addition to its portrait of the early stages of our diplomatic relationship with Japan, the story depicts the rivalry between two men who knew each other in childhood, but became rivals once the possibility of the trees harboring agricultural pests came up.

2. Remember Second Life? It may have ruins like Detroit, but it's still around, and its "residents" have seen retail progress:
Curiously, something like the Amazonification of retail seems to have happened to Second Life, too. More and more, commerce is shifting to a Web-based transaction marketplace hosted by Linden Lab and away from the virtual brick and mortar storefronts. The exceptions are big shopping events, which are in some sense Second Life analogues to Amazon Prime day, Black Friday, trade fairs, or seasonal Steam sales.

"As a designer I also preferred the old method of selling primarily from my main store rather than having deadlines and hosting new items at events," says Iki Akari. "Mainly because a lot of things can go wrong and Events tend to lag customers heavily. From a Marketing standpoint, it's also hard for new stores to spread brand awareness when they are being immediately compared to pre-established brands in an event-type environment." [bold added]
While the platform isn't exactly as successful as Facebook, its creators claim it is thriving.

3. Don't tell them; show them. Joe Coleman, copywriter, does this with an interactive demo. Move the slider on the "hard sell" scale and watch his pitch change.

4. Here's a neat (and amusing) tidbit from research for a past column:
Thanks to decades of research, we now understand the interacting metabolisms of vegetables and microorganisms. We can design high-tech transport and storage techniques that slow down, even halt, deterioration through the use of harmless mixtures of gases. Chips fitted to containers give off signals when the gas composition and temperature need adjusting to plan ripening at the exact moment of delivery. Likewise, to minimise food losses in supermarkets, packaging techniques and materials have been developed to prolong shelf life. Surprising but true: modern treatments with ... plastic bags and sealing create an optimal environment inside the package and reduce loss. So does the industrial washing of packed and cut vegetables, which also saves water, compared with household‑level processing. [bold added]
What's so funny? An environmentalist is saying this.

Might tossing out a few plastic bags be less wasteful than dumping loads of rotting produce -- or demonizing the hard-won knowledge that makes fresh produce available to so many people today?

-- CAV

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