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Archive for September, 2012

Winners: Driver & Pluto

Tonight’s team competition was a first. All seven teams looked strong, with no clear favorite. Cousin Vinny joined the Coffeeman, Droppin’ paired with Bea, and FrankC with John the Bodyguard all looked formidable and finished strong.

Inappropriate Bob and Sheena split up to pair with younger players. For Bob, who joined with young Dave to finish a close second, this was an immediate success. Sheena may need to spend more time mentoring young Tom, but they showed great chemistry. In the final analysis it was two old pros, the road cycling team of Driver and Pluto, who squeaked to a narrow win.

Good Question!: Which corporation pioneered the use of coupons in consumer marketing, beginning in 1887, so that by 1913 over 8 million Americans had sampled its product for free?

Answer: Coca-Cola

“Delicious! Refreshing! Exhilarating! Invigorating!” When John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola in 1886, not even that adrenalized ad slogan could persuade customers to try it over all the other carbonated wonder tonics on the market. His bookkeeper started giving away tickets for free tastes of Coke, but Pemberton chided him for “extravagance.” Then along came tycoon Asa Griggs Candler, who bought the company in 1888, picked up on the bookkeeper’s idea, and mailed out thousands of the ticket shown above. The coupon as we know it was born.

Coca-Cola’s generosity was generously rewarded: In its first year, the company sold, on average, nine glasses a day. By 1913, Coca-Cola had redeemed 8.5 million “free drink” coupons. Today it’s one of the world’s most recognized brands, with a market cap over $1 billion. And the coupon itself has made a smooth transition to the 21st century. From Groupon and LivingSocial to Tippr, the Interweb is busily churning out services that feed daily deals to consumers. Thanks, Coke.

History

In 1887, Coca-Cola was incorporated in Atlanta with Asa Candler as one of the partners. He transformed Coca-Cola from an insignificant tonic into a profitable business by using innovative advertising techniques.

The key to this growth was Candler’s ingenious marketing including having the company’s employees and sales representatives distribute complimentary coupons for Coca-Cola. Coupons were mailed to potential customers and placed in magazines. The company gave soda fountains free syrup to cover the costs of the free drinks. It is estimated that between 1894 and 1913 one in nine Americans had received a free Coca-Cola, for a total of 8,500,000 free drinks.

Coupons also saw widespread use in the United States in 1909 when C.W. Post conceived the idea to help sell breakfast cereals and other products. Today, more than 2,800 consumer packaged goods companies offer coupons for discounts on products.

Current Stats

Coupon clippers have taken over the checkout lines in record numbers with record savings. But if you still think most coupon users have blue hair, you’re way off. With mobile and internet coupons gaining even more popularity discounted prices are a hot hobby across all ages and incomes, especially folks in their 20s and 30s.

  1.     Consumers received $4.6 billion in coupon savings in 2011.
  2.     80.6% of consumers in a Valassis study reported using coupons regularly.
  3.     Marketers distributed 305-billion coupons in 2011.
  4.     Digital-coupon distribution grew with 11% more printable and paperless offers.
  5.     Every hour spent couponing in 2011 is worth an estimated $100

Freestanding inserts are a coupon staple in Sunday newspapers. and make up almost 90 percent of coupon distribution. Despite the readership decline in newspapers, people are still willing to go back to their Sunday newspapers for coupons.

sources: wired.com, wikipedia.org, adweek.com

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Tonight’s game was rained out. The few of us who made it inside MainStreetCafe before the cloudburst, watched a flooded Main Street become a raging river. Fortunately no parked cars were totaled, but it was a close call for a few. We watched a large plastic recycle container float down Main to the corner of Main and Woodbine and then make a perfect left hand turn. Amazing!

We also had some time to think about how we might rejuvenate the Game.

We decided we would try 2 person teams for a few weeks and see if that brought some new energy to the Game. Starting next week the players will pair up on a random basis into teams of 2. Those 2 person teams will be permitted to discuss the question and submit one answer. Winning team takes all.

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Winners: Driver, Droppin’, Pluto

A small group of sleepy players resulted in 3 winners and just a few more losers. The winners left with Dave’s Bloody Mary mix, Art’s Sleepy Time tea and Pluto’s organic sucker lollipops. A distracted Pluto, inexplicably focused on the Met game on TV, incurred the wrath of Mistress Daphne and was almost thrown in the penalty box. The last time that happened was when he was mistakenly thought to be cheating with the crazy blonde.

Good Question: Which science fiction writer wrote the 3 laws of robotics?

Answer: Isaac Asimov

The Three Laws of Robotics (often shortened to The Three Laws) are a set of rules devised by the science fiction author Isaac Asimov and later added to. The rules were introduced in his 1942 short story “Runaround”, although they had been foreshadowed in a few earlier stories. The Three Laws are:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

These form an organizing principle and unifying theme for Asimov’s robotic-based fiction. The Laws are incorporated into almost all of the positronic robots appearing in his fiction, and cannot be bypassed, being intended as a safety feature. Many of Asimov’s robot-focused stories involve robots behaving in unusual and counter-intuitive ways as an unintended consequence of how the robot applies the Three Laws to the situation in which it finds itself. Other authors working in Asimov’s fictional universe have adopted them and references appear throughout science fiction as well as in other genres.

Now, there is no way we are going to be talking about Asimov’s short story “Runaround”, without taking the opportunity to reprise my Bronx homeboy Dion’s version of “Runaround Sue”

So where are we with robots at this time? Are they still science fiction? Heck no!

Foe example, just consider what the Economist has reported in their last 2 issues:

Robocopter arrives

After unmanned drones, pilotless helicopters are taking to the sky to deliver supplies to troops.

Unmanned attack aircraft, such as Predator and Reaper, have become a familiar part of modern warfare. But an army, famously, marches on its stomach, and campaigns can be lost as easily by a lack of supply as by a lack of firepower. That, combined with the increasing squeamishness of rich countries about taking casualties, is leading to the use of a new type of drone in the form of unmanned helicopters to deliver supplies. Pioneered by the armed forces, these hovering robots will also find civilian roles.

Look Ma, no hands

Automotive technology: Driverless cars promise to reduce road accidents, ease congestion and revolutionise transport

In an average month 108,000 people are killed in traffic accidents around the world, and the death toll is increasing. On current trends it will exceed 150,000 people a month by 2020, according to the World Health Organisation, as cars become more widespread in developing countries, increasing the number of vehicles on the world’s roads from around 1 billion in 2010 to 2 billion. Many lives will be spared by outfitting more vehicles with airbags, the biggest lifesavers in car technology since seat belts. But now a far greater revolution in road safety is within reach. Around 90% of accidents are caused by human error. Design vehicles so that they can drive themselves, goes the theory, and death tolls will plummet.

Driverless cars would provide further benefits beyond safety. They could co-ordinate their routes and travel in close formation, increasing the capacity of road networks, reducing congestion and saving fuel. They would be able to drop someone off and then go and park themselves. They might even usher in an era of widespread car-sharing, with vehicles dispatched on demand to people who need them, rather than spending most of the day sitting idle by the side of the road. And they would, of course, do away with the stress of driving, allowing their occupants to read, browse the internet or take a nap. It may sound like science fiction, but much of the technology needed to turn ordinary vehicles into self-driving ones already exists. Indeed, almost all carmakers are developing sensors, control systems and other equipment that turns cars, in effect, into autonomous robots. Prototypes are on the roads today.

When you think about all the boomers aging and unwilling to give up their keys, these driverless vehicles can’t get here a moment too soon.

sources: wikipedia.com, economist.com

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Winner: Judy

Judy is on a hot streak.

On Sunday her beautiful daughter Lauren married Jeff, in a lovely ceremony out east in Flowerfields. Tonight she joined us for a game and a night of relaxation after all the weeks of hectic preparation as the mother of the bride. She brought along the father of the bride, 10 o’clock Bill, who looked well rested. As well he should be. His only responsibility had been to walk Lauren down the aisle.

Tonight’s game was our first after the August recess. Judy, who hasn’t played in a while, picked up right where she left off with another win. She was followed closely by Droppin’ Dave and Rosebud. By curious coincidence Droppin’ was also in wedding recovery mode as his son Matt had married the lovely Ashley in Lake Placid just 2 weekends ago.

——————————————Newlyweds Lauren and Jeff

——————————————Newlyweds Matt and Ashley

————————All of us at TNBE wish the young couples much happiness.

Good Question!: Which musical featured the song “I Feel Pretty”?

Answer: West Side Story

If this week we feature wedding bells and beautiful brides, then the “Good Question!” just had to be “I Feel Pretty”.

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West Side Story is an American musical with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and conception and choreography by Jerome Robbins. It was inspired by William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet.

The story is set in the West 50’s and West 60’s of the Upper West Side in New York City. In the mid-1950s this was a racially mixed, blue collar neighborhood, now it is the site of Lincoln Center. The musical explores the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic  backgrounds. The members of the Sharks from Puerto Rico are taunted by the Jets, a white working class group. The young protagonist, Tony, one of the Jets, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. The dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes, and focus on social problems marked a turning point in American musical theatre.

The original 1957 Broadway production marked Sondheim’s Broadway debut. The production was nominated for five Tony Awards including Best Musical in 1957, but the award for Best Musical went to “The Music Man”. They wuz robbed! 

The play spawned an innovative 1961 musical film of the same name, starring Natalie WoodRichard BeymerRita MorenoGeorge Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn. This time the voters got it right and the film won ten Academy Awards out of eleven nominations, including Best Picture.

Most of us remember Natalie Wood playing the role of Maria in the movie (and in the you tube clip above), but few remember that it was Carol Lawrence who originated the role on Broadway, or that it was Marni Nixon who actually dubbed Ms Woods singing in the movie. Sometimes life isn’t fair.

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