Ground Control to Major Tom

We will soon be able to evaluate the truth — at least half of it — behind the statement that men are from Mars and women are from Venus.

Here are two marvelous assets about the extraordinary voyage of Curiosity to the planet Mars. Who would have thought that we would witness this day? Not only was this a multinational adventure, it was a second giant step for mankind.

Was it worth it?  Are we after the return on investment again?  As wine man, Gary Vaynerchuk says, then tell me the ROI of my mother!  Herewith a great graphic from I F***ing Love Science (FB Page), comparing the cost of the 2012 London Olympics versus the cost of sending Curiosity to Mars (stats from Forbes and New York Times).

Olympics versus Mars Investment, Myndset Digital Marketing

And an animated video posted on YouTube last year that shows the journey, the sophistication of the landing and of the scientific kit with which the Curiosity rover is decked out.

You can find more coverage from the JPL NASA Youtube page here.  In a tidbit of information from the Wikipedia entry, the rover has a specific tire pattern or tread mark.  ”That pattern is used by on-board cameras to judge the distance traveled. The pattern itself is Morse code for “JPL” (·— ·–· ·-··).”  How crazy is that?  And, what does JPL stand for: Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  Some engineer (as opposed to a brand marketer) was thinking through the whole thing?  Had it been a marketer, what message might you have wanted to inscribe in morse code?

GCMT: Ground Control to Major Tom?

Your ideas or submissions!!

Putting a smile on your face

I just love this short video. It has not become a viral success per se, but I think it deserves more! The quality of the film, the story and the inspiration are noteworthy. For some of us, we get caught up in our “little” problems all too easily. The attaching part of this video for me was that, at first, I thought that the golf swing was the problem. Little did I know.

Talk about finding a good reason to put a smile back on the face. Enjoy.

Funny Video: Have Glass, Will Squash. Remi Gaillard the prankster

Mario Kart a la Remi Gaillard

Not heard of Rémi Gaillard? If so, the chances are that is because you still only believe in mainstream media (MSM), i.e. you watch television, read newspapers and surf only the established sources on line.

Rémi happens to be the most watched humorist in the world — and that is ONLY on line. A comedian-hooligan-prankster from Montpellier, France, Rémi is a rampantly anti-mainstream media comedian.   But, he definitely has the internet working for him. Continue reading

Six Pixels of Separation – Mitch Joel – Ask “Why?”

Written by Mitch Joel, a man [and social media guru] whom I have had the pleasure of being connected to for the past 5 years, “Six Pixels of Separation” has just come out in North America. I haven’t read the book yet, but I surely will. In the interim, I thought I’d post this YouTube video from Mitch.

Why?

It is one of the world’s greatest questions, and yet one that is so often left out, especially as it regards management orders and style. If you give the why, you will get the buy in. And, as this 1″19 video from Mitch Joel says, if you understand WHY, you might put in place and execute a better social media strategy.

Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone.
Available on Amazon of course, here.

Usain Bolt clocks 9.58 World Record in 100 meters

Usain Bolt World Record 9.58 Berlin World Championships

At 9:35pm last night (August 16), Usain Bolt (Jamaica), clocked in at 9.58, dashed Tyson Gay’s (USA) fine effort (9.71) and, along the way, dashed to a sparkling 100 metre World Record at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. It was a marvellous race, with all the hype and high expectations more than matched by the performance. For all the bravado that Bolt demonstrated before the race, he was able to execute flawlessly, almost incredible (as in not credible). Amazingly, whenever he runs, you always feel he can do more. You can’t help but think that his wandering eyes and seemingly cocky headturns at the end of the race (to ensure he’s on top) would possibly add a couple more milliseconds! Tyson Gay etched his name in the stone as the man who is always a step behind. His excellent 9.71 time was just 0.02 behind Bolt’s Olympic World Record performance.

In a pre-race buildup on French Television, there was a small documentary on Usain Bolt, indicating that he may be ready to overtake Bob Marley as the spiritual figurehead of Jamaica. Bolt is portrayed as a down-to-earth, happy-go-lucky man. On the cusp of his 23rd birthday (he’s a fellow Leo with an August 21 birthday), he has certainly gone down some uncharted paths compared with Marley’s charts. Holding the 200 metre and 4×100 world records as well, he is taking the human race to a new level and, along the way, providing good brand love for his country.

Here’s the video courtesy of YouTube / BBC. Enjoy (it’s a 10 minute video).

Love to laugh – Why we should all be doing more of it!

I love to laugh!

Don’t we all? Trouble is, as we grow older, the opportunities to belly ache, hoot and laugh out loud seem to diminish. It is said that kids on average will laugh 80 – 100 times in a day. Little children can laugh up to 400 times in a day. From Sixwise, in an article that discusses how to reduce stress (always necessary), there is a section on the benefits of laughing.

“By the time we reach adulthood, we laugh only 5-6 times per day. You only need to watch children to appreciate the relationship between humor and enjoying life. Children will laugh at anything! If you ask them, ‘what’s so funny,’ they may say something like, ‘he looked at me!’ says Barbara Bartlein, R.N., M.S.W., a motivational speaker and consultant.” [BTW I also particularly like tip #15: To drive courteously. Isn't there enough stress without having obnxious, selfish and dangerous drivers on the road?]

Calvin & Hobbes LaughterThere are apparently many purported health benefits to laughing, including helping to heal cancer & depression. From Nurses Together, laughter apparently also “lowers your blood pressure and heart rate, improves lung capacity, massages internal organs, increases memory and alertness, reduces pain, improves digestion, and lowers the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenalin.” And, here is a recent study (April 17 2009) as reported by Health on the Net (HON), saying that laughter increases good cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart attacks for diabetics. Bascially, laughter would seem to be the panacea for many ailments; maybe we should all be prescribed tickets to see hilarious theatre?

One of the downfalls of smiling and laughter is the creasing of the face (evidently not appreciated if you have had plastic surgery, for example). The wrinkles that mark time on our faces also carry the history of how much we may have spent laughing and smiling as opposed to frowning and smirking. I would be easily led to believe that those who know how to laugh liberally tend to have a more positive outlook on life. On another level, for those whose humour involves self-derision, there is an equally appreciable sense of humility. Different from comedians who have the knack of helping us laugh, I am just more likely to gravitate toward those who are given to laugh, without shame. BTW, did you ever stop to consider if having a sense of humour refers more to the ability to make people laugh or the ability to laugh oneself? In effect, a sense of humour is about both per dictionary.com: “The trait of appreciating (and being able to express) the humorous…” In either case, it is a wonder you never see “own a sense of humour” on the CV.

So, in an effort to increase those smile wrinkles, to bring a smile to your face, and even encourage you to laugh, not just now as you watch, but every hour of ever day, here below is a five point bulletin designed to set your course straight and wiggly.

First, the classic from Mary Poppins, written By the Sherman Brothers (1964).

2/ Ok, Mary Poppins doesn’t make you laugh necessarily, but it sets the stage for a good smile. Now to do some laughing. Here is 1″40 of sheer enjoyment.

A good followup act is here with this little kid that has a funny, deep laugh. Just being around carefree babies is enough to bring smiles to all in proximity (although the parent may at times gain immunity!)

3/ Try this laughter yoga video, hosted by John Cleese. You can find out if and where Laughter Yoga clubs are near you at LaughterYoga.org. We had one dinner party where we began the dinner by all laughing for 10 minutes. Made for a super energy for the rest of the meal.

4/ I invite you to pop over to watch a short video podcast from ABC, broadcasting a report by the BBC, about the contagiousness of laughter. Watching a few babies giggling is bound to break out a smile. Visit here.

5/ And, fifth, I am glad to report that there is an official Global Belly Laughter day which happens to be my son’s birthday: January 24th. May every day be January 24th.

To close out this post on laughter, here is a wonderful Laughing and Smiling Oath:

The Laughing Oath
I do solemnly swear from this day forward
To grease my giggling gears each day
And to wear a grin on my face for no reason at all!
I promise to tap my funny bone often,
With children, family, friends, colleagues and clients,
And to laugh at least fifteen times per day.
I believe that frequent belly laughter
Cures terminal tightness, cerebral stiffness,
And hardening of the attitudes,
And that HA HA often leads to AHA!
Therefore, I vow, from this day forth,
To brighten the day of everyone I meet,
And to laugh long and prosper.
from:
The Laughing Classroom
by Diana Loomans and Karen Kolberg

Have a GREAT and LAUGH-FILLED day!

Starlings Swarm – Fabulous aerobatics displays

At around dusk, from November through March, in various parts of the UK (and in other parts of the world too where they exist, such as west USA…), starlings will congregate in mass and provide natural entertainment in the form of a seemingly choreographed dance of the flight.  I have selected a couple of videos below.  The first comes with valuable commentary and the whirring sound of the birds.  The birds fly in numbers that are estimated at up to half a million.  The aerobatics are startling and apparently there is no outright leader, nor ever an accident.  The first is entitled Starlings at Otmoor, the RSPB reserve near Oxford.

If you can’t get enough of these swarming starlings, this second video is set entirely to music and is quite pleasurable, if the quality of the film is a tad less good.  The music and the viewing make for a calming moment.

Finally, you can click here to view a third video on YouTube.  Provided by the Westmorland Gazette in the Lake District of England, they have chosen not allow the film to be embedded.

Roland Garros 2009 — Recycling of tennis balls

Tennis BallThis year, Roland Garros and the French Federation of Tennis (FFT) have launched a programme (“Operation Balle Jaune“) to recycle the used tennis balls as part of a Sustainable Development program.  There are 14 million balls sold every year in France and, according to a 2007 survey by Science & Vie, tennis is the fifth most polluting sport.  I was unable to find that survey, but I would love to know the top 4.

In any event, the idea is to collect the used tennis balls, grind them up and create a sort of spongy material….  With 59 grams of felt and rubber per ball, it takes 40,000 balls to create a 100m2 rubberised flooring (similar to the surface of a tartan track), very useful for handicap sports among others.

On top of the 14 million balls sold in France annually, there are also some 3-4 million cans (or tube containers) in France alone.  If I were to make a rough calculation (based on the number of balls per pop) for Europe, Australia/NZ and North America where the bulk of the world’s tennis takes place, that would mean that there are around 300 million tennis balls inserted into our western world; noting that 90% of the balls are produced in Asia (not the heart of tennis land).  In terms of weight, those 300 million balls represent around 20 million tonnes of longlasting rubber and felt in our landfills (including the tubes). 

In the USA, there is a company called Rebounces, founded by Bill Dirst, which has figured out how to “recharge” an used tennis ball.  Rebounces got a good plug in Oprah in the June 2009 issue.  According to Wikipedia, since 2001, “[the 36,000 tennis] Balls from The Championships, Wimbledon are now recycled to provide field homes for the nationally threatened harvest mouse.”  You can read about the original news story here on the BBC.

Meanwhile, doing a little research on the web, I have found a few other fun ways to use the used tennis balls, beyond the feet of chairs, etc.  Herewith a selection for your pleasure and inspiration.

A wrist watch.
Recycled tennis ball watch
A tennis ball chair
Recycled tennis ball chair
A tennis ball bench (a forty-love seat?)
 Recycled tennis ball bench decoration

In any event, I think it is a good initiative that the French Federation of Tennis has taken on.  May the balls bounce on a little longer!

Human Beatbox – Japanese 18 Year Old Stud

So, even if I think I have a wide range of musical tastes, I am clearly not fully up to date.  I have come finally “got” the phenomenon of Human Beatboxing.  And there I was, thinking that this was some violent sport.  If you have not seen human beatboxing before, you will presumably be as amazed — and transfixed — as I was. 

DAICHI JAPANESE HOME VIDEO BEATBOX (posted April 19 2009) – 690,000 views as of today.

And, this 18 year old Japanese boy has made it in to the mainstream media in Japan:  JAPANESE TV HUMAN BEATBOX.  As with so many ‘previously unknown’ topics and activities, once you ‘discover’ the area, you can get awfully surprised at how many people are involved…  As it happens, human beatboxing grew out of Hip Hop back in the 1980s…. And there is a worldwide network of human beatboxers.

When you see such talent, that obviously took hard work, fast-moving brand marketers should be snapping him up.  I can think of many reasonable applications for him for whom to “mouth off”: mouthwash, acne, hairstyling…

Universal Music — A Musical Journey Around the World

For this post, I would like to take you on a kind of virtual journey. Specifically, I will share a series of videos that show the world connecting through music, proof that music has a special universality. Take the trip, I think you will enjoy the ride.

In the best of times, much less the worst, Stand By Me is just a fabulous song. There are some songs from which you just don’t tire. This YouTube video is now past 8 million views and going strong — not bad for 5 months old (posted November 2008).

If you like this one, you might like the others from this series, featuring many of the same performers: One World or One Love. NB The Playing for Change website behind this product is changing on Uncle Sam’s tax date 2009.

If you cast your memory back to the days of the mid 1980s and Band Aid, Live Aid and We are the World… how the movement might have been magnified… So, now, if you are still needing a pick me up, remember We Are the World? This particular posting also has 8 million views funnily enough, posted in 2005, although I note that there are plenty of other versions, meaning that there needs to a kind of video consolidator system … between all the different online video!. This video below was created in 1985 by USA for Africa (United Support of Artists for Africa). As a reminder, there was a magnificent cast of 45 artists involved. It is a joy to revisit.

And, to pursue the tour of ‘world music’, I give a flashback to Band Aid founded in 1984 with this “Do They Know it’s Christmas” clip (below is a better version) produced by Bob Geldof and his team. This particular YouTube clip has nearly 6 million views today — it is a substantially better production than the rambling shambles performed on stage in live in 1985. But, it’s fun to remember that this “old fashioned” media managed to reach 2 billion people back then.

That said, my favourite clip of the 1985 Live Aid show comes from U2 with Bad (just 1.2 million views so far!). The one I choose to embed, however, is also from U2, the more uplifting “It’s a Beautiful Day” (below), some twenty years later (July 2005) at Live 8, viewed by some 3 billion people, a 50% improvement over 1985. This YouTube clip now has over 5 million views.

But, a musical world tour would be missing if I didn’t also tip my [blog] hat to Matt… 20 million views and counting. So, from 2008, “Where in the World is Matt”…?

Some of you may be aware of my statement that there are actually two questions to which I have always found the answer yes 100% of the time, universal truths as it were. Yes, the bad news: death comes to us all. The good news, we all love music. If you are ever stuck in a dinner party conversation, there is always the question: “so, do you like music?” Or, a little more open, “what sort of music do you like?” My father’s line is probably a little more crafty: “what are your hobbies?” Anyway, music has a way of touching people around the world. No wonder it is a sensitive topic on the internet. Music is of course a great purveyor of messages, political, social or personal. I add as a final resource, an article produced by the Guardian a couple of weeks ago: Politics and Protest: 1000 songs, part of a series of 1000 songs everyone must hear… about or for love, heartbreak, sex and parties.

I hope you enjoyed the journey. Please let me know which was your favourite video and if you have any other suggestions.