County fair traditions will include pot in Denver

Canning, crafts and…cannabis

Colorado’s Denver County is adding cannabis-themed contests to its 2014 summer fair. It’s the first time pot plants will stand alongside tomato plants and homemade jam in competition for a blue ribbon.

There won’t actually be any marijuana at the fairgrounds. The judging will be done off-site, with photos showing the winning entries. And a live joint-rolling contest will be done with oregano, not pot.

But county fair organizers say the marijuana categories will add a fun twist on Denver’s already-quirky county fair, which includes a drag queen pageant and a contest for dioramas made with Peeps candies…

The nine marijuana categories include live plants and clones, plus contests for marijuana-infused brownies and savory foods. Homemade bongs, homemade roach clips and clothing and fabric made with hemp round out the categories.

Judges will look only at plant quality, not the potency or quality of the drugs they produce. Other contests — patterned after Amsterdam’s famed Cannabis Cup — already gauge drug quality and flavor.

Top prize is $20, plus of course a blue ribbon. The fair already has a green ribbon — awarded for using environmentally conscious methods…

Wait till we get legal ganja in New Mexico. I haven’t even had a contact high in 20 years – and I’m not likely to start smoking dope. But, I bet I could come up with a cashew, cannabis and sultana brownie that could challenge folks up north.

A message in a bottle you can keep track of

Sending messages in bottles has been around since at least the Ancient Greeks, but it’s doubtful that anyone back then sent out a bottle quite like this. As part of a promotional campaign, Solo, a soft drink company based in Norway, recently built an 8-meter tall replica soda bottle outfitted with solar panels, a camera, and tracking technology and set it adrift in the ocean.

When Solo wanted to run a contest involving a sea-worthy bottle, it enlisted Bård Eker, co-owner of several vehicle design companies, to handle the construction. The finished product, which was completed after several months of work, measures 2.5 meters in diameter, weighs 2,500 kilograms, and is even registered and insured as a boat.

Solo towed the bottle off the coast of Tenerife in the Canary Islands and left it at the mercy of the currents. Inside the bottle is a case of Solo and a 12 square meter letter in various languages explaining that whoever finds the giant bottle wins a finders party in the nearest town and lists a phone number to call. The company also set up a website where users can post their guess as to where they think the bottle will eventually land, with a correct guess winning one real bottle of Solo for each nautical mile the oversized one travels…

…Solo consulted shipping insurance companies, ocean researchers, and marine biologists to ensure that the vessel fit the proper requirements for a drifting object in international waters…As such, the enormous bottle is equipped with navigation lights, an Automatic Identification System, a radar reflector, and GPS tracking technology, all powered through solar panels on the top. It also has a customized camera that is programmed to tweet a 360-degree panorama every eight hours and is outfitted with nozzles that clear the lenses with fresh water from an onboard tank.

Solo will continue to track the bottle as it travels the Atlantic Ocean and has stated it will collect it whenever and wherever it washes up. The company has even offered to tow it to shore if it nears a coastline that prohibits unmanned vessels from landing.

I’m a sucker for contests like this. Too bad I live hundreds of miles from any kind of coast.

Here’s how it was constructed.

Here’s a truly useful contest from [of all people] the Federal Trade Commission

In the United States, about 30 billion robocalls…are placed each year, and similar conditions hold across much of the world. In the U.S. and many other countries, most commercial robocalls are illegal. As part of an ongoing campaign against these illegal robocalls, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is launching its Robocall Challenge, seeking a solution that blocks illegal robocalls on cell phones and on landlines. It is offering a $50,000 cash prize for the best practical solution…

…Robocalling is very popular with a certain class of marketers whose services or products usually teeter on (or fall off) the border between misleading information and scams. The number of such calls…has skyrocketed with advances in technology, and government agencies are receiving huge waves of protests and complaints from their beleaguered citizens.

This has prompted the FTC to resort to using an innovation challenge for the first time. Hosted on, it joins other government-sponsored challenges designed to empower the public to bring their best ideas and talent to bear on our nation’s most pressing issues. The FTC Robocall Challenge is free to enter and open to the public, and also to companies having ten or fewer employees. Entries will be accepted until January 17, 2013…If a winning solution is identified, the FTC will announce the winner(s) early next April.

Calling all geeks. There probably are high school students who can come up with reasonable solutions to this question. That’s just the start. How about some unemployed coder who couldn’t afford to move to Silicon Valley or NYC?

Go for it!

Finn bests Olympic javelin distance with old Nokia cellphone

A Finnish teenager won a mobile phone throwing contest on Saturday by hurling his old Nokia phone 101.46 meters.

The annual contest is one of many offbeat events such as wife-carrying that are held in the summer when normally reserved Finns like to celebrate the warmer weather with silliness and outdoor sport.

Ere Karjalainen, who beat around 50 contestants, including some who had travelled from England and India, said he had practiced only once and prepared mainly “by drinking”.

Not that the skills are totally comparable, but he bettered the gold medal javelin throw at the London Olympics by nearly 17 meters.

Practice, practice, practice. Was he popping cans or unscrewing bottle tops?

Uncommon talent illustrates the commonplace

Rio Rancho High School (Rio Rancho, NM) earned serious bragging rights after claiming top prize…at the Vans Custom Culture Art & Design Showcase at the Long Beach Museum of Art. The four shoes chosen from Rio Rancho High School came from a pool of over 900 participating highschools, with designs spanning four categories: art, music, action sports, and local attitude. The students earned their school $50,000 towards its art programs, in addition to an additional $5,000 for creating shoes that best embodied their “local attitude…”

The five national finalists were chosen by more than 100,000 votes place through online voting: Big Bear High School (Big Bear, CA), Mountain View High School (Meridian, ID), Watkins Glen High School (Watkins Glen, NY), Rio Rancho High School (Rio Rancho, NM) and Eastern High School (Louisville, KY)…

Earlier this year, each of the nearly 900 participating high schools were sent four pairs of Vans shoes as a blank canvas to design their creations. Each shoe was to represent one of four themes: Action Sports, Music, Art and Local Flavor. Schools then submitted photo entries via the Vans Custom Culture website with global voting eventually whittling the entries down to the “Final Five” showed their work at the Long Beach Museum of Art.

Kudos to the kids in Rio Rancho. This is the 2nd time they’ve won big for their high school art program.

Labour deploys sprinter in a chicken suit in London mayor’s race

Two short videos of a person dressed as a chicken chasing a lookalike of Boris Johnson, the incumbent Mayor, have been released on YouTube by the London Labour Party.

One shows the Mayor, sporting a blonde wig, on a Barclays hire bike in front of City Hall, the seat of local Government in London, while the other sees him being pursued down a street. The stunt, dubbed Boris Johns-hen, seeks to highlight how Mr Johnson “has chickened out of debating his opponents and defending his policies”.

The campaign to elect Ken Livingstone says Mr Johnson has in recent months declined to attend hustings with the candidates for the mayoralty hosted by UK Feminista, a womens equality campaign, and the Federation of Small Business.Mr Livingstone has asked Mr Johnson to take part in a televised debate on his proposals to cut Tube fares. A spokesman for the Mayor said he saw “no merit” in the event because Mr Livingstones figures were not credible.


Qantas achieves world-class Fail with their Twitter PR hustle

Qantas PR Manager

Australia’s Qantas Airlines has been left red-faced after an ill-timed public relations campaign and Twitter competition backfired, drawing thousands of angry responses.

Qantas Tuesday invited users of the micro-blogging site to enter a “Qantas Luxury” competition, asking people to describe their “dream luxury in-flight experience” and possibly win a pair of Qantas first-class pyjamas and a toiletries kit.

The timing of the PR exercise was questionable, coming just a day after Qantas and its unions broke off contract negotiations and after Qantas grounded its fleet in late October, a drastic move that stranded thousands of angry customers.

PR experts said the campaign was perhaps Australia’s greatest public relations failure and a classic example of the dangers of unpredictable social media…

Unimpressed Twitter users set a stream of responses ranging from caustic jokes about the carrier to ordinary abuse…

Daniel Angus, using the Twitter name “antmandan,” said Qantas luxury meant “being stranded on the other side of the world without warning when you just want to get home to your 10-month-old daughter.”

Qantas last week hired four social media monitors to keep tabs on what people were saying about it on Twitter and Facebook after the fleet grounding. The carrier has also promised generous compensation for stranded passengers.

Cripes – there’s a job description for a truly bored geek.

My favorite Tweet was from user “stanofid” who called the campaign the “Hindenburg of social media strategies.”

Man wins dumpling eating contest — then dies

A 77-year-old Ukrainian man won a jar full of sour cream for coming first in a dumpling eating contest and then promptly died, local media reported on Wednesday.

Ivan Mendel ate 10 dumplings in half a minute to win first place and a one-liter jar of sour cream in the contest held in the town of Tokmak in the southeastern Zaporizhya region on September 18, Fakty I Kommentarii newspaper said.

Shortly afterwards, Mendel became unwell and died, according to local news websites.

Dumplings, called “vareniki” in the former Soviet republic, are a staple of Ukrainian cuisine and are often stuffed with a range of fillings from mushrooms to cherries.


They didn’t say what the stuffing was for the contest? I prefer potato.