Getting Back to Normal

Let’s start this assortment of short items with another vacation-followup bit.

Yes, I did come home with some CDs.

An aside here: it’s true that musicians get paid for performances. But it’s not a living wage for anyone but the most popular superstars–and it’s open to question whether they make a profit on their appearances. So if you want to support your favorite musicians, don’t just go to their shows. Buy merchandise. CDs, t-shirts, bumper stickers, whatever appeals to you.

Did I get CDs from everyone I liked at the festival? Nope. Even if I could have afforded to buy that many CDs, I would have had to buy another suitcase just to bring them home. That seemed a trifle excessive. On the other hand, it would have given me enough new music to keep me occupied for months. Hmm.

But I did get a few discs, and it seems like a friendly gesture to point you all at some of the performers who made the biggest impressions on me.

Brian Holland and Danny Coots are an awesome duo* (and Brian is pretty darn good on his own, for that matter.) Their discs cover a wide range–ragtime, swing, blues, and more etceteras than my fingers are willing to type–and not always in separate pieces. One particular highlight of the Two Man Job CD is “Solace in the Blue Bayou,” which successfully mixes Scott Joplin circa 1909 and Roy Orbison from half a century later.

* Brian was also the artistic director of this year’s festival. Remember those comments about it being the best ever? Much of the credit for that should go to Brian.

Then there’s Tom Brier. He’s made a minor splash on the Web for his sight-reading ability and flying fingers, but his original compositions are, IMNSHO, where he shines. Check out “Peril in Pantomime” on his 2008 CD Blue Sahara. Unfortunately, Tom doesn’t have a website to showcase his music and sell CDs, so you’ll have to hunt the discs down. Try the usual venues for starters.

Finally–at least for today–we come to Sébastien Troendlé, a French performer whose first American appearance was this year’s festival. His roots are firmly in boogie-woogie, but none of the ragtimers at the festival seemed to hold that against him. Check out the teaser video for his “Rag’n Boogie” CD and a live performance at the Festival international de Boogie-Woogie de Laroquebrou. Then go pick up copy of the disc.


Moving on to something music-related, but with absolutely no connection to ragtime. It is, however, silly.

According to Gizmodo, Mattel is releasing a set of Hot Wheels vehicles commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.

The submarine…uh…car is unquestionably the best of the seven, although there’s much to be said for the four vehicles emblazoned with the faces of the Fab Four. On the other hand, the less said about the weird yellow tractor-like thing with the pink bumpers the better.

I have to question Mattel’s decision to put Blue Meanies on the VW Microbus. Sure, VW brought its current woes on itself, but I’m inclined to think that associating them with the villains of the movie smacks more than a bit of a gratuitous kick to sensitive tissue. After all, nobody ever expected a Microbus to be either fuel-efficient or non-polluting.

Even so, as a long-time Beatles fan, and an even-longer Hot Wheels fan*, I suspect I’ll be picking up a couple of the cars (or should that be “cars”?) when they’re released later this month.

* I’m sure my parents could tell many a story of the way my room was festooned with orange plastic race track in my tween years…


Moving on again, this time to something that has no relationship to music, but which is silly.

How about a cat brush. A very special cat brush.

It’s designed to let you lick your cat. After all, why should the felines be the only ones doing the licking in your relationship?

Relax, your actual tongue never makes contact with fur, nor does the group behind this Kickstarter expect you to get your cat’s attention by sticking your nose up his or her rear end.

I’m dubious about the psychological benefits both parties will supposedly receive by using this brush. I’ll admit that we’ve got a few, more conventional, brushes made of similar materials and that our cats seem to enjoy being brushed with them.

But all of our cats start shifting around nervously when our faces get close to their bodies. And the cats shown on the Kickstarter project seem to range from martyred acceptance to befuddled discomfort.

The project is fully funded, and there doesn’t seem to be any technical barrier to the construction of the LICKI Brush, so I expect them to show up in buyers’ hands early next year. Really, though, I hope most of the backers are considering them novelty items, rather than something they’ll use regularly.

Oh, Well

There are so many interesting things I could have done with a few hundred million dollars…

No, I didn’t win the Powerball* lottery last night. I’m fairly sure no one reading this blog did either. If I’m wrong about that, (a) congratulations and (b) drop me a note so I can bounce some ideas off of you.

* Interestingly, the official Powerball website is a candidate for a WQTS writeup. A few highlights: the name of the lottery is capitalized differently (“Powerball” or “POWERBALL”) sometimes even withing a single paragraph, multiple typos–I saw a couple of occurrences of “teh”–and, perhaps most annoying, not all parts of the site have been updated. The FAQ, for example, sometimes says there are 35 red balls and sometimes 26. The change happened in October, 2015; that’s a long time to leave the site partially-updated. I actually wondered if I hadn’t stumbled onto a look-alike scam site, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

I’ll admit, most of my ideas would benefit me more than you, unless you’re planning to move to my neighborhood–how would you like to own a hospital or an in-fill transit system?–but isn’t that traditional when asking a lottery winner for money?

One of my more geographically diverse ideas was to fund every open Kickstarter that hadn’t met its pledge goal as of a particular unannounced day. If you did it today, that would be a bit under 4,000 projects. That would certainly brighten a few people’s lives.

On the other hand, where would you put all of the T-shirts, postcards, and other Kickstarter incentives? No, don’t suggest donating them to charity. I doubt you could find anyone willing to handle them as they trickled in.

For that matter, what would you do with the accumulation of actual Kickstarted items? As I write this, there are almost 400 unfunded books out there. Your local Friends of the Library is probably not going to take 400 self-published books. Nobody, not even the food bank, is going to take the 350 assorted beers, salsas, and discounted meals in restaurants around the world.

And then there’s the ethical concern. We’ve seen some awfully dubious projects on Kickstarter. Would you really want to fund the inevitable useless cancer cure? Or even just the smartphone app that lets you “communicate with your pet through personalized sound and scientifically developed vibration patterns”? No, I’m not making that up. I communicate with my pets through sound and vibration every day. It’s called talking to them and patting them. Why would I want an app to take over for me?

What really killed the idea, though, was this “brilliant” project. That’s right. A wireless thermometer with an accompanying smartphone app that tells you when your hot beverage is cool enough to drink.

That’s it’s only function; the FAQ specifically warns against using it for non-beverage purposes. We won’t even get into the expected battery life. OK, we will: one hour per charge. For most people, that would be a single use on a charge. They’re hoping to push that to eight hours by the time it ships in May.

The stupid, it burns! If only there was a way to tell if a Kickstarter was safe to drink…

I Beg Your Pardon?

Very annoying.

I was hoping to explore the least popular projects on Kickstarter for our mutual entertainment. Unfortunately, while Kickstarter allows you to sort projects by popularity, it doesn’t let you specify the direction of the sort. You can only start with the most popular and work your way down through thousands of projects.

There are some ways to partially work around that limitation by playing with the URL, but the sorting seems to break down as you get toward the end of the list. That being the case, what follows is far from definitive.

So please join me in perusing some of the projects that are so baffling, nobody has pledged anything in support.

First up, Revitalize the pants. Jo, in Brussels, is seeking €9,700 to launch a series of pop-up stores to buy and sell used pants. After two and a half weeks, there are no pledges. Apparently nobody is interested in getting used pants, even though the pop-up store will have stylists who will “tail” the pants to your measurements. OK, perhaps that’s a reasonable mistake for a non-native English speaker to make. But I’m truly befuddled by the reward Jo is offering, and I suspect everyone else is too. Pledge Jo’s project and you’ll get your “names on our employees”. For €15, I can force someone in Belgium to have his name changed to mine? Interesting. Can I get documentation of the legal name change, please?

Moving on.

Jabari Clark is seeking $1,000 to launch KickBack. KickBack is, it seems, “the first Social App that promotes getting together with friends, and making new ones!” Did you know that every other social network prevents you from having an offline life? So Mr. Clark and his team believe, anyway. I wondered if Mr. Clark had considered how small an amount that is to launch a whole social network, but it seem he has. If you pledge $10,000–ten times the project goal–he’ll call you personally “to discuss potentially becoming a partner.” I’m pretty sure that’s not how venture funding works…

Onward.

Dez Jackson’s Celebrity Bodyguard “is something that has NEVER been done or seen before!” If Dez can come up with $60,000, he can finance his planned “competition based reality show”. Because it’s never been done before. The show’s winner will receive “cash and prizes and a one-year contract” with one of the sponsoring celebrity protection firms. Because it’s never been done before. And hopefully it never will be done. Novelty is more elusive than you think, Dez.

Forward.

The Counting Challenge by Mustafa Benali is seeking $2,500 Canadian. If the project succeeds, Mustafa will film himself counting to 10,000. Stop for a moment and let that sink in. Ready to move on? If you pledge $250 or more, Mr. Benali will come to your house and count from 1 to 100. Fortunately, that offer is only open to residents of Toronto. Apparently he came up with the idea after staying up all night. A little advice, Mustafa: sleep deprivation is a direct contributor to bad decision-making. On the bright side, the only risk to the project is that Mr. Benali might die. Even if he’s grievously injured, he’ll make sure the project goes on. Now that’s dedication!

And…

Finally, we’ve got Amy Sandifer’s Mail My Thought. Amy wants to turn her hobby into a business. Laudable. And that hobby is: mailing fruits and vegetables with messages written on them. If you want to tell someone they stink in the most literal way, Amy will write your message–up to 140 characters (Twitter has a lot to answer for here…)–on, say, a durian fruit, and mail it to your intended recipient. Amy believes there are no risks involved. She might want to talk to a lawyer about liability issues* and to the Post Office about delivery guarantees.

* Four letter words? Threats? Sexual (and other) harassment?

I’ve only scratched the surface here. Be afraid: your neighbor might be working on the next bewildering project.

Nothing Down

Let’s try something a little different. I’ve taken a few looks at Kickstarter in the past, but I’ve always either looked at specific projects or a group of similar projects. Today, I’d like to look at a few proposals that have just been launched and have yet to receive any pledges. Why? Maybe we can find something worth supporting.

First up: First Lego League: Masters of Missions. This group from Amsterdam wants to create a solar-powered laptop for Third World countries. They’re seeking 500 Euros. There’s nothing in the proposal explaining what makes their planned laptop better than any of the existing laptops or Raspberry Pi based systems intended for the Third World. The proposal is poorly written: confusing and loaded with misspellings. Not what we’re looking for.

Moving on. Singing Owl Bath & Body is a proposal from a “stay at home mome with two kids”. Kerry wants to make and sell homemade bath products because she’s always been unhappy with the commercially-available options. She thinks $500 will let her create and market an entire line of products. Leaving aside her rather optimistic assessment of the barriers to launching multiple products, she doesn’t explain why her products would be any more satisfying than anything else on the market, including the many varieties of artisan and small-producer soaps. Good luck, Kerry, but I think you need to rethink your plan.

Next up, Kaneida is seeking 5,000 pounds to create a “cutting edge” Mobile Stock Management System. The funds will finance project design and the initial development. They’ll be back later looking for six or seven times as much money to actually produce the software. Another case of wild optimism–their planned software will be so flexible it can support anything “from a small bike rental company in India to a multinational managing stock in Russia” and compete head-to-head with every other stock management system already on the market. (Hint, guys: there are a heck of a lot more than two already out there.) Pass.

Joseph is looking for $5,000 to support his game store. He says that in two years he’s been unable to make a go of the business, but that an infusion of cash will allow him to add inventory, which should “keep us open long enough to get over our financial struggle”. I’m unclear why he thinks a small infusion of cash will solve all the problems he’s been unable to surmount in the last two years.

[Name withheld] is looking for $500,000 to promote her cure for dyslexia. I’m not linking this piece of nonsense. There are no unbiased studies of the program’s effectiveness and the proposal is loaded with unsupported claims of wild effectiveness and financial savings for schools that would buy the program. Let’s face it, if this scheme were anything close to the effectiveness it claims, the company behind it would be swamped with investors.

Here’s something a little different: something I can actually get behind. Jay creating a line of bookplates. He’s a professional artist and half of the designs are already complete. He’s seeking $840, and–as best I can tell–will be selling primarily to backers of the Kickstarter project; he’s doing this more for fun and personal satisfaction than commercial gain. His art style doesn’t appeal to me, but that’s a matter of personal taste. Take a look and if you like his style, toss a few bucks his way.

Thank you, Jay, for restoring my faith in Kickstarter.

Redressing the Balance

I strive to maintain the proper balance between “snarky,” “curmudgeonly,” and “silly”. The last couple of posts have leaned too far towards “curmudgeonly,” threatening to fall into “grouchy”. To redress the balance, I thought it might be a good idea to take another swing through Kickstarter. If you can’t count on Kickstarter to cheer you up, who can you count on?

Hang on, let me try that again.

I thought it might be worth poking around Kickstarter. If I can’t find a few projects to let me ramp up the “snarky” and “silly” around here, I might as well just go full-on grouchy full-time and be done with balance. To improve the odds, I’m going to limit myself to food projects. They just don’t bring out my internal Oscar the way technology projects do.

Last chance to flee.

Still here? Great.


Catfe – This is Carlos’ second attempt to raise starter funds for a cat cafe in Los Angeles. The first try didn’t go very well, raising less than $10,000 toward the $350,000 goal. This time around, Carlos has a partnership in place with a local shelter, agreements with local business to supply themed (human) food, and a potential location selected. He’s also scaled back the goal to $250,000. We all know the only reason LA wants a cat cafe is that the Bay Area has one (well, almost: Oakland’s Cat Town is supposed to open this month, and San Francisco’s KitTea has signed a lease and is still hoping to open this year.) Good luck on your copycat project, Carlos.


Whipped Cream Pie A La Face!!! – I have to sympathize with Stephani’s desire to avoid selling chocolate bars and washing cars. But is it really wise for him to openly declare his lust for revenge on the football team’s coach? Hint: smashing the coach in the face with whipped cream might be satisfying, but it’s unlikely to gain you additional playing time. Still, the goal amount is low enough to be reachable. With a bit of advertising, and a lot of luck, Stephani’s fundraiser could go viral and support not just this year’s team, but future teams as well. The Kickstarter just went live today, so there’s plenty of time to get your pledges in.


Kiwi Berry Packaging Logo-Generic to Fantastic – Ken wants to get his farm’s kiwi berries into local markets. “Presenting our kiwi berries in an attractive and professional package is the first step!” he says. Umm. If you say so. I’d have thought testing the local demand might come first, but I’ll freely admit that I have no experience selling fruit. Ken has been selling grapes for eight years, so maybe he knows what he’s doing. In any case, he’s hoping to raise $1,100 to cover the cost of logo design, printing, and Kickstarter rewards. After one day, the total stands at… well, $0. Ken, are you sure you don’t need to make sure people in New York want kiwi berries?


OatsRun – A breakfast delivery service that only carries oatmeal? Sounds great. Just a few tiny quibbles. First, your name conjures up a most unappatizing mental image. “Run” should never be used in conjunction with food. Second, using all of your funding on “making the customer interface as engaging as possible” is putting the oats behind the horse. I’m getting a strong sense that your business plan is “build an app and then sell it to Facebook for billions”. Third, “lack of not achieving the required funding to build our online platform that we would like it to be” is NOT the biggest risk you face. If this Kickstarter proposal truly reflects the planning and effort you’ve put into the project, lack of funding isn’t a risk, it’s a certainty.


Tomato Sushi – A tuna replacement for sushi and sashimi. Let me get one thing out of the way up front: as a rule, I hate fake meat. Attempts to mimic the flavor and texture of meats are rarely successful. Worse, the (often explicit) attempt to fool meat eaters into going veg are smugly moralistic and condescending. I opened this project fearing the worst. I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it is an attempt to mimic the appearance and texture of tuna, but the makers admit right up front that the effort isn’t entirely successful. Even more refreshing, they haven’t even tried to duplicate the taste of tuna. They’ve gone for “fish-like when combine with rice”. In other words, a unique flavor of its own, rather than a pale attempt to reproduce the inherently irreproducible. Best yet, the Kickstarter is free of smugly moralistic claims for the superiority of vegetarianism. “You’ll not only get a delicious cruelty-free food” Oh, damn. So close. Jokes aside, I don’t see any tuna substitute eliminating the demand for real tuna, but I completely agree with their belief that the world needs an acceptable tuna alternative. As I write this, they’re 10% through their Kickstarter and they’ve made it to 30% of their 10,000 funding goal. I may just pledge a few dollars myself.


I don’t know about you, but I feel much better now.

I Can Fund That Tune In…

It’s been a while since I poked fun at something over at Kickstarter.

I don’t believe I’ve ever seriously looked at their “Music” category. I suspect there’s plenty there to laugh about. Please join me in checking it out.

Let’s see. The first eleven projects are from people seeking funds to produce an album. When I wrote this, one of the eleven had made its funding goal: David Liebe Hart has raised 102% of his target $5,000 to fund his new album about “…the benefits of exercise and eating vegetables…The Pickle Man and Mr. Moose…teleportation, James Quall being on crack,…[and] David’s long-lasting quest to find a girlfriend.” David, just a suggestion on the last, but a little less time in the recording studio might help there.

Seriously, though, kudos to David for setting a realistic goal (the money will be used to finance his co-conspirator’scollaborator’s travel expenses so they can work together) and on the forthcoming disc.

Other projects might hit their goals. Tacoma Narrows, a “former middle-school English teacher and band” are more than three-quarters of the way to the $15,000 they need to record their first folk-rock album. They actually seem to have their act together (sorry), aside from their unfortunate choice of names–do you really want to back a band that will collapse in the face of the first applause-driven breeze that strikes them? Still, it could be worse: they could have named themselves “Bay Bridge East Span”.

Chris Dorman is almost three-quarters of the way to the $15,000 he needs to create “a children’s album to be shared in homes all across the country.”

Not trying to tell you how to run your career, Chris, but you might do better if people bought copies of the album instead of sharing it. Oh, I see you have a plan: releasing the album will allow you to apply “for awards like the Parents Choice Awards, submitting to the Grammys for Best Children’s Album, and reaching out with a focused publicity campaign to parenting and music publications, blogs, and radio all over the country.” So if I understand the plan, you’ll release an album, promote it heavily, and that will automatically result in profit? Apparently, yes. Says Chris, “…no matter how far and wide we can share our project we know that this piece of musical art can live on for generations as our kiddos grow and have kiddos of their own.”

OK, I can totally get behind art for the sake of art. All joking aside, best of luck–and I hope your kiddos love your music as much as you do.

For counterpoint (sorry), consider Landers, “a husband and wife duo with a vision to bring faith back to marriage and family thru music.” They’re about 40% of the way to their $15,000 target. If they make it, they’ll produce and album

With roots that go in so many directions musically, this first project has been an amazing journey as we find our identity. Being raised in, and working in full-time ministry, has majorly influenced to worship-centered passion promulgated in the lyrics of every song in this project. We also believe you will hear our southern heritage in the cadence and structure that “good ole boy” upbringing creates. “Stand” is more than artistic expression of chords and lyrics; it is the bold message of who we want to be and what we believe.

I hope God and Jesus understand what the heck they’re talking about, because I sure don’t. I assume that God understands because they take pains to mention “how clear He has been in the process.” Folks, if God is that deeply involved, have you considered asking him to chip in the remaining $8,700? He can afford it, and the best part is that you won’t need to come up with a backer reward for Him: the album itself is his reward!

Moving on.

Peri Smilow has fully funded her project to create an anthology of her music in printed form. Good to see someone not looking for money for an album. Ms. Smilow has four CDs out already; the sheet music anthology includes all of the songs from the CDs.

Oh, look! Here’s someone else who isn’t looking for funds to produce an album. Lucy Stearns wants you to finance her trip to Italy to study and sing opera. Good luck, Lucy.

Continuing down the list of projects… Album, album, album…vinyl…album… Man, there are a lot of people who want to cut an album.

Here’s one that’s at least worth considering: Paul Sawtelle is a Grammy-winning saxophonist who wants to put together a CD to benefit the Ted Brown Outreach Program. The Program, it seems, provides musical instruments to kids who can’t afford them. A worthy project, IMNSHO. Do your due diligence on Paul and the Ted Brown Outreach Program, and if you’re satisfied they’re legit, toss ’em a couple of bucks.

Here’s another nice one: “Great Job!” is looking to rent a space for live music in Palmerston North. If you support live music in New Zealand–and who doesn’t?–this is the project to back.

I’m surprised, actually. Yes, there are a hell of a lot of projects in Kickstarter’s Music category that demand to be laughed at. Hundreds of people and groups nobody has ever heard of are trying to use other people’s money to produce the CDs that will be their tickets to fame and fortune. But there are far more worthwhile projects than I expected: people who want to help others, people who have an artistic vision to share, and even people who are just looking for a little help in doing something they love.

Good on all y’all–even Landers and Lucy–for following your dreams.

Kicking Some Food Around, Part 2

Several weeks ago, I discussed several highlights and lowlights of the then-current food-related Kickstarter campaigns. Now that the campaigns have finished, let’s take another look and see how they did.

We started with Keith, who was restoring a vintage fire engine to advertise his BBQ business. I correctly predicted that the Kickstarter would fail to reach its goal: pledges only reached 11% of the target number. Keith is determined, however. According to the project updates, he’s applied his tax return to the project, and is pushing ahead. Kudos to him for finding an alternate funding source. If determination can make a business succeed, the BBQ Beast will live.

I didn’t make a prediction about Rich’s campaign to get his Smoke Hog food cart rolling, though I did say I thought it deserved to succeed. Unfortunately, it fell well short of success at only 14% of the target. Like Keith, Rich is determined to keep his dream alive. He’s putting together a promo video to show off more of what he can do, and plans to launch a new campaign when that’s ready. Good luck, Rich!

Remember Bobby and his “Bah Bah BBQ sauce”, loaded with antioxidants? I expected Bobby’s campaign to fail, and I was right. Less than a week after the previous blog post he canceled the campaign after accumulating pledges that amounted to only 2% of the target. This is actually the third time he’s launched a Kickstarter campaign for this sauce and the third time he’s canceled it early. Not only does Bobby not understand how the food industry works, but he apparently doesn’t understand how publicity and crowd-funding work either. On the brighter side, each time he’s tried it, he’s gotten more pledges. At the current rate of increase, I estimate he’ll meet his goal on the seventh attempt. Think he’s determined enough to keep trying that long? No? Me either.

Moving on to Genelle and her plan to become the salsa baroness of Oregon, we see that, as expected, her campaign failed. She accumulated pledges totalling 20% of her target. Genelle has rethought her plans and launched a new Kickstarter campaign. This time she’s scaled back her ambitions. Instead of trying to get her salsa into stores “throughout Oregon”, she’s aiming for two local stores, and will expand from there. The new campaign also asks for a third less money. She’s at 19% with almost three weeks to go. I still think she’s going to come up short again, but at least she’s being more realistic this time around.

OK, I lied. Not all of the Kickstarters have closed.

Sosu Sauces’s campaign for their Barrel-Aged Sriracha is the only one of the five that I was sure would succeed. With two days remaining, they’ve accumulated over $82,000 in pledges against their original $20,000 target. The additional funds will allow them to make a larger batch of the Sriracha and introduce three additional products: a barrel-aged hot sauce, a sriracha salt, and a sriracha cumin rub. Not bad. They have one additional stretch goal. If they can raise another $18,000 before the campaign ends, they’ll be able to rent a permanent facility and hire an employee. They’ll be a real company! $18K in the last two days is a real stretch. If you’re a sriracha fan–and I know a couple of you are–you really ought to give them a hand. Let me know how the product turns out.

Kicking Some Food Around

Hungry? I hope not, because we’re going to talk food today.

I was cruising around Kickstarter t’other day when I noticed something. There are a huge number of “what the heck were you thinking” projects in the food category. There are also some darn good ideas out there. Allow me to share a few of the highlights and lowlights.

First up, here’s Keith. Keith is restoring a 1939 Dodge fire engine. Why? No idea. He’s pretty clear that it’s going to be a mobile catering station for his “BBQ Beast” business, but he doesn’t give us a clue of why he wants to use this vehicle instead of any other. Mind you, the Kickstarter isn’t really for the fire engine, even though it’s prominently displayed at the top of the page and most of the content of the video talks about it. Most of the Kickstarter funds will actually go to the purchase of a trailer to carry everything that won’t fit into the fire engine. As I write this, He’s a bit over 10% of the way to his funding goal, and even though there are two weeks to go, I don’t think he’s going to make it. Keith, give us a reason to want to help you. Any readers in Windsor, CA know what Keith’s thinking?

Then there’s Rich. Rich has a plan. He wants to start selling his own BBQ and tacos on 6th Street in Austin, TX. He’s got experience selling street food on 6th Street. He’s already negotiating for a location. He’s got a budget–and he even breaks it down for us, explaining how much of the Kickstarter money is for equipment, licensing, and so on. He’s got some interesting ideas for the menu: an ever-changing mix of “normal” and “unique to Rich” fare (beef tongue tacos, anyone? How about smoked fish? Or pork belly?) Heck, even his vegetable topping sounds intriguing: a mixture of four pickled vegetables: carrots, cabbage, red onion, and cucumber. Just like Keith, Rich is 10% of the way to his goal, but IMNSHO, he’s got a much better chance. Heck, I’ve got no plans to visit Austin in the foreseeable future, but I’ve pledged a few bucks, just because I admire him for doing his homework and setting an attainable goal.

Maybe it’s Californians who have trouble getting their point across. Bobby is looking for financial help to get his BBQ sauce into stores. According to all of his friends, it’s the greatest BBQ sauce ever. And even more importantly, it’s made with pomegranate, so it’s loaded with “real antioxidants”! None of those horrible fake antioxidants used in other products; Bobby’s BBQ is “unique” and “all-natural”! With Kickstarter funding, Bobby believes the only obstacle to his success is ensuring a sufficient supply of “the best, freshest ingredients”. R&D is done and the “initial market testing is all positive”. That $20,000 he’s looking for will cover “Manufacturing, Retail Distribution, Warehousing, [and] Shipping to stores and you”! Bobby, do you have any idea how the food industry works? Good luck, man, you’re gonna need it. (As of this writing, Bobby’s “Bah Bah BBQ Sauce” is 2% funded…)

OK, it’s not just a California thing. Genelle is ready to ditch the insurance business and follow her lifelong dream of having her own business. If she can raise $1,500 on Kickstarter, she’ll rent a commercial kitchen and “get my salsa into local stores throughout Oregon.” What could go wrong? Apparently the only risk is going out of business, and that risk can be mitigated “with the proper permits and business liability insurances”. I hope she’s got a friend who can design a logo and labels for her jars of salsa. And a plan to actually deliver her product to those “local stores throughout Oregon”… At least she’s starting small, with an attainable Kickstarter funding target. The project has only been up for a couple of days and she’s already 10% of the way there.

Let’s wrap this up with another highlight, if only to show that not all Californian food-related Kickstarters are clueless. Lisa and the gang at Sosu Sauces are kickstarting their newest take on Sriracha: aged in whiskey barrels. This isn’t their first time launching a new sauce, and it’s not their first time on Kickstarter. They know what they’re getting into, they’ve got a plan, and perhaps most importantly, they’ve already got contacts in the industry. They already have relationships with farmers, barrel makers, and distributors. I’m not fond of sriracha, but I can see the real fans going wild for their variation. They’ve got the same $20,000 target that Bobby does, but they actually know what they’re going to do with the money if they reach their target. Their confidence shows, and it’s inspiring backer confidence. As I write this, the project has only been open for a few hours, and they’ve already hit 6% with plenty of time to go. I’ll wish them good luck, but unlike Bobby, I don’t think they really need it.

Say what?

Today I want to point out a few WTF items. None of them really amount to enough to stand by themselves, so I’m following an ancient tradition and throwing them together. Call it the literary equivalent of “leftovers soup”.

  • First up: The OFF Pocket. This is a Kickstarter for a product that you probably didn’t even know you needed. I certainly didn’t know that I needed it. Now that I know about it, I still don’t know that I need it. What is it? It’s a cloth bag that you can put your phone in. When you do, it (supposedly) blocks radio signals to and from the phone. Presto! Nobody can call you and the NSA can’t track you or use your phone to eavesdrop on you. As of this writing, 73 people thought this was a great idea and are backing it to the tune of $6,317.WhyTF would you want this bag? If you block the signal, your phone is going to run its battery down faster than normal as it scans for towers. How about just turning the damn phone off? That not only accomplishes the same privacy ends as the bag, but it also saves your battery. And it only takes a couple of seconds longer to turn it off or on than to dig the bag out of your purse/backpack/pocket and shove the phone into it.
  • Next bit of news: Grumpy Cat is getting her own line of coffee drinks. OK, I love Grumpy Cat as much as the next guy–given my grumpy, snarky persona, how could it be otherwise? I’ll passionately defend the right to merchandise the hell out of anything and anyone. As long as there’s some small connection between the endorser and the endorsee. In the case of a product endorsement, that means the endorser really ought to use product. At least once. Show me the cat who’ll come within ten feet of a cup of coffee and then get her to endorse the brew!Besides, doesn’t this sort of endorsement dilute Grumpy Cat’s image? How does an endorsement from someone who’s unimpressed by everything help drive demand? I’m not even going to get into the atrocity being committed on the English language with “Grumppuccino”.
  • This one’s a bit late, but seemed apropos given yesterday’s conversation. Earlier this year, the Sacramento River Cats gave away Barry Zito bobbleheads. (For those of you who need some background: the River Cats are a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Oakland As. Zito played for the River Cats way back when. He’s still fondly remembered in Sacramento. And bobbleheads have been a common giveaway item at baseball games since 1999.)Take a look at the picture of the bobblehead linked above. Now take a look at this picture of Zito. Or this one. Do you see a resemblance? I mean beyond the fact that they both have one head and two arms? With well over a decade of practice at making bobbleheads, couldn’t they have come up with one that looks sort of like the original? But even leaving that aside, Zito is left-handed, as you can see in the photos: glove on the right hand, ball in the left. So why is the bobblehead right-handed? Sacramento must have been borrowing QA engineers from Caltrans’ Bay Bridge team.

OK, enough negativity.

Here’s something to brighten your mood heading into the weekend. (Background)