Larry Hagman may have played television’s most famous evil oil baron, J.R. Ewing, but in real life the “Dallas” actor was a fierce proponent of solar energy.
In July 2010 I interviewed Hagman, who died Friday in Dallas at age 81 while shooting a sequel to the long-running television series, when he agreed to revive J.R. in a commercial promoting solar power. As I wrote in The New York Times:
J. R. Ewing returned to the small screen on Tuesday, and the boys down at the Cattlemen’s Club just might need a double bourbon when they hear what he has to say.
“In the past, it was always about the oil,” Mr. Hagman says in a TV commercial that was unveiled Tuesday at the Intersolar conference in San Francisco. “The oil was flowing and so was the money. Too dirty. I quit it years ago,” he growls as he saunters past a portrait of a grinning J. R. in younger days and a TV showing images of an offshore oil rig and blackened waters.
Putting on a 10-gallon hat, he heads outside into the sunshine and gazes at a solar array on the roof of the house. “But I’m still in the energy business,” he says. “There’s always a better alternative.”
“Shine, baby, shine,” he says, ending the spot with his trademark J. R. cackle.
Slinging a small backpack onto the desk, Will Hutson says good morning to colleagues and pulls out his laptop.
But before chat about the day’s work progresses, somebody suggests ordering coffee – something that has become a bit of a ritual.
With floor-to-ceiling windows, fresh white walls dotted with supposedly inspiring quotes (“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great”) and a soundtrack of relatively obscure Swedish indie bands – Make is far from the cafe chains found in shopping centres across the emirate.
Instead it is one of a handful of trendy urban hang-outs, labelled “co-working hubs”, that have sprung up – something you would expect to find in east London or San Francisco rather than the Middle East.
By mid-morning almost all the table spaces are taken. And while some customers are bankers or lawyers looking for a change of scene and a decent espresso, its main business comes from freelancers, entrepreneurs running start-ups or people already in staff jobs considering going it alone, drawn by the free desks and free wi-fi.
And in a place where 85% of the population is not local – and where the concept of starting your own business is still in its infancy – it is also a chance to meet like-minded people.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Zynga Inc’s inexorable decline over the past six months, capped by a sharp reduction in its 2012 outlook on Thursday, has sharpened interest in what Chief Executive Mark Pincus will do next.
Wall Street’s excitement over a game publisher once counted among the stars of the new social Internet has cooled since its December initial public offering. On Friday, analysts slashed their price targets on a stock that dived as much as 22 percent, to $2.21 – more than three-quarters off its $10 debut.
The fate of the company now rests with Pincus, the 46-year-old co-founder who controls a majority voting stake. Analysts say he needs to downsize its current 3,000-strong global workforce and come up with a hit that can captivate the growing number of players now moving to mobile devices, where its presence is relatively weak.
Zynga did launch several such games this year, including “The Ville” and “ChefVille,” and is working on several more. On Thursday, Pincus emphasized to employees in a company-wide memo that Zynga would be “continuing to invest in its mobile games business.”
But he warned that the company will make “targeted cost reductions,” which analysts interpreted to mean layoffs as Pincus shifts Zynga away from the “casual” Facebook games, like “FarmVille,” that were the company’s bread-and-butter for years.
“They have banked on the casual gaming segment, and to readjust the business to more core gaming, some casual heads probably have to roll,” said P.J. McNealy, CEO of Digital World Research.
The transition will be jarring for a company that moved early to build a formidable business almost completely on top of Facebook’s burgeoning platform. “FarmVille,” “FrontierVille,” “Zynga Poker,” “Mafia Wars” and “CityVille” took off primarily as Facebook games on personal computers. They accounted for 83 percent of total revenue last year.
Zynga has not been able to reverse the tide of users abandoning its previously lucrative Web-based games for offerings on smartphones or games from competing publishers.
After a young Asian-American from San Francisco flew his seventh Hello Kitty flight, EVA Airways (2618:TT) recently awarded him a solid gold boarding pass bearing the design of Sanrio’s (8136:JP) cartoon cat with his name engraved on it. While seven flights may seem paltry compared to the number accumulated by George Clooney’s corporate road warrior in Up in the Air, it nonetheless marked a milestone: The man officially became the world’s most-traveled Hello Kitty jet customer.
“Hello Kitty flights aren’t just for kids,” says K.W. Nieh, the Taiwan-based carrier’s group executive officer for public relations. “We fly Hello Kitty jets to cities all over Japan, as well as to Korea, Shanghai, and Guam. Business and leisure travelers both go to all of these destinations.”
Whatever their reasons for flying, patrons of Hello Kitty had best enjoy cuteness—there’s no escaping it. At Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport, they receive Hello Kitty boarding passes and baggage tags. A Hello Kitty song plays as passengers board the plane, which is plastered on the exterior with a Hello Kitty decal made by 3M MMM. All-female cabin crew members swap their usual EVA Airways-issued green uniforms for pink aprons and scarves. All seats 252 to 309, depending on whether it’s an Airbus [EAD:FP] A330-200 or A330-300, are covered with Hello Kitty headrest covers. Even the meals, ice cream, snacks, cups, utensils, milk bottles, soap, hand lotion, and tissues are designed in the image of Hello Kitty.
While Nieh would not disclose details about the company’s licensing agreement with greeting card, gifts, and stationary company Sanrio—which makes Hello Kitty goods—he says EVA Airways has invested about $5 million in the jets, which have been in the works since spring 2011. This figure includes the contract with Sanrio, the design and licensing for the jets, various in-flight items and duty-free products, and fees to promote the new brightly-colored fleet.
Strange Random Flying Quote:
I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
- Hello Kitty – EVA Airways (Photos!) (thebobblehead.wordpress.com)
- A Closer Look Inside Hello Kitty Airlines (buzzfeed.com)
- EVA Airlines starts Hello Kitty-themed flights within Asia (photos.mercurynews.com)
- Now You Can Fly the Friendly Hello Kitty Skies [Travel] (jezebel.com)
- Flying the Hello Kitty skies (photo) (boingboing.net)
- fly high with kitty.. (jamshie.wordpress.com)
- Fancy a ‘hello kitty’ flight? (todayonline.com)
The slowing global economy is having an effect on the price of coffee, as cash conscious consumers ditch their latte habits in favour of plain old cups of joe.
The two most commonly produced varieties of coffee in the world are arabica and robusta.
Drawing their name from the Arabian mountains of Yemen and Ethiopia, arabica beans tend to be of higher quality and are processed more carefully. Because they only grow at altitudes higher than 610 metres above sea level, they’re a lot more expensive to harvest but are prized for their taste — Arabica’s spot price hit a 34-year high north of $3 per pound in April of last year.
While most commercial coffee brands use a blend of the two, robusta beans are easier to harvest and more disease-resistant — which tends to make them cheaper, although most connoisseurs believe they produce an inferior product.
“Robusta has genes that can give it a wet cardboard, rubbery smell and taste,” says John Rapinchuk, the chief financial officer of San Francisco-based Knutsen Coffees Ltd.
As unappetizing as that sounds, demand for robusta beans has soared this year, as consumers downgrade their coffee budgets.
Arabica shipments are down by eight per cent over last year’s level, while robusta exports are booming — up 10.4 per cent from where they were a year ago.
That’s pushing the price for robusta higher, with the price of beans increasing 22 per cent since January to $1.17 US per pound.
Consumption of the higher-end arabica beans in rich European nations, meanwhile, has cratered since January due to what the International Coffee Organization charitably describes as “macroeconomic turbulence.”
Strange Random Coffee Quote:
“Police work wouldn’t be possible without coffee,” Wallander said.
“No work would be possible without coffee.”
They pondered the importance of coffee in silence.
- Coffee: 2nd largest commodity in the world! … notice stats at end of article 🙂 (thelocalcoffeehouse.wordpress.com)
- Differences Between Arabica and Robust Coffee Plant (rainfactoryintl.com)
- Smucker’s Drops Coffee Prices: Will Others Follow? (247wallst.com)
- Caffeine or No Caffeine? (coffeeam.wordpress.com)
- Coffee Prices Still Increasing — Brew Premium Gourmet Coffee at Home (prweb.com)
- Kraft Foods slashes coffee prices (vancouversun.com)
- Robusta coffee climbs to eight-month high as Vietnam sales slow (lookatvietnam.com)