January 31, 2007

Mechanical Fruit Firmness Tester

I was reading an email in gmail and, despite the email's total lack of fruit-related content, Google decided to display an ad for a "mechanical fruit firmness tester".

As it turns out, there's an entire fruit firmness industry. You can buy mechanical fruit firmness testers, computerized fruit firmness testers, and fruit firmness charts! You can also read incredible promotional copy like:

The MDT is not just another electronic firmness tester. It is the first device designed to measure the internal quality of all types of agricultural products, including tree-fruit. The MDT can act as a highly accurate Magness-Taylor type test device, but also has the capability of measuring internal fruit firmness under constant rate, creep (fruit material deformation under constant pressure -- a standard engineering materials test we believe measures the level of cell turgor / cell wall breakdown), and crispness (energy released by fracturing fruit material -- essentially quantifying the crunch produced by a mechanical bite).

Whenever you can incorporate the phrase "cell turgor" into your PR materials, you know you've won.

Posted by pmk at 9:15 PM | Comments (1)

January 15, 2007

Voice of the Bullet Train

We were invited to a Christmas party at a friend's house, right before leaving Tokyo to come home for the holidays. At this party, I met Donna Burke, an Australian woman who has lived in Japan for years and acts, sings and does voice work.

I almost left the party, though, without having learned Donna's biggest secret: she is the English voice of the Tokaido shinkansen--the bullet train line that connects Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka.

If you've ever traveled to Japan, you've undoubtedly heard her announcements:

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the shinkansen. This is the Nozomi super-express bound for Shin-Osaka...

It was incredibly weird to be standing in someone's kitchen, drinking eggnog, listening to someone doing the shinkansen announcement, word-for-word and with identical intonation.

Posted by pmk at 4:16 PM | Comments (1)