Monday, June 30, 2008

RCOTN: Solution, or Mess?

Hello everyone!

I'm back with another episode of Rob Comments on the News. For those of you who are out of the loop, I set up a separate blog strictly for commenting on the news about a year or so ago with the intention of updating it fairly regularly. In fact, my initial plan was to do a few per week, but that didn't quite work out. After a whopping three postings in as many months, my short attention span got the better of me and, hey, look at the pretty birds...

But after reading this article, I thought I'd pull the concept out of the old moth balls. Since nobody reads the other blog, I'll just post it here on Rob Dow's World. Oh, and a word of warning, this one contains expletives. So if you're easily offended, go fuck yourself:
June 30, 2008

Solution, or Mess? A Milk Jug for a Green Earth

NORTH CANTON, Ohio — A simple change to the design of the gallon milk jug, adopted by Wal-Mart and Costco, seems made for the times. The jugs are cheaper to ship and better for the environment, the milk is fresher when it arrives in stores, and it costs less.

What’s not to like? Plenty, as it turns out.

The jugs have no real spout, and their unorthodox shape makes consumers feel like novices at the simple task of pouring a glass of milk.

Translation: "The milk jug makes me feel stupid! Boo-hoo!"

“I hate it,” said Lisa DeHoff, a cafe owner shopping in a Sam’s Club here.

"Waah, waah, it's too hard!" Dullards like Lisa, who apparently has nothing better to do than focus her pent up rage at a milk container, make me ashamed to be an American.

“It spills everywhere,” said Amy Wise, a homemaker.

Yes, this is what it has come to. People are literally crying over spilled milk.

And a homemaker? I didn't know they still existed. Apparently she's a horrible one, too, if she can't even figure out how to pour milk. And if homemaker is a career, she should be fired. Oops, I mean "downsized." She can then train her replacement from India how to clean her house and raise her kids. I bet the Indian lady can figure out how to pour milk!

Here's a clue, Amy: milk doesn't just "spill everywhere." Milk, though liquid, is an inanimate object. Therefore, it can't just "spill everywhere" on its own volition. However, you, being (in theory) a functioning human being are more than capable of causing the milk to spill due to your own incompetency. That is what most likely happens, Amy. You're just too stupid to realize it.

Amy Wise? More like Amy Dumbshit!

“It’s very hard for kids to pour,” said Lee Morris, who was shopping for her grandchildren.

Then don't buy it, you whiny, old, sack of crap! Seriously, Lee, do you think the whole world should conform to your spoiled grandbrats? On second thought, don't answer that question--I know what your answer is. Quit being so self-absorbed vicariously through your grandkids (is that possible?) And no, they're not special! They're typical spoiled monsters who might need a little help pouring milk on their Froot Loops.

But retailers are undeterred by the prospect of upended bowls of Cheerios. The new jugs have many advantages from their point of view, and Sam’s Club intends to roll them out broadly, making them more prevalent.

"You will buy the milk! You will buy the milk! Why? Because I'm the corpse of Sam Walton, and I order you to buy the milk, that's why! Don't talk back! Buy your milk, spill it, drink it, and then go to your room!"

Maybe David Cross was right: we are a nation of six-year-olds.

The redesign of the gallon milk jug, experts say, is an example of the changes likely to play out in the American economy over the next two decades. In an era of soaring global demand and higher costs for energy and materials, virtually every aspect of the economy needs to be re-examined, they say, and many products must be redesigned for greater efficiency.

“This is a key strategy as a path forward,” said Anne Johnson, the director of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, a project of the nonprofit group GreenBlue. “Re-examining, ‘What are the materials we are using? How are we using them? And where do they go ultimately?’ ”

Wal-Mart Stores is already moving down this path. But if the milk jug is any indication, some of the changes will take getting used to on the part of consumers. Many spill milk when first using the new jugs.

Ordinarily, if Wal-Mart is for something, I'm usually against it. But in this case, I do get a perverse joy in knowing so many people are being angered at something Wal-Mart did. Unfortunately, it's not justified indignity about things like sweatshops, low wages and no insurance for its employees, and toys with lead-based paint that's pissing them off so much. Instead, they're pissed because they're too fucking stupid to operate a milk jug.

“When we brought in the new milk, we were asking for feedback,” said Heather Mayo, vice president for merchandising at Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart. “And they’re saying, ‘Why’s it in a square jug? Why’s it different? I want the same milk. What happened to my old milk?’ ”

Jesus H. Fucking Christ!!!! "What happened to my old milk!?!?" You have got to be kidding me!

Six-year-olds.

Mary Tilton tried to educate the public a few days ago as she stood at a Sam’s Club in North Canton, about 50 miles south of Cleveland, luring shoppers with chocolate chip cookies and milk as she showed them how to pour from the new jugs.

Un-be-fucking-lievable!!! Educate the public!?!?!? On how to pour milk properly?!?!?!? Fuck you people! If you can't pour milk without spilling it all over the place, you don't deserve milk! If you assholes get thirsty, you can go outside and drink water from the garden hose! And if you can't figure out how to turn on the water, go to your neighbor's backyard and check Fido's water bowl, you stupid piece of shit waste of space!!

The sad thing is these people are all having kids. I'm sorry, but Nostradamus is not a prophet. Mike Judge is.

“Just tilt it slowly and pour slowly,” Ms. Tilton said to passing customers as she talked about the jugs’ environmental benefits and cost savings. Instead of picking up the jug, as most people tend to do, she kept it on a table and gently tipped it toward a cup.

Six-year-olds.

Mike Compston, who owns a dairy in Yerington, Nev., described the pouring technique in a telephone interview as a “rock-and-pour instead of a lift-and-tip.”

Not only did this asshole give a phone interview about "pouring technique," he also came up with a name for it, ostensibly to make it easier to remember.

Six-year-olds.

Demonstrations are but one of several ways Sam’s Club is advocating the containers. Signs in the aisle laud their cost savings and “better fridge fit.”

And some customers have become converts.

“With the new refrigerators with the shelf in the door, these fit nice,” said April Buchanan, who was shopping at the Sam’s Club here. Others, even those who rue the day their tried-and-true jugs were replaced, praised the lower cost, from $2.18 to $2.58 a gallon. Sam’s Club said that was a savings of 10 to 20 cents a gallon compared with old jugs.

And that's why, despite all the pissing and moaning, people will still buy it: "Because I'm an imbecile, I spilled about half the jug all over the table in the breakfast nook. But hey, I saved 14 cents on the goddamn thing, so I really can't complain."

The new jug marks a sharp break with the way dairies and grocers have traditionally produced and stocked milk.

Early one recent morning, the creators and producers of the new tall rectangular jugs donned goggles and white coats to walk the noisy, chilly production lines at Superior Dairy in Canton, Ohio. It was founded in 1922 by a man who was forced to abandon the brandy business during Prohibition. Five generations of the founder’s family, the Soehnlens, have worked there.

Today, they bottle and ship two different ways. The old way is inefficient and labor-intensive, according to members of the family. The other day, a worker named Dennis Sickafoose was using a long hook to drag plastic crates loaded with jugs of milk onto a conveyor belt.

The only thing that is keeping me from thrusting my fist through my monitor screen is Dennis Sickafoose's awesome name.

The crates are necessary because the shape of old-fashioned milk jugs prohibits stacking them atop one another. The crates take up a lot of room, they are unwieldy to move, and extra space must be left in delivery trucks to take empty ones back from stores to the dairy.

They also can be filthy. “Birds roost on them,” said Dan Soehnlen, president of Superior Dairy, which spun off a unit called Creative Edge to design and license new packaging of many kinds. He spoke while standing in pools of the soapy run-off from milk crates that had just been washed. About 100,000 gallons of water a day are used at his dairy clean the crates, Mr. Soehnlen said.

Sweet. Nothing makes milk more appealing than a bunch of bird shit all over the container.

But with the new jugs, the milk crates are gone. Instead, a machine stacks the jugs, with cardboard sheets between layers. Then the entire pallet, four layers high, is shrink-wrapped and moved with a forklift.

The company estimates this kind of shipping has cut labor by half and water use by 60 to 70 percent. More gallons fit on a truck and in Sam’s Club coolers, and no empty crates need to be picked up, reducing trips to each Sam’s Club store to two a week, from five — a big fuel savings. Also, Sam’s Club can now store 224 gallons of milk in its coolers, in the same space that used to hold 80.

The whole operation is so much more efficient that milk coming out of a cow in the morning winds up at a Sam’s Club store by that afternoon, compared with several hours later or the next morning by the old method. “That’s our idea of fresh milk,” Greg Soehnlen, a vice president at Creative Edge, said.

That may be your idea of fresh, but it's my idea of creepy and disgusting. There are few things more disturbing than pouring a tall glass of milk and thinking, "This liquid that I'm drinking came out of a cow's teat less than 12 hours ago."

Sam’s Club started using the boxy jugs in November, and they are now in 189 stores scattered around the country. They will appear soon in more Sam’s Club stores and perhaps in Wal-Marts.

The question now is whether customers will go along.

Really? Of course they will. If Wal-Mart is selling it, people will buy it. I remember during my inventory days, there were no shortage of people who would go to Wal-Mart for something to do. Not to buy something specific--just to go and walk around (or ride around in a Mart Cart). Inevitably, they would buy some cheap plastic thing they didn't intend on buying, didn't need, and didn't really even want, but thought it was too great of a deal to pass up. And that is why we now have a $351 billion trade deficit.

As Ms. Tilton gave her in-store demonstration the other day at the Sam’s Club here, customers stood around her, munching cookies and sipping milk. “Would you like to take some home today?” she asked.

A shopper named Jodi Kauffman gave the alien jugs a sidelong glance.

“Maybe,” she said.

Jodi then added, "I'm confused because I'm a fucking idiot. I only know how to do what my TV tells me to do. My TV didn't say anything about weird, terrorist, communist, elitist milk jugs. It did tell me to buy things from Sam's Club, though. What to do? What to do?"

It's times like this that I have to fight the urge to just walk up to people, grab them by the shoulders, and ask them what the fuck is wrong with them! Seriously, There are well over 4,000 dead and well over 30,000 injured Americans for no good reason, anywhere from just under a hundred thousand to a million or more dead Iraqi civilians for no good reason, and report after report that the Iraq invasion and occupation was launched for no good reason. To these people, it's no big deal, but change a milk carton and all of a sudden they're screaming bloody murder!

Global warming? Climate change? "Well, they're still debating that." Actually, just in the past month, there have been all sorts of crazy tornadoes and floods, and there are 1,400 individual fires burning in California as I write this. "Yeah, but there have been tornadoes, floods, and fires for in those places since way before people started driving cars." Fine. The Northwest Passage opened up for the first time ever last summer, and the North Pole is on track to have no ice cover later on this summer--for the first time in human history. "Maybe, but who cares about the North Pole? My milk container is different! And I can't figure out how to pour it! Oh my God--it's the motherfucking Apocalypse!!!!!!"

I fucking give up.

Rob

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Greg said...

Welcome to the brotherhood. I say let these nitwits get what's coming to them. The next 20 years are going to have major impacts on how this country lives. Hoepfully, cities will contract, opening up some room. Of course, they'll probably just put golf courses on them.

I can't believe you let them phrase "boxy jugs" slip by uncommented. You are becoming mature. I am so proud of you.

12:03 PM, July 01, 2008  
Anonymous Greg said...

And by nitwits, I mean those who don't read this blog.

12:26 PM, July 01, 2008  
Blogger Rob said...

Hello Greg!

Actually, it's not so much that I'm "becoming mature," but rather that the complete and total stupidity of so many people pisses me off so much that I can't even enjoy a good boob joke.

Maybe "stupidity" is the wrong word. These people are capable of rational, independent thought, but they just choose not to think. But then, that's a stupid thing to do, so I guess "stupidity" is appropriate after all.

And yes, the nitwits out there clearly do not read my blog. In fact, I would be surprised if these people who can't figure out how to pour milk even know how to read. God they piss me off.

Rob

12:43 PM, July 01, 2008  

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