Sunday, April 24, 2005

Chicago HomeExpo a Big Bust, but Here's Some Cool Stuff from it Anyway

Someone once told me that only an idiot could lose money running a casino. Seems the same principle might have been at work during this weekend's Home Expo at McCormick Place.

Apparently, managment promised thousands of attendees, and given their target audience --homeowners and soon to be homeowners -- you'd think that they could have stumbled a couple thousand through the doors via popcorn smell alone.

But, word on the floor by Sunday from really annoyed exhibitors was that only 100 attendees showed Friday followed by 600 on Saturday. Things didn't appear to be picking up yesterday, either. By 12:30, we were the twelfth car in the lot.

Doom and gloom did not stop the Friskie's Cat Food people. They had this massive Friskie's cat display replete with Roman-cat-like columns and a bevy of chipper, trained announcers. Their purpose? To teach the masses to train their cats to jump through hoops. Literally.

The Friskie's people must have been the maddest of all because they clearly spent a fortune in time, personnel and cat treats being there.

When I wasn't marveling at the cat spectacle, lying on the $5900 spa bed that massaged my body with hidden water jets, or giggling over Mr. ThePlaceWhereWeLive's $5 trial ride on a Segway, I enjoyed learning a bit about the folks who gutted it out at "green" end of the room. Here are a few:

--Aerotecture Bill Becker, a U of I-Chicago professor, engineers wind propellers for the city landscape. They're made particularly for gusty, irregular winds. Check out the video on his site.

--Trestlewood reclaims wood from all types of sources, most notably old train trestles, and then makes them available for new building projects.

--The folks who promote safe coatings in lieu of polyurethane, paints, etc. Finally, I have a starting point for tracking this stuff down during my next home improvement project.

--Flow Forms America had cool garden fountains.

--And of course, all the good guys were there: Illinois Solar Association, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, and the place where I did much of my holiday shopping last year, The Enterprising Kitchen.

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