It was an e-mail from a trade press colleague. He was forwarding a news release he had received — and, he could not help but include this teaser: “Mark, I don’t know whether to say ‘Oh, brother’ or order one.”

The release in question relayed the wonders of Samsung’s Digital Network Refrigerator, the SR-S75F, which was on display at the 2002 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, held recently in Chicago. The manufacturer called its creation a “complete entertainment and information center,” as this new side-by-side refrigerator features a 15.1-in. detachable LCD screen/TV and Internet connectivity “to keep today’s kitchen connected as never before.”

According to the release, the SR-S75F offers an endless array of the latest communication, entertainment, and information features. It offers all the functions of the Internet — such as e-mail, information surfing, and online shopping — without the need for a PC. A special Messenger Function organizes communication between family members with options for text, voice, or even video memos.

TV lovers can enjoy their favorite shows or news programs via the built-in Samsung LCD screen. External inputs also allow hookups for a DVD player or VCR “for a complete suite of viewing options.” It also noted that its new refrigerator “puts a high-tech spin on the time-honored tradition of pasting family photos to the fridge with a built-in digital photo album that stores and shares memorable moments at the touch of a button. Favorite photos can be sent over the Internet or even programmed as screen savers.”

It will be interesting to see if this “refrigerator of the future” takes off, but here’s betting there will not be an immediate public outcry for the product. Then again, those from Generation X and Y may gravitate straight to such a refrigerator.

It is creative, yes. Practical? Well, the public will ultimately decide that.


Something far more practical is what Duluth Trading Co. is offering. And here’s betting that most customers would vote to have what this catalog retailer sells be mandatory equipment for techs in this industry.

It sounds so simple, but Duluth offers what it calls its Longtail T. It’s nothing more than a longer-than-normal T-shirt, designed to cover the backside of any working hvacr technician and/or plumber. In a unanimous decision, customers will tell you it’s not thrilling to witness a technician hunched over an outside condensing unit or picking up tools left on the ground or floor inside. More times than not, what the customer sees is a crack, but it’s not a wise one, if you know what I mean.

For many of us, most T-shirts are too short to avoid untucking. The body of the Duluth Longtail T extends an extra three inches “to keep you covered,” as pointed out by the company’s cleverly stated promotion. The headline in its promotional piece asks, “Sharing a little too much information?”

“Whatever term you use, it’s an annoying problem,” states the release. “It can accompany almost any exercise in home building or repair and it, er, rears its ugly head in diverse tasks involving everything from pipe wrenches to floor tiles and molding trim to masonry.”

At least in its advertising, Duluth did not pin the blame solely on the hvacr technician. It said it was proud to introduce the 100% preshrunk cotton-constructed shirt “in the cause of modesty and good taste.”

“A little bit of innovation goes a long way, we always say,” it noted. “In this case, just three inches of shirt length will keep you in the good graces of your clients and fellow tradesmen.”

For the record, the 5.5-oz shirts have taped neck and shoulder seams, and are available in orange, navy, and ash gray. Another practical point, they are priced under $10.

The industry is pushing for technician certification, but I’ll go one pant leg further. I hereby suggest that NATE offer such a shirt to the person passing any of its tests. May as well make everything professional about this industry — from top to bottom.

Yep, no but(t)s about it.

Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446, 248-362-0317 (fax); (e-mail).

Publication date: 04/15/2002