PACKET RAT

The Rat schemes to sponsor Elvis

Thanks to an unexpected confluence of events'namely, losses on his Internet start-up stocks'the Rat found himself expecting an unusually large tax refund. So he followed the advice of his faithful readers at the IRS and filed online.

The refund arrived by direct deposit so fast that his jaw dropped.

What to do with the windfall? 'Why, pick at the bones of dying Internet companies, of course,' the whiskered one mused as he eyed a fat bank balance.

'Oh, great,' Mrs. Rat sighed. 'And where are we going to put more network hardware? You've got two routers under the baby's crib as it is.'

The Rat stroked his whiskers. 'No, I was thinking a little more virtual than that. There's a stadium with my name on it'or there soon will be.'


He'd been waiting for some time for a certain bit of signage to go on the market. Once it was announced that owner Art Modell had sold the naming rights for the new Baltimore Ravens stadium to PSINet for the princely sum of $105 million, it seemed a foregone conclusion the Internet provider would soon become roadkill.

With the stock market sapping the field of potential competitors, the Rat figured he had a good shot at the renaming rights when the Ravens put them back on the block.

Nevertheless, much as he would love being identified with a stadium where a quarterback named Elvis played, he had a bigger goal in mind: time-sharing.

'I could charge corporations varying rates for their signs to appear temporarily,' he explained to his baffled better half. 'The big bucks would apply during peak periods'home game days with national TV coverage.

'Companies could buy a block of stadium name time to coordinate with the launch of a new product. For example, it could be 'Comedy Central's That's My Bush Stadium' for the first half of the season opener, and 'United-US Airways Frequent Flyer Fares to Florida Field' the next.

'The rest of the year, I could offer budget rates for companies or individuals for their conferences or special occasions.'

'That's nice, dear,' Mrs. Rat said, humoring him in hopes the idea would pass quickly. 'What kind of special occasions?'

'Well, let's say I forgot our anniversary'a purely theoretical lapse. I could go online and buy a quick time-share of 'Happy Anniversary to Mrs. Rat Stadium,' just in time to appear in the sportscast on the evening news. Wouldn't that be better than a Whitman's Sampler from the drugstore?'

'Marginally,' Mrs. Rat smiled. 'But we both know you would never forget our anniversary.'

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@gcn.com.

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