Who IS Ken Umbach?

A Totally Bogus Biography

Ken Umbach is a figure long shrouded in mystery. He is rumored to have been born in Ohio, but legend loses track of him after his family moved to California at the close of the Truman Administration.

Improved Electricity

Although modest and retiring by nature, Ken Umbach is a benefactor of mankind. In the spirit of generosity and good will, in the early 1960s he examined social needs and settled upon the improvement of electricity as his project. Soon, though quietly, and unknown to all but a handful of scientists working at the submolecular level (they are very, very tiny scientists), his improved electricity was serving all of humanity--and members of the animal and plant kingdoms.

He does not favor fungi, which have received the benefits of improved electricity only recently and second-hand.

Improved electricity provides a fresher, more closely modulated current, widely regarded as being nearly as pure as the water in the center of Arctic icebergs.

Improved Cats

More recently, Dr. Umbach has turned to the genetic engineering of flea-repellent housecats. Day and night he works with his menagerie of long- and short-haired cats of all descriptions and dispositions. The problem is nearly solved. To this point, he has found that most varieties of cat may be made flea-repellent with an injection of modified cat DNA. The only undesirable side-effect is that the cats, interacting in an unexpected manner with ambient improved electricity, have become astoundingly prone to static cling, and hence tend to stick randomly to walls, furniture, and occasionally even the ceiling and drapes. While this is amusing, to a point, it does prove alarming when visitors (he is a person of notorious personal magnetism, frequently receiving guests from far and wide) observe felines in odd positions at all angles in the living areas of his spacious home and laboratory. It has been necessary to erect a sturdy tent over the dining table in recognition of the problem of suddenly de-staticked cats falling into soup tureens during dinner.

In time, this problem, too, will be solved, possibly with the engineering of cat-repellent soups.

The Dark Bulb

Improved electricity has facilitated the fulfillment of Dr. Umbach's lifelong dream: The Dark Bulb.

What, you may be asking yourself, is a Dark Bulb?

It performs with respect to darkness what the light bulb performs with respect to light: it produces it where needed. Picture this -- you are kicked back with the family, ready to break out the ol' 8 millimeter projector and the family films . . . the screen is set up, or a whitewashed wall is cleared . . . and you notice that it is noon, and light is streaming in through the windows. Even the drapes cannot sufficiently darken the room for enjoyment of classic antics of the kids frolicking in the park, dressing the cat in sweater and booties, and dropping water balloons on unsuspecting visitors. So what to do? The answer: THE DARK BULB.

You simply replace the bulbs in your living room lamps with Improved Electric Company brand Dark Bulbs (TM) and flood the room, not with light, but with dark. Yes, some dark leaks out into the yard, but not enough to cause any more difficulty than does light emitted from an illuminated room at night. With the room now conveniently darkened, you can fire up the projector and relax over hours of home movies and a tub of popcorn (popped in an instant in your Improved Electric Company Macrowave Oven, on which more another time).

Needless to emphasize, the Dark Bulb does require Improved Electricity, provided either through the handy home IEC generator or, better, directly by the Improved Electric Company, now an active participant in the newly deregulated electric power industry.

Consider the benefits!

Ask for the genuine, original Dark Bulb at your local ImprovedCo Hardware Store, Improved Lion Food Market, and other fine stores that carry products of the Improved Electric Company.

The Personal Air Bag

Little need be said about the dangers of automobile air bags. Reports of their effects in low-speed impacts are too gruesome to repeat in a family-oriented Web site. In fact, some drivers and passengers of air bag equipped cars have now taken to wearing a spike, suspended from the neck at chest level, to instantly puncture an exploding air bag (Arnold Turner, "New anti-airbag spike can save your life!", Weekly World News, March 18, 1997, p. 15). At the same time, however, air bags do save lives, and many drivers and passengers may well prefer to have them available in all vehicles.

The research laboratories of Dr. Ken Umbach have developed a solution: the Personal Air Bag (TM, patent depending)!

What IS the Personal Air Bag? Simply this: it is a device you place on your own personal self, activated instantly in the event of an impact, protecting you from harm wherever you are. In an automobile, rather than having an air bag smush you in the face (and possibly rip your head off) at 200 miles per hour, your Personal Air Bag inflates and smushes the steering wheel, dashboard, or back of the seat in front of you at a speed you may determine by twiddling a dial. (You do that in advance. There is not time for dial-twiddling in the event of deployment of the bag.)

This would seem to be a simple concept . . . hang the bag, with its built in proximity detector around your neck, and walk, run, jog, or ride in confidence. It is not quite that simple, however, as numerous experiments have revealed. Even the Research Laboratories of Dr. Ken Umbach have not repealed the dictum that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That is, in this case, when the bag explodes as you stand and mind your own business, you are blown onto your butt (or slammed back-first into the nearest stationary object) at maybe 200 MPH. NOT a pretty sight. Hence, it is necessary to have a matching rear bag, activated whenever you are not firmly wedged against some support (as, for example, an automobile seat). Both bags instantly inflate, holding you steady and protecting against oncoming objects. Built-in sensors determine when one, the other, or both bags need to be armed.

The Deluxe Model Personal Air Bag is a new concept. This product features new Surround-Bag Technology (TM), protecting in all directions at once. Picture an instantly-inflating innertube draped around your upper body! Self-adjusting sensors determine the direction(s) in which protection is required, and direct pressure through a series of baffles to the correct chambers in the device. In fact, this concept has been described as among the most baffling in modern technology.

The Deluxe Model has itself suffered through a demanding gestation period. The original prototypes were designed to be placed around the chest and under the arms, conveniently out of the way and leaving full motion to the shoulders and arms. Unfortunately, in actual deployment, the effect on testers was to blow both arms out and up, causing severe contusions, shoulder dislocations, and frequently smacking hands and elbows into adjacent people and objects. Objects in the hands at time of deployment were sometimes found embedded in nearby structures. The current model is instead suspended from a sturdy stainless steel fedora with lightweight elastic cords. (The stainless steel fedora has the happy additional benefit of protecting the wearer from satellite transmissions and other electromagnetic radiation that might otherwise penetrate directly into the brain.) In this way, the arms are safely inside the device when it deploys. Navigating narrow doorways has been a problem, with occasional false deployment wedging testers into doorways until help could be summoned, as the bag deflates far more slowly than it inflates.

Discussions are now underway with major retailers (department stores, hardware emporiums, automotive supply houses, and others) to carry these products. Ask for them by name, and please be patient.

Note: Next on the agenda in this product line is the External Automotive Air Bag, surrounding the entire automobile with the same level of safety, comfort, and assurance (and in the same all-around suspension style) as the Deluxe Model Personal Air Bag provides for the individual human being. Interim models will provide protection for each door, fender, and bumper, with computer-controlled coordination of deployment in the event of an incipient impact.


Noticing (though of course never personally experiencing) the occasional embarassment of leaving the house or restroom with an unzipped fly, Dr. Umbach next turned his attention to dealing with this problem. The solution: ZipAlert (TM, all rights reserved, yada yada yada).

ZipAlert is a convenient, portable (it would have to be or it would not be a whole lot of use, now would it?) device that detects an unzipped fly and alerts the user to the unzipped condition. Hence the name ZipAlert (which sounded more melifluous than AlertZip).

ZipAlert comes in two models:

How does it work? Simple: if the zipper is down for a period exceeding the user-set limit, a piercing siren--not unlike the airhorns often heard at sporting events--sounds, reminding the user to zip up, thus preventing inadvertant public appearance in an unzipped condition.

Although some users have noted that the ZipAlert is somewhat larger than might be preferred, this is the result of strenuous efforts to keep its cost well within the average budget. This economy has been accomplished by taking advantage of one of the great neglected resources of modern times: vast warehouses full of vacuum tubes made obsolete with the arrival of the transistor and, later, the integrated circuit. No one really wants a personal computer the size of a moving van, nor a portable radio that requires a hand truck or Radio Flyer wagon to, in fact, port it, so manufacturers have turned to microminiaturization through silicon chip circuitry. Hence, an abundant supply of vacuum tubes was readily available at minimal cost--in fact, at an actual profit, as the possessors of the tubes paid to have them hauled away.

Of course, there is a power consideration resulting from the use of vacuum tubes, which, not surprisingly, are not technologically compatible with Improved Electricity. The units include heavy-duty rechargable batteries and a convenient solar-power recharging unit, a pizza-pan size convex dish that sits comfortably atop the user's head. All that is required to keep the batteries in tip-top shape is a daily stroll in full sunlight, only an hour or so! In fact, the attentive user will seldom set off the ZipAlert siren, thus conserving battery power and reducing the sunlight requirement even further.

Extensive laboratory tests and trial runs in well-known amusement parks and other public attractions have demonstrated the effectiveness of ZipAlert. In fact, thus far, no one has ever actually noticed that a ZipAlert user even has a zipper.

Wide availability of both models of this exciting new product is anticipated soon! Watch your local non-network-affiliate television stations between the hours of 1 and 3 A.M. for our entrancing infomercials featuring out-of-work formerly famous actors and game-show personalities who will both demonstrate this modern wonder and provide full ordering information, with operators standing by to take your orders for yourself and for gifts (all major credit cards accepted).

Coming soon: The MacroWave Oven

This totally bogus biography and completely fictional catalog of preposterous products will be updated as new developments warrant.
Latest update: March 19, 1997; slight revision December 22, 1997; Felix gifs added December 29, 1997; link to cat jpg added January 3, 1998; bogus wave added January 6, 1998.   Link at bottom updated to go to new home page, April 30, 2005.

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