NEW YORK (Reuters) - "What am I going to write about this week?" I asked, more or less, a colleague a few days ago.
Then, my gaze settled onto a piece of BUBBLE WRAP! That's the fun part of writing a column about the Internet. Just about anything you can think of is out there.
A search for "bubble wrap" turned up "The World's Best Bubble Wrap Homepage" (http://fathom.org/opalcat/Bubble Wrap.html), created by a woman whose online name is OpalCat and endorsed by none other than sultry actress Pamela Anderson.
"Bubble Wrap has been a source of fascination for people of all ages since its invention," OpalCat declares on the page. "Children have been known to play with the Bubble Wrap packed in gifts longer than they play with the gift itself."
The page offers "Bubble Wrap diagnostics" on the various types of bubbles found in Bubble Wrap, including "Snappers" and "Duds," as well as "Bubble Wrap etiquette" ("DON'T pop someone else's Bubble Wrap without permission.")
OpalCat, a 27-year-old free-lance Web page designer who lives in Fairfax, Va., and whose real first name is Katherine, said she popped the Bubble Wrap site onto the Net in 1996.
"I was in my early stages of building my huge home page, and I was brainstorming about things to make pages about," she said in a telephone interview. "Bubble Wrap is such a magical substance."
"... It just seemed like a fun, silly thing," OpalCat said, adding that she gave the site, one of her earlier efforts, "a face-lift" early this year.
OpalCat is no fool. Fairly high up on her Bubble Wrap page, she links to Sealed Air Corp. <SEE.N> (http://www.sealedaircorp.com), which owns the trademark on "Bubble Wrap." Everything else is "bubble cushioning material," according to Sealed Air.
The "Bubble Wrap" site would not be complete without tips on how to pop the stuff, from both the site and visitors. A guest book offers you the chance to add your own suggestions.
A "BubblePoll" asks whether bigger bubbles or smaller bubbles are better. So far, the tally is running in favor of bigger bubbles, by a vote of 361, or 57 percent, to 269, or 43 percent.
Don't have any bubble cushioning material handy? No problem. A search for "Bubble Wrap" turns up numerous sources of the material. And OpalCat's page provides "virtual Bubble Wrap" that you can pop online.
Like any good Web page, there are links to other offerings, including "Bubble Wrap Specimens of the World" (http://www.atom.co.jp/UNSOUND/Actual/Profiles/celopages/bubble/wrap.html) with pictures of the packing material from Australia, China, Japan and other countries.
This page also sports a picture of someone in a jacket made of the stuff, assorted thoughts on the topic, including the suggestion that one try putting the stuff through a shredder, and -- yes -- more virtual Bubble Wrap.
Still more cyber-popping can be had at the "Java Bubble Wrap Secret Test Site" (http://www.foobar.co.uk/(tilde)universe/pop1.htm). There is a special bonus: instructions for installing virtual Bubble Wrap on your own Web site, should you have one.
"It is not year 2000 compliant," the instructions warn.
(The Net Destinations column appears weekly. To comment, write to jonathan.oatis(at)reuters.com)