Sorry, but my lips are too cold

In hindsight, it may not have been a good idea for sculptor Tim Linhart to accept a commission from the annual winter festival in faraway Piteaa, Sweden. That's because he's responsible for a mini-meltdown - not exactly what you want for an event of that nature. You see, Linhart, who's from Taos, N.M., painstakingly carved an entire orchestra of instruments (clarinets, trumpets, cellos, guitars, and the like) from blocks of ice for a live concert that was to be held in a 100-seat igloo. But at the last minute, he canceled it, complaining that the student musicians drafted to play the instruments hadn't - ah - warmed up to his satisfaction. "Completely unacceptable," the indignant director of the local music school fumed. "It was an insult to our city and an offense against the student[s]."

Quick, name a top brand. Hmm, how about ... Apple?

Thanks to the success of its iPod digital music players, of which roughly 10 million have been sold over the past three years, Apple Computer Inc. is one of the best-known companies in business. In fact, Apple is the world's "most influential brand," according to Brandchannel, an online magazine. In a survey of the brands that had the greatest impact last year, Apple was voted No. 1 among almost 2,000 advertising executives, brand managers, and academicians who voted . Perhaps the most surprising vote-getter: Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite TV channel, which offers a different perspective on the Middle East from those of Western news outlets. The leading brands, globally as well as by region, from the survey:

1. Apple
2. Google
3. Ikea
4. Starbucks
5. Al Jazeera
By region
North America: Apple
Asia Pacific: Sony
Europe and Africa: Ikea
Central and Latin America: Cemex
- Reuters/The Daily Rundown

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