I'll be picking corn kernels out of corners and crevices in my office for weeks.

It's not, as you might think, the result of a shucking bee gone bad. Earlier this week an advertising agency sent me a spray valve, apparently assuming I would know what to do with it once I got it.

However, it came with no instructions. No news release fluttered out from the box in which it was packed.

Instead, many kernels of corn spilled from the box, onto my floor, under my desk, into my computer case, and Lord knows where else. Apparently someone thought corn kernels as packing material would be such a novel idea that those of us on the receiving end would marvel at their ingenuity and creativity. Wrong.

Now, if I had chickens, that handful of corn might have been quite useful. Alas, I have cats. They just chew on the kernels and turn them into cat-spit mush.

One of my Farm Press brethren, who received a similar mailing, reported corn kernels cascading all over his kitchen floor. Another reported being cut by the box as he tried to pry it open. Yet another said the squirrels in his yard appreciated the tasty treat.

None of us knows exactly what to do with the spray nozzles; we have no big boom sprayer on which to stick it.

We get lots of unique packages, some with examples of new products included. Usually, these come with a news release. This one came with corn … and a spray nozzle.

I really don't need hardware. A news release and a photograph will serve nicely. And I prefer to get those via e-mail.

Until this week, the most obnoxious packing material accompanying these presents has been Styrofoam peanuts. Have you ever seen what mentally disturbed cats will do to those little nuggets? It takes weeks to vacuum up all the tiny little snowflakes of Styrofoam after the cats get through chewing, scratching, and knocking them around.

Quite frankly, I don't need most of the stuff that comes in these boxes anyway. For instance, CDs with company directories usually get tossed. It's way too easy to find the same information on a Web site.

Same with hard copy catalogues, directories, and photographs. They just take up space — of which I don't have all that much to begin with — and I am such a terrible filer these things are apt to get lost.

If folks must send me something fragile enough to require packing material, I prefer paper, especially newspaper. If the paper comes from, say, San Francisco, I might hang onto it for a few minutes and catch up on West Coast news. It would be a dire mistake, however, to send me something packed in Southwest Farm Press pages. I've already read those.

Please, no corn.

And it might be wise to call first or e-mail to see if we really want a product sample. We probably do not. So the sender can save on postage.

And they can use the corn for ethanol.