Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Croc vs. Crocs

I've been vocal about my dislike of crocs. But it turns out they can win a fight with an actual crocodile.  Yes a hungry South Carolina crocodile got some unexpected jaw exercise in as it tried to eat a croc.  In the end it gave up.  (Dear crocodile, you're not missing out, there's no nutrients there, and I bet they don't even taste good.)  Of course, there's an argument to be made that your crocs should not be anywhere a crocodile could mistake them for food.  If you are done with your crocs, perhaps try recycling instead. 

h/t to Wait, Wait Don't tell me for the this story.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Faux Personal Touch

Once upon a time I bought a dress at a nearby boutique.  I had a coupon (one of those local group discount type things) and since it was attached to my email, I gave them my email address.  They sent me a thank you for my purchase.  A week later they were having a trunk sale featuring the designer that had made the dress I purchased.  They sent one (one!) email letting me know that since I had purchased a dress by this person I might want to check out the trunk sale.  (I did.)
Recently I sent an email to a company about removing me from their paper catalog list. I can't think of the last time I ordered something from a paper catalog rather than perusing online and these things are cluttering my mailbox.  I didn't try to take myself off the email list, just the catalogs.  I have tried with this company before and got myself bumped down to special sales only.  My email contained my name and address and my wish.  This is the response I received, with all identifying information removed. 

"Dear Tara,

Thank you, so much, for taking the time to contact us.  You have asked how to opt out of our coupons and mailings.  It is my privilege to respond to you personally.

I am happy to inform you that you may add or remove your information online to receive our store coupons. Please click on the link below.

[Link that takes me to a site that asks for my name and address and if I want to be added or removed from their communications.]

This information is updated in our systems once per month.  Depending on the date of the last update, it may take up to 60 days for your information to be reflected on our list.  You will also need to activate your request by providing this same telephone number and e-mail address during your next store purchase.    

Tara, you've chosen [Company Name]. We think of that as a privilege. So, if there's anything more we can do for you, please e-mail or call us any time.


[Name of Service Rep]"

Now here's the thing.  Call me cynical but I believe that a person wrote this just for me about as much as I believe in bi-partisanship.  I'm sure someone wrote this at some time.  And I understand the value of having, as they like to say in the corporate world, a consistent message.  But this is about as personalized as a pre-printed Comic Sans fonted sticky note.  Yes, it provides the information I asked for.  I could even possibly uncranky myself to say, perhaps they are so bombarded by people trying to get off their mailing list that they have a link because using their actual employees to do that would take too long.  So now, I have to re-provide the information and then wait to see if it really works.  (I am totally ignoring this crap about providing this information to the next cashier.  Not gonna happen.) 
So, what's my point?  This pretend personal email has made me more cranky than a plain old - hey, to get yourself off the list, click here would have.  That would have annoyed me.  But this annoys me more because it pretends to address my needs and still makes me do all the work.  This is not personal service.  Making me re-provide previously provided information is, in fact, impersonal.  Don't insult me by pretending it's not.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

TBR Challenge 2012: Western

Yes, back on the TBR horse.  Yes, that is even funnier given this month's theme.  Once again I tackled a Harlequin Desire, this one Charlene Sands' The Cowboy's Pride. This contains one of my favorite tropes, the separated couple.  And one of my less favorite, although I was fine with it here - the secret baby. 
So, Trish and Clay were married.  They started fighting about having kids, and in the middle of that, Trish walked in on him looking very cozy on the couch with an ex and walked right back out the door.  She secretly hoped he'd come running after, instead he filed for divorce.  Now it's a year later and they are ready to finalize the divorce and have also just started up a foundation to help transition kids who spent large parts of their childhood in hospitals back into normal life.  (Sort of a post-hospital halfway house.) So, Trish has returned to the ranch to help launch the foundation and has brought the secret baby (that was not a secret to the cover artist).  Yes, while she was gone her dear friend lost her husband, discovered she was pregnant, had the baby, and then died of an illness leaving the kid to Trish.  So, Trish, who had been one on the no babies for me yet side of the argument, now has a baby. 
Now, most of these two's issues could have been resolved if someone had locked them in a room and forced them to talk, but I didn't find their conflict unbelievable.  I enjoyed the story, and really my only quibble would be that the resolution comes less as a result of them coming to their senses or talking to each other and more because a number of well-meaning family members sit them down and talk to them.  I was still happy with their resolution though. 
I also want to mention that Trish is ambivalent about motherhood, and I found the depiction of this really interesting.  She loves this baby and is determined to figure out how to offer the best for her, but she struggles and not just in a showing up for a meeting with spit up on her shirt kind of way. 
This story made great use of the Arizona ranch setting too.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Who Are You Going to Call?

Imagine you are on vacation.  Oh yeah...Sorry, um yes.  So, you are on vacation and you go for a little boat ride and then the tide changes and the boat gets stuck on the rocks.  You think, well, this is the modern age, we'll just whip out our cell phone and call...wait, um what do they use for emergencies in this country.  And the tide is still doing it's thing and so, you rifle through your purse looking for something and you find a drug store receipt.  With a phone number.  So, you call them and explain that you are, hi, stuck on some rocks, and could they please call someone to help you. 
Now first, applause to the lovely couple from Italy for the quick thinking.  And, hah, those little pieces of paper come in handy. (Okay, maybe not all of them.)  And then, yay for the woman at the drug store who realized, this was not a hoax and called out emergency services and the coast guard to help them (and their little dog too) out.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Guide to Bathing Suit Cover Ups

It has come to my attention that some people appear confused about this, and as the weather makes many of us wish that laying poolside was all we had to accomplish today, I expect this to continue. 
So, I think mostly, people understand that bathing suits are generally worn at the pool or the beach.  (If you did not already know this, um, now you do.)  Sure, there are rivers and rock quarries other places where people swim, so perhaps we should say bathing suits are for swimming, but, of course, no one is going to make you swim.
Now, if your plans for the day look something like this - swim (or lounge water adjacent), eat, repeat, I think we all understand that getting into and out of bathing suits can be a challenge, so on or near a lot of places where swimming occurs, there are casual eating establishments that have a lax approach to the general expectation held my most eating establishments that their patrons be clothed.  There are also bathing suit cover ups that are generally sheer and/or lacy, but allow the impression (at least at first glance) that you are dressed. 
Some places, particularly beachfront will extend this radius to anything that is say, along the boardwalk. 
However, once you get beyond this radius, the normal rules resume.  Now people expect you to be clothed.  And certainly no one should be checking to see if you have underwear or a bathing suit on but this also means, I, person unknown to you, do not need to know whether you have underwear or bathing suit on.  Here's how I will become aware (whether I want to or not.)
-If you have a bathing suit on in place of a shirt.  No, your bathing suit does not look like outerwear.  It might look like a bra, but given that a bra is also not appropriate out and about wear, the bathing suit-ness of it all is not an improvement. 
-If you have on a bathing suit cover up.  Cover ups sometimes look from afar like other items of clothing, but as previously mentioned they are lacy and or sheer.  This means that I (and everyone else) can clearly see what is under them, again, whether I want to or not. 
Now, it may seem like it's confusing to figure out where this swimming adjacent radius ends.  My suggestion is two fold.
One.  When in doubt, wear real clothes.  Street clothes.
Two.  If you cannot see the thing in which you might swim, you are probably pas the radius, so put on the real clothes. 

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

How to Apologize

I have grown cynical about some things.  We've all seen it happen - someone famous or newsworthy says something, people react, demands for apology are made, and days later the person says something like, "I'm sorry if anything I said hurt anyone."  And here's the thing, it could be genuine, but generally you wonder if that's really code for, can we please move on and start talking about other things.
I confess I had entirely missed that there was hubbub to be had about comments made about cricket (I know, bad pop culture junkie).  But, The NPR Monkey See blog alerted me to this excellent response from Jason Alexander in which he not only apologized but explained the reasons why he thought the remark was originally a little bit funny, how he analyzed the remark after being alerted that some of his fans were offended, and how he came to realize the underlying issue that made the remark part of a larger problem.  Now yes, I am a fan of analysis (some might say over analysis) but I think what's impressive is that he has a- taken ownership for offending, and b-explained why so someone else saying hey dude, I thought it was funny can say, ah yes, I see how that might be a problem. (Or not, but all the info is there.) 

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Metro Myths

One of the persistent DC area myths is the one about how Georgetown would have had a metro except the residents didn't want the crime or the poor people (depending on the version you hear). Now first, as the lovely folks over at We Love DC have carefully documented, that is not the reason.  (Short version geography.  Long version, click the link.) 
But, it is a common assertion that public transportation leads to crime increase.  I'm not entirely sure why.  I mean surely criminals could steal cars, assuming they did not have access to them already.  So, some folks decided to study this and guess what they found.  It doesn't.  In fact property crime actually decreased in the areas near new stations, possibly as a result of the increase in foot traffic to the area. 

Monday, June 04, 2012

More Readers

People get nostalgic.  (When I was a kid you couldn't just order any old thing on the internet, you had to find it in a store near you!) And often they feel certain that things have gotten worse (more people die nowadays than say that other time period*) or harder or more terrible except for those time they are getting nostalgic about how today's kids are lazy and don't know how good they have it. 
But, as this post over at The Atlantic points out, reading has actually gone up in the last few decades, rather than the reverse.  So, while I still worry sometimes about those 53% of people who didn't read at all last year (surely they can't all be babies), this progress is impressive. 

*This is a totally untrue fact.