Sunday, February 24, 2013

thinking outside of the alphabet

For years I've been buying spices at whole food stores where they're kept in jars or bins, and you shovel out packets yourself. Usually they're organized alphabetically. Cumin follows cinnamon, etc. Or, since this is Montreal, curcuma follows cannelle. You get the idea. It's how we've been schooled to think. E, f, g, h, i...
I was scanning for spices today and realized that whoever is now organizing the shelves--or was it always like this at La Branche d'Olivier in Verdun and I only clued in today?--the spices and herbs are organized by colour! Basil, tarragon, mint, and thyme make one family; cinnamon, cumin, allspice, ground coriander another. Within the families, lighter shades come before darker. Once I noticed, I spent a long time wandering up and down the aisle.
Here's a picture of a cat sleeping among babouches at the market in Fez--because I can't find the picture I was looking for of heaps of freshly ground, brilliant spices, which were also at the market.

Monday, February 11, 2013

can you be bought for $5?

How far can one trust consumer reviews? If I'm about to buy a piece of equipment or software, I'll glance through a few. I haven't always found them reliable. Or before we take a trip, I'll look at hotel reviews. I read them more for the between-the-lines info than the actual comments. A complaint that there's no bar in the hotel is good. I can do without the loud music that's played in the bar while I'm trying to sleep four floors up. I don't care if the hotel staff don't speak English. I'd sooner the room is clean. I don't care if the bed is too hard or too soft. If I'm worried about peas under the mattress, I can stay at home and sleep.
I've sometimes wondered if consumer reviews are written by real people--not just friends and family trying to help boost a business. Or marketing people trying to doctor the balance.
Recently R bought a gadget online. It's called an android computer. He expected it to help stream movies from the internet on TV. It does stream the movies. It doesn't stream subtitles. For us, that's a problem because we mostly watch foreign films. There a few other quirky technical problems with how this android computer does not work as advertised.
R, who was annoyed, made a comment on the company's feedback page. He received an email from them offering him $5 to delete his comment and write another.
Here's the email:
I see that you left us a bad feedback for the item you ordered from us. Sorry for the trouble. We would like to offer you a 5CAD partial refund for the issue. Would that resolve the problem? Please let me know if that is acceptable and we will refund you right away. If it is not acceptable, we can find another solution that does work for you.
We strive for positive feedback and all 5 stars DSR, even on sales where feedback was already left. Feedback can be revised if a seller and buyer both agree. If you are willing to change the feedback you left please let me know and we will also send out the feedback revision request through eBay.
We look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

acting out: cardiac arrhythmias

Maybe only medical personnel or people, like myself, who've experienced cardiac arrhythmia will appreciate this professor. His body movements mirror exactly what my heart has sometimes felt like in my chest. I'm astounded at how well coordinated and imaginative he is. Try to do just one of these movements. I can't. (But I know I've got no coordination.) The best touch is the lab coat. It wouldn't be as funny if he were in a black leotard.

And here's a wee avalanche I saw on a hike in British Columbia a few years ago. The disruption--very small in the gigantic landscape, nevertheless a disruption--also mirrors what my heart sometimes feels like.