Saturday, July 21, 2012

A tale of excellent customer service

I recently had a series of excellent customer service experiences with Swatch.

I bought a watch -- very brightly colored -- and after wearing it a little, decided that I needed that bright color to be green. The friendly Swatch employees -- so friendly that this must be a prerequisite in the hiring process -- helped me pick a much greener watch. Still brightly colored.

Yet, alas! For reasons unknown (but excess verdure suspected), this excellent watch stopped running. I took it back (to my 3rd store), and they tested the battery (fine), so they simply replaced the watch. This entire interaction took about 5 minutes.

So I'm on my third watch in as many weeks, but I like it. All my interactions at Swatch stores and kiosks across the continent were very easy and positive. Look at me digitally/virally promoting a brand I like social-mediated-ly. Thanks, Swatch!

This post's theme word is sidereal, "relating to the stars," or "measured with reference to the apparent motion of the stars." This timepiece marks sidereal time.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Autodidactic somnolent piano

My dream last night had a plot, extras, fantastic BBC-style baroque costuming and between-scenes costume changes, a soundtrack, comic relief, and a 9-meter flood which had the modern characters wrapping their electronics in floating plastic bubbles. Most of the characters were not modern, so they were worried only about the dogs and how this would affect the estate's tenant-farmers, as well as the sons' marriage prospects.

Plus I discovered that I can't teach myself to play the piano in a dream. No matter how many times I started, my brain didn't have enough details to teach me how to place my fingers properly. My brain did have enough detail to make me hear my fudged notes realistically.

This post's theme word is kludge, "a solution that, while inelegant, inefficient, clumsy, or patched together, succeeds in solving a specific problem or performing a particular task." My somnolent mind formed a hilarious kludge of an Austin novel.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Delighted to dispense data

I was a participant in a curious experiment this morning, on the way to the office. I passed person A behaving... curiously... on the sidewalk. A little too strange, and so I gave him a wide berth as I walked by. Several meters away, person B sat on the lawn, apparently working on a laptop. Person B made pointed eye contact as I passed A, and stood up to intercept me as I attempted to pass B.

B asked me if I'd be willing to participate in a survey for a research project. I said yes. Then he proceeded to ask me increasingly specific questions, from a form, about my stance on (1) my interaction with A, and (2) very particular Canadian political issues. I grew more and more amused as the interview continued, which meant that I interrupted his (frankly uninteresting) questions with counter-questions about the design of his study, the use of person A, and what he should be asking me in order to get the information he apparently sought.

At the end of the questionnaire, he revealed the purpose of the study (finding a correlation between interactions with A-ish confederates and certain political views). I soundly ribbed him about this, but he was deadly serious. A business school student participating in some business school research.

I was probably not the easiest study participant he interviewed. But I was delighted with the guerrilla-style social experiment.

This post's theme word is anasyrma, "the gesture of lifting up a skirt or kilt in order to provoke an effect on the onlookers (but not for the lifter's own sexual arousal)." That confederate's anasyrma was very poorly acted, not convincing at all.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Great Retroactive Blogging Project of 2012

I awoke this morning to formication, from a dream where I was repeatedly, and unwillingly, taken on expensive helicopter tourist-rides over a city. Then asked to pay, in euros. We were searching for -- or perhaps escaping from? -- a baby with the limp body of a plucked chicken. Interpret that as you will.

As I walked to the gym I listened to this Drabblecast story about a man haunted by his own abandoned kidney. The story's creepiness blended with my half-remembered dream and a mental image of the plucked-chicken-baby, so that my morning was full of vague unease, itchiness, and sweat.

2012 is half-over and I've taken a few minutes to reflect on my year's resolutions:
  1. To be able to do one complete, unassisted pull-up.
  2. To reduce the fraction of drafted blog posts from 50% to 0%.

Yes, that's right, you only see about half the blog posts I begin. I've made dismal progress on both of these. I'm gaining upper-body strength, but very slowly. And numbers suggest that I am actually losing ground on the blog front, as I have started many, many more posts. (But if you look to the right, you'll see that only a few of them have fully gestated.)

Yet I feel little guilt over these goals. I've accomplished a lot, and had several interesting thoughts, this year. Many of which you'll read about, if I ever finish the Great Retroactive Blogging Project of 2012.

For now, I'll just say that I'm having a great summer and thinking of all of you* and a much better pen-and-paper correspondent than blogger.

This post's theme word is inwit, "conscience; reason, intellect; courage." I'm also fond of mickle, "a large amount (n)," "great, large (adj)," "much (adv)," so let's feature them both! Mere spelling and mickle ingenuity separate the twit from inwit.

*Yes, every single one, even the anonymous readers following the blog for motives of their own.

Monday, July 9, 2012


I saw Brave, the latest Disney-Pixar animated movie. It was delightful. Just take a look at this trailer:

Do you see it? Can you guess what was so entrancing, fascinating, uplifting, mesmerizing, and fantastic, about Brave?

That's right!

It's the hair.

Just look at it. It's bouncing here and there; it has weight; it has volume; it has drag in the air. It's compressible, like real hair. Later in the movie, when Pixar wanted to show off more, they put the hair partially under a hood and then had it lightly rain! Rain! Bedraggled hair, slowly drying over the course of time. Incredible.

If the hair isn't enough for you, this movie also has a lot of fabric, fluttering and draping and sliding; it has excellent water; and finally, it has a bear fight between two full-sized bears, covered (as bears are) with fur!

The plot was so-so, not great. Typical Disney fare. A princess, spirited and full of heart, is put into a bad situation because of her gender. Then, with some small amount of character growth and a large amount of wandering in the woods, witches, dramatic horseback riding to showcase the soundtrack, and slapstick comedy, the princess manages to slightly amend her original situation, while still not disrupting any Disney gender norms. Plus there were some jokes at the expense of the Scottish, and some jolly bagpiping.

But the hair. It's incredible. I could not take my eyes off it. Go watch it!

This post's dual theme words are lissotrichous, "having straight or smooth hair," and scotophobia, "fear of the dark," OR "fear or hatred of the Scottish people or culture." Disney's latest animated offering discourages both the lissotrichous and scotophobic.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Ridiculously picturesque

A view from the top of a cathedral:
 A view from the train:
Scenic Porto vistas. The weather was irenic, idyllic.

This post's theme word is irenic, "promoting peace or conciliation." None of the Orkney weather words apply.