Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snow and Other Things

It is Sunday, the day after the big snow and we are all settled in nicely. It's good that the sun is shining brightly today, making tiny glittering crystals in every direction. I am not much of a cold-weather person. Okay, I'm not at all a cold weather person, and the only thing worse than being snowed in is being snowed in with gray, gloomy, ominous, overcast skies. That pretty much describes all of the Maryland winters from my childhood - in my memory, it was gray from November through the end of March. So if the sun is shining brightly, and the snow is pretty, and melting a bit, I can get through it.

M had her first sleepover (at our house) on Friday night. The snow made it all the more fun. Take three girls under the age of seven and throw snow into the mix and you get a lot of screaming, a lot of wet boots and cold hands, and a good time had by all. Her friend left yesterday afternoon, we spent some more time outdoors traipsing through knee-high drifts, and were all quite tired last night. And today is a new day.

Everything is still closed or cancelled, including the fitness club where I work, and so I'm losing seven hours of pay, but gaining a day with my family. I wouldn't be surprised if school is two hours late tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. Which means G won't have preschool at all, and I won't be having a roaring start to my 9-week fitness challenge that's set to begin tomorrow.

That's the catch-22. In Maryland, it was gray, but you could get out pretty much right after the storm ended, so prepared are they with plows and such. In NC, it snows, and you are stuck. Indefinitely. They don't plow, because they only have maybe two for the whole city. Add to that the fact that our neighborhood sits neither in city limits nor town limits, and so does not get pre-brined, or plowed, or anything. We are left to our own devices, which means waiting for the snow to melt on its own.

Oh well. I will sit from time to time at my kitchen table, a cup of coffee in hand, and watch the flurry of brightly colored birds congregate around our feeder. It is not a bad thing to witness - bright white snow reflecting the warm sun, while brilliant red cardinals battle for space among the brown wrens (or are they finches?) and the black, white, and red woodpeckers. A little girl, or two, puffy in too-big snowsuits, running across the scene and scaring them all away. I will dream of warmer days to eventually come, and I will enjoy a moment's peace in this busy, busy world.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Drive, stop, write. Drive, stop, write. Horns honk, because I cannot write, and watch the light!


I've been noticing lately that my usual cup of Starbucks - a tall mocha - is not being fully filled with coffee by the baristas. It's happened at several of my usual Starbucks locations - Spring Forest and Falls of Neuse, and Triangle Town Center Barnes & Noble.

I've registered complaints with both Barnes & Noble and Starbucks corporate and will post back if I hear anything from them.

Could this be just another company following the popular but deceptive trend of offering less product in their packaging, without reducing the price?

Rice A Roni, Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce, Charmin Bath tissue (same number of sheets per roll, but the width of the sheets is noticeably smaller), and nearly all of the major potato chip / snack food manufactureres are guilty of this. I can understand, in this economy, trying different things to reduce costs, but deceptive marketing such as this is a dangerous game. Manufacturers risk long-standing customer loyalty, and degradation of the brand name due to customer mistrust.

I will be interested to see if I do hear back from Starbucks. For now, I won't be buying coffee from them. Depending on their response, it will be a permanent decision.

Of note - Target gets an A+ in my book for customer relations. A complaint to them about their new Up & Up brand, which is of a lesser quality at a higher price (in my opinion) net a personalized email, a $3 store coupon, and a promise to talk to their buyers regarding the issues I had.

Lowes Hardware, on the other hand, gets a solid D for customer relations. When I had a problem with a pendant light fixture bought from them that resulted in having to reinstall three lights on various occasions due to cheap quality and manufacturing that was later addressed in a new design, I got a basic shrug of the shoulders. Not only did I have to re-wire three lights due to their poor product, a hassle to say the least, they could offer me no apology, no promise of fixing the issue, and no sor of coupon or other offer to make amends.