This is the last time I ever buy from Teleflora. Ever.
I decided to order flowers for Mom for Mother's Day from them because they offered a specific combination of flowers that I wanted to send Mom. But unlike most people who order from floral services, I was at Mom's home when the arragement arrived.
(1) They screwed up the order. It did not contain premium flowers for which I'd paid a premium price. Cymbidium orchids do not look like Gerber daisies.
(2) I called Teleflora. Their way of repairing the screw-up would have been to send someone to take the first arrangement away that day...and then bring a *new* arrangement two days later. Um, no. Offer number 2 was to give me 30% off of a *future* order. Um, no. Eventually, we negotiated 20% off of the current order, to be applied within 3-5 business days.
(3) Today is past 3-5 business days, and no discount was applied to my credit card. Telephone Teleflora a second time to get this fixed.
(4) I was on hold for ~14 minutes total (~8 after they answered; I'd been warned there was a delay, so I only count that 8 or so) while they "investigated" this issue today. And they have the most hideous waiting system and music in the known universe...probably to convince callers to hang up.
(5) Now, I have been told that the first person did not "completely process this refund," that it will be taken care of *this* time, and that I will receive the refund within 3-5 business days.
Do I believe them this time? I do not. Do I believe that they assume people will not double-check? I do.
The woman from the call center whose English was *not* good sent me email that read
"This is to confirm a credit of $xx.xx has been applied to this
order. You will either see this as a credit on your next billing
statement or be billed the lesser amount."
No, dearie. I was told "within 3-5 business days" a second time, not in my "next billing statement." And if I do not receive this credit within 3-5 business days this time, I will have my credit card company flag this for non-payment. Because I am peeved that you did not deliver orchids to my mother - a flower that should have been in that bouquet and was the sole purpose for my purchasing *that* bouquet.
And Teleflora? Never again. You are not a professional organization. I don't do business with non-professionals.
Just in case you wondered? Most of the narratives about women are wrong. And that is an exceptional argument by Kameron Hurley: the argument's insight is not so unusual, but the framing is wonderful.
In the non-tomato months, we buy hot-house specials...often cherry or grape tomatoes, or the very flavorful campari cocktail tomatoes. We had too many small campari tomatoes (that's a Wikipedia pic...these are about the size of golf balls), and they'd started to become wizened...what to do? You can toss them in sauce (since it doesn't matter for sauce if the flesh is at all firm), but we've got enough frozen sauce that we didn't need to make more, and I didn't want to waste the veggies.
The answer? Take the slightly wizened tomatoes, halve them, put them on a baking sheet, spray lightly with olive oil, lightly salt with sea salt, and bake them at 200°F for about 2.5 hours. Voila! You get great not-really-sundried tomatoes that go really well in lots of things. Put in some sort of container and refrigerate until needed.
( Here they are, fresh out of the oven:Collapse )
Once they've been dried, these tomatoes have an amazingly intense flavor. Added to some garlic, olive oil, fresh spinach, and a bit of lemon juice and zest, they'll make a great dressing for cheese raviolis that are in the freezer. Serve them with chicken that's been in a lemon-oregano marinade. Mmmmmm.
Next, dinner tonight. I wanted Windy City tube-steaks (aka, Chicago-style hot dogs) for dinner. The dogs are substantial enough (with the base at .25 lb., plus many veggies and a roll) that one needs only a single side dish. We opted for potato salad, but we absolutely cannot trust deli potato salad not to be sweet. So we need to make potato salad...but not too much. One bag containing 8 small red potatoes for "steaming" turned out to be ideal.
( In this small pot, the 5 potatoes look pretty big, but they are each only about 1/3 the size of a russet.Collapse )
The other potatoes from the bag will be used later in the week with haricot verts and the usual to make...( ...this sort of lovely nicoise salad...Collapse )
If you're in the neighborhood and want us to cook for you, of course, we'll make larger portions. :-)
Fascinating quote from the NBC News story about the historic vote by Minnesota's two houses of legislature to make legal same-sex marriage in that state:
Republican Senator Warren Limmer, a sponsor of the proposed amendment [to ban same-sex marriage completely in Minnesota] two years ago, has said the legislation will change how businesses work, clergy speak from the pulpit and school curriculums are shaped.
Yes, let it do all of those things. I can tell you: (1) we had no increased incidence of death by lightning strikes here in Massachusetts in 2004; (2) our businesses still work; our clergy still exhort from the pulpit; our school students still learn quite well; and (3) we're glad Minnesota will join us, but sorry to lose more of the gay wedding registry business.
Oh, yeah...and about that bit where people say same-sex marriage "destroys traditional marriage" and yadda yadda? I note with no small degree of pride that Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the U.S.
So...Minnesota's state senate has this evening approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in that state, and Minnesota's governor, Mark Dayton, has promised to sign the bill into reality.
That would make 12 states since 2004. Currently, 11 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and 3 native American tribes recognize the right for same-sex couples to marry.
On the one hand, I would prefer that the U.S. as a whole recognized and protected the rights of same-sex couples. On the other hand, this is amazing progress in a scant 9 years.
This single issue is enough to tell me where human rights are more important than bigoted interpretations of "holy" books. And it reaffirms my decision to retire right here, in the north east. (Of course, I want to retire to Vermont...which was, ironically and appropriately enough, the first state to approve same-sex marriage through the full legislative process.)
In classes about journalism, we talk about what's legal (that's my specialty) for the journalist and what's ethical - and often, these are two different things. About two months ago in my Media Law classes, I discussed a law variously called "The Buckley Amendment" and "FERPA." This law prevents educators and people at educational institutions from talking about certain kinds of things involving their students: academic record, quality of work, anything involving the student's use of our counseling center, student disciplinary matters, and so on. Journalists need to know about The Buckley Amendment so they can understand what educational institutions can and cannot discuss.
When it comes to The Buckley Amendment, we get the clear clash between my current and former professions: as a journalism, I'd want to dig; as a university professor, I want to protect my students and their privacy, particularly in situations which are awkward or uncomfortable for them. At the very least, we don't want to add harm to already volatile situations, especially if there is nothing we can provide to the press which will help understanding.
But the public has a right to know! argue some members of the press. Bull puckey! I reply. The public's "right to know" is a political one; there is no public right to know private information about private persons, even if they *want* to know.
When it began
These conflicting ethics and needs clashed hard for me personally 11 days ago, when I got head's up from my boss 8 minutes before an email came in from CNN. The department had a former student involved in the Marathon Bombing story. From what we know right now, that former student was not connected to the bombing itself, but only to the bombers. (If you know where I work - fairly easy to discover - you can find out who this is and so on.) But everybody wanted to know more about this person, and so they started trying us.
CNN emailed everyone in the department, just in case one or two of us might be willing to be interviewed by Anderson Cooper. That wasn't the first press contact. One of my colleagues with an even more unusual name than mine got a phone call from a newspaper in the UK. Then CNN hit...and the flood gates were opened. For some of us, this included telephone calls at home (because we have unusual names and land lines listed with those names); for all of us, it meant email. And, of course, our office phone numbers were listed on our web page..
On Monday last week, we started comparing notes: who got tagged by whom? Reuters, ABC News, The Boston Globe (which, as the local, knew several of our faculty), the Providence Journal (ditto), the Wall Street Journal (which had two different reporters working on us), the L.A. Times (whose reporter was haunting our hallways in person, having been in town to cover the full story), the New York Times, New York Post, AP, and so on.
Don't play persuasion games with someone who teaches persuasion
Yesterday, a reporter from the New York Times started hitting us all again because a piece of the story heated up. It had to be frustrating that none of us would talk to him. But he made the same mistake that the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post had done: he tried the professional journalism guilt card on me.
That card works like this: but you teach journalism! and I'm a journalist! and you're telling me to talk to the public affairs people! and that's wrong! and you should tell me stuff because we're buds! and not doing that means you don't really care about the field! and FERPA doesn't prevent you entirely! and your journalistic ethics should trump your college professor ethics! blahblahblah.
I didn't take it from the WSJ, nor from the New York Post. But when it came from the NYT, I was pissed and told him so...said that it's one thing from a Murdoch paper, but I had greater hopes for the Grey Lady. Today, the same reporter tried that (and some other fallacious arguments, including "appeal to irrelevant authority," etc.) with my boss. Who stuffed it back at him, too.
Whose ethics win?
Does a journalist have an ethical responsibility to dig for information and to unveil that information to the public? Ayup. And does a university professor have an ethical responsibility to protect their students? Ayup. I've been a university professor for 32 years. Guess which profession wins? For me, it is the one that has paid my wages and delighted my soul for more than 30 years. My students? They win.
This evening, email came in from the Washington Post, which was good to see - I was worried they had missed all of the implications. I gently steered them to public affairs, and they haven't been back (but the night is young).
In all of this, nearly a dozen news organizations have tagged just me. About 2/3 of those were by email. And only one of them has thanked me for directing them to public affairs. Only one of them has thanked me for taking time out of my day (hell, it's finals week this week!) to answer their questions. Only one of them had that level of professionalism and courtesy.
So, if I am ever in the position where I can choose one media outlet to do something nice for? It will be the Associated Press.
I just got a news alert from the "news" organization I'm boycotting this week (so haven't looked at the whole story, because that would mean going to their web site). The news alert read, in part:
A new CNN/Time/ORC International Poll indicates four in 10 Americans say they are willing to give up some civil liberties to fight terrorism, and suggests worries about terrorism have edged up after the Boston Marathon bombings.
So if this is true and 40% or so of you are willing to take a pass on having rights and liberties because a pair of fuckwitted idiots decided to blow up a race in our city, here's what we of Boston have to say: You're cowards. We do not know you. We of Boston are not frightened; we are pissed. We're not giving up our rights. We're not giving up our city. We're not giving up our essential humanity because a pair of losers decided to do an evil act.
Benjamin Franklin wrote, in 1759, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
It is temporary safety. Soon, someone would come along and cause other heinous acts to happen, and we'd just have to give up a little bit more...then a little bit more...then we'd forget the meaning of "liberty," civil or other.
Maybe 40+% of Americans believe it's a good idea to give up their liberties for some illusion of security. But the rest of us - including an amazingly large number of Bostonians? We'll spit at evil and stay free.
With these words, former Boston Celtic Jason Collins became the first openly gay American male team-sport professional athlete.
Bravo, Mr. Collins. As you say, you didn't set out to be the first, but as long as you are, it's time to get the conversation rolling.
So, a brilliant food day. First, I got a "condiment gift exchange" package from an anonymous Secret Santa in L.A. - who sent me 5 different kinds of moles (exactly one of which I'd heard of before) that had been made locally (to her) and some other things. Jackpot!
Next, we made sauerbraten...well, okay, we took an eye round, chopped it in chunks, then put it in a brine with aromatics, veggies, and so on...in 5-6 days, we'll have dinner. We're using the recipe from Luchow's Restaurant which appeared in the Mary & Vincent Price cookbook...it is also now online, so I could save it with the Paprika app on the iPad. We've made this recipe frequently, and it's great. :-)
Finally, I am currently behaving myself, rather than getting in the car and searching for the ice cream truck I hear in the distance. Ah, the problem with an open window.
(And speaking of the open window, it is a *stunning* day. I went out on the back deck and startled a rabbit eating the new grass. :-) Better me than a fox, I'd say.
But in one Pennsylvania city, if they help you too much? You get evicted from your residence...by law.