Tuesday, January 25, 2005

In Memoriam - The Amazon Gold Box

On the occasion of the apparent passing of the Amazon "Gold Box" (which longer seems to appear in "The Page that You Made" when I go to Amazon.com), today I'm posting a little piece written awhile back, commenting on the wonders of the now-defunct feature.


Amazon has instituted a new feature called the Gold Box. The purported justification of the Gold Box is to bring you, and only you, deals too good to be believed on top quality products that are useful to many – hot wax foot baths, hose storage systems, doormats emblazoned with warm and thoughtful messages (“Welcome to Our Home, Friend”), and the like.

I periodically visit my Gold Box to view these and other titillating items and have, over the last six months, managed to procure, at a price too low to mention in writing, a piece of “name brand” cookware that, as far as I can tell, is specially designed for cooking things that are (a) no larger than a standard hockey puck and (b) not likely to leave any kind of residue on the pan that you might want to remove later -- 60% of that egg you just tried to fry is remaining on the pan indefinitely.

In addition to my piece of Sticks-a-Lot cookware, I have been lucky enough to find bargains on MANY other compelling products, such as:

- a digital camera for my daughter. The unique quality of this gem is that it makes whoever you are photographing strikingly resemble an old English portrait of an unknown and long-dead relative, with freakishly large features and the dark and sooty quality gained by hanging over a pub fireplace for two centuries; and

- a set of grill tools which included a fork that, under the immense pressure required to roll over a hot dog, snapped in half, resulting in the lattice of burn scars on my right hand;

- a nose hair trimmer -- click the link to hear more on this one...all I can say is ouch.

Given these retail misfortunes, I had come to suspect that the Gold Box was a repository for things too horrible and ridiculous to be purchased by any thinking creature. This suspicion was today confrmed when I saw, there in my own Gold Box, a product ridiculously labeled “Taylor Easy-Read Pocket Thermometer”. At first blush, a useful and attractive product. I myself have often sat and wondered the PRECISE temperature in my pockets. So many mysteries to be unlocked! At what temperature does a gummy bear become viscous? How hot does it need to get in there before my own perspiration causes the money in my wallet to get soggy and stink? Am I a fire hazard? Could the lint in my pockets spontaneously combust?! Then my discerning eye caught the following marketing-speak:

1/3-inch LCD face instantly displays temperatures from minus 58 degrees to 302 degrees F

What do they think I am, STUPID? If the temperature in my pocket EVER gets as low as minus 58, my genitals will freeze and I don’t care what the precise temperature is, for gods sake get me in front of the fireplace! On the other hand, if it’s ever 302 degrees Fahrenheit in my pocket, well, a thermometer’s pretty useless because (a) I’m certainly going to be too agitated to check the temp myself and (b) no one else is going to tolerate the smell of burning hair long enough to check the temp for me!

Preposterous. I’m writing a strongly worded letter.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Your recent Smith and Hawken Order

From: Publius
To: customerservice@smithandhawken.com
Sent: Saturday, October 9, 2004 2:03 PM
RE: Inquiry about Amazon.com merchant order

This order never arrived. Neither did my other order of the same item - 058-3241405-8125902. Please cancel order number 058-3241404-8125902.
Please deliver order 058-9002304-6330700, but please do not charge me
for the expedited shipping. I would frankly hope that where an order is this grievously late, there would be no charge at all for shipping.
Both of these orders were placed through Amazon.com.



-----Original Message-----
From: smithandhawkencustomerservice@innotrac.com [mailto:smithandhawkencustomerservice@innotrac.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 12, 2004 12:11 PM
To: Publius
Subject: RE:Inquiry about Amazon.com merchant order #058-9002304-6330700 [#383590]

Dear Mr. Publius,

We apologize for the inconvenience of you not receiving your order. We currently show that the Watering Can is on a shipping delay, and expected into the warehouse November 3, 2004. Per your request we have cancelled your Order Number 058-3241405-8125902.

Smith and Hawken
Customer Service

--- End of Message --

For the love of god...into the WAREHOUSE on November 3rd!!!

Now doesn't it seem to you that when you order a product like this, you pay 26 bucks for EXPEDITED SHIPPING, and are promised delivery in three business days, that a quality vendor would consider it germane to mention, oh by the way, that the ACTUAL delivery date will be roughly a MONTH later? I put this in the category of material omissions punishable by fingernail pulling. Put it in small print if you must, mark it with an asterisk and footnote it to be sneaky, but for the love of Christ, TELL ME.

Omissions I view in a similar light [with required footnote] include:

- "New car for only $29,999" - [Asterisk: seats and wheels are an extra $10,000]

- New Drug: "Fast relief from mild constipation" - [Asterisk: 7 out of 10 patients develop incurable oozing genital sores within 3 minutes of ingesting this drug]

- Dating: "She's good looking, and lots of fun...what have you got to lose?!" - [Asterisk: She reads actuarial tables in her spare time]

- Home buying: "I think you and your wife will be very happy here" -- [Asterisk: That assumes, of course, that you can get over the terminal heebie jeebies likely to be triggered by the knowledge that it's built over a mass grave filled with dead midget lepers who once traveled en masse in a caravan of hearses doing carnival tricks by day and prostituting themselves by night in bartered exchange for domestic pets which they then skinned alive, roasted and ate, until they were ritualistically slaughtered by a satanic band of Croatian nomads who despised little people because they thought they smelled like cabbage."


Yahoo! News - 2 Many Txt Msgs Bad 4 Yr Health, Italian Docs Say

Yahoo! News - 2 Many Txt Msgs Bad 4 Yr Health, Italian Docs Say

"According to a recent study conducted for children's rights group Telefono Azzurro, some 37 percent of Italian children are "cell phone addicts." Irritability and mood swings were other symptoms linked to very frequent cell phone use among the young."

Surely this is a sign that we are nearing the end of the world. Children "addicted" to cell phones!?

Alas, it is happening under my own roof. A couple of weeks ago, my 8 year old daughter asked me if I wanted to play cards. "Sure", I said and sat down on the floor in her bedroom.

"Not here." She protested. "In my conference room!"

"Excuse me?"

Whereupon she opened the door to her closet, revealing a tiny table and two chairs!

If I have caused this, I hate myself with the intensity of a thousand white hot suns!