365:99 (union square holiday shops)


I never actually buy anything at these mazes of shops that they put up at union square and columbus circle for the holidays, but I always enjoy wandering around looking at the crafts and other pretty things.


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365:69 (still selling)


This weekend, when I wasn’t traipsing all over Roosevelt Island with the 365-ers, I was at a giant food expo for hours on end handing out samples of these cakes (it’s my dad’s company). They are soaked in liquor, which makes them very, very awesome.

and yes, my feet are killing me.

I will hopefully have snapped out of the mindset that causes me to try to feed these to everyone who comes within 3 feet of me by tomorrow.


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well, Circuit City is officially dead. I think I’d be more upset about losing one of the major computer outlets in my neighborhood if they weren’t complete jerks every time I walked into one of their stores. And lest you think those two links contradict each other, please note that, in both cases, the salespeople were not interested in actually serving me, the customer, be it by answering my questions or by leaving me alone when I specifically point out that I’m just browsing.

The only thing that actually bothers me is that they literally just opened up a store in the old tower records location near lincoln center less than one year ago. Here’s hoping the space can find another (decent) tenant soon.

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And this is why i have nothing to read on the flight home


Ok, fine. Sky Mall catalog it is.

Nothing quite like the George Bush airport in Houston. Seriously. Nothing.

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bike shopping


Last month, I mentioned that I was in love with the Dahon Glide. Unfortunately, every time I’ve been to the website, it says that it’s not yet available for purchase.

So this week I finally decided to just e-mail the company and find out what’s going on. Apparently the bike was officially “released” about a week ago, but, of course, the closest retailer that has them in stock is out in the middle of Long Island. Because that’s convenient.

I’m a little bit wary about ordering a bike, even one as cute as the Glide, without trying it out first, so I’m going to try to hit Toga bikes this weekend to see if they can special order one for me…

Now I just need to figure out how to get my old, non-folding bike (that needs a tune-up) out of my apartment and up to my parents’ garage in Massachusetts.

That’s a puzzle for another day…

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Finally, I can make another unnecessary consumer electronics purchase


Those who know me know that I am a total electronics junkie. But I am also a sort-of rational consumer, so I’ve been waiting (and waiting) for this darn high-definition DVD format war to end. And it looks like it has…

Toshiba to Give Up on HD Format, Ceding Field to Sony – New York Times

Yay. Of course, now I apparently have to wait until the end of this year, when “Blu-Ray 2.0” is released…

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paper or plastic (or cloth)?


City Room at the NY Times today brings up a recent proposal to require supermarkets in the city to recycle plastic bags.  After living in Milan for six months, I don’t really understand the resistance to reusing plastic bags that we’ve got here in the US.  Over there, you had to buy your shopping bags (at 10 eurocents a bag) if you wanted new plastic bags.  Most people either brought used bags back to the store and reused them or had canvas or other types of more durable bags.  Since I reused my bags as garbage bags (they were the perfect size for my kitchen garbage can, and it made more sense than buying additional plastic garbage bags), I would often spring for new ones, but I was one of the few. 

But, since I’ve been home, I’ve converted myself – I have switched to nylon shopping bags.  I like them, because the little carrying pouches they come in mean that they fold up tiny and I can keep them in my purse/messenger bag at all times, reducing the need to get plastic bags when I decide at the last minute to stop at the grocery store on my way home from work.   Since I still use plastic shopping bags as garbage bags in my bathroom and under my desk, I still have to get some once in a while, but I find that need is overwhelmingly taken care of during the few trips where I either forget my nylon bags even though they’re easy to carry (usually after I’ve gone shopping, I forget to put them back in my purse right away) or I buy too much stuff and I need a third shopping bag.  I also got one of those little plastic bag holders for under my sink, so that I know when I’m running out of the plastic – this had less to do with recycling, than the discovery that I was accumulating plastic bags faster than I was using them, and they were taking over all of my under-counter space. 

Other things I learned how to do in Italy?  bag my own groceries.  Of course, here the checkout lanes aren’t really designed to allow me to do this, so I have to sit and watch while my food gets bagged, and then take my stuff, move to the nearest flat surface, and rearrange everything (somehow the idea of equal weight distribution for balance (since i have to walk about six blocks home from the store) utterly escapes the checkout person’s mind –  please don’t put the milk, tomato sauce and canned goods in one bag while leaving the other one for nothing but a box of pasta).

Back to plastic bags – I think a proposal to charge people for bags would be ideal.  Something small, like 10 cents, is low enough to not be a burden, but serves as a gentle reminder to maybe get something more permanent. 

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weird shopping experience of the week.


Yesterday, I was wandering around down near Union Square, and I decided to pop in to Shoemania to see if I could get myself a new pair of crocs.  I bought a pair last year, and loved them, but pretty much wore them out.

Plus, since that purchase, the amount of colors and styles that have been made available has increased, and what I really wanted were the more "industrial" type that had an adjustable back strap.  Unfortunately, even though the shoes are essentially unisex chunks of rubber you strap to your feet, this particular style has been marketed towards men (while the pink strappy ones are over in the women’s section, go figure!).  It’s not that I have a problem shopping for or buying "men’s" shoes, it’s that, most of the time, the sizes available in this style have been way too big for my feet.

So, I get to shoemania, and discover that they’ve actually got racks of the things, some of them even approaching my size! (between 8-9).  So I hurriedly grab a pair and start trying them on, finding them both comfortable and generally the right size.  At which point, a complete stranger taps me on the shoulder (which gets my hackles up right away, because, call me crazy, I don’t like complete strangers touching me).  And when I turn around, she starts, very animatedly, lecturing me about how "those are men’s shoes" with a disgusted look on her face.


So I, being my ever so polite (read: bitchy) self, after being touched, interrupted and lectured at by a complete stranger about how I’m essentially not conforming to her gender stereotypes, first ask if she works at the store.  Answer?  no.  At which point I kind of ripped into her about:

(a) the fact that she doesn’t know what the fuck she’s talking about, as the shoes are UNISEX, and print both men’s and women’s sizes on the bottom (regardless of the fact that they’re fugly clogs worn for casual comfort, and not to, say, a fancy ball)

(b) maybe she should keep her fucking unsolicited (and wrong) opinions to herself, and

(c) even if was buying "men’s" shoes (I guess, wingtips? other than high heels, there actually aren’t too many really "gender specific" shoes), why would it be any of her goddamn business?

She ran away at that point.

Yeah.  I think the fact that she felt so strongly about this that she actually had the gall to touch me, to interrupt my shoe buying reverie, to lecture me, was what set me off. 

Anyway, I mentioned this to the checkout counter person as I was paying, and she couldn’t stop laughing – shockingly, even if I wanted to buy "men’s" shoes, they would have no problem selling them to me!  imagine that!  because they’re in the business of selling shoes (and frankly, being on the border of Greenwich Village and Chelsea, I’m pretty sure my buying a pair of crocs and a new pair of chuck taylors (also unisex!) was the least unusual sale of the week). 

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consumer alienation


For some months now, I’ve been researching buying a digital SLR camera – tomorrow I’m going to go down to B&H and get a Nikon D80 and a couple of lenses.  But I was down near Union Square today, so I decided to go into Circuit City just to see if they had what I wanted and if so, at what price. 

I make my way over to the cameras, where there are about 6 sales associates just standing around talking to one another.  I actually had to ask one of them to move so that I could actually look at the D80.  Not once, while I was testing out a camera with a price tag of over $1,000, did any of these people ask whether they could help me with anything (nevermind that B&H has the thing for over $200 less).  I must have played around with the thing for a good 10 minutes as well, while they all stood around and gossiped about their co-workers. 

Nice, right? 

So, after clearly deciding that waiting until Sunday for B&H to be open was clearly the better idea, I figure that, as long as I’m at Circuit City, I might as well pick up some print cartridges for my printer, since I didn’t have any spare ones.  I find the ones that I need and get on line.  Where there are at least 20 people in front of me.

And one person at the register.  Who is inspecting every single piece of merchandise as if she’s got to take a quiz before she scans the UPC code.  The guy behind me in line and I actually had a good, 15 minute, conversation about the inadequacy of the service there before I got to the register.

Needless to say, I made a point of refusing to show my receipt at the door when I left.  Just because I felt like making someone else’s day a little more miserable at that point.

I mean, none of these things was the worst thing to happen to me on a shopping trip (by far), but I had wandered into the store in a perfectly good mood, and by the time I left I was practically seething.

I’m not saying that I would have necessarily bought the camera there, but given the price match guarantees that they make, and the fact that I had all of the info about the camera printed out from B&H’s website in my bag, I could have easily gotten it at CC at the same price I’m going to pay tomorrow.  But instead, I’m going to make a brand new trip, to a really inconvenient part of town, to a store that isn’t open on Saturdays (and that gives me a bit of claustrophobia because it’s so overwhelming with stuff) because no one could be bothered to even say hello to the girl checking out the most expensive camera in the store.  Even though they were standing right next to her

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bad consumer treatment episode 4,545,243,324


I know that I can sometimes be a touchy and/or demanding customer, so I (may) at times bring bad treatment upon myself, but today must have been just one of those days, where I felt like I walked into the store and I must have had an invisible sign saying “kick me”.

Scene: CVS pharmacy on the corner of 86th and Amsterdam. I usually like walking up to this store, rather than patronizing any of the closer Duane Reade’s, because I generally find the Duane Reades near my apartment to be both poorly staffed and poorly stocked. Plus, I figured it would be good to take a walk on such a nice day to pick up the multitude of things I want to ship to myself before I leave on Friday.

So, among other things, items on my shopping list include more hair conditioner and saline solution for my contact lenses (I wear disposables, but if I don’t get them in on the first try, I generally need to rinse them in saline before I try again), soap, cotton balls, etc…

Shampoo aisle. There is, seriously, no conditioner of the brand that I use remaining in the store. Not just the particular type I prefer, but just rows of shampoo with empty rows sitting in between where the conditioner should be. I actually thought there was some sort of recall because it was just so…odd. But, whatever, I can try to find some more during the week.

Manage to pick up lip gloss, cotton balls, mascara, soap all without a problem.

Then I go looking for the saline solution. Aisle 12 is marked “eye care”. OK, I’ll go there.

Spend 10 minutes wandering up and down aisle 12 (which is not particularly long), wondering why I can only find granola bars and foot baths.

Go to the pharmacist at the back of the store, and ask were the saline solution is. She says “aisle 11”. I then say (and this is important), “aisle 11, really? even though aisle 12 is labeled ‘eye care’?”

So, I go to aisle 11.

Spend 10 minutes wandering up and down aisle 11, wondering why I can only find advil and band-aids. Begin to think I’m losing my mind.

Go back to the pharmacist. Point out that she sent me to an aisle that was completely wrong. She says “what did you want again?” I say “saline solution, you know, for my contact lenses?”

Her response? Oh, that’s over here at the other end of the store. I thought you wanted nasal saline solution.

OK. why the f*ck would I point out that friggin “eye care” was mislabeled if I wanted something that goes up my nose?

I then point out that maybe people wouldn’t have this problem if they labeled the aisles correctly. She says (seriously), “I just work here”. Not realizing of course, that that’s precisely my point.

So. Drama done, I get my saline solution, and go stand on line.

Finally get to the front of the line. Guy behind the counter rings up my purchases. puts them in bag behind counter out of my reach. I pay with debit card. He walks away.

Without handing me my purchases.

I’m just standing there, and look at the guy standing behind me in line, and he’s got the same expression that I’m pretty sure I’ve got on my face, which is pretty much “what the f*ck?”

As the counter guy is walking away, I kind of shout out “hey, do you mind finishing ringing me up here?”

He keeps walking away. Apparently nothing stops this guy from going on break, even when he’s literally in the middle of a transaction.

So, someone else finally comes over. Looks at the register, looks at the bag full of stuff, and says “he didn’t ring any of this up”. And proceeds to start scanning my stuff again.

At which point I have to stop her and point out that I’ve already paid! My receipt is sitting in the friggin’ register.

Do you ever get the feeling like you’re living in some sort of hidden camera universe where people are trying to figure out just how far they can push you by surrounding you with incompetence (and incompetents) before you snap?

Yeah. It was one of those days.

This was of course after I discovered that my toilet and my bathtub were both refusing to drain water. After getting woken up by the construction workers literally outside my window repairing the building facade (the shed they’ve erected makes for a very nice balcony) Which was just a lovely way to start the day. By the way, they’re clearly attempting to comply with the new building regulations, which is ultimately a good thing. Everything’s fixed now (thanks assistant super!!), but what a way to start the day.

But, some friends are coming over tonight for a little farewell thing (I was attempting to have a real party, but almost everyone I know is out of town this weekend) and dinner, so I’ve got to go make myself look less like I got run over by a city bus and more like someone who is about to start living la dolce vita.

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