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July 2003
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September 2003

Red Savina

At SXSW, I had the extreme pleasure of eating Nuclear Tacos. I don't use the word "pleasure" lightly -- these tacos are made with Red Savina Habanero chiles. They're genetically engineered for extreme heat -- over 570K Scoville units (65 times hotter than jalepeno) -- which causes a "runner's high" during consumption.

I'm constantly forgetting the name of these peppers, so I'm stashing this post here as a reminder to myself, and perhaps to turn on other chile lovers. Try 'em, you won't regret it.

How to Improve Sunday Comics

It really is a shame how far the Sunday Comics have fallen, not in the quality of the strips, but in the inattention from the publishers. Every other section of a typical paper has been refreshed and re-thought over the past few years. Yet, the comics section has just shrunk, used poorer quality paper and ink, and has dropped many strips to make room for advertising. The article linked here touches on the reasons this is a bad idea.. [Thanks, Comics Worth Reading]

Chuq distills two RSS articles

I'm a firm believer in the concept that "change equals opportunity." Change is scary, and many people deal with it by denial, attack, or disregard. These are all failing strategies. You have to move past these quickly and figure out how to exploit the change to your best advantage. Often this means embracing it, and then pushing it forward.

All this philosophical introspection is stirred up by Chuq, who distills two viewpoints on RSS down to brass tacks. It's both a challenge and disruption, depending on your point of view, but what are you going to do to exploit it?

Appreciating EyeTV

One of the under-appreciated features of EyeTV on Mac OS X is that you can minimize the TV to the Dock. Sure, it's tiny, but it turns out to be a great way to have the television on for background noise/entertainment without it being too distracting. Of course, that's after you're through being fascinated by the novelty of it.


Paul Fredrick

I saw an advert in The Atlantic Monthly offering a good deal on Oxford shirts, for first-time customers, at Paul Fredrick. I took the bait, becoming a first-and-last-time customer in one fell swoop.

The story is short, but a good example of why it's better to shop locally. The shirts I received were well enough made, but the fabric quality was mediocre at best. Worse, and the ultimate deal breaker, one was badly stained! I can't quite figure out what's going on with it -- but I think it is returned merchandise that has been re-pressed and packaged. The stain is clearly visible without removing the shirt from its bag, so who knows what other problems it might have, or what problems the three other shirts have lurking beneath their folds. Apparently Paul Frederick has the time to fold, package, and fulfill an order but is unable to see a blatant problem with their merchandise.

So all of them are going back for a refund. With a new customer, you have exactly one chance to get it right, and Paul Fredrick fumbled badly. Not only am I disappointed, but I'm also out nearly $20 for the combined two-way shipping costs. All it get for my two sawbucks is a bad taste in my mouth and the hassle of doing a return.

But I feel a teensy bit better having told you about it. Thanks for reading.

The Ice Man Cometh

Today's Wall Street Journal (Aug 19,2003 pg D1) has an interesting article about an American iceman in Germany. (The article is not available for free online, unfortunately.) The concept of putting ice in drinks to cool them is foreign to foreigners Eurpoeans, so the business has had a bit of a tough time. But the recent heat wave have helped him expand his market.

The ethnographer in me loved the following points:

  • An icecube-making machine had to be imported from the US because they don't make 'em in Europe.
  • Retailers thought all the ice would melt before consumers got it home.
  • The bags had to labeled to say that the ice was editable (made from potable water).
  • The bags had to be labeled to explain that it's normal for the cubes to stick together.

    To Americans, these last points are basic cultural knowledge. A nice example of how behavior and society mesh to disguise learned social norms as "common sense."

    That, and I also enjoyed the article because I can't fathom drinking soda without ice cubes. Barbarians, I say, barbarians!