Archive for August, 2012

72 Days until the Presidential Election: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

August 26, 2012

The Apollo program was actually higher up on the list but with the news of Neil Armstrong’s death yesterday, I felt the need to re-organize the list of random things that are good about this country.  I’ve never lived in a world where a man hasn’t walked on the moon.  From the ultimate challenge issued by President Kennedy in 1961 to that July night in 1969, a group of individuals worked to have men walk on the moon and bring them home safely. I freely admit to being a fan of the space program: it encourages creativity, engineering and (for me) the ultimate experience a human could have, being able to view the earth without borders.

Thinking about the first mission to the moon and the integral team work required and the multiple ways the mission could fail to this day amazes me.  Creativity is often thought of as artistic: it is equally mathematical. I read in one of the tributes to Neil Armstrong that he, by his own admission, was a nerdy, white sock wearing pocket protector donning engineer from Ohio who simply walked on the moon.  Buzz Aldrin took communion on the surface of the moon.  His statement back to Earth after walking on the moon, “I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.”, underscore perhaps even minimize the accomplishment.  Michael Collins described the time he spent alone circling the moon as almost exhilarating.

For me, the teamwork, the creativity and sheer audacity to decide to walk on the moon in eight years is one of the greatest accomplishments this nation has achieved. The computing power used to walk on the moon is less than in the standard smart phone.  And as a nation we did it: we put a man on the moon. And another, plus a few more: the entire Apollo operation reminds me of the hummingbird who flies because it thinks it can not because it’s supposed to.  As a country, we have proven time and time again we can do great things when we put differences aside and focus on a goal.

I couldn’t see the moon last night to give it a wink thanks to a few overcast skies but I will this week.  The Apollo 11 astronauts, flight crew and everybody involved did something amazing, that even over four decades later still makes me stop and reflect on the absolute audacity of belief, brain power and courage it took to take a giant leap.

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73 days until the Presidential Election: Oreo Cookies.

August 25, 2012

Ok, I was going to start on Day 74 but that would have involved a tirade on trying to find lavender that can be used in cooking in Boston which would have become a long rant on various annoying things people do at grocery stores which is the exact OPPOSITE of what I’m trying to do.

So, expect 73 blogs (give or take) of things that are good about these 50 states, various territories, outposts and things that we have accomplished. Some will be silly, some serious and some historical. All will be written with my inherent bias of a white, lesbian native Midwesterner with a mild disability living in the Boston area.

But today, I choose to uplift the Oreo cookie. Why? It’s simply the best selling cookie in the US. It is proof that one can eat vegan and have a horrific diet. The Oreo, in its simplicity, can spar hours of debate on the proper way to eat an Oreo. I admit doing some light (read Wiki) research. Remember how people (read probably a parent or grandmother) used to try to pass off Hydrox as Oreos? Oreos were invented by Nabisco to compete with Hydrox. Who says copies can’t be an improvement.

Yes, I try to eat as much non-GMO, 100% locally grown food as possible. But let’s face it: there are days that demand Oreos. And water. Never milk. And keep in mind that there is a reason that in October, especially around the 3rd Saturday, orange colored but not flavored filling comes out in the Oreos. We all know who the Oreo gods side with during that game. You never see a crimson colored Oreo. That would, of course, be blasphemy.

It’s No, No, No, Nordstrom Anniversary!

August 4, 2012

Sigh.  Nordstrom used to represent legendary customer service.   Today, I returned, after a bit of frustration, a skirt and 2 pairs of shoes to my local Nordstrom that I had sent to me during the (in)famous Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

I’d rather have a root canal.  Ok, maybe not that extreme but close.

I stepped off the elevator and took my items to the customer service department.  I wanted to just dart in, out and continue on with my day.  Was I wrong!  As I placed my Nordstrom bag on the counter, with the receipts in hand and my Nordstrom card (trust me, for these acts alone I deserve a medal).  The customer service representative told me he could not help me with my returns.  Um, excuse me? I mean, it’s a return.  You are customer service.  He pointed to a sign that said I could go to any department and they’d be happy to assist me with my return.  Seriously? I mean, this is a Nordstrom: places of legendary (and false) tire returns.

I trudged over to St. John’s (the closest department) and while the woman was lovely, she couldn’t return the shoes.  Something about a “company policy” again and I know Nordstrom employees take flak all day so I smiled and took my items downstairs to the shoe department.

I walked up to the shoe counter with my items and was asked if I needed help.  Yes, I needed to return some items from the Anniversary Sale.  And the sales associate offered to find somebody (I sort of wondered why she asked if she wasn’t going to help but oh well).  I pulled out my two pairs of shoes and my skirt.  The new sales associate apologized but said he couldn’t help me with the skirt but would take care of the shoes.  At this point, I was wondering *where* Nordstrom and their famous customer service went.  I asked about the sign at customer service that any department could help with any return.  He explained that shoes was different due to a “company policy”.  After inspecting my shoes in a manner that would make a US Marine Corps Drill Sergeant proud, he stated he could return the shoes.  (Great, I’m thinking because I bought them less than two weeks ago, looked at them in person and said not for me.)

I went back up to St. John’s and returned the skirt.  The woman apologized again saying that different departments can only return some items.   She helped me return the skirt and was nice but really? 4 departments for 3 items? Target and Wal-Mart both don’t have you run all over the store for a simple return.

On my way out, I stopped by customer service.  I wanted to let them know their sign was wrong.  He explained the same “company policy” on returns about different departments.  .  I half jokingly asked the customer service rep if I could purchase a roll of quarters from him since that was on my to-do list.  He said he was sorry but it was against company policy.  At this point, I had to think what exactly does customer service DO all day?

On a lark, I looked a www.nordstrom.com for their returns policy:  “Simply bring the packing slip and credit card used when you placed the order to any one of our stores.”  And be prepared to run around for a bit.