December 24th, 2009

nemesis inferno

About parcels and postage.

I am grumpy about the fact I ordered some t-shirts from the US at the end of November to be Christmas presents, and I still don't have them. They were posted on 11th December, with an estimated arrival date according to the US Postal Service of 17th-22nd December. I'm absolutely certain the problem isn't with the USPS at all, or even with the "extreme weather" - rather they are sitting in Mount Pleasant Sorting Office waiting for someone to decide how much VAT and import duty I need to pay on them. I know this is the most likely source of delay because Mount Pleasant stamp parcels when they arrive there, and I frequently observe a lag of 4-5 working days before the parcel turns up on my doorstep! This means Richard, Tim and Peter are all minus one of their presents, and we won't have another postal delivery until Tuesday. Bah.

In contrast, I ordered a monster for my mum to be sent via CityLink. I ticked the "PM service", and was mildly surprised to be woken by the parcel at 11.30am. Checking my email, it turns out it was supposed to have been delivered the previous afternoon, and I had a highly apologetic email explaining the delay. That would have been a turnaround time of less than 24 hours. I know you can't really compare international and domestic mail, but Richard often orders stuff internationally to be sent by courier, and typically the packages arrive within 3 days. A lot of the courier companies manage email or a phone call first, so you can pay the Customs fees by credit card before the parcel's delivered, or have the right amount of cash ready.

Note to self: Unless the price difference is astronomical, or you're not in a hurry AT ALL, always tick the courier option when ordering from abroad. At least then you get a tracking number and can find out WHERE ON EARTH IT IS.

Brussels sprouts - food, or foul?

Something cool I discovered today: Waitrose have walking stick holders on their shopping trolleys! How awesome is that? I'm used to having to balance my stick over the handle and hoping it doesn't fall off as I go round the shop (because I really don't want the end that touches the ground lying in the trolley alongside my food). I expect they also work for umbrellas - some shapes of umbrella, anyway.

Richard and I had an "argument" last night about the number of Brussels sprouts that a person would consume at Christmas, given all the other vegetables we are preparing. I thought that 4-6 would be the right sort of number, my mum thought it would be more like 6-8. Richard won by pointing out that the number that a "normal" person would consume is zero.

Poll #1503127 The Great Brussels Sprouts Quiz of 2009!

Do you like Brussels sprouts?

No - they are little green balls of Satan!
I don't like them, but I respect other people's right to call them food.
I am totally ambivalent. If you put sprouts in front of me I will eat them, if you don't I won't mind.
I like sprouts, but they don't like me! (They give me digestive woes).
Sprouts are lovely! What's all the fuss about?

If I was feeling more brain-full I could extend the questions to ask about other cabbagey things (I personally love white cabbage in raw or cooked form, and red cabbage raw, but don't care for cooked red cabbage or any kind of green cabbage), but that would take Effort which I should probably be spending on tidying up the house before our visitors tomorrow. We have decided not to make it TIDY (because that is impossible with the time available), but there needs to be enough chair and table space for everyone, and currently all conceivable surfaces are covered with books, tv and video game controllers, plushie toys, cameras, bits of circuit board, screwdrivers...