June 29th, 2006

krazy koati

Go ahead and play it on through

All I was trying to do was buy a book about the shark attacks in Matawan, New Jersey, in 1916, so it serves me right I got put into a Borders/Waldenbooks discount club. Apparently they're very enthusiastic now about club memberships, to the point that when I said I didn't have a membership, the clerk had the plastic card set whipped out before she even asked me to join. It doesn't seem onerous as club memberships go: there's no annual fee, at least for now, and there's a five percent rebate at the end of the year of all my Borders purchases.

I explained that I wasn't usually in the area, so it really wouldn't be much good for me. She asked where I usually was, since they have stores all over the country, and I said, ``Singapore,'' which I immediately realized sounded like the lamest possible excuse I might dream up. My mind, ever-ready to make an awkward situation worse, made me add, ``Really,'' destroying any possibility that she would think I had ever had any clear idea of where Singapore is. But, recovering nicely, she said she didn't know if there were Borders in Singapore, and I said there was, in fact, the only Borders in Asia at the time I looked it up.

This delighted her; she thought it was really cool there was a Borders in Singapore, and she asked the other clerk if he knew there was one there. He said yeah, he knew there was one, although I didn't believe him. But they both think the card is only good on my purchases within the United States. Figures. At least now I have a couple more pieces of shiny plastic to lose.

Trivia: On 29 June 1910, a fire in Kennebec, Maine, destroyed ice-houses belonging to the American Ice Company at Iceboro, and two schooners. 40,000 tons of ice were destroyed, a loss of about US$130,000. Source: The Frozen-Water Trade, Gavin Weightman.

Currently Reading: The Design of Everyday Things, Donald A Norman. It's a book about designing things -- from doors to computers -- to make them more natural to use. It's also the second edition, provoking a philosophical entry at the start about the old title, Psychology of Everyday Things, which often got the first edition put in the Psychology section of bookstores. This provoked a slightly loopy introduction in which the author explained the concept of the book as designed thing, and containing a flaw in its design which made its intended audience unnecessary unintuitive, and how he was glad to take the chance to correct a design flaw. It's dangerous letting design engineers write revisions. (But it is a nifty book, filled with the many little ways devices are designed so that we can't use them.)