February 22nd, 2013

Daily Activities include: Errands

After walking with M. (yay! First time this week, altho I did go by myself once -- scheduling around the kids has been Not Possible), I went to the hardware store for Yet Another Can of Paint and returned home to deliver the paint. Then back out again: to the library to pick up another book (_The Carriage Trade), Staples to use Reward Points before they expire, Trader Joe's for lettuce and orange chicken and a few other things, the bank to deposit two checks and get more cash and Roche Bros. to buy groceries.

Home again to drop everything off then back out for Thai food for lunch, returning with take out for R.

Ah, sitting down.

The Staples outing was Interesting. I don't usually go out of my way to use Rewards points, but T.'s iPad case was in bad shape and while I was able to buy a nominally identical one, the nominally identical one ... wasn't. Alas, Staples selection of original iPad compatible cases is not extensive and nothing looked like something T. might like. The second bright idea was to buy more binders or scrap booking binders or binder equivalents; alas, nothing in the store met my criteria for Do I Trust You Are Truly Archival. (And I better understand why A.'s experience with Pioneer is a bit different from mine.) Third idea was to buy pink, fine dry erase markers, but you can only get those as part of a set. This is both kids' favorite kind of dry erase marker. I'm basically screwed, because, like red popsicles, it does not appear possible to buy JUST that color.

I ultimately bought some magnetic clips (sold as locker accessories, but we'll use them on the kitchen magnet board), another spiral notebook of drawing paper (we go through those fairly quickly -- I like the Bienfang that Staples carries much better than other readily available things), garbage bags that look like the right size to line the shredder bin (this is actually kind of important, because I have a massive shredding project that I've been avoiding because I hate dealing with the fluttery bits of Paper Mess) and probably something else which I've forgotten. I had $28 in Rewards points (which is the only reason I bothered: I hate going to a store I wasn't going to go to otherwise to avoid losing amounts less than $20, and even then I feel cranky about the whole thing).

Turns out you cannot redeem Rewards points at POS with just a phone number. They want a printed out points statement altho apparently you can also use their App as it can display the SKU. I tried accessing the page through my phone (without the App), but it loaded too slow. Partway through the process (as a line was developing), the trainee cashier said, oh, hey, we have a computer. So off I went to _print out the two pages of paper_ with my Rewards points. Honestly, the only reason I had so many was because when I was Xmas shopping, they had some sort of deal on their overpriced batteries where you got all the money back in the form of points.

I hate it when promotional schemes distort my behavior.


So now I'm sitting here updating my phone and downloading the Staples app, because, well, now I'm curious. I feel so weird about having been surprised by the phone book thing that anything involving paper Gets My Attention. Also, Office Depot/Office Max merger.

Observations about the Staples App: (1) Really? There's a Staples login AND a Staples Reward Center login and _they are not the same_?!? (2) I just redeemed all of those Rewards points which are still showing. Hmmm. (And I checked: I really did redeem those; there must be a delayed sync between POS and the rest of their customer facing systems, which suggests an opportunity for abuse.)

Sometimes, when I'm thinking about the general ridiculousness of something, I stop myself and I go, well, is anyone doing a _better_ job? I'm stunned at how rarely I can answer that question in the affirmative.

Complaining about Rosetta Stone

I know Rosetta Stone has its haters: how the photos are repetitive and how they don't accurately represent the culture and so forth. However, this is the first time I've felt motivated to really whine. The "shopping" section includes words and sentences for paying for things, and even tho this is the most current edition, the payment methods include "contant geld" (really? why not just say "cash"?), "cheque", "creditcard" -- and so far at least, that is the extent of it.

Which _even in 2004_, the last time I was there, was by no means the right mix of payment types, even in Amsterdam, never mind any time you left the city. 10 years later, payment types have evolved somewhat, but not in a direction that makes this list _more_ representative.

Here's what Dutch wikipedia has to say about checks:

"In Nederland en België zijn cheques niet of nauwelijks meer in gebruik. In andere landen, zoals de Verenigde Staten, worden cheques nog wel veel gebruikt."

Roughly, "We don't use them any more, but they still do in the USA." This isn't a recent development, either.

Where's "chipknip"? Or at least "debetkaart"? Or the probably too general "betaalkaart"?

And not to be too blunt, but how can you present payment words in Dutch and include "creditcard" but NOT include "giro"?


Rosetta Stone still has its merits, but geez. This is really, really basic stuff. Getting it wrong is ... wrong.

I'm not even going to take it back if they add reasonable payment terms later, because this is the wrong order to present it in.

ETA: I feel like whoever put this together _knew_ it was messed up, because a little bit further on there is a dialogue where a woman goes to buy some plates and wants light ones for a picnic. She buys 10 paper plates (loose! Where the hell is this place that sells metal, wooden and paper plates?), and when asked if she is paying cash says, nope, credit card. !!!

This is some other planet.

ETAYA: Okay, as bad as that was? I have found something way, way, way worse.

A: Want some cake?
B: Yes, tasty! (Hey, lekker is a thing. That's fine.)
A: [Puts plate with cake down on the table in front of B.]
B: Thank you!
A: A.U.B.


Backwards! Backwards! What kind of a barbarian are you!!!!

It's supposed to be A.U.B. WHEN you offer. WHEN!!! Not after.

How do you get this _wrong_? This isn't failing to have a culture note. I just don't get it. There isn't any excuse for this, except the one everyone hates on Rosetta Stone for. Which is this:

There is ONE way to do things and that is the American Way. In the US, A.'s final remark would be, "You're welcome!" But A.U.B. does _NOT_ mean you're welcome. At all! Gaaaa!

And gaaaa! again!

They repeat this in another sequence involving a woman asking an employee if the supermarket is open, then the guy comes out and loads her car (!!!!! Actually, this is so freaky I'm just not sure what to do with it. At all. Roche Bros loads groceries into my car and I am grateful, but I'm at a loss to imagine this ever happening in the Netherlands.), she says thank you, he _responds_ A.U.B. Imagine me running around in circles doing a you-are-making-me-crazy dance.

And then ANOTHER screen, just to rub it in how to use this incorrectly: two pairs of thank you/A.U.B.

And more! More more more! There's a whole thing at the bakery with the biggest cake or the blue cake or the biggest blue cake (I'd mock the blue cake only I _bought_ a blue cake with a rainbow on it for the kids today so I'm in no position to make fun of blue cakes).

Look, if you don't believe me what A.U.B. means, believe this:


There are two ways to use it. The first is emphasis when asking for something, roughly, "If you please, here is your bill." The second is The Thing You Say When You Offer Something. "Here's my payment, please." You can use it in all the instances that Rosetta Stone uses it -- but you don't say it _after_ the person says thank you -- it does not mean "You're welcome" or "De rien" or whatever. It's closer to, "Here you go" (which Dutch people who cannot force themselves to stop saying something when they offer will sometimes resort to, but they'll also use other things as well).

This is really important. If you do this part wrong, and you speak convincing enough Dutch and you look Dutch, people will _lecture_ you on your manners. It is embarrassing. I know this the hard way, and attempting to evade the lecture on the basis of, hey, I'm American, just converts the lecture to, if you know enough Dutch to speak it at all, you should be getting this right.

I did. After the second lecture. I cannot believe Rosetta Stone screwed this up. Transactional Etiquette Matters.

Altho I really should just give up. I heard an old guy on Bloomberg arguing in favor of being long the Polish currency and short I-forget, and he said, "zloty". *sigh* Really? You're making currency bets on things you cannot even pronounce correctly? This is right up there with that bit in _The Big Short_ where the Very Smart Guys anticipated a coup in Thailand (not actually that hard to do) and attempted to make money off of it by shorting the baht (had to check the spelling on that; I usually flip the h and the a). Stupid. Thai coups never impact the baht negatively; usually they happen because whoever was in charge is perceived as being about to do something that might impact the baht negatively and the coup is an effort to prevent that. They are also not all that disruptive to the rest of life in Thailand, at least as near as I can tell, never having been there (I'm sure it's awful for some people).