Saturday, January 28, 2006

Chestnut Cream

A friend from France, when we talked shortly after Thanksgiving, remarked at how good turkey was with chestnut cream. As everybody knows, turkey is supposed to be eaten with cranberry sauce. Indeed, I had never heard of chestnut cream.

Since he visited me recently, it came up again. There's a chestnut cream cake that he thought he might make. At my usual supermarket, each of four employees I asked looked at me like I was from outer space and directed me to talk to someone else or look at some other shelf, just in case. A supermarket, these days, has a lot of bottles and cans and jars, and I looked at most of them before concluding it just wasn't there.

I checked another market, with a slightly more specialized bent. I asked the guy stocking shelves whether they had chestnut cream. After a puzzled look, he led me right to it. They have chestnut cream, imported from France, and they want $7.50 for a four-ounce can. Exactly how badly did we need chestnut cream, anyway?

My friend, who agreed that that price was rather high, brought some chestnut cream with him when he came. We didn't make a cake, but I tasted it, and it's sweetened to the point where it tastes very similar to honey. In fact, I tried it on peanut butter, and it's pretty good. I doubt that's a conventional use for it, since peanut butter is a rarity in France and chestnut cream is apparently a rarity outside France. I also had it this morning on toast over yogurt cheese. I'm still not certain how chestnut cream ought to be used, but I do like it, and I'm putting it anyplace I would ordinarily spread honey.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Leaving the mind reeling

I found this passage in a heater data sheet, while at work today. I removed some brand-specific information, to protect the guilty, but preserved the essence of the prose, including the dizzying repetition, bewildering lack of punctuation, and shifty sentences that try to string together too many ideas at a time. In the third sentence, the redundant "through" suggests that the proofreader didn't even manage to stay awake from one end to the other.

[Our new] circulation heater is an ideal heating solution for demanding applications. The heater consists of a helical coiled tube cast into an aluminum body with tubular elements. The aluminum body serves as the heat transfer media between the tubular element and the coiled tube through which the fluid being heated passes through.

The unique construction of the heater allows it to be used where thermally sensitive materials are being heated such as paints, resins and flammable materials such as fuels and solvents. The aluminum mass acts as a "thermal flywheel" and ensures accurate temperature control of the fluid to prevent degradation. The heater is available with optional explosion proof enclosure for use in flammable environments.

The heater comes with a heavy wall seamless stainless steel passageway that assures performance in high-pressure applications where viscous or mildly corrosive materials need to be heated.

Sales literature may be the first thing your customers see. If your marketing materials or customer information sheets read like this, please seek professional help.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Rod's Shoes

Rod's Shoes is a delightful little shoe store in downtown Ukiah, California. It is about a three hour drive from my house, but it is where I purchase the majority of my shoes these days. We visit Ukiah a couple of times each year to see friends, so it's not really out of my way. I don't enjoy shopping very much, but Rod's Shoes is certainly an exception.

Rod's Shoes sells comfortable shoes, both athletic and casual dress. I appreciate that a great deal because I have wider, flatter feet than other people who wear my size, or at least the shoe manufacturers seem to think so. Yet, I can almost always walk out of Rod's Shoes with something that will last a long time and keep me comfortable for many miles.

If you walk into Rod's Shoes, you are very likely to meet Rod, although he has a couple of assistants, too. I like knowing that my money will go to him. Rod has sold shoes for thirty years, probably, and it shows. He performs the motion of untying a shoe, placing it on a customer's foot and lacing it almost as an art form, and he seems still to relish the action each time.

Rod knows me, by face, if not by name. He knows I come from out of town and buy the last pair of discontinued size six shoes, and he's always glad to see them go. Rod likes to chat, too, just enough to be pleasant without being boring. He sells shoes because he loves selling shoes and talking to customers, and that's the reason he has stuck it out there so long, even through some lean times.

If you see Rod, tell him the one from out of town, with the small feet said hello.