Letters

US AIRWAYS FLIGHT SAFETY and EMERGENCY EXIT ROW PROCEDURES

To Whom It Concerns at US Airways,

Please be advised that you are in receipt of a letter from the Department of Letters of Consumer and Social Concern (DLCSC).

 

I recently flew to Portugal (from the U.S.) on your airline and, in the long cruise across the Atlantic, and then across the Amber Waves of Grain–home to Portland, OR–came up with several questions and concerns, which prompted this letter from the DLCSC.

I have compassion for the airlines. After a careful observation of the cross-section of our country you are ferrying all over earth (thank you!)–just the hospitality component of this equation alone, not to mention any of the magnificent logistical, engineering, commercial and federal elements at stake in owning an airline–I can see that I would have no place dabbling in your industry.

My first concern is kind of an aside. I have always wondered at some level about the whole opening act of boarding the airplane: the whole choreographed performance of the attendants, gesturing (the international language) about exit rows, oxygen masks dropping, the puzzling philosophy of treating yourself to oxygen first, then your offspring (in the newer video/animated version of this enactment, the mother looking strangely calm while the child looks up at her, yearning for the oxygen)–and the most puzzling of all to me: showing the plane’s citizenry how to buckle the rudimentary seat belt, a seat belt which has not changed apparently since the invention of the airplane. I cannot recall any commercial flight experience, anywhere, ever, in which I was not carefully shown how to buckle my seat belt… all such measures insuring some scrim of safety and organization in the event of, say, a wing being ripped off, the plane hitting water, a door thrown open in mid-flight, or the vessel going into a flat spin because of mechanical error or a storm. I know there must be some careful design about this opening drama of sitting down on the plane, a kind of catholic ceremony, or hypnotic crescendo of authoritative gesturing, red stripes on exit rows, bright electric signs over egress ports, points of oxygen to huff anxiously in case of catastrophe (probably more for calming effect than for survival, since if such a measure were required it would likely mean thin air flooding the cabin on account of missing fuselage, which means that temperature in the cabin would be a much greater concern), floating seat cushions, and then the very puzzling seat belt thing, as though we are children strapping ourselves into the day care bus… that might just fall out of the sky.

On this trip I sat in an emergency exit row twice. It was this experience–in which the individuals sitting in the exit row(s) are directed by flight staff to the instruction literature which will make them heros if it has to be followed–that I fully realized my concerns. Watching the opening drama play out, then hearing over the PA, “…if you are seated in an emergency exit row, please review the safety information card, and speak to a flight attendant if you do not feel suited to perform the duties of…” and I thought, I am in an emergency exit row, and I might have to operate this equipment in the event of a crash landing, I should definitely take a look at this safety information card. I also thought, Hell, yes, I am the one to perform this duty! There is also the language business of being in the emergency exit row: they say that you must understand English and they need a verbal confirmation that you are prepared to undertake the required actions, etc. Most people, including myself up until this point, just say “yes” and do not look at the literature because all they really want is the extra leg room.

On this particular flight, from Philadelphia to Portland, the woman in the row in front of me (also an emergency row) said “What!?” in a thick Spanish accent in response to the attendant’s question. Her husband next to her answered, “She does.”

The attendant replied, “I need to hear it from her.”

The man nudged his wife (perhaps sensing the impending loss of leg room) and said, “Say ‘yes’!” The woman looked at him confusedly, getting the imperative from her husband in English. They spoke briefly in Spanish and then the woman blurted out, “Yes!”

The attendant continued on to the rest of us, moving on only after we answered in the affirmative, Yes I understand English, and Yes, I will perform the duties. Watching the attendant’s face, which seemed filled with an appropriate level of gravity, I realized that I had never fully grasped the seriousness of the exit row: you are the shepherd of the emergency door in the event of aeronautical disaster. So I asked her, “Where is the safety card for the emergency exit row?” She pointed to the seat pocket in front of me.

Surprisingly, the card contained a pretty unintelligible graphic explanation of what to do in an emergency (that actually required no knowledge of English). One item the little brochure heavily reviewed is how to buckle your seat belt, as though we had not gone over that already. It likewise showed the barred smoking symbol. Do not smoke during the crash either. It moved on to a graphic of the plane flying over mountains (perhaps we crash there?), there’s the head-between-the-knees-and-pray scenario, another visual of the oxygen masks dropping down and the serve yourself thing, and then two images of how to open the door next to me. I cannot understand these images, there are opposing arrows to a relief in the door’s interior plastic, but the image does not correspond to the actual door I’m looking at here. I have installed tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of complicated German hardware, but I cannot understand this picture of how to open the huge plastic door in the emergency exit row. I keep ‘reading.’ The next images seem to be about the real specifics of the emergency exit row, scenarios in which to not open the door (depicted with a thick red bar through them). There are four images:

1) Shows flames outside the emergency door (don’t open the door if the outside of the plane is on fire, makes sense).

2) Shows smoke outside, or clouds, I can’t tell (perhaps early stages of fire on the outside of the plane, also don’t go out there).

3) Shows water outside the window (even though another image shows an inflatable slide on the wing and people slipping down it into a dingy… and they’ve already mentioned, at least twice, that our seat cushions are also flotation devices). Still, according to this, don’t open the door if there’s water outside.

4) Shows palm trees outside.

I look at this carefully. I cannot understand numbers 3 and 4. I ask my neighbor and he, like everyone else (and me in the past), cannot be bothered to educate himself about emergency exit row procedures, and is already starting to fall asleep, happy with the additional leg room. I ring the call button for the attendant and ask her about the images. She looks at the card I’m holding up to her and I can tell from her expression that this is the first time she’s looked at it. She says, “Yeah, don’t open the door if the plane is on fire.”

“What about this one?” I say, pointing to number 3. She says, “That’s not going to happen.” Which is true for this particular flight, Philadelphia to Portland. But still, it’s baffling. Other people in the rows across the isle are looking at me while I ask these questions, and like the attendant now, seem uncomfortable with someone actually trying to figure out what to do if the plane crashes.

“And this one?” I say, indicating number 4.

She looks at it for a moment, then says, “I guess if it’s Hawaii, open it.”

A couple of people behind me laugh; it becomes clear that this brochure, rather than being a strategic or even practical guide to a plane emergency, is more in-keeping with the opening ritual placebo of boarding the plane, buckling your seat belt, getting high on oxygen, and sliding down an inflatable yellow slide, that wouldn’t even take place because you’re not supposed to open the door if there’s water outside, or even if you land in paradise.

I ponder the likely possibility in the event of a crash landing that the interior of the plane would devolve into painful chaos, in which the unprepared people of the exit rows would be just as involved… and it seems to me that it would make more sense for the airline to say at the outset, “If you are seated in an emergency exit row, in the case of an emergency procedure, do whatever the hell you want.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Modest Proposal, to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife,

 

Please be advised that you are in receipt of a letter from the Bureau of Letters of Consumer and Social Concern (BLCSC).

I was pleased to learn that on March 18 you tracked and killed three adolescent cougars east of the Sisters area in central Oregon. It sounded quite scary, according to locals in the area who had spotted the cougar activity, and the BLCSC does send its regrets and condolences to the family who lost a pet dog to a hungry cougar. I actually have cougar hunting in my lineage: my great great uncle, Fred Holcom, was a bounty cougar hunter and these days, when I listen to news reporting, am always tickled when I learn of a State cougar hunt, and frankly would like to hear more of it.

Because there have been a reported twenty-one deaths related to cougar and mountain lion in the U.S. and Canada (including California) in the past 121 years, it seems clear that we should respond in kind to these vicious animals. And though there have been no human deaths related to cougars in Oregon (at least on record, since 1890), it still seems reasonable to develop a full extermination strategy.

The BLCSC is not really concerned with the politics of this decision, but we more have a question for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife about cougar hunting in general. As suburbs encroach on cougars’ native territories and our pets’ lives become endangered when we leave them out overnight in the cougar habitat, do you have some good recipes for cougar? With the escalating cougar threat–and now impending greater number of dead cougars–you have surely prepared some tasty cougar meat recipes?  For, as an organization dedicated to “stewardship” of Oregon’s environment and its living creatures, you are certainly practicing holistic hunting techniques, right? (On the home page of ODFW, it states: Protecting and enhancing Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations.)  I would personally be first in line to taste one of these expert predatory animals.

Also, on that subject: if there are fatal pet strikes by cougar in these rural areas, do you have any good recipes for dog? And what about the clothing and shoes you are making from their hides?

Actually, now that I look into it a little more, I find that there are an average of twenty deaths by dog every year in the U.S. (an estimated 117 times greater chance of dying by dog than by cougar in America), what is our extermination plan for the lethal dog population? And where on your website are the dog recipes?

Not to be untoward, but on the other end of the–albeit very very rare–fatal attacks on humans by these animals, there is a dead human. As an establishment of conservation, preservation, and tradition, it seems that you would want to do the holistic thing with these poor souls who have left the scene by animal attack. Do you have any recipes for Homo Sapien?

On the subject of freak-of-nature-rare deaths, did you know that more than 700 people are killed by the savages of lightening every year in the U.S.? I know it is not in the purview of the ODFW to address lightening, but look at the facts: it is a killer (compared to cougars).  If you could think of any way to attack the lightening or retaliate, please let us know here at the Department of Letters.

 

Sincerely Yours,

 

Benjamin Shook (chairperson)

POST SCRIPT: (Left) Fred Holcom with a captured cougar (not yet dead), near Cascadia, Arizona, January 1926.

Gallery of the Midnight Sun, Yellowknife, Northwest Territory

To Whom it Concerns at the Gallery of the Midnight Sun,

Please be advised that you are in receipt of a letter from the Bureau of Letters of Consumer and Social Concern.

It recently came to the attention of the DLCSC (Department of Letters of Consumer and Social Concern) that your gallery is practicing poor bird feeding techniques.

I was recently in Yellowknife with a colleague and, as we were passing your gallery, noticed a large group of Ptarmagin crossing the road, making their way to the front steps of the Gallery of the Midnight Sun (we had also noticed someone sprinkling birdseed moments earlier, consequent with the arrival of a bus full of tourists and visitors of the gallery).  My colleague and friend immediately identified the threat the gallery-birdseed-situation posed to the beautiful Arctic birds.  For they were very unassumingly crossing the road to the established feeding place of your front steps, and zone for silly tourist photos and cooing and cawing of people looking at the cute birds.  And then something not-cute happened: a ptarmagin was struck by a large truck as it made its way across the road.  The weight of the truck split the bird right open, exposing its breast and causing a small explosion of blood in the road.  The truck did not stop and the bird was left flapping broken wings and turning incoherently in broken circles.  I noticed tourists looking on in a confused way, as though this was not necessarily part of the plan.  I walked out into the road and said a prayer for the bird you mortally injured, and then picked up the poor thing and wrung its neck to put it out of its misery.  (And now tourists were really not sure about the bird feeding plan, as blood pinwheeled out of the bird when I wrung its neck.)

We then went inside to explain the catastrophe you have crafted for the Ptarmagin to a woman at the front desk who explained that the bird seed is “actually for traction on the front steps, for visitors of the gallery.”  (She has an English accent.)  She came out with the explanation so quickly that it was immediately apparent to me (as an amateur psychologist) that she had this explanation prepared.  Of course, some people are stupid enough to receive an explanation like this as proper logic… but those who may be gifted with higher luxuries of thought would quickly conclude that there are other substances (besides birdseed) which can be used for traction over snow covered steps, such as GRAVEL.  And (I am also an amateur biologist) birds don’t eat gravel, at least not enough to merit that road crossing.

It would behoove you as a business owner, sub-Arctic patriot, and member of your community TO STOP PUTTING BIRD SEED ON YOUR FRONT STEPS BECAUSE INSTEAD OF MAKING A CUTE SPECTACLE FOR TOURISTS YOU’RE ACTUALLY KILLING BEAUTIFUL BIRDS.

As the director of the Bureau of Letters of Consumer and Social Concern I am obliged to share my discoveries with local media outlets and–if necessary–government devices.  If I do not learn from you directly that you have ceased and desisted this onerous activity of bird killing I will transmit the findings of the DLCSC to the local Yellowknife newspaper, the wildlife ranger, game warden and sheriff.  That your employee had a rehearsed explanation for the birdseed-on-the-steps situation means (using logic) that you are already aware that you are killing birds.  If you feel that this behavior is justifiable because the preliminary cuteness of the Ptarmagin on your steps brings in more business and therefore merits the collateral damage of the birds getting road killed, I strongly feel that your thought process should be brought into question and re-evaluated.

With most sincere wishes that you start using gravel,

Yours,

Benjamin Shook

$1,000,000 Challenge!

I recently watched a lecture on TED by acclaimed “magician” and skeptic, James Randi that inspired a little research and an equal measure of my own thinking about the subject of faith healers, homeopathy, and the place of critical thinking within modern culture.  I would say I am a somewhat critical thinker, and my conclusion–led by the scientific method–was a surprise.

Background: James Randi, after a very successful career in Entertainment began his Educational Foundation, which decries all public profession of faith healing, psychic ability, paranormal acumen, etc.  His intent is to foster a better educational model for those who will inherit our country, to teach people how to think critically, and to end the suffering of those who have chosen to believe in said psychics and witch doctors.  I am basically completely in favor of this scenario (although I would simply point a student in the direction of a good accredited academic establishment) UNLESS there is something about the mission which doesn’t hold true within the structure of its challenge: that is, if there is something which, in the world of science and the scientific method that proves a psychic power… or which proves that a human being BELIEVING in such, is in certain instances demonstrably better off than if he did not have access to that power… then I am not in favor.

Though my argument may need some additional research, I am fairly sure I have found a counter argument to the claim of James Randi that a psychic reader only does damage.  Here is my article.  The following is a letter I have written to James Randi… now recorded in the Bureau of Letters.  (I also suggest that the $1,000,000 get spent on the generation of the BENSHOOK foundation for innovation and architectural healing.)

Here is the letter, as sent to James Randi at his foundation, today:

I wrote an article which in certain measure meets the requirements of your $1,000,000 challenge… though I do not profess any psychic or paranormal abilities.  I might profess a mental and cognitive ability that–through basic logic–has found a somewhat gross paradox in the structure of your claims.  I am a lover of science, a classicist, have studied the history of science, and somehow still arrive at the conclusion that what you would call paranormal may very well exist within the constraints of the scientific method.  In other words, the method that a good skeptic would use.  Here’s a link to my article, about you.
I would be happy to speak publicly about this idea, as well as become a media presence for this purpose.
It seems to me that you are coming to the end of your life… and perhaps it would create quite a legacy to give the $1,000,000 prize to someone like me, who has appropriated the right argument for the coexistence of science and what we might call “psychic powers…” I would also agree to use the money for a new foundation of my own, which I have imagined for a long time, whose mission would be based in fostering innovation and mass produced architectural solutions for those in need, such as the Haitians right now.  I do hope you find the time to read my note.

Sincerely yours,

Benjamin Shook

parking

To Whom It Concerns at the City of Portland Bureau of Parking Violations,

This letter is in response to a parking violation (#) my work truck received on Saturday the 24th of March, 2010.  The truck was parked backwards, driver facing the street, in my driveway on NE Holland St.  This is my personal residence, and the driveway leads up to a large gate behind which is my backyard.  When I have tools in my truck and have to leave them there, I back the truck up to the gate so that the vehicle is secure; I usually will only leave the vehicle parked like this for a few hours, because when it is parked so it leaves the sidewalk obscured.  The violation states that four pictures were taken: please refer to them.  The reason for this letter is to appeal the $80 ticket I received for having blocked the sidewalk in front of my property, whilst my truck was parked in my own driveway.  Holland is a very calm street with very little traffic.  Two of my neighbors have basketball courts set up IN THE STREET.  People normally walk by with dogs and kids IN THE STREET, and it is common for many people to be there, IN THE STREET.  It was my assumption that if my truck was parked in my driveway for a few hours, blocking the sidewalk, and someone passed along, they could easily walk towards the front of the truck and continue on the sidewalk.  I understand that, strictly speaking, my truck was violating a common law: to keep the sidewalk clear; given the circumstances, however, and the quietness of my street, I see this as a perfect opportunity for a warning note.  I am a carpenter and work extremely hard; I have many valuable tools and my vehicle has been broken into before: this parking situation is unavoidable from time to time, for short periods.  I request that you see the rationale behind my situation and reverse the charge for this ticket.  Aristotle distinguishes between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law: I am so involved in the spirit of the law that I sometimes fail to see what parts of its letters I have overlooked.  I am sure this is true of many.  I am enclosing a check for $80 along with this explanation.

Yours,

Benjamin Shook

Icebreaker

To the Icebreaker Clothing Company and CEO Jeremy Moon,

Please be advised that you are in receipt of a letter from the Department of Letters of Consumer and Social Concern

(…and for the convenience of readers of the letters, any and all correspondence from the subject party of the letter can be printed here in response to the letters in question)

My name is Benjamin Shook, Spokesman for “The Department.”  Our business here at the DLCSC is to apprise companies and organizations of social interest of potential areas of improvement, expansion and awareness.

My studio has been a firm believer in wool from long before the inception of Icebreaker technology, yet your company has brought one of the greatest boons to the clothing world in the last millenium as far as I’m concerned.

sg1l4015

For those of you (readers) who doubt the credibility of the argument for wool, I urge you to explore the matter more thoroughly here:

http://www.csiro.au/resources/pfk1.html

What the Icebreaker clothing company has succeeded in accomplishing is harvesting this wool from a special sheep–called a Merino–which occur in large populations in New Zealand:

picture-3Some interesting facts about Merino sheep:

They have the softest wool in the world and have been bred for centuries for their coats rather than their meat or other features.

Their name comes from a Moorish tribal name, Beni-Merine who first began breeding the sheep, and introducing them to Spain in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries A.D.

John Macarthur (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merino_wool) is documented as the father of the Australian Merino wool industry.

The Merino sheep Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is roughly the same as that of former president George W. Bush, which is actually pretty high, for a sheep.

Moving on.  The neatest attribute of the Merino wool molecule is that, as a highly variegated package of keratin proteins, it is able to wick moisture away from heat source, like a body, as well as insulate to great effect:

picture-21I first had experience with this amazing feature on a ski trip to Canada several years ago.  I had the fortune of being able to invest in Icebreaker undergarments to take along on this expedition in the place of Patagonia Capilene, which is a totally worthless product in comparison to Icebreaker.  Where Capilene does have some success in wicking moisture away, Merino is far superior.  Over and above the question of function, which is answered more readily by Icebreaker, Merino wool seems to have an anti-microbial quality which limits the olfactory experience of long underwear worn day after day.  This latter problem solved by Icebreaker to my deep elation.

Here’s a shot of the setting of our ski expedition to the Canadian Rockies:

sg1l1436

I was so impressed by the facility of the product that I wrote CEO Jeremy Moon on several occasions.  I likewise began an epic poem entitled, “Wool: The Undergarment of a Revolution.”  I’ll publish that soon.

To get to the pith of this letter of Consumer and Social Concern… I have recently purchased several garments from the Icebreaker U.S. headquarters in Portland, OR and have found to my dismay a severe decline in the quality of the products, which is not commensurate with the cost of the product.  I have found that the stitching is inferior, and the weave is weaker.  A $250 sweater or $60 T-Shirt ought to be legacy garments which are at least built to endure several years of hard wear and tear.

I have several ideas of how to right this decline in quality as well as some other areas of exploration for the campaign and cause of Merino wool clothing.

I would love to explore this matter more thoroughly with the company and enclose kindest regards,

Benjamin Shook

Spokesman for the Department of Letters of Consumer and Social Concern

Jigsaw

To the Dewalt Tool Company and President John Schiech

Please be advised that you are in receipt of a letter from the Department of Letters of Consumer and Social Concern

(…and for the convenience of readers of the letters, any and all correspondence from the subject party of the letter can be printed here in response to the letters in question)

My name is Benjamin Shook, Spokesman for “The Department.”  Our business here at the DLCSC is to apprise companies and organizations of social interest of potential areas of improvement, expansion and awareness.

I would like to take this rare opportunity to address a couple of important issues that have recently come to my attention regarding a product manufactured by the Dewalt Tool company.  I am a longtime user of Dewalt tools and have used them widely in my studio (www.benshook.com) as well as advocated for their use and purchase at seminars and presentations around the world.  To date, my studio has spent in the neighborhood of $12,000 on Dewalt products.  In the beginning I even used Dewalt tools as semi-stationary equipment in my wood shop… until the time I could afford to upgrade to 220V technology and ultimately 3-Phase… which are some areas of interest I would like to discuss with you at another time.

As a side note, my studio recently procured a set of DW18V Cordless Impact drivers and the last few weeks have been filled with mirth and elation as to their performance.

Today I would like to raise awareness about a specific product and some shortcomings which came to my attention recently.  The tool in question is the DW321K Variable Speed Heavy Duty Top Handle Jig Saw, pictured below:

picture-62

I purchased this tool sometime in the year A.D. 2005 and have used it sparingly and always done proper maintenance.  I recently had occasion to use the saw to cut rafter tails for a small outbuilding I designed and built, pictured here:

sg1l57052

The dilemmas I ran into with this saw are as follows:

and occurred despite using the most robust and expensive blades (I believe a four pack of 3.25″ ran $12 from Home Depot)

1) The blades wandered errantly through the cuts, drawn from a template regardless of all attempts to correct with blade speed and thrust, creating a nearly impossible flush line through the material and replicability very hard to achieve.

2) No matter how one holds one’s hands upon the saw during the cut, the exhaust fan blows the material directly into the user’s face.

While seemingly minor, these two issues are cause for ample frustration, especially when a fine end product is the goal.  One would think that the model of this saw, its description and its cost would elicit confidence to cut a rafter tail in 1.5″ framing material.

I’m sure this issue has already been brought to your attention and that the engineers at the Dewalt Industrial Tool Co. have already begun correcting the issue.  I have likewise designed several alterations which I think would greatly increase the function of the tool and would cherish the opportunity to share them with you at your convenience.  (I can be reached at ben@benshook.com).

Please receive every best wish and gratitude for years of enjoyment from your tools,

Benjamin Shook

Spokesman for the Department of Letters of Consumer and Social Concern

great stuff

To Whom it Concerns at DOW© Chemical and CEO Andrew Liveris,

cc:// Bureau of Letters of Consumer and Social Concern

One of your many products–“Great Stuff”–recently gained the attention of the Department of Letters of Consumer and Social Concern (“The Department”) because of some interesting phrasing on its United States issue label.  Shown here:

img_0421

The language is as follows:

This label is intended to meet the requirements of the United States.  If you are reading this in an area other than the United States, please refer to the label intended for that location.

We were, in fact, unclear as to the meaning of this directive.  Is there a department of “Requirements of the United States?”  Does the product itself meet those requirements?  And then, if the consumer were elsewhere, outside of the United States, what could he/she do to become aware of the new requirements for the specific location in which they are reading the label for Great Stuff?  If there is, in fact, a department of Requirements of the United States, it is important that the Department of Letters of Consumer and Social Concern become aware of it, not only for purposes of information gathering, but in order to get into compliance internally.

With diligence and civility,

Sincerely yours,

Benjamin Shook

spokesman for the Department of Letters of Consumer and Social Concern

Starbucks

Foreward: this is a note to the Reverend Billy (www.revbilly.com)–who you may know as the star of “What Would Jesus Buy” and a man staunchly opposed to Starbucks Coffee, to the extent that he has been arrested I believe more than 20 times for “exorcising” a corporate Starbucks cash register.  He has a forum on his website which acts as a confessor to his congregation and I sent him this, which I believe also belongs in the Letters of Consumer and Social concern, as it details one of the positive attributes of the company, whose brand is a mermaid.  Though she doesn’t have nipples.  He runs the church of stop shopping; I met with him several years ago at Burning Man and continue to follow his paths of righteous indignation.

reverend billy… i rode with you on the green bus this past burn, out to the temple, stood at your side as you prepared the playa for forgiveness; thank you, falafel, or bless you, for i have sinned.  good.
the main sin i would like to discuss involves starbucks; it might be a form of encouragement as well… for those disheartened in your congregation (our congregation) about the mermaid without nipples.  i watched some of your videos, in which you peacefully “exorcize” (?) demons from the fateful corporation’s cash register.  i almost cried as i watched your arrest(s), and thought to myself, something is terribly wrong here… we’ve got a misunderstanding.  starbucks just wants to be starbucks, you know, the mermaid without nipples, employees without determination, megalomaniacal corporate world domination, etc. and you just want to get those demons out of the cash register… and somewhere between these two seemingly harmonic interests, there is a disconnect: i.e. managers prohibiting your ingress onto store properties, and arrival of police, etc.  (this is where my confession begins…)
i have known, intuitively, for years, what you have recently made explicit for me about starbucks: that something is wrong… i just thought their coffee tasted burnt… when really it’s the spirit of the coffee turning over in its afterlife, rising up against the corporation (bitterness, bad aftertaste) IN SPIRIT because of corporate transgressions against its origins: i.e. ethiopia, etc. and fair treatment of its farmers, branders, fathers, really.  this is what i know now thanks to the church of stop shopping, halalujiah, jalapeno.  nevertheless, i have been subconsciously aware of this for years and i believe subconsciously transferring this understanding upon the mega-entity the whole time.  as you know (my confession is beginning here…) there are starbucks on every fifth block of every city grid-printed upon most of the continents of EARTH.  and, as you probably also know, being a fellow meek global traveler, this grid upon EARTH does not offer up too many public bathrooms…  i don’t mind making water outside (pee), especially in france and spain where almost anyone does so, perhaps to the slight chagrin of the authorities, but nonetheless not against the law.  now, to make earth pass, or, in other words, to do one’s duty: this cannot be so easily accomplished on the public thoroughfare of just any city, anywhere on earth and, as you probably know, nature can sometimes press a man in urgent ways.  i must confess that, in travel, even in my own fair home town, when away from the holy ghost of my own domestic toilet, the nearest one–when nature pushes its turtle head at the back entrance to the temple–there is always a starbucks nearby!  do you read my meaning, father?  falafel!  EVERY FIFTH BLOCK!  so i feel that you may have overlooked this incredible capacity–CAPACITY–that starbucks has!  one simply walks in and very politely asks the employee at the demon ridden cash counter for the key to the restroom and–since every good natured yuppie and insouciant shopper known to man has been through that line–the employee hands you the glorious key and the clean, well kept, PRIVATE PROPERTY, nicely tiled bath room becomes all yours for those few precious moments while you commune with mother earth, and offer her back your gift of pure gold!  and you offer it to starbucks too!  and in the end it is not even necessary to purchase coffee.  i confess that i have done this many  times without purchasing coffee, father.  forgive me, for i have sinned!  amen, falafel!


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benshook studio
imagine | design | create
www.benshook.com

“…Furthermore, I am of the opinion that Carthage should be destroyed.”
–Cato

Dear Mr. G.T. Dave

Dear Mr. G.T. Dave,

I have been thoroughly enjoying your kombucha for several months now (like one to two 480 mL bottles a day).  I am writing this letter in part to congratulate you on your success in such a beautiful business.  I very much appreciate your product and hope you continue to grow and thrive.

I am also writing this letter out of a certain concern I have with the product that I am sure you’re aware of, but I nonetheless wanted to reiterate it for the sake of your observance of quality control…

This is a matter of the carbonation in the drink.  Twice now in my experience of your kombucha I have purchased an overly carbonated item.  The first of these experiences was on my walk home from the nice neighborhood co-op down the street from my house (The Alberta Street Co-Op in Portland)… upon opening the beverage, there was almost a cataclysmic upsurge of the fermented tea, what seemed like five fold the volume of the glass bottle pouring out all over my hands and sidewalk, etc.  This was of course disheartening because I lost my afternoon treat that day.  And wondered about the nature of the carbonation process in the kombucha, like how it could get so out of balance inside the bottle.  I wondered if bottles ever explode, like happens to those home brewers of beer when they have too much sugar in their bottles?

Now, the second occurrence was more inconvenient: I had purchased the mango version of your kombucha and was driving back to my job when I opened it.  I should preface this by saying that I noticed a little “perspiration” on the seal of the lid (the little white shroud you seal the lid with which must be broken and removed prior to consumption): little beads of the mango kombucha on the seal, like it had been nervous or working out or experiencing big differences in temperature or pressure change.  I examined the seal and it seemed to be totally intact so I did not worry about the integrity of the beverage and opened it nonetheless.  In so doing, I experienced another volcano of liquid.  Totally surprising when driving down the road and anticipating the first refreshing taste.  It frothed all over the upholstery of my car and my person.  I employed most of the expletives in my vocabulary before realizing that I was alright and that we’re all going to die and this is really just one of the very minor details of our existence in the void.  Nonetheless, mango essence went all over my truck cab.  I cleaned as best I could that day with the means I had at my job-site, and later with some shampoo, etc.  This was about two weeks ago.  Since then, the interior of my vehicle has gone through many transmutations of smell: it started as pure kombucha odor, and then for a while it smelled of male feline urine, and now smells faintly of a horse pasture.

These experiences are not preventing me from continuing to buy your product, I just simply wanted to bring this unfortunate nature of the beverage to your attention and perhaps warn against that sign of perspiration.

I no longer open the kombucha when I am driving.  Which is probably a good measure to take anyway, considering the unfortunate things people do whilst operating a moving vehicle.

I know everything is going to work out in the end.

I am most sincerely yours,

Benjamin Shook