Thursday, December 29, 2005

My Top Ten Beauty Finds of 2005

This past year was HUGE for me - I scarcely know where to begin or end. As far as acquainting myself with like-minded people, 2005 was a banner year for which I will ALWAYS be grateful. Likewise, it was a year for finding perfumes/scents, both new and older, that resonated with my soul. And it was a year for unprecedented self-exploration that included and yet far surpassed the scope of my senses...

For the purposes of this joint effort (of which I'm thrilled to be a part of!), I'm listing my overall top 10 here...

1. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb (unleaded and Extreme)
- "official" notes: tea, bergamot, jasmine, orange tree, catleya orchid, freesia, rose, amber, musk, and patchouli

- My notes: on me the original is a creamy sugar, with just the barest hint of patchouli; the Extreme is rounder, sweeter, and deeper, with even less patch, and much more long-lasting. Chris says it "smells like flowers", but that's his usual response to perfume. I get no flowers from either the original or the Extreme, and am glad of it. These are/this is the closest fragrance to a "signature scent" I have yet to find. It's definitely the one I wore the most for the past year, and I adore it!

2. Serge Lutens Rahat Loukoum
- "official" notes: almond, crushed cherry pits, hawthorn, heliotrope, Turkish rose, balsam, tonka, aldehydes, honey, musk and vanilla

- My notes: I'm sure all these notes are in there somewhere, but I don't smell them so distinctly. On my skin, the opening is a gorgeous, delicious maraschino cherry. It soon develops into a spicy vanillic almond that smells divinely edible. It's the only perfume I have (that he's smelled so far!) that Chris *actively* likes. There are many fragrances out there designed to smell like Turkish Delight (which I've never seen, smelled, or tasted in real life), but this is my favorite, hands-down.

3. Ormonde Jayne Tolu
- "official" notes: juniper berry, orange blossom, clary sage, orchid, rose, muguet, tolu, tonka bean, frankincense and amber

- My notes: I wish I could adequately express how wonderful this stuff is on me! All I can say is that it's tart, warm, and somehow natural on me. Yum!

4. Barbara Bui Le Parfum
- "official" notes: spices [whatever that means], incense, jasmine, white musk, sandalwood, heliotrope, cedar and amber

- My notes: On me, this is a soft, warm, light incense. Every single time I wear it, I wonder why I bother with any other perfume. It's not overly-sophisticated for this around-the-house chica, but it's not overly sloppy or heavy or sweet either.

5. Guerlain Guet-Apens (now renamed Attrape-Coeur)
- "official" notes: iris, rose, woods, vanilla, and amber

- My notes: I do NOT understand how this was released as a Limited Edition! If any fragrance could be considered "universal", I'd say it would have to be this one. I get Guerlinade without the floral aspect - just woods and amber, dry and light and serene. There's the barest tangy aspect to it, but it's NOT foody. I honestly can't see ANYONE disliking this scent. It's not "inoffensive", but there is nothing *offensive* about it. This is one of those unique, ineffable, timeless perfumes that defies description.

6. Burberry Brit Gold
- "official" notes: magnolia, neroli, black currant, bergamot, iris, amber, vanilla, musk, and sandalwood

- My notes: I love ALL of the Burberry Brit incarnations, and until this fall/winter, I thought Brit Red was as good as could be. Not so. With Brit Gold I get iris, amber, vanilla, and sandalwood. It's softer, less sweet, and more ambery and woodsy than Brit and Brit Red. More sophisticated (I hate that word, but it fits) and easy-to-wear. Warmer and drier.

7. Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan
- "official" notes: coriander, oregano, bay leaf, myrtle, angelica root, sandalwood, patchouli, amber, benzoin, vanilla

- My notes: I love amber fragrances. LOVE. This is the best amber I've tried to date. It starts with an herbal tinge (which apparently I favor, though I wasn't aware of it before this year) and develops into a warm, not-too-sweet (who knew this concept even applied to me???) amber that lasts WELL over 24 hours. Yes, I'm enough of a dirty girl to have tested and proved this... What of it? As far as I'm concerned, this is the amber to end all ambers, even though I'm constantly checking others out. I'm so inconstant...

8. Annick Goutal Sables
- "official" notes: helichrysum (aka Imortelle), cinnamon, vanilla and sandalwood

- My notes: My skin makes this fragrance all woods and cinnamon. By this, I mean the true, dry cinnamon of the curled-up sticks you can buy in the grocery store. NOT the sweet cinnamon of Red-Hots candies and the like. I know a lot of people smell maple syrup in this one (and I've wished I WAS one of them in the past), but I do not, and in the end I think I'm happier for it.

9. Guerlain L'Heure Bleue
- "official" notes: anise, rose, iris, carnation, neroli, and vanilla

- My notes: This is almost a spiritual perfume for me. It's cool and calm, sweet and spicy, and somehow *me*. Maybe I resonate on some level wth Guerlains (as many seem to), but this fragrance is nearly indescribable. As with Guet-Apens and Guerlinade (which didn't make the Top Ten list), it's a stunning perfume that I'm helpless to classify. Something about it speaks to me, and rises above the ordinary to make it somehow special and vital to my soul. Despite the notes it shares with other Guerlains, it is unique unto intself, and I cannot separate it from its sister/cousin scents.

10. LORAC Gloss stick in Sheer Berry
- "official" description (from "Each sheer shade is enriched with all natural sunflower seed and Hawaiian macadamia seed oils for a healthy, moist look and feel, and the natural vanilla flavor makes these must-have glosses taste as good as they look."

- My description: This is my new HG (Holy Grail) lippie, and I am SO glad I found it! It goes on super-sheer and builds/layers wonderfully. It's very moisturizing, and (on me) really isn't "berry" at all - it's a lovely, neutral red (more blue than yellow) that complements my skin no matter how thickly I apply it. The Creamsicle scent and totally neutral flavor are just added bonuses.

There were/are SO many other notable beauty developments in 2005, but I must adhere to the stipulation of 10 top discoveries…

Other Best of 2005 lists worthy of consideration (please check back later if their lists aren't up yet):

Thanks so much to Annie (Blogdorf Goodman), Robin (Now Smell This), and Katie (Scentzilla!) for getting this all together! Now I just have to figure out how to get you guys to pay for all the lemmings this project has spawned...

What Energy Crisis?

It's December, almost January, 46° outside (not bad really), and I have my first floor windows open.

Why is this? Because it is 78 freaking degrees in my house!!!

Apparently, my neighbors on one or both sides (I live in an interior unit townhouse) have their heat jacked up so high that they're overheating MY house!

What I wouldn't give to get a peek at their utility bill next month...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

My responses

To Bush's requests (in general): a big "FUCK you", and a little "Hell no".

And now, Trina picks apart that ridiculous speech...

"America has an ally of growing strength in the fight against terror" - Um... last *I* checked, their growing strength was in the fight to get US the hell out of THEIR country.

"... yet it was right to remove Saddam Hussein from power. He was given an ultimatum, and he made his choice for war" - Yes, we went around the UN and gave him an ultimatum, he refused, so we invaded him. HE was clearly the war-monger here...

"The mission of American troops in urban raids and desert patrols, fighting Saddam loyalists and foreign terrorists, has brought danger and suffering and loss. This loss has caused sorrow for our whole nation; and it has led some to ask if we are creating more problems than we are solving. That is an important question. And the answer depends on your view of the war on terror. If you think that terrorists would become peaceful if only America would stop provoking them, then it might make sense to leave them alone. This is not the threat I see." - Yes, W, if one is so stupid and blind as to equate the war in Iraq with the War on Terror, and/or think that we (the public) are naive enough to think that withdrawing from Iraq would halt terrorist attacks, then by all means we MUST keep the troops there! And if you think we're so stupid that we won't notice that your lumping together of the insurgents with "foreign terrorists" was your transition to suddenly making the whole war about terrorists, well I guess your handlers give us too little credit AND have never fucking heard of tivo.

"I see a global terrorist movement that exploits Islam in the service of radical political aims. A vision in which books are burned, and women are oppressed, and all dissent is crushed." - 1)Tell me again what this has to do with the war in Iraq? and 2) HOW does this differ from the goals of YOUR administration?

"Terrorist operatives conduct their campaign of murder with a set of declared and specific goals. To demoralize free nations. To drive us out of the Middle East. To spread an empire of fear across that region. And to wage a perpetual war against America and our friends." - Really? Suddenly the terrorists are Sith lords? Seems to me they want us out, and want to conduct things their own way. Sure, that way is fucked up, but we (America) don't interfere with every fucked up thing that goes on in the world. I'd be pretty pissed at being interfered with too, if I were them. As for the perpetual war thing, I have a feeling that if we cleared the hell out of there and left them to their own devices, they'd lose interest in messing with us. Having too much fun oppressing their own people and all that. You know - like in Africa. We haven't had any African terrorist acts here lately, now have we?

"These terrorists view the world as a giant battlefield, and they seek to attack us wherever they can. This has attracted Al Qaida to Iraq, where they are attempting to frighten and intimidate America into a policy of retreat." - Wouldn't this statement suggest that if we get the fuck out, there will be no reason for Al Qaida to be in Iraq? So wouldn't troop withdrawal be the BEST way for us to drive the terrorists out? Or is it that you're saying as long as we have troops there, they won't attack us here? Sounds like you're admitting to using our boys as decoys, sir.

"The terrorists do not merely object to American actions in Iraq and elsewhere; they object to our deepest values and our way of life. And if we were not fighting them in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Southeast Asia, and in other places, the terrorists would not be peaceful citizens. They would be on the offense and headed our way." - AHA! I was right! So why do I taste ashes... ?

"September the 11th 2001 required us to take every emerging threat to our country seriously. And it shattered the illusion that terrorists attack us only after we provoke them. On that day, we were not in Iraq; we were not in Afghanistan; but the terrorists attacked us anyway." - Maybe because the terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, you fucking moron? Could that be what you're forgetting here?

"We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them." - And we know this because... we're STILL ignoring them, and fighting in Iraq rather than fighting them, and they continue to be a threat. Gee, go figure!

"And we will defeat the terrorists by capturing and killing them abroad, removing their safe havens, and strengthening new allies like Iraq and Afghanistan in the fight we share." - Yeah, we're doing SUCH a good job of that! Tell me again - where exactly is Osama?

"The work in Iraq has been especially difficult. More difficult than we expected. Reconstruction efforts, and the training of Iraqi security forces started more slowly than we hoped. We continue to see violence and suffering, caused by an enemy that is determined and brutal. Unconstrained by conscience, or the rules of war." - Like that silly, outdated Geneva Convention thingy?

"Some look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude that the war is lost. And not worth another dime or another day. I don't believe that." - Mostly because it's not YOUR dime or day, you asshat.

"Our military commanders do not believe that. Our troops in the field who bear the burden and make the sacrifice do not believe that America has lost." - Maybe true, but they also don't quite have the access to information that you do, or I do. Being in the field, I mean. They DO believe that it sure would be nice for Santa to bring them some freaking armor for Christmas though!

"And not even the terrorists believe it." - Well, according to YOU, their beliefs are wrong anyway, right?

"America, our coalition, and Iraqi leaders are working toward the same goal. A democratic Iraq that can defend itself..." - Seems to me they're already doing an ok job of that!

"... that will never again be a safe haven for terrorists..." - Unlike America, where there are NO terrorists, eh?

"Today in Iraq, 7 in 10 Iraqis say their lives are going well. And nearly 2/3 expect things to improve even more in the year ahead." - And these statistics were obtained... how?

"Defeatism may have its partisan uses, but it is not justified the facts." - which this administration is SO good at gathering... oh, wait. Never mind.

"We would abandon our Iraqi friends, and signal to the world that America cannot be trusted to keep its word." - We wouldn't want that to happen! They have SO much faith in us right now!

"We would undermine the morale of our troops, by betraying the cause for which they have sacrificed." - Yeah, letting them come home to their families would be a HUGE downer for them.

"We would cause the tyrants in the Middle East to laugh at our failed resolve..." - And them laughing at us would be SO awful! - "and tighten their oppressive grip." - which now is so loose, it puts the Patriot Act to shame!

"We would hand Iraq over to enemies who have pledged to attack us, and the global terrorist movement would be emboldened and more dangerous than ever before." - So much for all those battalions of trained Iraqis you were praising moments ago!

"We will see a concerted effort to improve Iraqi police forces, and fight corruption. We will see the Iraqi military gaining strength and confidence, and the democratic process moving forward. As these achievements come, it should require fewer American troops to accomplish our mission. I will make decisions on troop levels based on the progress we see on the ground..." - You hear that, boys? You have to earn your way home! Stop screwing around and get busy fixing Iraq! The sooner it's done, the sooner you can come back. No free rides here!

"Not based on artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington" - *psst!* W, they're only artificial if you DON'T stick to them! Just thought I'd let you know...

"Tonight, I ask all of you listening to carefully consider the stakes of this war... and to have patience in this difficult, noble, and necessary cause." - MY answer? I have considered them, and I find your logic and goals wanting. So a big HELL NO on your request for patience, asshole.

"I also want to speak to those of you who did not support my decision to send troops to Iraq." - OK, I'm listening...

"I've heard your disagreement, and I know how deeply it is felt. Yet now, there are only two options before our country: victory or defeat." - Seriously, are you that fucking stupid? No, don't answer that. More importantly, do you and your "people" think that WE are that fucking stupid? Sadly I can see why you might (you DID get reelected after all), but it's not the case. And anything you may say to follow up such an absurd assertion doesn't deserve a response, but I'm sure I'll have something to say anyway.

"And the need for victory is larger than any president or political party..." - And of course, we are all TOTALLY incapable of thinking in any other way. None of us think outside party lines, ever. That you even suggest it is mind-boggling, sir! The notion!

"I don't expect you to support everything I do, but tonight I have a request. Do not give into despair, and do not give up on this fight for freedom." - In terms of the war in Iraq: Request DENIED.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 is my bitch

I love online banking! I just checked my account, and Overstock did indeed credit me my $2.95! And the books got here today. Life is good...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Customer Service

Sure, we all have the classic pet peeve of "bad customer service". Luckily (and unfortunately) for me, I've worked in CS, so I know what can and can't be done. Even so, dealing with incompetents (and just plain unhelpful people) can be a pain in the ass. The following is an *actual* exchange - well, two exchanges and you'll see why - on's "live help" feature. The only things I have deleted are the "copy and paste" of my first exchange that I did for the second rep I chatted with, and incriminating info (email addy, order #, etc.).

Christian: Thank you for contacting This is Christian. How may I assist you today?
you: Hi! I have a coupon (actually, I think I have more than one) for $2.95 credited to my account. How do I apply it to the order I'd like to place?
Christian: To help you better, may I have your order number?
you: I haven't placed the order yet. I want to apply the coupon before I do.
Christian: May I have the catalogue number you are looking at.
you: I'm online - there's no catalog
Christian: To help you better may I have the email address ?
you: xxxxx

Christian: Thank you for the information.
Christian: May I place you on hold for a minute or two while I research this for you?
you: sure
Christian: Thank you for staying online.
Christian: Would you like me to place an order for you.
you: ??? No - I want to apply my $2.95 coupon to the items I have in my shopping cart. The coupon is linked to my account, but I don't have a code, and can
you: oops
you: I can't find info on how to appy it to an order
Christian: I will stay online please go head and place your order.
Christian: The amount will automatically applied as a discount.
you: OK - I placed the order, but the discount isn't showing.
Christian: May I place you on hold for a minute or two while I research this for you?
you: sure
Christian: Could you please provide me the order numbger you have just placed.
Christian: *number
you: xxxxx
Christian: May I place you on hold for a minute or two while I research this for you?
you: sure
Chat session has been terminated by the Overstock Service representative.

Welcome to Customer Service, you are now chatting with Saige.
Saige: Thank you for visiting! This is Saige. How may I help you today?
you: Hi! I'm trying to straighten out a coupon issue. I was chatting with someone and he terminated the chat. Here's a copy & paste of our entire exchange. [I did so]
Saige: I would be happy to help you with that.
you: Yay!
Saige: For security purposes, may I ask you to verify the name and billing address on your account?
you: xxxxxxx
Saige: Thank you for verifying.
Saige: Thank you for providing the order number.
Saige: May I place you on hold for a minute or two while I research this for you?
you: sure
Saige: Thank you for staying online.
Saige: I do see that there is an unused coupon of $2.95 in your account.
Saige: I am sorry to inform you that as you have placed the order, we are unable to avail the coupon on this particular order.
you: Well then why did he tell me to place the order?!?
you: I was very clear with him about what I wanted.
Saige: Please come back to us before placing the order the next time and we will surely help you regarding that.

Saige: I apologize for what had happened.
you: There has to be *something* that can be done about this order.
you: This is unacceptable.
Saige: I am sorry for the inconvenience.
Saige: We are unable to issue the coupon to this existing order.
Saige: However we will help you in issuing the coupon to the next order.
you: Well how about you credit my card for $2.95 and remove the coupon from my account?
you: The reason I *have* this coupon is because of poor service I received in the past. This needs to be worked out now.
Saige: I am really sorry, the instore credit cannot be credited to your credit card. The instore credit will be applied to your next purchase automatically.
you: Well then - please cancel my order, stay on the line with me, and I'll place it again with you helping me apply the coupon.
Saige: I am sorry to inform you that we are unable to cancel the order once it is placed.
you: Why not?
you: And I'm still confused as to why you cannot perform a partial credit to my credit card for 2.95
Saige: I do understand your concern.
you: You must realize that at this point this is about the principle.
Saige: I am really sorry that I am unable to do that.
you: I was awarded a coupon for poor customer service, and now CONTINUED poor customer service has made me unable to use it for an order?!? That's beyond ridiculous
you: You haven't explained why you are unable to credit my card
Saige: I understand that this has been a frustrating experience for you and I apologize.
you: This is not acceptable. I guess I'll have to call in and try to speak with someone who can do something about this.
Saige: Please stay online while I check that for you.
Saige: Thank you for staying online.
Saige: We have credited that amount to your credit card.
Saige: Please check your next billing Thank you very much!

And thus the monster was defeated! And I was telling her the truth about why I had the coupon - this was NOT my first tangle with overstock CS, and I was *damned* if I was gonna let them pull their crap again! Hahahahaha...