I think I’ve finally settled in to an ideal flow with my digital tools. Things,, Basecamp, and nvALT/Simplenote are my happy places. It’s been a while since I’ve gone so long without tweaking something.

The joy of reading difficult things

I typically read about a book a week. The majority of those are nonfiction with an occasional fiction one thrown in as well. Some of my recent favorites are The Power of Habit, Salt, and Moonwalking With Einstein. Those are all great but they’re also all pretty easy reads. They give my brain just enough to feel productive but not enough to really chew on.

Two weeks ago I picked up The Order of Things, a book I’ve had on my shelf for years. While I’ve only made it 90 pages in, I love it.

As a political theory major in college I read a lot of books like this. Books you struggled with to fully grasp. One of my favorite courses was an upper level Sociology course where the only assignment was reading. No papers, exams, or anything else. That reading made for the most challenging class I took in college.

Somewhere along the way I forgot the joy of sitting down to slowly and deliberately work my way through a book. I’m glad I found it again.

A frozen spiderweb

Frozen spider web in Portland
It’s been (relatively) freezing cold in Portland for the past week. Over the weekend we woke up each morning to frost. Saturday morning I woke up to this little guy hanging out on my balcony. Turns out sub-freezing temperatures do cool things to spiderwebs.

A happy cup of coffee

More often than not my customer service experiences with other companies leave me disappointed. Here’s a story about a company that not only hit the mark for good service but absolutely obliterated it and became the standard from which I now define good service.

A couple weeks ago I picked up a pound of Happy Cup coffee beans. I hadn’t seen the brand before but they were a Portland-based company that does neat stuff with the proceeds so I figured I’d give it a shot.

The coffee was great. Then, halfway through the bag, disaster struck. I was grinding beans in the morning when my grinder made a terrible noise. The kind of noise that makes you immediately think, “That wasn’t good.”

I disassembled the grinder but couldn’t see anything too out of place. Then I brushed some of the grounds away. Staring back at me, wedged between the blades, was a little rock. Looked like maybe a bit of quartz.

The culprit of my broken grinder
The bane of my broken grinder. Notice the white-colored rock stuck toward the bottom-right of the blade.

That bummed me out but it wasn’t a huge deal. Honestly, I figured it was my fault for not noticing that before sending the beans through. Figuring Happy Cup would like to know the blend info to maybe track any other reports I gave them a call and left a message saying I’d found a rock in the Sip-a-ragua blend packaged at the end of December.

Adam from Happy Cup called me back within the hour. He apologized profusely and offered 3 free bags of coffee. That totally made my day. Not only was it a quick response but they were more than willing to fix things up.¬†I told him that’d be great and that I really liked the blend.

Handily I had an old grinder laying around so I wasn’t completely out of luck for that morning. I mentioned to Adam that the only way I knew there was a rock was that my grinder “found” it.¬†Without hesitating Adam asked if my grinder was broken too. I told him that it was. He immediately said, “Well we’ll replace your grinder as well. If you can get me the details of make and model we’ll order it today.”

Happy Cup delivers.
Happy Cup delivers.

Yesterday a Happy Cup employee delivered the 3 bags of coffee and a brand new grinder to my door. Absolutely blew me away with the level of care they put in to their customer service. All I had bought was one bag of coffee and yet they still treated it like the most important thing in the world to them. Now they have a loyal customer for a long, long time.


A moment of dreaming about higher education:

As university education becomes a more highly valued commodity-as you pay fourteen thousand a year for a UC education, instead of nothing-the university experience has, indeed, become more a pleasurable self-cultivation, since university administrators prefer customers to workers. This is why universities spend more and more money on new dorms, new campus programs, and new ways of making their campus experience an attractive prospect for incoming freshmen: as universities transition towards a customer-payment model, they moving out of education business into the production of education products. They spend less and less money on classrooms and teachers, the spaces where student work happens, because they are, quite literally, not interested in student work. Their financial interest is in student-customers, and it shows.

Really interesting essay.