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November 11, 2009

Some complaining, followed by cat talk

Two or three weeks ago I went to Ikea to buy some bookcases for my new place. There are two things I miss from my old place and one of them is the long, huge built-in bookcase that ran underneath the big picture window in the living room. (The other thing I miss is the crazy morning sunlight pouring into every corner. Ah well.) The new bookcases sat in their cardboard packaging on the floor until last Saturday when I finally put them together with a cold drink and the movie "Purple Rain" playing on the computer.

By the time Prince finally sang Wendy and Lisa's song, I had almost all of the two larger bookcases put together and I finished the last one Sunday morning.

Last night I had to go back to Ikea for something totally unrelated and I was shocked to see that in the two-maybe-three weeks since my last visit they've gotten rid of all but two or three real people check out lanes and have installed about eight self-check-out lanes. I hate self-check out. I said this out loud, mostly to myself, but a yellow-shirted Ikea employee hovering over the self-check out lane (a misnomer if ever there were one) said tartly, "Well, we still have regular check out lines..." and even as she said it, we both turned our heads and looked at the two real-person checkout lanes, with two lines of irritated shoppers that stretched through the warehouse so far you couldn't see the end.

If you've never been to the Burbank Ikea I can see where you're
maybe thinking the crowd on a Tuesday night only warrants two live checkout people and you maybe think I am exaggerating for storytelling purposes. Well, you know what your local grocery store is like at 5:30 p.m. on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving? That is the normal status of the crowd at the Burbank Ikea. At any time of the day or night, there is a metric assload of shoppers filling up baskets with Poopli and Kumbarli and Varmooogman and eating 99-cent ice cream cones.

Or maybe you're passionately writing me an email about how much you personally love self-scanning and bagging your own crap using a machine that takes five times as long as a real checker and doesn't tell you until the very end that you can't use a coupon. Save your email and passion for someone else, my friend. If I wanted to shop without any people involved I would shop online. I love shopping online. I do about 80% of all my shopping from the comfort of my own desk, with a glass of wine and trust me, I tried to buy what I wanted at Ikea's website. But they only offer about 1/1119th of their inventory for sale online, and what they do sell online is completely negated by the ridiculous shipping charges (to get my cheapy bookcases ordered and delivered online would have cost me an additional $159. That is crazytalk. That is MORE THAN THE BOOKCASES COST.)

I imagine the self-scan checkout aisle is what happens when you marry an a spreadsheet and a number-cruncher and they give birth to a retail store. I just don't understand why any business that is either too cheap or too lazy to hire and train enough real humans to well-staff its brick and mortar stores doesn't just take the whole show online. Online shopping is the best invention ever. And somehow someway many places have figured out how to make shipping totally painless -- I ordered a huge, lovely rug from Overstock.com and they shipped me that sixty pound rug for $1.99. One dollar and ninety-nine cents. I'm a big fan of Overstock.com. And I would shop at Ikea online if they had a decent online store with reasonable shipping prices.

But I'm not going back to brick-and-mortar Ikea and their self-scan madness. I'd rather pay a little more somewhere else and be able to get my items into a bag without wanting to kill some stupid touchscreen that won't let me clear the last item. BEEP BEEP BEEP.

- - - -

This has nothing to do with anything above. It's still hot during the day and hard to believe it's mid-November, but at night it cools down nicely. It gets quite chilly upstairs here in the new apartment and during the night it has not been unusual to wake up with all three cats using me as a heater. I practically emit waves of heat as I sleep, it's impressive. But I get so hot with all those fur coats smothering me.

So I came up with what I thought was either a ridiculous or brilliant idea. I bought a small heated blanket for one side of the bed, hoping to lure the cats away from sleeping on the small of my back, or my legs, or my shoulder. I bought this one: the Microplush Electric Heated Throw but I got mine a dull grey color.

It's really unimpressive out of the packaging, kind of flimsy and it has this big electronic control attached to it. But I smoothed it out on one side of the bed and turned it on and later, when I went to bed, Bob and Frankie were already on it asleep. They've been sleeping on it every night (it's machine washable, too.)

Sobakowa doesn't bother with it, though. She still sleeps on me all night, my own personal fur coat that covers one shoulder and stares at me like I'm on house arrest. I haven't seen her use the electric blanket once. She likes the real thing, a human heater, not some self-serve heater stand in.

Posted by laurie at November 11, 2009 9:33 AM