Pumpkin Spice Latte reviews from 2013

(Last year I wrote up some reviews on pumpkin spice lattes but it was near the end of the season so I never did anything with them. Assuming no changes, this is presumably how I’d feel about them this year.)

Starbucks
$4.15
Somewhat thick, sugary. Can taste nutmeg, some cinnamon, but not so much coffee. Comes with whipped cream (was asked). Feels like a drink I’d feel a bit sick afterwards.

Bridgehead
$3.94
More coffee, cinnamon, and less sweet, bloat and dairy than Starbucks. Actually tastes like a coffee beverage.

McDonald’s
$3.60
The sweetness level is high but the richness level is poor. It tastes diluted. If one mixed a McD and a SB PSL together 1:1, it’d probably be the right amount of dairy. Rather strong on what I think is nutmeg, and lacking in other spices, which overwhelms the spice experience. Not tasting much if any coffee.

Second Cup
$4.33
Arguably, how the SB PSL should taste: not very coffee-flavoured, but a better balance of sugar, dairy, and spice. Can use less sugar, but okay otherwise. The price is ridiculous, though.

Timothy’s World Coffee
$4.10
Weird mix of spices, which leaves a bit of a metallic or chemical aftertaste? Same watery flavour as McD, and not as much dairy. Not all that sugary… …actually, the whole concoction seems to have a hint of aspartame.

Tim Hortons
$3.21
For the price, I’m not surprised that I’m drinking some kind of diluted warm milk liquid. There may be some spice here, but probably not coffee.

The Red Bomb

Photo by SK Ding

Future Ted: When you’re single and your friends start to get married, every wedding invitation presents a strange moment of self-evaluation. Will you be bringing a guest or will you be attending alone? What it’s really asking is where do you see yourself in three months? Sitting next to your girlfriend or hitting on a bridesmaid? I always checked that I was bringing a guest. I was an optimist.

 HIMYM season 1, episode 11, “The Best Man

Sorry, but I refuse to answer hypothetical questions unless in gilded gold text on gaudy scarlet paper.

Believe

Dammit HIMYM, you did it again.

Ted: All my friends from high school: they’re here with their wives, their kids. Me? My date for the night’s a sticky magazine.

Robin: Sounds like high school all over again… …sorry, it was right there.

Ted: I used to believe in destiny, you know? I go to the bagel place, see a pretty girl in line, reading my favorite novel, whistling the song that’s been stuck in my head all week, and I think: “Wow, hey, maybe she’s the one.” Now I think: “I just know that bitch is gonna take the last whole wheat everything bagel.”

Robin: You’ve just been focused on work.

Ted: No, it’s more than that. I stopped believing. Not in some depressed “I’m gonna cry during my toast” way. Not in a way I even noticed until tonight. It’s just, every day, I think I believe a little less, and a little less, and a little less. And that sucks. What do I do about that, Scherbatsky?

Robin: You’re Ted Mosby. You start believing again.

Ted: In what? Destiny?

Robin: Chemistry. If you have chemistry, you only need one other thing.

Ted: And what’s that?

Robin: Timing. But timing’s a bitch.

HIMYM season 7, episode 1, “The Best Man

Okay, I need to end on a much lighter (yet literally heavier) note: geez, what happened to Victoria’s arms? I guess that’s what happens with years of professional baking.

Deliveries

When the lockout was happening at Canada Post, it made me wonder how, in this day and age, private courier firms can still seem to f*ck things up so royally compared to a Crown Corporation.

I imagine that in the business world, door-to-door courier delivery is pretty much a settled affair. But in a world of online retailers, there are a lot of consumers that need packages delivered, and they only really see the receiving side. The demands are not that absurd:

  • Ship to home, or somewhere close by. We don’t want stuff sent to work.
  • If we don’t pick it up at home, leave it somewhere that is convenient to get to from home.
  • Give some advance notice before delivering.

If I order something from Amazon or Indigo and it comes in by Canada Post, I usually would miss the delivery, but it will be waiting at the nearby post office by the time I’m off work. I go home, retrieve the delivery notice, and have what I ordered by the end of the day.

But heaven forbid I order something and make the mistake of shipping by FedEx (ClearlyContacts) or I’m forced to choose UPS (TigerDirect). The usual process is:

  1. The order is carefully tracked online from the warehouse, my anticipation building.
  2. Eventually, while I’m at work, the delivery guy will go to my apartment. No one knows when he’ll get there. If it’s UPS and no signature required, it will be left prominently in the doorway. That is, where any random person can take it.
  3. I am faced with a conundrum: either waste everyone’s time by having the delivery person repeatedly come to my apartment until he gives up and tells me to pick it up at a depot in the middle of nowhere, or pay more to have it shipped to the local courier store.
  4. Eventually, about a week after the time I would’ve received said item from Canada Post, I’ve paid more to get the same bloody thing.

I have no idea why they make me jump through hoops to do this. UPS and FedEx have locations everywhere but one cannot actually receive anything from them. Shipping with Canada Post is like playing darts: it’s not expected to hit the bull’s eye every time, but generally at least the dart makes contact with the dartboard. UPS and FedEx are like NATO snipers in Afghanistan, setting world records for accuracy when on target, but off by half a heartbeat and the bullet is sixty miles away in the woods. This is not a system to take pride in, in an age where the vast majority of parcel demands are not asking for pinpoint precision in the first place.

A more recent experience with DHL proved much more accomodating: they called when I was at work, and I had them reschedule. The time was still relatively nebulous, but work and home are close enough for me that it wasn’t a major issue and I picked up my package before it got swallowed up by the innards of the courier system. I don’t understand why nobody else tries this.

The One

Ted: Okay, I’m gonna say something out loud that I’ve been doing a pretty good job of not saying out loud lately. What you and Tony have, what I thought for a second you and I have, what I know that Marshall and Lily have: I want that. I do. I keep waiting for it to happen, and I’m waiting for it to happen, and… …I guess I’m just, um, I’m tired of waiting. And that is all I’m going to say on that subject.

Stella: You know, I once talked my way out of a speeding ticket?

Ted: Really?

Stella: I was heading upstate to my parents’ house, doing, like, 90 on this country road, and I got pulled over. So this cop gets out of his car, he kinda swaggers on over and he’s like “Young lady, I’ve been waiting for you all day.” So I looked up and I said “I’m so sorry, officer. I got here as soon as I could.”

Ted: For real?

Stella: No. It’s an old joke. I know that you’re tired of waiting, and you may have to wait a little while more, but she’s on her way, Ted, and she’s getting here as fast as she can.

HIMYM season 4, episode 23, “As Fast as She Can

Poll-ee crap

I’m not sure how this happened, but apparently I’m the last person Frank Graves tweeted to before he left the building:


@ thinking it is time for me to go dark here, Have had threatening calls to my home ,abusive emails Might be time to beg out
@VoiceOfFranky
Frank Graves

I had made an observation that EKOS was finding Green voter intentions to be much higher than the actual election result, while Nanos (among others) was closer. I believe this result comes, in part, because Nanos does not prompt poll respondents potential party choices in their question, which more accurately reflects what goes on in the voting booth (yes, the party names are on the ballot, but EKOS wasn’t prompting for the Rhinoceros Party or the Marxist-Leninists as well). These methodological differences can create substantial gaps in the results, especially for a small party like the Greens, where voter responses are driven just as much as how they want the Green Party to look in the polls as their actual voting intentions. The lack of actual observations to compare polls to elections makes it hard to make the case decisively, but I think EKOS does need to consider this factor.

I’m sure it’s merely a timing thing, but it’s weird nonetheless to feel like I’m holding the last correspondence someone sent before falling into the Witness Protection Program. This is, in all honesty, completely messed up. Public opinion polling is overwhelming an apolitical affair. Pollsters follow elections and run voter intention polls as a form of proving their art, as to demonstrate their methodology to commercial clients, the true cash cows of polling. They have little to no incentive to bugger up their political polls. While I do find the increased demand for pollsters to act as commentators to be unfortunate, the rationale for them filling that demand is the same: increased exposure for commercial clients. That anyone would harass a pollster for other people’s responses is, not only obviously criminal and heinous, but also idiotic and delusional.

Pots and kettles

Margaret Wente is obvious in her political bias, but her lessons are sound.

Take the so-called ethnic vote. When the Liberals courted new Canadians, it was smart. When the Conservatives do it, it’s sleazy. During the campaign, the CBC assembled countless panels of ethnic people to express their disgust at this condescending and divisive tactic. Amazingly, however, ethnic voters seemed glad to have important cabinet ministers show up in their ridings. They liked the focus on stability and a strong economy. Besides, the Liberals hadn’t been around for years.

As a “very ethnic” voter, the tone-deaf attacks on Conservative targetted campaigning were maddening. We are well aware that the Liberals and NDP spent just as long, if not longer, hobnobbing with visible minority community leaders to try to take their votes. The Tories were guilty, if anything, of being a bit too blunt in their approach.

Attacking them for that, though, yields no dividends. Either you are persuaded by this type of approach, and the ham-fisted style probably bought some brownie points: they’re not perfect, but they’re trying. Or you are indeed turned off by the divisiveness, and are just reminded that the attackers are hypocrites. If you’re running for office and you don’t like your opponent’s tactics, rather than the fact that they’re being applied to you, the first thing to do is to stop doing them yourself.

I work for an interesting department

I know this because every time I tweet about something interesting, I have to add another two tweets to cover my ass for possible conflicts of interest.


Note the ironic sentence at the very bottom: Survey data are weighted against the census to ensure accuracy. http://bit.ly/hE38LW
@dgardner
Dan Gardner


@dgardner COI (IC employee) but I wouldn’t mind seeing how weights work since only LFC/NHS category I see is education
@mrchan
Kelvin Chan


@dgardner NB: I’m not precluding possible need that other surveys may need to weigh to more LFC/NHS categories than just education
@mrchan
Kelvin Chan


I’m mostly just interested in pollster methodology when even if cellphones included, most people may not pick up unknown # on call display
@mrchan
Kelvin Chan