Jabs, You Tube, Survey and new Scales.
14th May 2021
I was in conversation with my brother Jim the other day and the subject turned to the Covid jab, he saying that he’d just had his second one and knowing that I prevaricated for quite a while before reluctantly going like a lamb to the slaughter to have my first back in March. He suggested that it might be interesting to watch a YouTuber, one Dr John Campbell who does a daily broadcast on the subject. Now honestly, I couldn’t think of anything more boring than things such as this, as I don’t expect to understand a word of what is being talked about and it’s not an area that normally interest me.
So, two points to this opening paragraph. One, it turns out that John Campbell is a jolly good watch. He appears well informed, uses typed notes so that you can see as he goes down his page, and on which, he underlines the key points to make his explanations clear. He doesn’t confine his arguments to just his own opinions or just to the UK, sometimes bringing in guests from both the UK and other parts of the world to inform the conversation. I didn’t think I’d ever be interested in a subject such as Covid, other than hoping to survive it, but he has made it really interesting and sometimes quite moving, especially of late, when he’s reviewing the awful state India has found itself in, with people dying for want of the vaccine (less than 2% of the population so far have had it) and lack of basics such as oxygen. Really awful, and in fact, they are not alone, I was watching his broadcast this morning and in Nigeria for instance, he believes it will take two to three years to vaccinate the whole population.
My second point that came to me as I was writing is more upbeat, and that is to praise and thank the volunteers, the nurses and the doctors at the old Canon building on Cockshot hill in Reigate where I went for both my jabs. From the moment that I drove up, being told with a smiley face where to park my car, to being guided to back down the carpark and literally at every turn being shown where to go, all the while with smiling friendly people who looked like they were enjoying their job of looking after people. People who, by the very nature of what they were about to have done to them, would be nervous. This for me, and I suspect many others, turned what I feared would be somewhat of a traumatic experience, into a pleasure, and I say that as one who is terrified of needles and, at the time of my first jab I wasn’t even convinced that I was doing the right thing. Quite an achievement! So my heartfelt thanks to them all. Very briefly going back to India, I’ve been reading a book recently called “Love your Enemies” by Arthur Brookes, an American Think Tank professor (American Enterprise Institute) and, casting around YouTube as I’m prone to do from time to time, I came across a film he made 2 years ago called “The Pursuit”, a part of which was made in India. He was visiting to illustrate how capitalism and free markets have had a dramatic impact on reducing poverty levels throughout the world, India being a particularly strong example. In it he has a conversation with a friend of his who is a local. The friend asserts that he’s a wealthy man. Arthur, a bit surprised (this chap by western standards isn’t) asks him why. He replies “I’ve been able to build something, I’ve been able to earn my living, and I’ve been able to serve others”. Quite a statement!
Survey Results, Actions and a Thank you
More on this another week when I’ve had a little more time to digest its significance. Now, on to other things. I’d like to thank you very much if you were one of the 100 or so people who responded to my request to fill the survey two weeks ago. There was a lot that you identified as good about the website, so thank you for the plethora of appreciative remarks about it. Being ever so slightly obsessed by the notion of continuous improvement (understatement) I was very interested in what you thought needed improving. Many people sighted the search facility as below par, some wanted a way of being told when something had come back into stock, you pointed out that there is a dearth of products on the site (it’s true we only have about 2500 products out of the 7000+ lines that we carry). Further, you said the descriptions lack dimensions, you’d like more info about bread making and more tips on cooking. Oh and lastly, although the majority seem to like the style of my emails, one or two felt they were a bit long..sorry, but I will continue to put in the subheadings so that if you’re getting bored, you may continue to skip those bits. Another thought it was drivel. And one thought it was pretentious. So thank you for your honesty.
As a result of the survey, Andi has already started on the improvements, and one of the easiest low hanging fruits to implement, was the out of stock notification. You can now press the “Notify me when available” button if we are out of stock of an item (note this button takes few seconds to appear for some strange reason), and we’ll send you an email when it comes back into stock again, and he has also managed to change that annoying little FEEFO feedback icon that repeatedly gets in the way. It’s now sufficiently small to do so less or maybe not at all! We are making a list of priorities of the other major things that you asked for, amending the search facility being high on the agenda, but also quite a big job, and we’ll work our way through them over the next few months.
Time to do my job
Recently one of our older suppliers, KitchenCraft, introduced a new range of Scales by a company called Taylor, who I’d never heard of, but who I discovered have been making scales since the 1850’s. So I reasoned that by now they probably knew what they are doing and thought they might be a safe bet. However, before your imagination runs wild with you seeing lots of cast iron, steel and brass Victorian balance scales, allow me to bring you down to earth. Taylors would not have been making the ones we’re stocking in the 1855. And that’s because these are made from plastic, stainless steel and glass, driven by electricity (battery power) and in some cases are accurate to fractions of a gram, if that isn’t a horrible mixture of new and old (should I have said so many decimal points?). So these are all electronic scales which I’m pleased to say have now become the accepted norm, as they are so much easier to use than say balance scales in the confines of today’s smallish kitchens, when you’ve finished with them they are so much easier to store, just put them back in the drawer.
All the models we’re stocking (7 models at present) have the usual choices of either Pounds or Kilos (solid and liquid) and have the oh so useful Zero function. So what sets the Taylor Scales apart in some instances from the competition, are the amounts you can weigh, up to 14kg on one model and a very nice touch is that three of them have an oddly named (Touchless Tare) function. This allows the Zero-ing to be done without touching the scale, (great if you have sticky fingers) just wave your hand at a particular part of the scale, it bleeps, and zeros itself awaiting further ingredients. Neat. I’ll take you through two or three of them now.
KitchenCraft Taylor Pro Scale Touchless (5kg) Black
As the name suggests this is one of the Zero Touchless scales, it has a fairly standard capacity of 5kg, a glass top in black (in this case) and will weigh in Ounces, Fluid Ounces, Grams and Millilitres. Although, unlike some of the more expensive models, you have to change the unit of measure by turning it over to a button on the underside. A good value scale at £23.99.
KitchenCraft Taylor Pro Scale Dual Platform (5Kg/500gm)
Talking of boring emails or going off subject, be warned that this paragraph goes off subject in a big way, and refers back to emails from earlier this year. If you own an X5 or a Maserati then it may be best to skip to the next product.
This scale sports two platforms, one for normal weighing up to 5Kg with the usual Zero function and choice of different units that it can measure, and a small platform which weighs in much finer increments, to 2 decimal points of a gram in fact, so good for well… if you’re a drug dealer, no doubt driving around in your BMW X5 (drug dealers car of choice) you might well find the small platform useful. Which reminds me, my chum Nick Squire who runs the catchily named GEH (George East Housewares), he, who you may recall, claims to use Vietnamese Bees to fly in his Bee’s Wax Wrap all the way from Vietnam also made the mistake of leasing the aforementioned BMW earlier this year. He took me to task two weeks ago over my mention of his flying brick, that achieves 60mph a second and a half quicker than my Alpina. He then insulted my intelligence further in claiming that his brothers Maserati couldn’t keep up with him. I gently enquired if there had been something wrong with the Maserati or that perhaps his older brother was just being kind to him, trying, as older brothers should, to make their younger siblings feel ok about their mistakes…. But no, Nick was insistent and unrepentant. I do wonder though if it calls into question his contact with reality sometimes? Should I believe a man who uses underpaid third world bees to fly stuff half way round the world, and then goes on claim his X5 can beat a Maserati?
So maybe it’s time to wrap this sad story up and return to the scales. The second platform will do well for yeast for your bread and probably other legal activities as well. It’s a neat compact design, is hyper accurate and compared with the equivalent Salter offering, it’s just over half the price, at £29.50*. A lot of scale for the money!
*In fairness to Salter I should point out that their product is a much heavier duty effort and from memory has a 10kg capacity.
KitchenCraft Taylor Pro Scale Touchless Glass (14.4Kg)
This is a scale for the serious cook or perhaps more, the serious baker. With its huge weighing capacity and very large and very thick glass platform, I can just see it with a large pottery Mason Cash mixing bowl (which itself will weigh 2 or 3 Kilos!) filled with dough mix for couple of large loaves. As you add ingredients passing your flour covered fingers above the front of the scale to zero it, before adding water (at the correct temperature for the time of year and the temperature of the flour itself, as I learnt when Bob, took Babette up on her offer of a bread lesson last week, when he and I, learnt a lot about the importance of calculating the water temperature correctly when making your dough).So yes, a scale for the enthusiast at £39.50.
Ok that’s it for this week. Next week Babette and I are away on holiday, so the email will either be brief or non-existent, unless I can persuade someone to write it for me…we’ll see”.
I trust you have a pleasant and peaceful weekend.