Thursday, July 31, 2008

Motor City Books, no book, no contact, I want a refund

I've recently taken up brewing beer. Being the geek that I am, research was part of the process. Sometimes I wonder if I take up a new hobby for the sake of the hobby or as an excuse to research something in absurd detail.

Anyway, I, like many before me, quickly became a fan of Charlie Papazian and "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing Third Edition. I learned that he'd written a sequel of sorts entitled "The Homebrewer's Companion." Having enjoyed the first book so much, I bought my own copy, I thought I'd order the second book.

I went to and found a used copy for one cent, plus $3.99 Shipping and Handling from Motor City Books. I placed the order on July 6, 2008, and got an estimated delivery window of July 15, 2008 - July 29, 2008. Given the price, I found this reasonable.

The evening of July 29 I sent the following to Motor City books using's "Contact Seller" feature. supposedly includes the order number with the message.

When will the book arrive? Has it even shipped yet?

As I write this on the 31st, I have not yet received a reply. I have, however, left the following feedback on

"Item did not arrive even though I waited for almost a month. I tried to contact the seller for information and received no response. I am filing a reimbursement claim through on this order. I would advise against ordering from this seller."

Since won't let you leave a zero star rating, I had to give them one star out of five.

The point of all this, is to advise others to not order from Motor City Books through Based on my experience, they don't ship your order, don't respond to efforts to contact them and you're going to end up trying to get a refund.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Memory of a dumb teacher

My Jr high science teacher was the opposite of cool. He was an idiot. For example, we were supposed to dissect clams on parent's day. The night before, he laid out all the trays with their formaldehyde soaked specimens. This resulted in the room being saturated with the smell of formaldehyde. In the morning, he started the task of trying to open them.

These clams were prepped for use by students and had clear instructions on how to get them open.

1. Remove the piece of wood wedged between the two halves of the shell.
2. Slide a scalpel into the opening. (See diagram)
3. Slice the muscle holding the clam closed. (See diagram)

These were actually the directions the STUDENTS were supposed to follow, but Mr D told us he didn't want a classroom full of kids struggling to open clams on parents day.

This joker had trouble getting the first piece of wood out, so he decided to drill out the hinge on each clam. He got the drill and had it handy for the start of class. Mind you, he didn't test his cunning plan before the parents were lined up watching class in progress.

I'll spare you the clam by clam summary, but suffice it to say by the time class was half over he'd shattered three clams, drilled the hinge out on another before shattering half its shell, and destroyed two drill bits. The janitor had initially refused his request for a third bit.

While he was trying to drill open another clam I calmly walked up to the far end of the table, picked up a clam and followed the directions on opening it. The first one was kind of tough as the wood was stuck, but most of them came apart easily. I proceeded to open half the clams on the table before he noticed what was going on.

He looked up, stopped drilling and stared as I opened another clam.

I smiled in what was later described as a "Eat it sucker" grin and asked if I should start passing out the clams.

He glared for a moment and then reprimanded me for using a scalpel without permission.

I silently returned to my seat and watched him destroy the third bit. The bit bent and the clam shot out of his and and onto the table. He put the drill down and stood up. He grasped a piece of chalk and calmly said "Now, before we dissect clams tomorrow I want to run through what you'll be doing once you're presented with your specimens."

"Nice recovery" someone muttered.

He glared at me. I held up my hands in an "I didn't do it" gesture and said "That was a girl's voice. I'm a boy."

This time some of the snorting and chuckling came from the parents and not just the kids.

It was three days before we dissected the clams, and by that point they resembled stew ingredients more than a dissection project. The room stank of formaldehyde until the following Fall.