This is kind of weird…

From the NY Times story about the return of Ingrid Betancourt, a French-Colombian woman who had been held captive by rebel forces in Colombia for six years:

“We were not expecting that particular moment,” said chief presidential aide Claude Guéant declared on France 3…

Mr. Guéant said that the French were informed of Ms. Betancourt’s liberation only shortly before Colombian news reports started to appear.

In contrast, American officials were “engaged in the planning stages,” according to a White House spokesman, Gordon D. Johndroe, and President Bush was kept apprised of the project. In addition, Senator John McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee who had been visiting Colombia this week, said that President Alvaro Uribe and his defense minister had briefed him on the operation on Tuesday night.

Aside from the poor grammar (Mr. Guéant both said and declared how surprised they were), it’s shocking to me that the Colombian government would keep all of France’s leaders in the dark about their plan to rescue one of their citizens, yet they obviously had help from the United States. Bush knew about it, and not only that, but apparently President Uribe briefed John McCain! They don’t tell the French president, but they tell a U.S. presidential candidate about the rescue op for a French citizen?? So strange!

Unfortunately the article doesn’t talk any more about this weirdness, and there’s just a bunch of quotes from French people about how it’s all because of Sarkozy that she’s been rescued, and so on. I want to know more!!

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Customer Service Review: IchibanKanUsa.com

I have recently become obsessed with bento boxes (see lunchinabox.net for a good introduction.) Luckily for me, a widely-renowed San Francisco-area Japanese market launched its online store pretty soon after I decided I just had to have some bento stuff. That meant I could pay $1.50 for this super-cute green box, instead of up to $5.00 plus around $10 shipping to get it on eBay. I was so happy! I immediately ordered a bunch of stuff. Then, as has happened a lot to me with regards to IchibanKan, they got some awesome stuff in right after I ordered. So I ordered some more, and took the hit with the shipping cost (and it was worth it).

Sadly, when I got the second order, I noticed that they had sent me these sauce bottles, when I had actually ordered these ones. I had actually already ordered the pair of bottles in my first order, and I was really looking forward to getting the cute little piggies, so I was pretty disappointed.

I opened a “case” on the customer service part of their website, and within eleven minutes they got back to me, saying they were very sorry and they’d send the correct bottles right away. They also told me they’d send a prepaid envelope in which I could return the mistake bottles. I was pleased to hear this, because I had been worried that I’d need to send the bottles back at my own cost. It seemed so reasonable, and was so quickly taken care of. To top it off, a few days later they even told me to ignore their request about sending the mistake bottles back – I could keep them at no charge to myself! Woo hoo!

So I was very pleased at their great level of service. Since then, I’ve ordered another big box of bento stuff, and I was about to place a fourth order today, after I noticed that a lot of the “natural lunch” bento items had been restocked. The green ones were still out of stock, however, and I didn’t want to order only to have them be restocked a few days later. So I opened another “case” on the website, this one asking whether they expected to get any new green natural lunch boxes in soon. This time they took a little longer to respond (and given that here I’m two hours ahead of where they are, it’s not too surprising since I opened the case much earlier in the day this time), but it was still super-fast – just a few hours after I asked my question, I had the response!

So, to close out this long ode to IchibanKan, I want to encourage anyone out there to buy from them if you can! They are great, and deserve lots of (monetary) support!