What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Friday, November 22, 2013


It’s been a long time since I posted anything here, partly because I’ve been way too busy, and partly because of the frustration I’ve been experiencing with Blogger and the whole arcane Blogger-Google-Gmail connection. I’ll start with the rant and go on to the rave.

When I set up this blog, I used my old Hotmail address to log in, and for a long time this worked fine. About two months ago I started having problems switching back to my gmail account after I’d been logged on here under the Hotmail address. Finally it got to the point where I simply couldn’t log onto here any more if I was logged into my gmail account, and had to do some troubleshooting. What I found out from various online forums was that to get back on I had to log in with my Hotmail address and give myself permission to log into my own account using the gmail address. I did this, but the process completely messed up my gmail account, so I had to go in, verify who I was, and change my password. I am now permanently logged into Blogger with my gmail account, but have lost all access to the administrative functions. I can’t even delete the spam comments that appear from time to time. I don’t dare log in again with the Hotmail address for fear I’ll be kicked out of gmail again and have to re-establish my account.

This morning I was so fed up with the whole Google-Blogger-Gmail labyrinth and its insidious efforts to exclude anything that looks like competition that I tried to find some contact information for customer support. There is none. They admit it. There are only two phone numbers, a general one that takes the caller to a recording saying that they offer no customer support and a “press” number where one can at least leave a callback number. I did so, and we’ll see what happens.

I’m tempted to switch the whole blog and my main e-mail account to other platforms, but I understand from the forums that a lot of things will be lost in the process. I’d rather work out the bugs in Blogger, but Google doesn’t seem to be interested in keeping their bloggers or their e-mail customers. I suppose they aren’t profitable enough. The saga will continue, one way or another.

Now for the rave, the bright spot in my week. I just signed up with Mail Chimp to send out html newsletters to my orchid customers. This company has been a joy to work with from the very start and I can’t say too many good things about them. Their services are free for up to 2000 e-mails a month, the ready-made templates they provide are easy to work with, and there are good help menus at every stage of the process. I was able to learn the system, put together an attractive newsletter, and send it to my list in just a couple of hours. The most amazing thing of all is that they actually have contact information and REAL PEOPLE who take the time to read my e-mails and respond appropriately. If I get to the point of sending more than 2000 e-mails a month, I will not begrudge them whatever I have to pay to do so. My perfume customers will be getting a nice html newsletter shortly. Any company that provides genuine customer service is worth supporting.

The level of transparency and superb service that I’ve received from Mail Chimp is almost unheard of in an era when every internet company, like the Wizard of Oz, remains mysterious, anonymous, and fiercely protected behind a fortress of smoke and mirrors, assuming that the unaffiliated geeks on the various forums will be dazzled by the company’s perceived size, wealth, and power. These companies seem to assume that an army of eager geeks will scramble to provide support services that the company itself should provide, essentially functioning as unpaid employees.

If Google, Blogger, or Gmail had a contact e-mail, or even a “contact us” window I would send them a copy of my rant, but alas, they have none. Who would read it anyway? Is the management of Google as pathetic as the con artist behind the Wizard's facade?

As I wait to resolve the Google empire problems, I will enthusiastically recommend Mail Chimp to anyone who needs to do group e-mailings. 

[frustration and chimp images adapted from Wikimedia. Wizard of Oz-theme images adapted from a general internet search facilitated by one branch of the very company I'm complaining about] 

Monday, November 11, 2013


Last week pretty much epitomized my month of November, with an orchid show and sale all day every day, theatre performances every night, and not much sleep. The last month of the day-job marathon begins again tomorrow morning, so I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to post between now and December.

The one bright spot in it all is the new bottles. I packed my first wholesale order of new bottles last week, and it was a wonderful experience to be able to take bottles from the box and fill them without having to print, cut, and apply labels. The boxes are as wonderful as the bottles, a perfect fit, with labels already printed on them. I just have to pop them open and put the bottle in! I’m beginning to think that the extra expense is offset by the fact that it’s less work to prepare stock and fill orders. Customers will also have a nice label that isn’t affected by liquids, and a good box to keep their perfume in.

In the process of filling and boxing perfumes, I discovered that the outside of the boxes can be cleaned with alcohol if needed. I was able to remove some stray glue completely by rubbing the box with alcohol. The box looked perfect afterwards, so it seems that the finish is resistant to liquids as well as mechanical damage.

I never thought I’d do it, but I’ll probably end up eventually going to screen-printed labels and custom boxes for everything 30 ml or larger. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013


It’s that time of year when the US engages in its quaint ritual of switching time zones. Just as flying west and gaining time is always easy, so is switching back from Mountain time to Pacific time. I know, no one calls it that, but that’s what it is. My students think it’s some sort of natural phenomenon like tides or the shortening of days in winter, so I have to explain to them that it’s an arbitrary decision made by state and national governments to tinker with the time zones just because they can. Every year the switch back to standard time comes later in the year and the jet-lag-inducing switch to “daylight saving time” comes earlier, so I assume that eventually we’ll all just move one time zone to the east and be done with it.

It’s been weeks since I had time to write a blog post, so what better way to use the stolen hour that was just returned to us than to write something and try to banish the block that always occurs when I wait too long between posts? What to say? It doesn’t much matter what, the important thing is to put words on the page, deal with the annoying problems Google created that kept me from logging on to the blog (I had to invite myself to contribute to it to get it back online) and get the prose flowing again.

The natural rhythms of academia have reached their annual peak of frenzied activity, so I spend my days scurrying from one class or meeting to another and my evenings and weekends preparing for classes, grading papers, and doing all of the busywork associated with all of the time-consuming committees that I somehow ended up on this year. Next weekend there’s an orchid show, so I have to prepare for that. Our theatre show opened this Friday and is running smoothly, so most of the work for that is finished. Just as in teaching a class, performing is the easy part where no one sees the hours of work that were spent to make it seem effortless. 

The perfume business has pretty much been running on momentum since late August, so I feel good if I manage to fill and ship orders once a week. The good news is that Michael now helps a lot with shipping. I’ve once again increased my production capacity, so I spend all of the income from the perfume I sell buying materials by the kilo as the smaller amounts run out. One of these days it will reach equilibrium as the orchid business has, but that’s still a ways off.

More than anything else, this is just a shout to let all of my readers know that I’m still alive and well despite the fact that I’m buried in a deep, dark sinkhole of over-commitment, running as fast as I can just to keep up like Alice in the Red Queen’s race, a hamster on its wheel, or those poor souls who run on treadmills at the gym. I have never understood the fun of running and not going somewhere, but I suppose the treadmill is symptomatic of a society in which it’s useful to have training in working extremely hard to go nowhere, and feeling safe while doing it because there’s no unknown territory. Not for me. I’m stepping off the treadmill that society creates, at least for a delightful hour, to think about things and maybe actually go somewhere. 

[Illustrations from Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking-Glass; hamster wheel and treadmill from Wikimedia]