strange but true postal tales

I don't really want to go into it.

Let's not even talk about the fourth blown tire, nor the fact that this one had nothing to do with my own stupidity (hard to believe, I know).

We shall not speak of the heavy volume of mail on yet another Saturday. Saturdays used to be such a nice day.

Let's simply forget about the two and a half feet of flats that awaited me when I returned to the office, despite the fact that I was trying to make a four o clock appointment (which I missed).

Further, let us not dwell on the supervisor's little talk. The one in which she told me that all carriers are now supposed to be back by 5pm on weekdays (though the truck will still depart at 5:45). I said, "that will be incredibly hard for me to do on Mondays," which as she knows, is the heaviest day of the week. "I know," she said.

No, I want to talk about the wild turkey.

It happened here. It involved a large wild turkey, such as the one picutred here. The bird in the picture is not the same one that attempted to fly into my car on the route today. I mean exactly that, this bird "tried" to enter my car while airborne. I saw him at the side of the road watching me approach. He then squawked (I didn't know they could do that) and took off. He had a hard time getting air, and so his trajectory would put him right in my driver side window, which was open. The internal alarm must have gone off in his cockpit (brain), saying "pull up, pull up" becuase he did, slightly, performing a perfect landing on the top of my car, which was still in motion. He remained there, squawking, for three full seconds before flapping his way back to the side of the road whence he came.

"That was odd," I said to no one but myself.

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proposed gas relief gives me heartburn

Senate republicans are proposing a $100 gasoline rebate but say we have to let them drill in the protected Alaskan wilderness to get it.

Thanks but no thanks, guys. I'll just drive less.

It's stuff like this (as well as the certain democratic response... gee, can you guess what it is?) that makes me glad I have no official party affiliation. As Yakov Smirnoff says, "What a country."

pullin' a xerox

More on the Viswanathan plagiarism thingy.

The author who actually wrote the stuff Viswanathan stole (excuse me, borrowed) says she is not "not seeking restitution in any form."

I sincerely applaud McCafferty's graciousness. Really, I do. However, I think Miss Viswanathan needs to experience some consequences here. She got one hell of an advance for her (and I use the term "her" loosely) novel. Seems only fair that she should render unto McCafferty that which is McCafferty's.

Well, at least the book is being pulled. Although I'm sure it will enjoy a nice sales blip when it is rereleased and that McCafferty won't see a dime of that either.

I just hope Viswanathan doesn't take a liking to any of my books. Oh, wait... I haven't written any. Dang.

give this guy his own court tv show

Mr Justice Peter Smith, who presided over the Da Vinci Code Plagiarism (not so much of a) Case gets the last laugh. Apparently, his written ruling has been confounding trial lawyers since he handed it down some three weeks ago. Turns out he included a code of his own.

The odd letters appeared to crop up randomly throughout the text and most people assumed they were typographical errors. But on closer examination, a pattern has emerged.

Most excellent, English judge type dude!

Secret handshake to Books Inq.

loremo: goes a long way with its ridiculous name

So this car purportedly gets 157 miles to the gallon.

The current price tag for the Loremo is 15,000EUR which computes to about 19,000USD. Not too bad I guess, though I'd love to see a super fuel efficient car like this in the under 15,000 dollar range so people like me could at lest think about owning one.

And that name's gotta go. I mean, it may be the name of the company's founder or something and that's fine, but for a car? I dunno.

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oops, i accidentally said exactly the same thing you said and made a mint doing it. i sorry.

You know how sometimes when you write something that you realize later just happens to use the same exact words in pretty much the same order as someone else's previously published book? Oopsy.

Hey, stuff like this must happen all the time, right? I mean, there are only so many words in the English language. Well, apparently it did happen.

Says the young auteur, I "wasn't aware of how much I may have internalized Ms. McCafferty's words."

Uh huh. Sucks to be her, I guess. It's still called plagiarism.

This is gonna do a lot for Harvard, I can tell.

P.S. OTOH, check out the last quote in the article, where the publisher of McAfferty's book speaks out...

"This has been an enormous distraction for Megan," Ross said. "It's been a very, very difficult and devastating couple of weeks for her."

Cut me a brrrrrreak.


this would be ironic if it were a dalmation

But it was a goldenpoodle that set off a 50,000 dollar fire using...

1. Her paws
2. The gas stove
3. A box of cold pizza

Yep. Here's the article about it.

Hat tip to the inimitable Obscure Store.

Looks like there is at least one advantage (perhaps only one) to owning an electric stove.

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he didn't know about the boss button

The guys at car talk have the boss button on their website. They also have the best show on radio, but that's neither here nor there.

Obviously, Toquir Choudhri didn't know about the boss button. The title of the article suggests that Choudhri was to be fired for ignoring supervisors' warnings about surfin the web (he must have been slowing down those poor supervisors' connections). The guy visited a few travel and news sites.

So for all you worker bees out there, make sure you know where the car talk boss button is at all times. The job you save may be your own. Me? My main job knows nothing of computers. I do get to use a pretty nifty scanner though.

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voices come out of the rain, when you're strange

I've added strange culture to the blogroll.

Despite the fact that RC has some ads on his blog... okay, actually he has quite a few... he writes some good postage. Like this one for example. How he digs the stuff up I don't know, but it's worth checking out via the sidebar.

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get out your hip waders

More bul****t is on the way from the RIAA.

Not only are they suing dead people, and families who don't even own computers for illegal downloading. (!!!) They're also into suing 15 year olds and demanding that special counsel be retained (at the young plaintiff's expense, natch) to represent them. Sweet!

I don't download music but the RIAA's incredibly capricious tastelessness makes me want to start. You know, just to piss them off.

Boycotts don't appeal to me at all, but the RIAA is just the kind of organization that deserves one. And not only the RIAA either, but the artists that side with them. Like these morons.

big booming voice from the sky

Did you know that many people do not check their mailboxes every day? I thought everybody was like me... I always want to know what kind of mail we got today, despite the fact that I personally get almost no mail at all.

Anyway, I now know the awful truth. Lots and lots of people let their mailboxes fill up until absolutely nothing, not one single postcard, will fit in the thing. If you're a mail carrier it eventually becomes necessary to pound, pound, pound that day's mail into that box... you may succeed and you may not. But you'll make an awful lot of noise.

So it was with interest that I read an article about mysterious booming noises heard and felt in various states.

Nobody knows what the noises are. But I am sure it's some poor rural mail carrier trying to pound mail into an overstuffed box.

Or, I suppose it could be a message from Vega. Did it sound like this?

scheduled out(r)age the revenge

scheduled outage in twenty minutes. Must type fast!

Not that I have anything to type about, mind you.

Well, other than that a Cold Stone Creamery just opened up in our neighborhood. Life is good.

Okay, gotta run before blogger eats my lunch.

Oh, and especially for Carrie... woot.

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skip this post. i'm venting.

UPDATE: It's 4:56 and I'm home and showered. The mail wasn't as heavy today as I feared. It was heavy, especially for a Saturday, but not as bad as it could have been. And Monday is looking bad... they told all the carriers to come in at least a half hour early. That's never good news.

I had a hard time working up the energy for the job today. And did it rain! Of course, the heaviest rain fell at the precise moment when I had to get out to walk a parcel to a house that was a quarter mile (no exaggeration) from the road.

So tonight I'm going to start preparing for my writing assignment. This preparation involves reading wedding magazines... more than that I cannot say.

< vent>
The post office called today. I have to work tomorrow. It's going to rain, two inches at least. The mail will be heavy... don't ask me how I know, I just do. My wife has to work too. The kids will be here by themselves (we do have someone checking on them, apparently). I'll be delivering the new route, the one I just learned, so I'll have to go in early becuase I don't know it that well yet. And I'll have to bust my hump getting the thing done in time to make the outbound truck. Not that I'll make any extra money for my hard work... we couldn't have that. At the post office they have a saying, "Are you getting a bad attitude? What took you so long?" I'm definitely getting a bad attitude.

I was supposed to work at the local coffee shop tomorrow as a barista, and had planned on getting some work done on my latest freelancing assignment. None of that will happen however. Instead I'll be lucky to be back in time for dinner.
< /vent>

Oh yeah, I forgot. Tomorrow is also the one year anniversary of this blog. woot. Not that I'll have the chance to post anything.

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sniff, sniff

Everyone, it is now 4:20 on this particular Thursday in the EDT zone. Do you smell something?

Update: Did my friends in the CDT zone smell anything at their 4:20?
Update to the power of two: Hey all you pacific people, smell anything?

So, now that 4:20 on 4/20 is off the shores of the lower 48... here's the scoop by way of a simple google search. Here's a commentary at NPR.

As for what I think of this "holiday?" Look no further than the category I assigned to this post.

imaginary soundtrack

She took a sip of her drink and said, "hey,"
"This music really gets on my nerves!"
I said, "What music?"
She said, "The music in my head.
"Sometimes it makes me wish I were dead.
"It's like a requiem. It's like a rodeo.
"Can't you hear it?"
I said, "No."

Those lyrics by The Judybats (old school Judybats too) represent something that really exists: musical hallucinations. Whoodathunk?

As Alan at Damn Interesting reports,

Sufferers describe it as a constant flow of random songs, with one song often leading to the next in a never-ending shuffle-mode torment. In some cases, a single song is heard repeatedly. The sound is so vivid that when a person first starts experiencing the symptoms, they often ask others whether they can hear the music, too.

Like an earworm on steroids... and you just know that if you suffer from a musical hallucination today it will be this

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keeping it simple not stupid

I have another writing gig which I can't say much about because of a non-disclosure agreement. Essentially it involves writing searchable web content that will 1.) create an online presence for the client's product and 2.) be good.

So it is with impeccable timing that Clive Thompson at Collision Detection tells us of a gem of a research project in which it is proved that using big words makes you sound like a moron. Or, as the deliciously ironic title of the paper puts it...

Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly.

Thanks Clive; I'll keep that in mind as I get to work.

Here's a link to an online abstract. The full text PDF of the article is available there as well but it'll cost you if you're not already a registered user. :-(

Other links of interest:


you can't see me, but i'm blushing

I don't even feel right about linking to this.

Really, Jimmy, it was my pleasure.

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oh, Gwynne...

Check it out! I just know you're gonna run out and see it when it hits the screen... in 2007.


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don't talk and drive

The WSJ reports on efforts by states to curb cell phone related traffic accidents.

While no state has banned talking on a cellphone while driving, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Washington, D.C., have the most restrictive laws: Except in emergencies, motorists in those states can use cellphones only with hands-free devices, such as earpieces. Restrictions vary across other states. Some prohibit teenagers, bus drivers and drivers with learning permits from using cellphones...

I'm dismayed that no state has actually banned what is probably the most attention robbing, and therefore hazardous, driving habit around today. Since most of the working hours I get these days are spent on the road, I've become acutely aware of erratic driving. It is almost a certainty that if I see a car weaving from side to side or inexplicably varying its speed, the driver is yakking away. And but me no buts about hands free either-- just as many of these erratic drivers are wearing head sets as not.

The numbers in the article ought to speak for themselves, though I'm sure the cell phone addicts and industry lobbyists will try to spin them some other way, as indeed they have already been doing for quite some time.

Do you drive while talking on your cell phone?

If so, shame on you. For your own safety and the safety of your fellow travelers, stop. Just stop.

Need more encouragement? The Car Talk guys can provide you with plenty. For instance, you might want to follow this link to read accident stories (some of them seem exaggerated or patently untrue, and then there are some that are probably understated).

Drive now. Talk later.

scheduled out(r)age

I haven't posted in two days and was feeling guilty. Then there was this article about a blogger who shut down her blog because it was keeping her from writing, I'm referring to this article, of course. So I go to blogger and it says there is a scheduled outage for, well, now.

As a result, this post is a lot shorter than it was going to be. So there.

More later....


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and i thought i had it bad

This guy's commute is ridiculous.

That's just not right.

P.S. Some people are downright incensed over this. See some of their comments here.

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it is finished

My marathon work week (and a half) is now over. The regular carrier is back from vacation and scheduled to work tomorrow.

I keep wondering why I am so worn out, and feeling somewhat guilty for not wanting to get called in for a few days, maybe for the rest of the week.

Today was another heavy day, though Saturday was the easiest day I've ever had. Yet even then, when I was about halfway through the route, a woman saw me hefting a single tray of mail from the back of my car to the front, and also saw the remaining three trays in the back of the car. She cried out, "that's hard work!"

I answered, "This is the lightest day I've ever had. I'll be done in maybe an hour and a half." I was, too. By 2:45 I was finished for the day.

That was Saturday when I had seven trays of mail to deliver. Today I had fourteen.

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zinsser on memoirs on npr

William Zinsser talks about memoir writing on NPR. Fascinating.

"Memoir at its best can be an act of healing."

"Writers are the custodians of memory," he says.

I've posted about my love of memoir before. Zinsser's book on the form "Inventing the Truth" is a classic.

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i worked today

As I was on the route today it occurred to me that this is the first year since 1992 that I haven't been employed by a church at Easter.

The mail comes on Saturday before Easter and the Monday following Easter. This means somebody's got to deliver it. You can say that about dozens and dozens of other fields as well. You'll find people working at the convenience stores and gas stations. You'll see them driving buses and watching over nuclear power plants (like the one I deliver to every day on the route). Those who work this day do not have the freedom that I once enjoyed (and, sadly, took for granted), to spend this day between Good Friday and Easter in patient waiting, in contemplation and reflection, perhaps fasting.

So, if you are not working today, maybe you can find a minute away from tending the garden or washing your car, and in that moment or two, or more, maybe you will think about the God who says "Love" not with words but with his own flesh and blood.

Just a thought.

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quite close to the truth, actually

Your Summer Ride is a Beetle Convertible

Fun, funky, and a little bit euro.
You love your summers to be full of style and sun!

This is my actual ride (except mine is blue). See? Told you it was close.

h/t to Beth.
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dude, where's my laptop

UPDATE:Strange Culture checks in with a reference to blog author RC's post on this topic.

Woah! Here's a scary article from the San Francisco Chronicle about laptop theft. This isn't an "I went to the bathroom and when I came back my laptop was, just, like, gone dude!" story. Not at all...

"I looked up, and I saw this guy leaning into me as if he was asking a question,'' he said. "I leaned forward, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone fiddling with the computer cord. I tried to stand up, and as I stepped back, he stabbed me in the chest.' "

I know when I go to my favorite notebook spot at my favorite local coffeehouse, I'll be keeping my eyes peeled. I might actually just hand the thing over, though the crooks might refuse it. It is a windows machine after all.

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the most difficult job i've ever had

Another sub and I were talking on Saturday about various jobs he's had. He said he had a couple of jobs were his chief responsibility was supervising some process. All he had to do was check in on things every couple of hours. He said he left those jobs because he couldn't stand sitting around bored all day.

I told him I've never had a job like that. Every job I've ever held required actual work. Even youth ministry. I know people who think youth ministers don't do any work at all; this is utter nonsense.

But none of my past jobs even come close to the challenge of delivering the mail. I know that probably sounds like a joke to some of you, but rest assured it is not.

I had a pretty good day today (this means that I worked my butt off for 11 hours without so much as a break (except to use the men's room, twice) and made it home for dinner). A bad day can mean up to 14 hours of work without even getting everything done.

I'm supposed to have tomorrow off, which is good since I have plenty of other stuff to do.

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hi. bye.

Very quickly:

Yesterday: good! moderate mail volume, home by 4:30!!! able to do some work for 422 Biz article.

Today: bad! heavy heavy heavy, oh my gosh! heavy! first day on new route by myself. heavy! ... made truck, amazed supervisor. tired. still have work to do for tomorrow's worship.

see ya.

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well, there goes my week

I got the call to work tomorrow and Saturday. I'm already scheduled to work my route all next week. There are also deadlines: the last 10 days of the Lenten Devotional Blog need to be writ, as well as my next article for the 422 Biz magazine, due next Friday.

Don't look for much to happen in this space. Lots of interesting blogs in the sidebar. Please lend them your eyeballs.

I'll see ya when I see ya.

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Ich bin ein Dubliner

Man, searchblog is just all over the meme action lately. Here's my spin on the latest:

You Belong in Dublin

Friendly and down to earth, you want to enjoy Europe without snobbery or pretensions.
You're the perfect person to go wild on a pub crawl... or enjoy a quiet bike ride through the old part of town.

Dublin? There's a shock. I would have picked London, or maybe Rouen or something else in France's Loire Valley.

And oh, yeah... I've got a large oil painting of me going wild on a pub crawl. That'll happen.

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it's hard out here for a p...


Waaaaah! Says J. K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter and the Big Pile of Dough. She can't find lined paper. Poor dear.

Maybe we should send her some, 'cause my kids are waiting for that book. She says it's going fine despite the lack of proper writing accoutrements.

What a relief.

technorati tag:

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I don't know how long it will be up, but my first article for the 422 Business Advisor is online. Follow this link to read it.

The vast majority of you will have almost zero interest in the economic development efforts in our town. I'm just excited to have an actual column in an actual publication. So, you know, humor me and give the article a token click. If you want to read it, feel free.

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the secret knowledge of water: review

Craig Childs has had countless close calls in the desert. One involved a rattler, the rest involved water. Childs seeks it out, water, that is, in the desert. He finds plenty. Actually, it's an understatement to say he finds plenty. The amount of water in the desert staggers the imagination. The desert is a river, it is a sea.

Childs writes about his desert sea journeys in The Secret Knowledge of Water. It's as beautiful a piece of nonfiction writing as you're likely to find.

I read lots of books about the western and southwestern U. S. That half of our country holds an incredible fascination for me. It is especially rewarding when I find someone who writes from that same sense of fascination; Craig Childs succeeds at this, turning his preoccupation with the desert and its water into rich, elegant prose.

A review on the back cover of the edition I just finished says that this "lyrical, meandering work" turns into a "sudden page turner." That's quite true. You think upon opening the book that it's going to be a study in hidden water. It is, but it's also a memoir, a travel narrative, and a profound work by a thirsty spirit.

So much water in the desert might come as a surprise. It certainly does for a few unfortunate souls in Childs' book who lose their lives in sudden floods, during which the secret water becomes much more than a rumor. But the book is not a cobbled together account of hair raising encounters with desert water (desert water sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it?). As Childs says, the desert is a map of water. He simply follows the map, rendering it for us in prose.

There is very little in this book to quibble with. One brief section reads a little like a desert biology text. But no, that's too strong a criticism. When I hear "textbook" I think "boring," even when Childs is giving us ecological details, he's never boring.

This is simply a great read. It is especially good for anyone who has ties, or just an interest, in the southwestern reaches of our country.

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my life in mail: setback

Note - Tuesday morning: I published the following last night but then made some changes. I was so tired that I hit "save as draft" after making my changes.

After a few weeks of good days when I did my primary route faster and faster, today I had a setback. I blew yet another tire and also had an overwhelming volume of mail. I feel like I've been beat up. There are numerous paper cuts on my hands and my legs are stiff and sore from lifting what had to be about a half ton of mail. I didn't lift it all at once, of course.

This time, since I wasn't in training, the regular carrier (Jim Regular) wasn't around to help me with the blown tire. I was on my own. So I went to change it: I had my jack, my spare (which is actually a regulation tire, not a donut), and my tire changing kit. But where oh where did my lug wrench go? I still don't know. No lug wrench meant no changing of the tire, so I called the place the post office uses and they sent a guy out who had a lug wrench and changed the tire in no time. Well, actually the whole ordeal cost me about 45 minutes. Since it was a heavy day to begin with, that 45 minutes made the difference between me making and missing the outbound truck at the end of the day. I missed it.

The only comforting (in a cold way) thing is that I actually was not the last one back to the post office.

Time for this day to be over.

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my job: fair to middlin'

Update: Seems I confused a couple of people with this one. The graphic below applies to my current job. The ministry job, the one I quit, would have ranked way higher on the dissatisfaction scale (as it did for my buddy Will, who I used to work with).

Okay, gotta go I'm off to work at my 52% satisfying job.

Got this meme from Will, whose results are, I must say, completely accurate and should be heeded.

My results would have been worse than his except for the fact that I did quit.

Your Job Dissatisfaction Level is 48%

Well, you don't have the worst job in the world, but it's not great.
And don't worry, you're not the problem - your company is.
Start looking around for another job, even if you're not totally fed up.
Because in time, you're going to be dying to quit!

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i've got got got got no time... to read.

I've been trying to find enough time to finish this book so that I can tell you how wonderful it is.

The book came as a surprise package a couple of weeks ago from Eric, who sent along a note that said something of my weird, or strange, or maybe the word he used was interesting, amazon wishlist. His reading habits are interesting as well, see the evidence for yourself.

The book is great. Thanks Eric! The problem is twofold: 1. I have almost no time right now to finish reading it, and 2.) Even if I do finish it I don't have the time to write a review post.

Maybe tomorrow.