The U.S. Mail delivers intrigue

On the Postal Service website just now is an advertizement for their “Informed Delivery” tool, that emails you scanned images of mail pieces that are going to end up at your address.

From: USPS / To: Jane / Informed Delivery Daily Digest 7:52 a.m. / COMING TO YOUR MAILBOX SOON / MAIL / picture of letter with return address “John Doe / 123 Any Street / Anytown USA 55555”, canceled stamp, and address “Jane Smith 123 Any Street / Anytown USA 5555”.

Aside from the maybe incorrect address formatting (The USPS seems to want you to use abbreviations for road names, so 123 Any ST) and notable lack of a state or territory for Anytown, why is John Doe sending a letter to Jane Smith at the same address?

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Just an old-time professor

For a few years in the mid 2000s, I took a number of courses at the county college (2-year, Associates-granting public institution) taught by this 1 professor, H. I propose to tell some storys about him, that he told me or that we had.

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3-eyed electric meter

A quick one: this simplified graphic of an electric power meter, as seen on common residential and light commercial services, looks like it has 3 eyes and is unimpressed:

NYSEG meter is unimpressed with your power profile.

Unicode calls this a “neutral face” but to me it’s unimpressed with what it sees, or what it is registering.

Slow, modern Heptameron story six (VI)

(Reminded of this by the comment of Laura on the awfullibrarybooks.net post about “Middle Age / The Prime of Life?”.)

At County College, I took a course on public speaking (rhetoric), which is the practice of standing in front of some people who are giving their attention to you while you talk about something. It is not elocution (making speech sounds). I think I got a B?

The professor was an old dude of some humor and, according to some, an appearance like a board game character. We got along with him well, but here are some memorys:

1. He had a camcorder on a tripod that he used to video us, so we could watch our performances later and see how to improve. I don’t know who else didn’t do this, but I was one who have always had an aversion to my voice and face, so I never did and made sure to destroy the VHS at the end of the semester. I am still glad.

2. He forgot to include the grade composition in the syllabus! This wasn’t brought up until we were preparing for the last speech we would have to give, when he reminded us it would be 40% of the final grade. I remember being the one to ask him the grade breakdown and answering him that it wasn’t in the syllabus. (He was cool about it and immediately told us what it was.)

3. One student gave a very polished speech (I think it was the third of 5 we had to do) and I remember when leaving the classroom after that period had ended the professor striking up what was very clearly a touchy conversation. I didn’t stay, but the next period I remember noticing she was not there. The entire time since I have a fear that she plagiarized it and had to, at minimum, withdraw from the course.

4. Someone who sat next to me gave a couple of speeches I remember, one was on procrastination and he mentioned intentionally procrastinating on preparing or practicing it. I felt it dragged out and had evidence that the professor didn’t like it.

5. The professor had some entertaining storys, like the time he taught somewhere else. It was in a cement block building with a lower cieling, probably a dropped one. The speaker (a student) began by firing a hand gun of some type (with a blank round, or it was a starter/cap gun), calmly saying “Now that I have your attention…”, and then “had the nerve” (prof’s words) to give a speech totally unrelated to that.

6. (Here is what Laura reminded me of) Somewhere along the line the subject of bad drivers came up while he was seated at the front of the class and lecturing in a sort of conversational way. I think it had turned to old people drivers (he had a completely white mustache, so was old/older) and he stated his opinion that “some people must have gotten their license out of a cereal box”. (Awhile ago, breakfast cereals sold in boxes would have some free toy, implying that these bad older drivers could only have gotten a license if there was no testing at all.)

7. I remember some of my fellow students’ speeches, such as “the best advice I ever got was from my father, who said I needed to know how to change a tire” (with examples!), Dagorhir, making something unexpected out of peanut butter, public unawareness of the current Cabinet (this was extemporaneous and a good one), and more I do not remember.

8. I once was loitering outside the building library, reading the New York Times and others’ headlines through the window. He walked by and, being a jokester but not a mean one, said “Ahh there you are.” like he was looking for me. I replied, off guard and vanishingly slightly displeased, “O no, it’s you.”. On seeing me the next class period (I sat near the back by the door), he brought it up to me and I obligingly repeated it, and then again to get the right tone of disgust for him. (This was not done out of anger and I am confident if I refused he would have let it go.)

This course was helpful when I had to give a speech in another class, later on. Particularly the advice and practice in speaking clearly, looking around the room, and not unconsciously moving my hands/arms/body. I wish I kept that professor’s evaluation, I remember his rubric specifically considered eye contact and other things. I got an “Excellent” in that, and I think the other two. More on this course later.

Slow, modern Heptameron story five (V)

I was rereading (and editing, if really needed) old posts of mine, including this one, and remembered this.

When I was returning from the last job interview, I drove through a part of the State that had a very large Hebrew and Yiddish speaking population, indicated by the many signs near the road written and typeset in the letters of their common alphabet. I distinctly remember driving by a kosher dairy bar and only catching a view of a sign in the window that was both Hebrew or Yiddish and English and feeling sad I would never see it again to finish reading.

Of course the job I did end up getting was maybe a mile from there, and I still drive by it once or twice a day. I never have gone in the place, but that is because the parking is bad and other things.

Slow, modern Heptameron, story three (III)

Back in 6th grade, I attended on instruction at a perennially, nearly terminally underfunded private school and read young adult books assigned in the class.

One of them, that I honestly lost and never found, was a historical fiction. The plot was split between a historic past and a present day. A character in the present learns about her family as we read it ourselves.

At one point in the “present” part of the plot, the principal character is describing a friend rehearsing (I accidentally typed “prehearsing” – I think that should be a word.) to sing for a solo song in I think a school play. She describes what the actress is doing in a way that made it sound so silly and stupid that for maybe 2 or 3 minutes I could not stop giggling to myself. This in a classroom where ~20 of us were supposed to be silently reading this chapter.

I did try my hardest to not laugh and I think the teacher saw that and didn’t say anything. I am glad that she took that route because it worked out the best. She was a good teacher. Not perfect, but … that’s hard when you are teaching. She had students that year, one in particular, that made her work much harder than was right. The “one” I am thinking of was a very malicious girl who nearly got the State Police called for a physical assault against a student she sat next to.

Slow, modern Heptameron, story two (II)

Back in 7th grade, I attended on instruction at a perennially, nearly terminally underfunded private school and met the person who, in elapsed time, has been the longest friend I have had to date.

(Side story.) In the first “Harry Potter” book, the school librarian is described as “looking like a perpetually underfed vulture”. Perhaps from experience, I parsed it as “perpetually underfunded vulture” for years.

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Slow, modern, Heptameron and its first story

I ran across on Patreon, a project I am not a subscriber to now, called “Decameron Project” after the most famous Italian original. That reminded me of my more preferred Heptameron, that is a collection of evidently true stories from France in the 1400s or so.

Along that line, I have determined to write down these little true stories as I remember to and have the energy and time. Here is the first one:

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