Friday, April 30, 2010

Long Live USPS

What does US post office mean to me ?

It means either junk mail (which you should absolutely ignore) and VERY IMPORTANT mail(which you must absolutely not ignore). It's odd that USPS sits so comfortably in this bimodality. To me, it means I have to go through all that junk mail, credit card offers, coupons, random things pretending to be very important, and non-random things completely clueless about their importance in order to spot the "important" mail. I have a large-to-extra-large axe to grind with the "important mail" mailers. Can they make it any harder to notice its importance ? IMPORTANT AND CONFIDENTIAL written in unassuming, regular font,regular font size, black typeset really doesn't do much to get my adrenalin flowing. I suggest coloring the envelopes red. Or use glow-in-the-dark material. Or speckle the envelope with tiny hearts. Maybe use a nice texture. Or a citrus fragrance. Special paper ? Something like special currency paper ? Something ? Anything but white envelopes and black fonts.

Jan through April, until I get my W2, I wonder several times if I've missed one of those documents or if I've missed my bills (yes yes... I have heard of autopay and E-bills and I do that meticulously).

But USPS themselves, I think are a fine organization. I say this despite the unfortunate time when my package got lost somewhere in Utah during the snowstorm. USPS very sweetly sent me an "important" mail saying they'd found the cover but not its contents (go figure!) and if I could give them an elaborate description of the contents, they'll try finding it. When I went to USPS however, none of the attendants had even heard of this form. I still strove to send them an elaborate description of the package only to hear that they couldn't find it. I suspect right now, a llama is chewing away at my plaid coat. (Yes. LLama!) The point though, is they bothered to inform me and keep me updated (of course using the very primitive art of envelope camouflage).

They're a fine organization because they're expected to make money solely from selling stamps while the government is off bailing filthy banks (it's hilarious how you can always use that line these days and people will always nod in rage). And so I suppose it is worth pumping money into them and keep them going. I don't mean blogging, reblogging or painting placards (in BOLD RED writing) and parading about Capitol Hill. Just buy their stamps. Some of them are even amusing.
(I especially like the sunday funnies stamp panel).

Sunday, April 25, 2010

world wide waste

A neuroscience professor once told me that the brain is a wonderful thing in that it cleverly managed to ignore much riff raff. And it was important that it did that. Paying attention to too much, storing all the information all the time is a ridiculously inefficient strategy since most information is worthless to the immediate goals of finding food and avoiding predator and the slightly more long term goals of procreating and possibly parenting. Retrieving information within the brain's memory stores then, is worse, much worse, than looking for a needle in a haystack. And the brain smartly decided to only store information that it tended to need, and pay no heed to anything else.

A few apes, a couple of tools, some fire, language, written scripts, a somewhat clumsy wheel, agriculture, animal husbandry, an abacus, an apple, a whirring machine, another apple and etc etc etc later, poof! we get the internet! And suddenly the brain's relieved of its duties to memorize anything. And humans immediately become thirsty and hungry not just for valuable information, but to dwell on any set of words and/or numbers that supposedly form a thought, the thought's coherence notwithstanding.

We've come a long way from Gutenberg's press haven't we ? From having to painstakingly distribute information to those that needed it, we're at a point where we painstakingly plough through the internet, concentrating really hard to ignore alphanumeric sentences that we do not need. Clearly, somewhere in between is a diabetes-worthy sweet spot, and clearly we're too mesmerized to bother finding and holding steadfastly to this sweet spot.

The internet is getting ahead of me way too quickly. It is with almost tearful eyes that I recall the days when I was aware of google and the rest of the world was yet to find out. But now, I barely survived the transition from orkut to facebook. Each time facebook changes its layout I can hear a few more of my neurons committing suicide. I feel unmotivated to open my twitter page despite having an account. And I find it oddly disturbing that weird sounding names are wasting their time following my account, which has no hopes of ever updating a status message. We're now pursuing 0 bytes of information with the same level of gusto that we pursue everything else ?

Each day, I sigh loudly when I realize that there's no way I can keep track of all the stories and blogs and news and gibberish out there. Reddit, digg, delicious, stumbleupon, tumblr just give me internal hemorrhage. A few hours before writing this blog, I sat down to figure all of that out, mistakenly assuming that it would make life easier. Few hours later, I'm moaning and groaning with the realization that all these people are probably doing nothing to nudge humanity forward. We're wasting our time, I, the sour fox, that cannot obtain the sweet grapes, have decided. There's an article somewhere that employees of the SEC are to be blamed for the recession because they spent too much time watching porn. What the rest of the internet-addicted world is doing is hardly more admirable.

It is therefore with some modicum of relief that I accept a lifetime of internet ignorance.