I may never leave town again

US Mail (not US male)

I seem to be involved in a lot of stuff for a retired guy. I may never leave town again. The period following my trip to Las Vegas was hectic.

Fri, Sept 29:  I had my annual physical., which my wife took me to. My physician’s office has moved thrice in the past few years because St. Peter’s Health Services/Trinity Health has bounced her around to Delmar, then to Slingerland, and now to Rensselaer (all in the metro but in different directions). The last move would take me an hour to get to and well over an hour to get back by bus, which is how I had gotten to her previous locations. 

Taking a term created by another patient, my doctor declared me welderly, a portmanteau of well and elderly.

My wife had booked a trip to a Wyndham timeshare property in western Massachusetts well before I planned my Las Vegas sojourn. I went with her largely because I wouldn’t otherwise see her.

Sat, Sept 30: In the morning, we returned to Albany to attend the funeral of  Dwight Smith, and I sang in the choir. I learn so much at a funeral, even about people I’ve known for years. Then, my wife returned to Massachusetts with a friend to see a play the next day.


Sun, Oct 1: I went to church. When I got home, I waded through too many emails.

Then, I went to Fort Orange Brewing for a trivia contest, a benefit for Empower Ethiopia. We started slowly, but we were in the upper half of the teams by the second round, and in second place, only two points behind the leaders, after the sixth and penultimate round.

The category of the final question was US Mail. In what decade did the price of a first-class stamp reach double digits, i.e., ten cents or more? I distinctly remember a four-cent purple Lincoln stamp when I was nine or ten, so the 1970s seemed reasonable. (It was March 2, 1974. ) The team in first place bet nothing but said the 1960s. We bet 213 of our 220 points, making sure we’d beat the third-place team if they got it right, and they had bet it all, assuming we were also correct. Janna, Annika, Chuck, and I won. Fist pump!

One thing to another

Mon, Oct 2: I went to Labcorp for fasting bloodwork at 10:30 a.m., the earliest slot I could get.

At 2 p.m., I recorded a five-minute video for the upcoming conference of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&BS) about my great-great-grandfather, James Archer. I hope they use it. 

Finally, at 4 p.m., I went to Capital Rep to the Wizard’s Wardrobe Reader’s Theater with my wife. I helped greet the readers and escort them to the “green room,” as it were. At the risk of sounding boastful, I’m pretty good at that.

That evening, the power went off for about five minutes, then three minutes, and finally well over an hour, so I went to bed.

Tues, Oct 3: Finally, the restart of my church’s Tuesday Bible Guys on ZOOM.

Then I had to figure out an introduction of Marina Antropow Cramer, who was doing an author talk at the Albany Public Library about her historically-based fiction books Roads (“When Nazi forces occupy the beautiful coastal city of Yalta, everything changes.”) and Marfa’s River.

Wed, Oct 4: Aside from making pancakes for dinner and watching baseball, I did almost nothing, flipping back and forth between two games.

Recent package from the USPS

Informed Delivery®

United States Postal ServiceMy most recent package from the USPS took a most circuitous route. It was sent on July 30, 2022, at 9:51 am from a location on the Vermont/New Hampshire border. It left that day at 3:59 pm.

July 31, 2022, 11:30 pm
Arrived at USPS Regional Origin Facility
OK, that’s weird, but it’s close to NYC…

August 2, 2022, 12:20 am
Arrived at USPS Regional Facility
Wait, what? No, this is heading south, AWAY from me.

August 2, 2022, 2:14 pm
Arrived at USPS Regional Facility
It’s supposed to come to Green, not go to Greensboro!

August 2, 2022, 8:29 pm
Departed USPS Regional Facility

August 4, 2022, 12:41 pm
Arrived at USPS Regional Facility
This is where it SHOULD have gone initially, less than two hours south on I-91 from the origin.

August 4, 2022, 8:16 pm
Departed USPS Regional Facility

August 4, 2022, 11:22 pm
Arrived at USPS Regional Facility

August 5, 2022, 5:46 pm
Departed USPS Regional Destination Facility

August 6, 2022, 5:57 pm
Delivered, In/At Mailbox

The original arrival date was August 2, which would have been easily met if the package had gone to SPRINGFIELD, MA, in the first place.

No joy

I’ve complained about the tenure of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. His orders slowed mail service in the run-up to the 2020 election and into the holiday season.

DeJoy recently announced at a conservative think tank event that he wants to eliminate 50,000 jobs.  He’s still under investigation for campaign finance violations and conflicts of interest. And resists the transition to electric vehicles.

Anecdotally, I know that many are still suffering delays in deliveries. One person in my county noted it took two weeks to get an absentee ballot. In Albany, post offices have closed, making some of the others more crowded.

My daily mail is surprisingly reliable, this package debacle notwithstanding. I check daily on the Informed Delivery® by USPS®.
“Digitally preview your mail and manage your packages scheduled to arrive soon! Informed Delivery allows you to view greyscale images of the exterior, address side of letter-sized mailpieces and track packages in one convenient location.”*
* Images are only provided for letter-sized mailpieces that are processed through USPS’ automated equipment

What is your postal experience?

Snail mail: college, Medicare


snail mailOn Monday, October 18, our household received 23 pieces of snail mail. Good golly!  Usually, it’s about eight. When I opened the mailbox, items cascaded out.

Seven were for my daughter, almost all of them from colleges that wrote that they want her to apply to their college or university. Five were for my wife, catalogs and bills mostly. Two were jointly for my wife and me from organizations we belong to.

Almost all of the nine for me were from insurance companies. The period from October 15 to December 7 constitutes when I can change coverage for my Medicare supplement, including prescription coverage, dental, and eye care.

My Rx coverage is scheduled to go up about 74%, so I would like to find a company that will cost the same or less while providing similar coverage. There IS a process for this, but it involves entering the names of all of my physicians and pharmaceuticals. Tedious but necessary.

One of the pieces of mail is from an organization that I ostensibly agree with philosophically. But I don’t give them money because they mail the solicitation to Roger C. Green. Actually, I get quite a few of them each month, and I haven’t given any of them a dime. Get my name from some mailing list company, then you hope the information is correct.

He brings me no joy

Of course, thinking about the mail makes me think of the dreadful and corrupt Louis DeJoy. I’ve discovered that a lot of people don’t understand why Biden hasn’t just fired him as Postmaster General. It’s not that simple.

“DeJoy still runs the Postal Service because he maintains the backing of its board of governors. This bipartisan, nine-member body oversees the service’s expenditures and operations and appoints postmasters general — and decides how long their tenures last. Six of the governors, including the board’s chairman, Ron Bloom, are Trump appointees; Biden has appointed three.

“Unless Biden wants to try removing governors for cause, he can replace them only when their seven-year terms end or they step aside prematurely. Those rules are meant to protect the Postal Service from partisan meddling and generally make it hard for presidents to reshape it without waging political battles.

The plan

DeJoy’s announcement is to make the service slower and more costly in the near term.

There is a positive aspect of the plan, though. “The Postal Service is requesting that Congress pass legislation that enables us to fully integrate Postal Service retiree health plans with Medicare and eliminate the retiree health benefit pre-funding obligations imposed by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) of 2006.” The PAEA HAS been an onerous burden on the USPS and reflects much of the losses for the entity in the past 15 years. This should be passed by Congress.

Going to the post office, quickly

cozy relationships

post officeWhen I read the story about Albany officials fighting to keep the New Scotland Avenue post office, I was slackjawed by the advice. “The U.S. Postal Service directed customers who normally used the Academy Station to the Fort Orange post office [at Central Avenue and Partridge Street], 2 miles away on Central Avenue…”

Well, I’ve gone to the Fort Orange station twice in the past couple of months, most recently last week. It’s almost exactly one mile from my home. Both times, the lines were out the door, with only five people allowed inside for COVID reasons. While there were two service windows, only one was staffed. I ended up bailing after 10 minutes.

Then, each time, I went to the post office downtown at 45 Hudson, between South Pearl and Broadway. No one was in line. Moreover, if there WERE people waiting, the room is constructed to allow more folks inside. It used to be busier. COVID closed down businesses, and, more importantly, state workers were often working from home.

And it’s very close – about a tenth of a mile – from the Greyhound bus station. Most of the CDTA buses start/end there, so if you don’t have a car, and/or if you are as impatient as I am, it’s not as onerous as you might think.

This example is specific to Albany, but I gather that this sort of nonsense is happening all over the country. How’s the service where you live?

Louis DeJoy, still

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is still in charge of the USPS. His really awful plan to “save” the Postal Service by slowing down deliveries and hiking postage prices—including special price gouging specifically for holiday deliveries is onerous to those

DeJoy was corrupt from the jump. He’d have one believe that his $600,000+ donation to the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee in the time between the Postmaster-General vacancy and his appointment had absolutely nothing to do with his getting the job.

The Washington Post reports that from last fall until April, “DeJoy purchased 11 bonds from Brookfield Asset Management each worth between $1,000 and $15,000, or $15,000 and $50,000, according to DeJoy’s financial disclosure paperwork.” Ron Bloom just happens to be “a Brookfield senior executive who manages the firm’s private equity division.” And also the chair of the Board of Governors that determines DeJoy’s tenure.

DeJoy’s relationship with XPO Logistics is in question. It is getting a $120 million contract from the Postal Service over the next five years. DeJoy and his family foundation “have divested somewhere between $65 million and $156 million in XPO shares, according to filings and tax documents. But his family businesses still have ties to XPO in the form of four office buildings in North Carolina that they lease to the company. That’s where DeJoy will get those millions, in the form of lease payments.”

But the President cannot remove him, only the Board of Governors can, and they’e largely insulated as well. Postmasters General Benjamin Franklin, the first appointed by the Continental Congress, and Samuel Osgood, appointed by George Washington, would be appalled.

Email and mail: drowning in it

fifty cents for nothing

email-1When I was employed, I always had a lot of email. Much of it was sought intentionally, from news entities, so that I could purloin stories for our work blog.

One of the things I learned by trial and error: if you nick from one source, it’s stealing. If you take from several sources, it’s “procuring.” And the entities I was purloining from never cared as long as I did three things: link to the original article, take no more than three paragraphs, and not give away the ANSWER in the quoted material.

This was a task I often gave to the interns because we were posting five days a week for a time before we cut back to thrice a week. The site’s all but defunct, but so it goes.

My personal email was totally out of control as well. Last year, I whittled it down from an absurd 10K or more to a still insane 4000. A lot of them are things I want to write about or read about. Maybe THIS year I’ll create that Wikipedia piece about my late friend Raoul Vezina. There are about 100 emails, with attachments, on that topic alone.

And still, it comes

But that’s not my real problem. It’s the damn influx of NEW email. During the 2020 campaign, I could be getting maybe 20 emails per HOUR, and I’d skim most of them. Mostly they were political in nature. I thought they’d end after the November 2020 election. Oh, but then there’d be a new wave about the special runoffs in Georgia on January 5. Now, are we done?

Nah, there is always another issue. And most of the sources I didn’t solicit but had gotten my info from someone else. So I’ve gotten vicious with the Unsubscribe button. Most of the entities write, “Please don’t go. Would you like fewer emails?” Too late, Jack.

And on the print side

Actually, my snail mail has declined over time. Much of that is a function of paying bills online. Still, I get a lot of solicitations from not-for-profits for money. And they include “incentives.” More than one has included mailing labels. You might be amazed how many packets of those I’ve shredded each year.

A few include these little notepads. We use them for shopping lists. But we still don’t send money. One even sent a Kennedy half dollar to show that their cause was in the spirit of the 35th President. Or something. I wasn’t guilted into giving them anything either.

Louie, Louie

Much of my email lately is about how truly terrible Louis DeJoy is. He’s the Postmaster-General whose “leadership” has delayed stimulus checks, lost vital medication, and, boldly, try to sabotage democracy.

At a hearing in mid-February, pretty much promised to make the service worse. His plan seems to be to get rid of priority mail, eliminate overtime for postal workers, and raise the price of stamps.

President Biden can’t fire him outright. But he can nominate people to the USPS Board of Governors who can oust him. And that would be a good thing. 

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