On the Cutting Edge of the ’90s

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

Out here on the Information Superhighway, it’s possible to do all manner of amazing things. You can get directions to almost anywhere, purchase just about anything, and even pay your condo fees online. Wow!

Recently, the management company for my condo association updated their website. Here, in all its glory, is their new-for-2019 login page:

Let’s ignore the fact that this page is using the word “portal”, because I want to focus on what really caught my eye:

It’s a small detail, of course, but capitalizing email as “eMail” feels like a throwback to about 1991. Wikipedia currently identifies five different ways of referring to email, and “eMail” doesn’t even make that overly comprehensive list. Heck, even a dash between “e” and “mail” has been out of style for years.

Still, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, this was the signature on the email announcing the new login page:

Ah yes, I can really hear the sincerity of this eMail.

Absurd Until We Die 

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

You might be surprised to learn that a solid gold toilet/piece of art, entitled “America”, was stolen from a British palace this past weekend. There’s much about that sentence which is odd, to be sure. However, the most surprising thing of all may be that the artwork was previously offered to Trump’s White House (in lieu of a Van Gogh that had been requested), and that offer was declined.

A solid gold toilet
The work in question

I missed it at the time, but long before this recent theft, there was a minor story in early 2018 about the spurned offer. The Washington Post tracked down the artist, Maurizio Cattelan, and asked why he’d offered to loan the piece to Trump:

Cattelan, reached by phone in New York, referred questions about the toilet to the Guggenheim, saying with a chuckle, “It’s a very delicate subject.” Asked to explain the meaning of his creation and why he offered it to the Trumps, he said: “What’s the point of our life? Everything seems absurd until we die and then it makes sense.”

Gosh, I hope that last part is true.

The USPS Is Not Good at Email

Monday, September 16th, 2019

Over the past few months, I’ve been trying to find the USPS’s “Star Ribbon” stamp designed by Aaron Draplin. I looked for it in multiple local post offices, and when I was traveling, I’d check in at their post office as well. Each and every time I was met with blank stares and a complete lack of knowledge about this product.

Eventually, I decided to place an order via the USPS website.1 This process was fast and easy, and I didn’t have to talk to anyone at all. To top it off, the shipping rate was a measly $1.30, and I’d easily pay much more than that to avoid another trip to the post office. I ordered on August 1st and quickly got an email receipt with a status of “Order Placed”. Just four days later, on August 5th, I received my stamps. They actually shipped via Priority Mail, which should cost about $7, so the Post Office is cutting themselves some kind of deal on shipping. I suppose they can get away with that.

Hey, Good Lookin’
[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

As you can see, I had my stamps, and I was pleased. I also assumed our transaction was complete. As such, I was quite surprised to wake up a full 12 days later to email from the USPS:

Yes, on August 17th, I received a notice via email that my order had shipped. I was very much aware of that, as I’d received the package almost two weeks prior

I really can’t fathom what happened here. Is this how their system always works? That would be preposterous, and yet, not out of the realm of possibility. Worth mentioning, I actually received two identical copies of this email. That may point to a server issue which got overzealously corrected days later. Regardless of how or why this email was sent, though, it was more than a little confusing.

Perhaps because of this sort of thing, the email includes this footer:

A footer reading: This is an automated email, please do not reply to this message. This message is for the designated recipient only and may contain privileged, proprietary, or otherwise private information. If you have received it in error, please delete. Any other use of the email by you is prohibited.

That’s quite a catch-all at the end there:

Any other use of the email by you is prohibited.

I imagine “sharing this email to mock the post office’s bizarre handling of online ordering” might fall under that prohibited use, huh? Well, I hope you’ll all visit me in mail jail.

Previously in strange USPS status tracking: Make a Copy for Yourselves Too


  1. As I write this, only coils of 3,000 or 10,000 stamps are available, for thousands of dollars each. Fortunately, when I ordered, it was possible to buy sheets of 20.↩︎

Sure, That’s a Thing That Should Exist 

Friday, September 13th, 2019

KFC is really, really, leaning into their own weirdness, and I just can’t stop writing about it. Today, we have news of KFC’s new cooking-and-dating game, “I Love You, Colonel Sanders! A Finger Lickin’ Good Dating Simulator”.

It’s well known that I’m a corgi fan, so if nothing else, I’m definitely liking this Professor Dog they’ve got going on.

The Death of Democracy in North Carolina 

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

I’ve written before about the disgusting tactics and lack of shame seen among North Carolina Republicans. I’ve covered the fact that it’s gotten so bad, they’re alienating their own members. I really would’ve thought I couldn’t be surprised by anything they did.

And yet, here we are. We’re in a place where North Carolina Republicans decided that September 11th didn’t have enough tragedy associated with it, so they spent it trying to kill democracy. To that end, the North Carolina House of Representatives held a surprise vote to override a veto by the state’s Democratic governor.

After GOP legislators told their Democratic counterparts that there would be no votes that day, and while many Democrats attended a 9/11 commemorative event, they decided to have a vote anyway. Republican Jason Saine even had the unmitigated gall to frame this as a patriotic act, and feign his own outrage:

GOP Rep. Jason Saine, who called the motion for the vote, declared that he was “appalled that anyone in our country would stop going about their normal business on this day. When we stop being a beacon of freedom, hope and democracy, then the terrorists win.”

Our nation doesn’t need to stop all business every September 11th, but it’s right for our lawmakers to take time to remember. It’s also right to stand by one’s word. Instead, Republicans used 9/11 to undermine democracy in the Tar Heel State. That’s literally what “the terrorists” wanted to accomplish in 2001.

Sure, Sure, a House Hug

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019

For reasons beyond my understanding, I receive catalogs in the mail. Though I actively work to get off mailing lists, this seems to only slow the stream, never stop it. Recently, I received a catalog from “Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams”. After a quick Google search, I determined that that’s both a furniture company and the names of the two men who co-founded the company.

According to the company’s website, Mitchell and Bob have a shared vision, “to make the world a more comfortable place: for all”. The cover of the catalog I received seems to indicate they may also have a shared mouth:

This is, supposedly, a quote, and it’s attributed to both men. It’s got quotation marks and everything. Are we supposed to believe they said this in unison? Did they have a script in front of them, and maybe do a little count-down so they’d be in sync? The whole thing seems ridiculous.

In completely related news, Catalog Choice is a quick and handy way to reduce the amount of junk catalogs you receive, and save a few trees as well.

No Job Is Safe 

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

Robots really are coming for all the jobs.

Lego for the Blind 

Monday, September 9th, 2019

Matthew Shifrin is blind, but he’s been a devoted Lego fan for almost two decades. Now, thanks to the incredible work of Shifrin and his late caregiver Lilya Finkel, Lego is making their toys more accessible for all visually impaired people.

President Trumpsimus 

Friday, September 6th, 2019

One of the least important bits of recent ridiculousness from the Trump administration has been Trump’s insistence that he didn’t make any mistake when he said Alabama would be hit by Hurricane Dorian. He did, and no amount of changing-an-F-to-an-A-with-a-Sharpie will change that.

There are far more consequential occurrences which deserve our attention, from inadvertently releasing previously classified information via a tweet, to sparring with the Federal Reserve, to ratcheting up a foolish trade war with China. These stories, and many others, are more important than “SharpieGate”. Still, this mess has at least given us all a chance to be amused by a dictionary engaging in some top-notch trolling.

Clever Girl 

Thursday, September 5th, 2019

When her sister told her she could wear anything to her wedding, maid of honor Christina A. Meador really went for it.

[Photo credit: Christina A. Meador]