Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

First stop--Going Postal

Hopped in the van to make the run to the main post office to mail three letters for church stuff. (I would have preferred just to walk, but it's a bit too far through a few blocks that are a bit too inhospitable.) Since I am a bold, innovative, Twenty-first Century sort of guy, I figured I would bypass the short line at the counter and use the spiffy new Automated Postal Center that only took six months to install in the lobby. Most of this time was spent with a large piece of plastic sheeting covering a giant hole in the sheetrock wall.

I quickly scanned the instruction screen, pressed an imaginary button to say I wanted to mail a letter, pressed an imaginary button to say what size of envelope it was in, flopped the envelope onto the scale, pressed an imaginary button to say that I agreed the thing weighed 2.48 Ozes, pressed more imaginary buttons to select the mode of delivery (First Class), waited, pressed more imaginary buttons to enter the ZIP Code, and--

"Sorry. We are unable to process your request."


You know, some sort of sign on the thing might have been helpful to let us early-adopters know the stupid thing was taking a coffee break.

Went in and waited in line the 19th Century way, and was promptly and courteously served.

Left and went toward the courthouse, hoping for a parking spot nearby. None being available, I just went ahead and parked in our parking deck and walked across the park. Beautiful day today, and it being a holiday sort of week, no bums. Or squirrels, either, which is rather odd.

Anyway, got to the entrance and checked myself through security. The couple in front of me--a woman dressed normally, with a giant handbag on her arm, and her husband, who I am certain has friends who think of him as "a character," who was wearing a too-tight University of Alabama sweatshirt emblazoned on the back with the record from the year they went 13-0 (sources tell me this was 1992--that's one old sweatshirt!) and a pair of red sweatpants--started through the magnetometer.

Of course, since the woman had neglected to take off her purse, she set the thing off. The husband, "Oh, yeah--I figured you wouldn't be able to take that through--here, give it to him and let him put it on the x-ray machine!" Again, prior notice would have been nice of him to give her, but hey. Next, it was his turn. Walked through, set it off. The security guard gave him a plastic tub to put his belongings in, "Keys, pens, change--" "OH, well, I suppose so!" He propped his tennis shoe clad foot up on the conveyor and proceded to dig about in his left sock. "Alrighty, keys." I noticed as he stood there in his sweat-panted glory that tucked neatly into the rear of his waistband was his property tax notice. Eww. Talk about a tax protest. Anyway, he put his left foot down and then stuck his RIGHT foot up on the conveyor and commenced to digging in THAT sock. I would not have been surprised had he pulled out a bulldozer, but he managed to unload a wallet and a change purse into the tub before satisfying himself that he had dislodged all of his metal. He went on through beepless and gathered up his stuff.

While all this was going on, I had already dumped in my key case with 9 keys, all my spare change, and my class ring. This is usually sufficient, because most of the time they have the sensitivity set high enough to be able to walk in with a bulldozer. As the cute pair went on, I strode through the detector and set the blamed thing off. ::sigh:: What a goob.

I unloaded the two barely metal pens in my shirt pocket (wasn't carrying the good ones today) and went through and it did it AGAIN! Grr. This time he just told me to come on through and waved me down with the handheld thing that looks like a frat house paddle. I lit the thing up like a Christmas tree. My watch, all the zippers on my jacket, my tiny little belt buckle, and most inexplicable, my wallet, which to my knowledge has no metal of any sort in it. I took it out to show him and was going to open it up, but I had obviously wasted enough time because he gave me back my stuff and let me go.

I won't be the one to point out all the obvious flaws in the building security, but it all seems a bit much of a show for very little safety benefit and a whole lot of inconvenience. Speaking of which, it was good to see Norm Mineta on the teevee giving Santa clearance to fly over the U.S. Such a good little regulator, that Norm. (For what it's worth, I'd rather give Santa a couple of Colt 1911s and let Norm shuffle off to a graceful retirement. But that's just me.)

Anyway, went in and was at first taken aback by the line I saw, but breathed a sigh of relief when I saw it was for the tax assessor and not the tax collector. I imagine tomorrow it will be wrapped all the way down the hall at the collector's office, but today there were only about three people in line ahead of me. Two of whom were the fun couple from the metal detector. Sure glad I wasn't the clerk who had to handle their tax notice. Ick. Butt germs.

I handed my check and notice to the nice girl at the counter who wrote a number on it and told me to go over there, which I did, and then was once again promptly and efficiently processed by a nice lady with stiff red hair and gray eyeshadow, who managed to cheerfully print out my receipt AND find out from her coworker on the other end of the teller line that Sonja was having a colonoscopy. She's been vomiting since October, you know.

$119.60 to the state, $248.40 to the county, $150.88 to the schools, $402.96 to the schools again, $92.00 to Trussville, and a minus of $53.00 for my homestead exemption. (One day I hope to be able to move out of the sod house and build one out of lumber.)

Stopped by Sophia's Deli on the way back and got myself a Howard Special (meats of all sorts, with cheese, on a bun) and sat back down here and ate every bite.

Exciting, eh?

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