July 26th, 2013

A Purple Straw Hat

That Awkward Age

So, I'm awkward -- every age is That Awkward Age for me. on Wednesday, I met a very lovely woman when T. had a playdate with her sons and in the course of a long conversation that covered a lot of ground, she stumbled across my age and about went into shock. This isn't the usual, gosh, you don't look that old kind of thing. This was raw surprise.

Really, if you can fake that kind of thing, I will fall for it every single time.

Today, at the bank, the teller asked to see my license a _second time_ (this is my regular branch, but a different woman than I've seen before -- many of them recognize me and don't ask for ID on a deposit with cash back), and came up with, "My, you've aged well." Turns out she used to bartend at some point in the past and is therefore _really_ used to comparing people's age to what they look like In Real Life and I don't fall anywhere within expectation. She said she would have carded me.

No one actually _has_ carded me in, er, several years now (I think almost a decade, actually), so I had kind of hoped this phase was all over. This is the first time someone has said they entertained the possibility that I was using my mother's ID.

I know why this happened. I blame my parents.
A Purple Straw Hat


You may have seen news coverage of a proposal to replace door-to-door delivery (apparently 30 million addresses in the nation still have it -- who knew?) with cluster box delivery. Cluster box delivery was implemented in Nevada in a big way during the last boom. They were adding a new route a week at the height of the boom and decided to make subdivision developers put in neighborhood cluster boxes, rather than curbside boxes. This is important: cluster boxes as a regional policy innovation replace _curbside_ not door to door.

It averages less money to deliver to clusters than to curbside, and less to curbside than door-to-door, and the savings, figured over the hundred million plus deliverable addresses, is substantial. I'll give NPR some page hits, but this is sample coverage -- you can find comparable articles ... everywhere.


"About 30 million residential addresses receive delivery to boxes at the door or a mail slot. Another 87 million residential addresses receive curbside or cluster box delivery.

The cost differences are clear. Curbside delivery costs average $224 per year for each address, while cluster box delivery averages $160. Door-to-door delivery costs the agency about $350 per year, on average."

There are probably still places that could transition from door-to-door to curbside (city neighborhoods of detached, single family homes, assuming that any of these retain door-to-door service), however, densely populated urban neighborhoods would be hard pressed to find space on sidewalks to place cluster boxes, a point which is made in some articles.

Alas, no one seems to have put together another problem with cluster boxes: theft.


As with ATMs, thieves occasionally resort to just taking the entire cluster, altho more typically they pry open the large door used by the carrier and then distribute the contents they aren't interested in on the landscaping nearby. As with other mail theft, this often occurs around Xmas as thieves are looking for monetizable items (gift cards, washable checks, etc.).

Realistically, it seems extremely unlikely that the USPS will be allowed to do any innovating on this scale, even if they wanted to (and it doesn't sound like they do). It also seems unlikely that both houses of Congress will agree on anything. In particular, moving to door-to-door to cluster boxes seems likely to piss off a lot of people who probably vote Republican, and reducing the number of carriers needed will certainly piss off the postal unions and thus be unpopular with Democrats.

Besides. The pension fund is massively overfunded, so they should just quit making payments on that anyway.

ETA: From last year's version of this discussion.


ETAYA: Conversion from door to curbside already occurring. Slowly.


ETA still more: If anyone can find a copy of the Modes of Delivery report, I'm dying to read it. Alas, the link at USPS is broken and the Internet Archive does not have a copy. :(