They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me
dr_phil_physics

Some Thoughts on the Bad

The Bad

Or maybe it's the Ugly -- hard to tell.

New postal rates...

Going... Up?

In case you’ve been out of touch lately, in less than two weeks the United States Postal Service is going to raise rates on Monday 14 May 2007. Well, perhaps we have to throw in "adjust" rates for good measure, because some things are going down. The net result is that there are MORE combinations of values than ever, rather than having a lot of overlapping rates. No idea what stamps are going to be offered, besides the obvious.

The big first step is the basic First Class letter goes to 41 cents the first ounce (+2 cents), but down to 17 cents for additional ounces (-7 cents). If it’s not a standard letter, then it is either (a) a FLAT at 80 cents the first ounce or (b) a PACKAGE at $1.13 the first ounce. Additional First Class ounces for all of these remains at 17 cents. Post Cards are up two pennies to 26 cents, and the Post Card rate is no longer the Extra Ounce rate.

Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope is $4.60 (+55 cents) and the Priority Mail Flat Rate Box is $9.15 (+$1.05) which is no longer twice the Flat Rate stamp. (dumb) Express Mail Flat Rate Envelope goes to $16.25 (+$1.85). The half-pound to 2 lbs. rate has been split into half- to 1 lb. at $19.50 (+70 cents) and 1lb. to 2lbs. at $21.40 (+$2.60).

International Rates are changing, and the brochure I had didn’t have enough detail for me to figure out if the International Global Priority Flat Rate Envelopes (large and small) are going to continue.

Okay, But…

I understand their creativity in adjusting the rates, but there were some symmetries in the current system which made sense in the numbers of types of stamps offered and the multiple totals which were available. I think they’re expecting you to print your own postage and forget buying stamps for anything more than the most basic of services. And heaven help you if you are adding to old stamps.

Or is that part of a devious plan? Let’s take the Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope. If I have a current $4.05 stamp, and I do, I doubt that the USPS is going to make any 55 cent make-up stamps. 37+24 = 61. I also have some 63 cent stamps (First Class for two ounces). Either way, I’d be wasting money if I used my own stamps. And these stamps aren’t particularly useful in twelve days.

Wonderful.

Today I Heard A Car Crash

I was sitting in front of the Mobil gas station in Allendale, listening to the Cubs game for a minute on WGN-AM 720 -- which amazingly comes in okay in West Michigan -- when I heard a dull plastic crunching sound, followed by another one. My first thought? Sounds like a car crash, but an odd one. In my side mirror I could see a compact car with a smashed up front pulling slowly into the gas station, stopping and the driver getting out. Several other people went running over there and I saw people on phones. Not wanting to be a voyeur in the way, I stayed out of it.

Now what did the car hit? When I went to leave, I saw the second car -- it’d run off the road and into a light pole. When I was about to pull onto the road, I could see the driver’s side of the second car was somewhat caved in. Both drivers were standing around.

Welcome To The Michigan U-Turn

On many Michigan boulevards and divided highways (not freeways), they’ve eliminated the standard four-way intersection in favor of an arrangement where left turns and some cross-traffic are diverted into turnarounds in the median. This is supposed to prevent accidents. Unfortunately, you’re turning at low speed and merging into or across the left-hand high speed lane. An article back in the fall revealed that the statistics supporting the safety aspect is suspect, because accidents FROM cars coming from the U-turns are not specifically counted -- there’s no way to easily find how many accidents are caused by this "feature".

In this case, it is possible to merge into either lane of M-45 westbound or cut across into the gas station. I have to believe the first car plowed into the second car. But whether the first car whipped around the U-turn without looking or the second car was moving too fast -- this was soon after the speed limit dropped from 50 mph to 35 mph for the afternoon school zone -- and driver 1 misjudged the distance.

I’m The Bad Guy Here

Local drivers are forever getting cheesed off at me or Mrs. Dr. Phil. It’s hard to teach Physics and not have a healthy regard for automobile safety, plus being a long-time goody-two-shoes means I have a very cautious sense of defensive driving. So I look, judge and look some more. The real problem is that my caution sometimes puts me at risk as someone else decides I’ve taken "too much" time to decide and they pull off some ultra-legal maneuver to zip around me just as I’m moving again.

Sigh.

This isn’t some game, folks. It’s not about points or winning. As far as I’m concerned, it’s equal parts transportation and survival.

Or are your ideas about driving totally foreign to mine?

Dr. Phil

PS - I'll post The Good separately...
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