September 7th, 2005


It's A Town Because The USPS Says It Is

My Wife's New Hero Is...

... the United States Postal Service. We both heard the bit on NPR's Marketplace about the USPS setting up shop in the Houston Astrodome to handle the refugee mail there.

Reliant City...

... is what the residents are calling it, but you can address it as the Astrodome or whatever, because it now has a US Zip Code -- 77230. The north ticket office has been turned into a postal substation, where the residents can buy stamps, get change of address forms and receive their mail, including FEMA and Social Security checks. The USPS is even giving the residents postcards so they can write to family members and let them know they're all right.

Last week the news on campus was the spreadsheet of zip codes where mail was being held. Now they're dealing with redistribution. And, the Marketplace reporter asked, what happens if some of these people are relocated again? Answer: we can handle as many change of addresses as get filed. It's an IT problem and we have a solution for it.

(As opposed to say FEMA, whose online registration website for help is hardcoded for Internet Explorer only -- a requirement which stymies many relief groups who don't want to set up Windows XP machines in self-serve kiosks.)


Here's a government operation which in a week has figured out how to deal with part of the problems caused by Miss Katrina's hissy fit. A government unit that was, I hesitate to add, not merged into the bureaucratic dumping ground of the Department of Homeland Security. (I'm not sure I've ever typed that name out fully -- it always struck me as too 1940s-1950s creepy.)

Dr. Phil
  • Current Mood
    pleased pleased with 80% of the above

Jane Alone In The House And Losing IQ Points As Danger Approaches

Got this via my Clarion classmate webpetals and it's too good not to share: An entry on idiot protags who do dumb things. There are several hilarious versions of the classic scene with a woman alone at home in danger, but I'm married to a quilter and the first comment rings very true. Quilters are very resourceful people.

Recently when I was revising a novella, I wrote in a scene and even as I wrote it I knew it sucked-the-hairy-wazoo. Dumb, stupid, and unrealistic. Unfortunately I wanted to make a printout for editing purposes and for my wife to proofread, so I just warned her that there was one really awful scene and she'd know it when she saw it. "Only one?" Yeah, well... (grin)

The Harrison Ford Solution

You want your protag to be heroic, or at least competent, but in my case we're dealing with a junior officer on a large interstellar warship -- isn't it natural to want them to save the day? Except... running across a large cargo bay and shooting precision shots all of sudden when you haven't shown that aptitude before, just doesn't seem very realistic. Not when the ship has large armored Marine guards with autotargeting weapons mounts looking for something to do before dinner... Junior officers can only get into trouble and run over if they aren't careful. The Academy'll always graduate some more ensigns.

Sometimes you need to do an Indiana Jones when the bad guy starts whipping around his big curved sword... and just shoot him.

Sometimes you just don't know when to quit.

Dr. Phil
  • Current Mood
    amused amused