Saturday, September 27, 2008

Soup on Saturday. And cleaning, and a junk-mail rant & reminscensces of travelling as a navy brat...

There we go. Big kettle of ducken noodle soup. Slightly spicy from the hot pepper that the West Indian corner fruit & vegetable stand includes in every packet of soup greens. Good stuff. Sleeping in, a bowl of this for lunch & a couple of hours curled up on the couch you believe, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus Volume 5? Oh, the things you find in the giveaway bins at the Really Big Children's Publishing House. I'm pretty sure there's at least one Five Little Known Facts About Me meme out there I got tagged with & never had time to do - well, one little-known fact about me is that I'm actually rather a graphic-stuff fan. Not enough to actually buy the stuff, but since the RBCPH has got a rather popular "Graphix" line, there's always research going on & a lot of those "research materials" end up in the giveaway bin. Was happy to find this Buffy thing - I don't have a TV but I do tend to be curious enough about these series that so fascinate people that I at least have the general idea. And I guess I have to admit that if I did have a TV that Lost probably would've lost me - but I bet I'd be a big Buffy fan. That suspicion was just confirmed by the way I just flopped down & SUCKED down the entire Volume 5...

That being done, I'm now taking a little break from house cleaning. Needed to do that one of these days anyways...between work being so busy & having so many fun things to do on weekends, the business of home maintenance & recordkeeping tends to get neglected. An enforced break from my usual weekend boatwhirl is not the worst thing to have here...I'm not just moving things from messy stacks into tidier stacks, I'm actually throwing things away. I have just got too much STUFF. I don't even buy stuff, really...yet somehow it stacks up.

The big culprit? Junk mail. Argh. Every night I get home. I'm tired. I open the mailbox and there's this huge freakin' clot of paper in my mailbox. I take it upstairs. I pull out the obvious good stuff (postcards from my parents' latest trips, BCU certificates). The rest - wll, I can't throw it away until it's sorted because there are bills that look like junk mail, and MetroCards that look like junk mail, and the junk mailers are now getting equipment that's sophisticated enough that there's junk mail that ALMOST looks like a card from a friend. So I drop it in an untidy stack on the table in the dining nook. Well, a month like the one I've been having & the piles grow, blend together & pretty soon I'm pushing back stuff to clear space to eat.

Wouldn't it be great if there was a Do Not Mail list? Just like the Do Not Call list. Junk mail may not be quite as obviously invasive as telemarketing...but the creeping growth of the mounds of crap I end up sorting through & throwing away 80% of once I fit in some cleaning time? That's my space that crap is taking up. It's also a complete waste of trees, postage, GAS (hello, has anybody ever done a study on how much fuel goes to transporting this unsolicited garbage every year in this country?) my mail deliverer's time, my time, my superintendent's time & the time of the trash guys who haul it away. I've never bought ANYTHING or donated to any cause because of some crappy unsolicited thing that turned up in my mailbox. In fact, the immediate increase in junk mail that I get when I DO give to a cause has actually dampened my enthusiasm for giving to causes...I gave to the USO once. I like the USO. As a travelling Navy brat, USO lounges were a refuge - I remember heading out to Italy one year when I was in college, my flight was through SFO. Think it was Christmas eve day. Foul weather had shut down several airports; delays were terrible. Off to the USO lounge for the night. Of course they were overflowing. Coffee & doughnuts for all comers, but there's a hierarchy to who gets cots, chairs, etc. Basically, active duty personnel travelling on orders get first dibs. Active duty travelling for personal reasons, 2nd dibs. Next comes retired and/or maybe reserves. Dependents - especially older ones - are pretty much the bottom of the heap. But they gave me a blanket, and a pillow, and I found myself a little corner on the floor back behind the Christmas tree & slept OK there under the twinkling lights. And for free. By the next morning things were moving again & we all headed on to our destinations. Sort of miss that being able to go to the USO lounge for layovers now that I'm a grown-up - they weren't fancy but the ladies who tended to work there were always these sort of nice motherly types & it just felt a little homier than the sterile seating outside.

So anyways...major warm fuzzy feelings about the USO. So one year, a while after 9/11, when we were still pretty much a country united in our sense of rightness about the actions we were taking in the Middle East (I don't think we'd started in with Iraq at that point, it was still simply "The bad guys are in Afghanistan & we're after them" & almost everyone, with the exception of a few conspiracy theorists, was behind that), there was one of these e-mail chains going around urging people to give to the USO. And I thought "Well, what a good organization to give some money to" and fired off twenty-five bucks or something.

Well, about a month later & my mailbox was absolutely bursting open every time I turned the key, and all the mail was from these various conservative groups. I think that was the first time I ever really was able to tie a specific donation to subsequent junk mail. Went back to the USO site & sure enough, buried in there somewhere was their information-sharing policy, which was something like "We promise that we will only pass along your email to other not-for-profits that we think you might want to support". Gee, thanks.

I've gotten a lot better about checking those information-sharing policies, and I did go through a period when I was getting so much that I was frustrated enough to start sending them back marked "Take me off your mailing list". I think the bulk has gone down since then.

But wouldn't it be great if there was a Do-Not-Mail List?

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