Friday, May 30, 2014

Book Review: Skin Game by Jim Butcher

Soooo, I've posted my review of Skin Game: Book 15 of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher on Goodreads if you feel the great urge to check it out.

Yes, that's right.  I still write book reviews.  I know I haven't posted many in the last year of so on my blog here, because I've been ridiculously busy, but I still have been writing them.  If you feel the great urge, you can check out any that you might have missed here.

Anyway, the latest book in the Dresden Files is AWESOME!!!  I loved it.  Jim Butcher keeps finding ways to keep things interesting with Harry Dresden, even though this is the fifteenth book of the series.  That's a pretty rare thing as far as book series go.  There's a gigantic fangasm moment or two in this one.  One of them involving my favorite Dresden Sidekick, Michael.  So yeah, if you're a fan of the Dresden Files, definitely check this one out.  If you're not, why aren't you?  Go read the first book, Storm Front right now!!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Adventures in Mail Delivery Part... whatever part we're up to now...

I LIIIIIIIIIIIVE!!!  ........I think.......

Well, after more than a year of working my butt off, the hiring freeze at work has been lifted (again) and they've been able to hire people so that I'm not working 400 hours a week.  And to all of you out there who say there aren't 400 hours in a week, you've clearly never had to work that much before.  A week is bigger on the inside!

Soooo, I'm almost done with my new and improved version of I Am Nobody, it should be finished within the week, and I'll be looking for a few test readers to take a look and be brutally honest about what they didn't like about it.  I'll have it posted on my site, but if anyone out there actually reads this blog, and would like to volunteer their services, drop me an e-mail at and I'll send you a copy of the finished manuscript.  I'm not talking anything like spell checking or whatever.  I just want people to read it, and tell me what they thought of it.  Was it good?  Why?  Was it bad?  Why?  What did you like about it?  What did you not like about it?  What changes would you suggest I make to make it better?  That sort of thing.  It's not a very long book, in fact it's the shortest book I've ever written, at under 140k words (230ish single spaced pages in 12 point times new roman).  In my opinion, it's also the best book I've ever written, but, I always say that, and I'm rather biased anyway.  What I need is someone, preferably a few someones, who can look at it and see any problems that I can't.

And now, with that out of the way, here is a tale of woe and hilarity, a recounting of an incident that took place naught four hours thence. 

So, usually a day after a holiday weekend is pretty terribad.  Mail still comes on Sunday and Federal Holidays like Memorial Day yesterday, it's just not delivered.  Meaning that the Tuesday after the holiday has three days worth of mail to be delivered.  However, this day after the holiday weekend decided to smile upon us poor wretches at the postal service, and things were not so bad.  I flew through my route, getting done earlier than I do on most non-day-after-holiday days.  I reached my final delivery, was all ready to head back to the office, when disaster struck.  I knew it was too good to be true.

Now, for those of you who do not know, there is an often ignored federal law that states a postal carrier is not allowed to hand mail to anyone outside of a post office, residence or place of business.  If the carrier walks something up to your door, he can hand it to you, if you walk out to your mailbox and hold out you hand, however, he is breaking the law by handing the mail directly to you, rather than putting it in the mailbox.  You're putting him is a really awkward position by standing there holding out your hand and expecting him to hand your mail to you, because he doesn't want to be rude, but if his supervisor happens to see him doing it, he's toast.

When I was but a young postal worker, ten years ago when I first started, I made the mistake of breaking this law in ignorance of it.  The woman standing at the mailbox was in a very bitter divorce with the man who lived there, and I handed his paycheck right to her, which she was able to cash because they had yet to close their shared bank account.  I had to pay back then entire lost paycheck to the man out of my own pocket, and I was nearly fired for it.  I managed to keep my job because my defense was pretty good. "How can I obey a law that you never bothered to tell me exists?"  I did get a good, long, LOUD talking to over it though, and it was made very clear, in no uncertain terms, that I am not to hand any mail to any one for any reason EVER!

And that brings me back to my last delivery of the day.  My route is made up of CBUs.  That stands for Community Box Unit.  It's one of those community boxes where the entire street has their mailbox in the one unit, and all of the boxes have locks on them.  You see them a lot at apartments, and in newer residential areas.  Now, if just handing mail to someone who is standing at the mailbox in front of their house is enough to almost get me fired, what do you think would happen to me if I unlocked a locked mailbox and handed its contents to a random stranger that walked up to me off the street?  Yeah, if that ever got back to my bosses, I'd be canned so fast I'd probably get whiplash.

So, low and behold, what should appear before my eyes, by a woman demanding, "give me my mail," after I had closed the box up and was getting ready to head back to the office.

"Excuse me," I replied.

"Give me my mail, NOW," the lady said.

"Okay, which house is yours, I'll see what I can do for you, do you have your key?"

Now, at this point I would like to point out that many people believe if they simply show me their ID that I can hand their mail to them.  This is false.  I cannot hand anything to you outside of the post office, your front step, or inside a place of business, PERIOD.

"We lost our key.  Here's my ID."

"I'm sorry, I can't hand anything to you, even with ID.  It's the law."

I then explained how she could get a replacement key for her box, and how to place her mail on temporary hold at the post office so that she can pick it up there if there is anything important that she is expecting.

Now, throughout this exchange, this woman was acting very suspiciously.  We mail carriers are trained to notice such things.  She kept fidgeting, as though she knew she was doing something wrong and did not want to be caught, and she kept looking over her shoulder toward one of the houses as if she was checking to make sure no one was watching her.  Additionally, she was acting with a great deal of hostility toward me, which is another sign that she might not be 100% legit.  With all of the identity theft going on these days, and with so many people who get their paychecks mailed to them, security of the mail is a very high priority, and any carrier worth a damn is going to have red flags and alarms going off in his head over this sort of behavior.  If anyone acts in a manner that is, in any way, suspicious to the carrier, that carrier is to get away ASAP and report this person to the police.

The woman would not take no for an answer and began arguing with me over it.  I just kept telling her the same thing over and over again.

After she saw that I wasn't going to budge on the issue, she changed the subject of the argument.

"How dare you argue with me," she said.  "I'm a woman."

Inwardly I thought, "yeah, and?  What's your point?  Men and women have been arguing with each other since the beginning of time.  What makes you so special?"

Outwardly I said, "you're the one that's arguing ma'am.  You're the one that's being hostile and yelling.  I just told you no.  No means no."

"No," she replied.  "When a woman tells a man no, it means no.  When a man tells a woman no, it means nothing."

"Well, this time it means no," I said with a smile.  "Have a nice day ma'am.  Call that number to get your keys replaced."

And with that, I drove away, with her shouts of "I'll have you fired for this," echoing behind me.  And as I drove back to the office I called and reported the incident to both the police and my supervisor.

Now, I don't know about you, but I find her attitude toward men rather... unrealistic.  I know that I could never respect a woman who let me walk all over her like this woman thought she could walk all over me.  That's what a relationship is built upon.  Mutual respect.  I get the feeling, and this is pure speculation from the events as I remember them, that this woman is in the middle of a divorce, and trying to get something out of her former husband's mail.  And honestly, with the attitude that she displayed toward me, I don't blame the guy for dumping her one single bit.  I could never be with a woman that respected me so little, just as I could not stand to be with a woman who would allow anyone to treat her this way.

So, anyway, as I got back to the post office my supervisor was on the phone with this lady.  She gave me a wink, covered the receiver and told me, "yeah, you were right.  This chick is a total psycho."

I leaned in to listen and found that the lady was not, actually yelling at my supervisor, she was yelling at the police, and just happened to be still holding her phone up to her face so we could hear.  The yelling stopped abruptly in what we think was the lady getting tazed.  And it could not have happened to a more deserving individual.

Let that be a lesson.  Trying to steal mail that does not belong to you is a serious crime.  We postal workers take the security of the mail very seriously, and the police take threats toward us equally as seriously.