# The Dying Post Office

The post office is not doing so well these days. I hardly ever have to mail anything, and neither do many others. The common wisdom is that this situation was caused by E-mail. I had occasion to think over the matter recently, and I have concluded that it was not E-mail and that E-mail was not even the second thing contributing to the decline of snail mail.

I think that the decline started with the telephone. Whereas before the telephone, one might use the mail to invite someone to visit or to arrange a visit, with the telephone, one can simply call.

Shortly after the telephone was invented, one official stated that it would never catch on, because there were a lot of messenger boys. We know how that worked out!

When telephone callers could place their own long-distance calls, this accelerated. This happened back in the 1960’s.

Still, I would pay bills by mail. The second nail was when one could make payments where one banked. I think I was first doing this in the 1980’s. I have done this for years. I pay my telephone bill and my credit card bills at my credit union.

Then, E-mail became commonplace. Sure, it has had an impact, but I think that the telephone and being able to pay bills where one banks were there with the daggers first.

# Odd Language #215: Walk Into

I was recently solving a crossword puzzle, and one of the clues was very odd to me: “Walk into” (five letters). I could not figure it out until I had some crossing words worked out. Suddenly, I realised that I had been using the wrong sense of “Walk into”.

The issue: The word was “enter” as in walking into a store. I had been thinking of “walk into” as in walking into a wall or other obstacle. Unlike a store, you are not really in the wall after you walk into it, but “walk into” is the expression for both.

# Puzzle #218: The Job Offer

You have just been offered a job paying \$50,000 per year. You have your choice of two different raise packages. Plan A is a raise of \$2,000 per year after every year. Plan B is a raise of \$950 per year after every six months. The maximum salary for the position is \$60,000 per year.

Assuming you want to make as much money as you can, which plan should you take? Why?

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <genew@telus.net>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, August 9, 2017 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

# More on Fires!

It is the worst summer for wildfires in the Kamloops area that I have ever seen. In Kamloops itself, we have been OK. There has been smoke fairly constantly, but we are not threatened by fire. (For some reason, Kamloops gets a lot of wildfire smoke in the summer.)

Elsewhere nearby, it has not been too good. The community of Cache Creek was evacuated, and on July 18, the evacuation order was lifted; they are still on evacuation alert though. On Saturday evening (July 15), an evacuation order was issued for the city of Williams Lake which has a population of 11,000!

Repeating from last week: The Kamloops area is not the only area suffering. If you are in a dry area, please take care, extreme care.

# Odd Language #214: Domestic

Recently, a Computerworld article had this paragraph: ‘At the briefing, a senior administration official said: “Just to illustrate a little bit more how the lottery works — so some companies oftentimes are called outsourcing firms. You may know their names well, but … the top recipients of the H1B visa are companies like Tata, Infosys, Cognizant — they will apply for a very large number of visas, more than they get, by putting extra tickets in the lottery raffle, if you will, and then they’ll get the lion’s share of visas. Which is very different than I think how most people think of the H-1B program — they imagine it for more — being for — again, they would think of it as being for skilled domestic work, rather than contract work.”‘

The issue: I first read “domestic” as in housecleaning. I wonder how many others might have, especially those who are less aware of the H1B system. Of course, it means within the country.

# Puzzle #217: Bleach

I encountered this problem at work recently.

You have some bleach which is 4.1% sodium hypochlorite (and thus 95.9% water). You need to dilute the bleach so it is 3% sodium hypochlorite.

If you start with 100 parts bleach, how many parts water (to the nearest integer) are needed to dilute to 3%? There is a simpler form that is close to 100:x; what is that?

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <genew@telus.net>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, August 2, 2017 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

# Fires!

Summer in Kamloops, unfortunately, includes forest fires. Every so often, it gets rather bad. The smoke smell is obvious, and visibility is rather low. That is just the surface.

Kamloops This Week had several articles on the situation in its Tuesday, July 11, 2017 issue. Many of these articles are available on their Website.

From KTW: “Historically … 40 per cent of fires are human-caused each wildfire season.” The local towns of Ashcroft and Cache Creek have been evacuated due to fire. The front page story was about a trailer park being all but destroyed by a wildfire; just one home is left.

Even a tossed cigarette butt can start a fire when it hits dry grass. (Several years ago, I saw where a fire had started just off the Trans-Canada Highway. I suspect that a tossed cigarette butt was exactly what started this fire.) Operating some machinery – that creates sparks – can cause fires, too.

The Kamloops area is not the only area suffering. If you are in a dry area, please take care, extreme care.

# Odd Language #213: Sample Error?

At my new job, there are two sets of log books labelled “Sample Drying Log 60º +” and “Sample Drying Log 40º”.

The issue: “Sample” refers to rock and soil samples, not that this is a sample of a type of log. At first, I thought that, since there are two of each log, one of each log was a sample of how to fill out the log. Nope.