Archive for the ‘Mishaps’ Category

Address Mishap

We send out of bunch of Christmas cards. I prepare them in large batches, dozens at a time. I’ll print a bunch of envelopes with addresses, then I’ll stuff them and seal them, then I’ll stamp them. Kind of like a one-man assembly line.

I was in the middle of addressing the envelopes and realized that one particular person had moved and I didn’t have her new address. Since I knew we would be seeing her in a couple of days and I could just hand her the envelope, I wrote “Some New Address” for the address line. I still wanted to address the envelope so that I could check it off the list and we would remember whom it was for.

But I made the mistake of keeping it in the stack of other envelopes. So it continued in the assembly line. It got stuffed, sealed, and stamped. And then mailed. I didn’t realize my mistake until a few hours later.

When we saw her later, I recounted what happened. I figured either the post office would somehow realize it needed to forward the letter to her new address or it would get returned to us for a bad address.

A week came and went. Christmas came and went. Then New Year’s. The letter finally was returned to us last week, over a month after it was mailed.

If you have something with critical timing, make sure you get the address correct. Because if it’s undeliverable, you might not know for a while.

Thus says the king, “Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you from my hand;”

2 Kings 18:29

Misdelivered Mail

Occasionally, the post office will send us someone else’s letter. Sometimes the address is close, maybe off by one digit. Other times the address isn’t close at all, other than the ZIP code is the same.

In the past, I’ve written something on the envelope and stuck it back in the mailbox for the mailman to get and then he could see that it needed to be fixed.

Then I took the lazy way and just dropped it in one of the post office’s mail bins without writing anything on it. My thinking with that was that whatever glitch caused the letter to be routed to us wouldn’t happen twice in a row.

And it worked!


The next time I did that, the letter came back. So I gave it back to the post office. And the letter came back again.

The same thing happened with another misdelivered piece of mail. Twice I returned it and twice it appeared in our mail again.

But now I have found the secret – scribble over the bar code.

Now the wrong mail does not return to us.

image of a letter with the bar code scribbled over or invalidated so that the wrong address won't keep being used

Here’s my guess as to what happens: the automated sorter machine at the acceptance facility misreads the address and prints the wrong bar code at the bottom. All the subsequent stations find the bar code and don’t bother checking the address – they blindly trust the bar code.

When I put the letters back in the post office, I assumed they would read the address again. But they don’t, because the bar code is there. And the bar code tells them to send that letter to me.

So when I scribbled over the bar code, the machines had to reject it and then I assume a person had to manually sort the mail. It shouldn’t be any more annoying for them to manually sort that letter, since they would have to do that anyway if I put a note on it saying it was misdelivered.

If you really want to annoy people, I suppose you could take an black ink pen and a steady hand and extend some of the bar code lines so that it’s still a valid bar code but is delivered somewhere else. Visit the USPS’ page on their barcode for more information.

They said to the messengers who had come, “Thus you shall say to the men of Jabesh-gilead, ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you will have deliverance.’ ” So the messengers went and told the men of Jabesh; and they were glad.

1 Samuel 11:9

Christmas Card Printing

We are about to send out our Christmas cards. I’ll try not to spoil anything here for those of you on our list.

We get them printed at a nearby printing/copying center (PCC). Last year, I had our Christmas cards printed by the PCC and they were fine. But we ran out, so I had to go back. I did not get the same employee at the PCC, and he did not do as good a job as the first one did. Here’s what happened then.

I produced the card as an image file (JPG, in case you’re wondering). I made it large enough that the resolution would be good when printed on a normal sheet of paper (8.5×11″). When the second PCC person loaded the files, he remarked how large my file was – “You have it set to be over 2 feet wide!”. He then informed me that he fixed it to fit on the size I wanted. He printed a test sheet and held it up. It looked good so we ran all the copies.

When I got home later and looked at the copies at a normal distance, instead of a dozen feet away, I noticed that the images were blocky/pixelated. I then realized what happened – he had his resolution set at 200 DPI instead of the 600 DPI I wanted. That made my image larger than expected. And rather that increase his DPI, taking advantage of the file size to produce a good resolution, he just reduced my file to a bad resolution.

Now fast forward to this year. I took my files to the PCC, one file for the front of the card and one files for the back of the card, just like last year. Determined not to make the same mistake again, I asked for the test sheet so I could make sure they didn’t mess up the resolution. They got the resolution right, so I was happy and gave them the okay to print the rest. I paid and left.

Then I remembered to check the orientation of the front against the back. To my chagrin, I discovered that the back was printed upside down. It would not have been hard to tell with the test sheet, but I was thinking only of the resolution and forgot about how it would look when folded.

So, if you receive our card this year and you think the card is upside down when you open it, you’re right. Just pretend the front of the card is the back and vice-versa and it’ll work out.

It stood on twelve oxen, three facing the north, three facing west, three facing south and three facing east; and the sea was set on top of them and all their hindquarters turned inwards.

2 Chronicles 4:4

Just a Chat

I was looking on the internet for a pump. Found a recommended pump and went to the website to check the specs. Here is a screenshot of the website:

image of a website display massage instead of message for chat

Of course there is something wrong with the website, otherwise I wouldn’t have written this post.

I’ll give you a minute to see if you can find it. Try a right-click to view the image full size. And no, it’s not a technical issue.

Here’s what you should be looking for:

image of a website display massage instead of message for chat

It’s a good thing I didn’t have a question, otherwise I might have clicked on that box for what I would have expected to be a chat with customer service.

To be fair, that is a Chinese company, so English is not their strong suit. I’m not lowering my view of their pumps because of their gaffe – I’m just pointing out that I was amused by it.

then Sanballat and Geshem sent a message to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together at Chephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they were planning to harm me.

Nehemiah 6:2

Warranty Beware

Since Apple introduced a new iPhone, the other – now less-desireable – iPhones dropped in price. And since our phones have been about two numbers behind, it was time to upgrade.

So we upgraded. Now my phone is only one number behind the current phone. I hope to be able to make it to three less than the new phone eventually.

In the process of buying the phone, however, the guy (not sure if he’s a cashier, customer service representative, salesman, or what) recommended we buy the protection plan. A warranty for the phone – in case anything happens to it, it would get replaced. These newer phones are thinner than our older phones, so I figured they might be more easily bent or broken. Plus the screen is larger, which means more area to be damaged. So a warranty/insurance policy made sense.

I asked the guy how much it cost, and he said $10 a month per phone. I agreed, and we continued with the transaction and getting our phones switched.

We got our phones, and everything was fine.

About a week later, I got a message from the phone company telling me I should activate my protection plan.

Activate? Shouldn’t insurance just be there? There shouldn’t be anything to activate…

So I went to the website and found the descriptions of the protection plans.

It turns out the $10/month plan is insurance plus tech support.

The insurance-only plan was $6 or $7 per month.

And the deductible was half the price of the phone. My thought behind the insurance was to avoid paying anything to get a replacement phone.

Can you imagine if car or house insurance worked that way? Your $20,000 car is totaled and you have to pay $10,000? Or your house burns down but the insurance will pay only half the value?

But this story turns out well – I was able to cancel the protection plans online. No having to talk to anyone!

I know, I know – we are treading on thin ice by not having replacement phone insurance. But we’ve lived this long without insurance, and we kept our old phones (they were going to give us about $30 for the phone) so if the new phones are damaged we can just swap SIM cards and keep going.

Learn from My Mistakes
1. Ask what other plans there are.

I did not, so I didn’t know that I had signed up for the middle plan, which had me paying for things I didn’t want.

2. Ask what the deductible is.

If it’s a significant fraction of the price of the phone, just use the money you would have spent on the insurance each month and instead buy municipal bonds. Or something. Pay yourself that money and invest it and you’ll come out ahead in the long run.

A decent phone case is worth the money, so buy that and consider that your insurance.

But if he should ever wish to redeem it, then he shall add one-fifth of it to your valuation.

Leviticus 27:13

Customer Service Answers

We have been having trouble with our trash service. I figured it was because we moved and I didn’t know exactly where to put the trash can so the garbage truck could find it.

When I called to start the service, the person on the phone said to put it at the driveway. But our neighbor said they wouldn’t pick it up there so I had to place it out by the main road.

I put the trash can where the company said, not where the neighbor said.

The first week, they did not pick up the trash, so I called and notified them like one is supposed to.

The second week, I emailed the company a question. “Our garbage was not picked up today. Where am I supposed to put the trash can so that it will get picked up – by the driveway or by the main road?”

By this point, I figured the neighbor was right – the garbage men wouldn’t pick up the trash at the driveway. But I wanted an official answer from the trash company. Where do I put my trash?

They replied right away.

“We are sorry for this problem. We will send someone out to get your garbage collected today.”

That’s good to know – and they did come get the garbage – but they did not answer the question.

Maybe they don’t want to go on the record.
Maybe it’s supposed to be a secret.
Or maybe they are trained to assure the customer the problem will be fixed. Any questions are secondary.

But it’s kind of annoying. I want to make sure I am doing my part correctly. How can I do that if they won’t verify what my part is?

Maybe that’s the answer…

But the people were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s commandment was, “Do not answer him.”

2 Kings 18:36

Vinyl in the Dryer

Having young children, we have a few of the waterproof mattress pads or covers. Mostly, they are made waterproof by having one side of it made of vinyl. Or some other type of softer plastic, but we’ll just call it vinyl.

In our previous house, we never had any problems with the laundry. The washer and dryer handled the mattress pads with no problem.

Then we moved.

Our first week in the new house, we ran a load of laundry. It wasn’t the first day in the new house only because there was no washer or dryer. So we had to buy them – a brand new washer and dryer, all shiny and sparkly and undimmed by human tears.

The first load of laundry in the new appliances, and we ruin the dryer.


More like temporarily ruined the dryer.

image of a clothes dryer with vinyl melted to the inside of the drum

We ran plenty of vinyl through our old dryer and it never melted. But the new dryer melted the vinyl off the mattress pad and it stuck to the metal vent in the dryer.

I even had the heat set at medium, not high. I wonder what high would have done.

I had to pry, then cut, the mattress pad out of the dryer. Then I had to peel the vinyl off the metal vent. But it wasn’t cooperating, and it was an uncomfortable working position, so I had to unscrew that vent from the dryer in order to get at it better.

image of a clothes dryer with vinyl melted to the inside of the drum

After spending a couple hours on it, I finally gave up. I left it with the plan suggested by my wife of finding a product to dissolve the vinyl off it. I came home that evening to a metal vent that was free of any vinyl.

A friend had soaked it in hot water, and the vinyl softened up and peeled right off. So I was able to put the vent back in the dryer and we could resume cleaning our clothes. Or at least wearing dry clothes.

Moral of the story: if you get vinyl melted onto a metal surface, use hot water. It should work for other surfaces too.

And you shall wash your clothes on the seventh day and be clean, and afterward you may enter the camp.

Numbers 31:24