Information Retrieval

This will not be a computer tutorial.  I started with a bitch about certain website set-ups, but, in my best shit-hit-the-fan tradition, I’m going to touch on a couple of other things that sour my milk, and attitude.

I have Loi Vo’s, Style and Home magazine….actually, probably his wife’s.  Last month, I had his Business Quarterly magazine.  The month before that, I got his bank statement.  Are you sensing a pattern here?  At least once a month I get mail for him.  In the meantime, I’m waiting for my knifemakers magazine.  Once it just didn’t show up in the mail at all, another time I received the next month’s issue two days before the late one showed up.

The central city gets door-to-door mail delivery.  To save money, out here in the ‘burbs, they put up Super Mailboxes every block or so.  Forty or fifty individual boxes, one for each house, and a couple of larger package boxes.  You walk, or drive to the box to get your mail.  I hear you ask, “Is Loi Vo’s box right beside yours?”  If only!  He lives 4 blocks, two super mailboxes and a postal code away….but his house number is the same as mine, so I can see how the nuclear physicist, who moonlights as my mailman, could make that mistake….over and over and over.

Instead of hand delivering to his house, I finally decided to complain to head office, and went online to CanadaPost.ca.  What a piece of milquetoast.  They already have answers to every question you might possibly ask….except mine.  Want to buy stamps online?  Need a postal code?  Want locations of Canada Post outlets?

Every decent site does much the same.  It saves you time, and them money and manpower.  However, most sites also include a spot where you can drop an email to cover concerns not listed.  Has the Post Office got one on their site?  Uh uh!  Probably to discourage irate customers like me from actually getting service.  Well then, I’ll just take Loi Vo’s magazine, go to the main office, and complain.

The main branch used to be right downtown, then they moved it way out to an industrial plaza, how wily.  I know where it is, within a block or so, but thought I’d use their Find-a-Branch service for an exact address.  I opened it up, and they list every pharmacy and corner store which contains a postal outlet – but don’t list the main office.  I think I’ll format a letter to take with me, to list my complaints, and that will be one of my bitches.

A movie based on one of author Lee Child’s books, has come out, and he has just released another in the series.  His character, a huge man who needs a Dolf Lundgren Viking to play him, is being portrayed, some fans say betrayed, by a Tom Cruise pipsqueak.  Books I might like, which are part of groups of 20 or more, interest me.  With the number of books I read, a series like that could keep me reading for several years, so I went online to do some research.

My orderly mind doesn’t want to start in the middle.  With character development, I want to begin at the beginning.  I went to the Chapters/Indigo site.  This is the big book purveyor in Canada.  Chapters merged with Indigo some years ago, and they bought up Coles Books.  Coles used to, and still may, provide Coles Notes.  These are like the American Cliff’s Notes.  They were banned at my highschool.  You were supposed to do your own learning.  That didn’t stop them from being used at home.

On the book site, I chose advanced search, and started to type in Lee Child’s name.  I got a prompt which read, “Lee Child books”, so I clicked it.  Now, I know he’s published about 20 books, but the top of the page read, 493 Items.  493??!  Okay, there will be hardcover and paperback and large print and audio books and trade-size softback, but 493?

This is Chapters own sorted listing.  They claim this is “Lee Child books”, so I started to scroll down.  The first listing is a Regency romance called The Agency, by Y.s. Lee.  I loved the, one capitalized/ one lower case, initials.  Is she a friend of k.d. lang?  Well, it does have an author named Lee.  A couple of books by Lee Child, then, Just Like Me, by Jan-Lee Music, then a couple more by Lee Child, then Quinlan B. Lee, then Robert Lee, (no middle E.), then John Lee, then Chris Higgins and John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series.  Wait, what??  How did Higgins and John D. MacDonald get into this list?  McGee does rhyme with Lee.

I managed to sort out only Lee Child books.  Since I’m looking to start at the beginning, I sorted again for date of publication.  Yeah, that worked so well!  Since the movie just came out, that book, which is at least five novels old, is at the top of the list.  All the others were chronologically scrambled too.

I think I found the first in the series, a book titled Killing Floor.  I clicked on its image for more information, including cost.  Along with the hard cover, large print, and audio, I found two paperback editions, identical, as far as I could see.  One offered an online price of $12.95, or used from $15.65, the other online price was $10.44, and used from $10.80.

I am confused by all this.  Why is one online price $10.44, and the other $12.95?  Even if these are not exactly the same book, why would I pay half again, or better, to buy a used copy, when an original is available.  I’ve reserved a large-print copy at the library for free, with one person ahead of me.  I prefer the tactile sensation of print.  The library is only authorised to issue 6 E-books at a time, and there are 56 people on the waiting list.

Wikipedia dispenses comprehensive free information.  These other sites just hand out free question marks.

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My Kingdom

A theme, a theme, my kingdom for a theme.

For want of a theme, a post was lost.  For want of a post….a number of readers escaped excruciating boredom.  Oh Hell, I’ll just do what other bloggers do.  If I can’t think of anything in particular, I’ll just write about the scraps rattling around at the bottom of the waste paper basket.

I got a postcard the other day!  I thought that the digital age had rendered them obsolete.  I shouldn’t have worried.  It was hand-delivered for a local Real Estate agent.  As a piece of advertising, I think it works well.  It’s glossy printed, front and back.  On the front is a picture of the lady, vertically at one end, and a photo of a local house, with a red banner proclaiming, *Sold In Three Weeks*.  The address is given and below it, the address also becomes the website, 80oprington.com.  Someone’s planning ahead.  In five years, when the new young owners want to sell and move on, that website can be reactivated.

On the back is every kind of contact information, office address, office phone, cell phone, VirginiasHomes.ca and the same as an email address.  Also, the card is a gift certificate for a free home staging consultation if you list with her. I’m impressed; of course that doesn’t take much.  I think she covered all the bases and got maximum value for the cost of these.

About ten years ago, we were sitting, reading one evening, and suddenly all the lamps went out.  We have little nightlights in several outlets, and they remained on.  Strange, says I, along with several other, more colorful comments.  I went around the house, turning various things on and off.  Some worked, some didn’t. I turned the oven elements on, and all the lamps came back on, but dimly.  We called the emergency number for our local electricity provider, and about an hour later, we had a crew arrive.

The company says that they are responsible for everything up to the house.  After that, it’s my responsibility.  When I described what was happening, they headed for the electrical meter, and pulled it out.  Like an appliance plug, it just pushes in on four prongs.  Sure enough, one of the prongs had burned off.  The crew foreman said it was likely caused by vibration from traffic on the thoroughfare that runs behind my house.

Oh good, it’s their meter; it’s their problem.  Not so fast, grasshopper.  The meter didn’t fail.  When we plug it in, the prong is inside your house, and it was the prong that failed.  Ah yes, great bureaucrat master, I get to pay.  What a surprise!  Actually, the labor was covered, but I became the proud owner of one of the Province’s first, electronic, time-of-use meters.  The rest of the reporting/billing system didn’t go into effect for another eight years.

These are designed to bill higher for usage at peak times, and less in evenings and weekends, to encourage energy conservation.  There was a big rush to install them on any home in the Province without one, and finally, we were billed on a sliding scale.  Two years later, the power supplier to our twin city to the north is requesting the right to add $2/mo. to the bills, for thirty months, to recoup the capital outlay.  I paid for mine long ago.  You didn’t think the rest were going to get theirs for free, did you?

The company that provides to my city just quietly went ahead and added $1.49/mo. to cover their costs….except for customers who use less than 50KwH/mo.  Those they charge $1.99/mo.  If I ever think I understand the bureaucratic mind, you can expect me to run screaming from the building.  Wouldn’t total meter cost, divided by number of months, always equal $1.49, no matter how much power you use?  And charge more, to those who use less, that’ll teach you to conserve!

I scan through the items-for-sale ads each day, watching for a couple of items, for myself and others.  I got my daughter 30 balls of Angora yarn for a buck apiece, a couple of weeks ago.  I am amused and entertained by some of the ads.  Engagement ring for sale.  Never worn. Paid $3500. Will sell $1850.  Damn!  A guy with some money, and he was ready to commit, and she turned him down??  That relationship did not end well.

Ladies shorts and jeans, size 16.  Never worn.  Call xxx-xxxx, after six.  Great hopes and plans, but the diet just didn’t work out.  Jennie Craig will buy them.

The page begins with free articles.  Sometimes people want to get rid of something but don’t want it to go to the dump.  Reduce, reuse, recycle, the blue box program started in this city.  At least one of the *I’m too Duh-mb for my shirt*s works at the local paper.  Under free items; 50 paving stones.  You pick up.  Eight pcs. 2x4x8ft.  Call Bob.  Brown leather jacket size 36.  $50.  Black and Decker orbital sander.  $35.  Somebody doesn’t understand the concept of FREE.  Maybe that’s the file-clerk from my old office.

P. T. Barnum said, You’ll never go broke underestimating the stupidity of the general population, and I’d be a fool to doubt him.