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It's funny.  Laugh.

Pushing The Postal Envelope 173

Alexander Burke writes: "The Annals of Improbable Research has a sidesplitting account of their research into exactly what the USPS will tolerate. They mailed various items -- ranging from the absurd to the grotesque, usually without packaging -- to various real domestic addresses. Said items include a hammer, a rose, a ski (!), a tooth, a brick, a helium balloon, a bottle of water, and many more. It's pure craziness, and definitely worth a read!"
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Pushing the Postal Envelope

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    A friend once mailed a letter to another friend by simply describing her house and its location (ie, the 2 story brown house 3rd on the left on Whatever Road). It arrived.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I worked for UPS once.. and watched the guy next to me put his fist through a couple boxes. Could have been monitors or fragile china. Who cares? You knew the risk when you shipped it. The people who work there are basically part-time slaves with no benefits and massively overworked. When I first started at UPS I was careful about package handling and did just like the videos showed. But, towards the end -- I used to take big, HEAVY metal car parts and throw them into boxes as hard as I could - try to see how much shit I could damage in one toss. Hey! You haven't *seen* damage until you've watched something fragile get caught in the gears and stop the conveyor line! Holy sheep shit!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    it's because of people like this that the postal rates have just increased!!! luserzsadfjhdafjkhlkjhasdf!!!
  • I'll agree that it wasn't exactly side-splitting. However, do keep in mind that this study was done on mail sent both from and to domestic US addresses. Mail sent from or to other countries was not included in this study.

    --

  • Yes, but you're talking about the exception to the rule. In decades of mailing things I've NEVER had any problems with the USPS. Everything gets there within 5 days in a usable condition. Surely you can expect it to get scuffed a bit from being handled but that's what envelopes and packaging is for. It's certainly no different than UPS or Fedex playing package football with your boxes of replacement China marked "exremely fragile!". :-) I think the USPS deserves a lot of credit for the kinds of shit they DO put up with. Now that I've said that, I will admit I don't use the USPS at all anymore as I pay all my bills online. Much cheaper. :-)
  • Of course, you have to doubt the sanity of someone who thinks taking a lock of their hair and chanting to it will make them fall in love or whatever...

    Of course, you have to doubt the sanity of someone who thinks getting down on their knees and mubling an incantation will get them a perfect afterlife where they are waited on by angels.

    Every religion is ridiculous if you choose to look at it in that way. Every religion is correct if you choose to look at it in another way.

  • [The Post office is] actually self sufficent, relying upon postage instead of government funds to recoup operating costs.

    That's as may be, but it's still relying on government to enfore the postal monopoly on first-class mail. Because FedEx isn't allowed to start delivering small non-time-critical envelopes for less than the Post Office does, the Post Office can reap monopoly profits on that service.

  • But they pay for [the first class mail] monopoly with a guarantee of universal one-price service, which pretty much nullifies the ability to reap large profits.

    FedEx and UPS offer universal one-price service on package delivery. Not because they have to, but because it turns out that it's more efficient to charge one price than to try to figure out what the perfect price is for every combination of routes. You'd lose more money running helplines explaining to people why their package bounced for lack of 20 cents than you'd gain from charging more delivering to people in the boonies.

    FedEx and UPS have service that is MORE universal than that of the post office; they deliver door-to-door just about everywhere whereas the post office in remote locations tends to deliver to a "mail stop" that might be many miles from the recipient address.

    If competition were legal, I'd expect better universal service at a lower price.

  • Then they'd sue you back to the the industrial revolution. Not worth the risk.
  • And UPS manages to 'roughhouse' anything you send via them. I recently had a delivery of computer parts which were totally destroyed by UPS. The box looked like someone had dropped a 16lb bowling ball from a 2 storey window on to the box. Inside was a motherboard, hard drives, processor, RAM, video and network cards. Pins and packaging were all broken mashed together, quite a mess. UPS ended up with the $1100 bill to replace them though.

    The replacement package arrived a bit better, but STILL had knocks on it. Does UPS play football with these packages?

    I used to get packages via the USPS from my girlfriend (now my wife) when I was living in England and they all arrived in REALLY good condition, even fragile items like ornaments.

    I'm left with the impression that UPS doesn't actually give a shit about the quality of its delivery system, 'just so long as it gets there'. It's no damn good delivering something if its broken in the process IMHO.

    --
  • A repost of a comment as an article is just fine by me, and this is the kind of news that never really goes out of date until everyone's heard it already.

    I don't think most people even read the comment. I didn't.

  • If you go back to Edmund Burke, who wrote the definitive text on conservatism, you'd see that conservatism is more "people are dangerous, and thus should have constraints placed on them."
  • Yeah, these "researchers" put the postal workers through a little grief. But from the looks of it, the workers themselves were more often amused. :) Also, they took the time after the whole thing was over to buy chocolates for everyone they tortured. That seems to me to be fairly respectful.
  • Memepool was running this story like 2 months ago. Slashdot is getting slow now that it's run by a bunch of corporate drones. What happened to the "bleeding edge" ?!?!?
  • The person who was forced to break the brick into little pieces to check for drug content probably had better things to do.

    Well, I hope so. And I hope he never got to whatever it was. People who do things like that deserve all the petty hardships we can throw at them.

    Randall.
    On a visible but distant shore, a new image of man;

  • Did the USPS lose them or did the Aussies? How can you be sure it was the USPS. Don't blame anyone until you have the evidence.
  • The poor guy who had to figure out what to do with the moldy and stinky cheese deserves a medal

    He does? You are kinda free with the medals, aren't you?

    The person who was forced to break the brick into little pieces to check for drug content probably had better things to do.

    Better things to do? Probably not, if his job involves breaking bricks to check for drug content. Besides, I am not a big fan of War on Drugs and if USPS does break brick apart to check for cocaine inside (which I doubt very much), it would be my pleasure to send somebody a brick once in a while.

    And the person who had to lug the snow ski to a mailbox probably does not get enough medical coverage by the USPS to make up for the dent in his back

    A ski weights what? A couple of pounds? If that will make a dent in his back, he has bigger problems than weird customers.

    Give 'em a bit of respect

    I don't see how sending a brick, or a rose, or a ski, or a.... through the mail consitutes disrespect for people working there. Or are you arguing that all pranks and that kind of humor in general is evil and should be strictly verboten?

    Kaa
  • Saying that witches don't exist is like saying Christians don't exist. Witchcraft is a valid and recognized religion.

    Of course, you have to doubt the sanity of someone who thinks taking a lock of their hair and chanting to it will make them fall in love or whatever...
  • Wouldn't it be simpler to get a drug-sniffing dog to examine the brick BEFORE destroying it? Anyway if it had contained drugs, wouldn't it better to ship it and then arrest the recipient AFTER delivery?

    perhaps a female dog urinated on the brick before they sent it. the male dog could still smell it and went crazy. or the senders could have been doing drugs before they sent the brick, leaving a residue on it. the dea thought the brick contained drugs so they smashed it. if it had drugs they would have found a similar brick and had it delivered, but since it didnt they sent the pieces to the owner.

    since an explination wasnt given for how they came to the conclusion it had drugs we just wont know.

    use LaTeX? want an online reference manager that
  • it's probably something that you unknowingly agree to when you ship with usps.

    use LaTeX? want an online reference manager that
  • The broken brick pieces are funny, Go War on Drugs!!! Shouldnt they be actually patrolling the streets instead of looking for drugs in a brick! Guess thats why we're losing that war.
    This is probably a troll, but what are you, some 13-year-old DARE honor graduate who swallowed the propaganda hook, line and sinker?

    Nope, the reason we are losing the "War on [Some] Drugs" is because it is stupid to involve cops/judges/jails in a futile attempt at changing people's behavior. Drug use (not all use is abuse) should properly be a medical issue not a legal issue.

    Then there is the racial aspect, where Blacks and Latinos are thrown into prison for drug violations on a disproportionate basis. Most of the violence that comes about from enforcing drug laws takes place in the barrios and ghettos of AmeriKKKa. If there are valid scientific reasons for this racist policy, where are the scientific studies showing that Whites are not affected by drugs at the same rate that minorities are?

    The "War on [Some] Drugs" is just the White man's way of maintaining power over minorities. The crime rate is going down, so why on earth would "fiscally conservative" Whites throw and more more money at the "law enforcement/criminal justice" complex if not to continue suppressing this country's minority citizens?
    --
    You think being a MIB is all voodoo mind control? You should see the paperwork!
  • Also someone sent a whole pumpkin to a guy in the office she was having an affair with.
    She had an affair with a WHOLE office??? She must have been pretty popular around there!
    --
    You think being a MIB is all voodoo mind control? You should see the paperwork!
  • Without context, conservative and liberal are almost always the wrong words to use in any conversation that demands thought.
    Well, my original post was about the Fourth Amendment. The post dealt with how easily some judges give out search warrants.

    A liberal judge will rule against the cops more often than a conservative judge will. If a cop lies about probable cause, then he will have a harder time persuading a liberal judge than a conservative judge that he actually has probable cause, mainly because the conservative judge is more willing to believe said cop on the strength of his word than the liberal judge would.

    So in the context of my original post, conservative was EXACTLY the right word to use...
    --
    You think being a MIB is all voodoo mind control? You should see the paperwork!
  • Most minorities who are in jail for drug convictions got caught for something.
    Drug violations?
    in general, minority community standards seem to make it more acceptable, or at least a more regular practice to use drugs in places that are out in the open...
    So the pigs should come into MY neighborhood and bust heads just because I want to smoke a joint on my front porch (which IS private property regardless of whether or not the porch is visible from the street)...
    in communities that are more heavily policed due to generally higher crime rates (i.e. the barrios and ghettos you referred to).
    If drugs are illegal then by using them we break the law. If anecodotal evidence says that more minorities are using drugs then by extension the minority crime rate is higher. That is a function of drugs being illegal not drugs being used more by minorities.
    This is purely logical...
    I think a cheer for you just went up at Odin's Lounge...
    ...although it may have unfortunate statistical results in your mind. I would counter that if the people in those ghettos weren't shooting each other all the time, the cops wouldn't be riding around looking for people to arrest in those neighborhoods
    Those are not "statistical results" they are people. And I have lived in the barrio for over three years and have to see "people shooting each other all the time". Methinks you have watched "Boyz in the Hood" one too many times...
    The vast majority of Americans don't care about your skin color, but rather about your behavior.
    Ahhh... so it is our behavior, not our skin color that is keeping us down! Yet we have never had a Black or Hispanic President even though we have been in the U.S. since the beginning (actually Hispanics were here in Texas 350 years before you Whites showed up).

    Why? Is it because counter to your protestations, you DO care about our skin color?
    Leave the casual users alone...
    Minorities are then not "casual users", huh? I think you meant to say "White users"...
    --
    You think being a MIB is all voodoo mind control? You should see the paperwork!
  • 221 B baker street is the sherelock holmes museum. pretty small and expensive (7 bucks for a look see) but nicely preserved.
  • I have received several postcards from friends on vacation, addressed something like this: "Small white house across from the railway station, with Land Rover in the driveway". :-)

  • I'm talking about a US zip code for a city outside of the US. All the US mail I get here in Melboure Australia seems to be bar coded with 00194+0000.

    Anyone want to send me a letter? I wonder what would happen if you mailed it to
    Tim
    86 Nicholson
    3065
    with the 00194+0000 barcode.
  • The US seems to have a ZIP code for at least Melbourne. It would be cool to see if someone from the US could mail a letter to your friend with [name], [postcode], [zip+5 barcode for Australia]
  • It doesn't matter if the UPS guy knows you or not. Anymore, they just drop the box at the door, ring the bell, and run back to the truck, whether a signature is required or not. Used to be they'd leave things with the neighbor.

    FedEx is starting to get used by a lot more companies. Their prices are competitive and the packaging is unmolested. A box we got from UPS the other day had a big gashed/crushed spot in it. The UPS guy said we should tell the sender to pack their things better. Uh....

    Let's also look at the labor situation. UPS is completely unionized, at FedEx, only the pilots are.
  • A guy I knew in college played this game with a friend of his who lived across the country. They would find strange objects to send to each other, write the address and message on the object, and mail it.

    Some of the things they sent:

    *A (plastic) jar of peanut butter (with a piece of chocolate inside...they had a thing for old Reese's commercials).

    *A toilet seat.

    *One side of those plastic "wet floor" signs.
  • (up untill recently, in my area anyway) that you could mail a letter merely by taping 32 cents to the envelope?

    I suggest you try 34 cents, the postage rates increased you know :)

    And before 34 it was at 33, how far behind are you? :)
  • Other strange things that have come through the system include an unwrapped matress, a freshly severed bear's head, LOTS of tires with no wrapping, a car bumper that looked like it had been ripped off the car, complete with the license plate, boxes of live crickets which usually break open so you have crickets loose all over the place, individual car parts with no wrapping. Rank food is quite common on return items.

    Not to criticize your findings of strange items, but according to UPS's shipping guidlines [ups.com], tires and bare metal parts are quite acceptable if common sense is used, however some of the items you mentioned would have never left my store they way you described.

    Nonetheless, I agree with UPS's reliability. For a retail shipping outlet I actually *see* what goes into these brown boxes (yes, I did a severed bear head too for a taxidermist).

    IMHO, I think USPS should get out of larger parcels altogether (12x12x12 max). Their tracking systems, claims process and customer service is horrible. They need to be deregulated like NSI was over internet domains and start making shipping/mailing a open market.

    - Slash
  • Years ago I heard from a postal worker about having to deliver mail to "The third house on the left past the gas station on route 101", and it actually got through!

    Yes. The USPS is surprisingly accomodating about addresses like that, especially if your destination is a small town where the postal clerks know everyone by name.
  • Posted as a comment. It was interesting enough that it deserves to be its own story. Some people actually have other stuff to do than read every comment in every story and go to every site that is posted as a link.

    (Especially since doing that would result in them seeing some... unpleasant... things fairly frequently.)
    --
    Obfuscated e-mail addresses won't stop sadistic 12-year-old ACs.

  • generally, when no one comments, it is not a discussion, it is a monologue. What made you think that we weren't having a discussion here? I mean, you replied to me, I reply to you, someone else might reply, so what is the problem? Discussion.
  • if you are quoting say so.

    I'm thinking that, if it is in a balloon, it is in fact wrapped. And hey, there is some helium naturally in the air, I would guess then that we are all transferring a bit of unauthorized helium around with us everywhere we go. Saying you're lightening the plane, yeah, okay, but you are still taking up volume, so they have a right to at least a bit of postage, even if it is not measurable on the postal scales. :P

  • > I never quite understood the complaints people had about the USPS; you put something in the mail, in a few days it's delivered. What more do you want?

    No need to want anything more than that, but the problem many people have, often you don't get that much: mail that takes ages to get delivered, is lost, or arrives in damaged condition (even if packaged properly...).

  • Ten times a day? Wow, not very devoted are you? I'm reloading at least 100. :)

    --
  • not coming into your house and converting you by gunpoint.

    You're not?? Then WHO THE HELL WAS IT!!!!

  • Hmm, well lets see:

    1. If the brick was from a historic building or being sent for lab analysis, why the hell are you posting it in the general mail. You should be using a courier or hand delivering if it's that important.

    2. Why should the government refund you the postage when the item was delivered but it was a stupid thing to post. The first thing I would think on seeing a brick is why the fuck would someone mail a brick except to piss off the mailpeople or to hide something.

    3. If they thought it might be a bomb (and you could fit a pretty nasty bomb into the size of a brick) and they blew it up, that would leave, um a demolished brick. What should they do if they simply thought it MIGHT contain drugs, say to themselves "well it MIGHT contain drugs, but we can't be sure so well just have to deliver it and hope for the best".

    Man, GROW UP. Scheech, lawsuit over a brick, you MUST be a yank (no offence to sane non-sueing US citizens)!
  • Every now and then we get mail with my name and our 5+4 zipcode on it. So yeah.. mail sometimes comes without the normal street address. [Even really fast when you send it with the barcode on it. ;-)]

    Don Armstrong -".naidnE elttiL etah I"
  • I guess people assume that because it's the government, it can't be efficient, despite receiving proof that it's a pretty well-run system every day in their mailbox.

    Actually, it is a self sustaining private corporation. It happens to be owned by the government but it is not the government. This happened as part of the Postal Reorginization act, passed into law in 1970. Prior to this change, the post office had been overwhelmed, and was unreliable and inefficient. Major hubs were completely clogged, the Postmaster General had no control over the wages of the workers, the condition of the vehicles and buildings used, etc.
  • That is moronic communist tripe. I hear it all the time here in Cambridge, MA. Look, I agree 100% with you about the War on [Some] Drugs being a terribly waste of our taxpayer dollars and being morally unjustified. I think careful, controlled drug use and experimentation is just fine.

    But it's a fact that ANYBODY wandering the streets so high that they are a risk to others should be jailed. In the same way a drunk person wandering the streets causing injury to others or damage to property should be jailed.

    But as long as they aren't infringing on other's rights, you are basically correct.

    Where you become drastically wrong is that shit about race. Nobody has claimed that Caucasians don't use drugs, and I don't know of any studies showing that Latinos or Blacks use statistically more drugs than Whites. Most minorities who are in jail for drug convictions got caught for something. For socioeconomic reasons, proportionally more minorities are involved in dealing drugs (this is based on my personal observations, and uh... "purchases"). Trafficking and dealing are the primary targets of most enforcement, far more than users.

    Also, in general, minority community standards seem to make it more acceptable, or at least a more regular practice to use drugs in places that are out in the open, in communities that are more heavily policed due to generally higher crime rates (i.e. the barrios and ghettos you referred to). This is purely logical, although it may have unfortunate statistical results in your mind. I would counter that if the people in those ghettos weren't shooting each other all the time, the cops wouldn't be riding around looking for people to arrest in those neighborhoods and wouldn't have to use any means necessary to supress gang-related activity, etc. You would counter that my brutal white suppression of your economic chances has resulted in that situation. I would counter that many minorities have faced worse situations when they first came to this country, but they prioritized their children, their families, and educations, and within a generation or two they were out of their ghettos.

    My point? Work to eliminate the backdrop of violent crime in your community by reaching out to children and lobbying for educational opportunities for all people. Then take some damned responsibility within these communities to care for your children and instill them with values that emphasize education and success, not the "coolness" of being gang members, or stealing, etc. Don't blabber to me about oppression. The vast majority of Americans don't care about your skin color, but rather about your behavior. If you want success and you go for it, you will get it. As for the War on [Some] Drugs, we should all be united against this silly waste of our money. Let's put those dollars into education and work training programs as well as drug rehabilitation for hard-core addicts who are a threat to themselves and society. Leave the casual users alone, legalize the distribution channels, tax it, and I'll open up a cannibis shop. :)

  • by this [slashdot.org] guy here [slashdot.org].
  • Nah.. actually I have a script that checks the front page every 10 minutes and sends any updates directly to my cellphone.. =)
  • How about creating a new slashbox that has like the top20 news from last week or so. This way we could have some good articles showing longer and maybe prevent these silly reposts after a week. Those people defending the repost based on the fact that they don't read slashdot every day(what?!?) would be happy and those of us who do reload the front page 10 times a day didn't go insane..
  • Well, 5+4 zipcodes are a bit different from Australian postcodes. Aussie postcodes are 4 digit, and in a city generally cover an area about 1.5km to 2km square. 5+4 zipcodes, on the other hand, are so hi-res that they can easily distinguish down to the level of individual houses. After all, in 9 digits there's a billion possible codes, and only about 0.25 billion Americans.
  • Here in Australia, one of my friends wrote another friend's email address on the outside of an envelope, and dropped it in a letterbox with appropriate postage. It got delivered.

    For another of my friends, you don't need to write his street address on the envelope, as his family have moved several times within the one postcode. So on the envelope, you just write [name], [postcode], AUSTRALIA; and that's all.

  • Speaking of High School, a guy I knew, as a final farewell to everyone that ever pissed him off during the course of our school years, wrapped up a shoe-box of his excrement, toe-nail clippings and shower drain spooge and mailed it to people. This was all wrapped in sealed bags so the smell would not give it away.

    It was sick and childish but it's better than killing those people I guess. And point being, the mail service delivered it without question.
  • These times seemed slow, of course they were all strange things...not letters or packages.

    I can send a package from Portland OR, to little towns in central South Dakota that are way off in the middle of no-where in 2-4 days depending on what part of the year it is (snow and things slow down the mail). That's about 2100 km away.

    There are different Priorities that cost different amounts of money. Over Christmas, most of the packages I sent to South Dakota or Florida on a Friday were delivered on the following Monday or Tuesday.

    If I send a package from Portland to Denver Colorado (which has a huge airport), I can send the package by 7pm and it will be delivered by 9am the next day.
  • by pen ( 7191 )
    No, actually, it is to prevent you from mailing a brick of cocaine. See another post in this article about the brick being crushed up and returned to the sender.

    --

  • I'm surprised noone's mentioned this yet.

    If you reverse the addresses, you can send a letter without a stamp. This has been confirmed, including in different zip codes and states. May take a while though.

    --

  • This was about 10 years, ago, but a buddy of mine and I wanted to see what we could get away with. I wrote a letter to my girlfriend on the inside of a pint-sized carton of milk (empty), then taped it back up to look like the original carton, and put the address on the outside. It got there about a month later, flattened open and stuffed inside a mailing envelope. You should have seen the looks from people in line behind me. I had forgotten all about it and was at her house the day it showed up.

    We also discussed what would happen if we mailed a pineapple, with "hand cancel" written on the outside. Those spines are sharp!
  • As every good Canadian kid knows, its:
    Santa Claus
    North Pole
    Canada
    HOH OHO

    Pope

    Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength! Monopolies offer Choice!
  • I am a mailcarrier, and I have experienced the weird addresses. the worst I delivered was, a post card from Italy to Mamaw and Papaw, Slone road. From Jimmy. One man on the road had the first name of James, so I figured he named his boy after him. I noticed that the Camero hadn't been moved for several weeks so the boy who drove it wasn't at home. I saw the mother, tooted my horn* and she came out to the box. I asked her if this is from her son, and she said yes. *((I don't get out of my jeep if there is a bunch of farm dogs barking and acting protective.))

    I have delivered some weird stuff, including bees. Since the Unibomber, we have been more careful about odd boxes.

    Any leak from a box is considered a hazardous material, and will be treated as such.

    Thanks for the good words.
  • No, the lawsuit is over the fact that the USPS can pick and choose what to deliver. And that if they deliver your product in demolished form, they still expect to get paid for it.

    And as to the "use a courier". No. A brick isn't a delicate product which requires a courier. The only way it'd break is if some moron takes a hammer to it...

    It doesn't matter if someone mails a brick for scientific analysis, or for the joke value. As long as they pay the postage on it, the USPS is contractually obligated to deliver it.

    I think you're the one in denial. Lawsuit exist specifically for the purpose of forcing someone to do what they contracted to do and then refused to follow through. This isn't receiving hot coffee and suing over the temperature, this is using the courts to force a big corporation to honor its word like you'd expect anyone else to do. The lawsuit only needs to be for the court costs and damages. In this case, $5 should cover it. But the idea is that you don't let a corporation get away with screwing around with you just because they can.

    And if the cops think it has drugs in it, they can act like they'd have to in any other context. Obtain a search warrant, take the minimum steps necessary to determine if it does. They should definately notify the owner, show them the warranty, and repay any damages conducted in their overzealous search.

    Anything else is simply an abuse of power.

    Do you have any better way to make them own up to their bullshit?
  • Instead of thinking someone deserves a medal, I'd be thinking someone deserves a lawsuit. They opened the package and demolished the brick, and then had the balls to deliver the pieces.

    What if that was a brick from a historic building, or was being sent somewhere for lab analysis?

    Doesn't anyone see a problem with the government opening your mail, destroying it, and then not even refunding the postage?

    It's not like they thought it was a bomb or anything (they'd have blown it up - and the person who went to pick it up would have been met by the cops). They simply thought it MIGHT contain drugs.

  • Wired magazine (I would link to the wired website, but they are not owned by the same folks anymore, and that would feel just wrong.) has always had a feature in it where they post a picture of wacky p-mail that they receive. At first, this just consisted of stuff like envelopes that were extremely detailed Photoshop masterpieces cut out and formed into an envelope.

    In the last couple of issues, they received a Mac Keyboard that was stripped of all its keys, save ones that had the shipping address. They have been sent clear plastic boxes with visible circuit boards that had the address spelled out in LED's, and other cool things that frankly, I am too lazy to bother remembering, save that I was surprised that they had actually arrived at the Wired offices.

    Anyway, getting back on track here, Wired was promoting this kind of tomfoolery well in advance of the Annals etc. etc. So there.

    Where did I put my drink?

  • Because FedEx isn't allowed to start delivering small non-time-critical envelopes for less than the Post Office does, the Post Office can reap monopoly profits on that service.
    But they pay for that monopoly with a guarantee of universal one-price service, which pretty much nullifies the ability to reap large profits.

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms | http://www.infamous.net/

  • When I worked at Blockbuster Video, I saw several drivers licenses with the address for Mailboxes etc. The apartment # was the box #. I knew it was indeed mailboxes etc, since it was right next door to us. Guess it helps keep away those stalkers who access your DMV records, leaving them to ponder how you live in a 6x6 inch box.
  • Suppossedly kids in england send mail to Sherlock Holmes at 221B Baker Street, which belongs to a business. The employeess enjoy reading their mail intended for him.
  • Years ago I heard from a postal worker about having to deliver mail to "The third house on the left past the gas station on route 101", and it actually got through!

    I also, years ago, mailed off my state income tax. It required my "Mail Station" as opposed to my usual mail address (it turns out that that was really a poorly worded form, and what they really wanted was the regular address). Well, my "Mail Station" was called "Farley Station", so I entered that. Six months later someone from the post office finally figured out what the return address was supposed to be and I got my refund. I never complained about the mail since.
  • When I get one of the MMF spams, I print it out, stick it in an envelope, and send it to:

    Postal Inspector
    Criminal Investigations

    I've gotten mail back from several Postal Inspectors that tells me that they do indeed follow up.

    (BTW, it's mail fraud if they even *ask* you to send them money through the mail in a Ponzi scheme.)

    -jcr
  • Actually I find it hard too. But because of another reason. I've had some troubles with the Dutch post. My mail was consistently arriving either late, or not arriving at all. Went to complain at the Post Office, and got brushed off. Turns out that a recipient isn't a customer of the post, and so has no right to complain about delivery. seems strange that he can be held responsible than.

    //rdj
  • Generally something almost two months old would be considered old news, no matter if it was linked to in a Slashdot comment or not. Despite this, the article still has merit both for laughts and legitimate information. Therefore, it seems to be a bit of Stuff that matters.. Also, considering my general nerdiness and my interest in the article, this posting was, at least for me, a bit of News for nerds. Therefore, it seems to fit.
  • Well, then I'll tell you: most of them were delivered. A few were not. A USPS guy drank the water bottle. The brick arrived in little pieces. The feather duster was pretty quick. Most things arrived within a week. A few took longer. Someone got mad about the touth.
  • Sometimes I think things were better during the Industrial Revolution. If people were disrespectful like this little snot they'd get fired and end up with no government spoon to feed them. Be dead in a week, or they'd learn some respect for their jobs and for other people's property.
  • Conservatism is essentially about "leave me the fuck alone," not "force other fuckers to stop doing stuff I don't like."

    Actually, you are wrong from two different perspectives.

    1) The views that you speak of are generally considered "classically liberal", which the US was founded upon. Liberal means "favoring change" which was important to the oppressed colonies.

    2) Conservatism literally means "Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change." Now, the US comes from a classical liberal perspective, and has since moved away from it (a matter of degree, compared with other countries). So the "traditional view", or conservative view often refers to the anti-government sentiment that you also refer to. Of course, it also refers to other classical political traits such as pro-military, racism (don't flame me), and agriculture.

    -rt-
  • Oay, but I missed the original comment. And the article was incredibly funny.

    I'm glad they posted it. Do you really expect them to read every comment and not post anything already included there?

    -rt-
  • Never-opened small bottle of spring water. We observed the street corner box surreptitiously the following day upon mail collection. After puzzling briefly over this item, the postal carrier removed the mailing label and drank the contents of the bottle over the course of a few blocks as he worked his route.

    I'm going to be laughing over that one for day! :)

  • If you have a PO Box, or are the only person in your ZIP+4 block, you can often use that as your sole address. (For those of you who don't know or aren't in the US, the USPS has 5 digit ZIP codes which are further broken down with 4 digit extensions. Each extension might refer to a specific block of a street (or a specific side of a block), a floor in a large office building, or some other identifiable mail unit.)

    The cool thing is that you use these as your sole adderss in some cases. I sent a letter out with no return address and just the numbers "92115-8055" (my PO Box's ZIP+4) on the front once and it made it just fine...

    Same thing goes for family names:

    Smith

    7202 (-- your street address)
    92116-5541

    will often make it as well...
  • Excellent point. What about sentimental value? What if that was a brick from the rural farmhouse someone was born in which no longer exists? Methinks the DEA went waaaaay over the line there.

    Plus, in order to make a brick, it has to be baked in a kiln at >1,000C. This would surely change any drugs hidden in a pocket inside the brick, on a molecular level. If not, then surely you'd end up with one big solidified chunk of drug on the inside?

    I mean, isn't it enough to chip off a small amount of the exterior of the brick and analyze it (GC/MS, maybe?) to make sure it's really a normal brick?

    --
  • Yes, there are a hundred definitions of conservative out there. The "people are dangerous and should have constraints placed on them" crowd doesn't have any more to do with the current 10 o'clock news version of the "conservative-liberal" spectrum than my definition did earlier, though.

    There are a lot of "radical conservatives" under your "conservatives want to put constraints on people" metric -- Diane Fienstien is my favorite villian of the day, of course, and George W. Bush ranks up there on that measure, too. Some of the more folks who were far more liberal than either of the two above on that metric included Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., John Ashcroft (to some degree), the Cato Institute, and quite a few of the "Blue Dog" Democrats (who, paradoxically, are often called "conservative" democrats, despite being much more liberal by your definition).

    The point I'm making is that there is not definitive text on conservativism. To say that there is only one kind of conservative is like saying there is only one kind of feminist, or one kind of hacker (for a slashdot definition). The words conservative and liberal have become worse than useless for labeling people and movements -- they mean so many different things to so many different people, and have accrued so much baggage that the words puts people into very useless, very high sided boxes, that do nothing to compartmentalize any actual beliefs.

    Without context, conservative and liberal are almost always the wrong words to use in any conversation that demands thought.
  • A story well-circulated around the offices of MAD Magazine is that an envelope containing only a picture of Alfred E. Neuman's face was delivered to them succesfully.
  • And I guess you are GOD or just so cool as to be the one to determine what is religious and what is superstitious and judge people based on your belief, or just impose your belief, whatever it may be, on someone else.

    Where exactly do I try imposing my belief on someone else? I believe everyone has a right to say and to think what they want; you have a right to believe in whatever you want. I have a right to believe that you're being superstitious. I'm posting an opinion on a public board, not coming into your house and converting you by gunpoint.
    --
  • from: http://www.randomhouse.com/features/billbryson/exc erpt2.html

    ----

    It happens that I had recently read an article on wordplay in the Smithsonian magazine in which the author asserted that some puckish soul had once sent a letter addressed, with playful ambiguity, to

    HILL
    JOHN
    MASS

    and it had gotten there after the postal authorities had worked out that it was to be read as "John Underhill, Andover, Mass." (Get it?)

    ----

    Hmmm, Not really a valid address -- not only is there no ZIP, there's no street, no number, etc etc... :)

    Actually, the whole Bill Bryson excerpt there is a good read, and relavant to the current USPS topic :) ... Good luck getting a letter to me: Lord Carrot, /. Poster, Adelaide, Australia :)

    rr

  • i would just like to say that the usps has been very friendly on many more than one occasion. did you know (up untill recently, in my area anyway) that you could mail a letter merely by taping 32 cents to the envelope? you can also send 2x4's through the mail (drilling holes in them makes them lighter, cheaper postage). on the whole, i applaud the people behind the article, espically since they ended prasing the usps for being good sports. well done.
  • Enough said.
  • Good point nomadic. I believe the USPS to be incredibly efficient. The fact that they can get something from anywhere in the US to anwhere else in the US for only $0.35 is amazing.

    When I was in Prague 2 years ago, I shipped a box with 14 bottles of Absinth back to the USA. Absinth is an alcoholic drink containing Wormwood extract that is banned in every country in the world except for the Czech Republic and Andorra. It's a hallucinogenic drink.

    We wrote that the contents of the box were 8 bottles of wine, because we were afraid that you are only allowed to import a certain amount of alcohol before you have to pay taxes on it (that, and it is illegal in the USA).

    Anyways, the box arrived at the proper address in the USA after only 2 weeks (shipped ground/boat). One bottle was broken and one was completely empty, but the rest were unharmed. We packed everything in a very a complicated way and upon opening it, everything was the exactly as we left it. There was no tampering and I don't believe that the US or Czech post even opened the box. The empty bottle must have had a leaky lid and its contents evaporated (Absinth is 70% alcohol).

  • This is all fascinating because it's true. In fact when I worked as a mail clerk I wrote a letter on the back of a stamp (tiny writing) and dropped it in the mail. It got there. Also someone sent a whole pumpkin to a guy in the office she was having an affair with. It just had a label and a stamp (machine postage stamp for in the neighborhood of $5 for parcel post.) That guy was the coolest guy in the office for a month. Then the pumpkin began to smell.
  • I'm sure this kind of thing happens quite a bit, and it is neither funny, nor interesting.

    The USPS is an organization staffed with real people, with a limited budget, and with a legal mandate to try to deliver mail. If people do these kinds of things, their costs go up and other mail delivery suffers. And a number of poor people have to deal with your smelly cheese or risk injuring themselves on your poorly packaged item.

    People here would complain loudly if a 10M file clogged up their mail queue. It seems much worse to impose these kinds of physical hazards on real postal workers.

  • Actually I'm basing my opinion on several experiances which I have had, not 1. Also it is on other peoples experiances that I have been told about. And I AM a genius just to let you know.

    Lord Arathres
  • A rather cheap and juvenile piece, I thought.

    The USPS stole/lost all the gifts I posted home to rellies in Oz on my first visit there, I was broke at the time, so I'm not laughing. I've never sent snail-mail from the US again.

    Cough, splutter ... "reliable" did you call it?!

  • by Christopher Thomas ( 11717 ) on Sunday January 28, 2001 @10:43AM (#476256)
    A friend of mine once had fun with the Canadian postal service (actually, with the recipients).

    • Item one: A shred of cardboard with a stamp and an address on it.

      It made it through.

    • Item two: A processed cheese slice, wrapped in paper, and addressed to a friend.

      The friend took one look at it, wrote "return to sender" on it and stuck on another stamp. The sending friend was convulsed with laughter for several minutes upon receiving this.

    • Item three: Pig intestines, wrapped (I hope!).

      We'd just done a dissection lab in high school biology... I don't remember who she sent them to, but it was at least two people. Didn't hear how that one turned out...



    Ah, the fun we had when we were kids :).
  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Sunday January 28, 2001 @05:27AM (#476257)
    Would an American care to enlighten us non-us residents as to how these times compare to the usual delivery times of the USPS? Six to seven days is quite a long time and I just wondered whether that was usual for packaging in the US.

    There are a variety of services one can choose, first class or priority mail (air) is usually 2-3 days, and is the normal method for letters and priority packages. Parcel post (which I imagine these were sent as) is essentially a ground shipment method and normally takes several days cross-country but is less expensive. Bulk or book rates are slower yet.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Sunday January 28, 2001 @07:12AM (#476258) Homepage Journal
    Apparently you can't ship human remains via the USPS. Who knew? Guess you'll have to FedEx 'em. Can you see that scene? Walk in to the local FedEx office and say "Yo I got dis dead guy hear. Can youse send him to Don Carpazzio in New York for me?"
  • by keesh ( 202812 ) on Sunday January 28, 2001 @12:48AM (#476260) Homepage
    So now you know how to kill of postal workers... I wouldn't have risked drinking it myself, even if it did appear to be unopened.
  • by xeno ( 2667 ) on Monday January 29, 2001 @01:36AM (#476261)
    Well, my contribution towards the torture of delivery people was aimed at UPS, but it was humorous just the same.

    Last summer, I tracked down a fellow from Montana who has some blacksmithing tools I wanted, and sent him a check for a few hundred dollars. A few days later, I woke up to the sound of a UPS truck pulling in my driveway bright and early:

    *slam*

    *swoosh* (rear door opening)

    "goddamn... fuggin..piece o...hrrrrr"

    *stompstompstompstomp*

    *hwathump* (on my doorstep)

    "...can't fuggin believe... fuggin two of 'em... arrrr..."

    *stompstompstompstomp*

    *hwathump* (again on my doorstep)

    By the time I got my jeans on, the truck was pulling away. And there they were: one 140 lb. anvil, and one 150 lb. anvil (nice ones, too), side by side on my doorstep, no packaging of any kind -- just a mailing label taped to the side of each -- right up against the screen door so that I couldn't get out.

    Served me right, I suppose.

    Jon
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr&mac,com> on Sunday January 28, 2001 @03:56AM (#476262) Journal
    The thing that jumped out at me was the brick that got pulverized by the DEA. I want to know if those motherfucking jackbooted thugs had a warrant to destroy private property to look for drugs, and if so, what the probably cause was that some idiot judge accepted.

    -jcr
  • Yeah, they'll mail bricks, but...

    Usually they'll mail them only if they don't know they're bricks. I hear there's a specific regulation about it.

    It's not to keep you from mailing bricks attached to business-reply cards...

    Seems a LONG time back (like before the US highway system was complete - and I mean US, not Interstate) there was a town in the upper half of lower Michigan, which wanted to build a town hall. Out of bricks.

    There were no paved roads nearby, and no brick makers either.

    So they bought some bricks down in Detroit and looked into what it would cost to ship them commercially. Then they checked how much it would cost to mail them first-class. First class rates are standard, with the easy-to-deliver metro mail subsidizing the hard-to-deliver cross-country and back-country stuff.

    Turned out it was MUCH cheaper to wrap each brick and send it first class than to ship them.

    So they did.

    And the post office delivered every last one of 'em. At considerable impact to their budget.

    And then the regulations were changed - before somebody decided to build a hotel or something. B-)
  • by tarlek ( 103211 ) on Sunday January 28, 2001 @05:29AM (#476264) Homepage
    Using odd languages. Some of my relatives decided to play this game a long time ago. One of the best to get through was a envelope that was entirely addressed in Tolkein's runes- address, return address and letter inside. The USPS managed to decode and deliver the letter in less than a week.
  • by MyopicProwls ( 122482 ) on Sunday January 28, 2001 @09:51AM (#476265) Homepage
    I'm really surprised that the tire wasn't admitted into the mail queue. I'm from Alaska, and I worked in the mailroom at a Sears store there. We routinely sent tires straight thru the USPS; just wrap the address with clear shipping tape, put on a ton of postage, and off it would go.

    It's possible, though, that the USPS in AK has a higher tolerance because of the lack of other options for moving stuff around in Alaska. A buddy of mine said that his grandfather once wanted a Christmas tree where he lived in Kodiak (an island off the southern coast of AK) so he came to Anchorage, bought one, dragged it into the post office, and mailed it. No extra packaging, no problem.

    MyopicProwls

  • by bellings ( 137948 ) on Sunday January 28, 2001 @03:32PM (#476266)
    one conservative "law and order" "tough on crime" judge who has never heard of the Fourth Amendment...

    Please stop confusing conservatisim with the philosphies of the judges and prosecutors who stopped believing in individual liberties and have fully subscribed to the notion of state control.

    Even though a nasty, pro-big government, anti-individual liberty doofus like George W. Bush has co-opted and perverted words like "coservative" and "compassionate", there's no reason to believe that vile filth that promises to continue the last 50 years of ever increasing federal government encroachment is any type of "conservativism" that any real conservative would understand.

    Conservatism is essentially about "leave me the fuck alone," not "force other fuckers to stop doing stuff I don't like." Most politicians, on both sides of the aisle, long ago realized that "leave me the fuck alone" doesn't get anyone elected, while "force other fuckers to stop doing stuff I don't like" seems to get every dickhead on earth out to vote for you. It's pretty sad, really. But it's not conservativism.
  • Give 'em a bit of respect, or at least think about what they have to put up with on those days when you want to shoot someone because of the quality of service you receive.

    I never quite understood the complaints people had about the USPS; you put something in the mail, in a few days it's delivered. What more do you want? I guess people assume that because it's the government, it can't be efficient, despite receiving proof that it's a pretty well-run system every day in their mailbox. Of course, a scary amount of people in this country believe angels involve themselves in their daily lives, and witches exist, so I guess logic is in short supply...
    --
  • by Restil ( 31903 ) on Sunday January 28, 2001 @01:10AM (#476268) Homepage
    I work at UPS, and ALL of the items listed would have made it through as shipped with no problems, except for the fact that they might be a bit roughhoused. It might seem strange to drop a hammer into a mailbox, but at UPS, this is par for the course. There are a LOT of individual items shipped as is, no wrapping, with just a label slapped on the side. Especially around Xmas, people will literally ship Xmas trees with a label taped around the trunk. It usually ends up in several pieces by the time it gets to its destination, but it WILL get there.

    Other strange things that have come through the system include an unwrapped matress, a freshly severed bear's head, LOTS of tires with no wrapping, a car bumper that looked like it had been ripped off the car, complete with the license plate, boxes of live crickets which usually break open so you have crickets loose all over the place, individual car parts with no wrapping. Rank food is quite common on return items.

    Fortunately, at UPS about 3% of the volume involves packages like this, so there are regular methods to transport them internally (they don't travel on the conveyor belts) I would imagine that the post office simply doesn't have the facilities to deal with a large number of unusual objects.

    -Restil
  • by el_chicano ( 36361 ) on Sunday January 28, 2001 @06:17AM (#476269) Homepage Journal
    it's probably something that you unknowingly agree to when you ship with usps.
    Wouldn't it be simpler to get a drug-sniffing dog to examine the brick BEFORE destroying it? Anyway if it had contained drugs, wouldn't it better to ship it and then arrest the recipient AFTER delivery?

    Packages in the USPS care are supposed to be Constitutionally protected from illegal search and seizure, but search warrants are all to easy to obtain. All it takes is a cop lying about probable cause and one conservative "law and order" "tough on crime" judge who has never heard of the Fourth Amendment...
    --
    You think being a MIB is all voodoo mind control? You should see the paperwork!
  • by iElucidate ( 67873 ) on Sunday January 28, 2001 @12:30AM (#476270) Homepage
    This link was mentionted [slashdot.org] during Rob's recent tirade on junk mail and mailing back the offending letters. AIR has done many other amusing studies, but this one stands out for its sheer scope.

    I would advise you, though, not to put the postal employees through too much grief. Their job is tough enough as it is. When you want to send some critical and strangely sized package, just do us all a favor and use FedEx [fedex.com] or UPS [ups.com] or one of the many other private carriers. And pack appropriately! The poor guy who had to figure out what to do with the moldy and stinky cheese deserves a medal. The person who was forced to break the brick into little pieces to check for drug content probably had better things to do. And the person who had to lug the snow ski to a mailbox probably does not get enough medical coverage by the USPS to make up for the dent in his back.

    These are people, people! Give 'em a bit of respect, or at least think about what they have to put up with on those days when you want to shoot someone because of the quality of service you receive.

  • by MWoody ( 222806 ) on Sunday January 28, 2001 @02:26AM (#476271)
    "Please be advised that human remains may not be transported through the mail."

    So THAT's what happened to aunt June...
    ---

God may be subtle, but he isn't plain mean. -- Albert Einstein

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