So we’re either going to get a few inches Friday, or a nor’easter that may bring a blizzard. Meh.

In the moment

Watch the audience. Now that everyone has camera phones, they’re so caught up in documenting this event that they’re not actually experiencing it. Isn’t that strange? I remember when my kids were little, if there was a school event, parents were running up and down the aisle, taking pictures or videos. I’d look at them and think, “Geeze, I just want to pay attention and remember how cute my kid is right now.” (As a result, I have lots of memories — and few event pictures. The pictures of my kids are from when we were just hanging out.)

Of course, people do get pleasure going back and looking at pictures later (to experience what they missed, maybe). And of course, whatever floats your boat. But I think so many people are obsessed with getting that Kodak moment that they never really inhabit the experience.

And as to this affectionate dance with the Obamas: Well, there were TV cameras in the room. It’s not as if you wouldn’t be able to see it later. Why not just watch?

But this is all theoretical coming from me, because like Thoreau, I’m skeptical of any enterprise that requires new clothes. The thought of going to an inaugural ball is excruciating. I hate formal wear, and I don’t like crowds. I had my share of events as a reporter. Been there, done that, let me stay home.

Do we really want to live without the post office?

Nothing drives me more crazy than when ignorant wingnuts start arguing that we should get rid of the post office. That’s what the GOP has been trying to do for years, so they can outsource to their contributors. You may not know that the postal service 1) doesn’t cost taxpayers ANYTHING (paid for by stamps) and 2) the only reason they have a cash flow problem is that the GOP Congress saddled them with the absurd task of funding their pensions 70 years in advance — for the express purpose of driving them under, so they can outsource, etc.

But it’s more than that. The Republican just hate government programs that work. Not only does the postal service work, it services all parts of the country, even places where FedEx or DHL don’t find it profitable enough to bother. And that service holds communities together, as pointed out in this wonderful story in Esquire you should go read:

Often Grabenhorst’s elderly customers are waiting at the door, or even by the mailbox, for her right-hand-drive Jeep to edge onto the shoulder. Many of them are alone all day. Their postal carrier is that one reliable human contact, six days a week. Some are older veterans. Quite a few have limited mobility, and it isn’t uncommon for her to lend a hand with an errand; she’s been known to pick up milk in town and bring it along with the mail. Grabenhorst drives seventy miles a day and makes 660 deliveries. On a typical day, that might include fifty packages of medicine.

Her route is one of 227,000 throughout America. On the South Side of Chicago, carriers walk cracked sidewalks, past empty lots and overfilled projects. In the suburbs of Phoenix, mail trucks deliver to banks of mailboxes outside gated communities. In Brooklyn, they pushed their carts up sidewalks and ducked into bodegas on September 11, as they always do. Residents say they were comforted to see their postal workers still making the rounds, the government still functioning. In rural Alaska, mail comes by snowmobile and seaplane. In chaps and a cowboy hat, Charlie Chamberlain leads a train of postal mules down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, where a tribe of Havasupai Indians lives. Wearing blue trunks and a ball cap, Mark Lipscomb delivers letters by speedboat up and down the Magnolia River in Alabama.

Want to send a letter to Talkeetna, Alaska, from New York? It will cost you fifty dollars by UPS. Grabenhorst or Lipscomb can do it for less than two quarters: the same as the cost of getting a letter from Gold Hill to Shady Cove, Oregon, twenty miles up the road. It’s how the postal service works: The many short-distance deliveries down the block or across the city pay for the longer ones across the country. From the moment Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first postmaster general in 1775, the purpose of the post office has always been to bind the nation together. It was a way of unifying thirteen disparate colonies so that the abolitionist in Philadelphia had access to the same information and newspapers as the slaveholder in Augusta, Georgia.

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