July 20th, 2006

krazy koati

I think your great big city's very pretty nevertheless

As it comes to everyone's life, the time has come to me to ask who it is I know in Ann Arbor, Michigan. And it's not the two obvious answers, because they wouldn't send me a card addressed ``Resident'' even if they had my approximate address. Ann Arbor's University Hospital did in the 1950s keep several coatis in the children's ward so human cubs could enjoy close contact with semi-feral, intelligent, inquisitive, dextrous, organized animals with many sharp teeth during their long-term stays, but I wasn't involved, and they don't talk about that anymore.

Singapore home addresses can have double redundancy: an ``estate name'', a street address, and a postal code which at six digits can get to individual buildings. So you can get any one wrong and still be confident of accurate delivery. If you get two wrong, though, anything might happen. My letter-writer wasn't sure of the street address -- giving the number as ``109 or 107'', both wrong -- or the postal code -- giving the last digit as ``0 or 1'' and asking, ``Please deliver even if zip a little bit ~'', but between the estate name and the postal code alternates two data points aggreed. It had 84 cents of stamps, but also a note written on it, ``airmail Singapore 1 87 add ples'', so I think it was sent without enough postage. Singapore Post delivered it without asking for more money from me. How it got to me is a mystery.

I know that it was meant for me despite the shakiness of the whole deal. The card inside is a lovely picture of two goldfinches, printed by the National Wildlife Federation, and it explains the mystery of that shopping bag left outside my door a few months back. The bag of cheese, oranges, rubber ducks, and so on, was left at my apartment by mistake. The professor meant to give it to a family living elsewhere in the complex, and had the wrong apartment number. But now with the right address tracked down (I hope) the letter asked if I could bring the miscellaneous toys over. I'll be glad to visit the management office and if they've still got the things in the lost and found.

So in summary: a letter, with the wrong postage, addressed to the wrong building, with the wrong postal code, reached me, in regards to the problem of a bag left at the wrong apartment.

Trivia: Houston's Southwestern Bell operators handled 6,408 phone calls between 9 pm and midnight on 20 July 1969. The previous Sunday they handled 8,968 during the same hours. Source: First On The Moon, Gene Farmer, Dora Jane Hamblin. (The book says ``written with'' them, and tries to suggest it was written by the Apollo 11 astronauts. It is largely extended quotes from NASA and other people.)

Currently Reading: Telephone: The First Hundred Years, John Brooks.