Thursday, October 25, 2018

And looking around

Man, it's Dumpster Fire du Jour.

One perhaps-slightly-funny thing: half-awake, waiting for the local weather to come on (so I knew how to dress), I half-heard a campaign ad. Doesn't matter for whom. But I thought the ad said:

"(Candidate) is bad, but (candidate's opponent) is even worse"

and I was like, hallelujah, finally someone is being honest.

(That wasn't what it actually said)

I dunno. When I was young and idealistic I wanted to make the world a better place. Some days now I look around and go, "Maybe I should settle for just not making the world worse?" I mean, it feels really hard to make the world a better place and your best efforts may be for naught but "not making the world worse" is manageable.

And I will admit to being tremendously selfish here: Am hoping the latest round of "is it or is it not a hazardous thing*" doesn't lead to even more postal restrictions, where, I don't know, maybe private citizens aren't allowed to send packages any more, or we have to bring them untaped to the post office and let the person at the counter inspect them and then buy special Post Office Checked-so-Safe tape to seal it up with....and of course at my silly little post office that will mean sending anything out will be an hour-long ordeal.

(*I would not be at all surprised to learn that the "bombs" were nonfunctional - yes, I know they say they 'detonated' some of them but my understanding is that they use an added charge to make them detonate - and there's some, forgive the word here, wanker sitting around taking great pleasure from seeing everyone scramble and speculate and all the disruption)

I dunno. You might laugh but I remember the 1982 Tylenol thing and that is now why we're all condemned, when we need a painkiller or OTC antihistamine out of a new box, to have to:

1. Pry the heavily-glued-shut box open
2. Remove the silly plastic "sleeve" that has been heat-shrunk onto the cap and neck of the bottle, and fewer of them have convenient tear-strips than they should. ("A pair of scissors, my kingdom for a pair of scissors" she cries, while searching the house mid-headache)
3. Punch through a "sealed for your protection" (the fig-leaf they put on foods is "sealed for freshness") foil or foam capper
4. Dig out the cotton that's stuffed in there, I presume to either keep the pills from breaking or to serve as a bit of a dessicant.

All of this because an *employee* in the company poisoned some which case all those things would not have prevented it. (See also: all the worry about "safe halloween candy" when the one documented case of a kid being harmed by tainted candy was a parent - IIRC, because of an ugly custody battle - doing it to their own kid)

So I could totally see someone in the Something Must Be Done! brigade putting new restrictions on the 99.9999% of honest citizens who just want to send a flipping birthday present to their sister, or whatever, and of course the criminals will still find a way.

(If the person involved with this even went through the mail system instead of drafting some poor person doing Taskrabbit to deliver a bomb or wanna-be bomb for less than minimum wage. Heh. That could be a plot point in some ridiculous superhero parody movie: the villain fails because he uses gig-economy people to do his dirty work and one of them tells or gets caught or does the job incompetently)

I dunno. I have memories as a kid of my dad saying that even though it was VERY remote (this was the Unabomber days, he had done some research involving uranium and he also taught students who went into the oil and gas industry, so it wasn't IMPOSSIBLE), if a package ever came to the house that was either

1. delivered by a private courier
2. seemed to have too much postage on it (and especially wasn't metered - as in, you didn't take it down to the PO and have it mailed from there)
3. looked oily, was leaking something, was misshapen

we were not to touch it but were to call the police.

Of course it never happened, but....I remember the Unabomber era. And I remember the anthrax mail of 2001. And I'm sure there are bad things sent through the mail that were either before my time or that I don't remember. But yeah. This is just a strange and dumb timeline right now. Or maybe it always has been so.

Though more and more, I wonder....were my parents just very anxious people (which I have inherited, either through genes, through memetic methods (learning), or both)? I remember other things: the concern about not eating hot dogs because of the nitrates (believed to cause cancer), concern about drinking water in certain towns in Michigan we passed through (PCBs), and similar things. I think my father was more so than my mother. (Perhaps my mother's growing up in a working-class, and therefore more financially-precarious, family sort of inoculated her against unnecessary worry?) Maybe it was my dad's way of controlling a world that he saw as random and scary (but maybe never voiced that concern to anyone). Kind of like how I exercise control over the random scary world by making my house a virtual blanket fort, and when I get home at the end of the day and lock the outside world out, and turn on cartoons, and smile at my little line-up of fashion and superheroine dolls, I feel like the world is a safer friendlier place because here's one corner of it over which I have control. (And I STILL want to get a dollhouse again, maybe the Calico Critters one. Because I remember that dollhouses - where I could imagine the little family of mice or dolls or whatever creatures were safe and happy and had fun things to do and good food and soft beds - gave me that same illusion of "there's a tiny corner of the world over which you have control"

I wonder if my way of dealing with it (instead of imposing my anxieties so much on others) is more healthy, despite all the claims of "adults who like kid stuff are hopelessly screwed up"

Or maybe being born at the tail end of the Depression, being a child in WWII, living through the entire Cold War, living through the Cuban Missile Crisis....and being of a generation where mostly people didn't give voice to their worries contributed to that.

(I love my parents but as I get older I see how some of my less-desirable personality quirks are probably traceable to them. I know they did their best and I am a lot luckier than many kids were, but....I wonder if different parents would have resulted in a me who worried less)

(I also remember the periodic bomb scares at my dad's campus, which oddly enough always seemed to happen on the day of a big exam. The phone tree would be activated, they'd call my dad and tell him not to come in, he'd kind of sigh and roll his eyes and call the next person on the tree. Now we have an automated system that would call out but so far all it's ever done is notify of bad storms in the area....)

So I dunno. I remember though the first time I received a package from a friend who sent it out from her workplace (a lawyer's office) and I spent several minutes looking at it and going "oh no am I being supoenaed or something? What is this" until I figured it out. I think I'd be savvy enough if I got a "mysterious package" that I'd be v. cautious about it. (If I recognized the sender, I'd open it. If I didn't and it looked otherwise suspicious....well, who knows.)


anita said...

I keep a small pair of scissors (old embroidery scissors, I think) in the basket with all my meds (and the Tylenol without which my bad knee does not wish to cooperate), so if there's one of those stupid shrink-on plastic bits with no tear strip I Am Prepared. (And this is probably the only instance in which I am prepared for things that actually happen . . . )

Barn Owl said...

A friend of mine who was an FBI postal inspector (retired now) worked on the Unabomber case and the anthrax mailings as well. The majority of her work, however, involved mail fraud and theft of social security checks, etc.

My mom is an extremely anxious person, particularly obsessed about her health, and prone to panic attacks. My dad is less anxious, but he's a (retired) biochemist and obsesses about nutrition and "nutriceuticals," sometimes to a degree that I (molecular/cellular biologist) find a bit kooky. I love my parents, but they make me crazy at times, particularly when my mom seeks unnecessary medical procedures, specialists, and tests. She refuses to settle on a primary care physician who could manage this better. My sister and I have pretty much gone the opposite direction in terms of health-related anxiety, and I could be described as "physician avoidant." My mom likes attention, whereas my sister and I are fly-under-the-radar types. I've talked to a psychiatrist frolleague about the generalized anxiety I sometimes have about the environment and climate change, and she thinks it's pretty normal "as long as it doesn't interfere with everyday functioning." I work with several psychiatrists because of one of the courses I teach, and my impression is that there's a wide range of eccentric, obsessive, anxious, compulsive, or otherwise odd behavior that's considered to be OK, as long as it doesn't interfere with day-to-day functioning or cause harm.

I recently started watching ASMR videos before I go to sleep, and they're pretty relaxing. I ordered a couple of squishy toys from Amazon because they seem stress-relieving, and many ASMRtists use them. I got squishy food toys because I don't like the idea of squishing animals. ;-)

Anj M said...

oh that was me. Sorry! I forget that people don't expect the see the law firm as a mailing address. It is just easier for me to use our mail system since I am here all day and have a hefty collection of boxes to chose from for packaging.

McGehee said...

I try to keep scissors and various other useful items (that aren't practical to just keep in a pocket or on my belt) in a place where I can expect to find them when I need them, but I live with a person who frequently forgets where she put down her phone/keys/glasses/shoes/drink/purse....

I once tried to train her to put things away when she was finished with them, but it wasn't going to happen. These days I'm happy if she can tell me what room she probably left the scissors (or whatever) in.