Snow, Snow, Snow and Christmas

Hello. Just thought I’d catch up a little.

If you didn’t see the news, this past week the Seattle area got slammed with snow. Normally, we might get 1-3 inches. That’s enough to totally screw up traffic and make the big hills around here just plain dangerous. This week, we got 8-10 inches, which I understand was the most amount of snow we’ve gotten since 18 years ago, and the storm came on the very same day.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to work the first day after the storm, but the week didn’t get much better. I spent most of the day Tuesday, putting cable chains on the carrier vehicles. Then I spent most of the rest of the day, going out to rescue carriers. Wednesday, everyone wanted proper chains, so we did most of the vehicles, and we still had people throwing chains, and I still ended up on the street doing rescues.

Expresses were badly delayed due to flights being stuck at O’Hare and other airports. Tuesday, we actually got Expresses for the same day delivery after 4:00 pm. Insane. And a lot of these were gifts, so the supervisors and manager struggled out to the addresses the carriers couldn’t deliver. Imagine a Cadillac going where a postal truck couldn’t go. Very exciting. There were a few addresses that were messed up, and I felt bad not being able to get these to their destinations on time for Christmas.

There were many addresses we simply couldn’t deliver to, because they were too dangerous. I have a couple of routes that dead-end right into Puget Sound, and are at the bottom of terrifying hills.

Even for this ex-Hoosier used to dealing with multiple feet of snow and monster snow drifts, it was probably 10 times worse than anything I saw. Seattle and Tacoma just ground to a complete stop. Still, my “kids” made it to places that even UPS and FedEx feared to tread, and our guys were driving tin cans on wheels.

New York General Post Office By the way, Herodotus’ passage, “Neither rain, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” is NOT the official motto of the Postal Service. It originally appeared on a Postal building in the 1920’s or 1930’s, I think. “This inscription was supplied by William Mitchell Kendall of the firm of McKim, Mead & White, the architects who designed the New York General Post Office. Kendall said the sentence appears in the works of Herodotus and describes the expedition of the Greeks against the Persians under Cyrus, about 500 B.C. The Persians operated a system of mounted postal couriers, and the sentence describes the fidelity with which their work was done. Professor George H. Palmer of Harvard University supplied the translation, which he considered the most poetical of about seven translations from the Greek.” While a great passage, again, it is not the motto of the Postal Service.

By the way, the full passage is,roughly, “Now there is nothing mortal which accomplishes a journey with more speed than these messengers, so skillfully has this been devised by the Persians: for they say that according to the number of the days of which the entire journey consists, so many horses and men are set at intervals, each man and horse appointed for a day’s journey. These neither snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness of night prevents from accomplishing each one the task proposed to him, with the very utmost of speed.”

On other news, well, nothing new about pipes except I managed to break my old, much abused, meerschaum into many pieces and am unable to repair it, even with superglue. Stupid sweatshirt pocket.

Saint Nicholas For more on the Dutch celebration of Christmas, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinterklaas#Celebration_in_the_Netherlands.

Finally, Merry Christmas to all, new friends and old friends! I’ll be posting pictures of some of my Christmas on Flicker later this month. Happy Holiday!

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