I hope this becomes a forum for interesting discussions on topics that are compelling, important and even banal. I hope I can post your thoughtful comments and ideas for further discussion. In those early days of newpapers, some editors continued a back and forth with letter writers. If the subject warrants it, I hope we can do that.

I have no grand plans to use this in any way as a commercial venture. I am comfortable where I am and feel it would lessen the passion I have for this if there is a fiduciary interest. I seek truth, transparency and a reminder that we are the people, and those who serve do so at our behest and whim. We must never relinquish the power we have as citizens and cannot take for granted, the rights and responsibilities that are part of the package.

President Obama was able to energize and mobilize a generation to make them part of this republican democracy we have. It is important for the future of our country that they stay informed and energized. Let’s hope we can show them what substance looks like.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Our daughter invited us to celebrate her birthday in her and her husband’s new apartment next weekend. They live in the Bay area, we are in Los Angeles. A few years ago, I would have simply gone to either one of two airports, waited for the next flight and been there with an investment of about two hours.

Today, I would have to leave home about two hours before a flight, which should be booked in advance, making sure we have not inadvertently left a nail clipper or other weapon in an overnight kit. Then, off with the shoes, the belts, the back and forth through the gates, the buzzer going off because you stuck the extra camera battery in your watch pocket and forgot it was there. I really hate that! It feels like I’m in prison and it certainly does not make me feel any safer. It also adds a lot of wasted time to my trip. Time I could use to mellow out, instead of becoming aggravated at the sheer mindlessness of the entire “security” process.

What I really find stupefying, though, is what a gold mine the TSA is missing out on.

Shortly after these more stringent rules went into effect, I went to the airport with my Swiss Army knife in my pocket. It has always been a part of me. I find I use it more than a couple of times a week and it just feels right to have it there. I realized as soon as I emptied my pockets, I wouldn’t be able to take it, but I thought of a way to save it. After all, the very same daughter we want to visit gave me that particular knife for my birthday when she was still in grade school. It was special to me.

“Do you have an envelope?” I asked, “I’ll pay whatever the postage and mail it to myself.”

Giving me a look of utter incomprehension, and pointing to a bin with scores of similar souvenirs of forgetfulness, “Just toss it in there,” the factotum said.

“Is there somewhere I can get an envelope?” I pleaded, to no avail.

The idea still sounds good. The TSA should buy a bunch of padded envelopes in two or three sizes. Then, since they have enough samples, find the average weight of a knife, scissors, corkscrew, add a buck or so and stamp them. How difficult would it be to have a couple of stacks of those pre-paid padded envelopes next too the x-ray machines and seats for tying shoes? Some of those pinking shears, knitting needles or other weapons, I’m sure, have sentimental value, like mine did. I would have paid up to $5 for an envelope already stamped, just to get it back. The TSA could have made $3.50 on the deal.

But that might be too easy. After all, this is the government. It just seems so simple because it is so simple. Buy low, sell high, the basic premise of business. If they don’t know how to get it done, there are about a couple of million unemployed people who could probably show them how. I’ll even bet the government has a supply of those envelopes already on hand. If you don’t want to pre stamp them, put in a postage machine. Like the ones in the post office. They even take credit cards.

There, that’s my free advice on how to increase income for the Postal Service, which is operating at a huge deficit, and for TSA so they can buy some more spiffy uniforms.

It doesn’t have to be done all at once all over the place. But I bet if you test these envelopes and/or machines in places like LAX and JFK, and other major cities, this could be another way for the government to collect money. What would Tush Limpaw say about that?

I don’t care. I’ve heard all I ever need to hear from that blowhard, so, just to make sure we don’t find that’s the only thing other than radio preachers we hear, we’ll be driving to the Bay Area next weekend, listening to audio books checked out of the public library. The few additional hours away from home will be a lot more enjoyable. With or without the envelopes.

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