Day: July 15, 2013

Monday, 15 July 2013

10:43 – Well, that’s interesting. I just shipped a BK01 biology kit and a CK01A chemistry kit to England, in one box. The man who ordered them added two shipping surcharge items to his cart, for a total of $128, on the understanding that shipping two kits doesn’t cost twice as much as shipping one kit and that I’d refund the difference.

So, as I was filling out the address and customs information on the USPS web site, I noticed that shipping via Express Mail International (1 to 3 business days delivery) cost only a few bucks more than Priority Mail International (6 to 10 business days delivery). Also, with Priority Mail International, the package is covered for only $100 if it’s lost or damaged, with no option for buying additional insurance. With Express Mail International, it’s covered for $100 standard and buying replacement value ($366) insurance cost only a couple bucks. But the real difference was what happens if the package is undeliverable. With Priority Mail International, I had two options: return-to-sender, in which case I’d get the package back but would have to pay return postage; or treat as abandoned, in which case the post office discards the package, and I have to pay an unspecified fee anyway. With Express Mail International, I have the same two choices, but if I elect return-to-sender, they ship the package back to me without charging for return postage. For just a few bucks more, Express Mail International is a far better deal, both for me and for the buyer.

16:30 – The latest video to go viral on YouTube is a brief “news” clip from a Providence TV station. Intrepid reporter Julie Tremmel demonstrates with great enthusiasm what unnamed supposed “experts” recommend if one encounters a bear.

Much though I hate to dispute the authoritative advice of a bubble-headed bleach-blonde, particularly one who believes that a 300-pound (136 kilo) bear is “massive”, I do think that screaming, waving one’s arms and throwing one’s shoes at a bear is not the best way to ensure friendly inter-special relations. I suppose it’s possible that the bear could assume it’s faced with a crazy person and flee in terror. But I think it’s just as likely that the bear would assume that it’s about to be attacked by a crazy person and charge. Better to remain calm, speak to the bear in a firm, low-pitched voice, and wait for it to amble away. Bears, particularly black bears, are essentially super-dogs. They’re smart, they’re familiar with humans, and they know that we’re dangerous to mess with. Those who thought humans look like tasty, easy prey were eliminated from the gene pool long ago.

I did consider emailing Ms. Tremmel with a couple of additional suggestions, in case she ever encounters a bear herself. First, always take your dog along when you head into bear country. Ideally, you want a little yapper. It’ll find a bear for you, bark like crazy, and then run right back to you for protection, with a pissed-off bear following close behind. Second, if you ever encounter bear cubs, you should always pick them up and pet them. There’s no better way to make friends with a mother bear.

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