Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Punch

Pictures Don't Lie 
Even when the captions that lie below them do

It’s that time of year again. The time when we step back and survey all we’ve accomplished over the past twelve months. And if nobody has noticed your deeds, you can either count yourself lucky or toot your own horn depending on what you’ve done. News outlets in particular... (read on at Counterpunch)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Stacked Deck

...of New Year's Cards


"Eureka!" I cried as I stood on the sidewalk gazing into the window of my local discount gift certificate shop. The place pays cash for unwanted gift certificates, etc. and then sells them below their retail value. It's a win-win deal for everyone and today I hit the jackpot. Sitting on the other side of the storefront window were bundles of freshly minted, postage-paid, blank New Year's cards ready to slap a message of good cheer on and send off to friends, family, people I'm not particularly fond of but because they send me a card, I send them one to, and more. The folks on my list all add up to a lot of postage and finally I caught a little break this year. 

After approaching the counter with a spring in my step, I happily forked over three thousand yen for 60 cards that normally sell for fifty two yen each at the post office. That's a ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY YEN SAVINGS (about one US dollar)!!!! It was starting to shape up into the best New Year's holiday ever I though, but rattling around in the back of my mind was this nagging question that wouldn't quit asking. "How could they sell postcards printed by Japan Post for less than the face value of the stamp?

Unable to contain the puzzlement within the confines of my skull, the question spilled off my tongue, in turn triggering this valley's rumor mill that runs all hours of the day and night. The word is that Japan's poor postal workers are saddled with the burden of selling a certain quota of cards. Denizens of Temple Valley say that many wind up purchasing them on their own and selling them to these aforementioned discount gift certificate shops. I've heard tell of some, working in far-flung areas where such shops are scant, that wind up taking a pricey bullet train ride into Tokyo where they try and peddle their cards to one of the many shops that dot the big city.

Okay now remember, this is just the word echoing through Temple Valley. I haven't fact checked any of it at all but it wouldn't surprise me if a government agency was trying to balance its budget on the backs of its workers. No matter how you cut the cards, it sounds like the deck might be stacked against these poor slobs and if what I've heard is true it's nothing to be happy about.