Though Chinese Author Cixin Liu's The Three Body Problem can be problematic for the Western Reader, both in style, science and the controversies surrounding its creator, the novel ultimately proves satisfying. Can a patriotic reader neglect a book that has the Obama Presidential seal of approval?
You are a fifty-something who is thinking about hitching on as a Postal City Carrier Assistant (CCA), but are worried that your advanced age could be a lodestone that drags you down. Will your youth blossom anew in the fertile soil of mail delivery, or will you wither on the vine?
Every Man Dies Alone, by Hans Fallada, tells the story of what happens when an entire nation is consumed by sketchiness. Being a sketchy himself, author Hans Fallada is able to get into the heads of sketchies in a way that a non-sketchy could not, to more effectively describe the horrors of Nazism.
Making time-honored postal processes more convenient for customers has also facilitated business for identity thieves. Letter carrier Mel Carriere describes how online mail-holds are being used for mail fraud, and how easily he was able to set up a so-called "verified" account.
Thy Tears Might Cease, by Michael Farrell, is set during a particular period of history, the Irish Time of Troubles. All the same, it is not a historical novel, but a Coming of Age (Bildungsroman) tale for all ages, all places, all manner of men.
Daydreaming is a Letter Carrier's kryptonite. Although daydreaming can be entertaining on a slow mail day, it can also lead to the click-killing practice of backtracking. How can the upstart City Carrier Assistant retract his or her vulnerable head from the buttocks to finish the job on time?
John Prine was a Midwestern Mailman who was lifted from obscurity into the ranks of revered musical poets. After his recent death from Covid-19, his songs and words were honored by legendary musical luminaries. Prine's history and legacy are celebrated here by a fellow letter carrier.
The Casual Vacancy, by Harry Potter author JK Rowling, is a visceral exploration into the dark, stinking depths of a muggle town. Mel reveals that a great writer is a great writer, whether dealing with the magical, or the mundane.
Author Dan Brown utilizes the cookie-cutter approach to fiction, recycling literary devices across novels to create tales where the plot is the same, only the names are changed. Origin slogs through 600 pages of dull dialogue and milquetoast characters toward a "revelation" that does not deliver.
Homo sapiens influence their surrounding fauna in a multitude of ways, positively for some species, negatively for most. During the coronavirus crisis, how will our disappearance from the urban landscape affect the bird life that benefits from the presence of people?
The Coronavirus has delivered unanticipated pratfalls to the Letter Carrier's already hazardous occupation. Not only are there new health risks, but bad information, plus a lack thereof, complicates matters. Just how, if anybody really knows, will the virus affect the mailman's daily duties?
"The book is always better than the movie" is an oft-repeated truism that is not always true. Lew Wallace's "Ben-Hur," Stephen Kings' "The Mist," and Winston Groom's "Forrest Gump" defy this conventional wisdom, proving that mediocre or good books can be made into great movies.
Social media shaming, or the exposure of perceived wrongdoers to the public pillory of the internet, is an increasingly popular pastime. The mail carrier who crosses your front porch every day is particularly exposed. Mel Carriere examines the causes and categories of this phenomenon.
Death Is A Lonely Business is a 1985 crime novel by Ray Bradbury, of Fahrenheit 451 fame. Although this book does not share the literary power of that classic, it does explore typical Bradburyesque themes as it creeps through the dilapidated, dreary, foggy environs of Venice, California.
A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth, is a travelogue of Indian culture that educates while entertaining - to a degree that makes the reader gasp, cry, and swear. The novel demonstrates, somewhat ruefully, that authors from the Indian subcontinent may be redeeming the pitiful state of English literature.
The United States Postal Service faces many challenges and changes in the new decade—some may be good (delivery vehicles and scanners) but others, including a new Postmaster General and talk of privatization, hang over the organization like a cloud of doom. What will 2020 bring?
Power in the Blood by Greg Matthews is a follow up to his highly praised Heart of the Country. Despite being lauded by bestselling horror author Stephen King, Matthews remains reclusive, his life and work shrouded in mystery. Are Greg Matthews and author Torsten Krol the same person?
Cloudsplitter, by Russel Banks, renews the debate about John Brown's role in history. Was he an avenging, freedom-fighting angel of the Lord, or a murderous terrorist, evil personified?
Reverend Mel Carriere, Ordained by the Church of The Perpetually Independent Mind, puts on the collar and preaches a sermon. The subject? Sin. Specifically how you, the Regular Postal City Carrier, can avoid sinning against (bottom-feeding?) City Carrier Assistants (CCAs).
Although Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake is often considered the red-headed stepchild of the Gormenghast series, it was significant in the creation of the "Steampunk" movement. This last volume was also Peake's final literary creation, before succumbing to the devastation of Dewy Body Dementia.
Jude The Obscure, by Thomas Hardy, is a study in "Pervasive Fatalism," a "Deadly War Between Flesh and Spirit." Mel Carriere explains why the novel's lessons and warnings still ring true today, a century and a quarter after its publication.
The Postal Mobile Delivery Device (MDD) is not just for scanning anymore. The little blue machine contains several powerful, under-utilized features that can assist the upstart City Carrier Assistant, and Rural Carrier Associate, to avoid Postal sharks that devour the scanning-challenged.
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, is a triple-decker of a book nearly impossible to swallow, even in half hour chunks. Here Mel Carriere describes the novel´s failure in its own time and its continued rigorous reading, though it retains valuable wisdom 170 years after publication.
While its prose can sometimes be ponderous, Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake is a captivating story of struggle, both internal and external. Mel Carriere reviews the novel here, as part of his Lunchtime Lit series.
The installation of Postal Vehicle Cameras is imminent. This raises the question of whether Letter Carriers have an ¨expectation of privacy¨ in the previously sacrosanct realm of the driver´s compartment, or can the Post Office snoop on their sanctuary with impunity?
Red Sorghum, a Chinese wartime novel by Mo Yan, has been criticized for the inclusion of ¨other concerns¨ not appropriate for literature of its genre. Reviewer Mel Carriere, however, finds the ¨other concerns¨ to be the best parts of this book, and he explores them here.
While Hollywood may have given "Wuthering Heights," by Emily Brontë, an unfair reputation as the forerunner of the Victorian bodice ripper, the novel clearly is not. Here, reviewer Mel Carriere gives his impressions of the book and Brontëś role in literary history.
The root of all dog bites is the activity of two-legged, not four-legged creatures. Here are six broad principles that delve into the daily interactions between letter carriers and dogs, so that Postal City Carrier Assistants can return home unscathed by doggy dentures.
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace is an anti-drug anthem disguised as a postmodern parable. The book's theme goes beyond mere chemical dependency to condemn our age's enslavement to the screen. Wallace's groundbreaking art parallels his own tragic life.
Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy, is considered the author's Magnum Opus, but has missed out on Hollywood commemoration in film. Here Mel Carriere discusses the novel's terrible beauty, and the proper breathing technique required to read it.
The subject of Postal 204B Supervisors often arouses intense emotions. Veteran Regular Carriers resent being bossed by newbies with limited experience, but are reluctant to do the 204B duties themselves. Does the City Carrier Assistant deserve a place in the supervisor's chair?
The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov, is roundly praised as a 20th century classic. Lunchtime Lit reviewer Mel Carriere, however, simply does not get it. Is something lost in translation, or is something lost with Mel?
How does Tatyana Tolstaya's The Slynx stack up side by side with her great-uncle Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace? Lunchtime Lit reviewer Mel Carriere weighs the two books by this historic literary family, and finds the scales balance.
A former Postal 204b supervisor explains the reasons behind his decision to quit the worst job he ever had.
The Martian, by Andy Weir, is a novel that seamlessly integrates technological attention to detail into a narrative that is both suspenseful and highly humorous. Mel Carriere reviews the book here, as part of his Lunchtime Lit series.
A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole, is a scathing exposé of neckbeardism in the pre-Neckbeard era. But more poignant, perhaps, is the sad story of the author, whose posthumous fame asks the question of whether the fates that weave destiny are practical jokers.
United Parcel Service and the United States Postal Service have both had a rocky relationship with corporate conglomerate Amazon.com, led by Jeff Bezos. Which company is better equipped to survive the Amazon onslaught, and are they aiding and abetting their own demise?
The Mountain Shadow, by Gregory David Roberts, pales in every category against its predecessor Shantaram, except for meaningless maxims. Lunchtime Lit reviewer Mel Carriere cautions you to avoid this sequel, or suffer aphorism asphyxiation.
Postal OJI and web author Mel Carrier provides City Carrier Assistants with advice to simplify their thought processes and daily work flow.
Unexpected life forms emerge in unexpected places, and the presence of the Burrowing Owl at airports and other human-altered landscapes teaches us that bird watchers should neglect no habitat in search of avian wonders.
There is can be little doubt that United Parcel Service (UPS) enjoys being a Big Brown roadblock to the potential success of the United States Postal Service, but would UPS resort to the sabotage of the Surepost product, even at the discomfort of its own customers? Mel investigates.
Russia is not a fictional space opera fantasy planet in a galaxy far, far, away, but in Masha Gessen's The Man Without a Face, Vladimir Putin certainly comes across as a dark Sith Lord.
Are you a letter carrier with a sense of urgency? Just what is a sense of urgency? Furthermore, is your urgency my emergency? Mel ponders the particulars of postal philosophy on The Postal Tsunami.
Your Postal MDD Scanner has a tendency to freeze at awkward moments and run out of battery power on those long, gloomy postal nights. Do you know what to do?
Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman is a book that revolves around Stalingrad, the biggest battle in human history. The novel explores the idea of freedom in a totalitarian society.
Do letter carriers get their kicks punting pooches? Or are there legitimate reasons why flailing feet sometimes launch furry footballs into orbit? The Postal Tsunami explores a San Diego case.
Some career postal employees didn't see Trump's 2017 hiring freeze as a problem, but I foresaw then that it could indicate trouble, and not just for CCAs and PSEs.
Donald Trump is now President, without the reassuring -elect suffix attached. Are Postal Customers stockpiling, in anticipation of a dreaded Trumpocalypse?
Kafka on The Shore, by Haruki Murakami, contains all the familiar elements his readers have come to expect, but still manages to entertain. Mel Carriere reviews for Lunchtime Lit.
Are Donald Trump's campaign promises pure vote-grabbing rhetoric? Or, like Populist Andrew Jackson, is this the start of another tragic Trail of Tears? When Populists speak, we better listen.
Mel tells some heart-warming holiday stories, then reveals secret statistics that demonstrate how the Postal Service is kicking butt on its competitors. From the pages of the Postal Tsunami.
In memory of the ten year anniversary of the passing of the legendary founder of the Mac Meda Destruction Company, Jack Macpherson. Mel Carriere eulogizes America's coolest mailman.
"The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy" compiles Douglas Adams' five-volume "trilogy." Reviewer Mel ponders if there is any food for thought here to supplement his five-martini three-martini lunches.
Capitalism and free enterprise are two terms that Americans often swallow as a single pill, but are they different, and are they poison if they both go down the hatch together?
You are an overwrought potential City Carrier Assistant who is terrified about your impending interview. Relax on Mel Carriere's postal therapy couch. Maybe he can soothe your worried mind, maybe not.
Are the Kennedy and Clinton family conspiracies real, or just popular American mythology? What does it mean that the Clintons are perceived as assassins, and the Kennedys assassination victims?
This article provides a brief history of the last 20 years of the working lives of United States Postal Service City Letter Carriers, with a look into the cloudy crystal ball at the future.
A short story response to Bill Holland's challenge. The truth behind cheap office artwork.
The bird family Alcidae evokes images of cold, windswept, ocean escarpments or upwellings miles out to sea. The Pigeon Guillemot, however, is the "Easy" Alcid of tourist traps and public beaches.
A what-if Ode to international athletic glory by a man who was not there, in iambic pentameter sonnet form that barely squeaks off the blocks.
The Winter of Our Discontent, by John Steinbeck, explores key components of American folklore. Are we godlike beings, or angry, feces-throwing monkeys? Mel considers.
Mel announces his 100th Hub Pages article, to little fanfare. What has he learned, if anything, and what will he try next?
Americans pay lip service homage to the concept of Freedom of Speech, to a degree that approaches religious reverence. But do we really like it? This author says no, and gives reasons why.
You are a CCA who just got word you've been promoted to Regular Carrier, but are you ready to sell your soul to the Postal Devil and make this a career? Mel covers the grim and the grins.
Did Anne Frank really kill famous General George S. Patton? This is just one of several theories bandied about in Bill O'Reilly's book Killing Patton. Mel Carriere gives his Lunchtime Lit Review.
Harold Schultz, a posthumously recognized flag raiser of Iwo Jima, was a man who shunned the spotlight. Until very recently, history completely forgot about him. Here is this postal employee's tale.
Mailman Mel Carriere reviews The Last Temptation of Christ, by Nikos Kazantzakis, to see if it floats or sinks. Stoke those book burning flames, this one may shock your sensibilities.
Has ideological "mental-murder" caused Americans to blindly accept the current two-party political system? Will our disillusionment with the status quo lead to change, or is it business as usual?
Except for 1st President George Washington, two major parties have controlled the US Presidency throughout the country's history. Does the popularity of Trump and Sanders mean this is changing?
So you, Postal CCA, have been asked to move up to a 204b supervisor position, and you're pretty full of yourself! Although Mel does not want to burst your bubble, you need to know the grim realities.
Mel Carriere reviews Nevil Shute's On the Beach, a model of literary aerodynamic efficiency, as part of his ongoing Lunchtime Lit series.
April 20, 1914, some two dozen men, women and children were massacred at Ludlow, Colorado, by the hired thugs of Colorado Fuel and Iron. What did the disaster mean then, and what does it mean now?
Digested in easy to chew, half hour chunks, Murakami's 1Q84 is an entertaining, thought stimulating novel. But on a long distance airplane flight would it be more of a sleep enhancer? Mel wonders.
"Follow the Mail" is a time honored Postal adage used by old timers to get you, the aspiring CCA or RCA, out of their hair. But this seemingly useless advice can work, if you learn how to do it.
Independence Day, Buckaroo Banzai, and Mars Attacks! may not be legends of the Science Fiction genre, but they serve well for cheap, sappy, feel good entertainment and a few mindless chuckles.
Candidate Bernie Sanders packs arenas and receives record individual donations, but is ignored by the hypnotizing mass media. Is there a deliberate "Bernie Blackout" by NPR and other news sources?
The Charley Horse, Kidney Stone, and Inguinal Hernia can be real problems for the upstart City Carrier Assistant (CCA). Here author Mel Carriere gives unsolicited, low quality medical advice.
Shelby Dade Foote Jr., was not just a historian, but a brilliant author with narrative skill unsurpassed by those who contribute to the genre. Mel shares his impressions of the man and his work.
The song of the White-crowned Sparrow is a harbinger of autumn in Southern California. Here are some reflections on the feelings this song evokes.
Take Mel's Postal Rorschach test. He sees a mail truck, Postal Customer from Hell sees rolling dollar signs. What do you see?
Author James Clavell wrote at least one great book, but Gai-jin was not it. Join Mel Carriere for lunch as he reviews this work, and reminds the gentle reader how much he loved Shogun.
If you have been active on the Internet, chances are you have been plagued by Trolls. Who are these ogres lurking beneath your Internet bridge - are they passionate advocates or paid mercenaries?
The Winter Solstice is upon us. If you are a letter carrier for the USPS, you are probably already delivering at night. Here are a few dark delivery tips for the fledgling City Carrier Assistant.
"Back in the day" Thanksgiving was considered off limits to retailers, but Black Friday has been steadily encroaching upon its Thanksgiving brother holiday. What does this mean and where is it going?
The Brewers Blackbird is the reigning avian King of parking lots and food courts across America. Unfortunately, in certain parts of its range the bird's numbers are mysteriously reducing.
Gary Hart and H. Ross Perot are examples of promising Presidential candidates who were victims of ruthless character assassination that forced them out of the race. Is Bernie Sanders next?
Doug Hansen from Kent, Washington, was possibly the first and only postal worker to successfully climb Mt. Everest. This article explores his amazing feat, and his tragic death.
Are you an aspiring City Carrier Assistant curious about on the job hazards you will face as a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service? Prepare to take the painful plunge.
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle will take you into the deepest, darkest wells of author Haruki Murakami's bizarre imagination. Mel Carriere reports on the book as part of his "Lunchtime Lit" series.
No matter what fancy tag you apply to it, being a USPS letter carrier is grueling work. This article compares the entry level Postal positions of Rural Carrier Associate and City Carrier Assistant.
The novel Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is an epic page turner, but also the subject of much controversy. Is author Roberts a "lying junkie," or is this really his story?
On April 15th, 2015, Letter Carrier Doug Hughes "tweaked the dragon's tail" when he landed his Gyrocopter on the lawn of Capitol Hill. Is he a madman or a martyr for democracy?
Are the strange murals at the Denver International Airport really part of a New World Order conspiracy, or simply a component of some massive Sociological Pareidolia?
Mel Carriere discusses the implications of David Quammen's The Chimp and the River as part of his lunchtime book review series.
So you are considering or you've just been accepted as a Postal City Carrier Assistant (CCA) and you are wondering what is in store for you. Warning—results may vary! Be prepared to travel.
What follows is a study of the Corporate Stockholm Syndrome, a condition arising from the virtual hostage taking that occurs in modern business management, including the United States Postal Service.
Civil Disobedience and Terrorism are two different tactics used to fight injustices, real and perceived. Which method is winning? A look at the historical scoreboard.
The Republic of Iraq is a seething Pandora's box of conflicting ethnicities that was held together for 30 years by dictator Saddam Hussein. Saddam was evil, but is the world better off without him?
Is the recent Ebola outbreak in the United States truly a severe threat, or just a media smokescreen perhaps exaggerated for political purposes?
Thinking about becoming a Postal City Carrier Assistant (CCA), but want to know if you have the right stuff to get through the training process? Described here are the rigors of CCA Bootcamp.
Cold blooded reptiles and amphibians have been a problem in mail delivery from the time of the plagues of Egypt up until the present. Here Mel Carriere explores cold and clammy mailbox infestations.
In honor of Labor Day, 2014, Mel Carriere shares his views on the Central American Illegal Immigration Crisis, brought about by abysmal working conditions. Are we as Americans ultimately responsible?
From mice to marsupials, warm blooded critters find mailboxes to be convenient places in which to undertake a wide variety of activities having nothing to do with correspondence. Part 2 in a series.
College campus shootings may be "all the rage" today, but trendy murderous rampages got started in the 80s with a series of "going postal" killings. What does this say about our society?
In a multi-part series, Mel Carriere explores mailbox invaders that should make postal customers and letter carriers proceed cautiously before sticking their hands blindly into mail receptacles.
Will the Russian bear ever stop devouring its own young and leave them an equitable spot in the den? The failure of Russian democracy is rooted in ancient historical factors and contemporary events.
So you think you're ready to take the leap into management hell? Make sure you check your morals at the door. Mel shares some management experiences for postal and non postal people alike.
This article explores four of the biggest roadblocks to happiness encountered as a CCA (City Carrier Assistant). and asks the question of whether you really want to subject yourself to this insanity.
Is your boss a bona fide megalomaniac or just some pompous, posturing jerk in a tie? This article analyzes the difference, and discusses some noteworthy megalomaniacs in history, real and perceived.
In contrast to its usual inept technological offerings, the Postal Service's USPS Mobile App for iPhone is remarkably user friendly and has extremely useful features for Postal employees and customers
The City Carrier Assistant (CCA) is a newly created Postal position that has been controversial among the ranks of letter carriers. Mel advises the CCA how to adapt to a hostile postal environment.
Ever wonder how the other half lives? If you find yourself at the bottom of the corporate food chain, here are some things you can use to move up and stay, Postal-Service style.
For being an iconic public servant that most Americans see every day, Mailmen are notoriously underepresented on film. Mel analyzes some of entertainment's most famous mailmen and what they mean.
This hub is in recognition of the Postal Service's Dog Bite Prevention week of May 19-25th. It deals with the German Sheperd, Pit Bull, Cocker Spaniel, Saint Bernard, Chihuahua, and Mini Doberman
This hub describes technology recently implemented by the United States Postal Service and whether this technology is adequate to meet this organization's technological needs.
Nothing personal, my fellow letter carriers and other postal employees, but the Postal Service thinks that you are stupid. You might find this a rather shocking thing to say, but it is demonstrated clearly by the creation of the new CCA class of...