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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Return to Sender

We just received back in the mail a package with an "unclaimed" sticker and no postage due that had been sent to South Africa last March, ten months ago.  The book ordered was called Living on 12 Volts with Ample Power and it was going to our customer in care of his yacht club.  When the customer didn't receive the book in the expected time frame, he emailed me and I was able to find another copy of this fairly unusual expensive book (and ours had been signed by the authors, although that probably wasn't its selling point), and send the new copy via registered mail to South Africa, rather than via the flat rate priority mail envelope, which only costs $13.45 to mail, but does not have tracking.   We rarely have problems with books not reaching their destination, and I had no problems sending to South Africa previously, but occasionally packages are "lost."  So I just figured the book had been lost or stolen and shrugged my shoulders.

The returned package was pretty worn around the edges, and there was a tear at one corner, but inside the book (which had been double wrapped in a recycled used priority mail envelope) was still in the "Near Fine" shape it had left our store in.

I emailed our customer with the news:

Hi G.  Just wanted to let you know that today I received back the gone-missing of Living On 12 Volts you ordered from us last March.  It was returned in its original packing with no postage due, with a stamp from the South Africa post office marked "unclaimed."  We're glad to have it back, something I never expected.  Hope life is well on your boat.
 
He responded:   Hi Amy.  Wow, I am amazed, that is really good news, I was convinced it had been stolen, I went to so many different post offices in Durban looking for it.  We are now in Tanzania, sailing/chartering around Zanzibar, and things are going well.  The book has been most useful, its my electrical bible!
Thanks for letting me know, its a relief all round I think.  Kind regards, G.

Another book sent to a different customer in South Africa, also was apparently "lost' in September.  It may show up yet.
 
Reading Notes
I have been reading a lot less since before the Christmas holidays... but I am currently reading Zadie Smith's White Teeth.  I'm only about a quarter of the way into it so far, but I recognized one section as something I had read an excerpt from previously.  It's well-written and quite funny.




Monday, January 10, 2011

A New Year

So far, so good.   The holidays passed for us in a pretty low-key fashion.  Everyone always asks if business picks up at Christmas, and though we certainly do get some orders for gifts, mostly we see an increase in sales at the times of school semesters starting, like now.  Sean and I don't really participate in exchanging presents, but I do like to make a collage calendar to give out at New Year's.  Last year we collaborated on a 13-page black and white calendar with a color cover, but this year we didn't get anything so elaborate together in time.  Instead, I just made a one-page color collage with tear-off monthly calendar pages. So now we're going to work on next year's collages throughout the year, instead of at the last minute.  I have to say, I do like how everything's closed and quiet on Christmas and New Year's Day; a nice break from the otherwise constant work and consumerism of our culture.

Reading Notes
I am in the middle of reading Frozen in Time:  The Fate of the Franklin Expedition by Owen Beattie and John Geiger.  This is a book I decided to read because the cover has a pretty gruesome photo of the face of a frozen body from the expedition, the introduction is by Margaret Atwood, and the first few pages were coming out, making it unsaleable anyway-- hence the reading choices of booksellers.  The Franklin Expedition was searching for the Northwest Passage in the 1840's, but all 129 men on the two ships died, most likely from lead poisoning from eating canned food.  Canning was the big new technology for provisioning expeditions and lead poisoning wasn't yet understood.  This book tells the history of the Franklin Expedition and the subsequent investigations by later explorers and anthropologists in the area who attempted to figure out what happened by talking to Inuit Natives and looking for physical evidence-- both of which also indicated that the expedition members resorted to cannibalism in their desperation.

I also re-read a novel by Anita Brookner, Bay of Angels.  Anita Brookner is a writer I like, but her novels are all very similar, usually having to do with an isolated daughter dealing with her parents' aging and death, all told from a very interior monologue.  Not that much happens, except for daily life, yet her writing is absorbing.