As you can see, this site has been pretty sleepy lately. It’ll probably continue that way for a while yet, so do feel free to check out my archives or read a random post while you’re waiting for a new post.
I am disgruntled. The number of cards and letters that I send by regular mail and which subsequently disappear into the ether without ever reaching their destination is dramatically increasing.
These days, when it is so much easier, quicker and, frankly, cheaper to send greetings by email or from a thousand and one online greeting card websites, there are still those of us who choose to spend our money to send mail by regular post. We treasure the experience of thoughtfully picking out or making a card, sitting down and writing snippets from our day or sending greetings across the miles. Once dropped in the postbox, we then imagine the face of our loved one when finding an unexpected envelope in their mailbox, their anticipation of opening it and then holding and reading the greetings which have journeyed to them from so far away.
I gave up sending checks or money as presents by regular mail long ago, as apparently it is just too much of a temptation for some, even if taking it is a felony offense. Now when illicitly opening my letters all they’ll find is “love and kisses.” Sadly, even they don’t reach their intended recipient any more. Explain to me then why I should throw out good money after bad to send my love and heartfelt congratulations, good luck wishes, condolences, prayers for speedy convalesce and festive holiday cheer by registered mail to ensure you hand-deliver them to the homes of my nearest and dearest when I have already purchased that service by buying a stamp and sticking it on the envelope and which, according to your declared service contract, you are then supposed to deliver.
As time goes by, and as fewer cards arrive at their intended destination, it is reasonable to assume that I will choose alternatives to sending cards by regular mail. In my view, that is a loss for both of us.
This gallery contains 11 photos.
Currently on detox following a week’s worth of Dordogne and Quercy cuisine (foie gras, cheese, smoked duck/goose, (OMG the) bread, walnuts and wine). On the one occasion where I ordered a beef dish, I immediately regretted it and despite walking several kilometers per day (sometimes almost vertically), I came home with an unwelcome 2 kilo souvenir. […]
As you can see, I’m posting more frequently again following an extended absence off enjoying family events and travelling and the planning of both. Being away for mostly that entire period, I rediscovered how much I prefer off-line pursuits. Yes, the Internet is a wonderful, sometimes magical place, but learning how to balance online and offline activities has always been a challenge for me. I tend to dive into things and it takes me a while to come back to center; sometimes this process can take a long time and this latest and much-needed away time has been a terrific “reset” button. This isn’t to say that I ditched the Internet, just that outside of my working life I have greatly reduced my online activity.
In preparation for my vacation I turned down all the digital background noise to a minimum as much as possible. I unsubscribed or dropped to weekly digests a number of online newsletters I regularly follow (only two have made it back so far), stopped forwarding nonessential emails from my other email accounts to my phone and uninstalled phone apps that were diverting my attention. And that’s still pretty much the situation today. Less distraction and more focus.
But seriously, Facebook, you are teh devil.
(If you need a “reset” button, feel free to grab mine.)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.)
During our visit to Hamburg over Passover last year we walked many times from our hotel in Rotherbaum to various parts of nearby Grindel, the old Jewish area of the city. Along our route we saw brass plaques embedded in the sidewalk noting the names of Jews who lived in these houses and whom the Nazis deported to Riga and elsewhere. Deported, it states on these plaques, nothing more. These plaques also raise questions. Who were the other people who lived in these houses? Were they non-Jews who heard their neighbors being taken away, never to return? Did they help their Jewish neighbors in some way? Did they turn them over for transportation? Questions, questions.
In certain parts of the city, other reminders of World War II literally loom overhead and stand witness to the horrific suffering inflicted on the German population. Looking back through the comfortable distance of nearly 70 years in time, it’s easy to forget that had these terrible acts of war not taken place, our world today would be a very different place.
There’s no denying that throughout our pleasant stay in the city, for me there was also an undercurrent of unease. Even watching the countryside pass by during our 5-hour train ride to Frankfurt raised uncomfortable feelings. As a second-generation American Jew and one generation removed from the Holocaust, I believed I would be less affected by this trip. I was wrong.