I yield my first four minutes to Bill Maher. Try not to be offended by the unbleeped items – just cover your ears – because the part about Valerie Plame is really interesting. What her job at the CIA actually was. I watch the nightly news on one or two networks almost every night and I didn’t know this – did you? Watch it.


Angela: ‘I can top Tom Knapp’s story. A few months after my Sears MasterCard was turned into a Citibank MasterCard, Citibank lowered my credit limit from $4000 to $300 – because I had failed to pay a $3.20 balance on that card from the previous month. Numerous phone calls (going up the customer service chain) failed to get them to reconsider. I’d had the Sears card for over 25 years, and at $95.000 yearly income there should have been little doubt that they’d get their $3.20. I was so angry, I closed the account.’


Tom Yanovic: ‘My wife is one of those people who can ask ANYONE for ANYTHING as long as they are not personally acquainted. She’s really good at getting out-of-date coupons honored, is not above asking a senior citizen in line to use his discount for her, and asks for a free upgrade to first class every time we fly (it only took 15 tries before I saw her succeed). So when I goof up and make a credit card payment late (about once a year), I ask her to call and get the late charge removed. She is batting 1,000. Please don’t print my last name.’

☞ Asking a senior citizen to his discount for her? Ouch! (And, yes, I changed his last name. Just like to see if you’re paying attention.)


Don Szostak: ‘Yeah, but, a forever stamp is useless on a letter to an international destination whereas one marked with $0.42 just might, at least, help.’

☞ Right. The stamps would still have their denomination printed on them. It’s just that, if we were smart, any U.S. stamp sold with the First Class designation would always suffice, at home, to mail a first class letter. Even, for heaven’s sake (and simplicity’s sake), the three 29-cent stamps scrunched up in the back of your drawer.

Larry: ‘Our friends in the UK introduced this system in 1989. PS – Bargain of bargains, thanks to the Postal Rate Commission, the new letter rate will be 41 cents, not 42, effective May 14.

John Kasley: ‘The USPS will benefit from people (like me) who use stamps so infrequently that they can never remember where they put them. By buying a few dozen books of stamps now (a ‘lifetime supply’), I can virtually guarantee they will be lost, exposed to humidity like last year’s now-useless holiday envelopes, or put in the freezer and forgotten until I sell the house.’

Frank Alejano: ‘You write, ‘Why are you using envelopes anymore, anyway? Have you not heard of electronic bill payment? E-mail?’ Kudos to Charles’ family if they’ll happily take a thank-you email, but my wife has told me in no uncertain terms that punching my brother-in-law in the gut right after loading up our van would be a more acceptable thank-you than an email. Until culture catches up with technology, snail mail and Hallmark are still going to be doing great business.’

☞ I saw a segment on the Today Show (all three hours of which can be watched in 12 minutes with Tivo) where Hallmark now has specialty cards to mark your one-year anniversary of being cancer-free and, yes, even to congratulate you for coming out of the closet. If that isn’t worth 41 cents, what is?

PS – Did you watch?


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