Paranoia and Machines in the works of Philip K. Dick

Went out on the way to work to get a package. My wife had bought and mailed me something. I had got and mailed her something else. No surprises about having to go down to the post office and get something, then.

It's from the USA, which fits both things. Except...

Why was it in a mailbag? Why wasn't the address the on Barnes and Noble had used on previous occasions? Why pack books in a box, and place the box in a bag, and mail that?

The post office clerk had no explanations for me. The bag isn't one of theirs. He thought I was talking about damage, but I wasn't -- no just. I'm talking mail bombs. Every few years we get a bunch of them sent into the country. Most are discovered, a few blow off bits of people stupid enough to open them.

Top signs your mail item may be a bomb

  1. No return address, or return address unrecognizable. Well, it's not B&N, but maybe it is.
  2. Strange packaging. A box inside a bag.
  3. Oil stains on package. Nope. But wouldn't the stains be on the box?
  4. Heavy item. Books are heavy.

A bit of sleuthing, and the package is safely opened. short stories of Philip K. Dick. Beautiful.

On to work.

Strange looks by everyone on public transportation as I lug an open box of books and a US Postal mailbag through. After some thought, I lose the bag (but keep the amazing string-closer thingy for future use). Now I'm invisible again. The task of watching me must have been handed off to a Secret Service.

Man vs. machine

Finally at work. Box is safely placed under my desk, and it's time for coffee.

We have 2 coffee machines at work, one a floor above my floor and the other two floors down. Although both are fully automated capuccino and espresso makers, they're very different machines.

A moment's perusal of the messages appearing on the machines' LCDs will disclose that they both run the same software! The master, above me, calls itself "GR3", and says stuff like "GR3: Grounds tray full" even when its grounds tray is empty. The slave, below me, is "GR11"; it usually complains about its tray only when it really is full, prefering instead to threaten "GR11: Processing..." whenever you ask it to make some coffee. But it still gives you coffee.

We go to the master.

Two colleagues get perfect cups (one espresso, one capuccino). I'm up!

I froth some milk. The frother is uncomputerized, and causes no difficulties. I put my cup under the nozzles of GR3 and hit the right button (there are 6).

"GR3: Processing..."
No coffee, though. Hit the button again.
"GR3: Processing..."
The froth is beginning to collapse.
"GR3: Processing..."
The machine is making all the right noises, but NO COFFEE. Not even clear hot water -- nothing!

Dare I hit the button again?

I go down 3 floors, and get the more obedient GR11 to make my coffee.