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DaedTech Digest: Neither Snow nor Rain Stops the Mail, But Moving Around Tends To

Welcome, once again, to my meandering little corner of the internet.  Blogging feels good ever since I announced an utter lack of purpose beyond self-amusement.

In that vein, let me once again chronicle life on the road through a Friday digest.  Last week, I answered the question of whether or not vagabonding was expensive.  Today, I’m going to talk mail.

Before I do that, though, I want to invite you to please feel free to fire away with questions.  You can Twitter ’em at me or Facebook ’em at me, or email ’em at me through my contact/about page, or really whatever you like.

How Does Mail Work when You’re Gone for Months at a Time?

This is another question people often ask about our travel lifestyle.  I mention that we took off for Mississippi before Thanksgiving and only briefly stopped at home before Memorial Day.  And then they wonder how, even in an increasingly digital society, what happens to all the mail.  How does that work?

Well, in short, it works… not well.

First of all, let me just say that I kind of, for the most part, hate physical mail.  There are exceptions, of course.  I enjoy hand written notes, gratefully appreciate cards and gifts from friends and family, and feel pretty positively toward any checks made out to me that float into the mailbox.  But those things are pretty rare compared to bills, junk mail, notices, and the dump-truck full of stuff I get from the government as an owner/partner in 3 different incorporated businesses.

If I simply did nothing, this stuff would pile up in the mail box and it would get angrier and angrier in tone with each passing week.  So I have to do something.

Enter: A Mail Opening and Forwarding Service

One could hold the mail.  But that just kind of moves the problem to a backroom in the local post office.  We could also get ourselves a PO box anywhere we go and setup forwarding.  But, first of all, that takes a while to kick in, and secondly, you can’t actually start the forwarding until you arrive and get the PO box, creating a situation where 1-2 weeks of mail get “lost” (really just piled up on your doorstep or in some forwarding loop)

So we do the least bad thing.  We have a mail forwarding service that you could think of as a digital inbox.

The way we do this is to start the forwarding a while before we leave, ensuring that we miss nothing.  The mail starts to arrive at the mailbox the service assigns to you (ours is in Santa Barbara or something), and they photograph it, open it, and scan it for you, putting it into something that looks an awful lot like Outlook’s inbox.  We then browse our physical mail this way, telling them to shred it, hang on to it, or forward it somewhere as necessary.

(As you can see, I’m not kidding about all the government stuff. But take that, US Department of Commerce — to the recycling bin with you!)

Typically, we do snag a post office box or else use a service like this one in OB to receive critical mail, such as client checks or what-have-you.  This is also handy for when we need to order packages, since AirBNB residences generally do not let you receive packages (though long-haul stay people will often kind of shrug and say, “meh, go ahead.”)

Doesn’t Mail Get Lost?  Does This Work Well?

I do need to point out, though, that this is all pretty error prone.  I mean, sending and receiving mail isn’t exactly bulletproof when you live in the same place for 10 straight years.  We don’t stand much of a chance.

Things get lost.  We’ve had a check from a client caught in a weird infinite forwarding loop for a month.  You get the occasional nasty-gram reminder of something you never received in the first place.

But c’est la vie.  Imperfection with the mail is a small price to pay, in my opinion, for working in places so remote and so beautiful that mail seems like sort of a petty annoyance.  Especially when I mostly don’t want it anyway.

Picks

  • Dice.com interviewed me for a post about exit interviews.  So that’s kind of fun.
  • I hosted a multi-day meeting this week, conducting some business made easier by a whiteboard.  Lacking a whiteboard, however, we made use of disposable dry-erase “post-its.”  We stuck 4 of them to a large window, where they held for 3 days, serving as a perfectly functional whiteboard that we could just throw out at the end of the week.

The Digest

And, as always, have a good weekend.

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