The Ecphorizer

Wordology

Issue #06 (February 1982)

Alone, system, easily, gallop, circus. What do these words have in common? The answer appears at right. They all contain the phoneme schwa, represented by an inverted letter e and pronounced with an uh sound.
 

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Post Office Roulette

Issue #06 (February 1982)

In the November issue, we explained that the Postal Service's second class mailing regulations require that six or more copies to the sane Zip code be bundled together. The story goes on from there: six or more copies that don't go to the same Zip but go to the same city rate a "City" bundle, and those that fail these tests can still acquire some status if there are six or more with the same first three digits in their Zips. Alas! The remaining orphans are consigned to a "Mixed California" bundle or (if out of state) to the lowest of the low - the "Mixed States" bundle.

This process leads to some curious consequences. Sunnyvale, for instance, has three Zip codes; for a while we sent seven copies in a "Same Zip" bundle to 94087, and a mixture of five 94086s plus two 94088s in a "City" bundle. Since we mail the magazine at the Sunnyvale Post Office, these bundles were both distributed within two days. However... Recently we acquired a sixth subscriber in 94086. Now we have two "Same Zip" bundles, which still get delivered promptly, but the two 94088s became isolated, dropped through all the other bundling tests, and wound up in the "Mixed California" bundle that goes to somewhere in the Central Valley for sorting. Ironically, they are both boxes in the same Post Office where we mail the magazine. According to the USPS rules, there is nothing we can do. Nevertheless we are working on it. If only four more boxholders in Sunnyvale would subscribe... 

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