25 June 2023

Somebody explain this to me

I had gone in to Starbucks for about an hour. When I come back, I see this.

Notice carefully – there is a cobweb strand connecting the side view mirror of the car to the rear bag of my motorcycle.

Here is my question – how did the spider travel near horizontally in the air? It could not have gone to the ground, crossed over and then climbed up. There was no wind to talk about either.

That is an amazing achievement. And something I cannot quite figure out how it managed to do.

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16 June 2023

The mail van roof problem – one more step forward

But no where close to the solution. You might remember the original observation and some progress to this problem from my prior posts.

This evening, I sat down in our balcony with Jay Jay and a cocktail when I noticed that there was a crew of two people in the post office yard. And in a few seconds later realized that they were painting the vans. Especially the roofs.

I got excited. Maybe finally I will crack this problem?

But there was something very incongruous about their painting. They had not covered up the windshield!! I was wondering how were they preventing the white paint from getting all over the glass?

The curiosity and the possibility that I might finally know the answer to the roof rust problem got the better of me. Put Jay Jay inside the house and walked up to those guys from a side entrance.

The two gentlemen could not have been more surprised by my question!! A very interesting conversation happened then.

First thing, I learnt is that they were not painters. They were simply cleaning the vehicles. And that was not rust – it was mold!! They see this mold in all the mail delivery vans. And they agreed that it always forms on that particular edge. But neither had any clue why.

Oh! so close!!!

As I was walking out, I saw a USPS gentleman trying to put something in another van. I walked up to him and made friends with him. He first apologized that our house looks into the USPS yard. I assured him that it gives me endless joy watching the vans and trucks come in and the workers milling around.

And then I asked him the all important question. You know what he said? He said that from the upper deck, it had noticed that pattern too but never knew why. And he had not spent much time thinking about it anyways. Then both of us stepped into one vehicle to see if we could see anything from the inside. Absolutely no clues!!

He did teach me something. He explained that these were 25 year old Grumman LLVs. And that USPS is switching over to newer vehicles by Oshkosh. Came back home and read up about it. There are fascinating facts out there about these vehicles.

But not a word on why mold grows on only one edge of them.

The endeavor continues!!

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16 May 2023

We are getting closer to solving the problem

Do you remember the last two curiosity questions I had posted on the postal vehicles? The one about why one side of the postal vehicles’ roof is always rusted and the other one about why some of them have steering wheels on one side while the others have it on the other side?

Well, hearing the responses from you all on the second one, we might be closer to solving the first one.

For the second, we have logically concluded that the steering wheel is on the “wrong” side only if the vehicle is meant to deliver mail door to door. That makes sense. The mailboxes are on the right and the driver does not have to get out every single time (not to talk about seat belt on and off). The ones that had steering wheel on the “right” side clearly was being used to transfer mail between post offices or purposes as such.

This morning, while having tea in the patio, I tried to see if the roof rusting matched a pattern I was wondering about.


Look at the picture. There are three vehicles that have no rusting on the roof. Look closely at those vehicles – they are the different looking vans that are NOT used for door to door delivery. And look at the door to door delivery vehicles. Each one of them have that pattern.

So, this HAS to do something with the requirements on a vehicle for door to door delivery. I know they do not have any HVAC. The windows are always open for constantly flinging the mail or putting the mail in the mailbox. I have even seen table fans in these vehicles to cool down the drivers.

So, what is it about windows being always open that might have something to do with the rusting?

This is where I am starting to think that Nick Kules might be on to something… that the way the drainage on the roof is designed might have something to do. Could it be that there are ridges so that after a little rainfall or water accumulation, the water does not drip down the window and potentially wet the mail? And that is why the stagnated water rusts out the roof?

Then why not on the driver’s side also?

I HAVE to crack this problem.

Need you all to pitch in with your combined imagination and analytical powers.

15 May 2023

Can somebody explain this to me?

Having a house in front of the post office is one of the more enjoyable features in my new living. Sitting down in the balcony early in the morning with a cup of tea, I can spend hours watching the postal folks get busy with their day.

As always, there are curious questions I have that I have found no answer. You may remember the one about all postal vehicles having rust on the front side of the roof on the non-driver’s side but nowhere else. Never figured out why.

In fact you can see that in all the vehicles lined up agains the wall in the picture!

Today, I noticed something else intriguing. Early morning a tow truck showed up with two postal vehicles. This is common for Mondays. I assume they had gone for maintenance over the weekend.

Look at which side the driver is sitting!!! It is the opposite side of postal vehicles (but in alignment with all other vehicles)!!

So when do postal vehicles have steering wheels on the “normal” side and when do they have on the “other” side?

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10 April 2023

Travel quiz

While flying from San Diego to Atlanta today, we flew over 5 large cities. Though there were cloud covers, I was able to take a shot of each of the cities. Together with their airports. Each of the cities have a river running thru them and I have captured the rivers in the pictures too.

Here are the river names. You have to guess the cities:

1. The Salt River
2. Rio Grande
3. North Canadian River
4. Mississippi River
5. Cahaba River

17 March 2023

Do you know these punctuation marks?

A couple of days back, Matt, Sunjay, Hunt and myself were Slacking about Sunjay’s use of the punctuation mark “?!”. Which got me to read up on punctuation marks that are rarely used these days.

See how many of these you might now. First name the punctuation mark and see if you can guess when it is used.

The ninth one looks like slanted in my handwriting. I meant to draw a straight line. (You have it on your keyboard as “|” )

16 February 2023

A quiz for the veteran flyers, especially if you fly international often

After clearing immigration and security, I came to the gates in Sal Salvador airport. I was checking out the various duty free stores. And I wanted to check something else out that had struck me when I had come into the airport on Saturday.

Look at the picture. What is amiss in this?

Here is a hint… I originally had the doubt standing at this exact point when I came into the airport on Saturday

See the answer only after you have given it some thought.



Come on… give it some thought… there is a visual clue….




Well, notice the sign for “Immigration” (Migracion). Remember, I am an outbound passenger and I had already cleared immigration. So what was that sign doing there?

As I mentioned in my hint, I was actually standing there when I came in too. I needed that sign to figure out which way to go for immigration. Which means incoming international passengers and outgoing international passengers actually can mingle. Happened with the incoming Delta flight today too – saw all the passengers alight and go past me – just like in a domestic flight.

This is what had struck me when I came into the country. Why was I going past all the duty free shops and restaurants and bars before I could even get to the immigration counter?

Have not seen this in any other country.

Coming to think of it, I cannot see any possibility of security breach. All passengers – incoming and outgoing – had to clear security to get to that point. One interesting side effect though is that if you are connecting to another flight to a different country (e.g. Miami to San Salvador to San Juan in Costa Rica), you do not have to get an immigration stamp on your passport !!

Have any one of you seen this anywhere?

3 February 2023

Puzzle for old times’ sake

12 years back, on my way back home from DC, I used to post a puzzle almost every week. Doing the same today.

A little background… This week, in Chicago, Deval gave me a little gift. Apparently, she was in a store that sells calendars and came across a calendar that a math problem for each day. Somehow I came to her mind!!

And this is the first problem I saw on the cover page.

You remember mod right? It is the remainder remaining after you do a division. So 27 mod 6 would be 3.

The puzzle is:

15113 mod 113 = ?

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