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My Sesame Street background

I came across the official 40 year Sesame Street anniversary photo a few days ago…

The official Sesame Street 40 year anniversary photo.

I added in a few characters that were missing from my childhood and some of my recent favorites (click to enlarge).

Sesame Street infinite version – a modification of the official Sesame Street 40 year anniversary image with characters that were missing from my childhood and some of my recent favorites.

It is great to see the older Sesame Street episodes with my family. Murray and his “Word on the Street” episodes are our absolute favorites.

UPDATE 7/20/21 : Doubled the resolution, changed the base blue background, and added a rainbow to Elmo. Thumbnail should open a full size version.

USPS recycles their tracking numbers

Definitely one of those “that’s interesting” discoveries.

I was curious about an old Ebay purchase I made back in late 2019, and went to look up the tracking number in my Ebay history to see if I could find out what state it originally came from.

Pulling up the history, I saw the tracking number was still in the order history, and that it had originally shipped back on December 27th 2019, and was delivered on January 3rd 2020.

The tracking number was still listed as 9 400 116 901 508 666 357 577, so I copied that number to the USPS website, hoping it would pull up its’ state of origin.

I was VERY surprised to see the tracking number showed the package had been delivered to an address in Washington DC on April 16th 2021. That destination was NOT my shipping address, and both the date and time were completely wrong.

I thought it might be a system error, so I tried looking up my next Ebay purchase.

A simple Keffiyeh I bought back in April 2020. Looking at the order history, I saw another tracking number from USPS and the original shipping date was April 9th 2020 and the delivery date was April 20th 2020.

Heading back to the USPS tracking page, I keyed in 9 400 136 897 846 497 465 686 and found “label created, not yet in system”.

I checked the next Ebay purchase I made. The first season of Chef! from the BBC on September 27th, 2020.

Again, the original order showed it was placed on September 27th 2020, and that it was shipped and delivered on October 1st 2020.

Heading to the USPS tracking page, I keyed in 9 400 108 205 497 360 464 217 and saw the package had just been delivered a few days ago, and was waiting for me at Wyandotte, MI.

The USPS tracking numbers repeated a similar pattern for all the other orders I had placed after the October 2020 date as well. The searches either found a package that was delivered to another address in very recent months, or the label was “created, not yet in system.”

The tracking picked up correctly on an order I placed in March of 2021, but every single tracking number before March 2021 had been recycled or re-queued.

I can only confirm the USPS tracking resets sometime between December 2020 and March 2021, so just as an example, let’s assume there’s an annual tracking number reset.

Quick math…

One of the tracking numbers I was issued is 9,400,108,205,497,360,464,217.

21 zeroes after the one is a sextillion, making 9,999,999,999,999,999,999,999 possible tracking numbers per year (assuming 0,000,000,000,000,000,000,001 is a valid tracking number incrementing all the way up to 9,999,999,999,999,999,999,999.)

9,999,999,999,999,999,999,999 divided by 12 (months) is 8.3333333e+20 or 83,333,333,333,333,333,333.

83 quintillion unique tracking numbers a month!?! And then they have to roll over and re-use 9,999,999,999,999,999,999,999 tracking numbers every year?

That’s almost unbelievable.

Either the post office has an insane amount of traffic flowing through it, there’s a glitch in their system, or there is a “reserved” set of USPS tracking numbers for EBay (in my direct observation case, around 9,400,108,205,497,360,464,217 to around 9,400,116,901,508,666,357,577)

Reminder: Paramount Movies library will be offline after July 31st

Just a reminder to everyone who has purchased movies through paramountmovies.com that the service is completely shutting down on July 31st.

If you have any movies in the Paramount Movies system, you need to link them ASAP to an Ultra Violet library (which is ALSO closing on July 31st), and then from the Ultra Violet library create a link to a VUDU and/or Fandango Now account.

Once you create that final link to VUDU and/or Fandango Now, the movies you purchased from paramountmovies.com will appear in the account to play.

Paramount has instructions here on how to link out the movies if you have not done so already.

TBT: Former President Jimmy Carter at SFA State University – Great Beginning Lecture Series – 1989

Let’s get this blog restarted – throwback Thursday time!

Back in 1989, former President Jimmy Carter came to visit Stephen F. Austin State University as part of the “Great Beginning” lecture series. I had just started as a reporter for “The Pine Log” university newspaper and, even though I was just a “fish”, got the OK to attend the lecture with chief photographer, Robert Seale.

Unfortunately I didn’t get cleared in time to interview former President Carter, but somewhere in the 14-chest pile are my notes, recording of the lecture, and the story I wrote up for The Pine Log. As soon as I find those, I’ll add them to this post.

I took a few photos of the event with my single-focus 35mm camera, but I didn’t know I had loaded it with Black and White film until they were developed.

First, the walk in…

President Jimmy Carter at SFA – Great Beginning Lecture Series 1989 – 01

Former President Carter arriving on stage (and Robert in the foreground with his professional 35mm camera)…

President Jimmy Carter at SFA – Great Beginning Lecture Series 1989 – 02

Former President Jimmy Carter waving to the audience, Robert getting his photo, and a “no, really, I’m not secret service” agent taking a photo of everyone taking a photo…

President Jimmy Carter at SFA – Great Beginning Lecture Series 1989 – 03

A photo I took of the audience in attendance…

President Jimmy Carter at SFA – Great Beginning Lecture Series 1989 – 04

The SFA President introducing former President Jimmy Carter (my apologies but I do not recall who the SFA President was at the time)…

President Jimmy Carter at SFA – Great Beginning Lecture Series 1989 – 05

Former President Jimmy Carter starting his speech…

President Jimmy Carter at SFA – Great Beginning Lecture Series 1989 – 06

Former President Jimmy Carter continuing his speech…

President Jimmy Carter at SFA – Great Beginning Lecture Series 1989 – 07

Former President Jimmy Carter continuing his speech (I couldn’t to anything about that scratch on the negative)…

President Jimmy Carter at SFA – Great Beginning Lecture Series 1989 – 08

Former President Jimmy Carter continuing his speech. (I remember he took the time to pause and answer questions from the audience.)…

President Jimmy Carter at SFA – Great Beginning Lecture Series 1989 – 09

The SFA President starting his closing remarks…

President Jimmy Carter at SFA – Great Beginning Lecture Series 1989 – 10

Former President Carter taking a few more questions at the end…

President Jimmy Carter at SFA – Great Beginning Lecture Series 1989 – 11

The SFA President’s thanks and farewell…

President Jimmy Carter at SFA – Great Beginning Lecture Series 1989 – 12

…and the final handshake and official close of speech.

President Jimmy Carter at SFA – Great Beginning Lecture Series 1989 – 13


“Don’t Mess With Texas” wants a new jingle

A press release from the Texas Department of Transportation announced the state is looking for two new versions of the (in)famous “Don’t Mess With Texas” jingle – one in English, and one in Spanish.

In addition to the winning jingles playing constantly on TV spots across Texas, the winners will also get a Gibson Guitar “up to a MAP value of $2,400” and perform at an iHeart radio station music lounge.

Contestants can head to the official contest website to submit their own :30 second version of “Don’t Mess With Texas”.

Here’s a bullet point list of the main criteria for the :30 second spot…

  • Entrants must be a legal resident of Texas and 18 years of age or older
  • Entry submission should be a recording of the Band/Musician performing an original song and cannot include a cover or derivative material of any kind.
  • Recording must include the following words/phrases: (A) “Don’t mess with Texas” and (B) An anti-littering message
  • Submission video MUST be an original performance video.
  • Song/Video can be recorded in English or Spanish
  • No pre-recorded or edited audio is allowed.
  • Video must show full band/musician
  • Video shall include vocals and may not exceed :30 seconds.
  • Video must be completely ORIGINAL and cannot include cover, copyrighted or derivative material of any kind.
  • Video must be submitted via YouTube link or direct upload on the registration page.
  • Bands/musician may submit one (1) audition entry during the Entry Period. Multiple entries are not allowed;
  • Band/Musician contact shall be a member of Band/musician and must be the registered subscriber of the email account from which the entry is made.
  • Band/Musician must not be obligated to or bound by any sort of recording contracts or agreements with a record label.
  • Band/Musician must provide their own equipment at any of the competitions listed below.

The contest ends on 11:59:59 p.m. (central time) on October 10, 2018, but then public voting begins on October 11, 2018 for “all valid entries”. Public voting will end on October 25, 2018 at 11:59:59 PM (central time).

After the final voting is complete, “the top three submissions with the absolute highest vote count will be judged to determine two winners.” On or about October 31, 2018, a panel of judges will pick two winners from the selected top three submissions.

The final contest winners will be announced on November 2, 2018.

So what’s the judging criteria?

  • Innovation – 10%
  • Creativity – 20%
  • Memorable Tune / Song – 15%
  • Technical Skill – 15%
  • Brand Messaging – 20%
  • Overall Presentation – 20%

Ten randomly selected voters during this campaign will also receive a gift card from Starbucks or Target valued at $25 each.

The official rules are here (PDF warning).

Aaaand here’s the official announcement…


The search is on for new musical talent to educate Texans about litter prevention

AUSTIN – For more than 30 years, the Texas Department of Transportation’s “Don’t mess with Texas” campaign has forged partnerships with the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, George Strait, Willie Nelson, LeAnn Rimes and Grupo Fantasma to share its important message. Now the search is on for a new amateur musical talent to represent the iconic litter-prevention campaign. The “Don’t mess with Texas” Song Search Contest invites undiscovered Texans to compose an original 30-second song, incorporating the campaign’s anti-litter message. The entries, submitted via video, will be collected online where the public will have the opportunity to vote on their favorites.

“Music has been a part of the ‘Don’t mess with Texas’ campaign from the beginning,” said Jeff Austin III, Texas Transportation Commissioner. “We’re excited to expand on this legacy by giving Texans of every walk of life a chance to add their voice to the campaign and share in a fun way how we all have a part to play in keeping our state clean and beautiful.”

The ‘Don’t mess with Texas’ Song Search Contest is presented in partnership with iHeart and Gibson Brands. Country superstars, the Randy Rogers Band, and Latin pop and norteño stars, Las Fenix, who are both featured in this year’s “Don’t mess with Texas” campaign, are also lending their time and talent to help discover the campaign’s newest performer.

The “Don’t mess with Texas” Song Search Contest is open to all Texas residents, ages 18 and above, and runs through October 2018. Contest rules can be found at Dontmesswithtexas.org. At the end of the public voting period, two winners will be selected, one English and one Spanish, and awarded a prize package donated by Gibson Brands and iHeart that includes a 2018 Gibson Guitar, the opportunity to appear in a future “Don’t mess with Texas” TV spot with the Randy Rogers Band and Las Fenix, and a performance at an iHeart Live Music Lounge. The Song Search Contest winners will join the ranks of other notable performers featured in the “Don’t mess with Texas” campaign throughout the years.

“Don’t mess with Texas” has been educating Texans about litter prevention since 1986. The campaign is the signature initiative for TxDOT’s litter-prevention initiatives which include Adopt-a-Highway, a grassroots partnership with Keep Texas Beautiful, and the community outreach and cleanup event — the “Don’t Mess with Texas” Trash-Off. For additional information on “Don’t mess with Texas,” visit Dontmesswithtexas.org.