Fedex Orifice

A lot of you probably know that I worked for Kinko’s for the better part of sixteen years, which works out to well over a third of my life and way more than half of my adult life. Interestingly, yesterday’s announcement that the Kinko’s name would be retired after almost forty years came on the third anniversary of my last day with the company.

YHH, 1993
Yer Humble Host, June 1993.

I was around for a lot of latter-day Kinko’s history, from the lawsuit that more or less ended its run as a producer of copyright-questionable course materials, to the FedEx acquisition in 2004. I started out as a part-time store “co-worker” in Greensboro and ended as a back office “team member” in San Francisco. In between, I took on numerous titles, part-time and full-time, some of them management-related, some of them training-related, and many of them just plain tedious. By the end, I was no longer waiting on customers nor making copies, but handling payroll, purchasing, random training, visual merchandising, and operations audits. It was never job I liked, but it was occasionally one I didn’t hate, and I met a lot of really great people there over the years.

The past five years or so have not been kind to my former employer. The global move away from paper-based document distribution aside, Kinko’s was largely resposible for its own undoing: the company seemed to have no clue which customers it wanted to attract (large companies? small businesses? church ladies reproducing the Sunday bulletin?) and also lost sight of how to treat its own employees. The “Kinko’s experience” became a pretty unpleasant one, and one that most customers probably would prefer to have avoided. And I imagine many did.

Right after the FedEx acquisition and the unveilinng of the new FedEx Kinko’s logo, we all speculated that the Kinko’s portion seemed something of an afterthought and would be easy to dispose of when the time came. Yesterday, the time came. I’m not sure that trashing four decades of brand equity is a wise move (no matter how the brand may have fallen) and I’m not convinced that the new name, FedEx Office, is much of an improvement. But I don’t work there anymore, so I really don’t have to care. It’s still a little sad, though. That name was a part of my life for a long time, for better or worse.

Goodbye, Kinko’s.

Mmmmm. Books.


Latest addition to the ever-growing library at our house: the complete run of Progressive Architecture from 1953 to about 1990, and the complete Architectural Record from 1950 to 1969. These gems were picked up at the Forsyth County Public Library’s recent book sale, and I assure you we paid nowhere near $3000 for either set. The purchase required us to invest in four new six-foot bookshelves, bringing the total in our library to ten, plus four additional three-foot shelves in another room, for fiction.

Excessive? You be the judge. I have too much reading to do. I have to admit that it disturbs me to find that these items are still in the library’s online catalogue, even though they are very much in my house and likely to stay there.

Speaking of libraries (which I do a lot of lately), I start work tomorrow as a volunteer on a digitization project at the Greensboro Public Library. I’ll be scanning and cataloguing newspaper microfilm on the Greensboro sit-ins and other civil rights era stories. Should be interesting, and it will make nice resume fodder as well.

Videolog: Kate Bush Festival

Kate Bush, 1980.

Kate Bush, 1985.

Suspended in Gaffa
Kate Bush, 1982.

The Man with the Child in His Eyes
Kate Bush, 1978.

Running Up That Hill
Kate Bush, 1985.

I thought I’d finish up this little marathon with “the hit”, probably the only Kate Bush song a lot of Americans have ever heard.

Randomly Monday

Randomly Monday:

  • Two songs that were never intended to be played back to back, but were this afternoon on one local station: “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd and “Chains of Love” by Erasure. I’m not a big fan of either, but the juxtaposition amused me greatly. Or at least mildy.
  • Sad news du jour: the Charlotte Observer will no longer be sold in this area starting next week. My friends know that I still very much like my printed newspapers, and this limits my options considerably.
  • Got my digital converter coupons in the mail today. I’m not sure how useful they’ll be without an outside antenna, and I almost want to keep one of them as a souvenir.

Washing machine parts

Wow. Who knew that the little cup that attaches to the top of the washing machine agitator and into which you put the fabric softener (your machine may vary) has a couple of removable parts that should probably be cleaned on a semi-regular basis? I sure didn’t.

But I never had my very own twenty year old washing machine before.

Caifornia Dreamin’

My current bathroom book is an early 1960s California guidebook Mark brought home recently, and as I was having my qaulity time this morning, I started wondering how differently things might have turned out for me if I’d followed my initial plan and moved to Southern California rather than San Francisco in 1992.

By the time I graduated from college, it was a near certainty that I’d be moving to California at some point. It was something I’d been considering for years, perhaps even before several close friends made the move. And once I visited for the first time, I was pretty sure California would be my ultimate destination.

San Francisco, though, didn’t really even register as a possibility at first; it was completely off my radar. I was visualizing Los Angeles, or maybe San Diego. Both of these places seemed much more interesting to me than San Francisco. In many ways, they still do. I enjoy the miles and miles of “dense sprawl” that typifies the region, giving it a level of urban intensity, texture, and variety unlike any other sunbelt city, but with a distinctly American low-rise openness and car-friendliness that’s absent in old-style cities like San Francisco and New York. I think I like the “feel” of Los Angeles better than any major American city with the possible exception of Chicago.

After visiting, though, I did eventually choose San Francisco, based on three factors:

  • The weather: I was really impressed with the fact that it was so cold and foggy in San Francisco in July.
  • My friends: I knew more people in San Francisco than I did in Southern California, so I had more of a social safety net, not to mention roommate possibilities.
  • Ummm, sex: There seemed to be much more of it in San Francisco, and it was one of my primary hobbies at the time. It helped that walking (rather than driving drunk) to and from bars was an option there as well.

All in all, I guess it was a more or less reasonable choice, at least for that point in my life. Living in a more traditionally “urban” setting provided a certain perspective that has been important to me over the years, and spending the 1990s in the technology capital of the US (and probably the world) was obviously a major and life-altering influence. Without the technological focus, there would have been no website starting in 1996, which would have sent my life in a considerably different direction, both personally and professionally. It’s definitely a good thing that I opted for San Francisco, despite my eventual disenchantment with the place.

But I’ve often regretted not spending more time down south while I was still on the west coast. I find the Los Angeles area much more fascinating than the Bay Area now, and, aside from my friends in San Francisco, the “Southland” is actually the part of California I really seem to miss. Of course, a major part of this is probably the fact that I never faced the everyday reality of actually living there, which allows me to romanticize the area.  I never had to cope with the depressingly sunny and warm climate, nor with commuting via the traffic-choked freeways. I spent my time there doing things I wanted to, not things I had to.

And since I never lived in Southern California, and never spent quite enough vacation time there, I never got the chance to explore the area sufficiently, nor to grow weary of it once I’d “seen it all”.

Moving back to California is not a likelihood for me (it wouldn’t be economically realistic even if I wanted to, which I don’t) but it would be nice to find an excuse to spend a few months exploring Los Angeles. Maybe I can come up with an internship or something.

Happy birthday, m’luv


A lot of things happened 31 years ago today. There were assorted Supreme Court rulings. The Grapes of Wrath was the Thursday night movie on channel 36 in Charlotte. “Got to Give It Up” by Marvin Gaye was the number one song in America. Marvel’s KISS comic book (alleged to have a trace of the band’s blood mixed in with the ink) was published. And Jimmy Carter canned the B-1A bomber.

But the most important thing that happened 31 years ago today was this.