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The year is one third gone already. It arrived and like it or not it brought with it another year of triumphs and challenges. In the old days, when working for the MAN in the corporate world, life was defined, set, functions clear, directed and relatively meaningless. We would start each day with the Company Mission Statement, moved to the coffee and donuts, struggle till lunch, prepare our “Management by Objective” fictions, and then coast till quitting time. Ahhh, life was easy back then.

But today it feels like we can’t run fast enough. Someone or something is constantly pushing us to do something, buy something, contact someone, answer a survey, pay more, save less, go farther with less fuel, heat homes at lower temperatures, etc. I opened the mailbox today and thought there was only two pieces of junk mail until I picked them up and six more pieces fell to the floor. All junk, but I am sure that the folks that sent them thought they were the offers that couldn’t be refused.

I used to like junk mail. Really. I, like almost everyone here in Florida, came from a northern state. I won’t tell you which one, but our state motto was “Eight months of winter, and four months of rough snowmobiling.” In the winter months we welcomed the piles of junk mail, because when tightly bundled, they would burn for hours in the wood stove and help heat the house. When we made our midnight move to Florida, I thought that perhaps the junk mail, like our son would not find us in our new home. It took our son two years to find us and move back home, the junk mail was waiting for us when we got to Florida.

For a while I chuckled as I would remove the contents of one junk mail envelope and exchange it with another junk mail envelope and mail them in the postage paid envelopes to each other. But, after awhile, even this gets boring.

So this year I vow to clean up some of the detritus that distracts me every day. To do this I will turn to my faithful electronic companion. Join me as I fire up my computer and travel the first step: Go to http://www.optoutprescreen.com. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion, are permitted to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers to make pre-approved / prescreened offers of credit or insurance. Opting-Out refers to the process of removing your name from these lists for five years. Through this site, the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies are providing consumers with an easy and convenient way to exercise their right to Opt-Out. (Martha, tell your cousin in Maine that you can also Opt-in to receive all kinds of junk mail to burn instead of propane.)

Next I surf the net over to http://www.dmaconsumers.org/consumerassistance.html. This site is designed to help folks reduce the amount of commercial and non-profit mail going to their mail box. They claim that I will see a significant drop in junk mail within three months of registering. This group will also help to reduce e-mail soliciting, phone soliciting and even has a section pertaining to sweepstakes. It is run by the DMA (Direct Marketing Association) All members are required to run their mailing, e-mail and phone lists against the DMA op-out list every three months or more and will carry your name for five years.

I feel like the density of my life is lessening already. Hit that keyboard and surf over to http://www.donotcall.gov. In just a few moments, I have registered not only my home phone but my cell phone as well with the national Do Not Call Registry. There is a complaint section that allows us to file information about a caller which I bookmarked just in case I get that six o’clock call just as I put a bite of dinner in my mouth. After reading the details I almost wish a scofflaw company would call me so I could slap them with that $11,000 fine.

Finally, I want to visit http://www.annualcreditreport.com. This site allows you to request and receive online a copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three major credit reporting companies. Stagger the request so that every four months you receive a credit report from a different company. I found eight accounts still listed as open that my wife and I had closed in the mid 1970’s and one cell phone account that wasn’t ours. And if credit reports are as baffling to you as they were to me, spend a few minutes at http://money.howstuffworks.com/credit-report1.htm and get the lowdown on how they started, what they are and why you should care.

I’m feeling better already.

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