Thursday, April 30, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Benny!


Can you believe it?

It's been a full year since I joined the online revolution and started blogging. After more than 300 posts, hundreds of photos, and thousands of comments, we're still going strong.

It's been a comeback of sorts for me. Although I started this great postal service a couple of centuries ago, I'd lost touch. But now, thanks to the thousands of new friends I have all across the country, I have renewed faith in this organization. You want to see us succeed and that warms my heart on this special day.


So, even though it's my anniversary, it's really a day to celebrate us!

Although I am shy and modest, I'm not opposed to gifts, well-wishes, and other greetings . If you like this blog or just like Benny, click here and leave a comment.
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

No horsing around

We all know that Post Office's bring out colorful characters.

Last week, on Tax Day at the Craig, CO Post Office, Customer Baden Whitehead, dressed in western hat and cowboy attire, and his horse, a Painted Tennessee Walker named "Osage," stopped by.

"Mr. Whitehead decided to ride his horse through our parking lot," said Craig Postmaster Victor Cordes. "He hitched Osage to one of our building posts, and then came in and mailed a letter. Everyone got quite a kick out of it."
What's the most colorful character that has ever come to your Post Office? Drop me a note here.


Photo by Victor Cordes

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More stamp ideas

Many of you have some great opinions on what kinds of stamps we should issue. The responses have been varied … and interesting.

Some of you talked about health issues: A Teal Ribbon stamp in support of ovarian cancer, Women’s Heart Health and Homeopathy.

A number of people talked about stamps for events like graduations and birthdays. Someone else liked that idea, but suggested a generic “celebration” stamp that could be used for everything from weddings, thank yous, christenings, anniversaries, etc.

And there seems to be a need for other holiday stamps like Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving Day etc.

A couple of people thought about printing the pictures of Missing Children, “have you seen me,” stamps.

NASCAR might be a big seller.

And a trucking stamp got plenty of attention, as truckers move America.

Rural America got several suggestions: Country churches, family farms, old barns, tractors, farming, continue to have wide-spread interest.

And one of my favorites – Sponge Bob – doesn’t have a stamp yet. Someone else wanted to honor the Three Stooges.

And a potential big seller could be stamps with MLB, NBA and NFL teams on them.
To learn about the USPS Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee stamp-selection process, click here.

Haven’t weighed in? Tell me what stamp should be issued by clicking here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Electric avenue

According to the Detroit Free Press, Chrysler wants to build a battery-powered version of its ENVI Chrysler Town & Country minivan to become the mail delivery vehicle of choice for the U.S. Postal Service.

The automaker will apply for funding from the Department of Energy’s program that would enable it to build a demonstration fleet. Chrysler hopes to have as many as 250 ready for next year.

And USPS will be working with utility companies to develop recharging stations at Post Officesin Ann Arbor, Detroit, North Carolina and Long Island, NY.

What do you think about electric vehicles? Let me know here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wedding planners

The Salem, OR, Main Post Office is looking for a few good couples.

If you've been married 50 years or longer, show up on the steps of the Post Office to help celebrate your bliss!

And if you are just in the planning stages, the Post Office is looking for you, too.

It's all in anticipation of the new wedding stamps coming out next month.

I might just have to find me a bride and take a road trip!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Who's who at the Post Office?

Daisy Mountain Station, in Phoenix, AZ, has become the proud adoptive postal parent of two baby owls.

A saguaro cactus out in front of the office is a nesting site for a long horned owl who hatched two baby chicks (see picture).

To protect the young family, the Post Office has roped off the area from the curious throng.

"We can see them through our box section window," said Supervisor Lynn McLuty.

McLuty thinks the birds will soon be ready to leave the nest, thanks to hotter temps and developing wings.




Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Greener than you think

Hello! Happy Earth Day. It's Benny here, with a little bragging... So bear with me.

You know, I get credit for a lot of firsts -- being the first postmaster general, creating the first lending library and fire department, inventing a whole bunch of stuff -- but lots of folks don't realize I was also one of the first American environmentalists. You might think it was all abundant resources and clean air back then, but we had our issues, too.

In the 1730s, my neighbors and I petitioned the Philadelphia Assembly to stop waste dumping by some really smelly leather-making factories. And we won. In the 1760s, I led a commission to regulate waste collection and water pollution. Later, a stipulation in my will led to the construction of a fresh water pipeline for Philadelphia, which led to the formation of the Philadelphia Water Commission. (Not sure exactly how my will came into play...)

I was also interested in the environmental health of the world. I helped stop the deforestation of Europe by endorsing coal as an alternate fuel source. Sure, burning coal is a problem today, but back then using coal to save forests was a very environmentally friendly idea.

Like me, today's Postal Service is greener than you think. Because everyone uses the mail, the Postal Service is committed to managing resources wisely to minimize mail’s environmental impact. Across the organization, the Postal Service is integrating sound environmental business practices into day-to-day operations.

If you want to learn more, go to usps.com/green.

How do you make the USPS green? How can we make it greener? Let me know your opinion by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Look what the stork brought

Got a better caption for this photo? Drop me a note.

Photo courtesy, Tammy Rokusek

Monday, April 20, 2009

Running out of cash?

Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Dan G. Blair said that we could have a net operating deficit of $12.4 billion by the end of the year, based on a volume decline of 9.3 percent.

The loss for January alone was almost three-quarters of a billion dollars.

Blair also said that the analysis by the Commission shows "a cash shortfall by the end of the fiscal year." That means we might not have enough money to operate without a major change.

What are your thoughts? Click here to comment.


(The Chairman's testimony is available on the Commission's website at http://www.prc.gov/)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Plugged in -- an electric fleet?

USPS Commissioner Ruth Goldway published a op-ed last month, suggesting that part of the federal stimulus program be spent on converting USPS vehicles to electric.

Goldway said this, "Converting just the 142,000 standard delivery trucks would reduce gasoline consumption by up to 68 million gallons a year and save the Postal Service millions of dollars."

The logic is along these lines: Our fleet of 219,000 vehicles is aging -- and there are no new purchases planned. Our Long-Life vehicles, most of them produced 25 years ago, are servicable, but not practicle with the modern mail mix.. And many routes are short -- well within the range of an overnight charge to an electric delivery vehicle.

The logic against an electric fleet is the initial outlay -- and the cost of coal-fired plants producing electricity to run our fleet.

What do you think about this idea?

Read the whole editorial here, and then leave a comment here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What would you like to see on a stamp?

A number of you gave your opinion on stamp subjects here. And there were some doozies! The feedback for stamp subjects included truckers (several suggestions for this one!), Harvey Milk, the Cleveland Browns, other holiday stamps, military branches, some diseases like ovarian cancer and heart disease, homeopathy, graduation day, NASCAR, and even Sponge Bob.

But I must admit, I am shocked -- no dismayed -- that not ONE person from this vast network suggested a Benjamin Franklin stamp. I realize that my profile is deceiving. I am actually quite attractive. How about a series of stamps? Benny skiing. Benny at the beach. Benny playing pool. Benny telling jokes. These stamps would be huge bestsellers!

How about you? What would you like to see on a stamp? It's not too late to give your opinion. Click here to add your two cents. Next week, we'll take the best ideas and have our readership vote.

Also, our friends over at "Your Postal Podcast" are looking for a few of you to briefly go on the air to tell them what they would like to see on a stamp. If you can help, send an email here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Summer sale on standard mail?

Well, here's a first.

The Postal Service is kicking around the idea of a "summer sale" for large mailers.

The discount would apply to the nation's 5,000 largest mailers and is expected to be between 20 and 30 percent, depending on the volume of mail sent. Of course, any proposal has to first go through the Postal Regulatory Commission.

What do you think about reducing our rates for the traditionally slow summer season? Click here to let me know.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Swift completion

The phrase, "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" has long been identified with USPS but it is not, in fact, the organization's official motto. It has none.

The phrase originated with the Greek historian Herodotus during the war between the Greeks and Persians about 500 B.C. and it was in reference to the Persian horsemen who carried messages.

But it's become identified with the USPS because back in 1896-97, when the New York City General Post Office was being designed, Mitchell Kendal, an employee for the architectural firm McKim, Mead and White, came up with the idea of engraving Herodotus' saying all around the outside of the building.

And it's still there today.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Come eat at the Rural Route Cafe

I bet there's some food at this Mt Vernon, Illinois, resturant.


"The Rural Route Country Cookin" cafe sign was photographed by Chillicothe, MO, City Carrier Donna Prothero.



Friday, April 10, 2009

What stamp would you issue?

Benny the Blogger here.

Over the years, we’ve issued more than 4,000 postage stamps featuring more than 800 people and a variety of subjects.

The very first stamp issued was in 1847 – and guess who was featured? That’s right. Me! I wish they hadn't used that picture. I had a terrible hair day for the portrait.

But honestly, I never gave stamps much thought in my day. But if I would have had my say, I probably would have just stuck with flag stamps – and George, of course.

Over the years, I’ve been flattered to have my own image on stamps at least a half-dozen times. I must say that a stamp puts 10, 20 or even 30 pounds on a person. I wonder what that will do to the already portly Homer Simpson?

As you might know, USPS will be issuing a series of stamps honoring America’s #1 cartoon family – the Simpsons.

We’ve had stamps honoring Dr. Suess, the Muppets, Disney characters and various super heroes. Pop culture has been represented with the Hollywood Legends, Beatles, I Love Lucy, Star Wars and many more.

What would you like to see on a stamp? Drop me a note here.
And welcome to all our new readers. Won't you do Benny a favor and subscribe to my blog? You can use your personal or your postal email address. Just click here, answer the question, provide your address, and then respond to the verification e-mail sent to you. Quick. Easy. And convenient. Wait, that phrase is already taken. Never mind. Just click and get started.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Don't have a cow, but the Simpsons get their own stamps

Today the Postal Service "unveiled" the designs of the five Simpson's stamps.

While much of the humor goes over Benny's head, I still can recognize the cultural impact of this lampooning family. Currently in its 20th year, it is the longest-running comedy in television history.

American's are encouraged to vote for their favorite stamps at http://www.usps.com/simpsons.
The voting starts today and concludes May 14.

What stamp are you choosing? Tell me which one and why you chose it by clicking here.

"Mmmmm....Sweep Steaks!"



"Mmmmmm....Sweep Steaks......"

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Highway Post Office

With the demise of the Railway Post Office network, the Postal Department established a number of Highway Post Offices.

The HPOs were essentially rolling Post Offices in big busses that would run preestablished routes. Clerks would sort mail in the back of the bus while it traveled. Some retail services were also available.

The first service began in Feb. 1941, with service between Washington, D.C. and Harrisonburg, VA. After the war, more than 130 routes sprung up from 1948-1955. The last Highway Post Office bus run was the run between Cleveland and Cincinnati.

What is your experience? Do you know someone who worked on an HPO? Drop Benny a note here.










(Photos courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute, used by permission)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Moving the Mover's Guide

The USPS Mover’s Guide — a free publication that helps customers relocating to new homes — is moving.

Mover’s Guide will soon no longer be readily available in Post Office lobbies. It will be available "on request only" and will be available from behind the counter only. Customers can still get a Mover’s Guide, but must ask a retail associate. Customers requesting a Mover’s Guide should be encouraged to submit change of address requests at usps.com.

The change begins this month in the Southeast Area. The schedule for other areas is:
May – Western
July – Southwest and Northeast
August – Great Lakes and Capital Metro
September – Eastern, Pacific and NY Metro

Why the switch? It’s to encourage customers to make change of address transactions at usps.com. — the most convenient, safe and secure way to change addresses. An online change of address also reduces processing time and improves address accuracy for USPS.

Three markets that tested placing Mover’s Guide behind the counter showed a 35 percent increase in the number of Internet change of address transactions.

What do you think about this move?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Voluntary early retirement -- what would you do?

Well, it looks like another voluntary early retirement offer will be released this month -- this time to 140,000 employees.

We already have about 120,000 employees who are retirement eligible but are still working for us.

So, add the two together and it means we will have about 260,000 employees with retirement decisions swirling around in their heads.

Are you one of them? What do you think? Are you gonna jump? Share your thoughts here.



Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Doh! The Simpson family get their own stamp?

Is this for real?

The Postal Service announced that the FOX television series THE SIMPSONS will be commemorated on 44-cent First-Class Mail stamps.

Featuring Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson, the stamps have been personally designed by Simpsons creator Matt Groening. Winner of 24 Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award and a multitude of other accolades, this historic series starring the five family members is the longest-running primetime comedy in television history.

A sneak peek of THE SIMPSONS stamps will be made on Thurs., April 9 at 8 a.m. ET at http://www.usps.com/.

At that time, the Postal Service will announce the date the stamps go on sale and how to pre order the stamps.

What do you think about this family on a stamp? Comment here.