Friday, August 29, 2008

Show me the love

I said this about 250 years ago: “Mankind naturally and generally love to be flatter'd.”

Okay – so I was writing to ole’ King George and I had to use the king’s language (that’s why they call it “English.”) But in today’s lingo, I’m really saying, “show me the love.”

I like it when people compliment my inventive ways, my witty sayings and my suave, sophisticated way. I also like it when people clap for me when I’m winning the hot-buttered corn eating contest at the State Fair.

So, how about you? Do you like praise? Do you like it when you are noticed for doing good? What is the best kind of recognition at work? What can the Postal Service do to help managers give genuine recognition?

Click on comments below to add your two cents.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The strangest piece of mail

Paul, who responds to leaking and hazardous mail at the Denver GMF, shares a particularly creepy piece of mail. A package was wet and falling apart and inside was this -- a bottle with a concotion of dead snakes and insects, all soaking in root-liquid mix. Apparently, it was sold as a special drink. Make mine a double!

I'm not sure the DMM covers this -- but there oughta be a law against that!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Early to Rise

Early to bed and early to rise,
makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
I've been credited with saying that all these years, but I actually took it from a book published in 1496. The sentiment applies to these hardy folks who rose early on their day off to help out some other folks.
Kansas City United Way/CFC Day of Caring 2008
These 33 Mid America postal employees and their families spent June 7th working at Ozanam Home for boys and girls applying a fresh coat of paint to the hallways and common area.
Ozanam staff members thanked them not only for their hard work, but also their enthusiasm, cooperation, team work, sharing and for being important role models for the children on campus!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A French Revolution

France's postal service, La Poste, is having issues with the high cost of fuel, just like USPS. And they are looking at every type of alternative to save on gas and emissions and expenses.

One of their bright ideas is ....the dirigible. Read about it here:

I can just imagine what it would look like. Sure, there would be issues with cul-de-sac deliveries, but no more dog issues! Any other problems or benefits you can see to zeppelin delivery?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back to School

Members of the Topeka Postal Consumer Advisory Council are shown with some of the supplies they collected for their “Back To School” community project in July and August.

The council wanted to help students have all the tools needed for a good start in school, and they asked the community to help donate to the endeavor.

Supplies were divided and sent to 6 local elementary schools, 2 middle schools, 3 high schools and the local rescue mission.

What a great idea! I once said, "Genius without education is like silver in the mine." And I'm always in favor of working to better the community. Maybe we should call them Benny Back to School Drives? How about you? Have you done something to help out kids in your community?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Vintage airplane takes to the sky

As Larry Tobin rolled his biplane out of the hangar at tiny Felts Field airport in Spokane, you could feel a rush of nostalgia in the air.

This was the final test flight before he leaves on trip that has been the buzz of aviation enthusiasts. Tobin and two other antique aircraft will reenact the first transcontinental Postal Service Air Mail flight 90 years ago.

The trio will start their trip from New York Republic field. The planes will appeat at a total of 15 historic Air Mail stops long the way and finally land in San Francisco. The trip will take six calendar days with approximately 29 flying hours.

The flight will carry several hundred pieces of U.S. Mail –– envelopes that will collect postmarks from each stop along the way.Tobin’s aircraft has been lovingly refurbished, and has more than 80 percent of its original parts, including the wooden wings.
It has taken Tobin several years – and more than $200,000 –– to restore the airplane.Tobin’s airplane, a 1927 Stearman C3B, will be joined by a 1928 Boeing 40C and a 1930 Stearman 4E. All three airplanes were at one time used to carry mail.

Spokane Postmaster Karen Fairlee was on site to witness the test flight when Tobin offered her a ride.Strapped into the front seat with flight cap and modern communications equipment, Fairlee took to the friendly skies for a bird’s eye view of her domain.“It’s like riding in a convertible,” she said.

One major innovation to the airplane is GPS device to pinpoint location, but Tobin, a retired commercial airline pilot, normally uses major highways for long-distance trips. Having a big patch of asphalt is also handy for that unplanned stopover. “It’s easier to land and get help,” said Tobin.

With a 42-gallon tank and a top speed of 100 mph Tobin says he can travel far, but rarely exceeds two hours because of the physical exertion of flying.

The reenactment flight will start Sept. 10 from New York Republic Field. It will stop at historic airstrips in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California. The planes will touch down at Hayward, CA on Sept. 15.

The first Air Mail flight would prove to be a boon to aviation. Air Mail service eventually became both reliable and lucrative, so manufacturers began to engineer larger airplanes. These planes could carry cargo along with the mail and eventually passengers.One of the modern aviation giants, United Airlines, got its start as an airmail network. The airline industry literally was born from a sack of mail.

Just like today, there was a constant need to move the mail along faster and also, just like today, the answer was found in better technology. The Postal department pressed for and funded better navigational instruments, radio communications and beacons to fly at night.

Spokane Postmaster Karen Fairlee

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Historic Airmail reenactment

The Antique Airplane Association is sponsoring a Fly-In to commemorate the 90th anniversary of air mail service in the United States.

The Fly-In theme will honor the pilots and airplanes of the early air mail service. Hundreds of antique airplanes will fly in to Antique Airfield near Blakesburg, IA.

A cross country journey will start at New York's Republic Field on Long Island on Sept 10. It will make stops in PA, OH, IL, IA, NE, WY, UT, NV and end up at San Francisco's Hayward Airport on Sept. 13.

Here's a map of the route:

Read more here.

Airmail made a big impact on the nation. Eventually passengers hitched on to airmail planes, starting the airline industry. United Airlines first got their start as an Airmail carrier.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Mark of the Eagle

You've got to check this out. High quality video from our friends at the USPS video laboratory!

From a postal computer, go here:

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Best practices

I said this nearly three centuries ago:

“As we enjoy great advantages from inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.”

If I would have written it today, I would have just said, “Don’t keep good ideas to yourself.” We built this country on sharing our smarts with each other. Just because it’s 2008 is no reason to stop sharing.

So what’s the best practice you’ve seen at your job? Share it others in your postal family. Click on the "comments" tab below this post.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dunk tank brings in CFC money

Yes Jefferson, I said "dunk tank." The other kind is down at the sheriff's office.

But judging by the photos coming from the Topeka, KS, Plant, it was a grand old time.
Raising $505 for the Combined Federal Campaign, everyone got into the act. Supervisors got wet. Employees got even. Good, old fashioned fun.

I remember the time I put chicken broth in Hancock's ink well. You would have thought he would come unglued.

Here, here for CFC. Give today!

Friday, August 15, 2008

We must all hang together.

"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang seperately."

I said that at the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

But it also applies to the Postal Service today.
Everyone has to do their part, we all have to stand together, in order to keep us afloat.

I started the Postal Service and I want to see it keep going for a long, long time. Let's all help bring business to USPS.
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Thursday, August 14, 2008


More than 900 Purple Heart recipients are domiciled at Ft. Lewis, WA, and many more in the neighboring community. The Tacoma, WA, Post Office honored those recipents with an unveiling of the newly reissed Purple Heart stamp.

At the ceremony, Tacoma Postmaster Robert Galtrude said, "It's an honor to be here and to thank you for your sacrifices."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Benny Booths

Colorado/Wyoming Business Development team member Eric Taylor is shown with customers at the recent Weld County Fair. Eric and local Postmasters manned a both during the fair to introduce customers to

Several customers who visited the booth were surprised, and enthusiastic about the postal website. Most did not know we offer the convenience of so many services online.

Demonstrating online, and visiting one-on-one are effective ways of letting customers know more about USPS.

I think we should call these Benny Booths. Getting the word out about innovative new postal products and services is something I'd like associated with my name.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Carrier hopes for cool breeze

Olympia Carrier Dean Peterson says that his prototype uniform is "like a cool breeze blowing through the house."

He wants the kilt to be an option for male letter carriers.

According to the Seattle Times, Peterson just "wants to be comfortable." He complains about chaffing from normal postal uniform pants.

Personally, I like the idea. Back in my day, we wore long tunics that were nothing more than a fluffy, poofy dress. But, I would have never showed my knees.

What do you think? Good idea? Tell Benny!

Listen to NPR interview with Peterson

Monday, August 11, 2008

Carrier shows canine who's in charge

Sleepy Mt. Vernon, MO, was the scene of a horrific dog attack a couple of weeks ago. But, one of our own saved the day.

Carrier Chris Krebs was attacked by big old, mean dog. Right away, it started to claw and bite him. This was looking bad.

Krebs was able to whip out his pepper spray, but the mutt grabbed the can out of his hand and crushed it. But enough spray got into its face that the dog backed down. Dazed and in shock, Krebs sat on a porch, calling his supervisor from a cell phone. But the call was a short one -- screams came from down the street. The dog had grabbed a 10-year old boy and was dragging him across a driveway.

Flying across the lawns came Krebs, "defender of the innocent." He kicked the dog, who dropped the boy and turned his attention to the gray and blue-clad superhero, finding new skin to attack. The two were tussling on the ground when another neighbor grabbed the dog by the neck and between the two, subdued the filthy animal.

Krebs -- you're the hero of the neighborhood, of your town, and the entire Postal Service. I'll carry your satchel any day!

Mt. Vernon City Carrier Chris Krebs shows off his battle wounds.
Photo courtesy Lawrence County Record

Friday, August 8, 2008

Alaska stamp designed by Benny.

In 1992, the Alaska State Legislature passed a bill establishing July 9th as Alaska Flag Day.

Alaska held a special ceremony unveiling the new Flags of Our Nation Alaska stamp on July 9, 2008 during an Alaska Flag Day event in Anchorage.

The ceremony was held in conjunction with Alaska Children’s Services' (ACS) observance of that special day. Shown in photo is ACS CEO Jim Maley and Alaska District Manager Dianne Horbochuk.

In 1927, Alaska territorial governor, George Parks held a contest among school children to design a flag. Benny Benson (another good Benny!), whose design was selected as the winner, was a resident of the Jesse Lee Home. After the 1964 earthquake, the Jesse Lee Home moved to Anchorage and became part of the Children’s Services.

After Horbochuk and Maley unveiled the Alaska State Flag stamp, the artwork was presented to ACS for their continued efforts in working with Alaska’s children and their involvement with the Alaska Flag Day celebrations.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Milk -- by mail?

One of the oddest listings on is for a gallon of "Tuscan Whole Milk."

That's right -- a gallon of milk available for a few dollars -- plus a whole lot of money for express shipping. Or, it can be shipped free using "super saver 7-10 delivery" via the Postal Service.

The ongoing discussion about the product has garnered nearly a 1,000 'reviews' about the product -- all of them, no doubt, fake, but quite humorous.

One customer had a unique twist on how to utilize the jug of milk:

"I ordered three gallons of this delightful beverage and had it sent to my Post Office box. Amazingly, the container is exactly the same size as my box. So now, when I want a delicious glass of milk, all I have to do is go to the post office, open the box, unscrew the cap, voila! Once they put my milk into the PO Box so the bottom faced the door and I had to poke a hole in it and drink the whole gallon at once."

But seriously, with declining volumes, what other products should we be delivering?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

More of your comments regarding Saturday delivery

Our ongoing discussion of the merits of five-day delivery has resulted in plenty of comments.

One Iowa Postmaster said this: “There’s a LOT of politics surrounding a decision of this magnitude. In my humble opinion we will not go to a 5 day delivery week any time soon; especially in an election year.”

One commenter said this: “Taking away Saturday delivery might indeed save the Post Office alot of money on gas, but it will make every Monday seem like a day after a holiday for postal employees, especially the carriers. A day after a holiday type of delivery 52 times more a year might be a bit too much.”

And getting personal, a few sub employees (PTFs, RCAs and PMRs) wondered where five-day delivery would leave them, since many of them make their living on the sixth day.

One creative commenter suggested a “no Saturday Delivery with a ‘rolling’ residential delivery which delivered to all residentials 4 times a week.”

There are several things to consider. Our network is based on six days delivery. Mailers count on the mail moving and time their drops accordingly. Don't forget about transporation. And then there’s the law that requires six days of delivery – so any change will need some extensive soul-searching and debate.

And how would your customer react? Let me know by clicking on the “comment” button below. Or, if you are receiving this by email, click here.

P.S. Benny even got an e-mail from a wife. “I would love to have my carrier-husband home on Saturdays. There so many things he should be doing around the house.” Please – no more letters from wives. Mrs. Franklin is less than understanding.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Six days – or five?

When I posed the question of Saturday delivery a few days ago, many of you had an opinion.

In our poll, 30 percent of you said “keep things the way the were.” In other words, no change in any delivery, including Saturday.

But 52 percent of you wanted “no delivery” on Saturday, and another four percent voted to skip Tuesday.

The comments were telling. More than a few people agreed that home delivery might not be missed, but suggested to continue Saturday P.O. Box delivery, making it truly a paid, premium service. One commenter thought that regular delivery should be suspended, but to offer Priority and Express Mail deliveries on Saturday. This would ease the Monday crunch and still make these products stand out from the competition.

There will be more comments tomorrow.

And for the record, Benny has no opinion here. Just passing on your comments!

How about you? Click on the comment button below, or if you are receiving this by email, click here to post.

Monday, August 4, 2008

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Finalists - The Moose is Loose caption contest

In one of the funniest photos I've seen in 300 years, someone from Alaska sent me this great picture. All it needs is a caption.

More than 50 of you sent in suggestions (read all of them by clicking here) and Mrs. Franklin and I spent the evening in front of the candlelight laughing out loud. We couldn't agree on the very best, so we need your help.

Go the poll on the upper right side of this page or at and vote. Here are the finalists:

  • "If it fits, it ships!" -- Various

  • "Look Natasha, they get both moose and squirrel in that truck!" -- David

  • "The USPS version of the alternative fuel cell powered LLV’s is getting a little wild these days." -- Robert

  • "Darn shipping tape. I'll never get it all out of my tail." -- Kari

  • "I hope this package didn't leave any little packages in my LLV!" - Sara

  • "Hopefully, we collected the oversize surcharge on this one" -- Bob

  • Today's Safety Talk: …When returning to your vehicle after delivering a parcel, watch out for customer’s pets near the vehicle…." Robert

  • "This route sure has a lot of hop out deliveries" -- Ronald

Friday, August 1, 2008

Weird mail

Several of you wrote about 'the strangest things you've ever seen in the mail."

Here are some good stories:

"When I was a MPE working tour 2 at the Wichita Kansas P & DC I remember one morning I had just completed the maintenance route on our SPBS and turned it over to the operators. As I was gathering my tools, in the corner of my eye I saw something odd-colored coming down the chain. I turned and saw a flip-flop coming down on a carrier cell and fall into a chute. I wasn't the only one who noticed, and soon there were several folks over at the mail hamper it fell into, wanting to know if someone had actually mailed it. Sure enough, we turned it over and on the bottom it had been properly addressed and stamped (from Florida). There was also a short message, which read something to the effect of 'Wish you were here.'"
------- Dale Pritzkau

and this one,
"Several years ago, Gerber did a mass mailing of baby spoons. The spoons got on the OCR's by mistake. What a racket that made!!"

What's the strangest thing you've ever seen in the mail? Let me know by clicking on the comments below or clicking here: