Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rethinking Shipping

Some of the carriers assigned to the Glendale, AZ, Downtown Station show they truly are the "I in Shipping" by wearing their t-shirts that say It's Time To Rethink Your Shipping.

Postmaster Dennis Harris states he's very proud of the efforts of employees there who not only wear the shirts, but also talk to their customers about our products.

In these times of declining volume and rocky economy, they are doing an exceptional job of trying to draw in new business. The products sell themselves once customers look and compare, but getting the customer's attention is our job. Way to go Glendale!

Monday, September 29, 2008

New Year

Between 1733 and 1758 I published my "Poor Richard's Almanack" with bits of advice and observations. It also contained astronomical observations used to predict the weather for the coming year.

With a new and unpredictable fiscal year ahead for the Postal Service, it would be nice to have an almanack to guide the way. Sprinkled with some bits of wisdom to help navigate the problems here and there.

We have the Transformation Plan which helps guide us in a general direction. But for the day to day, on the floor and street operations, we have to stay true to our calling from day one - to deliver service.

For 2009, we have to emphasize finding out what that service should be. If we offer and deliver what the public needs we will have a course to follow. What do you think the public will need or want in postal services?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Creativity in Reno

Judy Goza, T-2 Expediter at the Reno P&DC, won First Place for her 16” x 21” individual wall hanging at the Nevada State Fair in Reno, NV on August 20, 2008.

The hand-embroidered, machine quilted wall hanging of the Reno MSC area (in 1994) for ZIP Codes 894, 895, 897, and 961, (representing the largest land area of any SCF), was inspired by the original art work of former employee, Gary Wolf, and was drawn in 1994. This Blue Ribbon wall hanging took Judy approximately four months to complete just the embroidering.

Judy says she has always liked the drawing and when her Supervisor, Woody Blair, retired in 2006, Judy spent seven months making him a 5’ x 5’ quilt of this map. She then decided she'd like to have one of her own which became the winning entry.

I like her creativity! How can we use our creativity at work to make the postal service better?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Early Retirement

There's plenty of talk these days about retiring early. Believe you me, I know all about early outs.

I was able to retire when I was 42, but still "lived" another 42 years. But I was pretty busy in my retirement days with politics and thinking and tinkering.

What is the most outrageous thing you plan on doing after retirement?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gas Guzzlin Blues

The price of a barrel of oil dropped yesterday - think you'll see that at the pumps?

Meanwhile, EMA will raise 3 cents a gallon on October 11th.

I'm really glad we didn't have to deal with this fuel back when I was the first Postmaster General. Of course, those few years with the Pony Express weren't a cup of tea either.

What have you personally been doing to save on gas? Post your tips and we can all share a little savings.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Delightfully Peachy

This flower mailbox and delightful yard are from a peach orchard in Colorado. The whole place looked yummy enough to eat.

I once said, "Eat to live, not live to eat." But I must confess, with peaches it's pretty much 50/50. I know they are good for me, but I also really enjoy them.

In my day, if I over indulged in rich pastries and such, I would surely suffer with gout. Which is why I also said, "To lengthen your life, lessen your meals."

But food fresh from the garden always seemed good for me. And when I ate good I was able to work better. How about you?
Do you have your own lovely garden? Do you try to keep your meals healthy and wise?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Righteous Ride

How about motorcycles as a new delivery idea?

This is an image of a three-wheeled mail collection Indian motorcycle in Washington, D.C., in 1912. That's the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th Street. The motorcycle was used only on an experimental basis in DC.

Have you heard more engines revving on the highway now? Seen more fellow employees carrying helmets to work? Filling up a gas tank on a motorcycle, compared to the tank on a SUV, is relatively painless in spite of sky high prices. Many people are maintaining the size of their wallets by turning to the economic two or three wheel variety of transportation.

How about you? Do you ride one? Think they would work on a route?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Intelligent Mail Barcode

Back in our day, we didn't have your efficient ZIP Code system and automation, and complete addressing. We used our ink feather pens and wrote the addressee's name and town. Usually, that was enough. No wonder it took weeks to get my wife's letters from Philadelphia to Washington!

Now you have those fancy barcodes. It's amazing that a letter can travel so far so quickly. Now machines can read a barcode and figure out where it was sent from and where it's going and when it was sent -- and probably more things like the best time of day to throw a pole out and catch a fish.

What do you think about the intelligent barcode?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Even More Weird Mail

The stories are rolling in !

A Boulder, CO, clerk wrote me and said this. "While working the night shift, an OTR opened and a bunch of frogs were jumping all over the place...ooops somebody forgot special handling on these guys."

The same clerk wrote about a student at the University of Colorado received a pair of starched, stiff boxer shorts with a letter written on them. That's....unique.

Laura from Washington said she has seen a motorcycle engine and motorcycle tires come through with just an address tag and postage.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Improvement Plans

Back in 1727, I founded the Junto Society, a group of 12 people from a variety of backgrounds: printers, surveyors, a cobbler, a cabinetmaker, and a merchant. We named the group Junto --the Spanish word for "assemblies"-- and met regularly on Friday nights for 40 years. We discussed what could be done to improve ourselves and our communities.

And boy did we! The Junto Society developed a library and established volunteer fire and police departments, as well as a public hospital. We even helped found the University of Pennsylvania.

How about you? Are you working to make your community better? What can you do to help make the Postal community better?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Airmail -- a history

Postal funds and postal imperatives brought the American aviation industry to life in the early 20th century and made American pilots the “finest contact, bad weather pilots in the world,” in the words of historian William Leary. Airmail pilots set the standard for all pilots, and the demands of the Post Office Department that mail fly on schedule, no matter what the weather, forced mechanical and operational improvements in aviation.

Experimental flights during air shows and carnivals had carried mail as early as 1911 in the United States, but the first regularly scheduled airmail service in the world began on May 18, 1918. That day, Army pilots in Curtiss JN-4H (“Jenny”) planes began flying mail from Washington, D.C., and Long Island, New York, via Philadelphia, for the Post Office Department, which always was eager to find faster ways to move the mail.

On August 12, 1918, the Department took over all phases of airmail service, using newly hired civilian pilots and mechanics and six planes manufactured by the Standard Aircraft Corporation. Each plane could hold 180 pounds of mail and a 160-pound pilot. The new planes had rudimentary instruments – fuel and temperature gauges, a tachometer, and a compass that jumped with the plane’s vibrations.

From the start, the Post Office Department wanted a route that would extend from New York to San Francisco. By the end of 1919, airmail service operated between New York and Chicago, and some cities in between. In 1920, planes carried mail from Chicago to San Francisco – during the day. As evening approached, the planes landed, and the mail was put on trains to travel through the night. In the morning, a plane again picked up and flew the mail.

One gray, wintry morning, however, on February 22, 1921, two airmail pilots took off from New York and two from San Francisco – the start of a relay to carry mail across the country by air through both day and night. The trip was considered so dangerous that only volunteer pilots were used. Just one of the east-bound flights made it all the way, with pilots using dead-reckoning to fly through a blizzard over new ground at times. The flight took 33 hours and 20 minutes and was a sensation as great as the first manned space flights later in the 20th century.

The Post Office Department had wanted to contract airmail flights from the beginning, but there were no takers. By the mid-1920s, the aviation industry had developed and, in 1925, Congress passed an act authorizing the Postmaster General to contract for airmail service. The Post Office Department immediately invited bids from commercial companies. The first commercial airmail flight in the United States flew on February 15, 1926, and, by September 1, 1927, all airmail was carried under contract.

An early airmail pilot who later headed the Civil Aeronautics Administration, Charles I. Stanton, said of the early days of scheduled airmail service:

We planted four seeds . . . . They were airways, communications, navigation aids, and multi-engined aircraft. Not all of these came full blown into the transportation scene; in fact, the last one withered and died and had to be planted over again nearly a decade later. But they are the cornerstones on which our present world-wide transport structure is built, and they came, one by one, out of our experience in daily, uninterrupted flying of the mail.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rubber Band

Rubber bands were invented in 1823 by Sir Thomas Hancock of England but they were brought into the Twentieth Century by William H. Spencer who founded Alliance Rubber Company in 1923. While he worked full time for the railroad, he worked all of his off hours to develop a rubber band product that would expand its usage and better meet the needs of people using it.

He had seen newspapers, using carriers' old fold and toss method, flying down the streets of his neighborhood, spreading the news to the wind rather than the intended homeowners and thought... "there must be a better way." He was right. He spent hours in his garage cutting rubber bands out of inner tubes and then traveled on his "off time" to present his better mouse trap to newspapers.

They liked his idea and business grew as he traveled and presented his idea to the industry. To utilize his travel time most effectively, he began to look for other potential markets and added office supply stores to his itinerary. He then pioneered band use for produce, flowers and the Postal Service -- one of the nation's largest purchashers of rubber bands.

And now you know, the rest of the story.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Corn Fields and Rust

This old mail vehicle has seen better days. Looking through the rust to the green corn field in back makes it seem even more worn out.

It definitely wasn't a "long life" vehicle. It was probably used on a contract route.

What will mail vehicles of the future look like? Will they actually run on corn?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Only you can prevent ZIP Code abuse

Having your own ZIP code is a rare thing. Some big businesses, companies, universities and organizations have their own. But did you know that there is a fictional character granted a unique ZIP code.

The ZIP-iest celeb is Smokey Bear.

Created in 1944 by the Ad Council as a mascot for fire-prevention efforts during World War II, when lumber was a critical war resource. He grew so popular in the early 1960s, receiving sack-loads of mail from adoring fans -- that, in 1964, the U.S. Postal Service granted him his own ZIP code: 20252.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

One fancy stamp collector.

In March, the Queen of England gave French President Nicolas Zarkozy, who is an avid stamp collector, proofs of the 2004 stamp issue celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale agreement between France and Britain.

During a European tour in June, President George Bush met with President Zarkozy. The two presidents also exchanged gifts: Sarkozy gave his guest a luxury Hermes saddle. Bush gave his host a set of rare US postage stamps bearing the Statue of Liberty, the original was a gift from France to the United States.

Back when I was the first Postmaster General I never dreamed the postage stamp would become a collectible. But I do like the idea. You can learn a lot from a little postage stamp -- just ask President Zarkozy!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Your mailbox needs attention

Thanks to Kathie Rinehart, Port Orchard, WA.

Do you have a worse box on your route? Send it to me at bennyblogger@gmail.com

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bank by mail

My friends over at "Stamps at Distinction" have a great article about the bank that was sent -- brick by brick -- through the mail. using Parcel Post.

A businessman in Vernal, UT, wanted to build a building that would include a bank. But the bricks were being manufactured in Salt Lake City -- 120 miles away. The freight charges were expensive for the short trip -- so the smart man figured that the mail would be cheaper.

He packaged up the bricks in 50 pound packets and mailed them off.

Read the rest of the story here.

With gas prices the way they are today, wouldn't it make sense for more companies to consider sending more of there items through the mail?

What's the most unique thing you've seen sent by the mail recently?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Diligence brings Good Luck

I once said that "Diligence is the mother of good luck." These fine men competed and won not because of luck, but because they have been diligent in their work.

Postal VMF technicians support a nationwide rolling fleet of over 219,000 vehicles, the largest civilian fleet in the United States.

Nationwide, 193 postal VMF technicians took an on-line written test prepared by the National Center for Employee Development (NCED) on heavy-truck maintenance.

The top 10 scorers on the written test qualified as Super Techs, and earned a spot in the Postal Service’s 4th annual Super Tech heavy-truck skills challenge in June.

The 2008 heavy-truck Super Techs in photo are: Std L-R: Nick Knebel, St. Louis, MO; Charles Alexander, St. Louis, MO; Thomas Napier, Chattanooga, TN; Jim Robinson, St. Louis, MO; David Chaney, Portland, OR; Kelly Smith, Louisville, KY; and Thomas Higgins, Chattanooga, TN. Kneeling: Neil Cerrato, St. Louis, MO; and Don Barnett, Cincinnati, OH. (Doug Kuhn, St. Louis, MO, not pictured.)

The Super Techs had just 20 minutes per station to complete 10 hands-on diagnostic and repair challenges worth a total of 1000 points. The skill stations covered electrical, brakes, tire analysis, wheel ends, HVAC, engine, steering, preventive maintenance inspection (PMI), transmission, and electronic service information.

Higgins and Napier led the field and will represent the Postal Service in Nashville, TN, at the American Trucking Association’s national skills competition in heavy-truck maintenance in September.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Specialty Stores

The USPS Specialty Stores program is designed specifically for businesses that need an easy and convenient process to purchase stamps.

Andi Lemm, at infoUSA, says their new account has been an overwhelming success. A process that once took 3-4 weeks now takes only five to seven days.

SFS can create accounts that have as many as 8,000 ship-to addresses. This program allows for revenue protection for business home offices, as the individual ship to locations have no access to an ACH or credit card account. In addition, monthly reconciliation reports are provided at no added cost to the account.

If you are looking for a convenient process to order stamps, please contact SFS at (816)545-1282 or email specialty.x.stores@usps.gov.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Nice Try

Robbers at a midwest post office tried to cover their deeds by torching the office afterwards. But Postal Inspectors were not fooled!

They tracked the perpetrators, collected the loot, and charged them with robbery -- AND arson.

I've promoted hard work, virtue, and frugality for so long, but some people just never learn! Now, those Inspectors are my kind of people. Think they would let Benny be an honorary member?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Airmail security

From our friends at Barrow, Alaska