Friday, February 27, 2009

Storm clouds

Storm clouds are gathering over the Postal Service. What kind of suggestions do you have to help? Comment here.

Photo, Bethany, MO, Post Office, courtesy Chase Davis ,

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Reunion saved by employee

Michael Lethert was helping to organize a 30-year reunion for the 1979 Winter Carnival Royal Family. A big part of the Jan. 16 program was the screening of a DVD containing more than 400 photos taken during the 1979 celebration. Lethert scanned the photos and his daughter worked to have the DVD prepared and shipped.

By the morning of the event, the DVD had yet to arrive and Lethert was feeling understandably nervous. He checked with his local Post Office to no avail. They gave him a number for the St. Paul Main Office where supervisor Tom Molloy answered. He told Lethert that the odds of finding his envelope were slim but that he would give it a shot.

“By 4 p.m. I assumed that we would not have the DVD,” Lethert said. “At 4:15 Tom called, said that he had found it and that he would drop it off at our house. Thank you for exceptional service above and beyond the call, and especially Tom for saving our program that evening. It’s nice to know that the Postal Service is in such good hands.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lincoln rising

The Idaho Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission moved, restored and rededicated the oldest Lincoln Memorial statue in the Western United States as part of Lincoln’s 200th birthday celebration.

Boise Customer Relations Coordinator Sue Calvin worked with the commission and the Eagle Stamp and Postcard Club to provide the pictorial postmark commemorating the event. Calvin designed the postmark that was used to cancel the four new Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial stamps for the hundreds of people seeking souvenirs of the historical event.

David Leroy, chairman of the Idaho Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and a former state attorney general and lieutenant governor, thanked the United States Postal Service – for their presence and for providing the pictorial postmark – as he addressed the thousands of attendees that braved the cold to witness the unveiling and rededication.

The monument pedestal was originally dedicated on February 12, 1915. The "Lincoln the Emancipator" statue, created by Ohio sculptor Alphonse Pelzer, was placed upon the pedestal several months later when it finally arrived in Boise. Another dedication ceremony was held in July of 1915.
As part of the Idaho Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial event, the monument was moved from its former place on the grounds of the Idaho State Veterans Home to a more prominent place in front of the State Capitol building. The monument was also restored with money raised by Idaho school children that held a "Lincoln penny" drive that totaled 325,000 pennies.
Boise resident Skip Critell is a Lincoln impersonator and he is shown above holding a souvenir card with the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial stamps and pictorial postmark.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lincoln does Lincoln

The Lincoln, NE, Post Office celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln by unveiling four new postage stamps in the Rotunda of the State Capitol. Lincoln, NE, is the largest city in the nation named after Abraham Lincoln.

Joining for a photo following the stamp event are: (l to r) Lincoln Consumer Advisory Council Chairperson Mary Jane Nielsen, City Councilman and former Lincoln Postmaster Doug Emery, Mayor Chris Beutler, Lincoln Stamp Club President Alan Anderson, Lincoln Postmaster Kerry Kowalski, and Stamp Services Manager David Failor.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Credit crunch. Card offers drop

US households received 3.8 billion offers for new cards during 2008 according to Mail Monitor, the credit card direct mail tracking service from global market research company Synovate.

This represents a 27% decrease, or 1.4 billion fewer offers mailed in 2008, from the 5.2 billion offers consumers received in 2007.

The average household received 4.6 credit card offers a month in 2008, down from 5.4 in 2007.

What other volumes have you seen drop off? Drop me a note.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Congressional members act on six-day delivery

Four Congressional representatives have sponsored resolution calling for the U.S. Postal Service to “take all appropriate measures” to maintain its six-day-a-week delivery schedule.

Led by Rep. Sam Graves R-MO), Nick Rahall, (D-WV); Chris Smith, (R-NJ); and Zoe Lofgren, (D-CA), the non-binding resolution HRes 173 expresses the sense of the House that the USPS stay with this schedule and not try to cut it back in an attempt to try to save money.

The proposed resolution has been referred to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

No other financial relief was proposed by the four.

What do you think? Click here to tell me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Thanks for making my mom cry"

Erick Keskey is a Customer Connect Coordinator for the Northland District. He was in Sparta, WI, to make a kickoff presentation to the local city carriers.

Sparta is also the home of the Fort McCoy military base.

Dressed in his carrier uniform, he had loaded his car and stepped back into the hotel to grab a cup of coffee before heading out. He turned from the coffee pot to leave, and there was a soldier, dressed in fatigues, holding out his hand. As the two shook hands, the soldier said “Thanks for making my mom cry.”

Keskey was understandably confused. He explained that he did not work at the local Post Office, and if he had ever made someone cry he was pretty sure that he would have remembered it. The soldier smiled and said “it wasn’t really you, and my mom doesn’t live here, either.” He went on to explain how a letter carrier delivered the gifts he had sent from Iraq on Christmas Eve. His mom had dropped to her knees on the living room floor and cried tears of joy.

I was dumbfounded,” Keskey says. “A person who put his life on the line, living halfway around the world, for more than a year and he was thanking me? I got a little choked up and told him that I should be the one offering thanks. It was one of my proudest moments as a postal employee.

“So my wish is that every one of us has the opportunity to make someone’s mom cry.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tips Up!

Photo courtesy Paul Carey, taken near Steamboat Springs, CO

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Individual Expression

This "kegger" mail box belongs to a brewing company in Durango, CO.

It makes for a real interesting stop. As do so many embellished mail boxes. Some say it's folk art - the way U.S. citizens decorate their boxes.

Others say it's a way to express indiviualism and personal freedom.

What do you think of the many and varied boxes we see around the country? Do you have a special mail box?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Heart-shaped world

Officer in charge Chris Langsett of the Uniontown, WA, Post Office had a fun, creative idea on how to promote Valentine's Day mailings with Priority Mail.

He designed a neat window display (pictured) using the new Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Boxes and formed them in the shape of a large heart.

"We've received lots of compliments about it. Customers outside of our area and commuting from nearby communities are even stopping by to see it," says Langsett. "And of course it's helping with sales of Priority Mail."

Love and the mail? Who can beat that combination!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Beware .... stay alert

Photo courtesy, Marcy Earley

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Your box needs attention"

Rural Carrier Nick Romey built what he claims is the world’s largest mailbox. He is shown here with his son, Mike. The box is constructed out of steel and measures 27 feet long and 11 feet high.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mailing a letter to go up by two cents

The Governors of the U.S. Postal Service have approved new prices for mailing services, including a 2-cent increase in the price of a First-Class Mail stamp to 44 cents. Prices for mailing services are reviewed annually and adjusted each May. The new prices will go into effect Monday, May 11.

For the average household, the First-Class Mail stamp price change will represent an additional $3 over the course of the year

A comprehensive list of the new prices is available at

Price change summary:
* First-Class letter: 44 cents (up two cents)
* Postcard: 28 cents (up one cent)
* Additional ounce:17 cents (no change)

Note: Priority Mail, Express Mail, and Parcel Services are not affected.

Click here to see a video on the new pricing.

What do you think about this rate change? What do your customers think? Let me know by clicking here.

Bone marrow donors show off the best side of USPS

On any given day, more than 6,000 men, women and children desperately search the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) Registry for a matching bone marrow donor or cord blood unit. These patients have leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases that can be treated by a bone marrow or cord blood transplant.

Jeff Wilson, a Boise, Cole Village Station letter carrier with 22-years of service, has been on the bone marrow registry since 1983. He was recently identified as a possible match. After further testing, he was determined to be the best possible match for a woman in need of a bone marrow transplant. Wilson didn’t hesitate to continue with his commitment to be a donor.
"I know the importance of being a donor. Twenty-five years ago my father was diagnosed as having leukemia and was in need of a bone marrow transplant," said Wilson. "I tested then to see if I was a match. My sister was a matched and she became the donor."

Sadly Wilson’s father did not survive, but he has remained on the registry hoping to help someone else in need.

"I had been identified as a possible match three times before, but this was the first time I was

determined to be the best possible match for a recipient. I was surprised to learn that 70-80% of donors are not related to the recipient."

Jeff was flown to a center where the procedure for removing the bone marrow was performed. He received the best care from the hospital staff that were as excited about his donation as he was.

After a few weeks, Jeff was able to return to his normal work duties. Confidentiality laws keep the name and location anonymous between the donor and the recipient. They can exchange letters through the program and after a year, if both parties agree, they can learn the identity of the other.

Chris Stoeberl is also a letter carrier at the same station and donated bone marrow six years ago. Four years ago he had the opportunity to briefly meet the woman who was the recipient of his bone marrow.

"She lives on the other side of the U. S. and was taking a vacation that she had to postpone when she was diagnosed with leukemia," said Stoeberl. "I met her at an airport in between her flights. She has been cancer free for six years!"

According to the NMDP, more than 65 patients have found their match among the USPS employees who joined the registry. Almost 60% of USPS employees on the Registry are from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. This is important because racial and ethnic heritage play a vital role in matching patients and donors. Tissue types used for matching are inherited and a patient is more likely to match someone from their own race or ethnicity. The commitment of the USPS to help diversify the Registry has increased the likelihood that all patients will find a life-saving match.

Click here to learn more about the National Marrow Donor Program and the USPS partnership.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ten minutes a day

Last week, the Board of Governors announced that our first quarter losses amounted to more than $384 million dollars.That equates to a daily loss of $4.3 million, which cascades to $177,777 an hour, $2,962 a minute, and $49 a second.

That sounds staggering.

But, when you take that daily figure and divide it equally among all postal employees, it comes out to just $6.14 per employee per day.

At the average salary, this means if each of us could find just ten minutes a day of efficiencies, we could help turn things around.

What do you think? Is ten minutes realistic? Comment here.

The good old bank of the USPS

Q: Has the U.S. Postal Service ever offered savings accounts to the public like in other countries?

A: Yes — but it ended those operations in 1966.

Many countries have indeed operated savings-oriented banks through their postal services, and many such operations still are in business. Up until a few years ago, the bank operated by Japan’s postal service held $2.9 trillion — about a third of that country’s personal savings. That bank was privatized last year.

The U.S. Postal Service operated its Postal Savings System between 1911 and 1966. At its peak, in 1947, it had more than 4 million accounts. Many belonged to immigrants, who had used similar savings systems in their native countries.

But the U.S. system eventually lost business to commercial banks, which offered more services and better interest rates. By the time the system was discontinued, it had fewer than 1 million accounts.

Friday, February 6, 2009

America's most popular postal employee?

We all like being missed when we aren't at work, but Telluride, CO, Retail Associate takes the prize. He might even be America's most popular postal employee.

During a recent hospital stay after he crashed his bike after being struck by a flock of birds on a mountain pass, Looney received more than 500 cards from the customers from this Southwest Colorado town of 5,000.

Broken bones and other serious injuries kept Looney off the window for months. The forward thinking clerk had never take a sick leave duing his 10-year career, so he never missed a paycheck.

"I appreciate having a good job working for the Postal Service, with great pay and benefits, said Looney. "The Postal Service, my customers and co-workers depend on me to be here."

"We work for a great organization," says Looney, who used to be a dairy farmer in Iowa. "I look forward to each day. I’m very proud to work for the United States Postal Service."

On the radio

Our Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer Jack Potter gave a 17-minute interview to National Public Radio on the show Talk of the Nation.

Click this link or copy and paste to listen.

(NOTE: Some postal computers won't play send it to your home address)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The boss writes a letter

During my run as the nation's first Postmaster General, it didn't take much to find a way to talk to all the postal employees . All I had to do was offer free wings down at the pub at night and call a meeting. They always showed. Something about "free" that does the trick.

But...times change and it's gettin' tougher and tougher for today's Postmaster General to give straight talk to all your employees. And right now, you all need to hear what the plan is. There's a letter to employees sent out by Postmaster General Jack Potter. If you haven't seen it, it's here.

He tells us the truth about what's coming around the bend. And it's not pretty. He also recognizes that most of our troubles are economy related. And despite this, our service has never been better. That's something worth talking about.

"....I appreciate that. You’ve kept our customers first. That will make a difference for us when the economy does get better," he said in the letter.

The way I see it, some things are out of our control -- like the economy and business and personal mailing trends. But what is in our control -- doing our very best every day is the best contribution we can make.

What do you think of what he said? Click here to tell me.

They travelled to world to find love

Letters are winding their way rom Fargo, Washington, South America, China and beyond for a special postmark .

The Loveland, CO, Post Office is at it again — stamping Valentines from around the world with its famous postmark featuring Cupid and a love verse.

It’s the 63rd year of the popular program sponsored by the Loveland Post Office and Chamber of Commerce.

Loveland has the largest Valentine re-mailing program of any Post Office or community in the world.

More than 200,000 cards and letters were handled last year, from 100+ countries and all 50 states. More than 12 million valentines have been re-mailed by Loveland since the program started in 1947.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

By the numbers: First quarter financials show big declines

The Board of Governors just released the financials for Quarter 1 of FY 2008 (Oct 1 - Dec. 31)

* Operating revenue of $19.1 billion, a decrease of $1.3 billion, or 6.3 percent, compared to the same period last year.
* Operating expenses of $19.5 billion, a reduction of approximately $200 million, or 1.1 percent, from the first quarter of last year
* Overall mail volume declined 9.3 percent, or 5.2 billion pieces, compared to quarter one of last year, the eighth consecutive quarter of accelerating volume declines.
* First-class Mail volume decreased by 1.8 billion pieces and Standard Mail volume was down 3 billion pieces in the first quarter.

What's your opinion on this bit of news? Click here to comment.

"Speak out!" -- Five-day delivery and the PMG testimony

Have you weighed in yet?

Take the poll in the upper right corner of the blog. There you can tell the world how you feel about eliminating a day of delivery. Do you prefer no change? Don't deliver Saturdays? Don't deliver Tuesdays? Something else?

Take the poll and then give your opinion here.

And while you're at it, give us your opinion on the PMG testimony? Read the article and then click here to comment. If you haven't seen it or heard it, the links are on the right side of the blog.
Like this blog? Why not subscribe and have it sent to your postal or personal email? No spam. No fuss. Just click here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hashknife trail

At the start of this year’s ride, Navajo County officials unveiled a sign outside the Holbrook Post Office designating portions of several state highways as the official route used by the Hashknife Pony Express riders each year. This year marked the posse’s 51st annual ride. The riders’ new final destination is in downtown Scottsdale, at a plaza featuring a larger-than-life statue of two Pony Express riders completing a hand-off of the mail that was unveiled for the event’s 50th anniversary last year.

Hashknife riders take to the trail

Neither rain, sleet, nor dark of night can stop the Hashknife Pony Express.

Each January for the last 49 years, the Old West is brought to life as an elite group of riders thunder through Arizona. This event is the oldest officially sanctioned Pony Express in the world. Each rider is sworn in by United States Postal Inspector Andrew Rivas as an honorary mail messenger braving weather, terrain, and modern-day obstacles to deliver the mail.

Beginning in historic Holbrook, AZ, the horseback mail route covered more than 200 miles from the Mogollon Rim through Payson and the wilderness of the Mazatzal range, to the desert city of Scottsdale where it kicked off the Scottsdale Jaycees' Parada del Sol celebration.

The Hashknife was a tool originally used by chuck wagon cooks to cut meat for hash, often fed to cowboys on the range. The Hashknife brand originated in Texas as the identification of the Aztec land and Cattle Company, which moved to Holbrook, AZ in 1866. Later, in 1957, the Navajo County Sheriff's Posse retained limited use of the brand. The Hashknife brand now identifies the Pony Express.
Riders are members of the Navajo County Sheriff's Posse or their invited guests.
The Hashknife outfit has the longest contract with the U.S. Postal Service and annually delivers around 20,000 pieces of first class mail bearing the valued "Via Pony Express" collectors envelope which is hand-stamped by the riders before the start of the ride.
The public can purchase them for $1 each at the Holbrook, Overgaard, Pine, Heber, Payson, Fountain Hills, and Scottsdale Post Offices.
After the delivery all 30 riders go to the Rusty Spur Saloon in downtown Scottsdale for lunch and they hitch their horses to a hitching post on the street in Scottsdale, Arizona.