Friday, October 30, 2009

Mr. ZIP is a real pumpkin head

Thanks to the creativity of Crabtree, OR, Postmaster Verni Knight, Mr. ZIP is still getting attention.

Vampires, romance and postal revenue

Twilight, the exceedingly popular series of four books, one full-length motion picture and a soon-to-be-released second film, has put tiny Forks, WA on the map.
Author Stephanie Meyer created the series which she set in Forks. The books are vampire-based fantasy/romance novels which all together have sold over 70 million copies and been translated into 38 different languages.
Fans from all over the U.S. and many foreign countries have traveled to Forks, a small logging community of about 3,000 near the northwest tip of Washington State. The community held its second annual celebration recently in honor of the Twilight phenomena.
Forks Postmaster Ann Klepps and LaPush Postmaster Laurie Huling set up a special collectors postmark which they sold along with other postal products and generated over $7,000 in revenue from a mobile postal van.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Priority Mail Super Heroes

From Kissimmee, FL, Oak Street Station
Courtesy, Suncoast Scoop

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Would you deliver to this tidy box?

Courtesy of Norval Lee, Rural Carrier from Moorhead, MN

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Netflix is our best customer, but don't count on it lasting

This year, Netflix will spend $600 million on postage. That makes them our biggest customer. 

But according to their CEO, Reed Hastings, the company is making the transition to streaming video content. And he predicts the DVD may go the way of the VHS tape as early as two years from now as people download movies through their computers or Internet-enabled television sets.

Do you see a different kind of product being shipped through the mail? Something else that might help our volume?  Comment here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Carrier helps rescue man from crashed plane

Eden Prairie, MN city carrier Bob Meyers was on his lunch break when he spotted a small plane coming in at barely treetop level.

A few seconds later he heard an explosion and drove to the scene to investigate. When he arrived, he found that the plane had crashed in a wooded area and a nearby resident was already there. The left engine was on fire.

The resident had been able to help the pilot from the plane. The pilot was conscious and able to confirm that he was the sole occupant. Because of the fire, Meyers and the other Good Samaritan decided it was best to help move the pilot away from the wreck.

“We were concerned about getting him off the plane and out of there,” Meyers said later.

Paramedics then treated the pilot for his injuries. No one else was hurt in the incident and Meyers, with a full load of adrenaline racing through him, was off to deliver the rest of his route.
(Photo credit: Leah Shaffer of the Eden Prairie, MN News)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Magazines on the decline

A total of 383 magazines have closed in the first nine months of 2009, compared with just 259 new titles launching, according to

Last year, 525 titles closed and 335 launched.

We've all been seeing fewer magazines. But, according to the same source, the move to online and digital publications hasn't proven to be economically viable. So just maybe, print magazines will see a comeback.

What's your thought on magazines? Do you still subscribe and read? What about your children or grandchildren? Click here to comment.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Electronic billing -- what do you think?`

According to USPS research, 38 percent of U.S. households paid some bills electronically in 2008 — up from 17 percent in 2002.

A closer look at these numbers reveals a marked generation gap, with only 41 percent of U.S. residents under the age of 35 using the mail to pay their bills.

How about you? After all, electronic commerce is all the rage right now and it's convenient. But it does affect the volume of the Postal Service.

The fine people over at Your Postal Podcast asked a number of employees if they used electronic billing and payment. The responses were varied. I also asked that question last month and quite a few of you had something to say.

Do you pay your bills online? Or by check? Or a little of both? Go to the poll on the upper right hand corner and weigh in then leave a comment here.

Here's the poll:

Do you use electronic billing and payments?

  • Never. I only use stamps.
  • Rarely. Only when I have to.
  • Sometimes. With just a few of my bills.
  • Almost exclusively. It's convenient.

Posted near the timeclock at the Reno, NV, Plant

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Think pink

When you walk into the Milligan, NE, Post Office, you know you're going to get asked about buying Breast Cancer Awareness stamps.

Postmaster Kim Steider has an all out awareness campaign on the stamp, including pink balloons, mints, pins, and handouts.

So far this month, she's sold $715 of the stamps at her level-13 office.


The Lexington, NE, Post Office is also getting into the act. The staff made pink frosted cupcakes to give out to customers with lots of great responses and purchases.

Knowledge is everything!

Lexington, NE, employees are Costodian Darla Hubbard, Postmaster Leta Zimbelman Postmaster, and Retail Associates Kim Peden, Maryann Hickey and Keith Wentz.

Monday, October 19, 2009

No stamp increase next year, but package services may go up

Last week, the PMG said that there won't be a First-Class stamp hike next year (or for any other "market dominant product"). The 44-cent stamp is here to say -- at least for another year.

Under the Postal Reform Act, our market dominant products generally can't exceed the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), so we probably wouldn't be able to justifiy a hike anyway.

That's good news for companies who are still struggling. But is it good news for us, where revenue is in a freefall? Is it possible that this might encourage more companies to use our services?  Some have even suggested a reduction in stamp prices to spur mailers.

Back in my day, it was a penny. In fact, it was a penny for a very long time. I have no idea who that Lincoln fella was, but a penny saved was a penny earned. Hey, let me write that one down.

What do you think? Drop a note here.

(Something else to consider-- our other products like Express Mail and Priority Mail are in a separate category and might see an increase in price in January.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Breast Cancer stamp tops $67 million toward research

Since 1998, when the Breast Cancer Research Semi-postal stamp was first issued, more than $67.6 million has been funneled into research.

The National Institutes for Health receives 70 percent of the proceeds and the Department of Defense breast cancer research program receives the remaining 30 percent of the proceeds. The stamp costs 55 cents and is valid as a 44-cent stamp. The additional 11 cents charged for each stamp is directed to research at NIH and Defense.

What do you think about the stamp? Do you sell many of them? Comment here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Postal Bank?

IMG_3028Image by Cat Sidh via Flickr
One of the ideas floating around is to allow the Postal Service to get into banking. With more than 30,000 branches already, USPS could be a quasi-national bank.

Many foreign postal administrations are already into banking. In fact, Italian Post makes more money from banking than it does mail.

The PMG sees political challenges, but is still open to the possiblity.

"I'm not saying that's going to work in America, but we need to be open-minded about what else might be out there," Potter said. "It's something we're looking at and have been looking at over the years."

So, what do you think about the idea?
Click here and tell us.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mr. Congeniality

A smile and a friendly greeting are Darrel Walton’s calling cards.

So it’s no surprise his community nominated the Wayne, Nebraska, Retail Associate for its Congeniality Award. In presenting the award, Wayne Chamber of Commerce President Bob Keating cited Walton’s friendly attitude toward all customers and the fact he knows everyone who comes into the Post Office.

The Wayne Post Office hosted the quarterly "Chamber Coffee" with the community turnout the largest to date.

"Darrel is one of those employees who is always willing to go the extra mile when you need help with anything," said Postmaster Frank Sheda. "His cheery attitude and personality at the window are greatly appreciated by customers. The large turnout alone is a testimony to Darrel's customer relations."

Photo: Wayne, Nebraska, Chamber Ambassador President Bob Keating presented the Congeniality Award to Wayne Retail Associate Darrel Walton.

Friday, October 9, 2009

"A 50,000 foot view" -- The Post Office of the future

Yesterday, Postmaster General Jack Potter spoke to the National Press Club.

His comments (Click here to read and click here to see a video) were pretty pointed as to the state of the Postal Service. During the question-and-answer portion, he addressed the big picture of the Postal Service.

"We need a 50,000 foot view of the Postal Service," he said, challenging national thinking on the direction on our future.

“I want to establish a public dialogue about the future of the Postal Service, not as it existed yesterday, nor as it exists today, but as it evolves and changes for tomorrow,” said Potter. “This is about determining the role for the Postal Service so that it has a relevant and viable place in the fabric of our nation decades into the future.”
He is hoping to spur a national dialogue on our mission -- perhaps to something much bigger than the mail.

So, let's start the talk right here in Ole Ben's Pub. What you would like to see us do? Banking? Groceries? Broadband? Government Services? Lottery?

My vote would be for blacksmithing, dart playing and brewing, but I'm afraid in today's culture these won't fly.

Click here and share your ideas.

Hot Air Balloons Launched To Open Bristol International Balloon Festival

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Employee inducted into Army Ranger Hall of Fame

Twin Cities Air Mail Center Distribution Operations Supervisor Steven Murphy was recently inducted into the Army Ranger Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, GA.

Murphy, a member of the 17th Ranger Hall of Fame class, was honored “for 26 years of exceptional Meritorious Service while serving in Ranger units in war and peace,” according to his induction citation.
The Ranger Hall of Fame was formed in 1992 to honor and preserve the contributions of America’s most extraordinary Rangers. The history of the American Ranger dates as far back as the 1670s. It is a long and colorful saga of courage, daring, and men whose skills in the art of fighting have seldom been surpassed.
Murphy began his Army service during the Vietnam War and served nearly 13 years in the Infantry, before becoming a helicopter pilot for another 13 years. He served two tours in Germany during the Cold War and in El Salvador during the insurgency. He joined the Postal Service in 1996 as a mail processing clerk and graduated from the Associate Supervisor Program in 1997. He has worked at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Bulk Mail Center, St. Paul P&DC and the AMC.

Benny salutes you!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mail-order bride

"Looking for soul-mate with similiar Priorities."

What do you think about hooking her up with Robo-Man? (See Sept 28 post here.) Long-distance romances can work, especially when they have the same priorities.

Tell me what you think about this two-day delivery match here.

"Don't give up on your Mr. Right."

Assembled by Anchor Point, AK, Retail Clerk Loretta Stapel and Postmaster Eleanor Sarren

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Newsweek Magazine gives us advice

Newsweek magazine had an article about the current state of the Postal Service. It turned to seven "experts" who gave their advice on how to turn things around.

I was wondering what you think about their ideas? Any of them make sense. I have my opinion -- but Mrs. Franklin keeps telling me to hold my tongue. But feel free to voice yours.

1) E-business. Assign every American an e-mail address when they're born and sell advertising on those accounts.

2) Increase service. Expand from six days to seven and be the only carrier to deliver every day.

3) Help advertisers send coupons.

4) Make a play as a carrier of the proposed expanded government broadband access, becoming a complete communications-delivery service.

5) Get a new brand. (The writer says our brand is "Fly like an eagle," no doubt referring to ad campaign from a decade ago. Fact check please!)

6) Strategically close branches. Have some open only for letters, others only open for parcels. (Oh boy, I really want to say something about this, but Mrs. Franklin is kicking me under the table.)

7) Motivate staff by putting jobs out for bid, and then reward savings with cash incentives.

Okay. What do you think? Read the article here, and then comment here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Andy Rooney on the Postal Service

CBS' 60-Minutes commentator Andy Rooney had some things to say about the Postal Service last night.

He talked about the state of the Postal Service, proposed service cuts and the loss of traditional mail communication. He's prefers to get letters.

"An e-mail, on the other hand, has all the charm of a freight train. When I was growing up we all knew when the mailman was coming and we waited for him even though we hardly ever got a letter."

And Rooney gives props to our efficiency.

"In 1900, there were 77,000 post offices around the country. Today with four times as many people, there are only 37,000 post offices - 40,000 fewer post offices for 230 million more Americans."

And he concludes, "We have a lot of things that need cutting, but post offices are not among them."

His full comments are here. Tell me what you think here.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Five day delivery - it's happened before

The discussion about five-day delivery has been ongoing and this blog has seen plenty from both sides.

Did you know that once -- in 1957 -- there was an attempt to do away with Saturday Delivery? PMG Arthur E. Summerfield, decided to save a little money and end Saturday delivery.

It lasted one week. On April 13, 1957, the mail stopped. But the public revolted and President Eisenhower promptly promoted and signed legislation for more funding and things returned to normal.

What do you think about this kind of move? Comment here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

We can count mail. Should we count people too?

The Census Burea is planning on hiring more than 700,000 temporary employees to pull off the 2010 census, which according to the U.S. Constitution, must occur every ten years.

Florida Congressman Vern Buchanan is proposing the Postal Service be the ones to conduct many of the census duties next year. His logic is that all U.S. addresses are already intricately mapped and most of the residents are known by letter carriers.

Utah Representative Rep. Jason Chaffetz also proposed a similiar idea, coupled with a "postal holiday from mail," which would free postal employees to perform census work.

The 2010 Census is projected to cost more than $14 billion. If the Postal Service were asked to fulfill census duties, it certainly wouldn't be for free. And it probably would be for far less than $14 billion.

What do you think? Good idea? A way to infuse some money into our system? Or something we don't need to venture into? Comment here.