Monday, November 30, 2009

A history of Holiday stamps

Interested in the history of holiday stamps?

See all of them at, or click one of the links below:

Christmas Traditional
Christmas Contemporary
Holiday Celebrations

Friday, November 27, 2009

A paperless Post Office

Government InformationWeek recently interviewed USPS Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice-President Ross Philo.

Philo's interview appears here, and he had some interesting things to say.

Most interesting was his comment on creating a more paperless internal structure. He said, "It's a change in behavior--providing information online to people more effectively, as well as changing processes that are fundamentally paper based."

He's not talking about mail, but our internal processes.

Do you see wasteful paper use in your operation? Give me your opinion here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

In my book, the turkey reigns

This mailbox is loaded up for Thanksgiving -- complete with pumpkins in back and a turkey on top!

Though we now have a tradition of eating the turkey on Thanksgiving, at one time I tried to get him named as the national bird. (See my previous discusson on my vain attempt to replace the postal eagle with a turkey here. Also read about an attempted postal coup by turkeys here, here and here.)

I once wrote this about the turkey: "For truth, the Turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on."

But did anyone listen to Benny? Is anyone listening now? Send me a comment on what you think about the turkey.

However you observe the holiday, remember to count your blessings in some way and Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mr. ZIP sighting

It has been years, but Mr. ZIP has resurfaced in Burrton, KS. Here he is pictured in the 1909 Fall Festival Parade tossing candy to the children that lined the streets.

Should we bring back Mr. ZIP in our marketing? Let me know here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Free coffee to all USPS carriers on Wednesday

According to a Dunkin Donuts press release, the chain will offer any size free coffee to any USPS letter carrier.

The rules are that you have to be in uniform or show a "union card identification."

"The United States Postal Service letter carriers serve tirelessly throughout the holiday season, and we wanted to recognize their hard work during this very busy time of year," said John Costello, Dunkin' Brands' Chief Global Customer and Marketing Officer. "We invite letter carriers to kick off the season with a free cup of coffee at their local Dunkin' Donuts restaurant, and to know that we are there to help keep them running through snow or rain or gloom of night."

My problem is that I simply cannot fit into my size 46 pants anymore. Can I go into Dunkin Donuts and just get the coffee?

I said this in 1780: “What makes resisting temptation difficult for many people, is that they don't want to discourage it completely.”

Any one else want to give a 'field report' on the free coffee? Send a photo? Email me here.

Stamp search

The Postal Service has issued thousands of stamps over the years, featuring an unbelievable number of subjects, events and people.

The Smithsonian Institute has a great search tool to find stamps by subject.

Click here and you'll see.

Here's my favorite search. (108 stamps. I'm the man!) Take that Alexander Hamilton (a measly 16).

What's your favorite stamp?  Send me a note here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

How to get a North Pole Postmark

Did you know that you can obtain the North Pole Postmark on a letter from Santa or on greeting cards?  Here's how to do it.

A letter from Santa

Write a letter to your child and sign it "from Santa." Place this letter into an envelope addressed to your child with the return address from SANTA, NORTH POLE. Please make sure you have a First-Class stamp affixed to the envelope. Place that envelope into a larger envelope, with appropriate postage, and address the larger envelope as indicated below.

On greeting cards
Write your greeting cards like you normally would. Place the cards into their envelopes, addressed and stamped as normal. Either have the return address from the NORTH POLE or from you and your address. Then place the greeting cards into a larger envelope or box, with appropriate postage, and address it to:




ANCHORAGE AK 99530-9998

Note: This is a new address

The letters from Santa or greeting cards need to be received in Anchorage, AK, before December 15, 2009. After that date, they should be sent via Express Mail.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Oprah features five who shine

Five letter carriers will be featured on the ‘Oprah’ show, Tuesday, November 24.

The segment, titled “Unsung American Heroes,” will highlight the following city letter carriers:

Pattie Arismendez, from Bakersfield, CA, saved a toddler from injury as the girl wandered into traffic on a busy roadway.

Alan Girard, from Oakland, CA, along with other carriers, saved the lives of dozens of elderly residents during an apartment fire.

Melissa Kelly, from Bakersfield, CA, saved an elderly man in an attack by a Pit Bull Terrier.

Robert Sweeny, from Sacramento, CA, administered CPR to revive a mother’s lifeless baby.

Walter Hayes, From St. Louis, MO, came to the aid of a 6-year-old boy in shock after being struck by a car.

Of course, the Postal Service has hundreds of other examples could be highlighted, as we engaged in so many acts of "everyday heroism."

Comment here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Despite a tight fit, Reno employees save customer $100,000

A Reno, NV, accounting firm came in to mail their quarterly tax statements and the secretary used the Automated Postal Machine, as was her practice.

But the top piece -- and the most important one -- slid off the top of the pile behind the heavy machine. She couldn't reach it and she couldnt leave it, because the IRS would have imposed a $100,000 penalty if it were late.

A number of employees did their best to get to the piece, but the machine was too heavy and too close to the wall.

But Supervisor Bob Lastine rigged up a system to fish the mail out using two pieces of wire. A little ingenuity and a happy customer.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New edition of Your Postal Podcast released

Get caught up on USPS news by listening to the latest edition of Your Postal Podcast, available online here.

This month's edition includes news on why Flat Rate Priority Mail packaging provides the perfect recipe for creating special holiday care packages.

Also, you'll hear about one Postmaster's personal story of determination that has helped make Breast Cancer Research semipostal stamps a big hit in her community.

Finally, meet a California letter carrier who's cultivated a unique hands-on approach to beautifying the neighborhoods he serves.

Your Postal Podcast #18 -- and all the previous episodes -- may be listened to on any computer at work or at home, at  You can also track down all the editions of YPP at iTunes.

Got any ideas for future podcasts? Send them here.

Cousin It

Robo Priority Man (featured here) should meet his cousin, found in the St. Paul, MN,  Vadnais Heights/Shoreview station.

The station won a city-wide Priority Mail promotional contest between all stations and branches with this unique display.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Post Office takes the cake

Since using Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes is a piece of cake, Mondamin, IA, Postmaster Bonnie Schraeder figured she would bake a 3-layer cake, decorate it to look like a flat rate box, and enter it in a baking contest and auction as part of the town’s annual Heritage Day celebration.

Throughout the 3-day celebration, Mondamin postal employees spread the word about the value and convenience of Flat Rate Boxes and alternate access. Schraeder walked in the Heritage Day Parade dressed as a Priority Mail box. Rural Carrier Susan Lawrenson followed in her mail delivery jeep, which was adorned with flashing lights, and all sizes of Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes and USPS conveniences such as Click-N-Ship, Carrier Pickup, Stamps by Mail and more. The Post Office parade entry won 1st place in the business category.

Joining the fun was Postmaster Relief Lenka Knowski, who decorated the Post Office front window with Priority boxes and patriotic ribbons. Last but not least, Rural Carrier Candace Markum and Rural Carrier Associate Debra Wallis made sure the mail was delivered to the two rural routes on time while the rest of the office enjoyed the day with the celebration in the park.

"The Mondamin, Iowa Post Office plays an active part in the town’s life every day, but even more so during the annual Heritage Day celebration." said Schraeder. "We always have an attractive seasonal display in our front window, but this year we focused on advertising our services as well."

Benny likes these guys, because they have fun!

Postmaster Bonnie Schraeder holding the cake. To to the right is Rural Carrier Candy Marcum, and to the left is PMR Lenka Knowski . In the back row RCA Debra Wallis and Rural Carrier Susan Lawrenson. Look closely and you will see Carry, the Post Office mascot, in the window display.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Holiday ad campaign

Don't be surprised to see a few TV commercials on your big screen TV over this next month.

Two new 30-second spots are already showing.

"Al" will continue as the iconic Postal Carrier and spread the word of how simple and convenient our Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes really are.

The Residential Holiday campaign is scheduled to run from Nov 8 – Dec 20. The media mix consists of TV, Online Banners, and Search. Here is the November TV schedule:

  • The Country Music Awards on ABC at 8pm Eastern Time on Wednesday 11/11
  • Mr. St. Nick Original Movie on Hallmark Channel at 8pm Eastern Time on Saturday 11/16
  • Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on NBC at 9am Eastern Time on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday 11/26
  • Heroes ’09 Award Show Special on CNN at 9pm Eastern Time on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday 11/26
  • Holiday Celebration (Ice Skating) on NBC at 4p Eastern Time on Sunday 11/29
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town on ABC at 8pm Eastern Time on Monday 11/30
After the holidays, there will be an additional 30-second spot that will encourage customers to use Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes if they need to return gifts. Shipping returns is a huge opportunity to grow revenue and gain new customers.

Running concurrently with the Residential Holiday message will be our ads targeting the Business Customer. These ads will run on TV 11/9-11/22 and 11/30-12/13. Here are some of the highlights in TV:

  • Face the Nation on CBS at 1030am Eastern Time on Sunday 11/15 and 11/22
  • The Today Show on NBC at 7am Eastern Time on Thursday 11/12 and Tuesday 12/1
  • 20/20 on ABC at 10pm Eastern Time on Friday 11/20 and 12/4
  • 60 Minutes on CBS at 7p Eastern Time on Sunday 12/6
  • NFL on CBS at 1pm and 4pm Eastern Time on Sunday 11/22
  • Notre Dame Football on NBC at 230pm Eastern Time on Saturday 11/21
  • NBA on ESPN at 8pm and 10:30pm Eastern Time week of 11/9
  • In addition, a 60 spot will run on select Cable Networks. Online Banners and Business Search terms will also be used.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Where have all the tubs gone?

This is the time of year when we start to review our equipment needs.

Pallets and containers and tubs all need to be in house circulating. Where have they all gone?

We've all seen tubs out an about. I've seen them out there, being used to feed horses and to store musket rounds and the like. They are in shops and stores. They're everywhere. We just need them in the Post Office.

What about you? What's the craziest use of a tub you've seen?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sell off the Postal Service? Americans don't like that idea

A Rasmussen poll asked Americans what things the government should still own. Most think the government doesn't need to own Amtrak. And three out of four want Uncle Sam to sell ownership stakes in G.M. and Chrysler.

Public lands, on the other hand, should never be sold to pay off public debt according to the 50 percent of voters who don't like the idea.

What about the Postal Service? Just 31 percent think it's a good idea to sell USPS to a private company and 58 percent are completely opposed.

What do you think? Good idea or not? Click here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Military Mail

Ashland, WI, Postmaster Todd Holm found that even in Afghanistan, he is reminded of the good folks at the U.S. Postal Service. Benny salutes you on this Veteran's Day!

Do you have a good story you want to share about how mail helped you or a loved one during wartime? Send me an email here...and give me a way to respond back to you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Buy your greeting the Post Office

Here's a new idea.

At more than 500 Post Offices across the country, Hallmark is stocking and selling greeting cards.

The assortment includes cards for birthdays, baby announcements, encouragement, sympathy and wedding anniversaries. Additional seasonal displays will offer cards appropriate to various holidays and times of the year.

An additional 1,000 retail locations have already been selected and will begin selling cards after the first of the year.

What do you think about this? Leave your comment here.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A cure for the "FERS flu?"

I know we talked about this earlier last week, but here's a little more detail.

As part of the Defense Authorization bill signed on Oct. 28th, those employees covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System, known as FERS, will now receive credit for unused sick leave at retirement. This will allow you to “add on” to your time-in-service in the computation of the annuity benefit.

FERS employees who retire before Jan. 1, 2014, will receive a 50 percent time-in-service credit for unused sick leave.

FERS employees who retire on or after January 1, 2014, will receive full time-in-service credit for their unused sick leave.

You cannot apply unused sick leave to satisfy the eligibility requirements for retirement. You must have the required years of service to make you eligible.

How will this benefit you? The more sick leave you accumulate, the higher your retirement annuity will be.

I don't know about you, but for me, sick leave is the ultimate insurance policy. Few other companies allow you to roll over your accumulated leave, which guarantees your income through any sickness, especially long-term illness.

But if you’re healthy and able to save your leave, you’ll also be able to reap financial rewards at the end of your career. (I never was sick, except for that blasted cold I got after flying kites in the rain.)

What do you think? Do most people know about this new provision? Do you think it will make a difference? Take the poll in the upper-right corner and then leave your comment here.

P.S. If you want to see how this will affect your personal situation, you can find FERS retirement calculators on the Internet.

Hanging out at the Post Office

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Looking into a crystal ball, Americans see a Postal Service

They like us. They really do.

According to a recent Rasmussen poll ,83 percent of Americans say it's like there will still be a need for the Postal Service in ten years.

Of those same respondents, 50 percent suggested a cut in the number of delivery days rather than a federal subsidy.
What do you think? Click here and comment.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Show Benny some love

I admit it. I love attention. Whether it's inventing things, flying kites in electrical storms, or starting crazy things like volunteer fire departments and the Postal Service, I'm all about banging the drum and tooting the horn.

If that's not you, that's okay. We need the strong, silent types, too. (But, that's why Alexander Hamilton only got the $10 bill and I'm on the $100!)

Right now, about 900 of you are checking me out each day and I'm grateful, but there are still 619,000 others who are missing out.

So here's the deal. Would you send this simple message to five of your friends?

"Have you checked out Your Postal Blog? I read it and like it. The blog is full of information, discussion, and news and gives a unique perspective on postal life. You can find it here or subscribe to it here. And the ACE patrol won't get you for reading it! It's approved for either personal or postal computers."

That's it. Show me the love!


(Comment here)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Saving your sick leave now pays off in other ways

Have you heard about the new Defense Authorization Act. As part of the bill, FERS employees will now be credited unused sick leave toward their retirement.

FERS employees retiring between now and January 1, 2014 will get credit for 50 percent of their unused sick leave.

Those retiring after this date will get credit for all their unused sick leave.

What do you think? Will this cut down sick leave? Will it help the Postal Service?  Click here.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Ready for winter?

I know back in my day, mail and winter didn't always mix. The horses would be cold. The drivers would be grumpy and the roads were never plowed.

And frankly, not much has changed, has it?

What are you doing to get ready for delivering mail to PO Boxes or mailboxes this winter?

Photo courtesy of Norval Lee, Rural Carrier from Moorhead, MN