Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year Planning

With the new year comes new planning. The Payroll Schedule Calendar comes in handy.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Village Post Office

USPS is introducing new Village Post Offices, but in Yosemite National Park there is an historic Post Office in Yosemite Village.

Built in 1925, it has received recent renovations including new wood siding, along with shake shingle roofing and a renovated woodwork interior. It's all part of the park’s efforts to maintain and restore historic buildings. The renovations were funded by the National Park Service.

The Post Office, which features stone on the lower level and wood shingles on the upper level, is an excellent example of rustic architecture, and was designed by Gilbert Stanley. This type of design became popular at other national parks throughout the country.

Through the years, four stamps have been issued with Yosemite themes. A one-cent El Capitan in 1932, a 25-cent Flag Over Half Dome in 1988, a 39-cent Yosemite Waterfalls in 2006, and a 42-cent painting by Albert Bierstadt of Yosemite Valley in 2008.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

No Clowning Around

The Holidays are over, you're getting back into the usual routine, but there's that nagging problem of a gift that needs returned. 
When your holiday gift absolutely has to go, like the clown doll in the USPS commercial, the most convenient way to make a return is to ship it using Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes. If it fits, it ships. 

What do you think of the clown? Would you keep him?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

First Class Tracer

USPS will test a new product called First Class Tracer in a limited market area. The product will enable customers to follow their greeting cards, postcards, and personal and business letters as they travel through the mail processing system.

Here's how it will work. Customers will purchase an adhesive barcode that will be placed directly under the postage of their individual letters.They will be able to follow the mailpiece using the tracer barcodes by checking the numbers online at, or by using a unique QR code with their mobile device.

On average, each item with a First-Class Tracer will receive 2-4 scans that customers can follow as it makes it's way to delivery.

This innovative idea is in answer to some customers requests. What do you think?
Would you like to trace some of your letters and cards? Will it catch on?

Saturday, December 24, 2011


"I'm using Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes and free Carrier Pickup so I can hide out and make Snickerdoodles."  Just what is a Snickerdoodle?

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cup flour
2 tsps cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

For the top:
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 400ºF.
  • Mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, the butter, shortening and eggs in large bowl. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
  • Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Mix 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set.
  • Friday, December 23, 2011

    Christmas Stamp Art

    The Art of the Christmas Stamp
    Works From the National Gallery of Art

    In 1962, the first Christmas stamps were officially issued, and have since become a regular and much anticipated occurrence. Since 1970, two general themes of Christmas stamps have been issued yearly: one "traditional" and one "contemporary."  

    This image is a larger version of the Madonna of the Candelabra by Raphael (Forever) product.Many of the artworks that have inspired the traditional stamps are in the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington, D.C. To showcase this tradition, the NGA and the National Postal Museum (NPM) have partnered to create an online exhibit, which explores the art behind US Christmas stamps.

    The entire exhibit may viewed here:

    Thursday, December 22, 2011

    Moonlighting with Monsters

    Bob Smith is a letter carrier who moonlights as an author. He has sold more than 60 stories and published two novels. And in 2009, a Hollywood producer bought the rights to his first book, "The Flock."

    He crafts tales of zombies, ghosts and 10-foot-tall carnivorous birds who are alive and well. His obsession with fantasy, horror, and science fiction began when he was eight years old.  His mother - who owned a used a bookstore with his father - handed him a copy of Ray Bradbury's "The Illustrated Man."

    Along the way he's gotten hundreds of rejections. His stories include "Visitation," which tells of Edgar Allan Poe returning from the dead to meet an admirer. It took him 18 years to sell the Poe story. He advises other authors to stick with it.

    He doesn't plan to quit his day job soon. But in the meantime, the fellow making his mail rounds in Charlotte might also be plotting his next novel.

    Photo by Todd Sumlin, used with permission. 

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    105 Years of Happy

    Former City Carrier Walter Mitchell and his boss
    former Postmaster Thomas Costin. Courtesy itemlive.
    In Lynn, MA, former letter carrier Walter Mitchell was featured in a news article when fellow Postal employees gathered to observe his birthday.

    Walter, who will turn 105 on December 22, was hired by the Postal Service in 1934 when he was just out of the Navy.

    The story generated some interesting comments from readers.

    "I remember 'Whistling Walter.'"
    "I have fond memories, he was a happy guy."
    "God Bless you Walter."
    "I was young and lived on Bedford Street. All the kids loved him."
    "Thank you Walter for taking the time to stop and talk."
    "We would all follow him around his route."

    Walter's own mailman now, Paul Kotkowski, remembers when Walter was his mailman back in the 50s and 60s. "To this day I remember him stopping to play football with us and we'd push his cart around." Katowski also said that when he goes to see his mother now in his postal uniform, she will still ask "How's Walter?"

    To read more visit:

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    Mail Carrier and Dog Team Up

    While the common view is that mail carriers and dogs are mortal enemies, they may team together when the cause is right.

    Echo, MN, rural carrier Stan Boushek was delivering his route when he noticed a customer lying on the ground with her dog at her side.

    Erma Iverson, who has Parkinson’s Disease, had fallen the previous afternoon while reaching to pick up a branch. Unable to get back to her feet. She had seen the minutes stretched into a long chilly night. 

    Iverson said she only heard 3-4 cars go by, but none of them noticed her. All the while her dog Crackers remained at her side, except to chase away some coyotes during the night.

    Time and the cold took their toll, and Iverson was severely dehydrated by the time Boushek arrived shortly after noon the next day. “I got a hug from him,” she said later. “He’s a real good mailman.”

    She asked Boushek for some help standing. He instead called for an ambulance, and waited with her until paramedics arrived. Since he is also a volunteer fireman, he was able to help load her into the ambulance.

    Iverson was hospitalized for nine days but is doing fine thanks to the unlikely alliance of her mail carrier, who found her, and her dog, who remained at her side throughout her overnight ordeal.

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Tap the Type

    Benny here, I'm remembering when the first commercially successful typewriter was invented in 1868 by Christopher Latham Sholes, Carlos Glidden and Samuel W Soule in Milwaukee, WI. Sholes soon disowned the machine and refused to use, or even to recommend it. But it soon caught on anyway.

    There have been several figures through the years who dearly prized their typewriters including:

    • Mark Twain is said to have been the first to submit a typewritten manuscript to a publisher with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in 1876.
    • Ernest Hemingway used to write his books standing in front of a Royal typewriter placed on a tall bookshelf.
    • Jack Kerouac typed On the Road on a roll of paper so he would not have to be interrupted to change the paper. 
    • Henry James dictated to a typist.
    • David McCullough bought himself a second-hand Royal typewriter in 1965 and it has been the sole piece of technology he used in producing the manuscripts of every book he has published including two Pulitzer Prize winners.  
    In this computer age I didn't think I'd ever see the manual typewriter make a comeback. But for those who are nostalgic for the days of classic typewriters, there is a company located in the UK that will type the message you email them, and then mail it for you. The website states they will "lovingly craft your words" on authentic vintage typewriters.

    What's next? A return to the quill and ink? I was quite fond of them.

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    Nutcracker Stands Guard

    You may not hear Tchaikovsky playing at the West Melbourne Branch Post Office in Florida, but there is a Nutcracker on display for a festive mood.  

    Employees designed him from various Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes to help customers choose the right box for their holiday mailing needs. 

    The famous wooden nutcracker that turns into a prince on Christmas Eve is holding a mail bag and placing mail in mailbox made from Priority Mail boxes.

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    What's On Your Mantle?

                                                                                          Photo courtesy of Greeting Card Association.
    Canadapost has a holiday advertisement out that shows a woman sitting next to a Christmas tree. There is an opened envelope that has obviously been mailed, and she is lovingly looking at a greeting card.  The banner across the top asks "Ever Displayed An E-Card On Your Mantle?"

    Americans have been exchanging holiday cards since the early 19th century. They became commercially produced and people started mailing more of them after 1860. 

    With a history of more than 150 years of giving cards, what are the most popular types? What have been your favorites? Do you have some you still keep in a box? 

    For a glimpse of some older nostalgic cards you can visit this blog:

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    How to Lose 40 lbs

    The reporter introducing the story said you might be surprised to learn that a postal carrier has a fast paced job.

    Well, not really. How fast can you walk 13 miles and stop at every house and business along the way while carrying boxes and bags?  

    In Sibley, IA a story ran on the local news about Chris Zoet who keeps on the move by jogging segments of the 13 mile route he covers on his job with USPS.

    Zoet ran competitively in high school, but eventually the running faded away for him. He said he hadn't been able to run a mile for a long time. Now that he's hustling on his mail route he could probably run nine miles.

    Along the way he has dropped about 40 pounds and gotten himself back into game shape.

    You can view a video of Chris on the move at the following link:

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    Multipurpose Litter

    What do tidy cats, slick roads and mail boxes have in common?

    Cat litter has long been touted as a good thing to keep in the car this time of year for added traction when the roads get slick.

    This customer got even more ingeneous by putting the empty litter container to work as a new mail box!

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    A Boatload of Mail

    Clerks onboard the Titanic, Oscar Woody's keys and facing slips, bags of mail being loaded on the ship.

    On board the S. S. Titanic on April 15th, 1912, was a state of the art Sea Post Office where mail was being sorted and canceled in route to the ship's destination. There were 3000 bags of mail on the ship.

    Five clerks onboard included Americans Oscar Woody, John March, and William Gwinn who worked alongside British clerks John Smith and James Williamson. They refused to abandon their posts, working diligently to get 200 registered mailbags on deck in the hopes of saving it.

    It happened to be Oscar Woody's 44th birthday. His body was recovered, and in his pockets were a chain of mailroom keys, some postal facing slips, and his assignment to service on the Titanic - the only mail artifacts found. No mail has been recovered from salvaging operations.

    It is estimated that between six and nine million pieces of mail, and between 700 and 800 parcel post items were lost. Along with five steadfast men who were honored by both countries.

    Friday, December 9, 2011

    Pocket Post Office

    Benny here, marveling at the Postal Service we have nowadays. Back when I was the Postmaster General I never could have imagined the techonology that we have now.

    The USPS mobile application is available now for Android, iPhone and Blackberry phones. USPS has added more features such as Lookup a Zip Code and Find USPS Locations.

    The most recent updates on the iPhone application also lets customers scan package barcodes and schedule next-day free package pickup.

    You can download the application now or bookmark in your mobile browser.

    It's like having a Post Office in your pocket.

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Barcodes to the Rescue

    On this week's episode of the TV show Castle, Castle and Beckett used a mailpiece barcode to help solve a murder.

    The show featured a piece of an envelope found at the crime scene with a typical sorting barcode along the bottom of the letter. They depicted that by calling the Post Office they were told exactly where the letter had been delivered and they used that information to track criminal activity.

    When they turn up missing Detective Ryan also notices the same scrap of paper on their desk and uses it to find Castle and Beckett just in time to save them. Nice story. But it is just a story.

    First, the barcode they show is not all there - it has part of it ripped off. It would not be able to be read entirely. Second, you can't call the Postal Service, give them a barcode and have them tell you where it was delivered.

    Barcodes are a boon to sorting the mail, but they aren't capable of solving crimes.

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    The Many Uses of Ready Post

    Photo by Cara Jennings
     USPS Ready Post products are sturdy, convenient, and a great buy. Apparently, they are also useful for more than just mailing items. This one must also be fairly waterproof.

    I am an inventor myself so I love to see ingenuity and innovation. However, the use of duct tape does imply that this is a short term solution.
                                                      ~Benny the Blogger


    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Dumpster Diving

    In Park City, UT, two Postal employees have taken customer service to a new low level. That is, low like the bottom of the trash dumpster.

    Their customer had inadvertently tossed an envelope in the trash at the Post Office, and then realized later he had trashed a vintage picture that could not be replaced. He really did not think that it could be found, and he was afraid he was going to have to write it off as a great loss.

    But postal employees Betty Brandner and Trish Smith came to the rescue. After searching the recycle bin and coming up empty, they donned protective suits and jumped inside the trash dumpster.

    The highly valued photo was only 2-1/2” X 2” and was placed inside a tyvek envelope, and then it was inside a Priority Flat Rate envelope. The operation was successful when the envelope turned up on the bottom of the dumpster.

    These employees went way over the top, to get to the bottom of this customer service request. 

    Sunday, December 4, 2011

    How the Cookie Crumbles

    In the December issue of the Food Network Magazine there is an article about an experiment they undertook. It's called "The Good Ship" and they set out to find the best way to ship cookies in the mail. They sent three Priority Mail boxes using different packaging inside, and the winner was one that used bubble wrap, a cookie tin, and newspaper padding.

    The photos show that all three were Priority Mail boxes. They photographed what was inside and what the end results were. With the proper bubble wrap packing only one sugar cookie cracked in the winning shipment.

    This is good timely packaging instructions right when many customers may be sending holiday treats. And of course, only Priority Mail boxes will do when you are sending a special package.


    Friday, December 2, 2011

    No Reduction in Giving

    They know how to give in Wichita!

    In spite of a 1/3 reduction in employees at the USPS Remote Encoding Center, the Combined Federal Campaign there exceeded pledges over last year's giving. 

    At the same time, the employees went even further by participating with a project which provides shoes to those in need worldwide - and collected over 700 pairs. 

    Pictured are Brandi Thomasson, Group Leader and her mother Tena Campbell, Data Conversion Operator.

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    2011 Yearbook

    Need a holiday gift idea? Why not shop for your gift list at

    Here's just one idea to consider for anyone's wish list.

    The 2011 Stamp Yearbook is the perfect way to enjoy the year's stamp program — and preserve the best of our nation.

    This beautiful keepsake uses the stamps of 2011 to highlight achievements, honor visionaries, applaud entertainers, and celebrate innovation.

    Each hardbound book includes:
    75 stamps from the 2011 collectible program plus mounts;
    72 pages of fascinating information about each stamp subject;
    Placeholders to preserve both collectible and mail-use issuances;
    An array of quotes, timelines, graphics, and photography.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2011

    North to Alaska

    Alaska Post Offices hold several records. Post Office Fun Facts listed on include several benchmarks that are located in Alaska including the following:

    Westernmost in US — Wales, AK

    Northernmost in US — Barrow, AK

    Coldest — North Slope area of Alaska, including Barrow and Wainwright

    Highest Zip Code - 99950 in Ketchikan, AK

    Most isolated — Located in the farthest reaches of northern Alaska, the Anaktuvuk Pass Post Office is the only link to the outside world for the 300 residents who live there. There are no roads; everything must be flown in.

    But one Alaska Post Office is just like several others around the nation. It holds memories of the local history.

    In Wasilla, AK, the original Post Office was recently salvaged and saved at a new historic park. Several residents commented on how fond they are of the old building and the many memories it holds for them. It certainly can't compare with the newer location. So what makes it such a fond rememberance?

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    Ben Franklin Kringle

    This may look like Chris Kringle, better known as Santa Clause, but it's actually me, Benjamin Franklin aka Benny the Blogger. 

    I'm getting in the holiday spirit and wanted to check out what's going on at the North Pole Post Office.

    I found out you can once again send someone a special holiday greeting this year with the North Pole postmark on it.

    To receive the special holiday postmark, customers should affix the correct postage to addressed envelopes and cards; then pack them in a larger envelope, box, Priority Mail or Express Mail package and send them to:

    North Pole Holiday Cancellation
    4141 Postmark Dr
    Anchorage, AK 99530-9998

    To ensure delivery by Christmas, all requests must be received in Anchorage by December 10. The service is provided at no cost.

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    Hard Time

    The former owner of a Carlstadt, New Jersey, mailing company was recently found guilty of conspiring to defraud 130 clients of $4.5 million.

    The company billed clients for hundreds of mailings that were missing or delayed. It was found that some were presented to the Postal Service over 60 days later than customers were told, while others were only partially or even never at all mailed. When clients had complained about the mailings, the owner and his employees blamed the Postal Service.

    When sentencing the owner, the judge emphasized how his conduct had tarnished the reputation of the Postal Service and damaged its relationship with customers. The convicted mailer was sentenced to almost six years in prison and three years of supervised release. He also was ordered to make full restitution to the Postal Service.

    One thing that more visibility and scanning can do is prove when items really are "in the mail."

    Friday, November 25, 2011

    Americana Icons

    Mailboxes are everywhere.

    Not only working ones that still get mail delivered in them, but also some that have been reinvented for other purposes or even as works of art. What have you seen mailboxes used for?

    They may be one of our favorite Americana icons. Start noticing how many times they are in paintings, in the background in movies, or given new life working some other way.

    What does their popularity mean? Maybe Americans are so fond of mail boxes because they like getting mail. Or maybe they bring fond memories because they are a symbol of everyone's home.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Here's the Scoop

    Here’s the scoop… Le Mars, Iowa is the "The Ice Cream Capital of the World". Officially designated as such in 1994 because more ice cream is produced there than in any other one city in the world.

    So you see things like the large ice cream sundae that sits out in front of the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Headquarters. There are also ice cream cones appearing all over the city as part of a public art project.

    Presently, there over 20 cones in places ranging from the elementary school to the truck wash. And now there is one at the Le Mars Post Office.

    Photo of cone appears courtesy of KTIV News 4.

    This cone was created by the family of longtime carrier Pat Holton who died earlier this year. Pat carried the mail along rural routes for 37 years. His son painted the cone the color of a drop box, and gave it great detail.

    Pat's wife Karol said, "I just want people to know how much he loved his work, and the community."

    To see more including a video of the postal ice cream cone visit:

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Postal Merit Badge

    When you think of Boy Scout merit badges, Camping and Emergency Preparedness may be the topics that first come to mind. But there has been a Stamp Collecting badge for some time now.

    New in 2012, the Postal Museum Education Department will offer Boy Scouts the opportunity to work toward the Stamp Collecting Merit Badge with the museum. What better way to learn stamps than through their collection?

    Boy Scouts completing the merit badge through the Smithsonian program will be real philatelic experts. According to the requirements, they must define topical stamp collecting and show examples of everything from overprinted stamps to first day covers. The final project can include showing a collection of over 200 stamps or a map-based display of international stamps.

    This opportunity won't just be for scouts. If you are interested in this program you may contact Erin at for information on how to participate.

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Owney Goes to School

    Everyone loves Owney the Postal Dog. Now he's going to school and helping students to meet reading, writing, math, social studies, science, and art standards.

    The National Postal Museum has developed a 60-page full-color curriculum guide that uses the four different units of maps, jobs, tags, and personal stories.

    For instance, Unit 2 is Jobs. Students will be able to understand that community workers are human resources who produce goods and services. Students will identify specialized workers, like postal employees, within a community.

    Other resources include companion sources for special education classroooms, a Standards of Learning guide, student worksheets to accompany lessons, and even U.S. Topography rubrics.

    Teacher resources include this recommended book list:

    • A Lucky Dog: Owney, U.S. Rail Mail Mascot by Dirk Wales
    • Delivering Your Mail: A book about mail carriers by Ann Owen
    • The Post Office Book: The Mail and how it moves by Gail Gibbons
    • Tales from the Rails e-Book by Jerry Rees and Stephen Michael Schwartz

    For more information visit

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    "Show Me" Sales in MO

    It could be "show me the money" or just plain show some breast cancer research support for Ellington, MO, Postmaster Marla Shipman.

    Marla, a breast cancer survivor herself, is among the most ardent supporters of the Breast Cancer Research (BCR) stamp. This year her office led the nation by selling more than $39,000 worth of BCR stamps during October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

    The employees of the Carl Junction, MO Post Office and the Glenstone Branch of the Springfield, MO Post Office also contributed to the cause by selling more than $25,000.

    In addition to using stamps to commemorate people, events and places, the Postal Service issues semipostal stamps to help fund causes mandated by Congress. The BCR semipostal was issued in 1998, and was the first semipostal in U.S. history. Sales of more than 919 million BCR stamps have raised $72.7 million for research.

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Dumb, Dangerous, and Illegal

    It sounds like dumb, dumber and dumbest except it's also dangerous!

    Doctors and medical experts are concerned about a new trend taking place on Facebook. Parents are talking about trading live viruses in order to infect their children.

    Parents use the page to set up play dates with children who currently have chicken pox. Or they offer to send spit and lollipops that infected children have used. Experts say such lollipops could carry more dangerous viruses including hepatitis. Two people on the Facebook page were even looking for the much more serious measles, mumps, and rubella.

    Medical experts say the most troubling part of this is parents are taking pathogens from complete strangers and deliberately infecting their children. "I could never feel good about purposely infecting a child with a disease like that," said Elizabeth Jacobs from the University of Arizona College of Public Health.

    Another big concern is that they are advising readers to send the virus through the mail.

    It is illegal to send infectious substances through the mail, except between very specialized and authorized parties who meet specific requirements. U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin was quoted as saying it is a federal crime to send diseases or viruses across state lines period.

    The United States Postal Inspection Service has a Dangerous Mail Investigations program that can conduct aggressive investigations of individuals who violate federal laws, and Postal Service rules and regulations with a prohibited mailing. Their objective is to secure the nation’s mail system and ensure public trust against any substance that may cause harm to Postal Service employees, or Postal Service customers.

    Refer to the Domestic Mail Manual for mailability regulations.
    Section refers to infectious substances.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Post Office for Sale

    Post Office for Sale!

    A new website lists both commercial buildings and land parcels for sale.

    The sale of some real estate should help the bottom line for USPS.

    Who would be interested in buying these? What should they be used for?

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Home Sweet Capitol

    Nothing quite says "home" like having your mail delivered.

    This snapshot was taken at the Occupy Denver location where a mail box was set up along Broadway in Civic Center Park.

    According to a story on the Westword blog, mail was getting delivered to this mail box. But a check with area Post Offices guaranteed that no carriers have delivered mail to this make-shift box. The address painted on it is not in the USPS database.

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Dining with the President

    I have been quoted as saying, "Eat to live, not live to eat."

    Although I do relish food and often suffer from gout for overindulging.

    Part of what I meant was that meals can often times be more than they appear. In my many different roles I have had meals with several dignitaries, and it is often more enlightening than just taking in subsistance.

    Recently, President Obama's re-election campaign offered the opportunity to engage with him over dinner as part of a promotion to boost contributions. The campaign paid for flying donors from Arizona, Colorado, Indiana and Minnesota to Arlington, VA. It included one night in a hotel, along with the dinner held at the Liberty Tavern.

    The donors, described as ordinary voters, included USPS Carrier Ken Knight of Chandler, AZ. Obama and Knight were heard to chat about spring training and the Chicago White Sox, the president's favorite team.

    But alas, they all declined to have dessert.

    For more on my thoughts about food visit:
    For more on President Obama and food visit:

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    A Veteran Post Office

    Out of the 108 employees at the Bremerton, WA, Post Office - 51 are Veterans.

    The Bremerton Post Office honored it's many Veteran employees on 11/10/11. They served desserts, and unveiled a display of photos from those employees who wanted to participate.

    The banner above the American Flag says, "Honoring those who served. Thank you."

    We send a "Thank You" to all the USPS employees who have served their country in the military, as well as those actively serving now. And we honor all the Veterans across the country on this Veterans Day, 2012.

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Mail That's Out of This World

    China opened a new post office on Nov. 3 with a street address that is 213 miles (343 km) above the Earth. The new space post office even has it's own postal code that extends into orbit: 901001.

    The opening of the new "China Post Space Office" coincided with the first ever Chinese docking in space between the unmanned Shenzhou 8 spacecraft and Tiangong-1 space lab module. The post office is located both on the ground in the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center (BACC), and, at least virtually, on board the newly established orbital complex.

    The office will process letters, and e-mails, making it possible for the public to write Chinese astronauts, or "taikonauts," on the ground and in space. It will offer domestic and international delivery as well as philatelic collectibles. The first souvenirs offered are cancelled envelopes, or "covers," celebrating the Shenzhou 8 and Tiangong-1 docking complete with a commemorative postmark.

    Russia has operated a makeshift post office on its space stations since the 1970s. The Russian space office continues to operate on the International Space Station. It consists primarily of a postmark device that is only used in space to mark letters and postcards as having flown in orbit.

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Everyone Loves Getting Mail

    If you pledged to write one letter a month, and maybe you even picked someone from the previous list, but now you're not sure what to say or how to say it. Here are tips for letter writing.

    How to write a letter.

    Below are some topics worth writing home about:

    Thank you notes
    Letters of appreciation
    Your city and your favorite things to do there
    Short stories or poems
    If you could go anywhere in the world...
    Who or what inspires you?
    A person or event that has changed your life
    Forgive someone, or apologize
    Announce a milestone, or addition to the family
    Congratulations on a noteworthy event
    Share memories of days past

    Whether you participate in this letter writing campaign or not, keep the ideas in mind. Everyone loves geting mail, so make someone happy and remember them in the future.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Would You Write One Letter a Month?

    Have you pledged to write one letter a month? Or just occasionally will try to write more often? Who should you write to? Here's a list of ideas:

    The love of your life
    Your long lost friend from high school
    Your parents, from the perspective of their new grandchild
    Someone newly diagnosed with cancer
    Deployed soldiers
    A pen pal on the other side of the world
    The teacher who helped shape who you are
    The employee who went out of their way for you
    Your favorite author/athlete/musician
    Representives in Congress
    A loved one who's away to college
    Your cousin in another state
    Your grandchild

    For ideas on how to find some of these types of recipients, visit the website:

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Americans Love Letters

    Everyone loves getting letters. But in order to receive you need to give. There is a website that promotes "helping to save the USPS" with a unique idea. It encourages readers to pledge to write one letter a month.

    Ok, we know that as digitial communication grows, the art of letter writing fades. Maybe we even buy that a world without letters may quickly be upon us. Many of us are skeptical, however, that a letter writing campaign can solve the USPS financial problems. Many of you wrote comments about this on a previous post on September 29th.

    But consider what this website proclaims that letter writing is a part of our heritage, and keeping the mail going will help keep a part of our history alive. What will the historic letters of this generation be?

    It further states that handwritten words of intimacy conquer any distance or length of time. What letter do you keep tucked away to be read over and over?

    Whether it will help save the Postal Service or not, maybe we should not lose something so important as hand written or hard copy letters.

    Would you be willing to write one letter a month? If so, visit the blog tomorrow for some letter writing ideas.

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    House of Cards

    Greeting cards and gift cards are two new items the Postal Service is utilizing to raise more revenue. They are currently only available in select Post Offices.

    Have you purchased either of these items? What did you like about them? What would you improve?
    If they were available at your office would you purchase them?

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Day of Caring

    Nancy Donovan, a Postal Service employee, is shown organizing 240 volunteers early one morning for the Day of Caring in Great Falls, MT.

    The work of the volunteers is instrumental in making it possible for about 40 senior citizens and people with disabilities to continue to live alone in their homes.

    United Way of Cascade County administers the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) and organizes the annual event. USPS employees play a crucial role.

    The CFC is celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year, and the campaign will run through December 15th.

    Click here to view a 50 year celebration video:

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Harvest Remembrance

    Gridley, KS, Postmaster Paula Raaf retired one year ago.

    Gridley rural carrier Doug Kraft still thought about her this year and designed this mailbox display for her.

    At this thankful time of year are there dedicated fellow employees you remember?

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Keeps on Going

    Congratulations to Mariano Gonzalez, Review Clerk at the Seattle P&DC, who was recently honored by co-workers for his 50 years of postal service - all served in Seattle. Mr. Gonzalez also served eight years of military reserve duty which he completed while working for the Postal Service. He has no plans to retire.

    In the photo, from the left, Seattle District Manager Yul Melonson, Mariano Gonzalez, and Seattle Sr Plant Manager Don Jacobus.

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    Spooky Place: Haunted Post Office

    Paranormal Post Office?

    Photo: San Pedro Post Office employees Brian Bundy, left, and Lance McCall stand along one of the hallways in the facility’s basement.

    For many years, custodian Ed Nelson looked after the labyrinth of stairs and hallways in the grand old San Pedro, CA, Post Office. Although he no longer works here, employees still see him from time to time – and that would be fine, if it weren’t for the fact he passed away 28 years ago.

    The facility’s General Clerk and historian, Brian Bundy, says that all San Pedro employees know about Mr. Nelson, and some think he’s still coming to work. Bundy himself has had some creepy close encounters.

    Mr. Nelson was very attached to that building and took good care of it. Perhaps he still does.

    Business Mail Acceptance Clerk Rosie Rivera worked with Ed Nelson, and was one of three co-workers that he left substantial amounts of money to after his death.

    According to Rivera, Nelson never missed a day — until he passed away in 1983. Perhaps he’s also keeping his perfect attendance record intact.

    For more on this story listen to the podcast available at

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Halloween Wraps

    Happy Halloween!

    Mail box wraps are a popular way to decorate.

    What does it mean when a customer cares enough to decorate their box?

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Benny's Mail Order Catalog

    I was most honored to be inducted into the Direct Marketing Association Hall of Fame in 2004, for producing the first catalog, which sold scientific and academic books.

    My catalog came with the first mail order guarantee: “Those persons who live remote, by sending their orders and money to B. Franklin may depend on the same justice as if present.” I wanted my customers to have complete trust in me.

    I've come a long way to be Benny the Blogger now, and the mail order business has certainly come a long way too. According to a survey conducted at the Direct Marketing Association’s 2011 Conference & Exhibition, 80 percent of 231 attendees polled said they anticipate that their marketing budgets will increase in 2012.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Smashing Pumpkins

    It sounds like a good opportunity for the Postal Service to help with a key ingredient for pumpkin pie.

    Mary Busey, an 80-year old woman form Anderson, GA, has been sending pumpkins through the mail to members of her family for 40 years. She doesn't package them. She just writes an address on the skin, affixs the postage and hands them to the window clerk.

    Most of the orange beauty's are small -- one pound or so. But no doubt, they are met with incredulity as they pass through the system.

    In those 40 years, just four of them have been damaged. That's a great track record.

    Her tradition started in 1972, when her eldest daughter left for college. It continued when the other three left and has never stopped.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011