Monday, January 31, 2011

Quirky vehicle tips for Winter

My friend Rich Yokel, from Spokane, WA, sent in these winter driving tips:

Keep your headlights clear with car wax! Just wipe ordinary car wax on your headlights. It contains special water repellents that will prevent that messy mixture from accumulating on your lights - lasts 6 weeks.

Squeak-proof your wipers with rubbing alcohol! Wipe the wipers with a cloth saturated with rubbing alcohol or ammonia. This one trick can make badly streaking & squeaking wipers change to near perfect silence & clarity.

Ice-proof your windows with vinegar! Frost on its way? Just fill a spray bottle with three parts vinegar to one part water & spritz it on all your windows at night. In the morning, they'll be clear of icy mess. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which raises the freezing point of water ---preventing frost from forming!

Prevent car doors from freezing shut with cooking spray! Spritz cooking oil (corn oil-based) on the rubber seals around car doors & rub it in with a paper towel. The cooking spray prevents water from freezing onto the rubber

Fog-proof your windshield with shaving cream! Spray some shaving cream on the inside of your windshield & wipe it off with paper towels, leaving no smears. Shaving cream has many of the same ingredients found in commercial defoggers.

De-ice your lock in seconds with hand sanitizer! Just put some hand sanitizer gel on the key & the lock and voila ..... problems solved!

Do you have your own? Share it here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Play the postal-fantasy Super Bowl ad contest!

Obviously, given our finances, we won't be sponsoring a Super Bowl ad this year. The reports are that it will cost $2.5 million for a 30-second spot, this wouldn't be a wise thing to do given our deficits.

But let's lay that aside and pretend you and I are running the ad campaign and we have 30 seconds to turn the Postal Service's image and finances around. What should it be? Should we use Al the Carrier? Should we bring back Steve Miller or Carly Simon to sing for us? Should we find employees who could plead our case before America? Should we use babies or dogs or frogs?

What are your thoughts? If you would have a 30-second commercial, what would it look like? Don't wait too long!  The big game is Feb. 6th!  Leave your comments and suggestions here.

The best suggestion will get a prime-time mention right here at Your Postal Blog.

For more information, here's a chart (unfortunately, a few years old) of 40 years of Super Bowl ad prices.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Counterfeit postage stamps. Really?

A reporter wrote a story on her inadvertent purchase of counterfeit stamps at a New York City deli counter.

She put them on envelopes which were later returned with a sticker that read, "Return to Sender: Counterfeit Postage."

Of course, the best way to make sure you have the real deal is to purchase stamps from a USPS retail outlet,, a lisenced vendor, APC or contract unit.  All of the approved shippers will have a sticker on their window to show the source of their postage.

Have you ever encountered counterfeit postage either in your postal duties or as a customer? Tell your story here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Less questions, more customers?

According to the Associated Press , PMG Donahoe is going to ease the requirement for retail associates and window personnel to ask so many questions.

Some questions will still be needed for security reasons, such as the contents of a parcel. But, according to the report, clerks will no longer have to run through the laundry list of questions about return receipts,  insurance or other special services.

What do you think? Is this a good thing? Leave a comment here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How much does it cost to deliver?

Andrew Schneider is an MBA student at George Washington University, and he's tried to break down how much each portion of our processes costs to mail a 44 cent stamp.

Here's his analysis, as printed in the Washington Post.

Not all of the categories are clear and some appear to be redundant, but here's what he showed:

* Sorting labor, 10 cents
* Delivery labor, 7 cents
* Facility/vehicle maintenance, 2 cents
* Fuel/transportation, 1 cent
* Buildings, equipment, vehicles, 2 cents
* Retiree pension/health, 2 cents
* Misc. expense, 8 cents
* Overhead, 16 cents
Total: 48 cents.
That means we lose 4 cents on every letter.

Care to comment?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Far-out stamps

Alan Shepard, the first American astronaut to fly into space, will be on a U.S. postage stamp next year.

The stamp called, "Alan Shepard: First American in Space," shows Shepard centered between images of his rocket lifting off and his capsule above the Earth.

A second stamp, "First Spacecraft to Orbit Mercury"  will show the Messenger spacecraft and the planet with a starry sky in the background.

The stamps should be available this Spring.

These are the first space-themed stamps in more than a decade. What do you think about space stamps? Good sellers? Comment here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Your Postal Podcast: Personal challenges, successes

Hear from a California postal employee who has overcome blindness to excel at his job, and get updated on the latest news from USPS Headquarters on the new edition of Your Postal Podcast.

Available at, this month's audio program also explains the origins of the unofficial postal motto.

For a transcript of the latest program, please click here.

San Diego Automation Clerk Frank Facio operates Delivery Bar
Code Sorter Number 32 at the Margaret Sellers P&DC.

While at, you can catch up on all 31 previous shows. All of the podcasts can also be downloaded free at the iTunes store or via any other RSS feeder.

Comments, questions and story ideas for the podcast are always appreciated -- click here[ to share them, and thank you for listening.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Higher prices coming in April, but First-Class stamp remains at just 44 cents

The price of mailing is going up, but the regular First-Class stamp will stay the same. That's right. 44 cents for a letter.

The Postal Service recently filed for new prices, covering First-Class Mail, Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Special Services, with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) according to a press release.

This is the first pricing increase in mailing services in 2 years.

Highlights of the new pricing include:
  • First-Class letters (1 ounce) remain unchanged at 44 cents;
  • First-Class letters additional ounces increase to 20 cents;
  • Postcards will cost 29 cents;
  • Letters to Canada or Mexico (1 ounce) increase to 80 cents; and,
  • Letters to other international destinations will remain unchanged at 98 cents.

The new prices do not affect Express Mail or Priority Mail pricing.

The price changes are expected to generate $340 million for the balance of the fiscal year and $720 million if implemented for a 12-month period.

Detailed information about the pricing is available online at

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Do we need new designations for our parcel services?

A recent Forbes article suggested that our current package designations are too confusing, that the average consumer doesn't know the difference between "First-Class", "Priority" and Express. They all sound fast -- but which one is faster?

The author suggested a simpler designation, which apparently worked in another country. "Got Time?" - First-Class, "Running Late?" for Priority, or "In a Panic?" for Express Mail.

What do you think?

Comment here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hello Forever

Earlier this month, Associate Press, as well as many other outlets, reported the traditional first-class stamp is being phased out and replaced with so-called "forever" stamps.

It was confirmed by PMG Donahoe at his official installation on Friday.

The first Forever Stamp was introduced in April, 2007. The change is designed to make mailing letters convenient for consumers, especially during price change transitions.

What do you think about this news? Comment here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Drug ring foiled

Supervisor Billy Gans and other Overland Station employees helped foil a drug ring that was using the mail to send heroin to a Boise, ID, address.

They saw a consistent pattern of Express Mail being sent to a certain residence and contacted Postal Inspectors. They were suspicious and executed a search warrant. Inspectors found more than 28 grams of heroin.

The State of Idaho secured a guilty plea and verdict on the charges of  Conspiracy to Traffic in Heroin. One of the defendants is looking at a life sentence.

"Many of our criminal leads come from our employees' 'gut feelings'," said Boise Inspector Darin Solmon. " If something just doesn't seem right, notify your supervisor and the Inspection Service and we'll run with it."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Steve Carell goes from The Office to the Post Office

Steve Carell is the star of the NBC hit, The Office. It's one of television's quirkiest shows. The comedy centers around the disfunction of employees of a paper company.

Carell is departing the series and has inked a deal for a new series, called the Post-Graduate Project

According to The Atlantic Wire the series is based on Carell's job as a mail-carrier in Massachusettes before he made it big in comedy and films.

The Post Office is "sweet and nostalgic, but filled with a quirky, tight-knit group of twenty-somethings who frequent the office."

Carell apparently quit his job because his Postmaster told him he was "innefficient."

What do you think about this? Comment here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Holiday cards: What did you send out?

According to Greeting Card Association about 2.0 billion Christmas and holiday cards were mailed this season. In fact, 8 out of 10 households engage in this tradition of sending out cards. Sixty percent of all greeting cards are sent out at Christmas-time.

And yes – electronic alternatives such as digital and e-cards – filled inboxes as well. Approximately 500 million e-cards were sent out last year.

So, how about you? Did you send out more cards this year, less cards or about the same?

Take just a second to fill out the poll on the upper right corner of this blog.
And feel free to comment here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mailbox on the cheap

This Mountain Grove, MO, mailbox is made out of the only the finest material – a five gallon bucket, a tuna can for the flag and a rough cut log for the post.

(Photo courtesy of Chase Davis)
Send your strange mailbox photos to

Monday, January 10, 2011

Electric vehicles. Smart buy or silly expenditure?

MAG International, Inc., a California-based subsidiary of LadyBug Resource Group claims that it can convert the USPS LLV fleet to electric for around $25,000 per vehicle.

We have 146,000 Grumman long life vehicle in our inventory. And with that many vehicles, which get no more than 10 miles per gallon, we use plenty of petro.

But, in order to convert the entire fleet, it would cost a cool $3.6 billion.

What do you think? Smart move? Something we should consider? Comment here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Selling gift cards at Post Offices

According to the Washington Post, the Postal Service will test sales of gift cards in May at 2,000 retail outlets.

Instead of branded gift cards, the pre-paid cards would be general use cards from American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa, according to papers filed Wednesday with thePostal Regulatory Commission.

If it works, the cards would expand to another 3,000 offices later in the year.
The cards would be sold in either fixed amounts or variable amounts up to $100.

So, what do you think? Would your customers buy these kinds of cards? Is this a good idea?
Comment here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Top 25 Most Popular Commemorative Stamps

Ever wonder what are the most stamps purchased, but never used? Stamp Services tells us the top stamp is Elvis, with 124 million stamps still stashed away. Here's the entire list by subject, year and number of stamps saved:
1.  Elvis, 1993, 124.1 million
2. Wonders of America, 2006, 87.5 million
3. Marvel Super Heroes, 2007, 85.5 million
4. Star Wars, 2007, 80.8 million
5. Wildflowers, 1992, 76.1 million
6. Rock and Roll, 1993, 75.9 million
7. DC Comic Super Heroes, 2006, 73.0 million
8. Greetings From America, 2002, 71.4 million
9. Insects and Spiders, 1999, 61.0 million
10. Art of Disney: Romance, 2006, 57.2 million
11. Legends of Baseball, 2000, 53.9 million
12. Art of Disney: Magic, 2007, 23.8 million
13. Pacific Coast Lighthouses, 2007, 53.6 million
14. Art of Disney: Celebration, 2005, 52.8 million
15. The Simpsons, 2009, 50.1 million
16. Baseball Playing Fields, 2001, 49.0 million
17. Art of Disney: Friendship, 2004, 47.7 million
18. Civil War, 1995, 46.6 million
19. Legends of the West, 1994, 46.4 million
20. Marilyn Monroe, 1995, 46.4 million
21. Art of Disney: Imagination, 2008, 46.2 million
22. Advances in Aviation, 2005, 45.8 million
23. Bugs Bunny, 1997, 44.1 million
24. Frank Sinatra, 2008, 42.7 million
25). Lunar New Year, 2005, 42.7 million

What's your favorite? Have you kept any of these? Comment here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What's your most cherished piece of mail?

We all have those pieces of mail that we've saved over the years.
It might be a letter or a package or something special that evokes memories and feelings from yesterday.

National Public Radio is talking about mail that's kept, where listeners are encouraged to send photos of their favorites.

What's your most cherished piece of mail? Comment here, or e-mail a photo here

Photo by Melaina, with  permission

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Biggest Loser taps another postal employee

Season 11 of The Biggest Loser will begin to air this month, and Portland, OR, Letter Carrier Ana Alvarado, will be competing along with her daughter, Irene.

This isn't the first time postal employee to appear on the show.

Minneapolis Station Manager O'Neal Hampton  also appeared on the show last year. He started off at 389 pounds, but trimmed down to a lean 230 pounds. He appeared on a subsequent show with his daughter, Sunshine.

Will you be watching? What do you think? Comment here.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mail in Maui

These boxes in Maui are creative!

Photos Courtesy, Susan Jackson, Phoenix, AZ

Comment here...

2011 Postal Payroll Calendar

The handy payroll calendar is our most popular link. Click here to bring up the full-sized version, then use the "File - Print" command on your toolbar to send it to the printer.

And don't forget to share this with others. Everyone needs to know when the payday is!

To subscribe to all future issues Your Postal Blog, click here.