Friday, July 29, 2011

Owney Tails - Global Traveler

The crowning achievement of Owney's life was a trip around the world which took him to nearly every continent over the course of 132 days. The dog traveled more than 143,000 miles by steamship and train.  The emperor of Japan even greeted him with open arms.

Upon his arrival home was greeted by more than 100,000 adoring fans at the New York harbor.

Owney the Dog is on display at the National Postal Museum in Washington D.C. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Owney Tails - Protecting the Mail

Owney served as a postal service mascot in the late 1800’s. He literally rode the rails of the mail trains and was befriended by postal employees and embraced by the public across the country and eventually the world.

Photo Courtesy National Postal Museum

One day Owney was on the wagon going between the Post Office and the rail head and a mail bag fell off. The little dog jumped off the wagon and barked, but no one heard him. So, he stayed iwth the mailbag until they found him.

Author Dirk Wales, as interviewed at Your Postal Podcast, asked, "did Owney know that somebody would notice he was gone and come and find him?"

A good question.

"He instinctively knew the importannce of the sack," Wales said. "He was protecting the mail."

What do you think about this tale? Comment here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thousands of Post Offices studied for closure

The PMG announced yesterday that nearly 3,700 additional Post Offices would be studied for closure.

That means that nearly 1 in 9 Post Offices could be shuttered within a few months.

This is being proposed because of the current fiscal crisis that sees us losing $8.5 billion this year and capping out at our max borrowing on Sept. 30.

We've already suspended FERS contributions and have threatened not to make the retiree health care prepayment mandated by the 2006 Postal Law.

All of this would be made right if:
* Congress would allow us to deliver less than six days a week
* The retiree health care prepayment requirement were lifted.

Additionally, CSRS and FERS have both been overfunded, according to the OIG.

What do you think about this annoucement? Will this get the attention of Congress?
Care to comment?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Owney Tails - Coin Capade

One of the best dog stories ever told is a true one. Owney the Dog served as an unofficial U.S. Mail mascot in the late 1800’s. After more than 100 years, his legendary travels are being featured on a U.S. Postage Stamp, issued on July 27.

Coin Capade
by Dirk Wales 

I was told about how coins minted in Carson City, NV, were shipped via the Railway Post Office to the San Francisco mint.

This felt like a good situation for a curious dog.

In The Further Adventures of A Lucky Dog, I wrote a story about how Owney rode on an RPO car headed for San Francisco when it stopped. There, a group of armed men in blue uniforms got on the train and begin loading heavy white bags.

Owney, of course, began sniffing around these bags, but they had no smell. What! Everything has a smell to it, but not these cold white bags. He sat on them all the way to San Francisco and watched them be unloaded onto a boat that would take them across San Francisco Bay to the Mint.

Owney hopped on that boat and went all the way to the Mint with the bags, still in a mystery of what they were. If Owney could have read, he would have seen that the bags said, “U.S. Silver Dollars” with the dollar amount in the bag.

When the bags were off-loaded, Owney stayed on to cross the Bay again and go onto his most western destination, Cloverdale. California

For an opportunity to win a copy of Dirk's books, listen to the latest Your Postal Podcast and leave your thoughts in the comment box.

What do you think about Owney? Click here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Owney Tails - One Smart Dog

One of the best dog stories ever told is a true one. Owney the Dog served as an unofficial U.S. Mail mascot in the late 1800’s. After more than 100 years, his legendary travels are being featured on a U.S. Postage Stamp, issued on July 27.

Photo Courtesy National Postal Museum

One smart dog
by Dirk Wales

Owney may have been one of the most intuitive of dogs.

One day, in Albany, one of the Railway Post Office men who loved Owney’s company was making a run on the train to Boston and wanted Owney to come along. They left Albany and crossed the Hudson River to Troy where there was an unexpected load of mail, so much so, that the RPO man had to put Owney off the train. “Sorry, Owney,” said, “but the mail has to go through.”

Owney sniffed around the station in Troy until another train came along. It was going to Springfield Massachusetts, so, Owney hopped on. At Springfield, he got off and checked out the station there and found a train that was leaving soon. He hopped on that one and within hours found himself in Boston.

He looked around Boston station until he saw a track with an incoming train. He found the RPO car and sat by the door until it opened. When it did, there was his young RPO friend from Albany --- astounded that Owney was there in Boston, and had even arrived before his train.

For an opportunity to win a copy of Dirk's books, listen to the latest Your Postal Podcast and leave your thoughts in the comment box.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Your Postal Podcast - Owney the Dog with Captain and Clark

This month's edition of Your Postal Podcast shares details about the past journeys of a famous canine and a future trek around the world  by two modern-day adventurers.
The audio program’s first story is about Owney, the mail train-riding postal pooch that will be featured on a commemorative stamp issued this month.
The New Mexico author of two books about Owney has donated a copy of each story for our listeners. For a chance to win one of the books, simply leave a comment about this month’s show at using the “Comments  link. Two winners will be drawn at random from all who post a comment.
You’ll also hear the story of an intrepid Washington pair’s upcoming trek around the world. They’ll travel to the the Galapagos Islands in order to recreate ancient seafarers’ method of getting letters to loved ones.
 You can listen from any computer by visiting

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What can I do?

Benny here.

It looks like we are on track to lose more money, including more than a billion dollars last month alone.

We've all found ways to trim workhours and expenses, so what can we do to increase revenue?

I think it may come down to each one of use doing whatever we can to bring in revenue.

My next door neighbor, Abe Wasserman, bought a birthday card for his daughter at the drug store. Why buy it at drug or grocery store where they get all the money? This month you can add an American Express Gift card in that envelope and buy it at the Post Office too!

Mrs.. Clemons down the street suggested that the Pie Society use the mail in a colorful padded bag to send their goodies instead of that shyster McAndrew's rickety horse and buggy who just drops it on the porch.

My PO Box customers keep paying the PO Box rent later and later. I decided to charge them the required late fee just like my mortgage company.

My clerk, Joseph Farland, has been on a new mission to collect short-paid revenue.

So, what can you do to help increase revenue? Any ideas that have worked? Let's share them -- for the sake of our future. Comment here!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Forget five-day delivery, how about three-day delivery?

In a front page story, USA Today interviewed Postmaster General Pat Donahoe.

The question of five-day delivery came up, and the PMG reiterated the Postal Service's request to Congress to authorize less than six-days a week delivery.

He also said, "In 15 years we'll be talking about delivering mail three days a week."

The logic is that paper mail will continue it's steep decline and thus the revenue won't be there to sustain a six -- or five -- day delivery system.

A 2010 USA TODAY/Gallup poll said more than half of Americans favor dropping Saturday delivery.

What do you think about this? How would it work? Comment here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Door-to-Door no more?

The Office of the Inspector General for the Postal Service conducted a study mandating centralized delivery for new delivery points another $5.1 billion.

They also estimated that by consolidating current curbside delivery to centralized delivery and by converting door-to-door deliveries to curbside delivery we could save more than $4.5 billion.

What do you think about this concept?  What do you think about the estimated savings? Comment here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Stamp program announcement moves to Facebook, Twitter.

If you're looking for the 2012 stamp program to be announced with cameras clicking and a big press conference with blue drapes being pulled off stamp blow-ups, you might be waiting a long time.

The 2012 stamps will be first announced exclusively on Facebook and Twitter. The stamps will appear — one day at a time, five days per week on the sites.Get a head start by "Friending" the Postal Service at and follow USPS on Twitter@USPSstamps.”

If you aren't already familiar with it, check out Beyond the Perf — the Postal Service’s website that provides an in-depth look at stamps. The site will also include a preview of next year's stamps.

What do you think about this move? Comment here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The ZIP Code cafe

Found near Alamosa, Colorado, this cafe needs a new owner!

Care to comment?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Caption Contest: Delivering the Power Bill

Jimmy Barker took this photo in Fargo, ND.
What should our caption be?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Postcards, "Wish You Were Here"

Summer vacations means sending postcards of your journey to friends and loved ones. Do you send postcards when you are on your summer vacation? What's your favorite postcard? Comment below.

Postcards have an interesting history. Click here to learn more.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Things that can't be mailed

Every country has it's own rules for what can and cannot be shipped.

Some make sense -- liquids, perishables and hazardous materials. But there are some quirky things that can't be send.

Sheryl Owen's recently blogged an article about things that can't be sent to some overseas destinations. Some of the more interesting, prohibited items she found were:
  • No chessboards to Afghanistan
  • Musical greeting cards can't be sent to Quatar
  • Cigarettes and soap to many countries

The 1,422 page Universal Postal Union list is here.

I found that you can't ship toothpaste to Modova, fat from ewe's wool to Slovakia, used clothing to Czeck Republic,  "germs" to Austrailia, or "The Happy Drinking Bird" toy to Bahrain.

What are some of the quirkiest things you have discovered that can't be mailed? Comment here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dogsled mail

Sometimes, there aren't any roads.

And yet, the Postal Service has a universal service mandate to deliver the mail.

For many years, mail dog teams delivered to communities in Alaska.

They aren't really a bad mode of transport. They covered long distances, traveling over a variety of terrain including deep snow, iced lakes and dark trails.

The strong Malamutes dog is the best sled dog because of their thick coats, furry paws and the ability to sleep on the open snow without a hut. Newfoundlands, St. Bernards, setters, spaniels, and collies were also used. Each team carried between 500-700 pounds of mail.

The only downside was the food they required. They ate plenty and somehow, the chow had to be hauled along with the mail.

Mail carriers and their dogs were treated like royalty on the trail. Road houses offered their best beds to carriers who did not have their own cabins along the trail, and lead dogs slept inside.
The famed 2,300-mile Iditarod Trail was the main dog trail that carried mail from Seward to Nome. Over-night roadhouses served mail carriers, freighters, and other travelers who used dog sleds or horses.

In 1963, with the retirement of musher Chester Noongwook, regular sled dog mail delivery ended.

An Alaskan Dog Sled, Courtesy Smithsonian.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Should we be friendlier?

One reader wrote me and suggested that instead of measuring "wait time in line," that we should score offices on "friendliness."

"In an age where everything is getting so impersonal, lets put some personality back," she writes. "We are not the only mailing service in town anymore."

What do you think? Should we be friendlier?
Comment here.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Idea factory

Looking for more revenue, one Postmaster wrote me and suggested that smaller offices be allowed to sell greeting cards and gift cards

"In rural areas, there is not a 'Wal-Mart' down the road," she writes.

Some of the arguements against selling these items revolve around inventory, restocking and waste.

What do you think?  Comment here.