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.