Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mail - In Any Form?

V. A. Shiva, the Inventor of EMAIL: First EMAIL System, 1980The inventor of EMAIL in 1980, V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, an MIT professor, now has plans that he says could save billions of dollars for the Postal Service. He suggests they enter the email management industry.

“Large Fortune-2000 companies and small businesses are seeking personnel and solutions every day to manage their growing volumes of email,” Ayyadurai said. In 1994 he won a White House competition  by creating his own email management system called EchoMail.

According to Ayyadurai, large companies lack the infrastructure necessary to efficiently handle the amount of messages that are dumped into their inboxes on a daily basis. Although he developed his own software, Ayyadurai still thinks human eyes are needed to filter through every companies’ incoming emails, separating those marked urgent from spam.

“USPS postal workers, trusted and true, can do this job,” Ayyadurai writes. “They can be trained within 30-60 days, given their current background, to offer a USPS email management service. From simple estimates, the USPS can generate a minimum of $10 billion per year.”

Ayyadurai says he has been working to formulate some sort of plan, and on March 15th, he’ll speak on “The Future of the Post Office” on behalf of the MIT Communications Forum.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Getting the Job Done

Highway 50 is one of the longest highways in the United States. It stretches from Ocean City, MD, to Sacramento, CA, and passes through central Kansas. A sign at Ocean City declares this coast-to-coast highway is 3,073 miles long. Time Magazine (July 7, 1997) called Highway 50 "the backbone of America."

Kendall, KS, is on the western side of the state, along this US-50 route. Initially known as Aubrey for an old fort nearby, it began as a railroad stop. Five people settled there in 1879 and founded a trading post. A Post Office opened the same year. In 1885, the name was changed to Kendall and the town was platted. It grew from 10 houses to 200 houses in 4 months becoming a temporary county seat after an election in 1886. 
Times have changed and now Kendall is an organized township of less than 100 people with a few houses, a grain elevator, a couple of businesses and the Post Office. A recent storm with blowing snow caused some travel problems for residents of  Kendall. 

Postmaster Becky Grusing said, "My husband drove about a fourth of a mile before coming to a big snow drift. He came back saying we're not getting to work."

But Grusing felt she should make every effort to get the Post Office opened so she saddled up her horse Macho and rode him two miles through the snow. 

Along Hwy 50, the town of Kendall and Postmaster Grusing are still part of the backbone of America.

To hear more visit www.yourpostalpodcast.com. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Location, Location, Location

Photo Courtesy of Michael Berger
USPS customers currently get their mail delivered in a variety of locations. But in many older residential neighborhoods a mailman walks up to a box at their door.

In Denmark, the Danish Parliament recently passed the Postal Act. Among it's provisions, Section 7 of the Postal Act had new rules that essentially require householders to set up mailboxes on the edge of their properties that can be driven up to, rather than having letters and documents delivered to the door.

It also allows postal operators to refuse delivery of mail to those households that do not meet the new provisions of mailboxes at the street. Post Danmark is now sending out letters to 174,000 remaining households to warn that if they do not comply by the March 1st deadline, they could find their mail returned to sender.

The U.S. Postal Service has asked residents in some locations to voluntarily install curbside mailboxes to help the Postal Service save as much as $100 per house annually in delivery costs.

What do you think of curbside residential boxes? Should they be required if they can save money?


Thursday, January 26, 2012

No Couch Potato

Clerk Randy Craig helps a customer at the Coeur d'Alene Post Office.

USPS Clerk Randy Craig is responsible for following a pair of mail thieves, and reporting their license number to the police.

It was near midnight when his family dog started barking. When Craig peeked outside he saw a car with two people inside. They were driving slowly, stopping, and checking mailboxes.

"Once the dog woofed I heard the vehicle, and then I started hearing boxes slamming, one after the other," said  Craig. "I was upset these guys were stealing mail."

Fearing they might get away, Craig ran out bare-chested in only his pajama bottoms, and got in his car to follow them.  When they stopped at some more mailboxes, he pulled over some distance behind them and got the license number from their vehicle.

He returned home and called the police. They quickly showed up and arrested the suspects who had been ditching items out their window.

No one recommends confronting thieves, but for Randy Craig, when he heard something going on he had to report it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Floating Post Office

The only floating post office in the world, that delivers mail to other ships as they are underway, operates out of Detroit, MI.

The Westcott company was established in 1874 by Captain J.W. Westcott, who first ferried supplies, and by 1895 the mail, to passing ships via rowboat.

The J.W. Wescott II serves to deliver mail to other vessels, and also provides a pilot boat service to ferry pilots to and from other vessels. 
The postal station is located just south of the Ambassador Bridge along the western shore of the Detroit River. The ZIP Code 48222 is exclusive to the floating post office and its ship addressees. 

Any mail addressed to members of ships' crews that pass through the Detroit River can have mail delivered to them via the J.W. Westcott II, by addressing it to the vessal name, Marine Post Office, Detroit, MI.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bobble Head

We have a box of Letter Carrier bobble heads left over from several years ago.
Here's your chance to win one. 
What does mail mean to you?

Do you have a favorite letter you have kept for years?
Or some favorite greeting cards you've kept in a box?
Is there a momentous letter that changed your whole life?

Send your response along with your name and address (so we can send the bobble head)
by clicking the link below. If you are a Postal employee, please also include your job title and home office. 

Your Postal Blog Bobblehead Giveaway

This giveaway has now ended, thank you for your responses.
Watch for a future blog of some replies we received.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pick Your Language

Spanish and Chinese are the two most popular languages spoken in the United States after English. To reach this growing audience, USPS.com is now available in Spanish and Simplified Chinese. 

Screen Shot - Drop down box - which language to pickTo select a language, hover over the drop-down lan­guage selection in the grey header in the top far left of the page. 

All product and service description pages as well as all FAQs, many advertisements, and applications such as Look Up a ZIP Code and Track & Confirm are avail­able in Spanish and Simplified Chinese.

More languages will be offered in the future.
To learn more, go to www.usps.com/newwebsite.htm to see what else is new on USPS.com.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Postal Forensics

Forensic lab cert.
Firearms and Toolmark Examiner Shirley Marc with a comparison 
microscope to examine firing pin impressions on a cartridge case.

Benny here, one thing I never did think of when I was Postmaster General was the need for a Postal Forensics unit. But modern times call for the latest technology in keeping the mail safe.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s National Forensic Laboratory has earned accreditation from the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors — affirming its role as a premier forensic laboratory meeting stringent quality assurance criteria.

Located in Dulles, VA, the state-of-the-art National Forensic Laboratory is instrumental in combating postal-related crime. Its 40 forensic scientists conduct hands-on analyses of physical evidence, ranging from counterfeit stamps and postal money orders to explosives.

In 2010, forensic examiners reviewed more than 45,000 documents, fingerprints, controlled substances, audio and video files, and other physical evidence related to ongoing criminal cases. These examinations identified 479 individuals, including 90 suspects whose fingerprints matched those in the Automated Fingerprint Identification System — the national system used by police departments and federal agencies.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Post Cards in Hand

At least two online companies are using innovative ideas to turn customer emails and photos into real-life postcards, delivered by U.S. Mail. Their websites tout such things as: 

Snap, tap and send.
New technology delivered the old fashioned way.
Keep Grandma in the loop. Send a post card to share photos with relatives who don't use Facebook.
Send a postcard to a service member in Afghanistan. Be a big hit at mail call with tangible photos. 
Take a photo and send a post card of it in 30 seconds or less right from your smart phone. 
Send travel photos home on your own post cards right from the sights you visit. 

You can send postcards from your phone, your computer, or anywhere you have email. 

The best of both worlds - using technology to enhance real mail.

Postcardly beta

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Letters for Posterity

Ludwig van Beethoven 1820
A letter written in 1823 by composer Ludwig van Beethoven has been recently discovered in a collection bequeathed by a music teacher to the L├╝beck Brahms Institute. In the three-page document, believed to be worth up to 150,000 euros, Beethoven asks a fellow composer for help to drum up money. This letter will be presented to the public on Jan. 18 and will be put on display at the institute's museum until Jan. 29.

The value of original writings by Beethoven became evident last year when a six-word shopping list he wrote sold for €60,000 at an auction. Why are we so fascinated with the writings of famous people?  Does having a tangible piece, that a figure from history also touched, make them somehow more real? With a letter, is the intimacy of taking pen in hand and putting forth personal thoughts even more of a connection?

Maybe your letters can't be an investment that turns into this kind of profit in the future, but somehow it's just impossible to imagine emails being auctioned off for six figures. Write a letter for posterity. You never know where it might end up.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Happy 306th Birthday!

If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.
I was born Benjamin Franklin in Boston on January 17, 1706. It's a good time to look back and reflect.

I'm glad that some schools observe Thrift Week near my birthday because I've always recommended being thrifty. I also created the first odometer (a devise for measuring distance) so that I could measure my postal routes when I was the first Postmaster General.

Many of the things we use today are a result of experiments I did to improve everyday living. Bifocal lenses, the Franklin stove, watertight bulkheads, and swim fins are just a few of the inventions I came up with. I also created something called the "long arm", which is a tool with claws at the end used to grasp things that are hard to reach.

I was the first person to conduct extensive research on electricity. In June 1752, I used a kite to prove lightning was a stream of electrified air called plasma. 

I was the only person to sign all four documents that created the United States of America. I signed The Declaration of Independence in 1776, the Treaty of Alliance with France in 1778, and the Treaty of Peace with England, France, and the United States in 1782. Most importantly, I signed The Constitution in 1787.

At the age of 22, I owned and operated my own printing office. I published a newspaper called "The Pennsylvania Gazette". My annual publication, "Poor Richard's Almanack," sold over 10,000 copies a year! I started the very first public library with a lending program. I played the violin, harp, and guitar, and managed to build my own instrument out of glass called the Armonica.

It's been a pretty good life. Please join me in observing my Birthday today!

Friday, January 13, 2012


Punta Gorda, FL, Postmaster Kevin J. Sullivan and City Letter Carrier Mike Churchill teach students about the Postal Service as they host a "Touch-a-Truck" event at a local elementary school. The event was to kick-off the new Family Resource Center at the school.

The importance of communication and use of the U. S. Postal Service to send mail was explained to the children.

Postmaster Sullivan's five year old son Ryan, who attends the school, bought stamped postcards for his fellow kindergarten classmates to draw or write and address to themselves. On the day of the event, the postcards were collected by City Letter Carrier Churchill. 

The next day they were excited to receive their postcards in the mail. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

P-mail (paper mail)

Postcrossing.com is a website that asks the question - why not buck the trend of email for some paper mail or P-mail this year? 

This groundbreaking project turns a mailbox into an international surprise exchange. Through an ingenious postcard crossing service, the goal is to allow people to receive postcards from all over the world. Participants have to send a postcard first in order to receive one. 
Postcrosser "iamnuchy's" home post office in Thailand.

One participant is "iamnuchy" from Thailand. She loves exploring new countries.

"I've been collecting stamps since I was a primary school student," she states. "I think everybody likes the act of opening their mailbox and finding some postcards there."

The element of surprise when checking the mail every day can be fun.

"Some of my most interesting postcards have come from Uzbekistan, Uruguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Oman, and the Ivory Coast.. Actually, every first postcard from a country which I have never been to is a nice surprise."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Leaner and Greener

The USPS will begin testing 10 Navistar eStar electric step vans. This test, part of the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded through the Department of Energy.

The new 2-ton vehicles will be tested in three locations: Los Angeles, CA, Manhattan, NY and Fairfax, VA. The 2-year test will collect data on fuel efficiency, energy usage, maintenance and vehicle utilization. then a review will be done on the results before considering whether to expand the program.

“Testing of new technologies is important as we review alternatives to keep our vehicle fleet green and efficient,” said Michael Amato, vice president, Engineering Systems. “If successful, these vehicles will allow us to deliver mail in a way that is environmentally responsible.”

The fiscal year 2010 Annual Sustainability Report shows the Postal Service is meeting or exceeding a number of its sustainability goals — including a 133-percent increase in alternative fuel use. You can read the report at:


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

LLV Potential

The U.S. Postal Service possesses the largest civilian fleet in the world — more than 200,000 vehicles.  And those vehicles cover 1.25 billion miles each year. This huge component of the postal infrastructure could represent an untapped resource.  Imagine if some of those vehicles were doing something else, automatically, at the same time they were moving the mail.

That’s just what Michael Ravnitzky envisions in an article entitled “Offering sensor network services using the postal delivery fleet.”  The paper was presented at the 18th Conference on Postal and Delivery Economics, in Porvoo, Finland, in June of 2010.  It was also included in the book Reinventing the Postal Sector in an Electronic Age, edited by Michael A. Crew and  Paul R. Kleindorfer (2011).

Ravnitsky wonders, what if these delivery vehicles were fitted with sensors to collect and transmit information about weather or air pollutants?
As the Postal Service maneuvers through changing modes of communication, are postal delivery trucks positioned to fill a new role of information gathering besides delivering the nation’s mail?


Monday, January 9, 2012

Civil War Mail


During the Civil War, a letter was the sole contact with loved ones.

150 years ago one soldier stated to his cousin: "I never thought so much of letters as I have since I have been here. The monotony of camp life would be almost intolerable were it not for these friendly letters."

Another private expressed a similar sentiment more dramatically: "The soldier looks upon a letter from home as a perfect God send—sent as it were, by some kind ministering Angel Spirit, to cheer his dark and weary hours."

Mail call took precedence over anything, including food. It was the only tonic for the chronic homesickness that plagued most men of blue and gray. In March 1863, a soldier told his wife that he "was almost down with histericks to hear from home," and later in the war, when a Minnesota private at last received a letter from his family, he confessed: "I can never remember of having been so glad before. I sat down and cried with joy and thankfulness."

This was the first time in American history that so large a percentage of the common folk had been pulled away from home. So they wrote tens of thousands of letters.

“I feel that our contry needs my help & I am willing to do all that I can & eaven give my life for your libertys & our beloved childs”
—Private David Walters to his wife, Rachel, September 29, 1862

“This is the fourth letter I have written you and I have received four from you and I would be glad to receive one every day or two if I could for I am always glad to hear from you.”
—Rachel J. Walters to her husband, October 7, 1862

Friday, January 6, 2012

Listen and You Will Hear

While you are working, on your break, at lunch, or at home, you can always listen to Your Postal Podcast for the latest interesting postal news.You can also read the transcript if that is easier in your location.

From any computer, just go to http://www.yourpostalpodcast.com/.

You can subscribe so you don't miss a podcast. 
Here’s some of the stories you can still listen to from the last 43 editions in the archives:

1st Edition: Mail delivery to the Grand Canyon
12th Edition: How the West was really won
20th Edition: Mother Teresa! iPhones! OPRAH!
25th Edition: Must-hear advice from the Postal Service's 'Biggest Loser'
29th Edition: John Lennon: Artist, legend & stamp collector
31st Edition: Darkness and might: Journey to Alaska and Kuwait with this month's podcast
34th Edition: Tumblin' tumbleweeds, hashknife, and the winds of change
41st Edition: A Post Office exhibits Paranormal activity

Thursday, January 5, 2012

We're No. 1

A review of the performance of universal postal service providers by the Oxford Strategic Consulting (OSC) firm has named USPS the best postal service in the world for access to services, resource efficiency, and performance and public trust.

The report found that USPS delivers nearly double the number of letters per employee as its closest competitor and more than five times more letters per employee than fifth-place Deutsche Post. 

Universal service postal providers are regulated by law to provide vital access to a range of services through extensive networks of post offices and guaranteed deliveries of letters and parcels. They are committed to delivering a service that is dependable and accessible to all citizens and organizations in any given country, and its economic activity. This commitment is called a Universal Service Obligation (USO). 

OSC conducts advanced research and helps private and government organizations achieve key strategic objectives. The review ranks USPS, Japan Post, Australia Post, Korea Post and Deutsche Post in its top five. USPS earned the premier ranking due to its high operating efficiency and public trust in its performance. 

Professor William Scott-Jackson, director, OSC said, "Despite increasing competition from digital communications, postal services retain a key role in societies across the globe. The ranking provides the best available benchmark of universal postal service providers' performance over the last three years."

The full report will be published in January, a preview copy is available here:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Connect and Protect

Postal mail is safe and good for business. A refrigerator has never been hacked. An online virus has never attacked a cork board. Important letters don't get lost in thin air, and a piece of mail has never disappeared with a click. 

Mail is delivered from person to person. USPS keeps the mail safe and private. Watch videos about the safety of the mail at: https://www.usps.com/learn-more-video.htm

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

One Million Books in the Mail

Recently in Sioux Falls, SD, city carrier Mark Quanbeck completed a milestone delivery. 

Through the generosity of local donors, Imagination Library provides nearly 10,000 children ages 0-5 in the Sioux Falls area with one free book each month. And they are all delivered through the USPS mail.

“Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a dream come true,” said Jay Powell, Sioux Empire United Way President. “Kids learn to love books. They spend time bonding with their parents while reading.” 

The partnership between Sioux Empire United Way and Dolly Parton's Imagination Library began ten years ago, and works hand-in-hand with the Postal Service. Quanbeck delivered the one millionth Imagination Library book to four-year-old Riley Galer.