Friday, June 29, 2012

Should the Post Office Sell Fishing Licenses?

One of the amendments in S1789, the Postal Relief Act, is to allow Post Offices to offer services like “Social Security card renewals and fishing licenses.”

According to the American Sportfisher Association, there are approximately 30 million fishermen.

Assuming all of those are licensed, what kind of revenue could the Postal Service see from selling state fishing licenses?

In most states, the sale of licenses is regulated, much like the control of liquor licenses. Often retailers compete to be recognized as agents, simply to get the fishermen into their store so that they can stock up on gear and equipment.

Post Offices as agents may be viewed as an intrusion into this lucrative market and is likely to be rebuffed by many states.

Additionally, there may be limited financial incentive to selling licenses, as the fees collected are used by state game and wildlife. For example, in Pennsylvania, the issuing agent fee is $1.00.

Assuming similar compensation, and assuming that every fisherman buys their license at a Post Office, we can look forward to less than $30 million from this amendment.

Do you think it’s something we should do? Comment here.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Healthy Concern

There’s a growing concern about the costs of health care these days, and with good reason. In the 1960’s, the cost was $27 billion, or 5.13 percent of our gross domestic product (total goods and services produced within a country). That amounts to $147 per person in the United States. In 2010, health care costs were $2.6 trillion, or 17.86 percent of GDP. That amounts to $8,402 per person living in the United States. It’s a hefty expense that hasn’t gone unnoticed by health insurance organizations.

Health care costs, as well as premiums for health insurers, are persistently on the rise.  While there isn’t a single factor influencing these growing costs, several causes that could play a role in it include increasing life spans, rising obesity and chronic conditions, and increasing use of expensive, high-tech equipment and procedures.

Skyrocketing health care costs are also forcing major corporations to contemplate substantial changes to the way services are offered to their employees. The Postal Service is no exception. The possibility of saving up to $7 billion per year by sponsoring its own health care program is tempting enough for the organization to consider withdrawing from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. The proposed program is part of the Postal Service’s Plan to Profitability and is one of many options under consideration for improving its financial condition.

What do you think of the health care proposal? Comment here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It’s in the Numbers

How can you tell when the service you’re providing is satisfying your customers? Conduct a survey and find out.

That’s what the American Customer Satisfaction Index is doing with its annual survey. The survey generates a score on a scale of 0 – 100 based on the level of customer satisfaction in 47 different industries and the 225 companies and 100 government agencies within them. The results of the first survey were released in 1994 and the index has continued to generate solid, useful information ever since then.

The most recent results of the survey, released in June, show the Postal Service continuing to gain ground relative to its competition. In 2012, the Postal Service shows an overall satisfaction score of 75. That’s the highest level of satisfaction since the introduction of the survey more than 17 years ago.

To make the results of the survey more comparable to FedEx and UPS, ACSI extracts Express Mail and Priority Mail and calculates a score based solely on those services. The USPS customer satisfaction level increased to 81 this year from 79 in 2011. That’s a 2.5% increase over last year’s satisfaction levels. FedEx realized a loss of 1.2% to 82, their lowest score since 2003. UPS saw an even greater decline in customer satisfaction. They realized a loss of 4.7% to 81, their lowest point since 2007.

The list of complete scores can be viewed on ACSI’s website at:

In a time when customer loyalty is paramount to achieving long-term company viability, the Postal Service continues to prove that it can increase both value for its customers and the satisfaction level they receive from it.

Click here to leave a comment.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Largest Flying Post Office

In 1936, the Zeppelin Hindenburg began its service as a transatlantic passenger carrier between Europe and the United States. Spanning the length of 2 ½ football fields, this lighter-than-air vessel transported its passengers and crew across the Atlantic Ocean in 2 ½ days, much more rapidly than the conventional five to ten days for sea going vessels at the time.

Housed within this gigantic vessel was the largest Post Office ever to take to the air. The Hindenburg successfully navigated 34 flights across the Atlantic in 1936, but on its first North American flight in May, 1937, the airship met its tragic end at Lakehurst, NJ. The cause of this accident was never solved.

Of the more than 17,000 pieces of mail carried by the airship on its last flight, only 360 pieces of mail are known to have survived.

To learn more about the Hindenburg and its role in history, click here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Postmaster Goes the Extra Mile

Even during uncertain times, postal employees will go the extra mile for their customers. Postmaster Shareen Wertz in Evans, CO, demonstrated this on Mother’s Day weekend in May 2012.

One of Shareen’s customers entered into her office Saturday looking for medication that was sent via Express Mail. The family was distraught, as the young son needed this medicine by 11:00 a.m. the following day. Shareen took the customer's after hours contact information and told the family that if it came in over the weekend, she would ensure they were notified.

Shareen contacted the Tour 1 and Tour 3 supervisors in the Express Mail office and gave them her after hour contact info with instructions to call her if the item came in. She received that call at 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning. After she was told that the item had been located, Shareen got up early Mother's Day morning, went to the plant and accepted the article. She then drove it back to Evans and delivered the item. After the family received the much needed medication, Shareen was back home by 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning to enjoy the rest of her Mother’s Day.

What extraordinary measures of customer service have you come across?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Famous Stamp Collectors

Stamp collecting has been one of the world’s most popular hobbies for many years. From colorful cartoon characters, to famous people and events, to gorgeous art and landscapes, this hobby can suit both a wide range of interests as well as budgets.

With such a popular following, it’s no wonder that there are so many well-known and prominent people around the world who participate in the pleasure of accumulating such collectible works of art. Here’s a small list of famous philatelists.

- King George V
- Queen Elizabeth II
- King Farouk
- Freddie Mercury
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
- Charlie Chaplin
- John Lennon
- Amelia Earhart

Do you notice anything wrong about this stamp from Monaco?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

An Era of Trust

This is one of five quarter-size delivery models for the Post Office Department’s official approval. This particular one is in the Smithsonian Museum’s collection.

Many technologies have come and gone during the existence of the Postal Service, but there’s one thing that remains a constant: the importance of our letter and rural carriers. The Smithsonian's National Postal Museum has recently unveiled a new website that goes into detail about the history of Rural Free Delivery and the rural carrier.
In the 19th century, many families in hard to reach areas of the country had to make lengthy, infrequent trips to receive their mail, including news publications on current events. When Rural Free Delivery was established as a pilot program in 1896, such excursions became a thing of the past as rural mail delivery connected these families with the rest of the world on a regular basis. By the time Rural Free Delivery was adopted as a permanent part of the Postal network in 1902, rural carriers had quickly become a welcomed site to isolated families across the countryside.
Becoming a rural carrier was not an easy decision. Each rural carrier was required to buy their own clothing, transportation, and any equipment they might need to carry out their duties. After such expenses, some rural carriers began looking for ways to produce supplementary income. This fact was immediately picked up by manufacturers salivating at an opportunity to increase sales. Businesses began targeted advertising campaigns aimed at promoting ways for rural carriers to earn extra cash. Manufacturers also created specialized versions of their products such as modified wagons, heaters and uniforms (though none were required) to appeal to the growing ranks of the rural carrier.
Beyond delivering the mail, it was the task of rural carriers to instruct their patrons on the type, size and location of their mailbox. Many creative versions of homemade mailboxes presented a challenge for rural carriers. Oil cans, used tins, and random boxes found in the barn were often poor and sometimes messy substitutes for functional mail receptacles. Mailbox standardization in the early 20th century made the task of delivering mail a much easier one.
While technology and equipment have changed many times over the years, the dedication of our letter and rural carriers to quality service hasn’t. For more information on the history of rural carriers and Rural Free Deliver, go to:
What technology do you think could be used for mail delivery in the future?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Preparing for Fun in the Sun

Hello all, Benny here. It’s summer time again, and I think this is a pretty good time to go over some tips on how to prevent sunburns and heat-related illnesses.

Ways to beat the heat haven’t really changed much since I was a lad. Because we didn’t have air conditioning, I always made sure to drink plenty of water both indoors and out.

Before going outside, my mother always made sure I had my hat. I thought it made me look like a pirate, but I wasn’t about to argue with mom and kept it on anyway. It did a pretty good job at keeping the sun off of my neck and ears, so looking back, it came in pretty handy after all. Thanks, Mom.

I wore long-sleeved, loose-fitting shirts that breathed well enough in the heat. Not only was it the style back then, but they also kept harmful UV rays off of my arms. Of course, I didn’t really know that when I was a lad, but I’m sure glad I wore them now.

I don’t always remember where I put my hat sometimes (don’t tell my mother that), so when I’m heading into the sun without one, I have to make sure to put on plenty of sunscreen on my crown. Sunscreens are abundant and pretty cheap for what they offer today, but when I was out and about in my youth, they didn’t exist.

I rarely spend a great deal of time in the sun anymore, but whenever I step outside into the bright rays, I still take the steps I went over earlier to keep from getting burned. Since it works well for me, I think it would be a great idea for you to do the same.

Until next time, folks. Stay cool!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Breaking Out of the Routine

Most of us have a set routine that we use to go about our workday. Routines help us remember important tasks or processes, and they keep our car keys from disappearing right when we’re ready to head out the front door.

Occasionally, something comes along that’s out of the ordinary and alters our routine. That’s what happened for letter carrier Elliot Washington of Greenville, SC, during his lunch break. Elliot was about to return from lunch when he heard a woman choking. Relying on the skills and training he gained from his time in the Navy, he performed the Heimlich Maneuver on her and saved her life.

Routines give us the chance to stay on track throughout the day, but sometimes a little deviation can help out in a big way. The next time something comes along to alter your routine, will you be ready?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Post-Flag Day Celebration

Hello all, Benny here. Last Thursday we had a list of questions about the flag in celebration of Flag Day. Did you answer them all correctly? Here are the answers to find out:

  1. What are two nicknames for the flag?
-         Old Glory, Stars and Stripes, Red, White and Blue, The Star Spangled Banner
  1. How many stripes are on the flag?
-         13
  1. What do the stripes represent?
-         The original 13 colonies
  1. Who is credited with the design of the first flag?
-         Betsy Ross
  1. Is Flag Day a federal holiday?
-         No
  1. Which was the first and only state to make Flag Day a holiday?
-         Pennsylvania                
  1. How many stars are on the flag and what do they represent?
-         50, one for each state
  1. What was the name of the song written by Francis Scott Key about the flag?
-         The Star Spangled Banner
  1. How many flags are on the moon?
-         6
  1. What year did the first flag appear on a US postage stamp?
-         1926 when it appeared on the Battle of White Plains stamp.

I found that last one to be challenging and had to look it up myself. Be sure to let me know how well you did while you’re here, ok?

Until next time!


Friday, June 15, 2012

The Roth TSP

Recently, the Thrift Savings Plan began offering the opportunity for federal employees to contribute to a Roth component of their retirement savings. The Roth TSP will allow individuals to contribute after-tax money into their TSP savings accounts. Money in the Roth will grow tax-free until withdrawal. Some of the key differences between the Roth and traditional contributions are:

Contributions are on a pre-tax basis that lowers current taxable income
Contributions are on a post-tax basis that does not lower current taxable income
Withdrawals after age 59 ½ are taxable
Withdrawals after age 59 ½ are not taxable

The choice of whether or not to contribute to the Roth TSP is up to the individual investor. Individuals can place all or a part of their retirement contributions into the Roth or remain entirely in the traditional component. Both choices are designed to complement each other and provide more post-retirement tax planning options. Be sure to consult your tax advisor for specific advice.

For additional information on either Roth or traditional contributions, log on to the TSP website at:

What's your favorite TSP investment?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

It's Flag Day

Hello all, Benny here. In case you didn’t know, today, the United States celebrates Flag Day. It’s a special day for me since I lived during the birth of our country and witnessed the raising of the flag for the first time. The flag itself has gone through many revisions since then, but for me, it still remains the strong symbol of freedom and unity that it did back in my day.

Flag Day commemorates the 1777 adoption of the flag of the United States. It was officially established in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson through proclamation. More than three decades later in 1949, President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.

While Flag Day is only once a year, every postal facility has the flag hoisted high overhead every day. I feel a great sense of pride whenever I see that, and I hope you do too.

Think you know all about our flag? Take this quiz and find out:

  1. What are two nicknames for the flag?
  2. How many stripes are on the flag?
  3. What do the red and white stripes represent?
  4. Who is credited with the design of the first flag?
  5. Is Flag Day a federal holiday?
  6. Which was the first and only state to make Flag Day a holiday?
  7. How many stars are on the flag and what do they represent?
  8. What was the name of the song written by Francis Scott Key about the flag?
  9. How many flags are on the moon?
  10. What year did the first flag appear on a US postage stamp?

Tune in Monday and I’ll have the answers posted for you.

Until then!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Don’t Forget Dad

Hello all, Benny here. I just wanted to take a moment to remind you that this coming Sunday, June 17th, is Father’s Day, and to let you know what the day means to me.

My dad, Josiah, had strong career goals for each of his 17 children. As his 10th and last-born son, he instilled within me the strong desire to learn a trade just as he had done with my older brothers. He didn’t have much money at the time though, and he could only afford to send me to the Boston Latin School for a couple of years. That ruled out his hopes of my attending Harvard College and ultimately becoming a minister.

My dad was a very creative man though and sent me to apprentice with my brother in the printing business. He knew I had a passion for reading, and he encouraged me to pursue my dreams the best way he knew how. That thoughtful move started me down a career path that ultimately made me the success that I became.

While I don’t need a special day to remember my dad, I think Father’s Day is a great opportunity just to say thanks.

If you’re still searching for the right gift to send your dad, here are a few suggestions that could work:

The Marvel Comic Book set catches my eye the most. It might be all of the superhero movies I’ve seen recently or maybe it’s just that I never had a comic book in my youth. Either way, the set looks like it would be a lot of fun, so I’m going to pop over to the website and check it out.

Until next time, Folks. Happy Father’s Day!


What's your fondest memory of dad? 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Edith Piaf and Miles Davis Stamp

On June 12, 2012, the Postal Service celebrates the musical contributions of Edith Piaf and Miles Davis. The French singer Edith Piaf became well known in the U.S. for singing tragic songs about heartbreak that have been called a French equivalent of the blues.

“If at the end of the song I move my arms as though I'm swimming, it's because when I sang it for the first time I wasn't very sure of the words, so I began to move my arms that way to cover it up.” – Edith Piaf

Miles Davis explored musical styles from bebop through cool jazz, fusion, and funk. He was also a bandleader, inspiring other musicians in his band to future prominence.

“I'm always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning. Every day I find something creative to do with my life.” – Miles Davis

For more information in this stamp issue, go to

How has music made an impact on your life?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Celebrate Scouting

Hello all, Benny here. Did you know that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts? Though it’s not quite as old as I am, this is an amazing accomplishment for an organization dedicated to helping in the development of young girls all across the world. To celebrate the centennial of the Girl Scouts, the Postal Service issued a stamp on June 9 commemorating the event during a special ceremony.

VP, Global Business Giselle Valera joined 200,000 Girl Scouts from around the world to dedicate the stamp at the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The crowd participated in the dedication by singing “Let Us Show You the Scouting Stamp” to the tune of “Take Me out to the Ballgame.” The sing-along took place during a “Girl Scout Rock the Mall” event.

You can share your favorite Girl Scout stories on Facebook at and Twitter @USPS.

For more information on the Girl Scouts Rock the Mall event, go to and click on the scouting stamp image.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Perfect Stamp

Have you ever thought of an idea for a subject you’d like to see on a postage stamp? Well, if you weren’t quite sure how to get that idea to the right destination, here’s your chance.

The Postal Service invites you to submit your idea for a future stamp release. Before you start flooding the gates with submissions though, you might want to check out some of the rules and guidelines from first. Also, be sure to review the stamp subject criteria to make sure you’re submitting a usable idea.

Once you think you have the perfect subject for submission, send it to:

Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee
1735 N Lynn Street Ste 5013
Arlington, VA 22209-6432

When submitting an idea, keep in mind that the submission process is not a short one and can take at least three years to get approval. Also, there is no compensation or official recognition for submitting a selected idea.

If a single living person were allowed to be on a stamp, who do you think it should be? Comment here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Celebrate Bicycling

Today, the U.S. Postal Service celebrates bicycling with the issuance of the Bicycling stamp series. Each of the four colorful se-tenant stamps features a different kind of bike and rider: a young child just learning to ride with training wheels, a commuter pedaling to work, a road racer intent on the finish line, and an airborne BMX rider.

Recent surveys indicate that Americans enjoy billions of bike rides a year. Bicycling organizations around the country report increased participation in local biking activities, and nearly half of all Americans say they would like more bicycling resources, such as trails and bike lanes, in their communities.

Bicycling is a low-impact aerobic activity that just about everyone - from young children to retirees - can enjoy. The health benefits are impressive: Riding a bike lowers the risk of obesity, heart disease, and breast cancer while improving muscle tone and strength. Bicycling can also lower stress.

What’s your most memorable recollection of bicycling? Comment here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Calling All Authors, Photographers and Story Tellers!

Hello all, Benny here. I love writing stories about as much as I enjoy reading them. In fact, I used to write for my brothers’ newspaper when I first got started, but I wasn’t satisfied with just my own perspective. That’s too boring! So, without James knowing about it, I wrote under the pseudo name Silence Dogood among others. I had a lot of fun with that, and to this day I’m not sure my brother ever knew it was me. Keep that just between us though, ok?

Like I said, I enjoy reading stories, and the more the better. That’s where you come in. I’m looking for stories from other perspectives that stir my soul. Stories that are fun, adventurous, and downright quirky. A photo or two to capture the essence of your literary voyage would be wonderful if you could toss that in too.

I want to hear from you, and I’m sure I’m not the only one either. This is your postal blog as much as it is mine, so send me your creative postal stories about life, work, and even that turkey running across the employee parking lot to escape the farmer down the road.

I think it’s time for a snack, so send me those stories while I get ready for lunch. Hope to hear from you soon!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

At the Movies with USPS

Hello all, Benny here. I’ve been a big fan of movies since they first started popping up in the 1890’s, and let me tell you, they’ve come a long way since then. Some of my favorite films over the years, besides the ones that include me, are those that involve the Postal Service.

A good friend of mine, Nancy Pope from the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, has a blog where she wrote about her top 10 favorite postal movies. I’ve included the list here, but if you want to read more about them, be sure to check out her blog at:

1.   Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
2.   Charade (1963)
3.   Appointment with Danger (1951)
4.   Il Postino (The Postman) (1994)
5.   Dear God (1996)
6.   Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
7.   The Aviator (1985)
8.   Air Mail (1932)
9.   Diva (1981)
10. Overland Mail (1942)

Also, be sure to check out the June edition of for an interview with Nancy Pope and her favorite postal movies. I don’t recall catching Il Postino myself, so if you don’t mind, I’m going to go see what it’s all about.

Until next time!

What’s your favorite postal movie? Comment here.

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Hope for Reliable Service

Registered Mail has always been a safe and reliable means to transport valuable goods between destinations. Just how valuable those items really are may vary greatly, but for one particular jeweler in 1958 the estimated value of his precious cargo was $1 million.

In November 1949, Henry Winston purchased the famous Hope diamond from the estate of Evalyn McLean. Several years later in 1958, Winston donated the diamond to the Smithsonian Institution to add to their jewelry collection. Getting the diamond from his location in New York to the Smithsonian in Washington might haven proven to be a challenge given the highly valuable nature of the cargo, but Winston had a specific method in mind that was perfect for the challenge. His preferred means for shipping the precious item was Registered Mail by the Post Office.

Once in their capable hands, the diamond was sent via train to Washington and by postal vehicle to the National Museum of Natural History where it was placed into their anxiously awaiting hands. The cost of shipping this expensive item was a very reasonable $145.29 including insurance.

Learn more about the Hope diamond at the National Postal Museum.

What items have you seen sent through Registered Mail? Comment here.

Friday, June 1, 2012

2012 National Hurricane Preparedness Week

History teaches that hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads that can reduce the impact of hurricane disasters. Families, individuals, and businesses who know their vulnerability and what actions to take can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster by taking action to prepare.

In support of this call to prepare, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have partnered again to promote 2012 National Hurricane Preparedness Week, and are calling upon Americans in areas of the country vulnerable to hurricanes and severe weather to Be a Force of Nature.

Here’s how to join in on pledging to be prepared for hurricane season: 

·        Know your risk: The first step to Being a Force of Nature is to understand how hurricanes and tropical storms can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. Check the weather forecast regularly and sign up for local alerts from emergency management officials and obtain a NOAA Weather Radio.
·        Take action: Actions can be small, simple, and quick. You can pledge to develop an emergency plan based on your local hurricane, severe storm, and flooding hazard, and practice how and where you will evacuate if instructed by your emergency management officials.  Post your plan in your home where visitors can see it.
·        Be an example: Once you have taken action and pledged (or if you already have), share your story with your family and friends.

How are you preparing yourself for the stormy season?