Keep your mail safe while on vacation with Hold Mail Service

Next gen mailbox

Going somewhere for vacation this summer? Don’t forget to put your mail on hold while you’re gone.

Hold Mail Service will keep your mail safely at your local Post Office until you return. You can schedule the service up to 30 days in advance, or by 2 a.m. CST on the start date. Mail can be held at your Post Office for any timeframe between 3 and 30 consecutive days. On the end date, your carrier will deliver your held mail.

Each address can have one Hold Mail Service scheduled at a time. All mail will be held, rather than an individual’s mail. For more information on Hold Mail Service, click here.

If you’ll be away from home longer than 30 days, there’s another option to make sure you continue to receive your mail on a regular basis. Premium Forwarding Service will hold mail, package it, and ship it to you each week for a weekly fee. The service can be used from 2 weeks up to 1 year. For more information on Premium Forwarding Service, click here.

An unforgettable 20th birthday

Customer Services Supervisor Leon Hernandez shows Andra, Sarah, and Sarah’s sister-in-law how the mail is sorted each day.

Customer Services Supervisor Leon Hernandez shows Andra, Sarah, and Sarah’s sister-in-law how the mail is sorted each day.

The birthday surprise began at the De Soto, KS, Post Office where Postmaster Luke Grant joined with employees to sort through hundreds of letters all addressed to one girl, Sarah Fugate, who recently turned 20.

Sarah was diagnosed with autism as a child, and although doctors said she wouldn’t live a long life, she defying the odds. Opening letters from the mail, in addition to collecting baby dolls, are among Sarah’s favorite hobbies. Sarah’s mother, Andra, wanted to give her daughter a special birthday treat, so she set up a Facebook page and asked if anyone would be interested in sending a card to Sarah for her birthday. More than 300 individuals from around the world responded by sending cards, letters and packages.

Sarah’s story also reached the desk of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, who all mailed her a special birthday letter.

“Dear Sarah, congrats on celebrating your 20th birthday,” Senator Moran’s letter read.

Knowing how much the mail meant to Sarah, Luke arranged a postal party and invited the entire Fugate family to the Desoto Post Office the following week. The party consisted of a personal tour of the Post Office and a postal vehicle, a gift of a new baby doll, a birthday card signed by De Soto employees, and lunch which included her favorite red velvet cake.

Andra was overwhelmed by the outpouring of birthday wishes for her daughter.

“This is the most special birthday ever,” said Andra. “Except for the first one because they told us we would never have a first one. So for it to be 20 is pretty awesome.”

Acting Manager Post Office Operations Tom Flynn shared his appreciation for the De Soto team in making Sarah’s 20th birthday a special one to remember.

“I would like to give special thanks to Postmaster Luke Grant and the entire De Soto Post Office staff for honoring a young girl’s wish and making her birthday an unforgettable one,” said Tom.

Robot Dogs

Robot dogs

Google is known around the world as an innovator for its creative technology. Successfully working with self-driving vehicles, wearable computing devices, and other interesting designs, the company is one of the leading producers of next generation concepts. Another prototype creation in the works by one of its subsidiaries could one day replace the household pet and serve as an essential equipment carrier in certain situations.

Created by Boston Dynamics, a four-legged prototype robot called Spot is currently undergoing test that will gauge the machine’s ability to dynamically adapt to its surroundings. The robot dog is designed to react intuitively to its environment, including unexpected impacts and climbing up hills. The robot’s abilities are demonstrated in a video released on YouTube that shows the mechanical dog interacting with various elements.

While the creation is still in the prototype phase of development, its applications if introduced for commercial use are significant. In addition to potentially working as an assistance dog for those with disabilities and as an equipment carrier for troops in combat operations, the mechanical robots could also have the potential to act as carrier assistants for delivering the mail.

It might be possible to modify the chassis of a robot dog to house compartments for letter and package storage. The dog could then follow the carrier along his or her route, allowing the carrier to travel with a potentially greater load of mail than would otherwise be possible.

Whatever the future of this particular creation may turn out to be, robotics are likely to have an increasing presence in the world of tomorrow.

Art in the Mail

Art in the Mail

Sending a postcard in the mail to friends and family is good way to share a glimpse into a joyous occasion. Adding a personal, artistic touch to the image can even become a way to demonstrate creative talent to art enthusiasts.

Now through August 15, the Art by the Sea Gallery and Studio is accepting submissions for its 2014 Mail-Art Postcard Exhibition. To participate in the exhibition, an individual should send original artwork on a postcard to:

Art by the Sea Gallery and Studio
175 Second St. SE
Bandon, OR 97411

For submission rules and other information, click here.

The exhibition is scheduled to take place on August 27 through November 3.

Robotics in Mail Processing

Robotics in mail processing

From automotive manufacturing to vacuum cleaners, machines have increasingly integrated themselves into performing functions humans used to perform not that long ago. Another production environment where automation has been employed to serve the public is in mail processing. With the increasing expansion of a new type of robot in manufacturing and research, could more functions within the Post Office be accomplished by non-human creations?

A new type of robot is being acquired by companies looking to increase productivity in a variety of applications. Affectionately called Baxter, the robot is designed to perform simple, repetitive tasks normally performed by humans. The manufacturer, Rethink Robotics, designed the unit to be human-friendly, capable of working side by side with people without the need for a protective cage. Rethink Robotics also claims that Baxter’s intuitive learning capability is easy to use with minimal setup time.

In practical applications, the robot has proven to be accurate and consistent in its assigned functions with no down time. Videos on the manufacturer’s website demonstrate Baxter loading items into boxes from a conveyor belt and packing them into tight formations, unloading items from boxes and placing them on a conveyor belt, assembling parts kits, and more. While the deliberate movements of the robot are consistent, its speed is less than that of its human counterparts.

The Post Office currently uses machines to sort, process, and cancel mail. Human employees move mail throughout a facility and load it onto machines that process it. With future advances in robotics, perhaps even a Baxter descendant, it might not be an unfathomable scenario where robots replace most functions of mail processing in the not too distant future.

Do you think robots could replace most human employees in a production environment within the next few decades?

Glitches and Hackers

Glitches and hackers

Limited access capacity, system glitches, and unscrupulous hackers can routinely make Internet activity a challenge. With many possible problems inherent in a digital network, there is one avenue people can always turn to for efficient, reliable service.

Mail is a safe, reliable, and effective means of sending items to another destination. Mail can’t be opened by a hacker in a foreign country or by a domestic member of the computer underground looking for a good time. Items deposited into a mailbox are protected by the Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement arm of USPS. If anyone tries to tamper with postal equipment or defraud postal customers, the Postal Inspection Service will doggedly pursue those responsible and place them behind bars.

As more information is transmitted electronically from databases throughout the world, personal information will have a greater chance of being intercepted and used for nefarious purposes – many times without the targeted individual knowing about it. Items sent in the mail cannot be intercepted by a clever hacker or crafty password thief. The 500,000 men and women of the Postal Service stand ready to serve the American public, and their dedication to ensuring the safe delivery of precious items around the country is second to none.

Idaho Postmaster Issues a Challenge to His Customers

Kamiah, ID, Postmaster Larry Beauchamp wanted his customers to better understand what postal employees go through on a daily basis, in particular his Rural Letter Carriers.  So he issued a challenge to the townspeople as part of the annual Barb-B-Q Days festival over the Labor Day weekend.

“I set up a carrier case complete with address labels and made up about 50 ‘dummy’ envelopes,” Beauchamp explained.  “I invited customers to try and case the envelopes.  I purposely used incorrect addresses and sloppy handwriting.

“People enjoyed the opportunity and had fun with it,” he said.  “I gave out prizes to those who participated.”

“We also gave out postcards, balloons, lapel pins to those who stopped by,” Beauchamp added.  “And I also had information available on various postal programs such as Priority Mail and Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM).”

Create Unique Postcards through Do-It-Yourself Stamper

Create unique stamper

Sending a quick message to someone through the mail is as easy as picking up a postcard, jotting down a brief thought, adding a .33 cent stamp, and dropping it into any mailbox. It’ll not only delight a friend or family member with an unexpected surprise in the mail, the photos on the other side will often depict a special scene or image unique to that moment in time. With the efforts of a small start-up, the power of creating special moments encapsulated in a postcard could soon be in the hands of eager author’s everywhere.

Postcards have been a popular way to send greetings through the mail since the 1800s. Most postcards circulating through the system feature artwork or a photo selected by someone else. The availability of personalized artwork, however, is usually limited. It’s that limitation that the start-up Stampede is hoping to change.

Stampede is a current project on Kickstarter.com, the Internet-based crowdfunding website. The project seeks to create stamps that contain a postcard template that can be applied to the back of photographs, converting them into mailable messages. Made of special, quick-drying ink, the template is designed to conform to Postal Service guidelines for postcards in a compact, easy to use stamper.

While the success of the project has yet to be determined, innovative uses of the mail and mailpiece design are sure to help keep special messages circulating in the mail for years to come.

Priority: You

Priority Mail

Hi all, Benny here. My friends at the Postal Service just put out a new video I think you’ll enjoy.

The video is called Priority: You, and it shows many of the hardworking people at USPS as they process and deliver the mail. I remember when there were only 3.8 million people in the United States during the first census of 1790. We sure had our hands full back then working to build a new nation and the infrastructure to support it, but one of my fondest memories was the pride in seeing the creation and expansion of the nation’s new Post Office. It was a wonderful sight, and I took great joy in hearing about the hard work and dedication of postal employees to deliver mail to a growing country.

I know times have changed a bit since then, but what hasn’t changed is that same hard work and dedication of today’s postal employees. The new video brings a smile to my face as a reminder that while some things might have changed since my time, the good people that process and deliver mail continue to work hard in bringing smiles to the faces of the citizens of this great nation.

I hope you enjoy seeing the many terrific people of the Postal Service in this video as much as I did.

Until next time,

 

Benny

The Next Generation of Mail Fans

Lillie Pearl

This Valentine’s Day card was sent to friends, family, and classmates of Lillie Pearl Williamson, the young girl posing in front of the Ophir, CO, Post Office with her faithful companion Clarence. Lillie also gave one of the cards to Ophir Postmaster Deana Youngblood-Ireland. On the back of the card, Lillie wrote, “Please Mister Postman, look and see, if there’s a letter in your bag for me.”

The thoughtfulness of this little girl to not only send Valentine greetings to those she cared about through the mail, but also this warm message to her friendly Postmaster, demonstrates that the youngest of generations still embraces the value of mail.

If you were to write back to Lillie with your own postcard, what would it say?

  • Hello, I'm Benny the Blogger: I'm the world's most famous postal employee. My hobbies are snappy quotes, kite flying and publishing. I was born Jan. 17, 1706, but don't call me old.

  • Subscribe to Your Postal Blog today and join in on the discussion.

  • Click on the earphones above to listen to the latest edition of Your Postal Podcast.

  • Click on the image above to download the latest edition of the USA Philatelic Catalog

  • Want to take Your Postal Blog with you on the go? Click the QR code below and go mobile.

%d bloggers like this: