Lost and Found Letters

Technically, there is a Lost and Found Letters Department.  It is called the Mail Recovery Center (MRC), formerly known as the Dead Letter Office, located in Atlanta, GA.  The MRC handles non-deliverable mail that is determined to be of value.  Gone are the days when postal workers pored over indecipherable handwriting in order to send letters to the correct address. The percentage of letters lost in the mail is relatively small, but still there are times one wishes for a Lost and Found Letters Department.  Sometimes you either sense or know that something is missing.  That…

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Capitol in Bloom

Gardens and landscapes are alive and colorful in Washington DC, with the Capitol in bloom.  Flowers on full display this summer include the peony, gladiolus, milkweed, hydrangea, and clematis, among others.  Among the native perennials are sage, goldenrod, blue violets, beebalm, echinacea, and columbine.  Spring and fall are great times to visit the Capitol, and during our early summer visit, I enjoyed all of the gorgeous colors. Home garden, Washington DC NE An abundance of large trees provide shade from summer heat and humidity, and we were fortunate to experience moderate days with a slight breeze. …

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Summertime in New York
Park Slope, Brooklyn

Summertime in New York

It is summertime in New York, and things are coming back to life.  Restaurants are open, both indoors and out, subway and street traffic are picking up, and more shops are open.   New Yorkers took last Tuesday’s election very seriously.  It was a primary election for Mayor and City Council in Brooklyn.  Due to ranked choice voting, final outcome of the election may take weeks to be determined.  Along the busy corridors of 7th and 8th Avenues in Park Slope, near the YMCA on 15th Street where early voting was taking place, candidates and their…

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Failing the Canine Security Check

Today is my first cross-country trip on an airplane in 16 months, and I did not expect to start out by failing the canine security check.  He was a young, handsome, mellow-seeming dog, doing his duty, and I was not the only soon-to-be passenger noting how sweet looking he was.  None of us reached out to touch him, knowing that it is strictly verboten to interfere with a working dog, but it was tempting. I am not sure why this particular canine signaled me out.  I am very fond of dogs, so certainly it was not…

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The Ten-Year Plan

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and the USPS revealed a new ten-year plan on March 21, 2021 aimed at reinvigorating the postal service.  Parts of the plan are ready to be implemented, including increasing the cost of stamps, slowing down first-class mail delivery in favor of more lucrative package delivery, closing selected facilities, and cutting back post office hours and staffing.  Such changes are subject to approval by the Postal Regulatory Commission, an independent Federal agency. First-class stamps are currently 55 cents First-class mail volume has decreased by 28% over the past 10 years, one of the…

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A Random Letter in the Mail

Have you ever received a random letter in the mail?  Random, as in an unanticipated, handwritten note or letter? The use of first-class mail has been in decline for decades, and letters have become almost rare.   Any letter or note in the mail is a gift, whether it be a thank you note, a birthday card, a holiday greeting.  But most of our communications today are virtual, via social media, email, text messaging, and more, using multiple platforms. Given the shift in how we communicate, a random letter in the mail is a welcome surprise.  Within…

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Who Selects the Stamps

Who selects the stamps?  Each year, the United States Postal Service issues approximately 35 new stamps, covering a wide range of images and fields of interest.  In short, it is not hard to find something to like.  New stamps are selected by the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) of the USPS, whose members are appointed by the Postmaster General. Playwright August Wilson is featured on a new Forever Stamp The CSAC was established in 1957.  Currently, the committee has 13 members, representing “…collective expertise in history, science, technology, art, education, sports, and other areas of public…

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The Etiquette of a Condolence Letter

Recently, the need arose for me to write a condolence letter.  Over the years, I have sent many cards and notes to friends who had suffered a loss, but this time was different.  It was a friend who died, a friend with whom I had been out of touch for several years.  I did not know her family or how to contact them, yet it felt important to reach out to them. Handwritten notes As a first step, I contacted the senior living community where she had been living, in an upscale city located to the…

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Mail Trucks of the Future

Have you ever wondered how many mail trucks are owned by the United States Postal Service, or how old they are?  The short answer is “a lot, and very old.” Approximately 140,000 of the familiar old Grumman mail trucks, created in 1989, are currently on the road, and their average age is over 27 years old. Prototype of new mail truck by Oshkosh Defense As part of the modernization efforts of the USPS, Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense was awarded a $482 million contract to design and plan new mail trucks over the next ten years, the first…

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Ponzi Scheme and Stamps

A certain type of fraud that dates back centuries, known as a Ponzi scheme, derived its name from a deception involving stamps in the early 20th century.  According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a Ponzi scheme is “an investment swindle in which some early investors are paid off with money put up by later ones in order to encourage more and bigger risks.”  Investors are led to believe that their investment is yielding unrealistically high returns.  Despite the 20th century adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” billions of dollars have…

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