Monthly Archives: March 2011

Marauding mutts stop mail service

An aggressive band of marauding mutts forced postal carriers to temporarily stop mail delivery to residents of Galveston until police corral between three to five mixed breeds.

The mail interruption affects about seven customers who haven’t received mail in about 10 days.  No injuries have been reported.

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Postal Service Plans To Cut 7,500 Jobs

The US Postal Service is apparently cutting 7500 jobs by eliminating 7 district offices.  District offices house administrative functions and do not affect customer service.

Supposedly, there are more cuts in the works, but this is part of the restructuring of the postal service and will be good for long term efficiency.

Personally, I think this could be good for the postal service.  I hate to hear about people being laid off, but the USPS needs to be returned to solvency.

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Fed Nail Anthrax Suspect via Postal Stationery

I found this interesting story in the Danger Room section of Wired (and not even in my custom “postal” feed).  It’s interesting because they had to print hundreds of thousands of these pre-stamped envelopes to figure out when and where the one the suspect used was produced.

I also managed to get Danger Room‘s attention by calling out that a 6 3/4 envelope is not 6 3/4 inches wide.  It’s 6 1/2 inches wide.  See comments after the story for my post.  A minor point, but it matters.

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Rocket Man

Robert Goddard’s ideas of sustainable rocket-powered flight were ridiculed by some colleagues early on, and laughed at in the press, but Goddard drove on and on March 16, 1926, he made the first successful launch of a liquid-fueled rocket, performed at his Aunt Effie’s farm in Connecticut.

Goddard’s achievements are commemorated on #C69, an Air Mail stamp issued in 1964.

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Pi Day Philately

Today is Pi day, i.e. 3.14, which is a pretty cool pseudo-holiday celebrated by

Archimedes Stamp Issued by Italy in 1983

mathematicians and computer nerds with no real fanfare other than the remark, “Hey, it’s Pi day…you know 3.14?” and the widespread eating of pies which at least illustrate Pi. 

I couldn’t find any stamps with Pi on them, but I found plenty of stamps featuring Archimedes, who studied Pi rigorously.  He realized that its magnitude could be bounded from below and above by inscribing circles in regular polygons and calculating the outer and inner polygons’ respective perimeters.  By using the equivalent of 96-sided polygons, he proved that 3\tfrac{10}{71} < \pi < 3\tfrac{10}{70}.  The average of these values is about 3.14185.

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Stamps To Be Replaced By Text Messages

Well, not exactly.  That headline doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, to be sure.  It works like this: First, customers pay for postage by sending a text. They’ll receive a reply that includes a code to be written on a package as proof of postage payment.  Officials have yet to finalize plans and don’t expect it be launched before summer.  In other words, this may not be viable at all.

I see a few problems with this approach.  First, the impetus supposedly is that Sweden (and Denmark, they want to try it too) is looking for new ways to convince its citizens to send more letters, but they also want to ease the lives of its citizens.  That is admirable, but if you are going to go through the trouble to write a letter, is buying and applying stamps a deal breaker?

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Historical Perspectives On The Mail

It was nice to see this Glimpse of History piece on Free Mail Delivery in Plainfield, NJ, complete with anecdote about the adjacent bar room.  We sometimes forget how intertwined with our lives the mail is.  The mail is important to all of us and our history as Americans.  This is why it’s hard for me to hear people complain about the mail and use phrases like “snail mail,” or claim it would be better to abolish or totally privatize. The fact remains that there are few other ways to communicate so inexpensively that convey the connection that a written letter provides.  Most people would stop using email altogether if they were to be charged 44¢ for every message they send.

On the other hand, sometimes we have to look past the ridiculous nicknames and see what the post can do.  This NY Times article relates the special place “snail mail” (yick, hate that phrase) has for military personnel.  I disagree with the claim that Facebook and text messaging have largely made the written letter obsolete, and am glad so many people still appreciate the power of the written letter.

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