Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Zip Codes

Finally!  An A-Z Challenge where "Z" was an easy one! :)
According to the USPS, Zip codes were developed in the early 1960s as a way to more accurately and specifically sort mail for delivery.  ("Zip" stands for "Zoning Improvement Plan") July 1 will be the 50th anniversary of the Zip Code system!
My first digit (3) represents the Southeast region.  The second two numbers (01), represent the main population area within that region- in my case, Georgia, followed by the beautiful city of Atlanta.  The final two numbers (87) zero in on my local post office.

Maybe I was drilled very well in how to address an envelope when I was in school, but it has always astounded me that people forget to include the zip code sometimes.  To me that's like not addressing it at all! LOL

Here are some interesting Zip Codes I found:

  • General Electric in Schenectady, NY has a unique zip code in sequential order: 12345
  • Detroit, MI has a mail boat called the JW Westcott that delivers to ships in the Detroit River.  It has its own zip code of 48222.
  • The public knows the White House zip code to be 20500, but there is actually a secret zip + 4 for the President and First Family to get private mail.
  • New York's World Trade Center complex had its own zip code of 10048 before it was destroyed on 9/11/2001
  • My own beloved city of Savannah, GA's zip code is the first few numbers of Pi: 31415

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Well, obviously. :)

I thought you'd like to see my local P.O.

Isn't it cute!  I never use that blue box.  I usually have a package that needs postage, or I check my box (yes, I did finally get one!), or I just like to drop off letters at the counter and wish the ladies working there (who have come to expect me a minimum of 3x a week) a good day.

I tried to find when this branch opened, but Google isn't cooperating.  I know it has been in existence at least since the 80s, because I can remember it being a community fixture when I was a little girl and we moved back here from Virginia.  I'll have to ask next time I'm in (probably tomorrow) if the workers know the date it was built.

I did find this section of USPS Facts on the USPS website (go here for the whole thing):

A Day in the Life of the U.S. Postal Service
Each day, the Postal Service picks up, processes and delivers millions of letters and packages. No single operation in the world comes close to this level of connectivity to so many households and businesses. Here’s just ONE day in the life of the United States Postal Service (figures are averages):

215 million — revenue received, in dollars
157 million — dollars paid to postal employees in salaries and benefits
528 million — number of mailpieces processed and delivered
22 million — average number of mailpieces processed each hour
366,000 —average number of mailpieces processed each minute
6,100 — average number of mailpieces processed each second
226.7 million — pieces of First-Class Mail processed and delivered
262.4 million — pieces of Advertising Mail processed and delivered
727,167 —number of packages picked up through Package Pickup
4.3 million — number of miles driven by letter carriers and truck drivers
7,753 — number of letter carriers who deliver mail entirely on foot — The USPS Fleet of Feet
130,592 — number of address changes processed
2,160 — number of addresses added to our delivery network
1 million - number of peple who visit usps.com
809,210 — dollar amount of online stamp and retail sales at usps.com
1.6 million — amount of money spent on postage for Click-N-Ship labels
44.1 million — number of Click-N-Ship labels printed
18,750 — number of passport applications accepted
358,553 — number of money orders issued
1.6 million — dollars spent at Self-Service Kiosks in Post Office lobbies
3.2 million — customers served at more the 31,000 retail locations
0 — tax dollars received for operating the Postal Service

A self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation: 152 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. With more than 31,000 retail locations and the most frequently visited website in the federal government, usps.com, the Postal Service has annual revenue of more than $65 billion and delivers nearly 40 percent of the world’s mail. If it were a private sector company, the U.S. Postal Service would rank 42nd in the 2012 Fortune 500.

And yet we snail mailers are constantly told that the 238 year old institution is broke, being run into the ground and may soon be extinct.  Hmm.

And speaking of USPS history, I'd really like to go to D.C. and visit the National Postal Museum at the Smithsonian.  Anyone been?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Return To Sender

Nothing makes me sadder in mail adventures than seeing something I sent out weeks ago back in my mailbox with a sticker on it telling me it couldn't get to where I wanted it to go. :(

One time, I sent a letter to a pen pal in Germany, whom I had connected with through social media.  I used the address from her awesome custom stamp and made SURE it was right.  It came back some 2 weeks later, saying it couldn't reach her.  So I sent her a message to double check the address, which was EXACTLY what I had used!  I put it in another envelope, RTS stickers and all, and tried again with the SAME address and she got it 3 days later.  One of those postal mysteries that leaves you scratching your head and going "???!".

And then there is the hassle of convincing people (mostly businesses) who send mail to individuals who no longer live at your address that they should stop sending things addressed to that person.  (I'm looking at you, insurance company!)  I had to physically walk into an office, hand them the stack of mail that had kept arriving weeks after I had made calls to remove my address from their list, and very slowly spell it out for them to STOP. SENDING. THESE.  I think they FINALLY got the message!

I sent out to a pen pal from France a few weeks ago and it came back RTS.  I had her parents address that she had given me as a backup though, and so far I haven't heard anything so maybe she got it and will write back soon.

Do you ever get things returned back to you, readers?  I hope it doesn't happen very often!

Monday, April 15, 2013


Our poor mailbox.  It has sweetly and patiently stood vigil at the road in front of Gran's house for many years.  It has withstood hail, tornados, scorching summers, several floods, and the baseball bats of stupid punk teenagers who don't have anything worthwhile to do on a Saturday night than destroy other people's property.

It's so pitiful, I don't even have the heart to show you a photo of it.  The door is missing, the flag rusted into place ages ago, and the numbers are broken and falling off of the post.

Of course, now that the weather has a few nice days thrown in, we are looking to fix it up replace it with a pretty new one.*  This got me thinking on some designs and I thought I would share some fantastic mailbox photos I found around the interwebs.  :)

For those who just can't let go of technology...

For the Hobby Enthusiast:

For the Geek following their Fandom...

For the Northerner who is sick of the snow and a bit stir crazy...

*Have you seen how much some of the prettier ones go for at places like Home Depot and Lowes??  $400+!  God Save The Queen, I could send each of my pen pals a letter a week for that! (Maybe.)
And I am still making up my mind on the "to get a P.O. Box or to not get a P.O. Box" question.
How's the state of your mailbox, my dear reader?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

LWA, Long Letters and the Library

I've already mentioned the Letter Writer's Alliance a few times here on TMP, but I couldn't pass up the chance to include them in my postal themed A-Z!!!

I've been a member since 13 September, 2011!

I got a letter from Donovan just last week and I LOVE her sense of humor!  I have to write back ASAP.  My time is pretty spliced at the moment, and if I'm to succeed at some of my major long term goals, I have to acknowledge that MOST of my time in an average day isn't my own, at least for a while.

But I am still making time for the things that matter to me.  I'm still working hard, knowing that while I will never be a perfect person, I can perfect some of the facets of my life to be better versions of themselves.  Things like... writing back in a timely manner, for example!

Are you an LWA member?  I've met a few pen pals via LetterMo who are!  If you are not, you should definitely consider it.  A lifetime membership costs less than a movie ticket.  Check out the blog HERE.

Now on to the second part: long letters.  Am I the only one who can't bring myself to send a postcard sometimes because there just isn't room to do the correspondence I want to convey enough justice?  Please tell me I'm not the only person who habitually, after filling up both sides of a blank card's inside, carries over to a second 7th or 8th page??  Granted, a lot of times my additional "pages" are cut down to the size of the card, so they aren't full sheets.  But still.

Of course, a logical train of thought would be that if I didn't let so much time elapse between letters, I wouldn't have so much to try and write about all in one sitting, and therefore the letter would be shorter than the paperback novels unauthorized autobiographies pleasantly lengthy epistles I end up penning and trying to process through the mail system within the 3 oz limit.  It may be that I'm just frugal with my stamp money.  After all, it's limited and strictly budgeted, so I try to get as much news and pieces of life to the recipient as the $0.46 allows!  Maybe that's the real reason about the "doesn't send postcards".  I'm more apt to send a blank postcard enclosed with a 3 page letter to a pen pal than to send the postcard by itself.

Here is a fantastic children's book that we love called "The Long, Long Letter."

It's very cute.  Go grab it at a library near you.  Don't know where your closest one is?  Use this handy Locator!  :)
The Dog River Library is one of my favorite places to write letters.  It's quiet (well, duh!), and a lot of times I use their copier to keep a copy of my outgoing (see my explanation of this in yesterday's post.) because it ends up being cheaper than having to continually buy new cartridges for my ink guzzling printer at home.  It's also a great place to write letters, because I'm an avid reader and a lot of my pen pals are too, so they are always asking what I've read recently or ask me to recommend favorite books.  Rather convenient to simply look in my bag at what I've just checked out or am returning! ;)


Did you honestly think that I could go more than 5 blog posts without working in a reference to Jane Austen?  Silly goose!  Have a lovely combination of the "Keep Calm" motto and Mr. Darcy.  Yes, I know it, I spoil you rotten.  You're welcome. :)
Do you write short or long letters?  Do you love getting long letters?  Or not?  Why?
Comment away, dear readers!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Keeping It All Organized

Some of you have asked how I keep my past correspondence.  Well, I'll be honest with you, there is a LOT of it!!! Which is awesome!  But ... challenging... sometimes! :)
I keep a photocopy of my outgoing letters, because then it creates a complete conversation and I don't have to try to remember whether I told so-and-so such-and-such and repeat old stories or bore them to death.  I just skim the last 2 or 3 letters and continue the thread. :)  Who says people with poor memories can't find a system that works! It took a few trials and errors, but eventually I found one that I like.

I took advantage of a fantastic back-to-school sale at Office Depot last fall and got a mess of these:
Wilson Jones 3 ring binder in Bright Pink
And some of these:
And now I have this:
The tabs are removable, so when I have to change the letters,
it's really easy.  If things keep up like they have been, I'll end
up with a binder for each letter by the end of the summer!!!

I put the pen pal's name, and a general description
of their location.  Obviously for the USA, city and
then state.  For international it's a bit different,
but you get the idea.  The tabs change easily if I
have to update them due to people moving. :)
Of course, "organized" is a relative term, since I have this
pile and another one (not pictured) of replied letters to
file.  At least I can say I do have everything more or less
in one general location amongst my belongings! :)
How do you keep your letters, my readers?  Boxes?  Binders like mine?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Just For Fun

There are a lot of postal related things out there that fall firmly into my "Just Plain Silly" tag/category.  Here are a few for your entertainment! :)


Seriously cute!!!  You can get more info and order your own HERE.


I'm not typically a fan of practical jokes, but I thought this was great!
You can get your own lizard HERE and then have some laughs.
Just be sure the person whose mailbox you leave it in has a good
sense of humor too! :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Some of my absolute favorite inks (and ink pens) to write letters with.....

Excellent for historic character letters.

I don't own this inkwell yet, but I want one.

Good for writing and drawing.

The "Blue" is the one I use the most.  Hobby Lobby has
them for sale individually.  I like the "Teal" too. 

As with the one above, I don't actually own this
peacock glass inkwell.  But I want it. :)
Perhaps not "accurate" for historic character correspondence.
But sooo pretty. :)

Again, less practical- but so fun!!
Swirl click ball-point pens by The Write Dudes

Gelly Roll Stardust pens by Sakura

For dark papers.  I like to use this on a dark blue shimmer finished
cardstock that has been cut to the size of my card, when I need a
couple more "pages" for my letter.  I'm long winded. :)
Pretty and smooth gel ink in very bright colors.
Same as above, but slightly different feel.
I usually keep the pink one and give the
purple one to a friend.
What inks and pens are your favorites to write letters with, my Loves?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Geeking out. Again.


It was the first PG 13 movie I ever saw.  Dad took me, and it's one of the best memories I have.  We saw it 8 times in the theater.

Seeing it in 3D was utterly worth the 20 year wait! LOL
It was awesome!  I plan to see it in the theater a few more times before it leaves.
Geeky happiness.  :)

Hand Cancelled Post

You know what I love?

I love when the friendly people at my local Post Office use the round stamp and cancel stuff by hand if I ask them to.  (It was one of the LetterMo achievement badges too!)

It's a good idea to do this if you have an envelope that could get damaged by the sorting machines, but sometimes I ask them to do it just because it looks way better and completes the work of art that the envelope was intended to be.  It looks especially nice on the historic pieces, which I unfortunately don't have any photos of at the moment.  I do have a photo of this piece that went to France, though...

And the ones that I receive are super cool too.  Like this one from Budapest, Hungary:

Do you ever have your letters hand cancelled?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Gee, this one was harder than I thought!

I just could NOT come up with a Snail Mail post that started with G!
And besides that,
If I think of anything after I have had more sleep and less stress, I'll come back and edit. ;)

PS- No, that isn't ALL I did today!!!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Fifty-Two Weeks of Mail

2 years ago, I joined the 52 Weeks of mail project via Facebook.  The goal is simple.  Send mail, every week of the year.  With other projects like LetterMo, etc., this hasn't been difficult.  It's just a really lovely way for me to break down my incoming and outgoing mail to a manageable, weekly format and keep better track.

Of course, it doesn't do much to keep me caught up when I have a stack of incoming and have not taken the needed time to write replies.  My incoming is greater than my outgoing at present, and it would be really good to flip that around.  It DOES keep me mindful that, "Hey, girlie, you need to send out [x number of] letters this week", etc.  It does help keep the balance.... er... balanced.  Thankfully, people understand that life happens.  That priorities have to be kept in order, and that there are certain things that come first.  The Lord.  Cute Gremlins.  Family.  Work.  A good standard of living that includes a clean home and laundered clothes.  But after those things, I really DO need to get myself together and keep up with my letters.

So even if I only send out ONE letter each week, I'm technically a success at the 52WOM project, and that feels really nice.  We all need a positive boost in attitude, and meeting a goal-however simple that goal may be- is a great way to keep the ball rolling on the other, bigger things.

If you want to join in and make the official pledge to send something through the mail for all 52 weeks of the year, you can head over to their Facebook page here.  Don't worry that it's the halfway point.  You can start from whatever week.  It officially starts in October around World Post Day (October 9th).  When I have some time to take photos, I'll be doing sets for this year's round for Flikr.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Envelopes (Part 2)

Oh, hai!
Glad you are back for part 2!
So here are 2 ways you can make your own envelopes:
Method 1:
This is stupid easy.
Yon sheet of 8.5x11 paper
Fold the bottom up, so that about an inch or so is left at the top

Tape the sides and fold over the remaining inch.  TA DAA!
Method 2:
A bit more involved, but completely worth it.
Start with a large template.  I chose my favorite envelope size
and unfolded it, then traced it to make this pattern.
Reduce the pattern by whatever percentage you like by
using a copier.  I am using the 50% reduction.  The finished
envelope will measure 3" long x 2" high.
Trace the template onto your envelope paper.
Make sure you trace the fold lines from corner to corner.
Cut out along the outer tracing line.
Fold inward along the guidelines. Run a line of glue along the
bottom most edge.  It will be the one with the squared off point.
All done!
Here is the front.  This size will hold one ounce of loose leaf tea.
Here are two made from wrapping paper scraps.  The full size
one is the 50% size, and the smaller one is made from a 30%
I used the full size template for this one.  Here is the outside...
And a rather surprising inside! ;)
I hope that helps to inspire you!  I'm off to get ready for the Cute Gremlin's spring break. :)
I would love to see what sorts of envelopes you make, readers!