A Gary Gulman comedy routine [YT] recommended by Patton Oswalt [FB] touches on the history of US state abbreviations [PDF], first defined in 1831 [Int. Arch.], occasionally [ibid.] revised [PDF], and finally reduced to two letters each soon after the introduction of Zone Improvement Plan codes [Flash/MP4].
"The very term 'country' can be controversial. Who decides what is a country and what isn't? The criterion used in this document is simple: if the USPS lists it in its Index to Countries and Localities, we treat it as a country. Thus some localities (such as Reunion Island) that are not distinct countries are listed, whereas other localities that consider themselves countries (such as Western Sahara) are not listed (but still discussed). Rationale: if you address mail from the USA to WESTERN SAHARA, the USPS won't know what to do with it. If you want to send mail to SAINT PIERRE AND MIQUELON (a part of France that is in Canada) from the USA, it doesn't make sense for the mail to go all the way to France and back." Frank's Compulsive Guide to Country Addresses
Mongolia will become a global pioneer next month, when its national post office starts referring to locations by a series of three-word phrases instead of house numbers and street names. Britain-based startup What3Words has devised a system where the surface of the Earth is divided into 57 trillion three-square-meter locations, each assigned a unique word triplet. An estimated 4 billion people worldwide have no address for mailing purposes, making it difficult to open a bank account, get a delivery, or be reached in an emergency, and What3Words is intended to help solve this problem. [more inside]
Scholars are beginning to examine an unprecedented collection of European correspondence from the late 17th and early 18th centuries--a chest belonging to a Dutch postmaster which contains some 2600 undelivered letters, 600 of which have never been opened.
How the US Postal Service works offers a glimpse into the massive automation behind the AFCS (Advanced Facer Canceller System) which helps deliver 150 million of pieces of mail daily
From May 12, 1939 to June 30, 1949, a fleet of Stinson Reliants were used for a unique form of mail pick-up and delivery: skyhooking. Similar in notion to the mail-on-the-fly and mail cranes used along rail lines, the Reliants would fly low, deposit one load of mail and pick up the next, without stopping, providing mail service to rural communities. The Smithsonian National Postal Museum has a 39 minute documentary presentation on YouTube, but it's a guy talking over powerpoint slides, which is pretty dry. Instead, here is a modern news report with interviews of a skyhook pilot and old newsreel footage.
Owney the Postal Dog was the unofficial mascot of the U.S. postal service in the 1890s, riding the rails with the mails and accumulating an impressive collection of dog tags on a specially designed vest. He even made it as far as Japan, being issued a special postal class (Registered Dog Package) and an official Japanese passport. After an illustrious career, however, Owney met a sticky end -- shot by the police under dubious circumstances in Toledo in 1897. [more inside]
you've got new postcrossed mail You have heard of geocaching. You have heard of Bookcrossing. Here comes Postcrossing. The main idea is that: if you send a postcard, you'll receive at least one back, from a random Postcrosser from somewhere in the world. [more inside]
How depressing is your job? The Office of Applied Studies, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, released a report ranking various occupations in order of the number of depressive episodes experienced by workers. "Personal Care & Service" occupations (defined by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics here) top the list. One wonders if these are the occupations contributing to the growth of the so-called "service economy," and if so, are we heading for a deepening national malaise?
Gone postal Another US postal worker shoots and kills work mates (ex workmates in this case.) As ever Wiki tells all. USPO works to eradicate the usage, but no chance. Now so much part of the culture you can game it
"In the game, the player plays the role of a character called The Postal Dude. He lives in a town where there are all kinds of people, white, black, skinny, fat, straight and gay. You can play the game in a passive role without killing anyone," Desi said.
"We are not political," he added.
"We are not political," he added.
So that's why the economy is so bad. The USPS is looking for $65 million dollars worth of white mail postal tubs. If you work in an office or deal with a mailroom, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The penalty for not coughing them up? 3 years imprisonment and a $1000 fine. (I read it on the side of one of the boxes I have by my desk).
By testing the limits of what the USPS will actually deliver, scientists at the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) have answered an age-old question: "How patient is the US Postal Service when it comes to unwrapped packages?" (via Useless Pages)
Had this idea about a year ago over beer, when netthings were a-cookin', fleshed it out with some geek-comrades, pitched it under an NDA to a VC, got the green light, and then chickened out and went back to the day job. Once you really thought it through and calculated the wired populace as a percentage of the unwired, we figured, the idea was fabulous, a service to The People and a MoneyMaker. Now someone else seems to have had the same idea, more or less. I wish them luck. If it takes off, I'm gonna feel mighty dumb, and if it tanks, mighty lucky. Now I can finally ask the MeFi jury...Silly thing or smart?