Monday, July 25, 2011

Beautiful Barkhamsted

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We never take for granted the beauty of driving over the reservoir. Thinking about our trip to Rockport, Mass, and that the Motif #1 is supposed to be the most photographed and painted building in the world, I thought there should be a contest for CT. I bet the Gatehouse at the Saville Dam is probably the most painted and photographed building in CT.

Owney, the Postal Dog

I was pleased to see that the Post Office is finally honoring Owney, the Postal Dog with his own stamp. It's about time. There is a restriction that a stamp cannot be issued until five years after someone's death (reduced from ten years in 2007--unless you are a US President), but Owney's been dead 114 years! What took them so long?

I don't know whether Owney's new "extreme makeover" prompted the stamp or vice versa. You see, Owney was taxidermied and on display at the Smithsonian. There he recently underwent a makeover. I suppose procedures must have improved in 114 years.

I saw Owney at the Smithsonian years ago. I have a special place in my heart for animals and I was happy to read again about Owney's adventures. He first showed up in Albany, NY in 1888 at the Railway Post Office. He found a soft spot to sleep on the mail bags and thus started his trips on the mail trains. He became the unofficial mascot of the postal clerks. As he road from stops to stops, they began to give him tags and medals from the various places. His collar became so weighted down that PMG John Wanamaker gave him a harness to hold all his "trophies".

The postal employees considered him a good luck charm. Train wrecks were common occurrences, yet no train he ever road had a wreck.

In 1895 Owney took a trip around the world via train and steamships through Asia and Europe. Finally in 1897 with sight in only one eye and only able to eat soft food and drink milk, it was decided that he should retire in Albany. Yet, traveling was the life that Owney knew and loved.

I just learned this part of Owney's life and it is not a happy ending. It was 1897 when he slipped on a train and ended up in Toledo. From there the facts vary. He supposedly turned on either a postal clerk or a reporter and in the end he was shot dead.

My first thought is that someone was mean to him. After a life of traveling and seeing strangers, it is hard to believe such a dog would become mean.

He was so loved that the postal employees collected money to have him preserved and kept in the Post Office Department in Washington, DC. In 1911 he was transferred to the Smithsonian Institute. Owney traveled over 143,000 miles and earned over 1,000 tags and medals.

When I read of Owney's death, a light bulb went off. Now I know why dogs hate mail carriers--it's the revenge of Owney. Well, those who know me know I look at things a little differently and that's why it's Debbie's Post.

I'm glad Owney's memory lives on on a new forever stamp. Now next how about Dorsey, the dog who actually carried mail in a saddle bag to the miners.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


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I have always used coupons. There are times when I don't bother as it does take prep work and patience. With the extreme couponing show, coupon use seems to be revitalizing. With the new computer age, it is awesome how various websites can help you plan matching up sale items with coupons getting items at a fraction of the cost and sometimes free. I have attended two workshops on using coupons recently. I thought I knew it all. I did not.
I do not want to give away all the info at these workshops as these people are trying to make a living doing that but I will say that the Crazy Coupon Chick was very informative and fun (even raffled off prizes--and I won).
I will share that my favorite new website so far is Living Rich With Coupons. They gave us others to check out and I'm not done exploring.
I am not going to tell you that the groceries in the picture I got for a couple of dollars. I am just starting. I will say everything in the picture I bought with a coupon. The grand total was $85.32 which includes 4 pounds of boneless chicken (99 cents a pound), two pounds of sausage. Some of the best deals I made were Whole Fruit Bars for 1.29, Wheeties .88, V-Fushion (retails 3.49 I got them for .49 each, Wise chips .99 each bag, 12 rolls Cottonelle 5.49, Hefty ziplock bags .84 each, Turkey Hill iced teas were .49 each, Greek Yogurt .50 each, ice cream 1.67 (though I have never tried Blue Bunny), 60 cans of Coke products for $10.00, pickles were .74 a jar, my favorite shampoo, Fructis, 1.49 each, shave gel .69, Lipton soup mixes 2 free and 2 for .50, ketchup and mustard .50 each and best of all the deodorant free and 3 boxes of healthy pasta for free and at the end I got 3.50 off my next purchase--which I was taught, I did immediately with some non coupon items I left out for another transaction.
The coupons today totaled $74.96, though to hear the store say it with their sales and using their card, I saved $165.45. These items were bought at Shop Rite.
My husband says if I keep this up, he will let me retire--that's incentive. The way things are in this economy, we will have no choice when I retire. Well, at least couponing is a hobby that saves you money. Right now that is what I call it, a hobby. In case you are thinking it, no, I will not be hoarding like those on TV.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Rant--a glimpse behind the scenes at the post office

I've worked at the same post office for over 31 years and I have seen major changes--from no route, to route, changes in office hours and number of employees. Classes of mail have been added and new procedures occur regularly.

Although the mail volume is more than when I first started, it certainly is a lot less than a few years ago. The man hours they give us to get the work done has dwindled to as low as possible. What doesn't get taken into consideration is that though the mail volume is lower, the paperwork increases and increases. We all know this is so our big brother can keep an eye on us.

Let me just give you an itsy bitsy example of what we have to deal with. We have to empty the collection box daily. I've done it for 31 years perfectly. Simple enough task? Well, no. Let me compare new days to old days.

When you take the key with you, you are to take a scanner and a big card. The card gets put in there to show the next person who opens it that you did indeed open it.
(The next person is most times--me!). You take out the card that's in there. Then you scan a barcode inside the collection box to prove to big brother that you emptied it.

The fun doesn't stop there. After you sift through the collection box taking out certain things that have to be sent separately (another rant which I better not go into), you grab a placard, mark it with the office name and date and tape that placard to the tub and put the tub with the other outgoing mail. Put the collection box key in the safe.

Done? No way. Then you take the scanner and download it so big brother can know. Done? Heck no. You wait until the scanner says it has downloaded the info.
Done? Surely you jest? Then you go to your computer and get on the appropriate program and wait for the scanner info to be transferred to the computer. When you see that it has transferred to the computer, done? Of course not. Then you print up the confirmation that it took. You sign that piece of paper. Done? What are you kidding? No! Then you go to this check list of 20+ items that we have to verify every day that we do, and you write down the time that is printed on the copy that you printed up. Now you can file that away. Done.

In the old days, you took the key to the collection box, emptied it and put the tub with the outgoing mail and key in safe. What was so wrong with that? And one senator lately expressed his opinion that the post office does not have enough government regulation--are you kidding me? Just what I need more paperwork!

I would like to point out that there is no cheating on this procedure. Should you not verify that the info transferred to the computer and for some reason it doesn't transmit, you will get a call at home that you have to go back and re-scan it. Same thing if you scan one minute early. You have to go back and scan it and if there is any mail in there, drive it to the plant. If your computer is down and you can't verify, then you complete another form and fax it in.

I remind you this is a tiny part of what is expected of us every day. If only the job were just sorting mail and waiting on customers... I wouldn't even mind the paperwork, if it were reasonable. Actually I can handle paperwork. The problem with most of our paperwork is that we have to do it while waiting on customers so you are constantly losing concentration. It takes twice as long, at least. The other paperwork at the end of the day, is done in the 30 minute period when you are finishing the mail for dispatch, preparing the bank deposit, changing dates on stampers, locking drawers, doors and safes and of course, simply emptying the collection box...yeah right.

Well, I hope big brother or even his little brother is not monitoring my blog, but I've only said 100% truth. That's my rant for today. I hoped I would feel better having said all this, not really.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Seven different firework displays at once!

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I had often heard that you could see the Springfield, MA fireworks from Mountain Road, North Granby, CT. I always enjoyed the view from Mountain Road. The daytime picture was taken this fall. I include it here to give you a slight idea of what we were looking at.

I have not yet mastered taking pictures of fireworks. This is the best one I could get--keep in mind we were probably about 25 miles away from them.

The fun part was not only could we see Springfield Fireworks, but fireworks in at least six other locations. We guessed one may have been Granville, MA. Some may have been "private" ones. We weren't sure which direction to look.

It is an entirely different experience watching fireworks when you can't hear them. Also we were looking at them from the side rather than above. At first I thought they were a different type because the Springfield ones gave the illusion that they were spinning.

We multi-tasked while we were there, donating blood to the local mosquitoes. :(
All in all it was a fun new experience so close to home and at the right price. :)

More pictures of the Barkhamsted, 4th of July Parade 2011

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Star Band, Barkhamsted 4th of July Parade 2011

Each year it gets bigger! I devoted this blog to just pictures of the Star Band. For those of you who may not know, anyone who wants to march and play are invited to participate. There is one rehearsal, and even that is not mandatory. They always sound great.

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Barkhamsted July 4th Parade 2011

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