USPS keeping postage stamps interesting
By Jim Schuh
It’s likely that you don’t pay much attention to the postage stamps on mail that comes to your house. Still, the Postal Service keeps things interesting with several new issues each year.
One of the best issues of this year will be the “America the Beautiful” set of 20 stamps that came out this past Wednesday – July 4. One of the 50-cent forever stamps features a scene from Calumet County in Wisconsin.
This summer has brought some fun stamps, too. You can buy a recent issue that you scratch and sniff. The Postal Service calls them, “Icy Pops” on a stick, adding that the stamps are printed with a coating that evokes a sweet summer scent.
The U. S. wasn’t the first to produce fragrant stamps. The Swiss did it some years ago with chocolate and I sometimes wondered if the Swiss fastened them to letters or ate them. Swiss chocolate is really good!
Earlier this year, stamp collectors voted in an annual poll by Linn’s Stamp News on their favorite issue from last year, and by a wide margin, selected the Total Solar Eclipse. You might recall that the Postal Service issued it last year for the August 21 total eclipse of the moon across a wide swath of the continental United States.
What made that stamp special was that it was the first ever to use thermo-chromic ink. The heat of your finger caused the ink to change from black to reveal the moon. Once it cooled, the ink reverted to the black eclipsed moon.
You can still buy some if you wish by going online to the USPS site and purchase a sheet or two. When the stamp came out, it cost 49-cents. But the first- class rate has risen by a penny to 50-cents, so you’ll pay the current rate of $8.00 per sheet. Shipping and handling are another buck.
What are your favorite brands? The Harris Poll
The Harris Poll’s 2018 Brands of the Year shows what people like, and it might be fun to compare your favorites with the more than 77,000 people questioned by Harris. The company lists what it says are the strongest brands in media, travel, financial, automotive, entertainment, retail, restaurant, technology, household and non-profit industries.
Here are some favorites – in no particular order: The Cheesecake Factory and Texas Roadhouse in casual dining; Krispy Kreme for coffee shops; Keurig for coffee makers; Kohl’s for department stores; National Wildlife Federation for environmental non-profits; History Channel for factual entertainment; AMC Channel for general entertainment; The Weather Channel for news; Hawaiian for full service airline; Canon for digital cameras; Honda in the full line automotive category; Home Depot among hardware and home stores; St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Shriners Hospitals for Children tied for the top spot in health non-profit; in the international aid non-profit category, Food for the Poor was on top; Lexus was first among luxury automobiles; KitchenAid won among major appliances; in Mexican Restaurants, it was Taco Bell; Nordstrom’s won in luxury department stores; Hampton Inn and Suites for mid-market motels; Capital One in national banks; BBC News in news service; in off-price retailing, TJ Maxx finished first; it was UPS for package deliveries; GEICO for property and casualty insurance; Visa for payment cards; Panera and Subway tied among top sandwich shops; Enterprise won for rental cars; Apple topped in both smartphones and laptop computers (iPad); Verizon won among wireless carriers; Dick’s was first in sporting goods stores; Michelin won in tires; PBS topped television networks; Marriott Hotels were number one in premium hotels; Southwest was first in value airlines and HP was tops among printers.
If you have an extra $400,000 or so sitting around, consider acquiring a new, fully-loaded SUV from Rolls Royce. It’s the luxury automaker’s first venture into sport utility vehicles. The eight- speed, 563-horsepower V-12 engine lets you travel at up to 155 miles per hour, although I don’t know where you could test it around here. The vehicle’s name is the Cullinan, and like all Rolls, it has the famous signature grille. You’d really impress your friends with this one.
But I’d be afraid of driving around town in this vehicle, and especially about parking it in a shopping center lot. The guy in a rusty 1960s coupe with masking tape holding his windshield and headlamps together who parks next to you might not be very careful about banging his dented door into the side of your Rolls. And some jerk might take pleasure in keying (scratching with a key) the side of it.
The vehicle reminds me of a Maybach, the expensive blue-black Mercedes I saw some years ago in San Diego. A restaurant owner parked his treasure out front, but hired a guard who stood nearby, cautioning us as we gawked at it: “You can look, but don’t touch.”
Like many, I have a smartphone that can perform many chores. What sets me apart is the fact I seldom turn it on. I don’t want to live on my phone. I turn it on once a day to check for voicemail or texts that may have shown up during the previous 24-hours. I usually don’t find anything important.
Many folks live on their phones – you see them wherever you go – people who’ve become slaves to their machine. So it’s not surprising that the Pew Research Center found that 26 percent of smartphone and other mobile device users never hang up – they’re online “almost constantly.” Their numbers have increased, too – they’re five percent higher than three years ago. Another 43 percent go online “several times as day” and just eight percent – like me – check their phones once a day.
People under 50 are the heaviest users, and they tend to be college graduates who live in and around cities. Of the eight percent who check their phones once-a-day, nearly all are over 65. We old folks are just not smitten with current technology.