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December 12, 1997

Going Postal

Most of the year, the only postal mail I send out is bills -- and as long as they're postmarked on time, I don't care too much how long they take to get to their destination. The holiday season is different, however, with flocks of cards and packages that need to get where they're going on time. The U.S. Postal Service's Web site, already the home of such useful tools as its Zip-code finder, also offers a postal-rate calculator at that can save stressed-out holiday correspondents from further angst. Select what you're sending -- anything from a postcard to "A Large Package," specifying weight or size as necessary -- its source and destination Zip codes and any special services you want, and the site tells you the cost, along with how many days it should take for it to arrive. (That last part, incidentally, is an exceedingly poor ad for Priority Mail, listing no improvement in delivery times for that pricier option.) This site also answered one of my long-standing questions-how long of a letter can I send on one stamp-reporting that six pieces of paper weigh about an ounce, the maximum weight for a 32-cent stamp.

-- Rob Pegoraro,

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