Saturday, January 25

USPS Price Hike Hits e-Commerce: Compare USPS, FedEx, UPS [INFOGRAPHIC]

If you're an online seller: eBay, Etsy or website vendor, be prepared to get a kick in the wallet. On Sunday, January 26, new pricing comes into effect.

Our customers all want free shipping but the latest pricing for the USPS may force you to raise your product selling prices. What do these new postage rates mean for your online business (besides higher prices)?
  • Flat Rate Priority Mail envelopes stay the same price as in 2013  
  • Reduced minimum volume requirement for Priority Mail high volume discounts (CPP and CPP Cubic)
  • New Zone 9 created for the Freely Associated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau
  • No Commercial price increase for First-Class Package International Service
  • Electronic USPS Tracking International Service expanding to additional countries
  • New $0.01 discount for First-Class Mail Letters (up to 3.5 oz.) when PC Postage or Meters are used
The folks at Endicia made an easy-to understand pdf outling the 2014 USPS price changes. You can download this valuable information here.

Thursday, January 16

Earthquake Awakening In Northridge: 20 Years from the Epicenter

On Sunday, January 16, 1994 it was what some call “earthquake weather.” When hot, dry Santa Ana winds scorch the Los Angeles area with temperatures reaching into the 80s by day and plummeting into the 40s at night. Earthquake weather is apocryphal, but those who have lived here believe in it, even vaguely, as there is no other explanation for why the quakes occur.

I was a single mother with a home based business; doing advertising and marketing for regional shopping centers and local businesses. The next day was Martin Luther King Day and my 12 year old daughter would have the day off from school. We had just come home from a mini road trip to Solvang, so she decided to spend the night in my bedroom.

At about 4:31 am (04:30:51 to be exact), I woke up to the sound of my daughter screaming, “Mommy, mommy we are going to die!’ I opened my eyes with a start to see a 32” old school CRT TV (which weighed close to 100 pounds) fly up in the air and crash on to the facing wall. I reached for my glasses, while yelling to my daughter to roll off the bed and stay as close to the bed as possible (a highly debated safety technique called “triangle of life). 

On my way to the floor, outside the window, I saw a pole mounted electric transformer sway at least 3 times at a 40 degree angle until it loudly exploded. I told my daughter not to move and tried to reassure her it would be over in a minute — I while I blindly clawed the floor for my glasses.

There was a loud rumbling, as if a train was tunneling beneath us and the house came alive with sounds of its’ own. The wood frame groaned, pictures and mirrors were falling to the floors and breaking. Crashing of heavy objects could be heard from other rooms.

We held tight, shouting phrases of faith to each other that it will be over soon (for the full 30 seconds or so) until the shaking stopped. What we didn’t know then, was that our home was at the epicenter of the 6.7 magnitude Northridge earthquake. In a panic, we both tried to find our glasses in the pitch black of pre sunrise to no avail. After a few minutes we decided to make a dash into the backyard.

Then, at 4:39 am, a 4.5 aftershock struck. Aftershock is the term used by seismologists to describe the smaller earthquakes that follow the initial one. This was the first of 2,929 aftershocks within the following three weeks through February 6, 1994. It felt like there was one every few minutes. The exact data from CalTech can be seen here and here

We froze on either side of the bed. The noises seemed to be dying down but we were paralyzed with fear. 4:40 am; another aftershock. This time a 4.8 and one minute later, a 4.0. I can only give true magnitudes from the CalTech data, because when you are on top of the quake you experience something you never thought possible. The earth was moving, this isn’t supposed to happen. Combine that with terror and you have a life changing experience.

There was a sliding glass door in my bedroom, leading to the back yard. I guess I didn’t lock it that night because our neighbors, three strapping Cal State Northridge University students, opened the door and yelled to see if we were all right. We weren’t. Neither of us could focus properly, as our glasses became part of the rubble that occupied my bedroom floor. They grabbed us both and pulled us up to run out of the house and on to the street.