Friday, June 20, 2008

On the trail of the 'Indian yeti'

On the trail of the 'Indian yeti'

By Alastair Lawson
BBC News, Meghalaya

Artisit's impression of the Mande barung of Meghalaya

In the US it's known as bigfoot, in Canada as sasquatch, in Brazil as mapinguary, in Australia as a yowie, in Indonesia as sajarang gigi and, most famously of all, in Nepal as a yeti.

The little known Indian version of this legendary ape-like creature is called mande barung - or forest man - and is reputed to live in the remote West Garo hills of the north-eastern state of Meghalaya.

I was invited by passionate yeti believer Dipu Marak to travel throughout the area to hear for myself what he says is compelling evidence of the existence of a black and grey ape-like animal which stands about 3m (nearly 10ft) tall.

There have been repeated reports of sightings over many years by different witnesses in the West, South and East Garo hills.

Mr Marak estimates the creature weighs about 300kg (660lb) and is herbivorous, surviving on fruit, roots and tree bark.

Intense heat

The Garo hills comprise more than 8, of some of the thickest jungle in India.

And as I soon discovered, there is no shortage of people who say they have seen the creature at first hand.


'Yeti witness' James Marak

Take woodcutter Nelbison Sangma, for example, who works on the fringes of the Nokrek national park in the Garo hills.

In November 2003, he says that he saw a yeti three days in a row.

He took me from his village to the spot where he says he made the sighting, a five-hour walk in intense tropical heat from his house.

"I saw the creature quite clearly on the other side of the river. It was breaking branches off trees and eating the sap. Its strength was amazing.

"Obviously I wanted to photograph it, but I knew that if I left the area, it would take at least 10 hours or more to get a camera as I do not own one. By that time the creature would have disappeared."

Mr Sangma says that he told the state forestry department of his sighting, but they did not believe him.

He took me to the spot where he says the yeti destroyed a tree - an exhausting uphill walk through thick jungle infested with blood-sucking leeches.

Mr Sangma showed me where the creature broke the tree's branches and clearly visible scratch marks on its bark.


Are these hairs from Mande Barung?

A 10-hour drive away from Nokrek is the other national park of the Garo hills, Balpakram, which lies amid thick jungle on the border with Bangladesh.

It is an extremely remote area, where the hum of insects clicking in the undergrowth sounds like a series of disconnected power cables.

Balpakram is famous for its vast jungle-filled canyon which spans several miles and is surrounded by spectacular cliffs. Any descent is a treacherous exercise.

If ever there was terrain where a peace-loving yeti could live its life undisturbed by human interference, then this has surely got to be it.

Perhaps the most famous reported sighting was in April 2002, when forestry officer James Marak was among a team of 14 officials carrying out a census of tigers in Balpakram when they saw what they thought was a yeti.


According to the author and environmentalist Llewellyn Marak, such stories cannot be dismissed out hand.

"I saw the footprints for myself last year," he said, and they cannot easily be explained away.

"The prints were different from other animals - and were almost human in appearance - apart from the fact that they were about 18 inches [46cm] long.

"Both my father and grandfather also saw the creature at different times. Each said that it resembled a large gorilla."

Mr Marak argues that the Meghalayan forestry department has not seriously investigated the sightings because they are "uninterested and too lazy".

The western side of the state of the Meghalaya is predominantly made up of Garo tribespeople. They are traditionally a matrilineal community, where property is inherited through the female line.

They are also a community where stories and fables are deeply ingrained culturally, which is why senior politicians and officials are reluctant to discount openly tales of a yeti roaming about.

Meghalaya's Divisional Forestry Officer Shri PR Marak denies suggestions that his officers have not properly investigated alleged yeti sightings - which he argues is an expensive exercise in thick jungle only accessible by foot.

He uses diplomatic language when discussing whether yetis exist in the state.

"I have gone to see the evidence for myself and have even taken a plaster cast of one of the footprints," he says.

"As you know the presence of such a creature is an important part of our culture - passed down to us by our parents and grandparents.

"But we have no concrete evidence it exists, and there may even be a possibility that some of the evidence has been manipulated to create a stir.


Measuring 'yeti' footprints

"Because the area where it is believed to live is thick jungle, it will be very difficult to know the truth."

But Dipu Marak has voluminous correspondence from various eyewitnesses to support his contention that there is something out there.

To critics who say he has no photographs of this mysterious creature, he insists that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence".

"We have so many reports of sightings that I sincerely believe there is some sort of huge creature in the Garo hills," he said.

"This is not just a fairy tale, nor is it an effort to woo tourists. It's deeply embedded in our folklore and scientifically it is possible too.

"While I cannot prove conclusively that this creature definitely exists, nobody can say conclusively that it does not exist either."

Such is the impenetrability and extent of jungle in the Garo hills that the legend of mande barung looks likely to live on in the foreseeable future.

"The truth is out there somewhere," says Dipu Marak sincerely.

"But like the Loch Ness monster this creature is obviously not fond of giving too many photo opportunities."

Water Ice Found on Mars

Water Ice Found on Mars

Ice water is found on Mars by the Phoenix Mars Lander
Dr. Randii Wessen, a program system engineer at NASA, holds a globe of mars where at the top in the northern hemisphere, a yellow square marks the landing area of the Phoenix Lander where ice water was found. | Photo by Tom Andrews/LAist

This just in from the Mars Phoenix Lander's Twitter at 5:15 p.m.: "Are you ready to celebrate? Well, get ready: We have ICE!!!!! Yes, ICE, *WATER ICE* on Mars! w00t!!! Best day ever!!" It was just two days ago that media outlets were reporting that there were no signs of water yet.

Then nine minutes after that: "Whoohoo! Was keeping my eye on some chunks of bright stuff & they disappeared! Sublimated! So it can't be salt, it's ice."

Chunks of ice on Mars

"It must be ice," said Phoenix Principal Investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson. "These little clumps completely disappearing over the course of a few days, that is perfect evidence that it's ice. There had been some question whether the bright material was salt. Salt can't do that."

The chunks were left at the bottom of a trench informally called "Dodo-Goldilocks" when Phoenix's Robotic Arm enlarged that trench on June 15, during the 20th Martian day, or sol, since landing. Several were gone when Phoenix looked at the trench early today, on Sol 24. [University of Arizona Mars Phoenix Mission]

Not only do we have ice on Mars, NASA has whole-heartedly used the 2007 Word of the Year -- w00t.

-- Photo Essay: JPL Makes it to Mars
-- From Mars to Pasadena: Images of the Red Planet

For the Record: The original title of this post was 'Ice Water Found on Mars,' but was changed to 'Water Ice Found on Mars' | Photo of Mars from JPL/Univ. of Arizona

Origami D&D miniatures

Origami D&D miniatures

Here's a fantastic gallery of Dungeons and Dragons miniatures folded origami-style to match the Monster Manual and its successors (shown here, the Mind Flayer!). The creator is Joseph Wu, who clearly knows when to fold 'em. Link (Thanks, Andrew!)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Woman Smokes Cigarette on Plane, Punches Flight Attendant

Woman Smokes Cigarette on Plane, Punches Flight Attendant

Denver International Airport

DENVER - A plane was diverted to Denver International Airport after a passenger allegedly started smoking a cigarette, verbally attacked a flight attendant, and then punched her in the face on board a flight traveling from San Francisco to New York.

35-year-old Christina Szele of Woodside, New York could face up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines after being charged by Criminal Complaint for assault and interference with flight attendants.

Szele, who is still in federal custody, was a passenger aboard the JetBlue Airways flight on June 17 when she allegedly started smoking a cigarette at her seat.

After a flight attendant approached her and asked her to stop, Szele allegedly yelled racial obscenities at the attendant.

Flight attendants then attempted to restrain Szele with flex cuffs which she later broke through.

Szele then punched an attendant in the face before she was restrained for a second time. The pilot then decided to divert the flight to DIA where she was detained and questioned by Denver Police.

Szele is scheduled for a detention hearing on June 23 at 10:30 a.m. in U.S. District Court.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tiny origami folded with telesurgery equipment

Watch this surgeon fold a tiny origami crane (wingspan smaller than a diameter of a penny) using the DaVinci telesurgery system. I like the way the surgeon's "style" is transmitted to the robotic arms

How to Nap

See for a clearer copy of the jpeg.

14 Songs You Should Never Play In A Bar

There’s nothing worse than having a perfectly good drinking session ruined by a song that either doesn’t belong in a bar, has been crammed down your ears too many times, or just plain sucks.


WHO PLAYS THIS ON THE JUKE BOX: The 45-year-old wannabe cougar who, despite being totally beaten down by her dead-end job as a real estate agent, thinks she can relate to the free spiritedness this song represents. She could totally drink beer at noon on a Tuesday…if she didn’t have to be at work. And she could totally drive down Santa Monica Boulevard with some guy named Billy or Mac or Buddy…if she didn’t have to pick her kids up from soccer practice. So, instead of going all Thelma and Louise, she ends up dancing with her other cougar friends before calling it a night in time to catch Grey’s Anatomy.

WHY IT NEEDS TO BE RETIRED: When played at a bar, it does nothing but get a bunch of middle-aged women with fupas and gunts up on the dance floor who ask the DJ to play “Margaritaville” next.


WHO PLAYS THIS ON THE JUKE BOX: The wanna-be hipster. That’s right, he’s not a hipster, but he is choosing to become one. That’s like being potty trained and choosing to shit your pants. Unfortunately for him, the killers lost hipster credibility when they became profitable to a record label. So, even though he’s wearing a t-shirt featuring the tour dates of a band he’s never heard of, and really really tight jeans, once he’s popped this song on, other hipsters react like a Klu Klux Klansman hearing his buddy quote a Martin Lawrence movie.

WHY IT NEEDS TO RETIRE: The sound of the lead singer bellowing “I NEEEEVVVEEERRRR” towards the end of the song is reminiscent of the sound a man makes when he inadvertently sits on his testicles. The worst part about this song being picked in a juke box is that someone is definitely trying to say something about themselves, thus the next two selections his dollar provided is going to be even more shitty emo. By the end, you’ll want to take the Pabst Blue Ribbon he’s forcing himself to drink and lodge it in your windpipe.


WHO PLAYS THIS ON THE JUKE BOX: The bespectacled, sweater-wearing grad schooler who wants to play a song that shows off his knowledge of political and world affairs. He almost puts on Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire” but figured REM might make him look a little hipper. But his inability to talk to the opposite sex compels him to explain every cultural reference in the lyrics. “Did you know Leonid Brezhnev served as leader of the Communist party longer than anyone except Stalin? It’s true. And Lester Bangs was an influential music writer who wrote for Rolling Stone and Creem magazines. Hey, where are you going? ”

WHY IT NEEDS TO BE RETIRED: Everyone who hears this song thinks they can sing along, but they always end up screwing up the words. So you get a bar full of people screaming, “That’s great it starts with an earthquake…birds…Lenny Bruce!…hurricane…LEONARD BERNSTEIN…oh wait, that comes later.”


WHO PLAYS THIS ON THE JUKE BOX: She’s a shy wallflower with lots of acne in her mid-20s who still reads Sweet Valley High books and plays with her My Little Pony dolls. This song represents her fairy tale dream where she steps onto the dance floor and wows all the guys with her graceful moves. At the end of the night she’s swept off her feet by a handsome Prince Charming who takes her away in a chariot led by 10 mighty steeds. Later that evening, she realizes she’s in a rusty 1984 Datsun and the guy next to her has a pizza stain on his Foreigner T-shirt and he’s asking her to chip in for gas money.



WHO PLAYS THIS ON THE JUKE BOX: Look to the bar, there’s probably a gentleman there who’s wearing a flannel shirt with black sleeves. Upon closer inspection, you’ll realize he’s wearing a sleeveless flannel shirt, and what you thought were sleeves are actually a dark, dense fur that’s made a home on in his shoulders and upper arms. He’ll meander up to the juke box and stare it for ten minutes looking through every album twice, because unlike the sex he has with his obese wife, he’s in no rush to finish. When he selects the song, watch closely, because as it begins to play, he’ll say the words “turn it up,” then hold his hand up and when Skynyrd says “turn it up,” he’ll drop his hand down, signifying that he correctly predicted Skynyrd would say this as well.

WHY IT NEEDS TO RETIRE: If Lynyrd Skynyrd had a Juke Box at their house, I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t be on it. This song, much like Jenna Jameson’s vagina, once was great, but years of non-stop commercialized rocking have made it unsuitable for use.


WHO PLAYS THIS ON THE JUKE BOX: The middle aged guy who’s still in the suit he bought just to make sure he landed the Peterson account, which he did! But he knows it’s Friday now, time to order some chicken fingers and let loose! Right before he plays the song, he’ll talk to his buddies about how they should totally take a trip to Vegas together. “Fuck it, let’s just do it.” Then they’ll all check their blackberries to find that they either have a prostate exam, a kid’s play to go to, or “wife wants to go see her parents so I kind of got to keep my weekends open for whenever that will be.” Then they’ll sit in silence until one of them leaves and heads to the juke box to make this ass kicking selection.

WHY IT NEEDS TO RETIRE: This song is as played out as Steve Perry is ugly. Whenever it’s selected on a juke box, it’s like a time out is being called from having fun. If this still pumps you up to hear, you probably also get pumped up when your wife says stuff like “I rented the first season of that show “The Closer” that my sister recommended. Maybe if I’m not too tired afterwards we’ll have sex or something


WHO PLAYS THIS ON THE JUKE BOX: The mega brodawg wearing a white bandana and rings on his fingers who “cannot believe!” that his “main man” Carlos Santana got together with the lead singer of the “totally best fuckin’ band ever” Matchbox Twenty. Seriously, this has “gotta be the best jam of all time, bro.” He’s pretty sure that the only way a better song would come along is if “Jimi came back from the dead to play with, like, Mozart, bro. Totally.”

WHY IT NEEDS TO BE RETIRED: It’s a washed-up guitarist joining forces with the world’s blandest singer to write a song that my parent’s older friend’s like (honestly). This song should only be played on the jukebox in homes for the deaf.


WHO PLAYS THIS ON THE JUKE BOX: The college freshman who just “discovered music” and is “getting into” the “deep and heavy lyrics.” This gateway song will lead this young man into an ill-advised Steve Miller concert, Pink Floyd posters on his dorm walls and, tragically, the purchase of a Phish album. If you see these signs in anyone attempting to use the jukebox, call the authorities immediately.

WHY IT NEEDS TO BE RETIRED: This song has been played so much even Glenn Frey and Don Henley stab their own ears with icepicks whenever they hear it. Killing someone for playing it is legal in 13 states.


WHO PLAYS THIS ON THE JUKE BOX: The 39 year old newly divorced woman whose friends have taken her to a bar where they’re all ten years older than the everyone in the bar, including the manager. After a 45 minute session where she and her friends repeatedly convince her that “any guy in this bar would fuck you. I’m telling you, Janice. You show me one other person who’s had three kids and is as hot as you!” she downs her last cosmo and makes a beeline for the juke box. She confidently plays this song, and as the beginning piano solo comes in, she turns around towards her friends as they all excitedly scream in unison, then begin singing. Behind them a group of 25 year old frat guys say “How many beers to take down the grandma?”

WHY IT NEEDS OT RETIRE: Nothing kills a buzz faster than having a group of people next to you get up and sing a song with the same passion and intensity of Russell Crowe speech from Gladiator, then suddenly sitting down once the song is over. Attempting to empower yourself by singing a 70s disco song tells the whole bar “I have low self esteem. Talk to me later when I’m drunk and there’s a good chance I’ll fuck you.”


WHO PLAYS THIS ON THE JUKE BOX: With his over-the-top Broadway theatrics and his over-the-belt belly fat, Meatloaf attracts the tubby, pony-tailed husky guy who thinks to himself, “Hey, if a great big fatass like Meatloaf can pull this off, then I can too. Because I am also a great big fatass.” He then proceeds to try and out Meatloaf Meatloaf by undoing his pony tail for full hair-flip effect, props one knee on a table and sings along as loud as he possibly can. When he tries to get a girl to do the “let me sleep on it” part she politely declines and he’s forced to sing both the male and female parts by himself. Moments after the song is over he goes home, very alone.

WHY IT NEEDS TO BE RETIRED: First off, it’s eight minutes long. Secondly, it’s shitty Meatloaf singing about having sex in a car. The man is too fat to have sex in a barn. I’m pretty sure those are the only two reasons you need.


WHO PLAYS THIS ON THE JUKE BOX: He’s got a lifted truck that’s most likely powered by gasoline and “deez nuts.” He’s pounding bud lights sitting at the bar in a shirt that’s either sleeveless, or with sleeves short enough to show off the tattoo he got to commemorate the animal that most closely resembles the demeanor he displayed while playing middle linebacker in high school. He’s also a few beers deep and “there’s a lotta fatties and uptight bitches in this place,” so it’s vital that he take it upon himself to “fucking rock THIS SHIT brother.” He walks over to the juke box while maintaining a full body flex and enters the numbers for this song. Then he nods his head approvingly, as if to say to everyone “Don’t worry, you’re about to see what I picked and it’s gonna take your nuts and shove them inside your asshole, bro.”

WHY IT NEEDS TO RETIRE: Unlike some other songs on the list, this was never an acceptable juke box selection. The only time this is an appropriate selection is when you’re a stripper working the mid-day shift and you need a pick me up because you’re feeling gassy from the free hot dog lunch buffet your club was offering.


WHO PLAYS THIS ON THE JUKE BOX: He or she is around 55 and although they seriously considered a cut off the Beach Boys “Pet Sounds” album, “you just can’t go wrong with the beatles.” They’re wearing Teva Sandles and a sweater from whatever college their son or daughter attended. They don’t go to the bar that often, but hey, who doesn’t love a good margarita. Maybe it’ll get them drunk enough to have sex with their significant other who has become disgusting with age! They’ll probably be sitting with several other older people who are waiting for just the right time to pull out their story about when they first heard this beatles song, which will be a lie, since the actual first time they heard it they were smoking laced weed while awkwardly looking for a place to shoot their load in the circle jerk that just “sort of happened.”

WHY IT NEEDS TO RETIRE: Before you freak the fuck out, we’re not saying the Beatles suck. The Beatles are a legendary and influential band and because of that, everybody has heard every one of their songs so many times that it feels like you’re living in North Korea and its propaganda spewing from megaphones mounted in the street.


WHO PLAYS THIS ON THE JUKE BOX: The lonely guy wearing a suit, who just took off his sportcoat, loosened his tie and undid the top button on his shirt. After ordering a scotch and soda he asks the bartender where he was when this song came out. Instead of listening to the guy’s answer, he immediately starts telling him how he came this close to signing to the Mets farm team and how his wife left him because he worked too much and that he really wanted to be a astronaut when he was a kid. Hours later, when he’s finally done with his pity party and gets up to leave, he doesn’t even notice that the bartender hung himself with a bar towel.

WHY IT NEEDS TO BE RETIRED: It makes everyone over 37 all weepy and sad as they sit there and reminisce about all their hope and dreams that never came true. And it makes everyone under 37 furious with murderous rage because they have to listen to this shitty song one more time.


WHO PLAYS THIS ON THE JUKE BOX: The 55-year-old hippie who’s long, thinning hair and tie-dyed T-shirt scream desperation for a bye-gone era. He’ll spend the entire 8:32 of this epic ballad telling you how much better things were back in the 1960s because the youth actually fought for something. Then, because this song is so goddamn long, he’ll run out of boring stories and will start telling you his “secrets he learned in ‘Nam” that the government invented cancer and that LSD is the only true form of learning. Once it’s finally over, he’ll ask you to sign a petition to legalize hash.

WHY IT NEEDS TO BE RETIRED: It’s an eight-minute long shitty folk ballad that has long outlived it’s welcome. It needs to die.

This list was inspired while sitting in a bar with John Sellers. He wrote a book about music. You should buy it.

17 dominos are balanced all one a single stone.

Learn Magic Tricks at 5min

Learn how to do this awesome balancing trick using domino stones. Watch as 17 dominos are balanced all one a single stone.

China Invents the Bike Washing Machine

Want to keep fit and get your laundry done at the same time?

A middle school student in GuangDong, China did, and he invented a Bike-Washing Machine to do just that.

china-bike-washmachine China Invents the Bike Washing Machine picture

The boy bought a used washing machine from a local market and connected the canister to his bicycle.

About an hour and a half later you have completed both a great workout and a few loads of clean laundry.

Perfect way to save time and energy, while at the same time losing weight.

Tree grow inside another Tree

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Moped

An elderly man on a Moped, looking about 100 years old, pulls up next to a doctor at a street light. The old man looks over at the sleek shiny car and asks, "What kind of carya got there, sonny?" The doctor replies, "A Ferrari GTO. It cost half a million dollars!" "That's a lot of money," says the old man. "Why does it cost so much?" "Because this car can do up to 320 miles an hour!" states the doctor proudly. The Moped driver asks, "Mind if I take a look inside?" "No problem," replies the doctor. So the old man pokes his head in the window and looks around. Then, sitting back on his Moped, the old man says, "That's a pretty nice car, all right... But I'll stick with my Moped!" Just then the light changes, so the doctor decides to show the old man just what his car can do. He floors it, and within 30 seconds the speedometer reads 160 mph. Suddenly, he notices a dot in his rear view mirror. It seems to be getting closer! He slows down to see what it could be and suddenly... WHOOOOSSSHHH! Something whips by him going much faster! "What on earth could be going faster than my Ferrari?" the doctor asks himself. He presses harder on the accelerator and takes the Ferrari up to 250 mph. Then, up ahead of him, he sees that it's the old man on the Moped! Amazed that the Moped could pass his Ferrari, he gives it more gas. He passes the old man and is feeling pretty good until he looks in his mirror and sees the old man gaining on him AGAIN! Astounded by the speed of this old guy, he floors the gas pedal and takes the Ferrari all the way up to 320 mph. Not ten seconds later, he sees the Moped bearing down on him again! The Ferrari is flat out, and there's nothing he can do! Suddenly, the Moped plows into the back of his Ferrari, demolishing the rear end. The doctor stops and jumps out and, unbelievably, the old man is still alive. He runs up to the banged-up old guy and says, "Are you okay?.... Is there anything I can do for you?" The old man whispers, "Unhook my suspenders from your side mirror."

Monday, June 16, 2008

‘Map of the World’ Egg Laid by Hen in China

‘Map of the World’ Egg Laid by Hen in China

One very interesting and amazing egg has been laid recently by a hen in Zaozhuang City, China.

china-egg-worldmap Map of the World Egg Laid by Hen in China picture

The egg looks very similar to a world globe. The patterns on the egg show the seven seas and all four oceans, as well as Greenland and Hainan Islands in China.

world-map-egg Map of the World Egg Laid by Hen in China picture

Motorist plunges over 220ft cliff and survives - and so does his dog

Motorist plunges over 220ft cliff and survives - and so does his dog

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:58 PM on 15th June 2008

A motorist and his sheepdog had a brush with death when their car careered over a 220ft cliff.

The driver was thrown clear of his Vauxhall Frontera 4x4 as it somersaulted down the cliff and smashed into pieces this morning.

The 42-year-old man ended up buried in undergrowth with both his legs broken. Unable to move, he cried out for help.

The wreckage of the man's car

MAngled: The wreckage of the Vauxhall Frontera

Luckily, his shouts were heard by the crew of a yacht moored in a bay at Chapman's Pool, near Swanage, Dorset.

Coastguard rescue teams located him by helicopter and winched him to safety.

He is having surgery on his legs and being treated for severe cuts to his face.

The sheepdog was also thrown clear. Astonishingly, it was uninjured and was able to walk up the cliff to a farm where it was found cowering under a table in shock.

A coastguard spokesman said it was a riddle how the motorist drove off the cliff, adding: 'The car went across two fields and a fence to reach the edge.'

Police were not treating the incident as suspicious.

Cliffs at Chapman's Pool

Cliff drama: The scene at Chapman's Pool, where driver and dog were thrown clear of the vehicle (circled)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Postal Service Pinched by Rising Gas Costs

Postal Service Pinched by Rising Gas Costs

Sunday, June 15, 2008

WASHINGTON — Suburban moms and commuters are not the only ones feeling the bite of rising fuel costs — every time the price of gasoline goes up a penny it costs the U.S. Postal Service $8 million.

"We are definitely feeling the pressure," Deputy Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe told The Associated Press.

Transportation cost the post office $6.5 billion in 2007, $500 million more than the year before.

The post office operates the largest civilian fleet of vehicles in the country — 215,000 motor vehicles — and also faces rising costs for fuel from its contract carriers including truckers and airlines.

It's both a matter or costs and usage, Donahoe explained — looking for ways to reduce costs and change use patterns to reduce the need for fuel.

It's easier for the post office to raise rates than it used to be — the price of sending a letter went up a penny to 42 cents in May.

Another price rise is expected next May, but postage increases are legally limited to the rate of inflation.

That limit does not seem to apply to fuel costs which now top $4-a-gallon (3.8 liters) nationwide.

"We've been looking at this, working on this, for the last couple of years," Donahoe said.

One advantage the post office has is the ability to buy in bulk, so it can get gasoline and diesel fuel at a discount.

Donahoe did not say what prices the agency has been able to negotiate, but even though it is less than retail, it still goes up over time.

Highway transport of mail cost the post office $3.1 billion last year, up 5.8 percent from the year before.

Still, the deals allow the post office to set up bulk storage to supply its vehicles, and it provides special credit cards to long-haul contractors so they can also take advantage of the discount rather than simply passing along their higher costs.

Another step is simply packing the mail more tightly.

If you can cram mail that used to go into four trucks into three, that's one truck that's not burning diesel fuel, Donahoe explained.

"The key is really usage. The best price on a gallon is the gallon not used," he said.

Likewise for airplanes, where more tightly packed mail can take up less cargo space in airline holds or on contract carriers such as FedEx or UPS.

Even so, the cost of air transport of mail jumped 7.9 percent to $3 billion last year, at least partly due to rising fuel costs.

Of the many trucks and cars the agency owns, about 190,000 are those delivery vehicles that roam through American neighborhoods.

Donahoe said the post office is introducing global positioning system technology to streamline delivery routes.

"We're ramping up now just to get more efficient on that line of travel," he said. They expect a savings of about 7 percent along improved routes, not just in fuel costs but also in work hours spent delivering the mail.

And sometimes the old fashioned "tried and true" methods can be brought back to save money.

For example, in cities some letter carriers can walk or takes a bus from the post office to their delivery route rather than driving.

At least in some cases, taking the vehicles out and letting people go back to walking saves more in fuel expenses than it costs in terms of extra time spent, Donahoe said.

In addition, in some warm-weather areas such as Florida, Texas and Southern California, consideration is being given to launching bicycle routes, he said.

"Moving away from a vehicle is also environmentally a good thing to do," he said.

Hydrogen fueled vehicles are also under consideration, he said. The agency is working with General Motors on such a vehicle, which could be tested in California where hydrogen filling stations are being established.

"We think it's an opportunity if the fuel is available," Donahoe said.

Hybrid vehicles also can save fuel, but they may not be best for the Postal Service, he said, because the agency tends to keep its vehicles for a long time. While hybrids save on fuel, if they are kept so long the batteries have to be replaced, and that can be quite expensive, he said.

And transport costs are not the only energy problem. Just like homes and offices, the costs to heat and cool and light the post office's 34,000 facilities across the country are also on the rise.