One of the things we've blogged about which consistently gets the most hits was on the supposed Herodotean origins (you have to scroll down a bit in that one) of the U.S. mail folks' motto ... the Mercury News has a nice sort of conclusion:

Our mail carrier will refuse to deliver the mail if the mailbox is blocked, for example, by a parked car. However, this is a public street. We cannot control who parks where. And the curb is not painted red.

Is it legal for the postal service to not deliver the mail, especially when all it would take is a few steps out of the truck? Whatever happened to `Not rain, nor snow, nor . . .

San Jose

A It's a myth, not a motto.

You are the third person to lodge this complaint in recent weeks.

And I know places where carriers do not deliver in the snow. I covered an incident where a carrier refused to deliver on a street where the sidewalk had been torn up.

Sure, post office employees are hardy souls and where would we be without them, but spokeswoman Elma Ramirez said that ``customers are responsible for ensuring access to their mailboxes.

``If it's once, the carrier will try to deliver the mail, but if the mailbox is continually blocked, the post office won't deliver.''

Talk about shattering a myth.

Ramirez said carriers stopped delivering mail to the doors of houses in the 1970s, and new housing since then has had mail delivered mostly curbside. She said that the time allotted to these curbside deliveries is carefully scheduled, and getting out of the postal service vehicle could throw a carrier's time off.

I think you need to make this a federal case, D.B. Complain to your federal representative in Congress. This just isn't right.

More on the myth: Circa 500 BC, the Greek storyteller Herodotus is supposed to have said, ``Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.'' But I'm sure that he was talking about Greeks. The saying was inscribed over the main entrance of the New York City Post Office in 1914.

But it is not the motto of the postal service. Alas, the U.S. Postal Service has no motto. Suggestions?

Folks wondering about the pervasiveness of the myth/influence of American culture might be interested to know there are a pile of Canadians who think this is the motto of Canada Post as well ...