At the start of winter in 2020, my mailbox got hit by the snow plow. I kept it going for the winter by pounding in a safety fence post and then zip-tying the wooden mailbox post to the metal fence post. You can also see that the curb and part of the street here has been repaired from past years’ snow-plow shenanigans.


I used these images as an analogy for refactoring software with our engineering team at work. I explained that sometimes the fix-ups require somewhat ugly, but temporary scaffolding. However, the software keeps working and this is what the client sees:

Mailbox Fortress

Shortly after sharing my mailbox analogy, a coworker suggested my replacement be this:

But I think this is going in the wrong direction. My dad has a similar mailbox fortress. Also being in Minnesota, his mailbox has suffered the wrath of the plow:

Mailbox 2.0

For my replacement mailbox, I wanted to do something different. I explained the snow-plow situation to someone at the hardware store.


The hardware store employee suggested using fence-post foam where the mailbox post goes into the ground. This would add some flexibility, which should create additional resilience.



  1. the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
  2. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
Oxford Dictionary

I don’t mean to get philosophical, but we kind of need to. Resilience is a quality that ensures our survival as a species. However, so many things we do lack resilience: the way we build cities, our hard-line political stances, and permanent status-quo. Adapt, or die – that will be the mantra when we realize our top-down systems are not resilient.

Post & Mailbox

Enough philosophy… I bought a bag of post foam, and a mailbox. Also a cedar mailbox post that has a metal rod that goes into the ground. Normally you’d just drive the metal rod into the ground, but I dug the hole so there was a little space around the rod. I pounded it in a little to make sure it stayed level, then filled the hole with foam.

Side note on the post foam – a little goes a long way! I probably only needed to pour 1/10th of the bag. It was rather comical seeing the foam rocket out of the hole like a middle-school volcano science project 🌋😱

The post is definitely flexible. At first it seemed alarmingly flexible, but it only wiggles when you force it to.

The mailbox has a pretty cool mechanical feature as well. There’s a “you’ve got mail” indicator that we can see from the front door to know if the mail has arrived.

Every winter is another test. So far, so good 🤞

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