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:
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:
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.
- the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
- the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
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 🤞