Creating chaos at the U.S. Postal Service
Mailbox, Annapolis, MD

Creating chaos at the U.S. Postal Service

Multiple crises over the past year created an unprecedented level of chaos at the U.S. Postal Service.  The service has been disrupted by political disputes over mail-in ballots; removal of street mail boxes, mail sorting machines, and barcode readers; COVID-related illnesses among postal employees; and a much higher volume of mail and packages due to the pandemic.  Some of the causes of chaos were deliberate and avoidable. First, there was the dispute over mail-in ballots.  Due to the pandemic, many voters chose to cast their ballots by mail rather than wait in long lines to vote…

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Politics and Pandemic

Land's End, San Francisco At last, there is good news on the horizon, a promise that a year dominated by politics and pandemic will soon be over.   Politics never go away, but hopefully, the days will become calmer now that the November presidential election is finally over and a new administration is on the horizon.   With two new vaccines rolling out, there also is hope that the pandemic will subside in the first half of 2021.  Election years are always difficult, but 2020 was a doozy.  It was a brutal year in almost every way possible. …

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Dear Family & Friends: A Holiday Letter by Eileen Shields

Dear Family & Friends, Yes, you read that right. This is a “Dear Family & Friends” holiday letter.  Before I get into the nits and grits that tells you all about the wonder that is me, I thought I should do a bit of research about how best to approach these broad swinging missives.  Surely there are rules laid down for writing one all-encompassing letter to Everyone I Know.  I’m not quite sure what has possessed me to undertake this wholesale approach to communication and it remains a bit of a mystery of how I actually…

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New Threats to the U.S. Postal Service
Americans rely on mail delivery for letters, packages, checks, medications and more

New Threats to the U.S. Postal Service

Americans rely on timely mail delivery for letters, packages, checks, medications and more New threats to the U.S. Postal Service now challenge this essential service.   Ongoing budget troubles have been further exacerbated by the pandemic and a precipitous drop in the use of first class mail.  Add to that a new Postmaster General, a political appointee, who is making sweeping changes that reduce services, has endangered the ability of the Postal Service to manage mail-in voting Louis DeJoy, a businessman and major fundraiser for President Trump, took over the duties of Postmaster General on June 15,…

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The End of Silence: Vote!

San Francisco Botanical Gardens July 2020 Following five months of lock down due to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, we have come to the end of silence.  That initial peace, the joyful upside to our early stay-at-home directives, has been shattered by the sounds of returning activity, as well as increased frustration and tension.   Shelter in place jokes April 2020 When first sheltering in place, the streets were eerily quiet, with barely a car in sight.   Many streets closed in San Francisco to facilitate social distancing for walkers, skateboarders, and bicyclists.  All but the most essential…

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The Room Where it Happens

Live theater is the room where it happens, where stories come to life and leave you enchanted and spellbound.   Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton is such a show, where the music, lyrics, and staging linger on long after the performance is over. Hamilton the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter We were latecomers to the extraordinary phenomenon of Hamilton, despite the early urging of our New York cousins.  When the show first opened on Broadway, Michael and Amy suggested facetiously (I think) that even if we had to take out a second mortgage on our house, it…

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National Letter Writing Day

National Letter Writing Day is Friday, Dec. 7. The date is timely because it serves as a reminder to reconnect with the people you care about during the holiday season. The history and origin of National Letter Writing Day is unclear, but it is perpetrated by a website, National Today, which endeavors to find a reason to celebrate every day of the year.   National Today is the inspiration of PR Hacker, a broad-based San Francisco public relations firm specializing in technology and health. National Letter Writing Day is different from World Letter Writing Day, an endeavor…

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What’s New at the Post Office
John Lennon stamp will be releases on Sept. 7

What’s New at the Post Office

Services, facilities and politics are evolving at the USPS.  So, what’s new at the post office? One service I tried out this year and have found very helpful is Informed Delivery.  Launched in the spring of 2017, Informed Delivery provides the postal customer with a daily email, which includes photocopies of the letter sized pieces to be delivered in that day’s mail, as well as notification of anticipated packages. Given the massive quantities of junk mail that the average customer receives, this service is valuable in anticipating important letters and documents. If you haven’t yet signed…

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Frederick Douglass:  Gentleman of Letters
Frederick Douglass's private study

Frederick Douglass: Gentleman of Letters

  Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895), African American writer, orator, and social activist, was a gentleman of letters. Born into slavery, he was largely self-taught, learning to read and write prior to entering his teens. His eloquence and fiery oratory gave him great influence as an abolitionist, social activist, and diplomat throughout his adult lifetime. Last month, on a visit with my daughter in Washington, DC, we had the opportunity to tour Frederick Douglass’s final home, Cedar Hill, located in Anacostia. Douglass, who purchased Cedar Hill from the Freedmen’s Bank in 1877, lived there for seventeen…

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Fake News

Although fake news was barely a blip on the screen prior to 2016, it already existed in abundance. Following the November election, many questions have been raised about the influence of fake news. Not only had an important election been at stake, but also the credibility of what we read and how we perceive it. Fake news has now become a major topic of discussion. Not a day goes by that mainstream media does not shine light on a questionable statement, including “alternative facts.” The President and his team refer to the mainstream media as “dishonest.”…

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