An 11-yr-old's daily tic-tac-toe game with her mail carrier is quietly a metaphor for America in 2020

The United States Postal Service has dutifully delivered mail to Americans from deep in the heart of Manhattan to deep in the heart of the rural Midwest for nearly five decades as an official entity and centuries longer than that as a service. Even as electronic communications has taken the place of handwritten letters, most of us still rely on the regularity of mail delivery as part of our daily routine.

Even this 11-year-old knows she can count on USPS delivery, as evidenced by the tic-tac-toe game she started with her delivery person. She taped the "board" to the inside of the lid and takes turns with the mail carrier each time the mail gets delivered.

"My 11 y/o daughter had insisted on checking the mail the last couple of days," wrote BallCoach79. "Today, I checked it. This is what I found."


The image is sweet. But it's also an opportunity to talk about the dire situation the USPS is currently facing—one that could drastically impact the integrity of our upcoming election.


With the coronavirus pandemic showing no signs of slowing down in the U.S., and with far too many Americans refusing to take the necessary steps to mitigating it, our fall is not looking too promising. The pandemic lull that was expected during the summer months hasn't happened, and there was already a second wave predicted as we move into the autumn months. It's quite likely that Election Day on November 3rd will coincide with an extremely dangerous time to go to the polls in person, which means millions of Americans will want to or need to vote by mail.

Despite the fearmongering from certain factions, including the president, voting by mail can be done safely and securely. Several states have voted entirely by mail for many years without any major issues. In fact, Washington state which has allowed all voters to vote by mail since 2005, and the state is ranked second in the nation for electoral integrity.

But voting by mail will only work if our mail system works. And right now, USPS is being effectively destroyed not only by the decreased business mail due to the pandemic, but also by a uniquely weighty congressional mandate to prefund all of its employee pensions, ongoing budget deficits, and demonizing attacks by the president of the United States.

The postal service is something we all take for granted. Because it's always been reliable, we assume it will just always be there. But it's in real danger of running out of money and having to shut down, which would be devastating to our elections, not to mention the other personal and business disruptions it would cause.

We can all help. Here's how:

1. Sign a petition to send to Congress and the U.S. Treasury here.

2. You can also sign a petition by texting USPS to 50409.

2. Help the USPS directly by buying stamps here. (Sales of postage and products is 100% how the USPS is funded. Despite being overseen by the government, no taxpayer funds go to funding it.)

3. No, you can't donate directly to the USPS. Seriously, commit to writing some old-fashioned letters to your loved ones and buy stamps. (Bonus: Buying a bunch of "Forever" stamps now will save you money down the road, since they never expire. And there are tons of cool designs to choose from.)

Also, make sure your order a mail-in ballot now if your state requires you to do that, and send it in at least two full weeks before election day.

Let's all show the USPS some love, both by being kind to our individual mail carriers and by supporting the work they do. The best support we can give is making sure this long-standing institution survives these tough times.

It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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