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Daily printout: Feb. 8

Thursday, February 8, 2024

A group of women remove a cloth cover from a poster displaying an image of the Saul Bellow postage stamp
Regina Aikens, at right, the customer relations manager for Illinois 1 District, unveils the Saul Bellow stamp.

Saul Bellow, a fine literary fellow

The acclaimed author was honored at a local stamp ceremony in his adopted hometown, Chicago

The Postal Service’s latest Literary Arts stamp was dedicated during a special local ceremony at the University of Chicago on Feb. 6.

The 34th stamp in the series honors novelist Saul Bellow, widely regarded as one of the greatest authors of the 20th century.

He is the only person to have won the National Book Award for fiction three times. He received many literary accolades before his death in 2005, including the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize in literature.

“Saul Bellow took on large themes in his novels, including the pressures of material culture, the role of the artist in society and the nature of American identity,” said Regina Aikens, customer relations manager for Illinois 1 District, who spoke at the ceremony at the school’s Hyde Park campus.

Bellow attended the university and later taught there.

Speakers also included Torsten Reimer, dean of the university’s library; Gabriel Richardson Lear, a professor of philosophy at the university; David Wellbery, a professor of Germanic studies at the university; and Sean Hargadon, a USPS strategic communications specialist.

The stamp art features a pen, ink and watercolor portrait of Bellow, and the iconic “L” train of his adopted hometown of Chicago.

Illustrator Joe Ciardiello provided the original art, based on photographs from 1982. The stamp was designed by Ethel Kessler, an art director for USPS.

The 3-ounce stamp is available at Post Offices and at

A man wearing scuba diving equipment floats under water
Hope, ID, Postmaster Douglas Lowe dives in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Off the Clock

A man of depth

This Idaho postmaster is passionate about restoring coral reefs in the Caribbean

My name is Douglas Lowe and I’m the postmaster in Hope, ID.

When I’m not working, I’m getting ready for my latest scuba diving instructor certificate by practicing in Lake Pend Oreille — a 1,150-foot-deep lake in Idaho’s northern panhandle. I also help teach safety basics to first-time scuba divers and specialty courses to seasoned divers.

I’m up at 5 a.m. every day. I live on a farm with my wife of 34 years, along with our many goats, geese and chickens. My wife is my support network. I couldn’t get any of what I do completed without her.

I’m originally from Southern California, and I first started diving in the Salish Sea in 1990 while serving in the Army. I’m now in the Army Reserve, which has allowed me to continue traveling, diving and experiencing diverse cultures.

My scuba adventures have since taken me to the Bahamas; Dominican Republic; Cuba; Jamaica; Key Largo, FL; and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, to name a few. They’ve also made me a passionate advocate for coral reef restoration.

During a recent Army Reserve deployment to Cuba, I completed nearly 200 dives, most of which were on coral reefs. The state of health for corals in the Caribbean is dire. More than 50 percent of coral reefs globally have been destroyed or damaged since the 1950s.

Many people don’t realize corals are animals, not plants. I try to bring attention to issues such as coral bleaching, which researchers believe is caused by the temperature of the ocean going above 86 degrees. I have witnessed coral starvation due to chemicals from sunscreen and other products that may be weakening their immune system.

Seeing the health of living corals inspired me to develop a nonprofit program that partners with coral reef restoration organizations and the hospitality industry to combine efforts through recreational scuba diving.

The goal is to form an environmentally sound collaboration. As a result, my dives at coral reef restoration facilities have provided me the opportunity to make a difference — and not just watch from the shoreline.

“Off the Clock,” a column on Postal Service employees and their after-hours pursuits, appears regularly in Link.

February 15, 2024

‘Healthy Back’

Postal Service employees may participate in an upcoming webinar on how the back works and learn stretching and strengthening exercises to help keep it relaxed and healthy.

The session, “Healthy Back,” will be held Thursday, Feb. 15, from noon to 1 p.m. Eastern.

Representatives from Kaiser Permanente, a provider of health plans for federal employees, will lead the discussion.

Participants must register before the event on the webinar website.

Participation is voluntary. Nonexempt employees must be off the clock or on authorized breaks.

Employees with questions can email the Benefits and Wellness team.


WestPac Area, MN-ND District on top in scanning data

A snapshot of Postal Service scanning data shows the national rating was 96.24 percent during the week ending Feb. 2, down 0.11 percent from one week earlier.

The data was collected Feb. 7.

WestPac led the four areas with a rating of 96.71 percent, while Southern ranked last with a 95.52 percent rating.

Among the 50 districts, Minnesota-North Dakota, part of Central Area, ranked first with a 97.67 percent rating, while South Carolina, part of Southern Area, ranked last with a 91.54 percent rating.

Scanning data allows customers to track their mail and packages, which helps USPS deliver excellent service, boost loyalty and drive revenue.

To see the latest data, go to the Informed Visibility website and select “Customer Experience,” followed by “DES 2 Scan Performance.” Postal Service employees must request Informed Visibility access through eAccess.

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