Monday, October 31, 2011

White House ornament for sale at U.S. post offices

Last week, when I was at an area post office, I noticed a display advertising the official 2011 White House Christmas ornament. I thought it was a particularly nice design, especially since I collect Santa Claus items.

The front of the ornament shows Santa in front of the White House saying, "I hear that there are some kids in the White House this year!" The ornament is a tribute to the 26th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, also known as "Teddy." He and his wife, Edith, brought six children to live with them in the White House from 1901 to 1909.

I think the ornament is especially appropriate, since there are children living in the White House now, as well. Malia and Sasha Obama are the daughters of President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle.

According to the USPS website, the Postal Service has teamed with one of the nation’s leading companies producing decorative and commercial products to sell the ornament at about 7,000 Post Offices across the country.  ChemArt of Lincoln, Rhode Island, has been the sole manufacturer of the annual White House Christmas ornament since the program inception in 1981 and was given exclusive retail distribution rights by the White House Historical Association. The website says the ornaments cost $24.99 at the post offices.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Letter Writing Contest!

Letters About Literature is a national reading and writing program for young readers, sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. 

According to the LAL website, the mission of the center is to promote lifelong literacy and libraries. LAL understands that children who read, write better; children who write, read more. But simply putting books in the hands of children does not guarantee successful reading experiences. LAL focuses on reader response and reflective writing, and in this way promotes personal relationship between the reader and the author or book.

Young readers write to an author — living or not — describing how that author’s work somehow changed the reader’s view of the world or himself/herself. Readers respond to the book they’ve read by exploring the personal relationship between themselves, the author and the book’s characters or themes.

The contest is open to kids in grades 4 through 12, and children may enter as individuals or through their school. For all the details on the contest, visit the website.

The LAL team of readers who assess the entries each year include librarians and former classroom teachers as well as graduate students in the field of English/Education.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ellen proposes new stamps

Here is Ellen's funny proposal for a couple of new stamps:

A paper kind of girl in a digital world

For as long as I can remember, paper has fascinated me. I don't know why.

My dad used to bring home odd pieces of paperwork when I was a kid, old forms that weren't needed at the store where he worked. And, there were at least two aunts who likewise shared their scrap-paper with me. From time to time, as I dig through a box of mementos, I come across a drawing or note sketched out on the back of an old office form or some old school paper.

I think I liked paper before I learned to read or write. But once I learned to do more than scribble, my paper needs increased.

I know that that there are others out there in the world like me. I married a man who can't resist a notebook, journal or sketchpad. We're raising a daughter for whom paper just seems to spill out of her room.

That love of paper is entwined with a love of letter writing. It's hard to have one without the other.

Of course, I use computers and printers and email. But, there's still a joy that I get from putting pen (and often pencil) to paper and handwriting a letter or a note or even a grocery list (even though I've downloaded an app for that).

How about you? Do other letter writers have a similar love for paper? I'd enjoy hearing what you think about it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Stamps for a Good Cause

The Save Vanishing Species stamps, which were introduced last month, cost a little bit more (55 cents each, as opposed to 44 cents for First Class mail), but the extra benefits the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support the Multinational Species Conservation Funds, specifically tigers, African and Asian elephants, rhinos, great apes and marine turtles.

As you can see by the picture to the right, the stamp features an illustration of a tiger cub by artist Nancy Stahl. What a great expression she has captured with her picture!

I just bought a full sheet today, and the artwork is dark green and includes silhouettes of a rhinoceros, a tiger, a gorilla, Asian and African elephants and a marine turtle. According to the U.S.P.S. website, Stahl based both the stamp art and the silhouettes on photographs of wildlife. The phrases “Save Vanishing Species” and “Amur tiger cub” appear on the left side of the stamp. 

There is an interesting article about the artwork in the latest issue of "USA Philatelic" magazine/catalog. The design is also available on a boxed set of notecards.

The Multinational Species Coalition is an alliance of conservationists, zoos, veterinarians, animal welfare groups, circuses and sportsmen. The coalition was created to advocate for the Multinational Species Conservation Funds and is committed to bringing greater attention to this stamp and the funds it was designed to support. The funds will be divided among the African Elephant Conservation Fund, Asian Elephant Conservation Fund, Great Ape Conservation Fund, Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund and Marine Turtle Conservation Fund.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

National Mail a Hand Written Letter Day

A fellow blogger at Natural Selections:: has declared next Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011, National Mail a Hand Written Letter Day.

The goal of the day, according to the blog:
Your goal should be to write to someone who has never had this experience to receive one. I'm not talking about a greeting card, I'm referring to a pen and a sheet of paper...complete with stamps and addresses. Our demographic to reach should be someone 24 or younger. 
There's even a Facebook page for the newly declared "day." And, once you start looking, you'll find there are quite a few letter writing Facebook pages out there.

With the U.S. Postal Service suffering so much lately, this seems as good a time a any to launch a new day celebrating correspondence! Write a letter today, and especially next Tuesday!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Loving Snail Mail

Chelsea McMahon at the website In Her Twenties recently wrote a piece about Why Letters Are Worth Waiting For. She has some nice ideas on the topic of snail mail. Pop in and see what she has to say.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ray LaMontagne's "Write You a Letter" song

I know it's rather irrational, but sometimes I get mad when I find a great musician who's been around a while. I think, "Why have I never heard this before????"

I felt that way today when I heard Ray LaMontagne for the first time. The first song of his that I came across was "All the Wild Horses." Then, over in the sidebar on YouTube, I noticed one titled "Write You a Letter," which is why, of course, I'm posting about it on this blog.

Apparently, "Write You a Letter" was on an album titled "Green" that was only available for a short while. But, you can listen to the brief song online by clicking on the link above. While you're listening, you might as well listen to "All the Wild Horses" and "You Are the Best Thing," too. I've only heard a few of his songs, but I have a feeling there are many more Ray LaMontagne songs out there that I'm going to like!

I'm certainly glad I came across this artist today, but I'm sad it took me this long to find him!

Write a letter today...the National Day on Writing

Today, Oct. 20, is the National Day on Writing, established and celebrated by the National Council of Teachers of English, and I think that makes it an especially nice day to write a letter!

If you need an idea about what to write about or who to write to, use the search box at the top left of this page and search for the word "idea," and you'll get several posts that you might can use.

Or, for the easiest idea of all...write a letter about the National Day on Writing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ben Stein suggests raising postage rates

Did you happen to catch Ben Stein's commentary on CBS's "The Sunday Morning Show" this past Sunday? He was talking about how cheap it is to send a letter and how much he appreciates mail.

He said:
But just for me, email will never replace a printed or handwritten letter on an actual piece of paper. The most cunning email, with moving angels and dolphins and music attached, is not as touching to me as a letter some kindly soul sat down and wrote to me.

I guess it's because I am 66 years old, and I can remember the anticipation of getting letters and cards from relatives - mostly now long gone - and girls I had mad crushes on in high school.
  To see how much he suggests they raise postage (hint: it's much more than the proposed penny), watch the video on CBS.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

U.S. First Class postage to increase Jan. 22

The U.S. Postal Service announced today that First-Class Mail costs will increase by one penny to 45 cents for the first ounce. The change, along with several other price increases, will take place Jan. 22, 2012.

This is the first increase in the price of a First-Class stamp since May 2009.

According to a news release that was posted on the USPS website earlier today, the new prices were filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission today, Oct. 18, 2011. The commission has 45 days to review the prices to verify that they comply with a 2.1 percent price cap set by law.

Other increases include:
Postcards — 3-cent increase to 32 cents
Letters to Canada or Mexico (1 ounce) — 5-cent increase to 85 cents
Letter to other international destinations — 7-cent increase to $1.05

Another change is that post office boxes will be available on a three-month plan, instead of only six months or a year.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Have you entered this giveaway?

Have you been to the Letters & Journals website lately? Jackie has lots of good information there, and she's hosting an October Stationery Giveaway. To enter, visit the site (or blog) and leave a comment.

On the Letters & Journals website you need to log into the Wordpress system to leave a message. The Letters & Journals blog is on blogger, and you can enter there, instead, if you prefer.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Simply Embellished

I came across the information for my previous post about the Doth Brands' Red newsletter on handwritten notes through Cole Imperi's website/blog Simply Embellished. She wrote the newsletter articles on letter writing and linked to it on her personal site.

Simply Embellished is a lovely website. There, Cole writes about crafts and gardening and food and letter writing. She reviews pens and paper and wax seals. Drop by and see what she has to say!

Download Free Stationery

Doth Brands is a "branding and identity studio" based in Cincinnati, Ohio, that seems to appreciate the value of a handwritten letter. The Autumn 2011 issue of Red: Doth Brands' Quarterly Journal is dedicated to the handwritten letter.

The online newsletter has articles on handwriting, letter samples and even free stationery to download and print yourself. (Note: The stationery is in pdf form, and the customizing you'll want to do works best if you have Adobe Reader. If you don't already have Adobe Reader, you can download it for free.)

Reviving the art of letter writing

At the Electric Literature website, each month, Anna Knoebel posts "letters from prominent writers and other artists." This must be a new series, because I can only find two letters from September and one from earlier this month.

My favorite is the letter by Harper Lee, but maybe that's because "To Kill a Mockingbird" is probably my favorite book. 

The stories Knoebel has written are well worth your time to read. I enjoyed them!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Great Column About Letter Writing

In "Remember When We Used to Write?" David Bangert writes about the letters he used to write to his friend Tom. Bangert is a columnist for the Journal & Courier in Lafayette, Indiana. His address is listed at the end of the column, in case you're interested in writing him a letter.

Saving the U.S. Postal Service

If you're interested in writing and mailing letters, postcards, mailart, packages, etc., you've probably heard about the issues the U.S. Postal Service is facing. According to a postal service representative who spoke at a small post office in a nearby town last week, the USPS is looking at closing 3,700 post offices this year. You can read the local story in the Lake Country Sun newspaper (you may have to scroll down a little bit).

The plan also includes the elimination of thousands of USPS jobs, city carrier routes and rural routes. There's a real possibility that this could affect you and maybe even your business, if you depend on the postal service for mailing products, invoices, etc.

There are a few blogs and websites that are staying on top of the situation. Check them out when you can:

Save the Postal Service White House Petition
Save the Post Office blog
Save America's Postal Service website
Send the Love support and idea page

(Photo from the site's Newsroom)

Monday, October 10, 2011

In your letter - Reo Speedwagon

Back when this blog first started, we tried to think of songs, books, movies, etc. that were about letter writing. Here's a "classic" letter song! Enjoy the trip back to 1980.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Article discusses results of less letter writing

An article released today by the Associated Press addresses the issue of the decline in letter writing (for a slightly different version of the story, look here). Writer Randolph E. Schmid looks at the topic from the aspect of the post office, as well as from a historical perspective.

In part, one version of the article says:
The loss to what people in the future know about us today may be incalculable.

In earlier times the "art" of letter writing was formally taught, explained Webster Newbold, a professor of English at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.

"Letters were the prime medium of communication among individuals and even important in communities as letters were shared, read aloud and published," he said. "Letters did the cultural work that academic journals, book reviews, magazines, legal documents, business memos, diplomatic cables, etc. do now. They were also obviously important in more intimate senses, among family, close friends, lovers, and suitors in initiating and preserving personal relationships and holding things together when distance was a real and unsurmountable obstacle."
The full article is an interesting read.

I do will the decline in letter writing affect future generations' comprehension of the past. What do you think?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...