Monday, May 31, 2010

Samuel Johnson on letters

In a man’s letters you know, Madam, his soul lies naked, his letters are only the mirror of his breast, whatever passes within him is shown undisguised in its natural process. Nothing is inverted, nothing distorted, you see systems in their elements, you discover actions in their motives.
~Samuel Johnson
British author, 1709-1784

These comments were written in a letter to Mrs. Hester Thrale on Oct. 27, 1777. Many of Johnson's letters, including this one, are contained in "The Works of Samuel Johnson LL.D."

Letter #151 -- Write to a soldier

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, a day for honoring anyone who has died in military service. But, in remembering the deceased we must not forget the living. Today, write a letter to a veteran or a current member of the military. If you don't know of anyone who fits that description, visit the Any Soldier website and see if you can write a letter to someone listed there.

Letter writing topic for May 31, 2010

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Letter #150 - Earth laughs in flowers

What is your favorite flower? Do you like roses or daisies, marigolds or silver bells? Do you prefer flowers cut and in a vase or growing abundantly in the garden? At our house, we have fields of wildflowers. We have thistle flowers, greenthreads, cactus flowers, wild onion flowers, evening primroses, and some we haven't quite identified. Write a letter today describing your favorite flower. Maybe even include a photo.

(Note: the quote in the title is attributed online to both Ralph Waldo Emerson and E.E. Cummings. I'm not sure if either, both or neither are correct. Above Photo: © 2008 Carla McKeown Pilkington)

Letter writing topic for May 30, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Letter #149 -- To your sister

Today is my little sister's birthday, and for the first time in several years, I'll be seeing her on her birthday. In honor of her birthday and our reunion, write a letter to your sister. If you don't have a sister, write a letter to someone who's like a sister to you.

Letter writing topic for May 29, 2010

(Birthday cake clipart from It is, of course, a sugar-free birthday cake, since my sister can't eat sugar.)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Best way to contact your representatives

Have you seen the post over at the Letter Writers Alliance today? It has a great link to a TED video about how to write letters to your governmental representatives. Thanks to the LWA for sharing this with us!

The TED speaker says, "Letters actually work," in regards to getting the attention of the officials in our government.

It's worth watching!

Letter #148 -- Tea or Coffee?

Are you a tea or coffee drinker? Neither? Both? Hot or iced? With sugar and cream or plain? Fresh brewed or bottled?
What do you think your choices say about you? Do you need that extra boost the coffee gives you to get going in the morning? Does your tall glass of iced tea indicate that you're a true Southerner?
What happens if you don't have your favorite drink? Are you grumpy? Headachey? 

Write about your observations in a letter today. Share your ideas, ask for your letter's recipient's opinions. Make it fun.

Letter writing topic for May 28, 2010

(Coffee graphic is from, and the iced tea graphic is from

Thursday, May 27, 2010

U.S. Holiday Monday

Don't forget...Monday, May 31, 2010, is Memorial Day in the United States. It's a day for commemorating the U.S. men and women who have died in military service.

It's also a federal holiday in the U.S. That means the post offices will be closed on May 31, and no mail will be delivered. Plan your postal business accordingly.

Letter #147 -- Just Say It

Today, write a letter saying "Thank You" to someone. Say "thanks" for something someone has done for you. Anything. Anyone. Say thanks for unloading the dishwasher this morning. Say thank you for loaning me all that money last year. Say thank you for agreeing to be my wife (or husband). Just let someone know how appreciative you are for what he or she has done.

Letter writing topic for May 27, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Letter-writing Article in Wall Street Journal

Back in March, David M. Henkin wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal about letter writing. His "Despite USPS's Woes, Letter-writing is Alive and Well" article delves into the history of letter writing, as well as some analysis of the U.S. Postal Service's situation. (Note: I had a little bit of trouble getting the link to work, but eventually, the story pops up.)

Henkin is the author of "The Postal Age: The Emergence of Modern Communications in Nineteenth-Century America" and a professor of history at the University of California-Berekley.

According to the University of Chicago Press website:
The Postal Age paints a vibrant picture of a society where possibilities proliferated for the kinds of personal and impersonal communications that we often associate with more recent historical periods. In doing so, it significantly increases our understanding of both antebellum America and our own chapter in the history of communications.
The article is interesting, and the book looks just as fascinating.

Kate Smith to be honored with US stamp

On May 27, the Postal Service will honor Kate Smith (1907-1986), a much beloved singer and entertainer best known for her rendition of Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.”

A native of Washington, DC, Smith won amateur singing contests as a youth and was invited to sing at a White House dinner. After moving to New York to pursue a career in show business, she became a radio star in the early 1930s—popular for her homespun personality as well as for her singing.

During World War II, polls ranked her as one of the most important women in America. In the early 1950s, she hosted a daytime television show, the Kate Smith Hour, as well as a prime time show, the Kate Smith Evening Hour. In 1973, toward the end of her career Smith sang “God Bless America” at Philadelphia Flyers hockey games. Philly fans considered her a good luck charm as the Flyers won two Stanley Cups and other big games when she sang. The team later erected a bronze statute of her outside the Spectrum arena.

She will be honored with an event beginning at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 11, 2010, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

For more details about the event, see the U.S. Postal Service's advisory.

Letter #146 -- In Memory

In a few days, on May 31, 2010. the United States will observe what we now call Memorial Day, a day for commemorating the men and women who have died while in the military service. Today, write a letter about such a person. If you don't know of anyone personally who died while serving in the U.S. military, then do a little research and find out about someone.

Letter writing topic for May 26, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Ria at the UK to USA blog, as well as the Where Art and Mail Collide blog, is having a birthday giveaway, including some handmade envelopes.

Ria writes about her family, writing letters, creating mail art and more on her blogs. Check them out, and leave her a comment here to enter the contest!

Postal Museum Programs Online

Did you know that you can go to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum and watch some of the programs online?

For example, the program "The Pony Express Keeps Delivering," which was presented on April 14, is online. It is a little slow-going at the first, as they await for the program to begin, but be patient, and you can watch the program, as if you were there. If you want to fast-forward, the program begins at about 5 minutes into the video. It's not perfect, but it's interesting.

Upcoming programs include the "A-B-C's of Stamp Collecting Workshop," which will be streamed live on the internet from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time). Of course, you can attend the workshop in person, if you're in Washington D.C., but if you're not and you're interested in stamp collecting, you might want to take a look at it.

Also online are exhibits, such as "John Lennon: The Lost Album," which features the stamp collection of the member of The Beatles, and much more.

Go check it out for yourself! There are many great things at the National Postal Museum.

Letter #145 -- Significant Date in Sports History

Seventy-five years ago, on this day, May 25, two athletes accomplished great things in their careers.

On May 25, 1935, Babe Ruth hit the last three homeruns of his baseball career. He hit homeruns #712, #713 and #714 playing for the Boston Braves. They lost that game 11-7 to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Babe Ruth retired from baseball just a few days later, after setting a lifetime record of homeruns that would stand for 39 years.

On the same day -- within a 45-minute time period -- Jesse Owens broke three world records and tied a fourth at the Big Ten's Western Conference Outdoor Track and Field Meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He was an Ohio State University sophomore, and 10,000 people showed up to see what he would do that day. He, indeed, gave them something to talk about: he tied the world record for the 100-yard dash and set new records in the broad jump, 200-yard dash and the hurdles.

Do you know someone who has accomplished something important? Maybe it's important on a world-wide scale, maybe it's only important to them. No matter the scope, write them a letter of congratulations. They deserve to hear that you're proud of them!

Letter writing topic for May 25, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Another Lord Byron Quote

"One of the pleasures of reading old letters is the knowledge that they need no answer."
 ~Lord Byron
British poet, 1788-1824

Julie liked it!

Julie, over at the Very truly, Julie blog, went to see Letters to Juliet. Read what Julie has to say about "Juliet" here. Then, browse through her blog. She often writes about letters and mail and art and libraries. It's a great blog!

Letter #144 -- Long time, no see

Today, write a letter to a childhood friend, someone you haven't seen for a long time. Someone you used to hang out with, share secrets with, climb trees with, listen to music with. Make plans to get together.

Letter writing topic for May 24, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Letter #143 -- Favorite person

Quick! Who's your favorite person in the whole world? Who came to your mind? Your favorite person! Write her or him a letter! Today!

Letter writing topic for May 23, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pens and the Post

Will you be in Washington, D.C., next Saturday, May 29? If so, stop by the National Postal Museum and take part in "Pens and the Post: Collect, Correspond, Celebrate!"

It'll be taking place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the museum and is co-sponsored by the Pen Collectors of America. According to the website, participants will have a chance to learn about letter writing past and present with many fun activities, including:

  • * Create a beautiful card with young designer Sophia Breuer
  • * Watch calligraphy demonstrations by expert calligrapher Deborah Basel and take home your name in beautiful Copperplate calligraphy style
  • * Take a fancy fountain pen for a spin at the “Pen Petting Zoo” provided by Fahrney’s Pens
  • * Discover how ink has changed over the years and sample a rainbow of ink colors withJohn Bosley, author of Vintage Inks
  • * Explore the pen-to-paper relationship and try out beautiful papers from plain to posh with handwriting specialist Nan Barchowsky
  • * Pen a letter to U.S. military members and learn about World War II era correspondence just in time for Memorial Day
  • * Tell the world your correspondence, mail, or pen story at the “Pen Postings” board or give a shout out to your favorite pen
  • * Meet the Pen Collectors of America and find out more about the community of pen collectors who are so passionate about fountain pens, their history, and manufacture.
It sounds like a great event! Click on the links above for more information.

Letter #142 -- Best summer memory

What is your best summer memory? Do you remember a special vacation, or was your favorite time spent riding your bike around the neighborhood? Did you make a new friend one summer or read a favorite book? Remember...and then write about it in a letter.

Letter writing topic for May 22, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Letter #141 -- This or That? Hot or Cold?

As we transition from cooler spring weather into the heat of summer, I'm wondering, do you prefer hot weather or cold weather? Do you like to put on a swimsuit and lay around on the beach as the sun's rays beat down and the ocean's waves lap at your toes? Or, would you rather bundle up in a big coat, hat and gloves and build a snowman or just take a brisk walk on a clear winter's day. Sometimes, I like it both ways...I like for the weather to be cold outside but for me to be cozy and warm inside, reading a book or writing a letter and sipping hot cocoa. On the other hand, I don't mind a hot day, if I can find a shady spot with a nice breeze blowing through.
    Take this topic and write about your likes and dislikes in a letter to someone. Are you wondering how? How would you write about this to someone? Well, for starters, you could tell them that you're participating in a letter-writing project and this is the topic of the day. Or, you could just work it into the letter:

Dear Susie,

How are you and your family? We're all fine here. Everyone is gearing up for summer. The kids will be out of school in a couple of weeks, and I'm sure they have plenty of plans for their vacation. Me, on the other hand, I'm planning to spend as much time as possible under the air conditioner. I prefer the cooler weather of winter and spring -- I'd much rather build a snowman than a sand castle! Ha! But, I'll make the most of the warm weather. We have a small garden going in the corner of the backyard...
    Now, that you have a head start, go write that letter!

Letter writing topic for May 21, 2010

New 'Love' Stamp Available

The U.S. Postal Service is providing the American public with an easy way to express something that is sometimes hard to express: Love.The Postal Service’s 2010 Love stamp features a white woven basket brimming with deep and light purple pansies and green foliage. The word “LOVE” adorns the left side of the stamp.

The floral design is a detail from a watercolor created by the late Dorothy Maienschein, an employee of Hallmark Cards, Inc. Introduced as a Mother’s Day card in 1939, Hallmark reissued the design as a friendship card in 1941. Since Hallmark began tracking sales in 1942, almost 30 million cards with this pansy cart design have been purchased—more than any card in history.

The Postal Service began issuing its popular Love stamps in 1973. Over the years, these stamps have featured a wide variety of designs, including heart motifs, colorful flowers, and the word “LOVE” itself.
Anything bearing the new stamp presented on-site at this event can be hand canceled with the official First-Day-of-Issue postmark.

The latest version of the stamp was introduced on April 22.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

US Stamp Honors Cartoonist

Earlier this year, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Bill Mauldin received one of the nation’s highest honors in being featured on a U.S. postage stamp. The 44-cent stamp was dedicated at the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe, N.M.

During World War II, Mauldin’s cartoons, appearing in Stars and Stripes, made him a hero to many in the military. His sympathy for “dogfaces,” the slang term for soldiers in the infantry, was clearly expressed through his characters Willie and Joe, who gave their military audiences a hearty laugh and civilians an idea of what life was like for soldiers. In 1945 Mauldin won the first of his two Pulitzers “for distinguished service as a cartoonist” and the Allied high command awarded him its Legion of Merit. His illustrated memoir, Up Front, was a bestseller. That same year, his “dogface” Willie appeared on the cover of Time.

In 1958, he took a job as a cartoonist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the following year he won a second Pulitzer for his cartoon portraying Boris Pasternak, author of Doctor Zhivago, as a Soviet prisoner. “In a very real way, Bill Mauldin chronicled the path taken by the Greatest Generation — a generation that spoke, not with pompous words, but through noble deeds,” said Mickey Barnett, member of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors. “As we honor him, we honor that generation and all that it did for our country.”

Joining Barnett to unveil the stamp were Santa Fe Mayor David Cross, New Mexico History Museum Director Dr. Frances Levine, U.S. Postal Service Vice President for Government Relations and Public Policy Marie Therese Dominguez, author Todd DePastino, Mauldin’s biographer, and Bruce Mauldin, one of Mauldin’s seven sons.

“Our father was fiercely protective of Willie and Joe, and was never completely comfortable with the notoriety that they brought him,” said Nat Mauldin, another of Mauldin’s sons. “As a result, he tended to shy away from tributes involving his work. But this is different. It’s a wonderful honor, and he would have been very proud.”

“The men and women of New Mexico who served in World War II were the kinds of people Bill Mauldin honored in his work,” said Levine. “They were, most of them, ordinary people who became extraordinary heroes and, in too many cases, gave their lives. Mauldin taught us the importance of remembering those ‘ordinary’ people when telling our history.”

U.S. Postal Service art director Terry McCaffrey chose to honor Mauldin through a combination of photography and an example of Mauldin’s art. The photo of Mauldin is by John Phillips, a photographer for Life magazine; it was taken in Italy on Dec. 31, 1943. Mauldin’s cartoon, showing his characters Willie and Joe, is used courtesy of the 45th Infantry Division Museum in Oklahoma City, OK.

Letter #140 -- Go ahead, say something inspiring

It's that time of year again...the time when high school seniors finish up their final year of schooling and prepare to head out into the world as adults. Some may continue on with their formal education by going to college or trade school; others may dive straight into the the working world. They've already worked hard to make it to graduation, and now it's time for those of us who have been there before them to offer them words of encouragement and inspiration for going into the future. Go ahead, write a letter to a graduate and tell him or her the things you're supposed to say in such a letter. Be philosophical, be reminiscent, be encouraging, be inspiring. They're expecting it.

(The graphic is courtesy of Lee Hansen Graphics)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Letter #139 -- Surprise!

Write a letter today that will be a surprise to the recipient. Maybe she or he will just be surprised that you wrote. Maybe you'll include an extra little surprise, a box of her or his favorite cookies, some new stationery, a book of stamps. Whatever you send, make it surprising.

Letter writing topic for May 19, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Letter #138 -- Old Friends

In continuing with yesterday's letter writing topic, today let's write a letter to an "old" friend, in honor of National New Friends, Old Friends Week. Write to someone you haven't written to in a while. Catch her or him up on your life, ask about her or his life. Include some pictures, reminisce.

Letter writing topic for May 18, 2010

(Today's graphic is provided by

Monday, May 17, 2010

New Letter Writing Movie

Last Friday was the opening date for "Letters to Juliet," a movie about a re-finding a lost love. The story is about Sophie, an American who travels to Verona, Italy, the city where the fictional Romeo met Juliet. There, Sophie discovers the house that is purported to be the home of the "real Juliet." There, people leave "letters to Juliet," asking for her advice to the lovelorn. A group of women pick up the letters and write responses.

According to what I can find on the Internet, there is, indeed, such a place in Verona. People really do leave letters there, and "Juliet's secretaries" answer them. There are more details in this USA Today article.

The movie's website has links to a variety of sites and contests, many of which wrap up in the next few days. So, if you're interested in winning a trip to Verona, check them out as quickly as possible. In the meantime, I'm going to see if I can find out where this movie will be showing nearby.

Letter #137 -- Friendship

Today is the second day of National New Friends, Old Friends Week, according to a few sources on the Internet. What a great reason to write a friend today! We'll start with a new friend. Write a letter to a new friend today! If you don't have a new friend, log-in over at Send Something and find lots of new friends there!

Letter writing topic for May 17, 2010

(Friends clip art courtesy of Webweaver graphics)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Letter #136 -- Another love letter with help

I know we've done it before, but, today, let's write another love letter. This time, follow the advice of writer Larry Barkdull. Click on this link for his How to Write a Love Letter tips.

Letter writing topic for May 16, 2010

Are you missing any mail?

Sometimes, it seems, there isn't an obvious answer as to why certain pieces of mail get "lost" along the way. According to an article on the Philadelphia Inquirer's website, 20,000 pieces of mail have been discovered in the garage of a letter carrier who hasn't been to work since February. According to the story, some of the mail is dated as far back as 1997, and it's all being delivered now. Just think of the stories that could be attached to each piece of mail!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Letter #135 - One you've promised

Today, write a letter you've been meaning to write, a letter you promised to write, a letter someone somewhere is waiting on. Write it today and drop it in the mailbox now. Whether it's happy or sad, good news or bad, write it and mail it. It's what you need to do.

Letter writing topic for May 15, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

Blog List

When I first started this blog, I wasn't sure what all I should include on it. I didn't know about many other blogs back then, so I didn't put a blog list up. But, now, I have so many I've decided to put up some lists of my favorite blogs. I've started with a list of blogs about letter writing. I'll be adding to this list as I have time, and I'll be adding lists of blogs about Mail Art, Stamps, Pens, Ink, Stationery, etc. If you're interested in finding more bloggers who write about correspondence, take a look at the list over on the left (you may have to scroll down a bit) and then visit some of them!

Letter #134 -- Enjoying it

More storms here today. When I got to work, one of my co-workers commented that she wished she was at home in bed listening to the thunder. What's your favorite way to enjoy a thunder storm? With a cup of hot chocolate and a good book? In a rocking chair on the porch? In the front seat of the Storm Chaser van, looking for tornadoes to capture on video? Write a letter about storms today and how you prefer to bide the time while the rain pours down and the thunder rumbles.

Letter writing topic for May 14, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Letter #133 -- Being prepared

It's severe weather season in Texas. We're having thunderstorms, lightning, hail, high winds, and we're on the look-out for tornadoes (but we haven't seen any). At this time of year, we make sure there are batteries in the flashlights and that our weather radio is nearby. What type of severe weather do you have where you live and how do you prepare for it? Write about it in a letter!

Letter writing topic for May 13, 2010

Letter #132 -- Adjusting to change

Yikes! My glasses broke in half last weekend, so I finally had to go in for an eye exam and new glasses. I knew it was coming...but that doesn't make adjusting to bifocals (my first pair) any easier. I'm trying to decide if I need to take these back and make them put the "line" lower. When I have the glasses pushed up on my nose, that blurry line is right in the middle of everything I look at. When I let the glasses slide down a little, my husband asks, "Why are you wearing your glasses so low?" I guess I'll see if I adjust or if they glasses need to be adjusted. How to you cope with change? Tell me and then tell someone in a letter!

Letter writing topic for May 12, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Letter #131 -- Your Best

Write a letter telling someone what you're good at. What is it that you do best? Maybe you'll write this in a cover letter for a job opening, or maybe you'll just write an introductory letter to a new penpal. Or, maybe you'll write to an old friend about a newly discovered talent. Brag on yourself just a little.

Letter writing topic for May 11, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Letter #130 -- Unexpected

Write a letter about something unexpected that's happened to you and how you reacted. Was it a good thing or a not-so-good thing? Do you like surprises? Share you story with someone!

Letter writing topic for May 10, 2010

Letter #129 To a loved one

Write a letter to someone you love. Your mom, your dad, your kids, your neighbor, anyone you love. Write them and tell them that you love them.

Letter writing topic for May 9, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Letter #128 - Saying Thank You

In the U.S., today is the National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive. If your letter carrier is participating, leave a plastic bag of nonperishable food at your personal mailbox for your carrier to pick up. According to the NALC website, the collected food will be delivered to food banks, pantries and shelters that serve the communities where they are collected. 

Then, write a letter to your mail carrier or to the NALC and thank him/her/them for organizing the food drive that will help people all over the country.

The address for the NALC is:
National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO
100 Indiana Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001-2144

Friday, May 7, 2010

Letter #127 - Inspiration

Today, write a letter about what inspires you. Yesterday, we wrote to inspire someone else. Today, tell about what motivates you to what you do. Is there something special? Does it come from within yourself or from an outside source? Share your story!

Letter writing topic for May 7, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Letter #126 - Inspire someone

Today, write a letter meant to inspire someone. Maybe you know someone who is trying to accomplish something special...make it through the last month of school, find a job, start a new business. You have the ability to add a little extra to their efforts by just giving them a hand-written pat on the back. Send some cheer their way.

Letter writing topic for May 6, 2010

(Today's basket of flowers is provided by

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Letter #125 - Cinco de Mayo

According to Wikipedia, Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that is celebrated in the U.S., as well as some other countries, and in Mexico, primarily in the state of Puebla. It recognizes the Mexican army's victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

Today, try writing a letter in Spanish. What if you don't speak or write Spanish? Well, give it a try anyway.  At least try a few phrases, such as "¿QuĂ© pasa?" That means something like "What's up?" "What's happening?" etc. Or maybe, "Hola mi amigo," which means, "Hello my friend."

Letter writing topic for May 5, 2010

(The great Cinco de Mayo banner at the top is courtesy of Lee Hansen Graphics)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Letter #124 - 19 Years Ago

Today is my and my husband's 19th wedding anniversary. We were married on a bright spring morning in a beautiful park in Lubbock, Texas. What was your wedding like? What were you doing 19 years ago today? Write a letter about it! Share your joy!

Letter writing topic for May 4, 2010

(Wedding bells clip art courtesy of Webweaver graphics)

Letter #123 - Remember Mom

This coming Sunday is Mother's Day in the United States, as well as in many other countries. Don't wait till it's too late...get that letter to your mom written today and in the mail! If you can't write a letter to your mother, write to any mom. Tell her how much you respect her and what a good job she's doing as a mom!

Letter writing topic for May 3, 2010

Letter #122 - Be daring

It's the start of carnival season in this area. The weather is now warm enough for the parking-lot carnivals to show up. We had one this weekend at an annual festival we have, and next week, another one will be down the road in a nearby town. The kids love to ride the scary rides that spin them around fast and take them up above the real world down below on the ground. I used to love the Tilt-A-Whirl and the Himalaya. What were your favorite carnival rides or games? Write a letter about the fun of going to the carnival and maybe about something daring you've done.

Letter writing topic for May 2, 2010

Letter #121 - Experiment

Venture outside your comfort zone a bit. Write in a style you wouldn't normally write. If you usually write a very formal letter, try a casual letter to a friend. If you typically write very casually, write a more formal letter to your aunt or grandmother. Try something new!

Letter writing topic for May 1, 2010
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