Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Letter #243 -- Let's Do Lunch

Today, write a letter inviting a friend to lunch. If you're on a budget and can't afford to eat out, invite her (or him) over to your house for lunch. Or, pack a simple picnic lunch and meet him or her at the park.

In your letter of invitation, pick a specific date. That way, it doesn't become a "sure, one of these days we'll get together" kind of situation.

Say something like, "It's been so long since we've seen each other. I'd love to get together for lunch next Wednesday. How does that fit into your schedule? If you're busy then, we can pick another date. I'll call you Monday!"

Letter writing topic for Aug. 31, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Another letter writing fan

Cassie Mannes, writing at Skirt!, says:

"Letter writing is so therapeutic and sometimes I feel like I can write more personal and touching things in letters because it means more coming from my fingertips through a pen, to a paper and seeing my own personal font on the page."

She's hoping to revive the art of letter writing. Why don't you stop over there and let her know there are a few of us out there still writing letter! A Modgepodge of Fantasy Football & Letter Writing

Letter #242 -- Neither Rain Nor Snow

According to some sources, Sept. 7 is "Neither Rain Nor Snow Day," in celebration of the New York Post Office in 1914. The building is known for its inscription of the saying:

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
 The Holiday Insights website explains that it is not the motto of the the U.S. Postal Service, which, apparently, doesn't have a motto or creed. However, the inscription is similar to the Pony Express motto.

In honor of "Neither Rain Nor Snow Day" next week, write a letter to your mail carrier. Thank him or her for all they do, for delivering the abundance of mail you receive, for taking away the stacks and stacks of letters you send out.

Letter writing topic for Aug. 30, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cursive writing

This blog has featured discussions about handwriting before. Many schools forgo teaching cursive writing nowadays.

My daughter was taught some simple cursive lessons in the third or fourth grade, but I'm beginning to wonder about some of her teachers. She brought home a note yesterday that had a line at the bottom for "Student's Signature (PRINT)." I'm not sure which we should put there.

I recently ran across this commentary on handwriting at KansasCity.com: In this age of computers, a handwritten note is joy to behold

Letter #241 -- Tag, You're It!

We've recently written letters about our favorite childhood board games and video games....now let's write about our favorite childhood action games, you know the kind of game that had you out running around the yard.

When I was a kid in Monroe, Louisiana, we would spend what seems like hours in the summer playing Witch in the Well. It was a game of tag. I don't remember every rule of the game, but there was a "base," which in this case was the "well." We used the water meter cover as our base. Whoever was the "Witch" or "It," stood on that metal lid with his/her eyes covered and counted to some previously agreed upon number while the others ran and hid. Then, we ran around trying to find and catch them. If I remember correctly, those who had been hiding tried to make it to the "well" before they were caught by the witch. Maybe they became the witch's helpers if they got caught.

The best times were had when our parents let us stay out late on those summer nights. There was an added thrill in playing the combination "Hide and Seek" and "Tag" game in the dark shadows. I can just hear the squeals and shouts, even all these years later.

Nowadays, my Girl Scout troop likes to play a similar game called Don't Wake the Bear.

What types of outdoor games did you play as a child? Red Rover? Mother May I? Red Light, Green Light?

Write about those fun times in a letter to a friend today.

Letter writing topic for August 29, 2010

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Future Mail?

According to an article I read online, the latest trend in China is "future letters." Those are letters that you write to yourself or to others and pay a service to have the letters delivered at some specified time in the future.

It's an interesting concept. For the full story, look here.

Letter #240 -- Eat in or out?

I think one of the pitfalls of modern life is the easy accessibility of restaurants. Even when we have plenty of food at home to cook, the temptation of letting someone else cook and serve our dinner is often too much to resist. And, too many times, the restaurant food is high in calories, fat and salt...none of those are good for us in excess. But, sometimes, our hectic lifestyles just make it easier to eat out or at least get take-out.

Which do you prefer? Cooking it yourself, eating out, having it delivered or picking up take-out on the way home?

Write about your dining choices in a letter today. Share some specifics, your favorite recipe, your "usual" order at your favorite recipe, how much you tip the delivery person... Don't forget to ask about your recipient's favorites, too.

Letter writing topic for August 28, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Letter #239 -- Until We Meet Again

Do you know someone who is leaving, moving away, going some place? Write a good-bye letter to them.

I remember when my family left Muskogee, Oklahoma, after having lived there less than a year, when I was in the third grade. My best friend there, Debra Perry, wrote me a good-bye letter and gave me a parting gift -- a lemon. Now, that may not sound like the best present to you, but to a 9-year-old girl, it was great! You see, Debra ate lemons all the time. I think she put salt on them and ate them sort of like other people eat oranges, or maybe grapefruits. I might get a piece of lemon every now and then, but my mom didn't think it was such a good idea to just sit around eating lemons, so I never had my very own lemon. Debra knew that, and a lemon was the best gift her third-grade mind could think of. Debra and I continued to write letters back and forth to each other for a while, but I've long since lost touch with her. Even an occasional check on Facebook has yet to let me find her again. Maybe some day our paths will cross again.

Today, write a letter to a friend who is leaving and vow to keep writing.

Letter writing topic for August 27, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Another camp letter inspires

Read Stephen B. Awalt's commentary in the Baltimore Sun about old-fashioned letters and getting a letter from his daughter at camp. It's a good read.

Letter #238 -- Best Teacher Ever

Today, write a letter to your favorite school teacher. For many people, in their past was at least one spectacular teacher who unlocked the secrets to learning, someone who made history come alive or who made science exciting, a teacher who shared with you her love for Shakespeare, who appreciated your style of creative writing or who encouraged your photography talents.

Tell that teacher what you remember, what you appreciated then and what you've come to appreciate over the years. Let her know her efforts mattered in your life.

Letter writing topic for August 26, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Write-More-Letters Project

Marcus at the website Notebooktivity has started a new project and contest...the Write-More-Letters Project.

To encourage people to "write more letters," Marcus is asking for people to send him pictures of the letters they've written, thereby entering his contest. For more information, check out his website.

While you're there, check out the rest of his blog. Here's what he has to say about it:
 Notebooktivity is about my love to Pen and Paper, especially Moleskine. I also write about Productivity, with and without notebooks, and Simplicity to make life easy for me and others. I love my Fountain Pens and I apply GTD to my life.

New Stamp - Boys in a Pasture by Winslow Homer

On August 12, 2010, in Richmond, Virginia, at the American Philatelic Society Stamp Show, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 44-cent, American Treasures — Winslow Homer commemorative stamp designed by Derry Noyes, Washington, DC.

The ninth issuance in the American Treasures series features Boys in a Pasture, an 1874 oil-on-canvas painting by Winslow Homer. The painting is part of the Hayden Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Inaugurated in 2001 with the Amish Quilts stamp pane, the American Treasures series consists of annual issuances intended to showcase beautiful works of American fine art and crafts.

According to the Museum of Fine Arts, “the boys in this painting — companionable, idle, at peace — may be seen as emblems of America's nostalgia for a simpler, more innocent time as well as of its hope for the future. Their faces are averted, a device Homer often used to make his figures less individual and, therefore, more universal.”

Winslow Homer (1836-1910) is considered one of the greatest American painters of the 19th century. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, he began a two-year apprenticeship in a lithography shop at the age of 19 and afterwards became a freelance illustrator. In 1859, he moved to New York City, where he studied at the National Academy of Design and worked as a freelance artist for Harper’s Weekly magazine. In 1861, at the start of the Civil War, the magazine sent him to the front lines as an artist-correspondent.

This was not the first time the Postal Service has honored Homer and his work with a stamp. In 1962, the Postal Service, then known as the U.S. Post Office Department, honored Homer by issuing a stamp featuring Breezing Up (A Fair Wind), a painting of a man and three boys sailing. And 12 years ago, in 1998, Homer’s painting The Fog Warning appeared as one of 20 designs on the Four Centuries of American Art stamp pane.

Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at a local Post Office, at The Postal Store website at www.usps.com/shop, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

American Treasures – Winslow Homer Stamp
1801 Brook Road
Richmond, VA 23232-9998

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark. All orders must be postmarked by Oct. 12, 2010.

Also available on the website are a Digital Color Postmark for the stamp ($1.50), a keepsake package featuring the Digital Color Postmark and a full pane of the stamps ($10.95), the ceremony program for the stamp ($6.95), stamps in panes of 20, 10 and 4, and the First Day Cover of the stamp (82 cents).

Letter #237 -- Appreciative

Today, write a letter to someone who has done something nice for you lately. Sometimes we get to naming off all the injustices and insults we suffer during the day; we tend to forget the nice things people do. If you can't remember something that someone has done for you in the past, start paying attention to what goes on today. Look at even the simple things that may have taken some thought...such as your daughter emptying the dishwasher without being told to or your co-worker watering your the ivy on your desk so it doesn't shrivel up and die.

Then, write a letter or even just a little note saying "Thanks for what you did. I noticed and I appreciate it."

Letter writing topic for August 25, 2010

A fellow letter writer!

Stacy, who writes the blog "In Search of the Finer Things," recently wrote about letter writing. Read her comments and then post a comment of your own to let her know she's not alone.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Letter from camp inspires mom

Check out Nina Killham's blog. She has a touching story about letters to and from her daughter at camp. It's a great blog post!

Letter #236 -- Fun, fun, fun

Another fun "holiday." This month is "Family Fun Month," according to some sources.

For some family fun, pick out a relative (grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc.) and write a family letter to him/her. You, the family letter writer, can start the letter. Then, pass the letter to another person in your immediate family, maybe your spouse, one of the kids, your parents, etc. Explain to them the project -- writing an interesting letter to someone. Then, continue passing the letter around until everyone in the family has written something. Have each person write in a different color of ink. Add paper as necessary. Then, mail the letter!

Have some family letter writing fun today!

Letter writing topic for Aug. 24, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Letter #235 -- How hot is it?

The thermometer at our house read a high of 110 degrees (F) today. Let me tell you, it was hot! When I got in the car this afternoon, the seat was almost too hot to sit on; the steering wheel was just about too hot to touch. And, that was with a silver reflector shade in the windshield all day long.

The weather forecasters are predicting a cold front coming...Thursday's high is expected to be only 90 degrees.

What's the weather like where you are? Is it hot? Really hot? Or, is it winter where you are?

Do you have a friend who lives in the opposite side of the world where the temperature is vastly different from your weather? Write him or her a letter talking about your weather.

Letter writing topic for Aug. 23, 2010

Letter #234 -- Night sky

What does the night sky look like out your window? It is brightly lit by city lights? Can you see a million stars? Is it cloudy? What do you see?

Write about your night vision in a letter to someone today.

Letter #233 -- New clothes

I remember the excitement of the first day of school. The smell of a fresh box of crayons, the crispness of a newly sharpened pencil. The freshness of back-to-school clothes. There are lots of pictures of me on the first day of school, but I especially remember one outfit. It was in the fourth, maybe the fifth grade, mid 1970s. I can't guarantee I wore it on the first day of school, but it was a new outfit for the school year. Purple bell-bottomed pants and a purple tie-dyed T-shirt.

Today, my daughter's wardrobe has plenty of tie-dyed T-shirts, peace signs and smiley faces. I wonder if she'll remember them as fondly as I do.

Write a letter about your back-to-school outfits. What was memorable? What was your favorite outfit from your childhood?

Letter #232 -- Favorite subject?

It's back to school time! What was (or is, if you're still in school) your favorite school subject? Math? English? History? Science? Cooking? Sewing?

What do you wish you had studied harder? What would you study again?

Write about your school days in a letter to someone today.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Letter #231 -- Which one?

Do you prefer black and white photos or color pictures? Why? Why not?

Write about your photographic likes and dislikes in a letter today. Maybe even include a copy of one of your favorite photos.

Letter writing topic for Aug. 19, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Letter #230 -- What's your passion?

On her blog today, Samara at the Letter Lover blog writes about the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It was 90 years ago today that the amendment was ratified, giving women the right to vote in the United States. Samara explains that women had been actively fighting for that right for more than 70 years.

Is there anything in your life that you are so passionate about that you would fight for it for 70 years? What is it that you would encourage others to join you in the fight for?

Today, write a letter about the thing you're most interested in. Recruit someone to join you. Encourage others to take up their own fight.

Letter writing topic for Aug. 18, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Letter #229 -- What's for lunch?

I use and rely on technology just about as much, maybe even more than, most people. I have email, this blog, Facebook and MySpace accounts, etc. I tried my hand at Twitter for a while there, but I really don't have time for that right now. When talking about Twitter, I'll sometimes attempt a little joke. I'll say, "I don't want to know what everyone else had for lunch, and I'm sure they don't care what I had for lunch." I know there's more to Twitter than that, but I'm usually just taking a jab at what often seems like the frivolity of the medium.

In that light, what did you have for lunch? Today? Yesterday? What are you planning for tomorrow?

Around here, school starts in six days. What everyone's having for lunch will suddenly be more important in our life. My daughter takes her lunch just about every day, so there is a lot of lunch planning going on.

Write a letter about lunch. Or, do you call it "dinner"? In some areas, the noon meal is "dinner," and the evening meal is "supper." See....there's more to write about than you may have thought!

Letter writing topic for Aug. 17, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

Letter #228 -- Another family birthday

Today is my Dad's birthday. Since the Father's Day's assignment was "write a letter to your father," today I'm going to suggest that you write a letter about your father.

Do you have a funny, interesting or poignant story to tell about your dad? Share it with someone!

Of course, you can write a letter to your dad and share some of your memories about him with him. Make it fun!

Letter writing topic for Aug. 16, 2010

PS: Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Letter #227 -- Dreaming

Do you have a dream? A dream of something you'd like to do but haven't done yet? An unfulfilled dream? What is it? Do you have a plan for achieving that dream? Why haven't you accomplished it yet?

Write about your hopes and dreams in a letter today. Tell someone about it.

Letter writing topic for Aug. 15, 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Letter #226 -- That was it???

At some point during our DVD player's set-up, the letters "DVD" appear on the screen and slowly "bounce" back and forth between the edges of the screen. Our 10-year-old daughter thinks we're crazy when we tell her that's what the first video games used to be like. She's incredulous that the game basically consisted of something bouncing back and forth across the screen.

Of course, we're talking about "Pong," one of the first video games. In the mid- to late-1970s, maybe the early 1980s, we got an Atari home video game system. I don't remember how many games came with that first set; it seems like, eventually, we also had Space Invaders, Astroids and Pac-Man.

"Pong" was a very simple game that had two small lines, like to day's "cursor," one on each side of the TV screen. Those were the ping pong paddles. The ping pong ball was a small, lighted "dot" in that bounced back and forth between the two paddles. Each player controlled one paddle with a joystick. The paddles moved up and down on their side of the screen. The player had to put the paddle in the correct place to "hit" the ball back.

That "DVD" bouncing back and forth on the screen always makes me think of "Pong."

What was the first video game you played? When? How old were you?

Write about it in a letter to a friend or family member today. Reminisce a little.

Letter writing topic for Aug. 14, 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

Letter #225 -- Superstitious?

Today is Friday, the 13th of August, aka "Friday the 13th." Some people believe Friday the 13th is an unlucky day. They think bad things happen on this day, and all other 13th days of the months that fall on Friday. What do you think? Are you superstitious? Or, just a little cautious? Or, do you never even give it a second thought?

Write about it in a letter today!

Letter writing topic for Aug. 13, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Celebrating Stamp Collecting

In 2011, the National Philatelic Collection, what is now the collection of the United States' National Postal Museum, will celebrate its 125th anniversary.

As part of that celebration, earlier this week, the museum opened an exhibit, "Collecting History," which traces the history of the collection. You can learn more about "Collecting History" online.

Letter #224 -- Have some fun

Today, write a silly letter to someone who will appreciate it. Your own personality and your relationship with your letter's recipient will determine what "silly" means, but here's an idea for a silly letter: Write a letter composed only (or mostly) from song titles. Think of all your favorite songs and try to work their titles into the text of a letter. It's fun. It's silly.

Letter writing topic for Aug. 12, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Interesting Letter Writing Project

I came across this blog Adm. Christa Pike (Star Trek, reboot girl! Pike) that has an interesting letter writing project going on this month. Check it out.

Letter #223 -- Share your story

Today, write a letter to the person in charge of your favorite charity. Explain why it's your favorite charity; if there's a story behind your loyalty, happy or sad, share it. If the charity has helped you, a family member or friend in the past, let him/her know about it. If you can, include a donation.

Letter writing topic for Aug. 11, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Teaching letter-writing to kids

The Buddy Notes blog has an interesting post about teaching letter-writing skills to children. The post mentions some books that are useful and a couple of links to some other projects.


The front of one of Hallmark's postage-paid postcards
Have you seen the postcards that Hallmark started selling earlier this year? They're postage-paid postcards that you can buy and send immediately, without a trip to the post office.

According to the Hallmark website, the company chose to offer postage-paid postcards when consumers expressed interest in a product that could be easily written and mailed, citing a need for convenience and ease. The 16 postcards are sold in packages of eight different designs that use humor to encourage women facing difficult life circumstances. The postcards are part of a new line of humor products designed to help women encourage each other. Each package retails for $9.99.

“Consumers told us they feel it’s important to send encouragement to friends going through difficult times and the simpler it is to do, the more likely they are to reach out,” notes Cindy Mahoney, Hallmark vice president of product development. “These Postage-Paid Postcards create a convenience we’ve not offered before. All you need to do is fill out the postcard and drop it in the mailbox.”
The back of the postage-paid postcard

The postcards were developed with the US Postal Service and use a new barcode technology that eliminates the need for consumers to apply a stamp.

Be on the lookout for the postage-paid postcards in Hallmark stores! They might just make your life a little easier.

Letter #222 -- Commiserate

Today, write a letter to someone who is in the same boat you're in, someone who's going through the same things you are or who has done this before. Ask for advice, if you need it; offer some help, if you think it will be well-received. If you need to, warn your letter recipient that you're going to vent a little and then go on to a different topic. It's nice to know someone who understands you.

Letter writing topic for Aug. 10, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

Letter #221 -- A different twist on the letter

Some have deemed August as  Audio Book Appreciation Month (I've also seen June referred to as Audio Book Month, so you have a choice). Today, instead of writing a letter, dig out that old tape recorder and a cassette tape or figure out which program on your computer records audio and record your "letter" to a friend.

Follow the lead of the characters in "Il Postino/The Postman" and record more than just your voice...record the sounds of life around your house. According to Ken Burns' documentary "Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio," during radio's earliest years, one announcer ran out of things to broadcast and simply stuck the microphone out the window to broadcast the "sounds of New York" to his audience, who reportedly loved the idea. Your penpals, too, might like to hear what goes on in your world...your music, your cat purring or your dog barking, etc.

Letter "writing" topic for Aug. 9, 2010

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Letter #220 -- Can you choose?

Back when I was in high school, I had a friend who wanted to be a philosopher. One of his ponderings was, "Which is more beautiful? A single flower in a bed of rocks or a single flower in a bed of other flowers?"

All these years later, I still don't know what the correct answer is, or even if there is a right answer. What do you think? Do surroundings alter perception? Do they alter reality?

Think about it. Write about it. Mail it to someone.

Letter writing topic for Aug. 8, 2010

(Flower graphic courtesy of http://www.free-clipart-pictures.net)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Letter #219 -- The first

Who was your first penpal?

When I was a very young girl, I think that I probably received some letters from my grandmother, maybe an aunt or two. In my scrapbook, I have a letter that my mother wrote me when she was in the hospital after she had either my little brother or my little sister.

But, I think the first person I wrote regular letters back and forth to was Debra Perry. She was my third-grade friend in Muskogee, Oklahoma. We moved to Muskogee about six weeks into the third grade, and then we moved away during the summer before the fourth grade started. So, I hadn't known Debra for very long. But, we lived near each other and had become friends. I'm sure I still have her letters somewhere. I've long since lost touch with Debra, but I do remember her friendship.

Who was your first penpal? Write a letter today to a current penpal about the person you first started exchanging letters with. Why did you start writing? Do you remember what you wrote about? Do you still have any of the letters?

Letter writing topic for Aug. 7, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

Did you see the cartoon?

This cartoon was in yesterday's paper. You can see it, as well as two other letter-related strips on the Pearls Before Swine website.

Pearls Before Swine, Aug. 5

Letter #218 -- Celebrate!

Today, write about something you have to celebrate, no matter how small or how big. It's a victory for you or someone you know and you feel like celebrating! Share the good news with someone, anyone!

Letter writing topic for Aug. 6, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Letter #217 -- Just what have you done?

One of the fortune cookie fortunes taped to my desk says, "You have an ambitious nature and will make a name for yourself."

What are you ambitious about? What have you done ambitiously? What do you want to be ambitious about?

Write a letter today, telling someone about your ambitions!

Letter writing topic for Aug. 5, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Letter #216 -- Hail to the chief

Today is U.S. President Barack Obama's birthday. Write him a letter. From what I've heard, he likes to receive letters.

Letter writing topic for Aug. 4, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Letter #215 -- Respect your elders

Today, write a letter to the oldest person in your family. Or, make it the oldest person you know.

Of course, you don't have to tell them that's why you're writing, if you think they won't like knowing that. On the other hand, some people enjoy be the "oldest."

Letter writing topic for Aug. 3, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Letter writing and the younger generation

A story that was published recently in USA Today, showcases summer camp as a place where youngsters learn the almost-lost art of letter writing.

In "Can Summer Camps Revive the Lost Art of Letter Writing?" the former president of the American Camp Association says, "Camp is a place for kids to practice growing up, and when they become adults, they will need to string together more than 140 characters. Where else are they learning to address an envelope? If camp is this expanded learning environment, letter writing is the touchstone of that learning experience."

My 10-year-old daughter enjoys writing an occasional letter, and she enjoys reading "American Girl" magazine. the July-August issue of the magazine features a "story" titled "Sorry So Sloppy." It's a series of letters back and forth between two pen pals. The American Girl website has a related activity/story called "P.S. Write Back Soon."

It might not be such a lost art after all.

Letter #214 -- Simple?

This week is Simplify Your Life Week. Is your life simple or complicated? Do you like it the way it is, or are you working to change things?

Share your thoughts on this topic with a pen friend today.

Letter writing topic for Aug. 2, 2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Letter #213 -- You like doing what???

What household chore do you find joy in? Is there something that others hate that you enjoy? Sweeping? Dusting? Washing the dishes? What chore do you enjoy doing and why?

Write a letter about your household chores today!

Letter writing topic for Aug. 1, 2010

Letter #212 -- Way back when


Around here, school starts in a little over three weeks. My daughter will be in the fifth grade this year. I remember taking her to school on the first day of kindergarten. She was then like she had always been at daycare and pre-school and like she still is today, independent, never clingly. That first day of school, some other children were hanging on to their mothers, crying. I felt a bit of wistfulness that my child wasn't going to miss me. But then I walked out the door of the school and saw the mothers on the sidewalk, also crying hysterically at having left their children at school. I snapped out of it and thought, how wonderful that my daughter is happy to be here today. She's having a good day, not an anxious or traumatic day. I was glad for that.

Do you remember your child's first day of school or your own first day of school? What was it like? Were you happy or sad?

Write a letter about the experience.

Letter writing topic for July 31, 2010
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