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Let's hear it for whoever made the major if minor breakthrough we have already discovered at our neighborhood postbox. For years the times of pickup have been written in ink on a paper label that gradually -- nay, speedily -- becomes illegible from rain and general fading. The last time we looked, the label had been fixed to the inside of the lid that keeps the mail dry but swings open to let you drop in your letters.

There the pickup times were, pristine in their clarity, sure to survive many a raindrop, many a smudge. No more smearing of the postal service, we say, now that it has st opped smearing itself.

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