Saturday, August 31, 2013

Systems at Work

During my trip to Washington D.C., I managed a brief late afternoon visit to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum near the Union Station. The museum was established through a joint agreement between the United States Postal Service and the Smithsonian Institution. It opened in 1993. The building housing the museum was constructed in 1914 and had served as the Main Post Office of Washington D.C. until 1986.

Although the museum is small when compared to its Smithsonian cousins, it houses many interactive displays about the history of the United States Postal Service, and the history of mail service and stamp collections around the world. Among them, "Systems at Work" leads visitors through 10 different periods and reveals the evolution of the postal system in the U.S. over time. You can participate simulated postal activities by tossing packages into mail pouches as mail clerks did in 1917, keying letters on a computerized version of a multiple position letter-sorting machine operated in 1968, or scanning barcodes using handheld intelligent mail devices.

My favorite part was to gather cancellation marks from various eras on a postcard.

The admission is free. For those who can't attend in person, you can visit the online version on the web.

Friday, August 30, 2013

March On Washington: a Maxi Card

The maxi card posted in the morning of the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington traveled from Washington DC to my mailbox in Las Vegas in 2 days. It shows an aerial photo of the Lincoln Memorial where the gathering was taking place on August 28, 1963. It bears a postmark of the USPS post office at the Union Station (Zipcode 20002) where the postcard was dropped off.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Airport Mailboxes: Chicago

I just came back from a 3-day flash trip to Washington D.C. for the 50th Anniversary of March on Washington. I had a connection at the Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) on August 27, 2013 on my way to the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI).

I found a CNN Newsstand store near Gate B6 that had Chicago postcards for sale. Since I had some stamps with me, I decided to post a postcard to myself. There was a USPS mailbox just down the duty free store next door.

The postcard arrived today in Las Vegas bearing a postmark from Carol Stream, IL, a village next to ORD with a population of 40,438 as of the 2000 U.S. census. It was incorporated on January 5, 1959, and named after the developer's daughter.
You can find mailboxes in some other airports at

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Retracing the Footsteps: 50 Years Later.

This is one of the dozen postcards I sent off today to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. I used a newly issued "1963 Match on Washington" stamp to replace one view on a multiview card, then drop it off with others at a post office for hand cancellation before I headed to the March.

Tens of thousands people celebrated the anniversary by retracing the 1.7 mile historical march during the on-again off-again rain at 9 am. It started at the Georgetown University Law Center and ended at the Lincoln Memorial.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Baltimore's Harborplace

I flew into Washington D.C. via Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) earlier today. When I was at the airport. I picked up a postcard showing the USS Constellation at Baltimore's Inner Harbor in Maryland. Baltimore has been one of the major seaports in the United States since the 1700s. It has grown into the cultural center of Baltimore since the 1970s.

The Inner Harbor is home to four historic ships: the USS Constellation, a sloop-of-war from 1854; the USCGC. Taney, a Coast Guard cutter; a WWII-era submarine named the USS Torsk; and a lightship the Chesapeake. 

USS Constellation, shown on the postcard, was the last all-sail ship built by the United States Navy. A sailing ship is usually referred to a wind-powered vessel. Among its early missions are disrupting the slave trade, and delivering famine relief supplies to Ireland.

Monday, August 26, 2013

California Natural Wonders

Postcard US-2380934 from my neighboring state - sunny California features many treasures of its natural resources. I was fortunate to visit Lake Tahoe, the Yosemite National Park, the Joshua Tree National Monument, and many famous beaches. Death Valley has been on my to-go list for a while.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Minsk National Airport

Minsk-2 Airport
Postcard BY-872058 from Belarus shows the Minsk National Airport (MSQ). Its former name was Minsk-2 so as to be distinguished from the smaller city Minsk-1 Airport in Minsk downtown. It is the main international airport in Belarus, located 42 km or 26 miles to the east of the capital.

The airport construction started in 1977 and the new 3,640 m long and 60 m wide runway was completed in 1979. The airport opened in 1982 with the terminal capacity of 5,8 million passengers per year. The regular flights began in 1983.

From the postmark, the postcard had traveled 120 days before it showed up in my mailbox Saturday.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

March on Washington

A massive crowd convened today at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom". Also referred as "the Great March on Washington", that gathering on August 28, 1963 was one of the largest political rallies for human rights in United States history.

Postcard US-2323221 sent to Finland shows Martin Luther King, Jr., in front of the Lincoln Memorial, delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech advocating racial harmony during the march.

A rally is planned on the National Mall for the 50th anniversary next Wednesday on August 28, 2013. President Obama is scheduled to speak on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at 3 pm.
The U.S Postal Service issued the 1963 March on Washington Forever Stamp on August 23, 2013 to mark the occasion.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Model Car for Chicago "L" Train

Postcard US-2375509 has a template to make a 1:160 scale model car for the Chicago "L" Train - Red Line. Chicago's "L" Train was first built as an elevated steam line to the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, and later evolved into a public transit system with 1,100 cars and 290 miles of track. The Red Line is the busiest route in the city, running through Chicago from north to south and under a subway tunnel downtown.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ram Island Ledge Light, Maine

Postcard US-2378450 traveling to Czech Republic shows an aerial view of the Ram Island Ledge Light in Casco Bay, Maine. It was built during 1903 and 1905 as a result of repeated shipwrecks in the past and the steamship "Californian" accident on February 24, 1900. The lighthouse was electrified in 1958, automated in 1959, and converted to solar power in 2001. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places as "Ram Island Ledge Light Station" on March 14, 1988.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sky Cruiser Boeing 747-400

Postcard US-2371771 arrived from Illinois shows one of the JAL's Sky Cruisers, a Boeing 747-400. the best-selling model of the Boeing 747 family of jet airliners. The 747-400 has a maximum capacity of 660 passengers, and can fly non-stop for up to 7,670 nautical miles or 14,200 km. Northwest Airlines was the first carrier that placed a 747-400 in commercial service on February 9, 1989.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Four Seasons in Japan

I received this thank-you card from Japan for one of my official PostCrossing card. It shows four major landmarks in Japan in four seasons.

Top-left shows the Kinkaku-ji Temple in winter; top-right is the Himeji-jo Castle in spring. Sunset at the Toji-no-toh Pagoda  shows on the lower-left; the famous Mt. Fuji and Kawaguchi-ko Lake in the fall is on the lower-right.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Minsk, the City and the Rivers

Postcard BY-982349 from Belarus arrived today with a panorama view of the Trinity Suburb and the Svislach river embankment. Minsk is the capital of Belarus. With a population of 2,002,600 in 2013, it is the largest city in Belarus. The earliest history of Minsk dates as far as the 11th century. The settlement developed on the Svislach and Nyamiha rivers.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Inverhuron Provincial Park, Canada

Inverhuron Provincial Park is located on the shores of Lake Huron by the small village of Inverhuron, Ontario in Canada. Postcard CA-364103 shows the beautiful Inverhuron Beach and rare Great Lakes San Dune Ecosystem. 

The park first opened in 1956 with 351 campsites. However, with the construction of a nuclear power plant, Ontario Hydro purchased the park from the Ministry of Natural Resources in 1973 and limited the park as day-use only for safety and security concerns. After the Bruce Nuclear Development closed and the power plant decommissioned in 1998, safety concerns were minimized. On July 8, 2005, the park re-opened as an overnight camping site.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Postcard US-2343342 arrived yesterday shows an aerial view of Adler Planetarium in the front and the Field Museum of Natural History and the John G. Shedd Aquarium in the background, by Lake Michigan. What special about the postcard is the two 8-cent se-tenant stamps issued on August 2, 1971 to commemorating a decade of space achievements.

The stamps feature the Earth, the Sun, the Lunar Module, the Lunar Rover and astronauts on the Moon. The first day covers were postmarked at two different post offices in Houston, Texas and Huntsville, Alabama where the two tracking stations were located.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Area 51 Warning Sign

According to a news report from ABC today, newly declassified CIA documents has confirmed the existence of the mysterious Area 51, the secret Nevada site that has spawned rumors about aliens, UFO, and government secretive weapon experiments.

I made this postcard out of the artwork created by DLIMedia under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

We Grow'em Big in Idaho

Idaho produces nearly 1/3 of all the potato for the United States. When I received postcard US-2359031 from Idaho, it still took a minute for me to wonder if you can grow potato this big. For the record, the Guinness Book of World Records listed the largest potato as 7 pounds 1 ounce by J. East (1953) and J. Busby (1982) from the United Kingdom. In 2010, that record was surpassed by Peter Glazebrook with one that weighted 8 pounds 4 ounce or 3.76 kg,

There is actually a Famous Idaho Potato Tour truck on the road, with scheduled stops in more than 50 cities in the US to raise awareness and funds for Meals on Wheels, a non-profit organization that aims to relieve senior hunger.

As for the question "Where is the World's largest ketchup bottle?" mentioned in the above YouTube video, the answer is Collinsville, IL, USA.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Image Schématique du Soleil

Schematic Image of the Sun and its Environment
This postcard from my space related collection shows the schematic image of the Sun and its environment. It provides a blue print showing the wide range of phenomena studied by the various experiments on board the spacecraft Ulysses.

Ulysses, decommissioned on June 30, 2009, was a joint robotic space probe to study the Sun by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). The launch of Ulysses was delayed until October 6, 1990 aboard Discovery (mission STS-41) due to the loss of its initially assigned carrier Challenger. It studied the Sun at all latitudes, breaking the limitation that the Sun had been only observed from low solar latitudes due to the Earth's orbit confined on the ecliptic plane. The mission was managed by JPL.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gastown Steam Clock, Vancouver, Canada

Gastown Steam Clock, Vancouver, Canada
Postcard US-2359324 is traveling to Texas, USA, showing the Gastown steam clock, powered by steam from underground pipes that supply steam to heat many downtown buildings. The clock sounds its whistles every quarter-hour. It was built by horologist Raymond Saunders in 1977 based on an 1875 design.

I uploaded the following video of the steam clock in action to YouTube seven years ago on June 26, 2006. I have forgotten the login credential to that account since. However, to my surprise, it has accumulated 23259 viewers so far.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Petroglyph Panel at the Newspaper Rock State Historical Monument

Petroglyphs by Native Americans
Postcard US-2359303 is traveling to Canada. The petroglyph panel shown on the card is believed to be at least 1,200 years old. It is located at the Newspaper Rock State Historical Monument in Utah, formerly a State Park. Some suggest that the first carvings were made as old as 2,000 years ago, left by Native Americans from the Archaic, Anasazi, Fremont, Navajo, Anglo, and Pueblo cultures.

Newspaper Rock gained the "State Historical Monument" recognition in 1961. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Indian Creek State Park in 1976.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Polar Bear in a Bank

Polar Bear at First Interstate Bank
I am sending this postcard US-2359330 I bought at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum to Australia. It shows a 1600 lbs or 725.75 kg and 11 ft or 3.35 m tall Polar Bear on display in the lobby of the Main office at First Interstate Bank of Nevada, Reno, NV. It says on the back of the postcard that the bear was shot by A.M. Smith 50 miles north of Cape Uelen, Siberia in Russia. However, it didn't say when it was shot and how it ended up there in the bank. If you have additional information on this bear, send me an email.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Largest Thermometer in the World

Baker, CA, 2010
The largest thermometer in the World is located in Baker, California, USA. It is actually an electric display rather than a tall thermometer since it does take the temperature by itself. It was built in 1991 to commemorate the record 134°Fahrenheit or 57°C temperature in the nearby Death Valley on July 10, 1913. It is 134 feet or 40.8 m tall and is capable of displaying a maximum temperature of 134°F. Both mentionings of "134" are a reference to the record temperature.

The photo on the postcard US-2293209 to China was taken on October 10, 2010 during my last lag of the JetBlue's second "All-You-Can-Jet" (AYCJ) program. I was driving from Portland, Oregon via Baker, California to Las Vegas, Nevada with a one-dollar-per-day one-way rental car deal.

Friday, August 9, 2013

I Love New York

New York
I love this postcard US-2319552 from New York very much. It has a simple yet elegant black and white design, and features all my favorite places: Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Empire State Building and Chrysler Building. It was designed by Studio Zake, New York.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Father's Day in Taiwan

Postcard TW-974119 from Taiwan arrived coincidentally on August 8, 2013, the Father's Day in Taiwan. While not an official holiday, it is widely celebrated because the pronunciation of the number 8 in Mandarin Chinese, representing both the eighth day and the eighth month, is similar to the pronunciation of the Chinese character "爸", which means "father".

The postcard shows the Taichung Park Pavilion located in the middle of the Sun Moon Lake in the Taichung Park, a city historical site. The park was initially built during the Japanese occupation. It has a lot of historical buildings and monuments, including the "Victory against the Japanese Occupation Monument" built in 1947. It is also the location of the Taiwan Origin Reference Point (台灣地籍測量三角原點中心碑). In recent years, people have celebrated Lantern Festival in the park.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wuppertal Suspension Railway

Wuppertaler Schwebebahn
Postcard DE-2357046 came from Germany as a self-made photo card. It shows the Wuppertal Suspension Railway, a unique suspension railway in Wuppertal, Germany. It is the oldest electric elevated railway with hanging cars that was built in between 1897 and 1903 with the first track opened in 1901.

The railway is still used as a local public transportation system. The route runs 13.3 km or 8.3 mi; the tracks are elevated at a height of about 12 m or 39 ft over the river and about 8 m or 26 ft over the ground. The entire trip takes about 30 minutes.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Óbidos, Portugal

Vila de Óbidos
Postcard PT-311465 from Portugal shows Óbidos, a vila with a population of 3100 people. As the municipal seat of the municipality of Óbidos, it is located in the Estremadura Province, Portugal. The vila is located on a hilltop, encircled by a fortified wall, part of a well-preserved example of Medieval architecture. The vila established its charter in 1195, during the reign of Sancho I. The distinctive streets, squares, walls and its castle are now a popular tourist destination.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Shachihoko, a Golden Fish, Osaka Castle, Japan

A dear Postcrosser friend from Taiwan traveling in Japan sent this postcard of Shachihoko, a famous golden fish, from Osaka Castle (大坂城 or 大阪城). The castle played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century of the Azuchi-Momoyama period.

Shachihoko (鯱) is a mythical creature with a dragon head and a fish body. Sit on the tower roof ridge of Osaka Castle, they were symbols of the prestige and authority, and thought to protect the castle by spitting water from their mouths in an event of fire. Since they were covered in gold, they were believed to have doubled their powers.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Lakes of Plitvice
Postcard DE-2356456 from Germany arrived yesterday shows the national park Lakes of Plitvice located in the karst mountain range of Croatia. The park is famous for its lakes arranged in cascades. Currently, its 16 lakes result from the confluence of small surface rivers and subterranean karst rivers. The lakes are all interconnected yet separated by natural dams of travertine from moss, algae, and bacteria deposition and growth. Plitvice Lakes National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 among the first registered natural sites worldwide.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

"They're Changing Guards at Buckingham Palace"

"They're Changing Guards at Buckingham Palace"
Postcard GB-450015 from U.K. was titled "They're changing guards at Buckingham Palace", which was the first line of a poem from Alan Alexander Milne(1882-1956)'s 1924 collection, "When We Were Very Young".  Nine-year-old actress Ann Stephens recorded the song during World War II.

The Guard at Buckingham Palace is called "the Queen’s Guard". It is divided into two detachments: the Buckingham Palace Detachment responsible for guarding Buckingham Palace, and the St. James’s Palace Detachment responsible for guarding St. James’s Palace. Changing the Guard is the process of a new guard exchanging duty with the old guard. During the August 2013, Changing the Guard will take place at Buckingham Palace on the even days (August 2, August 4, August 6, ... August 30).

Friday, August 2, 2013

Django Unchained

Postcard DE-2339136 from Germany was of the 2012 movie Django Unchained. A German bounty hunter and former dentist, Dr. King Schultz, played by Christoph Waltz, bought the freedom of a slave, Django, played by Jamie Foxx, with the intent to train him as his deputy bounty hunter. However, he was led to where Django's wife was under the control of Calvin Candie, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, a ruthless plantation owner.

You can rent the instant video or purchase a Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, and UltraViolet combo from Amazon.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


DefCon 20, 2012
DefCon 21, one of the world's largest annual hacker/computer security conventions, is currently held in Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada from August 1 to August 4, 2013. The first DefCon took place in June 1993. The postcard, sent to Taiwan last year, shows the logo of DefCon 20, July 26-29, 2012.

Attendees to DefCon include computer security professionals, journalists, lawyers, security researchers, and of course, hackers. However, the trend has been shifted from "hacking" in early days to "computer security" in recent years. For me, it's a great place to learn the impact of advance of technology to the civil liberties and privacy. ACLU will present a panel discussion: "NSA Surveillance and More" this year. Electronic Frontier Foundation has a session called "Ask the EFF: the Year in Digital Civil Liberties". 

Federal law enforcement agents from the FBI, CIA, Department of Defense, United States Postal Inspection Service, and other agencies regularly attend the DefCons. Last year, four-star General Keith Alexander, head of the NSA, was a keynote speaker at the event. However, DefCon founder Jeff Moss requested government agencies to stay away from the event due to the recent revelation of the NSA surveillance program by Edward Snowden.