Saturday, November 30, 2013

Countdown to Christmas

I received Postcard FI-1935334 from Finland today, and it was my first Christmas card this year, if I didn't count the one I sent to myself to get a "Christmas, FL" postmark. It kicks off a countdown to Christmas and New Year.

Early today, I also send out some official PostCrossing postcards to get North Pole postmarks. To receive the North Pole postmark on your holiday mails, you should:
  • Purchase stamps at any post office or online. 
  • Affix the stamps to postcards or envelopes of your choice. 
  • Address the stamped postcards or the sealed envelopes with the greeting cards enclosed, to those on your mailing list. 
  • Mail them in a larger envelope, box, Priority Mail or Express Mail package to: 
ANCHORAGE AK 99530-9998

Make sure your package is received by December 10, 2013 in Anchorage to ensure Christmas delivery.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Saint Petersburg, Russia in 2011

Postcard RU-1967483 arrived today after "traveling" 92 days, showing an original photo of Saint Petersburg, Russia in 2011 by the sender. It is worth to note that the first card expired and the sender was kind enough to resend the card. I feel bad about it because it was the very first card she sent since joining the PostCrossing project. I still remember the anxiety and excitement when I was waiting for my first card to get registered. Hope it's an exception for her and wouldn't discourage her to enjoy the experience. The second card has a postmark on November 14, 2013. It reached U.S. from Russia in 15 days.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Floriade World Horticultural Expo

It is Thanksgiving today! To celebrate a harvest season, I would like to note Postcard NL-1895799 from the Netherlands that features Floriade, a World Horticultural Expo staged once every ten years in the Netherlands. The most recent Floriade was organized in Venlo from April to mid-October 2012. It was the sixth Floriade where the world's most exquisite and exceptional flowers, plants, trees and fruit and vegetables were on display.

However, Floriade offered more with a collection of music, dance, literature, theater and visual art programs from all over the world. What impressed me most was its sustainable, pioneering architectural components shown for the first time at Floriade. Guess I will have to mark my calendar for 2022.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Poet Su Shi from China

Postcard CN-769662 received last year was a handmade card of Su Shi (蘇軾/苏轼) (January 8, 1037 – August 24, 1101), a writer, poet, artist, calligrapher, pharmacologist, gastronome, and statesman of the Song Dynasty in China. One online collection site in Chinese has his more than 3400 poems.

My favorite piece was 念奴嬌: 赤壁懷古 "Remembrance of the Tale of the Red Cliff" that he wrote during his exile due to the political conflicts with the Prime Minister Wang An Shi.

大江東去 浪淘盡 千古風流人物
Eastward flows the great river, whose waves have washed away gallant heroes of eternity.
故壘西邊 人道是 三國周郎赤壁
West of the old fort stands the red cliff where General Zhou of the Three Kingdoms was said to have won his early fame.
亂石崩雲 驚濤裂岸 捲起千堆雪
Jagged rocks pierce the clouds, towering waves dash on the shore, rolling up thousands of piles of snow-like foams.
江山如畫 一時多少豪傑
While the river and mountains are picturesque today, I wonder how many heroes have battled with the landscape as the backdrop.
遙想公瑾當年 小喬初嫁了 雄姿英發
Imagine Zhou in his prime time, with Xiao Qiao the newly-wedded bride, He looked so handsome, brave and bright.
羽扇綸巾談笑間 檣櫓灰飛煙滅
With a plumed fan in hand and a silk cap on his head, he was laughing and jesting while the masts and sculls of Wei's navy went up in smoke and turned into ashes
故國神遊 多情應笑我
Wandering through the old kingdom like a dream, I might get laughed at for such sentiments.
早生華髮 人生如夢 一尊還酹江月
With my hair turning early gray, my life has been such a dream. Let me toast to the moon over its reflection in the great river.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Another card from a small city was UA-836888 from Zhashkiv, Ukraine, a city with 15,853 residents in 2001. The bicycle was waiting for its owner to return. Where are they going next?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Moon Rise

Postcard CZ-363191 arrived today from Hrob, Czech Republic. Hrob is a small town with a population of 2,092 as of 2006 census. However, the town has a long history that can be dated back to 1282.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Merry Christmas from Christmas, Florida

Christmas is an unincorporated area in Orange County, Florida, with 1,146 residents as of 2010 census. Every year, people send a large amount of mails to its post office for re-mailing so that they can have the "Christmas" postmark on their holiday letters and postcards. You will need to address your mails and affix adequate USPS first class postage: US$ 1.10 for a one-oz international letter or postcard; US$ 0.46 for a one-oz domestic one-oz letter or a 5"x 7" postcard; UD$ 0.33 for a 4" x 6" postcard. Then put your mails into a large envelop with enough postage and send the envelop to: 

ATTN: For Re-Mailing
U.S. Post Office
23580 E Colonial DR
Christmas, FL 32709

I recently sent a package with a few postcards to Christmas, FL for re-mailing and already received the one addressed to myself. 
I have drove pass Christmas, Florida several times but didn't get to stop due to either in a rush or not in the season. The most recent drive-through was when I flew into Tampa from Las Vegas, then drove to Kennedy Space Center to see the final space shuttle launch on July 8, 2011. Although from a YouTube video there seems not much happening there, I wouldn't consider that a failure as suggested in the video if I had stopped by. Certainly, the postmarks are beautiful and will bring joys to those who received your mails.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Color Clay Pottery from Gansu: in Paper Cut Art

Postcard US-2452508 to Netherlands received on November 22, 2013 was a replacement card via TouchNote, showing an art piece of Chinese paper cut that depicts a color clay pottery container from an image scanned moment before it was sent. The original large-postcard-sized art piece, while not exactly a postcard, was sent in an envelop on October 14, 2013. As discussed in my previous blog, after traveling for more than 30 days, more than a dozen cards sent on that day are now overdue and none of the originals is registered. I have re-sent the cards, and some of the replacement cards were already registered so far. However, this one is unique and I don't have a duplicate.

Cover of the Color Clay Pottery from Gansu: in Paper Cut Art
The art piece was part of the collection produced by the Gansu Provincial Museum in Lanzhou, China. The other pieces sent earlier included US-2180320, etc.

Friday, November 22, 2013

JFK Assassination Anniversary

JFK at Inauguration
I was at the post office today and noticed the U.S. flag was flown at half staff. President Barack Obama has ordered that flags be lowered at government buildings on November 22, 2013 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

U.S. Post Office Garside Station on November 22, 2013
However, personally I feel it's more important to remember what JFK attempted to achieve and than how he was assassinated. So, I went to watch his inauguration speech on YouTube.

After more than 50 years and many progresses have been made, many of his statements and challenges still ring true. One of many that stood out was "if a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich."

Then, "...... we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This much we pledge -- and more."

This much I pledge.

As a token of resolution, I went online and bought a copy of the postcard showing JFK was delivering his inauguration speech on January 20, 1961. You can purchase your own copy here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

American Merchant Mariners Memorial

Postcard US-2489809 to Finland shows the American Merchant Mariners Memorial at Battery Park, New York City, near the line to board the ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. It was designed by Marisol Escobar, based on a photograph from a true event during WWII when a German submarine attacked and sank an American merchant vessel. The submarine surfaced and took photographs but did not pick up the survivors. All mariners were eventually lost in the Atlantic Ocean.

The memorial was dedicated on October 8, 1991.  The memorial depicts the after-attack scene where three mariners on a lifeboat, with one mariner trying to reach another mariner in the water, which is best appreciated by viewing the monument over time. At high tide you can only see the mariner in the water with a hand sticking out of the water; at lower tide you can see the hand and the mariners' head; and at the lowest tide his entire upper torso will show. As described at Lost At Sea Memorials dot com: "as ships pass by, the waves created give the memorial a sense of life and motion. The seaman’s head bobs above and below the water’s surface, as the arm of a seaman in a lifeboat strains to save his shipmate. Two others on the lifeboat are looking directly at the submarine, which will eventually submerge again and leave them for dead."

The memorial is considered an overlooked gem among the monuments in New York City. I have been to New York City and seen the memorials several times. However, it was not until my 2011 trip to New York City on the BluePass by Jetblue when I decided to take a closer look to learn what it was about. The photo on the card was taken on November 21, 2011.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ellis Island

Postcard US-2452555 to Japan shows Ellis Island, gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States and the busiest immigrant inspection station in the country from 1892 to 1954. The island was made part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1965. Together, Statue of Liberty National Monument, Ellis Island and Liberty Island was designated a U.S. National Register of Historic Place on October 15, 1966. The island has been closed to the public due to damages from Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. It is scheduled to re-open in 2014.

The photo on the card was taken during my trip to New York City with my BluePass by JetBlue on November 21, 2011. The postcard is overdue with a dozen of others (see my blog on November 18, 2012) that were sent out around October 14, 2012. A replacement card has been sent recently.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Watchman in Dazzling Light with an Agate Sky

Zion National Park was established by the U.S. Congress ninety four years ago on November 19, 1919. Postcard US-2468722 to Latvia was a magazine cutout from the Desert Companion, October 2013 issue. It was promoting the Plein Air Art Invitational featuring an acrylic painting on canvas, titled "the Watchman in Dazzling Light with an Agate Sky" by artist Buffalo Kaplinski. The event was held from November 4 to November 11, 2013 with free lectures, demonstrations public painting sales.

Monday, November 18, 2013

William J. Clinton Presidential Center, Little Rock, Arkansas

Traveling Postcard US-2452513 to Ukraine shows the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock, Arkansas, which  includes the Clinton Presidential Library, the offices of the Clinton Foundation, and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

It is located on a 69,000-square-meter or 17-acre land by the Arkansas River and Interstate 30. The main building extends towards the Arkansas River, exemplifying Clinton's campaign promise of "building a bridge to the 21st century." The Clinton Presidential Center was dedicated nine years ago on November 18, 2004. The 1899 Rock Island Railroad Bridge across the Arkansas River, shown on the left of the postcard, was originally leading to Choctaw Station. It has been converted into a pedestrian bridge connecting to North Little Rock and renamed as the Clinton Park Bridge. The dedication ceremony was held on September 30, 2011, and the bridge was opened to the public on October 2, 2011.

The photo on the postcard was taken on April 10, 2006 When I was driving cross-country from West Palm Beach to Las Vegas. The postcard, mailed along with more than a dozen other cards including some private swaps, has traveled more than 30 days. All those cards mailed on that day appear lost in the mail, since none of the cards was received. I am in the process of  re-sending the replacement. So far, one replacement card was received. Unfortunately, some of those postcards are unique and do not have duplicates.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Marathon

In just a few hours, more than 30,000 runners will cross the start line near the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in the Fifth Annual Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and Half Marathon at 4:30 pm. Runners will have a unique experience, passing by faux pyramid and volcano, replicas of the Statue of Liberty and Eiffel Tower, dancing water fountains in front of Bellagio, and Venice-themed canals. The finishing line is in front of the Mirage Hotel and Casino in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip.

Another 2,500 runners will run 6.5-mile "half of the half" Marathon, beginning at 3:30 p.m. They will finish at downtown, where following marathoners will pass twice beneath the Fremont Street Experience canopy. 

The race was pushed up from the first weekend in December in the past races. The postcard to a private swap shows gondolas and an ice skating rink over the canals at the Venetian Casino and Hotel, with the Marathon runners in the background on December 4, 2011.

Update: Collage photo from the races today. From left to right and top to bottom: runners pass 1) Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas, 2) Crystals at CityCenter, 3) Volcano at Mirage, 4) Statue of Caesar and Colosseum at Caesars Palace, 5) Fashion Show Mall, 6) Forum Shops, 7) Band stage with laser beams near the finish line, 8) Montgolfier balloon and Arc de Triomphe at Paris Las Vegas, 9) Music Fountains at Bellagio.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Mailboxes in Thailand

Postcard TH-150353 shows various mail boxes used in Thailand over time, from the oldest on the left to the two currently-used ones on the right.

Thailand has a relatively short postal history. Great Britain started to operate the British Consular Post Office in Bangkok 1858. Thailand Post Co., Ltd. was established in 1883 to provides postal services. The first stamp was issued in Siam on August 4, 1883.  Siam joined the Universal Postal Union on July 1, 1885 and started to provide its own international postal service. The British Consular Post Office ceased operation the same day.

Nowadays, there are post mailboxes on almost every street in Bangkok. You will see more of the larger ones than the smaller ones. However, I was told that for international mails you would still need to visit a post office.

Friday, November 15, 2013

St. James's Gate Porter Brewery

Guinness is a popular Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness (1725–1803) at St. James's Gate, Dublin. Postcard US-2489828 to Whitefish, MT shows a vintage advertising poster from circa 1890s. The upper illustrations have Guinness Gate & offices on the top half and Victoria Quay with jetty & barges visible on the bottom half.

The postcard was purchased at the Guinness Store, next to Rí Rá Irish Pub inside the Shoppes at Mandalay Place in Las Vegas. It is said to have the largest selection of GUINNESS® merchandise in one place outside of Ireland.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Just Move

November 14 each year is the World Diabetes Day. It was first introduced in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization to increase awareness of the alarming rise of diabetes around the world. From 2009 to 2013, the theme has been Diabetes Education and Prevention. According to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, nearly 350 million people worldwide live with diabetes. By 2035, ten percent of world's population, or 592 million people, will have diabetes. Researchers found that adults at high risk for type 2 diabetes could reduce their risk in half by losing 5 to 7% of body weight and exercising 3 to 5 times a week for 150 minutes.

Postcard US-2334513 to France shows skateboarding activities. I have been looking forward to a new series of stamps “Let’s Move” advocating physical activities that would make a good match for this postcard. However, USPS has placed the "Just Move" stamps on hold and may destroy them due to safety concerns from the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. While I considered those concerns well intentional, I also feel it's kind of over-reacted. First of all, those stamps are artist illustrations, not instructional graphs. Second, USPS should have consulted the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition before approving and printing the stamps. Now that the stamps has already been printed and in storage, it would be a waste to destroy the stamps especially when USPS is losing 4 billions this year. It will be a missing opportunity if the stamps are not brought back, with or without correction. In fact, the risks exposed by the stamps could be mitigated by educational campaigns accompanying the stamp issues.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hawaii, the Aloha State

Postcard US-2413163 to Japan shows a beautiful map of Hawaii, the only state in the U.S. made up entirely of islands. Hawaii, joined the Union on August 21, 1959, is the most recent of the 50 U.S. states.

The Aloha State made the headlines today by leapfrogging Illinois to become the 15th state to recognize same-sex marriages after Governor Neil Abercrombie signed the marriage equality bill into law during a ceremony at 10:00 am local time. Before signing, Abercrombie stated that “those who have been invisible will now be visible to themselves and the whole world.” 

Neil Abercrombie signs the marriage equality bill
Same-sex ceremonies are set to begin December, 2, 2013, boasting Hawaii's claim as a wedding destination.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge

Postcard US-2219312 to Germany shows a fire boat in front of the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge. it opened for traffic today 77 years ago on November 12, 1936, six months before the Golden Gate Bridge opened. The bridge consists of two sections that connect Yerba Buena Island to each shore. The postcard shows the western section between Yerba Buena on the left and downtown San Francisco on the right. The photo on the card was taken on June 25, 2012.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

In this Veterans Day 2013, we feature postcard US-2475557 to Portugal that shows the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall with reflection of the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors U.S. service members who fought in the Vietnam War, service members who died in service in Vietnam and the South East Asia, and service members missing in action during the War.

In Las Vegas, there will be the 2013 Veterans Day Parade in downtown at 10 a.m on Monday, November 11, 2013. The parade is said to be the largest Veterans Day parade west of the Mississippi River, featuring active duty and reserve service members, veterans groups and local organizations.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

F-22 Raptor

As part of the Veterans Day Celebrations, Aviation Nation, the annual open house and air show at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, was scheduled for November 9 and 10, 2013. However, due to government spending cuts, the U.S. Air Force has cut back non-critical activities. As a result, all air shows including Aviation Nation, have been cancelled.

Postcard US-2317852 to Malaysia shows a F-22 Raptor flying near an early moon in the late afternoon during the 2010 Aviation Nation on November 13, 2010. F-22 Raptor is a single-seat, twin-engine stealth fighter jet manufactured by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, partnering with Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

Youtube has a video on the F-22 Demo at the 2010 Aviation Nation, performed on Sunday, November 14, 2010. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Alishan Forest Railway, Taiwan

Postcard TW-1051157 from Taiwan shows the Alishan Forest Railway (阿里山森林鐵路), a network of narrow-gauge (762 mm or 2.5 ft wide) railways originally constructed for logging in the Alisha mountain area in Chiayi County, Taiwan. Now it is a popular tourist attraction with unique Z-shaped switchbacks, many tunnels and wooden bridges.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Greetings from Montana

It is the 124th anniversary of Montana's admission to the Union today. President Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President of the United States, proclaimed Montana the 41st State on November 8, 1889. Montana is ranked 4th in size, but 44th in population and 48th in population density among the all 50 states. It is the home to Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park.

Postcard US-1758497 arrived in 2 days with greetings from Montana on July 8, 2012.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Reno, Nevada

US-2262734 to Germany shows a map of Reno in the northwestern part of Nevada. Reno is the most populous Nevada city outside of the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The city is located in a high desert valley at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, 65 kilometers or 40 miles away from Lake Tahoe. It is known as "The Biggest Little City in the World", I was in Reno from November 7 to November 10, 2004 to attend the 2004 URISA annual conference.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sunrise over Mount Zaō in Japan

Postcard JP-463262 from Japan shows a photo of beautiful sunrise at Mount Zaō (蔵王山) in Japan. Among the one hundred most famous mountains in Japan, Mount Zaō is a complex volcano that consists of a cluster of stratovolcanoes built up by layers of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and volcanic ash. (Sources: Wikipedia) It is noted for a 360 m or 1,200 ft wide and 60 m or 200 ft deep crater lake Five Color Pond (五色沼) as the lake would change color depending on the weather.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Vanished Sculptures Outside the Monte Carlo

Expired Postcard US-1945392 to Belarus has reached its 365-day mark and is heading to the postcard graveyard. The postcard shows a sculpture outside the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino with a photo taken on October 12, 2012.

Those frolicking sculptures at the north Monte Carlo entrance were dismantled along with the European facade and famed fountain in June 2013 to make way for a large open-air plaza between the Monte Carlo and New York New York. It is part of the current trend that opens up casinos and converts external facades into profit-making entertainment venues with live entertainment, restaurants and retail stores, similar to what are happening in the MGM Grand and the Treasure Island,

Monday, November 4, 2013

Human Nature

Postcard US-2452490 to Norway is an advertising card for Human Nature, an Australian pop music vocal group. It was originally formed in 1989 as the Four Trax by four schoolmates in Sydney. After signed by Sony Music and renamed as Human Nature, it released the debut album Telling Everybody in 1996. In Australia, the group has seventeen hits in the country's Top 40 music chart, and five hits in the Top 10; three of their albums reached multi-platinum certification, and four reached platinum; and sales of over 1.6 million records. After transitioning from a boy band to a Motown tribute group, they are currently performing at the Sands Showroom in the Venetian Hotel and Casino. (Human Nature will be DARK from November 28, 2013 to December 26, 2013)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Daylight Saving Time Ends in 2013

Daylight saving time (DST) ends today in the morning at 2:00 am. Following the expression Spring Forward, Fall Back, we set clocks back one hour, saying good bye to DST and entering Standard Time. DST returns next year on March 9, 2014.

Most areas of the United States currently observe DST. However, most areas of Arizona (except for the Navajo Nation, a Native American Reservation), along with Hawaii and the overseas territories of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands, do not observe DST. Arizona opted out the DST in 1968 largely in part because of Phoenix and Tucson being among the hottest US metropolitan areas in the summer. Extending daylight hours results in more people being active, thus more power usage from air conditioning units and cooling systems in homes and businesses.

Postcard US-2248458 to Tucson, Arizona showing Hoover Dam with Arizona side in the foreground and Nevada side in the background, as the state boundary runs across the dam. Since Arizona is in the Mountain Time Zone (GMT-7) whereas Nevada is in the Pacific Time Zone (GMT-8), Arizona is one hour ahead. However, because Nevada observes DST while Arizona does not, during the summer the clocks on the intake towers will show the same time. During the winter, the clock on the Nevada side will be one hour behind from the one on the Arizona side.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Vegas Valley Book Festival

The Vegas Valley Book Festival just concluded a three-day celebration of literature and imagination from October 30 to November 2, 2013. Founded by Nevada Humanities in 2002, it has featured authors from around the globe participating in a full schedule of panel discussions, book signings, readings, workshops, poetry, children's literature, and special events.

Postcard US-1920289 to the Netherlands shows Dennis Lehane as the closing keynote speaker of the 2010 festival at the Clark County Library on November 7, 2010. Dennis has written several novels, including A Drink Before the War, Mystic River, "Gone, Baby, Gone", and the latest Moonlight Mile. My favorite quote of Dennis came from his book Shutter Island: “Which would be worse, to live as a monster or to die as a good man?” 

Friday, November 1, 2013

National Novel Writing Month

The Dream Merchant by Isabel Hoving
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is an annual novel writing project that, running its 15th year from November 1 to November 30, 2013, brings together professional and amateur writers from all over the world.

If you are not writing a book this month, please at least try to read one. Postcard NL-2096226 from the Netherlands shows an illustration for the book "De gevleugelde kat" by Isabel Hoving. The book is the winner of the Netherlands’ most prestigious children’s book award. Its English version "The Dream Merchant" was translated by Hester Velmans and published by Candlewick Press, Cambridge, MA in 2005. You can find a copy from Amazon.