Monday, March 31, 2014

High Roller Opens in Las Vegas

Outgoing postcard US-2698982 to Germany shows the High Roller, the World's tallest Ferris wheel at 550 feet or 168 meters, during a testing run with 2,000 green LED lights on over the St. Patrick's Day weekend. It formally opens to the public today at 1 p.m. on March 31, 2014.

With 28 cabins that can lift up to 40 people each (up to 1,120 people in total), the tallest observation wheel in the world is located at The LINQ, an open-air dining, retail and entertainment district, between The Quad and Flamingo, which was first opened on December 27. 2013. It is the property of Caesars Entertainment. A ticket for the 30-minute ride starts at $24.95 plus fees.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Postcard US-2713420 from Illinois shows a 1932 Art Deco travel poster of train "Exactitude" by French artist Pierre Fix-Masseau (1905-1994). The original poster was a 39.25 inch x 24.25 inch color lithograph, part of the Modernism Collection in Minneapolis Institute of Arts. It was a gift from Norwest Bank Minnesota.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Pigtail Bridges

Postcard US-2711416 from Minnesota shows an aerial view of two pigtail bridges and one of the tunnels on Iron Mountain Road, ascending 17 miles or 27 kilometers from Custer State Park to the entrance of Mount Rushmore National Memorial, in the Black Hills, Rapid City, South Dakota. Drivers will get a 360° panorama of the area that has many unique and beautiful scenic roads. Jess Stryker has a Youtube video showing driving through the one-lane tunnel, horseshoe curve, and 360° loop over and under one of the pigtail bridges. The Mount Rushmore came into view when exiting the tunnel.

View Iron Mountain Road in a larger map

Friday, March 28, 2014

National Cherry Blossom Festival

Postcard US-2643460 from Washington D.C. area shows the famed cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin with the Washington Monument in the background. The 2014 National Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March 20 to April 13, commemorating the 102nd anniversary of the gift of the cherry blossom trees from Japan.

The peak bloom period only lasts for a few days; and the precise time period varies each year depending on weather conditions.  The average peak bloom date from 1992 to 2013 for those cherry trees is March 31. However,  the colder-than-usual winter is causing a late peak for cherry blossoms this year. The National Park Service forecast put the peak bloom period for the cherry blossoms this year as from April 8 to April 12.  An alternative forecast by Washington Post‘s Capital Weather Gang predicted a peak bloom period between April 11 and April 15, centered on April 13. Meanwhile, you can watch the live cherry blossom cam on Earthcam.

Se-tenant Cherry Blossom Centennial Forever Stamps issued by USPS on March 24, 2012

Thursday, March 27, 2014

"My House, New York, 1997"

Postcard SE-65371 from Sweden shows David LaChapelle's photograph "My House, New York, 1997". David Lachapelle is an American photographer, best known for his photography that often references art history and sometimes conveys social messages. Among the many awards he won, he was presented with GLAAD's Vito Russo Award for his outstanding contributions toward eliminating homophobia.

His selected works were on exhibition at Fotografiska Museet in Stockholm, Sweden in 2013. National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. is currently featuring his collection "American Cool" from February 7 to September 7, 2014.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Panda Ride

Postcard US-2615865 to Hong Kong, entitled "Panda Ride", was created by Caroline Nyman, a self-taught digital painter from Sweden currently living in Belgium. I don't know whether Michelle Obama had seen this postcard before her week-long visit to China, but it could explain how the First Lady got the inspiration on using a bamboo stick to feed apples to some cute pandas, with her mother Marian Robinson's assistance and her daughter Malia looking on, at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding on March 26, 2014.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Auto Train

Postcard US-2690034 from Florida shows that Auto Train, an 855-mile or 1,376-km scheduled service between Sanford, Florida near Orlando and Lorton, Virginia near Washington D.C. by Amtrak, transports passengers AND their cars. Trains depart daily at 4:00pm and arrive at the destinations at 9:30am next day. It is the only one of its kind in the US.

When I was a graduate student living in the east coast, I had chances to take the train. However, I ended up passing the opportunities, as the cost of driving was considerably lower when the gas costed lesss than two US dollars and if wear and tear of the car was not factored in. However, with the current average gas price at $3.50, an one-way trip from Orlando, Florida to Washington D.C. would take almost 12 hours and cost at least $120 using AAA's fuel cost calculator. In comparison, a least expensive one-way Auto Train ticket from Sanford, Florida to Lorton, Virginia on April 15, 2014 would cost $102 for a passenger plus $186 for an automobile or $131 for a motorcycle. While the fare is complex just like airlines ticket and not inexpensive, it may be worth a try just to eliminate stress from the 12-hour driving.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Terra-Cotta Army

Postcard US-2663925 to Germany shows a warrior replica of the Terra-Cotta Army embedded on the wall at the Beijing Friendship Hotel where I stayed in 2007. The "Terra-Cotta Warriors and Horses", is a collection of life-size clay sculptures of the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, in a form of funerary art buried along with the emperor in 210–209 BC for the purpose of protecting the emperor in his afterlife.

During her second leg of the multi-day tour in China, Michelle Obama got to see the authentic Terra-Cotta Army up close and personal in the ancient city Xi'an on Monday, March 24, 2014. Few of the museum’s five million annual visitors got to look direct into their steely faces, as the first lady did when she was invited down to the pits where as many as 6,000 warriors lined up in battle formations.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Michelle Obama Visits the Summer Palace

Postcard US-2262748 to Portugal shows the Longevity Hill at the Summer Palace in Beijing, China. The front hill, as shown on the postcard, is rich with many splendid halls and pavilions. The Summer Palace, once an imperial garden in Qing Dynasty, has now been one of the UNESCO's World Heritage Sites since 1998.

First Lady Michelle Obama visited the Summer Palace in Beijing on Saturday, March 22, 2014, second day during her week-long trip to China. Mrs. Obama was accompanied by her daughters and her mother, and a group of visiting students from the U.S. They enjoyed a Chinese opera performance and took a boat ride on the famous Kunming Lake. The week-long trip, with the focus on the importance of education, from March 19 to 26 includes stops in Beijing from March 20 to 23, Xi’an on March 24, and Chengdu from March 25 to 26.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Water and Energy

Water and Energy is the theme of World Water Day in 2014, observed on March 22. On the official website, it states: "Water and energy are closely interlinked and interdependent. Energy generation and transmission requires utilization of water resources, particularly for hydroelectric, nuclear, and thermal energy sources. Conversely, about 8% of the global energy generation is used for pumping, treating and transporting water to various consumers."

Postcard US-2367611 to Turkey shows the Black Canyon and the Colorado River downstream from the Hoover Dam. Arizona is on the left side of the canyon and Nevada is on the right side of the postcard. The U-shaped structure at the base of the dam is the power plant that hosts power generators insider. Now ranking in the 50th, it was once the largest hydroelectric power station in the world in 1939.

In Las Vegas, to highlight that millions of people around the world still do not have access to a safe and steady water supply and sustainable solutions can be found if we focus our efforts and our resources, Cirque du Soleil is presenting an one-night-only annual “One Night for One Drop” spectacular for the second year at Mandalay Bay tonight, with performs by guest star entertainers and casts from Cirque du Soleil shows on the Strip. As a result,  all eight Cirque du Soleil shows will be closed as the cast and crew are participanting the philanthropic show this evening.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Marque Page Carte Postale

Postcard FR-374233 from France is a bookmark postcard entitled "At the Same Time on Earth ..." It measures 20 cm x 6 cm or 7.87 inch x 2.36 inch and has a stamp with postage for a 20-gram (0.7 oz) letter.

I became curious on how to mail a bookmark postcard from the United States. By the USPS regulations, a postcard needs to be at least 3.5" high x 5" long x 0.007" but no more than 4.25" high x 6" long x 0.016" thick in order to qualify for the first class postcard rate (US$ 0.34 domestic and US$ 1.15 international in 2014). Therefore, because it does not meet the dimensions above, the USPS will consider it a letter and letter-size postage will be charged (US$ 0.49 domestic and US$ 1.15 international) for a mailpiece with a size up to 6.125" x 11.5" x 0.25". In addition, it has an aspect ratio (length divided by height) of 3.33, which falls outside the required aspect ratio range for a first class letter (between 1.3 and 2.5). As a result, it will incur a nonmachinable surcharge of US$ 0.21. The total postage required for such a bookmark postcard from the United States will be US$ 0.70 domestic and US$1.36 international.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

First Day of Spring

Spring starts with the vernal equinox on March 20 at 9:57 P.M. PDT, 2014. Equinox is the day when daytime and night are of approximately equal duration, which occurs twice a year.  the March equinox which, in the astronomical system of seasons, is the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere (vernal equinox) and the first day of autumn (autumnal equinox) in the Southern Hemisphere.

Although March equinox is precisely defined as when the center of the sun is, moving northward, directly over the Equator, meteorological and ecological spring, defined by other events or indicators such as the values of average monthly temperatures or the first appearance of flowers, changes from year to year and place to place. According to the National Geographic, spring is It arriving earlier as snow melting and flowers blooming sooner than usual in the U.S.

Postcard TW-1190199 shows cherry blossom in Taiwan. There are four major areas noted for cherry blossom activities.

  • At Wulai, the high season is in February. The local festival features Atayal culture, one of the aboriginal tribes inhabiting in the mountainous areas of northern and central Taiwan. 
  • For Alishan, the one-month long flower season lasts from March 15 to April 15. However, at the lower elevations, it sometimes starts as early as in late January. 
  • Sun Moon Lake Cherry Blossom is said to have the most romantic spot for enjoying the seasonal colors with many activities scheduled throughout the season.
  • Mt. Yangming National Park, one of the most popular national parks in Taiwan, offers cherry blossom against its volcanic mountain formations. It has gained increasing popularity due to its close proximity to Taipei City.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Elephant Charging: An African Experience

Postcard ZA-38095 from South Africa shows an elephant charging towards the camera. On the back of the card, the description reads: "Elephants are potentially dangerous animals if provoked or threatened. They do sometimes charge cars, although most charges are only mock charges intended to scare off the offender." Indeed, a bull elephant was reported to flip over a car occupied by a pair of British tourists in in the Kruger National Park on December 30, 2013.

The park manager advised visitors that the best way to avoid injury in the national park was to keep a safe distance from these big animals. And the worst of it is that when incidents like this happened, the animal got killed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Monuments Go Green

Postcard US-1770581 to Belarus shows the iconic "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign with other famous Las Vegas landmarks. In honor of Irish heritage, the famous sign had gone green from March 13 to March 18 as the Las Vegas Convention Center and Visitors Authority, teaming up with Tourism Ireland for its annual "Global Greening" initiative, changed the sign's yellow bulbs to green.

Other landmarks that went green include the Castle at Disneyland, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Sydney Opera House.

High Roller Ferris Wheel at LINQ on March 17, 2014

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lovely Day For A Guinness

In this St. Patrick's Day, we present postcard US-2399729 to Japan that shows a classic Guinness poster "Lovely Day for a Guinness" produced by S.H. Benson's advertising with art works by artist John Gilroy. Along with other distinctive posters created in the 1930s and 1940s such as "Guinness for Strength", "Guinness Makes You Strong," "My Goodness My Guinness," "Guinness is Good For You", the advertising campaigns contributed to Guinness's success. On the card, "the Flight of Toucans delivering the Black Stuff !!" It featured toucans that had become a symbol of Guinness among other animals such as a kangaroo, ostrich, seal, lion.

The postcard was purchased at the Guinness Store, located in the Shoppes at Mandalay Place between Mandalay Bay and Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. It is the first official Guinness store opened in the U.S. and boasts the largest selection of Guinness merchandise in one place outside of Ireland.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Beers Over Equality

St. Patrick's Day is a cultural and religious holiday that celebrates the death date of the most commonly-recognized patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick on March 17. While the festivals are underway this Sunday, Guinness became the third beer company to withdraw sponsorship of a major St. Patrick's Day parade in the U.S. because the organizers banned LGBT groups from openly participating in the parades.

Earlier, according to, Boston Beer Company, which manufactures Sam Adams, announced on March 14 to pull out today's parade in Boston after South End restaurant Club Cafe said that it would no longer serve Sam Adams due to the brewer's sponsorship with the parade. Boston's Irish-American Mayor Martin Walsh skipped his city's St. Patrick's Day parade after failing to broke a deal with organizers to allow a group of gay and lesbian activists to march openly.

In New York City, Heineken ended its relationship with the 250-year old parade for the same reason; and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio will not be marching in the parade on Monday, March 17 to protest the exclusionary policies, becoming the first mayor in decades to break the tradition.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Shaped Card from Bulgaria

Shaped postcard BG-33614 came from Plovdiv, the 2nd largest city in Bulgaria and a candidate for European Capital of Culture in 2019.

Bulgaria, Europe's 14th largest country, is located in Southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, and the Black Sea to the east. On the card, it shows major topographical features such as the Danubian Plain, the Balkan Mountains, the Thracian Plain, and the Rhodope Mountains.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Kieler Woche

Postcard DE-2971447 from Germany shows nightglow of the hot-air balloons at the Kiel Week, a week-long annual sailing festival and Volksfest  in Kiel, Germany. The sailing event is the largest in the world; and the Volksfest (People's Festival), a beer/wine festival with a traveling carnival that features amusement rides and food and merchandise vendors, is one of the largest in Germany.

Kiel Week in 2014 will be from June 21 to June 29.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Heritage in Negeri Sembilan

Postcard from Malaysia shows "the Heritage in Negeri Sembilan." Negeri Sembilan, one of Malaysia's thirteen states, is located on the western coast of Peninsular Malaysia just south of Kuala Lumpur. Its heritage is believed to be heavily influenced by the Minangkabau people who were originally from West Sumatra in present-day Indonesia. Minangkabau features are visible on the card in traditional architecture and local artifacts.

On an unrelated note, news related to Malaysia has focused on the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, missing since March 8, 2014. DigitalGlobe, an earth-imagery company, deployed its FirstLook service and directed two of its five satellites to obtained photos of more than 1,200 square miles of suspected crash area, and opened  its crowdsourcing platform, Tomnod, to the public for help in identifying any visible evidence that could help locate the missing Boeing 777 aircraft.

I was assigned this map, did you see anything? However, CNN recently reports that Malaysian plane may have flown long after last contact, which would place the plane outside the initial search area.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bright Summer Night on Braslav

Postcard BY-1162713 from Belarus shows "Bright Summer Night on Braslav", by Minsk photographer and astronomer Viktor Malyschits known for his many beautiful night views of Belarus on the background of sparkling stars. You can learn more about Viktor and his photos from an interview Love the Stars and their Country in Russian at Onliner.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Bahamas

Postcard CA-417264 was sent from the Commonwealth of the Bahamas (The Bahamas), an island country consisting of more than 700 islands in the Atlantic Ocean southeast of Florida. With a warm and winterless tropical climate, and only a 6.7°C or 12°F difference between the warmest month and coolest month, it is indeed a vacation destination all year round. It currently costs 0.50 Bahamian Dollars (BSD) to send a postcard from the Bahamas to anywhere in the world. The price varies for letters.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Kids Yoga from Germany

Postcard DE-2968396 from Germany shows an image of a kid (or a monkey?) doing yoga and a link to the Children's Yoga Academy. The website has a lot of information and offers for education and training of children's yoga in Germany, Austria and Switzerland in 2014. The first edition "Yoga for Kids" was a best-selling book on the subject. Now, with a brand new edition,  it even comes with a DVD! Of course, you can purchase 26 children's yoga themed postcards including this one from the book's website.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The First Sign of Spring

Postcard US-2675215 from Vermont, USA shows the first sign of spring whereas the Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the U.S. starts at 2:00 AM on Sunday, March 9, 2014. While people in many parts of the country still feel cold and get cranky over an early start over the DST,  at 78°F or 26°C in Las Vegas today, I can certainly breath "spring" in the air.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

International Women's Day

According to Wikepedia, "International Women's Day (IWD), also called International Working Women's Day, is marked on March 8 every year. In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women's economic, political, and social achievements."

We are presenting postcard US-1923857 to Ukraine in commemorating International Women's Day by celebrating Native American women. The postcard features an Anasazi Indian woman, who belong to one of the Ancient Pueblo peoples centered on the present-day Four Corners area bordering southern Utah, northeastern Arizona, northern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado. As shown on the background of the postcard, they lived in elevated pit houses, pueblos, and cliff dwellings where they could lift entry ladders during enemy attacks.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Le Mastrou

Postcard FR-368709 from France shows "Le Mastrou", or Train de l'Ardèche. It is a tourist railway in the Ardèche region of the South of France. The network of railways in the area originally opened on July 12 1891, and closed on October 31, 1968. A portion of lines was reopened as a heritage railway in the following year. In 2008, the heritage services were suspended due to lack of funds for repair and maintenance. The services were resumed in 2013.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Terveiset Luostolta

Postcard FI-2007427 brought "Greetings from Luosto" from Finland. Luosto is a mountain in Finnish Lapland with an elevation of 514 meters or 1686 feet. It's part of the Pyhä-Luosto National Park. The area is home to ski centers, and the Finnish Meteorological Institute weather radar.

As Getty Images just opened up embedded photos, my search of "Luosto, Finland" on their web site returned only the following photo. Their embed tool is very simple to use. However, I wish there were an option to allow customized size.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Everglades Wind

Postcard US-2651093 to Spain shows a colorful windy scene at the Everglades in Florida, from an original oil painting by Florida artist Mazz.

The Everglades are a large wetland area in the South Florida, where the Kissimmee River flows into the vast but shallow Lake Okeechobee, then discharges into a 60-mile or 97-km wide and more than 100 mile or 160-km long swamp. The southward slow-moving water, as writer Marjory Stoneman Douglas described as "River of Grass", eventually reaches Florida Bay in the south. It is a complex inter-connected and inter-dependent eco-systems that include sawgrass marshes, freshwater lakes, cypress swamps, estuary forests, tropical hardwood hammocks, pine rockland, and marine .

Since Congress formed the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project in 1947, the metropolitan areas in South Florida have grown substantially and near 50% of the original Everglades has been developed to farmlands or urban areas. There have been increased environmental awareness since UNESCO designated the Everglades as one of only three wetland areas of global importance in the 1970s. Restoration began in the 1980s and the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), a plan to restore the Everglades, was approved by Congress in 2000.

The postcard can be purchased at Zazzle and the original oil painting can be purchased at

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"Moonrise" Over Privately-Owned Public Open Space

Postcard US-2615877 to Greece shows Moonrise March, one of three mottled aluminum heads entitled "Moonrise Sculptures: March, October, and December" by Swiss sculptor Ugo Rondinone, located at 555 Mission Street in San Francisco, California. The three sculptures are spaced apart by benches against a wall with suspended living green plants.

On the property, it has a 34-story high-rise office tower with green glass developed by Tishman Speyer in 2008. The plaza in front of the building is one of the privately-owned public open spaces (POPOS) under the requirement of the 1985 Downtown Plan, which also includes the “1% Art Program” that dedicates 1% of the total construction cost to public art for large projects with 25,000 square feet or more in downtown. Visit website of the City's Planning Department to learn more about POPOS and Public Art.

The photo on the postcard was taken on June 25, 2014.

Monday, March 3, 2014

My Neighbor Totoro

Postcard NL-2367054 from the Netherlands shows a scene from My Neighbor Totoro (龍貓), a 1988 Japanese animated fantasy film that tells the story of a professor's two young daughters Satsuko and Mei, who move to the country to be near their ailing mother in postwar rural Japan. They have adventures with the friendly forest spirits. The film won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize and the Mainichi Film Award for Best Film in 1988.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Yellow-headed Blackbird

The monthly Bank of America's Museums on US program is held for this month on March 1 and  March 2, 2014. You can visit more than 150 arts, culture and educational institutions in the United States free with a Bank of America and Merrill Lynch debit or credit card. Las Vegas Natural History Museum, DISCOVERY Children's Museum, and Las Vegas Springs Preserve are the participating museums in Las Vegas. I took this opportunity to walk around the Springs Preserve and found the weather pleasant.

Postcard US-1650748 to Belarus was produced by the Springs Preserve, showing a Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus). It is a medium-sized blackbird with a pointed bill in adults. The adult male has a mostly black body but a bright yellow head and breast. The adult female is mainly brown with a dull yellow throat and breast. Their breeding habitat is cattail marshes mainly located west of the Great Lakes. They migrate to the south western United States and Mexico in the winter. That's when we can see them in Nevada.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Middle Bay Light, Alabama

Postcard US-2663940 is travelling to Indonesia showing Middle Bay Lighthouse, also known as Mobile Bay Lighthouse, that is located at the center of Mobile Bay, Alabama. The hexagonal shaped prefabricated screw-pile lighthouse was first lit in 1885.

The keeper's wife gave birth to a baby at the lighthouse in the summer of 1916 during World War I. However, she was unable to nurse the newborn baby. The keeper brought a dairy cow to the lighthouse and created a coral on the gallery at the lower deck. All had to be evacuated when the lighthouse survived a hurricane but sustained damages that year. The light was automated in 1935 and deactivated in 1967. It was placed on National Register of Historic Places on December 30, 1974. To learn more, visit the Alabama Lighthouse Association's web site.

Postcard photo by Carol Highsmith. You can purchase a copy at