Sunday, November 30, 2014

405 Years after Galileo Turned His Telescope to the Moon

When Galileo first turned his improved telescope with 20x magnification to the moon on November 30, 1609, he started to make a series of observations through December 18 that year. Although other people prior to Galileo, such as English mathematician Thomas Harriot, had observed the moon and noticed the dark patterns on its surface as "strange spottednesse," Galileo was the one who first understood the patterns of light and shadow were in fact topographical markers from lunar mountains and craters.

Those observations led to the conclusion that the moon, a heavenly body, was not perfect, which in turn called into question about the teachings of Aristotle where the Earth was the center of the universe and all heavenly bodies, including the moon, were perfect spheres that moved around the Earth in circular orbits.

Copernicus had put forth a theory that the sun rather than the Earth was the center of the universe by then. However, his theory went against fundamental beliefs of the time and was dismissed by most people. While Galileo's observations and conclusions about the moon did not give direct and solid proof of Copernicus' theory, they indeed paved the way for its eventual acceptance.

Postcard US-2373495 to Hong Kong shows a full moon and northern lights over Alaska. It was part of my Alaska collections from ASPRS 2003.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it is Small Business Saturday on November 29, 2014. Launched in 2010 by American Express, it is the 5th year for a growing number of people to think and shop at local small business and independent retailers. President Obama and his daughters went to an independent book store Politics and Prose in Washington D.C. to buy books today as a way to show his support.

Postcard US-2941533 to Russia was shaped Guinness Beer Glass card purchased at the Guinness Store at the Shoppes at Mandalay Place in Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, next door to the Rí Rá Irish Pub, a participating small business where Guinness beers are served and traditional Irish music bands are playing.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Möge Dir Jede Schneeflocke Einen Wunsch Erfüllen

Postcard CH-217828 from Switzerland was the first holiday card I received for the 2014 season. "May every snow flake fulfill you a wish," says Santa on the card. However, the recent weather in Las Vegas has been unseasonably warm with a high forecast at 75°F or 24°C and a low at 47°F or 8°C for tomorrow. It will be a while before we see any snow.

Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort at the nearby Mount Charleston was scheduled its opening this Friday on November 28, 2014; but the warm weather has pushed back the opening date to December 5, 2014 as the earliest as the daytime temperature is not cold enough to keep snow frozen, even with the help of snow machines.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Birthday Jimi Hendrix

Happy Thanksgiving!

Also on November 27, 2014, the great guitar icon Jimi Hendrix would have turned 72 if he were still with us today. Born in Seattle on November 27, 1942, Washington, James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix was an American musician, singer, and songwriter. He is considered one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acknowledges him as "arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music." He passed away in London on September 18, 1970.

Postcard US-2776620 was a maxi card to Philippines showing a portrait of Jimi Hendrix with a Jimi Hendrix Forever Stamp and a first-day-of-issue postmark. USPS issued the stamp at the SXSW in Austin, Texas on March 13, 2014.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Final Battle Scene Returns to "KA"

Cirque du Soleil removed a final battle scene from “KA” after a performer fell to her death when her safety wire snapped during a rapid ascent in June, 2013.

Eighteen months later, the scene is returning to “KA” theater at MGM Grand on December 3, 2014 after changes have been made to the choreography and equipment used in the scene.

Outgoing postcard US-3106782 to Finland shows a scene from "KA" where the Twin Sister encounters giant sea creatures, including a silly turtle, a mischievous starfish, and playful crabs, after surviving the shipwreck.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Let's Get to Know Each Other

Zumanity, billed as "the sensual side of Cirque du Soleil," is a "adult-themed" cabaret-style show featuring erotic songs, dances, and acrobatic acts at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The show celebrated its 10th anniversary on September 20, 2013. 

However, a recent article from Las Vegas Sun reports that Zumanity will go dark on January 3, 2015 to undergo major changes, and the majority of its cast members will be laid off.

Postcard US-2248696 to Texas shows Faun, a half-man-half-beast devilish spirit with boundless energy from Zumanity.

Monday, November 24, 2014


Reddit is a social networking and news website where registered users can submit contents to be voted "up" or "down" by other users, so that the contents' positions on the site are determined by their popularity. Content entries are organized by areas of interest called "subreddits."

Reddit Gold is its premium membership program with extra features such as turning off ads as well as special benefits from gold partners for promotional products and services. The membership costs US$3.99/month, or US$29.99/year.  You can also send a postcard for a free one-month Reddit Gold membership.

Postcards 3579, sent to Reddit for a free one-month Reddit Gold membership, shows a parody photo made via Adobe's Photoshop from the Biggest Little City in the World sign in Reno, Nevada. One of my projects LOSAC - Lake Okeechobee Stage-Area-Capacity System - won the 2004 Exemplary System in Government award at the 2004 URISA Annual Conference in Reno during November 7-10, 2004. The parody photo was used for the opening of a slide show introducing my project.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fujian Tulou


Postcard CN-1464982 from China shows a Fujian Tulou (福建土楼),  the most representative and best preserved example of the earthen houses in China. Located in the mountainous regions in Fujian Province, those houses exemplify a particular combination of communal living and defensive functions, with a harmonious building relationship with the environment. A group of 46 earthen houses built between the 15th and 20th centuries was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.

Fujian Tulou reminds me the elevated pit houses, pueblos, and cliff dwellings that Ancient Pueblo peoples built in the present-day Four Corners area in the United States.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Greetings from Texas

Postcard US-2445192 was a "Greetings from Texas" card, sent from Dallas, Texas. On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas at 12:30 p.m. central time. However, 51 years later, the mystery is still considered unsolved by many as questions remain.

In Las Vegas, “The JFK Exhibition” opens today at the Tropicana with memorabilia from the JFK White House, including many items related to his fateful visit to Dallas. Among them, a full-scale replica of the fuselage of Air Force One during the presidency of JFK will be on display through January 3, 2015.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Hľadáš Nové Exotické Zážitky?

Postcard SK-43085 from Slovakia shows a youth campaign post "Looking for New Exotic Experiences?" from IUVENTA - Slovak Youth Institute. According to their web site, IUVENTA is a state organization directly managed by the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic. It offers educational, methodical and informational activities for various target groups; performs tasks resulting from the state policy towards children and youth; coordinates and implements activities to promote and develop research in the field of youth; administrates grant programs of  the Ministry of  Education, Science, Research and Sport of the SR (ADAM) and the European Union (Youth in Action); operates in the sphere of work with talented youth. IUVENTA is the seat of Eurodesk – European information network for youth and youth workers.

This blog has featured similar postcards that promotes universal primary education and encourages youth participation.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Postcard FR-446497 from France shows Montmartre, a 130-meter-tall hill in the north of Paris, France. It is known for the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré Cœur on its summit. The ancient Romans had referred the site as Mount Mercury in the 8th century, and Mount Mars in the 9th century. Saint Denis, a Christian bishop, was decapitated on the hilltop in 250 AD for preaching the Christian faith. The hill was named Mountain of the Martyr to commemorate the martyrdom of Saint Denis.

Many artists had set up studios or shops in or around Montmartre, including Salvador Dalí, Amedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro and Vincent van Gogh.

Now Montmartre is also know as a nightclub district with vibrant nightlife.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Boracay, Philippines

Postcard PH-72332 from Philippines shows Boracay Island, 315 kilometers or 196 miles south of Manila, Philippines. It's a small 7.2-kilometer or 4.5-mile -long island, 2 kilometers off the northwest tip of Panay Island in the Western Visayas region.

The island is known for its white sand beaches, such as Puke Beach shown on the left on the postcard. On the bottom of the right side, you can see Willy's Rock at Station 1 where you can walk or swim to this huge coral rock or use it as background for pictures. The insert on the left side of top right panel shows Bulabog Beach where kiteboarding is popular; on the right side from top to bottom are a view of paraw sailing around the island and a beach scene along White Beach.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Latvia Celebrates Independence Day

96 years ago, Latvia declared independence from Russia on November 18, 1918 in the immediate aftermath of World War I. The red and white flag was chosen as the Latvian National Flag.

In the following years, Latvia was captured and declared a Soviet Socialist Republic in 1919; recognized as an independent nation again in 1921; occupied first by the Soviet Union and then by Nazi Germany under the covert Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in 1939; and eventually by the Soviet Union again after World War II.

Earlier this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Baltic Way event when significant peaceful protests from the three Baltic countries - Latvia, Lithunaia, and Estonia rallied against oppression under the Soviet Union in 1989. Latvia regained its independence following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Postcard LV-79087 from Latvia shows the cityscape of Riga, the capital of Latvia. Its Art Nouveau center was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Bridge of Sighs

Postcard US-3064047 to India shows the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri in Italian) in Venice, northern Italy. Designed by Antonio Contino and built of white limestone in 1600, it is an enclosed bridge with windows that have stone bars. Over the Rio di Palazzo, it connects the New Prison (Prigioni Nuove) to the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace.

Legend says that the bridge's name was given by Lord Byron in the 1800s because the view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicted criminals saw before their long imprisonment. However, in reality, when the bridge was built, only small-time criminals were imprisoned in the cells under the palace roof. Also, there wasn't much to see from inside the bridge as those stone bars covered the windows.

According to Wikipedia, another legend says that lovers will be granted eternal love and bliss if they kiss on a gondola at sunset under the bridge while the bells of St Mark's Campanile ring. The 1979 movie A Little Romance, featuring Laurence Olivier and Diane Lane, adopted this legend as its plot line.

I bought this vintage card at a stamp show.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Run #StripAtNight

Outgoing postcard US-3091393 to China features Meb Keflezighi, the 2014 Boston Marathon Winner, on the address side; and a image of Rock 'n' Roll Marathon runners under stencils of big-letter "MEB" in the front. Meb, 39, was the first American to win the Boston Marathon in 31 years. He runs the 2014 Rock ’n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon as a pacer.

Ben Bruce from Flagstaff, Arizona won the 2014 Rock ’n’ Roll Las Vegas Men's Marathon with a finish time of 2:27:22. Cathy Cullen from Winnipeg ruled the women's side as she was leading the next runner more than nine minutes; she completed the race in 2:56:57.

Run thru wedding ceremony during the races at Monte Carlo on November 16, 2014.
I got my personal longest walking record today, equivalent to a half marathon.

Also, I reached the three thousand mile marker yesterday since I got a Fitbit Ultra tracker two years ago. That's the distance of walking across the entire United States from coast to coast. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

35,000 Marathon Runners Descend to Las Vegas

The 2014 Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and 1/2 Marathon has brought about 35,000 runners to Las Vegas for races, music, health and fitness expo, and parties from November 14 to November 16, 2014.

Comparing to most other marathons that take place in the early morning, it is a special nighttime event held under the neon glow of Sin City. The main races on Sunday November 16 start near the iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign, and finish by the Volcano at Mirage.

Races in Las Vegas will be incomplete without the infamous Running Elvi. Also as the wedding capital of the world, Las Vegas will set up a run-thru wedding chapel at Monte Carlo for couples to get married "on-the-run" or renew their vows in three minutes. With the recent recognition of same-sex marriage in Nevada, the ceremony will see same-sex couples for the first time. The 1/2 of the Half starts at 3:30 p.m. The full and half marathon will start at 4:30 p.m.

Running Elvi at the Health and Fitness Expo on November 15, 2014
Outgoing postcard US-2967689 to Russia features a runner at the debut of the popular 1/2 of the Half Marathon in 2013.

Friday, November 14, 2014

If Comet Has a Choice

Comet is in the news as the European Space Agency's spacecraft made a first ever soft landing on a comet after a 10-year, 310-million-mile or 500-million-kilometer journey. However, the mission may have ended early as the spacecraft apparently bounced and landed in a shadow and could not get enough charge to its batteries from solar panels.

A comet is basically a big dirty snow ball that circles the Sun. When getting close to the Sun, it gets heated up and begins to emit gas and particles from its nucleus, forming a visible atmosphere, and sometimes a tail upon the effects of solar radiation and solar wind.

Comets become extinct when they have lost all of their volatile ices and particles as a result of having passed too close to the Sun, or having passed close to the Sun too many times. So, I am wondering if a comet has a choice, will she choose to stay away from the Sun and live as a dirty snow ball eternally, or to get close to the Sun and reveal herself in splendid once and for all?

Postcard US-2107408 to Russia was made from a photo I collected when I was in graduate school. Google Image Search turns up several additional photos at Sunet.SE's ftp site. It looks like to be Comet Hale–Bopp that had its closest approach to Earth on March 22, 1997.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pilsum Lighthouse

Postcard DE-3646240 from Germany shows the Pilsum Lighthouse by the Emshörn channel on the North Sea coast in Germany. Built in 1889, the 11-meter or 36-foot tall lighthouse had guided ships through the narrow Emshörn channel until 1915 from the top of a levee near the village of Pilsum in the municipality of Krummhörn. The height of the light is 15 meters or 49 feet above the sea level.

During World War I, its light was turned off so that enemy ships could not use it for navigation. After the war, the lighthouse was no longer needed as the channel had been changed.

Today the lighthouse is one of the best recognized landmarks in East Frisia, partially due to the movie Otto - the Outer Frisian by comedian Otto Waalkes who lives in the lighthouse in the movie.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Amish Country

Postcard US-3064227 from Pennsylvania shows traditional Amish buggies in Pennsylvania. According to Wikipedia, "the Amish are a group of traditionalist Christian church fellowships, closely related to but distinct from Mennonite churches, with whom they share Swiss Anabaptist origins. The Amish are known for simple living, plain dress, and reluctance to adopt many conveniences of modern technology."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

USS Constitution

In this Veterans Day, I present this maxi card showing the USS Constitution with a matching stamp and a first-day-of-issue cancellation. It was sent around October 14, 2013 as US-2452560, but went missing along with more than a dozen other cards mentioned in my blog on November 18, 2013. It was kindly registered by the recipient as received when a replacement arrived.

The inception of the card was also storied. When the USPS issued War of 1812: USS Constitution stamps on August 18, 2012, I decided to request the first-day-of-issue postmark for the first time. I sent out 20 stamped covers and postcards, along with a self-addressed return envelop with Priority Mail Flat Rate postage, in another larger envelop by Priority Mail addressed to: The War of 1812: USS Constitution Stamp, Postmaster, 25 Dorchester Avenue, Boston, MA 02205-9998. The tracking record shows that it was received on September 17, 2012.

However, when I received my self-addressed Priority Mail envelop from Kansas City, I was surprised to find 30 First Day Covers that was not mine, along with a letter and a return mailing label saying that two of my items were damaged, I could use the free mailing label to resent two pieces of artworks without stamps to get replacements.

Someone else's FDCs sent to me in error.
So, I returned those FDCs with a letter saying those were not mine, and I was due 20 covers and postcards. So I enclosed 20 un-stamped for them to apply stamps and postmarks. Those postcards were returned after a couple of weeks. The enclosed letter said they wouldn't issue replacement arbitrarily, and I had to sent back damaged cards to get replacement. Hello? did I just send back 30 FDCs that were not mine? Then I realized that if something mixed up at Boston, Kansas people might not have any idea what I had sent in. So I wrote another letter detailing what I sent and when. Only after another round of back and forth, I received all my FDCs and maxi cards after almost six months.

The lesson learned from this experience:

  • before you send in your covers or postcards, make a list of inventory and take a picture of them;
  • attach a note with diagrams to show your preferred postmark placement;
  • include your email and phone number on the note in case you need to be contacted;
  • using track service to send in your covers and postcards;
  • be patient,
The postcard was purchased at Zazzle.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Public Housing Estate in Hong Kong

Postcard HK-279697 from Hong Kong shows a public housing estate in Hong Kong where the Hong Kong Government provides affordable housing for low-income residents. Started in 1953, it is a major component of housing in Hong Kong. According to Wikepedia, today nearly half of the population resides in some form of public housing, with rents heavily subsidized by the government. Public housing estates are usually built in remote or less accessible parts of the territory, but urban expansion has left some older estates now deep within the inner city.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall was a 96-mile or 155-kilometer barrier built in 1961 by East Germany that divided West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin,  preventing people from fleeing the communist East. Many people were killed when trying to scale the wall.

As the result, the Brandenburg Gate, an 18th-century neoclassical triumphal arch and a landmark in Berlin, became isolated and inaccessible because it was immediately next to the Berlin Wall.

On November 9, 1989, after a series of radical political changes which eroded the pro-Soviet influence and under months of protests, the East German government announced opened the border, which resulted in the collapse of the wall and paved the way for German reunification on October 3, 1990.

Postcard DE-1702613 from Germany shows the Brandenburg Gate, a site that witnessed many major historical events in Europe. 25 years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall,  it is once again the center for celebration and a symbol for unity and peace.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

United States Air Force Thunderbirds

The USAF Thunderbirds is the air demonstration squadron of the United States Air Force (USAF), based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

The squadron performs aerobatic formation and solo flying with in various airshows and events using F-16 Fighting Falcons. The name of "Thunderbirds" was from a legendary creature in the mythology of several indigenous North American cultures, as one of their maneuvers on November 11, 2012 shown on the postcard. You can purchase the matching customized stamps from Zazzle.

Update on November 9, 2014 with a Youtube video from the 2014 Aviation Nation.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Aviation Nation is Back

Aviation Nation is an annual air show and open house of the Nellis United State Air Force Base near Las Vegas, NV, held in November of each year.

However, due to the defense budget cut for fiscal year 2013, the scheduled airshow on November 9 and 10, 2013 was canceled. It is exciting to see the Aviation Nation returns on November 8 and 9, 2014 with aerial demonstration between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. There will be no Aviation Nation 2015 because an expected inspection during the same time period next year when the air show is usually held.

Postcard US-2489824 to Germany shows the popular F-16 Thunderbirds demonstrations during a previous Aviation Nation event on November 14, 2010. Nellis Air Force Base is the home base for the U.S.A.F. Thunderbird air demonstration team. In addition, both the newest U.S.A.F aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor and the legacy aircraft such as the World War II B-25J Mitchell "Executive Sweet" are featured.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bern, Switzerland

Postcard CH-214914 from Switzerland shows a satellite image of the city of Bern,  the Bundesstadt or de facto capital of Switzerland. With a population of 137,980 as of 2013, Bern is the 4th most populous city in Switzerland with its metropolitan area of more than  660,000 residents.

The insert on the right shows an aerial view of the historic old town in the center of Bern, on the west of the boundaries of the peninsula surrounded by the River Aare, where the river forms the renowned “Aare loop” and the water temperature never reaches more than 20°C or 68°F. The medieval city center was recognized as a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site in 1983.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wabash F7A #1189 Locomotive

Postcard US-3064218 from Illinois shows Wabash F7A #1189 locomotive, which was the last F unit built for the Wabash Railroad by General Motors Diesel (GMD) at London, Ontario, Canada in April 1953. As the last operating F7 on the Norfolk and Western, it was retired on September 18, 1979 and donated to the Monticello Railway Museum in 1982. One weekend a year, Wabash #1189 and CN #6789 get to run on the mainline track.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Spanish Style Building at the Western Horseman HQ

Postcard US-2869219 to the Netherlands shows the January 1955 Western Horseman magazine cover, featuring the historic Spanish-style building in Colorado Springs that was the home of Western Horseman for nearly 62 years. According to the description on the back of the postcard, employees often rode their horses to work and stabled them in the barn located on the property, back in those good old days. The price for each copy was 35 cents in 1955.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Culture Day in Japan

Culture Day (文化の日) is a national holiday celebrated annually in Japan on November 3. There are many festivities where art exhibitions, parades, and recognition ceremonies for distinguished artists and scholars are held to promote art and culture. 

Postcard JP-597442 shows an illustration of Momijidani Park (紅葉谷公園), one of the most famous maple leaves valley parks located at the foot of Mt. Misen, along Momijidani River, in Miyajima, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima. In the middle of November, fall foliage will be in full bloom in the park. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Hiking Springs Preserve's Trails

November 2 marks the end of Daylight Savings Time in 2014. To adjust the time change, experts recommend maximizing sun exposure to counter the darkness that looms one hour earlier. Taking advantage of the monthly Bank of America's Museums on US program, I went out to explore the hiking trails at the Springs Preserve.

The Springs Preserve has trails of 3.65 miles or 5.87 kilometers in total on its 110 acres of native habitats and archaeological sites. In addition to native plants and Mojave Desert wildlife, there are a number of historical sites along the way, such as the remnants of caretaker's house and chicken coop. A 10,000 year-old spring mound, an important geologic remnant that still holds significant prehistoric artifacts, can be seen on the left of the photo below. A well derrick from the early waterworks is on the right. 

Postcard US-3038794 to Finland was bought at the Springs Preserve's gift shop during my earlier visit, showing Yellow Two-Tone Penstemon that is native in the Mojave Desert of southern Nevada and adjacent southeastern California and northwestern Arizona. The gift shop now has some cool 3D postcards featuring various wildlife and plants, priced at US$ 3.95 each.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Formula One U.S. Grand Prix Austin, Texas

Postcard US-2886187 to Spain shows the major attractions around the Formula One United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. Austin, the Texas capital with a population of 885,000 in a 2013 U.S. Census Bureau estimate, is hosting the race this weekend for the third time and offering spectators with great food and live music.

The race is on at 2 p.m. on Sunday November 2, 2014 at the Circuit of the Americas, the first purpose-built Formula One track in the United States. It held the First Grand Prix in 2012. With the number of laps at 56, circuit length at 5.513 kilometers and race distance at 308.405 kilometers, the lap record of 1:39.347 was set by S Vettel in 2012. The practice sessions in 2014 were held on Friday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Saturday morning from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., with qualifying on Saturday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

On a side note, there are recent discussions in bringing a Formula One street race back to Las Vegas, Nevada.