Monday, December 21, 2015

Woman with a Yellow Necklace by Picasso

Outgoing postcard US-3620822 to Thailand shows Pablo Picasso's 1946 painting Woman with a Yellow Necklace. It was a portrait of Picasso’s partner Françoise Gilot with overlaid geometry. The portrait, along with 42 other original works by Picasso from 1938 to 1962, is on exhibit at Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. Opened on July 3, 2015, “Picasso: Creatures and Creativity” focuses on Picasso’s fascination with the human form.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Winnie Mae: Lockheed 5C Vega

Outgoing postcard US-3755619 to Canada shows "Winnie Mae", a seven-seat monoplane Vega 5C, on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. It was made by Lockheed in 1930 with modified tail surfaces for higher gross weight operations. Flew by famed aviator Wiley Post, it set many records, including around the world flight in eight days by Wiley Post and navigator Harold Gatty in 1931; the first solo flight around the world in 1933; the world's first flight using pressure suit in 1935 that reached the stratosphere at 547 km/hr or 340 m/hr. The "Winnie Mae" was named for the daughter of F. C. Hall, the original owner and a close friend of Wiley Post.

Today it is the 112th anniversary of Wright brothers' first powered flights. According to USPS Postal Bulletin 22430 published on December 10, 2015, Kitty Hawk, NC Post Office is offering a pictorial postmark to commemorate the occasion. I am sending the card, along with several others, to get this special postmark. Such requests must be postmarked no later than 30 days following the requested pictorial postmark date.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Jupiter, Venus and the Moon Forming a Triangle

Postcard UA-1182470 from Ukraine shows a space image with stars and planets in a nebula.

If you have looked towards the western sky at dusk today, you would see the pair-up of Jupiter (top left) and Venus (middle right), with the waxing crescent Moon below, forming a distinct triangle.
Venus and Jupiter will be at their closest approach on June 30.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway

Postcard US-3429537 to France shows a northbound San Diegan train, in the form of two Budd-built Rail Diesel Cars (RDC's), pulls out of Santa Ana, California. The photo was taken by Thomas H. Gildersleeve on July 3, 1952. Those cars were brand new and were placed in service on May 21, 1952.

According to Thomas H. Gildersleeve, "the first San Diegan was inaugurated as a diesel powered streamlined train on March 27, 1938, and it soon evolved into an entire fleet of Los Angeles - San Diego trains encompassing three sets of equipment, each of which made two daily round trips. After the RDC was introduced, Santa Fee purchased this one pair to replace one of the conventional streamliner sets in San Diegan service."

"The RDC San Diegans lasted until January of 1956, at which time they were reassigned to train No's 311 and 312 between Newton and Dodge City, Kansas, as it was felt they lacked sufficient seating capacity for continued service on the popular San Diego line. In their new assignment, the cars displayed a more conventional Santa Fe paint scheme with the usual red and yellow front end, and one of the cars sported a baggage section, making it similar in appearance to an RDC-2. The cars climaxed their career on the Santa Fe by operating out of Carlsbad, New Mexico."

The card features two of the five 1999 33-cent USPS commemorative stamps titled "All Aboard!" The original water color illustrations used on the stamps depict art deco-style passenger trains of the 1930s and 1940s. On the far left was the Super Chief, famous for carrying motion picture people between Chicago and Los Angeles, also known as the "Train of the Stars." On the second left was the Congressional which followed a route between New York and Washington, D.C. Its slogan was "Every Mile Electrified."

The stamp on the far right shows one of the five 2015 Forever USPS commemorative stamps with Mexican artist Martín Ramírez's drawings from circa 1960–1963, a gouache, colored pencil, and graphite drawing on pieced paper “Untitled (Trains on Inclined Tracks).”

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Любимая Аленка

Postcard DE-4268170 from Germany shows a candy wrapper for sweets glazed with chocolate "My Favorite Alenka" popular in Belarus. "My Favorite Alenka" is a brand related to "Alenka," a milk chocolate first produced in the Soviet Union in 1965 that has a distinctive creamy, rich taste.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Solivar pri Prešove

Postcard SK-52960 from  Slovakia shows Solivar near Prešov, "Saltworks," a branch of the Slovak Technical Museum. Opened in 2001, it focuses on history and technology for boiling and producing of salt.

The card is listed for sale on the museum's site for 0.50 EUR. The building on the right, where salt was cooked, now serves as the main building of the museum. The building on the left, an old repository, was affected by a fire and it is being restored. Dušan Balara has published an aerial video on YouTube showing the restoration in progress.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Chalet Motels

Postcard US-3429629 to Michigan was a vintage card that advertised Chalet Motels for being "Luxury and Economy Across the Nation." It boasted amenities such as air refrigeration, television, kitchens available, heated pool, and room phones

Recommended by AAA, it offered free reservation service to all other Charlet Motels. Major credit cards accepted.

The credit line stated "Litho by bob Plunkett, R. S. Los Angeles 6."

Sunday, June 14, 2015

United States Post Office at Phoenix, Arizona

Postcard US-3372307 to Poland was a 1950s vintage card of a street view looking north on 1st Avenue past the west entrance to the U.S. Post Office in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. Just North is the Hotel Westward Ho.

Also known as Federal Building-U.S. Post Office, it opened on September 29, 1936 and operated as the main post office of Phoenix for over thirty years, A landmark in downtown Phoenix, the Federal Building-Post Office was symbolic of the federal presence as it also hosted several other Federal agencies.

It is currently part of Arizona State University at the Downtown Phoenix campus. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 10, 1983, the Post Office features Spanish Colonial Revival architectural design.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


Outgoing postcard US-3263841 to Philippines shows a photo taken on September 21, 2004, of a crocodile-shaped bench and sculpture at Japantown (日本町) in San Francisco, California, the largest and oldest such enclave in the United States with six street blocks. The card features one of the Gifts of the Friendship stamps that depicts the clock tower outside the National Diet Building in Tokyo, rising behind a foreground of white dogwood flowers.

The area is home to Japanese cuisine restaurants, supermarkets, hotels, banks, bookstores and other shops, with a focal point at the Japan Center, opened in 1968 as part of urban renewal efforts. It is the site of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, a two-weekend festival in April, and the Nihonmachi Street Fair in August every year.

The Peace Pagoda, shown in a recent photo on May 30, 2015, is a five-tiered concrete Buddhist stupa that promotes World peace. Designed by Japanese architect Yoshiro Taniguchi, it was presented to San Francisco by the people of Osaka, Japan.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Loving Day

Today is Loving Day, an annual celebration held on June 12 each year, marking the anniversary of the 1967 United States Supreme Court ruling "Loving v. Virginia" that struck down all anti-miscegenation laws remaining in sixteen U.S. states. Citing "there can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the equal protection clause," the ruling invalidated U.S. state laws banning interracial marriage, mainly forbidding marriage between non-whites and whites.

Postcard US-3284982 to Russia features a pair of beautiful swans forming a heart shape with red flowers. It was purchased at Zazzle.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


Postcard DE-4247507 from Germany shows the Black Forest (Schwarzwald in German) that is a great forested mountain range in the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwestern Germany. Bordering France, it is bounded by the Rhine valley to the west and south. Its highest peak is the Feldberg with an elevation of 1,493 meters or 4,898 feet.

It is known for its dense evergreen forests and picturesque villages, which inspired some of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. The cuckoo clock, a pendulum-regulated clock that strikes on the hours with a sound like a common cuckoo's call and has an automaton cuckoo bird moving with each note, was said to be developed and evolved in the region since the 1700s. It’s a destination for hiking and biking at vast nature parks, and skiing in winter.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

George Washington's Surveying Office

Outgoing postcard US-3373216 to Taiwan shows a vintage card of George Washington's Surveying Office on the Washington Farm, located along the northern bank of the Rappahannock River, across from the city of Fredericksburg, in Stafford County, Virginia.

Also known as the Ferry Farm, it is the George Washington Boyhood Home Site where George Washington spent much of his childhood with the Cherry Tree Myth, and where his father Augustine Washington died on April 12, 1743 at age 49 when George Washington was 11 years old. Augustine had left behind a small set of surveying instruments after he died. The illustration shows the only building remaining which is said to have been used by George Washington as a workshop while acquiring practice surveying.

However, archaeologists later found the building dated to the late 1800s, post Civil War. So it could not have been used by young George as a workshop. "The Surveyor Shed" was a subject of money making schemes by James Beverly Colbert and George Allen England who promoted the non-important structure as a genuine relic, in an attempt to profit from the land's associations with Washington in the 1920s.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Douglas DC-3

Outgoing postcard US-3429583 to Florida was produced by Smithsonian Institution and printed in Singapore in 1988. It shows a Douglas DC-3, a fixed-wing propeller-driven airliner with a cruise speed of 207 m/h or 333 km/h and a range of 1,500 miles or 2,400 km, exhibited at the National Air and Space Museum. It bears an Eastern Airlines logo. Billed as the most successful airliner in history for its streamlined, versatile design and strong wing construction, the Douglas DC-3 dominated both commercial and military air transportation from its introduction in 1935 until after World War II. At least 400 of these airplanes are still flying today.

Update: The card reached the destination after 38 days on July 17,2015.

Monday, June 8, 2015

World Oceans Day

World Oceans Day, celebrated on June 8 every year, was originally proposed by Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. It was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2008. The 2015 Theme is "Healthy oceans, healthy planet."

The United Nations Postal Administration issued three panes of 12 stamps on May 31, 2013 to raise awareness for World Oceans Day. The artwork by Yoshito Hirano on Postcard JP-240233 from Japan illustrates the important relationship between human settlements and the ocean.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Woman in a Fur Hat

Outgoing postcard US-3224039 to Belarus was sent on February 8,2015 and had expired since. The card shows an oil on canvas Woman in a Fur Hat, circa 1915, by Gretchen Woodman Rogers (1881 - 1967), an American painter associated with the Boston School.

The painting was said to be reminiscent of Girl with a Pearl Earring, circa 1665, by Johannes Vermeer. By referring to the Dutch artist’s most mesmerizing painting in her image of a contemporary woman, "Rogers links past and present, projecting an exquisite and timeless impression of strength and confidence."

The postcard was purchased at the gift shop of Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art during the annual Bellagio Museum Day in 2014, when the exhibition “Painting Women: Works from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston” was on display.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Mount Tamalpais, California

Postcard US-1994530 from California shows Mount Tamalpais, located in Marin County, California with a 2,574-foot or 785-meter peak. The mountain bike is said to have been invented here. Located on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge across San Francisco, it offers spectacular ocean views and city views of San Francisco from the top. Much of Mount Tamalpais is protected within public lands such as Mount Tamalpais State Park.

Today in History: The Chicago "L" commuter rail system began operation in 1892.

Friday, June 5, 2015

National Doughnut Day

National Doughnut Day is celebrated in the U.S. on the first Friday of June each year. It was started by the Salvation Army in 1938 to honor their members who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War I. Many national chains and independent shops in Las Vegas are offering specials today, including free doughnuts with or without purchase.

Postcard US-2317873 to Russia shows a Voodoo Doll doughnut, one of those raised yeast doughnuts filled with raspberry jelly topped with chocolate frosting and a pretzel stake, from Voodoo Doughnut which is an independent doughnut shop based in Portland, Oregon. It is known for its unusual specialty doughnuts, eclectic decor, cash-only payment and pink boxes featuring the company logo and illustrations of voodoo priests. Interestingly, Voodoo Doughnut also offers legal wedding services, with doughnuts and coffee included for the reception. I visited Voodoo Doughnut's original location at 22 SW 3rd Avenue during my Jetblue AYCJ trip to Portland, OR in 2010.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Then and Now: Chinatown in San Francisco

Outgoing postcard US-3373239 to Australia shows a then-and-now street view of the Chinatown ( 唐人街) on Grant Avenue in San Francisco, California.  Establishment in 1848, it is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese community outside Asia. It is also a major tourist attraction with more annual visitors than those to the Golden Gate Bridge.

When I walked around the Chinatown a few days ago on May 27, 2015, I ran into a bronze sculpture at Portsmouth Square (花園角) on Kearny Street, where many "dancing grannies" were performing exercise routines called plaza dancing (广场舞), originally popular with middle-aged and retired women in China. It was a replica of the Goddess of Democracy, a statue created during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 in Beijing, China that was destroyed on June 4, 1989 by soldiers who took over Tiananmen square from protesters.

Designed by Thomas Marsh and dedicated in 1994, the replica is 10 meters tall, same as the original, and weighs approximately 600 pounds or 272 kilograms. It bears the inscription, "Dedicated to Those Who Strive For and Cherish Human Rights and Democracy." Today marks the 26th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Student Protest.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I {heart} New York (in Las Vegas)

Outgoing postcard US-3263779 to Germany shows New York-New York Hotel & Casino with its architecture resembling the New York City skyline that includes the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building.

It is known for the 150-foot or 46-meter tall replica of the Statue of Liberty, whose face not only made into a USPS Forever stamp, but also landed USPS with a copyright infringement lawsuit. There is also another replica of the Statue of Liberty made of thousands of jelly beans in front of "It's Sugar" candy store on the second floor.

Shown predominantly on the lower-left part of the card, the Hershey’s Chocolate World store opened one year ago on June 3, 2014. It added yet one more 11-foot, 800-pound replica of the Statue of Liberty hand carved from milk chocolates.

Among other things, Hershey's also features a replica of the Empire State Building, made out of 1,800 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars, on the second floor.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Manarola, Italy

Postcard IT-250393 from Italy shows a view of Manarola, a small town in the province of La Spezia, Liguria, Italy.

The second smallest of the five famous Cinque Terre towns, Manarola, along with Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, and Riomaggiore, is part of a 1997 UNESCO World Heritage Site on a rugged portion of northern Italian coastlines. It could also be the oldest of the towns in the Cinque Terre, with the cornerstone of the church, San Lorenzo, dated from 1338.

On June 2 each year, Italy celebrates its National Day Festa della Repubblica (Republic Day) to commemorate the institutional referendum held by universal suffrage in 1946, when the Italian people went to the polls to decide what form of government they preferred, following World War II and the fall of Fascism. The result was 12,717,923 votes for a republic and 10,719,284 for the monarchy.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Thousand-armed Avalokiteśvara

Postcard US-3287382 to Switzerland shows a statue of Avalokiteśvara (观世音), a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas, who can be depicted, presented and portrayed in different forms in different cultures, even as either female or male.

The Thousand-armed Avalokiteśvara (千手观音) shown on this card was based on a prominent Buddhist story of Avalokiteśvara vowing never to rest until he had helped all who were suffering. However, in spite of his strenuous efforts, he was struggling to meet the needs of so many. Amitābha (阿弥陀佛), the principal buddha, seeing his plight, gave him eleven heads to comprehend the cries of the suffering and a thousand arms to magnify his capacity of aid.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

I Left my Heart {at Hyde and Lombard Street} in San Francisco

As a captured audience inside the Terminal 2 at the SFO International Airport waiting for my return flight to Las Vegas, I found a rack full of "I left my heart in San Francisco" postcards. Outgoing postcard US-3373240 to Ukraine was one of those that I obligatorily purchased.

The card shows a section of Lombard Street in the Russian Hill neighborhood, a one-way block between Hyde Street and Leavenworth Street, known as the crookedest street in the world with eight sharp turns.

That section of Lombard Street used to be a straight, cobblestone street with a 27% grade which was too steep for most cars. The turns were built in 1922 so that people could drive up and down the hill, until the street was made one-way downhill in 1939. The street was paved with red bricks and about 250 steps were built on each side of the street to accommodate pedestrians.

Now, during the peak tourist season in summer, there are as many as 350 cars driving down the street each hour. However, it was not a popular tourist destination until the late 1950s. I drove down the street twice during my previous visit to San Francisco in 1999. This time, I took the Powell-Hyde cable car to the top of this block earlier today, and took the steps down to Leavenworth Street.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Walking over the Golden Gate Bridge

It was a little windy but otherwise beautiful earlier today. I took the opportunity to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco - one of the most beautiful bridges in the world, and back, as part of my Coastal Trail hiking. The bridge celebrated its 78 anniversary of opening on May 27, 2015.

The bridge spans 2.7 kilometers or 1.7 miles. I started at the parking lot on the San Francisco side. During my previous visits, I had turned around at the first tower like most people did. However, walking over the full span turned out very rewarding. From the Vista Point in Marin County on the other side, you got to see the entire northern coastline of the city including the Fisherman's Wharf area. The added bonus was watching those large container and cargo ships passing directly under the bridge. It took me a little bit more than one hour for the 6.1-kilometer or 3.8-mile round trip.

"CSL TECUMSEH", a 2013 self discharging bulk carrier sailing under the flag of Bahamas, was passing the bridge.
Postcard US-2849047 to Finland shows an aerial view of the Golden Gate Bridge with an ocean cargo ship passing by.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Post Office at Union Square, San Francisco

I still needed to mail the card that I planed to drop off at the LAX airport in Los Angeles. There are plenty of US Mail drop boxes on the street in San Francisco. Since the forecast was overcast with a slight chance of rain, I decided to look for a post office so that the card wouldn't get wet. Google Maps showed a post office at Union Square, on the way from my hotel to the conference site. However, it took me a little effort to find it as it was well hidden in the Macy's basement.

If you enter Macy's main store from Stockton Street, turn left through cosmetics, take escalator down to the basement, turn right through the foodcourt, and find the cookware section, you will see a small "Post Office" sign on the far side with the entrance invisible on the right. If you enter from Farrell Street, take the stairs to the basement and walk all the way to the cookware section on the other side.

It's a small yet full service post office. I came during the lunch hours with little waiting time. There was to be a postal rate increase effective the coming weekend. The staff was very knowledgeable with the details and I was able to save a few nickels by purchasing some USPS Global Forever stamps.

It had been one of the only few United States Post Offices that opens on Sundays. However, effective May 4, 2015 this post office only opens Monday to Saturday.

Outgoing postcard US-3373244 to South Africa shows the Tony Bennett's heart sculpture at the corner of Union Square. The picture below shows the heart-shaped sculpture in its current form, near the Macy's store across the street.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Code the Road

Google Maps APIs is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Since Google Maps released its APIs to developers 10 years ago, developers have been able to integrate maps and location service to online and mobile apps. It was interesting to hear that a member of a band playing at the 2015 Google I/O Afterhour at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on May 28, 2015 shouted out to Google Maps, among all the Google services, when they recognized the host.

Departing tomorrow afternoon from Google I/O, Google's annual developer conference, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, a 1959 GM tour bus, powered by bio-diesel, is hitting the road for a 14-stop cross-country trip called Code the Road to meet application developers and map creators along the way. The bus will make its first scheduled stop at the iFit ICON Heath and Fitness 5K treadmill run in Logan, Utah on June 2, 2015. From there, the bus will stop in Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, Virginia, and Georgia, with the final destination at the Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, showcasing many map and location applications developed using Google Maps APIs from iFit, Harley-Davidson, Lyft, Hilton Hotels, The Weather Channel and Walt Disney World.

Outgoing postcard US-3373238 to Germany was sent from the bus when it was parked at the north-east corner of 4th Street and Howard Street, across from Moscone West during Google I/O.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

1984 Summer Olympics Torch Station

Outgoing postcard US-3373220 to China was a stamped postal postcard for the 1984 Summer Olympics with an Olympic Torch Station postmark in Los Angeles, California on July 28, 1984.

The torch was lighted at 9:30 a.m. on May 8, 1984 on the lawn in front of the United Nations building, with the energy from the Olympic flame in Athens, Greece via a "heat reading" device and underwater cables. It then traveled 33 states in a 9,000-mile or 15,000-kilometer marathon relay from New York to Los Angeles in 82 days, passing through the hands of thousands of runners from all walks of life.

Since I had a layover at LAX airport in Los Angeles earlier today en route to San Francisco, I thought it would be neat if I could mail it from LAX. To my disappointment, I found out that there was no US Mail drop box in the airport. The closest U.S. post office was at 9029 Airport Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90009.

So the postcard will have to be mailed from San Francisco.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Giant Shoe at Cosmopolitan

Outgoing postcard US-3372310 to India shows a giant shoe at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, one of the sculptures made by artist Roark Gourley of Santa Ana, California. At 9 feet or 2.7 meter tall and big enough for a person to climb into for a photo, the sculptures were originally designed as art and not playground equipment. After being roped off for a while and sent back to studio for repair and rejuvenation in 2012, they are back and welcome visitors to take pictures, on only by them, but also in and on them.

Monday, May 25, 2015


Bought at a stamp show, a 2001 postcard shows U.S. Army personnel donning personal protective suits. The caption on the back of the card reads: "READY - The threat of nuclear and biological contamination of a battlefield requires that military personnel be highly proficient with a protective mask."

Unrelated, Capitol Police bomb squad blew up a pressure cooker from a ‘suspicious’ vehicle near Capitol yesterday before a Memorial Day concert. However, a follow-up search found nothing hazardous.