Thursday, April 30, 2015

Navy Pier, Chicago

Postcard US-2558458 from Illinois shows the Navy Pier, a 3,300-foot 1,010-meter long pier on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan, with the skyline of the Streeterville neighborhood of the Near North Side community area in the background. Built in 1916 primarily as a cargo facility for lake freighters and passenger excursion steamers, the pier today is Chicago's number one tourist attraction that hosts the Chicago Children's Museum and an IMAX theater. It was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on September 13, 1979.

In the news today, winning over the competitions from Columbia University in New York City, the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Chicago will host the Obama Library, Museum and Presidential Center on Chicago’s South Side, located in either Washington Park or Jackson Park.

Compared to the downtown area shown on the postcard, the South Side of Chicago has great disparity in income and other demographic measures, and a reputation for being poor or crime-infested, The Obama Library will not only honor the legacy of the first African American president in the U.S. who had worked at University of Chicago's Hyde Park campus, but also give an enormous economic boost for the South Side.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

America Loves Wills and Kate

The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and Prince William are celebrating their fourth wedding anniversary today on April 29, 2015. The royal couple are waiting the birth of their second child who is reportedly due in the second half of April; and now it's almost May.

Postcard US-3014303 to Singapore shows William and Kate shared their first public kiss as husband and wife on the Buckingham Palace’s balcony after their wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Vulcan Statue in Birmingham, Alabama

Postcard US-3038799 from Alabama shows the Vulcan statue, the largest cast iron statue in the world, and the city symbol of Birmingham, Alabama that reflects the city's heritage in the iron and steel industry. The 56-foot or 17-meter tall statue depicts the Roman God Vulcan, god of the fire including the fire of volcanoes, also god of metalworking and the forge. It was created as Birmingham's entry for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904 World's Fair) in St. Louis, Missouri. Vulcan is often depicted with a blacksmith's hammer, as in this case while his left hand held a hammer at his side. According to Wikipedia, "the statue's naked buttocks have been source of humor for many years. A novelty song, Moon Over Homewood, refers to the fact that the statue moons the neighboring suburb of Homewood, Alabama." It was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on July 6, 1976.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Swedish Stamps around the Arctic Circle

I found this advertising card published by Postverkets Tryckeri in 1975 at a stamp show over the weekend, featuring Swedish stamps around the Arctic Circle.

On the top left on the card, a 70 Swedish öre stamp, issued on January 18, 1973, shows a mail truck; on the top right, a 35 Swedish öre stamp, circa 1967, features a painting of the Fjeld by Sixten Lundbohm, The Swedish fjelds, explains the difference between fjelds and mountains.

In the middle row, two 45 Swedish öre stamps, showing a lappkata (teepee) on the left and a reindeer herd on the right, are two of the five stamps from the Around the Arctic Circle set, circa 1970. At the center, a 35 Swedish öre stamp features a view of the Akka Mountains in the Stora Sjöfallet (Great Falls) National Park, circa 1970.

At the bottom on the left, a 1 Swedish krona stamp, circa 1974, features a Swedish overland postman on his northernmost rural delivery route against the background of Scandinavian landscape. Next to it, a 140 Swedish öre stamp, circa 1970, shows a a sled drawn by a reindeer. On the right, a 70 Swedish öre stamp commemorates the European Nature Conservation Year in 1970. The set contains two similar stamps featuring the River Trångforsen in Ljungan, Jämtland, but with different face values. The other stamp has a face value of 55 Swedish öre.

Öre is the discontinued centesimal subdivision of the Swedish krona. 1 KR = 100 öre.

On the back of the card, a tag line reads "Collect Swedish stamp motifs. Ask your dealer for Swedish Stamps."

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Old Saint Petersburg, Russia

Postcard RU-3302574 from Russia shows the main facade of the Stock Exchange Building at Saint Petersburg, Russia in 1903. According to Wikipedia, the Stock Exchange Building, designed by French architect Thomas de Thomon, and inspired by the Greek Temple of Hera at Paestum,  was constructed between 1805 and 1810. The Rostral Columns erected on either side of the Stock Exchange were completed in 1811. One of the columns can be seen on the left side of the postcard.

The Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange and the Rostral Columns are significant examples of Greek Revival architecture.

The postmark indicates that the card was mailed on December 22, 2014 and had traveled more than 120 days.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hubble Space Telescope Being Deployed

In celebration of the Hubble Space Telescope's 25th anniversary in space, this postcard was made out of a photograph taken by the crew of the STS-31 space shuttle mission on April 25, 1990. The Hubble Space Telescope was suspended above shuttle Discovery's cargo bay some 332 nautical miles or 615 kilometers above Earth. The Canadian-built Remote Manipulator System (RMS) arm, controlled from in-cabin by the astronaut crew members, held the huge telescope in this position during pre-deployment procedures, which included extension of solar array panels and antennae.

Image and caption source: NASA

Friday, April 24, 2015

Eagle Nebula Pillars

25 years ago on April 24, 1990, Space Shuttle Discovery blasted off the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on mission STS-31 with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) on board. Fitting with a 2.4-meter or 7.9 feet mirror and instruments observing in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared spectra, the telescope has since recorded some of the most detailed images ever, leading to breakthroughs in astrophysics, such as accurately determining the rate of expansion of the universe.

The Eagle Nebula (NGC 6611) is a young open cluster of stars in the constellation Serpens, discovered by Jean-Philippe de Cheseaux between 1745 and 1746. It contains several active star-forming gas and dust regions that became famous when NASA release a HST image "Pillars of Creation" in 1995, capturing three dusty pillars in the Eagle Nebula. HST recently took another photograph at the star-forming pillars with its newest camera, providing much greater details.

In celebration of HST’s 25th anniversary, 32 of the best HST images were competing against each other in a series of head-to-head competitions, with popular votes deciding the winner of each round. Ultimately, with over 17,000 votes the Eagle Nebula Pillars triumphed over all other competitors to become the winner of Hubble Mania 2015.

In this NASA released image that can be made into a 5"x7" postcard under NASA's copyright notice, three pillars of cold hydrogen gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula are shown as the birthplace of new stars, 6,500 light years away. The pillars are bathed in the blistering ultraviolet light from a grouping of young, massive stars located off the top of the image. Streamers of gas can be seen bleeding off the pillars as the intense radiation heats and evaporates it into space. Denser regions of the pillars are shadowing material beneath them from the powerful radiation.

I was fortunate for being able to witness the Space Shuttle Discovery's launch for the 3rd Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission STS-103 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on December 19, 1999. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

World Book Day

World Book Day is an annual event organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote reading, publishing and copyright on April 23 every year. It was celebrated for the first time on April 23, 1995.

Postcard US-1828687 to Germany shows people reading books at a park in Portland, Oregon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Obama Delivers Earth Day Messages in Florida

President Obama traveled to the Everglades in South Florida earlier today to highlight the impact of climate change on the American economy. The irony is that in Florida, where rising sea levels pose an imminent threat to 30% of the state's beaches in the next 85 years, state officials have taken an Ostrich Policy on climate change by banning the terms “climate change”, “global warming” and "sustainability" in any official state communications, emails, or reports.

Obama took a tour on the Anhinga Trail in the park on wooden boardwalk over vast 1.5 million-acre wetlands that are served as habitats to diverse species such as alligators and whooping cranes. Shown on the outgoing postcard US-3263777 to the Netherlands, a whooping crane can be more than 4 feet or 1.2 meters tall when standing erect. Indigenous to Florida but rare, whooping cranes were re-introduced in the mid-1990s to stimulate population recovery. These species are threaten as their habitats are impacted by salt water seeping inland caused by rising sea levels, which offers a vivid illustration over the relationship between theoretical arguments about carbon emissions and real-life implications. Studies also reveal that rising sea levels are threatening an $82 billion state tourism economy, and drinking water for more than 7 million Florida residents — more than a third of Florida's population.

President Obama is using his trip, timed to coincide with Earth Day, to push for an environment agenda that will cut carbon emissions by 28% by 2025 in an attempt to alleviate the impacts of climate change.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mashimaro Goes Fishing

Outgoing postcard US-3263720 to Germany shows Mashimaro (마시마로), a Korean fictional character in form of a fat rabbit, created by Kim Jae In. Known as Yeopki Tokki (엽기토끼, "Bizarre rabbit" in Korean or "賤兔" in Chinese), he first appeared in a series of Flash animations on the internet, and was far more often seen in merchandise, similar to Hello Kitty, on phone cases, book bags and such.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Designer of the Las Vegas Welcome Sign Passed Away

Betty Willis,  an American graphic designer and a Las Vegas native best known for having designed the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign,  died at the age of 91 at her home in Overton, Nevada on April 19, 2015

Betty was the daughter of Stephen R, Whitehead, the first assessor of Clark County, Nevada. She went to an art school at Los Angeles in 1942, and returned to Las Vegas for she first job at the courthouse. She designed the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign in 1959 when she worked for the Western Neon sign company. She considered the sign "my gift to the city," and never trademarked the sign, which made many derived arts possible and thrived.

Postcard US-2995494 to Belarus shows the iconic sign among the various landmarks in Las Vegas. It has become one of the most photographed signs in the world. The word “fabulous” reflects what Betty always used to describe Las Vegas: "We really thought Las Vegas was a fabulous place." The sign was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 1, 2009.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

America's Cup

Outgoing postcard US-3280219 to Germany was a stamped card honoring the America's Cup yacht races issued by USPS at San Diego on May 6, 1992. It was sold for 50 cents, with 19 cents toward postage.

The front of the card features a full-color reproduction of the Ranger, winner of the 1937 America's Cup, as Ken Boyd, spokesman for the postal service, described to Los Angeles Times. "Wind-filled ocher sails, the bright white dress of the crew and a complementary green ocean and blue sky fill the card, which is trimmed in white."

A 1-inch by 2-inch drawing of the Reliance, the 1903 winner of the America's Cup,  appears in the upper right stamp area on the back of the card.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day

A rally and free concert, produced by the Global Poverty Project and the Earth Day Network, took place on the National Mall in Washington D.C. today, to celebrate the Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day by highlighting the issues of climate change and global poverty, and encouraging citizens and institutions to act now to address both challenges.

Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel Spoke at the Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day.
The event features high profile speakers such as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon with music performing by My Morning Jacket, Mary J. Blige, Usher and No Doubt, attracting an estimate of more than 200,000 people to attend.

No Doubt Performing. #GlobalCitizen2015EarthDay
Outgoing postcard US-3263840 to Germany shows an evening view of the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Capitol Building. The event stage was between the Ellipse and the Washington Monument, just south of Constitution Avenue, which would be located on the left side of the card behind the Lincoln Memorial. #GlobalCitizen2015EarthDay

Friday, April 17, 2015

When the Honeymoon's Over

Postcard US-3259468 to North Carolina shows a magazine cover, "When the Honeymoon's Over" by Western artist Bill Owens, for the Western Horseman's September 1987 issue. As do most of his paintings, this one shows a real cowboy, living and working in the contemporary West. Owen's artwork has appeared on the magazine's cover 29 times.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Flower Market, Guangzhou, China

I just got this postcard from a private swap showing a pair of kids in traditional Chinese costume at a flower market in Guangzhou, China. The Guangzhou Flower Market, held annually during the Spring Festival, is a city-wide street fair where the public can purchase all kinds of flowering and decorative plants as part of the Chinese New Year celebration. As vendors literally line up the streets, the Flower Market is also known to locals as the "Flower Streets" where you can go shopping flowers by "walking the Flower Streets." The tradition can be traced back to the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). Peony, orchid, and related arts, crafts and supplies are popular items in the market.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ferda the Ant

Postcard CZ-594777 from Czech shows Ferda Mravenec (Ferda the Ant), a popular Czech animated character illustrated by Ondřej Sekora. It was first published on January 1, 1933 in the Lidové noviny, the oldest daily newspaper published in Prague, the Czech Republic.

The character have appeared in many Czech children books, including Ferda the Ant (1936), Ferda the Ant in the Foreign Service (1937), and Ferda Anthill (1938). It is popular in Czech as much as Micky Mouse in the U.S.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tokarev Lighthouse, Vladivostok, Russia

Postcard RU-3526905 from Russia shows the Tokarevskaya Koshka Lighthouse (Tokarev Lighthouse) in the Vladivostok Harbor at Russia's Far East. With 603,244 residents as of 2010, Vladivostok is a city and the administrative center of Primorsky Krai, Russia, located at the head of the Golden Horn Bay, not far from Russia's borders with China and North Korea. The city is the home port of the Russian Pacific Fleet and the largest Russian port on the Pacific Ocean.

According to the listing of lighthouses of Russia: Vladivostok area from the Lighthouse Directory at UNC, the Tokarev Lighthouse was built in 1910 with the station established in 1876. With its focal plant at 12 meters or 39 feet, it is a cylindrical stone tower that has lantern, gallery and an octagonal base. In spite of its modest size, it is one of Russia's best known lighthouses. The lighthouse was named after Capt. M.J. Tokarev, whose ship surveyed the area between 1862 and 1863.

Located at the entrance to the Vladivostok Harbor on the extreme south-westernmost point of the Egersheld Peninsula, the lighthouse site is accessible through a breakwater, 3 kilometers or 2 miles from the end of the nearest bus line. However, the breakwater is submerged at high tide. In addition, the tower itself is closed to the public.

"Remembering Letters and Postcards" blog shows a postcard of the Tokarev Lighthouse with a different view. Two of the three postcards of the Tokarev Lighthouse showcased on "My World of Postcards" blog were of beautiful winter scenes. The other card came with a 15p stamp issued in 2010 to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the City of Vladivostok, featuring the Tokarev Lighthouse.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Postcard TH-191063 from Thailand shows an elephant with texts of "Chiang Mai" forming as in circles as rays from the sun. Located 700 kilometers or 435 miles north of Bangkok, Chiang Mai is the largest and most culturally significant city in Northern Thailand. Surrounded by the highest mountains in the country, the city sits astride the Ping River, a major tributary of the Chao Phraya River. The location helped Chiang Mai to gain historic importance due to its close proximity to major trading routes associated with the river.

Today marks the first day of the Songkran festival (潑水節) that is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year. The festival lasts from April 13 to April 15. It coincides with the New Year of the Buddhist and Hindu solar calendar used in South and Southeast Asia. The traditional water pouring during the festival symbolizes a ritual of washing away all of the past evils and sins.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

International Day of Human Space Flight

United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring April 12 as the International Day of Human Space Flight on April 7, 2011, in commemoration of the first manned space flight by the 27-year-old Russian Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961. Gagarin circled the Earth for 1 hour and 48 minutes aboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft.

On April 12, 1981, exactly 20 years after the first manned space flight, Space Shuttle Columbia was launched for the first orbital flight as mission STS-1.

Postcard RU-2069606 from Russia shows Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (March 9, 1934 – March 27, 1968), a Russian Soviet pilot and cosmonaut who was the first human made into outer space.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Wheel of Time: Valerian K. Zholtok (1919-2000)

Postcard BY-1563582 from Belarus shows a still-life painting from a past exhibition the Wheel of Time. Valerian K. Zholtok (1919-2000) at the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus.

Valerian K. Zholtok was born December 13, 1919 in Zhlobin Gomel region in Belarus from a family of railroad employee. She graduated from the Vitebsk Art School in 1939, and had received many awards throughout her career. Many of her works are in collection of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus, the Belarusian Union of Artists, Museum of Modern Art in Minsk, Belarus, and other institutes and individuals in UK, USA, Italy, Poland, Romania, and Japan.

Many of the plants in her paintings were grown by her own hands.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Cherry Blossoms About to Reach Peak Bloom in D.C.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a spring celebration in Washington, D.C., commemorating the gift of 3020 cherry trees from Tokyo, Japan to the city of Washington D.C.  First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two trees on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park on March 27, 1912. This weekend, the cherry blossoms are projected to hit peak bloom while the Annual National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade and the 55th Annual Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival will attract a large crowd.

Earlier today, USPS and Japan Post jointly issued the Gifts of Friendship Forever stamps on April 10, 2015, featuring cherry blossom trees and flowering dogwood trees, celebrating the enduring bond between U.S. and Japan on the centennial of the thank-you gift of flowering dogwood trees from the United States to Japan in 1915.

Outgoing postcard US-3263842 to Japan shows the Washington Monument with cherry blossoms in the foreground. It has one of the Gifts of Friendship stamps in the front featuring the Lincoln Memorial with vibrant cherry trees.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Detour or a Scheduled Stop?

Postcard US-3223129 to Czech Republic was one of those Chinese New Year cards that got a USPS the Year of the Ram stamp and a hand-canceled postmark at a post office counter in Las Vegas on the first-day-of-issue February 7, 2015. However, an extra automated postmark revealed that the postcard had passed through a processing distribution center in Dallas, Texas. According to the USPS handbook, "advanced facer canceller systems used by processing distribution centers cancel letters quickly. These machines are equipped with biohazard detection systems so letters postmarked by automation benefit from added safety measures."

Other cards mailed on the same date such as US-3208613 to China or US-2651107 to Taiwan did not get an extra postmark.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Gone but Not Forgotten

Postcard US-2698995 to Taiwan shows a cactus grown in a lot across The Orleans in Las Vegas, Nevada that I used to see often on my way to an evening workout. The ever changing impressions of the cactus' silhouette against the evening skies had made up an fascinating time-lapse movie in my mind over time.

However, after a long absence from that location, I recently found out that the cactus had been since removed, and an advertisement post was in its place. A current Google Street View image with a capture date in June 2014 still shows its existence.

I had made a card out of an inverted image from the photo above to go with a Shirley Chisholm Black Heritage Forever stamp. "Unbought and Unbossed", this cactus is just a perfect example that one can still have a long lasting positive impact on others, even her physical existence has been destroyed.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri

Postcard US-3064248 from Tennessee shows the city skyline of St. Louis, Missouri, featuring the Gateway Arch, a 630-foot or 192-meter monument built at the site of St. Louis' founding on the west bank of the Mississippi River between 1963 and 1965 to commemorate the westward expansion of the United States, against the backdrop of a flurry of cloud-to-ground bolts strike.

As the centerpiece of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the arch is the tallest arch in the world and the tallest monument in the Western Hemisphere. The monument opened to the public on June 10, 1967. In comparison, the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas stands at 1,149 ft or 350.2 meters.

St. Louis, the second largest city in the state of Missouri, was the hometown of Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014), an American author and civil rights activist. USPS issued a Forever stamp in her honor today, with Winfrey Oprah and Michelle Obama attending the stamp dedication ceremony in Washington D.C.

However, USPS failed the fact check for the stamp by featuring a quotation from another author, and had no plan to re-issue the stamp. Nonetheless, the mix-up did not damp the enthusiasm of the dedication ceremony. Even a power outage that also affected the White House and much of the D.C. area could not stop Oprah's speach.

Monday, April 6, 2015

ALMA, Chile

Postcard PL-952957 from Poland shows the Atacama Large Millimeter and submillimeter Array (ALMA), an astronomical interferometer of radio telescopes in the Atacama desert of northern Chile. The array was constructed on the Chajnantor plateau at 5,000 meters or 16,597 feet altitude, near Llano de Chajnantor Observatory and Atacama Pathfinder Experiment, to provide a high and dry environment which is crucial to millimeter wavelength operations. Initially consisting of 66 12-meter or 39-foot, and 7-meter or 23-foot diameter radio telescopes observing at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths, ALMA is design to study star birth during the early universe and detailed imaging of local star and planet formation.

With its groundbreaking ceremony at ALMA site in November, 2003, ALMA began scientific observations in the second half of 2011 resulted in the first images available to the public on October 3, 2011. Inauguration ceremony was held on March 13, 2013 with the array being fully operational since.

Unrelated, it is the 3rd anniversary today since Professor Fang Lizhi (方励之), born February 12, 1936, passed away in Tucson on April 6, 2012 at age 76. A Chinese astrophysicist and activist whose liberal ideas inspired the pro-democracy student movement of 1986–87 and, eventually, the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, Professor Fang was a recipient of the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award in 1989. During his tenure as Professor of Physics at the University of Arizona, he continued to carry out research in astrophysics and cosmology with special interests in the cosmic microwave background anisotropy, Lyman alpha forest, application of wavelet in cosmology, turbulence in intergalactic medium, and the 21cm radiation during the Reionization.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Bodrum, Turkey

Postcard TR-220335 from Turkey shows multiple views of Bodrum, a port city with 36,317 residents as of 1012 in Muğla Province, Turkey. Located on the southern coast of Bodrum Peninsula, the city was known as Halicarnassus of Caria in ancient times and was famous for the Mausoleum of Mausolus, a tomb built between 353 and 350 B.C.E. for Mausolus, a governor in the Persian Empire.

Bodrum Castle, built by the Knights of St John of Rhodes in the 15th century who had used the stones from the tomb to reinforce the castle walls where sections of polished marble from the tomb are still visible today. As seen on the card, the castle overlooks the harbor and the marina, with the Museum of Underwater Archeology on its ground.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

News on Saturn

Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. In 1980 and 1981, the Voyager space probes flew by Saturn and measured a day on Saturn as 10 hours and 39 minutes. They also returned the first high resolution images, which revealed a persisting hexagonal wave pattern around the north polar vortex in the atmosphere among other discoveries. The Cassini–Huygens spacecraft arrived in 2004, found the days a little bit longer at 10 hours and 47 minutes. However, a team of planetary scientists at Tel Aviv University in Israel recently reported in Nature that the spin period is 10 hours and 32 minutes and 45 seconds plus or minus 46 seconds for Saturn when the spin was deduced from its gravity field. Their model removed the distortion of the previously measured gravity field that caused the equator of Saturn bulging outward due to Saturn's fast rotations.

Unrelated, NASA is planning a mission to Saturn to explore one of its 61 moons known as Titan. Titan, twice the size of the Earth's moon, is the only moon of Saturn that has an atmosphere. Because the majority of the moon is dominated by methane and ethane lakes in liquid form,  NASA has designed a new submarine that can be operated at -290°F or -179°C  to study the Kraken Mare, the biggest sea on what is Saturn’s biggest moon, at a maximum speed of  2 miles or 3.2 km per hour for a duration of three months.

Postcard US-1575782 from the U.S. was a multi-view card showing the satellites of Saturn.

Friday, April 3, 2015

President Obama Made to All But One States With Utah Visit

President Barack Obama spoke in front of an array of solar panels at Hill Air Force Base in Utah earlier today, announcing a new program "the Solar Ready Vets" aiming to employ veterans in the solar energy industry, which the base will participate in with other military installations nationwide.

Obama met with top leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in Salt Lake City yesterday to discuss the church's services in disaster relief and other humanitarian issues, and the need to overhaul the U.S. immigration system. Obama made his first visit to Utah after he traveled from Louisville, Kentucky earlier Thursday on April 2, 2015.

That left South Dakota as the only state which he hasn't traveled to during his presidency.

Postcard US-3135228 to Poland was a vintage card showing the Temple Square in the center of Salt Lake City, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Built in 1853, it was designated as U.S. National Historic Landmark District in 1964, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Changdeokgung Palace, South Korea

Postcard KR-118364 from South Korea shows a gate (資始門) inside Changdeokgung Palace (昌德宮) in Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea. One of the "Five Grand Palaces" built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1897), it was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

Can you tell the difference between those cherry blossom trees and plum blossom trees respectively on each side of the gate?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Search the Meaning of Silence

Postcard NL-1761372 from the Netherlands was a promotional postcard "Zoek de Stilte" for the book the Yogi's Clothes and Other Stories about Silence, an inspiring collection that contains 32 stories on the theme of silence from all over the world, collected and retold by Wim van der Zwan. The title story, of Indian origin, is about a poor yogi who meditates in silence all day. With a begging bowl and a loincloth accounting for all his possessions, his desire for a second piece of clothes leads to an untenable situation that involves a cat, a cow, a wife and a child.

Once again, Camp NaNoWriMo opens on April 1, 2015, kicking off a month-long writing event in a form of virtual camps. Coincidentally, April is also known as National Card and Letter Writing Month, an annual effort to promote literacy and celebrate the art of letter and postcard writing. To commemorate the occasion, USPS issued a colorful Forever stamps panel "From Me To You" with decorative stickers first time ever for personalizing envelopes, letters and greeting cards.