Thursday, March 31, 2016

California State Railroad Museum

Outgoing postcard US-3911531 to Slovakia shows the EMD E-9A diesel-electric locomotive No. 6051 at the California State Railroad Museum. This large, streamlined locomotive was built by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors in 1954. It had served the Southern Pacific Railroad for 15 years before it was donated to the Pacific Coast Chapter of the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society for the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento, California in 1969.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

White Ibis

Postcard US-3612556 to the Netherlands shows a flock of white ibis probes the grassflat to unearth a meal of crustaceans. These birds gather together at dusk in showy, spectacular roosts in the Everglades, Florida. The 39 cent matching stamp was one of the South Florida Wetland stamps issued by USPS in 2005.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Cherry Blossom in DC Signaling the Start of Spring

The National Park Service announced last Friday that the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC were officially at peak bloom on March 25, 2016 with 75% of the trees in full bloom. It was peaked more than two weeks earlier this year than last year.

Postcard US-3373353 to Czech Republic shows the cherry blossoms around the Lincoln Memorial with a matching USPS Gifts of Friendship stamp.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Under One Big Roof

Postcard US-3898447 to Tennessee, USA shows 大厝顶 which literally means "big roof", a traditional rural dwelling found in Fujian Province, China where members from an extended family, build, and later extend when the size of family grows, their living units all under one big roof in the same household. The postcard was published by SkyPixel with a drone photo taken by Yuanfeng Zhang (张元锋) using a Phantom 3 Professional.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

By Tram through Old Chorzów

Postcard BE-427724 from Belgium shows one of Grzegorz Chudy's paintings By Tram through Old Chorzów published by Postallove. Chorzów is a city with 2 million residents in Silesia in southern Poland, near Katowice, on the Rawa River which is a tributary of the Vistula.

Grzegorz Chudy, born in Katowice and known for his watercolor paintings, is a teacher of Polish literature and Silesian language.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

They Tickle

Postcard US-3903405 to Finland shows a pig with her piglets on a vintage postcard by Baxter Lane Company. It's funny that I thought those piglets were rats initially.

Friday, March 25, 2016

No New Flag For New Zealand

The national flag of New Zealand, shown on the lower left corner of postcard NZ-96168 of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, is a defaced British Blue Ensign with the Union Flag in the canton, and four red stars with white borders to the right whose pattern represents the asterism within the constellation of Crux, the Southern Cross.

However, there has been on-going debates about changing the national flag for several decades, mainly because:

  1. it is very similar to the national flag of Australia, causing frequent confusions;
  2. as a derivative of the Blue Ensign, it acknowledges to the heritage of being a settler colony of the United Kingdom more than represents New Zealand's current status as an independent, sovereign nation;
  3. it lacks representation of New Zealand's Māori culture and other ethnic groups.

The most recent effort, led by Prime Minister John Key, resulted in a two-stage binding referendum on a flag change in 2015 and 2016. When voting on the second final stage closed on March 24, 2016, voters chose to retain the current flag by 56.6% to 43.2%. John Key has to defend his position as critics accuse him of wasting 26 million New Zealand dollars and dividing country.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Arundel Castle

Postcard US-3592467 to Finland shows a great dane with Arundel Castle in the background. A restored and remodeled medieval castle overlooking the River Arun in Arundel, West Sussex, England, the castle was built by Roger de Montgomery at the end of the 11th century. The castle was damaged in the English Civil War and was restored in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Singing Waiter Costume

Postcard US-3580552 to Germany shows an set of Singing Waiter costume on display at the Nevada State Museum in Las Vegas on April 6, 2014. Along with the Pier Dancer costume shown below, it's part of a special costume collection that had appeared on Jubilee, an iconic showgirl spectacular at Bally's that closed on February 11, 2016 after a 34-year run.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Next Big Thing is Here

Postcard US-3627115 to Germany shows one of my street photos, taken on July 29, 2015, where the subject appeared to be wearing a Samsung T-shirt with a slogan "The Next Big Thing is Here."

Samsung lawyer Jon Quinn once claimed that "Apple's senior VP of marketing Phil Schiller was so concerned about Samsung’s Next Big Thing ad campaign, in which the company poked fun at Apple customers, that he emailed Tim Cook to suggest a change of ad agency to fight back."

Apple held a special event yesterday on March 21, 2016 to announce their new products.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Obama Makes Historic Visit to Cuba

Outgoing postcard US-3917425 to Taiwan shows the Southernmost Point Buoy in Key West, Florida. On the buoy, it claims "90 miles to Cuba" although Cuba is actually 94 statute or 81 nautical miles due south at its closest point. Nonetheless, none of the US Presidents had visited Cuba since President Calvin Coolidge's visit in 1928.

Barack Obama made history as the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in Cuba in 88 years, ending decades of hostility between the two countries and marking an historic moment of reconciliation.

Some US business leaders and entrepreneurs, such as Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox, Brian Chesky, president and founder of Air BnB/PAGE, Daniel Schulman, CEO of PayPal, Ken Siegel, general counsel, Starwood, and Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott, were aboard Air Force One with Obamas to attend the entrepreneurship event in Havana.

Sending Money to Cuba is now possible from a Western Union sign seen on March 8, 2016
As USPS resumed mail service to Cuba on March 17, 2016,  it was the first time in more than 50 years for the people in the US to be able to send direct mail to the island nation. Hopefully, we will see some official PostCrossing postcards from Cuba soon.

President Obama's letter was among the first batch of direct mails to Cuba
USPS Employees were servicing Obama's letter with a special postmark

Sunday, March 20, 2016

SeaWorld to End Orca Breeding Program

SeaWorld announced on March 17, 2016 that the company will end all orca (killer whale) breeding now. It will also introduce new, inspiring, natural orca encounters, rather than theatrical shows, with focus on orca enrichment, exercise, and overall health. Those change will start in its San Diego park in 2017, followed by San Antonio and then Orlando locations in 2019.

The postcard, purchased at a local stamp show, shows Orky and Corky, the only pair of mature breeding Orcas at Hanna-Barbera's Marineland in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. They were receiving a fraction of the some 450 pounds of fish as their daily consumption. Marineland, first opened in 1954, was purchased by the owners of SeaWorld San Diego in 1987. The new owners moved these popular killer whales and other animals to their San Diego facility and abruptly closed Marineland.

The current changes come as a result of the pressure from animal rights groups in protesting SeaWorld for its treatment of the killer whales and other sea mammals in captive. Now, Seaworld will have to ponder its own fate: how to survive without orca shows?

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram, India

Postcard IN-177804 from India shows the Shore Temple, built with blocks of granite in 700–728 CE, overlooking the shore of the Bay of Bengal at Mahabalipuram in India. It is one of the oldest structural stone temples of South India. Mahabalipuram was once a busy port during the reign of Narasimhavarman II of the Pallava dynasty. 

As one of the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, the Shore Temple was recognized as part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Get Ready for the Spring

DE-5016521, a greeting card from Germany, came just before the spring officially starts on March 20, 2016.

Crew members were seen busy in setting up another Japanese Spring Celebration Show at the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens in Las Vegas yesterday. The show will feature 82,830 flowers in total, with a lot of Azalea Brilliant, Begonias, Ivy, Hibuscus, Cherry Blossom, Magnolias, and Bamboo canes, from March 18 to May 14, 2016.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Greeting from Youghal, Ireland

Postcard IE-100789 from Ireland shows a beach view of Youghal, a seaside resort town in County Cork, Ireland, on the estuary of the River Blackwater. It's a popular tourist destination.

In this St. Patrick's Day, the Brooklyn Bridge at New York-New York has turned green, where the three-day Celtic Feis festival are offering delicious Irish fare, specialty beverages, and live entertainment from March 17 to 19, 2016. Nine Fine Irishmen, an Irish bar adjacent to the bridge, was originally made in Ireland before shipped to Las Vegas and reassembled at the New York-New York site. The bar features nine draft beers including Guinness, Harp and Newcastle, and a large selection of Irish whiskey from the two most popular distilleries in Ireland.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Happy Birthday to Blake Austin Griffin

Outgoing postcard US-3841691 to the United Kingdom shows the statue of mythical creature at the Mandalay Bay Hotel on October 16, 2014, wearing a Los Angeles Clipper jersey No. 32 which belongs to Blake Austin Griffin. Before playing for the Los Angeles Clippers, Blake Griffin played college basketball for the Oklahoma Sooners. Born March 16, 1989, he turns 27 today.

On Oct 30, 2014, the Clippers managed to hold off the Oklahoma City Thunder 93-90 in a season-opening game, although it couldn't build more than a 10-point lead. Blake Griffin scored 23 points, and made two free throws with five seconds left to the game.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Orton Hall at OSU, Ohio

Postcard US-3620809 to China shows Orton Hall, one of the oldest remaining buildings on Ohio State University campus. Opened in 1893, it was named after Dr Edward Orton, Sr. who served as OSU's first president, Professor of Geology from 1873 to 1899, and Ohio's State Geologist from 1882 until his death in 1899.

According to Wikipedia, the Hall is built of forty different Ohio building stones. In the outside walls, these stones are laid in stratigraphic order according to their relative positions in Ohio's bedrock. The capitals of the numbered columns in the entrance hall feature carvings of fossils, such as trilobites, as well as other objects such as the races of Man. The bell tower was dedicated in 1915 and contains 25,000 pounds of bells that can be heard regularly tolling across campus in the key of E-flat. Encircling the top of the tower are 24 columns with gargoyle-like figures which are restorations of fossil animals. Orton Hall was placed into the National Register of Historic Places on July 16, 1970, along with University Hall and Hayes Hall. It presently hosts the School of Earth Science, laboratories of Paleontology, Historical Geology and Sedimentology, the Orton Geological Museum, and the Orton Geological Library.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Lighthouse in St. Augustine, Florida

Postcard US-3866949 from Iowa shows the St. Augustine Light Station, located at the north end of Anastasia Island in St. Augustine, Florida. Built in 1874, it is an active, privately owned lighthouse and a not-for-profit maritime museum open to the public.

Florida will help its presidential primary tomorrow on Tuesday March 15, 2016. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the favorites to win their respective parties' nominations in the state according to the recent polls.

Update on 3/15/2016: Clinton and Trump won decisively in Florida primary. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) suspended his presidential campaign after a loss of almost 20 points to Donald Trump in Rubio's home state.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

What Does Not Kills You Makes You Stronger

Outgoing postcard US-XXXXXXX to Italy was a motivation card with a quote What Does Not Kills You Makes You Stronger.

It was derived from what Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900), the German philosopher, once said: "That which does not kill us, makes us stronger."

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Santa Monica Beach

Postcard US-3841697 to Germany shows a January, 2003 photo at Santa Monica beach near Los Angeles, CA when I was visiting from Florida. The picture was taken on the 100-year-old Santa Monica Pier, looking north. It was fascinating to see beaches on the Pacific Ocean side.

It was before the US-led Iraq invasion in May, 2003. I had just watched the debates about starting the invasion on TV in my hotel room before taking a walk on the pier. In less a month, then US Secretary of State Colin Powell would go to the United Nations Security Council to present his now infamous speech loaded with flaws on February 5, 2003. I can't help but wonder what if we could turn back time and change the course of history?  Without the war, we would be in a much better world today.

Friday, March 11, 2016

All Our Dreams Can Come True

Outgoing postcard US-3869982 to Mexico shows a film frame from the 2009 Disney Movie "The Princess and the Frog."

Re-telling a classic tale with a modern twist, this animated movie sets stage in New Orleans, featuring a beautiful and hard-working waitress named Tiana, and Prince Naveen who is transformed into a frog by a voodoo magician and desperately wants to be human again. Sealed with a fateful kiss, they are on a hilarious journey to break the spell and pursue their dreams through the mystical bayous of Louisiana.

Just like Walt Disney once said: "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Pink Elephant at Diamond Inn Motel

Outgoing postcard US-3841683 traveling to Czech Republic, shows a pink elephant in front of the Diamond Inn Motel on the Las Vegas Strip across from Mandalay Bay Hotel. Built in 1940s, the motel was originally called the Desert Isle. The ceramic elephant came from Disney World in the 1950s. The courtyard style motor lodge offers older rooms but one of the least expensive room rates on the Las Vegas Strip.

I took this photo on October 14, 2015 when I got myself familiar with the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon routes. The starting line was less than 100 feet or 30 meters away to the south.

There is a Pink Elephant Car Wash in Seattle.

Here are several phases relating to "elephant:"

  • "The elephant in the room" is a problem that everyone knows about but refuse to acknowledge;
  • A "white elephant" is a trouble that's difficult or expensive to get rid of;
  • A "pink elephant" is a hallucination seen by drunk people.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Michigan Win Matters for Bernie Sanders

Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was a surprise winner of the Michigan primary last night on May 8, 2016, edging over Hillary Clinton, 50 percent to 48 percent. Polling data showed that Clinton once had as much as 20 percentage points advantage a month before the primary. His victory in Michigan not only gave him a boost for his campaign to become more competitive in Illinois and Ohio on March 15, 2016, but also offered a proof that he could win states far more diverse than Iowa or New Hampshire.

Postcard US-3868817 from Michigan reveals a beautiful autumn scene on the beach.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

There Is Always a Table Especially for You

Outgoing postcard US-3891824 to France shows the Court of Two Sisters at 613 Royal Street and 614 Bourbon in the heart of the Historic Center of old  New Orleans. The name was gained from the fact that two sisters conducted a fancy and variety store here. The present structure was erected in 1832 on the site of the residence of Sieur Etienne de Perier, the second royal governor of the French Colonial Louisiana. Currently, it serves daily jazz brunches with a buffet of Creole classics as well as à la carte dinner.

Jimmie Cooper, the owner between 1940 and 1956, used this card to offer "greetings from as romantic a place as you ever ate in - drank in - wrote home about." It reads on the back of the card: It's been here a long time, since way back, and the "Two-Sisters" have long been gone - but the famous "Court" remains more charming and beautiful than ever. One of the nicest things about the place is - "There's always a table especially for you." Jimmie guided the Court to reach the great popularity among the servicemen and women from all over the world when New Orleans was a major shipbuilding and embarkation center.

The charm gates seen on the card were wrought in Spain especially for the Court of Two Sisters.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Survival against the Odds

Postcard GB-749952 from the United Kingdom shows an illustration of St Paul's Cathedral by Dave Thompson,

St Paul's Cathedral, an Anglican cathedral, sits on the highest point of Ludgate Hill in London., originally founded in AD 604. The present English Baroque style church from the late 17th century, is one of the most famous and most recognizable landmarks in London. At a height of 365 feet  or 111 meters, it was once the tallest building in London between 1710 and 1962. It held peace services for the ending of World War I and World War II.

The card came with one of the eight stamps from Great Britain’s Royal Mail, honoring Ernest Shackleton’s survival story against the odds during his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition from 1914 to 1916.  The stamp depicts the crew Striving to Free Endurance from the ice in February, 1915,

The cathedral itself was also a survivor of the Blitz, a period of strategic bombing of the United Kingdom by Nazi Germany during World War II between October 1940 and April 1941.