Friday, April 29, 2016

Ojai Valley Inn, Ojai, California

Postcard US-3971375 to the Netherlands shows towering mountains and the scenic beauty of a valley of enchantment form the background of the 18-hole golf course at Ojai Valley Inn, a Spanish hacienda-style inn and spa dated to 1934. It is located 3 miles or 5 kilometers from the border of Los Padres National Forest and 18 miles or 29 kilometers from Ventura, northwest of Los Angeles and east of Santa Barbara, California.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Pluto and Its Moon Charon

Postcard DE-4851768 from Germany shows Pluto and its moon Charon.

USPS announces that it will issue the Pluto – Explored! Forever stamps at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, New York on May 31, 2016 during the World Stamp Show – NY 2016, in order to recognize the NASA's history-making first reconnaissance of Pluto: New Horizons mission in 2015.

The souvenir sheet contains four stamps in two designs. The first design shows an illustration of the New Horizons spacecraft, while the second design shows a striking image of Pluto taken by the spacecraft near its closest approach. The image is a composite of four photos from the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager, combined with data from the sensor Ralph.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Sacrament of the Last Supper

Postcard US-3957031 to China shows a painting The Sacrament of the Last Supper by Salvador Dalí. Completed in 1955 after nine months of work, it remains one of his most popular compositions. Since its arrival at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 1955, it replaced Renoir's A Girl with a Watering Can as the most popular piece in the museum.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Baby Bald Eagles Named

A pair of the bonded bald eagles returned to the their nest last October at the National Arboretum, a U.S. Department of Agriculture research and education facility and a living museum in Washington D.C. They started to raise a pair of eaglets and the D.C. live Bald  Eagle Cam launched in February, 2016 with a 35-million viewership from 100 countries ever since. The mother eagle laid her first egg on February 10, 2016 and the second on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2016. The first eaglet hatched on March 18, 2016, followed by the second on March 20, 2016.

Screen Capture of the live stream from Cam A on April 2, 2016
Screen Capture of the live stream from Cam B on April 2, 2016
The baby eagles were named Freedom and Liberty during a ceremony at the National Arboretum on April 26, 2016. The names were chosen from 30,000 suggestions posted on social media. The other names proposed include Stars and Stripes.

The bald eagle is the national bird of the United States. Thanks to protections granted by the Endangered Species Act, the magnificent bald eagle has recovered from the perilous situation it was in where the Act was enacted in 1973. Based on this success, the bald eagle was removed from the Endangered Species List in 1999, and de-listed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in 2007. The postcard was produced by Sierra Club. photo credit @ Theo Allofs.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Purple Carpet, Pacific Grove, California

I sent out postcard US-3975289 to Australia early today, which shows a "purple carpet" of blossoms brightens this Pacific Grove coast in California with photo credit by James Blank.

Then the news came with the superstar Prince's passing at the age of 57. Soon the City of Las Vegas has turned purple to honor Prince. Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman directs the Las Vegas City Hall exterior to be lit in purple tonight. So do the Venetian and Palazzo hotels and casinos, and the High Roller at The LINQ Promenade on the Las Vegas Strip. Fremont Street Experience also honors the pop singer with a tribute at their Viva Vision canopy tonight.

I found a  video on YouTube showing Prince performing “Purple Rain” during downpour for the Super Bowl XLI Half-time Show, where producers described how Prince met the adverse weather head on and owned the show. (Update: unfortunately, that video later went private.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sweden Calling

According to the Swedish Tourist Association, "250 years ago, in 1766, Sweden became the first country in the world to introduce a constitutional law to abolish censorship. To honor this anniversary, Sweden is now the first country in the world to introduce its own phone number." Call the Swedish Number +46 771 793 336 today and you will get connected to an ambassador, who is a random Swede living anywhere in Sweden and who would talk about anything you want.

From the U.S. the local number is (301) 276-0600. Currently, Stockholm is in the Central European Summer Time Zone (CEST: UTC/GMT +2 hours) with Daylight Saving Time starting on March 27, 2016  and ending on October 30, 2016. In comparison, Las Vegas is in the Pacific Daylight Time Zone (PDT: UTC/GMT -7 hours) with Daylight Saving Time starting on March 13, 2016 and ending on November 6, 2016. Therefore, it is currently 9 hours behind of Stockholm. You can call anytime but keep the time difference in mind.

My recent received postcard SE-96903 from Sweden shows a Junkers F.13 aircraft, registered as S-AAAC and later as SE-AAC, which was used for the first flight between Stockholm and Helsinki on June 2, 1924 by AB Aerotransport (ABA), a Swedish airline that is part of the SAS Group today. The aircraft is now on display at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Stockholm.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Chinatown, San Francisco

Postcard US-3934037 to Germany is a reproduction of a vintage poster of the Chinatown in San Francisco, California. It shows the Cathay House Restaurant located in the heart of Chinatown with a lengthy traditional Chinese menu and a prime street view for people and cable car watching on California Street.

"San Francisco Sees a Colorful History Slip Away in Chinatown" by Jean H. Lee, run on Los Angeles Times on May 31, 1998, was an interesting article to read about the changes and conflicts that had happened there: "while old-timers want to maintain the district's antique, if stylistically bogus, architecture, recent immigrants are clamoring for new development."

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Elephant Rock at Valley of Fire

Outgoing postcard US-3599773 to Hong Kong shows an arch in the shape of an elephant near the east entrance of the Valley of Fire State Park in Overton, Nevada. Parking is prohibited on the main road near the rock, but visitors can park at the east entrance parking lot and take a short 0.2 mile hiking trail to a vantage point. There are chances to see wildlife but watch out for lizards and snakes.

The card was sent on November 28, 2015 and has since expired,

Unrelated, USPS faces a forced postal rate deduction starting today on April 10, 2016. Mailing a 4"x6" postcard domestically will now cost 34¢ instead of 35¢; while an oversize one will incur the 1oz first class letter rate at 47¢ after a 2¢ reduction. The international postcard rate, same as that of a first class international letter up to 1oz, has decreased from USD 1.20 to USD 1.15.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Seven Caves at La Jolla, California

Postcard US-3934052 to France shows the Seven Caves of La Jolla, near San Diego, California. Nestled between La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores, only one of caves is accessible by land while the other six can only be accessed by guided kayaking. Housed in a seventy-five million year old sea cliff, each of them has a unique name: White Lady, Little Sister, Shopping Cart, Sea Surprize, Arch Cave, Sunny Jim’s Cave, and Clam’s Cave.

Sunny Jim’s Cave, named after a cartoon character from a brand of cereal that was common at the turn of the century because of the similarity of the shape of their mouths, is the only known land accessed cave along the California coastline. In history, the cave's tunnel, leading to Coast Boulevard in La Jolla, was carved out by Chinese immigrant laborers for smuggling Chinese and other immigrants into the United States. Those intriguing caves were also once used to smuggle illegal whisky during the prohibition from 1920 to 1933.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Men's Gymnastics

This original artwork by Robert Peak was used for the design of the men's gymnastics stamp from the 40¢ international airmail block of four honoring the 1984 Summer Olympics. This stamp was issued at Los Angeles, California 33 years ago on April 8, 1983.

Update: the card was later sent to Belarus as US-3975285.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Battle of Shiloh Ends

The stamped card with a 20¢ postage, depicting the Battle of Shiloh that ended on April 7, 1862, is one of the twenty cards corresponding to the twenty 32¢ American Civil War stamps issued at Gettysburg, PA on June 29, 1995.

The stamp set has 16 individual portraits and four battle scenes, chosen from a master list of 50 subjects including Presidents, generals, major battles, rank-and-file soldiers, women, African and Native Americans, and abolitionists. With those stamps, USPS intended to show the wide variety of people who participated in the Civil War.

Battle of Shiloh, named after a church on the battlefield, was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Ironically Shiloh means “place of peace.” Confederates surprised General Ulysses S. Grant at Pittsburg Landing, TN, but lost General A. S. Johnston. Union counterattack at Shiloh Church forced the Southerners to withdraw. After this pivotal battle, it left Union armies in control of the central Mississippi River and large areas of western territories.

Casualties: 13,050 Union, 10,700 Confederate.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

IC 2177: Seagull Nebula

Today's featured postcard was a private swap from Taiwan. It shows IC 2177 (海鷗星雲), a region of nebulosity that lies along the border between the constellations Monoceros (麒麟座) and Canis Major (大犬座). Combined with the neighboring regions of star clusters, dust clouds and reflection nebulae that contain NGC 2335 and NGC 2343, it looks like a soaring seagull in the eyes of amateur astronomers. Photograph by Giant Liou (劉志安) on October 23, 2011.

Again, today coincides the 4th death anniversary of AstroPhysicist and Professor Fang Lizhi (方励之) who passed away in Tucson, Arizona on April 6, 2012 at age 76.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

I Can't Bear to Leave Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

Outgoing postcard US-3935012 to Finland was a vintage linen postcard showing a bear in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

All eyes on the April 5 Wisconsin primary Tuesday, with its 96 delegates up for grab on the Democratic side and 42 delegates on the Republican side. Bernie Sanders wins Wisconsin Democratic primary. It added to his momentum, but he still trails Clinton in delegate count. Republican Ted Cruz crushes Donald Trump, hoping that party will unite behind his campaign from now on and the future contests will lead to a rare contested convention.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Lipno, Czech Republic

Postcard CZ-806944 from Czech Republic shows Lipno, a village in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. It is located along the Vltava River next to the Lipno Dam. The dam was built on the Vltava River between 1952 and 1959 as a flood control measure. With an area of 46.5 km2 or 4650 ha and a capacity of 306 million m3, it is the largest reservoir in the Czech Republic. Lipno Hydro Power Plant has two turbines with a combined capacity of 128 megawatts.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Apache Plume

Outgoing postcard US-3941386 to France shows Fallugia paradoxa, commonly known as Apache plume. Native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, it is found in arid habitats such as desert woodlands and scrub. I have seen it in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area near Las Vegas, along with other wildflowers such as Cliff Rose, Windmill, and Beavertail Cactus blossoming during the same period in spring.

Beavertail Cactus seen on April 1, 2016

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Triceratops at Las Vegas Natural History Museum

Postcard US-3916253 to Utah shows a Triceratops skeleton mounted at the Prehistoric Gallery in the Las Vegas Natural History Museum located in Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada.

Triceratops, a term derived from the Greek with a meaning of "three-horned face", is a genus of herbivorous ceratopsid dinosaur that lived between 68 million years and 66 million years ago in what is now North America.

The private and non-profit museum, first opened on July 16, 1991, currently hosts Dinosaur Mummy CSI: Cretaceous Science Investigation, Engelstad Family Prehistoric Life Gallery, Treasures of Egypt, the International Wildlife Gallery, the Wild Nevada Gallery, the African Savanna Exhibit, and the Marine Life Gallery. It is currently participating in the Museums on US program, sponsored by Bank of America, which offers free admission to 150 museums in the US this weekend.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Peach Aviation Unveils "SAMURAI Aircraft"

Postcard JP-789171 from Japan shows a silhouette of a Japanese Samurai under the tree.

Meanwhile, in order to offer visitors to Japan a taste of Japanese culture and tradition as soon as they are on board, Peach Aviation has developed a "SAMURAI aircraft" featuring seiza-style sitting on tatami mats and the captain dressing up as a samurai. However, the seats are limited, and the promotion is only valid for today on April 1, 2016.