Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Orchestra Hall in Chicago

Postcard US-4029700 to Germany was a 15¢ postal card in the Historic Preservation Series saluting Chicago's Orchestra Hall, home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1904. The indicium shows the interior of the hall where the first-day ceremonies were held at 11:30 a.m. on Friday October 19, 1990. The hall was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 21, 1978, and designated as a National Historic Landmark on April 19, 1994.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Clara Harlowe Barton (1821 – 1912)

Clara Harlowe Barton (December 25, 1821 – April 12, 1912), nicknamed "Angel of the Battlefield," was a Union nurse during the American Civil War. Also a teacher and patent clerk, Barton is noteworthy for doing humanitarian work when relatively few women worked outside the home in that era. She nursed the wounded at Antietam and at Virginia battlefields; helped identify and mark graves at Andersonville prison; and later founded the American Red Cross.

The 20¢ stamped card is one of the twenty cards corresponding to the twenty 32¢ American Civil War stamps issued at Gettysburg, PA on June 29, 1995. It was sent to France as US-4015356.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Luxor Las Vegas

Postcard US-3971390 to Finland claims Luxor Las Vegas to be the next wonder of the world. The entrance to Luxor boasts a 10 story replica of the great Sphinx of Giza and an Egyptian obelisk over 190 feet high, and a water screen depicting Egyptian holographs. Named after the city of Luxor where the ancient city Thebes was located in Egypt, the hotel opened on October 15, 1993 with a replica of a pyramid-shaped tower that was the tallest building on the Las Vegas Strip at the time.

After July 2007 innovation, much of the ancient Egyptian themes and artifacts inside the hotel were replaced with modern lounges, restaurants and clubs. The reflection pool seen on the card was removed to make way for a station of the Mandalay Bay Tram that was built between 1998 and 1999.

Most recently, master magician Criss Angel opened "Mindfreak Live!" in Luxor on May 25, 2016, replacing his previous show "Believe" that ended its run on April 17, 2016 after 3,000 performances for more than four million audiences in seven years.

Also, another significant change is that, as part of the MGM Resorts International's plan to charge for parking on their properties, parking will no longer be free after June 6, 2016.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Tearing through ... New York

I bought this card at the Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) on August 29, 2013 during a connection of my return flights from the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) to Las Vegas.  I was in Washington D.C. for the 50th Anniversary of March on Washington.

On the back of the card, it reads "the thriving metropolis of New York City is one of the best places in the world to let loose and go wild! With hundreds of shops, restaurants, night-clubs, shows and sights, there is so much to see and do, it is easy to get as excited as King Kong."

As the Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of all the summer activities, if you are in New York City, you don't want to miss World Stamp Show-NY 2016, an eight-day, once-a-decade international celebration of stamp collecting in the U.S. at the Javits Center from May 28 to June 4, 2016. It coincides the 28th Fleet Week New York in which United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, and United States Coast Guard are honored for their sea services. The stamp show opened with presenting the colors by the U.S. Navy Color Guard and singing the national anthem by MFC Dan Smith of the U.S. Navy. Up to 300,000 visitors are expected to attend the show, which is free and open to the public.

Elsewhere, however, a gorilla related story turned out to be a tragedy: Cincinnati Zoo killed a gorilla to save a boy. It ignited debates on animal welfare, parental responsibility and adequacy of safety measure in the zoo.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Happy New Recipes

Postcard RU-4476824 from Russia shows a chef in Santa suit with a new dish in his hand. It is true that there are always new food offerings in Las Vegas. Eater Las Vegas has recently put out a list of the 21 hottest restaurants in Las Vegas right now in May 2016. Try some of them out if you are in town.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Constitutional Convention in 1787

Today is the 229th anniversary of the opening of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, PA. Postcard US-4013590 to Germany was a 1987 14¢ postal card, the first of three issues by USPS commemorating the bicentennial of the Constitution.

The card bears a multi-colored 14-cent pre-printed stamp on its upper right corner, depicting Independence Hall as it appeared in 1787. Built in 1753, the building now known as Independence Hall was the colonial legislature and later Pennsylvania State House for the Province of Pennsylvania. It was the principal meeting place where both the United States Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776) and the United States Constitution (September 17, 1787) were debated and adopted. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, it is now the centerpiece of the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The multi-color design also shows five convention delegates: George Mason of Virginia, Gouverneur Morris of New York, James Madison of Virginia, Alexander Hamilton of New York and Charles Pinckney of South Carolina, standing to the right of what was then the Pennsylvania State House. All eventually signed the Constitution except Mason, who refused because he believed the Constitution gave too much power to the federal government. Their names are printed on the lower left corner of the card as well..

The first-day-of-issue ceremonies of the card was held in the courtyard of Independence Hall at 10:30 a.m. on May 25, 1987.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Fashion Show Mall

Postcard US-3677822 to Brazil shows the Cloud, a plaza that faces the Las Vegas Boulavard in front of the Fashion Show Mall, an over-250-store shopping mall first opened on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1981. The main attraction is a 80-foot retractable runway in the central atrium Great Hall that can be used to host fashion shows.

Currently, in celebration of ReCon 2016, the global convention for the shopping center industry, fashion shows featuring 10 of the mall’s retailers are scheduled at 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm, and 5:00 pm through May 30, 2016.

Friday, May 20: Lucky Brand
Saturday, May 21: U.S. Polo Assn.
Sunday, May 22: Vince Camuto
Monday, May 23: Lorna Jane
Tuesday, May 24: Under Armour Brand House
Wednesday, May 25: Robert Graham
Thursday, May 26: Calvin Klein
Friday, May 27: Macy's
Saturday, May 28: Macy's
Sunday, May 29: Beach Bunny
Monday, May 30: Lululemon

Digital dance shows and live performances art by Girl Power Digital Show and Uptown Dance Funk are scheduled at 12:30pm, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:30 pm and 4:30 pm on select days through May 30, 2016.

Another copy was sent to Finland as US-3682362.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Beam of Light, Son Doong, Vietnam

Postcard Beam of Light by Romeo Durscher is one of the SkyPixel series that showcase stunning photos from drones. The photo was taken by a camera on  DJI Inspire 1, showing a view beneath the doline or sinkhole that forms the world’s largest cave Son Doong. The Beam of Light came through the opening in the cave's ceiling over 300 meters above.On top of the large stalagmite was Ginger Zee, the weather anchor for Good Morning America and ABC World News Tonight on ABC. Her placement on that rock formation, risen from the cave floor due to the accumulated material from ceiling drippings, gave out a sense of scale and size.

Meanwhile, President Obama is in Vietnam for a three-day visit, his first trip to the country and the 10th to Asia. He arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam on Sunday May 22, 2016.

Previously, President Lyndon B. Johnson visited U.S. military personnel in Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam on October 26, 1966 and December 23, 1967. So did Richard Nixon with an unscheduled six-hour stop outside Saigon, South Vietnam on July 30, 1969.

On November 16, 2000, Bill Clinton, who opposed the war in Vietnam, made history as the first U.S. President to visit Hanoi, the headquarters of the North Vietnamese command during the war, now the capital of Vietnam and the country's second largest city. During his three-day visit, Clinton also visited Ho Chi Minh City, which was renamed from Saigon in 1976. George W. Bush was in Vietnam November 17–20, 2006 for the APEC Summit meeting.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Cacti and Desert Flora of the Great Southwest

Again, May 22 is the International Day for Biological Diversity. Postcard US-3971360 to Japan shows various cacti and desert flora of the Great Southwest.

USPS issued the Sonoran Desert sheet in Tucson, Arizona on April 6, 1999 that contained ten 33¢ stamps. It was the first of twelve self-adhesive stamp sheets Nature of America that USPS released annually between 1999 and 2010.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Water Level in Lake Mead Drops to Record Low

Extended droughts has resulted in the lowest water level at Lake Mead since the largest reservoir in the U.S. was filled in the 1930s when Hoover Dam was built. Lake Mead declined to 1,074 feet above sea level on May 19, 2016, below a previous record set on June 25, 2015.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) recorded a high water line of 1,229.0 feet but considers the lake as “operationally full” at 1,219.6 feet elevation. The minimum water level to generate power at Hoover Dam is defined at 1,050 feet, below which the lake becomes an “inactive pool.” When water level goes down below 895 feet, the lowest water outlet at Hoover Dam, the lake is a “dead pool” as nothing would flow downstream from the Hoover Dam.

Lake Mead's water level reached a record high of 1225 feet in the summer of 1983, and has been in steady declines since 2000.

Lake Mead supplies water to 20 million people in California, Nevada, and Arizona. With the prospect of water levels dropping further, water managers in the above three states are under pressure to work out a plan to temporarily cut back water withdrawal from the lake.

Postcard US-3482775 to New Jersey shows Lake Mead with 'bathtub rings' on its shores and islands, which indicate the devastating effects of water level declines.

Lake Mead as seen on July 4, 2015

Friday, May 20, 2016

Taiwan Inaugurates First Female President

Today's featured postcard was a private swap from Taiwan showing the Office of the President, Republic of China in Taipei with a ROCUPEX '13 TAIPEI commemorative postage label from the 2013 National Stamp Exhibition of R.O.C. and International Invitational Stamp Exhibition, and a matching pictorial postmark on August 23, 2013. The Office of the President is the site of the inauguration ceremony this Friday, May 20, 2016 where Tsai Ing-wen took oath of office to become the first female president of Taiwan.

Tsai Ing Wen (R) replaces former President Ma Ying Jeou (L) after a landslide election victory on January 16, 2016. She faces immediate challenges to revitalize the economy, and to balance the demands of the her electorate for greater independence and the pressure of One-Country from China.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Fittest City in the U.S.

The American Fitness Index (AFI) recently released the ACSM American Fitness Index Data Report, offering a scientific snapshot of the health and fitness level for the major metropolitan areas in the US. Washington D.C., for the 3rd year in a row, ranks as the fittest city.

The American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation have considered such factors as what percentage of the city's population reporting exercising within the past 30 days and accessibility to parks and green spaces, in order to determine how fit a city is. The top 10 cities are:

  1. Washington D.C.
  2. Minneapolis, MN
  3. Denver, CO
  4. Portland, OR
  5. San Francisco, CA
  6. Seattle, WA
  7. Boston, MA
  8. Salt Lake City, UT
  9. Hartford, CT
  10. San Diego, CA

Las Vegas ranks 41st among the bottom 10 cities.

Postcard US-3971221 to Germany shows a black and white map drawing of the D.C. area with a matching diamond shaped 37¢ commemorative stamp issued by USPS on September 23, 2003.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Taste of Sweden

The Swedish retail giant IKEA opens its first store in Nevada today, offering stylish, relatively inexpensive and self-assembly home furniture along those famous Swedish meatballs from its 42nd store in the U.S., located by the 215 Beltway between Sunset and Durango roads in Las Vegas. Deputy Chief of Mission for the Swedish Embassy Göran Lithell joined the company executives and local government representatives in the opening ceremony.

Postcard SE-47353 from Sweden shows steamboats anchored in Stockholm, Sweden during a winter evening.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Prince Eric's Castle

Postcard US-4002447 to the United Kingdom shows Prince Eric's Castle from a 1989 Disney movie the Little Mermaid based on a Danish fairy tale. It tells the story of a beautiful mermaid princess who is dissatisfied with underwater life and dreams of becoming human. The film's success marked the beginning of the era known as the Disney Renaissance.

The card is part of the Art of Disney: the Renaissance and Beyond (1989-2014). The castle may have been inspired by Chillon Castle, a medieval fortress on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Attraction Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid opened on June 3, 2011 at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, California, and on December 6, 2012 in New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Snowmobiles at the Columbia Icefield

Outgoing postcard US-4005430 to Italy shows snowmobiles at the Columbia Icefield, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada.

Snowmobiles are specially equipped vehicles, which enable summer visitors to tour the snow-covered Athabasca Glacier, one of the six tongues of the vast Columbia Icefield. In the background is the spectacular icefall at the head of the glacier.

During my visit to Canada in 1994, I took my first and only snowmobile ride on this very spot.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Pool Parties Return

While the summer will not officially start until June 20, 2016, it certainly feels like one already when the high temperature hit 95ºF / 35ºC in Las Vegas yesterday. Fortunately, pool parties have returned to cool us off as the blistering heat is coming soon. More concerts, festivals and out-door activities are being announced. It looks like an exciting summer in 2016. Postcard US-3975290 to the United Kingdom shows a photo taken by the pool at Luxor on July 12, 2015.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Astronomy Day

In this Astronomy Day 2016, we are showcasing postcard UA-1351038 from Ukraine that offers an unusual view of the Helix Nebula (螺旋星雲), NGC 7293, a composite image made from near-infrared photos using Y, J and K filters that were captured by European Southern Observatory's Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy in Chile. Located in the constellation Aquarius, it is often referred to as the "Eye of God" in pop culture.

Astronomy Day, started in 1973, is an bi-annual event for the purpose of promoting interaction between the general public and various astronomy enthusiasts, groups and professionals.

Initially, Astronomy Day occurs on a Saturday between mid-April and mid-May on or close to the first quarter Moon. Since 2007, an autumn rendition of Astronomy Day has been added to occur on a Saturday between mid-September and mid-October on or close to the first quarter Moon. Under such lunar influence, the events will happen on different dates each year, rather than on set calendar dates. The next date for Astronomy Day will be October 8, 2016.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Cassava Harvest

Postcard US-3957035 to Belgium shows a watercolor painting Cassava Harvest by Dorothy B. Hayes.

Cassava is a perennial woody shrub with an edible root, originated from tropical America and was first introduced into Africa in the Congo basin by the Portuguese around 1558.

Because Cassava is rich in carbohydrates, calcium, vitamins B and C, and essential minerals, and grows well in poor soils with limited labor requirements, it becomes the main nutrition source for 500 million people in Africa. It also provides food security during conflicts when the invader cannot easily destroy or remove the crop, since it conveniently grows underground. Roots can be harvested between six months and three years after planting. Africa accounted for 63% of Nineteen million hectares of cassava planted worldwide in 2007.

Although Cassava requires only 21% labor in terms of working days, compared to other staple crops such as maize, yam and rice, it does require intensive post-harvest processing as the roots are highly perishable and need to be processed for storage soon after harvest.

The postcard was produced by IITA-UNICEF Program on Household Food Security and Nutrition, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Nigeria.

IITA and partners just announced Cassava Innovation Challenge in which the Rockefeller Foundation would provide up to 1 million US dollars in grants for global innovations to enhance cassava shelf life,

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Diesel Train in the Royal Gorge

Postcard US-3689818 to Russia shows a diesel train in the Royal Gorge, on the Arkansas River, passing underneath the Suspension Bridge - "The World's Highest Bridge", near Cañon City, Colorado, Cañon City, with a population of 16,400 as of 2010 and known as the "Corrections Capital of the World for having nine state and four federal prisons and penitentiaries, is one of the few U.S. cities that have an eñe in its official name.

Two train stamps, among others, were affixed to the card. One was a 33-cent "The Congressional of the Pennsylvania Railroad" from a set of five 1999 stamps entitled All Aboard! 20th Century American Trains. The other “Untitled (Trains on Inclined Tracks),” showing a gouache, colored pencil, and graphite drawing on pieced paper from circa 1960–1963, was one of the five Forever stamps, issued on March 26, 2015, featuring the work of Mexican artist Martín Ramírez who had been confined to psychiatric hospitals for more than 30 years.

I had the sender's address since November 6, 2015. However, the card didn't get posted until December 4, 2015 due to delay from my training for my first half marathon and my encounter of a failed armed robbery. The card had since expired after 60 days, and it was automatically registered by Postcrossing on May 11, 2016 when the account of the receiver was closed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Centennial of Ellis Island

According to the Palm Beach Post, USPS honored the centennial of Ellis Island on May 11, 1992 with a 19-cent historic preservation postal card. First-day ceremonies were held at 11 a.m. just outside of the Great Hall's Museum. The card's indicium, the imprinted stamp with 19-cent pre-paid postage, was designed by East Norwich, N.Y., artist Howard Kos-low.

From its opening in 1892 through 1954, more than 12 million immigrants were processed through Ellis Island, located in Upper New York Bay. Today, we celebrate its 124th anniversary.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Amish Children

Postcard US-2233438 from Ohio shows a pair of Amish children going to school with their lunch boxes.

According to the Amish News, "these children’s days are not given shape by a line-up of soccer games, piano lessons, camp, or play groups. Instead, the morning sun, chore-time twice a day, and the coming of evening set a structure for their time. So, too, do the days of the week and the seasons. In this largely rural, soil-anchored world, life follows the lead of the weather and the promise of productive fields and gardens."

Since the birth rate is considerably higher than the death rate, the Amish population has actually been growing over the past several centuries.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Bison Becomes the First National Mammal

Postcard US-3939822 to Lithuania shows a herd of bison. The fuzzy, horned giant becomes a national symbol after President Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act into law early today making it the national mammal of the United States.

Early American settlers mistakenly called bison “buffalo” due to the similar appearance between the two animals. However, the two main buffalo species only reside in Africa and Asia, while the American bison (Bison bison) lives only in North America,

The bison nearly went extinction during the westward expansion of the United States in the early 1800s, resulting from a deliberate policy of depriving Native Americans of a significant source of food, clothing and shelter. Its population recovered only after a concerted effort by conservationists in the early 20th century.

The bison is also the state mammal in Kansas, Oklahoma and Wyoming.

Friday, May 6, 2016

1000th Card Sent

Postcard US-3972061 to Germany was the 1000th card sent from my PostCrossing account twimbk. It shows a pair of swans forming a heart symbol with love. Swans (天鵝) are birds of the family Anatidae (鴨科) within the genus Cygnus. The geese and ducks are swans' friends close relatives. A previous copy was sent to Russia as US-3284982 under another account.

USPS issued the Quilled Paper Heart Forever stamp at Dallas Love Field in Dallas, Texas on January 12, 2016, as the 44th stamp in its Love stamp series. The heart on the stamp was created using the ancient art of quilling by rolling and shaping narrow strips of paper, laying them on their edges, and gluing them in place to form intricate designs.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Layla Plays Netball

Postcard US-3971361 to Taiwan is one of the Skypixel series that features Australian drone operator Alex Coppel's daughter Layla playing netball.

Alex Coppel explained on a Facebook post: "My daughter Layla plays netball whilst patiently waiting for me to finish playing with my Phantom drone, in the last of the light on a perfect day."

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Campus Map of Peking University

In celebration of the Homecoming Day for Peking University's alumni, and the 118th university's anniversary, today's featured postcard was a private swap from China, showing a hand-painted campus map of Peking University (北京大学) on a shaped card. Found in 1898, it is a major Chinese research university located near the Summer Palace in Beijing.

The university moved to the current site in 1952, the former campus of Yenching University, It was the site of royal imperial gardens in the Qing Dynasty. On the map, you can see many historical structures such as the West Gate, beautiful natural landscape such as the Weiming Lake, as well as the academic buildings such as the library.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Trump International Hotel

Real estate developer Donald Trump is poised to become the presumptive Republican presidential nominee after his decisive win in Indiana, which led Ted Cruz to drop out of the race.

Postcard US-3620197 to Germany shows a view, from a pedestrian bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad in down Las Vegas, with the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, a 64-story luxury hotel, condominium, and timeshare, appeared on the left opening. Named for the real estate developer, the property is distinctive as the exterior windows are gilded with 24-carat gold.