Monday, November 30, 2009

Post Crossings, II

This is the second batch of postcards I received through Post Crossing, where for every postcard you sign up to send to someone somewhere in the world, you also are signed up to receive one back. When a card you've sent arrives, it is registered by the receiver, and an email shows up with a "your card has arrived!" notice, including how many days it was in transit. The site provides a list of where you've both sent and received to and from, a map showing the "crossings" of your postcards, and a gallery of postcards flying around the world.

The first post crossing posting can be found here. I've sent 14, received 4 and have several in transit.

It is interesting to see what people send, and to get a brief glimpse of their stories. The tulip postcard is from a group of office workers in Hilversum (close to Amsterdam), The Netherlands who participate to "cheer up their office". The dog postcard is from Brussels, Belgium from a new mom. The restaurant scene postcard is from the southernmost town in Taiwan, Kenting, whose name means "no winter" or "forever spring". This picture is one of the locations in a famous Taiwanese film, "Cape No. 7", which in 2008 became the country's 2nd top grossing film in cinematic history, behind only Titanic.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Bit More of France - Le Pont Alexander III

This postcard arrived in the mail yesterday. It is an unusual size, and particularly beautiful, so I'm going for a bit of France, two days in a row. There was no signature on the back, although I think it came from my friends Paul & Gayle, who have been in France for either a birthday or anniversary - can't remember which.

I was surprised that there were no comments on the French AIDS advertising postcards yesterday. It was such an opportunity for bad humor, if nothing else.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

French Aids Ads - Mature Advisory!

That Mystery Sender is always so helpful. S/he was looking for animal/insect postcards to add to the animal postcard category, and upon finding these ads, constructed the postcards. What a find!

The copy on the insect ads says, "No more pussyfooting around. These images show how dangerous unprotected sex can be", while the copy on the "dick head" ad says "Dick says 'Condoms are like a good bath. When you are inside, you don't want to get out."

One thing is certain - these ads would never be approved for publication in the US.

Friday, November 27, 2009


This is the view of Saturn taken from 11,000,000 miles away by Voyager 1, in October 1980. It was the first high resolution image of the planet ever captured.

Saturn is the second largest planet, and is named for the Roman God, Saturn. It's ring system measures 170,000 miles across by about 1 mile thick. Pretty incredible, really.

I had a friend who worked at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the time, from where they managed the flight of Voyager 1. She gave us all actual framed pictures of this same shot for Christmas that year. I still have mine, although it is very faded.

It's Postcard Friendship Friday - check out the plethora of other postcard sites, for a quick trip out of this world!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 1911

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! May you enjoy a day filled with family and friends.

A great column by Jon Carroll appeared today in the San Francisco Chronicle, and I particularly like these words of advice: "Many Thanksgivings are family gatherings, and family gatherings are often fraught. My suggestion is: Embrace the fraught. You'd miss the fraught if it weren't there."

Read the entire column here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Casino in Monte Carlo, Monaco

The Casino in Monte Carlo, Monaco (not to be confused with the Monte Carlos Resort in Las Vegas) has appeared in three James Bond movies: Never Say Never Again, Casino Royale and Golden Eye. What a spectacular looking place. I remember the insides of a casino in these movies; I don't remember the building or grounds, but both look like they'd be worth a visit!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More Colleges, Since the Kids Are Coming Home From College For Thanksgiving

Emory University

Our friend, Josh, is a student at Emory University in Atlanta. It is supposed to be a beautiful campus and great school. I hope we see him, if not at Thanksgiving, then sometime over the Christmas holidays.

The University of Petroleum & Minerals at Dhahran

The University of Petroleum Minerals at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia became the King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals in 1986. This postcard was sent in 1980 from somebody I must have known in graduate school, as I was still a student there. Funny how I remember faces much better than names. The sender's name is vaguely familiar, but I can't put a face with it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Symbols

Not that these are the Native Americans one typically sees in Thanksgiving pictures or cards, but the Mystery Sender asks another provocative question: "Are we honoring the "First Americans" or making a spectacle them?" You be the judge.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving 1910

Talk about turkey-centric. Here's a few more Thanksgiving postcards, all embossed. I particularly like the one with all the flowers around the turkey filled oval. ->

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving 1909

Thanksgiving postcards from 1909. 100 years ago, and many of the Thanksgiving traditions and images are still the same: the turkey (rarely do we see one feathered and still with its head on), the fall harvest bounty (pumpkins, squashes, grapes) and the cornucopia (seen on other postcards in this series).

Today you rarely see logs used as a type font (unless you're in a forested national park) and contemporary illustrations of kids don't resemble the one on the right. But, we'll probably have a cornucopia on our Thanksgiving table next Thursday, a (unfeathered and cooked) turkey will take center stage, and the table will be laden with fall harvest bounty.

If you are so inclined, it's not too late to send Thanksgiving postcards to your friends and family or download images from vintage Thanksgiving postcards to make place cards for your table.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving 1908

The beginning of a series of Thanksgiving postcards from 1908-1911, from my friend Debra's collection.

What looks like grey lines on the corn and the turkey, is actually glitter and both cards are embossed. It is hard to see that in a scan. I particularly like the feather on the right.

Today is Postcard Friendship Friday, so check out other postcards blogs if you get a chance.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Big Five

The posting of random animal postcards continues.

The Big Five are the lion, the leopard, the rhino, the elephant and the cape buffalo, and it's a big deal to go to Africa and see them all in one trip. At least that's what people tell me, and it also says so on the back of the card. The term was coined by hunters, as these five are the most difficult animals to hunt on foot. And among the most dangerous.

The Big Five are not to be confused with the Big Four Central Pacific Railroad barons of California - Stanford, Huntington, Crocker and Hopkins - and the name of a restaurant honoring them on Nob Hill in San Francisco.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Miami Serpentarium

In a random continuation of an animal theme this week, today's card is about snakes and their venom. Pictured is Bill Haast, "Venom Poster Boy" of the Miami Serpentarium.

The Serpentarium, probably still in operation (although the website is "under construction") was once and may still be a major tourist attraction and working laboratory. Bill Haast extracted venom from snakes daily, always in view of visitors to the lab. He was bit hundreds of times, and believes there is medicinal use and life-extending properties in snake venom. At 95, he might have a point.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

French Kittens in Lyon

Giant marauding kittens in Lyon?

Makes me wonder what others cities/sites are overrun with the local animals. There are many, many cats scurrying around the Parthenon in Athens, monkeys cavorting among select ruins in India, multiple llamas and alpacas wandering around Machu Picchu at least when I was there. I suppose we could include the pigeons in Trafalgar Square, although that might be stretching it a bit.

Can anybody else think of any animal overrun tourist sites or cities not mentioned above?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bear Mountain State Park, New York

I love the image on this postcard, but it took me a bit to figure out that it was a horse from a carousel. It says "carousel" on the bottom of the card, but it is covered by some sort of smudge. Interesting tidbit about Bear Mountain State Park: the first section of the Appalachian Trial was created at Bear Mountain, opening on Oct. 7, 1923.

I hope they have bears on this carousel!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Zippy the Pinhead

Did you know Zippy was the first to use the phrase "Are we having fun yet?" I did not. I also did not know that there is a cartoon version of Wikipedia called Tooonopedia, self described as "a vast repository of toonological knowledge."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The City by the Bay, Post Loma Prieta Earthquake

This is a funny card, but the Loma Prieta Earthquake wasn't a funny event. Anybody living in San Francisco at the time can tell you exactly where they were, what they were doing, and what they did for the next 24 hours when the quake hit. Parts of the Bay Bridge fell down, a two level freeway collapsed on itself, and the Marina buckled and then went down in flames.

I was eight months pregnant, and on the 20+ something floor of a high rise (does the word "skyscraper" every get used any more?). I had driven across aforementioned Bay Bridge not an hour before.

The city by the bay may be subject to unanticipatable earthquakes, but I'm still happy to be going home today after ten days in Washington, DC.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Pacific Coast Highway, Carmel to Hearst Castle Segment

If you've ever driven up or down the Pacific Coast Highway (known as PCH, especially from Newport Beach, south) from Carmel to Hearst Castle, you know how narrow and winding and cliff abutting this highway is. The experience and the view are worth every nerve wracking, brake foot tiring minute. Just avoid driving it, if at all possible, during the Winnebago season. January is pretty good because, not only is it not crowded, you can often see the spouts of migrating whales from the road.

What you might not think up about is, how in the heck did they build it? Here's picture of that construction, sent to me by my sister after she and her family and a student visitor from France had just completed this drive.

Check out Road Trip USA for a description of the entire length of Highway 1. I've driven every inch of this Highway, from Portland to San Diego, and into Mexico, with just a short stretch from Portland to Olympia remaining for me to experience.

P.S. Happy Postcard Friendship Friday

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Antofagasta, Chile II

Two days in a row featuring postcards from Chile. One from my friend, Paula, on one of her many business trips to Latin America; one from me to my grandmother, 30+ years ago.

This card reminds me of so many things, particularly the few days we spent in Antofagasta. We had come off 48 hours on a train, crossing the border into Chile in the middle of the night and as we did, being called individually into a private room on the train where a Chilean carbineri checked our passports and asked us questions, in Spanish. A little bit intimidating, to say the least. Pinochet had not been in charge that long (Allende was overthrown in 1973 and this was 1978)and things were pretty strict in Chile then.

In Antofagasta we found a hotel-ish kind of place, near the ocean, consisting of old busses sunk in cement and painted grey, each transformed into two "rooms". We shopped a local market for food and discovered something we'd never seen, pepinos, which tasted kind of like a cross between a cucumber and a melon.

One night, we saw a sign for free food in a stadium in town hosted by the Chilean army. Given we were traveling on very little money, we decided to check it out. We arrived to find a large stadium, 75% filled with people, watching a show of military might. Explosions were going off, lights were flashing, tanks were wheeling around - it was quite a sight. At one point we realized that we were being glared at by people in the audience. It was very uncomfortable, so we left. I have no idea if they didn't like Americans and had identified us as such, or they didn't like outsiders and knew we didn't belong.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Santiago, Chile

During my travels in South America, we spent almost six weeks in Chile, arriving in Antofagasta by train from Bolivia and hitchhiking all the way through Santiago to Puerto Montt.

We stayed in Santiago a couple of days, attempting to visit the Moneda, the seat of the president of Chile and a few of his ministers. We pretended we didn't speak Spanish and played dumb, getting relatively far inside the building before somebody stopped us. We were particularly interested in the Moneda because we knew that Allende had been killed or committed suicide here on September 11, 1973. Before we arrived in Santiago, one of our rides came from two military officers one of whom gave me the pin off his uniform that said "September 11, 1973".

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mono Lake, California

It seems we used to drive past Mono Lake on the way to Mammoth Lakes, but I just don't remember the weird formations. Looks more like the moon, with water, to me.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Storm King Art Center

This postcard shows a Calder sculpture in a place called the Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, New York, just an hour north of New York City. What an incredible place! 500 acres of rolling hills and woodlands, "celebrating the relationship between sculpture and nature". My friend was there when the trees were red and yellow and orange. Must have been incredible.

More important is her message. Sounds like she'll finally be back to San Francisco (or at least back when I get to see her) for the first time in over 20 years. Hurray!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dad's Organ

I confess to being a huge admirer of this kind of cheesy double entrendre humor. This one works particularly well, in its 50s setting. Don't know why, but it always really cracks me up.
Note: Apologies for no Saturday post. While I didn't have access to a computer, I did have a tour of the White House!

Bullocks, Pasadena

Bullocks, Pasadena. Scene of back to school shopping (there was a fashion show at lunch in the dining room), cotillion dresses and white gloves, and post-Christmas shopping. My cousin remembers that there was an ash tray ouside every elevator, and could there have been an elevator operator when we were very young? Don't know if that's a real memory or not. My grandmother got her knit suits here.
At one point, it was the anchor store on South Lake Street in Pasadena. It then went through a period of decline, being reborn ultimately as a Macys. Not even close to being the same.