Monday, August 30, 2010

Australian Critters

A wombat.
The wombat is the largest burrowing animal in Australia and is common in Tasmania. It is a solitary animal which grazes at night. The Tasmanian devil is found only in Tasmania and was so named because of its frightening growl. It eats small animals and scavenges dead animals of all kinds.
A wombat and a Tasmanian devil.

The top card was a postage-paid card from nop-nop for the Big Groups Midmonth August 2010 RR, and the one on the bottom came in an envelope with three other cards as an official from a very enthusiastic postcrosser. These are the stamps from that envelope.

The stamp on the left shows Tasmania's Maria Island, and comes from an issue featuring Australia's various regions. The one on the right is Kuranda Scenic Railway in Queensland, from the Great Australian Railway Journeys set.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Karbala, Iraq

I received this card today in a private swap with Milad from Iraq. I had two previous private swaps with rare countries go AWOL and never send me a card in return, so I resolved not to get too excited when this opportunity came up... but today I got the card!!! YAY!

Anyway, it shows the Imam al-Abbas shrine in Karbala, Iraq. Karbala is about 100km southwest of Baghdad and is the historical site of the Battle of Karbala in the year 680, when two of Mohammed's grandsons were killed. Each is entombed in a shrine bearing his name, and this is the less well-known of the two. It features a golden dome and two minarets.

Written and stamped! The one on the bottom is from a 2010 issue of four commemorating Arabian Brotherhood Scouts Day; the one on the top is from 2008, on the theme of "National Reconciliation." I'm not sure I would choose a skull to represent such a theme, but maybe it would make more sense if I could read Arabic.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I don't know where in Finland any of these pictures were taken. There is no info on the back of the card, other than the name of the photographer, Markku Wiik. He doesn't appear to have an online presence, at least in English.

The stamp is from a set of three featuring the northern lights.

Hokusai's Great Wave

The 36 views of Mt. Fuji: The great wave off Kanagawa
By Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849)

I had the opportunity to see the actual print of this work when I was in Japan in 2007. It was... small (only 25.7 cm × 37.8 cm). However, this print is almost certainly the most famous Japanese artistic work, and it was really cool to see it in real life. I have a scarf with this printed on it, and I was happy to get it also on a postcard, from my former housemate Kaori. The card itself has a really nice texture, almost like washi (Japanese paper).

On the right you have the definitive for the 20yen rate, featuring the Japanese honeybee (Apis cerana japonica).
The stamp on the left is from a set of five issued this year for National Letter-Writing Day. Each stamp in this set is from the series of "100 poems by 100 famous poets" that is also a card game. This one is poem #72. I haven't been able to find any English translation of it online.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Los Angeles, California

From katielucie for the June 2010 RR

Celestial alignment sets the stage for dramatic view of downtown Los Angeles as a full moon rises behind the San Gabriel Mountains at sunset, according to the back of the card. What I want to know is, how many days out of the year can you see these mountains, and how many days are they covered by smog? I've only been to LA once, but I definitely don't remember it being this beautiful–this makes it look almost as nice as Seattle. :P

The San Gabriel Mountains are north of LA and separate the city from the Mojave Desert. The highest peak in the range is Mt. San Antonio, commonly referred to as Mt. Baldy.

The stamp is the 2009 definitive for the domestic small postcard rate, a polar bear illustrated by Nancy Stahl.

BY-75212 from Alesya

This is one of the few ad cards I've received as an official, and I really like it. It's a card advertising a Belorussian travel website.
Минск - Куала-Лумпур = Minsk - Kuala Lumpur = Watermelon
Гомель - Мапе = Gomel - Marie = Pomegranate
Брест - Афины = Brest - Athens = Pineapple

Поиск отдыха по новым технологиям
"Search holiday on new technologies," according to Google Translate.

All three stamps were issued in 2008, the two on the right from a series of five wild animals, here European mink (Mustela lutreola) and wolf (Canis lupus). On the left is the peony (Paeonia lactiflora), from a set of eight garden flowers.

Fryslân, Netherlands

From MarianneJS for the June 2010 RR.
I love the different colors on this card.

Fryslân, Netherlands.
Fryslân, or Friesland, is unique among the Netherlands' twelve provinces in having its own language, West Frisian, spoken by 70% of the population along with Dutch. Signs in Fryslân are bilingual and there are TV and radio programs in Frisian. Fryslân is mainly an agricultural province–hence the black and white Frisian cows on the card. Fryslân also has 195 windmills, and many lakes and rivers. Located on the northern coast of the Netherlands, Fryslân incorporates the four Dutch Wadden Islands. Vlieland, the furthest from shore, is accessible by ferry, but no cars are allowed on it. This whole area sounds like a great place for a bike tour.

The stamps are really cool! The minisheet of two is from a Dutch comic book, "Jan, Jens an de kinderen" by Jan Kruis. The stamps themselves are fairly old, from a 1998 issue. I couldn't find any info on the one on the left.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Taormina, Italy

Taormina Teatro Greco. IT-88046 from Ilaria.
Taormina is a small town on the east coast of Sicily. This area was inhabited as early as 832 B.C.E., which is kind of hard for me to imagine. Pictured on this card is the teatro Greco, or Greek theatre. It is thought to be a Roman theatre built on the foundation of an earlier Greek period theatre. According to wikipedia, it is still in use today as a theatre, opera house, and musical venue. I think the mountain in the background is Mt. Etna, Europe's largest active volcano.

The stamp was issued in February 2004, in a series of "women in art". This one is from "Courtesans," a painting by 15th century Venetian artist Vittore Carpaccio.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2010

A few weekends ago I had the great pleasure to volunteer at VFMF 2010. Vancouver is only about a four to five hour drive north of my hometown and I've been there a few times, mainly to see my favorite band in concert. (Paperboys!! Woohoo!) I went to VFMF last year primarily to see the Paperboys and had so much fun I wanted to go again this year even though they weren't playing. I had a fantastic time, and this card pretty much explains why.

The artwork is by Tony Bosley, and shows basically what the festival is all about: dancing to all kinds of lovely music, surrounded by other people doing the same thing and beautiful scenery. In addition to listening to a ton of music (none of it by artists I'd ever heard before), I also volunteered at the festival booth selling t-shirts and other festival merchandise. As far as I'm concerned, volunteering is an integral part of the festival. I got to meet people, which was key since I didn't already know anyone who was going to be there; they feed their volunteers two meals a day, as well as giving us free weekend passes, which more than halved the cost of the trip for me; plus, I just got to be a tiny part of what makes the festival happen.

Naturally, I perused Canada Post's website before I left, and decided exactly which commemorative stamps I was going to use to send myself a card. I chose this Marine Life joint issue between Canada and Sweden, featuring two marine mammals. On the left you have the harbour porpoise, one of the smallest oceanic cetaceans. On the right is my personal favorite animal (and the reason I chose this set of stamps :), the sea otter, the heaviest of the weasels, making its home in the waters of the North American Pacific coast.

The post office was my first stop out of the bus station in Vancouver, and when I asked the clerk for the sea otter stamps, he had no idea what I was talking about. I had to take him over to the display on the wall and show him, and then he told me you could only buy these stamps in a book of 8, they're the wrong denomination for postcards to the U.S., and so on and so forth. Mister, I don't care about any of that. I want these stamps for my collection and I don't give a damn about overpaying for postage.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Guangzhou, China

Zhenhai Tower literally means "the tower calms the seas and mountains" and is also known as the Five-storey Pagoda. It stands on the top of Yuexiu Hill and now is the City Museum with exhibitions telling the history of Guangzhou from Neolithic times to the recent time of this century, according to the back of the card. I am skeptical that "zhenhai" can mean that whole sentence, considering it is only two characters and the second one is identical to the Japanese one meaning "sea." Also, according to a tourism website, the tower was built by a Ming dynasty marquis to flaunt his power and his belief that he could shake the seas and mountains. So... maybe it just means "sea and mountain tower"?

Three identical stamps, from a set of four issued in 2003 on the subject of "protecting the common homeland of mankind." This one represents marine resource development and protection.