Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Fresh bread

 A few weeks ago, I mentioned the new scratch-and-sniff stamp issue by La Poste, the French postal system.  My hopes that I'd receive one on a Postcrossing postcard were satisfied today when I found a card from Marie in my mailbox.  How does it smell, you ask?  Well, to be honest, it's a little disappointing.  It does have a mild smell, and it's not unpleasant.  But I wouldn't have said it smells like a baguette.  More like a vague scent of baked goods- and something sweet, like a vanilla cupcake.  But definitely not a traditional French baguette, in my opinion.  Still, points to La Poste for the attempt.  France ranks among countries with some of the nicest stamps, I've always said.  Finland is the clear winner as far as interesting stamps, in my judgement.  But the stamps from France are usually large, very beautiful, and artistic.  And since France is not among the most active Postcrossing nations, cards from there are fairly rare which increases their value.  Vive La Poste!

Friday, June 7, 2024

Hot off the press 2

 Received earlier this week: Issue 126 of The Match!  This is the sporadically published 'zine from iconoclast Fred Woodworth to which I have subscribed for many years.  In fact, it is one of several publications the indefatigable Woodworth produces single-handedly and without use of any digital devices.  Indeed, Woodworth has no online presence and conducts his business completely in cash and via US postal mail.  As I've mentioned before, that alone captivates me as it feeds my typographical nostalgia.  The Match! is Woodworth's long lived "anarchist" 'zine (though he has recently shunned the use of the word).  With content more political than his literary 'zine, M&A Review, Woodworth has recently swerved from anti-authoritarian commentary to something more akin to MAGA conspiracy theories.  Despite that, and however much I may disagree with his political views, I always enjoy each issue when it arrives.  I mean, just consider- this issue includes a column that recalls material from previous issues of The Match! from 30, 40, and even 50 years ago!  Such dedication and longevity in itself is to be applauded.  Long may the analog typewriters and improvised offset printing press of Fred Woodworth live!

Monday, June 3, 2024

Happy Spite Day

 Here in Alabama, state workers today are enjoying a three-day weekend, as today is a holiday celebrating the birthday of Jefferson Davis.  Yes, you read that right.  In 2024, this state still observes an official holiday to honor an unremarkable leader of a failed nation who lived in Alabama for a very short time.  To those with a persistent white supremacist frame of mind, this shameful episode of history is what must be celebrated, and not merely recorded as something to avoid repeating.  But then, those who expect progressive, modern thought from Alabama are destined to be disappointed.

Friday, May 31, 2024

Worldwide mail

 I have picked up my pace a bit this month regarding Postcrossing postcards.  I've sent 90 cards in May while receiving 94.  It's been a rewarding month, with cards coming in from all corners of the globe.  With another USPS rate hike for stamps coming soon, I will continue to send out cards ahead of the price increase.  And each day as I check my mailbox, I never fail to be amazed at the satisfaction I have, seeing a simple square of paper on which some stranger has written a short message, which has then physically travelled many thousands of miles to reach me.  I've been at this hobby for well over a decade now, and I still find it as interesting as the day I began.  Write on.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Dark and stormy night

 An early morning thunderstorm has left much of central Alabama without power. But a gas stove and a moka pot (and a hand cranked coffee grinder) means life can go on. Here’s to Alabama Power crews as they work on a Memorial Day holiday to set things right. 

Sunday, May 19, 2024

The postman always sniffs twice

 Just ahead of this summer's Olympic Games in Paris, the French postal system, La Poste, has released a novelty- scratch and sniff stamps.  With Gallic whimsey, the fragrant stamps will give the scent of freshly baked baguettes, the species of bread so important to French culture.  This is not, however, the first time such a stamp has been issued.  Back in 2018, the US Postal System issued scratch and sniff stamps with the smell of fruity ice cream treats.  I used these stamps for a while when they were current and found it to be a pleasant effect.  It was an amusing novelty at the time, and showed a measure of fun and innovation not seen recently in the USPS.  So while I wait for the USPS to regain its efficiency and creativity, I will hopefully look forward to a Postcrossing postcard from France with a bread scented stamp.

Monday, May 13, 2024


 It’s been a busy weekend for Postcrossing. Over 30 postcards for the USPS this afternoon, destined for recipients around the world. And in more than 10 years of Postcrossing, a novelty for me- I’ll be sending a card to a Postcrosser who is also a US diplomat in Brazil. As such, I’m told I can save on the international postage rate of $1.55 per card, and instead I can send the card to a US address for 53 cents. From there, the card goes into a diplomatic pouch, and the State Department will transport it to the consulate in São Paulo. Cheaper, and faster, I’m told. This a first for me, so I’m interested to see how it works. 

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Writer's brain

 In this digital age, the art and skill of handwriting has quickly faded.  In many schools, students are no longer taught how to write in cursive.  And despite a more recent backlash to the anti-cursive trend, handwriting in any form is becoming a lost art.  This, despite the growing evidence that handwriting is useful, and important in brain development.  It seems that typing words on a keyboard doesn't promote the kind of memory and linguistic skills that forming letters by hand with pen and paper does.  The evidence seems clear- to really learn something, write it down by hand.  Your brain will thank you.  Maybe even in cursive.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Lend a can

 Every second Saturday of May, the US Postal Service and the National Association of Letter Carriers cooperate to support the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, the largest food drive in the nation.  All postal customers can participate by leaving a few non-perishable food items out at their mailbox for their regular postal carrier to collect.  The day of the drive this year will be tomorrow - Saturday, May 11, 2024.  So make an effort to help the 1 in 10 Americans who struggle with hunger.  It's simple to leave a can of food, a box of pasta, or a package of crackers or cookies out for your postal carrier, who will collect it.  The gathered food is then sorted and distributed by local food banks, so you will be helping your neighbors in need.  I will be leaving a bag of food out at the mailbox tomorrow for Shannon, our hard-working carrier.  I hope you'll join me!

Thursday, May 9, 2024

End of the road

 I read this morning that Chevrolet will soon cease production of its last gasoline powered sedan, the Malibu.  As a Malibu owner myself, I am saddened, though not surprised.  Such an end for the venerable nameplate has been discussed for years, and recently, trim levels and options of Malibus that were being built have been reduced.  It seems that market forces- SUVs are more fashionable these days, and automakers continue their move towards electric vehicles - have finally forced the decision.  But it's been a good run of about 60 years.  Malibu began as a trim level of the Chevy Chevelle in 1964, and soon began a model name in itself.  Since then, the vehicle has gone through nine major design generations, with the current design being released in 2016, with a minor 2019 design refresh.

I bought my Malibu in 2020, in the midst of Covid lockdown, which presented a few logistical challenges.  My 2020 Premier came with all options, a 2.0L turbo 4 cylinder engine that provides plenty of power and decent fuel economy.  And the infotainment center has been a pleasure.  When it works.  It's fairly complex and has given occasional computer-glitch headaches.  But on the whole, I have enjoyed the comfort and performance of the car which has become my daily driver after replacing my 2012 Nissan 370Z midlife-crisis-mobile.  (Which I still drive on the weekends.)  

My wife and I have a private code, or verbal shorthand for this situation:  mint Vienetta.  This refers to a favorite dessert of my father-in-law's, which was suddenly discontinued.  And so, in ending production of a favored product, Chevy has produced another mint Vienetta.