Writing, Writing, Writing, Keep those Postcards crossing!

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Sometimes you come across something that you are not sure is a hobby, a thing to pass the time or an obsession. And right now I am trying to figure out this one.

Cruising on Pinterest one day, I came across a pin, that read something like…send and receive postcards from around the world.

Sounds like fun, so sign me up.

PostCrossing.com is a service that hooks up people from around the world who want to learn a little about where other people live and received a postcard.  The service is free, and all they ask of you is to send a postcard.

Thinking that residing in a touristy area, it would be easy to come across a postcard. It turns out it is not as easy as I would have thought. It took about two days of going to every CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens in the area to finally find the prize.

11304702063_d412975294Okay, I will admit I finally gave up and headed to Flamingo Gardens, (more about that place later) and bought some from the gift shop. But hey, it had a smiling alligator on it. My next step was trying to figure out how to mail it. It turns out American Forever stamps do not work for international mail, but thankfully the helpful postal work (who had to return my first attempt) told me to buy forever international stamps. So during my lunch break at work, I bought ones that have the moon on it. Not the most decorative ones, but it worked. And my postcard finally got sent out on Jul 17, 2016, and was received by a girl in Russia on August 28 (that was two attempts later).

I got my first postcard on August 24th, and it was a beautiful one from Japan.

There were a couple of things I learned along the way with this. One, have fun writing and decorating the postcard. Two, buy in bulk, that way you are not running around trying to find postcards. Three, forever international stamps are the way to go.

The neat thing about this service is that you can track your postcards.  So I hear are my statistics since I signed up for this service/hobby/obsession. I have sent 7 postcards to the following countries: China, Russia, Belarus, Canada, Latvia, and 2 to Germany. I have received 4 so far: Hong Kong, Russia, Taiwan, and Japan. So far I have two in transit (I don’t where they are coming from).

Here is how it works, you sign up for it. You receive an address with a registration code on it. You buy a postcard from your local drugstore, grocery store, tourist destination, etc. You write the register code on it, plus whatever messages you want. Mail it. When the person receives the postcard, he or she goes online and register it. Then your information goes into a pot, somebody draws it and send you a postcard.

You can send up to 6 postcards at once, (I usually do). And I love receiving the postcards, because it is nice to get something in the mail that isn’t bills or junk.

In a world where we are just a mouse click away and yet have lost the art of communications, it is a  great way of learning a little more about the world.

Since I have started this, I have a couple of questions about the services (mostly from friends who want to do this with their children).

I don’t speak any other language than English, is this going to be a problem?

Not really, I read on a third grade level of Spanish, and a little bit of Danish, and had no problem communicating. You can make a choice where you only received postcards that are in English, but where is the fun in that. I had one that the greeting was written in Japanese (It’s cool to see your name in another language) and the rest was written in English. Some of the words were a little strange, but I had no trouble understanding what she was telling me.

How much does usually cost you?

The biggest cost is the stamps, which I bought the international forever stamps (about $1.15) and the cost of a postcard. I have a tendency to buy a lot of postcards at once. My last purchase was 12 cards that cost me about $10.00. It’s not a very expensive hobby.

I want my child to learn about other people, is this a safe hobby for them, is it a good hobby for them?

Two of my postcards have been sent to students (Honk Kong and Belarus) both wanting to practice their English. I think this is a very good hobby for kids because not only do they learn a little bit about the world (I had to look up where Belarus was) but also a good way to practice writing a letter. It is very safe, but you can always sign them up for PO box, if you are unsure. A couple of my friends’ kids (ages 8 – 13) have signed up and get really excited about receiving postcards.

What are you going to do with all those postcards? (OJ asked me this one)

I planned to add them to my travel journal when I visit that country.

What types of postcard can you send?

Any kind as long as it’s PG and family friendly. So far I have received a postcard that had a Chinese poem on it, tulips, some beautifully dressed Maiko, and advertisement for a Bus Company (it was written in Taiwanese but the cartoon buses on the in back were cute!). And I have sent anything with a picture of Florida beaches, wildlife, Disney characters and maps on it.

What do you write on the postcard?

wp-1474219086815.jpgUsually I included the date and the weather. And then anything else is depending on the profile. If there is a special interest, then I included it. One of my postcards went to a guy in Germany who likes to collect stamps so I added another stamp for his collection. Sometime I add a hand drawn map or some other graphics.  Another one was interested in beer, so I put a picture of a locally brewed beer with a postcard of the beach, so he can enjoy a beer on the beach. He loved it!

The point is to have fun with it.

I would love to receive a postcard, but I don’t like to write.

That’s okay, my tulip one only said Hi from Russia. But the picture was very pretty and I was just happy it wasn’t a bill.  You can write as little or as much as you want.

That’s about it, I hope you all sign up for postcrossing and as we say keep posting.

Bloggers, Unplugged

 

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There is no reasoning with Hurricane Season

Squalls out on the gulf stream, Big storm commin’ soon Passed out in my hammock God, I slept till way past noon

–       Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season

wp-1474219007950.jpgLiving in South Florida, you learn a lot about the world. First, you are not as brave as you think you are when you realize that roaches can fly. Second, no place, no matter how far you travel is as humid as South Florida. Third, Adobe season makes everything better. And last, there is no reasoning with hurricane season.

Hurricane Season, which begins on June 1 and goes through Thanksgiving, is something that most Floridians anticipate, much like the North anticipates the fall season. Except there is no hurricane season double grande lattes at your local Starbucks. Now there would be a flavor of coffee; dirt, sweet, mixed in with bugs and mugginess to create such a delightful flavor. I am going to stick with my pumpkin latte, thank you.

Hurricanes might be the big storm, but throughout those months when the Atlantic Ocean is brewing her deadliest, we Floridians get a sample of appetizers to snack on. Meaning the weather during these months is a little unpredictable.  Think if Mother Nature went off her meds for schizophrenia, sociopath, and split personality while she was going through PMS and menopause at the same time, and you get a glimpse of what the weather is like during hurricane season.

One minute it is monsooning and the next it is a bright day. You can watch a storm stroll down the street, and every day is a 50 percent chance of rain. Mixed in with the fact that South Florida is the lightning capital of the world and you get hurricane seasons.

I have lived most of my life here, and except for a college and a breath stint when I first got out, Florida has been my home. So by now, you would think I have some understanding of this crazy time of the year, when making outdoor plans is a gamble. But the truth is, I still haven’t figured it out.

About three weeks ago, we were supposed to be hit by a tropical storm, so like any Floridian, I rushed out to get my supplies, unplug everything, and wait in total darkness for the storm to hit. This one decided to take a detour and hit the northwestern part of the state, leaving us alone except for a bunch of thunderstorms, and a supposed tornado.

Not much to talk about. But after spending two days of doing the unplug everything and re-plugging everything every 20 minutes, not going out, but board out of your mind, it makes one think how anyone wants to live in these conditions.

But after living through two of deadliest hurricanes, a bunch of not so deadly category 2s, countless tropical storm and one storm of the century (Hurricane Andrew), you don’t take the warning lightly.

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Andrew coming from a visit

 

Thankfully, we just had installed hurricane impact windows, or I would have been living with having to board up the place too.

And you can always tell when it is hurricane season, because first off, your local Publix always has at least one display of hurricane supplies, second you will see the houses that are completely boarded up, but people are still living in it. We have a tendency that once the shutters go up, they stay up during the whole stormy season even if nothing else happens. And three, we stock up on alcohol. You need something to get you through being boarded up with your family, with no electricity. And usually, about 9 months after the big one hits, you will see an increase in the populations. Again, you need something to take away the boredom.

With all the craziness of hurricane season, you might wonder why anyone would want to live here. The truth is…we just get used to them, like alligators they are here to stay.

To most Floridians, anything below a category 3 is a day off from work and the chance to host a hurricane party. We moan and groan when the meteorologists find another system out in the Atlantic, and talk about our generators. But for the most part, hurricane season is something that most Floridians don’t notice, much like the autumn up north.

 

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The views of sunrise and sunset from my back yard

There is one good aspect about the Florida hurricane season, is that we get some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

So in the end, I guess the Jimmy Buffet Song, Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season, is true.

There’s white caps on the ocean

And I’m watchin’ for water spouts

It’s time to close the shutters

It’s time to go inside

In a week I’ll be in gay par-ey

Hell that’s a mighty long airplane ride

 

 

Bloggers, Unplugged