collection

Postage Stamps

Stamp 1

I read a piece in the New York Times the other day: An Inverted Jenny Surfaces. The Flawed Stamp Had Not Been Seen Since 1918 and it got me thinking about my own stamp collection (and yes, I was hoping I might have another copy of the inverted Jenny).

My late father inherited his father’s and his uncle’s stamp collection and I inherited my father’s collection and his younger brother’s. The stamps in these various collections are spectacular: both U.S. and lots of other countries. My father liked French, Belgian, and English colonies in Africa and I have many of those (see above and below), his father liked U.S. commemoratives and air mail stamps. The collections are far ranging and fascinating as many countries represented don’t exist anymore. So, collections like this one are a wormhole into a time that’s long gone, except for Wikipedia and the like.

I merged all the collections into fewer albums and kept it up until I went away to college in 1971. The collection was in my mother’s house until she died in 2016, then I had to bring it home.

There were two large boxes of albums, tools, smaller boxes of loose stamps, some of them needing to be soaked off of envelopes. You see, even though I wasn’t actively collecting since 1971, I was still corresponding with people all over the world and when I got envelopes back with interesting postage I tossed it in a box.

Last year I went down to New York and the Javits Center for a big philatelic (stamp) show. It was mind boggling and fun although one thing I learned for sure: stamp collecting is out of vogue and my collection is probably not worth much to anyone except me.

What to do with all of these great stamps?

Understand that not only are these stamps pieces of history, many of them are also marvels of printmaking and they’re beautiful as art objects.

Besides my now old and musty stamp collection (I have to take an antihistamine when I open one of the boxes) I also collect matchbooks and boxes, and many other pieces of interesting ephemera.

A while back I posted a video on Collectors and collections and another on Jane McDevitt’s Eastern European matchbox labels which sort of zero in on what I’ve decided to do with my stamps.

I was all set to set up my camera on a tripod and photograph stamps but then I realized that my flatbed scanner would do a better job and it would be a lot easier.

So, I experimented and came up with a process that I think works. Feel free to comment with ways to make this better.

1. Clean stamp (blow it off to get dust and hair off).

2. Clean scanner glass (scanner is an inexpensive Canon Lide 220).

3. Place stamps on scanner with enough space between them (white space) to rotate them to straiten once scanned.

4. I use MacOS and I don’t like Canon’s software so I use Apple’s Image Capture to run my scanner. Settings are Color, Millions of colors, 1000dpi, JPEG.

5. Run overview scan, then scan each stamp with enough border so as to straighten it later.

6. Drag all the scans into Apple Photos.

7. Crop and straighten, adjust white balance, enhance color if needed.

8. Export at full size JPEG.

9. Drag each stamp into Preview, choose “Show Markup Toolbar” then use the “Instant Alpha” tool (the magic wand on the left) to drag over the stamp’s background to make it transparent. One has to be careful with lighter colored stamps to not “leak” into the body of the stamp. This takes practice. Practice on copies. Alternatively use Photoshop or Pixelmator do do the same with dedicated tools.

10. Save the stamp as a JPEG and you’re done.

I reached into a box and pulled out a few hundred stamps of various kinds that weren’t mounted. These are just a random sample of French and Belgian colonies from the 1900’s. I have thousands of these from Africa, the Pacific islands, and other places that were colonized at the time. Not to mention all sorts of other stamps. This is my start…

Stamp 30

Stamp 21

Stamp 60

Stamp 50

Stamp 5

Stamp 2

Stamp 6

Stamp 3

Stamp 4

Turbulent touchdowns, Birmingham, UK

This is a collection of short videos of commercial airplanes landing at Birmingham, UK (BHX) airport on very difficult days for pilots. The filming and compilation is by flugsnug who has lots of commercial flying videos in his YouTube channel.

This seems like an odd video to embed here but I’ve always been amazed by video compilations like this one and this is an extremely high quality video. I recommend zooming it out to full screen if you can.

The reason the runaways look bumpy and the planes have the perspective they do is that videographer used a long lens which compresses the scene.

Crosswinds make pilots steer into them and the planes seem to be, and actually are traveling at very extreme and seemingly odd angles to the runway. This is called “crabbing” and is common. What makes these particular landings difficult and scary is that the winds are changing so these pilots are working very hard to keep the planes moving in the right direction with the right glide path to land.

As you can see, a number of pilots touch and go, take off again because they can’t get the plane stabilized safely.

As a person who has flown a lot, all over the world in many types of planes and in many types of conditions, I can relate to what passengers must be going through during these landings. Watching this made me extremely uneasy.

[via Sploid]

Dave Barry Quotations

I’ve been collecting quotations for years and figured I’d put my collections online for others to use as they wish. Enjoy these quotations, use the comment form to share any quotations by Dave Barry you don’t find here.

More on Dave Barry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Barry

Men, because of a tragic genetic flaw, cannot see dirt until there is enough of it to support agriculture.
– Dave Barry

It is better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick.
– Dave Barry

When I heated my home with oil, I used an average of 800 gallons a year. I have found that I can keep comfortably warm for an entire winter with slightly over half that quantity of beer.
– Dave Barry

Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.
– Dave Barry

Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.
– Dave Barry

Americans who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that, despite all the progress that has been made in the last 30 years, many foreign people still speak in foreign languages.
– Dave Barry

Recently I began to feel this void in my life, even after meals, and I said to myself, ‘Dave, all you do with your spare time is sit around and drink beer. You need a hobby.’ So I got a hobby. I make beer.
– Dave Barry

I like beer. On occasion, I will even drink beer to celebrate a major event such as the fall of communism or the fact that the refrigerator is still working.
– Dave Barry

Although golf was originally restricted to wealthy, overweight Protestants, today it’s open to anybody who owns hideous clothing.
– Dave Barry

American business long ago gave up on demanding that prospective employees be honest and hardworking. It has even stopped hoping for employees who are educated enough that they can tell the difference between the men’s room and the women’s room without having little pictures on the doors.
– Dave Barry

As a professional journalist, I have always been fascinated by people who appear to have even more spare time than I do.
– Dave Barry

Basically, the American businessman should dress as though he recently lost his entire family in a tragic boat explosion.
– Dave Barry

If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there are men on base.
– Dave Barry

Karate is a form of martial arts in which people who have had years and years of training can, using only their hands and feet, make some of the worst movies in the history of the world.
– Dave Barry

Never tell a woman that you didn’t realize she was pregnant unless you’re certain that she is.
– Dave Barry

Collectors and collections

I have this “disease” and there’s a very fine line between hoarding lots of stuff looking for patterns and the kind of high end collecting these folks do. Each class of collecting (hooding and high end collecting) has its extremes.

What these folks do that I haven’t done yet is curate their collections; my various collections sit in boxes in the basement and at some point when I’m not looking my wife may dispose of them. The sad part is, I might not notice for a while. Matchbooks, postcards, stamps, cigar boxes, coins, political cartoons, boarding pass stubs, embossed napkins, sea shells, pasta and a lot more. Ugh.

Another form of this is scrapbooking which tends to be about personal history but can be less focused as well. I tend to collect paper ephemera so my collections are probably a hybrid of objects and scrapbooking minus the curation and scrapbook.

In a way, blogging and reblogging is a type of collecting and curating, it’s just not objects that are being curated, it’s ideas or videos about ideas (like collecting and collectors).

Prediction Quotations

I’ve been collecting quotations for years and figured I’d put my collections online for others to use as they wish. Enjoy these quotations, use the comment form to share any interesting prediction quotations you don’t find here.

Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.
– Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?
– David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s

We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.
– Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962

Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.
– Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895

There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.
– Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.
– Western Union internal memo, 1876

The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.
– A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?
– H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927

A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make.
– Response to Debbi Fields’ idea of starting Mrs. Fields’ Cookies

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Quotations about Learning

I’ve been collecting quotations for years and figured I’d put my collections online for others to use as they wish. Enjoy these quotations, use the comment form to share any quotations about learning you don’t find here.

I never let my schooling interfere with my education.
– Mark Twain

I think everyone should go to college and get a degree and then spend six months as a bartender and six months as a cabdriver. Then they would really be educated.
– Al McGuire

Education is learning what you didn’t know you didn’t know.
– George Boas

I quit school in the fifth grade because of pneumonia. Not because I had it but because I couldn’t spell it.
– Rocky Graziano

Experience is a good school, but the fees are high.
– Heinrich Heine

Everyone is a genius at least once a year. The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together.
– Georg Christopher Lichtenberg

Any place that anyone young can learn something useful from someone with experience is an educational institution.
– Al Capp

The great difficulty in education is to get experience out of ideas.
– George Santayana

A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.
– Mark Twain

You live and learn. At any rate, you live.
– Douglas Adams

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Quotations about Dogs

I’ve been collecting quotations for years and figured I’d put my collections online for others to use as they wish. Enjoy these quotations, use the comment form to share any quotations about dogs you don’t find here.

My husband and I are either going to buy a dog or have a child. We can’t decide whether to ruin our carpet or ruin our lives.
– Rita Rudner

America is a large friendly dog in a small room. Every time it wags its tail it knocks over a chair.
– Arnold Toynbee

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.
– Robert Benchley

Outside of a dog, a book is probably man’s best friend, and inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.
– Groucho Marx

Dogs come when they’re called; cats take a message and get back to you.
– Mary Bly

Whoever said you can’t buy happiness forgot about little puppies.
– Gene Hill

In dog years I’m dead.
– Unknown

Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear.
– Dave Barry

I wonder what goes through his mind when he sees us peeing in his water bowl.
– Penny Ward Moser

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