Sunday, March 29, 2015

scientific settings of pleasure

Rezervaţia ştiinţifică Pădurea Domnească is the Royal Forest Reserve, a scientific reserve in the Glodheni District of Moldova along the Prut River bordering Romania was founded in 1993 and immortalized on this 1999 Europa stamp
According to the Moldova Holidays website the reserve includes various tree species including willows, oaks, poplars, and beeches. Moldova’s largest and oldest stand of old-growth oak trees can be found here; the oldest tree is recorded to be more than 450 years old. It is also home to many birds, most notably herons, which nest in the trees near the river. The herons are so abundant that the local people call the area the “land of the herons”.  Many animals can also be found in the reserve, including a small herd of bison, brought to the reserve after an agreement with the Polish government. (I am wondering why there isn't a bison or heron pictured on this stamp?). Another interesting attraction within the reserve is a landscape of hills and knolls called the “one hundred hill”; to this day how they were formed remains a mystery.

and speaking of Romania, I also have this 1965 stamp of the Cluj Botanical Gardens showing a greenhouse, hibiscus and bird of paradise

Grădina Botanică Alexandru Borza a Universităţii Cluj-Napoca (Romanian is rather easy to translate) or the Alexandru Borza Cluj-Napoca University Botanic Garden was founded in 1905 and taken over by the university in 1920 and became a historical monument in 2010. It is both a tourist attraction as well as a scientific and educational garden.

There is a complex of six greenhouses (sera) for orchids and ferns, bromeliades, succulents, palms trees, and aquatic plants.

I must say, I have no idea how I would have found out any of this information on these two stamps without the aid of the internet. It has made stamp collecting so much more interesting and I now even go to shows with specifics in mind, rather than my usual response (when asked what I'm looking for) "something pretty".

for SundayStampsII - gardens and woodlands

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Apart from having to change planes in Honolulu on my way from Vancouver to Melbourne, I have never been to Hawaii.  On my way back to Vancouver, my luggage did spend a few days in Hawaii, even though my plane did not stop there, which was a bit confusing. I have had a few Hawaiian shirts in my time. And I watch Hawaii Five-O regularly (enjoying the reboot as much as the original). But that is my only connection to these islands.

The hibiscus is the state flower and the Hawaiian Goose is the state bird (which I'm sure is much more beloved than the Canada Goose, and not just because it is only found on the Hawaiian islands of Oahu, Maui, Kaua'i and Hawai'i )

an island stamp for Sunday Stamps II

Monday, March 16, 2015

expect delays

It didn't really feel like it, but we hit double digits today of 11ºC though, with a windchill, it felt much colder and it will keep on getting colder again as the week moves on. So, I thought it was high time I went for a walk and took some photos and posted some sort of adventure. And see if I have any readers left.

I set off to the beach. 
Which at this time of year looks like this
that's filthy snow covering the sand
and yes, it is right on a hydro corridor and beside a busy highway!
by the time spring gets here and the weather is more pleasant, I will have to make the effort to actually walk the whole distance from my home, instead of from the parking lot
especially as this will be happening

The bridge in question is the lift bridge over the canal between Lake Ontario and Burlington BayThere's information on the history of the canal lighthouse which was built in 1858. It's been decommissioned and is now boxed in (and dwarfed) by the two bridges.
Another sign has a helpful map to guide pedestrians who wish to cross the canal, which can be especially confusing when the trees are full and blocking the view.
I was hoping to see some of the dozens of ducks that like to hang out in the canal, but with the fast flowing ice, they had all moved out to more open water
Interestingly, the ice was moving out from the frozen bay to the open lake when I arrived, but was moving back into the bay by the time I'd walked the length of the pier.
Somewhere in among all those buildings in the distance is where I live
The pier isn't maintained and the snow has turned into a muddy, slushy mess

Spring melt is not fun or pretty, especially in the city and there is news that more snow could be on its way by the end of the week. March is always unpredictable. And spring may delayed.
But at least there are some ducks to see.
a short and mostly unpleasant walk for Restless Jo's Monday Walks
with signs of a delayed spring and impending traffic congestion for signs, signs

Sunday, March 15, 2015

a cloudy day on venus

This is the most modern space related stamp I have though I also have several stamps of the space age from the 1960's
issued in 2012 it shows the clouds on Venus from a photo taken by the Venus Express probe. The European Space Agency's Venus Express spent eight years in orbit. Part of its mission was to study the atmosphere and ionosphere of Venus. These clouds may look benign, but by tracking the clouds in images, it was found that average wind speeds around this 'super-rotating' planet have increased from roughly 300km/h to 400km/h over a period of six  Earth years.
Venus Express died in December 2014 after exhausting its propellant during a series of thruster burns to raise its orbit following the low altitude aerobraking during which it dipped lower into the atmosphere on its closest approach to the planet.
from the ESA website:  
Normally, the spacecraft would perform routine thruster burns to ensure that it did not come too close to Venus and risk being lost in the atmosphere. But this unique adventure was aimed at achieving the opposite, namely reducing the altitude and allowing an exploration of previously uncharted regions of the atmosphere.

The campaign also provided important experience for future missions – aerobraking can be used to enter orbit around planets with atmospheres without having to carry quite so much propellant.

SundayStamps II

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Irish trams of yore

Ever since I was young, trams - or streetcars as they are called in Toronto - have fascinated me. From where we lived, it was usually the bus and subway that we took to get downtown, but every now and then we would go somewhere along Queen St or Gerrard St and that meant a streetcar. I still prefer the streetcar or LRT (light rail transit) to buses, and wish we weren't so opposed to a dedicated rail lane in our cities. Having experienced the excellent tram system in Amsterdam recently, I fear neither Toronto nor Hamilton will ever catch up.

This FDC from 1987 shows a variety of interesting double decker trams. With a little research, I learned that every city in Ireland had its own distinctive trams that set each apart from another. 

  • the Cork Electric Tram operated from 1898 to 1931, falling victim to the popularity of the omnibus. By 1901 there were 35 trams running along three routes for 9 miles 
  • the Dublin Standard Tram was started amid much opposition (from the horse trams) in 1896. The last horse tram was in 1901 and by then the Dublin United Tramways Co had over 50 miles of electrified trams running through the city. In the mid 1940's electric trams were abandoned and the last one to finish its route needed police protection from souvenir hunters
  • the Howth Tram was part of the Great Northern Railway and ran from 1901 to 1959. It's route was 5 miles on a mostly single track and when it was shut down two bus routes were needed because of the narrow hill curves. In winter, icy roads on the hill sometimes cause suspension in the bus service, unlike the trams which ran in all weather conditions
  • the Galway Horse Tram ran between 1879 and 1918. There were six double decker tram cars and each needed two horses for the 2 mile journey from Galway to the seaside town of Salthill. It relied heavily on the tourist trade, which, naturally plummeted during the First World War. Also, the horses were commandeered by the British Army
see more trains and trams on SundayStamps

Sunday, March 1, 2015

smiling faces

Look at these smiling, happy faces of 
John Glenn (right) and Walter Schirra (left)

These stamps from Romania were issued in 1963 as part of their Space Navigation series. There are ten altogether, 6 Russians and 4 Americans. All are set at an angle except for four of the Russians for some reason. The designer was a Dimitrie Stiubei (1901-1986), and it is interesting to note that the flag on each of the stamps has a different fluttering image.

As a side note, I have been reading You Are Here, the photo essay book by Chris Hadfield from his journey on the International Space Station. If you haven't seen this, I highly recommend it. If you have only seen his photos from his twitter account when he was the commander of the ISS, you are still in for a treat with his delightful and thought-provoking commentary accompanying the photos. I bet, if Schirra and Glenn could re-enter space in the 21st century, their smiles would be even grander!

Faces for SundayStampsII