It was about 1 a.m. last night when I discovered a fabulous new time-waster on the internet, one which would combine a couple of my other time-wasting activities on the internet.
I requested a new address from Postcrossing, so I could send another postcard. When you do that you get an e-mail with the ID number of the card you are to send, the address of where it is to go, and a brief bio written by the person who will be receiving your card. This helps you choose a good card for that person. Some people, for example, love getting homemade cards, other people hate them. Some like animal cards, others prefer scenic cards, most don't like "free" cards (the kind you pick up at a restaurant, for example).
But few are as persnickety as "David," the guy who was to be getting my next card. His bio starts out with a complaint: I received six postcards in two weeks without any ID whatsoever, and a further two cards with incorrect ID numbers. This is getting ridiculous!
He then goes on to lay out his preferences: I prefer viewcards measuring 15cm X 10cm (6 X 4 inches) and if possible showing a serial number, although not all cards have serial numbers. Please DO NOT send hand-made, ad-cards, self-made photographs, greetings cards (e.g. Christmas, New Year, Easter), art cards, drawings, shaped cards, black-and-white/sepia cards etc. My favourite cards include places of interest, for example: castle, palace, ruin, abbey, monastery, church, cathedral, temple, mosque, monument, city, mountains, volcano, custom, tradition, nature, ancient or modern architecture - something I would like to see if I came to your area.
Of course this guy has been a member of Postcrossing for over 4 years, has sent 3,800 cards and received 3,723 cards. He boasts that he has over 106,000 cards from the 1960s.
He's also from England. After reading through his very specific rules and rather prickly messages, I had a mental image of this old guy (57...just a kid) in a small apartment in some sort of Dickensonian house, hunched over his card collection in his library.
Then I got this great idea. I realized I could look him up on Google Earth (if you don't have this program you are missing out on a lot of fun!). Not only could I look him up on Google earth and see the area where he lives from an overhead angle, but there were street photos, so I could actually virtually stand on his street and look around 360 degrees. (turns out it's a more modern area than I imagined and I guess he's not the kind of person I pictured anyway).
Then I figured out what a wonderful tool Google Earth would be to enhance the enjoyment of getting a postcard from a stranger halfway around the world, so I spent the next hour looking up people on Google Earth. I discovered that some countries don't allow street photos (or they haven't been taken yet), so I could only see the rooftops of the girl who sent me a photo from Lithuania, for example.
A photo from Holland looked similar to the neighborhood in England...
..but nothing like the neighborhood in Taiwan.
or Queensland, Australia
I was disappointed in the places that didn't have street views (Germany, Tasmania, Poland, Malaysia, Austria, Belgium, etc). The Russian arial views put up so much information that you had to read cyrillic script in order to figure out what you were looking for. And I haven't been able to enter information on some of the addresses (e.g., China and Portugal) in a format that Google Earth understands. But if nothing else, you can get a sense of the area where someone lives--near freeway? near water? in the countryside? small village?
This has added an entirely new dimension to Postcrossing!
Quote of the day, from Facebook: Does anyone else see the irony in this tragedy? In Arizona, the state that has been the de facto “face” of recent political gay bashing (DADT-McCain) and racism (their highly controversial immigration law), a white straight man shoots a female Jewish member of congress who then has her life saved by a gay Hispanic American. It’s poetic