Thursday, August 27, 2009

PFF: Postcards with History: Berlin wall

Sometimes a mundane tourist postcard can be a window on history in a way that can take your breath away. That’s the case of someone doing a grand tourist tour of Europe in August 1961.

Postcard of Hanau am Main – Marktplatz, Dated Friday Aug. 25, postmarked Aug 26 1961 by the US Army Air Force Postal service. Addressed to Gregg Spence in Dayton Ohio.
“Here at Hanau, just outside Frankfurt, we found Capt. Don and family greeting us at the airport. After touring in Holland, France, Spain, Italy and Switzerland, we are glad to be with our own people. The tense feeling over Berlin has decreased somewhat. Next we go to Bremen and British Isles. When we return, I want to see if the porch roof has leaks, see back steps and find leak on big roof – [illegible]"

Just one sentence but what a piece of history. I direct you to and the Wikipedia entry on the Berlin Wall for background history.

The first iteration of the wall was constructed during the night of August 12-13, 1961. All border crossings to East Germany were closed. Barbed wire and rolled barbed wire (concertina wire) were strung up. See image below.

Streets were torn up, and the rail lines and subway lines connecting East and West were broken. Soon, the building of a solid wall began. As of August 23, citizens of West Berlin were no longer allowed to enter East Berlin. On September 20, forced evacuation of houses immediately at the border started. (People were jumping from the windows, you see, and running to West Berlin).

The West did not really respond except with words, and the building of the wall continued. Who knew what importance the Berlin Wall would have over time? At the moment, maybe a leaky roof in Dayton Ohio was more important to the writer. What aspects of history are happening today that we are overlooking?

November 9, 2009 will be the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kentucky Geology Postcard

Published by the Kentucky Geological Survey.
From the back: "Detailed geologic maps for all areas of Kentucky, as well as reports about Kentucky's geology and mineral and water resources, are available from: Kentucky Geological Survey, 228 Mining and Mineral Resources Bldg., University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0107."
This is an older postcard, no Internet address, so I am not sure if the Survey is still at this address.

The Legend has the color coding for the rocks of different ages - the geological periods - from oldest at the bottom to youngest at top. Alluvium means recent river deposits. Yes, geology students have to memorize these names - in order too!

The rocks in Kentucky are all sedimentary rocks. the Pennsylvanian rock formations have many layers of coal, for which KY is well-known. The electricity powering my house and my laptop comes from burning coal, sending CO2 into the atmosphere.
The black lines are faults. These are areas where one side of the earth's crust has moved relative to the other side. It could have moved sideways, or up and over, or slide down and away.

Notice the line with 'teeth' on it in the lower right or southeast portion of the state. This is Pine Mountain Fault, an area where one part of the earth's crust was shoved up and over to the northwest, and the rocks are tilted as a result.
If you drew a cross section from London KY to Middlesboro KY showing the layers underneath, it might look like this image from the KY Geological Survey.

I have not been feeling well but I am getting better. And I miss Marie's posts at vintage postcards. Oh well, keep on blogging, even if no one comments. See you Friday for PFF I hope!

Monday, August 17, 2009

August Postcard scavenger Hunt: My funniest postcards

A scavenger hunt hosted by Postcardy.

First, A Ken Brown favorite. My brother was at college living much like this when this card was published - much laughter in the family.

Postcardy says: "My funniest postcards are ones that stand out in my mind from hundreds of funny, but forgettable, postcards. I always remember these."

This next one I find horrible yet funny, and unforgettable. DO NOT scroll down it you are a sensitive soul.




copyright Richard Watherwax. P.O. Box 429, Rockport, Maine 04856. Address your complaints to him. Yes it's awful. But it is unforgettable.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Geology Postcard: Earthquake hazards map

Published by the US Geological Survey.
From the back: "USGS Earthquake Hazard Map showing earthquake ground acceleration having a 10 percent probability of being exceeded in 50 years for a firm rock site condition. This map is based on seismicity and fault-slip rates and takes into account the frequency of occurrence of earthquakes of various magnitudes. Locally, hazard may be greater than that shown, because site geology may amplify ground motions. Map for other parameters and probabilities of exceedance may be found on the Internet."

OK, in everyday language:
Where earthquakes (EQ) have happened in the past, they are likely to happen again. We also know the location of the San Andreas fault and other faults. These areas are likely to have earthquake shaking in the future.
Big earthquakes are rare but the ground shakes a lot. Little earthquakes are more common but the shaking is much less.

Red areas can be interpreted as areas where EQ are likely to happen in the future, and the shaking will likely be pretty strong. This includes the San Andreas fault area in California, but also the area from Death Valley north along the state line. Also Yellowstone National Park. White areas are safest. In terms of statistics, Wisconsin and Minnesota have had the least number of earthquakes of all the states.

Surprising areas of past EQ activity: Charleston, SC. There was a devastating EQ there in the 1880's and nothing much since. Central USA: 3 huge EQ's in 1811 - 12 that knocked down most houses, scared the **** out of everyone, dropped large areas of the land and momentarily made the Mississippi River run backward. Click on that link if you don't believe me. Still, many tiny earthquakes happen in that area weekly.

See a map of current earthquake activity at There are several largish earthquakes in the world EACH DAY.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Miami Beach postcard folder- PFF

Happy Postcard Friendship Friday! See Marie's webpage for more fun!

Sent to Miss Margaret Spence, Woodbridge, Conn., from Mrs. George Pierce of Providence RI. Postmarked 1947.
After MuseSwings did her series of postcards from Private Burns, Florida post cards jump out at me. (You must see her series of posts of his 5 postcards sent to his wife Anna during WW2.) I noticed a group of postcards at an antique mall, with the Miami Beach folder on top.

A folder holds a number of images, in a fan fold. They are not for mailing individually because they are printed with images on both sides.

Pvt. Burns also sent a postcard of the 41st street bridge, which crosses over to the wealthy community of Indian Creek. Muse Swings has described this area well.
"Exclusive Hotels on Collins Avenue." This is just like the postcard sent by Pvt. Burns! See this Post by MuseSwings. Yep, even down to the clouds and the cars on the street. Above that image, some "palatial ocean front hotels". I wonder if they have been replaced by gigantic high rises.

And finally two more scanned images. The classic palm trees and sunbathers, but also a less scenic image of the MacArthur Causeway connecting Miami and Miami Beach. And a blimp. Somehow I'm attracted to blimp postcards.
Note the drawbridge. It has been replaced with a new high bridge. This picture from Wikipedia, is, I think, taken from the same angle.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New Jersey Geology Postcard

Published by the Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Science and Research, Geological Survey, 1997.

From the back: "New Jersey's rocks and sediments record 1.5 billion years of geologic history and hold valuable mineral resources and ground water. Minerals production includes approximately $ 290 million per year in sand, gravel, crushed stone, glass sand, peat, clay, and greensand. Groundwater is pumped at over 535 million gallons per day, providing about 40 per cent of the drinking water used by the state's 7.95 million people."

Large quantities of sand gravel, etc are needed to make concrete. Crushed stone is the bottom layer of road beds, including railroad beds, so these items are needed in bulk. glassware of all types starts with a good clean quartz sand. Clay is used in paper-making and many other things as well as pottery. Greensand is a soil amendment, added if soils are too basic.

Groundwater is, simply, water under the ground. It is pumped out for irrigation if needed, but in the East it supplies water for people. Americans use a lot of water every day! Drinking, bathing, cleaning, preparing foods... and many factory processes require water also.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Don't spill Diet Coke on your laptop!

Friday I was arranging books on a shelf when an old Diet Coke can fell over, spilling a bit of flat soda on my keyboard before falling to the floor and spilling most of the rest of the contnets on the carpet. Computers that have not been "rugged-ized" (is that a word?) do not like this. Monday, I think it's off to the computer reapir shop. Be careful out there people! Oh yeah, and back up your files.
I am on the home laptop now - I'll get more geology postcards to you soon.


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