04 July 2009

U.S.2009 Stamp Release Schedule

This web page has the full stamp schedule for U.S. Postal releases for 2009. 2009 U.S. Stamp Release Schedule The dates in brackets on the calendar are 30 and 60 days after each date. 30 days is useful for knowing when a pictorial postmark request must normally be postmarked. 60 days is useful for first day covers. The information is current as of July 3, 2009

Creative Commons License
U.S. 2009 Stamp Schedule by William W. Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.usps.com.

20 February 2009


I've received pictorial postmarks in several different colors.

Most of them are black. One or two are blue or red.

The black ones so far last really well. The red one looked great when I received it, but when I looked recently, the colors have started to bleed.

-- Bill

14 February 2009

Cover Collectors Circuit Club

Here's a club that's wonderful for a stamp collector.

You join the organization and then originate or continue "circuit" of covers - it's nothing like chain mail - chain mail is you mail 10 people and tell them they should mail 10 people or their grandmother will break her hip --

Instead a circuit is set up where I would mail a cover to Joe and then Joe would mail one to Raul and then Raul would mail one to Jamal who would mail one back to me.

Once I join (soon) I'll ask to get covers for centennial and beyond anniversaries, science, technology and space related stamps and famous people from a country who were not king or other rulers.

My grandparents had a similar thing set up when they were living. It was their Round Robin letters. There were about a dozen couples that were part of the round robin. Each couple would take their old letter out of the packet, read all of the other people's letters to see what's going on in in the others lives and then share their joys and family with the rest of the group.

The whole group was very dedicated and kept the project going for several decades.

The United States makes a lot of different stamp designs, but they don't hold a candle to some of those made by many other countries.

One thing I'm going to try, if it's allowed by CCCC rules, is to in addition to creating a circuit is to mail to the first person in the circuit a second envelope containing a circuit using stamps from his or her country so that even though I'm originating the circuit in the U.S., the first stamps come from, say, Canada or Australia.

Of course, when I can, I'll try to find pictorial postmarks that match the interests of the first person in the circuit.

I'm pretty enthused about this...

-- Bill

06 February 2009

Permanent Court of Arbitration

Today in 1899 the Permanent Court of Arbitration was formed.

Despite the provincial attitude of so many citizens of the USA, international organizations to solve conflicts between nations are essential. One BBS I belong to in Indiana wondered whether we should care about how the world views the USA. The civilized world doesn't end at the borders of the US (so to speak) and a self-centered attitude about our interaction with other peoples and nations is in no ones best interest.

Since 1899 many other forums for settling disputes in the world peacefully have been created. The world is becoming daily more connected and a problem in, say, Central Africa, can have substantial consequences in southeast Asia.

Trustworthiness in following through in international agreements is essential. Some nations have a history of acting against their commitments when it is convenient. This can only increase suspicion and distrust. The perception that one nation is poising itself to threaten another wastes energy and good will on countering the threat.

Moving back toward complete independence and self-autonomy is impossible. Any attempt to try will be thwarted before it gets started by the tendons that connect all of the peoples of the world.

Predating the Permanent Court of Arbitration by several decades is the Universal Postal Union, which also maintains cooperation between nations on postal issues.

-- Bill

03 February 2009

Louis Braille

I owe significant part of my salary to Louis Braille who turned 200 last week.

You probably know that he invented the system for printing documents so that blind people can read the raised dots on the paper. They're formatted as 3 rows of two dots:

1 4
2 5
3 6

With my job at an accessibility technology company (I help program Window-Eyes, a screen reader so that blind or people with low vision can use computers. We have other products that are more mobile than a PC.) I've learned more about Braille than just that. For example, the way that you can tell that the document is upside down is that it feels like nonsense. Also, depending on exactly the shape of the dots and the paper's characteristics, some printing may be very difficult to read even though it is formatted correctly.

A couple other interesting properties of Braille are that every letter has a dot in the top row. I used to think that there were 64 possible characters for each position of Braille 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 or 26- two choices for each place. That's not actually the case. Because every letter has a dot in the top row, there are only 3 possibilities for the two cells in the top row. which cuts down the number of possibilities to 48. Numbers are an exception and they are the first 10 letters shifted down one row. There are special marks for capitalization and punctuation.

Also, Braille has a system known as grade 2 which abbreviates syllables and phonemes to reduce the number of characters that text takes up. Other languages have variants of grade 2 and of the alphabet.

How does that pay part of my salary? Several companies make devices with cells of 6 or 8 pins simulating the dots of a single character of Braille. (the extra two dots on the bottom extend the possibilities.) Window-Eyes controls the cells on these Braille display so that any letter can be placed in any position dynamically. One of my sub-projects is to extend and maintain our software that converts what we speak into commands for the Braille display driver.

We can also display what is on the display textually on the computer screen. Since I don't know Braille I need a chart to look at the pins visually to find letters beyond the short list that I already know. It would impossibly impede my development. The text makes it possible for me to work without needing the help of one of our employees that can read Braille to do my work with Braille.

Without Louis Braille, there would be no Braille and besides the tragedy that that would be for so many people, I wouldn't be able to enjoy creating Braille dynamically.

Tangentially, this relates to stamp collecting and numismatics because some countries are making stamps commemorating the day. (I saw on another stamp collecting blog that Ireland is one of those countries.) Also, the U.S. has plans to release a silver dollar collectible in a couple of months for the event.

-- Bill

25 January 2009

Oregon 1859

Oregon is celebrating their Sesquicentennial this month.

I've seen entire counties celebrate by releasing a pictorial postmark for each town in the county. For example, Wise County, Texas celebrated their sesquicentennial on Oct. 7, 2006 with a parallel postmark for the 4 towns that is only different in the city name and zip code.

Oregon is a nightmare gone worse. They have a similar set of postmarks for, as best as I can tell, every city in the state - over 300!

I (wisely) decided I wasn't going to request that many postmarks, so I've picked a few with the same names as towns near where I live or have peculiar names.

-- Bill