Friday, February 13, 2015

Inverted Jenny

In 1918 the U.S. Postal Service issued a 24-cent air mail stamp that soon became world famous. It was supposed to be used on letters carried between Washington D.C. and New York City by airplane.  Air mail was a brand new service back then, as airplanes had only been around for a few years.

Soon after the air mail stamps went on sale, a collector named William Robey went to his local post office and bought a whole sheet of 100 of them. (Some people actually collect stamps as a hobby. M says he used to when he was a kid.) Right away Mr. Robey noticed something strange about his stamps. They all looked just like these:


The airplanes in the center were printed upside-down! Robey asked the postal clerk if he had any more sheets of the stamps, and when the clerk saw the misprints, he tried to get them back. But Robey told him tough noogies, finders keepers, and left the post office. He soon sold his "Inverted Jenny" stamps to another collector and used the money (which was way more than the $24 he paid) to buy a house.

No more of the misprinted stamps ever surfaced, and whenever one of them comes up for sale, it always goes for hundred of thousands of dollars. By the way, the reason the stamps were called the Inverted Jenny is that the Curtiss JN-4 biplane in the picture was nicknamed a Jenny. (For JN, get it?) There's a good article on this topic, including a recent reissue of the stamps, in The New York Times. To read it online, follow this link.

It would be nice to have one of those original hundred Inverted Jenny stamps. But you know what? Our family has some that are very similar to the airplane ones, and they're even more valuable, because they feature a real, live Jenny, and we wouldn't trade her for anything!

Among our Inverted Jenny treasures are this one:


And this one:


And this one:


And before I forget, to the upside-down lady in the center of each of those priceless stamps, I'd just like to say:


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What you see is not always what you get.

Near the end of our walk this morning, M and I spotted a bear. He was way up in a tree, growling his head off.


Upon further review, it turned out to be a guy with a chainsaw:



If you look closely at the top picture, you can just "bearly" see another growly chainsaw guy in the tree that's farther away behind the fence.

We breathed a sigh of relief and moved on.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Happy birthday, Bonnie!

Quick quiz: What do Nathan Lane, Morgan Fairchild, Blythe Danner, Gertrude Stein, Horace Greeley, Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd, James Michener, Felix Mendelssohn, Norman Rockwell, Val Doonican, Victor Buono, Shelley Berman, Fran Tarkenton, Joey Bishop, and my sister Bonnie have in common?

Today is their birthday!

For extra credit: What makes Bonnie's celebration different from all the others?

She gets to be serenaded by Talking Tom Cat:



HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BONNIE!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Groundhog Day--who needs it?

Mike says today is Groundhog Day, when every year a bunch of people in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, wake up some poor groundhog named Phil and make him come out of his nice warm burrow. The theory is that if Phil sees his shadow when he emerges, there will be six more weeks of winter. And if he doesn't see his shadow, spring is just around the corner. Here's a picture of Phil seeing his shadow, though it's a wonder he can see anything, when just a few seconds ago he was dreaming peacefully:


Is this really necessary? I'll bet Phil doesn't give a toss when winter will be over. He just wants to snooze until then. The ones who seem to care are all the overdressed dimbulbs who wake him up.


What's the matter with them--don't they have their own shadows, which they can either see or not? Someone needs to report them to PETA and the ASPCA.

Just my humble opinion. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Poems, Chiefly But Not Entirely in the Scottish Dialect

Today is the 256th birthday of Scotland's most famous poet, Robert Burns. He was born January 25, 1759, in the village of Alloway, Ayrshire, and died in Dumfries at the age of 37.


In his short life, Robbie (or "Rabbie," as he was sometimes called) wrote what looks like a gazillion poems, songs, and ballads on a variety of topics. (We have his complete works in a leatherbound book that we could use as a doorstop!) He even wrote a poem to a mouse, and another one to a louse that he saw on a lady's bonnet in church. One of his most famous collections is Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, published in 1786.

In honor of Burns' birthday, M wore his kilt on our walk this afternoon. This is the first chance he's had to wear it with his new Glengarry cap, which now sports a spiffy feather:

 
"Do you think I could write one?" I asked him as we eased on down the road.

"One what?"

"A poem chiefly in the Scottish dialect."

"Sure. Knock yourself out," he said.


By the time we got back to our house, here's what I had:

Bonnie Prince Charlie
Riding on a Harley,
Tearing up the heather,
Vroom! Vroom! Vroom!
All around the Islands,
Up and down the Highlands,
In fair or stormy weather,
Boom! Boom! Boom!

"Not sure you captured the dialect," M said. "But it does have a nice Caledonian theme."

I haven't thought of a title for it yet, but I'm dedicating it to Robert Burns.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RABBIE!