Samara O'Shea

Archive for August, 2011

Rise of the Post Office

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Here’s an interactive map I came across that shows the spread of post offices in the US between 1700-1900. I wonder if we’ll start charting the close of post offices now from 2011 – and beyond =(

“Using data from the USPS Postmaster Finder and the USGS Geographic Names Information System, geography graduate student Derek Watkins maps the opening of new post offices from 1700 to 1900. As you know, the mail must go through. No matter if it rains or snows. The mail must go through. So it’s also a great way to see expansion of the US.

Some interesting spots: In 1776, after the revolution, new offices open along the east coast; in 1848, during the gold rush, offices sprout up on the west coast; in the 1870s, offices along the railroad open up.”

Posted: Visualizing US expansion through post offices. from Derek Watkins on Vimeo.

Snail Mail My E-mail

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Not one but two friends sent me a link to Snail Mail My E-mail. Send these folks an e-mail (addressed to someone you know) and they will hand write and mail it for you. They’ll even seal it with a kiss if you ask! This service is free, and they kindly request that everyone uses it only once because they don’t want to overwork the volunteers. I posted the link to this site on Twitter last Friday and had a fun discussion with some readers.

Rodney (@rodney_o)said: “But is not the beauty of handwritten correspondence also the effort a writer takes to pen a note or letter?”

He’s right. This site does deny the writer the chance to connect with the page.

Reader Stephanie (@syntaxoflife) responded: “That’s part of it, but first we need to get people to understand how nice it is to receive mail! =)”

She is also right! When one becomes a lover of receiving handwritten mail, then the realization that s/he, too, can make someone’s day by writing a letter is not far behind. I am grateful for any gimmick that gets the letter-writing conversation going. If there’s anything I’ve learned from doing what I do, it’s that everyone has a letter story to tell. Whether it’s a letter they’ve written or received, everyone’s face lights up when telling an epistolary story. Sometimes that’s enough to send them home to sit down and hand write someone they love.

Words of the Weekend

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

I was in Manhattan this past weekend and stayed in Battery Park City with my friend Mickey. He lives a stone’s throw away from One World Trade Center (formerly known as The Freedom Tower). It’s about 80 floors right now—scheduled to be finished at the end of 2012. It will be the tallest building in the US when complete. I was in my apartment in Queens on September 11, 2001. I can’t believe it’s been ten years!

Mickey is a man of quotes. He has quotes all over his apartment—on his fridge, on the bookshelf, and even on the backside of the front door. Before I left I copied down my favorites:

“To acquire knowledge, on must study; but to acquire wisdom one must observe.”
~ Marilyn vos Savant

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” ~ Lena Horne

“If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Mickey also has a massive book collection. I left with a nonfiction work called Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton. I can’t wait to dive in. I’ll report back on my findings.