Air Mail Stamps Part 2

In early February I shared 14 designs I had created for “air mail” stamps and stickers.  Since I’m a fan of letter writing, I thought it would be fun to have some diversity in terms of how I indicate that my letters and postcards should travel first class air mail.

You were all very generous in providing your feedback and after taking your feedback to heart, I selected two designs to turn into rubber stamps and four designs to turn into stickers.

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The marks of the rubber stamps (obviously)

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And the stickers.  The quality of the printing is pretty poor.  They just used adhesive paper run through a color laser printer.  But it is a good first batch and I’ll seek out a higher-quality printer in the future.  Considering that I now have something like 400 stickers, that won’t be anytime soon!

Now, as to the topic of letter writing, just a reminder that April is National Card and Letter Writing Month.  If you haven’t used this low tech way of staying in touch in a while, why not make it a point to sit down a write a few letters to friends and loved ones?

 

Air Mail Stamps

I have a love of stamps, especially air mail stamps.  There’s something romantic about envelopes bearing colorful and exotic stamps, and the receipt of a letter in a red- and blue-striped envelope with “par avion” marked on the outside holds all the promise of great adventure in foreign lands.

Many of you know that I write letters to my nieces for them to save and open when they turn 18.  Along the way, I send letters from different countries I journey to and ask at the post office here in Thailand for the latest and most interesting stamps, so that when they sit down with the letters as adults, they enjoy a journey even before opening them.

I must say, though, that I’ve grown tired of the Thai Post Office “air mail” stamp.  I’ve recently thought about having a rubber stamp or two custom made with my own air mail logo.  Browsing the internet, I collected bits of clip art and sat down last week to create some potential designs.  Lacking Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, I instead used PowerPoint and SnagIt to create and manipulate these images.  Your thoughts and opinions are most welcome. 

1Stamp Design 1 

#1 – My initial design was very simple, perfect for a rubber stamp.  It features a plane that looks to be a Ford Tri-Motor and some simple text, with French, naturellement!

2Stamp Design 2

#2 – Advancing the design a bit, I decided to get more martial in my font choice.  This would certainly capture the attention of the employees at the postal service. 

3Stamp Design 6   4Stamp Design 9

I continued my experimenting with a new airplane image, one with a transparent background that let me lay the image over text and other graphics.  Design #3 was my first attempt with the circular logo, playing around with PowerPoint’s word art feature until I figured out how to use it.  Design #4 introduced stars and saw the plane heading in the other direction, which gives it an altogether different feel.

5Stamp Design 8   6Stamp Design 13

The next two designs made use of rotating everything 270 degrees, which is a little silly considering that with a rubber stamp, I could just hold the stamp at an angle.  No need to design everything at an angle, too!  Anyhow, design #5 simplified the circular border and had the airplane’s wing and propeller breaking the border, which is a dynamic effect.  In design #6 I returned the second circle and also introduced the Thai phrase for “air mail”.

7Stamp Design 18

Feeling that I had neglected modern aviation, design #7 introduced the silhouette of a Boeing 737 Next Generation and a simple text box.  I played around with it to have the airplane’s tail and landing gear break the border of the text box, giving it a little bit of dimension.

8Stamp Design 12   9Stamp Design 11   10Stamp Design 10

I started to wonder whether, instead of making a rubber stamp, I should just have the air mail logo printed as an adhesive stamp, an inexpensive prospect.  So I created a series of designs to explore that idea.  #8 has a nice “out of the box” effect.  #9 is similar but introducing color and moving the Thai to align with the English and French.  #10 played with the idea of inverting the colors, which is interesting.

11Stamp Design 15      12Stamp Design 14

Next, I decided to revisit the classic air mail envelope, but couldn’t decide how to end the stripes.  #11 complements the angle of the italic letters while #12 has the 90-degree angle of a classic letter envelope.

13Stamp Design 17    14Stamp Design 16

My final two designs were a little more art deco.  #13 is an original and took some time to figure out how to make the airplane image come together correctly.  #14 is an homage to a classic stamp I saw online, with a few small changes.

So what do you think?  Which one(s) do you like and do you think I should go rubber stamp or self-adhesive?

 

Thoughts on My 40th Birthday

Since the day my nieces, now ages 4 and 7, were born, I have been writing them letters. These letters are being collected in a box for them to open when they turn 18. The letters are a combination of funny anecdotes about their childhoods, memories of my life, snapshots of daily activity, and also my reflections on issues, events, or subjects that I think would be worthwhile for them to read when they are young adults.

Normally, I don’t share these letters. But in light of today’s milestone, I thought I would share the letter I wrote to them today.  If you’re keen to watch the video version of me reading it, it is embedded below.  Otherwise you can just read it.


Dear Emily,

Today is my 40th birthday. In honor of the occasion, I want to take a few minutes to collect my thoughts at this milestone birthday and share them with you. Most people seem to dread each passing year and milestone birthdays depress them. Quite the opposite to this, I have found that each passing year gets better. I learn more about life, make new friends, have new experiences, and perhaps gain a little wisdom. To that end, if any of the wisdom I attempt to dispense in this letter turns out to be incorrect, I’ll still have my 50th birthday on which to correct myself before you are old enough to read these letters.

There are myriad lessons on life that are worth learning. Some that strike me as the most useful:

Live to your fullest potential. Your life is an empty vessel that will be filled with experience, activity, relationships, and accomplishments. How full will your life be? So few people are born with the advantages you enjoy. Honor that privilege by making the most of it.

Most people go through life not paying attention. Especially in a world in which communication is happening more quickly and the volume of information we wade through gets greater by the day. By not paying attention, people miss out on a lot of the beauty, a lot of the details, a lot of the important things, and a lot of the opportunities that come along.

The beauty brings joy, the devil truly is in the details, the important things can easily get lost in the chaff, and the opportunities can end knocking on an unanswered door.

Opportunities tend to present themselves more clearly than you would expect. Not only do you have to be paying enough attention so as to recognize them, you also have to be willing to take advantage of them.

Be willing to take risks, explore, push your boundaries, and test your limits. This doesn’t mean that you should do foolish things – although a little foolishness can be a good thing – but rarely will you grow if you only stay within your comfort zone. Try things that you think you couldn’t possibly do and you will be surprised by how things end up just being the baby steps to even greater accomplishments.

Exercise. Not only should you test your limits in terms of experience but you should also push yourself physically. Modern life is increasingly sedentary, a lifestyle for which our bodies are ill-suited. Make movement a part of each day. This doesn’t mean you have to be an athlete, nor do you need to suffer from worry and self-consciousness about your body. Just be active. You will have a greater appreciation for your body and will be healthier for it.

Eat well but don’t fret about food. Americans (and, increasingly, other cultures) have come to obsess about food in an unhealthy way. Enjoy food, but enjoy good food. Too often we mistake an overabundance of additives and preservatives that trick the chemistry of our tongue and brain for truly enjoyable and satisfying food. Eat a wide variety of foods, both for your good health as well as for the enjoyment of trying new things. Practice moderation in all things, including moderation.

Human beings are social creatures. Cultivate relationships by giving unconditionally, without the expectation of getting anything in return. Be caring and compassionate. Give to others, be charitable, be generous.

Assume the best of others. Be quick to forgive, quick to assume you have misunderstood, quick to let go of anger or grudges. They are seeds that bear only bitter fruit.

Things do not buy you happiness. There is nothing you will buy in this life that you will be able to take with you, so don’t accumulate unnecessary things. When you do spend your hard-earned money on things, wait before buying. Compare quality and buy the best quality you can afford, for it is better to have a few good things that last years than an abundance of things that break or wear out quickly.

Be thankful for the things you have – not the physical things – but the blessing of your life. Even when you are facing suffering and difficulties, it is all but certain that there are millions of people whose lives are much worse off than your own. While that may seem cold comfort at that moment, if you can focus your attention on the blessings you do have, it will make you appreciate the situation more.

Finally, cultivate happiness in the present. There is nothing you can do about the days that have passed. There is nothing to be gained by worrying about the days that are to come. There is only one moment that exists, and that is “now”. So be fully present in the now, enjoy it, and make the most of it.

Those are my words of wisdom to you on my 40th birthday. We’ll see how well they hold up when you read them in another eleven years. By then, I may have revised them significantly. But I suspect that while I will learn more lessons in life, these fundamentals won’t change all that much.

Love,

Uncle Chris

What about you?  What lessons have you learned over your years?  What advice would you want to share with someone who is becoming an adult?