Mail Musings

>> Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I originally titled my blog "Random Thoughts and Suggestions" because that is often how my mind operates. I have a very Seinfeld-esque way of posing questions about the most mundane things and then taking the time to actually try to ponder out some sort of solution.

Today, I am pondering Mail. It really is a pretty neat concept. The concept (and reality) of mail is changing though, and I guess that I am getting a bit sentimental as I type here in the blogosphere instead of sending off a nice letter to someone through the good 'ole postal service. When I was a little girl, there was nothing more exciting than getting a card or letter in the mail. My grandma and family would send me cute cards with news about what was going on in exciting places like "Florida" or "Colorado". Mail at summer camp was even better yet. Ahh, the joy of hearing my name called out by the camp counselors. Words from the outside to reassure me that the world kept turning even when I was stranded on a mountain and subsisting on marshmallow s'mores.

When my curiosity got the better of me I even signed up for some PenPals. Remember those? You could get on a list and write letters to a kid in some other country and swap stories about life in their world versus yours. I must admit that I was a pitiful PenPal, but the concept was still very cool.

Now that I am a "grown-up", or a reasonable facsimile thereof, Mail has an entirely different meaning. There is Bill Mail, Junk Mail, Catalogue Mail, and of course Fun Mail. Fun Mail is the best, but sadly the rarest. I love the holidays when those cards start rolling in. I love to order presents and packages and eagerly await their arrival on my doorstep. Anything is better than Bill Mail, but packages top the list.

My mom loves to retell the story about how when she was little packages arrived via the train service. A truck would then come down her street and she'd get all happy because it meant someone was getting a present. Today, I look for the FedEx or UPS trucks (don't get me started about the lackluster performance of DHL). They come rolling up my street, and I cross my fingers that they are bringing me something exciting, and not just a delivery for the home office neighbors a few doors down.

The newest kind of mail to consider is Electronic Mail. This is the newest evolution/revolution in mail. With Email, Instant Messaging, Texting, and all that other stuff that our new gizmos give us the ability to do, we have changed the concept of Mail forever. The convenience is fabulous. I can tap out a quick note to almost anyone, hit send, and then forget about it. It is quick, efficient, and sadly, rather impersonal. Yes, I don't have to buy stamps, burn gas, or use paper. So electronic might be considered a "green" way to communicate, but given all that is involved in constructing, operating, powering, delivering, and disposing of computers, the jury is still out on that one as far as I am concerned. Sometimes, I look at my childhood stamp collection and wonder if stamps will soon be something of the past. I hope not, as I would really miss those tiny little pieces of art affixed to the corner of missives.

So, I shall conclude this rambling and somewhat incoherent discussion with a salute to the glory of Mail. Long may she be delivered and long may she help us keep in touch with our fellow humans.

Time to go watch for the UPS truck now.


Printer Giveaway at "A Wrestling Addicted Mommy"

>> Thursday, February 5, 2009

Remember the days of dot matrix printers and paper that you had to tear the edges off? Well, head on over to the blog “A Wrestling Addicted Mommy” at and check out the Epson Artisan 800 printer that she is giving away. She has given her own Epson Artisan 800 a test drive and is raving about the quality and speed of the printer. Me? I am liking the fact that it runs on WiFi and can also serve as a FAX machine. We are all going wireless these days, and a wireless printer is just the gizmo to free you completely from being tethered to your desk. Print from the comfort of your own sofa, or even from the back deck (when the weather warms up of course).

While you are reading the review of the Epson Artisan 800 printer, take the time to look around at A Wrestling Addicted Mommy’s blog. She has some great posts on there to peruse. There is a button on my right sidebar that will take you directly to her site.


Layout Change...

>> Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pardon my dust whilst I attempt to change my blog layout. I am trying to jazz up the layout and at more personal touches. Let me know what you think of the new layout. I will be tinkering with it over the next few days. It is a work in progress.

Check out my "dancing penguin" button and feel free to add it to your own blog!


Historic Photos of Nashville, by Jan Duke... a great book

I have lived in Nashville now for nearly twenty years. I have to say that I love my adopted home. It is such a beautiful city with so much to offer for residents and visitors alike. Recently, the folks at Turner Publishing, here in Nashville, sent me a wonderful book to look over and review. The book, “Historic Photos of Nashville”, by Jan Duke is a treasure trove of images from Nashville’s long and colorful history. The photos are expertly reproduced in a very clear format so that you can really get a sense of what the photographer was trying to show us as well as a feeling as to what life in Nashville’s past was like.

The photos in this book span the period from the Civil War through the development of Metropolitan Nashville to the 1970s. Images have been collected from many different archival sources in order to bring together a broad recordation of Nashville’s history. The photos vary from formal shots of grand structures and events to small glimpses into the life of the city’s residents. The book does not present any specific interpretation of Nashville’s history. There is no grand thesis being argued here. Instead, the reader/viewer is simply presented with these historic photographs and given the opportunity to draw from them what they will. It is an interesting way to present history, and I have to admit, it left me wanting more. My one minor criticism would be that I would love to have the stories behind more of these photographs; however, I realize that that was not the purpose of this volume. This book tells a story, but lets you fill in the blanks for yourself.

There are several photos in particular that really appealed to me. I tend to like historic photos that give you hints into the ordinary daily lives of our predecessors. Many of the grand public buildings still survive today, thank goodness, but the smaller non-descript structures and the businesses and people they housed are mostly gone. One image, of Printers alley, circa 1880s, is a particular favorite. Today, Printers Alley remains, but it is a strip of Honky Tonks, clubs, and bars. The photo on page 33 shows how Printers Alley got its name. The American Paper Box Company was one of the many suppliers for all of the Printing Businesses on Printers Alley. The photo shows us a horse and carriage parked out in front of the business and several signs advertising the warehouses’ goods.

I also really like the photos of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897. Few of the original buildings from this great fair are still standing. Most famous, at least here in Nashville, is the replica of the Greek Parthenon. Today, it houses a wonderful art gallery. During the Exposition, it was but one of a collection of fantastical buildings that included an Egyptian pyramid, castle towers, a hall filled with the latest advances in machinery, and a giant Seesaw. Centennial Park is a favorite spot for Nashvillians to take in a little fresh and maybe feed some ducks, but this book gives you a lot more to consider during your stroll through the park.

I truly recommend this book to Nashvillians and general history buffs alike. The photos are particular to Nashville, but anyone interested in our not-so-distant past will enjoy flipping through the pages of images.

Historic Photos of Nashville
Text and Captions by Jan Duke
2005 Turner Publishing, Nashville, TN
ISBN: 1-59652-184-8

Thanks for reading!

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