Last year I wrote a comment with this title. Now the end of 2007 is
almost there. Looking back the past year had been very eventful. I found a new
job, I went to
Other special events were the exhibition on the history of our local windmills. There I could present the deputy mayor with a birthday present. The exhibition was a great success with a few hundred visitors and a lot of press coverage.
The number of visitors to UNOstamps has risen to almost 2300 from 86 countries. I received dozens of awards from all over the world and I would like to thank all visitors and award givers for their interest in my website, in the important work of the United Nations and all specialized organizations and in the great hobby of philately.
I am honoured that fellow collectors have written
positive comments on their own websites, like Eric from
2008 will be another important UN year. Our crown prince has opened the International Year of Sanitation (IYS) last November (see Newsletter 5) and I hope that a lot of countries will give attention to the very important subject of clean water for everyone.
But that is not the only international year that we celebrate in 2008. It is also International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE) and International Year of the Potato (IYP). How to get all those important subjects in one year no one knows. It is a lucky thing that we have one day extra next year.
On Monday, like last year, I will visit a friend in Tilburg and we will again start the new year in the south of the country in one of the local pubs.
I wish all visitors of this website all the best for the coming year.
Life is taking its 'normal' course. At work it is quite busy and at home the activities for the historical society, the Oxfam shop and others are very time consuming. But that doesn't mean that nothing nice happens. Today I visited the website of the Nevada Stamp Study Society. Two months ago the editor of their newsletter (Post Boy), Howard Grenzebach, contacted me because he wanted to write an article about UNOstamps.
This week the new edition of Post Boy was issued. And there is a beautiful article on page 4. Read it by downloading this issue here. Older issues can be found on their website. Every issue has a lot of information. Also the society organizes a lot of events and takes part in stamp shows all over Nevada. It is very good to see that a stamp club of only 60 members is this active.
A second publication I would like to bring to the attention of my visitors is the blog of Eric Contesse from Lyon, France. He was the winner of last month's quiz and on 8 November he wrote an article on Space for Humanity which make a nice commercial for my website. Every day he adds another page to his blog. Take a look and see what a variety of covers he receives from all over the world.
In the mean time I am trying to organize some of the stamps I bought in Paris. The first ones from Tunisia and Ascension Island are already on the website. More to follow.
At the moment I am in Paris for the 61st Salon Philatélique d'Automne. The last two days I have spent many hours looking through stacks of envelopes and buying an enormous amount of stamps from all over the world. As usual the Haworth family from Clitheroe, Lancashire, were there. This time I bought a lot of stamps from Malaysia, Burma, India, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, and some of the Pacific states. Of course the United Nations Postal Administration was there as well. There I bought two large exhibition sheets that are not included in my subscription. They are too large to put them in any of my albums.
From the other postal administrations that were present there I bought some recent stamps. San Marino has issued a nice series for Gina Lollobrigida, a famous actress but also an ambassador for the FAO. Spain and Luxembourg honoured there peace keeping missions with special stamps and a lot of countries commemorated the International Polar Year. Switzerland put their most famous tennis player Roger Federer on a special stamp.
The central theme was Greenland. In the hall were enormous blocks of ice from Greenland glaciers that were gradually melting away. After two days it was time to see some more of Paris, so today we walked through the city looking at the usual monuments, but also some UN related buildings: the UNESCO headquarters (closed on Saturdays) and the Palais the Chaillot where in 1947 the General Assembly was held.
Tomorrow I will return to the Netherlands. I will need the next few months to catalogue all new additions to my collection.
I have packed my suitcase and I am ready to leave for
Lithuania. Tomorrow morning I will fly to Prague and then to Vilnius for almost
five days of meetings, workshops and of course seeing old friends again. I have
never visited Vilnius so I am very excited of what I am going to find there.
Tomas from Lithuanica
on stamps was so kind as to send me the address of a stamp shop in downtown
Also Tomas found one of the missing
I love to stay and write some more, but I have heard it is very very cold in Vilnius these days (at least here in the Netherlands it is a comfortable nine degrees) so I have to pack some extra warm clothes. Please visit this site again next week to see what I have found in Vilnius. And there is still time to send in your answer to the question in this month's quiz in the UNOstamps Newsletter. Answers can be send in until Sunday. Good luck!
I have never considered this to be a blog like all those millions of blogs all around the world. But when a UN agency calls upon every blogger in the world to make a contribution, of course UNOstamps can't ignore that. The UN Environment Programme has asked every blogger to talk about the environment, for instance related to the subject of the website. As UNOstamps is all about collecting stamps with a UN theme, my choice is easy.
Within the UN theme there are a lot of different stamps and other items that tell you about the need to save our environment. Of course there are the yearly Endangered Species stamps from the three UNPA offices. Over the years this has grown into a beautiful collection of animals and plants that is almost worth to hang on the wall of your room. And this is only the start. There are stamps on subjects as World Environment Day, International Year of the Ocean, International Day for Biological Diversity and UNEP itself. The possibilities are endless.
But there is more to life than collecting postage stamps. Everyone is responsible for his own contribution to saving our world. Personally I try to save electricity by using compact fluorescent lamps, only using the washing machine when it is full, switching off my computer and television when I am not using them and not leaving lights on in the house. Also I don't have a car and use public transport.
Sometimes there is no real choice. For instance next week I am going to Vilnius for an international conference. The only way to get there quick is by plane. That is a very environment unfriendly way to travel, but I have compensated it by making my seat a green seat. The trip from Amsterdam to Vilnius via Prague results in 3.218 km and 1.2 tons of CO2. This can be compensated for only 15 euro. So the next time you take a plane do something about it! And if possible take the train, as I will do next month when I go to Paris.
We all have a shared responsibility not only for the world of today, but also for the world of tomorrow.
I must say that starting a Newsletter was kind of an exciting adventure. How many people would react to the news? How many people would subscribe? I sent e-mails to various stamp groups on the internet and until today 36 people have subscribed from countries all over the world. And eight of them have sent in an answer to the quiz in the Newsletter. There is still time to send in the answer (until 27 August). The first issue can be found on the Newsletter page.
The summer holiday season is coming to an end. At the moment I am busy with the preparations for a local art and history exhibition on the theme "Year of the Windmills 2007". This is a national event to stress the importance of the windmill for Dutch history and cultural heritage. In my village there is a large windmill called "Windlust", built in 1869 (see the photo I took last year). The local historical society will give an overview of the history of this monument and of all the different mills that existed in our village over the last few centuries. Local amateur artists will show paintings, watercolours and drawings inspired on Windlust. The exhibition will be opened on 1 September by the deputy mayor.
I haven't had a summer holiday yet. Most people leave the country for two or three weeks, but I stayed here. Since I started my new job in May I don't have that many holidays. In October I will visit Vilnius and in November I will spend a few days in Paris, and of course there I will visit the Salon Philatélique d'Automne. The last time I was there was in 2004.
The website is still growing. A new country, new persons and even new awards. Enough to see and enough to come back for.
The UNOstamps website is now one year old. The number of pages has grown and so has the number of visitors. During this year I received a lot of positive comments and useful suggestions to improve the website. One of these suggestions, from Canada, was to issue a newsletter from time to time to let interested people know what new pages are added. After long deliberations I have decided to follow the Canadian suggestion and issue a monthly newsletter. It will be sent out every first weekend of the month (the first on 4/5 August) as a pdf-file.
In the newsletter I will give an overview of the newest additions to the website. I will try to include some new additions to my collection that are not yet on the website, important UN and philatelic events and a quiz. Every month you will be asked to identify a stamp that can be found on UNOstamps. The lucky winner will receive some mint UN related stamps. In the newsletter there will be room for visitors' comments.
To subscribe to the newsletter just send an e-mail with the subject 'newsletter' to email@example.com.
This week I was at home being ill. According to the doctor I contracted some sort of bacteria that caused 'rumblings in the interior'. I know that sounds more like a revolution somewhere in Africa, but that was what it felt like. I was put on antibiotics and Now I'm well enough to leave the house. I'll be glad when I can get back to work on Monday.
This week our country became headline news when one of the public broadcasters, BNN, announced that they would that they would organize The Big Donor Show. A terminally sick woman would give away one of her kidneys to someone needing a transplant. The public were allowed to send SMS messages to advise her.
This caused a great upheaval throughout the country and even all over Europe. The Christian-democrats questioned the minister for Education and Culture (responsible for the media) about this. Although he thought it was 'distasteful' he could not prevent the broadcast because the Dutch Constitution protects freedom of the press. At the end of the show it all turned out to be a hoax. There was never any intention to give away a free kidney, the sick woman was an actress. But the three 'contestants' were real patients in need of a new kidney. BNN made the program to convince people that there was a real need for donor organs and to urge Parliament to change the donor system. In Belgium and Spain there are two to three times more donor organs per one million people than in the Netherlands.
They managed to get the whole country to think about being a donor and they even managed to put the item on the agenda of the European Commission and a lot of foreign governments. It took one 'fantastic stunt' (said the minister for Culture after the broadcast) and a lot of courage. More information on: http://www.bnn.nl/page/donorshow (in Dutch, but with links to international media and to the original broadcast).
Sitting at home I had some time to add two more countries (Falkland Islands and Kelantan). Also I spent some time on auction sites on the internet to search for new additions to my collection. Finally I found the Anti-Malaria series from Herm Island. This is not an easy one to find. They also issued a series for the World Refugee Year in 1960, but that one is very rare. Other finds include stamps from Ireland, Thailand, Grenada and Tanzania.
Since 14 May I have a permanent contract with my new employer. Well, at least for the next year. This means that for the first time in my life I am officially a civil servant. My grandfather was a civil servant too for forty years until his death in 1982. He worked for the home office in The Hague. Strange how these things can go.
All this work and my voluntary work almost leaves me hardly any time to spend on this website. Fortunately since my last comment I managed to add three new countries: Aitutaki, Johore and Selangor.
Of course the Malayan states are not the most difficult stamp issuing countries to study. The only UN related stamps are those for the 75th anniversary of the UPU in 1949. And because of this they are as important to me as any other country, colony, island or organization in the world.
In a few weeks UNOstamps is one year old. By then I hope to have reached country number fifty. Actually that is not too difficult as there are still six Malayan states to add. And there is the former colony of Sarawak, that entered the Federation of Malaya in 1963.
Maybe it is time for another European country because since Jersey in March I have not added a country 'close to home'. So many European countries have issued beautiful stamps for my collection, like Iceland, Czech Republic, Austria and even Aland. Well, we'll see. In the meantime I invite you to visit the blog of my friend Björn, who is at this moment visiting Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. His adventures can be found on www.bjurren.blogspot.com.
Last week the problem of the midlife crisis featured prominently in the national news. Our crown prince turned forty and that is a 'natural' point to ask questions on your future or even to buy a Harley-Davidson. Now in some days from now I will reach the same age as the prince (but that is where all comparison ends) and I already started spending money. I bought a new television. It's big, black and flat. Finally I could install the digital tv decoder and now I can watch 59 different channels: Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Morocco, Poland, Britain, France, Turkey and a variety of news, music and commercial channels.
Today is Queen's Day, our national holiday to celebrate the official birthday of the Queen. In almost every town or village in the country the day starts with a musical salute at town hall. The national anthem, a speech from the (deputy) mayor and lots of activities for children. Queen's Day is the only day in the year when people are allowed to sell things in the streets without a permit. Especially in the largest cities this 'free market' attracts visitors from all over the country.
A new job costs a lot of time. This is why I haven't done a lot of work on the website. I'm now getting used to working again after spending more than a year looking for a job. The last few days I've added two persons and three countries and there is still more to come. Also I have received some new awards for my website. Thanks to all the people who took the time to visit and judge UNOstamps.
And for those of you residing in or visiting the Netherlands, next Saturday 5 May (Liberation Day) I will visit Amsterdam for some liberation and maybe birthday celebrations. I can be found in café April or at the festival next to the Wester Church.
Finally it has happened. After one year of looking for a new job I finally found one! Well, a temporary job to start with, but if they like my work there is a chance for a more lengthy contract. For the moment I can work 32 hours a week with NWO (www.nwo.nl) as an administrative aid. The office building is located on the other side of The Hague next to the Department of Social Affairs.
Of course there is no good news without bad news. Today I received an e-mail telling me that one of my high school teachers, Lenny Philipoom, has died on Saturday. On the photo you can see her on the right during our school sailing trip in September 1983 on the IJsselmeer. Only five years ago she retired from teaching and on that occasion some former students (including myself) from the Thomas More College in The Hague gave a surprise performance. We performed part of a play from February 1983. We will miss her.
Recently I bought a number of series from British colonies for the 75th anniversary of the UPU in 1949: Sarawak, Singapore, Saint Lucia, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands, New Hebrides and many more. I should look into it, but I think I have almost the complete omnibus.
It is almost twenty days ago that I wrote my last
comment. And a lot has happened since then. Ten new countries were added (looks
like an expansion of the European Union) and a lot of other pages have been
updated. Don't forget: if you are looking for a specific subject, you can find
all the stamps on that subject at the bottom of the subject's page. For
instance the UPU 75th anniversary page
lists 21 different series of stamps, from
Over the next weeks a lot of Pacific Commonwealth countries will be added to the catalogue. I have scanned all the Pacific stamps in my collection and I'm working my way from island to island. Please take the time to read the historical data on the different country pages, you'll be amazed how rich the history of this region is. Also I invite you to look at the Awards page and see how other people judged the contents and appearance of this website. Next to every award there is a link to the award giver's site. Take a look at some of them, you won't be disappointed.
The Netherlands in the mean time is getting back to normal. After the national elections a new government was formed and this week we went to the polls again for the regional elections. Now finally all politicians can go back to work. Current national debates concern members of parliament and the cabinet with two nationalities, gay marriages and Christian civil servants, and how to pay for the pensions in the future. As I said, back to normal.
The pigeon has landed. Last time I wrote about moving my website to a new domain. And what I expected came true: UNOstamps has been off the air for more than three weeks. And with that the e-mail. All e-mails that were sent to firstname.lastname@example.org are now lost forever in cyberspace. No website in the air didn't prevent me from working on it to improve a lot of things for the future visitors.
I have added a lot of stamp images from Benin, Niger, Papua New Guinea, the USSR and some other countries. These are the stamps I bought in Nieuw-Loosdrecht. Also two new persons have been added: Mother Teresa, who received the FAO Ceres Medal in 1975, and Jozef Balá, the Slovak artist that gave his name to a special UNESCO workshop for young designers from developing countries.
Also I have changed almost all external links. They now open in new windows and no longer within the frame. It was not easy to find this option because this website is not made with your usual html-editor. I have added ALT-tags on the images and labelled this site with ICRA. This shows that it is safe for all ages to view. Now all this is done, it is time to add new pages. In the near future pages on pope John Paul II and Amnesty International will appear, as well as new countries. And I recently bought a number of Disney stamps with UN themes. They will appear on the site in due course.
Enough to come back for. Please do.
I write this comment, knowing that no one will read it for some time. Since the web space my provider has allocated is almost full, I have applied for more space. To do this, the provider has to take down my site. Then they fill out a form which is sent by carrier pigeon to the north of the country where it will end up on a pile. And then we wait.
Last weekend was the annual Filateliebeurs in Nieuw-Loosdrecht. This first large gathering of stamp dealers and topical stamp clubs of the year is always a busy place to be. And as always I overdid it on the buying. This time I was lucky to find some dealers with stamps from Benin, Niger, USSR and a few other countries that are already on the site. As the country catalogue only contains the images of the stamps that are actually in my collection, there is now more to see for the visitors. Benin is hard to find here, so I was rather lucky.
Also I bought some issues from Commonwealth Pacific countries and territories. They will appear on the site in due course. If it ever ends up on the web again......
A nice find on one of the auction sites in the Netherlands were two local stamps from Dordrecht issued on 21 November 1985. They were used by the local city post service. I saw them years ago but didn't buy them then. I'm not sure where to list them, maybe under Netherlands. We'll see.
These are troubled times. The new year has already made an impact. Since the first day I have been to receptions, meetings, exhibitions, a job interview (I turned down the job), the library, hospital, the local pub, local radio and this Saturday I have this year's first funeral. And on top of that it has been storming and raining all day. It is now the middle of the night and I am still at the computer.
Finally I have finished all the subject pages that were a result of adding Tunisia to the website. And now I have added three more countries (one to follow tomorrow): Bahawalpur, Liechtenstein and Slovakia. This means that the next few weeks I will be busy updating a lot of subject pages and writing new ones. The only problem is that the web space I got from my provider is filled up. This means I have requested more space (for a higher fee, of course). It is such a strange idea that now almost 50 MB of information can be seen all over the world. And looking at the web statistics, visitors come from all over the world.
Now 24 countries are available on the website. The list has more than 220 countries, so I'm still at the beginning of this operation. Well, I just keep on going and maybe when I retire.......
In two weeks the first stamp fair of 2007 will be held at Loosdrecht, in the centre of the country. A lot of dealers will be there, including the Haworth brothers from England. I hope to buy from them the missing Ascension Island stamp booklets and some other stamps I have missed. Well, enough for today. It is time to get some sleep.
UNOstamps Comments 2006 (21 November - 31 December)