Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Frozen fog on Old Glory

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Returning (a little late) from a Solstice fire gathering, I noticed that the flag out front hadn’t been brought in yet. Approaching to furl it up for this longest night, this outdoor flag illumined only by the interior Christmas tree lights, it seemed as though the flag was covered in glitter! Indeed, the frozen fog had clung to the nylon surface of the flag and was truly sparkling. It is certainly beyond my ken, how to produce this effect artificially; I just stood in awe, then tried to capture the moment to share with you all, Dear Readers. Happy New Year!

smALL FLAGs for Small Countries

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Wedding BellsWhat a clever notion: a customer in the UK came up with the idea that, rather than have “name cards” identifying seating arrangements at a wedding reception, he wanted to use flags to show folks where to sit. Guests will be given a country and then they find their seat – identified by a flag of that country. What fun!

However, and here was a little rub, to mitigate or minimize any biases which guests might have, he asked us for flags for the 52 least populated countries. Well, as the old advertising jingle used to put it, “special orders don’t upset us.” display of smALL FLAGsWe went right to our old friend Wikipedia to get a list of countries showing their population; downloaded that, sorted it in inverse sequence by population and voila! We had our list. Shipping to the UK? No problem. We do it all the time.

Speaking of small county flags, please be aware that we’re now offering flags of the one which Libya used from 1951 to 1969 – and some still do. Flag of Libya - 1951-1969Just now, it’s available in 3×5′ polyester; but you can bet that if the “insurgents” have their way, it will soon be available in many other sizes as well. By the way, politics aside,  most would have to agree that, esthetically at least, this design is certainly more interesting than the one that Gaddafi introduced in 1977. Gaddafi's Libyan flag of 1977Your call. It was/is the only national flag with just one color and no design, insignia, or other details. (Oddly perhaps, we carry this design – if it could be called that – in a wide variety of sizes.)

You were further aware, of course, that Lybia is most certainly not one of those “least populated countries” mentioned above with a whopping 6,355,000 souls calling it home.

Well as long as you’ve read this far, we may as well mention yet another new flag from (sort of) that region of the world. Flag of South SudanThe newest country in the world is now considered to be South Sudan. They were admitted into the United Nations on July 14th of this year. We’re proud to now be able to offer this newest flag in a variety of sizes. However, our 4×6″ versions won’t be available until mid-September. Sigh. Your collection may have to wait just a bit longer.

Oh yes, also not one of those “least populated countries”. 8,260,490 people here. smALL planet indeed!

The Census, Computer and, of course, Flags

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

Recently, a friend of ours, Blane Meier of Meier Wealth Management, sent us a little something having to do with flags. But more about that later. Tracking down its source got us to thinking about the US Census, and the results compiled from last year’s efforts.

Census logoAs you well may know, Dear Reader, the United States conducts a census of its people every 10 years as mandated by the Constitution. We’ve been doing this ever since 1790. What you may not be quite as familiar with is that, prior to the advent of the computer, this took a really, really long time to tabulate. What with a growing population and increases in the type of information collected, the 1880 census took nearly 10 years to count. Well, it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out that this couldn’t keep up. So, one bright fellow, Herman Hollerith, figured out a way to punch holes in paper cards so that they could be read by a machine.

Herman Hollerith

Herman Hollerith in 1888

Tabulation (Census-ese for adding up) for 1890 only took about 2½ years. Clever guy, ol’ Herman. The rest, as they say, is history. Oh, wait. Guess that was history as well. In any event, kindly fast forward to this century and there appear to be a few applications  of electronic computers in our daily lives. And as for the Census Bureau? And what about that curious item our friend Blane sent? Well. It seems those clever folks at the Census are a bit more than (human) being counters after all. Seems they figured (small pun intended) that folks might want to know more than just how many people live in, say, Oregon. So, after “enumeration” (Census-ese for counting) and “tabulation” , they’ve been producing some clever little service – almost blog-like – since what looks like 2006. They call the service “Facts for Features & Special Editions“. Facts for FeaturesCatchy, eh? And, get this, they further explain that these posts “consist of collections of statistics from the Census Bureau’s demographic and economic subject areas intended to commemorate anniversaries or observances or to provide background information for topics in the news.” Thorough. Couldn’t have said it any better.

So which “commemorate anniversary or observance” is immediately upcoming? Yes! The Fourth of July! (Which incidentally and for reasons we don’t fully understand, is celebrated with nearly as much enthusiasm in Denmark as it is in the States. Great, Danes!) Flag of Denmark

Back to the Facts, M’am. The “Facts for Features” to which Blane had drawn our attention (ah, it’s all connecting now, right?) is their entry for “The Fourth of July 2011”. Surprise!

Fireworks!

Well, in addition to fascinating tidbits regarding such things as “Fireworks”, “Patriotic-Sounding Place Names” and “Fourth of July Cookouts” (Florida led the nation in watermelon production last year with 750 million pounds), there were also some spicy stats regarding flags. (It always comes to this, doesn’t it?) Specifically:

$3.2 million

In 2010, the dollar value of U.S. imports of American flags. The vast majority of this amount ($2.8 million) was for U.S. flags made in China.
Source: Foreign Trade Statistics <http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/www/>
<http://www.usatradeonline.gov>

$486,026

Dollar value of U.S. flags exported in 2010. Mexico was the leading customer, purchasing $256,407 worth.
Source: Foreign Trade Statistics <http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/www/>
<http://www.usatradeonline.gov>

$302.7 million

Annual dollar value of shipments of fabricated flags, banners and similar emblems by the nation’s manufacturers, according to the latest published economic census data.
Source: 2007 Economic Census, Series EC0731SP1, Products and Services Code 3149998231
<http://www.census.gov/econ/census07/>

Not exactly a multi-billion dollar industry, would you say? But we do it because we love it. And, by the way, all of our best quality flags of any country are made right here in the good ol’ U S of A.

Waving US flag

Alter lingua, alter persona.

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

Now we understand some of the principles of business and we understand some of the principles of the concept of Freedom of Speech, but spam … ? Whadda gonna do? Filter as much as you can and deal with the rest. Call it peculiar, but we keep separate folders for spam that sneaks through in foreign languages – it’s amusing to study. OK. It’s peculiar.

One spam got through our filters that did catch our eye; it was an “opportunity” to learn to speak English – supposedly from Cambridge (University, we assume) – and it was written all in Spanish. Well that’s a fine notion.  We all need to learn a few more languages. Seems that the Romans (who had a saying for just about everything apparently) said, “Alter lingua, alter persona.” (“Another language, another person.”) Meaning that one can’t learn a language without becoming in some sense another person; that is, to learn a language, one must also learn the history, the humor, the literature, the religion, the politics, etc. of the people who speak that language as a native tongue. More about that later, back to this spam. Included was one beautiful (to our eye) image:

Learn English language flags

Not really too colorful – mostly red, white and blue – but very “active” looking. Let’s look a little deeper. Of course there’s the largest flag of the UK, the US waving into Canada, and subtly below are (left to right) images of Northern Ireland, the Scottish Saltire, (perhaps that’s the tip of the tail of the Welsh dragon – Y Ddraig Goch) and Guernsey.

Conspicuously missing are flags of, perhaps, Australia and New Zealand, Ireland; heck, why not throw in India and a few others? Perhaps it would be to “cluttered”. There are a lot of countries that speak English as a major language. It might be an interesting exercise to design a similar graphic of a the francophone countries’ flags or (what’s the word for) Spanish language speaking country flags. Nice idea. Point being that there’s not a much better way to symbolize all those countries than with their flags. Symbols speak volumes, and flags are powerful symbols.

Back to that idea of native tongues, we’d like to give a little plug to our friends at Morsmål (that’s Norwegian for mother tongue or something like that). From their website:

Morsmål is an NGO maintaining official relations with UNESCO.
A multilingual information portal and a meeting place for bilingual researchers, teachers, parents and pupils.

Morsmål logo They’re pretty proud about the fact that they just passed the 700 mark of folks who have “liked” their Facebook page. Go on. Check ’em out. You’ll like ’em.

Going Postal!

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

The Universal Postal Union. Did you know there was one? And what a cool “domain name extension”: not .com or .gov or anything as common as that. It’s www.UPU.int! Didn’t even know that one existed: it stands for “International Treaties” of all things. And they have a very cool logo as well – although it’s really hard to make out from their website:
Universal Postal Union logo So we did a little research and found a detail of that little globe. Nice, eh? Costumed folks handing letters around the world. It’s really quite lovely, don’t you think?Universal Postal Union logo detail Yes, yes. With the advent of email, there’s not as much of that type of activity going on, but it’s still a very nice design. And here’s a great quote from their website:

Addresses are essential for countries to run smoothly and for their economies to function properly.

Think about it.

So, this UPU outfit is quite the organization. Again from their site:

Established in 1874, the Universal Postal Union (UPU), with its headquarters in the Swiss capital Berne, is the second oldest international organization worldwide.

[Although that status seems hard to verify. That is, try to find out what the oldest is.]

The UPU has now 191 member countries. [The USA joined on July 1st, 1875.]

And just how did we come upon all this fascinating information, you well may ask, Dear Reader? Well, as you may know smALL FLAGs ships now to not only every State in the United States (from where we’re based in the State of Oregon), we’ve also shipped to over four dozen countries – 50 to be exact – so far. When shipping overseas, we pay particular attention to our customers’ addresses. (See “block quote” above.) To verify accuracy and format, we sometimes need to rely on the UPU website. (Thanks, UPU.)  For domestic addresses, we rely on our good old USPS website USPS logoor sometimes White Pages™ White Pages logo
What we’re trying to get to here is how much we care about getting your orders to you as correctly as possible. (Of course we’re also turned on about this whole international thing as well.)

The smALL FLAGs image

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

smALL FLAGs envelope

Now how sweet is this? (And even hand-written no less!) Of course our good friends at the USPS don’t require our name to be in our distinctive (we hope) capitalization, but occasionally we receive mail – and even checks and money orders – capitalized thus. The purpose, which you may suspect, is to emphasize that we offer ALL the FLAGs of the world in ALL sizes – we just specialize in smALL ones. Perhaps it’s because we show our name in such a fashion on our website, or because an individual is the recipient of one of our business cards.

smALL FLAGs business card

[We try to include one with each piece of correspondence and invoice we send out. Don’t have one? Want one? Write us; we’d be happy to send one along for your collection.] In any event, we do appreciate that some take the time not only to notice our little graphic nuance, but to actually feed it back to us. Thanks so much.