postcard

My nephew and I have a long-distance postcard relationship. For a couple of years now he and I manage to see each other rarely but instead send each other postcard dispatches in which I will describe a cool attraction I visited and he will get excited about a local dish or delicacy from a vacation spot around the US. I travel a lot internationally so I have sent him postcards from places like Singapore and Paris, and even more obscure places like rural Massachusetts (the homemade pasta e fagiule soup at Il Forno in Fitchburg = to die for) and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This latter spot was memorable because in the middle of 98-degree summer heat, a woman who was missing a front tooth was selling Siberian Husky pups outside on her pick-up truck bed. $400 in cash and that precious pup could have come home with me in a bag on my flight back to SFO –ah, the things I regret in my travels.

silverware setDavid and I are also big foodies, and we have been ever since I remember him downing endless hamburgers when he was a varsity football-playing teen with a metabolism that couldn’t be beat. Nowadays he has taken to visiting places that he sees on TV –specifically the sites that Guy Fieri scopes out on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” (known as “Triple D” to its fans).

Dave’s all about the dives, places that are bad news on the outside –“total slum”, as he used to say—but hiding away a whole lot of good food on the inside. There’s another show I introduced him to that’s just as addictive, the “Man versus Food” show, in which soon-to-be-dead host Adam Richman participates in food challenges in various dives around the country. His face was splattered with habanero hot sauce from “killer wings” in the Silicon Valley and he just about exploded; another time he ate a 12-egg omelette at an infamous breakfast haunt in Seattle. As I have told him countless times, expect to see “Food’ eventually win someday as we pore over Richman’s obituary from, say, cardiac arrest after ingesting a 10-patty burger in Boston.

Let’s get to the point here, which isn’t about food at all. It’s about the way in which Dave and I communicate, and the newest way I have discovered to carry out this constant ritual. Surely you have seen the tacky souvenir shops and gift stores everywhere where you’re forced to buy a canned postcard shot with crazy lettering, and sometimes you’re really stuck with a cheesy shot —a boob shot, some palm trees and some logo of the city emblazoned with fluorescent colors. It’s not like you have time to really seek out a good choice photo to send someone. Oh yeah, and after plunking down a dollar or so you still may have to go find a stamp to mail it.

postcard

Well what if you were at a particular spot, camera or, in this case, your iPhone or Blackberry in hand, and you took a picture and wanted to send that very photo as a postcard? Now you can do this with Hazelmail.

Hazelmail is a nifty app that you can get free on your iPhone or Blackberry that allows you to instantly create a postcard, add a few words, and this information is relayed wirelessly to the servers at www.hazelmail.com.

It’s basically built around functionality that has been available for free in several Nokia phones (such as the N75) for many years.

StampBut with a flick of a button on your phone, your postcard is well on its way. Here’s the best part: not only does the photo get processed pretty nicely, Hazelmail will even put a stamp on it. The service costs $1.50, which in my mind saves me the hassle for looking for a post office, or having to search for stamps. Hazelmail says it will send it ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. Yes. I travel internationally so I will have to give this a try. (All you have to do is buy “Hazelbucks”, which you can do online via Pay Pal. Honestly, setting up my account took all of 2 minutes. I’m all ready to send.)

Plus, it’s also a way to make the postcard sending process much more personal, and therefore satisfying: you get to send exactly what you want, with the immediacy and feeling that you can transmit quickly.
To download Hazelmail to your iPhone, go here: For you Blackberry addicts, here ya go

Or, alternatively, try Touchnote (similar service) that adds compatibility for a wider variety of phones HERE.

And finally, if you’re one of those who posts your baby pics (we have a receptionist who can’t resist doing this just about every day) on Facebook, Hazelmail can let you send those precious photos as postcards as well. The download is: HERE.

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