Hi! I'm Philip Newton.
I live in Hamburg, Germany, where I'm a software developer for a large telecommunications company.
I'm fascinated by languages and I enjoy learning about language in general, specific languages, and writing systems (alphabets, syllabaries, ...). This also includes such things as shorthand and Braille.
I have a daughter who is 12; she is growing up bilingually (I speak English to her, my wife speaks German). I'm passing on the gift I received from my father, who spoke English to us children, too (he's from England).
And I'm male, which seems to be the exception here :)
I try to send out my items fairly soon after partner assignments are made. If you haven't received anything in a reasonable amount of time (bearing in mind travel time from Germany), please contact me and I'll be happy to resend.
Language (dictionaries, grammars, etc.); Science fiction and fantasy; Computers (programming, etc.)
I seem to be developing an allergy to many nuts (and my wife is strongly allergic to peanuts), so please don't send anything with peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, coconut, or pecans. Preferably no almonds, either. "May contain traces of" is fine, however.
I'm allergic to pet hair/dander, so if you have a dog or cat, I'd appreciate it if you try to keep them away from swaps for me. Thanks!
I don't drink coffee or tea so if you sent that, it would be wasted on me.
Please no loose, tiny items (say, smaller than a fingernail) that can fall out of the envelope and get everywhere, such as loose glitter or tiny punchies such as hearts or stars. If the swap calls for them or you do want to add them, please put them in a separate bag or envelope. Thank you!
Blank postcards: I prefer non-region-specific ones.
Zazzle etc. cards are OK.
If the swap gives a choice of naked or in an envelope, I'll leave it up to you or the swap for US senders; in an envelope preferred for non-US senders.
Exception: "Chunk O Cardboard" postcards I prefer to receive naked (stamped and written on, no envelope).
If you send me a naked postcard (that you write on and send without an envelope), please don't forget the swap name and your user ID :) Perhaps you can also include the date you wrote the postcard and what weather it is (such as "18 °C, rainy" or "72 °F, windy").
As for content, some ideas: tell me about your family, your interests, the language(s) you speak, and/or the area you live in.
If you know shorthand, please write a sentence or so in shorthand, with a transcription! (And tell me which system of shorthand that is, please, e.g. Pitman, Gregg, DEK, etc.) And a postcard in Braille would simply be awesome.
As for the picture side: I like viewcards of the town/area/state/country (single-view preferred) or of beautiful countryside in general (whether a majestic mountain scenery, a peaceful lake, or whatever). Cards with wild animals on them are also nice, or humorous cards.
Also have a look at my Postcrossing profile if you'd like some inspiration for postcards.
If the swap calls for postcards to be written on but leaves it up to the sender whether to send them naked or in an envelope, then I would prefer the card in an envelope if you have interesting stamps that you can use (especially Europa postage stamps!). Otherwise I'll leave it up to you. But if you have some nice stamps or something else interesting you want to send along, contact me in advance and ask whether I wouldn't mind getting it in an envelope even if the swap says "naked" - I'll usually say yes about envelopes if I am asked in advance! (Exception: I prefer "Chunk of Cardboard" swaps to always arrive naked - thanks!)
Since most swap-bot mail comes from the US, I have a good collection of the most common US stamps already, so I prefer US-posted cards naked. If you have some particularly interesting stamps to use, though, then by all means send the card in an envie (if allowed by the swap) so I can add those stamps as well!
If you would like to send the card in an envelope and also want to include a little something else, then I'd be interested in bus tickets, newspaper clippings (perhaps with the weather in your area?), maps, public transport timetables, or pretty bookmarks.
Blank postcards that I receive in swaps I'll probably want to use later in Postcrossing or for future Swap-Bot naked postcard swaps, so I'd prefer nothing regional or touristy (I think it looks silly for someone in Germany to send out a card showing, for example, Montana, unless the theme of the swap calls for a specific picture or letter).
Besides that, though, I'm less picky since I will probably be sending them on and don't know who the eventual recipient will be.
So best are probably postcards that will appeal to as many people as possible.
Pretty countrysides are probably good (as long as they have no text on the picture side), as are animals, flowers, trees, or nature in general.
Or comics/cartoon cards; or popular image series such as Inge Löök, Flower Fairies, Krtek, etc.
Or many other things :) I'll leave it mostly up to you in a blank postcard swap.
English, German (bilingual); Modern Greek, French (some); Japanese (rusty). Bits and pieces of all sorts of other languages -- enough to impress, not enough to sustain a conversation! (I can generally understand more than I can speak/write myself, naturally.)
Can also carry on a conversation in Esperanto and have a decent grammar knowledge of Klingon (but when speaking, it takes forever for me to remember the vocabulary, due to lack of practice).
I'm try-lingual: willing to try any language! So many languages, so little time :) My current infatuation is Slovak. (Did you know that there are at least four words for "uncle" in Slovak? And that's not even counting diminutives.) And also Cornish.
Past "flames" have included Niuean, Maltese, Romansh, and Inuktitut. None of them have been shelved for good; they're just on the back burner :)
Everybody seems to approach hearts differently (some give them always, some never, and all sorts of variations in between), so this is how I tend to give them out.
My interpretation of hearts is based on the FAQ where it says that "If someone sends you an extra special swap package that far exceeds the swap requirements, you can give that person a heart." and on the rating page where it says "This was an extra special package. Give a heart!"
So I give out hearts fairly sparingly - for things that really make me go "wow!" and that are really "extra special". Which is a pretty subjective thing for me.
So they're not semi-automatic for things such as extras or nice stamps or effort - not even (necessarily) for a nice swap that shows you've read my profile.
I try to keep them reserved for "extra special" swaps, and not every swap (even the good ones) are "extra special" ... if everything is special then the word doesn't really mean anything any more, does it :)
So if I rate you a 5 without a heart, that doesn't mean I hate you or dislike the swap you sent me or that I consider it just barely acceptable. It doesn't mean I think your swap is bad or that you didn't make me happy or that I didn't notice that you paid attention to my profile. I've had lots of lovely swaps over my time here, and I appreciate that! Just because some of them have been truly exceptional doesn't mean many of the other ones haven't been lovely.
If you prefer to swap for getting hearts rather than for sending someone something nice, you may be disappointed. And if you decide that it's not worth putting extra effort into a swap if you're not reasonably certain of getting a heart for that (so you might as well send the bare minimum), I can't stop you. Swap-bot is something different for each person.
Conversely, if you would prefer to rate a swap I sent you with a 5 with no heart, that's fine - since I don't imagine that everything I send is going to be extra special for the recipient.
What I do appreciate is a comment on the swap! Especially if there was something in particular that you liked about it. I'm happier about a 5 + a nice comment than about a 5+heart with no comment at all!
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