Saturday, June 19, 2021

Charming Postcrossing arrivals

Happy Saturday night! The past week was a busy and sometimes stressful one at work, which is why some of my posts were silly and less than stellar. I'm trying to do whatever it takes to remain disciplined and stay on target with six posts per week the rest of the way, which will get me to my goal of 250 posts this year. 

Anyway, my long week was made brighter by some delightful Postcrossing cards that arrived in my mailbox. First up and shown above is this card from Russia. In cursive, the sender writes: "Hello, Chris! Warmest greetings from Russia! My name is Anastasia. I live in Ekaterinburg — it's a big city located on the Ural Mountains on the border between Europe and Asia. My summer hobby is gardening — my husband and I have a garden about 40 km from our city. We grow some vegetables and berries there. Strawberry is my favorite. I can eat it in any quantity! I like reading in the garden, among the flowers, in the shade of a big apple-tree — this is my special summer pleasure."

It's possible that the separate (and wonderful-sounding) garden plot Anastasia refers to would be considered a dacha. Wikipedia notes: "Surveys in 1993–1994 suggest about 25% of Russian families living in large cities had dachas. Most dachas are in colonies of dachas and garden plots near large cities. These clusters have existed since the Soviet era, and consist of numerous small, typically 600-square-metre (0.15-acre), land plots. They were initially intended only as recreation getaways of city dwellers and for growing small gardens for food."
This second postcard comes from France and features artwork by 19th century artist Adolphe Maugendre. The sender lives in the small commune of Alba-la-Romaine and writes: "Hello Chris, 'bonjour.' My name is Marina, 66 y.o. I'm a retired school-teacher. Vegetarian for 56 years. We have a dog mix-labrador. 2 years ago, we spent a week in FLORENCE but ITALY!!! Have a nice day and stay healthy. Best wishes."

Today, by the way, it was 112° F here in Florence, Arizona, while it was about 90° F in Florence, Italy.

Book cover: "Everyday Life in Ottoman Turkey"

  • Title: Everyday Life in Ottoman Turkey
  • Author: Raphaela Lewis (1920-2004) 
  • About the cover: The dust jacket states: "The illustration on the jacket shows a hunting scene from the sixteenth century Hunername (The Book of Exploits) and is reproduced by kind permission of the Topkapi Sarayi Museum, Istanbul."
  • Publisher: Dorset Press
  • Other books in the "Everyday Life" series: Per the back cover, other titles cover Ancient Egypt, the Aztecs, Babylonia and Assyria, Barbarians, Byzantium, Early Imperial China, the Etruscans, Imperial Japan, the Incas, the Maya, Medieval Times, Medieval Travellers, the North American Indians, Roman and Anglo-Saxon Times, and the Viking Age.
  • Year: 1971
  • Pages: 206
  • Format: Hardcover 
  • Price: None printed on dust jacket
  • Provenance: There's a circular embossed stamp on the title page stating "Library of R. Lowell Wine." Wine, who graduated from Virginia Tech in 1955, was (is?) also an author, with books about statistics and engineering to their credit.
  • From the dust jacket: Although the Ottoman Empire lasted for over six hundred years, from 1281 to 1924, the deliberate and unhurried pace of life of most of its subjects was protected against radical change by social institutions of remarkable stability. With access to little-used Turkish sources, and with the aid of numerous illustrations, the author, Raphaela Lewis, has succeeded in skilfully recreating that way of life.
  • First sentence: In the sixth century, from their homeland somewhere west of the Great Wall of China, the Turks rode out to begin the conquests that were to give their descendants mastery of one of the greatest empires the world has ever seen.
  • Sentence from the middle #1: As there was no control or supervision of the teaching it was not surprising that the standard of these Koran schools was undistinguished.
  • Sentence from the middle #2: There were also countless coffee-houses and taverns of evil reputation.
  • Rating on Goodreads: 3.73 stars (out of 5)
  • Goodreads review excerpt: In 2020, Lupa wrote: "As it can be seen that there was a lot of collaboration from Turkish institutions in the preparation of the book, almost no controversy was raised which would have been an important counterpoint for a more accurate view of the Ottoman regime."
  • Rating on Amazon: 4.9 stars (out of 5)
  • Amazon review excerpt #1: In 2020, an anonymous reviewer wrote: "Lewis' book is like one of Brugel's paintings of large crowd scenes where each person is painted as an individual portrait, and every square inch teems with detail. In between the broad descriptive brush strokes, she interweaves telling and charming details."
  • Amazon review #2: In 2014, Giulia wrote: "One of the best accounts of life in the Ottoman heartland, Constantinople, I have ever read. Full of interesting detail. I found it really valuable for a Sherlock Holmes novel I'm writing concerning the theft of the Sword of Osman."
  • More about author Raphaela Lewis: I found a version of eulogy that was delivered for Lewis (who was known by the nickname Raff), by son-in-law Mark Freedland, on the website of St. Antony's College at the University of Oxford. Here's an excerpt: 
"She was a Cockney, born on 5 November 1920 within the sound of Bow Bells. ... For over thirty years after the war she taught French to the young diplomats on the University’s Foreign Service Programme (and exceeded her duty by taking on their pastoral care), except for 18 months which the family spent in Istanbul and during which she collected material for her Everyday Life in Ottoman Turkey. ... She was a brilliant lecturer, her favourite topics being Turkish sociology and Turkish cuisine. Last September she lectured at Uppsala University on Turkish superstitions. After speaking for 50 minutes she invited questions, but the audience in the Royal Library protested indignantly and did not let her stop until she had spoken for an hour and a half."

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Wonderful covers of the 1970s German magazine Vampir

The German horror magazine Vampir, which had a heavy focus on movies, launched with issue #1 in October 1972 with a price of 2.5 Deutsche Mark. Here are 10 of its wonderful covers that I found while websurfing recently. They feature Christopher Lee, Boris Karloff, The Exorcist, Vincent Price and, perhaps improbably, the Star Trek gang.

Monday, June 14, 2021

A little fun on Twitter


@timtfj: Looks like an explanation of tortoise anatomy by analogy to humans, but I can't read the Japanese. (Twitter is telling me to "Tweet your reply!!!!!", so I am!)

@kelsey_feed: this would be my dream tbh ‘okay I’m done, bye’

@keithfrankish: How did evolution miss this opportunity? Imagine if you could retreat into your own ribcage when social situations turned awkward!


If you find this amusing, the likely original source and the home of many more disturbing and hilarious illustrations such as this one is the Twitter feed @scienceshitpost.

In January 2020, IFLScience wrote: "Over the last few weeks, something magical has happened. People have noticed that old science textbook diagrams have a remarkable similarity to deliberate s**tposts on the Internet. ... Apparently, this occurs naturally in science textbooks, as people have been sharing recently ... [on] the Science Diagrams That Look Like S**tposts Twitter account."

Walkable. Walkable. Walkable.

This David Perell tweet is from last year, when we were mired more deeply in the pandemic, but I agree wholeheartedly. Longtime readers know I'm a big proponent of walkable communities. Which doesn't just mean "streets that are good for walking." We have plenty of those here in my planned development in Florence, Arizona. I can walk for miles on sidewalks and golf-cart paths. But there's no community. The few choices for commerce are clumped together at the front of the development.1 

Every house is essentially a McMansion, so we are all McMansion dwellers who only know each others' names through Facebook conversations. There is some residential-based commerce allowed, such as hair stylists and music lessons. But it's tightly controlled and not the same as streets with a mixture of houses, apartments, mom-and-pop groceries, a coffee shop, a bookstore and a pizzeria. Plus, great walkable communities can have snickelways!

But enough from me. Here's some of what Perell had to say in his Twitter thread last October:
"One of the weirdest things about modern urbanism is that we build the opposite of what we like. We adore Europe’s narrow streets, but build skyscraper-lined cities with six-lane roads and sterile shopping malls, that are impossible to walk. Right now, I’m living in a suburb of Austin, Texas. I don’t have a car so I’m entirely dependent on delivery workers and my roommates (who have cars) if I want to go anywhere. Tires, not feet, are the engines of practical reality which makes you feel powerless as a meager human. American society is entirely oriented around the car. I saw this when I registered to vote last week. To prove identity, the form asked for my driver’s license, not my passport. That’s not necessarily a problem, but it reveals how we serve cars instead of making them serve us. I'm increasingly convinced that avoiding scale is a recipe for happiness. Keep a small group of close friends, work with a small team of people, and avoid big companies (yes, there is nuance here). Economically, the notion is absurd. Emotionally, it increasingly feels true."
Finally, with walkable communities, you can have experiences like this:
Previous Papergreat posts about walkable communities 

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Two more Melvin Reed QSLs: Commerce and Münster

Here are two more ham radio QSL cards sent to Melvin "Midge" C. Reed (W3AIT) of Frackville, Pennsylvania, 20 years apart. (To dive backward into Reed's many QSLs on Papergreat, see last year's November and August posts.)

First up is this seemingly homemade QSL, sent from "Lou" Seyler (KN5VVW) of Commerce, Texas, in 1960. Commerce is a small, rural college town in northeastern Texas and the birthplace of World War II Flying Tigers leader Claire Lee Chennault.

If I found the correct Seyler, he served as a physician in World War II. On Find a Grave, there is a Dr. Louis Walter Seyler (1908-1988) who died and is buried in Commerce. In a blog post earlier this year, historian Carol C. Taylor writes:
"The longest resident practice in Commerce was by Dr. Louis W. Seyler, who opened his hospital at 1606 Bonham Street in 1948 and, for over 40 years 'raised almost every kid in the post-war generation.' Whether you got a shot, had a cut finger sutured, a nasty cough, bad cold, etc., his fee was $5.00.

"Dr. Seyler spent many hours reading medical journals. He would often call a patient he had seen weeks before. 'I found a new medication. Go to “Abie” Cranford’s (pharmacy) and pick it up.' Doctoring was an art, a science and an obligation."
The second QSL was mailed to Midge two decades later, in 1980. It's from Ernst Knoll (DF1QU) in Münster, Germany. A version of the image on the front of Knoll's QSL is now available from stock photo vendors such as Alamy, which describes it as "Panorama of Münster, Pieter Nolpe, Hendrick Focken, Anonymou. Reimagined by Gibon."

The most I've ever learned about Münster comes from the 2013 episode of Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast titled "Prophets of Doom." The 4-plus-hour podcast is described this way: "Murderous millennial preachers and prophets take over the German city of Munster after Martin Luther unleashes a Pandora's Box of religious anarchy with the Protestant Reformation."

Not the lightest podcast topic, but very compelling, especially if you're a history buff and have a lot of driving to do, which I did at the time I listened to it.