• Old Newspapers: Cosmonautics Day

    Just in time for the Cosmonautics Day from my Father’s archives – a never before seen this side of the Iron Curtain newspaper published on April 13, 1961. (click photos for a readable version).
    This extra edition is titled “It Happened!”. On the right side with the subtitle “In history – forever” there a story and a time-line of the flight. On the left there is an official announcement from the Government and the Central Committee of the Communist Party titled “Listen, Planet! – to the progressive humanity”.

    In the middle there is a short telegram to Gagarin from Nikita S. Khrushchev titled “Hugs!”

    Dear Yuri Alekseevich (Gagarin)! I am extremely delighted to congratulate you with your outstanding heroic accomplishment – the first space flight on the spaceship “Vostok”.
    The entire Soviet people admire Your brave deed, which will be remembered for centuries as an example of bravery, heroism and courage in service to all humankind.
    Your flight opens a new page of the space exploration in the history of mankind and fills the hearts of the Soviet people with joy and pride for their Socialist Motherland.
    From the bottom of my heart I congratulate you with the safe return from space back to Earth. Hugs.
    See you soon in Moscow.
    Signed “N.Khrushchev” April 12, 1961.


    On the reverse side there are articles “We Did It!”, describing how the three main social classes – workers, peasants and intelligentsia contributed to the triumph of the space flight;”Minutes that shook the world!”;”Earth gave us wings for the flight” and other small items and poetry.

    Bonus: A newspaper published on May 4th, 1961 titled “First Mayday of the Cosmic Era”.

    And now we dance:

    This song is called “Gagarin,I loved you” by Russian band Undervud.

  • Checked Off My Bucket List: Argentina

    For the longest time a trip to Argentina has occupied the top spot on my imaginary bucket list, patiently waiting for its time. Talking about my dream to visit Argentina became such a part of my life that after finally getting it done, I might be at a loss of subjects to discuss in a polite conversation. In any case, the trip and the country of Argentina turned out to be everything I imagined it to be and much more, and became the longest, the most expensive and the best trip of my adult life.

    Streets of Buenos Aires

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  • Old Photos: Labor Day

    Some photos of the Labor Day Celebrations over the years.

    WPA Workers marching in the Labor Day Parade. Detroit,1938. © Time Inc. William Vandivert

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  • The Road To Overachieving Is Lined With Blue Trash Carts

    When Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev came back from his trip to the United States he had the answer to all of the USSR’s agricultural and other problems – corn. A directive was issued and pretty soon corn was being planted everywhere with joyous reports pouring in from all corners of the country  even from places where corn had no chance of maturing due to the short growing season. Just like in the Special Olympics it wasn’t the results that counted, people got points (and awards) for participation.
    I thought about overachieving and stupidity when I came home the other day to see my neighborhood lined with blue trash carts.

    With these trash carts the City of Olathe is about to start its recycling program. I am skeptical about the benefits of recycling and until now did not participate in the program since it was not mandatory and cost an additional charge. My household doesn’t produce enough recyclable materials as outlined by the City to even bother. As a matter of fact we just don’t have that much trash in general. When the City supplied everyone with 95 gallon trash carts few years ago I immediately traded down to a smaller 65 gallon size and even that is almost always half-empty. I hardly ever have any items that fit the description other than an occasional phone book, a rare plastic bottle, or a piece of cardboard, so the 65 gallon cart represents about 65 times more volume of recyclables my family can produce in a year. The City did a test-run and feels that I will have enough stuff to fill it every two weeks. Obviously this is not going to happen.

    In addition to the fact that I never volunteered to participate and wasn’t consulted with before the cart was dropped off in my driveway I literally don’t have any room in my garage to keep two 65 gallon containers. Hardly anyone in this neighborhood has more than one-car garage and most of the people already keep their regular trash carts out on the street (against the regulations), so now it will be adorned by two giant trash bins per household. However, the main non-benefit of the recycling program is a mandatory increase in the cost of the trash pick-up. While no one has to participate, everyone has to pay supposedly to attain a “long‐term stabilizing benefit to recycling because landfill costs are increasing”. Now I am torn between wanting to get something for the money I suddenly have to contribute and the realization that I will probably never have enough recyclables to even bother rolling the cart out on the pick-up day. Most likely I will just return the cart and curse the City every time I pay the bill.

    I realize that many people believe in recycling, Jesus Christ, hope and change, world peace and  global warming/cooling or both. Nothing wrong with that. What I find idiotic is the city investing in enough of the $65 trash-carts for every house, special trucks and equipment, with many people like me who will opt out of the program for various reasons. I have no idea how many people will return the carts or just leave them outside as decorations. The time will tell. I wouldn’t have any problem with just a price increase without the recycling gimmick, I realize that the costs are rising, but what may be a good idea for some, was imposed on all by the same type of thoughtless overachievers who long ago were planting corn inside the Arctic circle.

    In the meantime you are welcome to drop off your recycling at my house – it’s already paid for.
    If you have thirty minutes of spare time, watch this episode of Penn and Teller Bullshit, maybe you’ll recognize yourself.

  • Old Photos: Jenkins Music Company

    Pretty interesting article about a local (now-defunct) piano seller. It’s notable how in 1940 people didn’t think twice about the phrase “salesman lures the farmer’s daughter into the truck

    To find out what manner of people the 100,000 or more purchasers of pianos this year (1940), LIFE sent a photographer to the Jenkins Music Company in Kansas City, Mo. This company, with nine branch stores spread over Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, sells more than $1,000,000 worth of pianos a year.
    One of their most successful schemes is a “truck operation”. About twice a week a Jenkins truck, several pianos and a salesman go cruising around the nearby farm territory. At a likely farmhouse it stops and the salesman lures the farmer’s daughter into the truck to try out one of his pretty pianos. He then talks the prospect into moving the piano into the farmhouse “to see how it looks”. Once inside, it seldom comes out again.

    A Jenkins Music Co. truck wearing three different liscense plates.© Time Inc.George Strock

    A woman testing the keys on the piano.© Time Inc.George Strock

    Farmers speaking to business man out in the field.© Time Inc.George Strock

    Men moving a $255 piano into the house.© Time Inc.George Strock

    Two little boys playing the piano.© Time Inc.George Strock

    Children taking free piano lessons.© Time Inc.George Strock

    A little girl, with a broken arm, playing the piano while her brother plays with his toys.© Time Inc.George Strock

    A woman playing a new grand piano costing $425 for a group of people in a mansion recently acquired by Kansas City Realtor J.H.Edwards.© Time Inc.George Strock

    Kansas City Police bought a $110 pianette for their barbershop chord quartet. Rehearsals, with piano are held in the soundproof rifle range in the basement. William Johnson, bass, tallest (6ft 8 in) cop on any force, is also a drum major of police band.© Time Inc.George Strock