Saturday Snippet: Repairing a capitalist motorcycle in communist Yugoslavia

Tim Severin is almost legendary among modern explorers and historians.  From his college days, he’s specialized in studying an ancient voyage of discovery or some other historical travel narrative, and recreating it using technology of the period and in as practical a way as possible.  In doing so, he’s dispelled many myths, but he’s also proved that many stories thought to be myth and fable were, in fact, firmly grounded in reality.  (Two of the most fascinating are the legend of Jason and the Golden Fleece, and Ulysses’ voyage from Troy to his homeland of Ithaca, both re-enacted aboard a galley built in

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A nationwide scam on Airbnb?

I’ve never used Airbnb myself, but I have several friends who’ve done so.  I was therefore rather worried to read that there seems to be a widespread scam going on involving properties listed on Airbnb. I had unknowingly stumbled into a nationwide web of deception that appeared to span eight cities and nearly 100 property listings—an undetected scam created by some person or organization that had figured out just how easy it is to exploit Airbnb’s poorly written rules in order to collect thousands of dollars through phony listings, fake reviews, and, when necessary, intimidation. Considering Airbnb’s lax enforcement of its own policies,

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Blogorado 2019, Day 5

Yesterday (Monday) saw the end of our gathering for this year.  Some folks had to leave on Sunday, due to work commitments, but the rest of us gathered for a final breakfast at the Obligatory Cow Reference before heading out in all directions.  I tackled their Western Omelet, which was as delicious as everything else on their menu.  Their breakfasts are a highlight of our get-togethers, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone complain about their quantity or quality. Miss D. and I headed south to Amarillo, where we met up with Alma Boykin and Old NFO for lunch.  As always, it was a

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Blogorado 2019, Day 1

We had an interesting drive from North Texas to Colorado yesterday.  The massive Arctic weather front that dropped temperatures by over 60 degrees Fahrenheit in Colorado yesterday had moved well into Texas.  Miss D. and I ran into it just outside Chilicothe, where she took this amazing picture while I was driving.  It isn’t wide enough to tell the whole story.  (Clickit to biggit.) Those are four massive roll clouds in close formation, extending from one horizon to the other in an otherwise clear sky, as far as the eye could see. We were just under the first of them when she took that

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Food. Ye Gods and little fishes . . . food!

Our annual Blogorado gathering is coming up next weekend, and Miss D. and I have volunteered to provide supper on Friday night.  We therefore hit the road to Muenster, TX this morning, to Fischer’s Meat Market, which I’ve mentioned in these pages before.  It’s a truly magnificent German-style meat market, which breeds its own cattle, slaughters them itself, and processes the meat to produce all sorts of delectable goodies. We probably shocked the counter staff by ordering so much.  Thirty-odd bratwurst, thirty-odd bockwurst, eight pounds of coarse-ground peasant-style Braunschweiger, twelve pounds of German potato salad (the kind you eat warm), six pounds of sauerkraut, several pounds

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“The airplanes that rescue Ebola patients”

That’s the title of a very interesting article in Popular Mechanics.  It’s a long article with a lot of detail, far too much to include here;  but I’ll post a series of short excerpts to give you an idea. … two humanitarian medical workers helping out with the Ebola crisis in Liberia had come down with it. Their names were Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, and while everyone wanted to get them home, they had no idea how to do so safely. “The general dogma was, you don’t bring the zombie apocalypse to a city that doesn’t have zombies,” Walters says. But

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On the road again

Miss D. and I are headed for the Texas Panhandle, to spend time with our friend Alma Boykin and take in a little local culture at the Tri-State Fair and Rodeo.  (Yeeeeeee-haw!)  We’ll be back home tomorrow evening.  Please say a prayer for traveling mercies for us, if you’re so inclined. I’ve queued up a post for tomorrow morning.  For more reading matter, please visit the bloggers listed in my sidebar.  They do good work, too! Peter

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In the history of shopping, Amazon.com isn’t as new as it seems

Being an immigrant, I wasn’t as familiar with US economic history as I was with that of other countries and regions.  Therefore, I found this article, comparing Amazon.com with a much earlier vendor, very interesting. The history of US consumerism starts with the Sears Roebuck mail order catalog. Yes, the very same Sears that is struggling to emerge from bankruptcy today. But 125 years ago the company was every bit the disruptive innovator. A brief summary of how that happened: Mail order became viable in the late 1800s because of the expansion of the US rail system, post office regulations that allowed for

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How many of you remember this “two-faced” car?

I was amused to come across a photo essay about the Zundapp Janus, a German “bubble car” from the late 1950’s. The Roman legendary god Janus, for whom it was named, had two faces, one looking ahead to the future, and one behind to the past.  The car had two doors, one in front of the driver, the other behind the rear seat.  The two seats faced forward and aft, with the engine between them.  The car was terribly underpowered, able to reach only about 50 mph (probably downhill, with a following wind), and had very little interior space if filled with its maximum

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A century of scheduled international air travel

Last week saw a milestone:  the centenary of scheduled international air travel. In a year that marks so many important aviation anniversaries, the month of August has possibly the most significant of them all. For on 25 August 1919, a small British-built biplane took off from heathland close to where London Heathrow is today, beginning the first-ever daily international passenger air service. . . . While other passenger air services had been flown before, aviation historians point to the Aircraft Transport and Travel (AT&T) operation between Hounslow Heath and Le Bourget as the true beginning of international flights, as it marked

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