Friday, June 19, 2009

Whats in a name ?

Now this should have been a world exclusive, but as my internet connection has been down these last two days - then it is no longer so - pity

Anyhow to the news, as I mentioned a few weeks back a new Pub is opening, actually as of yesterday it has opened. Owned by M...(Swedish web man) and staffed by I..... ( Latvian - ex de Laceys, Stella/Star) + other former Paddy Whelans bar type person(s)had its official opening last night at 7.00pm.

Located in what was the Stella Pub in Dome Square, it has been decorated in rustic red, including the toilets, which many of who will remember for there colorful graffiti - Multiple television screens and all new tables and chairs. Being the first night it was a little chaotic, however it did have my favourite beer, but to be honest it seemed a little lacking in pub atmosphere.

It was bit like stepping into a new house, everything is there but it lacks a lived in look.

Clearly over time this will hopefully change, and it will develop its own character - we will but see.

As for the name Alberts, well it transpires he was the first bishop of Riga and indeed founded what we now know as Riga - history lesson to follow

Albert of Riga or Albert of Livonia (Latvian: bīskaps Alberts; German: Albrecht von Buxthoeven; c. 1165 in Bexhövede, a part of Loxstedt17 January 1229 in Riga) was the third Bishop of Riga in Livonia. In 1201 he founded Riga, the modern capital of Latvia, and built the city's cathedral in 1221.

Albert headed the armed forces that forcibly converted the eastern Baltic region to Christianity, in the nature of a crusade that was undertaken while the Fourth Crusade was sacking Constantinople.

Albert and his brother Hermann were members of the powerful Buxhoeveden family from Bexhövede, now a part of Loxstedt, Lower Saxony. Because of this he has also been known as Albert of Buxhoeveden (or Bexhövede, Buxhövden, Buxhöwde, Buxthoeven, Appeldern).

Albert was a canon in Bremen when his uncle Hartwig, Archbishop of Bremen and Hamburg, named him Bishop of Livonia (today Latvia and southern Estonia), provided that he could conquer and hold it, and convince the pagan inhabitants to become Christians. The patent was granted March 28, 1199, and by the beginning of spring 1200 he embarked with a Baltic fleet of 23 vessels and more than 1,500 armed crusaders. He had the support of the Hohenstaufen German King, Philip of Swabia, and the more distant blessing of Pope Innocent III.

Together with merchants from the Baltic island of Gotland, Albert founded Riga in 1201, where a small community of Hanseatic traders from Lübeck held a tentative trading encampment. He successfully converted many Livs under their leader Caupo, offering them protection against neighboring Lithuanian and Estonian tribes; Albert also converted some Latvians later on. The conquest of Livonia in full occupied almost three decades of his life.

Albert created a military order, the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, and began to build his cathedral in 1215. King Philip made him a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, with Livonia for a fief, and thus Albert became a "Prince-Bishop". In 1225 King Henry VII of Germany confirmed the title of Prince for Albert and his brother, Hermann. Albert declared his diocese independent of Bremen, and later Riga was raised to an archbishopric.

A first-hand account of Albert is in the contemporary Chronicle of Henry of Livonia (Henricus Lettus').

Albert died in Riga in 1229, but, as a Catholic Bishop, left no descendants. He was venerated as a Catholic saint until the Protestant Reformation. The present-day "von Buxhoeveden" are descendants of his cousin Johannes von Buxhoeveden. Albert's brother Theodoricus is the progenitor of the family de Raupena (de Ropa, known today as "von der Ropp") that founded manors in Livonia and Courland.

A street in Riga, Alberta iela ("Albert Street"), is named after Bishop Albert. It is known for its Art Nouveau apartment buildings, many of them designed by the architect Mikhail Eisenstein.

Not sure what he would thought about having a pub named after him.

The weather for much of this week has been overcast, however the threatened bad weather had failed to materialise, indeed as I write the sun is shining and the annual Ligo Fair in Dome square is basking in the sunshine with all sorts of Latvian goodies for sale, including being to buy what looks like half a tree which you must wrap around your head on Ligo. I know Latvia has acres of forest, but at this time of the year they must take quite a hit.

and finally take a look at these images, taken buy one of many roving reporters - thanks A.... ( English - with south western accent)

See Anything strange ?

Anything Yet ??

Got it yet ?

Now you are getting it

Now you have got it - but the real question is what are they putting up ? and how did they get down ?

As ever Riga will be deserted next week with Ligo and Jani - so lets hope the sunshine stays and we get hot days and warm nights - but history tells us otherwise.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Boys will be "girls"

Now there are many strange sights to be seen in Riga, particularly at the weekend, with the arrival of the stag parties from the UK. But in my new found role as the Riga Breakfast King, I saw last weekend up close and personal, at least for me one of strangest.

First of all who have to picture my arrival at F..... Fun Hostel, ready and willing to cook breakfast for all and sundry. But there at reception ( which is quite small) and overflowing into the bar area, were what appeared at first sight a group over 20 ladies, the vast majority dressed in pink, but two in clearly their wedding dresses.

But as the picture clearly shows the "ladies" were in fact robust young men, but decked out in what was clearly a coordinated fashion statement, that PINK was in.

They then all trooped out to "do" Riga, now bear in mind this was about 10.30am in the morning, so God only knows what the members of the public thought of this group of deranged persons as they made there way through the old town.

Needless to say they did not indulge in in one of my famous breakfasts, but they did return to watch the Lions rugby game.

Now you ask, where would such a group hail from ?, surely from an urban area where dressing in such attire would not impinge upon there manly image. So we can rule out all the Celtic nations, or can we ? given that it is the Celtic nations, or at least some of them, with Scottish and Irish wearing Kilts in their national dress. So could they be English - regretfully I have to advise our long lost and sadly missed Welshman S..... ( retired cat flap maker) that they all hailed from Wales, and not any part of Wales, Port Talbot !!!!!!!

Now to be fair they were well behaved, and as they said just having a good laugh - mind you this was at 4.00pm - what they were like at midnight when visiting the Riga night clubs - -may well be another matter.

I mentioned some time ago that the village lounge was being "modified", thanks to J... ( Australian SIP king) I show below the current state of affairs, in the rear of the building. It is claimed that they will "terrace the new larger and open rear - we shall but see. But with the disappearance of toilets on the first and second floors, there are some seriously wasted "patrons" having to make there way to the third floor to relieve themselves.

Having experienced some glorious weather two weekends ago, the weather of late has been rubbish, and so the joys of being able to sit out in the sunshine and enjoy a beer in one of the squares will have to wait until sun finally makes an appearance.

Finally a story forwarded to me by J... (Australian - see above) - Has a ring of truth about it. - Enjoy !!


Railroad tracks. This is fascinating

Be sure to read the final paragraph; your understanding of it will depend on the earlier part of the content.

The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number..

Why was that gauge used? Because that's the way they built them in
England , and English expatriates built the US railroads.

Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did 'they' use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they use d for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in
England , because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads? Imperial Romebuilt the first long distance roads in
Europe (andEngland ) for their legions. The roads have been used ever since

And the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial
Rome , they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot.. Bureaucracies live forever.

So the next time you are handed a specification/ procedure/process and wonder 'What horse's ass came up with it?', you may be exactly right. Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses. (Two horse's asses.) Now, the twist to the story:

When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRB's. The SRB's are made by Thiokol at their factory in
Utah . The engineers who designed the SRB's would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRB's had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains, and the SRB's had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds.

So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's ass. And you thought being a horse's ass wasn't important? Ancient horse's asses control almost everything... and
CURRENT Horses Asses are controlling everything else.