03 November 2006

The USSR and the CCCP

I think in grade school I knew what the USSR was. It was right up there with the Devil himself. Then in high school I think I learned that the letters stood for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, but I never really comprehended (was it just me or my history and geography books)that there were indeed individual republics like Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Moscow alone was reportedly quite a formidible enemy.

In all honesty, I really never knew why, when watching the Olympic games on telelvision, the athletes from the USSR had CCCP on their uniforms. Assuming that CCCP were Roman letters, too, I always wondered what were they calling their country during international competition?

Well, at long last, I have learned that CCCP are letters in the Cyrillic alphabet, too, and they pretty much stand for: Союз Советский Социалистический республиканский, which is Russian for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. By the way, R is P in the Russian language, but still sounds like an R (I think).

Artsy Fartsy Estonians

While Estonian food is generally bland, Estonian artists are surprisingly savory - piquant, acerbic, spicy, and even nouveau.

Here are (counter-clockwise) an outside wall of the L-shaped library (raamatukogu) in Pärnu, a peppery piece of art called "Forbidden History" outside the Pärnu Museum of New Art (which would easily be at home in the MCA in Chicago), and your everyday anarchy graffiti on a historically significant wall, which says something to the effect that through uprisings and revolutions, we raise up others' heads to our cause.

Snow for Halloween: The Ultimate Trick or Treat

Take a deep breath. Take a look at September 18 in the archives. Sigh. Come back here. Take a deep breath again. Now, you're ready for Estonia's winter.


More than six inches has fallen over the last four days. What was rain and rain and more rain in Pärnu was snow and snow and more snow two hours inland in Tapa.

02 November 2006


Pärnu, on the western coast of Estonia, is the country's summertime capital. Yet it's beauty is just as evident in the late fall, when I was there.

Below, there's Raimond Valgre with his accordion outside what is said to be Estonia's largest beer hall.

I heard the Tallinn Boys' Choir sing Purcell's "Funeral Music of Queen Mary" inside St. Elizabeth's Church, built in 1747 for Elizabeth, Empress of Russia. St. Catherine's Church, with the green roof, was built in 1768 for Empress Catherine II. The brown, brick Lord's Transfiguration Orthodox Church was built in 1904.