In October, I had the pleasure of traveling back to Moldova for work. A Romanian colleague joined our team and brought much joy into our lives, the most memorable of all had while enjoying Ţuică (pronounced tswee-kuh), a high proof alcohol made from plums. Most Moldovans are ethnically Romanian, and so they share a fondness for the spirit. I was even able to enjoy some țuică made by monks at the Curchi Monastery in Moldova.

At its core, țuică is moonshine produced at home for private (and raucous) consumption. It reflects the robust nature of the Romanian people, stored in unlabeled plastic bottles for consumption around a tables of friends. For generations,  Romanians have drank a shot or two to start a meal. One seemingly common thread of places I’ve traveled in the former Soviet Union is homemade alcohol. Georgians, Armenians and Moldovans all love to make their own wine (to varying degrees of success, given the quality of their fruit). Romanians make țuică.

Noroc!

Image from this blog post about țuică.


Places that share the 37th parallel north with San Francisco,  California (37°46′N 122°26′W):

  • Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
  • Kaesong, North Korea
  • Adana, Turkey
  • Wichita, Kansas
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Catania, Italy
  • Sevilla, Andalusia Spain
  • Springfield, Missouri

With an ongoing project based in Tbilisi, I am nervously watching Georgians brace for the parliamentary elections to be held on October 1. The elections are important because a new constitution will go into effect next year (transferring many of the current presidential powers over to the prime minister), but it is interesting because of the unique evolution that Georgian presidential politics have taken since the Rose Revolution in 2003.

Continue reading ‘[Fit to Print] The President of Georgia’


Charles A Thresher

American Pioneer

Lawrence, Kansas. 1863.

This is the last of four parts of the journal of my great-great-great-grandfather, a pioneer of Kansas, Charles A Thresher. I have transcribed (the nearly impossible to read handwriting of) his memoirs here for all to share. I’ve done all the hard work but it’s worth noting a few important transcription edits. Anything in [square brackets] is my edits to make a word intelligible and I’m 95% confident it’s what he intended. If something is in {curly brackets} it’s my best guess what he wrote. I’ve also included links to anything that might be an obscure reference that I was able to clarify with this magic of the internet.

Continue reading ‘[From Sea to Shining Sea] Charles A Thresher – Part 4’


Whoops, wrong Olde English. Today I shall tell you the (extremely simplified) story of how English came to be. In the 5th century AD during a period called “the Migration Period,” the Roman Empire was waning in influence in Northwest Europe and Germanic peoples started expanding out from their territory. Romans had been already in Britannia, and while it would be easy to think this is the beginning of our Latin-based vocabulary, it’s not (that really comes from the Norman Invasion, which you can read about on my blog). The Britons already named the island Ynys Prydein, meaning “the island of the people of forms” (referring to their tatooing/warpaiting, which the Romans had difficulty colonizing. Romans renamed the land “Brittania,” which was their best attempt at understanding the local toponym, and it stuck (in fact, I’ll be using it throughout as it just seems appropriate).

Continue reading ‘[Glossolalia] Ye Olde Englisc’


Charles A Thresher

American Pioneer

This is the third of four parts of the journal of my great-great-great-grandfather, a pioneer of Kansas, Charles A Thresher. I have transcribed (the nearly impossible to read handwriting of) his memoirs here for all to share. I’ve done all the hard work but it’s worth noting a few important transcription edits. Anything in [square brackets] is my edits to make a word intelligible and I’m 95% confident it’s what he intended. If something is in {curly brackets} it’s my best guess what he wrote. I’ve also included links to anything that might be an obscure reference that I was able to clarify with this magic of the internet.

Continue reading ‘[From Sea to Shining Sea] Charles A Thresher – Part 3’


In preparation for some Glossolalia posts, I am really getting into Beowulf. The first 11 lines of the poem:

Hwæt! We Gardena         in geardagum, 
þeodcyninga,         þrym gefrunon, 
hu ða æþelingas         ellen fremedon. 
Oft Scyld Scefing         sceaþena þreatum, 
5monegum mægþum,         meodosetla ofteah, 
egsode eorlas.         Syððan ærest wearð 
feasceaft funden,         he þæs frofre gebad, 
weox under wolcnum,         weorðmyndum þah, 
oðþæt him æghwylc         þara ymbsittendra
ofer hronrade         hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan.         þæt wæs god cyning!  

Unfortunately, all artistic representation of the story made after 1925 is god awful. Check it out on Google Image Search.