Europeans tell me that I can pass for any of the nationalities of continental northwestern Europe. I started hearing this in 2007 when I started to meet real Europeans, and it continues. Some guess specific single countries; some say "it could be one of several;" in either case, it's always northwestern Europe.
What's remarkable is that they're right. I am, in fact, of half Scandinavian, 3/8ths German, and 1/8th Colonial New England ancestry (the ultimate-country-origins of this last line I haven't learned but odds are good, given who settled in Colonial New England, that it is entirely northwestern European, as well). (See Also: post-223: "Kinsfolk By the Millions").
This year, 2015, was the first Christmas that I was in the USA since 2010, and only the third of the past ten years. It's good to be in the USA, but it's good to be abroad, too.
I attended several Christmas Eve services with family. One was at the Swedish Lutheran church in Washington, D.C. (whose existence I was unaware of; my father had apparently been before. They hold worship service in Swedish on the first Sunday of each month). It was actually a combined Christmas Eve service of the Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish churches of Washington D.C., and the Icelandic Church Abroad. In fact, it was Swedish led and used their space. The limits of egalitarianism: One of the churches' names does have to come at the top of the program (see below)...
I appreciated this service. It reminded me of Estonia (the closest I've yet gotten to Scandinavia), which is another Lutheran country except that it was, for some reason, about 70 Fahrenheit [20 C] out that day.
A clearer view of the sign taken in spring (found online):
I happen to have come to stop by John Redin's grave several times over the past ten years. It is in an old family cemetery near Interstate 66, behind a church and easily accessible by one of Arlington's bike trails, which is how I came to pass by so many times. (More on the cemetery.)
The rear-right-most grave below is John Redin's.
In many ways, John Redin was no one special, and, in fact, I suspect that this post may be the most ever written about him in one place, at least after his lifetime, though I'd be glad to learn I am wrong about that. Hundreds were already living in Arlington by the time he will have arrived, but anyway John Redin was an early Arlingtonian, and that's reason enough to remember him.
A new informational sign in memory of John Redin was erected as part of a 2013 eagle scout project. (See below.)
The new sign will definitely draw many more visitors up from the bike trail, and the proof of such is already to be seen. The flags by his grave were not there in the 2000s, as I recall (when I first read the faded words on the gravestone), nor in 2011, when I think I last stopped by. A fair number of coins, a lollipop, and some other candy in a wrapper were all left there this time. This for a man no one knows. He's been waiting a long while for that kind of attention...
What can we reasonably suppose about his origin? We know his regiment was raised in southern Virginia (mustered into Continental Army service February 1776 at Williamsburg). This strongly suggests that southern Virginia is where Redin originally lived after emigrating from England, which further suggests that he came to Virginia as an indentured servant (because had he been free in those days, and not bound by a term of indenture in some trade, presumably he would have gone to the frontier for free land, and not stuck around eastern Virginia).
John Redin's regiment was at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-1778, the low point for the American rebels, when one in six American soldiers died of cold, disease, or malnutrition, others became too sick or weak to fight, and many others deserted and went home. The 6th Virginia regiment entered Valley Forge with 237 men and left the next spring with 88, a 63% loss of strength without so much as an actual battle.
I have made an updated List of All Posts, including short descriptions and some other commentary interspersed.
The list is at Yuletyde.wordpress.com
To look at it, the plain-looking building above would appear, to the reasonable person's eye, to be a house, probably an old one. The reasonable person would be exactly half right (if counting by the letter).
It is actually a lighthouse. Believe it or not... Jones Point Lighthouse in Alexandria, Virginia. It is the southernmost point of the original District of Columbia.
I was there on December 11th, 2015, on my way to Mount Vernon by bicycle. The weather reached 70 F (21 C) and I had just finished an exam the previous day.
Here's the kind of thing I like to find. Hidden or forgotten knowledge, waiting to be found. Libraries are great for this. (Though, in fact, I found what is below in a quiet, dusty little corner of the Internet.)
The Saturday Review magazine's January 28th, 1928 issue has the following advertisement (p.559):
A lot of this advertisement puzzled me.
(1) Who is Aubrey Beardsley?
(2) What is a "pierrot"? What is a "harlequin"?
(3) What is meant, exactly, by "clown"? Is this actually a biography of a circus clown?
(4) What is meant by "Oscar Wilde's downfall"? Again, was a circus clown actually involved in it? This seems unlikely.
(5) Who has ever heard of the names "Aubrey" (for a boy) or "Haldane"? How might you pronounce "Haldane"?
(6) Was $6.00 expensive for a book in 1928?
This word "pierrot". I recognized it to be -- this is true -- a Korean word. I had struggled remembering the Korean word 피에로. The Korean-English dictionary said the word translates in English as "pierrot; clown." I'd never heard of an English word "pierrot." It seems French. How did Korean get a French loanword for "clown"? Does the word really exist in English? If so, why had I never heard it before? Seeing it in English for the first time, in a periodical published six decades before my birth was a pleasant surprise...
Late July 2015: Upon recognizing the Singapore flag in Seoul in a place it had never been before (just south of Gwanghwamun Plaza), I discovered that a temporary Singapore exhibition had been set up.
Donald Kirk is a veteran U.S. journalist who has reported on Asia for nearly fifty years.
I attended a talk and luncheon by him in Washington, D.C. on December 7th, 2015. It was hosted by a university's Korea Studies program. The crowd was fewer than twenty people, most of whom were Asian foreigners. I couldn't tell their countries of origin and didn't have a chance to talk to them. Most were graduate students. (Everyone had sandwiches and cookies but of all the attendees I was the only one to take a can of regular coca cola. Several had diet coke. What to make of that?).
If I recall correctly, Kirk said that he first entered Korea in 1972, previously having reported from Vietnam and elsewhere. He ended up, over his career, reporting on Korea a lot (though by no means exclusively), and is still going strong on that topic in the 2010s. I had previously run across the name Donald Kirk in the Korea Times, one of the English-language newspapers. It still runs his column. I occasionally bought the Korea Times and have written about this newspaper elsewhere on this site.
I must say that I was greatly impressed with Donald Kirk. He struck me as a quality investigative journalist of the classic variety. He was also energetic and vigorous. He looked younger in person than in the photo above (attached to his Korea Times columns). Seeing him in person, had someone told me he was in his 50s, I'd have certainly believed it. (He is in his 70s.)
Kirk's talk was about Jeju (of Korea) and Okinawa (of Japan) and their many parallels. The new parallel is of military base controversies on both.
I took notes during the talk. Here are some of his remarks I found most interesting:
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