Sunday, 10 November 2019

The forgotten work of Johannes Letzmann

Estonia has produced many great minds over the course of its history but not all of them have received the recognition they deserved. One such man was Dr. Johannes Letzmann, a pioneering Estonian meterologist in the field of tornado research.  Letzmann's research in the 1920s and 1930s into severe storms and atmospheric vortices was far more extensive than anything which had been conducted in the United States at that time.

Johannes Peter Letzmann
19th July 1885 - 21st May 1971

Johannes Letzmann studied meteorology at the University of Tartu from 1906 - 1913. His career studying tornadoes began in 1918 when he met the esteemed scientist Alfred Wegener who introduced him to his copious European tornado climatological and other studies. In 1924 Letzmann was awarded a PhD by The University of Helsinki.

Letzmann conducted most of his research in Tartu however he did spend a year at the University of Graz with Wegener in 1928. Eleven years later Letzmann was offered the position of professor of meteorology at the University of Graz which he held until 1945. While there he built a "Forschungsstelle für atmosphärische Wirbel" (Research Centre for atmospheric whirls). After World War Two Letzmann could not return to Soviet-occupied Estonia so he chose to remain in Austria.

In 1962 Letzmann retired and spent the rest of his days in a hostel for Baltic Germans located in Langeroog, Germany. For decades Letzmann's work lay forgotten until it was rediscovered in the 1990s.

In 1991 Richard E. Peterson from Texas Tech Universtiy published this 19-page biography about the immense value of Letzmann's work, complete with photographs, drawings and charts: Johannes Letzmann: A Pioneer in the Study of Tornadoes 

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall

Thirty years ago today the Berlin Wall was torn down. When it stood, it was among history’s darkest symbols of a divided Europe. When it fell, it became the beginning of the end of communist tyranny and led to the path for Estonia to regain its independence.Thirty years ago today Europe changed for the better, the world changed.  The wait was finally over.

The Foriegn Ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania released this joint statement.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

FIA World Rally Champions 2019: Ott Tänak & Martin Järveoja

After winning race after race across Europe this year Ott Tänak has been named FIA World Champion for 2019 with his co-driver Martin Järveoja. Ott will now go down in history for being the first Estonian to win the World Rally Championship. Ott has made Estonia so very proud! Congratulations!

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Ancient gold bracelet found in Saaremaa

Earlier last month amateur archaeologist Jegor Klimov made the discovery of a lifetime. With the aid of his metal detector he came across  a 1700 year old sacifical site on the island of Saaremaa. The site contained a treasure trove of ancient artifacts including silver and gold plated brooches and belt plagues but the most exciting item amongst the collection was the massive gold bracelet that dates back to the 3rd century. Nothing like this has been found in Estonia before.  It's a rare find. 

The value of the bracelet is believed to be between  €300,000 - €400,000.

Friday, 25 October 2019

PiparkoogiMaania / Gingerbreadmania 2019/2020

The theme for this year's exhibition at PiparkoogiMaania has been named 'Mythology'.  The month long exhibition held annually in Tallinn will see a variety of delicious  treats crafted into mythological creatures and objects relating to Estonian folklore. The exhibition opens on 5th December 2019.

Mütoloogia / Mythology

More information about opening hours, prices and workshops can be found on the PiparkoogiMaania website Pparkoogimaania.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Death in Estonia

Following on from my last entry, here are some useful terms and facts relating to death in Estonia.  Currently the Estonian death rate stands at 11.9% per 1000 of the population. According to the latest figures released by the Estonian Bureau of Statistics, over 14,000 people died in Estonia last year.

Traditionally Estonans prefer to be buried rather than cremated and their are certain customs associated with that. Preparing the body for the burial and selecting the right clothes is very important. After the funeral a feast follows in honour of the departed. It is also common in Estonia to take photographs at funerals as it is generally one of the few times, apart from weddings, when the whole family gathers.

Monday, 21 October 2019

My absence...

If anyone has been wondering why I haven't written much during the past few months, there is a very good reason. My mother has been very ill and sadly she passed away in August. I flew to her side twice this year and have spent the past three months in Australia, caring for her and then her affairs. It has been a very sad time for me and my family. Her demise is still incredibly shocking to me as my mother was the healthiest person I knew - by far. She didn't drink, smoke, always ate very well, lots of healthy fruits and vegetables and walked a lot. She avoided chemicals, excess sun exposure and medications. She didn't even like to take Panadol for a headache. That's how health conscious she was. So for her to have a tumour in her kidney, then develop a secondary cancer near her stomach is truly shocking for me. People who lead healthy lifestyles don't deserve to get sick. It's not right. I always thought my mother would live well into her 90s, like her aunt. Sadly she only made it to 70.

I'm no stranger to grief and loss, I have experienced it before but pain has a way of lingering until you find a way to deal with it. Having my mother's things around me does provide comfort and I always like to have lots of photos on display. I've made a nice little shrine dedicated to my mother on my window sill. Candles shine bright in her memory. 

Losing a mother is a significant event in one's life. It' happened to me much earlier than I expected which is why I feel so overwhelmed and shocked. Christmas will be tough for me this year as will be all future birthdays as our birthdays were a day apart. We shared many bonds and that was just one of them.