Today is February 24, 2006,
the 88th
anniversary of the Republic of Estonia
* * * * *
Below is the story behind the boisterous celebration

(As a start-off, you can inspect the
flag of Estonia (naval version)
HERE, before returning to the story)

Just an anniversary

That’s right -- it’s really not the Estonian Independence Day, it’s just the Anniversary of the Estonian Republic (Vabariigi aastapäev in Estonian). Nevertheless, it’s habitually and officially celebrated like any other Independence Day in any other country (and the Estonian words for "Anniversary of the Republic" are sometimes rendered as "Independence Day" in foreign-language information texts about Estonia).

But in reality February 24 only commemorates the Declaration of the Republic, not actual Estonian independence. Real independence was not established until November 1918, some 8 months later.

Chaotic in the extreme

Because on February 24, 1918, which is the day when the Republic of Estonia was declared all over the country, the political situation in and around Estonia was nightmarishly complicated, to put it mildly. World War I was still going on, with Estonia formally belonging to the Tsarist Russian Empire, which in turn was at war with Imperial Germany. But two Russian revolutions -- Kerensky’s liberal revolution in the beginning of 1917 and Lenin’s communist coup d’état in the autumn of 1917 -- had made Estonia’s Russian connection much less compelling.

Independence for Estonia, or at least self-rule within the Russian Empire, had been on the Estonian agenda since the early 1900’s. National Estonian committees had been formed and a self-governing Estonian national administration network had been established. When the Tsar abdicated in 1917, Estonian Home Guard units were formed and some purely Estonian military units within the Russian army were set up. The increasing revolutionary chaos in Russia in February 1918 made it seem that the time had finally come for Estonia to declare its full independence from Russia.

Deals behind the scenes

However, behind the scenes more momentous developments were going on simultaneously. Lenin had realized from the start that if his communist takeover was to have any chance of succeeding, then the war with Imperial Germany had to stop. Lenin’s representative Trotsky had been negotiating for some time with the Germans in the Byelorussian city of Brest-Litovsk.

But the German Imperial government demanded the Baltic provinces (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and the Russian part of Poland as a condition for peace. On top of that Russia was required to confirm the independence of Finland, the Ukraine and Georgia, all of them former Russian possessions. That was a stiff price to pay for Lenin, who wanted to keep his new Soviet Empire at least as large as the old Tsarist Empire had been, preferably a whole lot larger. Hence the negotiations dragged on.

But soon the situation in Russia deteriorated at such breakneck pace that by February 21, 1918 Lenin had no choice but to accept the Imperial German conditions. The peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk was formally signed on March 3, 1918. A few days before the treaty was even officially signed, Imperial German troops marched in and occupied the territories that Lenin had relinquished, including Estonia.

Occupied by a different Emperor

The declaration of the Republic of Estonia on February 24, 1918 was consequently followed by Imperial German occupation of Estonia, only days later. The Estonian Home Guard units were totally inadequate to resist professional German troops; they didn’t even try. And the Germans had no interest whatsoever in Estonian independence.

So yes, an Estonian Republic had been declared on paper. The declaration had even been read out aloud in public. But at the same time there was no Estonian independence in sight.

Downfall of the Kaiser

Was the February 24 declaration premature and rash? No. As it turned out in the end, it wasn’t. Because in spite of all its impressive gains in the East, Imperial Germany’s fortunes of war on the Western front had changed from bad to disastrous, partly thanks to American participation in the war.

In November 1918 Imperial Germany was forced to surrender. Included in the armistice conditions was declaring the Brest-Litovsk treaty invalid and requiring all German troops to withdraw from the occupied Eastern areas.

In defence of independence

Immediately after the withdrawal of German occupying forces from Estonia in November 1918, Soviet Russia attacked the "paper Republic" of Estonia. But the Estonians had not been idle during the German occupation. A constituting assembly and a temporary government were ready to start functioning as soon as the Germans left. In the beginning the Estonian Home Guard units were not strong enough to prevent Lenin’s forces from intruding deep into Estonian territory. But an effective military organisation was soon formed, which in time succeeded in repelling the Russians.

Fighting went on for more than a year, but in the end Lenin gave up, partly due to his grave problems elsewhere. A peace treaty between the Republic of Estonia and Soviet Russia was signed in Tartu on February 2, 1920, less than two years after the seemingly "premature" declaration of the Estonian Republic on February 24, 1918.

Celebrating with bottled passion

Seen strictly from the perspective of the celebration and the festivities, the time of the year could certainly have been chosen better. February in Estonia is freezing cold and snowy, leading many celebrators to warm themselves with strong drinks. In some quarters this is seen as a growing problem. On the eve of the 2006 festivities some civic organisations have made an appeal to the public: "Make the Anniversary of the Republic non-alcoholic!" I seriously doubt that this is going to happen, though.

No one bothered to ask Boggs how he knew needles so well. He could hit a vein without leaving a track mark and, if you held still enough, you didn’t even feel it. No one asked because he was willing and no one else knew how.

I sat in Andrea’s shitty apartment on one of her shitty chairs with a black studded punk rock belt around my arm. The studs clicked like a metronome as I pulled it tighter and my veins bulged hungrily. Random (that was his name) said he didn’t want to and eyed me with a mixture of curiosity and disappointment. We had promised each other that we would never put anything up our nose and, when we both broke that promise, made another pact that we would never shoot anything.

I was about to break that promise and he wasn’t.

Boggs held the slender needle like it would break and stretched my skin back a little; my skin felt horribly exposed and I waited for the inevitable sting. If it hadn’t been for the ribbon of blood that shot up the plunger I would have thought that he missed. My blood mixed with the clear drug and he slowly pushed the plunger down. It didn’t feel cold, like I had thought but I imagined the sound water makes when it goes down the drain.

He pulled the short needle out and lightly massaged the area as I loosened the punk rock belt and attempted to hand it to Stu. It was too late.

The air conditioner hummed in another room and I focused on the noise. It roared in my ears and I was only vaguely aware of the people in the room. I allowed Boggs to lead me to the floor, where I laid down on my stomach before the ride started. That hum was all consuming now and I wasn’t even aware of my body, Andreas’s shitty apartment or the smell of the carpet below me.

Seven years later, Random would call me and say that he had always regretted not doing it with me. He had lived through our exotic summer in the South and wished he had pushed it a little farther while he was there. As it stands, he has never pushed a needle into a vein and experienced drugs in their rawest state. And, for some reason, he regretted this.

Seven years later, I would tell him that I always regretted doing it. We had made so many promises and kept none of them, I wished we had kept more. I had lived through that exotic summer and wished that I hadn’t pushed it so far.

What we didn’t regret, was that he had called me seven years later.

Last night was my Fundamentals of Project Management class. It's a four week, 12 hour class. Last night was the second night, so we are half way through chronologically. However, we are only about 1/3 through the syllabus. Reason: other people. Other people (not me) asked 10,000 questions and bogged the class down so badly that the instructor dropped hints with the subtlety of a roadside bomb that he needed to move the class forward. No joke: dude next to me bogged down the class for no less than 20 minutes because the definitions of the terms scope statement and scope definition were unclear to him because, in his mind, the instructor's slides on the topics were in the wrong order. When I wasn't sketching axes and swords and ligers on my trapper keeper, I looked around the room and saw several other people rolling their eyes. If poltergeists are real, then that room is going to be haunted for centuries by a spirit painting the walls in blood with the words "GET ON WITH IT!"

This is the problem with me and classrooms. Unfortunately, I learn best in classrooms, but invariably, the class proceeds too slowly for me, and I get bored. And there isn't nothing worse for my productivity than boredom. I mean, I am noding at work, after all. I wish I was the sort of person that could sit down with a book and study and just glean knowledge off the page. Sadly, I am not.

It's my problem, so I don't want to blame anyone other than myself. But having said that, let me blame others. First, I never was challenged in school. Ever. I never once, until college, was pushed to anywhere close to my potential. Consequently, I became a terribly lazy student. There are numerous mediocre marks on my report cards with comments like "Doesn't work at full potential" and "Would have gotten an A if turned in work". In college, this all bit me in the ass because I made the mistake of taking some classes that were beyond my ability. I took an honors physics class that really cornholed me. In college, too, I was lazy, but there are just as many examples of classes where I was hindered by a lack of study and reading skills as there are of me blowing the class off.

So fix it, Ed. Fix the problem.

*sigh* My wife says, "Do the SQ3R method!" I do that and I just get, not just bored, but bored with a bunch of useless note cards lying around.

I'm doomed.

I saw The 40-Year-Old Virgin last night. Funny, but I had a question. Does anybody know the name of the girl Andy had trouble de-bra-ing? It was during his flashbacks to the sexual disasters of his past, right after the snagglechick oral sex episode and before the toe sucking debacle. Anyway, I greatly admired her work. I've exhausted all the googleing and imdb-ing I dare while at work.

My graveyard night shift starts in 4 hours. On opening my work mailbox I found this from the IT contact center frontline shift leader. This will certainly be talked about in the daily internal and external conferences.

Greeting all,

This is to inform you that today February 24, 2006 we receive a call from communication Operation Department at 15:45 Hrs. informing that a terrorism attack targeted South ABQAIQ plant. As a result some injuries and fire were reported in the area also One ALC SWITCH "ABQBF0672-R00-01X" went down.

Trouble Ticket # 2337204 was issued regarding the case.

Best Regard,

AL-Ghamdi, Saeed Saleh Ali

ITC HELP DESK- Shift Leader

Fluor Bldg, Khobar


And this annoucement was sent out by my group.

IT Contact Center

Outage Notification

CR / TT # : HD0000002337204 Event Type : UNSCHEDULED OUTAGE

Start Date/Time : 2/24/2006 3:57:00 PM City : ABQAIQ

End Date/Time : Building:

Event Description : Alcatel Switch (ABQBF0672-R00-01X) at Abqaiq is down.

Status: The root cause of the problem is under investigation.

Events Management Group


I have utter confidence in the professionalism of the anti terrorism security forces. More terrorists plots have been proactively stopped than people would give these forces credit for.

I find it ironic that whatever sympathy people had for terrorists in this region in the past is long gone. After bombing weddings in Jordan and bombing resorts in Egypt and just plain out mayhem and a terrorist agenda that people dont agree with. Last but not least was bombing Al-Askareyya Shrine.

Another irony is that someone needs to teach terrorists Economics 101. By targeting vital oil facilities, they think that they will harm the country oil revenues, on the contrary, such attacks only increases oil prices by the irrefutable law of supply and demand.

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