Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Taking Stock II: Eclecticatbest's Most Read Blog Entries

I started this blog in April 2011, mainly as a learning exercise, as an outlet for a bunch of little research projects that I was undertaking, and as encouragement to write with some regularity. With nearly eleven month's experience, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at who is reading the blog and what posts have been the most viewed.

The short answer is that the blog has had over 7,000 page views since its creation. A little over half of the page views were by readers in the United States. The others were by readers in more than twenty different countries. For some reason, Ukraine is the country with the second most number of readers (over 1,000). Canada is third (500 views), and Germany is fourth (266 views).

Before looking to see which individual posts had the greatest number of page views, some background on the blog:  Eclecticatbest.com is hosted by Google blogger. For an extra $25 a year, I pay godaddy.com for my own blog name address. For this payment, I get to use Eclecticatbest.com instead of Eclecticatbest.blogger.com.

The blog is simple to set up and can be customized with no programming knowledge. For example, I wanted my own background for the posts and inserted a picture from my files for that purpose. The picture shows some old Georgia letters on the exterior wall of an ancient church in the Georgia Caucuses. I could do some other things to spiff up the site, but feel no read need to do so.

Posting is simple with blogger.com. Also, it is easy to download pictures into posts. The interface is similar to a word processing program, and you have the ability to preview a post before putting it on-line. It is a good program for people more interested in the content of their posts than in the "look" of their blog.

The blogger site has a "statistics" section that shows the total number of views of the blog by day, week, month, and since the blog's creation. It also shows which browsers were used by readers and, more interestingly, the countries from which readers connected to the blog.  To round out the information, the statistics section shows (1) the website from which readers came to my blog, (2) search words used to find a blog post, and (3) the search engines that were used by readers whose search led them to my blog.

The final information in the statistics section is about the number of page views of each blog entry. A entry is counted as viewed when a reader gets to it by search or by clicking on its title in the blog's index.
Page views of specific entries are not counted when a reader views it on the "landing page" of the blog. The landing page is the page readers get when they type "eclecticatbest.com" to go to the blog. They get a page with the last four or five blog entries. Because lots of blog readers go only to the landing page to read the most recent blogs, the total number of blog page views is much larger than the sum of counted page views of individual entries.

With that caveat, here are the top ten blog entries by number of page views:

305 page views
Austria's Fatherland Front, 1933-1938
August 18, 2011

188 pageviews
The Assassination of Engelbert Dollfuss, July 25, 1934
August 2, 2011

160 pageviews
Austrian Anschluss: March 1938
April 18, 2011

129 page views
Albania for the Adventurous
June 23, 2011

85 page views
Sand Castle Competition at Birch Bay
June 19, 2011

85 page views
Finding M.W. Fodor: Fulbright, Vienna, and Me
September 19, 2011

84 page views
December 2, 1969: The Night We Drove Old Dixie Down (and Didn't Even Know It)
May 24, 2011

67 page views
How Birch Bay Celebrates July 4th
July 4, 2011

58 page views
Early German and Dutch Immigrants in Humorous Posts
May 5, 2011

For a retired professor who was very happy if a couple hundred people read a research paper of mine published in an academic journal, the large numbers of people who read -- or at least view -- the blog is surprising. These numbers are due in large part to the magic of search engines combined with the fact that someone (me) "showed up" to write the blog entries.  I plan to keep on showing up and seeing what happens.   

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Taking Stock: My Scribd Best Sellers

A little over a year ago, I started posting some documents on the Scribd.com website.  All of these documents are accessible at http://www.scribd.com/dan_durning .  I use Scribd because it hosts documents in many different formats, and it is easy both to upload documents and to access them. Also, readers can readily download documents if they wish to read them off-line.

My posted documents fall into one of two types: Those that I have scanned and those that I written. The scanned documents are mainly the Hillcrest Junior High School (Fayetteville, Arkansas) student newspaper (different issues from 1959 to 1962) and the Woodland Junior High School Yearbook (1961 and 1962). The written documents include several fun stories about Fayetteville sports in the early 1960s and some more serious research on German immigration and on Vienna during the interwar period.

The Scribd site keeps statistics on the number of times each of the documents has been accessed. Also, it shows the average time that readers viewed a document when they accessed it. If the average time is a few seconds, it is clear that readers were just quickly looking to see if the document interests them, then clicking rapidly away. Longer average views indicate that most people who access the document actually read them. (The site provides no information identifying readers other than the country in which the readers live.)

The following is a list of the top ten documents by number of views from October 1 to Feb. 18; for each document I also show the average length of time each document was viewed:

Number 1
333 views; time 9:40 (average length of views in minutes:seconds)
The Season of Justin and J.D.

Number 2; time 6:32
Bloodlands (Book Review)

Number 3
268 Views; time 1.52
Woodland Junior High School Roundup, 1962 (excerpt)

Number 4
261 Views; time 5:51
Bubba's Nemesis: The Battle for the 1962 Championship of the Fayetteville Babe Ruth League

Number 5
258 Views; time 2:15
Woodland Junior High School Roundup, 1961 (part 1)

Number 6
249 Views; time 2:01
Hillcrest Indians 1961-1962 Championship Basketball Season

Number 7
211 Views; time 1:15
Smoke Signals, September 1960 (Hillcrest Junior High School Newspaper)

Number 8
207 Views; time 5:51
Marcel W Fodor: Foreign Correspondent

Number 9
191 Views; time 4:09
"Your Husband Starved to Death": 
The Sad Fate of Ernest H Klavon in Koenigsberg, East Prussia

Number 10
153 Views; time 0:48
Adriano, Rosa, and Dennis Dornik Wash Dishes in Boom-Time Germany

I expect some more recent postings to catch up with some of these top-ten posts in the next few months. Also, more documents are on the way. I have several research projects in different stages of completion.

Thanks for reading the Scribd documents and the eclecticatbest.com blog.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Great Night at Cafe Louvre in Vienna

I have never spent a night at Cafe Louvre in Vienna and never will. It is long gone, shut down by Austria's Nazi government in 1940, then destroyed by a bomb during World War II. The building housing the cafe was reconstructed after the war, and a bank took the space where Cafe Louvre had been. Today, the site is occupied by an upscale furniture store.

Cafe Louvre was famous as the hangout in Vienna for foreign correspondents during most of the 1920s and all of the 1930s. When you read their memoirs, you find that it was a place where some of the city's most interesting people met and where news of the Balkans and Central Europe was written.

Though Cafe Louvre no longer exists and memory of it has faded, I can imagine what it looked like in its heyday. And from accounts by the journalists who frequented the cafe during the inter-war years, I can envision what would occurred there in the evenings. 

Reading and working at Cafe Hawelka
In my mind, Cafe Louvre was similar to a combination of two establishments I frequented more than forty years ago: Cafe Hawelka (http://www.hawelka.at/cafe/de/), a traditional Viennese cafe located in the 1st District, near the Graben, and Gasthaus Heidenkummer (http://www.heidenkummer.at/), a neighborhood eatery in the Eighth District.

When I was a customer of Cafe Hawelka in 1967-68 and 1970-71, it was a wood-paneled, no-frills hangout for Viennese intellectuals and students. There, you would find a combination of well-dressed older gentlemen and casually dressed students sitting in booths or on rickety chairs at small, round tables, puffing on cigarettes while reading newspapers or talking. It was at this smoke-filled and crowded cafe in November 1971 that I had a potential girlfriend -- a blond beauty from Arkansas visiting Vienna -- stolen by an Austrian student who looked meaningfully into her eyes as he translated into English the final words of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, which she and I had just heard at the Musikverein. She was lost before the last "...ewig...ewig..."
Stammkunden Mitzi (left) and Joerg 
Wollman (center) at Gasthaus 
Heidenkummer in a recent year; 
the Gasthaus is now more upscale 
than in 1971-1972.

Heidenkummer was located around the corner from where I lived on Laudongasse during the 1971-72 academic year. The Wollmann family, from whom I rented a room in their large flat, were stammkunden, long-time and frequent customers, of this modest restaurant with wooden tables, chairs, booths, and walls. It offered solid food and good portions at a reasonable cost, and it was in no way pretentious in its furnishings or decorations. I went often enough to Heidenkummer with Joerg Wollmann -- a young graphic artist who worked at home -- and his wife Mitzi -- a school teacher -- that Willi, the head water, came to sometimes acknowledge my existence, which I considered quite an accomplishment.

Assuming the feel and ambiance of Cafe Louvre in the '20s and 30s resembled that of Hawelka and Heidenkummer in the late 60s and early 70s, I would expect it to be comfortable, well-kept place in which customers felt at home. The waiters would be courteous and efficient, possibly a little condescending to visitors. The chairs and booths would not be especially comfortable, and the air would be polluted with ubiquitous cigarette smoke. At this cafe, I could order not only coffee, but also beer, wine, and hard liquor. To eat, I could request a pastry such as a delicious apple strudel, or I could have soup or even a full meal. We know from Joseph Baird, a journalist who visited Cafe Louvre in the 1930s, that Cafe Louvre's head waiter was Gustav and he "could produce marvelous schnitzel for a mere two marks."  Who could pass that up?

Although I have found only two pictures of Cafe Louvre (one of the interior in 1896), some information exists about how it looked. Ken Cuthbertson, the biographer of journalist John Gunther, a regular guest there from 1930 to 1935, described the cafe thusly:  "The interior was typical. It was spacious, with about forty marble-topped tables and violin-backed chairs in the center of the high-ceilinged room. Along one wall were booths, finished in dark brocades. Along another were a buffet of snacks and pastries and some rattan racks holding the day's newspapers...." [Cuthbertson, Inside: The Biography of John Gunther, 1992, p.108] This set-up sounds similar to the one I remember at Cafe Hawelka.

Of course, what made a night at Cafe Louvre most interesting was not its decor, but the people who came there regularly. You could expect to find regulars such as Robert Best of United Press and M.W. Fodor of the Manchester Guardian there. Best was the man who discovered the charms of Cafe Louvre in 1923 and made it the hangout for international correspondents. Well liked, but considered a little odd, he presided over its activities, many of which took place at his regular table. Every day, he spent most of his time there, even using the Cafe as his mailing address. When Best was sitting in his federal prison cell after his 1948 conviction for treason during World War II, I am sure he fondly recalled his days at the coffee house.
M.W. Fodor, 1939

Fodor. a Hungarian by birth, became a correspondent for the Guardian in 1919, first working out of Budapest and Vienna, then Vienna alone. He covered the Balkans and Central Europe from Vienna until he had to flee on March 12, 1939, as the Germans marched into the country. 

When famous authors William Shirer (Berlin Diary and Rise and Fall of the Third Reich) and John Gunther (Inside Europe) were reporting from Vienna, they were regulars at Cafe Louvre. It is thanks to Gunther that we know as much as we do about the role of Cafe Louvre in the lives of foreign journalists in Vienna during the 1930s. He wrote a 1935 Harper's Magazine article ("Dateline Vienna") about the daily life of a foreign journalist in Vienna, plus he described this life in detail in his fictional, but largely autobiographic novel, The Lost City. He wrote this novel in 1937, but because of his portrayal of some of his Vienna colleagues, lawyers who reviewed the book concluded that it was libelous. It was first published in 1964.
John Gunther, Around 1939

The lively evening conversations at Cafe Louvre were not due only to the working journalists who came there, but also to others who worked for them as stringers or tipsters, plus a mixture of visitors that included journalists passing through town (e.g., Dorothy Thompson, Vincent Sheehan, H.R. Knickerbocker, Edgar Mowrer); well-educated refugees from Central Europe and Balkan Countries who had knowledge and opinions valuable to the journalists; local artists and intellectuals; and, sometimes, spies. 

If I were able to choose a night to drop into the Cafe Louvre, I might pick a night in November 1928 when the folks assembled at Best's Stammtisch included 23-year old J.W. Fulbright, who was spending some months in Vienna after completing his studies at Oxford. Or it might be an evening in January 1934 when young Kim Philby showed up to join the regulars at Best's table. Philby had recently finished his studies at Cambridge and had signed on to work for Comintern (the Communist International); his job as a courier in Vienna was his first assignment as a spy for the Soviet Union. Of course, he later attained a high-level position in British Intelligence while continuing to spy for the USSR. 

Another possibility would be to visit Cafe Louvre on an evening in 1930 when Shirer and Gunther were both journalists in Vienna. Perhaps I could pick a night when Dorothy Thompson and her husband Sinclair Lewis were in town. With those folks sitting at the table, joining Fodor, Best, and the other regulars, I am sure the conversation that evening would fill the head. 

Sitting at Best's table at the Cafe Louvre on any of these three nights, or, I would guess, on most any other night, would make for a great night in Vienna. 

For more on Cafe Louvre, go the link below for the results of my research on the cafe's history:  http://www.scribd.com/doc/81223692/Vienna-s-Cafe-Louvre-in-the-1920s-1930s-Meeting-Place-for-Foreign-Correspondents