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Monday, 18 February 2013

223:Where does the squirrel keep its nuts?

1.  Yesterday I found the time for a quick walk around Park Dubki (A doob, by the way, is an oak tree and a doobinka, or little oak, is a truncheon). In the photo you can see there is still plenty of snow around and some kind soul has built a little feeding box (кормушка) for the birds, which a grey squirrel is in the process of raiding! My lingvo dictionary tells me that кормушка also means, colloquially, a sinecure or cushy job.
The children's park, in the background, is deserted at the moment. The kids will be back in a few weeks with the first signs of Spring.

2.  The news from Russia this week is of the meteorite which crashed into the Urals city of Chelyabinsk on Friday and, unfortunately, injured several hundred people. I have read that the meteorite was nothing at all to do with the asteroid which just missed Earth last week - just one of life's strange coincidences.
Here are some interesting reactions, in Russian and English, to the meteorite landing:
Комментарии иностранцев под видео с падением метеорита на Челябинск вызывают не меньше улыбок, чем комментарии наших пользователей.

"I love how the Russians dont even act like its big deal! eh, just keep driving." (Мне очень нравится как русские никак не реагируют на это событие. Просто продолжают рулить.)

"love how absolutely nobody reacts ... Russia" (Нравится как абсолютно никто не реагирует... Россия)

"In Russia everyone has to recorded?" (В России у всех есть видеозаписывающие устройства?)

"Why do so many Russians have cameras in their cars? Do they expect shit like this to happen?" (Почему у такого большого количества Русских есть камеры в машинах? Неужели они надеялись/предвидели, что произойдет дерьмо наподобие этого?)

"Why does all of the cool shit happen to the Russians :(" (Почему все клевое дерьмо случается с Русскими)

Ну и на закуску:
"Apparently the aliens don't realize that you never attack Russia in winter, just ask Hitler how that worked out." (Видимо, инопланетяне не понимают, что вам не стоит нападать на Россию зимой, просто спросить Гитлера, что из этого получается)

3.  Trying to find a space-related video I came across this 1968 song from the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah band (!!) called "The Urban Spaceman". I think it is more to do with being spaced out on drugs than the Cosmos but it seems to be a telling reminder of the zany things that were happening in the 60s (but not to me!).

Saturday, 16 February 2013

222: Go whippet!

1.   America has Greyhound buses for inter-city transport. In Cambridgeshire we have whippets!
I am a great fan of bus travel, especially now that I have my free bus pass and petrol is £1.37 (about 70 roubles) a litre! 
I went to Cambridge earlier this week and, with my courier hat on, met with three very nice Russian ladies. I'm now busy arranging collections in Moscow.

greyhound (борзая) whippet (гончая?)

2.   On 15th February, in 1989, the last Soviet soldier left Afghanistan, marking the USSR's first military defeat since World War II. In just over a year the last "Western" soldier will have left too. I feel a great sorrow for Afghan women. Once the Taliban fill the power vacuum they will surely revert to treating women as third class citizens, depriving them of basic human rights and education.

3.   A song to finish with. Having just flown back to Moscow from UK yesterday perhaps this would be appropriate:

Friday, 8 February 2013

221:Dead Fred

1.  Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, whose body lies embalmed on Red Square, is having a(nother) makeover. Allow me to translate the article in yesterday's Metro newspaper.
"On Red Square in Moscow maintenance work is continuing on Lenin's mausoleum. Workers have covered it in a huge inflatable marquee to maintain the correct temperature. The FSO (Federal Protection Service?) explained that is was necessary to guarantee a constant temperature to support the specific technology used to carry out the maintenance work. The body of the leader of the world proletariat will be put in a special sarcophagus, in which the required temperature and light regime will be maintained. The work will finish on 30th April this year."
This is good news for my friends Alisdair and Cecilia, who are coming to visit me (well Russia actually) in May. Lenin's mausoleum is usually high on the list of sights (достопримечательности) for foreigners to visit. Once upon a time it was almost mandatory for Soviet Russians visiting Moscow to pay homage and queues could be seen stretching for some considerable distance. Since the fall of the Soviet Union there has been a significant decline in the number of visitors. It has slowed to a trickle. Times change!

2.  On this day, in 1904, the Japanese kicked off the Russo-Japanese war by attacking the Russian fleet at Port Arthur in China. In October, Russian ships from the Baltic fleet, en route to Japan the long way around, opened fire on some British trawlers off the East coast of England - mistaking them for the Imperial Japanese Navy. This became know as the Dogger Bank incident.
3.  A tenuous link back to item 2 allows me to show the lyrics to one of my favourite songs. Rod Stewart recorded Sailing in 1975. 

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

220:The sun was shining (briefly)

1.  I couldn't resist snapping off a quick picture (in the middle of a lesson!) as the sun suddenly appeared and made Moscow look brighter. Here is the view, through the window, of the frozen Moscow river. Notice the frozen-in pleasure boats waiting for their season to start on 1st May, the on-going construction in this part of the area known as Moscow-city, the convoy of buses patiently waiting, perhaps, to ferry the migrant workers back to wherever it is they spend the night, and the factory chimneys belching out smoke.
Quite a bit of snow around as well. I thought it was never going to stop falling yesterday. It was certainly falling faster than the poor overworked and probably underpaid dvorniki could clear it away. 
In February one's thoughts turn to Spring but there will be a long wait before that appears to brighten up the drab Winter. At least the sun shines from time to time.

2.  On this day, in 1953, sweet rationing ended in UK. I was around at the time but a little too young to remember the occasion. Must have been quite something after 10 years of being rationed. Apparently it sparked a scramble for:
toffee apples
and nougat

3.  Wild thing, you make my heart sing, but I want to know for sure! 
Reg Presley, lead singer of the Troggs, has died, aged 71. RIP Reg.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

219:'elf and safety (again)

Forgive me if I keep banging on about Health and Safety as an issue but I never cease to be amazed by the extent of the difference between Health and Safety in Great Britain which, to my mind, has gone too far, and in Russia, which still has a long way to go.
This morning's photo shows snow clearing operations outside my flat. The little dozer darts back and forth to the pile of snow across the road and then takes a bucketful to the lorry. The dozer (dozy?) driver gambles with, and almost seems oblivious to, the traffic. Back home the traffic would be stopped and there would be a man with a stop/go board at either end.

On this day, in 1966, the Soviet probe 'Luna 9' made the first controlled landing of a man-made object on the surface of the moon.

Does anybody remember this old Bowie number from 1969 - Space Oddity?