Saturday, December 3, 2005

It's been a while.



It's been a while since I posted - coz there hasn't been much to post. I can't imagine anybody is interested in reading about work, and I don't want to write about it here anyway. Life outside of work has been minimal and boring. Very boring. I have not had time nor the opportunity to do much of anything enjoyable.

Part of this is a direct effect of camp life. Imagine being on a tall ship as crew, or part of a lumber crew in the woods, or a cowboy on a drive. A modern navy vessel, or in prison. Mostly men, you wake and breakfast with the same people you work with, that you lunch with, that you eat dinner with, and who are at the bar in the evenings. Telephone connections are shoddy at best, internet connection is very very poor. Broadband is a dream. You don't have freedom of movement, because you have to arrange for transportation everywhere. The language is difficult, and even getting sufficient "tourist" phrases is a problem. At least, it seems harder than I remember Spanish being. Finding one's way around is also difficult because the alphabet is so different. So the last month has not been easy or fun. All work, no play.

We should be getting through most of the roughest stuff at work, though, so hopefully the work pressure will alleviate.

Back to Russia. The weather has been unusually warm for this time of year. Everyone is remarking on it. It is very slowly getting cooler. Here its is December, and it was only a couple of days ago that I first used my blue woolrich coat to the max, and that was when I chose to walk home from the site to the camp one night. It was about 7 PM, and so it was quite dark, well into night. And it was a bit nippy. Probably in the teens, in fahrenheit, and not even in the low teens yet. But I had to zip up the whole coat. This is not a heavy coat, more like a light winter, or 3 season, coat. Time, maybe, to finally get out the winter gear.

I had told everyone I was going to buy a snowmobile. But, they are very expensive here, and I'm afraid I can't pull myself over the cost barrier. I'm seriously considering buying one in the states and shipping it here. It could be cheaper than buying here. Originally I estimated that they were getting a 50% premium over US prices, but now I think it is more like 100%. Which is nuts. I mean, we aren't talking an investment. We are talking about a vehicle, like a car, which is never an investment - it must be considered a toy. You ain't gonna get nothin out of it when you leave it behind. At best I can hope to cover some of the expense. Now maybe this isn't quite true, I may be able to loan out the snowmobile for "gas money" and even make more than my payments, but I don't really expect to be able to make a profit, and I don't think I should plan on one. So I'm changing my strategy, and I'm going to check out the cheap end of the market. I'm having one of our translators, a young Russian fella who has spent a lot of time in the States, check out what the cheap market options are.

I've mentioned the wine I can get at the stores before. It is harder to get decent wine out here at the camp - coz you have to go to Chelyabinsk. Chumlyak has some wines, but they are even cheaper than I consider very drinkable. They are only drinkable when there is no other choice. Altho they aren't UNdrinkable. But I have generally had some interesting choices. From the good ones, I've saved a couple labels and scanned them in. One is a Spanish wine - from Santa Cruz, no less, a Valdepenas. It was nice and dry, with a slight dustiness in the mouth. Excellent. The other is Russian, but I'm not sure if it is from Georgia or Moldovia or another province. Not quite as rich as the Spanish Valdepenas, but nicely dusty in the mouth, with good flavor. I often look for merlot here, since this is usually a dry wine, but often here it is bottled as semi-sweet, and tastes as though sugar was added to give it sweetness. Each new bottle is an adventure and a gamble. Some work, some don't.

Cheers!
Mark

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