Thursday, October 27, 2005

Snow? No snow now!

So a couple of days after it snowed? It warmed up and melted, then rained, and then warmed up, and the roads dried off. Good. Now the roads are clear. That last business came down too soon, and the roads were not good. Today it is still clear, but close to freezing, and the ground is finally having a little time to freeze so that maybe the next snow won't be such a mess on the roads. The water tanks for cleaning workboots outside the offices had a thin crust of ice at 5 this evening. And so did the puddles. I was a bit surprised, because it was sunny, and the air felt warm to me - I had my window open for quite a bit of the day. It was nice out.

I saw a chickadee yesterday - but not an American one. This one was slightly larger and had black on its breast - like a vest. Still had the black cap - definitely a chickadee of some variety. Quite cute, actually. About wren size.

The weather says it might snow again tonight. It says "slushy" accumulation, but I hope they are wrong. Let's hope for good conditions!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Hello winter.

Yesterday it did get above freezing, and the snow melted a bit, but it started snowing again yesterday evening. Last night it chilled down again, and this morning it looks like winter. Grey and white. Hello winter.

There are a few inches of accumulation - the ground is covered, and the roads are ugly. The temp this morning - at 10:20, is -1 C. I think it's here to stay. So winter starts about a month and maybe 5 weeks before we figure on winter starting in the upper peninsula of Michigan. If I recall correctly.

I don't think there will be any more bike riding for a while. Sure I could ride in the snow - no problem for me, but the cars would have a hard time passing, and that would just be too dangerous.

Friday, October 21, 2005

I think it's real snow now.

Last night it started snowing for real, and this morning there is 3 or 4 inches on the ground. The weather forecast says it will warm up still today, and that later next week it will be above freezing and it will rain. I say "Ok, if you say so!" This is the first winter weather we have seen.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

First snow

We got our first snow last night, but it is no more than a salting on the ground. It is soon gone during the day.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Entered Tuesday, October 18, 2005 11:26:55 PM

1128 (AM, Shchuch'ye time; PDT 2228, Monday, Oct 17)
Landfall. We are crossing over the North Sea or somewhere up there by Scotland, Norway, and Finland. I see islands and isthmuses, and lots of water still, so it must be Scandinavia.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005 11:26:55 PM; PDT 1026, Tuesday, Oct 18
Arrived camp about 2 hours ago. So, there ya go. It is 10 AM on the Central Coast, so that is 0230 on Monday, thru let's say 0730 on Tuesday. 24 hours of travel time, or actually, 27 hours, 'cause I'm counting driving on each end, not just one end. Arrived in Moscow in the late AM local time, depart there about 3 PM local. Two and a half hour flight to Chelyabinsk, wait for the luggage, and then we drive to the camp - another 2 hours. It is around 9 PM as we pass through Chumlyak, and the magazines (stores) are closed.

Inflight report

Monday, October 17, 2005 7:32:28 PM (Shchuch'ye time) (PDT 0632, Monday, Oct 17)
Well, well, well. On my way back to Russia.
On my way back, and glad to be so. I am looking forward to the challenge at work.

2:27:55 AM (Tuesday, October 18, 2005) (This would be 1:27 PM Monday Santa Cruz time)
Except it's not 2:27 in the A (cough) M. Body clock reads about noon, current time zone reads 14:27. I am going to see us fly out over the east coast today, halle-lujah. This should be fun. I will be going into fall weather. I'm actually looking forward to the winter. It will be an adventure. I need to remember that positive attitude.

The time scoop: Got my butt up just after 2 in the O-dark-hundred. Lazed around for another 10 or fifteen minutes, then we got up. I brushed my teeth, brushed Alpha, got dressed, took the bags downstairs, then out to the car. Sz cooked a breakfast burro, and made a p-nut butter sandwich. And coffee. Then she had to "get ready". We were a bit late out the gate - about 20 minutes, I guess. Since I planned a little slop time in the drive time, that covered us. We arrived at the front of the terminal about 5:10 or 5:15, just 2 hours and a few minutes prior. Perfect. No lines to speak of, good there too. I say no lines, but that is relative. There were still 10 or 20 ppl in front of me, and it took a good 40 or 45 minutes to get to the counter. Bless me, that counter is a worse problem in SFO than security. Security lines only took me about 5 minutes.

Arrive ATL at 1445 local or thereabouts. Scheduled departure 1525. Gate is just a block down the terminal - pretty close for ATL. So, cool, I grab some chocolate as an antidepressant, have a couple nibbles, and sit down next to a plug. Plug in this box, and type away.

So, let me figger it out. Sleep adjustment and thyroid pills adjustments. Flying time is 10 hours, but I need to compress a night into that time. Either that or stay up the whole time. 'Coz I'm gonna get in at night - and I want it to be night. Got lots to do.

3:12:33 AM (PDT 1412, Monday, Oct 17)
We are taking the northern circle route. Heading northeast by north up the eastern seaboard before we go out to sea. Over Virginia now. I'm a little disappointed, I expected to head out to sea sooner, and I don't think the Atlantic on the northern seaboard is quite as pretty as that along the southern coastline. Prejudice, hehe!

Oh, and the movie is in russian again. Damn.

I can see the Delmarva peninsula. Cool. O, and the movie is in English on the other channel.

There she is - the Atlantic-O. Be-A-U-ti-full. We are gliding to the northeast as we move northwards, and the coast is slowly moving from our right to our left.

4:32:18 AM (PDT 1532, Monday, Oct 17)
We leave the coast for the Atlantic by Nag's Head / Martha's Vineyard. A little 'down east' of the Gulf current, eh?

7:31:31 AM (PDT 1831, Monday, Oct 17)
It's morning in Shchuch'ye. Good morning. Off to starboard I see . . . stars! Orion hangs there, as big as life, so to speak, 3/4 of the way over the horizon - one major star of his lower kilt is below the horizon. The moon is bright, the land is . . . not. There has been only a cloud bank visible below since we began to cross the Atlantic. I'm up and getting on Shchuch'ye time, I guess. Good on me! I eat the last of the chicken legs and peanut butter sandwich for a breakfast. I guess I've screwed up the shift timing on the thyroid. I should have compressed it - and I stretched it.

Friday, October 14, 2005

I got lots of questions about the length of the days (nights) in Russia now, and about how cold was it yet. The equinox was just a couple weeks ago (around September 22) - when the day and nights were an equal 12 hours each. Today, just over three weeks later, we see that while Aromas got 11:16 hours of light, Chelyabinsk got 10:21. Not that much different yet, but we can certainly see that daylight is leaving Chelyabinsk more rapidly than Aromas! In 3 weeks, Aromas only lost 45 minutes of day, but Chelyabinsk lost 1:40. Since Chelyabinsk will only have about 4-6 hours of daylight on the shortest day (sometime around Dec. 22), this makes sense.
Aromas Weather:
Temperature: 53.4°F Pressure: 30.05"
Average Wind: 0mph NW Sunrise: 7:14 AM
Humidity: 100% Sunset: 6:30 PM
Dew Point: 53°F Wind Chill: 53°F
Monthly Rain: 0.04"
Chelyabinsk Weather:
High: 12° Low: 1°
Feels Like: 12° Dewpoint: 5°
Barometer: Wind: N 6 kph
Humidity: 62% Sunrise: 9:24 am
Visibility: 6 km Sunset: 7:55 pm

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Back home for a few days. After a few days of hard work in Moscow, and an incredibly long ride home on the airplanes, I am home for a spell. In a short time I will be heading back. This is a good thing, I haven't had my fill of adventure yet. So it is good to be home, and it will be good to go back.

Monday, October 3, 2005

Walking in Moscow again

If you don't like to walk, Moscow won't like you. This city has no tolerance for people who can't walk. If you don't want to walk, you can do it, but I think it will be very expensive - taxis, or your own car and parking. Sure the metro is unbeatable, the buses are great, but how about walking to the metro or bus stop? Or to the corner grocery that is two blocks away? Or up and down the stairs everywhere. This city likes to keep its citizens in good shape.

I thought I was getting better shape, but my feet and legs had forgotten what a punishment this pavement is! Ow.

Huffing and puffing, yours truly, Mark.

Sunday, October 2, 2005

chapter 2

In Moscow again. Almost feels like home in comparison. Spent the night in Chelyabinsk. That is a dirty city - nasty and ugly. The buildings have the same appearance as other cities in the former Soviet that I've seen. Remarkably similar. It is the air pollution and the noise pollution that make it so bad. The air is ugly all the time. I have seen worse smog, but on a regular basis, day in and day out, every time I have been here it has been there. Even at 5:30 this morning - a Sunday, it was hanging like a dark fog, visible in the light from buildings and streetlamps. The worst part of this is that the Russians seem to have an extreme case of "country mouse - city mouse", and the city mice do NOT think well of the country. Which is entirely a shame, because they have a beautiful countryside, with clean air and towns that are readily available by rail. I think that this prejudice may have an economic impact, as it seems to reduce the support that rural infrastructure gets. I'm sure there were analyses of the economic impact of rural electrification in the US. Wonder what they told us. But the point was that they would rather live in Chelyabinsk, in its ugly glory, than in Shchuch'ye in its glorious helplessness. It's a pity.

Saturday, October 1, 2005

Heading home - chapter one

Saturday, October 01, 2005 11:08:22 AM

Well. This morning was an adventure. Here was the agenda: ride the train from Shchuch'ye to Chelyabinsk. I had it all planned out. I went to Shchuch'ye a couple weeks past to find the train station and get the schedule. There were several trains running each way - about one every hour and a half. Ok, so today I get there, and sit and get ready to wait. The van driver comes in to make sure I'm able to get my ticket and the ticket lady tells him that the train isn't running to Chelyabinsk - or something. I don't know what is being said, but it involves words I don't know, and it doesn't sound like things are going according to plan. The driver is great. He points to the rail map on the wall, and shows me that the only train to Chelyabinsk is running from 3 stops downline. I could take the train I was getting on. Stop at this other town for 20 minutes, and take another train to get to Chelyabinsk. Now, I could do that, but this is not fitting the plan, and I've got my luggage with, and this could be a real bitch. If I get stuck in Podunk here I am really stuck.

So after much figuring and talking and guessing at what each other means, and the driver talking to the locals to get the page two of the story, we finally call the camp and get a little translation help. The connection is awful, so that doesn't help much, but I do decide to just hang it, and head back to the camp. Part of why I am doing this is so other people could do this, and nobody at the camp would take two trains except for perhaps Rich Verrecka. And he's crazy enough to do most anything.

The driver did get that the next train would run at 3:30 PM. So we will try again then. I could take the bus at 5, but that's not the point. The point is to take the train and check it out. So onward.

I finally get on the train at 315 PM. It doesnt even stop for two minutes before moving on. Once it does get going, it doesnt get much speed up when moving either. Perhaps 30 or40 mph, sometimes slower.
The car is wide - wider than American trains. Tbe seats - benches, really, but with a little padding, are roomy. Plenty of room to stretch out. These cars are not new, tney arent old either. The seats and ihterior are in good repair and clean. There aren't many passengers, so it will be a comfortable ride.

As the train nears Chelyabinsk, the cars fill up. It is still comfortable, even when we are sitting 3 to a side - with one fat man in the middle. There is still room enough. The air does get a little thicker, as many of the riders are blue-collar, but it is no more than marginally a nuisance.

We make good time to the outskirts of Chelyabinsk - arriving at the first landmark within an hour, and at the first Chelyabinsk station within an hour and fifteen minutes. However, it takes another 45 minutes to travel to the main voksal (train station). That blows any time advantage from the train. Still, it is safer, and more comfortable, than the buses. And, there is the possibility that if you scoped out the first station, that you could get transport from there, and make a more efficient connection. That last little distance was just unreasonable. The first station is much smaller - not really much of a station at all - but the time makes it worth looking in to. So later, y'all.