Archive for March, 2009

Friday Chatter

Navigating the mud….Thank you Mayor Chernensky!


I mentioned mud in my last blog. My in-laws say this is one of the worst springs they can remember with the snow melt. For me too! We had to be out on a cross-town mission with baby Thomas today and were frankly appalled with the brown slurry on the road. Outrageous rivers of mud running everywhere and the sewer system is clogged to the point of overload. I’ve contended for many years that Mayor Chernansky, our bloviating, former Soviet apparatchik would not have survived one term as mayor anywhere in the States let alone the six terms he’s gotten in Yekaterinburg. Such is the success of an old Soviet planner! Just another failed five year plan or just another missed opportunity to buy enough equipment to really clear the snow. His solution is to use farm tractors with small blades to clean the roads; he knows not of magnesium chloride which you apply BEFORE a snow storm! The Mayor’s gross negligence in handling snow/ice removal and preventing the river of mud in the spring is legend. He would have been cast adrift in a blizzard if he had neglected the snow in Buffalo, NY like he does here. I’ve written that this is the “real Russia”. It doesn’t get any more real than with the onslaught of dirty water and mud reminding you that the frozen tundra is not so frozen this time of year and it all just oozes! Love Ya Mr. Mayor!


Those Special Moments…..


It’s Friday, we’ve gotten home from the Baby Thomas’ mission to the doctor. What do with your wife and your time???


Thomas gets a walk twice a day. Sophie puts him in the Kangaroo sling and gets out (mud or not) and takes him around the ‘hood. But there are alternatives on certain days….


Sometimes he walks “in place”, kind of like using a tread mill or stair master. In this case he is laying in his car seat bundled up for 0 degree C weather and soaking up the sun on our balcony. Meanwhile the Mrs. and I have one of those rare daytime “timeouts” that involve a lot of kissing and hugging. Thomas slept for two hours today on the balcony before waking ravenously hungry……we had our groove time and he had his tanning time, taking on vitamin D and otherwise enjoying his “walk” – a win-win for everyone!


Obamasiah on the Loose…………


It just becomes clearer with each passing day that the U.S. voters have selected Jimmy Carter v. 2.0. What can Obama be thinking cranking up the budget and deficit in such a manner? And you know, he is NOT such a good speaker as the MSM sound bites alluded to during the campaign. When you listen to him as President he is BORING!!! Mainly his ideology is just anti-American and dangerous to the well-being of the country. I sat out the voting process in 2008….first time in 40 years where I didn’t exercise my franchise in the Presidential sweepstakes. Both candidates stunk.


The U.S. voter can make mistakes. The Obamasiah is a colossal mistake for our Commander and Economic Chief. During the Bush years, I often told my students that we needed a President with the cajonies ala Vladimir Putin. Say what you will about Putin. He is steadfast in representing Russia – always. He is a man’s man that the ladies swoon over. He ate Bush for lunch on several occasions and he will do the same to the Obamasiah. Obama is like the 97 pound weakling (a putz really) and Putin not only kicks sand in his face but will probably pound it up his fanny as well. So much for the new leader of the free world – a boring fellow that should have stayed a community organizer….at least he would not be spending my tax money in such large quantities. B. Hussein, back to Chicago now!


This’n That…Don’t Worry Be Happy

Humor in Russia


Don’t Worry, Be Happy”….an old Bob Marley classic that needs to be sung more often right now. We look around the world and see a lot of suffering due to the financial downturn. Russia is having its problems too, but has a bright spot to keep the masses happy.


Every Saturday night we are graced with a television program named “ProjectParisHilton” (all one word). It stars four of the brightest comedians in Russia today. Ivan Urgant, (a Jew) is the nominal host while Garik Martyrosyan (an Armenian), Sergei Svetlakov (a Russian from Yekaterinburg) and Alexander Tsekalo (a Ukrainian) are contributors. I mention the ethnic origins as it is key to the comedy they render. It has a lot of ethnic overtones. As Russia is a polyglot of races, the appeal of this show is only enhanced with ethnic approaches to humor. Tsekalo has been described by Urgant as “Russia’s Oprah Winfrey” while Tsekalo has returned the favor by describing Urgant as the Barbara Walters of Russia…….all this banter after the two of them interviewed the quirky and illusive Mickey Rourke.


They even make jokes about Obama which would be PC-incorrect in the States. I’m glad to be away from the PC police It’s very sophisticated and light comedy, using current newspapers as the source for their material. Though these guys will take on a big character like Bush or Obama, generally we have a lot of tongue-and-cheek humor that is airy, yet substantive; sweet yet deliciously wicked. Sophie is kind enough to translate it for me. Good fun.


The Mud is Back!


Part of life here in the Urals is the spring mud. Since the snow and ice is never really cleared away over the winter. When the temps rise and it starts to melt, it gets ugly on the streets and roads. I feel sorry especially for women who try to dress nicely and they get dirty just walking to work. The rivers of mud are with us through April. Once the snow melts then the spring rains come; I’ve personally seen snow here on May 16th; some locals have seen it in June. Yuk. Messy place with bad snow management.


Hav’en a Smoke


Good Havana, Honduran and Spanish are here in Russia. I started smoking cigars in Spain in 2007, after having gone smokeless for 15 years. Have to say I just love the smell and flavor. I remember when we lived in Denver and my neighbor Roger would be smoking his cigars out in his garage…… that just smelled the best! Cuban cigars I find over rated. Spanish varieties are my favorite.


“Expat in Ekat” Page, Moms on Skates and other stuff

"Expat in Ekat" I recently had the opportunity to contribute to a local English language web portal set up as a welcome page for the Shanghi Economic Conference being held in Yekaterinburg this summer. Please check it out. Expat in Ekat This is a product of a local information  portal.
Moms on Skates As we exit winter, my wife Sophie is regaining her pre-pregnancy persona. This means trips out with the babster Thomas in the Kangaroo sling or in the stroller to get exercise. Recently an excursion to the ice rink was undertaken. Our ice rink is two blocks from our flat and we have noted a phenomina. Russian moms will push their babsters ahead of them in either a perambulator or stroller on the ice! Can we talk safety here. This is not my idea of safeguarding a new life. I saw one mom skating with a baby in her arms – Yikes!!!
Yesterday was International Women’s Day. This is one of those lingering Commie Holidays from the Soviet era. It has taken on many of the trappings of a capitalist holiday like Valentines Day (also celebrated here) or Mother’s Day. I got Sophie a big  bouquet of flowers, candy and praised her womanhood and her ability to raise marvelous children. I then celebrated by having a nice Honduran cigar and taking my wife and new son for a walk in the park. Older child Nadia did a "home alone" gig, watching a movie on TV.
Why I’m NOT worried about the financial meltdown. Lets talk human nature… I teach about this at Urals State University and am convinced that Nickolai Kondratiev (Кондратьев) was onto the answer to economic cycles. He was unfortunately one of Uncle Joe Stalin’s gulag victims for telling the truth. The truth is Kondratiev believed that capital markets and schemes are characterized by long cycles of 50-70 years. When the Great Depression hit in the 1930’s Stalin asked Dr. K if this ment the end of bad old capitalism. He replied "no", saying it was just at the end of its normal cycle and capital markets would be back again stronger than ever. Stalin felt this was the incorrect answer and Kondratiev was hustled off to a labor camp in Siberia where he went mad and died. So much for telling the truth. 
History does repeat itself and human nature being what it is, where inventive capitalists come up with things like derivitie swaps and companies such as AIG merrily provide the insurance for something that was uninsurable, will repeat again and again, you can count on it – I don’t care what Henry "Nostralitis" Waxman or Barney "My Boy Lolly Pop" Frank say. So the world is at the end of a K-Wave and we are all facing a World-Class F.U.B.R. This is a family blog so you either know F.U.B.R. or go somewhere else to get the def. Just know that the F.U.B.R. is going to be a depression folks. You better know how to raise potatoes and shoot your own meat for the table. I’m not worried because there is really nothing we can do about this. There is an evitability to severe downturns. Tighten your belts and get the garden going! Your neighbor’s dog can be mighty tasty in a stew. And learn how to make Depression Gravey – marvelous dish my mom cooked.
The other F.U.B.R. is what the Obamasiah is perpetrating on the world. This fellow is a socialist pure and simple and will kill the golden goose of American entreprenurism if left unchecked. Where is the Gipper or Neo-Gipper when we need him? If you believe in ghosts, start channeling Roand Wilson Reagan! The best place to be living right now by the way, is Cambodia. They have no banking system to collapse- it’s all barter and nobody from the west does business with Cambodia except those supplying the corrupt ruling elite with their luxury goods. Ruling Elite=Former Commie Aparacheniks. This is THE safe haven for the next few years.
Finally the Washington Post had some very useful perspectives on what happened to get this current depression in motion. A European perspective free from government taint is Buckle up for their daily slap in the face with the realities of having boobs in positions of power making decisions that will prolong the end of the K-Wave and hurt the average guy. Just remember this is ALL about human nature!