Monthly Archives: July 2006

Photos of an Old Russian Sub Base

Here’re some stunning pics of an old Russian sub base in Balaklava, Ukraine . Some description:

Until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 Balaklava was one of the most secret towns in Russia. 10km south eas of Sevastopol on the Black Sea Coast, this small town was the home to a Nuclear Submarine Base.

And:

Almost the entire population of Balaklava at the time worked at the Base, even family members could not visit the town of Balaklava without good reason and identification. The base remained operational after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 until 1993 when the decommissioning process started and the warheads and low yield torpedos were removed. Then in 1996 the last Russian Submarine left the Base, and now you can go on Guided tours round the Cannel System, Base and small Museum, which is now housed in the old weapons stowage hangers deep inside the hillside.

(Via.)

Squid Salad — and a Metric System Screw-Up

Before: a Mere Squid
Before: a mere squid.

Squid Salad
After: squid salad.

A few nights ago, A and I made squid salad. Or actually, A made the squid salad and I cleaned the squid (the Thai word for squid is plaa meuk).

I volunteered to do so, as it sounded like an adventure. Cleaning squid can be a very messy process. It’s actually pretty cool. Squid have a totally weird clear plastic-looking/feeling spine (or “quill”) that you have to remove; see the first photo here for an example. And don’t even get me started on giant squid. Giant squid rule. (A later described the cleaning process to a friend as “very Jules Verne.” It was.)

Anyhoo, a question: how much squid did we have at our disposal?

Answer: over four pounds.

Why, you may ask, would two people need four pounds of squid for a simple salad? They wouldn’t, of course. But four pounds is what you end up with when you — and by you I mean me — go the grocery store with the intention of buying one pound and then get your metric system rules messed up and purchase about 2 kilos of squid, which is in fact over four pounds.

(I knew that 1 kg = 2.2 lbs but got confused. I was mistakenly thinking about how 1 km = .6 miles, and so assumed I needed roughly twice as many kilos as we need pounds. Dumb mistake. I really only needed about a half a kilo, not two kilos. Live and learn.)

The squid salad was delicious. We froze the three leftover squid.

Bangkok Street Traffic as Seen from My Balcony

I often enjoy sitting on my second-story balcony and watching the ebb and flow of Bangkok street traffic. I don’t live on a major boulevard — my neighborhood is almost entirely residential, and what I typically see is motorcycle taxi drivers ferrying passengers to their houses, people walking out to the main road nearby, folks meandering up to a noodle stand close to my front door, or my neighbors doing nothing more than hanging out and talking. I captured this 45-second video using my digital camera; the quality isn’t great, but it should give you a sense of what I see outside every day.

Some things to note:

— All the people are wearing yellow shirts in honor of the King’s 60th year on the throne.

— You’ll notice a scooter go by carrying three people. This is quite common — you’ll often more than three folks, in fact, on motorbikes here. Motorbikes and scooters are considered family vehicles in Thailand.

— The banging you hear in the background is from construction nearby.

Thomas Swick on Cuenca, Ecuador

View from my patio, Cuenca, Ecuador

Thomas Swick has an exceptional travel story about Cuenca, Ecuador in Sunday’s South Florida Sun-Sentinel. As many of you know, I lived in Cuenca for a year and I can tell you this: Swick nailed that story. He captures the essence of the city in a remarkable way: the colorful characters, the bohemian feel, and the languor that pervades life there.

(Via.)

Cruzin Cooler

The Cruzin Cooler:

Cruzin Cooler combines two basic necessities of life, the ability to have cold food or a beverage handy along with the means to get somewhere, without walking. With modern technology, the Cruzin Cooler is light-weight and comes in various sizes and is available in gas and electric models, with a 10 mile range on electric models and 30 miles on the gas models. The cooler is light enough to be driven to a location and then picked up and carried. The cooler can be used for hunting, sporting events, races, camping, golf or even a trip to the grocery store to keep your food cold all the way home. Marine use will be popular for the new cooler allowing you to take your fish/drinks/food/ ice to and from your boat with powered assistance and braking. Simply ride or power your way up and down ramps.

(Via Ange G C.) (Thanks for catching that, Mike W.)

North Korean Counterfeiting

Snip from a long New York Times Magazine story about North Korean counterfeiting efforts:

Though there is some dispute on the timing, the first counterfeit big-head supernotes might have arrived on the market as early as 1998. Like the earlier generation of supernotes, the big-head imitations show an ever-growing attention to detail. “They would certainly fool me,” said Glaser, who points out that the “defects” of the supernote are arguably improvements. He recalled looking at the back of a $100 supernote under a magnifying glass and noticing that the hands on the clock tower of Independence Hall were sharper on the counterfeit than on the genuine.

From all accounts, superb quality is a feature of much North Korean contraband: methamphetamine of extraordinarily high purity; counterfeit Viagra rumored to exceed the bona fide product in its potency; supernotes. It’s an impressive product line for a regime that can barely feed its people. When I discussed this with Asher, he let out a sigh. “I always say that if North Korea only produced conventional goods for export to the degree of quality and precision that they produce counterfeit United States currency, they would be a powerhouse like South Korea, not an industrial basket case.”

[Image: xmasons]

Urban Porch and Meadow

NYT:

David Puchkoff, Eileen Stukane and their daughter, Masha, were sitting on their porch, looking out over a carpet of sedums topped with tiny yellow, white and purple flowers and watching storm clouds build over the Empire State Building.

Front porches are hardly the norm in high-rise Manhattan, nor are rooftop meadows, but the couple have managed to create both, inspired by a visit eight years ago to a friend in Elk Lake, Pa.

(Via.)
[Image: shutrbugr]

Related: “The Evolution of the American Front Porch: The Study of an American Cultural Object.”

Choosing an EPL Team

Sportswriter Bill Simmons has a great new column on choosing an English Premier League team to support.

The season starts on August 19; I shall be rooting for Arsenal, as ever. (I had a 24-hour layover in London in January of 2001. First thing I did upon arrival: took the tube to see Highbury, the Arsenal grounds. It was closed. I couldn’t enter for a tour. But I saw it in person.)

(Thanks to Miles B. for the tip.)