Sunday, June 29, 2008

Today in History: The First Transatlantic Passenger Flight

In honor of two special friends whose birthdays are both June 28th – Pavel in Volgograd (where it’s already the 29th) and Melissa in Nashville (where it’s still the 28th) – both born in 1954, by the way – let’s have a look at this day in history.

The first transatlantic passenger flight happened on June 28, 1939. Pan American Airways carried passengers from New York to Marseilles, France. One-way tickets were $375 and travel time was well over 24 hours.

Transatlantic flight has changed quite a bit in the last nearly-70 years. For one thing, ticket prices have come way down and the flight is a fraction of the time. A one-way ticket from New York to Paris will cost around $530. (So. . . how would that compare to the $376 in 1939 dollars?*) And time-wise, the flight is around seven hours, way down from an entire day.

Well, back to the birthday pair, Pavel and Melisa, they weren't around in 1939 to celebrate the transatlantic passenger flight. But they've wasted no time getting themselves aloft. Please allow me to introduce our honorees. . .

Dear Pavel, Christian brother in Volgograd, Russia where he is a fine preacher of the gospel. Pavel has made his share of transatlantic flights over the years, especially after perestroika, when Russia opened up in the early 1990's.

Dear friend Melissa, here shown last summer in Donetsk, Ukraine, teaching a children's Bible class. Melissa has done lots of transatlantic flights, transpacific flights and quite a few down to South America.

Happy Birthday Melissa! С днём рождения, Павел! (Happy Birthday, Pavel)

*Note: Just occurred to me that our honorees could figure this out. Both are smart cookies. Pavel has PhD and MD degrees. Melissa is a Mensa-type, summa cumma laude -whiz kid. They probably have this figured out already. They've probably known it since childhood. =)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Caloric Hazards of Furlough

Being on missionary furlough provides joy in many realms -- social, spiritual, intellectual and physical. And that would include, of course, favorite indulgences such as the new homemade-type cookies which I encountered at McDonald's across Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and North Carolina. Cracker Barrel Restaurants in the same states carry chocolate-covered mint candies in their country stores. Oh yum.

Then there's the Bit of Honey chewy treats at the gas station shops where they also have Grandma's Peanut Butter Cookies not to mention Snowballs - you know, the pink coconut marshmallowy layer over chocolate cake. Now there's a comfort food from childhood. Yes, the culinary joys of being in the homeland are immense.

But then excess baggage becomes an issue. . . and that, my dear friends, is considerably less fun than packing it on.

Ask me how I know.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Today in History: JFK's *I am a Berliner* Speech

I am a Berliner, declared President John F. Kennedy to the wild applause of Berliners on June 26, 1963. The Berlin Wall had been erected only two years earlier and JFK seized the chance to comment, Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in.

Thanks to YouTube for this fine video, in living color no less.

That's me at Brandenburg Gate, 2007. One visit to Berlin and I was hooked on Cold War History.
This was my second visit - a whole week for the Pan European Lectureship.

Berlin divided. This postcard shows the sectors of Berlin with Brandenburg Gate in the center.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Remembering Dad (May 1926 - June 2006)

This past week, I've been thinking about my dad. Two years ago today was his memorial service.

Dad with Ruth, our beloved stepmother. A very happy day, our youngest brother's wedding in May of 1993.

Dad in May, 1947 and just back from 18 months in Germany. What magnificent cheekbones! What a sharp dresser! What blue eyes! Yep, that's my dad. Amazingly, he seemed to have no idea just how handsome he was.

In the distance is a peaceful spot where, years ago, the property of four farmers came together. They each gave a bit of land for a church cemetery. And there it is.

Through the cornfields and up over a little knoll. I visit here almost every time I'm home in Ohio. Mom is buried there, as are her parents and grandparents. And now Dad is buried there too.

In the woods to the side of the cemetery is this huge old tree, clear around in the very back. It's a silver birch, a tree expert told me quite confidently and well over 100 years old. I'd say 150.

At the base of this tree, Dad died of a self-inflicted wound. After many days passed, I visited the site and by then, several rains had washed the tree and area. And for that I am very thankful.

Well, for one thing, it's posted at the front of the woods, No Trespassing!

It was very early on the Friday morning that he died, the coroner figured. Two days later was Sunday, Father's Day. Amazing how plans change so fast. And see, I had planned to call Buehler's florist on Saturday afternoon to order a nice bouquet for Father's Day. Instead of that, I was writing an obituary.

For the most part, I felt quite detached from Dad's death. But when I wrote a piece for a eulogy, that's when I went through a pile of tissues. I don't know that I've cried much since then. Sometimes a person can hurt deeply, but tears don't come. Or, as one brother put it, maybe we said goodbye years ago.

On my recent trip back to the US, I don't recall being weepy at his grave or when I went back into the woods. But a couple weeks earlier, I was in Dallas going a box of his tools -- hammers, screw drivers, wrenches, pliers. Seeing his tools caught me off guard somehow. And I had to dig around for a tissue or two. But I had neat plan for those tools. I engraved his name on each item and then gave them out to a niece and nephews as a way to remember their grandpa. They had so much fun sorting through and picking out pieces. And that brought me joy.

Several years ago, in 2003 Dad made a first attempt on his life. That was unsuccessful, thank the good Lord but I went back to the US for 8 weeks to give him a hand. I remember a conversation we had about all that. I told him I was so glad that he was still with us. If you had died, we would have never, ever, ever recovered from it, I remember telling him. I never thought - I don't imagine that it even occurred to any of us - that he would try again. But then, after it really happened, it was clear that he had been planning his death for quite a while and that he wanted it to be absolutely final. And, certainly that was so painful, such sadness, such grieving. But you know, a person really does recover. A person really does heal. And life goes on. And I can look back on many very special memories. And for that I am so very thankful.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

How Hitler Used the Longest Day: June 22, 1941

Mention the longest day of the year and for Russians of a certain age, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union comes to mind. By the way, June 22nd is the longest day of the year for points east of Greenwich Mean Time, if I'm not mistaken, versus June 21 for points west. And it was on the longest day of the year, June 22, 1941 that Hitler ordered his troops at 3:15 a.m. to begin their assault.

Operation Barbarossa was the codename for the invasion and 4.5 million Axis troops penetrated a 1,800 mile front stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.

Amazingly, the attack took Russia completely by surprise. Stalin was aware of the build-up of troops just west of the Soviet border but he believed Hitler's claim that they were to be used against England. Thanks to cryptologists who had cracked communication codes, Stalin was also provided with the date set for the invasion. But he didn't believe that Germany would invade so soon after they had signed a treaty with the Soviet Union. The first day of the invasion, Nazi bombs destroyed 2,000 Soviet aircraft. And thus began the Great Patriotic War as it is called in Russia.

Interesting how June 22 brings the invasion to mind for adult Russians even now, decades later. Yesterday in casual conversation with cab drivers to and from the airport, both mentioned it in response to my yakking about the summer solstice. And then today in worship service as part of his comments before the communion service, our dear brother Gheorge brought it up. Off-hand I don't remember quite how he managed to connect the invasion to the death, the burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . but he did.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The White Nights of Summer

Should you find yourself in St Petersburg this weekend, you can go out for an evening stroll with little fear for personal safety. That's because most everybody else will be out late too, enjoying the peak of the White Nights of St Petersburg.

You might be familiar with these days in late June, which are - at least for those in the northern hemisphere - the longest days of the year. St Petersburg is so far north - nearly as far north as is Anchorage, Alaska - that during the White Nights, the sky stays light through the night. In fact, today in St Petersburg, this morning sun rose at 4:37 and sunset will be at 11:23.

Well, dear blog reader, have you per chance been to St Petersburg during the white nights? You might not be lucky enough live in the far north, but what comes to your mind when you think of the long days of summer? For me, it will always be that quite unintentional all-nighter I spent at Moscow's Sheremetevo-1 airport several summers ago.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Insider Secrets: Learning a New Language

When I was in Dallas last month, a friend asked me my secrets of learning a new language. His question made me laugh. As if. . .

. . . as if! Well, the subject of language learning would be fodder for 50 blogs, I dare say. First, there's the Russian language school in Vermont where I studied summer of 1998. It was a total immersion language school which means, that a person is, well, surrounded by nothing but the new language. In fact, if we spoke anything other than Russian on campus during the eight weeks, we were threatened with expulsion. Lucky for me, I had a car there and managed to get off campus quite regularly. That helped because for me, total immersion was an understatement. I'd say drowning would be more accurate.

Another topic would be statements that I've made in Russian, saying something quite different from what I had intended. Claiming, for instance, that I worked at the circus - simply because the Russian word for circus is so similar to the word for church. Oh yes, this topic could go on at length. But don't run off, please (that's to say, пожалуйста), dear blog reader don't flee just yet, I have no intention of inflicting that sort of torture on anybody. But I digress. Where were we?

Oh yes, language learning. I do know a thing or two about that. I may have purchased, as a matter of fact, nearly every Russian language learning tool published between 1996 and 2000. Perhaps I exaggerate. Perhaps not. Cassettes, flash cards, books on culture, dictionaries -- pocket-sized to 5-pounders. That was before I even moved to Russia. Then one day it occurred to me that the information in those books would not enter my brain by simple osmosis. Having them on a shelf within 15 feet of my skull wouldn't cut it. I had to open them, live in them and digest them. Oh yum.

Still, there are a couple of techniques that have made a difference for me. One is using a white board for vocabulary drills, 15 minutes morning and evening. What vocabulary? I like to keep an index card handy to jot down new words that I encounter. And then come home, look them up and expand on those words. Like if it's a noun, influence for example. Enlarge that to include the adjective and verb forms, influencial, to influence and such.

Another source of words for drilling is Vis-Ed, a company based in Springfield, Ohio which produces language learning cards. These are pocket-sized cards, maybe 1 .5 by 3-inches and printed with vocabulary words. The set has 1000 cards. Drilling with those is useful. And carrying them in a pocket or purse, just to pull out or look at in odd moments - waiting for the tram or walking along.

I need to insert a photo here, don't I? You're wanting to have a look at these cards, are you not, dear blog reader? Okay, I'll do that sometime. Only thing is right now I need to be getting ready. . . need to be heading off to the circus by 9:15. Oh my, did I say circus? Well, you know what I meant, didn't you?

Monday, June 16, 2008

The First Woman in Space: 45 Years Ago

Forty-five years ago today, a young lady from a small Russian village became the first woman in space, according to Russia Today.

Now 71, Valentina Tereshkova keeps a low profile but she was on-hand recently for the lift-off of the 50th woman into space. (Not that I was there myself, you understand. . .)

Written in honor of this cosmonaut, the Valentina Twist may have been a popular song 45 years ago in the USSR. Here's your chance to hear it and step back into the early 60's.

What were you doing June, 1963, dear blog reader -- the twist, perhaps? Some of us would remember that JFK was in the White House then. Myself, I barely knew who was president but I do remember that was the month our family moved from Rittman, Ohio into wonderful new house, a split level that Dad built in Manchester, just south of Akron. Exciting as that was, it pales compared to going into orbit.

Given the chance, would you be interested in a trip into space?

Welcome to Rostov, Dear Danah

Dear friend Danah arrived in Rostov Friday evening. She's from Dallas area and travelled here with three friends from Oklahoma. So in a way, that makes the three of them foreigners, doesn't it? But what a treat to have guests, especially when they've come to do an outreach program for us here in our congregation. That starts today.

But last evening Danah and I did the local sights together. After going to Asia, which, according to self-proclaimed geographers, technically is just across the Don River, we came back here to Europe, and visited Theatre Square.

Being a long holiday weekend, many people were at Theatre Square Sunday evening for just a bit more recreation and relaxation before the work week.

Hey Danah, where are you? Ah yes, she's down there by the fountain.

Let's zoom in a little closer. There she is, waving at us. Let's invite her up closer.

Hey Danah, how do you like Theatre Square? She loved it. It was a lovely place to be on Russia Day weekend, 2008. Danah is there anything quite this lovely in downtown Dallas? Well, there's those statues of of longhorned cattle stampeeding over a little knoll. Surely that would count for something. Well anyway, welcome to my world here in Rostov-on-Don ~ and to the beauty and history of this city.

Friday, June 13, 2008

President Reagan's Speech "Tear Down This Wall": June 12, 1987

Lest we forget: It was 21 years ago this week, on June 12, 1987 in front of Brandenberg Gate, Berlin, that President Ronald Reagan challenged then-General Secretary Michael Gorbechev to Open this gate. . . tear down this wall!

There's nothing quite like seeing President Reagan's words in context. But it was another two years and six months later -- November 1989 -- that the wall came down.

Celebrating *The Day of Russia*

Yesterday, June 12th was Russia Day, earlier called Independence Day. I've been wanting to learn more about this holiday particularly for you, dear blog reader, knowing that you would be anxiously awaiting information about it. So the other night, walking home from Bible study, I asked dear sister Zhenya if she could provide some enlightenment.

Well, to be perfectly honest, I need someone to explain it to me, too.

Seems that she's not alone on that. June 12th is merely emerging as a holiday and its name has been changed several times since it began in recent years. In fact, according to Russia Today, 63% of nationals don't quite know what Russia Day is.

Not to worry though. All agree that it's a Red Day on the calendar -- it's a day off! This year it falls on a Thursday and so many folks have Friday off as well. They had to earn it, of course, by working last Saturday.

Fireworks aren't part of this holiday, Zhenya informed me. Rostovites would have been out strolling along the river, had the weather been balmier, versus overcast and drizzly. But 600 miles north in Moscow, thousands attended a major concert in Red Square, broadcast live on TV. The displays of patriotism and love for the homeland were so touching. I loved the singing of the national anthem at the end and all the flags being waved. Happy Russia Day!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Orphanage Staff Awaits Update on Little Natasha

Earlier this week, I stopped by the orphanage (Home for Babies, literally) to visit my favorite wee ones. Shortly thereafter I was ushered into an administrative office and surrounded by medical staff in white lab coats.

Stick out your tongue, they said. No, actually we all gathered around a computer to see digital photos of dear Natasha, the little girl adopted in March by a wonderful family from Atlanta.

But first, a look back. Here's Natasha with Dr Marina, last March
just before she left the orphanage.

When they were in Rostov last March to adopt Natasha, Maynard and Jill invited me to visit them in Atlanta on my next trip to the States. Lucky, lucky me. Just happened that I was scheduled to be Stateside early April for a visa-renewal trip and visiting Natasha and family would be too easy - Atlanta being the hub for Delta, my airline of choice. So I got to overnight with them before heading on to Dallas. Of course I took lots of photos!

The orphanage staff remembers Natasha with great fondness and they could hardly wait to see photos of her new life. So here she is. . .

Natasha with her dear family. She has three older brothers, but only three. Think she can handle that? It is quite an adjustment. After all, she had 12 younger brothers at the orphanage.

Natasha is the princess of the family, I told the staff. They nodded knowingly. She was the princess of her group at the orphanage. Not hard to pick a princess when there's only one girl. Here's Natasha holding court from the her new steps there in Atlanta. Natasha is enjoying her new clothes and happily wears almost anything. As long as it's pink.

Natasha's beautiful bed. Oh, see her doll - that's Baby Olga, named in honor of a beloved doctor at the orphanage. Actually, the director of the orphanage.

At the orphanage, Natasha had her own bed too. See her, back there in the back?

Natasha, think you can adjust to having a room of your own?
Are you sure you don't mind? Here she is, keeping castle.

A bathroom of her own. Well, she does share it with one brother.
But he pretty much stays out of the way. See, he's good that way, understanding already that a girl needs to be in the bathroom, in front of the mirror quite often.

Nice bathtub! Careful there, girlfriend!

Oopsey-daisey! There she goes, over the edge.

Well, at the orphanage Natasha had her very own potty too.
Say Natasha, let me know if you'd like one of these as a souvenir. I can bring it home next time. Chances are, you won't have to share that with a brother!

Okay Natasha, just hop up there on the counter-top and smile.
Come on, Smile! Show me your teeth when you smile, for pity's sake, you are in America, after all! Well, that's not quite what I meant! What's wrong with you girl? Can't you understand plain Russian?

Hey Natasha, imagine getting to play the piano! Well, of course you might have to wait until a few other people finish their practicing. But still, can you believe you can play it most any time? Think you can manage?

Well, after the administrators saw these photos of Natasha in her new home with her new family, they were all smiles and so delighted. Such love they still have for Natasha and wish the very best for her. They're especially attached to Natasha because she has special physical needs and has been through so many surgeries in her young life.

Natasha's adoptive parents knew that, of course and said, We can help! Here in Atlanta, there are wonderful doctors and wonderful hospitals!

The orphanage staff still finds that amazing. Someone said, Here in Russia, families don't adopt children with medical problems.

Well, in the US they don't either, I said. Unless they're very special people.

And that's just it. Natasha's parents are extraordinary people. A salute to you, Maynard and Jill. . . and to your three boys. You are the heroes! It can't be easy, sharing life with a princess.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Trade Lacking: But Airlines Seem Confident

Trade between Russia and the U.S. is not reaching its potential declared U.S. Commerce Secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, recently in St Petersburg for an economic forum, according to Russia Today. His numbers show that U.S. firms have invested 12 times more capital in Russia than Russian companies have invested in the U.S.

But if two U.S.-based airlines have their way, there will be lots more traffic between the two countries. Until this month, Delta has been the only U.S. carrier with direct flights to Moscow. Just last week, American Airlines began flights from Chicago direct to Moscow, Monday through Saturday. Not to be outdone, United Airlines plans to fly from Washington D.C. direct to Moscow starting in October. It's safe to assume that Aeroflot, the Russian airline will continue flights.

Well dear blog reader, what is your airline of choice when traveling to Russia? (Note: Southwest Airlines is not one of the choices!) When you come to Russia, what airline do you prefer? How about stop-overs?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Of Texas Bluebonnets and of Life

Come April, the fields of Texas burst with bluebonnets. They’re positively breathtaking. It happened that I was in Dallas in early April and realized that as much as I wanted to photograph bluebonnets, it simply was not going to happen. And that saddened me so.

But then one Wednesday evening after church, after a presentation about my work here in Russia, dear sister Raydene approached me and she was hiding something behind her back.

I have a gift for you. You’ve given so much (I had to chuckle at that one) and brought us lots of souvenirs and all. And now I have a little something for you.

And she handed me a stack of pictures. Photos of bluebonnets.

My pulse raced.

Here, pick out your favorites.

Oh my, oh my, oh my! A thrill ran through my very soul.

I remembered that earlier that evening, as I was driving to that little country church, I passed bluebonnets along the highway but I couldn’t stop to photograph them. Mostly because I was dressed up for my presentation and didn’t need to go stomping through a field and getting down and dirty to shoot flowers. And then next morning there wouldn’t be time before I would be heading out of town. And so, I had told myself with a sniffle that. . . maybe, just maybe, next spring I’d have a chance to get close and capture the exquisite beauty of a bluebonnet.

But now, none of that mattered. Because this dear sister had done all the work for me – scouting for bluebonnets, pulling off the highway, and charging into a field – and I needed only to enjoy the results.

You can not imagine what this means to me. This is absolutely the most perfect gift you could have given me this evening.

And so the next morning, I headed off through Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky to Beautiful Ohio and weeks later, south to North Carolina. And then when I returned to Dallas in mid-May, sure enough, the bluebonnets were but a memory.

But oh, the pink buttercups were in bloom! Such delicate beauty. What exquisite femininity ~ not unlike that which greets me in the mirror each morning (said howling with laughter).

Anyway, I found a patch of buttercups by a Wendy’s in Mesquite, just east of Dallas, and one morning when the sun was still soft and the flowers nearly open, I crawled through wet, dewy grass to capture the scene.

But by now, even those buttercups are but a memory. It’s rather poignant but. . .that's life. Cookies crumble and wildflowers fade.

All flesh is as grass and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades. . .But the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40: 6-8)

Thank goodness that there's more to life than that which is physical and fades. Thank the good Lord for that which is eternal. And therein lies our hope.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Pigeons of Pyshkinskaya: More Than Flying Rats

What on earth are you doing?

The guy in the fluorescent orange vest charged up to the man feeding the pigeons.

Don’t you know those birds make a terrible mess?

Mr. Pigeon Feeder continued with his tearing off hunks of bread and tossing them to the gaggle gathered around him.

Mr. Orange Vest would be a city employee assigned to keep Pyshkinskaya Boulevard picked up, the petunias watered and the park benches aligned. And flocks of pigeons just don’t fit in with a neighborhood that's more and more upscale.

To the bird feeders of the world, pigeons might seem poetic with a big-city charm. Others see pigeons as flying rats, dirty carriers of disease and a growing nuisance, thanks to the folks who dole out bread.

Nevertheless, pigeons proved themselves to be quite useful during World Wars I and II. Pigeons were vital during D-Day communications when any other messages might have been intercepted by the enemy. Throughout the war, specially trained pigeons accompanied paratroopers behind enemy lines and then, with tiny cameras strapped to their chests, headed back home, providing quite literally a. . . a bird’s eye view of enemy goings-on.

Over the years, several pigeons have been awarded military honors for their wartime service, the most famous being Cheri Ami. It's fun to imagine pigeons strutting around with military medals pinned to their feathers.

Several years back when I, myself, lived on Pyshkinskaya Boulevard, I went through a pigeon-feeding stage. It started with one pigeon, Charles, I named him, because he was reserved and dignified, rather gentlemanly in fact. Charles would appear on my kitchen window sill for a bite to eat. Out of all the windows on that vast building, he was able to pick out mine and return there as though equipped with a built-in GPS. What fun we had, that little pigeon and I, until word spread to his feathered friends and what a bunch of thugs they were. Very soon, near riots erupted when I put out bread. All that pushing and shoving was quite unpleasant and I get quite enough of that sort of behavior from the other two-footed creatures on the trams and buses.

Soon I'd had enough of the pigeon feeding and decided to quit that cold turkey. Still those hopeful fellows would spot me in the kitchen and start hopping around on the ledge for food. Eventually their visits tapered off, but even 2-3 years later, a pigeon or two would show up begging for food. Fortunately, I didn't spot any cameras strapped to their bellies.

And what about you, dear blog reader, are you a feeder of pigeons or do you consider them flying rats? Say, if you were ever a photographer pigeon and ended up in another country, where would you like to be sent to photograph the scenery?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

In Hot Water: And That's a Very GOOD Thing

Come summertime in Russia and there’s no guarantee about the water. In any neighborhood, even in the finest hotels, there's no guarantee. It's not that there’s a water shortage. But from time to time, water will be turned off for days – the hot water may be off, the cold water off or all water off – and it’s absolutely unavoidable.

The reason? Repair of the underground water pipes. Come warm weather, it’s time to dig holes in the ground and repair the pipes. And welcome to Russia, the land of pipes under repair.

Witness the front yard of the building in which I live.

Let's have a gander at the pipes. Yep, those pipes could probably use some spiffyin' up. Or. . .what do you think?

But oh the joy, the absolute delight when yesterday afternoon, we got our hot water back. The first hot water here in ten days. What an absolute luxury.

Look at that, will you? And it even looks hot, doesn't it?

Ever tried bathing out of a teacup? Or perhaps from a mixing bowl? That’s the usual during a water crisis. Heat the water up on the stove, pour it into a bowl and drag that and a pitcher of hot water into the bath. . .

Got myself a nice, new water heater.

When we're without hot water, I feel bonded to my roots in rural Ohio and farm life as my mother knew it back in the 1930's and 40's. You’ve heard about the Saturday evening bath routine when folks heated up water on the stove, poured it into big galvanized tubs and then bathed by turn. So I get to do that too, except have the luxury of having the water all to myself.

(This space reserved for a life-on-the-farm photo. . .)

One more thing to appreciate about the Russian people, they don't complain about about water problems. They’re just accustomed to it.

See, nobody in my building is particularly upset. They're probably still asleep. After all, it's not even 6:00 yet.

And nobody there is losing sleep about the water cut-offs. That's because they're prepared. People squirrel away some water for times such as this.

Well, water or no, we've still got that big hole out front.

Not to worry though. At least now there's a barrier up around it. The hole was dug a week before anything was put up around it and I was a little nervous about all that. But a nice, warm bubble bath and all such worries will go down the drain.

How about you dear blog reader? Ever been traveling, say, to Eastern Europe, and had no water? How did you manage?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

June 1: International Children's Day. . . and the Fifth Beatle

Today is a holiday in Russia, literally The Day of the Protection of Children. It's also the first day of summer according to the Russian calendar. So there's plenty happening at local parks -- free ice cream, pony rides, clowns and such.

In honor of International Children's Day, please take a moment to meet the Fifth Beatle, a three-year-old from Korea and his rendition of Hey Jude.

Oh, and then apparently the little fellow gets discovered and moves from the living room couch to Korean national television.