Monday, July 24, 2006

It's like Frogger on the Autobahn with drunk drivers

A few more brief observations from my time in Moscow:

Today, I spent the first part of my day getting registered with the local Moscow police precinct. This consisted of making our way all the way across town on the Moscow Metro (which is very well done) and something called a "route taxi." This is a 30 year old diesel powered cargo van that operates like a shuttle bus. You cram in with a bunch of sweaty old men and go from stop to stop. I've discovered a few things about Russian driving. You know that guy who weaves in and out of lanes, drives way too fast accelerates around curves, brakes and inch and a half from your bumper, and would probably run over a little old lady crossing the street if she got in the way? They're all like that. Lanes mean nothing to them. There's no insurance requirement. (Standard procedure for an accident: Get out of the car, swear at each other, have a cigarette together, go home. The police won't care.) In the route taxi, the driver, apparently not happy with the three lanes to chose from, decided to move into the on-coming traffic lane and just barely made it back into the right side of the road before colliding head on with an oncoming box on wheels. Forget crossing the street. If you've ever played the game Frogger, and want to play it in real life, come to Moscow.

My niece is the cutest thing ever. Tomorrow, she'll be baptised, and I get to be there. My brother-in-law suggested to me that I might have to step in as the Godfather. My qualifications: male (check), Russian Orthodox (check), and going to be at the service (check). This apparently put me in a unique position. Problem: the Godparents have a pretty big role at an Orthodox baptism (lots of talking, recite the Nicaean Creed), it's just that I don't speak Russian. I'm just imagining what the look on the priest's face would have been. Fortunately (?) I've been replaced. It'll still be a joy to go.

Foreign Intelligence Files (FIF for short!) update: NBC is picking up Nobody's Watching!

Last night, I ate at Papa John's Pizza. (Hooray for the American Empire!) Food here is generally sold at little kiosks, and I tried just about all of them. They were all edible (and some actually pretty good), but I was low on calories. And my digestive system was asking questions of all the new stuff. I ate a chicken wrap that was... I think it was chicken. They also had a bread shell about 6 inches long into which they inserted a nine inch hot dog. Make your own joke. We sure did.

Becuase Tanya's been at her conference, I've been doing a bit of reading. Good: Stephen Seager, "Street Crazy". Decent, but disappointing: Nassim N. Taleb, "Fooled by Randomness". Jury still out (half-way through): Umberto Eco, "The Name of the Rose."

Today, I saw Walker, Texas Ranger, dubbed into Russian. That's just wrong.

My niece is adorable.

Updates as I am available to file them. The usual cataloging of cultural mayhem will continue when I return to the states. Until then, stay classy San Francisco.

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