Tag: Tomsk

More about RUSSIA. #3. More photos of Russia on this one.

Welcome to the third in the series about my trips to Russia.

If you did not read the prior essays, please do so before reading this essay. I urge you to read the priors in this series.


Here is the link to number one, so you can start at the beginning. Numbe one is a little long but I have been told it is worth it. If nothing else you can read the beginning with the setup and checkout the photos. 2-4 are all shorter than number one.


Each of the diaries ends with a link to the next diary in the series.

Let’s start with some photos. My “quarters” in Saint Petersburg. One looking up at fiance on balcony of apartment I had in Saint Petersbug. Two from balcony. One inside apt. Amazing location. Right on main street and all lively 24/7. Beautiful hardwood floors. All new inside. Great place. I think it was $700 for two weeks. Imagine in a tourist city of 5 million in US for an apartment like this in this kind of location. As usual though, washer but no dryer. No thermostat for heat. No A/C. Nasty ally around the back of the building for entry. Dirt ally so when it rained it was all mud.





Sorry, gotta tell a story here. One night I was on the balcony about three am and saw a drunken man crossing the street not more than 75 ft from my balcony. A normal crazy Russian driver came around the corner and hit him. He flew about 50ft in the air and landed in a heap in the middle of the road almost directly under my balcony. It looked like both arms and both legs were twisted around his torso so badly that they must be broken. I thought he might be dead. About the time the driver got out, the man setup, I couldn’t believe it. He quickly fell back over and sat back up and fell over and set back up. Then he tried to stand and it was from then on that it became comical. He stumbled, he mumbled, he fell, he got up, he walked (staggered) a few feet to fall again. He finally got to the curb and sat on the curb just looking like a drunk. The driver decided he was ok and left. The man laid down in the gutter. About the time I was going to wake up my girlfriend to call someone an ambulance arrived. The scene was nothing like I have ever seen for triage of a victim of such an event. They prodded him. Helped him get up. Nobody used a pen light on his eyes. Nobody looked at his skull for fractures. He didn’t want to get in the ambulance. They finally got him to go and they were off. Unbelievable. Only in Russia!

– The distribution/transportation of goods is terrible in Russia. This just happens to be the industry I spent 20 years in management. America is awesome at moving products around our country.

– Almost nobody wears a seatbelt in Russia. If a Russian wore a seatbelt when with friends they would probably be ridiculed by them.

– There is a Russian saying that I heard frequently. This is said jokingly. When someone states some facts or information a Russian will say “you know too much, it is time to kill you”. It is interesting that I heard this most often when I was talking about things I had learned about Russia or Russians. Maybe this comes from the infamous KGB.

– Teenagers can’t buy cigarettes but can get served alcohol almost anywhere.

– Many Russians lack hope of anything changing. In many ways they lack hope of almost any kind. They might have gotten a little with perestroika but now after 16 years after it and many of their lives are worse, so they have returned to hopelessness. They truly believe democracy and capitalism does not help the average person.

-Some of our ingrained beliefs can not be grasped. Live free or die. If something is not right/good/best then take action to correct it. I disagree with you but will defend your right to have your opinion. If you are not happy with a service or product you paid for then speak up. These and more are concepts that are contrary to keeping ones sanity in Russia. They call these “luxuries” Americanski princeeepaal. I don’t think that is  Russian, that is how they refered to it when I did something like speak up about poor service or something I paid for not being right.

– There are stray dogs everywhere in Russia. It is pitiful. No one pets them or even speaks to them. I do, my wife scolds me.

– Nobody spays or neuters. Most cant afford it and many think it is cruel.

– If you tell them you had your cat de-clawed you will have to explain to most what it is as they don’t even know about it. You will be considered a mean, mean person for this.

– There are few veterinarians as few have money for such luxuries.

– Almost nobody feeds pet’s actual pet food but rather table scraps.

– Many Russians have cats. They are indulged with fresh fish regularly


PHOTO BREAK. All 4 are in Saint Pertersbug.



Guy in next one didn’t even flinch when I goosed him.


Flying Lions


– The mental health system is like “One flew over the cuckoos nest”.

– Most Russians don’t know anyone who has been to a therapist.

– Anti depressants and the like are almost unheard of.

– It seems like there is a drug store every hundred yards.

– Many things we must have a prescription for can be gotten over the counter. I mean many things. Some type of narcotic type meds., syringes, the morning after pill and much more. They don’t seem to have anything like our FDA.

– Many Russians put great stock in herbal remedies and many as preventative. These can vary from region to region. Usefulness of some are supported by western studies.

– It is dwindling but there are still Russians that believe their soup called borsch must be eaten everyday to maintain health. Great stock is put in the health benefits of garlic by some. Particularly in the SE where the caucus mountains. There are more “old Russia” cities is this area. It is horrendous when you get in a bus or train that is packed and you are face to face with someone who has an amazing garlic smell.

– Russians believe an even number of flowers as a gift is bad luck. They always give 11 instead of a dozen.

– The medical system in Russia is a socialist type setup. It costs very little by our standards for most things except voluntary procedures. Their waiting time at a hospital makes ours look short.

– Surprisingly to me the dental work in Russia is reasonably good but proportional in cost it is even higher than ours considering incomes.

– Before 1995 abortion was definitely the number one form of birth control in Russia. Most women under forty had an abortion. Most had several. The clinics are brutal, cruel, unfeeling and assembly lines with doctors performing five or six procedures at one time. There is dispute about the numbers of abortions now. Because of some forms not being reported as abortion. The is an increase in birth control but it is expensive by their standards. The USSR never kept records until 1988 and breaking into 15 nations makes it difficult to know if the number is really dropping or not.

– Aids is rampant in Russia.

PHOTO BREAK. All 4 are in Saint Petersburg


Normal Lion


Don’t ask me who any of the guys are in these statues, maybe Pico knows.



– In general Russian men feel it is a woman’s problem to avoid pregnancy.

– Traditions and holidays are very important to Russians. Drinking seems to be the central focus of all holiday celebrtions.

– Disposable diapers, tampons and pads (they actually used rags) have only been common since the early 1990’s (paper again).

– Although their need is as great or greater in Russia as any country in the world, there are as many meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous in an American city of 50,000 as there are in ALL of Russia.

– Alcohol and drug treatment programs are virtually nonexistent. The opinion of many scholarly people is that alcohol is undoubtedly the single biggest problem of any kind in Russia. Alcoholism rates are unbelievable. The effects on every area of Russian life are clear to outsiders. Even the average Russian woman you meet will probably never have been out socially for any reason without drinking. In Russia this does not mean she has a problem. The problem is nothing amongst the women compared to the men. Alcohol is a big part of everything in Russian life.

-The average Russian mans life span is about thirteen years less than an American man. This is mostly because of early deaths from alcohol abuse.

– The average lifespan for Russian women is the same as American women.

– Primary school is 11 grades and in most cases followed by an institute (college) or technical training.

– Russian primary schools are far more strict than American schools. Many go Monday to Saturday. In some schools, when it is time for a holiday, the children are tasked with cleaning the school. Yes, I mean mopping, washing and general cleaning up.

– It is possible for a child to be made to stand in the doorway for forty five minutes because they arrived to school late.  

More about RUSSIA (#2)

Welcome to the second in the series about my trips to Russia with trivia about the people, culture and country and more photos.

If you did not read the prior essays, please do so before reading this essay. I STRONLY urge you to read the priors in this series.


Here is the link to number one, so you can start at the beginning.


Each of the diaries ends with a link to the next diary in the series.

Pico, don’t be too tough on me today. I know you academic types like perfection-J I am a very sensitive guy.

Don’t forget POLL. Rec’s appreciated. ENJOY.

Let’s start with a couple photos. These are inside one of the bazillion (sp?) churches in Russia. These two are from a church in my wife’s hometown of Tomsk, Siberia. I got scolded by an old woman and told not to take photos in the church. I did stop, she looked like she would and could give me a good whippin. There are many, many amazing churches all over Russia with such beutifully hand painted areas. Photos are cockeyed (too easy, no comments-:) because of my scanning ability, not painters fault. Many photos are cockeyed, just tilt your head.




– Moscow is the New York City of Russia except no skyscrapers. It has a larger population than New York City. 10 to 11 million in Moscow,  NYC 8 million. It’s an interesting experience every time I go there.

– Red Square, public transportation (particularly the metro), the amazing architecture and churches. There is a memorial to World War II that is nearly the size of central park. At night red lights illuminate the hundreds of fountains that are there. There are 20 foot tall stone statues of concentration camp prisoners standing in line naked with their possessions (boots, shoes clothes etc) lying on the ground near them. They 20 or so statues are gradually falling backwards from front to back. It  is very moving and truly captures the brutality of the concentration camps. Unfortunately, I went there at dusk to get the fountains lighted and photos of these were too dark. Really, it is worth finding on the internet.

– Russians have an immense pride for having won the final battle to end World War II. Yes, the Russians struck the final blow to win the war when they took Berlin. They made the final march into Berlin sustaining a loss of nearly 400,000 troops in the process. Interesting story of how Stalin pitted his two greatest Generals against each other going in from different sides knowing immense pride would make each man press forward harder to beat the other. Russia lost over 8,000,000 soldiers and about 20,000,000 civilian lives in World War II. Yes, those numbers are millions. Their casualties were about half of the total in the entire war by all involved.

– Gorke park is interesting. Nothing like the movie. It is a large amusement park like great America or any of the others.

– Moscow is one of the most expensive cities in the world. In the last ranking I read it was number three. The first American city on the list was New York City and it is around 23rd. It doesn’t seem to me to be any higher than New York or Chicago or Los Angeles for a traveler regarding lodging, food or transportation. I think it’s expensive reputation applies more to those who live there and in relation to their incomes.

– There are more billionaires in Moscow than any other city in the world. These are the top of the “new” Russians. ‘New Russians” are the wealthy who made their money by jumping on the capitalism band wagon that started after perestroika. Many of the wealthy are those of the Russian Mafia which is rampant and their cruelty makes our mafia look like gentlemen. Many of the others were government friends of the times.  

– A fair percentage of people in Moscow speak/understand some English.

– Even after all the time I have spent in Russia, I would not want to try to go it alone more than a few days even in this city with the highest percentage of Russians knowing some English.

– Like any large city you must be cautious of criminals, thieves, pickpockets, scammers and the like. Americans stick out like a sore thumb and thus are a good mark for these people.

– The streets in the city center of Moscow at about 5am have cleaning crews sweeping up the thousands of beer bottles that are literally everywhere.

– The first time I saw this I was surprised but I learned it was not uncommon, a guy in a suit on his way to work at 7am walking to the train and drinking a beer.

The view of Moscow in this first photo better be good because it is taken from the window of one of the better hotel rooms in Moscow and cost me $300/nt.





Street musician in Moscow


Cop Car – Imagine this on a high speed chase. Cop came up and told me I couldn’t photo car, oh well, already got one. Ha ha.



– Russia does nothing to promote their country for tourism.

– Having such a small percentage who speak English makes it difficult for a tourist to navigate their country.

– Very few people ever think of taking a vacation to Russia. That is unfortunate. Even without going there to see a specific person, this is an experience as rich as any place you could go. Besides the culture, history, sights and more, it has a great deal of natural beauty. There are an immense amount of forests and wooded areas. Maine, where I live, is known for white birch and pine trees. There is as high a percentage of these trees and forests in Russia as here.

– The problem for the average American about going to Russia is, if you don’t speak Russian and don’t have a guide who does, there are only two cities you have even a chance to really navigate. Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Although I like these cities (especially St. Pete.), these are my least favorite places of all places I have been in Russia.

– Russia’s population is about 150 million. About one half of the US. It’s geographic size is more than double the USA and that is after breaking the USSR into 15 countries in 1991.

– About 25% of the population lives in a half dozen cities.

– A majority of the population lives in the eastern one third of the nation.

– Each of the other 15 FSU (Former Soviet Union, including Russia) countries have at least 25% of their population in just a few cities.

– The history of Russia is endless. There are tons of interesting characters and stories and events. Think of all the people and events in our countries history that every American is familiar with (at least I hope they are). If our nation is an infant, Russia is an old man. Everywhere you go there are buildings, statues and reminders of an often troubled, often courageous and always interesting past.

– There are stories about why several cities are abundant with beautiful women. It is said that years ago some royalty had the most beautiful women in all their domain shipped to specific cities and thus their beauty was passed on to future generations. One of those type is on the Black Sea in what is now the Ukraine and this beauty importation was done to keep the sailors there that they needed. There was a shortage of women, so, simple, bring the most beautiful women there to keep these horny sailors here.

– Many Americans think Russians liked Stalin. At one time their internal propaganda forced them to. Today in schools he is taught as what he really was. A Hitler in his own right. He spread death and destruction through fear and force where Hitler “sold and convinced” his people to carry out his mad plan. Stalin forced them to do his cruel tyranny with an iron fist. Almost all Russians now loath Stalin. On one trip, my friend would not even take a photo in front of one of the many statues of him.

– For most Russians their personal past and its impact on them is not seen as important but rather a waste of time and “beating the air”.


First one, my step son on left, then me, Oxana, my mother in-law


Next one, out to dinner with friends. Oxana and I on the right. I am the ugly one. Man on left is a neurologist and the ONLY man Oxana has ever know who after divorced, paid child support and saw his children. He was very interested in my brain surgery. When he picked up his steak knife, I got a little afraid as he may have thought I needed more work. Guys, Tanya in the back left nearest the wall is single and a very nice person. Phone number 1-7-002-3564-2957-658-142-258-3645. She asked me more questions about America than almost anyone I met in Russia.


I know, these are not as interesting as the architecture and other stuff.

– If someone figures out how they decide apartment numbers, I hope they will also tell me this. I was in a seventh floor apartment and the apartment number was 28. A third floor apartment that was number 65. One apartment address I sent mail to was 1/36 Electric Street. Before I visited, I assumed the one was the building number in the apartment complex and the 36 was third floor. When I did go there, there was no building number and the apartment was on the ninth floor I don’t know why it is 36. Only in Russia! Maybe Pico knows.

– Maybe this address situation is the reason the mail is so slow. Even the mailmen don’t know what is where or why.