How about that?

I guess it's not ok to be gay and involved in the Boy Scouts, but it's ok to be into child porn. I liked this from the New York Times (subscription may be required)

Mr. Smith also responded on behalf of the Boy Scouts in September 2004 when a lawyer and onetime Eagle Scout, Bruce D. Collins, wrote a letter taking issue with the Boy Scouts' dismissal of an assistant scoutmaster, James Dale, because he was gay. The case reached the Supreme Court and established the Boy Scouts' right to bar gays under the organization's own First Amendment right of expressive association.


Light Posting

Sorry for the unannounced light posting. Boss is in town and it has turned into a more than full time job keeping him busy and entertained. Updates will resume as I have time to make them.



Ukraine was briefly invaded by Russian Marines this week.



I'm quite new to this whole PodCasting thing, but I've begun checking out a few different sites, and it seems kind of cool (in concept anyway). My favorite so far has to be Coverville, a podcast devoted entirely to cover versions of songs. Go check it out.


Yushenko to Address U.S. Congress

And according to my latest Ukraine Action report, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushenko has finally received an invitation to address a joint session of Congress, most likely on April 6th. According to Ukraine Action:

Recent reports in Kyiv indicate the Office of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has received an official invitation from the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert (R-IL), inviting the new President of Ukraine to address a joint session (meeting) of
the House and Senate when he comes to Washington in early April for his first official visit.

The word around Kyiv is that President Yushchenko will most likely address the U.S. Congress at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 6th...

There has been speculation around Washington and Kyiv for some time that Yushchenko, as the successful leader of the democratic forces in Ukraine and as one of the most widely
known politicians in the world today, would be invited to address the U.S. Congress. There is considerable confusion in political circles as to why, if the invitation has been sent and has arrived in Kyiv, why there has not been an official announcement yet.

I haven't seen anything official about this either, but if I got it in an email it must be true!

Butt Sniffing

Originally uploaded by MConnor.

That last post was almost too heavy for what passes as entertainment around here. To make up for that I instead give you the great equalizer. Dogs sniffing butts.

Random Thought

I really have no business weighing in on this whole Schiavo mess. I'm not an expert, I barely know the details of her situation, and other than thinking Congress REALLY overstepped it's bounds earlier this week I, like Reynolds, don't have an opinion on the matter. But I recently read this Neal Boortz column after seeing a link to it on RealClear Politics. And his premise reminded me of a point Andrew Sullivan made last month when the Pope was in the hospital for the umpteenth time and seemingly drastic measures were being taken to save his life:

We have been informed that the pontiff's current suffering and persistence against multiple illnesses and debilities is sending a message about the dignity of suffering and the importance of life. There is indeed a great truth to that. But there is also a point at which clinging to life itself becomes a little odd for a Christian, no? Isn't the fundamental point about Christianity that our life on earth is but a blink in the eye of our real existence, which begins at death and lasts for eternity in God's loving presence? Why is the Pope sending a signal that we should cling to life at all costs - and that this clinging represents some kind of moral achievement? Isn't there a moment at which the proper Christian approach to death is to let it come and be glad? Or put it another way: if the Pope is this desperate to stay alive, what hope is there for the rest of us?

If you are a religious conservative, a true believer in Christ, salvation, and eternal life, the people like Randall Terry who are getting arrested trying to break into a hospice to give bread and water to a woman that is incapable of swallowing; how can you justify not wanting her to end her earthly suffering and to be with God?

I'm not saying I'm not afraid of death here. Far from it, death scares me shitless. All I'm saying is if you base your theological, personal, and moral belief system on death being a step into something better, into being one with God, why fight the death of someone you don't even know so hard from happening when it's what would occur under natural circumstances?

I'm more than aware that there's about three people that read this blog, but if any regular readers can explain this, please do.


Pestilence, Famine, War, Death

Originally uploaded by MConnor.

A sign of the apocolypse if I've ever seen one. Coming soon to Ukrainian Television...Oprah.

Posting may be light through tomorrow; 9 CDs full of wedding photos arrived today via DHL.


Kyrgystan Rumblings

Watching the local news here ealier, and they had a lot of footage of the unrest in Kyrgyzstan. The Government opposition there has been trying to emulate the Orange Revolution in Ukraine by having their own "Tulip Revolution" in response to recent Parliamentary elections they claim were shady.

Footage looked like pretty rough stuff. Moltov cocktails being tossed about, cars tipped, even a few Govt. police getting the crap kicked out of them by demonstrators.

I had spoken with some NGO types towards the end of the Orange Revolution here, and they forwarned me about stuff like this happening out there. Guess they were right. It'll be interesting to see how the U.S. responds to this. We've got a ton of troops stationed there in support of Afghan operations. I think Kyrgyzstan is one of the few countries in the world that has both U.S. and Russian soldiers stationed on it's soil. Could get real dicey there.

Be sure to regularly check registan.net for updates on what's going on there. He's all over it, and I really haven't seen much coverage on happenings there in mainstream western media.

Pace Now!

Over the weekend there were protests around the world against the Iraq war. Kiev was apparently no exception. A small crowd, made up of Communists and members of the United Social Democratic Party (my neighbors!) gathered on Maidan to sing songs, wave flags, and express their displeasure. From a Ukrainian perspective, I'm not sure what exactly they were showing their displeasure with. Now that Yushenko has been elected, Ukraine has already begun withdrawing its troops.

Were I to form an opinion on what they were unhappy about based on some of the flags on display, I would guess it's one of two things. Either that Ukrainian troops aren't being withdrawn fast enough, or they are absolutely appalled with the quality of Mexican food available in Kiev.

I certainly agree with the latter. Adjika just doesn't hack it as far as salsa is concerned.


Genius at Work

In the dvor behind my building there is an apartment building that is currently undergoing remont and getting some floors added to the roof of it. I've been watching them work on it and seem some pretty funny stuff.

Take this picture for instance. This small crane is sitting on the roof of this apartment building that's probably 8 or 9 stories high.

The other day the contruction workers were having some diffiuclties with the pulley at the end of the crane. Rather than lowering the boom on the damn thing and fixing it at their level, they made some poor sap shimmy up the crane and fix the damn thing while it was still elevated.


I'm reading this article in the New York Times about U.S. soldiers trying to get out of service in Iraq when I come accross the following passage:

Specialist Marquise J. Roberts is accused of asking a relative in Philadelphia to shoot him in the leg so he would not have to return to war.

A bullet to the leg, Specialist Roberts, of Hinesville, Ga., told the police, seemed his best chance. "I was scared" he said, according to a police report on the December shooting.

Now, far be it from me to question what it's like to have to live and work in Iraq...but let's follow the logic here. You're an active duty soldier afraid to go to Iraq because, presumably, you might get shot. So to get out of going to Iraq you ask someone to shoot you.


Perhaps it's for the best that this guy didn't go. Were I serving in Iraq I certainly wouldn't want to be relying on him to watch out for me. From volunterring to sign up for the military and then being shocked when told to go to a warzone; to shooting himself to avoid returning to said war zone, he doesn't seem capable of even watching out for himself.



We were watching the news and saw something that absolutely cracked up Mrs. Connard and I. The weather segment came on and was preceeded by a message from the sponsor of the segment. That sponsor was "Livolin," a medication (presumably over-the counter) designed to help one's liver when subjecting it to abuse from overindulgence of alcohol.

Outside of the hilarity that a liver medication was sponsoring the weather report in a country that, let's say, has a bit of a reputation for it's drinking tendancies; was the hilarity of their product's slogan. Which was:

"Ливолин Форте - и Ваша печень держит удар!"


"Livolin Strength - and your liver takes the hit!"

Keep this product in mind before undertaking any St. Patrick's day activities.

Got Nothing

SSorry for the lack of posting yesterday, was actually a kind of busy work day. I'm not much better today. Not as busy work-wise, but I got nothing to post about. Happy St. Paddy's day, I guess.

Maybe more later.


Hilarity Ensues

Originally uploaded by MConnor.

So I'm reading on fark earlier today an article about a dumbass Chief of Police in some small Northwest Virginia town that was arrested TWICE in one night for DUI. Drunk redneck cops = funny, ha ha.

Later on in the day I get an email from a friend of mine asking me for pictures I took in May of last year at a micro-brewery festival I went to with him. Among those pictures were photos taken with the Chief of Police of the small Northwest Virginia town where the microbrew festival was held, beers in hand (are you seeing where this is going?). What could possibly be funnier than getting your picture taken with a cop while D.I.P?

How about having that same cop get arrested twice in one day for D.U.I?

God bless you, Chief Ashley.


Neeka of Neeka's Backlog is raising me in my complaints about former Soviet water quality. The picture she has in that post definitely ups the ante. I'll have to keep the camera ready for the next time we're treated to the browning of our water. My guess will be shortly after they do their annual "cleaning" of the hot water pipes sometime this summer.

I almost wish that the Internets had a "smell-o-vision" type function so we could challenge this assertion of hers:

One perfect thing about water in Kyiv and Moscow is that it doesn't smell: no smell at all compared to St. Pete's water.

There are times here when I wonder if taking a mineral infused shower will have any effect on me...thank god for Fa.


As if the Icicles Weren't Bad Enough...

You now can get attacked by Tigers at the Kiev Zoo.

More Civic Problem Solving

Originally uploaded by MConnor.

And while I've got Kiev's innovative way of dealing with killer icicles on my mind I figure I might as well post about more municipal government genius.

As I may have bitched about before, the water in this city really sucks. It's not even close to potable. Besides being riddled with bacteria, there's tons of particles and debris in it. Pipes (not drainage pipes either) frequently clog just from the crap that's in the water and you have to clean them out regularly. It's not very rare when I'll turn a faucet on and the water will run brown for a couple of minutes before it turns relatively clear.

As you can imagine, displeasure with this isn't just limited to western expats and the locals tend to get pissed off about this too. So, to keep everyone happy, the city government had to do something. Slowly start upgrading the system? Replace pipes that date back to before the Russian Revolution?

Nah, that would make sense.

Instead, they went around the city and started digging artesian wells. That way, if people want water that's actually good enough to drink they can walk down to their neighborhood well, fill up their 5 liter bottles, and drag them back home.

Don't you dare suggest that this isn't a European country!

Icicle Safety


Yes, this is how they deal with it. Block of sections of the sidewalk in a manner that doesn't even qualify as half-assed.

Believe it or not, this is actually one of the better jobs in terms of pedestrian convenience. Sometimes building maintenance people will just run that red tape directly out from the building to the street, so that the sidewalk is just completely blocked off.

Sometimes maintenance guys get around to going to the roofs of all the buildings and manually knocking all the icicles off when it's safe to do so.

Other times...well they don't and they just fall off on their own...hope you're on the other side of the street when that happens!

Instruments of Doom

Originally uploaded by MConnor.

So it's that time of year in Kiev when the city is prone to icicles. While they look pretty, what inevitably happens every year is a few of these things will fall off of buildings from five to ten to twenty stories up and hit some poor person. Sometimes it kills them, sometimes it just does really serious damage and knocks you unconscious.

With icicles forming with great regularity and with people getting hurt by them with similar regularity you'd think the locals would have a method of dealing with this problem.

And they do! See above.


Pictures from this past weekend will be posted later. I've got a fair amount of work to get through first.

But real quick, in response to one of my commenters let's dispel a medical myth.

There is absolutely no relation between temperature change and your susceptibility to viruses or bacteria. You can run around outside naked in -20 degree weather and you won't get sick. You'll feel physically cold, but not sick.

Colds may be more prevelant in winter, but this isn't because it's cold and windy outside. It's because you spend more of your time indoors, in heated rooms, with your windows shut (preventing circulation of fresh air) and this is an environment that microbes love.

Read this, this, this, this, and this.


Get Healthy, the Ukrainian Way!

In an effort to get this ship steered away from the River Plate and back to the Dnipr, I'm going to post something that I've been meaning to get to for a while now. That would be the...well absolutely insane beliefs Ukrainians have concerning personal health and well-being. This came to me after having a conversation yesterday with a local regarding cold remedies and made me think of two other examples of insanity I have come across. When reading the below, keep in mind that these are medical opinions held by educated professionals over here, not some peasants I've run into driving to Cherkassy.

1) Fertility

In order to ensure the ability to reproduce, under no circumstances should women of child-bearing age sit on stone surfaces. The coldness of the stone obviously saps fertility straight from your loins.

2) Illness Prevention

This is a biggy. Everyone over here knows that the easiest way to get sick is to subject yourself to drafts. For example; a guy that works for us pinched a nerve in his shoulder while he was repainting his apartment. The obvious cause of this (to him) was the fact that his apartment window was open while he was painting. Another girl that works for us came into the office with a sty on her eye. Her stated cause of this sty? Obviously, the window near her head was open a crack as she slept. Drafts again! Under no circumstances should a window be open. In an un-airconditioned train in the middle of summer? Better not open that window to cool off. You'll make everyone else in your coupe' sick.

3) Healing a Cold

Been exposed to that nasty blowing fresh air and consequently come down with a cold? No fear, there are easy remedies to cure it. Take a small piece of onion, lightly wrap this onion in gauze, and then place it in your ear. Leave in place while the onion dries out. The fumes from the onion will kill the illness causing bacteria in your head. Got a really bad case of the grippe? Substitute garlic for the onion. According to some people over here, this method works exceptionally well with children who refuse medicine.

Mother: "Oh no, Junior won't take a spoonful of his bubble-gum flavored 'Tussin or eat his Winnie the Pooh shaped vitamin!"

Dad: "Well, I guess we'll just have to put the onion in his ear, he seems to like that better."

Expect this to be another continuing series, as well as a chapter in the sporadic "Russians/Ukrainians/Slavs are crazy series.

Definitive Proof!

Well, this seals it for me. The CIA was obviously involved with the election of Yushenko. Why else would an American doctor be involved with the diagnosis and treatment of his dioxin poisoning? The fact that U.S. Embassies helped to arrange transportation and hotels for the American doctors when they visited Vienna seals it. This blatant American meddling in a foreign governments election is shameful.



Real Tango

Originally uploaded by MConnor.

This picture was taken in the Palermo neighborhood one night. We were walking out to dinner at an Armenian place that was recommended to us when we hear tango coming from somewhere. We look around and see all these people dancing tango inside some local social club. I think up until this point I had been assuming that tango was mainly done for the tourists and its glory days among the locals had long passed. Villa Malcom proved me wrong. Just a typical Saturday night in BA I guess.

Tango Posts

Originally uploaded by MConnor.

Having been back in Kiev for almost a week, I probably should move on from the Argentine stuff and get back to Ukraine, but it's difficult. For one, I think I can count the number of times I've left my apartment since coming back on one hand. Sorry kids, but transistioning from 80 degrees every day to 19 degrees every day just sucks.

Anyway, for today two tango related posts. This picture was taken at the grave of tango legend Carlos Gardel in Chacarita cemetary. The sculpture of Gardel that sits on his grave was specially designed so that lit cigarettes could be placed in his hand. This guy was a Chilean tourist who was doing just that.



street blockers
Originally uploaded by MConnor.

And lastly for today, a photo that fits in with other photos from the blog, street protests! Walking around the obelisk area we encountered large street demonstrations. Later on we found out from an American expat that these are quite common. These groups of protestors are paid by former president Menem to just go around the city, block traffic, and create problems for the government that replaced him. The protest I saw was apparently the first one they had after their summer holidays. Yes, the protestors get summer holidays.

They were quite well organized though. There were lots of them dressed like the people above that would run ahead of the main group and block traffic while everyone would march behind them (see the large group in the background). These all were unannounced and would occur in random places, consequently having the effect of really messing up traffic downtown. Later on we would get stuck in traffic from one of these occuring in the evening and it really sucked, as they block the main arteries and not just sidestreets.


Originally uploaded by MConnor.

More geeky Soviet stuff. At the Estancia I was a bit surprised to find out that the truck used on the ranch was a Soviet produced Niva.

El Kozako

Originally uploaded by MConnor.

This is a Ukrainian blog right? So I had to do something Ukrainian over there. Options were, unsurprisingly, a bit limited. But we did we did find a restaurant in Recoleta that fit the bill just fine. It was called "El Kozako," served slavic food, had slavic decor (check out the picture, it's an icon and a picture of a Ukrainian hetman holding a bulova; they also had lots of Samovars), and the waiters were immigrants from the FSU. Our waiter was a Russian guy who was from outside of Almaty. He said a fair amount of former Soviet types moved to Argentina back in the 90s when the Peso was pegged to the dollar.


Originally uploaded by MConnor.

This photo was from a mildly amusing situation. We were out walking around in the Palermo area of Buenos Aires our last weekend in the city and saw this large parade going on that looked like a neighborhood version of Mardi Gras celebrations. This was all going on after midnight on Saturday and there were tons of small kids running around enjoying the festivities, playing on swings, spraying each other with silly string, watching mini parades, etc...and these kids were as young as 4, some were still in strollers. Also keep in mind that actual Mardi Gras and Carnival was in early February and this was all taking place on the 26th or 27th. We get back to our hotel (which was actually a pretty nice neighborhood B&B) and we ask the night clerk what was going on. She says "It's carnival." we say, "No, carnival was earlier this month. It's Lent now." She said, "It's carnival." So I guess Mardi Gras is quite an extended event in BA. This picture is from one of the mini parades.

More Colonia

Originally uploaded by MConnor.

More of Colonia in Uruguay. This shot was taken from the top of a lighthouse that's in the town. What you see here is about a quarter of the city. In the foregrond are the old colonial houses, beyond that the old city wall, beyond that the ferry you take to get there from BA. Like I said, you can see everything in the town worth seeing in about 5 hours, easy.


Originally uploaded by MConnor.

More Argentina pics today. This is a street in the barrio of La Boca. The Time Out said that this was the street that Adolf Eichman was living on when the Mossad scooped him up and took him to Israel back in the 60s.


Perhaps it's a bit geeky and/or stupid, but I spent the better part of lunch today laughing at the covers atSuperdickery.com. Laffs abound.



I do not have an IT Blog and I have no problem with Firefox. Quite the contrary, I highly recommend it.


Originally uploaded by MConnor.

While in BA, we took a day trip to a town in Uruguay called Colonia. Pretty nice place. The old town is a UNESCO world heritage site as it all looks pretty much as it did when it was a Portuguese colony that was attempting to rival BA for dominance of the River Plate region. It was nice to spend a day there, any more than that would have been overkill.

Side note, there is a 1 hour time difference between Uruguay and Argentina. This becomes important when you don't know this, the ferry company doesn't tell you this, and you almost miss your ferry back to Argentina as a result.

Tierra Santa

Originally uploaded by MConnor.

This was just bizzare. We read in the Time Out about this religious theme park in the northern part of Buenos Aires called "Tierra Santa" and had to go check it out. The concept was you just walked around this "recreation" of Jerusalem at the time of Christ and could see all these life-size recreations of biblical events. As you can see, the depiction of said events followed the typically subdued latin approach to religion. After seeing the crucifixion, you could then move on and get shashlik. Or watch a belly dancing show. Or leave your own prayers in their recreation of the wailing wall. Fun for the whole family!

More Tierra del Fuego

Originally uploaded by MConnor.

More pictures from Tierra del Fuego. In the backgrounds are some mountains in the Chilean part of the area. The water is the Beagle Channel. It looked like this just about everywhere down there. Quite stunning.

La Bamba

Originally uploaded by MConnor.

More Argie Pics. This was the "Estancia" we stayed at when we were out in the Pampas. The house was built in the 1800s, there was no phone, no internet, and it was out in the sticks. Nice escape for a couple nights and the asado we were served up was amazing.


Tierra del Fuego

Originally uploaded by MConnor.

This posting has mulitple purposes.

First, I'm farting around with flickr to use for posting photos to the blog rather than hello, which I had previously been using. I'll see how it works out, and probably still use both. I do like that flickr is web based as opposed to hello.

Secondly, I'm announcing to both of the readers of this blog that I'm back in Kiev and my high speed wireless connection. Regular posts will be returning, starting with lots more pictures from my Argentina trip.

Third, and last, above is the first of these Argentine pics. The view of Tierra del Fuego from my hotel room there.