• Christmas Inflation In Olathe

    I drove past this house many times over the years, every year noticing more and more inflatable things slowly taking over the place. Today I stopped by to take some pictures of the “Paulie’s Penguin Playground” located in Olathe. The front, roof, driveway, yard and everything else around the house is covered with every inflatable toy imaginable. There is a passageway through the yard leading to the porch where you can leave a donation to the Leukemia Society or buy the owner’s truck.

    Short video look-around:

    (Pick any two): Merry Happy Holidays Christmas Hanukkah Kwanzaa!

    Other examples of local Christmas Art from Midtown Miscreant and Plog.

  • The Google Prophecies

    Recent announcement from Google about the upcoming high-speed network being built in KCK became fodder for hordes of prognosticators. While some of the predictions may be pretty accurate, it’s clear that the development will generally follow a three-stage process:

    Stage 1: Regional

    • All of the Kansas Suburbs voluntarily annex themselves to KCK, with Johnson County becoming South KCK and Douglas County renaming itself West KCK.
    • Capital of Kansas moves to downtown KCK.
    • The State of Missouri, unsuccessful in trying to merge with Kansas is rapidly vacated with everyone rushing to buy property in now expanded KCK. Property values skyrocket.
    • After failing to retain its citizens by abolishing and then reversing the ETAX to pay an extra 1% for working and living in the city, KCMO goes under and quickly deteriorates. Sprint center fills with rainwater and becomes an aquarium. The rest of the city is used as an urban paintball field.
    • A new airport is built in KCK to handle all the expected traffic.
    • Surrounding states are converted to agricultural use to support the growing population.

    By the end of the 3rd quarter of 2012 Kansas City, KS will look like this (yes, that’s a new Eifel Tower/WIFI antenna).

    © frenic

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  • Behind the Iron Curtain: The Soviet Army and Navy Day

    armyFebruary 23rd has a special meaning for people who grew up in the Soviet Union. Originally started in 1918 as the Red Army Day, then renamed “The Soviet Army and Navy Day” and now “Defender of the Motherland Day” this holiday became a de facto Men’s Day when all men were celebrated even if they never served in the military. Starting at the young age it was a day of anticipation for boys, when girls would bring them small presents and souvenirs to school just so the boys could brag, compare and play with them for the rest of the day (the favor was returned on March the 8th). For those who served it was a highly anticipated day off, with delicacies such as two boiled eggs and buckwheat for breakfast and maybe a rare day on the town (if you happened to serve near one). For the rest of the people it was another reason to have a drink.

    Over the years my opinion about my military service has changed from a wasted years of my life, two years of missed opportunity and needless sacrifice, to a fun and careless time when all I had to worry about was escaping any semblance of work and exercise at all costs. Although I was one of the most worthless soldiers the Soviet Army had ever seen, they got exactly what they paid for with their 7 rubles a month, which was just enough for a lunch and a few packs of cheap cigarettes. I made sure of that.

    Even though the Soviet Army is long gone, I still get a few messages from friends and relatives on this day. Mostly it’s a connection to the innocent days of our childhood when a simple souvenir and a card made us feel like men (slide show of old holiday cards below).

    Much has changed since the days of my military service. In the video below the Choir Of the Ministry of the Internal Affairs performs with the duo Ottawan, something that couldn’t have happened 25 years ago, when people from the same ministry were busy banning Western music.

  • Old Photos: USSR in Color

    Google Life Magazine photo archives were broken for the past month or so and I was starting to think that I would eventually need to write a post by myself. Luckily the photo search is working again and I am back to posting pictures.

    On another technical note, I changed the comment system here, after liking how it worked on the Pitch’s blogs. Hopefully it will work faster, look cleaner and be easier to use with multiple ways to log in and subscribe. Give it a shot, I really don’t feel like figuring out how to go back to the old system.

    In 1963 Life Magazine published a special issue dedicated to the USSR, which included unique photos taken by the Life’s correspondents over a period of one year. Although the foreign correspondents were usually “gently” guided by their KGB “guides”, they managed to obtain an unprecedented access and photograph the real Soviet Union, its people and sights. Today I will post some color photos, which are a rare find for these years.

    Natela Gugulashvili, schoolgirl from the village of Vazisubani,Georgia © Time Inc. Stan Wayman

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  • Behind The Iron Curtain: This Post is Classified

    This morning I drove past some weird-looking railroad machinery of unknown purpose. It reminded me of some machines I saw during my heroic two years in the military service. Most of these I have never seen in motion. Many of them were on so called conservation, which meant they were waiting for their time when enemy (that would be you – evil imperialist exploiters of working class) attacks. These machines were probably new many years ago when they first arrived, and one of our tasks was to maintain them in ready-to-start condition. Our job consisted mostly of sweeping around these things and painting them with another coat of green paint before some big shot would show up to party with our officers check it out. If they were not bulletproof before, 30-40 coats of paint certainly made up for that.

    When I first arrived in this country almost 16 years ago, two guys possibly from the CIA made an appointment with me for the purpose of asking me “a few questions”. They attempted to do it in Russian, to which I replied that as much as my English sucks, their Russian was even worse (O, the Freedom of Speech) so we all laughed at how they are wasting their time debriefing some schmuck who dedicated two years of his life in the military to avoiding any responsibility and any semblance of work. I guess I didn’t know about government jobs then.

    At the time of the interview I didn’t reveal any of the very classified secrets known to me. They didn’t even offer to buy me lunch for selling out the Motherland. So here I will do it for free.

    This is a road-clearing machine BAT-M. It has a variety of tools allowing it to go into the epicenter of the nuclear explosion and clear or create a passage for the rest of the troops. It can fill up ravines and trenches, lift debris, create ramps if needed, it can also dig, trench, move heavy equipment or pull a tank out of the mud. Cabin is air-tight and has filtration system so the driver can live for a few more hours in the radiation-affected area. The one on this photo looks exactly like ones we had – peeling paint and all.

    Next is MDK-2M – a machine that can dig a perfectly round hole in the ground. We had special corrugated metal assemblies that would go inside the hole to make it an instant shelter or an underground storage. This machine was also equipped for grading and other road-clearing tasks.

    Fast-Moving Trench-Digging machine BTM-3 is designed to dig trenches up to 5 ft deep. It holds enough fuel for 350 miles of driving or 10-12 hours of trenching. The cabin is air-tight with filtered air allows the crew to be inside without additional protection while working in the radioactive or chemical-affected area.

    Amphibious Transporter PTS is designed to transport troops and equipment across difficult terrain and water. Land speed is 42 km/h, speed on water is 12 km/h. It can transport up to 5 metric tons on land and up to 10 metric tons on water. Once I saw some idiot driver run over a car with the PTS by accident. It can literally go over some obstacles. On the video you can see some of its capabilities not in any way diminished by stupid red paint.

    Warning:This post may self-destruct at any time.