|Issue 16||April 1997||Volume 2 - Number 5|
Welcome to the CANDOER News. Suggestions as to what you would like to see in the CANDOER are welcome. Letters to the editor, articles consisting of general information, feature articles, G-rated jokes, or poems, written/submitted by retirees or OC/IM employees, past or present, will be published, unedited. Material may be submitted on a 3.5" floppy disk (disk will be returned) using WordPerfect Version 6.1 or earlier (if it contains graphics), on a plain sheet of paper (if it has no graphics) or via e-mail. The deadline for submitting material is no later than the 25th of each month. Material received after that date will be published in the next issue of the CANDOER, space allowing. Please, restrict articles/submissions to two single spaced, typed pages. No hand written submissions, please.
The snail-mail address for submissions or letters to the editor is:
Robert J. Catlin, Sr.
Publisher/Editor CANDOER News
2670 Dakota Street
Bryans Road, MD 20616-3062
The e-mail address for submissions or letters to the editor is:
The following letter was received from Paul Nugnes:
March 12, 1997
I hope I won't offend anyone, but I was quite surprised at the suggestion that you take on health and aging (while we're at it let's add fitness). These are excellent and fascinating topics, but does the CANDOER want to compete with everything else that is out there? Well, having said that I suppose you need to fill the pages with something, so I'll submit my two cents worth.
Since you are going to be reviewing obesity here are a couple of things I recently came across. In the March issue of New Choices, Living Even Better After 50 magazine, there was an interview with former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. He says, "When I left office in 1989, a fourth of the adults in this country were more that 20 percent over their ideal weight. According to the government's latest statistics. A third are now overweight. That's a 25 percent increase in six years. We can't afford to go on like that."
In the March 2nd Washington Post, an article entitled "Living Large" states "According to Women's Wear Daily, approximately half of American women wear a size 12 or larger. Size 14 is the average." That's pretty astonishing. I also recall seeing something where they talked about clothing manufacturers making the sizes bigger while maintaining the same number. In other words, lets say you are a Boomer creeping up in the years and you have been a size 10 for quite some time. You're still buying stuff that says size 10 but it is really a size 12. Ha, ain't American great. An lets not just pick on the women. They're doing the same thing to men's clothes. If you want the truth, buy yourself a cloth measuring tape, get naked in front of the mirror and wrap that tape around your waist, your butt and each thigh. If you don't like your reflection, or what the tape tells you, do something about it.
Perhaps some of your readership are living like cloistered nuns and don't see much of this stuff. I get a variety of magazines (too many) which all have articles on ageing, health, fitness, and obesity. And there's always something on TV. The Today Show usually has a weekly topic. However, since most of us get too much reading material to absorb or hate magazine subscriptions, let me offer a couple of alternatives. The book, Dr. Bob Arnot's Guide to Turning Back the Clock (1995) is superb. He has also started a new monthly called Dr. Bob Arnot's Inside Health, which looks great. If you are interested in receiving the monthly, you can write to: Dr. Bob Arnot, 105 West Monument Street, P.O. Box 17559, Baltimore, MD 21298-8800.
Another excellent new book is, The Whartons' Stretch Book (1996). It is a whole new approach to stretching. If you are active you need this one in your library. If you don't want to spend the $15, get Dr. Arnot's book. At the back he has included quite a few of the stretches from Wharton's book and how to do them. Good stuff.
Let me close by telling you a little story. In August, 1995 we went down to Florida to visit my kids and participate in America's Interhash. (Interhash is a gathering of Hash House Harriers running clubs from all over the U.S. and elsewhere who get together to run, drink, and frolic (Don't ask what that means). For those of you who don't know, the Hash House Harriers are a running club with a drinking problem.) Anyhow, we had our bikes and on the first day one of the guys said they were also having a bike hash and why didn't we join them. Okay, why not, save the knees for the next three days. So off we went on what was supposedly a pleasant ride around an Orlando neighborhood. I had a little accident and hit the pavement - HARD. I rode another 10 miles in some pain and thought I had broken a rib or two. At the end of the ride when I stood upright I could hardly breath. Off to the hospital where it turned out I had a punctured lung. They fixed that and released me three days later. Four nights later my wife called 911 as I was running a high temperature. A bad chest infection and three nasty weeks in the hospital ensued. (This is the short version folks). Some Florida vacation that was.
Come December my wife was pretty stressed from work and I figured I owned her one so we went to Fort Lauderdale for Christmas. Shortly after we got back (we are finally getting to the end of this) somebody said, "You didn't take that damned bike with you, did you?" Nope, roller blades! We had a wonderful time.
Well the weather is getting better. Time to dust off the bike and pump up the tires.
Oh, I should mention that the Pentagon parking lot on weekends is a great place to learn to roller blade. And, don't go without all the pads and a helmet.
Eat a low fat diet, lots of fruits and veggies. Get into a weight lifting program to improve your strength (we don't need bulk at our age), and get your butt off the couch and onto some wheels. WARNING: These toys do have serious side effects. They could make you feel like a kid again!
Grow up and act my age - you must be kidding.
Warm regards to All,
The following letter was received from Joe Lea:
March 11, 1997
The March CANDOER News was received and I have read with interest part one of your series on obesity. While this is certainly a major problem, there are many of us who have never had a weight problem but are nevertheless tolerating poor physical condition due to lack of really good exercise.
A year or so ago, my doctor told me that I was not getting proper exercise; I cited golf, yard work and the like, but truly my exercise was nearly nil. At golf we always ride and I have a complete lawn service. The doctor asked about swimming and we do have a nice indoor heated pool. I had been in the pool many times, observed lap swimmers, but always assumed that I was too old for that (I will be 75 in July). My doctor persuaded me to try some serious swimming.
Initially, I could only swim one lap and was gasping for breath after that. I stayed with it, built up endurance and for nearly a year have been swimming 20 laps, 3000 feet, every day unless out of town. I have reduced the time for the 20 laps to 40 to 45 minutes of non-stop swimming. The water is kept at 82 degrees which is comfortable even in winter.
I also do bar bells at home. My BMI is 22.6. So, would certainly recommend to anyone to get on a vigorous exercise program and stay with it. Don't wait until you are in your seventies.
I have had several CANDOERs ask me how I get money for the Memorial Fund and if they should contribute separately from what they contribute to the News fund. This is the formula I use to put money in the Memorial Fund.
|$12 or less||All to the News fund||$ 0 to Memorial|
|$15||$12 to the News fund||$ 3 to Memorial|
|$20||$16 to the News fund||$ 4 to Memorial|
|$25||$20 to the News fund||$ 5 to Memorial|
|$30||$24 to the News fund||$ 6 to Memorial|
|$40||$24 to the News fund||$16 to Memorial|
|$50||$24 to the News fund||$26 to Memorial|
|$75||$24 to the News fund||$51 to Memorial|
|$100||$24 to the News fund||$76 to Memorial|
If a donation is received marked for the Memorial Fund, all of it goes toward the Memorial Fund. If it is received marked for a specific person, it is used for that specific person and none other. If you do not want any of your contribution used for the Memorial Fund, PLEASE specify on the Memo portion of your check, FOR NEWS FUND ONLY.
There are numerous diets. These diets are usually nutritionally unbalanced with a long-term success rate of approximately zero. Most do not work in the long-term.
Some of the fad diets involve intermittent fasting. What the instructions in the diet fails to mention is that when you are on a total fast, what you lose is water weight. You can lose as much as 5 pounds a day. However, five pounds of water is not the same as five pounds of fat. One pound of body fat is approximately 3500 calories, whereas one pound of water has zero calories.
An additional risk of fasting is that with certain medical conditions or medications, a person can develop electrolyte (or salt) abnormalities, which can led to irregular heartbeats, passing out, and, in rare instances, death.
Fad diets at best lead to a small weight loss initially, but do not result in a long-term weight loss. They also can be risky and detrimental to your health and should be avoided.
Low calorie food diets
A low calorie diet or balanced calorie deficit diets involves taking in a fixed number of calories per day. A low calorie diet, depending on your weight, can result in weight losses generally of 1/2 to 1 1/2 pounds a week.
A low calorie, low fat diet works. The problem is that most people become discouraged at losing 1/2 to 1 1/2 pound a week, and go off the diet.
The key to losing weight and maintaining the loss involves changing behaviors.
Without behavior modification, people revert to their old behaviors when they finish dieting and regain their weight. The success rate of balanced-calories diets is small, with only one out of 400 people losing 40 pounds and maintaining the weight loss after one year.
Liquid diets are of two basic types: over-the-counter, non prescribed liquid diets and medically supervised modified fasting programs. There are important differences. Over-the-counter liquid diets are generally high in protein with minimal fat and are not nutritionally balanced and not medically supervised.
If a person goes on one of the over-the-counter liquid diets, it can result in chemical abnormalities that cause fainting or irregular heartbeats. In some situation, it can result in death.
Since a liquid diet does not have a behavior modification program to help you change your behavior to keep the weight off, their long-term success rate is very low.
The safety and effectiveness of medically-supervised liquid diets vary widely. In general, they are used for people who are 50 pounds or more overweight. They must be medically monitored by trained physicians. However, medical supervision does not ensure long-term success.
Without regular exercise, it is unlikely a person will maintain a lower weight. Finally, it is not a matter of losing weight, but maintaining the weight loss.
In summary, over-the-counter liquid diets should never be used because they are inherently unsafe and will not result in long term weight loss. A medically supervised fasting program, when combined with behavior modification, nutritional education, and a good exercise program, can be helpful in not only losing weight but keeping it off long term.
Appetite suppressants are medications that help decrease a person's hunger and lead to anorexia or a loss of appetite. These medications, including nonprescription ones, have significant side effects resulting in increased blood pressure, nervousness, rapid heartbeat, and insomnia or inability to sleep.
Obese people experience water retention, which is not uncommonly associated with elevated blood pressure. Diuretics are medications that cause a loss of excess water. These should be avoided as a treatment for obesity. At best, they give you a short term weight loss. At worse, the can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, or kidney disease.
Using diuretics does not lead to a loss of fat. It leads to a loss of excessive fluid, which will decrease your weight, temporarily.
One pound of body fat contains about 3500 calories. You have to have a deficit of 3500 calories before you lose one pound of body fat. If you need 2000 calories a day to maintain your body weigh and you lose five pounds in one day by changing your diet, you are losing water, not fat. It is best to avoid using diuretics unless medically indicated and prescribed by a physician.
The thyroid is a gland in the neck that is the major controller of the metabolic rate. Metabolic rate determines the number of calories a person requires per day to maintain their body weight. There is a wide range of thyroid levels which are considered normal.
Using thyroid medication to artificially increase metabolism results in some loss of fat and a very marked loss of muscle mass, and causes injury to the heart. This is an extremely dangerous approach and is officially banned by the FDA.
There are people who have low functioning thyroids and therefore require thyroid medication. When these people are placed on thyroid medication, they generally drop a few pounds of weight, much of it water. However, unless the person has profound hypothyroidism, or low thyroid condition, the additional thyroid medication generally does not effect weight unless taken in very dangerous amounts.
Smoking and obesity
When people stop smoking, they usually gain weight. This is not because they are substituting food for cigarettes as most people think, although in some cases this may be true. They are gaining weight because smoking increases caloric requirements and when they quit, if they do not decrease their caloric intake, they gain weight. A person who smokes requires approximately 10 percent more calories to maintain their body weight than a nonsmoker.
Therefore, if you continue with the same food intake and the same exercise level and stop smoking, your weight will increase between 5 and 10 percent.
An excellent way to counter this is to exercise consistently. Walking 30 minutes a day three times a week is one way of countering it. Another is to write down everything you eat. This makes you much more aware of what you are eating and helps you make better food choices, thereby helping you maintain you weight.
It is much more important to stop smoking then to worry about the weight gain. The effects of smoking are more severe than the effects of putting on a few extra pounds. It is not recommended that you stop smoking and go on a strict diet. Usually a person who tries to do both does not succeed at either. Quit smoking. Then deal with you weight problems.
COMPREHENSIVE TREATMENT PROGRAM
The most effective weight loss program is one that includes diet, behavior modification, nutritional education, exercise, medication (if necessary) and long-term maintenance support.
Because obesity is often associated with significant and silent medical problems, a comprehensive history and physical examination along with laboratory tests and an electrocardiogram should always be performed prior to beginning such a comprehensive treatment program. Weekly examinations and evaluations are extremely important if the treatment program has a fasting phase.
Weight loss is only the beginning of a successful weight management program. Keeping the weight off and avoiding the roller coaster effect of weight loss and gain is the most difficult, yet most important part of any program.
The key to positive weight loss is behavior modification.
There are excellent weight management programs in most major cities.
Maintaining weight loss
Losing weight is only the beginning. The more critical state is maintaining the weight loss. This is usually done by behavior modification-changing behaviors that are associated with eating.
Unfortunately, it is frequently the people closest to you who become the most jealous and do the most to sabotage your efforts. It is important to avoid getting angry at these individuals. Explain to them how you are trying to better yourself and help them understand what you are going through. This requires assertiveness. Remember, many of these people who are sabotaging you may have weight problems themselves. If you succeed, they may feel like failures. Instead, they should be looking at your success and understanding they too can obtain that same success.
Losing weight is a very difficult process and requires long term changes with professional guidance to help you maintain long-term weight loss.
Exercise is an extremely important part in maintaining body weight. By exercising, you burn calories, you increase your metabolic rate, reduce stress, help offset loss of muscle mass, and as an added bonus, exercising helps promote a general sense of well being.
Exercising does not guarantee weight loss but when combined with a reduction of caloric intake it does help.
Types of exercise
Anaerobic: the use of large groups of muscles very strenuously for short periods of time. Weight lifting is and example. Anaerobic exercise does not burn a lot of calories. It does result in an increased muscle mass. Increasing muscle mass increases resting metabolic rate, or the number of calories you use while in a resting state.
The resting metabolic rate is an important component of the total number of calories required per day to maintain body weight. If your resting metabolic rate increases, you can consume more calories and continue to maintain your weight. If you consume the same number of calories and start doing anaerobic exercise, your proportion of fat will decrease.
Aerobic: increases your respiratory rate and requires continuous movement. Examples of this are walking, running, swimming, or biking. Aerobic exercise increases your calorie requirements significantly and leads to a mild build up of muscle mass, which in turn, increases your resting metabolic rate.
To be successful on a weight reduction program, you must exercise. If a 190 pound person does one-half hour of brisk walking per day, they will burn about an extra 200 calories per day. This may not sound like a lot when one pound of body fat contains 3500 calories. However, over one year, the calories add up to over a 20 pound weight loss.
The bottom line is this. At any age, exercise is good for you whether you are overweight or not. You are never too old to start an exercise program. The next time you go for an annual physical, talk to you family doctor about starting an aerobic type exercise program.
The information contained in this article was obtained from two sources:
Obesity and Your Health, by Michael D. Meyers, M.D. and Obesity: The World's Oldest Metabolic Disorder, by Michael Blumenkrantz, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.C.S.
Thanks to Charlie Ditmeyer for furnishing the following information. In attendance at the March luncheon at Phineas were the following CANDOERs: Bob Campopiano, Don Denault, Charlie Ditmeyer, Leroy Farris, Jim Gansel, Charlie Hoffman, Boyd Koffman, Harry Laury, Mel Maples, Babe Martin, Joe Pado, Robbie Robinson, Bob Scheller, and Val Taylor.
In addition, we had two new attendees: Ken French and Dan Ullrich. A big CANDOER WELCOME to you both. We all hope you attend many more.
It is with deep regret that I inform you of the death of Robert N. Liebau, of a massive heart attack, at his home, on the evening of February 26, 1997.
A viewing was held at Murphy Falls Church Funeral Home on Sunday, March 2. Funeral services were held at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Falls Church on Monday, March 3. Interment was at Parklawn Memorial Cemetery in Rockville, MD.
In lieu of flowers, a donation of $90, from the CANDOERs, was given to the Northern Virginia Fellowship of Christian Athletes, 9691-C Main Street, Fairfax, VA 22031, and $25 to the American Heart Association, in Bob's memory.
It is with deep regret that I inform you of the death of Ed Fenstermacher, of cancer, at his home, on Sunday, March 9, 1997.
Alouise, has informed me that Ed's remains have been cremated and his ashes scattered on the shore at Duck, NC. A memorial service will be held at a later date at Arlington Cemetery. When that date is known I will let everyone know.
Those wishing to contribute to a memorial fund should make their check out to the Lower Cape Fear Hospice and forward it to me, or if you wish, send it direct, to the following address:
Lower Cape Fear Hospice
810 Princess Street
Wilmington, NC 28401
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there,
I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on the snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's rush.
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there,
I did not die.
Nate Reynolds asked me to pass his sincere thanks to all of you who contacted him in reference to his daughter's surgery. Joyce is now at home convalescing. She is making excellent progress toward a full recovery. I reported, erroneously, in the March issue, that Joyce had spent seven days in the hospital, she was actually released on Sunday, February 16, and therefore spent a total of four days and nights in the hospital.
Babe furnished an E-mail address for Bob Kegley. I sent an E-Mail message to Bob informing him of the activities of the CANDOERs and about the Newsletter. That same day Bob answered back that he would like to begin receiving the News. Bob's E-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
In a letter received on February 28, Herb Horacek sent me his Bio information and a donation to the CANDOER funds. He also included the address of two more retirees, Allen Harr and Jack Whitridge. Herb's bio and the addresses for Allen and Jack may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
There was an excellent turnout of CANDOERs and friends who came to pay their respects and support to the Liebau family at the funeral home on March 2 and for the funeral services at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on March 3.
On March 2, Millie Muchoney gave me her address and requested she start receiving the CANDOER News. Her address is furnished in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On March 2, Rey Grammo furnished an address for Fred Shalala. I have written a letter to Fred informing him about the CANDOERs and asked him if he wished to start receiving the CANDOER News. Fred's address may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the CANDOERs who sent checks to me for donations to the Northern Virginia Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the American Heart Association in memory of Bob Liebau. In addition, a total of $45 was taken from the CANDOER memorial fund to add to the total monies sent to these two organizations.
On March 5, Babe furnish the address and telephone number for Roy and Donna McCabe. It may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On March 6, I received a new E-mail address for Ed and Barbara Carroll. This new address is in addition to their present AOL address. The new address is shown in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On March 7, in response to an E-mail message from me, Jay Johnson furnished his Bio information. Jay is living in Massachusetts and working as a WAE for State (TDY coverage). Jay's personal data may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On March 13, I received the following card from Janine Liebau:
My son and I want to thank you for your caring and sharing in the loss of my husband. As you all know he will be missed. It will take a while for me to get over it but I have to go on. He looked forward to the luncheons every month. The first thing he would tell me was who had attended. I want you to know that he was a changed person after that, but as you know all the suffering he went through was not good. He really enjoyed life. It's just to bad he had to go so soon. I guess the Good Lord was ready for him. He is at peace now and no more suffering. My son and I want to thank you all again and we will keep in touch. We received a lot of beautiful cards from the CANDOERs. God Bless you all.
Bobby and Janine Liebau
In an E-mail message received on March 17, Tim Taylor informed me that he now has a permanent E-mail address that he would prefer we use the new address and use his JUNO address ONLY as a back up. This new E-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
Congratulations to Ken Loff, Dick Hoffer and Jim McComsey who have announced their retirement.
I would like to thank the many CANDOERs who sent me checks to give to the Lower Cape Fear Hospice in Ed Fenstermacher's name. In addition, I took $45 out of the memorial fund and added it to their generous contributions.
I am fully aware that some of the CANDOERs were at State before me, but only a very few.
When I entered on duty 10 March 1946, the Department of State was located immediately west of the White House in what is now the Old Executive Office Building. Our CommCenter was on the 4th floor, overlooking the south lawn of the White House.
I stayed with Mr. & Mrs. Nichols, Bob's parents, and both of us worked the midnight shift. If there was a training program, it did not extend to midnights. On my first night in the code room, I just walked in and went to work. After all we were using virtually the same equipment that I had been using for nearly three years.
Looking back, the code room on midnights seemed to be the proverbial asylum run by the inmates. There was absolutely NO work schedule --- it was assumed that all personnel would be there through the normal midnight shift work week-Tuesday through Saturday. Then on Saturday morning we were asked for volunteers to staff the weekend. Of course comp time was earned for all over 40 hours per week. I soon had so much comp time that I went nearly two years before ever using any annual leave.
Earl Newton came back from the war about the same time as the rest of us and a few months later was put in charge of the Code Section. He made some changes and soon the place was running in an orderly manner.
Regarding annual leave, in 1946 the day one entered on duty was the day you began accumulating leave at the rate of 26 days per year. You can look it up.
In August 1947, State moved to its present location, 21st and Virginia. The building was less than one-fourth its present size.
Keeping warm in winter was not easy, as mentioned before, winter was c o l d. Those old farm houses were not insulated and the never-ending wind seemed to come in as it pleased.
At some point, probably in September, between silo filling and corn shucking, it was time to cut some firewood. Trees were not abundant, but cottonwoods grew in the river valley and a few were harvested each fall. This is a soft-wood tree which grows rapidly. The trees were cut by hand and sawed into firewood lengths using a hand-made mechanized crosscut saw. The wood was used sparingly, mostly in the kitchen range, some in the stove in the living room. Mostly, though, the only heat in the house was from the kitchen range. We did install a coal burning stove in the living room in the late 1930's and that was an improvement.
Outdoors, tending the livestock, we needed multiple layers of clothing--long underwear, two pair of trousers, a flannel shirt, a medium jacket and a heavy jacket. Two pair of sox, work shoes and overshoes for the feet; for the hands, a pair of jersey gloves, then cotton gloves, covered by cotton mittens. Even the pitchfork handle was cold. For the head, a heavy hunting type cap with ear flaps was needed.
- Sunday, July 14 -
It was another bright, sunny day and much cooler than previous days. At 0630 (the sun had been up for over two hours) the train pulled into Kirov for a 20 minute stop. I awoke, but did not go out on the platform. I did notice it was loaded with vendors and the kiosks were open. I should have.
Kirov is a city on the west bank of the Vyatka River in northern European Russia. It has a population of 491,200. It is an important manufacturing center served by several railroads and by shipping on the Vyatka. Its principal industries are machine-building and metal-fabricating plants producing construction equipment, agricultural equipment, and heavy machinery. The city's location in the forested zone has given rise to a wood-products industry, including a large match factory. Kirov also has a tire plant. Artificial leather is also produced. A number of buildings dating from the 17th and 18th centuries have been preserved, including the Uspensky Cathedral.
Originally known as Khlynov, the city was probably founded in the 14th century, and for a long time it existed as a virtually independent Russian colony, the nucleus of the "Vyatka Lands". Moscow annexed it in 1489, and it was renamed Vyatka in 1780. In 1934 its name was changed to Kirov in honor of Sergei M. Kirov, a high Soviet official, whose assassination that year formed the pretext for the Great Purge.
The bathrooms at either end of the car were clean and well kept by the staff. Toilet paper was available so I didn't have to use what I brought. Washing up was fairly easy, but shaving was a bit dicey. There was no stopper for the bowl, but using a bit of ingenuity with toilet paper wadded up, it worked nicely. Turning the water on required one hand making continuous upward pressure on the spring-loaded valve (which conserves water).
Time for a late breakfast, for it was now 1000 local time, but 0900 for Valentina. She opened up and served coffee, chai and a continental breakfast of sorts: bread, butter, jam, cheese and ham. It was quite adequate.
Rolling through the countryside, it still looked like the lush, green farmlands of Wisconsin. The major difference was there are no farmhouses or buildings. The farms are enormous in size, but having been collectivized decades before, those who work on them live in distant villages and towns.
To get to the fields where work is required, I saw trucks carrying people. Sometimes there are small buses. The most popular mode of transport to and from the fields appeared to be bicycles or motorcycles with sidecars.
A lot of hay had been cut by hand scythe, dried and was now being stacked by hand. The hay appeared to be for private use as a family was working together.
One farm girl was stacking hay wearing a bikini! Things have changed in Russia! One haystack had a cat standing on top surveying the world about.
The roads I observed from the train were really dirt tracks at worst or gravel based at best. The dirt roads were deeply rutted and had a lot of mud holes. They definitely were not for sedans. Tarmac or concrete roads link major cities and towns.
At Balezino, the train stopped for 17 minutes to take on water. The platform adjacent to the train was filled with vendors. And they were swarmed over by the passengers from the train. Now I knew why no one ate in the dining car. Everyone brought along their own food and supplemented it with purchases on the platform. I found one lady selling fresh picked strawberries and bought two paper cones full of them. They were superb! I passed them out to Larissa and the Russian children.
At 1500 local the train stopped at Perm for 30 minutes, double the scheduled amount. This gave me a chance to go on the platform and check vendors from one end to the other. There was plenty of morozhnoye, sausages, cheese, milk, fresh fruit, vegetables and bread. The raspberries were especially delicious. Bananas were rarely available in the former Soviet Union. Now I found them everywhere. I shared a lot of my purchases with Larissa.
With the extended stop in Perm, I wandered about taking pictures and enjoying the nice day. I was amused by two Russian railway workers who had just finished replenishing the train's water supply engaging in a water fight on the platform. Everyone laughed. Then Russian kids from the train lined up to get squirted. With no air conditioning in their cars, they must have enjoyed the bath!
When the train was ready to depart, I learned there were no easily discernable audible signals from the locomotive or visible track control signals as to exactly when it was going to move out. Of course, when the provodnitsa pulled up the steps, one had better be on board. But here it didn't happen that way. The train began moving slowly with me still on the platform. I easily made it by jumping on, but Larissa gave me a stern lecture and said to never leave her sight so I could always see her signal. The message was well received and heeded subsequently.
Perm, pop., 1,100,400, is situated on the left bank of the Kama River, on the western slopes of the Ural Mountains. It is the capital of Perm Oblast, pop., 3,106,000. The city is a major machine- manufacturing and petrochemical center, producing gantry cranes, large trucks and excavators for mines, and mining dredges. Perm arose in the 18th century on the site of an old copper works. The city was called Molotov from 1940 until 1957.
We now had two locomotives pulling us. There were some slight upward grades, but nothing very difficult. The Ural Mountains where we traverse them are mostly a beautiful group of forested hills. Definitely not mountains in the usual sense. But they are geologically known as a "worn out range". A few oil wells were spotted. We now began passing numerous mines of iron ore, gold, chromium, nickel and copper. Looking at the equipment used in them, I got the impression it was time for major repairs or replacement. A lot of derelict equipment is left lying about in huge scrap yards.
I invited Larissa to join me for afternoon chai and biscuits I bought on the platform. While my understanding of the language is very limited, this did not stop Larissa from asking about my family, see pictures, etc. Just before she left (another stop was upcoming) she took off her employee "Rossiya" railroad pin and gave it to me as a present! Wow!
While riding through farm and forest for over a day, I saw few, if any, dairy cows or beef cattle. Another observation was that after all the forest we have passed through, no one had seen any wild animals: i.e. deer, raccoon, pig, bear, etc. Otherwise, the scenery was continuously beautiful just as I would find it in northern Wisconsin and Michigan. The forest is invariably a mix of white birch and pine. I didn't see many lakes, but there was plenty of water everywhere in the hundreds of streams and rivers we were always crossing.
Winding through the Ural Hills (oops, Mountains) we came upon kilometer post 1,777 east of Moscow. Just a few hundred meters beyond it next to the track was a tall obelisk. The western face was inscribed "Europe", the eastern "Asia". It is the demarcation point between the two continents and the approximate beginning of Siberia.
Siberia at last! This is the Asian part of Russia, extending from the Ural Mountains in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east. It is bounded on the north by the Arctic Ocean and on the south by Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China. Although its area is about 13 million sq km, or about 76 percent of the total area of the Russia, its population is sparse and concentrated in a narrow belt along the route of the Trans-Siberian Railroad. West Siberia is a vast, swampy, forested plain drained by the Ob River and its tributary, the Irtysh River. East Siberia, east of the Yenisei River, is an upland; the eastern most part, including the Amur and Lena river basins, is often called the Russian Far East.
The climate is continental, with severe winters and warm summers except in the Far East, where the Pacific is a moderating influence. The mean annual temperature ranges from -18 deg to 4 deg C, and precipitation varies from less than 250 to 500 mm.
In the 1990s, with the breakup of the Soviet Union and the opening of Russia to free-market influences, foreign investors became interested in exploiting Siberia's natural resources, which include petroleum, natural gas, and forest products.
The name Siberia (Russian: Sibir) was first applied in the 13th century to a Tatar khanate on the Irtysh River and was gradually extended eastward to the Pacific.
Russian conquest of Siberia began with the expedition of the Cossack Yermak Timofeyevich in 1581-82 and continued through the 17th century. Siberian furs and, after 1700, minerals became a major source of wealth for the Russian Empire. From the early 17th century Siberia was also used as a penal colony for criminals and political prisoners.
Just ahead was the city of Yekaterinburg. Isn't it a bit ironic? In 1891 while the Tsarevitch Nicholas II was in Vladivostok, his father, Czar Alexander III, sent him a message ordering the construction of the Trans-Siberian railroad. Twenty-seven years later Nicholas II and his family were brought here, over the very rails he caused to be laid, and subsequently executed.
Larissa warned me we would have a 30 minute stop, but not to wander far!
Yekaterinburg (formerly Sverdlovsk) is the capital of Yekaterinburg Oblast in Russia. It is the largest city of the Urals industrial region, with a population of 1,375,400. An important industrial and transportation center at the junction of seven rail lines, Yekaterinburg specializes in the manufacture of heavy machinery and industrial equipment. Its principal plants produce equipment for the iron and steel industries, turbine generators for power stations, and equipment for the chemical industry. The city is an important training center for engineers for the Urals industrial region, with Ural State University, a polytechnical institute, and specialized engineering schools. Founded in 1721 around an ironworks and fort, Yekaterinburg was named for the empress Catherine I (Russian: Yekaterina). Because of its favorable location at the junction of roads, the settlement grew into the administrative center of the Urals mining district along the main route to Siberia. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the last tsar, Nicholas II, and his family were killed (1918) there. From 1924 to 1991, Yekaterinburg was called Sverdlovsk, after Y. M. Sverdlov, an early Bolshevik leader.
Leaving Yekaterinburg I headed for the dining car. Valentina had now taken a liking to me and had worked up a smile, perhaps because she liked the tips. Anyway, she offered the menu but I declined and told her to bring me whatever the "special" might be for tonight. It was borscht (excellent) followed by beef sauteed in onions over a bed of white rice (delicious). I had a bottle of Georgian red wine, a bit too sweet for my tastes, but it was served a bit chilled! Good thing, because at room temperature it was too warm for red wine.
I was just about to leave the dining car when in burst Eino and Marya, the Finnish couple I met here last night. Eino said "You won't believe what has happened to us!" They were clearly excited, exhausted and quite hungry. How did they get that way on the train? They didn't. Over a few beers while waiting for their food, Eino regaled me on how they spent their afternoon. They both spoke English quite well, and Eino had a great sense of humor. Good thing!
While the train was stopped in Perm earlier today (over 400 kms away), they got off like all of us but were at a distant kiosk when the train pulled away without them! Luckily, Eino quickly found a private taxi driver in front of the station who agreed to drive them to Yekaterinburg for 1,500,000 rubles or U.S. $300 plus petrol costs! Considering Moscow taxi prices, that was a steal! But first the taxi driver insisted on seeing his money, which Eino fortunately did have in his pocket. So the driver called his wife to say in so many words "honey, I'll not be home for dinner tonight, nor breakfast in the morning as I have this crazy Finn who missed his train and wants to go to Yekaterinburg at top speed!"
It was a six hour train ride between Perm and Yekaterinburg. By the time the taxi driver called home and tanked up his car, they now had only five and a quarter hours to get them back on the train in Yekaterinburg.
The car was an ancient Volga and they knew they had to travel about 90 kph to get them to Yekaterinburg in sufficient time. Trouble was, the roads between Perm and Yekaterinburg, while surfaced, had potholes everywhere and did not safely allow a speed of 90 kph. Nevertheless, they literally flew down the road bouncing off the sides, each other, the roof and ending up at the Yekaterinburg station with five minutes to spare. Whew!
Back in my compartment I was writing in my journal when Larissa came by. I explained to Larissa (mostly through sign language) what happened to Eino and Marya at Perm.
At 2315 I retired and slept the sleep of the dead! For not having much to do physically, I sure slept well every night. Oh well, I did run after the train in Perm.