Category Archives: Uncategorized

Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space

Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space

On April 12th, 1961 something extraordinary happened. A man has left the surface of the Earth, reached for the stars and came back to tell the tale. His name was Yuri Gagarin, he was 27 years old and his call-sign was “Kedr” (Cedar)

He was the first human to see the Earth from outer space and orbit it for almost 2 hours. He landed successfully and was awarded a “Hero of the Soviet Union” medal. Yet, he never had a chance to go to space ever again.

The word he said during the launch “Poehali” (“Let’s go” but literally translated it means more like “Let’s ride”) became a staple in Russian language.

Yuri Gagarin died on March 27, 1968, during a routine jet fighter training flight. Exact cause of the accident is still unknown. The most popular version is that another experimental plane came too close and it’s jet wake forced Yuri’s plane into a uncontrolled dive, which resulted in a crash that instantly killed both pilots.

Because of all the secrecy the Soviet Union was famous of, the real reason of Yuri’s death was unknown until 2003



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Posted by on April 12, 2017 in Uncategorized


Happy New Year 2017!

Happy New Year folks! I wish you a successful and fun year!

The New Year is ahead
With books to be read,
And adventures to be led.
May you find fulfillment and joy
All year long!
I’ve neglecting my blog recently due to, as Ric Locke would say, “Due to Real Life™”. Things will change now and my own New Year’s resolution is to post as often as I can. I have a bunch of things to post about, such as Peter the Great, The Murmansk brushing incident and other things I’ve researched. Stay Tuned!

Happy New Year 2017!

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Posted by on January 2, 2017 in Uncategorized


There are more than 4 New Years in the world

There are more than 4 New Years in the world

Most countries in the world are using Gregorian Calendar these days so New Year’s Day falls on January 1st. But that wasn’t always the case and many countries celebrate their own versions of the New Year in addition to the official one.

The most notable is the Lunar New Year which is celebrated in most Asian countries. There is no exact date, but it’s always on the day of the new moon of the first lunar month, so it normally falls between late January and late February. Islamic New Year is based on yet another calendar, so their New Year usually starts right before Christmas. There are many other days celebrated around the world, some of them fixed and some are not, and a lot many people are enjoying the festivities even today.

But my favorite one is the Orthodox New Year, also known as the “Old New Year”. Unlike the rest of Europe, Russia was stuck with Julian calendar until 1918, so this particular New Year Eve is usually celebrated on January 13th. Russians being what they are, they’ll always find a new reason to have a get-together, so the tradition continues to this day…

When I was a kid, my grandmother would always make a lot of blintzes and pirogi and invite the whole extended family over. It was a family affair and we always had a great time.

For this very reason, many Russian families in the United States keep their Christmas trees standing up until January 14th, undoubtedly causing headaches to employees of their local Waste Management companies. Myself? I usually use a chainsaw.

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Posted by on December 30, 2015 in Uncategorized


The real story of Santa Claus

The real story of Santa Claus
The Santa Claus story is 18 centuries old.
It all started with a Norse god Odin the Wanderer, an old man with a long white beard, holding a staff and wearing long robes and wide trimmed hat. He had 5 animal companions – two ravens and two wolves. But his favorite was an 8-legged horse which rode so fast it could fly.


Many centuries later there was a boy named Nicolaus who was born in Anatolia (modern Turkey), a Greek colony under Roman rule. Nicolaus became very pious and a devoted Christian at an early age. At the time the Roman emperors weren’t exactly Christian-friendly, but gradually became more tolerant and Nicolaus became a priest and later a bishop. Along the way he also managed to perform certain miracles, such as resurrecting dead sailors, preventing virgins from becoming harlots and saving repentant thieves from execution.


After his death the boy from Anatolia became Saint Nicolas the “Gift Giver” – the patron saint of sailors, merchants, thieves, brewers, students and most importantly, children. He is one of the few saints recognized by most branches of Christianity – Catholics, Orthodox and Anglicans, to name a few.


Many centuries later the Dutch had their own name for Saint Nicolas – “Sinterclass”. Phonetic derivation of this name eventually became “Santa Claus” in English-speaking countries. Some time later, a British writer wrote a poem for children about Saint Nicolas. The bishop was replaced by a portly man with a big white beard. And Odin’s 8-legged horse became a sleigh with 8 reindeers (as in “rein-deer”).


Nicolaus died on December 6. For many centuries countries in Europe have celebrated on this day, with parents giving presents to children and those in need. During Christianization the images of Nicolaus, Norse god Odin and pagan midwinter holiday Yule got all mixed up and eventually the gift-giving day was moved to 25th of December, the Christmas morning.


Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer has appeared only in 1939, after a booklet published by the now defunct Montgomery Ward company.


Other cultures adopted similar characters. In Russia, there’s “Ded Moroz”, literally translated as “Grandpop Frost”. He wears a staff and either red or blue robes. Mrs. Claus is nowhere in sight, but Ded Moroz has a granddaughter instead, Snegurochka (Snow maiden), a young girl with a long braid.
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Posted by on December 24, 2015 in Uncategorized


RC Plane landing on the RC Aircraft carrier

RC Plane landing on the RC Aircraft carrier

Building your own 13-foot long remote control replica of the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk complete with a remote controlled anchor is challenging enough. But who wants to roam around with an empty aircraft carrier, replica or not? That’s the first thing you do? You launch planes from it. What’s the second? Trying to land some….. Not easy at all

The folks at spent years building the models and ended up having R/C quad-copters styled to resemble F-22. It’s still pretty challending to land as you can see in the video below:


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Posted by on November 12, 2015 in Uncategorized


The man who could drink and sing, but not speak

The man who could drink and sing, but not speak
Joh‎n Larkin was a musician and singer from Los Angeles. From an early age he was a severe stutterer, unable to communicate his thoughts and ideas effectively through speech. Eventually he learned how to play piano and music became his only way to express himself. He became a jazz pianist and performed in many clubs and restaurants in Los Angeles. He also became an alcoholic. After his best friend died from alcohol and drug abuse, John has decided to get rid of his addiction and moved to Germany. Shortly thereafter he started a brand new career.
Most people wouldn’t recognize the name “John Larkin”. “John Who?”. But John had a stage name that most people won’t have any trouble remembering. That name was:
Scatman John
Following the steps of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, John has combined scat singing (vocal improvisation with wordless vocables) with dance, rap and hip-hop music elements. His first song “Scatman’s World” became an instant international success, especially in Europe and Asia. He was so successful in Japan that his signature mustache and black hat was printed on Coca-Cola cans. “Everybody Jam!”, a tribute to Louis Armstrong only proved that John has managed to turn his handicap into his biggest asset.
John was always promoting care for the environment, love and world peace in his songs. His music was never about the rhythm, he was always trying to “say something”:
Scatman, fat man, black and white and brown man
Tell me ’bout the color of your soul
If part of your solution isn’t ending the pollution
Then I don’t want to hear your stories told
I want to welcome you to Scatman’s world
Perhaps unsurprisingly, John’s best song has very little to do with scat. The song’s name is “Lebanon
Do the caravans still ride across the sand?
Or is the season causing everything sacred to fall?
Do the sages sing their chant throughout the land?
Or has their song been silenced over the centuries, to all?
John Paul Larkin died of lung cancer in 1999, at the age of 57. In many ways his fate is similar to what of Ric Locke – years of obscurity, an explosive short career and an untimely death that has devastated everyone around him.
John gave the world many great songs to enjoy. His original jazz album is now extremely rare, but can be found online. Rest in peace John, we will just keep scatting on for you!

Short documentary/interview about John on YouTube

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Posted by on October 25, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Encouragement: Not Just for Breakfast Anymore? #InspirationalStuff

Excellent post from Barb Caffrey, the author of Elfyverse books. Feeling discouraged? Read this!

Barb Caffrey's Blog

As a writer, sometimes I need encouragement. Advice. Support.

And, like most of you, I don’t always get it.

So what can I do on days when I don’t feel encouraged?

Usually, I just put my mind to the task and do it anyway. But lately, I’ve been wondering this question: What if I tried to encourage myself, rather than tear myself down?

Why is it that we feel like there’s something wrong with self-encouragement? Why can’t we treat ourselves as gently as we’d treat our friends? Why can’t we give ourselves the encouragement we need, when no one else is doing it?

Interesting concept, no?

But how do you go about all that, when you don’t even know where to start?

Like I said, my tendency is to realize I’m not going to be encouraged, and just go and do it anyway. So what I do is look over…

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Posted by on October 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

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