Sputnik’s Golden Anniversary

by Bob G in Uncategorical on Oct 4th 07

On October 4th 1957, the Soviets scored a crushing blow in the Cold War and opened up the space race. Not the complete and total victorious first step that the Communists touted it as, Sputnik was more luck than revolutionary engineering.

Sputnik (Спутник) means ‘fellow traveller’ or ‘satellite’ in Russian (officially Простейший Спутник-1 or Elementary Satellite-1), and was how many future Russian satellites were named in the US. The first Sputnik weighed only 184 pounds and was a sphere with 3 arms extending backwards. It was launched on what might have been the most powerful rocket at the time, the R-7 rocket. The R-7 was actually an ICBM for an intended nuclear payload. With only the tiny Sputnik on board, the rocket had more than enough power to get into orbit.

Sputnik launched on Oct. 4th, scrubbing a launch on the 6th because of rumors that the US might send something up one day earlier on the 5th. If there had been more time, Sputnik might have been loaded with scientific instruments, but every new feature could have been one more chance at total failure.

There was no US launch on the 5th of October. In reality, the US didn’t get a satellite into orbit until the last day of January the next year (1958) called Explorer I. Explorer I, laden with instruments discovered the Van Allen radiation belts. Prior to Sputnik, the US program “Vanguard” had 2 failed attempts, but was very successful at scaring the Russians into working faster.

Sputnik was in orbit for about 2 weeks, sending out a beep that was monitored by amateur radio operators throughout the world. Anyone alive at the time probably remembers hearing the beeps being rebroadcast over the radio. Many people may claim to have seen the satellite in orbit, but recently it has been revealed that it was part of the booster rocket and not Sputnik itself.

Sputnik was only 50 years ago, and now we have the beginnings of private space flight and space recreation. Not to shabby for taking to the skies for the first time about 100 years ago.

[SFgate, Wikipedia, and AOL News]

Federation Island

by Bob G in Russia in general on Oct 3rd 07

Now that Russia has secured the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi, the rush to make the city more expensive has begun. Sochi is currently a very popular domestic vacation spot for Russians.As the Olympics come closer, more foreigners will come and the prices will inevitably rise. How would you cash in on this 7 year out bounty?

Build an island that looks like Russia! I would have also accepted: Build a ski resort in a city that is guaranteed snow every winter or build a gaudy skyscraper in St. Petersburg to flaunt your countries gas wealth.

Blantantly ripping off The World artificial island chain that is being built in Dubai, Sochi hopes to create some high priced luxury real estate to rob foreigners blind. Not atypical for Russian businessmen. My prediction is that by 2014 the island will exist, but it will be uninhabitable mounds with temporary structures erected on non-landscaped dirt selling 500% mark up on the same souvenirs that can be bought in Sochi proper.

What happened?

by Bob G in Uncategorical on Aug 16th 07

Most of my friends want to know what happened to make me leave my financially healthy, long term, professional job. Well, in short, it wasn’t the job I wanted to do.

I learned several valuable lessons from this experience, first and foremost: ask more questions in the interview. I thought I asked enough, I even prepared a fairly long list, but I wasn’t forcing the answers and I must have missed something along the way. There were several misunderstandings between myself and my employer, and we both share the blame.

Here is how I saw it. I was offered an elementary ESL teaching position at the school. I requested to start early and was invited to tutor at a local center until the school year starts. While I was tutoring, everything was going very smoothly, but the boss was on vacation, then never around. We didn’t speak until after I was already here at least a month. I also didn’t get to meet the principal of the school until he arrived about the same time. These meetings were important, because a lot was explained to me that somehow wasn’t important before.

I talked to the boss and found out I was to teach Math. Wait. Math? How did I get into this mess? This isn’t what I signed up for. Well, I did offer to tutor math at the center over the summer, but that in no way qualifies me, or means I was interested in school year math classes. The actual contract said only ‘elementary teacher’, so I guess they could have me teach PE with that kind of wording. Oh well, I’ll think about it…

A week later, I met with the principal and found out I was working at a true American school. Everything done in the American style and I was only an ESL teacher by US standards. (I’m actually an EFL teacher – Foreign vs. Second language is a big difference!) This isn’t what I wanted either, and here I found out my biggest problem, how to define ESL. I talked with my boss at the next opportunity and explained my inability to fulfill a contract for a position I am not qualified for or interested in. She offered me a part Math part Language Arts position at the middle school (not in the contract? apparently not important.). After asking about any possible EFL positions at the school, it seemed the only next step was to part ways. Now, I’m not sure where I’m going next.

Maybe Portland.

Maybe Abu Dhabi.

I have my current plans listed in my Wiki. If you want to see it or add something, you’ve got to make an account. I’ve never used a wiki for informing people before, tell me if you like it. Also, add gift ideas while you are there!

What next?

by Bob G in Uncategorical on Aug 13th 07

I’m going home!  I’m not sure of anything else right now, but in 10 or so days, I’ll be in Oregon for a while.

Iraq Wins Asian Cup

by Bob G in Uncategorical on Jul 29th 07

How do I know?  My Syrian taxi driver told me the score in Arabic and I understood!  On top of that, we passed the Iraqi Embassy which was causing a huge traffic jam on the way home.  At first, I thought it was some sort of war demonstration.  As we got closer, you could see sparklers and hear music.  Iraq won the final game 1-0 against Saudi Arabia.

I only heard of the score because I started Arabic lessons today.  Twice a week I’ll be taking classes that are a bit above my level, but I think after all the languages I’ve tried to learn, Arabic will be easy!

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