Archive for the Fun facts Category

2010 in review

Posted in Fun facts on January 7, 2011 by Alec

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 4 fully loaded ships.


In 2010, there were 8 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 123 posts.

The busiest day of the year was January 17th with 152 views. The most popular post that day was “Inhabited Island 2” no “Star Wars” after all.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for ded moroz, saratov, khokhol, the motherland calls, and admiral film.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


“Inhabited Island 2” no “Star Wars” after all May 2009


Even as “Admiral” sinks, it points to interesting trend October 2008


Volga Boatman Episode 2: Nizhny Novgorod October 2008


Worshipping Chuck Norris, destroying emo sites: Olbanian language and, part one of many (?) March 2009


Volga Boatman Episode 5: Saratov October 2008


Putin back in the pilot seat

Posted in Fun facts on August 11, 2010 by Alec

Russia’s dashing PM never seems to miss an opportunity to climb into some extreme vehicle, be it a motorcycle, submarine, or, most recently, firefighting airplane.

Russian heat wave penetrates subway

Posted in Fun facts on August 4, 2010 by Alec

A new temperature record has been set in the Moscow metro, reports 34 degrees Celsius (93.1 degrees Fahrenheit) in several stations.  And on Sokol’nicheskaya, Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya and Kaluzhsko-Rizhskaya lines almost all stations are above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).

A dark, crowded, humid and now flipping hot subway–only a tick could love that.

Civilian Defense Day

Posted in Cultural Impressions, Fun facts with tags , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2009 by Alec

Has a nice, Cold War-tinged ring to it, doesn’t it?  Civilian Defense Day.  Folks come together to run drills in case of nuclear attack, then afterward maybe have a barbecue and run football plays on the lawn.

Last week was Civilian Defense Day here in Petersburg, and so the secondary school where my friend works observed the holiday by having a whole day of civilian defense classes.

The kids normally have “Protection of Safety in Everyday Life” class once a week, but on this day they spent the whole day running evacuation drills, learning what to do in case of a nuclear attack, watching a demonstration of how to use scuba equipment (?) and learning how to assemble and dissemble an AK-47 machine gun.  An upperclassman from one of the city’s many military academies came in to teach them how to sort things out with the weapons.

One of these days, though, my friend and I plan to go assemble and dissemble the AK-47 the Protection of Safety teacher keeps behind class in his classroom.  Can you imagine a machine gun in a classroom in a U.S. high school?  I remember kids used to get kicked out for having jack-knives.

But the memory of conflict on home soil are never far from Russian’s minds, and with good reason, since such conflict has recurred through history, with higher casualty numbers each time.

The reminders are as plethorous as boils on a leper.  Here in Petersburg, I live by a museum dedicated to the Siege of Leningrad, which includes recipes for dishes based on ingredients like auto oil.  Outside of Stalingrad, where I was this fall, there’s a field of bones 20 kilometers wide by 30 kilometers long, where some 300,000 Germans died.  The Russian bones, had they been left to lie, would have been even more numerous.

Chizhik Pyzhik robbery

Posted in Fun facts, Spotted in St. Petersburg with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2009 by Alec

The Chizhik Pyzhik monument on the Fontanka canal.

The monument to Chizhik Pyzhik looks just like it sounds, diminutive and a little absurd, and at 11 cm, it’s perhaps the smallest tourist attraction in the world. It’s a statue of a bird positioned midway down the side of Fontanka canal near the Field of Mars. You wouldn’t notice it walking by if not for the gaggle of tourists and couples trying to throw coins onto its tiny ledge, like one of those old-school carnival game.

Well, Saturday night as I was walking home around 1 a.m. it was a bit of a different scene. Passing a lone figure looking down at Chizhik Pyzhik, I naturally stopped to see what he was watching. There down below stood another sketchy type in waders, apparently scooping up coins with a red shovel.

“What are you looking at? Interesting?” the lookout growled at me.

I muttered something to my interlocutor and walked further onto the nearby bridge to get a better vantage point. Yes, these two depraved individuals where stealing the very coins on which so many boyfriends, girlfriends and Japanese tourists had made a wish.

When I recounted this to my host brothers, they hardly batted an eye. “They must have really wanted to drink,” Maxim said.

Indeed, the statue itself has apparently been stolen several times, so let these gopniks (dude who hangs out drinking in the street) have the change.  When I passed by today, the stockpile was already replenished, glistening like sunken treasure amid a hundred years of sea dust.

Incidentally, the statue was built in honor of a rhyme that recounts the drunken exploits of students at the nearby Imperial School of Jurisprudence, who were called “Chizhik Pyzhiks” because of their yellow-and-green uniforms:

“Chizhik-Pyzhik, gdye ty byl?
Na fontankye vodku pil.
Vypil ryumku, vypil dvye –
Zashumyelo v golovye.”

“Chizhik Pyzhik, where have you been?
On the Fontanka drinking vodka.
Drank a shot, drank two –
It made a racket in my head.”

My host father is big into this rhyme; he has a tradition of making all foreign guests learn and recite it.  I’ve already had my first ordeal, and I think I made the grade …

McDonald’s, Dostoevsky, Vodka

Posted in Fun facts with tags , , , on September 9, 2008 by Alec

Fun facts from Sergei Aleksandrovich, professor of political science at St. Petersburg State University:

• Vodka is not a Russian drink: It was first introduced in the time of Peter the Great. Before that, peasants drank mead.

• Russian literature students’ most hated author: Dostoevsky. Number two: Tolstoy.

• A five-kilometer line formed outside the first McDonald’s in Russia when it opened its doors in 1988 (May I add that it’s still a hip place to go for a bite).

• East or West? A Russian saying goes, “Russia is the heart of the world.”