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September 2009

60th anniversary - the end of the berlin airlift


a worthy example of american diplomacy, from - this day in history - sept 30th, 1949

"After 15 months and more than 250,000 flights, the Berlin Airlift officially comes to an end. The airlift was one of the greatest logistical feats in modern history and was one of the crucial events of the early Cold War.

In June 1948, the Soviet Union suddenly blocked all ground traffic into West Berlin, which was located entirely within the Russian zone of occupation in Germany. It was an obvious effort to force the United States, Great Britain, and France (the other occupying powers in Germany) to accept Soviet demands concerning the postwar fate of Germany. As a result of the Soviet blockade, the people of West Berlin were left without food, clothing, or medical supplies. Some U.S. officials pushed for an aggressive response to the Soviet provocation, but cooler heads prevailed and a plan for an airlift of supplies to West Berlin was developed. It was a daunting task: supplying the daily wants and needs of so many civilians would require tons of food and other goods each and every day. On June 26, 1948, the Berlin Airlift began with U.S. pilots and planes carrying the lion's share of the burden. During the next 15 months, 277,264 aircraft landed in West Berlin bringing over 2 million tons of supplies. On September 30, 1949, the last plane--an American C-54--landed in Berlin and unloaded over two tons of coal. Even though the Soviet blockade officially ended in May 1949, it took several more months for the West Berlin economy to recover and the necessary stockpiles of food, medicine, and fuel to be replenished.

The Berlin Airlift was a tremendous Cold War victory for the United States. Without firing a shot, the Americans foiled the Soviet plan to hold West Berlin hostage, while simultaneously demonstrating to the world the "Yankee ingenuity" for which their nation was famous. For the Soviets, the Berlin crisis was an unmitigated disaster. The United States, France, and Great Britain merely hardened their resolve on issues related to Germany, and the world came to see the Russians as international bullies, trying to starve innocent citizens."

to all the cars i've outlived..

remember your first car? well if you grew up outside most major cities in the u.s., chances are you had one.  here the list of the metalglasswireandrubber combinations that i've driven, wreaked, traded away and all to often taken for granted.


my dad bought a 72 chevelle for me during high school.  no cassette player, no working a/c.  but i loved it the most.  it survived my first accident after i ran into a plymouth horizon, no one was hurt but the horizon was totaled.  i pried out the front panel, away from the tire, and drove away after the police report.  a year of driving it around with all the dents before my dad and brother helped me restore it back to health and slap on a metallic aztec gold paint job.  it should have been called a phoenix..


63 ford falcon van - you just gotta have one ugly car in your life.  for $400 i thought it was a steal but it had its share of engine fix-up work that needed to be done, including all the rust in the floor.  the only car i've owned that was older than me.  comes with refrigerator, bed, and shag carpet. "if this van a rocking....ahh, you've probably got a fuel line problem"


1979 mazda rx7- after the van, and borrowing my dad's oldsmobile for a year or so (thanks dad), i bought this guy.  I would have enjoyed it more, but I alway seemed to be fighting a nasty oil leak problem.  but it was definitely fun to drive.  winter driving had me flying over snow drifts more than through them.  i remember it had one pop-up headlight that would wink at other cars when i went to fast over railroad tracks.


chevy beretta - not worthy of a pic

owning the beretta, i knew what it was like to drive in slow motion.  passing other cars required visual distances equivalent to the salt flats.   it was the last 4 cylinder engine i'll ever owned. or at least until i retire and buy a "mobility" scooter to go play bingo


1992 jeep cherokee laredo - i spent most of my life with this one (12 years) and through thick and thin, it survived my rampant need to drive cross country not once but three times.  definitely, one of my favorites over the years.  it's final days were in washington, dc.  shortly before leaving for africa i sold it to a redskins fan that just needed a car for weekend stadium trips.  a happy retirement ending to a great companion.

. . . and to the one i depend on now


2006 toyota fj cruiser- after the jeep, i couldn't go back to driving a car again.  vladivostok is the perfect place to own an suv.  but not for just the trails, also for the pot hole'd streets, extra high driving visibility and icy winters conditions.  suicide doors, funky retro design, and 239hp v-6 make this a fun ride in a hill covered city.

rikorda island

rikorda island is about an hour away by boat from vladivostok.  the boat ride in the morning was windy and wet, but we made it to the beach eventually.  you can buy tickets for boats to some of the more populated islands like russkiy or popov islands, but we enlisted a private boat and went to rikorda, which is farther out than the other two.  we had to pack food and drink since the island doesn't have any places to eat.  amid all the prep to get the car loaded and meet everyone, i forgot to bring all the fruit and snacks i had bought the night before.  i did remember the wine and vodka.  which i think everyone enjoyed more than the food.  we spent all day walking and enjoying the water and sun on different sides of the island.  by the time the sunset started to set we met up with our captain and took off for vlad.

the islands here have smooth rock beaches as opposed to the white sand ones in australia.  the water around the island was definitely cleaner than the city beaches i've visited.  i can see why russians like to visit them in the summer.  it takes a bit of time to reach them but it worth the trip once you get there.  i didn't see much wildlife besides birds and bugs so i imagine any four legged critters get caught by hunters.  no one was doing any jet or water skiing like they do at the city beaches.  it was a nice break from shamara beach just for the traffic alone.

speaking of, last week, i took my girlfriend for a scooter ride out to shamara. it's about a 40min ride. it's the first real passenger ride i've given in a couple years so i was a bit worried traffic would make it tough.  but during the whole trip, i didn't have any trouble with going in and out of traffic.  the wind is starting to get cold already so the days of summer are drawing close in the russian far east.

russian far east racing


last month, i caught a drag racing event outside of vladivostok.  another american at work is in to racing and is now a regular with the local city club.  he got us vip invites to watch the races during the first week of august.  (i'm late posting this)  so a group of us attended the races during one of the few nice summer days and enjoyed what seems to always be a crowd-pleaser.

the guys walking around the cars are there to make sure the cars start off from the right spot.  the green light is outside the pic, but resembles the same lights used see in the states.  anyone could enter and for the most part it was the serious motor enthusiasts that raced.  although there were a few folks that just wanted to see how their car would do and entered in the amateur category.

during racing breaks, the announcer would organize some comedy bits with volunteers from the audience, like seeing how long guys could hold a tire with straight arms at chest level.  just goes to show there's always something interesting to see in vlad.

more pics can be found here.