Tag Archives: russia

Another Long Week: Snows & Scorchers, Politics & Hacks, Moscow – Abu Dhabi – Tokyo.

Good day boys and girls!

I’ve been a bit quiet of late – but I’ve a good excuse – I had a real tough week: the schedule was tight and intercontinental, plus alarmingly… combative…

It all started in Moscow. Now, normally come the month of May, the last vestiges of the long cold winter – snow and ice – have long disappeared, at least by a month. Not this year. It snowed the other week! The weather was so bad – cold, windy, wet – that even the May 9 Victory Day parade was partially called off (the airborne part). Ye gods! And I was soooo looking forward to it.

Bad weather causing things to be called off – hardly anything new there, right? Well, actually…

You see, in Russia, the authorities have a habit of… making sure the weather’s good on special occasions. In Russian they call it ‘shooing away the clouds’. I don’t know the details, but they somehow shoo away clouds by… doing something to the atmosphere to make sure clouds don’t come close. Playing God? Maybe. Whatever, it normally works. My question: WHAT WENT WRONG THIS TIME?! I mean, the budget for seeing off clouds for the weekend must be huge. Hmmm, I wonder…

Early doors it looked like the budget was well-spent: the sky was clear and the sun was shining:

Read on: a sudden global malware outbreak…

Russian Grand Prix in Sunny Sochi.

Sorry folks for the tardiness of this post; been up to my neck with work of late. Better late than never though…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – it’s great watching F1 in the flesh at the racetrack. But it’s best of all watching it from the garage, if you’re lucky enough to have access thereto. It’s in the garage where the team sits, where the pressure is through the roof, where the adrenaline is pumping the most, and where the emotions run amok. And the garage experience is even more thrilling if your team is in pole position – like we were the other weekend (the first time since 2008!). But enough talk – no time for that. They’re on the starting grid!…

It doesn’t matter that we can’t see the cars themselves – we sure can hear them (the starting line’s a mere 30-40 meters away!), and seeing them on the big TV screens is more than enough.

And they’re off!…

Oh my grid. Valtteri Bottas jumped two positions ahead right from the off, and that was actually how things ended today. I’m afraid not a great deal else interesting happened today. No intrigue, nothing! Sometimes it goes like that, F1. In fact, it all resembled more a column of soldiers doing a march. Who would have thought F1 could be dull? :).

A storm cloud looked like it could have put a literal dampener on things, but it decided to stay put up in the mountains and not descend to the sea.

Read on: Familiar faces on the roof …

Riga Station – Another Moscow Must-See.

I really didn’t expect to find in Moscow yet another curious place that is mandatorily must-see – including by children. But the other day we visited one. It was the Exhibition Complex of Russian Railways at Rizhsky Vokzal (Riga Station). Its railroad scale model and other expositions aren’t all that big, but they’re ever so well done. Respect!

Ok, so, it’s not quite the Grand Maket Rossiya in St. Pete, but, in terms of quality of the models (incredible detail, precise movements…) – I’d say it’s on a par.

Read on: A wonderful exhibition!…

Happy New Year from Central Moscow!

Happy New Year folks, and hope you all had great holidays!

You won’t believe this… but this post is about… RED SQUARE! // Incidentally, the square I consider to be the most beautiful spot in Europe!

I hadn’t been in downtown Moscow on New Year’s Eve since… oooh, 15 years ago! Yep – 2001 was the last time, on Pushkin Square watching the fireworks. But I’d never been on Red Square on New Year’s Eve. What?! So this year I decided to make amends…

So how was it? Well, actually, my overall impressions were… mixed. And it’s those mixed impressions that I’d like to share with you today.

Read on: Red Square was really something!…

Rock Steel ‘n’ Roll.

Ok, you’ve seen how the steel gets transformed from red hot slabs into pastry-thin sheets at the Novolipetsk Steel Plant already. Next up: the cold-rolling and polymer coatings workshop…

Rolls from the hot workshop are brought here and unwound onto conveyor belts and then shuffled about here and there and subjected to various technological processes to increase the steel’s quality, among other things.

Read on: Steel is everywhere…

Swan Lake.

Despite the wholly non-sterile conditions inside the Novolipetsk Steel Plant, on the outside you’d never know there was a mammoth industrial complex nearby. For the management take the ecology of the surrounding environment veeerrryyy seriously.

The above slide says: ‘More than $1.1 billion invested in ecology in 15 years. Lipetsk – the cleanest metal-producing city in the Russian Federation’. And you can probably guess what those figures in the clouds mean: the level of air pollution, with Lipetsk having the lowest level/number – 3.4.

Indeed, several years ago they decided to take air pollution really seriously here and cut it drastically – and it looks like they’ve done a good job of it. For dotted all around (inside) the complex healthy-looking trees grow. So healthy-looking that one visiting foreign delegation asked of the cedar trees ‘how often do you replace them?!’ Turns out they were never planted and all grew themselves of their own accord.

Read on: Swan lake…

Slabs Like It Hot.

Hi folks!

I told you the Novolipetsk Steel Plant is gargantuan, right? So it makes sense my report and pics from a visit thereto wouldn’t fit into just one post. Therefore – you guessed it – herewith, part two!…

All righty. 15 million tons of steel – that’s how much exactly? I mean, so ordinary Homo Sapiens can get their heads round it? Ok – here’s my attempt at quantification for the masses…

Now, you see the bright orange block in the following pic? It calls itself – would you believe it – a slab, and it weighs between 25 and 35 tons. Thus, 15 million tons of steel would be…

slab-lipetsk-heavy-metal-1

…~500,000 such slabs. Half a million. Still can’t picture that? I’ll try something else:

A cube of iron weighs 7.87 tons (steel weighs 7.85; that is, about the same. For present purposes the difference is insignificant). So, 15 million tons will be around 1.9 million cubic meters. And that will be a huge chunk of steel 100 meters across, 100 meters deep, and 200 meters high. And that would be like a 50-story skyscraper made out of solid steel. Or a square cube 125x125x125 meters. You getting a handle on the size now?

Read on: Slabs Like it hot…

How Much Steel?

So, boys and girls – how many of you have been to a steelmaking plant? A show of hands please…

Well, I’d not been to one either, but dreamed of doing so for a very long time. I wanted to have a look at the whole process, even if from a distance. To see how they load ore and coke into the blast furnace, hear it sizzle and fuse, and see the liquid metal getting poured to form red slabs of metal at thousand-degree temperatures to be rolled on the mill. I knew some of the theory and terminology, but had never seen the magic happen first-hand.

As if you couldn’t guess… finally – it came about! Our respected corporate customer Novolipetsk Steel invited us to Lipetsk for a look around!


Read on: our ride…

Industrial, Optical, Theoretical, Expositional.

This is a pair of very good binoculars for everyday usage. You never know when you might need to get a closer look of a mysterious object on the horizon, or check out what’s going on down by the entrance to your high-rise apartment block, or suddenly find yourself in a theater…

I’m no binoculars expert. But I don’t have to be to like using a pair. But that pair has to be a good pair. Can’t be having a pair that are tricky to adjust, that give an unclear image, and that don’t fit the eye sockets well. But with this pair was none of that. Clear, large images when looked through – you think you can touch the scene with your hand! When something 10 meters away is viewed, it feels like it’s right in front of you. A colossally class piece of kit:

lytkarino-optics-factory-1

// I wonder where you can buy a pair and how much they cost?

I still don’t know the answers to those two questions, since I was given a pair as a gift in the town of Lytkarino in the Moscow region – namely at the town’s optical glass plant, where they make the lenses for such binoculars. Here:

Yes, that's Lenin :)Yes, that’s Lenin :)

Read on: Three warnings…