Archive | December, 2007
December 29, 2007

Hawaiian breakfast

Hawaiian breakfast, originally uploaded by lfincher.

Loco Moco (white rice topped with a hamburger patty, eggs, and brown gravy), pineapple, and a pineapple daiquiri.

December 28, 2007

My new ride

My new ride, originally uploaded by lfincher.

Flew over a volcano today. New career track: helicopter pilot. That’s just how I roll.

December 25, 2007

Meli Kalikimaka

Meli Kalikimaka, originally uploaded by lfincher.

Just arrived. View from the room.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

December 20, 2007

Russia and ‘Stans sign pipeline deal

Russia, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan signed an agreement today for the construction of the Prikaspiisky natural gas pipeline along the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea, further strengthening Russia’s grip on the region’s oil & gas exports:

The parties plan to construct the pipeline along the Caspian coast — 360 km on Turkmenistan’s territory and about 150 km through Kazakhstan, in order to link it with the existing Central Asia-Centre pipeline on the Russia-Kazakhstan border. The new gas pipeline will increase the existing capacity to export Turkmenistan’s gas to Russia by 20 billion cubic metres. Creating a Trans-Caspian pipeline system and reconstructing the Central Asia-Centre pipeline system will enable the parties to increase annual deliveries of Turkmenistan’s gas to 80 billion cubic metres. The presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan signed the Joint Declaration on Constructing a Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline on 12 May 2007 at a meeting in Turkmenbashi.

Not only has Russia scored another win in the so-called “New Great Game”, but the English translators for the Kremlin website have hijacked the name of the United States backed pipeline fantasy project (Trans-Caspian Pipeline) and made it their own. Well played, Russia.

Related: NYTimes – Central Asia on Front Line in Energy Battle

December 20, 2007

Most people looked at him with terror and with fear, but to Moscow chicks he was such a lovely dear


Vladimir Vladimirovich, TIME’s Man of the Year for 2007:

It would have been cooler if he was sitting on a barrel of oil

TIME’s Person of the Year is not and never has been an honor. It is not an endorsement. It is not a popularity contest. At its best, it is a clear-eyed recognition of the world as it is and of the most powerful individuals and forces shaping that world—for better or for worse. It is ultimately about leadership—bold, earth-changing leadership. Putin is not a boy scout. He is not a democrat in any way that the West would define it. He is not a paragon of free speech. He stands, above all, for stability—stability before freedom, stability before choice, stability in a country that has hardly seen it for a hundred years. Whether he becomes more like the man for whom his grandfather prepared blinis—who himself was twice TIME’s Person of the Year—or like Peter the Great, the historical figure he most admires; whether he proves to be a reformer or an autocrat who takes Russia back to an era of repression—this we will know only over the next decade. At significant cost to the principles and ideas that free nations prize, he has performed an extraordinary feat of leadership in imposing stability on a nation that has rarely known it and brought Russia back to the table of world power. For that reason, Vladimir Putin is TIME’s 2007 Person of the Year.

December 18, 2007

Hawaiian islands beckon, and I’ll be back here someday, I reckon


In exactly one week, I’ll be here:
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I fly back to California this Saturday, and on Tuesday my family and I will board a flight to Hawaii, where we will spend a few days on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast.
This will be my third trip to Hawaii, but my first to the Big Island. I first visited Hawaii back in November 1997 (gah, was that really 10 years ago?!) on a family trip. My brother and I were under the impression that we were going to Sparta, Illinois to spend Thanksgiving with our relatives, but when we arrived at LAX my parents said “Surprise, we’re going to Hawaii!” (yeah, they are pretty awesome). My little brother, ever the family man, was devastated, and replied “But…I want to go to Illinois.” I very clearly remember yelling “JOHN ARE YOU SERIOUS?!” and pummeling him while we stood in line to check-in. We spent a few days on the North Shore of Oahu and then flew to Maui, where we stayed for the remainder of the week. For Thanksgiving dinner we went to a ridiculously cheesy luau (my idea) that was interrupted by heavy rain showers. In that year’s Thanksgiving family photo we are soaking wet and decked out in multi-colored disposable ponchos. It’s a classic.

My second trip to Hawaii was in June 2000, when my friends and I flew to Oahu a few days after our high school graduation. If I remember correctly, there were eight of us on that particular trip. I’ll make a long story short and just say that while the trip definitely had its fun moments, as a whole it was pretty FUBAR and I think we were all relieved when our return flight landed at LAX so that we could go our separate ways. Some of the personalities on that trip just didn’t…mesh very well. The resulting video footage of a fight over a surfboard and towels (and Ryan can attest to this) is hilarious, however.

Nevertheless, I have a feeling that this upcoming trip will be considerably better.

December 16, 2007

London photos: Buckingham Palace / Kensington Gardens / Etc.

Buckingham Palace

Yeah, these photos are over two years old (September ’05) and I just got around to uploading them. I’ve only got 100+ more to go.

These were all taken during my last week in London, when I decided to make one more quick visit to some of the sights in the city.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, view from the backyard

Buckingham Palace backyard
As to be expected, the Queen has a ridiculously large backyard

Buckingham Palace
Hanging out in the palace backyard after tea with Lizzie.

royal swan in Round Pond, Kensington Gardens
A royal swan in Round Pond, Kensington Gardens.

royal swan near Round Pond, Kensington Gardens
I didn’t want to get to close to the swans as they might recognize me from previous “incidents” and maul me, or something.

tribute to Diana at Kensington Palace
Tributes to Princess Diana on the gates of Kensington Palace, her former residence

Last night in the old ‘hood

December 16, 2007

Flickr moblog test post

Flickr moblog test post, originally uploaded by lfincher.

Testing out flickr’s moblog capability

[Brilliant. It actually works. Now that I can post to via my phone, I’ll never have to use my computer to actually write a post that contains any substance whatsoever. Instead, I will merely post poor quality photos from my Treo, with brief descriptions that lack proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Eh, kidding. This could be a fun feature to use when I’m traveling.]

December 10, 2007

Dmitry Medvedev: Russia’s next President


Vladimir Putin has publicly endorsed Dmitry Medvedev, the 42-year old first deputy prime minister of the Russian government and chairman of Gazprom’s board of directors, as his successor to the position of Russian president. With Putin’s endorsement, Medvedev is expected to easily win the upcoming presidential election scheduled for March 2008.


Clearly, this is a brilliant move by Putin. As we all know, people who choose to work in the energy industry (and in particular, natural gas) are effin’ geniuses. Best of luck, Dmitry.

December 9, 2007

Another reason to love Google: GMail and AIM integration

Google is the greatest corporation EVER. They provide me with the best web-based e-mail on the market, a wonderful news site to keep track of my favorite topics, an awesome feed aggregator, analytical tools for this website, an online word processor, and driving directions so that I don’t get lost trying to navigate this region’s bizarre freeway system (still, I usually manage to make a few wrong turns and end up in, like, Pennsylvania). Sometimes, Google even deposits money into my bank account.

And now I can login to my AOL Instant Messenger account (which I haven’t done in like a year) while in GMail and chat with my friends who are using either service. I will now revert to my college habit of keeping AIM and GMail on 24/7 for no real reason whatsoever, other than to support my favorite utility, PEPCO.