Riding Trains Backwards

The world is already past
by the time I see it
Just a glimpse and it’s gone

Life is like that
We can only ever look back at yesterday
at this morning
at the last words we spoke

And so I watch the scenery fade
moving 70 km/h down a bumpy rail

You aren’t here
and I can’t yet see you
waiting at the end of the line

But I close my eyes and see you still
at the place I began
this long journey back to


In praise of my Critical Mass bag

Some companies, those that want to be “fun” companies, sometimes give their staff things like shirts, bags, water jugs, and various other bits of paraphernalia emblazoned with the company logo.

A couple of years ago, Critical Mass gave us sling bags, in either blue or yellow, with the Critical Mass logo on the back. Some people thought they were kinda dorky. Me? I’m loving this thing!

Critical Mass on the Great Wall of China

I don’t know who specifically chose this bag style, but I’ll assume it was someone like Cyndy. This bag has been lugged most of the way around the world now, acting as my day pack. It’s been on the Great Wall. It’s been through the Hermitage. It’s seen the deserts of Mongolia. And it’s been rained on a couple of times (including a nice, semi-tropical downpour) and kept my stuff dry!

So far, the only problem has been the stitching falling apart on the velcro for the side flap. Nothing 30 minutes with a sewing kit can’t fix.

Did I mention that I love this bag?

Is anyone out there?

Is anyone actually reading this stuff? Aside from my sister, mother, and a couple of Amy’s friends? We had so many people who said they were interested in this, yet we’re attracting so few hits, makes me wonder if we’re truly wasting our time (and money) sitting in internet cafes…

Behind in Beijing!

Hi folks! I’m back online, finally! While Geoff was able to fire off a quick post our last night in Ulaan Baatar, I decided I was too fed up with the slower-than-dialup connection and cruddy keyboard.

I’m going to work on covering the past week and a half with back posts, so you may have to scroll down to read them all. But the new stuff should be fairly obvious.

Me and Mao

I’m in China!!!!!

Can you believe it? I am pinching myself. I am overjoyed. I love Asia, at least what I’ve seen of it. And this might be sacrilige, but Beijing reminds me of Japan. I know, I know it’s really very little like Japan, but it has neon, cool buildings, a weird juxtaposition of modern and traditional, cool soft drinks and amazing food. What more do you need?

Too much Amy

Just a general thing I’ve noticed. There are way too many pictures of Amy … or not enough of me.

Gonna have to work on that…

Sitting in an internet cafe in Irkutsk, realizing there aren't enough pictures of me here

Updated posts and photos

Since we finally are able to upload photos, I’ve uploaded a ton of shots to previous posts, and created some new posts for the stuff not covered before.

Old entries with new photoy goodness. These are all worth clicking on, I promise. Just click the back button to get back to this entry and move on to the next.

Brand-spanking-new entries:


I’m sick. I caught Amy’s cold.

I hate being sick.

The only thing worse than being sick is being sick on a train. It ruins the experience.



Half-way, sorta

We’re now halfway home.

Sort of.

Ekaterinburg is roughly halfway around the world from Calgary. (It’s also in Asia — we crossed the Europe/Asia divide sometime last night or early this moring.) This is as far as we’re going to get. Now, every step brings us closer to home.

Well, except for that right turn in China, anyway…

CSS fixed!

The CSS issues have been bugging me since San Francisco, but it’s only today that I got around to fixing ’em.

While I’m waiting for Amy to get up and running, I took a stab at the .center class that was screwing up the border for the prev/next links. Turns out that I’d unwittingly defined .center to have the same attributes as the major classes, which meant a cascade error was bound to occur.

I unbundled it from the others (though kept some of the root attributes) and reset the width to something a little more manageable. My apologies for not fixing this sooner.

16 years ago…

I had a phone chat with Alex this morning (it hasn’t been a week, and I miss her sorely; the next six weeks almost seem unfathomable), and she let me know something.

I’ve gotten a little carried away saying “16 years ago”.

I mean, can I help it that half my life has passed in the last 16 years? That 16 years ago, I was in this same city, seeing the same sites as today, but different? A lot has happened in the 16 years, not just to me but also to this city. We still have Moscow to see, and 16 years ago it was most definitely a different city. (Kelly has told us much, including that Red Square is, sadly, closed due to national celebrations on the 9th — 16 years ago, it was closed, too, but for state reasons.)

Sixteen years ago, I was 16 years old. Young, naive, seeing the “outside” world for the first time. Sixteen years ago, the world was a different place, too. Communism is gone from the former Soviet states — and the Soviet Union is now more of a joke. (As witnessed by a goofy-looking restaurant near here called “CCCP”.)

I found myself standing in one of the rooms in the Hermitage yesterday, realizing that it was very different than the one I remember from 16 years ago. Spartan — a single large vase in the room, but the gold decor still intact. Memories of 16 years ago slammed into me like a hurricane — I actually felt younger.

In a way, I still feel like I did 16 years ago. The world is new, and there is much to see. I think that 16 years ago, I was also a lot more bewildered — age has tempered that, and I am now more able to handle the experience. But I’m glad I came here 16 years ago. I wouldn’t have the appreciation for St. Petersburg now if I’d stayed away. In a way, though, it’s hard to believe that it was only 16 years ago — it seems a lifetime away.


Well, I figure those of you playing the “16 years ago” drinking game should be suitably plastered. On that note, I’ll try to refrain from writing “16 years ago” as much from now on. (That, and refraining from remarking “the last time I was here…” with Amy, I’m sure she’s sick of hearing it.)