Category Archives: Life

Blaze of glory (almost)

The short version of this story is that I was driving on the freeway on Thursday and my car’s battery caught on fire. It stayed contained and there was minimal damage to my car. Nobody was hurt. And now for the longer version:

So I was driving down the freeway in the Miata when it started acting a little bit strange. The engine would cut out for a split second and then keep going on normally. At first I figured it was just a clogged fuel filter and didn’t think much of it and kept going on my way.

It happened a few more times. Once, I could have sworn I saw the ABS warning light come on. I started wondering if the ABS system was malfunctioning and slamming on the brakes, rather than a fuel problem. The engine cuts out again and this time all of the idiot lights flash on for a split second, and then everything returned back to normal. Now I dreaded it was some kind of electrical problem.

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Mobile update test post

This is a test of my mobile updating system. This is only a test.


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Back from Tajikistan

I came back from Tajikistan last week after being there for two months. I was planning on posting an update sooner but I couldn’t decide what to write so before too much time passes I thought I’d just mention that I was back, for anyone who didn’t know.

I had an awesome time while I was there, and hopefully I’ll find some time to write about some of my experiences. I can’t wait for my next trip out there.


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The quest for Diet Coke

Coca Cola Light from Afghanistan

Let me preface this entry by saying that I am addicted to Diet Coke. A few years ago I weighed about 35 pounds more than I do now. Then, as now, I drank an amazing amount of cola on a daily basis. But one day I decided to switch to diet cola, and over the course of about three years I lost a lot of weight without changing much else about my diet. Today I am very near my high school weight. And out of the available diet colas, I eventually settled up on Diet Coke as my favorite.

A good friend of mine who works in the pharmaceutical industry, concerned about my huge intake of Diet Coke, mentioned that it has been found that aspartame crosses the blood-brain barrier, but that we do not know exactly what it does. “It makes you addicted to Diet Coke, is what it does,” I quipped.

Diet Coke (or Coca Cola Light, as it is known in this region) is not widely available in Tajikistan. As I mentioned in a previous entry, the vast majority of food products in this country are imported, and Coke is no different. There is no Coca Cola bottling plant in this country, so all of the Coca Cola here is imported from other countries, usually Kazakhstan or Afghanistan.

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Back in the (former) U.S.S.R. [Update 1]

(Updated October 3, 2008)

So I’m back in Dushanbe, Tajikistan right now and I’ll be here until late October. In the past I haven’t really written a whole lot about what I do out here. Maybe it’s because I didn’t think other people would be all that interested. Or maybe, this being my fourth trip out there, I suppose I have gotten accustomed to the sights, sounds, culture, all the stuff that goes on in the course of these trips, and actually, yeah maybe it would be interesting for other people to hear.

So I guess I’ll start by just giving you some background information, and maybe in further entries I will give more specifics about different topics.

Tajikistan is a highly mountainous country in Central Asia, located just north of Afghanistan and just to the west of China. With very few natural resources and very little workable land, it is the poorest of all of the former Soviet republics. The Tajik people share some common history with the Persians of Iran and speak a mutually-intelligible dialect of the same language (Farsi, as spoken in Iran has a lot more loanwords from Arabic, while Tajik understandably has a lot more loanwords from Russian).

If you believe the 1980’s action movie portrayals of the USSR you’d think it was only Russians around but actually there are also many different ethnic groups speaking many other languages here in Dushanbe, with Russian serving as a lingua franca, particularly in the arenas of business and politics.

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