One of the (many) things that ground my gears in Turkmenistan was the distinct lack of available bandwidth. It seems strange to gripe about something which didn't exist in any meaningful way just a few years ago, but it is amazing how quickly you both adapt and take things for granted. I came of age into adulthood roughly with the rise of the internet. I started to purchase my own air travel tickets and have always purchased online. Never used a travel agency, never called an airline (except for one unusual set of ticket change circumstances, but the point still stands). In my universe, basically everything can be done online. Banking, shopping, paying bills, writing nonsensical letters to the editor, getting movie tickets, booking hotels, renting cars, etc. Not only can i do these things, but i can do them quickly.
Turkmenistan was a different story. Things were slow and pokey. Very slow, very pokey. And also annoyingly censored. Not well censored, but annoyingly so to the point where it was a mix of comical and incomprehensible.
Sakhalin does much better. Much of it seems to be courtesy of the HSCS, which is short for Hokkaido-Sakhalin Cable System (opens as .pdf). (Prior to this discovery, my knowledge of Hokkaido was solely from the episode of The Simpsons where Homer thinks he is Mr. Sparkle from a strange detergent box found at the city dump.) The telecom cable even makes an appearance in this handy-dandy map of submarine cables. Suffice to say, I can go back to my more decadent internet ways with plenty of bandwidth now.
Friday, February 14, 2014
Saturday, February 08, 2014
I've seen something quite amusing in a practical sort of way while walking about town. Baby strollers with sled rails instead of wheels. It makes perfect sense when you think about it. When the sidewalks are covered with snow and ice (and they are unless it goes several days without snowing and the plow people have a chance to clear the sidewalks), sled rails just make more sense than wheels. I only wish I could snap a picture without looking mildly threatening.