Stories of my Zaporozhets – preface

Long time ago, when I was learning how to drive, I got an idea to get a car that I “wouldn’t care about”. And that’s how I came in possession of a wonderful beast – 1984 ZAZ 968M (aka Zaporozhets). For those not familiar with ancient Soviet car industry, this creature had 40hp engine, took only 76 gasoline (not the brand, the octane number), had only air cooling – no radiator, engine located in the back – rear wheel drive, accordingly; gasoline-powered heater, which was practically almost a separate engine with its own carburetor, etc. ( And the car weighed only 1540-1760 lb. (four men could lift it and move from place to place – we’ve done it more than once), so the engine was powerful enough for that. And going to high speed in that car was risky not because of the engine – body aerodynamics, as in many old cars, was not designed for speed and the thing would start to lift off the road at approximately 70 mph (higher, if you loaded the trunk full with bricks or sacks of potatoes).

That’s the kind of car I got. This particular one, in addition to already mentioned advantages, had one more – unique color. I’ve been told that at one time there were many Zaporozhets of that color and there was nothing unique about it – well, personally I never saw another one like it. This pale green (salad-like) color with spots of rust visible underneath (and sometimes on top) immediately caught the eye and stayed with you for a while.

I had it for about a year – until I felt comfortable with my driving skills and realized that after driving this car, there were very few things that could surprise me. I won’t event start about maintenance experience I got – almost every part this apparatus had a malfunction from time to time, sometimes there would be several in one trip. But most memorable were other “adventures” – they are the ones next posts will be about.

Published in: on October 29, 2005 at 3:23 pm  Comments (1)  

The Season is Over

Our last faire this year successfully finished yesterday (, so now I can pack equipment away till next March. Lots of drinking, lots of flirting (always minding Her Majesty’s safety first, of course ;) ).

The kid also found how to occupy herself – in response to my instruction to play only where I can see her, she climbed a wall and pretended to be a statue – she was, indeed, very visible from quite far.

Saturday night (after closing) we had our vodka tasting. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring cranberry Finlandia, which wasn’t supposed to be part of the tasting, but was planned for warm-up. But this didn’t stop us – we had plenty of rum. And after combining it with beer, cider, wine (to each their preference) and very spicy beef stew, we were well prepared to begin.

Our contestants this year were:
1. “Armadale” – Scottish vodka made from wheat and barley
2. “Due” – Italian vodka made from six different kinds of grain (label didn’t go into more detail)
3. “Idol” – French vodka made from grapes

Our experienced tasters unanimously ruled that “Idol” had a very strong distinct taste of grapes and that it would be more appropriate to classify it as grappa than as vodka. After that opinions started to differ. Several (about half) of the testers said that they don’t give a damn whether it’s grappa or vodka and that “Idol” deserved first place. This group of tasters was also very consistent in placing “Due” second and “Armadale” third.
Remaining votes (save one) placed “Due” first with “Armadale” and “Idol” sharing second and third place. And the last vote was for “Armadale” first with “Due” second and “Idol” third. Go figure.

So, we do not have a clear winner this year (last year vote unanimously placed Armadale first with “Chopin” second and “Ketel One” third).
This will make selection of contestants for next year difficult, but I like this kind of challenge ;)
My personal (highly biased) opinion: “Due” first, “Armadale” second, “Idol” last.

Our tasters turned out not to be big drinkers – three bottles 0.75 liter each plus a jar of pickles for six-seven people and approximately 0.5 liter was still there in the morning. But the traditions were at least partially observed – at least one participant fell under the table. I didn’t observe any noticeable hangover effects in any of the tasters in the morning, nor did I hear any “damn, my head is about to split”, which means that quality of all drinks was quite good.

There was music too: my cell phone’s alarm clock decided to play “Adams Family” tune at 5:30am and not in the tent where I slept. Four people who did sleep in that tent told me all about it in the morning, along with many earlier unknown details about myself and some of my relatives. Nevertheless, everything was quite civilized – to my surprise, the phone still works ;)

Published in: on October 17, 2005 at 2:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Club Tournament

I learned to divide opponents into Probables, Possibles and Prayers. The tournament went well if I beat all of Probables and half of Possibles. If I also manage to beat at least one Prayer, the day went really well. Yesterday we had a small “unofficial” tournament at the club – six participants, but 3 of them fall into my Prayer category. Plus one person in Probables and one in Possibles. No success in Prayers – two victories, three defeats, fourth place.

Published in: on October 12, 2005 at 1:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Gilroy Faire

Yesterday we made it to faire ( – as regular visitors, not as participants – to walk around, drink beer, meet people we know, drink beer, shoot some thingies, drink beer, throw some other thingies at targets, drink beer (you get the point), take pictures of some colorful characters (most colorful characters are usually some of the guests, not participants, though logic would suggest otherwise) and see the faire from the other side. Worked well (especially the beer part), though conclusion is the same – it’s much more fun to be a participant than a visitor. So, the long and windy road to Folsom ( awaits – there be no rest for the wicked ;)

Published in: on October 10, 2005 at 1:19 am  Leave a Comment  

They don’t make epee blades the way they used to

In all the years that I fenced as a child, I have not broken a single blade. And I didn’t practice back then any less than I do now. Now, on the other hand, I broke four blades just this year. I checked on fencing forums – people write that a blade typically lasts for about 8 months – three of those four blades lasted about that long – strange, maybe I was just lucky as a kid, and someone else in the neighbourhood was breaking a blade almost weekly to compensate for my anomaly, and now things just returned to normal. Yesterday at practice broke another blade – this one was very cheap and yesterday I learned why … After the first strong touch the blade got a “kink” that could be straightened, but would appear again in the same spot after any strong enough touch – poor quality of steel… Anyway, the blade lasted for five or six days of fencing practice and I’m not buying cheap blades any more.

Published in: on October 8, 2005 at 1:16 am  Leave a Comment