Nov 05 2013

Halloween Pics

Category: Eating Out,Friends,Personal,PicturesChrisM @ 2:42 am

Again, this post has been created to amalgamate a couple of posts (I also need to check my phone for pictures that didn’t get instagrammed/checked-in with foursquare) that were created at Halloween.
Friday night a friend was DJing at a local restaurant, so we met up at SegaFredo first, then moved across to the restaurant next door (part of the Park Inn), and then apparently moved onto Goal Keeper. No photos of the last place, but I do appear to have lost my shirt (with a bit of cash and my decent headphones) along the way…

Earning my DJ assistant status (free entry 🙂 ) helping Craig Vapour set up. Good tunes, bizarre cocktails.

Tracing Sockets And Dials

Tracing Sockets And Dials

Halloween GoGo dancers at Park Inn

Grooving To Their Own Rhythm

Grooving To Their Own Rhythm

Waited For The Room To Clear

Waited For The Room To Clear

Saturday saw a Talking Club (the one I run every couple of weeks for InterHouse) Halloween-themed event. The actual discussion part at the beginning was a lot quieter than normal; I think the only light source being candles meant people felt comfortable not volunteering as much as normal to speak. However the students (we had a few new ones, the age range was about 7-21 I think) seemed to get more into the swing of it with the actual “party” section. With a little less than 24 hours warning (with no materials or spare cash) that costumes were hoped for, I decided to 1) Finally get around to shaving my head properly again 2) Remove all ear rings and superfluous rings 3) Wear smart trousers for once, and hey presto, Breaking Bad’s Walter White was decided upon. It would have easier for the students to guess this if more than one actually watched Breaking Bad, but there you go 🙂 Interhouse’s teachers really put a lot of effort into decorating the classroom (all the pictures involved my phone’s flash – the was spookily lit with candles), laying out sweets & treats, and finding appropriate scary music to play in the background. I was happy to judge some of the games, but the idea of participating in those that required coordination, in the dark, encouraged me to take a back seat!

Bobbing For Apples With No Water

Bobbing For Apples With No Water

Handing Out Of Prizes

Handing Out Of Prizes

Eventually English Was Dropped In Favour Of Russian

Eventually English Was Dropped In Favour Of Russian

Walter White

Walter White

Oct 20 2013

Ear Worm Getting Ready To Attach/Burrow…

Category: Friends,Kazakhstan,Personal,VideosChrisM @ 10:58 pm

Following on in the vein of e-dubble, Game Theory, 360, Bassnectar’s remix of Ellie Goudling’s Lights, Gotye, Dubstep Snowman, Butch Clancy’s dubstep remix of Foster The People’s Pumped Up Kicks, Dub FX, pretty much anything by Rap News, the song Speakerbox – I Like That and video (Perfect Day), Ewan Dobson, United We Rise, Groovy Dancing Girl’s moves to Daft Punk and Greyson Chance’s rendition of Paparazzi, here we have this year’s current contender for “I like this, but could my brain please stop rendering it quite so often at random please?” award…

Craig Vapour’s own words regarding this track…

This song was written for my dear friends Dauren and Kuralay who got married in September 2013. (That’s them chatting in the middle of the track, too!)

Whilst drum & bass feature heavily in the sets I’ve had the pleasure to experience so far, Craig’s production of the track above will, I hope, encourage you to check out his other tracks at SoundCloud, no matter what your usual aural tastes might be.

I’m going to try and embed all the other videos I linked to because, a) I know most people will be too lazy to click the links and b) I’d really like to have them all in one post for when I want to play them. Which reminds me, I need some sort of unique phrase here that means I can search for, and find, this post easily in the future. Ah… apparently “ear worm” has not yet been used on this blog. That will do.

If you’re reading this on the front page of this site, click the link below to see the rest of this post (and therefore the actual videos)…

Continue reading “Ear Worm Getting Ready To Attach/Burrow…”

Oct 06 2013

Dropped the kids off with in-laws, a rare lunch da…

Category: Eating Out,Pictures,TweetsChrisM @ 1:47 pm

Dropped the kids off with in-laws, a rare lunch date with Irina 🙂 (@ Astana Nury) [pic]:

Astana Nury

Location Of Nury Astana Restaurant

Sep 21 2013

SeeSaw Shiny River Tower

Category: Kazakhstan,Pictures,Tim's PhotosChrisM @ 8:21 pm

These are just a few pictures taken this week, rather than have the blog’s front page content spread out, I thought I’d remove the original tweets and combine them into one post.

First we have “Top of the world” (as in from White Heat – Made it, Ma! Top of the world!)

Tim On A SeeSaw

Tim On A SeeSaw

Then an advert I noticed in our hallway downastairs – please tell me such blue sparkly suits aren’t standard/required court attire!? If not, I’m wondering who advised him that it’d work to convince people to hire him?

A Lawyer At Ease

A Lawyer At Ease

Today we went for a walk down by the river – I was relieved to discover that Daddy being the stone catcher didn’t mean I was required to take a dip in the Ishim, rather just collect more pebbles to throw in!

Scuba Gear And Hazmat Suit  Would Have Been Necessary

Scuba Gear And Hazmat Suit Would Have Been Necessary

Just a bit further on, there is a Möbius strip sculpture with Astana Tower in the background.

Astana Tower (Next To Ramstore With Guns & Roses Next To That)

Astana Tower (Next To Ramstore With Guns & Roses Next To That)

Aug 23 2013

Catching up with a friend at Cafe “Real”…

Category: Eating Out,Pictures,TweetsChrisM @ 11:02 pm

Catching up with a friend at Cafe “Real”

Cafe Real Astana Beer Vodka Coke Tea

Location Of Cafe Real In Astana

Jul 25 2013

Automatic Fix For RoK (Kz) facebook Problems

Category: Internet Connections,Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 7:18 pm

Well, automatic if you use Firefox or Chrome at least. As detailed in a recent post, there are continuing problems with accessing facebook, if you use a desktop PC/laptop in Kazakhstan. Whilst there are multiple ways of fixing this issue (Opera’s Turbo mode (effectively a proxy server), adding m. or touch. instead of www., or changing http:// to https:// at the beginning of the URL), I discovered an extension/plugin that automates the switching from http to https. This is especially useful if you click links in an e-mail from facebook, as these links start with http.

Anyway, either visit the Chrome extension page, or download the Firefox Add-On.
If you discover that some websites no longer display correctly, you can create exceptions, so that https everywhere allows the (normal, but not secure) http protocol to be used instead.

Jul 24 2013

Mum Arriving Soon & I Can Drive In A Straight Line

Category: Kazakh Driving,PersonalChrisM @ 4:06 pm

As you probably guessed from the title to this post, Mum is coming to visit us here in Astana, in just under two weeks. We’re all really looking forward to seeing her, and Anna is now asking several times a day just how long she has to wait. Last time Mum was here (20072010, 2007 was the visit before that; I somehow combined the two visits in one… in my head, Anna was present the evening John proposed to Mum, which would have made Anna -2 years old!), we didn’t have a car, so I’m hoping we’ll be able to show Mum a bit more of Astana. Having said that, there is a lot more of Astana to be shown now, I’m trying to remember which buildings existed six years ago!
I wanted to do a dry run for Mum’s arrival, so drove to the airport for the first time ever an hour ago.
I’ve only ever been a passenger for the journey in the past, and wanted to note where speed cameras, narrow lanes, dodgy junctions etc were. The speed limit, even away from people and buildings is 45mph, so you need to keep an eye on the GPS readout for your speed, especially around the horrid little yellow boxes.
It was a good thing I went all the way (rather pulling a U-turn once I could see the airport), as it looks like they have introduced charges for parking there! Or… you can park an extra 3/400m away for free 🙂
This meant my route back home started from a slightly different point, so I had to wait for another car – to follow them “out”, as the way I know to return to Astana involved driving through the (then free) car park. I couldn’t initially tell if the road I came in on was one-way or not, but someone else drove up it without horns sounding, so I assumed it was two way and followed close behind. You get to the end of the little stretch of lane, and there is a turn one-way only sign (luckily in the right direction), but the dual carriageway has unbroken lines on it, and you’re joining straight into the fast lane. Anyway, no problems, just glad I scoped it out first!

The Long And Winding Road

The Long And Winding Road

Now yes, I admit that the route is just about as simple as it could possibly be, but I wanted to ensure that when driving to the airport in earnest, that no WTF moments occurred with sudden new roads, roundabouts, or indeed new barriers and a list of charges for the car park. I could be wrong, perhaps it is a security thing, or you get a certain amount of time free, but I now feel prepared.

Jul 23 2013

Kazakhstan News Roundup Part 2 – Four Months Late

Category: In The Media,KazakhstanChrisM @ 3:29 pm

This post was written in March, but I apparently forgot to finish inserting the last few links and to publish it. It was discovered as I changed some posts from draft status, now that I have my renewed pink card.

Right, I have now completed the collection of links from the last few months that pertain to Kazakhstan. First up (or fifth, if you count Part 1 of this post), we have a piece on the Border Guards. A massacre, resignations, two suicides and a plane crash have hit the service in recent months, with some analysts deciding that the border service is just as badly hit by poor morale, hazing and abuse of power as the other forces. Eursianet has a piece with a summary and lots of links to other articles on the topic.

Next up is a report on the number of bookmakers in Kazakhstan. Although the report makes it sound like this is a very recent boom, the little kiosks have been popping up for quite a long time, in a lot of the bars I have seen around Astana. In fact, their number did seem to dip a couple of years ago, then bounce back up again. I’m not sure whether the dip was due to regulations suddenly being enforced, a different Akim in power, or perhaps the economic troubles at the time?

There is a newspaper here in Kazakhstan that has a history of problems with the authorities. Given the overall superb levels of multi-party democracy, freedom of association, freedom of religion and a free press that can be found in this glorious nation, it seems obvious that Respublika must print a steady stream of lies and be financed by enemies of this country’s leader and his party. Why else would the paper be banned from publishing? For some background information, check here.

As another indicator of a country with 21st century credentials, Tengri News (via reports that a bride school has opened in Almaty. As ever, check out some of the comments at the bottom of the Tengri News piece. Google’s translation of it sometimes leaves you wondering, but you get the gist normally. To be fair, the course isn’t just about cooking for your husband, or how to properly apply mascara, but also includes units on psychology (of your husband) and literature.

When agreeing there is no problem doesn’t convince everyone. Baikonur is used by Russia to launch space rockets, and when a Kazakh official suggested last year that Kazakhstan may halt the agreement, Russia wasn’t very happy. But everything is just fine now, no one disagrees about anything. See?

Jul 16 2013

Facebook Problems in Kazakhstan

Category: Internet Connections,Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 11:15 am

I am still waiting for my renewed pink card (residency permit) to be granted, so I’ll word this carefully.

If you are having problems accessing facebook right now, and live in Astana (I’ve not checked other areas), you are not alone (apparently some people can still load the facebook site, despite being on the same network as those who have issues). You may have noticed that the facebook app on your phone still works. At first, I couldn’t work out how this occurred. I thought maybe the “technical difficulties” that will most likely be attributed to this blackout (five days and counting now) only occurred with HTTP data transfers, and that perhaps the mobile app used a funky way of transferring data.

However, if you visit or on your desktop computer, you will find you can still access facebook. Because it isn’t designed for higher resolution monitors, the interface is a bit basic, and some of the photos will look jaggedy, but you if you could access something on your phone – be it a group, event or game, you will find you can still access it on your PC.

Until the fault is fixed, this will at least allow you some sort of facebook access on your computer. Either that, or we have to wait until objectionable materials/accounts are removed from fb, and then perhaps the IT glitch will astonishingly fix itself!

Oh, also, should you really need the default fb interface, download the Opera browser. Turn on the TURBO mode, which is pretty much a proxy server, based in another country. This will bypass the current issues in Kazakhstan.

Apr 26 2013

Because, Because…

Category: In The Media,KazakhstanChrisM @ 7:08 pm

Someone decided to display their anger at a minister here in Kazakhstan (who does not command a great deal of respect locally, due to his inability to display much comprehension of the troubles of the average man) by launching a few eggs in his direction.

I’m surprised to see this form of protest, I just hope the man, his family, work colleagues and friends do not come under too much observation/pre-emptive strikes by the intelligence services that do such a great job defending this almost unique nation.

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