>> Thursday, September 29, 2005

It?s been an unexpected week since last I wrote; I say unexpected because I didn?t really plan ahead regarding lack of communication while we went on our vacation-within-a-vacation. Regardless, we?re back (to Krivoy Rog) again and can finally send letters out. I took some notes for the first couple of days while we went out, so I?ll back up a bit.

Last ? Thursday, I think, we took an overnight train to Feodosia, which is located on the far-Eastern edge of the Crimea. It?s a kind of relax-me town, where a lot of people go just to sit in the sun & swim. The train ride out there was possibly the absolute worst I?ve ever been on, but it?s all relative as my bad experience had to do with the fact that I was riding out the worst headache I?d ever had and already used up the few ibuprofen we?d brought with. We left at 5:40pm and arrived at 9:30am, and hadn?t quite finished adjusting to the time zone, either (which reminds me that we forgot to get some herbal remedy for jetlag from my brother before we left?). So, we all spent the night waking up every couple of hours, Leilani included.

Other than that, and of course the general discomfort of riding on a train (I don?t think I?ve ever actually traveled on any kind of ?luxury? train), it went pretty well. The train passes close by the sea right toward the end, which gave a nice view. A large difference was immediately noticeable regarding the atmosphere, upon exiting the train. Much more in Feodosia is green, and one of the first things I noticed was a group of people doing some gardening on one of the public ways. In Krivoy Rog, the most I usually see there is just an old woman here or there sweeping the walk. But I don?t suppose it?s really fair to compare the two cities outright; one is a vacation-town while the other is essentially a mining town.

We hauled our bags around while we considered our options; Lena wanted to find a ?pensionat? which is kind of like a hotel but with a meal plan. In Feodosia they?re almost all located a stone?s throw from the beach. We actually didn?t have to go far at all, but we wound up taking a taxi to the one Lena had in mind, just because we weren?t familiar with the area to begin with. (Later we found ourselves back at the train station after only about a 30-minute walk (30-minute walks are NOTHING in Ukraine, mind you. Our average daily walk in Feodosia was 2-3 hours, I think.)) After we checked in and unpacked our bags, we headed down to the beach, just to take a look around.

It?s not what most people in America would expect, mind you. Yes, there?s a big huge ?ocean? (It?s the Black Sea in this instance) and there are a lot of waves. There?s sand ? but not on the beach, actually. Once you?re IN the water, it?s nice sand out as far as you can touch, but the beach itself is comprised entirely of rocks, like river rocks, polished and round. That was a bit of a surprise to me, but not too hard to adjust to. All the hotels/pensionats have their own section of the shoreline fenced off (with barbed wire tops! Whoo!) and they?ve fashioned wooden pallets for people to lay on. Once you get used to that (and the fact that everyone wears Speedos/bikinis no matter what over here...) it?s pretty normal.

After we glanced at the beach (and dangled Leia?s toes in, since she absolutely had to), we walked down the shoreline some more where there was a kind-of boardwalk (but all cement; they use only cement for building stuff in Ukraine.) lined with some souvenir shops. There was a lot of nifty stuff to buy, surrounded by a lot of cheap junk. Isn?t that the way it is everywhere? There was a lot of different things than those we found four years ago in Truskavyets, so there was a nice variety at least.

On the way back to the hotel we saw some good old-fashioned police violence. We?re not sure what the incident was, but we saw some guy running away from an old lady while she was yelling for the police. I?d give you dime-to-donut odds that the guy was drunk, since this happened pretty much RIGHT NEXT to a patrolling police car. A very short chase ensued, however I also think the guy could easily have run away. For some reason, I think he got stuck on a fence near the train tracks, he turned around and put his hands up, walking back to the cop chasing him. Out of the blue the cop gives the guy a karate kick to what I hope was just his gut. He was a little far away, but he didn?t fall down on the ground so that?s where I assume his foot landed. After a little more confusion was cleared up which involved the old lady running over and bashing him on the head a bit, they dragged him off to the cop car and the show was over. If we?d have gotten it on video, I?m sure it would have made the ?world?s dumbest criminals?.

I?ve got more to say about the trip, but it?ll come later. I?ve got to send this off & get to sleep already. Good night!



>> Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Letter time again! Looks like rain outside, and the baby is taking a nap, so I might as well write up a report, even though it?s technically only been a couple of hours since I actually sent that last letter. We?ve got to wait until tomorrow before we can actually pay the ISP for another months? usage here, so Natasha let us send from her account ? thanks, Natasha :) So, I sent the last letter out but have not checked email, as the connection wasn?t quite feeling up to it.

Like I said, it looks like rain, and hopefully it really will. It was again particularly warm today, and like I described before ? dusty. We were walking around town this afternoon with Natasha, and picked up some books and learning toys for Leilani. She?s not ready for them yet, but since we?re only here once in a great while we have to plan ahead. We?re trying to teach her English and Russian at the same time, and so far it?s working well; she responds equally to both languages and answers in both, too. A couple of days ago she was non-stop with the ?what?s this?? and pointing at everything.

Time just flew by this afternoon, too. I think most of it went to the walk, as of course one has to walk everywhere here ? a good thing, really, as it keeps you more fit. Which is also important because it?s all too easy to eat more waffle-cookies here than you initially intend to. If you ever get to Ukraine, you just have to try these things; there?s absolutely nothing like them in the States ? even the imported waffle cookies that you can buy at Russian grocery stores. They?re just not the same. (My family has requested that we bring back as many as possible.)

This next part continues the next day: No, it didn?t rain, and it feels worse because of it. But no matter, we had a lot of things to get done ? business-type stuff, no need to bore you with it ? and we did. Still haven?t found out about going to the Crimea, although we?ve looked at some maps and Elena has a place in mind to go first.


Going to Ukraine

>> Sunday, September 18, 2005

Hello from Ukraine! We made it successfully here, with only minor hiccups, the worst of which was that we weren?t able to buy a train ticket from Kiev to Krivoy Rog. We got to the airport and found out from talking to other people that all the tickets were already bought up; it being the weekend, most of the students in Kiev were heading home already.

So, after calling around to see what our options were, our friends the Tkachenkos graciously made the trip up to Kiev in their car to pick us up; that?s a long haul and we?re grateful for the help ? thank you, Sergei and Elena!

Leilani was an absolute rock star during pretty much the whole trip. I was personally most worried that she?d have trouble with the pressure in her ears, since I remember a horrible time when I was young where I fell asleep midair and woke up on the ground with the most killer headache from the pressure change. But not our girl! She slept and ate through most of the trip, including the time when Sergei was driving us. That was pretty nice as we were able to watch both of the in-flight movies (Monster-in-Law (okay) and Mr. & Mrs. Smith (better than I thought though I still wouldn?t have gone to see it in the theatre had I known more of the plot). When she was awake, she didn?t cry very much, though we probably helped that by keeping her busy, walking her up & down the aisles, and so forth.

It?s good to be here again, although there are certainly things we gloss over in our memory. Actually, we?d never paid much attention to the handicapped-access before since we didn?t use it, but now that we?ve got the stroller here ? wow. There?s really very little in the way of being handicapped-friendly here; the ramps at the train station, for example, are either cobblestone or a nice, slippery 45-degree angle! Seriously.

In Amsterdam, we ran into a mother of three who was also on the way to Ukraine and helped her out as much as we could; her husband was still at home in the states, so looking after three young children by oneself is enough to bear, but she had more luggage than it was imaginable to take on a trip, and she looked terribly worn out just getting as far as she had. She seemed like a nice person, so we helped her move her luggage around a bit. My dad (having worked for the airlines) will probably not believe it, but she probably had 9 or 10 carry-on pieces and probably 6 or 7 enormous check-ins (not counting the two-baby stroller, car seat, and baby-backpack, of course!). She eventually made it all the way there, but I don?t know how she got as far as she did, by herself.

And we finally made it ?home? to grandma?s apartment, looking much as we left it although with a bit more dust; for some reason it seems much more dusty here in Krivoy Rog. Maybe it?s the Fall, but everyone says it?s the metallurgical combine. We found the laptop and (obviously) have it working with no difficulty, although I?m typing this letter offline, as we need to reconnect the provider before we can send.

We took a little walk with Leilani around the neighborhood, and it?s good to have the heavy-duty stroller with us, considering we?ll be here that long. There are many more stores since we left, but everything was still pretty much in the same place we left it. We happened by our friend Natasha?s house and found her outside, so we stopped to chat for a little while. It was so good to see her again; we?d really missed her. But as it was getting dark out and Leia was getting cranky, we agreed to get together tomorrow to continue talking. Sadly, we?re not going to get as much time to see her since she?s going to be leaving in two weeks to go to Sweden. We?re ALSO not going to be able to stop to see her sister, Ira because she?s living in Kiev right now and we probably won?t have time to stop before we fly back. :(

We?re still trying to figure out how/where to go to the Crimea? we?ll have more to say on that as it unfolds, hopefully for the best.



>> Thursday, September 15, 2005

SeaPack was probably my very best thing I made for the UT2004 era. I saw a lot of cool stuff made by other people, some forgotten, that I thought would all really work well together. In this day and engine, water was a new thing - there weren't a whole lot of games that really let you play around with it.  But some people had made working boats and vehicles and weapons that really screamed for special maps - so that's what this is.  Look through the details below and, if it still works, give it a try.  It probably does.


Info way older than 2018:
HIS THREAD has the latest information.

This is hopefully the start of something bigger in the future. After tinkering around with Vynum's fixes of Monarch's UT2004Navy (Annnd digging into a few other vehicles... I'll come back here & write credits for everything...), I created a non-U4E version of my SterlingFlood board and filled it up with aquatic vehicles.

It was a lot of fun! So, with relative ease, I flooded Torlan (aka the Most Modded Map EVAH) and put the Navy in there - ALSO a lot of fun.

This is a BETA release and I expect at some point to release an update hopefully without having to rename the files; please expect that.

SeaPack Way early beta version! Contains: non-U4E SterlingSea map, and the flooded version of Torlan.

Note: This zip file does not include the following mods, which you will need to support it:

SinkPack2004, Annihilation Arsenal, and UT2005Navy
(UT2005NAVY requires UT2004Navy*, which requires AirpowerIII)

This is a BETA release and I expect at some point to release an update hopefully without having to rename the files; please expect that.

SeaPack Way early beta version! Contains: non-U4E SterlingSea map, and the flooded version of Torlan.

Note: This zip file does not include the following mods, which you will need to support it:

SinkPack2004, Annihilation Arsenal, and UT2005Navy
(UT2005NAVY requires UT2004Navy*, which requires AirpowerIII)

At some point, I would like to release more "SeaPack" boards supporting the Navy and the other aquatic vehicles out there. (Would anyone be interested in helping out?) I'm going on vacation tomorrow, and when I get back, I'm looking into helping Xyx & Shinzon with something. I should then help out U4E with something ELSE.... But after that, or at the same time, I can start moving slowly on this again.

Whoops - I forgot that Monarch doesn't have the DL up for that (UT2004Navy) any more... Since he said he didn't mind if I created stuff with it...

SeaPatch for March (a) - Contains a flooded RedPlanet and ArcticStronghold. RedPlanet has some YoJoe vehicles in it, however I noticed that in at least one test, my FPS dropped to OMG levels when the KillerWhale came into view... Gotta go tell Scot_G about that.

SeaPatch for March (b) - Contains a deeper IslandHop, an updated VCTF-NavalCombat, and a tweak for the wbNavy.u -- basically lets you enter the ManOWar if a bot is in control, so you can kick it out.

Oh, and I compiled EVERYTHING that's needed into one RAR file... but it's currently about 150 meg. :P  So, I need to do some cleaning, I think, before I can post that.


First newsletter post

>> Wednesday, September 14, 2005

This is going to be a major first test of my new "newsletter" system going out to family, friends, and aquaintances... So hopefully you remember me - there are a lot of old email addresses that I haven't used in a while entered into the database.

So what's news? My wife Elena and I have been living in South Saint
Paul, Minnesota for three and a half years, ever since she arrived here from Ukraine. It's been nice and peaceful here, but we're soon going to be moving to Woodbury, having bought a new townhome there that's larger and more up-to-date (We've found more than enough oddities with the electrical and general repairs that the previous owners of our current house put in...) Our direct family (Thank you guys) helped out SO MUCH in polishing this current place up that it sold in an amazing 5 days of being on the market. We'll be in limbo for a little while, since our new home won't actually be ready until approximately Nov. 30th (+/- 2wks).

So do please update your records! Email addresses and telephone numbers are going to stay the same. If you don't have our telephone number, just respond to this and ask. (Or, change that: just respond to this so that I know you're alive!)

During that limbo, we're actually going to be using some of that time, plus some vacation, to head back to Ukraine so that "pra-babushka" can see her great granddaughter. (News flash: If you didn't know, we've got a nearly-one-year-old daughter named Leilani who is just absolutely wonderful, perfect, beautiful, (assume that the adjectives go on and on
here).) We're actually leaving in two days, so things have been horribly hectic for a while now. Assuming this emailer works, I'll actually be able to keep EVERYONE updated as we go.

It's too late at night to continue; this has taken quite a while to set up!
God bless,
Daniel, Elena, and Leilani Overlander


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