Friday, August 17, 2007

New Posts

I've posted three new posts that were supposed to have posted in July during my trip. There's some problem with Flickr and the blog posting function so these never arrived here. Sorry.

Shocking! (It's a pun...honest.)

Shocking! (It's a pun...honest.)
Originally uploaded by matthew_reames.

(This post was originally written on Friday, July 27, 2007)

What is it, you ask?

It's down inside the Vilnius Power Plant.

Yes, down inside the Vilnius Power Plant. Now, it hasn't actually been in service since 1998 but for many years it provided power and heat to much of Vilnius.

Today I went to the Lithuanian Energy Museum. It's inside the turbine hall of the old power plant and contains quite a few power-related objects, including the three original turbines, a model of a Soviet-era nuclear power plant, the plant control room, many small electrical circuit things, and a couple cars.

In the middle of the hall are two large openings, allowing access to the under-floor workings of the power plant. One opening has an inviting ladder. (Okay, it's not so much inviting as it is tempting.) I went back to the desk and, in a mixture of Russian, Lithuanian and English, I asked if I could go down. (Before you get too impressed with my language skills, the Russian was an approximation of "excuse me," the Lithuanian was "thank you" (at least I hope that's what I've been saying to people this week) and the English was "down, yes" all accompanied by pointing and nodding hopefully.)

The old man said I could go down so I headed back to the ladder. Just as I was climbing down, deep into the inner workings of this former power plant, the man appeared. Had I misunderstood? But no. He was bringing me a flashlight.

So I descended into the rusting hulk of machinery. As I wandered around in the not-totally-dark-but-not-really-light-enough-to-see-too-much, so many questions crossed my mind.

"What are all these pipes for?"

"Why are the labels in Russian rather than Lithuanian?"

"What happens if I fall through these floor panels"?

"What is the Lithuanian word for 'aesbestos'"?

But as you can see, I made it out alive and respiratorily sound.

More about the Lithuanian Energy Museum at

I feel like a Jetson!

I feel like a Jetson!
Originally uploaded by

(Originally written on Friday, July 27, 2007.)

Yesterday (I think that would make it Thursday...don't laugh...I put the wrong MONTH on four postcards today), I visited the Vilnius Television Tower. The tower is historically important to Lithuania. Fourteen unarmed civilians were killed and 700 were injured while trying to fend off the Soviet military during the events of January 13, 1991.

At its very top, there are lots of antennas and things like that. But 160 meters (that's 524.9 feet) up is an obervation deck complete with revolving restaurant! (Have you noticed yet the definite geekiness of my trip?)

For years I've wanted to eat in a revolving restaurant. I don't know just sounds cool

And it was. I'm not sure what it was like during Soviet times, but the observation deck and restaurant level is now decorated like something out of the Jetsons (although I don't remember any origami birds in the cartoon).

(If you don't remember the Jetsons, it was a cartoon set in "the future" where everyone flew in flying saucers had robot maids, and ate in flying-saucer-like restaurants...which is where the Vilnius Television Tower revolving restaurant comes in.)

Anyway, the tables and booths are arranged on a rotating platform along the outer wall of the observation deck. The platform rotates once every hour or so (wikipedia says 45 minutes, but for me it was about 60). I had a wonderful lunch of pepper steak and baked potatoes, all while watching the Vilnius-ian landscape below.

The photo shows the seat across from me and the wall curving away in the background. Apologies for the poor photo. For some reason, at this most interesting of sightseeing sites, you're not allowed to take pictures. I saw no less than four signs telling me this. I asked my waiter if I could take pictures out the window and he looked oddly at me and said he didn't know, all the while looking worriedly over his shoulder. (Contrast this no-photo rule with the post below.)

More about the Vilnius Television Tower at

Ismok Skaiciuoti!

Ismok Skaiciuoti!
Originally uploaded by matthew_reames.

As a math teacher, I'm always on the lookout for new and exciting math-related objects. And if I can't find new and exciting, I'll settle for old and boring.

This one probably falls somewhere in between. It's not new but I don't think it's too terribly boring. Ismok Skaiciuoti is the name on the box. Inside I found ten wooden blocks. It's basically a set of math blocks rather than alphabet blocks. One block is a standard 1-6 die (with dots instead of numbers), three blocks are printed with various numbers and the other six blocks have numbers on five sides and a symbol (either plus, minus or equals) on the remaining side.

Ah...I can't wait to use these back at school in September! Just think of the possibilities!

(And what does Imok skaiciuoti mean? One google search tells me, "Ismok skaiciuoti iki 10 visomis kalbomis." I'd like to think it means "Math blocks are 10 times the fun!" or something like that...)