A great sign, found here:
Hat tip to Micheal Bane.
Larry is a funny guy, and his response is hilarious.
Some thoughts from my trip to Moscow:
1) Russians love to play American music. Unfortunately, they also believe that the American music scene stopped in 1987, and they LOVE to play American music. I should have known when I got off of my Aeroflot flight when they were playing an instrumental version of “Porgy and Bess” that something was not quite right. There was a lot of Abba and mid 80′s Madonna.
2) You cannot swing a dead cat in a Russian business hotel without hitting one, if not several, young ladies offering “professional companionship.” Sunday evening there were several ladies of the evening in the hotel but by mid-week the guest::hooker ratio was rapidly approaching dangerous proportions. As near as I was able to discern, the going rate is $100-$200 US$ per hour, and pre-payment is encouraged. There is no pay-at-the-pump option as far as I can tell.
3) Contracts. In Russia contracts are more like guidelines, really. Kind of like a fantasy baseball: a fun enough diversion, but not having any relation to the real world. True story: one of our speakers showed us a building that they were building that had received the necessary approvals. The mayor of Moscow happened to be driving by the site, and decided it was “too tall.” They were forced to shorten the tower. Total cost to builder: $4.5 million $US.
4) Related story: When they told us the above story, it was being relayed through a translator. Being a finance guy, I asked “How much contingency is generally budgeted for in Russian building projects?” I got a blank stare. “Contingency? You know, like for unexpected things that might come up?” “Oh, you mean bribes!” “Err….no.”
I’m had a good time, and learned a whole lot. Moscow, architecturally, reminds me of the South Bronx. The architecture is about of the same period, and like the Bronx it looks like it was built and then never maintained. The Russian economy is very dependent on oil…the price of oil drives everything, and building projects shut down when it gets too low. The food was, surprisingly, very good. The food at the hotel was essentially inedible, but I was able to go to several restaurants that were excellent. Including, incidentally, Макдоналдс. A cheeseburger is 25 rubles…about 85 cents at the current exchange rate. I got 2 burgers and”Coca-Cola Light” for 90 rubles. It was a little slice of heaven.