||[Apr. 1st, 2004|10:16 pm]
Phrembah (a potato-like mystery)
Somehow a strange URL found it's way to my desk this afternoon. It was a website authored by a Russian (I think) woman who likes to ride her 147 hp Kawasaki Ninja through the "dead zone" around Chernobyl. She is mostly, she says, attracted by the empty roads and streets where she can unleash her Ninja and go like a bat out of hell without regard for other human traffic, 'cuz there isn't any.
She takes a dosimeter (new-agey Geiger counter like thing) with her and says that if you stay on the asphalt, the radiation is somewhat above normal, but very survivable. Apparently, the asphalt did not absorb much radiation, but as you step off into the dirt and grass and whatnot, the radiation jumps four or five times immediately and, in some places, climbs quickly to deadly levels. Her father is a nuclear physicist who has been studying the effects of the melt-down for the last 18 years. He says that her driving scares him a lot more than the radiation.
She has gone off the road exploring and has taken a lot of photographs (which is what the website is about), always carefully monitoring the radiation levels. She says that near the reactor, buildings with windows open in the direction of the power plant are almost always too hot to enter, but that you can actually go into others that were shielded more or less from the dust and debris.
I got totally absorbed in the site and ended up looking at all of the pictures and reading all of the captions. The captions are in broken English, but verge on poetic in a few places like (I cleaned up the English some):
My dad used to say that people are afraid of a deadly thing which they cannot see, can not feel, can not smell. Maybe that is because those words describe death itself.
It is a "last day of Pompeii" sort of place.
And in describing an abandoned residence where, because of some markings on a wall calendar, she imagines the man who lived there was on a fishing trip when the disaster occurred:
I wonder how this guy felt, who once went for a fishing trip and who was not able to return home. It is like your life is cut in two pieces. In one your slippers are still under your bed, photos of a first love are still on the piano... In the other are you, yourself, your memories and a fishing rod.
A weird trip for a Thursday afternoon.