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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Mac vs PC (Or Soar with the Eagles)
George Jetson (aka Fred Flintstone)

The revelation came at a discussion with a Bedrock graphic designer at a New Year party. As a long-time Mac addict, I asked her if she used a Mac. No, I prefer a PC, its much better. This was a surprise because in the known world (except for Bedrock, it appears) no self-respecting designer would be seen without a Mac. I couldnt let this go: What do you mean better?

Well, a PC is much cheaper and I can repair it myself. If something goes wrong I can upgrade a driver, replace a piece of hardware or even write or download some software to tweak it. You can get them repaired anywhere. And the interface is about the same anyway. It was then that I flashed on the fact that these were the same arguments I had used in favor of a Zhiguli over an inomark (import car). Just watch the Apple Mac vs PC web and TV ads.

The Zhiguli is cheap to buy (currently $5,250) and I was twice able to install a new $7 fuel pump myself in a few minutes. It s easy to get a jump in Moscow when the Zhiguli doesnt start or to have it towed when it just stops. But then with a good, late-model inomark you dont need to repair it because it starts and runs with no tweaking at all, just like a Mac. It s true that both the Zhiguli and an inomark have almost the same kind of interface; a steering wheel, an accelerator pedal and a brake, but there the resemblance ends.

Oh! By the way, I had arrived at the New Year party in our new Nissan; the Flintstones have made another attempt to fly with the eagles and now we feel like the Jetsons. Im glad I had the chance to cut my teeth on Moscow roads and with Moscow drivers in our Pomegranate Pyaturka, but we have graduated up and now at 60 km/hr we can actually hear the stereo over the road noise. Two hours in Bedrock traffic is at least tolerable, insulated from the soot and smoke. This morning at -17 degrees, our Silver Streak started right up.

So far we have been able to hold onto the Nissan, unlike our previous attempt with another Japanese import that disappeared off the Garden Ring within 24 hours of delivery. After hearing from so many people that it was probably the dealer we were paranoid. In the U.S., stolen cars usually end up as parts, but in Bedrock new cars are apparently sold more than once. The dealer has the key security codes, your home and business address, and, if they talk you into it, they install all the other security features.

This time we avoided the dealer for the extra security devices. I even brought a Club from the U.S. figuring the locals wouldnt have key copies like they might for those sold in Moscow. Wilmas driving instructor advised, Take it to a guarded lot and dont move it for a week or two. Theyll give up trying to find it, and in two weeks realize it might have too many miles and road wear to still sell as new.

There were a few glitches at the dealer, such as no owners manual. The model we ordered came with 16 inch rims instead of the standard 15 inch. We cant get snow tires for the 16, so youll have to get a set of 15 rims if you want snow tires, stated the salesman. And lastly, our new pet ran out of gas before we left the dealers lot. They poured in a couple of liters and told us where to find the nearest gas station. As they say, it s hard to soar with the eagles when you run with turkeys.

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