Six students from the University of Pittsburgh Honors College trek across Mongolia in search of illumination, perspective, and the perfect cup of Yak-milk tea.

Saturday, May 28, 2005


   The People's Blog Title Liberation Front (Peoria, Illinois chapter) is proud to report the successful rescue of the authors of the "Shangbye!" post, and are gloriously elated to see them back at work.
   Over the years, I've noticed that you have to have a certain type of weird name to work in the news business. Examples, of course, include Wolf Blitzer, Stone Phillips, and Extravaganza McSpectacular. I admit that I made one of those names up; nobody in their right mind would name their child Wolf Blitzer. In keeping with this storied journalism tradition, my new reporting name is Tad Whitingdowns.
   We go now to Moscow. Tad, could you please describe the mood on the ground at the Ismailov Gamma-Delta Hotel?
  Stone, the mood here is best described as pensive vigilance. I have no idea what that means; it just sounds good. The six University of Pittsburgh students who embarked on this journey nearly twelve days ago remain upbeat and pensively vigilant as they prepare to fly to Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia in order to complete the last leg of their journey. They leave Moscow with both academic insights into Russia's painful economic transition and practical perspectives on the upper limits of strain that clothing can withstand when stretched across the human body.
   Having gotten just a taste of that this city of ten million has to offer, some of the students have expressed a strong desire to return. Others, at various times, have expressed strong desires for bottled water, not being hit by the Metro trains, and stopping for lunch.

   Tad, what do you make of rumors that Jon Grasman will continue to be called Dumpling Man?
   Stone, with all of the uncertainty that dogs the future of this intriguing country, there are few sure bets. However, two things can be said with relative certainty. First, the Cathedral of Learning is taller than Moscow State University's Cathedral of Being Shorter Than The Cathedral of Learning. Second, Jon Grasman will continue to be called Dumpling Man for the foreseeable future. Tune in some time next week when I'll be reporting from Mongolia. This is Tad Whitingdowns, in Moscow.