Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Survivor: RI

This week Matt won the challenge on Redemption island (again) and Stephanie was sent home. Then the two tribes came neck-to-neck in the main challenge, but in the end Boston Rob's team won again (thanks to Grant.) The one tribe took a helicopter ride to an active volcano and had a picnic. The other went to Tribal and sent Sarita out. The look on her face was priceless because she was so sure Dave would be going that she didn't bring any of her things.
Next week it looks like the two tribes merge together and the winner from Redemption Island rejoins the game - hopefully it's Matt.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


This week they started in China with tea and ended in India with tea. Every time I see a show like this it makes me never want to go to China or India (they are just too crowded and dirty.) The teams had to taste a bunch of teas to find a mango one and then either deliver books to a school or paint one of the Indian Gods. I would have done the book challenge as the painting one seemed to take forever. In the end Margie and Luke were sent home. As of right now I would like Jet and Cord to win.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Survivor: RI

On Redemption Island Krista and Matt fought against each other and Matt won. He continues to stay on the Island. Andrea got upset because she thinks Krista and Matt bonded while on the Island (since Krista gave Matt her Bible.)
Philip was his usual creepy self. He said that he was a Federal Agent for only 4 years - which makes me think he didn't pass his mental tests and didn't do such a good job as he claims (usually government workers stay in until they retire.)
The tribe with Boston Rob won the challenge and got a picnic as a reward. The other team went to Tribal where Stephanie was sent to Redemption Island - no surprise there.


Last Sunday the teams were still in China and had to chose between either dressing up in traditional costumes and putting dolls in the correct order as the real-live characters or they had to put together a solar water heating system. There were two U-turns (Jamie and Cara and Flight Time and Big Easy got the U-turns.) They had to do both tasks. Then afterwards the teams had to put a dinosaur together - that seemed very hard. Mallory and Gary used their pass to not do the challenge and yet they still came in second after Jet and Cord.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

New Registration Rules

From Moscow Times:
"No More Police Fines for Incorrect Registration Papers"

Police will no longer be allowed to collect fines from foreigners with invalid or missing registration papers, according to a bill aimed at easing registration rules that was approved by the Federation Council on Wednesday. Instead, the party that issued the foreigner's visa invitation will be held responsible for violations.
"The bill stipulates that the inviting party, usually the employer, is responsible for any such violation," said Vladimir Kobzev, head of the legal department of the Russo-German Chamber of Commerce. He said employers should inform their foreign staff to always carry valid registration to avoid fines being slapped on the company, which can be as high as 500,000 rubles ($17,500). The hitherto little-publicized detail in the registration legislation is supposed to reduce extortion, "because a police officer can no longer demand money directly on the street," Kobzev said. The main thrust of the bill is to ease registration rules by lengthening the period foreigners can be in the country without notifying authorities, from three to seven working days. It also abolishes a recent reform requiring landlords to register foreign tenants at their factual addresses, reinstating the previous rule of registering at the employers' address. The amendment was initiated after foreign businesses complained about the new rules, which came into effect Feb. 15, because many landlords refused to comply with them. The State Duma swiftly approved the changes last Friday, and a senator's aide said Wednesday that there was a good chance that the bill would come into effect by the end of the month. "The bill was passed and sent to the Kremlin today," said an aide to Federation Council Senator Alexei Alexandrov, who oversaw the vote Wednesday. The aide, who refused to give his name, said it was likely that President Dmitry Medvedev would sign the bill into law before March 31. Asked when Medvedev would sign the law, a Kremlin spokeswoman promised to look into the matter but did not reply as of late Wednesday. Kobzev said he was impressed by the unusual speed of the bill's passage. "This is amazing efficiency by our lawmakers," he said by e-mail.
Experts said that while immigration authorities in Moscow have shown flexibility in dealing with last month's registration reform, there has been considerable confusion in the regions. "We had a lot of problems in St. Petersburg, where authorities demanded landlords' passports and other unnecessary documents for registration," said Alexei Filippenkov of the Visa Delight agency, who also chairs the migration committee at the Association of European Businesses. His frustration was echoed by Christopher Gilbert, head of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce. "It seems there is a mismatch between the documents demanded centrally from the Federal Migration Service and regional branches," he said by telephone. "There are many examples where regional authorities ask for documents that are actually not necessary. The further you go from the capital, the less coherent it becomes."

^ If this is passed and actually enforced it will be a step in the right direction. It only makes sense that an unregistered visa fee be given to the Russian sponsor since every Russian Visa has to have a Russian sponsor and only the sponsor can register a Visa. It will also do a lot to stop corrupt Russian police since they can't (officially) take any fees or fines. ^

Survivor: RI

This week was alright - although not much new happened. On Redemption Island Kristina and Matt fought against each other and Matt won again. Matt was pretty dumb in saying he wanted to get back with his alliance with Rob and Grant at his former tribe - the people who voted him out.
The tribes had to work blind-folded during their Reward/Immunity Challenge which at first seemed difficult, but really wasn't. Stephanie was the caller for her tribe and they lost while Rob was the caller for his and they won.
Krista and Stephanie were the typical desperate females on the show and I am glad Krista was voted out (although I wouldn't have cared if Stephanie went.) At Tribal Krista tried to tell all the little secrets of her tribe before she left.
There was nothing on the Phil front. He was still his usual creepy self. He even thinks he can get enough people to have a coup and become the leader of his tribe. I guess he doesn't realize that no one on his tribe likes him.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Comonwealth Day

Today is Commonwealth Day in the Commonwealth of Nations. I recently had my Canadian Citizenship restored to me (I am now a dual Canadian-American) and as such am also a citizen of the Commonwealth. I couldn't really find out much about Commonwealth Day other than most countries do not make it a holiday or do anything special for it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


This week they went from Japan to China (although Kent and Vixin didn't get on the "required" flight so that could hurt them.)The teams had to ride a yak and then take a gondola up a mountain and find the different Chinese zodiac signs. Most of the teams then did the candy challenge and then headed to the Pit Stop only to be told they were still racing.
I can not stand Ron and Christina. He is constantly nasty and not the smartest. He is a bitter old man who can't stop eating even though he is on a race. I really hope they do not win.
I don't have a team right now that I really want to win.

Survivor: RI

Last week Russel was sent to Redemption Island where he had to go against Matt. In the end Matt won and Russel cried. It it so good to know that he is out of the game for good and that out of his 3 times on the show he still hasn't won (although he has tried to buy the title.)He was a weasel of a player who used the weakest and dumbest to his advantage. Philip was his usual creepy self (both at his camp and while visiting Redemption Island.) Rob found the idol for his tribe and let everyone think Kristina had it so she was voted out and sent to Redemption Island.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Iceland And Home

The next day we checked-out of our hotel and waited with several other people (including the CT family) for the shuttle bus. Again, Icelanders’ lack of good numbering skills came into play. The tour company sent a 10 seat shuttle bus for 12 people. I made sure to get on with my mom right away (while my sister and dad took care of the bags and chair) and saved two seats for them. Two people - including one from CT – tried to take one of the seats, but I stood my ground and they backed down. When we got to the depot there was a larger bus that was almost filled to capacity. Again, I took my mom and we walked the whole length of the bus until I was lucky to find 4 empty seats together. I had to constantly tell the tour company woman that the seats were for my sister and dad (she kept wanting to give them to other people.) My sister and dad couldn’t get past the group from CT to get back to the seats and I mentioned that to the tour lady and she told the extra people to get off and wait for the next bus while my dad and sister got to their seats and we left. My sister told me that the driver was the same, nice one we had the day before which was good to hear.
We went to the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa. When we got there it was windy and snowy. We took our bags and chair off the bus and put them in a small, locked shed. We then had to walk about 10 minutes to the front door. My sister and mom went to the women’s locker room while my dad and I went to the men’s. The lockers were pretty small and it was a little confusing at first to learn how to open and close them with our wristbands. You then had to take a shower before going into the Lagoon. My dad was still getting ready when I went and found my sister and mom. We opened the door to go outside and it was beyond freezing. The short walk to the lagoon was awful. Then the water in the lagoon was lukewarm at best – I was expecting hot. After some time I got out and found my dad who took a picture of my sister and me swimming in the lagoon (my mom waited inside because of the wind and snow blowing on her – that is where we saw the guys from NYC again who gave us their table to sit down as there were no other ones available.) My sister kept seeing everyone put this white stuff on their faces and so she had me dive to the bottom several times where I kept getting black sand. We finally asked a couple where they got the white stuff from and found it was on the side of the lagoon.
We then got out, cleaned up and dressed. We had an hour before the bus to the airport and so we asked the woman at the restaurant if an hour was enough time to order and eat (vs the café) and she said it was. We ordered burgers and 15 minutes before we had to leave we asked where out food was and it came right out. My mom said it must be a game for the restaurant because several other tables had to complain for their food before it was brought right out. We quickly ate and then had to walk back to the bus in extreme wind and snow (it was so bad we had to keep our heads down and just walk fast.) I could have skipped the Blue Lagoon as it wasn’t much fun for me – my sister liked it though.
The bus took us to Keflavik Airport where we checked-in. The Departures section of the Airport is a lot better than the Arrivals. We had no problems through security although we did have to take off our shoes – which most European Airports don’t make you do. We were in the central waiting area. I found all the Haribo candy I wanted and a lot of Kinder Chocolate (although no Kinder Eggs) in the Duty Free Shop. We then tried to use up the last of the Kroners we had and bought some drinks. We were 20 Kroners short and I said I won’t get one of the drinks when the nice cashier woman gave it to me. We then did the VAT Refund and actually got a good amount of back. We have always done that in Ireland, the UK, Germany, etc and never got anything back. It was nice to finally get something back – although it was in Kroners.
We then headed to the gate 15 minutes away. We went through Icelandic Immigration and started walking past a desk where two women were talking and had no signs. Apparently they were there to make sure only people headed to the US went beyond that point, but there was no way to know that just by looking at them. We waited by the gate for Boston (where I saw the NYC guys waiting for their flight to JFK.) My dad and sister did some more shopping. I told the gate people again about pre-boarding and was told it was a full flight.
When it was time to board a woman took us to an elevator and then left. The flight was basically the same as coming over only no bags dropped on us. The CT family was on-board (I was glad when we finally landed and never saw them again) as well as a bunch of students from Harvard Business School who were annoying as they won’t make room down the aisle. I did take some nice pictures when we flew low over Greenland.
When we landed we got our chair right away (the guy thought we had a connecting flight although I never told him we did) and headed to Immigration. We went through a special lane where the guy was very nice, friendly and funny – he told us a story about an American family who came back from Iceland and couldn’t pronounce things. It was very fast and efficient. We took the elevator down to baggage. All the bags except my dad’s came out pretty quickly. We then went through Customs and then headed to the covered walk-way to the Hilton. We spent a night there since my sister had an early flight home the next morning. We had dinner at Hilton Restaurant and had a very lazy waiter who we had to keep complaining to for everything. We then went to our rooms and went to sleep. The next morning we walked to the airport where my sister checked-in for her direct flight home (there was a large group of middle schoolers on front of us who slowed everything down.) When my sister went through security we got our car and drove 3 hours home in the pouring rain.
For the most part the trip to Iceland was a lot of fun. It was nice to go someplace with my dad and sister (and of course my mom who always goes with me – since she pays.) It would have been nice if my brother and his family could have also come.

Reykjavik: Day 3

On our third day we took a tour of the Golden Circle. We waited in the hotel lobby for a shuttle bus to pick us up. There was a family from Connecticut (that we would see several times) also waiting for the same tour. The shuttle came and we took it to the depot where we got onto a bigger tour bus. The bus was pretty crowded, but the four of us all found seats together close to the front. It was an 8 hour tour. The guide said everything in English and then German because there were several Germans on-board. I heard her say that she didn’t know she was going to be using German and thought it was pretty rude when the same German guy kept correcting her. If I was the guide I would have just switched to English and made the German guy mad. Also at every stop there was another German guy who kept standing right behind me pushing me to get off faster (while I was helping my mom.) He was a complete douche and I let him know it.
We stopped in the town of Hveragerdi at a rest area. Then we went to the Skalholt Cathedral (which is on the site of the first Icelandic Church.) At the beginning of the tour it was snowing and then at the end it was raining and windy. After Skalholt we went to a waterfall (I don’t remember the name) and then went to the Gullfoss. The Gullfoss is where the Atlantic and European Tectonic plates meet. We had to walk about a mile from the bus to the Gullfoss. It was extremely windy to the point that it was pushing you. My mom and sister turned around and went inside the store before seeing it and I would have too, but I wanted to take a few pictures – which turned out really well.
After the Gullfoss we went to the Strokkur Geysir. We had lunch at the café at the gift shop (it was my first Icelandic cheeseburger and was alright although cold – I was too hungry to care and ate two.) We then walked along the geysirs and took pictures. We even walked up to the Strokkur Geysir right as it erupted. Our last stop was to Thingvellir. Thingvellir is the site where the Icelandic Parliament was held from the 1100s – 1700s before moving to Reykjavik. The guide and most passengers got out of the bus in the pouring rain and walked about 2 miles up hill while the rest of us rode the bus to the top and got off only to take pictures and go to the gift shop – yet I still got soaked.
We then made our way back to Reykjavik. The guide was asking where everyone wanted to get off and since we had a large bus that couldn’t go through most of the narrow city streets people were let off at intersections closest to their hotel. When it came to us we asked the guide to let us off at the closest taxi stand so we could take a taxi back to the hotel. After the guide talked to the driver she said that they would take us back to the depot where the driver would drive us to our hotel by the small shuttle bus (she even offered the same thing to the family from CT, but they were weird and randomly got off in the middle of nowhere.) We gave the guide and driver a tip because both did a good job and helped us. The driver spoke English really well (as did the guide of course.)
We were pretty tired from our day tour that we decided just to eat at the hotel’s restaurant. Again, most things were fish, but we all ordered steak “well done.” When it came out it was still bleeding. Usually I would send it back until they got it right, but being tired from jet-lag and the tour I just ate it. We then went up to our rooms where I spent the next two hours downloading my pictures onto Facebook and then packed.

Reykjavik: Day 2

The second day we had the day to explore more of Reykjavik. My mom, sister and I ate lunch at the Caruso Restaurant (which our hotel recommended.) It was pretty good although the non-seafood choices were slim. I had spaghetti carbanara (which reminded me of our trip last December to Dubrovnik.) We did some souvenir shopping (they have lots of shirts, books, etc about that one volcano that disrupted flights in Europe last year.)After lunch my dad joined us and we went around the city more. One of the main attractions we went to was the Hallgrimskirkja Church. We even went up in its tower. It was really nice although not very old (built last century.) We also went into several grocery stores where I was looking for Haribo and Kinder chocolate. I didn’t find any Kinder chocolate and the only Haribo candy was black licorice which I do not like. We also saw many odd sites like an English Pub that only has Icelandic beer or a Mexican Restaurant that also serves traditional Icelandic food.
At 6 pm we got picked up by a shuttle bus and went on a brewery tour called “Taste of the Sagas.” It was a small tour group which included my family, a couple from Massachusetts that obviously had just left their trailer park and a group of businessmen from New York City (we would see the NYC guys later.)Our guide’s name was Olaf – even though she was female. She spoke excellent English and really tailored her presentation to her audience. We got to taste a bunch of different Icelandic beer and soda. We also learned that beer was illegal in Iceland from the 1930s until 1989 (although hard liquor was legal.) During the walking part of the tour we had to put on protective hats and looked very funny. We liked the guide and the tour a lot and so gave her a tip. I should mention that people in Iceland do not expect tips and so they are genuinely surprised and pleased when you give them one.
After the brewery tour we had dinner at the Mexican Restaurant I mentioned above. It was called “Tabasco’s” and was pretty funny. It was a Mexican Restaurant that also served traditional Icelandic food made by a Chinese chef. It was warm and cozy and the food was good. It turned out to be pretty pricey though. Afterwards we took a taxi back to the hotel.

Reykjavik: Day 1

We took the shuttle bus (where this driver could speak English really well) to our hotel – the Hotel Odinsve. The Odinsve is a 4 star hotel in downtown Reykjavik. The staff were very helpful (sometimes above and beyond), the continental breakfast buffet was large by European standards. Even though it was before the regular check-in time (it was around 8-9 am) we got our rooms right away. The rooms were a little small (especially the bathroom where you had to hold your breath to fit into the enclosed shower) and looked straight out of an Ikea catalog. My parents’ room was nicely heated while my sister’s and mine was constantly cold. Also Icelandic water smells and tastes like sulphur which does not make it fun to brush your tooth or shower.
The first day we were very tired with jet-lag (Iceland is 5 hours ahead of NH and is in the same time zone as the UK.) The rain had stopped and my mom, sister and I walked around the capital. There was no snow anywhere, but the city is very hilly so I had to be careful with the chair. We couldn’t really find any place to eat and so we had lunch at a bakery. Throughout our stay in Iceland it was weird to hear the totals for everything since the numbers where in the thousands. $1 US Dollar is 115 Icelandic Kroner. While everyplace we went to (restaurants, taxis, stores, etc) took credit cards even for small purchases it made me do a double-take when the cashier said the total was 320 (meaning Kroner), etc.
That night we had a prepaid voucher to go to the Restaurant Reykjavik (which apparently the Icelanders call the Café Reykjavik – even though the sign outside says Restaurant – once we got that straightened out with the taxi guy with the help of the hotel’s front desk we were finally on our way.) The Restaurant was in the center of the city. It turns out that we were just a block or two from where we “couldn’t find any place to eat lunch.” Had we only gone a block or two we would have found a bunch of cafes and restaurants. Oh well. We were early for our dinner and show and so waited inside on some couches. It turns out that our prepaid voucher entitled us to either the large fish buffet or lamb – and I don’t eat either. I got the fish buffet just so I could have the non-seafood items (hot asparagus soup, cold rice, cold potatoes and cold red cabbage – luckily I like cold red cabbage.) I stocked up on those for my meal and had some dessert. Then we went downstairs for an hour-long comedy show about Iceland’s history. As it turned out we were the only people in the audience. The guy performing was pretty good and funny. He even had my sister play a slave who killed him (as king.)
After the show we took a taxi back to the hotel and had a small snack at the hotel’s bar before going to bed.

Flight To Iceland

My parents and I drove to Boston’s Logan Airport. We parked the car and took a shuttle bus to the terminal. We met my sister’s plane (and it a little nerve wracking since she had to make a connection with only 40 minutes to spare) and had to wait several hours to check- in. When it came time to check- in we went to the IcelandAir desk (where there was no line) and had no issues although the woman thought she was doing us a favor by changing our seats to closer in the plane, but instead of all four of us sitting next to each other my sister was sat in the same row number as us but at the window and not the aisle. Once we got rid of our bags we had dinner at a restaurant right before security. My mom and I had eaten there before and it was good. There is one very annoying waiter there, but luckily we never get him (although you can hear him constantly talking.)Our food was good though.
After we ate we went through security. This time I didn’t have to go through the full-body scanner nor get the extensive pat-down. I simply walked through the metal detector and that was that. There was small incident with a stupid TSA woman running the x-ray machine. She kept yelling for people to pick up their items and move away from the security area. Since I was waiting for my mom to be finished I stayed right where I was. I will never understand why the TSA has some many lanes and employees just standing talking to each other and yet only have two lanes open when most of the international flights at the same time.
We waited for our flight and even reminded the guy at the gate that we would need to pre-board and yet when it came to boarding they were unprepared for us. We took the elevator to the plane where I had to ask the flight attendant to take the chair while we went to our seats (since no one from the airline was there to help us.)
IcelandAir is not the best or most modern airline. The plane looks like it is from the 1980s. It is also the only trans-Atlantic airline that makes you pay for all food and yet they only sell light snacks on a 5 hour flight. They also make you pay 3 Euros (even though Iceland doesn’t use the Euro) for headsets to watch movies like “Independence Day” and other films from the 1990s. There was one incident during the flight when the guy behind us got up to take something out of the overhead compartment and a bag with a computer fell right on my mom. It really hurt her and yet the guy made it seem like it wasn’t his fault. He is the only one who stood up and moved things while we were sitting. He was a complete idiot and I let him know just what I thought of him.
When we landed in Keflavik we took the airport’s chair off the plane. We went through Icelandic Immigration (where we had no problems) and then had to get on a bus in the pouring rain (the bus had no ramp and we had to lift the chair off and on) to go to the main terminal. Our bags came within 20 minutes - as promised by IcelandAir – but we had to wait a while for our chair. We then went through Customs where we had to take the Flybus (as per our prepaid vouchers.) I had heard and read that everyone in Iceland speaks English, but found many - especially those in the tourism business – that did not. The bus driver kept speaking in Icelandic to me when I told him he had to put the chair under the bus with our bags. I finally had to get mean and shout “You…… This…… There” and make sure he put it on the bus before I got on and found a seat. I should say here that I have found the majority of Icelandic people do not understand numbers or time (maybe that’s why their whole economy completely collapsed in 2008.) The bus was full to capacity, but more on the numbers and time later. We took the big bus to a depot where the bus driver (speaking only in Icelandic) told us all to get off on top smaller shuttle buses. In the pouring rain my sister had to find which shuttle bus was ours where I got us seats and then helped her and my dad with the chair and bags.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Last week the teams left Australia and flew to Japan. Half the teams got on a flight with a connection in Hong Kong that was supposed to get to Tokyo 15 minutes before the direct plane, but they had a delay and were an hour late. I didn't really care for the challenge they had to do (dress up and perform several things exactly right.) The other challenge (the mud or the waterfall) were better. I would have liked the Chinese father/daughter team be sent home because the dad is just a bitter old man and is very annoying. Instead the father/son team (who look and act more like they are married) were kicked out.

Survivor: RI

I just watched last week's show on Ti-Vo. While I don't think it was neccesary for the one tribe to throw the challenge just to get rid of Russell. They would have lost eventually and then could have gotten rid of him. I am glad that they voted Russell out. He was beyond angry. The only bad thing is that he now goes to Redemption Island and has the opportunity to come back into the game. Hopefully he won't come back and he will be just a memory in this season.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Iceland Bound

I am going to Iceland for a week and will write about the trip when I get back.

Russia's New ID Card

From Moscow Times:
"Kremlin Rolls Out Card That Does All"

Imagine a piece of plastic that gets you a doctor's appointment, pays your bills, allows you to rent a car or buy a plane ticket and even get Moscow registration faster than the sham ads in the Moscow metro. President Dmitry Medvedev promised Monday that three years from now all Russians will have this magic card. He gave the government till May to make final calculations of the funds necessary to introduce the universal electronic card, or UEC, for all citizens and urged banks to not take advantage of card users at the meeting of the commission on modernization and technological development of the economy Monday. The UEC, which will be a kind of Swiss army knife of plastic cards and serve as a combination of a state electronic ID, driver's license, car insurance and migration cards among other possible perks, should be available to Russians by 2014, according to the federal law. The project to create the new e-card could cost the government as much 150 billion rubles ($5.2 billion) to 170 billion rubles ($5.9 billion), Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina told reporters at the modernization commission meeting. The project will have spanned five years, and the cost of card issuance alone will be 40 billion rubles, which puts the cost of one card at 265 rubles ($9), Nabiullina said. The minister promised that all investments in the card would be matched by savings as the new e-card will replace the Russian version of social security cards. While the card offers an almost infinite number of benefits, the list of them is still to be determined, and most other details of the project are still to be worked out. Banks, for one, are not sure whether they will benefit from this innovation. German Gref, chief executive of state-run Sberbank, which is one of the three banks that will help finance the card's development, said banks have so far been reluctant to provide funds for the project because it's "of little interest" commercially, Bloomberg reported. Another danger of introducing such a card is the potential for identity fraud, which often plagues countries that have introduced systems of electronic identification and rely heavily on cards similar to the UEC, experts say.
This is especially the case in Western countries, said Timur Aitov, executive director at the Association of Russian Banks. "Until recently, we have had nothing to steal," he said. But introducing a card that would hold comprehensive data on citizens could put them at high risk of identity theft. Medvedev confessed that, to date, the government has not found a good answer to the question of protecting its citizens' data and he admitted that personal information often circulates on the Internet. But "on its own, protection of such information should not be an obstacle to making the decision to issue cards," Medvedev said. The fact that the card will use a foreign chip should also not stand in the way of the project taking off as soon as possible, Medvedev said. "[We] will not wait till we create our own chip, otherwise it will never be made," the president said. While Medvedev promised that the new card "will improve the lives of tens of millions of people" by cutting through the red tape and allowing Russians to do everything from paying their gas bills to making a doctor's appointment online, experts see ample potential for the card to turn from a magic wand into a weapon that can be used against its owner through fraud and identity theft. Cases of fraud involving plastic debit and credit cards in Russia, according to experts, run as high as 1 percent to 1.5 percent of all cards, and not all of them are reported. Banks, too, will have to weigh potential dangers, Aitov said. "While it's natural for a bank to want to promote itself and get new clients, they must keep the cost in mind," he said. New risks will be brought upon by many "untrustworthy" clients who have never owned a debit or credit card before come on board, making transactions they have no financial backing for, Aitov said. To add to banks' headaches, Medvedev encouraged the government to think about how to regulate tariffs on transactions for commercial and state services, which are controlled by banks. "If citizens will incur high expenses for making a transaction, this will look really bad," he said. "This is why all who will be servicing these cards, all major banks must understand that this is, after all, a social mission and not a source of substantial income." Since the design of the card is still being developed, the president said he hoped the discussion of the design of the new e-card would be fair and objective, unlike the vote for the official Sochi Olympic mascots, where the results of voting on state-run television did not correspond with results of Internet voting. He proposed that people make suggestions for the new card on the Internet. "I hope that it will seem fairer than the discussion of mascots for our Olympics," the president said. "That at least there will not be the dissonance that occurred between the vote on television and the vote on the Internet."

^ Russians have had to carry internal passports throughout history (Czarist, Soviet and Russian.) Now they want to replace the internal passport booklet with a credit card sized one. I am not sure that this new card should be used to do everything (at least not when it first comes out.) The chance of fraud and misuse is too high. The new cards should be issued and used only for ID purposes. After seeing how the new cards work then the government could add other services. ^