Thursday, December 17, 2009

Blogging in Russian

Согласно проведенному опросу, абсолютное большинство посетителей моего блога предпочитают читать его на русском. Что было вполне ожидаемо. Так что пишу снова по-русски, кроме заголовков (иначе Google Blogger создает неудобные URLs).

Those, who want to get an idea what I'm blogging about, can use Google Translate service. Of course, the translation sucks, but it can show the main idea.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Stress and Questions

As it always does this time of year, the stress of the holiday season has been wearing me down slowly, more and more each day, as Christmas is drawing near. I typically have last minute shopping to do for my family and friends because I am unable to buy all of my gifts in advance, but this year I am dreadfully far behind previous years. It could be because of the fact that this year my budget seems to be tighter, so gift choices need to be made on both personal and economic levels, but this excuse seems unlikely, considering it is my first Christmas with a real job out of university. Last year, for example, I was student teaching 5 days a week, with a full-time schedule and a negative income (still paying for school and not earning anything for my teaching), but I was still able to complete my Christmas shopping by buying everything online before the end of October! By this time last year I was happily wrapping my gifts, listening to Christmas music, and relaxing with a big cup of hot chocolate next to the fireplace in my parent's old home. This year, however, Christmas is just over a week away and I have only gotten gifts for my dad, my nephew, one of my nieces, and of course Lyoshka, and I am more stressed than I have ever felt! What changed? Let me explain.



Last year I had an entirely different life in San Luis Obispo. I was a happy, busy student with a clear future path ahead of me. I had no doubt in my mind that I would find the best job in the world, teaching either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade after I graduated with a B.S. and a teaching credential. Little did I know that just a month after winter break I would be moving to Sonoma County, leaving my familiar, safe life behind. Without a job, my parents, or my childhood friends, all I had up here were 3 friendly girls who gladly accepted me as their new roommate. Today, these 3 girls are some of my closest friends after sharing a life with them for nearly a year. They supported me through my first job interview and one of my first experiences of being a newly single girl.

After several months, my parents decided that there was no reason for them to continue their life in San Luis Obispo, despite how much they loved their home and the friendly, familiar town in Southern California, because both my sister and I had migrated to Northern California. My parents sold their home and bought a new one much closer to my sister and I, with the faith that we would not be leaving them any time soon. Although my parents live approximately 40 minutes north of me, it is still convenient for me to visit them whenever necessary, and we enjoy meeting in Santa Rosa for dinner about once a week when I get off work. This whole plan seemed to be working out, but I always knew that my job would be temporary until I could find a better one, which always frightened my mom. With the bad economy, I found myself in a rut because I was grateful to have a job, but I still searched for other opportunities, with little hope and little motivation. This seemed to be an ongoing cycle until I met a boy in July who lived two hours south of me.

I have always been a romantic girl with perfect ideals for how love and life should work out for me, but the idea of moving for a boy even scares a girl like me. When I moved to Sonoma, I imagined I would be here for a very long time if I found a good job and fell in love, then built my home just miles from my parents. I had toyed with the fantasy of moving to the Peninsula so that I wouldn't have to cross a bridge to get to San Francisco, but this just seemed like a dream that probably wouldn't come true because I never had a logical reason to live there.

I love where I live now, not only because I am close to my parents, my sister, and my new friends, but also because there is not as much traffic, crime, or unreasonably priced real estate in the North Bay. Lately, I have been under a lot of pressure to find a new job with a higher salary, but I am worried about moving away from my parents. Recently, my family experienced a life-threatening scare with my dad, which has made me even more hesitant to leave them. Right now, my whole life is in Sonoma, but the one person who has the potential to be the main component of my life lives in Santa Clara. What is a girl to do?

Not only do I have presents to worry about this Christmas, but I also have 2 handfuls of other issues on my plate right now that I am trying to deal with in the middle of my favorite holiday season! Perhaps my dad's healing was a sign that I can move on, or perhaps it was a sign to show me how badly my family actually needs me to be near to them in case of another emergency. Either way, all I can do now is pray for some answers and some stress relief. Perhaps an unbiased opinion from a reader can help me as well :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wedding, comedy club, Tahoe and other stuff

Побывал на американской свадьбе (женился кузен Джулии). Увы, на саму церемонию мы с Джулией опоздали, ибо трафик вечером в пятницу на том направлении (Modesto city) был тяжкий. Добирались 3 часа вместо положеных 1.5. Не увидели мы то, что обычно показывают в американских фильмах - речь пастора, слова "I do, I do", "обменяйтесь кольцами", то-се. Попали только на празднование, которое было... хм... нетипичным. Ни танцев, ни алкоголя, ни мордобоя - ничего не было.
О том, что веселья не будет, я начал подозревать тогда, когда узнал, что свадьба будет в церкви. Потом отец невесты начал свою торжественную речь словами "когда жених пришел ко мне просить благословения, я задал ему один Самый Главный Вопрос: веришь ли ты в то, что самое главное в мире - Бог, что он управляет всем в мире, что о нем надо всегда думать и его любить и т.п. и т.д......" - тут я совсем сник: веселья точно не будет.

Потом была пара танцев - сначала отец невесты с самой невестой, потом первый танец молодоженов. Это было красиво и трогательно. Заставляло задуматься о том, почему у меня всего этого не было и что я еще упустил в жизни.

Мы с Левой и Олегом потом показали Джулии на youtube, что такое русские свадьбы. Пусть знает наших. Она, правда, начала задавать странные вопросы - "а почему невеста орет на кого-то там?", "а почему гости все пьяные и падают?", "а обязательно надо было драться?"... Надо работать над ее просвещением. Культурные различия, куда деваться...

На следующий день после свадьбы поехали с друзьями Джулии на Comedy Show в Сан Франциско. Поводом был день рождения одной из ее подруг. Выглядело это примерно как российский Comedy Club: среднего размера полутемный зал, в нем столики, на сцене комики глумятся над всем подряд, включая пришедших людей. Разумеется, я половину шуток не понял, ну и ладно. Все равно было интересно.

Пара слов про прочие события.
В bay area опять тепло. Сегодня ночью +10, днем ожидается заметно теплее.

Купили красивую елку и игрушки, плюс маленький оттоман в living room вместо старого большого стола, доставшегося от Левы. На днях по почте придет куча покупок, включая всякие украшения и прочее - тогда сфотографирую елку.

Писать я теперь буду понемногу, но чаще. Среди запланированных топиков (по запросам читателей):
- как я поехал в америку
- где/как познакомились с Джулией
- особенности построения отношений с человеком из чужой культуры
- сколько стоит жить в Силиконовой долине (и стоит ли вообще...)

Следущий Weekend планируем провести на Тахо. Я еще не писал, что Лева/Олег/Аня сняли в Тахо большой красивый домик/дачу на всю зиму, чтобы постоянно ездить кататься на горных лыжах. Предыдущие выходные, равно как и эти, на Тахо поехать не удалось. В прошлый раз у Джулии были сложности со здоровьем отца (сейчас он понемногу поправляется, уже выписали из больницы домой), в этот раз Weekend был занят свадьбой и comedy club.
Пора тренировать печень перед новогодними праздниками, которые обязательно должны быть именно на Тахо. Согласно древним Сибирским поверьям, Новый Год без снега - sucks. Должен быть снег за окном, тепло в доме, потрескивающие дрова в камине, мандарины на столе и веселая буйная толпа за/на/под столом. Чего и всем желаю.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Freezing ass


Вот и пришел дубак в Долину. Люди в телевизоре делают большие глаза, пугают "freeze warning" и верещат, что на этой неделе идут рекордные для San Francisco Bay Area холода. Ночью и утром в нескольких городках было ниже ноля. Что для Долины, в общем-то, экстрим, учитывая местные игрушечные домики, больше похожие на картонные сараи по своему качеству. Синие кружочки на карте - температура в цельсиях в данный момент.







Утешает только следующая картинка:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Protected bike lane in San Francisco

В Сан Франциско сделали защищенную полосу для велосипедистов.
Это пока эксперимент, и полоса будет длиться всего 4 квартала.
Жаль, в Сан Хосе и окрестностях такого нет. Тут можно ездить на работу на велосипеде, но придется смириться с тем, что слева на расстоянии двух метров от тебя будут ехать машины со скоростью 80 км/ч. Мне от такого соседства становится неуютно. А вот ездить бы по безопасной дорожке отдельно от машин - эх... Это было бы классно.


Where am I?

Приехал сегодня утром на работу, запарковал машину и вдруг почувствовал себя в России. Почему - не могу понять. Оказывается, я краем глаза заметил номер машины, стоящей передо мной, и мозг начал потихоньку обрабатывать "хм, значит, мы где-то в России".
Хотел было пальцем на пыльном борту написать "Привет", но увы - машина была чистая. Что поделаешь - они тут все чистые... Я свою только один раз в этом году помыл. Грязи на дорогах не бывает. Зимой изредка пройдет дождь - пыль смоет, и все. Тьфу ты, скучно.

То ли дело - брат написал из Новосибирска:

Дорогая редакция! Сегодня утром, выезжая из парковочного сугроба возле дома, зацепил днищем автомобиля пень, который и поехал дальше под машиной, и на котором она в дальнейшем и повисла посреди дороги. Прошу ответить мне, возможно ли такое в Калифорнии?

Tears in Heaven

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Melancholy Holiday Season

In my life, I feel as though I have been fairly blessed. I have two wonderful, loving parents who have taught me the value of so many important things in life and who have shown me the love that I will try to pass on to my future children and husband. Although I am still young, I have had the privilege to travel to several countries, while also earning a respectable education from a reputable university. I have met many wonderful people in my 26 years of life, and I am so grateful for every experience that I have had, whether bad or good, because I know that they have helped to shape the person that I am today.

I have always thanked God for what he has given to myself and my family, and I always knew that he smiled on us with his gifts. There have only been a few times in my life where I have questioned God's intentions and usually I understand them after the dust is settled on whatever dilemma I am facing, but right now I am afraid to admit that I am very confused and scared.

This afternoon when I was in the ICU with my mom and dad, my heart sunk when I overheard the doctor speaking to the nurses in regards to my dad's x-ray. At this point, a risky surgery is very likely to happen in the next couple of days and I can't help to ask God, "why?"

I have been trying to stay very strong for my mother because I know if she saw me cry she would have trouble remaining strong for my dad. I have been taking a lot of time off work lately, mostly for my mom's sake, because I don't like to think about her being alone through all of this. My sister is still unable to visit the hospital because of her cough (not to mention all of the kids are sick), since my dad is still very susceptible to infection, so I feel like I need to be even stronger for my mom. Thankfully, today my uncle drove up to be with us, so it takes some of the pressure off me. Although my dad and my uncle are very close, it is still nice to have someone in the hospital with us who isn't as shaken up about this whole thing, and who can remain calm and even joke a little to keep my dad's spirits up.

Part of me knows that my dad is going to survive because he isn't ready to leave this world yet. My mom NEEDS him and I certainly need him too. He is the kindest man in the world and he has been the best father a girl could ever ask for. Perhaps God is just testing him to be sure that he never smokes again or takes any part of life for granted. After my mom's health trauma several years ago, she saw life from a different angle, so maybe now it is my dad's turn. After tomorrow we will have a more clear idea of what the future holds for him, but until then, all we can do is pray.

If you are a believer, please take the time to pray for my daddy as well. We need all the help we can get!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend

Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, was a half-day at the preschool, closing at 12 noon. On my break, I was able to call my mom and Lyosha to make last minute travel plans. The original idea was to go to my parents house WITH Lyosha, but, unfortunately, he still had a bad fever and my dad is still on doctor's orders to avoid any contact with any sort of sickness, since he is still very prone to infection in his current condition. After discussing the situation with both parties, I finally decided the only option was to visit my parents' without the boy.

My family and I had a lovely Thanksgiving. On Wednesday we went to a local Cloverdale Mexican restaurant for dinner in order to give both my mom and I a break from cooking before the "big day". Thursday greeted us with warm morning sun which did not set a very good appetite for the typical cold-weather food cooked on Thanksgiving. Despite the heat, the warmth and smells from the oven still had a familiar calming effect on my anxious mind during the morning hours as my mom and I frantically prepared for the afternoon meal. Our company was small (our only guest was my uncle from Monterey) because my sister's entire family has been sick for several months and are not allowed to be around my dad. As silly as it sounds, last year we had the exact same attending party, only in San Luis Obispo. My uncle was delighted to visit the new house and spend the first Thanksgiving with us, and we were happy to have him.

After we filled our bellies as much as we could with our turkey feast, we only had 2 hours to rest before heading to Stryker winery, where several of my dad's cousins had gathered for dessert and wine tasting. My cousin's husband is the winemaker there, so they were able to open the tasting room and the cellar for our private family event. Very classy!


(I didn't take these pictures, but they give some idea of what the tasting room looks like)


Friday morning, after saying my goodbyes and packing all the leftovers I could fit into an ice chest, I drove down to Santa Clara to take care of my sick boyfriend. When I arrived at his condo, he was barely awake and I could tell he was still on the verge of death (not literally!). After a shower, he seemed a little better, so Leva brought over 2 of his friends from Seattle and we all had some cake and tea. The cake was delicious, might I add! They invited us to go to Mir Woods with them on Saturday morning, but Lyosha was still unsure of his health, so we declined to confirm the invitation until we knew more.

On Saturday morning we were so tired that we slept almost until noon, so we did not go to Mir Woods. Lyosha was still feeling less than perfect, so we had to think of something to do that was indoors and required little energy. I had been begging Lyosha to take me to see the King Tut display at the De Young museum since I first heard about it last summer, so we decided that it would be a great opportunity to see the exhibit, then meet up with Leva and his friends afterward for dinner.

The Tut exhibit was a little disappointing, only in the fact that I actually expected King Tut's sarcophagus to be part of the display, which it wasn't! The exhibit consisted of some artifacts found in his tomb, and the sarcophagus of a woman who was believed to be related to King Tut in some way. Yes, the artifacts were very cool and they did a good job with everything they had, but I am upset that we paid over $30 for each ticket and I learned that I still have to travel across the world to see the boy king! If you haven't seen the exhibit, I have to recommend it because it is a pretty awesome part of history, but if your only concern is to see King Tut you still have to go to Egypt, so save your $30 and take a pretty girl out to dinner instead.

After a couple of hours in the Tut exhibit, we couldn't look at any of the other art because the museum was closing. At 6:30, we called Leva to coordinate a meeting spot for dinner and conversation. They were on Chestnut, but Lyosha and I decided we wanted Italian food, so we went to North Beach instead. After we found a great parking spot, we walked up and down the streets until we happened upon a little restaurant, which seemed to have a nice menu with decent prices, so we took a seat. I ordered a glass of wine (which was great) and we got 2 cups of soup before our entree's.

The complimentary bread was excellent. The soup was good. The entrees were bland (mine was horrible).

Once again, the soup beats the entree! I thought this idea only stuck in Russia, but after the clam chowder dinner and this, I am fairly convinced that it remains true even in California.

After dinner we were both very tired, especially Alexey with his cold/flu, so we decided to drive back to Santa Clara after stopping at a small coffee shop near the restaurant. At home we enjoyed a quiet night with hot tea, as we watched "Inglourious Basterds" then passed out around 2am. As for movie reviews, I highly recommend that film if you have not already seen it!

Although our plans were changed from a romantic weekend in San Luis Obispo to a weekend in Santa Clara, I was still able to enjoy myself and I am grateful for the time that Lyosha and I were able to spend together. Now the holiday is over and it is back to the work routine until Christmas!

Monday, November 9, 2009

"The soup is always best"

Last Saturday was one of the most romantic evenings we have had in a while. After a long, lazy morning, Lyosha and I headed over to Leva's place to pick him up and head to San Francisco for the night. Alyosha told me that the city was something that he missed most about California, and since I had not been to SF for a few months, I also wanted to visit the foggy city. Leva was unable to join us as he had prior engagements to see a movie with Oleg and Anya, so Lyosh and I ventured on alone.

As the sun was setting, we approached the city and decided that the first thing we should do is visit Twin Peaks. I had only been to this vista once before, but the view was so dense with fog that I could barely see 10 feet in front of me. This time it was clear and perfect, as though God knew we were coming.

I was wearing a very short dress so it was difficult to retain my smile in my cold misery. Alyosha, of course, planned ahead and brought a very warm jacket to drape over my shoulders as he held me close and walked me to a protected ledge. After we hopped over a stone wall, Lyosh laid down his padded beach mat and we snuggled together while gazing down at the twinkling city lights. Talks of nature's beauty and our affection for one another somehow led to a discussion of....clam chowder! We both decided that as beautiful as the night was, we were both very hungry and cold, so it was time to move on. After several phone calls, we agreed that Fisherman's Warf had the biggest selection of chowder restaurants.

Boudin is a big building on the Warf with a view and sourdough bread popping out of it's ears. We first admired the "art" on the first floor, which consisted of animal figures made out of baked bread, before climbing 2 flights of stairs to get to the restaurant. We were seated immediately (one of the perks of having a party of 2) and our table was no less than shabby, next to a large window overlooking the entire bay. Lyosha ordered a bowl of clam chowder and I ordered the halibut. I usually like halibut, but I must say that this fish tasted as though they drenched it first with water, then served it to me tasteless. The clam chowder was excellent, which is to be expected since the soup seems to always be the best thing we order at any restaurant.

After dinner, we were in no hurry to get back, so we strolled along the bay, admiring the strange inhabitants of San Francisco which we encountered. I am not sure if it was the city or the time of day or some other outside factor, but I felt a compelling sensation that night to be close to Lyosha and let everyone know that I belonged to him. We watched the break dancers on the street, then we walked to the Rainforest Cafe and sympathized with the sick tropical fish. We decided we would go to Grove Cafe for some coffee before heading back home, but after realizing that parking in any close proximity to the cafe was unrealistic, we agreed that a hot cup of tea at home sounded just as appetizing, so we headed back to Santa Clara.

I can't explain why such a simple night keeps running through my memory, but it made a romantic impression on my brain and it is moments like this that I know God exists :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Passion

When I was in high school, I believed that I was at the top of the world and everything revolved around me. I thought that everything I felt and did was unique, and that no one could ever understand any of my passions because I was so special and different. This egotistical way of thinking is quite common in teenagers, but who could ever predict that some people never grow out of this? Granted, I am much wiser now and I realize that my life is insignificant to the rest of the world, but in some ways I still feel unique.

First of all, I have God in my life. No matter what happens, I never feel alone or lost, because I have a deeper love surrounding me, which no hurtful words or wrong-doings can ever touch. This love is the thing that keeps me smiling, even when I have trouble finding other reasons to be happy. This love, however, is not what keeps me full. God is kind, which is why he has given me a man who can make me not only smile, but glow. He knows that humans need each other to touch, to look at, and to talk to. Alyosha completes this part of my happiness.

When I first told my parents I was going to Russia with a man I had just met 2 months earlier, my mother began to panic and my dad began to scold. They still see me as their little girl, so of course this sort of news creates some amount of chaos in their hearts. They asked me what I was thinking and I told them that although I barely knew this man, I felt as though he had been missing from my life all along. I told them that I trusted him and I was compelled to take a risk to show him how much he could mean to me.

The way we met was like a scene from a movie, perfect in every way. Maybe when he first saw me, he thought I was a playful, dumb, American girl, but when I first saw him I was intrigued. What could possibly happen on a perfect summer night? We talked and laughed. I showed him how to set up a tent, and he showed me how beautiful the stars looked in the clear July sky. He held me close to protect me from mountain lions, then he kissed me to help me forget about my fears. What started as an innocent night blew up to a relationship which I could have never predicted for myself.

As of today, it has been 4 months since we first saw each other. We have learned from each other in more ways than some couples can ever learn in a lifetime. We fight like dogs! We are both incredibly strong-willed, which makes arguing quite exhausting since neither of us ever wants to give in. We tease each other, but in the end I always find myself gazing at him, thanking God for this gift he has given me. How can I be so lucky? As much as Alyosha angers me, he fills me twice as much with happiness. I am a stubborn girl, but I forfeit to him. I want to see where life takes me with him and what he inspires me to do.

As to the question of whether or not I am special or different, I don't believe there is much doubt anymore. Perhaps I am not very special on my own, but when I am as God meant me to be, with my man, I know that what we have is very special and quite different from the ordinary couple.

In high school my ignorance was not in the fact that I thought I was unique, but it was in the fact that I thought I could be so on my own. Passion is what makes humans unique and the strongest form of this feeling comes from love.

Halloween: the Result

So, Halloween did not turn out exactly as planned. After a day of searching for the perfect costume for my Alyosha, we were exhausted and decided to take a nap before heading out to meet my roommates in San Francisco. Around 6 or 7pm, Lyosha took my temperature and after it read that I had a fever, I decided that as much as I wanted to have a fun night, my body was telling me to stay home. Lyosha, after much torment, decided to stay home with me to take care of his sick girl. Going to bed at 10pm is not my idea of a good Halloween, but at least I could not say the night was completely ruined because I was still with my man. Now the only problem is deciding what to do with my sailor costume!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


по просьбе Лёхи - пост напрямую из ресторана ;)

in moscow

сижу в москве в кафе. да здравствуют новые технологии - пишу в блог с сотового телефона через wimax. забрал паспорт из пони экспресс. вечером пойду встречаться со своими одногруппниками, которых не видел много лет. потом поеду в шереметьево, проведу там несколько часов и потои полечу в сан франциско через амстердам. говорят, амстердам веселый город. главное, чтоб меня по ошибке не отправили оттуда в ленинград.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

He is coming home :)

Alyosha is finally on his way home! Currently he is in Moscow, but I will be picking him up in SFO at approximately 2:30pm on Friday! Yay! After all of the drama he has been through in Russia, it should be a relief to finally be able to come back to California (and to me :). His visa is ready, so he should be picking it up today, then flying out on Friday morning. Because of the time difference, he will be arriving in SF on the same day that he departs from Moscow...pretty cool!

Right now I am packing and doing all of my last minute stuff to prepare for the long weekend ahead of me, since I won't be coming back to Sonoma County until Sunday night. After I pick Alyosha up from the airport on Friday, I will take him home to Santa Clara where we will spend the night. On Saturday, we will meet my roommates in SF at our hotel, where we can have dinner and get ready for our crazy night! I'm so happy that Lyosha can join us for Halloween, but I am totally bummed that I am still sick :( Every teacher at my school has been sick, so I'm hoping that my immune system is stronger than theirs since I am one of the last teachers to catch this horrible cold. I can't call in sick because so many other teachers have been out this week, so they desperately need me to work in order to keep the classrooms at ratio. Sometimes I wish I had a normal office job, especially during flu season when all of my students have a runny nose or cough! Maybe I just need to teach older kids :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween

Fall is one of my favorite seasons of the year. Not only are the vineyards around me turning into vibrant reds, purples, oranges and yellows, it is also the kick off of the holiday season. Right now all the houses have creepy spider webs, tomb stones, and fat, happy pumpkins in their yards and doorsteps to announce that Halloween is on its way. At school, all my kids can talk about is which princess, superhero, or monster they will be dressing up as on October 31. Although I will not be trick-or-treating like my students, my roommates and I have other plans to dress up and make our own fun, where alcohol will be our candy and bars will be the houses we knock on.

This year, my roommates and I will be dressing up as the Village People. It was a difficult decision to come up with a group costume, which would satisfy all of our needs, but after careful consideration, we finally agreed on this. Kory will be the police officer, Sarah will be our military girl, Melaney will be our cowgirl, Eleanor will be the biker, and I will be the sailor. The only unfortunate thing about this choice is that there are 7 different costumes, and only 5 of us girls. We are still missing a Native American and a construction worker, which are two of the most defined characters in the group! The completion of our group is in the hands of Lyosha and Leva, if they are able to make it to San Francisco this Saturday.

As of tonight, we have booked a cute hotel just minutes away from Ruby Skye in order to avoid having to use a taxi on one of the biggest party nights in America. The hotel is conveniently located close to Union Square and several eateries, which will come in handy on Sunday morning when we are starving and we don't want to move our car out of the paid overnight parking attached to our hotel. It is not a super fancy hotel, but we chose it based on it's proximity to Ruby Skye, our club of choice. I have never been to a real club before, so naturally I am starting to feel giddy in anticipation for our crazy night!

We chose Ruby Skye based on the fact that my roommates have been there before and they have always enjoyed it, plus, this year they are advertising that they spent over $20k on Halloween decorations for their Alice in Wonderland theme! The tickets were not cheap, but once we are in the club we don't plan on spending any additional money because all of our drinking will be done in our hotel room before we head out... a sure-fire method to avoid being drugged by a stranger, or too hungover the next morning :)

Finally, our reservations are set in stone, our costumes are organized, and the countdown to Halloween has begun. All I can do now is wait and hope that it does not rain and that my sickness goes away before Saturday so I am not too cold or miserable in my little blue dress! After all, as the saying goes, "Halloween is the only night of the year when a girl can dress slutty without being judged for it." Amen for that! :)


Sunday, October 18, 2009

The death of a laptop...

Approximately a week ago, when I just arrived back to California, my roommates and I decided to make dinner together, partially as a "welcome home" dinner for me, and partially as a "Monday's suck" dinner for the whole house. Melaney, our new housewife, was making eggplant parmigiana as I made the salad, bread, and provided the wine. As we were waiting for the food to bake, I decided to look at shoes online with Sara and Kory to match my Halloween costume.

First of all, it is never a good idea to use your laptop at the dinner table. Second, if you DO choose to sit at the table, never eat or drink next to your computer. Third, if you choose to eat or drink next to your computer, never look at anything that can excite you (like shoes or Halloween costumes) and cause you to move in a quick, hyper movement. Of course I did all three of these things. In one swift movement, my wine glass was shattered on my keyboard, and red liquid was dripping off my laptop, onto the table, the floor, and even the wall! Almost immediately after it happened my computer gave me a warning that it was overheating, and it turned itself off within a few seconds.

After waiting a few minutes, I tried turning my computer back on and everything seemed to be normal, except my mouse pad would not work. I decided to turn it off and let it dry for a day, then try again. A day later, when I pressed the power button, my computer made it's usual cheerful starting sounds, but the monitor was completely black. Of course the mouse pad still did not work, so the only thing I could do was press the power button until it made the horrible cracking noise that it always makes when I shut it down prematurely. My poor computer!

I had been planning on getting a new laptop this winter anyway because I bought my old one almost 5 years ago. I have heard that laptops should usually be replaced every 2 or 3 years, but mine was still going strong! I have reformatted my computer twice in it's lifespan, which may be one reason it has survived as long as it did because I am not exactly easy on my computers. That computer has been hauled to numerous classes at Cal Poly, and survived many powerpoint presentations and house parties as the designated "playlist" computer. I was hoping to use it as my backup computer to keep in case something happened to my new one, or in case someone needed to borrow it. Now it seems as though it has come to a horrible sudden death and it will no longer be able to serve me as my trusted communicator to the outside world.

Currently I am using Kory's old laptop, which was being used by Sara before me. Thank goodness Lyosha was able to revive it before this happened! Originally Kory was hoping to fix this computer so that she could donate it to a child in need, like the good person she is, but little did she know that the "child" would be both Sara and I!

Today I bought a new computer which is almost the exact replica of my old one, except it is newer, obviously, and it is PINK! I have always dreamed of having a pink computer and it just so happened that this one was on sale. It is amazing how cheap computers are now! You can get a good notebook for under $600 now that I would have had to pay $1600 5 years ago (yes, that is how much it cost, and I thought I was getting a good deal back then! Agh!). Isn't that crazy? I have to wait about a week for my new computer to arrive in the mail, but in that week I will be planning a funeral for my old one, and preparing for the new one like a child before Christmas. Hellooooo pink!



Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thinking about him

Since the news that Lyosha would not be returning home with me to California, I had dreaded my trip home. Not only would I have to survive in the Moscow airport on my own, but I also had to survive without getting to see him for an unknown amount of time. Needless to say, I was very relieved when he told me this week that he would be able to return within the month. Now, the idea of seeing him again seems so surreal.

Since my return to California, I have been able to spend more time with my wonderful roommates and focus more time on my workouts, cleaning, and my job. I have been keeping very busy and I have returned back to my happy self, but now the idea of Russia seems more like a dream to me than reality.

Before visiting Russia, I spent countless hours trying to learn how to speak Russian and researching things about Russian culture to prepare myself for my trip. I grew accustomed to having Lyosha help me with my coat and bags, and trying to look pretty for him when he came home. I loved the way he made me feel like a woman, but now I feel as though I have forgotten everything. It has only been a week since my return to the states, and already I am back to my old habits of doing everything myself, not because I want to, but because I have to. In the airport in San Francisco I was disgusted by the fact that no one offered to help me with my suitcase because they were all so busy talking on their cell phones and paying attention to their own lives. I saw plenty of couples where the boy helped the girl with her bags in the airport, but the difference between Russia and America is that it doesn't matter if you are dating a girl or not, you should always help her and be respectful of her.

As I stood outside, waiting for Leva to pick me up at my gate, I played with the pink stone on my necklace from Alyosha. This stone kept me from crying on my flights because I knew I would be able to see him again. Time seems to be going by very slowly when I think about him, but I am able to counter this by dreaming about all of the fun activities we can do when he arrives back in California. I miss pretending that I am Russian with my man who appreciates everything I do, and speaking in an unnatural tongue. I love being a California girl, but I wouldn't mind having a little Russian in me too :)



Remembering Russia

Before I flew to Russia, I had a perfect picture in my mind of the people I would meet and the sights I would see. I was not entirely disappointed, but my trip did help me realize that I really am a California girl.

As soon as I stepped on to the plane from Washington DC to San Francisco, I felt a huge sense of relief as I was greeted by smiling flight attendants and a cabin full of laughing, cheerful people. We were going to California.

Don't get me wrong, Russia was great, but I could never live there. Not only are the temperatures way too extreme for my sensitive thermostat, I also could not handle the female competition. Sure, I love wearing heels, sexy dresses, and seductive makeup when I go out, but it would be way too exhausting to do it every day. In America, if you dress like this all the time, men will consider you too high maintenance and other girls will just think you are trying too hard.

On my second day back in California, I visited my parents so that I could tell them all about my trip and escape into the nature that surrounds their home. I wore a summer dress because it was very warm, but my entire family made a comment about how I was too dressed up! I am used to this because as a teenager my family always teased me about being too high maintenance, but my dad always told me I could be the president some day and that the most beautiful part of any woman is her mind. I believed my daddy, which is why I focused my entire teenage life on school so that I could get into a prestigious university straight after high school. At this time I didn't pay any attention to boys, except for my horse, which helped me concentrate on my schoolwork even more. Yes, I was a total nerd (minus the glasses and band practice.....I played piano and sang in choir!), but I was happy. It wasn't until I got accepted into Cal Poly that I started to pay more attention to the way I dressed because I realized that being a good girl is not necessarily what attracts men in the first place, but it is what keeps them.

Now, as a working girl, I realize there is a necessary balance between practicality and being sexy. Especially as a teacher, practicality is extremely important, so most of my sexy clothes have gone out the door. In Russia, however, I wished that I had them back! Who could have guessed that I would be asking my boyfriend about fashion advice for pantyhose and shoes!? Once I got more confident about shopping in Russia, I was able to open up and I decided I really love the way girls dress, but I still need my comfy flats and jeans every once in a while. Of course I want to always look nice for my man, but the fact that when we met I was wearing flip flops, a sweatshirt and jeans says that he is less superficial than the average Russian man, which works for me... Or maybe he was just drunk :P


Moving on...

Another reason I have undoubtedly decided that I belong in California is the food. The first thing I ate when I arrived back in Rohnert Park was a giant carne asada burrito from my favorite taqueria. Yum! I love my Mexican food :) We went to one Mexican restaurant in Akadem ("Amigo") , which was one of the worst eating experiences of my life. Not only was everyone smoking in this place, but the food was terrible too. I ordered a burrito and I could not stomach more than one bite. As I looked around me, there were white people everywhere...even in the kitchen! If there is one thing I have learned about Mexican food it is that there MUST be a Mexican chef in the kitchen for things to taste half decent.

One of the best restaurants in Akadem was a little Chinese place near Lyosha's home. The reason why it was so good? They actually had a Chinese chef! *gasp* I almost began taking California's demographics for granted before I went to Russia, but I will start to appreciate our diversity a lot more after my return home. In California, if you go to a French restaurant, most likely there will be a French chef in the kitchen. The same goes for Italian, Chinese, Mexican, Thai, Indian, Japanese and any other delicious cuisine found in the city. Maybe this is why Americans are so fat! :)

Smoke was something that I was dreading about my trip to Russia, and all of my expectations were filled. As I said before, everyone seemed to be smoking in the Mexican restaurant, but this was not an uncommon occurrence by any means. When I was visiting Russia, Lyosha and I often felt that our activities were limited because of the fact that people smoke in all of the buildings. On one of my last nights in Russia we decided to take our chances by going to a local billiards hall to play pool, but after approximately 1 or 2 hours of clean air we had to leave because we literally felt as though we were getting smoked out by the group of people playing next to us. Personally, I think it is rude and inconsiderate of people to smoke around others, especially when they are clearly non-smokers. It is one thing to make a decision to kill yourself, but you shouldn't have the right to kill others with you. Just a thought :)

Cooling down my tea with all of my silverware in order to get away from the smoky restaurant ASAP! Alyosha gave me this genius idea and it worked! :)


I apologize if this post sounds very negative, but I should remind everyone that I truly did love visiting Russia. It is certainly a pretty country, but every country has it's good parts as well as it's flaws. Perhaps if I spent more time in Russia I would grow to appreciate things more, but after only 3 weeks of visiting I could not wait to return to crazy California, where the sun shines and everyone seems to be smiling!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Let's go home, baby

"...И снова здравствуйте" (с) анекдот

Закончены мои визовые проверки. Пришло радостное письмо от консула, что хотят дать визу на два года, как я просил. Надо только зайти заплатить к ним завтра в кассу еще $100. А чего б не заплатить... Запросто. Дело-то житейское... Если только вы не живете в Новосибирске и летать "завтра с утреца" в Москву не входило в планы. Послал деньги через Сбербанк, квитанцию - через Pony Express. Через неделю +/- пару дней ожидаю паспорт с визой.

Хочется вернуться в свой дом - не дом... в общем, в свою временную (но вполне даже уютную) берлогу в Санта Кларе, погулять по залитой солнцем Santana Row, посидеть в любимом Grove Cafe в Сан Франциско, потом забраться на Twin Peaks и посидеть в задумчивости, смотря на город внизу.
Потом взять вина, гитару, друзей и поехать на океан буянить и веселиться.
Ибо до пенсии далеко, а развлекаться надо.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ворчания.

Благодаря посольству США, которое решило проверить "а не хочет ли Леша украсть наши секреты в области разработки полупроводников", довелось мне задержаться в командировке в Новосибирском Академгородке аж больше, чем на месяц. Первую неделю была эйфория... Память ведь обычно стирает плохие воспоминания, оставляет только хорошие. Потом розовые очки куда-то потерялись и начала наступать суровая действительность. Которая казалась тем суровее, чем хуже у меня было настроение.

Отрывочные заметки.

Район "Верхняя Зона" Академгородка так же, как и раньше, выглядит намного приличнее, чем прочие. Этакий крохотный оазис. Хотя и там тоже много где видна грязь, торчат какие-то развалины или то, что Джулия называла "ghetto houses". И это в Академе-то... На улицах (да и в соседнем Ботаническом Саду) часто натыкаешься на выброшенные мешки мусора. Часто мини-свалки прямо рядом с домами. Раньше просто не обращал на это внимание.

Свободной земли в Академгородке много, но он застрял в своем развитии примерно на том же уровне, что и лет 20 назад. Много места занимают уродливые старые постройки и гаражи. Снести бы их и построить что-то нормальное... фиг. Земля контролируется СО РАНом, так что максимум, что удается строить - по паре новых домов в год, причем рядом со старыми развалюхами.
Что делают СО РАНовские институты - большой секрет. В новостях про их достижения не пишут. Хотелось бы надеяться, что это потому, что они работают над сверх-секретными военными заказами. А не потому, что они ни хрена не делают уже много лет, кроме как сдачи в аренду своих площадей мелким аутсорсинговым ИТ-фирмочкам.

Планы постройки технопарка провалились. Частично из-за того, что кончились деньги. Частично из-за того, что мало перспектив (по словам большого чиновника из команды Чубайса, с которым удалось поговорить в Стэнфорде в этом году). Для серьезного технопарка крупных ИТ-компаний мало, подходящих кадров тоже. Многие уехали в Москву или за границу.

Инфраструктура в Академе не развивается. Есть один новый дом, под которым есть подземная автостоянка. Видимо, это центр местной цивилизации. В самом Новосибирске, который находится в 25 км от Академа, ситуация с инфраструктурой и подземными стоянками, конечно, намного лучше. Там за последние 10 лет построили сотни неплохих по местным меркам домов, улучшили много дорог и возвели несколько больших магазинов. Выглядит Новосибирск неплохо, если не отходить от пары центральных улиц.

Ярлык "элитное жилье" вешается на любой новый дом независимо от района. Частично потому, что и нет тут по-настоящему хороших районов. Есть либо плохие, либо очень плохие. "Верхняя зона" Академа выглядит намного чище других районов, но тоже весьма бедно и убого. И нищие, и "средний класс" живут рядом, что не способствует возникновению "хорошего района".

Что такое плохие дороги, я уже отвык. Теперь вспоминаю выражение "после бомбежки". Кстати, многие люди в России не знают, что понятие "хорошая дорога" может (и должно) включать в себя намного больше, чем просто ровное покрытие.
Немного улучшили федеральную трассу (которая от "как оно на самом деле должно быть" все равно отличается как мопед 70го года выпуска от новой японской машины), плюс сделали несколько новых развязок, и все. Разметка - дело второстепенное. Про нее строители, вероятно, слышали, но не очень поняли, что это такое и зачем это надо. Водители, впрочем, тоже... Съезды налево с федеральной трассы прямо с левой крайней полосы, где машины едут под 100 км/ч... У того, кто это проектировал, мозг вообще есть?.. Ладно, про дороги потом отдельно напишу.

Пешеходы боятся переходить дорогу на пешеходных переходах. Водители на большинстве переходов не останавливаются вообще. На днях сбили человека на переходе по обычной схеме - один водитель остановился его пропустить, а дебилу, едущему по второй полосе дороги, в голову не пришло "чего это там у пешеходного перехода машина внезапно остановилась?". Скорее всего, его даже толком не накажут.

Водители на дорогах - полные идиоты и хамы. Местные "нувориши" на дорогих машинах вполне точно подходят под наблюдение "хамство - это рабское представление о власти".
Не могу придумать оправдание начальникам ГиБДД, которые так и не смогли навести порядок на дорогах за столько лет. Не вижу в этом ничего сложного, если бы была у кого-то железная воля. "Путин - человек слова. Жаль, лучше б был человек дела". Кстати, ему уже сказали, что он больше не президент? Президент теперь другой. "Я был когда-то странной игрушкой безымянной". Ага.

Большую часть моих наличных американских долларов мне менять на рубли отказались - и банки, и даже спекулянты на улицах. Мол, мятые, с пометками, надрывами кое-где. Такое ощущение, что они хотят видеть только что нарисованные купюры. Забавно.

Неприятно идти пешком вдоль дороги. Воздух плохой. Чащядие грузовики и автобусы, старые машины, плохой бензин, пыль и грязь на дорогах - все вместе порождает дикую смесь, от которой хочется закрыть нос, глаза и лицо целиком. Если отойти от дороги, то становится лучше. Хорошо помогают деревья, которых в Академе очень много. Когда в Калифорнии медленно движешься в пробке, я не помню, чтобы был плохой воздух. Либо не обращал внимания, либо правда в Калифорнии воздух чище несмотря на то, что гораздо больше машин.

Курят везде. В кафе, ресторанах, барах, клубах, на лестницах в подъездах и офисных зданиях - везде. Курящим людям в голову не приходит, что это кому-то может мешать. Или скорее просто плевать на окружающих. В двух ресторанах были гордо называемые "зоны для некурящих". Это значит, что вон за теми столиками курить можно, а вот за этими рядом - нет. Причем в зону для некурящих надо пройти через прокуренную часть.

Если когда-нибудь решу жить в Академгородке, то в первую очередь надо будет сменить жилье на новое, "элитное". Ибо в старом месте жить больше не хочется:
Очень неудобная планировка квартиры (панельная хрущевка).
Необходимость идти за машиной в гараж 15-20 минут.
Вода в душе идет то холодная, то горячая. Помыться с утра и не обжечься - искусство.
Мусор выкинуть некуда. Мусорная машина приходит утром часов в 8 и вечером в 5-20. Если кто живет по другому графику - его проблемы.

Очень многие (большинство?) девушки постоянно носят каблуки. Не только на работе или в клубах/барах, а постоянно (даже в аэропортах/самолетах - там-то зачем?! Это мое внимание Джулия обратила, я сам даже не замечал).
Про девушек много говорить не буду. Джулия уже писала в соседней заметке, что она была шокирована - они тут необычно красивые и одеваются как на выставку. В США от этого отвыкаешь, особенно в Силиконовой Долине, где контингент весьма крайне специфичный.

Красивые деревья. Мне повезло, что я застал и зеленые деревья, и желтые, и даже облетевшие. Надеюсь, застать заснеженные мне не придется.
Очень много белок. Ко мне на балкон приходят кормиться несколько штук.

Очень приятно гулять пешком по тропинкам и дорожкам, иногда встречая знакомых. Этого мне в Силиконовке сильно не хватает.

Впечатление Джулианы после 3 недель пребывания: "This place is very beautiful and very nice to visit, but I couldn't live here". С чем я вполне согласен.

Фотографии тут.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Blogging: English or Russian

Some visitors probably noticed that I switched from Russian to English in my blog posts recently. There were several reasons for that. Today I added a new poll to better know my blog visitors. The main question I have is: how many non-Russian speakers are there, who want to read this blog in English?
The poll is on the left side of every page.

Не так давно я по нескольким причинам переключился с русского на английский в моих заметках на блоге. Сегодня добавил опрос, чтобы понять, сколько человек может читать этот блог только по-английски. Если таких будет от силы пара человек, то имеет смысл переключиться обратно на русский. До Пушкина мне, конечно, далеко. Но все-таки мой русский намного богаче, чем мой английский. Так что...
Опрос виден слева на каждой странице.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My Last Day

Russia. When I first arrived I was like a shy child in a new school. Everything seemed so different and scary and, of course, I didn't know anyone or even understand the big, educated words they used around me. The only friendly, familiar face was my teacher, so I clung to him like glue until I finally felt confident enough to explore the halls on my own and become my own teacher. Of course, my teacher was Lyosha and the "big" words I refer to were any words spoken in Russian, rather than English.

I am sad to say that today is my last day in Russia. After two and a half weeks of confusion, I have finally established a logical sense of direction and a fearless mindset about my lack of vocabulary in the Russian language. Yes, people still look at me like I am an ignorant child when I can't answer their simple questions in restaurants or stores, but after I try to apologize in English, they quickly understand and they smile politely, then move on with their lives. I have finally learned to appreciate the beauty in the world around me, rather than constantly compare differences in my mind.

The trees are the best part of Академгородок. Even in the most dense parts of the forest, the sun seems to smile through the yellow leaves and reflect off the white bark of the tall, thin Birch. I am never alone or afraid in these woods because I feel like I am always surrounded by warmth and happiness, even when I am wrapped up in my gloves, scarves and jackets in the crisp Autumn air. I am in love with this feeling and I understand why the trees were the most common topic of discussion for Lyosha when he was describing his home to me.

Trees and squirrels. Yes, we have squirrels in California too, but not like these squirrels. The squirrels in Академгородок are curious, fluffy and real. They try to pretend that they are afraid of you until you make a kissing noise to get their attention. This lets them know they will be fed soon. Standing on the balcony, with seeds in my hand, all I need to do is kiss or make a clicking noise with my cheek to call the nearest squirrel and she will be there in approximately 30 seconds.

Link to album with squirrels (pics taken in 2009)

I have been to Novosibirsk a few times during my stay and everything is interesting because it is unfamiliar, but I felt like a tourist in the big, bustling city. In Академ I feel like I am more than a tourist because I am home here. My trip has been a very strange one, considering I did not do any of the typical things that tourists do in new countries. My trip has been much more interesting because I learned how to actually live in a new country.

Every day I have a simple routine. After making tea, showering and straightening up the house, I meet Lyosha for lunch. After lunch I have a few hours to finish up laundry and take a brisk walk around the neighborhood before Lyosha gets home. I patiently listen to him talk about work as we get ready to take a walk together in the cool evening air. On this walk, we usually talk playfully and he teaches me how to walk like a Russian girl on the arm of her man. After we find something to eat for dinner, we go to the local grocery store and pick up some bread, cheese, sausage, and dessert before heading back home. Sound romantic? It is. Not only is this something that you could see from a movie, it is reality here. On our walks we pass dozens of other couples doing exactly what we are doing because that is what life is like here. Everyone has time to enjoy life and no one is telling you what to do.

I will miss this strange romantic land, but I will be happy to go back to California. My home is in the sun, where no one judges the way I dress and all the roads are properly designed and labeled. I don't plan on making this my last trip to Russia, however. Next time I hope to speak more Russian and outdress all the women! I will still bring my Ugg boots, though, and my California smile and attitude :)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hello, Mantis. Goodbye, America.

I had an interview at the US consulate in Moscow to renew my H1B visa this week. The fact that I was notified about the interview on Wednesday evening and the interview was scheduled the next day (and I was in Novosibirsk!) was just a little inconvenience in comparison to what happened next.
Lucky me:
"Sorry, your company works in semiconductor field, which means there are sensitive materials, so I have to send your documents for a MANTIS check. Sorry, there's nothing I can do about it, this is the law. The waiting period after we get all the required documents is 16 business days."

Soo... Juliana will fly back as planned - the next week. I hope to get back to California in about 3-4 weeks. That is if I'm lucky. :) At least I can work at the local office in Novosibirsk these weeks.

So far almost everything, which could possibly go wrong on this trip, has gone wrong.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My First Hours in a Foreign Land

I have been in Russia for a week and a half already, but my first impressions are still burned into my memory like a hot iron on the rump of a steer, as though I arrived just yesterday...

After approximately 30 hours of horrible flights (another story), we were finally on the plane to Moscow when the speaker announced something over the intercom. I couldn't understand, of course, because it was spoken in German, but the man next to me quickly came to my rescue by translating: "They need to check our temperatures to be sure we aren't hosting any harmful diseases."

WHAT?!?!

The next thing I knew, the flight attendants were walking past everyone with a hand held machine (which looked like a gun, might I add) and pointed it towards every passenger, until it beeped, checking our temperatures. I looked over to the man on my right and giggled nervously as I whispered, "I thought you were joking!"
He simply replied, "Welcome to Russia!"

Never having experienced a life without "luxury" conveniences, my most basic first impression of Russia was that everything seemed so old. The roads, the buildings and the cars all seemed to carry their own story from a different time period, when life wasn't exactly easy. Lyosha told me about how much he had always dreamed of having a big SUV, and after seeing the big pot holes and cracks in the roads I finally understood the logic in his "boyhood" desire.

The buildings, I discovered, aren't all that old. The simple, practical architecture appears to be weather stricken, but in actuality I was just not used to the thick brick walls and lack of wood used to create the tall, surrounging structures. The bricks, I later learned, are necessary to insulate against the extreme weather conditions during Siberian winters. Also, earthquakes are not an issue here, so the use of wood has no practical use, as compared to my familiar California boxes located on top of one of the biggest fault lines in the world.

Another difference, between California and Russia, that I noticed almost immediately, is the people. Not only are the women beautiful here, but they also seem to have a different perspective on attitude and sincerity.

The first Russian woman who spoke to me was in the airport security check. I had no idea what she said to me (it was in Russian, of course), but Lyosha later told me that she made a teasing comment about my Ugg boots because I looked like I was traveling to the North Pole! Excuse me, but Siberia may as well be the North Pole to someone who is used to 100+ degree weather at this time of year! She is right in the fact that they aren't exactly stylish, but when my skin is covered in goose bumps and my teeth are chattering from almost freezing temperatures, being fashionable is one of the last things on my mind. Not to mention, my Ugg boots were the only controlled comfort I had on a very uncomfortable 30+ hour plane ride to Moscow.

So far there are no dragons or bears, but my defenses are still up and my eyes are opened wider every day to different experiences. This is my first impression of Russia...


- Juliana

Saturday, September 19, 2009

San Francisco - Washington,DC - Boston - Frankfurt - Moscow - Novosibirsk. Never again.

Want to know the worst possible route to get from San Francisco, CA to Novosibirsk, Russia?
San Francisco - Washington,DC - Boston - Frankfurt - Moscow - Novosibirsk. ~38 hours total. Never again. EVER.
Don't tell me there's an easier way. We had to book the tickets just a few days before the departure, so had no real choice keeping sane price limits in mind.
The original route was San Francisco - Washington,DC - Frankfurt - Moscow - Novosibirsk. Anybody see Boston in this route? Me neither.
When you're flying across the Atlantic ocean the last thing you want to hear is "ladies and gentlemen, sorry, blah-blah, but we have some problems with liquid hazard materials cargo on our plane, so had to go back to the US and land as soon as possible. We will have to fly to Boston. Don't worry, everything is fine ans safe, just a minor delay..." You're kidding me, right?
Nope. Now we have a fun experience of landing with "liquid hazard materials problems" in Boston. As the result, the schedule was changed. We had to reschedule our flight from Moscow to Novosibirsk. Web-sites like kayak or expedia don't know how to search for tickets from the USA to Russia (except for Moscow). All deals they can offer are weird stuff for thousands and thousands of dollars. That's why I always get tickets USA-Moscow and Moscow-Novosibirsk separately.
There's a flight San Francisco - Frankfurt (Germany) and Frankfurt - Novosibirsk, but for some weird reasons Russian airline S7 charges MUCH more money for Frankfurt-Novosibirsk segment than any US airline charges for San Francisco - Frankfurt.
Can we have a direct flight from San Francisco to Novosibirsk or at least to Moscow, please? Please?
For now next time I will use SFO-Frankfurt-Novosibirsk. It's more much expensive because of S7 prices, but... read the post title. Never again.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Home, sweet home.

We're home in Novosibirsk with Juliana. Can't believe this. I missed this place so much. Need to go to bed now to finally have some rest after ~35 hours of flights and airports. Will write an update later when feel better.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Novosibirsk, here we go

We're getting ready to take off in a few hours. We have a bunch of flight segments ahead and hopefully 3 weeks of nice weather in Novosibirsk and Moscow. Don't even tell me "sorry, we've unusually cold weather this year". I told Juliana Siberia's summers are not very snowy and she can go without fur boots and a bear whistle this time. I promised warm and dry Autumn days filled with sun and yellow leaves. It's not like I'm coming there every couple months, so please don't ruin it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Weekend in Sonoma county

Пара слов про прошедние выходные.
Побывали на wine tasting в Sonoma county и познакомились с родителями Джулианы.
Wine tasting - это такое развлечение, когда ездишь по местным винодельням и пробуешь их сорта вин. Если нравится - можно купить.
Тут все фотографии.

Для любителей вина развлечение неплохое. Я особо в винах не разбираюсь, так что мне было все равно. Когда я в очередной раз заявил "это вино вроде такое же, как все предыдущие", Джулиана сказала, что она точно поняла, что я бездарен в смысле вин, но она меня прощает.
Ну не знаю... Вино как вино, чего его пробовать? :)
Могу только сказать, что с каждой новой пробой вино казалось все лучше и лучше. К моменту дегустации 15-го сорта было уже и без всяких навороченных вин хорошо.

Заехали в гости к родителям Джулианы. Они хотели узнать, с кем это дорогая дочь решила вдруг ехать к черту на кулички. Не знаю, спокойнее ли им стало после того, как посмотрели на меня. Вряд ли. :) Но собакам я точно понравился.


Походил по участку земли на пару с собакой. Устал. Заблудился. Не понял, как человек может владеть не 6 сотками, а куском земли с лесочками и дорогами. Непривычно. Вернулся обратно. Вообще наверное интересно устраивать пикники на собственном холме с таким вот видом. Стильно. :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Back to the U.S.S.R.

Начало осени в Новосибирске - это красиво. Теплые недели, желто-зелено-красные цвета на улицах. То, к чему я привык за 30 лет. Так же, как привык встречать Новый Год где-то, где вокруг снег. Всю жизнь я ворчал, что терпеть не мог снег и мороз. Теперь смотрю на вечно-цветущие красивые деревья и пальмы, а хочется увидеть заметенную желтыми листьями Золотодолинскую улицу в Академгородке, собаку, бегающую без поводка, и ее пожилую хозяйку, искренне возмущающуюся "ты почему не слушаешься? а ну ко мне! я кому говорю?!".

Зиму тоже хочется увидеть, но, скорее, в качестве экзотики, а не "на постоянку". Возможность проводить любой день зимы и лета на природе вместо сидения в маленькой квартире я таки ценю.
Городом Сан-Франциско я уже немного переболел и теперь отношусь к нему спокойнее. Там хорошо, интересно, красиво, там кипит жизнь и там идеальное место для single young professionals with money. В San Francisco Bay Area живет больше семейных людей и развлечения тут другие. Если жить в районе между Маунтин Вью и Белмонтом, то вполне можно сочетать любовь к СФ с любовью к природе. Надо бы в скором времени туда перебраться.

Ну в общем до сибирской зимы еще далеко, а вот желание увидеть осенние листья скоро сбудется.

По стечению обстоятельств у нашей компании открылся небольшой отдел в Новосибирске (точнее, у наших контракторов, но не суть важно). Потому через 2 недели предстоит мне наслаждаться любимой Золотодолинской в полном объеме. В свободное от работы время. Первоначально была идея ехать туда на несколько месяцев, но, подумав, от нее решил отказаться. Ибо нефиг как что попало в проруби болтаться. Надо жизнь либо там строить, либо тут. Потому поездка будет всего несколько недель. Приехал - сделал дела - погулял с друзьями - уехал.
Кстати, о поездке. Узнал любопытные вещи. Я-то думал, что процесс получения американской визы корявый...
"А знаете ли вы, что..."
- российская туристическая виза дается всего на 30 дней.
- это НЕ право на въезд в течение 30 дней, как виза в США. это 30 дней, за которые надо успеть И въехать, И выехать из страны. если сроки поездки немного сдвинулись, то "оппппааа... делаем новую визу".
- можно сделать "homestay visit visa". для этого в России надо получать разрешение от ОВИРа на приглашение иностранца. Ой, тут мне даже икнулось.
- для любого визита надо регистрировать иностранцев по месту проживания. хорошо хоть, что теперь это (по слухам) можно сделать на почте.

Процесс покупки авиабилетов был долгий и сложный. У меня начало складываться ощущение, что "не судьба". Сначала были сложности с билетами до Москвы, потом начались сложности с билетами на внутренние рейсы S7.
"А знаете ли вы, что..."
- чтобы купить билеты авиакомпании S7 с помощью американской дебит-карты VISA, надо звонить в их сервис поддержки и "зарегистрировать" свою карту
- американские кредитные карты VISA на веб-сайте не принимались в принципе (выдавалось сообщение об ошибке без каких-либо деталей).
- для "регистрации" дебит-карты надо выслать в S7: копию своего паспорта, копию своей карты VISA с двух сторон, причем закрыть некоторые ее части, ну и плюс письменное заявление, написанное от руки, что я разрешаю S7 снять деньги с моего счета.
Тут мне икнулось второй раз.
Welcome to the USSR.
Я вам честно скажу - не про ту страну в одном известном фильме на стойке паспортного контроля сказали "вот уроды".
Ладно еще мне, привычному к российскому идиотизму, удалось подавить в себе желание выкинуть компьютер в окно. А вот человека, родившегося и выросшего в США, этот процесс поверг в депрессию. Мол, если начало поездки такое, то что же будет дальше...

Поездка обещает быть интересной. Хочется увидеть родные места, семью, друзей, да и вообще побывать в собственном городе в качестве туриста/командировочного после 1.5 лет отсутствия. Плюс я еду не один, а "с кузнецом". А показывать свой город "гостям нашей родины" должно быть вообще интересно. Одно дело жить в Новосибирске и гордиться им "по привычке", другое - посмотреть свежими глазами и попытаться объяснить американке, почему там все так, а не иначе.

На обратном пути в США остановимся ненадолго в Москве. Если кто из Новосибирска или Москвы захочет увидеться - пишите в почту или скайп.

Пора готовиться к поездке - закупать шубу, валенки и сувениры.

Friday, June 19, 2009

What dreams may come / Куда приводят мечты

Сбывшиеся мечты не умирают. Они становятся частью нас.
Народная мудрость.

Для человека, выросшего в Сибири, увидеть океан - это было не просто развлечение. Это была Мечта. Когда я ходил на местное Обское водохранилище, почему-то называемое Морем, и, морщась от отвращения, проходил через груды мусора и отходов, которые люди (люди?.. люди??!) оставляли после себя, я подходил к грязной воде и задумчиво трогал ее пальцем, и у меня часто возникало смутное ощущение, что меня как-то дурят. Не море это. Не так должно быть.

Я помню, как во всех подробностях представлял себе первую встречу с Тихим Океаном. Это как первое свидание - все должно быть идеально (ну, насколько я помню что-то про первые свидания :). Была осень 2005 года. Я собирался лететь первый раз в Америку. Лежал в кровати у себя дома в Новосибирске, не мог заснуть. Перед глазами стояла картина...

Раннее утро, тишина, прохладно.
Людей нет, все спят. Чайки дремлют, иногда лениво поглядывая одним глазом на человека, который медленно идет к воде. В воздухе свежий, соленый запах моря. Ветра почти нет. Песок чистый и холодный. Скоро прогреется, но пока - холодный. Справа на горизонте горы, подернутые дымкой. Слева берег уходит далеко-далеко в туман. Впереди - край мира.
Человек подходит к воде - неспеша, не сразу. Немного подойти к воде, посидеть на песке... Подойти еще немного, еще посидеть... Торопиться некуда. Позади много лет ожидания. Мечта - рядом. Подойти и дать мелкой волне облизнуть ступни ног. Почувствовать ледяное дыхание океана, холодного и зимой, и летом. Глупо улыбнуться до ушей. Сделать еще несколько шагов. Потрогать воду рукой. Сказать "ну, здравствуй, Океан". Послушать шелест волн в ответ.

Потом будет много прогулок по берегу. И тихих, спокойных, когда разглядываешь под ногами красивые ракушки и крабов. И буйные компании, веселье, песни под гитару, концерты на берегу, серфинг, воллейбол на пляже. И дельфины, и морские котики. И на берег можно будет ездить хоть каждый день. Многое будет. Целый новый мир.

Но первое знакомство прошло именно так:
раннее утро, тишина, прохладно...
Мечта.


 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Google office

Spent some time in Google office in Mountain View this week. Tons of fun. Nice gadgets and toys everywhere.

One of the office buildings:



This covered parking has roof made from solar panels. These cars are all electric, so can be charged using the roof. Cool. One charge is enough to go for 40 miles.
Engineers can use these cars during the day.


These sparks are search requests to google.com from all over the world shown in almost real time. Charming animation... It's vivid that tiny Japan sends very powerful requests stream. Different sparks represent different languages. Russia is waking up at this moment, so not many requests yet.
Africa is quiet at this time. Although it's not really about time of day with Africa, I guess. :) Lucky to have electricity somewhere (or at least to hear about it), screw Internet! :) Well, no - screw electricity, let's start with just food!
Anyway, most of Russia is dead too. Some activity in western and southern parts and that's it. Majority of Russian lands are almost unpopulated - you knew that, right? We don't count bears and wolfs, of course.

Treadmill with internet access. Right - don't waste your time. Work!

Is there a difference between men and children? Especially between programmers and children...

Leva's great coffee.

Google ice cream. Yummy.

I know where to throw all my complains about GMail now!

I had a toy spaceship when I was a child. Google isn't cheap - why not to buy a real spaceship for a toy? :) This one is not a model, it's a real spaceship. I remember a joke about "Russian nouveau riche" going out of an arts gallery in Paris with Picasso painting in his hand and calling his friends - "dudes, I got a postcard, let's go get some souvenirs now!"

all other photos are here (reviewed / approved for public sharing).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wild, wild place

И эти люди еще говорят, что в Сибири по улицам медведи ходят...
Я уже устал убеждать, что я, прожив в Новосибирске 30 лет, ни разу не видел там ни одного медведя или волка. А тут - кто только не бродит по улицам...
Пару недель назад по телевизору передавали предупреждение, что в нескольких километрах на север от моего офиса бродит mountain lion. Мол, закрывайте двери в домах и вообще будьте поосторожнее.

Знакомые жаловались, что в районе San Mateo их заколебали олени.

А сейчас по телевизору показали, что в районе Саусалито (куда мы недавно ездили на велосипедах) на дорогу выполз морской котик:


Я уж молчу, что медведя в естественной среде я впервые увидел именно в США (пусть даже и в National park. В общем-то оно и лучше, чем увидеть его у себя перед домом).
Дикие места...

Karting in SFBA

Вчера сходили с друзьями вот сюда покататься на картингах. До этого пробовал картинги только один раз в Новосибирске. Классное развлечение!
Тут в машинках стоят устройства, записывающие время прохождения каждого круга. Сначала нам дали посмотреть короткий видео-фильм о том, как надо (точнее, в основном - как НЕ НАДО) ездить. Потом дали перчатки, подшлемники, шлемы - и вперед. 10 минут идет квалификация, где замеряется лучшее время участников. Потом расставляют по позициям, соответственно результатам, и 3-2-1-go!!

Я уже и забыл, насколько это сложно - управлять бешеной табуреткой. Разгон - по тормозам, компенсируем занос коротким движением руля, опять разгон, тормоз, обходим соперника по внешней части трассы, тапку в пол, разгон, входим в поворот, небольшой занос, ...................... Уффф.

В конце выдают распечатку, где показано, насколько хреново хорошо ты ездил. Можно поизучать свои ошибки и в следующий раз попробовать их исправить. Видимо, исправлять мне много всего, потому что мой результат - 6 место из 8 (в общем зачете - примерно 27000-ый из 41000 человек , которые там ездили раньше). Это все потому, что я хороший и аккуратный водитель, не любящий зря рисковать, ага! :)

Развлечение довольно дорогое - $60 за полчаса (которые пролетели, как 10 минут). Можно прийти с 12 до 2 дня и за $65 ездить, пока шины не сотрешь.

По дороге домой у Левы руки чесались продолжить езду в том же стиле, что и на картодроме. Хорошо, что удалось его успокоить. Езда на Аккорде после этого была похожа на полет на ковре-самолете. То есть не то, чтобы я хорошо знал, каково оно - летать на ковре-самолете, но в общем вы поняли. :)
Фотографии и видео выложу через пару дней - они не на моем фотоаппарате.

Monday, May 18, 2009

H-1B Quota (cap count) for 2009 (Financial Year 2010)

Неурожайный нынче год пошел. То вон два года лотереи проводили, а теперь рабочие визы просто так лежат. Бери - не хочу. На 18 мая 2009 пришло всего 45500 заявок из квоты в 65000 виз.
USCIS official press release: FY2010 H-1B Petition Filings

Впрочем, говорят, что требования к разрешениям на работу стали заметно жестче. И правильно. Бодишопы - давить.

"Ем сыр с плесенью, вино пью старое, на машине езжу без крыши. Кризис, что еще сказать..." (с) с просторов интернета

Update from 07/28/2009:

As of July 10, 2009, approximately 44,900 H-1B cap-subject petitions and approximately 20,000 petitions qualifying for the advanced degree cap exemption had been filed

Official source: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=138b6138f898d010VgnVCM10000048f3d6a1RCRD&vgnextchannel=91919c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD

Yet another parade in San Francisco

There's time for talks, and time for silence. It's the latter now. Just pictures.

"Bay to Breakers" parade in San Francisco (17 May 2009)

Volleyball in Sunnyvale at Yahoo site (16 May 2009)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My new toys

My new toys: from simple to complex.

I heard somewhere that every respectful man must have dumbbells slowly getting dusty in his closet. Had to buy those:



There should be a bicycle as well, but it should get dusty on a balcony instead of a closet:


And finally -

And this is something, which should not get dusty at all. It should be played. Then that's what you can do after ~6 weeks:

(Intro from "Stairway to heaven")