Archive | 2003
December 23, 2003

New System

Before I left for Moscow in late June, I was going to install Moveable Type. Didn’t happen…so when I got back I said that I would install MT and upload my Moscow pics. Obviously, that didn’t happen either. Now I have all the time in the world, though, and actually got around to replacing that horrible NewsPro posting software. It really sucked…I think the company went out of business or something, too.

Now I just have to work on replacing this horrible default template. Yay, white is such an exciting color!

November 11, 2003

The latest charges against Yukos

From the St. Pete times…

MOSCOW – The oil giant Yukos, already battered by the jailing of its head amid a politically tinged probe, also faces allegations of letting rabbits mate without supervision and of mistreating pigs, news reports said Thursday.

The animal abuse allegations against Yukos surfaced in an inspection of a farm belonging to its subsidiary Sakhaneftegaz, news reports said. Authorities found that male and female rabbits were kept together and “couplings take place unsystematically, and no zoological-technological monitoring records are kept,” Interfax said. Nursing sows are also kept in common stalls, which is against regulations, the report said.

“The unsystematic coupling of buck rabbits at a farm of a [Yukos] affiliate is an outrage, indeed,” Yukos spokesman Alexander Shadrin told Interfax.

“Nevertheless, I do not rule out that among the numerous accusations against Yukos a new one can be added – cruelty to animals planned and committed by an organized group,” Shadrin said.


November 11, 2003

Putin Cartoons

Putin Cartoons have been showing up in newspapers across America…sweet.

October 6, 2003

More pictures from Russia

Here you go…more pics from my summer in Moscow

Chris, Luke, and myself with our inflatable instruments of death – On July 4th we went down to VDNKh, an open air market/amusement park.  While we were there we bought these inflatable toys and ran around the park hitting each other with them.  The Russians thought we were INSANE, but it was fun.  We did look pretty odd holding these things on the long metro ride back to our dorm, though. 

The group at Peter and Paul Fortress – Eight of us took a trip to St. Petersburg for a weekend.  Here we are (minus Liz, who was taking the picture) at Peter & Paul Fortress.  Since we only had 2 days in St. Pete, Liz and I (the only people in the group who had been to St. Pete) ran the group like drill sergeants so the others could see all the major sites.  Whining about the amount of walking, the warm temperature, etc. was NOT tolerated.

Miriam, Liz, and myself in front of the Church of the Spilled Blood – Another pic from St. Pete.  Luke took this picture when we weren’t expecting it, thus all of our stupid poses.  We were deciding what to do in this picture…Liz and Miriam said we should do a pyramid and I said hey, now there’s a stupid idea…and said we should do the onion dome pose instead.  In this picture I demonstrate the “onion dome” pose.

Liz, Miriam, myself with my cool flag – Another picture from Church of the Spilled Blood, but in this one I have my cool “I *heart* Pityer” flag.  Yeah, you wish you had a flag like that…

Dinner at the Georgian restaurant – This is from my last night in Moscow…awww memories.  For my last meal I chose the Georgian restaurant, which we often went to because the food was so incredible.  There’s John, Miriam, myself, and Luke (with the crazy face).  Mmmmm Georgian food.

I miss Moscow and want to go back NOW.

September 30, 2003

ESPN: We’re talkin’ baseball … in Russia

“Russians, we know of long waits. My friend, you stand in line for meat when Brezhnev is premiere, now that is long wait. Ninety-five years, that is nothing! NOTHING! My mother and grandmother wait 95 years just for potatoes at marketplace. And when they reach end of line, they are told, ‘No more potatoes! Come back tomorrow!’ COME BACK TOMORROW! And Cubs fans talk about long waits? I spit on Cubs!”

It was announced last week that for the first time ever, Russian TV will carry the World Series in October…read this hilarious article on World Series broadcasting…Russian style.

September 29, 2003

Moi rossijskie druz’ja

Due to school, work, and extracurricular activities I haven’t had any time to crop and upload all 240 pictures I took while I was in Moscow.  Maybe I’ll get it done after I graduate.

I’ve uploaded a few, though, mainly those of my Russian friends.  So without further delay, here you go:

Myself and Slava – Slava is an awesome guy.  He works as a security guard at GUM, the mall that borders Red Square.  He speaks English very well, and I met him at GUM while I was searching for a “Russian Santa Claus” to bring back for my mom.  We hung out a lot during my time in Moscow.

Myself and Roma – Roma is a one of Slava’s friends that came to Moscow for a few days.  He lives in Smolensk and plays basketball for the Smolensk Bulldogs.  Slava and Roma are HUGE basketball fans and know more about the NBA than most Americans I know.  Oh yeah, they don’t like the Lakers 😉

Myself, Vanya, and Nastasya – Vanya, like Slava, is a security guard at GUM, and Nastasya works at one of the stores in GUM.  In this picture we are posing in front of the Kremlin.

Group picture – This is a picture of myself with Slava, Ira (Slava’s girlfriend), myself, Vanya, Alena, and Roma in front of the gates that lead to Red Square.  We would usually hang out in Alexander Gardens near the Kremlin or at the Karl Marx Monument acrss from the Bolshoi Theater.  I enjoyed hanging out with my Russian friends…I learned a lot about Russian culture and had the opportunity to practice my Russian language skills (which are still very poor).  I still keep in contact with Slava via email, and he sends me updates on everyone…I can’t wait to go back to Moscow and see all of them!

Myself at the Space Monument – This is a picture of myself posing alongside one of the walls of the Space Monument.  Like every monument built during the Soviet era, this one has a huge relief of Lenin leading the way…because even though Vladimir was long dead when the Russians sent the first man into space he still had a lot to do with their success!  Riiight.  Also notice that the collective farmers (along with their wheat) are at the forefront of this achievement, while the scientists that worked on the space program are relegated to the back.  Ah, I love socialist realism!

August 3, 2003

My loot from Russia

Thanks to my one month in Moscow, I think I’ve acquired enough stuff to open up my very own Russian souvenir store here in the states.  Well, maybe not…compared to last year, I didn’t actually buy that much (amazing, I know).  Here are two things that I did buy, though:

This is a chess set I bought at a store on Starry Arbat in Moscow.  I actually saw this chess set at the souvenir market last year when I was in St. Pete, but I didn’t buy it because I didn’t know how to play chess.  I learned to play last month while I was in Moscow (spaseeba, Luka!), though, so now I actually have a reason to own a chess set.  Anyways, this chess set is US vs USSR.  The board has pieces of a world map on it, and the pieces have US and USSR colors and symbols on them.  The pawns are US and USSR leaders.

This is a matroyshka (stacking dolls) set that I bought at Izmaylovsky Park.  The dolls are (from smallest to largest): Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Putin.  This is not your ordinary set of stacking dolls, though.  As you can see, each doll is wearing a hat.  I’ve never seen stacking dolls with hats, and these were so adorable that I had to buy them.

Nothing new going on here.  The desert is boring and I would give anything for another 2-4 weeks in Moscow.  We tried the new Las Casuelas in La Quinta…it was so-so…best to stick to the Cafe in Palm Desert or Nuevas in Rancho Mirage.

July 31, 2003

I’ve traveled the world to learn, I must return from Russia with love

After 5 weeks in Russia, I’m finally back in the US.  I really didn’t want to leave…Moscow is so incredible.  On Tuesday, my last full day in Moscow, I woke up early to get some last minute sightseeing done.  Sadly, Red Square was still closed, but I did walk down to Lubyanka to see the former KGB Headquarters and notorious prison.  In the evening I had dinner with some friends at the Georgian restaurant and then we went back to Shabalovka for cake and ice cream.

On Wednesday morning I checked out of my dorm.  It is kind of an odd process.  The dzherunaya checked my room to make sure I wasn’t stealing anything, for instance a desk or bed.  I had to turn in my propusk (entry card) which I was hoping to save because the stamp they used on it said “MGY – CCCP”.  She handed me another card which listed the number of bags I was taking out of the building.  I thought this part was really odd…when I left the building I had to turn in that card to the security guard, who checked it against the number of bags I was carrying out.  Very, very odd.  When I said goodbye to the dzherunaya she kissed me on the cheek like 10 times…no joke, it was crazy, because during my 5 weeks at Shabalovka I had only seen her one other time before I checked out.

A driver from MGU picked me up at the dorm to take me to the airport.  Liz and Luke skipped class that day and asked the driver if they could tag along to the airport.  We finally got to Sheremetevo-2 just in time for me to check in.  Russian airports are odd, as you can only check in/clear customs 2 hours prior to your scheduled departure, not any earlier.  I got in the line that was listed next to my flight number, but it changed, so I had to get in another one.  When I finally got to the front of that line, the customs officer told me to get in a different line.  The entire process was extremely annoying.  They finally screened my luggage and I was allowed to check in and get my boarding pass.  After that you stand in another line for passport control.  I am happy to report that this time (unlike last year) I went through the entire process without being yelled at by an irate Russian border guard.  By the time I got through this process, I didn’t have any time to check out the stores or, more importantly, exchange my Russian Rubles for dollars.  So now I have $70 worth of a currency that I can’t get exchanged anywhere but in Russia…excellent!  My plane from Moscow to Paris was an hour late taking off, and I was sure that I would miss my connecting flight to LA.  When we finally landed in Paris I had to wait for 15 minutes for the stupid terminal bus to transfer me from Terminal B to F.  The other passengers were really pissed off at having to wait…they kept screaming that they were going to miss their flight, but the airport staff would just shrug their shoulders and say something in French.  Charles De Gaulle Airport really sucks…the layout just seems really stupid.  My plane to LAX was about 45 minutes late taking off and was probably one of the most annoying flights I’ve ever been on.  It was a fun filled 12 hours of little French kids running up and down the aisles screaming their heads off, the lady in the seat behind me kept putting her nasty feet on my armrest, and one of the male flight attendants kept hitting on the girl sitting next to me.  Well, at least the food was decent.  We finally landed in LA around 11:15.  On the way to customs they have a huge sign that says “Welcome to the United States of America” and under that is a tiny framed picture of George Dubya…haha great.  U.S. customs was even more annoying than Russian customs because the lines are longer and you have to go through like 5 different checkpoints.  The passport control officer spent 2 minutes talking to me about Russia and then I got my bags and went through the USDA check.  The USDA officer asked me if I had any food and I said “no” because I’m sure by “food” he didn’t mean chocolate, turkish delights, tea, kasha, and instant borscht.  I got into Palm Desert around 2am.  It feels good to be back, but I wish I was still in Moscow!  I had a great time there and made some good friends.  Pictures will be up in a few days…now I gotta unpack.

July 28, 2003

Such was life in Leningrad

We had a good weekend in St. Pete.  Took the midnight train and arrived Saturday morning.  We stayed at the Herzen student dormitory and it was really nice…good rooms and the location was perfect – right behind Kazaan Cathedral on Nevsky Prospekt.  Since we only had two days there we tried to hit all the major attractions.  We went to Peter and Paul Fortress, the Kunstkammer, Hermitage, Church of the Spilled Blood, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, and the Bronze Horseman.  We also took a sightseeing cruise on the Neva River.

It was nice to see the city without all the scaffolding.  They really spruced up the main areas for the 300th anniversary…there is so much new stuff on Nevsky, too.

Liz and Luke were caught jaywalking by a militiaman and they had to pay him a 100 ruble on the spot “fine”, which most likely went straight into his pocket.  Ah, you gotta love the cops here.

I leave Wednesday 🙁 I wish I could stay here a few more weeks.

July 25, 2003

Stuck around St. Petersburg when I saw it was time for a change

Today was my last day of class, yay!  We are leaving for St. Petersburg tonight.  Our train leaves at around 1am.  We are returning back to Moscow on Monday morning.  Should be fun, although 2 days is not enough time for a city like St. Pete.