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Sun, Jan. 22nd, 2006, 01:53 pm

I'm having fun with MySpace now because a) it's too cold to do anything else and b) Oksana told me to join, though apparently I had an account before, just hadn't done anything with it.  Now there's a very unpleasant looking picture and a blog entry.  Anyway, it's a fun little stalking...er...connecting tool.  And we all know how I needed another blog.  But at least I can add pictures to this one.

Friday Five:
1. What is your preferred trusted news source?
cnn.com, or bbc.co.uk...NPR when I'm home.
2. What is a news source that you will never trust?
Fox news, obviously.
3. What is the news topic during the last calendar year that you feel got the worst coverage?
I wasn't home for much of the last calendar year.  I remember wanting more information about the White House's involvement in the CIA leak.
4. What news item do you feel got too much coverage in the last calendar year?
The good thing about not being at home, and not being able to understand the TV news here, is that it's pretty easy to avoid stuff I'm sick of hearing about.
5. If you had complete control of your favored news source(s) (answer to question 1), what would you do with it that is not already being done?
More text.  They have a lot of video features, which is great if you have high-speed internet, but sometimes they act as replacements for the news stories, rather than supplements, which I find frustrating.

It was -30 this past week.  A LOT of students missing class, which makes it hard to do anything of value because I know I'll just end up doing it all over again later.  So mostly we stand by the radiator and try to play games.  I told my boss I'm probably here for at least another year, which was easy.  The hard part will be telling my mother, who knew I would be out of the country another year, but did not expect me to stay in Russia so long.

Mon, Jan. 16th, 2006, 04:47 am
But everyone does it and seldom as well

The story about the guy who tried to kill the former Pope has me thinking about forgiveness.  He also killed a journalist.  25 years for a murder and an attempted murder really isn't enough.  I also have to question how serious Turkey is about EU membership.  Releasing a guy who killed a left-wing journalist and tried to kill a Christian leader isn't necessarily damaging to their "Islamic, but westernized" image.  Apparently, it's consistent with Turkish law, which is unfortunate, but when you kill someone your punishment should be the same no matter who you kill (there are probably exceptions.  I can't think of any at the moment, though).  It's the people who see this guy as a national hero who are bad for publicity.  But I'm not an EU citizen.  Maybe they see it differently.  Maybe their news outlets are reporting it differently.

Pope John Paul II forgave him.  I don't know if the journalist's family did.  But you can forgive someone and still want to prevent them from harming others, right?

So should you forgive someone who tries to kill you?  The Bible says yes.  Could you forgive someone who tried to kill you?  Probably not.  I mean, I would probably try, but I would always have to add conditions: "I forgive you...because I survived," "...because there was no lasting damage," "...because you're in prison so I don't have to worry anymore" "...because you're sorry."  It wouldn't really be forgiveness.  Could you forgive someone who killed someone important to you?  The Bible says we should, but I don't think I could.  In fact, I'm sure I couldn't.

That's as far as I'm going to get with this, since it's 4:30 am.

Friday Five:
1. What is the most adventurous food you've ever tried?
Escargot, maybe. 

2. What is the most adventurous food you'd be willing to try?
I'll know when it's offered.

3. Would you have a problem eating dog meat and why or why not?
Ethically, no.  The fact that people eat dogs bothers me much, much less than the fact that people eat pigs.  But, personally, no, I wouldn't do it.

4. For the most part, do you consider your diet to be balanced?
For the most part...yes.  When I'm normal I have a healthy diet, and I rarely even want unhealthy food.  But anxiety or depression will cause me to forget to eat, sometimes for a few days at a time, and one time really severe depression caused me to eat everything in sight (including pork, when it was in sight) for some months. 

5. Which is more appealing- being a vegetarian for the rest of your life or being a strict carnivore for the rest of your life?
Vegetarian, because I literally can't live without vegetables, but I'd cheat constantly ("What do you mean shrimp isn't a vegetable?!?" "That was chicken?  I thought it was...uh...really good tofu.  Oh, don't give me that look.  I don't know what chicken tastes like.  Because I'm a vegetarian").

Wed, Dec. 14th, 2005, 03:09 pm

I commented to my mother that SRG doesn't eat vegetables or any meat other than beef, pork, or chicken. Later I realized that the fact that I can name meats other than beef, pork, and chicken means I've had kind of a priveleged upbringing, food-wise (unless I had been thinking of rats, in which case the opposite would be true). Anyway, aside from a feeling that eating certain animals is morally wrong (which comes from living in California), if you put food in front of me, I'm likely to eat it.

Sometimes this makes people think I'm adventurous, but mostly it's just gluttony. You know how the villain in The Little Mermaid eats every creature in sight? Yeah, that's me.

So, even though I know it's none of my business, it kind of bothers me when people pick at their food or eat the same thing all the time if there are other choices available. I have a lot more fun going to restaurants with people like me (so, basically, my dad). But even more annoying than these people is the spicy food guy.

The spicy food guy is the guy who goes to the Indian restaurant and orders the spiciest dish over the protestations of the waiter.* This is particularly annoying if you eat family-style, because most other people in the group will not like their food so spicy. He will then proceed to eat the entire thing, often without reaching for the bread and then act like it really wasn't all that spicy after all. Which maybe it wasn't to him, but what differentiates the spicy food guy from other people who like really spicy food is that he wants you to notice. And, if you weren't in the restaurant, he'll tell you about it later. And then he'll tell your friends who weren't there either. And then you're supposed to act all impressed that the white devil has managed to infiltrate the mysterious world of curry.

What brought this on was that I ran into a spicy food guy I know the other day. There isn't spicy food in Russia, and he's been here a while, which means the story he's telling is over a year old. And he still tells it.

* By the way, if anyone reading this is a waiter at an Indian restaurant, just let the guy have his spicy food. The more you protest, the more he thinks he can impress you.

Sat, Nov. 26th, 2005, 10:41 pm

I just had a most excellent day.  SRG and I went to the Kremlin armory, a very cool museum.  There definitely isn't another one like it in the world.  Then a huge bookstore that I hadn't been to before (I thought I had been to all of them).  Then lunch at GUM, which he hadn't been to since Soviet times (it has changed a lot since then).  I kind of wanted to run away to Riga, but he needed a visa and I had to be at Oksana's in time to help her set up for Thanksgiving.  Which I then did, and we had a huge meal (someone even found a turkey) and it was good.

Yeah, so it was a most excellent day.

Sun, Nov. 20th, 2005, 07:21 pm

I bought my tickets to Italy yesterday.  I also got a shiny new mobile phone, on a complete impulse buy.  It's...completely unnecessary for my needs as a mobile phone user.  But shiny.

Friday...er...Sunday Five

1. What do you do for fun?
Kind of a general question, isn't it?  Mostly I like to travel around when I can.

2. Is there a person from your past you would like to talk to again, even if it would be a potentially painful conversation?

3. What is your favorite comfort food?
Chocolate, junior mints, cherry 7-up.

4. What is your preferred form of self-expression? (Do you dance; or express yourself through music, conversation, etc.)

5. You just received $5000; what do you spend it on?
I'd take trains around Europe for a month or so. 

Mon, Aug. 29th, 2005, 11:58 pm
Is it too late to even try

Can somebody please explain the following scenario to me:
Girl, A, meets Old Man, B.  Maybe you're on the train together, or A is taking a taxi and B is the driver, or B asked A for directions.  Over the course of the conversation, one thing becomes clear:  A and B do not have a common language.  Sure, maybe they know one or two phrases, but it's all things like "Do you speak English?" and "I don't know."  When the conversation is over, B asks A for her phone number.  Since, as I said, they don't have a language in common, B cannot simply ask but must take out his mobile, point to it, and say "number?"  in as many languages as he knows how to say "number" in.  A can easily deflect this request by giving an excuse in her native language.  B can't understand any of what A says, and he'll stop trying after she repeats it for the 3rd time or so.

This happens at least once a month.  Your job is to explain to me what, exactly, these people are hoping to gain. 

Sun, Jul. 31st, 2005, 11:11 am

My grandmother passed away at 5 pm on Tuesday, before I had a chance to visit her.  She's been ill for a while, but she took a very sudden turn for the worse this week.  She was with (most of) her family and wasn't in much pain.

To die relatively pain-free surrounded by family at age 81 after having lived a good life where you accomplished a lot and got to travel the world is better than most of us can hope for.  So when I say I'm sad about this, it's a 100% selfish emotion.  She's on her way to a better place.  Knowing this does not make me less sad.

It kind of takes away a major reason I came home this summer.  Not that I'm not happy to be home now, but getting to see my grandmother was a huge factor in my decision. 

Sat, Jul. 9th, 2005, 02:01 pm
High fidelity first class travelling

I resisted the temptation to go back to Z-town this weekend. I could not, however, stay away from the internet.

1. How much money is in your wallet right now?
800 Rubles (~$30)

2. How much money would you need in the bank to feel secure? Rich?
Secure: about $1500. Enough to get home on a day's notice if I need to. Then I can be a lousy freeloader. Rich: $1 million.

3. If someone gave you $100, no strings attached, what would you do with it?
Sadly, I'd probably buy a couple pairs of shoes. Or go to St. Petersburg for a weekend.

4. If someone gave you $1 Million, no strings attached, what would you do with it?
I'd save it for travelling later in life, when cheap trains and youth hostels aren't good enough for me anymore.

5. How much does something have to cost before it starts counting as "real" money, as a purchase to be considered and evaluated, but below which you'll buy without really thinking about it?
$200. That's 40% of what I make in a month, so it really should be lower, but there you have it.

Now...to the bookstore!

Sat, Jun. 25th, 2005, 03:46 am
But now those skies are threatening

In my excitement over the non-unrejection, I almost forgot the Friday Five.

1. Can you share a tale of a favorite summer cookout/get together?

Actually, no.  We used to have family picnics every year.  I don't know why we don't anymore (they stopped the year my grandfather died, but I don't think that was the reason).  But there isn't one particular family picnic that sticks out in my mind. 

2. What is a favorite summer ritual of yours?

Uh...my dad can barbecue.  That's not really a ritual.  Okay, honestly, I really hate summer, and Moscow summer is just as bad as California summer, except sometimes it starts raining in the middle fo the day for no reason at all.  But, really, what ritual would I choose?  Daily sunscreening?  Emptying my wallet in the name of Claritin?  Perhaps the Watching of the Reruns?  The releasing of the crappy films?

3. After a long hot summer day, what is your favorite way to quench your thirst?

Lemonade!  Homemade.  One reason I cannot wait to go home.

4. The 4th of July is coming up, what plans, if any, do you have?

Working.  On Sunday I wrote my agenda for the next few weeks and, sure enough, this is the first 4th of July ever that I'll be spending at work.  It depresses me.  Though, given my current level of patriotism, it's probably appropriate.  That depresses me even more. 

5. What are you looking forward to doing most before the summer ends?

Going home!  Maybe going to a Russian beach when I get back.  Yeah, I know, I sincerely doubt that beaches in Moscow are better than the ones in California in any way (but, you know, the self-esteem thing).

Thu, Nov. 4th, 2004, 03:42 pm
Where would I start?

Looks like I'm going to be in Russia for a while. I feel like my own country has kind of betrayed me. It makes me think it will be a while before I want to go back to the U.S. for any substantial amount of time. The political situation in Russia is worse in most ways, but I don't love Russia, so I don't take it personally when it screws up.

We are now supposed to be proud of a country where the majority of people voted for Bush.

I don't know what it's like for people in the U.S. It must be so much worse than 2000. Now he is a proven right wing nutjob who doesn't have to worry about re-election.

My week in Russia has been sucktacular for many reasons, but I find myself thinking that at least I'm not in America. I don't want to be an American right now.

As long as I can speak English, and therefore find work, I don't have to go back.

The funny thing is, everyone at work is being really nice to me because they are worried that I'm about to throw my hands in the air and run back home. That's how bad my week has been. And that's how much I don't want to be in America right now.

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