Saturday, May 30, 2009

New Apartment/Random Things

For those of you who don't know - I got kicked out of my apartment.... Quite unbelievable to most of you, I am sure. I was shocked for about 30 minutes when I got the word from my realtor. However, it is quite common here for the landlord to decide they want the apartment back for no real reason....
So, last Sunday with the help of some friends, I moved into my new apartment. I really like it! Much closer to work, a proper bathroom - not soviet style - microwave, radio, good tv and fast internet - and CHEAPER! which means I am getting a cleaning person!! I can see this might be something I get addicted to..

I wanted to share some pics - but really, my place is still a mess - so here are a few of very random things in my apartment - but I'll share more after the cleaner comes :)

I have to unlock 4 doors to get into my apartment.....

I have a nice TV with alot of channels :)
The show below seems to be some gambling something or other... There seem to be alot of things you can do/play/vote for using your cell phone.

A giant lion in my living room! The landlord was quite happy that I would get to have this.

A tray on my stove - filled with dried stuff... I actually quite like it. My kitchen is very cozy, and my window opens to a little park.


I am really trying to understand the culture here, because things are certainly different that what I know. It is not really that they are "difficult", but things work differently - and actually getting to the bottom of how to accomplish something can be a challenge. Here are some things I have come across:

  • Generally, everything is someone else's responsibility - no matter who you ask. There are so many layers - and no one wants to bear the responsibility. I'm told there is some famous phrase about - "who to blame?" Like at work, I want to demonstrate how to do something in Excel... but first, we have to figure out if it is in their job description to do this, and then I need to get IT to show it because that is their job.......
  • Not sharing information........ information is power.... So, there is lots of uncertainty here
  • When information is shared - it is only the very minimum of what you need. For example, my internet here in my new apartment.... The landlord pays for it - so I did not deal w/the set up - so my realtor just tells me - turn the modem off and back on, and it should work...Uh, don't I need log in and password? So, I get that... Ne rabotat (does not work)...Finally, since everything at work is IT's job, I ask them. Thankfully one guy used to work for my internet company - and knows that I need to call them and give them some information from my computer for it to work..
  • Licensure/Credentials - seems to be quite often these are purchased rather than earned.
  • Interesting things learned in Russian language lessons - the phrase "is it possible?" also translates as "would you like to?" No wonder I get so many - "it is not possible"s!. The concept of "efficiency" seems to translate as "working harder/more"

Here are some things I love about Moscow

  • Everything and nothing are possible in the same moment.
  • Summer - the breeze, the parks, the flowers, the outdoor cafes
  • I am starting to like it being late so long...
  • I love that as a part of my work, I really need to know things about Kazkhstan, Armenia and Tajikistan.
  • Everything is so fluid - plans change at a moment's notice with a text message, it really makes you re-think strict planning and timelines :)
  • All the people you get to meet....

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Park near my apartment

More Victory Day Celebrations

Park Pobedi - VictoryPark

Obviously, this is St. Basil's in Red Square.
Fountain on the way to Red Square
Only in Russia....
I first thought this guy was sunbathing....
Turns out he was washing his clothes in the canal.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009



Again, there will be alot of stuff I probably get wrong. Sure wish I had that Advanced European History book that is in storage...
Well, this is the Vatican Musem. It really reminded me of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Endless works of art. Our guide told us that if you looked at each piece of art for one minute, it would take you twelve years to see it all. So, this will be a high-level overview!
They have these placards of the Sistine Chapel in the main courtyard because you cannot talk in the chapel or take pictures since it is a sacred place. It was was at the end.
I don't quite know what this is, but I've seen this image before.
I am really embarassed I don't know the name of this...

Lots of sarcofi (spelling?) sarcophagus plural....
sarcophagus -
Greek Antiquity. a kind of stone thought to consume the flesh of corpses, used for coffins.
Persues with the head of Medusa
Ceiling shot. Sorry, I don't know exactly what it was. Many of these pictures are not the greatest.
Bronze statue. I was told that the grape leaves are relatively recent additions:)
Another ceiling.

We were told this was probably a menu. It is a mosaic.
This was in the tapestry hall. It is the Ressurection of Jesus. Sorry it is blurry... No flashes were allowed... But, I wanted you to see it.

Again, I am really mortified that I do not know whose work this is. I think it is Rafael....
My pictures of the School of Athens painting were not so good, but I really do remember that one from high school.

So, no pics in the Sistine Chapel.... Apparently some Japanese company paid for the cleaning of the ceiling, and they have all the rights to the photography. As I said before, it was truly amazing... So detailed and intricate. And if I remember correctly, it took 4 years to paint, which is incredible.
Here is a link to a site where you can see photos.

This is infront of St. Peter's Cathedral looking out to Vatican City.
I am sad to say, I did not go in St. Peter's Cathedral. The tour was supposed to be 2 hrs, but it was 3+ and i was starving, and supposed to meet someone. I would have liked to see La Pieta and a few other things. Maybe next time.
Not quite sure what crowd they were expecting, as I think the Pope is in the Middle East this week.
The Trevi Fountain

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rome Pictures

A day and a half was not enough to see Rome. I did two guided tours, but there was so much to take in. I hope I tell you the right information about these places...

I believe this is the Arch of Constantine.

I do know for certain this is the Colosseum! It is right by the street, and has become discolored due to the pollution. Also, only one third of the building remains because of earthquakes.

I thought this place was fascinating. Below you can see underground passages where the animals were kept before the fights. It is not there now, but there was a wooden floor that covered this part, and it was covered in sand - partly for traction of the gladiators, but also to soak up the blood.

When the stadium was finished, there was a 100 day festival where 2,000 men and 9,000 animals were killed. The animals came from all over the world - lions, tigers, bears...

This is Palantine hill - where the city of Rome was founded. I forget whose palace was here (Agustus?), but this was part of the baths, and an private arena for sporting events.

This is the Forum. This was the city center of Rome. The most important temples and courts were here.

Here is another view from outside the Forum. It is mostly ruins now.

This is the House of the Vestal Virgins. The girls were selected at age 10, and served for 30 years. If the girl failed to keep the vow of chastity - they were taken to a crypt and buried alive with a lamp and a loaf of bread.

This is the Temple of Vesta. It was Rome's most sacred spot. There was a flame burning, and it was thought as long as the flame burned, Rome would stand. The Vestal Virgins tended the flame.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Victory Day in Moscow!

Here are pictures from the Victory Day Parade. Sorry some of them are not the greatest, but we were on the embankment across from the Kremlin, and there were lots of people, so I was just holding up my camera hoping to get some of the tanks...
Here is a Fox News article about the parade. It tells what some of the planes and missles were - since I have no idea :) One person I was with commented that he was glad there were no shots fired during the Cold War, because he is pretty sure we would've lost.
Nice park

Christ the Savior Cathedral