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The Semi-Regular Newsletter


Russia, April 6, 1998

Spring is Here Finally

After eight months of winter, Spring is fantastic!

The street my office was on
Blue skies and new leaves!
Pollute the air to clean the streets
Time to clean the streets!
The first snow fall was the first day of September. The snow never left after the first day of November. It was -17 C in December and -25 C in January. February I had to fly half way around the world to find warmth. Now, with the arrival of April, spring is finally here!

Last weekend it was beautiful! With highs of 10 C, and bright sunlight, Moscow rejoiced in the streets, laughing and giggling in the euphoria that the fist day of spring, after seven months of winter will bring. Last weekend also revealed what spring will be like here.

There is a large field between my house and my work. In winter this field was covered with snow, making the walk difficult but pretty. Now the snow is gone, and the raw, trash sewn field reveals its true self. I sure hope there is grass, or at least weeds that sprout soon to give the brown mud some color. Now I also realize why people start random fires here. I want to start one myself to burn off all the paper trash in the field. Not all is ugly though.

While I was strolling down Old Arbat last weekend, the walking street in the center of Moscow, I saw the first mini-skirt of spring. Well she thought of it as a mini-skirt, but I'm sure her mother and I are of the same opinion, that was more a wide belt than a short skirt! Now the fun begins. The dev's here compete in skirt shortness, and Wow! do they have nice legs!

I am also getting into the swing of spring, with a cleaning of the apartment and shaving of the beard. I prodded, whipped, and beat my housemates into a spring cleaning of the apartment Saturday, much to their dismay. We scrubbed all the goo from the winter and the last residents, trying to find the original surfaces. Luckily they have Comet here, so the job went well.

In a bid to hasten spring along, I got out the razor and took off the thick beard I've been sporting since September. Every year I grow a beard for winter, and shave in the spring. Hopefully people will still recognize me!

Now that all the domestic chores are done, its time to focus on the real activity of spring, romance!

Russia, January 15, 1998

Sing, Katya, Sing!

Katya can hit that high 'c' past high 'c' - and hold it! Mom & Katya Ya never know what hidden talents people have until you befriend them, take my friend Katya for example. I don't remember the first day I met Katya, I just remember seeing her often. She...

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Russia, December 28, 1997

Wanna Swim with Winter Walruses?

Gotta go swiming in Winter to get the feel of it Some Muscovites warmly welcome icy swim MOSCOW (CNN) -- From throughout the Russian capital, Muscovite "walruses" convened on a frozen pond for the celebration of an annual event: Walrus Day. Here is Ann with a St. Peterburg Walrus. Note,...

Russia, December 22, 1997

It's My First Xmas in Russia

Don't get you hopes up December 24th, the next day ain't xmas in Russia PCV's making a merry mess Christmas Day I had to work. Not that I have a slave-driving boss, but Christmas is celebrated on January 7th here, the Orthodox Christmas, not December 25, the Catholic Christmas. Not...

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Russia, December 20, 1997

Wild Dogs Run Wild

Cute puppies are not in the window Before the "fall" of communism, wild dogs here, like in America, were rounded up and exterminated. (Yes, that is why they call it the Humane Society, they kill 'em humanely.) But now, since there isn't any money for such egalitarian projects, the dogs...

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Russia, December 15, 1997

It's Damn Cold!

Brrr! You wander the streets when its -30 C! Brrrr! This past week Moscow broke a few records for record cold, and unfortunately I was here to experience it! Now this is Moscow, not know for its tepid climate, but -30C is a bit ridiculous. It was so cold, my...

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Russia, December 12, 1997

Russian DJ's Try Disco

No shout-out to the Moscow DJ's! Last night, well actually early this morning, I went to a club called Pilot. It was cool, not as cool as some clubs I've been to, but it held its own. With a strip tease, video screen, and an actual airplane hanging from the...

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Russia, December 10, 1997

So What is Your Ethnicity?

Not your nationality, but your ancestry! Last night, as I was strolling home along Novy Arbat, I was "controlled." An uniformed Moscow militzi (policeman) stopped me and asked me for my documents. When he saw my passport, he looked at me funny and asked me where my real papers were....

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Russia, December 8, 1997

My New Expat Job

When ya get lucky, hold onto that brass ring with both hands Yeah, we're happy to work The Summer crew Now that I am working in a western company as an expatriate (or expat), I have a unique view on the Russian working experience. As an expat, I am treated...

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Russia, December 1, 1997

My Peace Corps Experience

PCV life is a trip down frustration lane Now you are probably wondering how I felt about my Peace Corps experience, and why I split from the program. Well I'll tell ya. I really enjoyed the experience. Through the Peace Corps experience, I formed friendships with an interesting group of...

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Apartment Hunting in Moscow

If you wanna find a place in Moscow, get ready to search The Crew: Me Ann, Andrey What I don't want: Suburbia Life like a Russian Now this is living! Since I am no longer a Peace Corps Volunteer, I have to find my own accommodation in this city. Apartment...

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Andrey is a Sneaky Bastard

Andrey is the ultimate man-tool Andrey is always in the middle of it all! Andrey and I lived together, more precisely he lived in the room next to mine in the communal apartment we called home. He is an interesting guy, a Russian who has lived in France, Spain, and...

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Russia, November 24, 1997

Look! Its Flipper in a Swimming Pool

Mamilian exploitation depresses us all, but not the Russians I like Russian sports, and I love going to sporting events with my Russian host brother, Dima. So I try to go with him when I find out about upcoming events. Strangely, we rarely go to sporting events, usually getting sidetracked...

Russia, November 15, 1997

Trash Fires are My Favorite Incense

Never a clear day in Russia without a good fire! "Boris, It is a beautiful sunny day in Russia! What to do?" "Oh I don't know Vladimir? How about starting a noxious fire using wood, plastic, rubber, and assorted trash?" "Yeah, Boris, That sounds like a great idea!" I don't...

Russia, November 10, 1997

Freaks on the Streets

For a while there, I was being followed by giant rats! The J-7 Rat and I Another freak besides me Moscow is scary! You never know who your going to meet on the street, and how drunk their gonna be. I've seen some frightenly drunk people stumble by in my...

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Russia, November 8, 1997

Russian Buses Take Their Time

Don't miss the bus! It's a long wait for the next one. The Bus! Joe Pickett, Peace Corps Volunteer in Perm, Russia Russian bus drivers always drive their buses in three's, the joke goes. The first knows where to drive. The second knows how to drive. The third is admiring...

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Russia, November 3, 1997

Sleduchi Stancia Komsomolskaya

Want to see a master work? Check out the Moscow Metro! Damn nice art down there See all the business! One turn on the big M Ain't it Pretty! This past Friday I was bored. No, I mean really bored, so bored that my friend Ann and I rode the...

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Russia, October 13, 1997

Hi Al! Mozhna Photographia?

Al is gonna need better photos to be President! The next prez?? This week I went to see Al. Hmm, I guess he is actually Vice President Al Gore, but that's all so formal. Anyway, Al and Tipper were in Moscow this week for his usual chat with the Russian...

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Russia, October 8, 1997

Some Think that Siberia is For Sale

Wanna buy Siberia? Let's buy Siberia; don't laugh, it's a great idea! By John Ellis, Boston Globe Columnist It's a thin line between hope and fear. Six months ago, financial markets were bustling and there was learned talk in elite circles that perhaps the business cycle no longer applied. Today...

Russia, October 5, 1997

Billet = Ticket in Russia

So you wanna take a ride on the Russian railroad? In the last edition, I had a Nike Experience, where I went to the largest (and only) mall in Russia, GUM, and bought a pair of Nikes just like in the states, with plastic and a smile. Today I will...

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Russia, September 15, 1997

How Old is Moscow?

If you were there, you would know 850 years...

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Russia, September 4, 1997

The Russian Invasion of America

The Reverse Invasion: Russians in America Dear Wayan, Before proceeding any further I will take a liberty of introducing myself by stating that my name is Vladimir (which is the same as your landlord's name). Native Russian. POB is the region where Claire, a spicy (do not get me wrong...

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Russia, August 25, 1997

Hydrofoil Commuting

Russians sure know how to speed on water! And the race was on! Richnoi Vokzal in Moscow Today I wanted to be in Riga, chilling with my friends there. Dima, my host brother talked me out of going because he said he had a surprise day planned for me. I...

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Russia, August 5, 1997

There is Only One Radio Station

Play that funky music, white boy! Under the Soviets, Russian television and radio were tightly controlled mediums of course. What is amazing to me is the length the Soviets went to in their quest for control. Nothing less than absolute control over the mediums was enough. I cannot agree with...

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Russia, August 3, 1997

I Lived During the Reign of Alla

The Queen of Russia Johnson's Russia List, October 29, 1998 Russian diva says she missed her chance By Daniel Bases (Reuters) - Russian Americans forgot about the raging economic crisis and struggling relatives back home for one emotional night recently, listening to the rock 'n' roll of their youthful years...

Russia, August 2, 1997

Don't Miss the trolleybus

The only way to cruze in Russia: the trolleybus! It costs two rubles, and goes all over the city. It doesn't pollute and no one argues with it. What could it be? A trolleybus, that's what! Moscow, and most Russian cities, are crisscrossed by trolleybus lines, buses that are powered...

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Russia, August 1, 1997

I Go Far for Nike's in Moscow

What I do for a new pair of shoes Last week, as I felt the pebbles on the street through my old Nikes I deiced it was time to buy a new pair. Yes, I know I should have bought a pair of shoes before I left, but I didn't...

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Russia, June 30, 1997

The Pochta is the Place for Stamps

I'll trade you the US Postal system for this place any day! Now here is a tale for ya, those who think that Russia is too advanced to have a Peace Corps presence. Today I had a pochta (post office) experience. On Saturday, I received this little slip from the...