Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pool Madness!!!

I am full of sadness and rage today. I am going to channel my rage into bitching about people in gyms.

I went to the gym today for the first time in a while. It’s good for working emotional turmoil out of my system. I’ve been entirely too slothful for the last two months. I swam. I tried to make that a good experience. It wasn’t, because other swimmers have got no manners.

If you’ve spent any time in lap pools in your life, you will recognize the accepted etiquette:

When two people share a lane, they each swim on either side of said lane at their own pace.

When a third (fourth, fifth, tenth) person needs to use the lane (the pool was exceptionally full today), they choose a lane that suits their own speed of swimming the best, and they ask the two people already in the lane if they may join and proceed in circles – true laps, going counter-clockwise.

This is done by lowering your arm in the water when the person on the left nears the end of the pool to get their attention, and asking if they mind swimming in laps. I’ve never seen anyone refuse – until today.

When the woman on the left in the lane I picked agreed to swim laps, we had to wait for the guy on the right to be apprised of this. He stopped, we told him, and he said “no” and swam away! It’s international etiquette, for fuck’ sake! And you can't just force the lap, because it will cause an accident.

So they stayed alone in their lane, and I joined three other women in another lane. The last lane had 5 men at this point. Another guy came in and waited a long time to join the empty lane, and was greeted by the same refusal from the asshole. It was kind of insane. But we were making it work, the four women, we all had a similar stroke, and were generally courteous.

For the first 400 yds or so.

Rule number two of lap swimming – keep your pace similar to others in your lane, and allow for even spacing. With four people, there should be one person turning at each end, when two people are roughly at 12 yds. If you are too slow, you wait at the end to let a faster swimmer pass. If you are too fast, you slow down until you can pass at the end.

NONE of this was happening. There was one woman who kept barreling through, almost running into two other women multiple times. There was the second woman who swam excruciatingly slowly, and never stopped to let others pass. I kept trying to keep my distance, but inevitably kept running into the slow woman.

The speed demon finally had enough, and left. The lane got a bit easier, but we still had three people swimming in the same direction, as if we were connected by a rope.

To add insult to injury of this annoying swim, when I got out of the pool, I found that someone had taken my towel. It’s not mine, it’s the gym’s, but that meant I had to shlep through the locker room out to the towel shelves on the main floor to get a new one.

Read tomorrow: creepy people in gyms.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


CNN tells us today that the average American reads 4 books a year. 25% of all adults read NO books this year.

It's no wonder scenes like this happen:

From Gawker, August 13,
Observations: Scenes From L.A. by doree

But the best part of my trip to California was a conversation I overheard at a Carl's Jr. on Highway 5.

Girl to guy: "Yeah, and then we read this book called the Metamorphosis? It's about a guy who turns into a bug!"

Guy: "That sounds dumb."

Girl: "Yeah, it was retarded."

Guy: "I had to buy that book Elements of Style for one of my classes."

Girl: "That sounds familiar. We also read To the Lighthouse. It has no plot!"

Although, to be fair, it's not like they were wrong. Everyone from Martha Woodmansee to James Wood would say much the same.

I think that's fucking sad. I am not the best reader anymore, with the Internet and films taking up a large portion of my attention. And I tried cataloging my habits on
GoodReads, but I haven't made that a priority, which means I haven't touched it in months.

However, I still read. I blogged about my compulsion to read here. I tried to think back over the past year, and I think I average a book a week. Even with a conservative estimate of a book every two weeks, I read 26 books this past year. If I think long enough, I can list them all.

That also means that I've read 6 to 12 times more than an average American. Can I have a prize now?
Oh, and this is reading for PLEASURE. To expand your mind. To learn something. To enjoy the beauty of language and concepts. To have a good story. Unless, of course, you are this guy:

"Fiction just doesn't interest me," said Bob Ryan, 41, who works for a construction company in Guntersville, Alabama. "If I'm going to get a story, I'll get a movie."

I am not including any reading that was necessary for work. I am also not including Vanity Fair, which, when read from cover to cover, as I do, qualifies for 12 novels a year. I would love to keep reading The New Yorker, but I just don't have the time.

So, gentle reader - how do you compare to the average American? Do tell. And everything counts - books read for class. Books read to your children. Books read for work. Literary magazines. I don't think "Cosmo"/"Glamour"/"People" count.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wasting time...

I am ashamed to say I got here through MetaFilter.

I own the poster above, and a few others.

The coolest thing on this site is the explanations of the historical events behind the posters - something that is useful to a non-Russian.

Because everyone needs a history lesson a day.

BTW, they are revising history in Russia AGAIN, with the current crop of 16-19 year olds thinking that Stalin was the best/most successfull leader the country ever had, and that the West ruined the bliss of Communism for them (???) - courtesy of

Monday, August 20, 2007

Travel Tips

I am ripping off SFGate here, but it's precious:

Travel Tips for those behaviourally challenged when abroad

Although I am a little confused as to why you can't have your hands in your pockets in Russia. I've never observed that to be a huge problem. But overall, Russians don't put hands in pockets unless it's January and you lost your mittens.

My favourite thing on the list is:

In Uruguay, don't tell people you're enjoying your stay in Paraguay. (Similar rules apply for Sweden and Switzerland, Slovakia and Slovenia, Niger and Nigeria, Macedonia and Mesopotamia.)"

Also, it should also be added "Never, in any country, wear shorts, white trainers, and a fanny pack..."

Do any of you have travel tips?

The Internets

This is about the Internets.

I was bored a few weeks ago, and scrolled through a bunch of random blogs – you know how on Blogger there’s the “Next Blog” button? And it takes you to someone’s blog at random?

I felt a little bit like that commercial “You have reached the end of the Internet”, because a couple of times I was directed to the same blog over and over.

Do you remember when in the early 1990s there was a button on Yahoo, I think, where you could see the “New” webpages as they were being added daily, and the Internet was so small, like a public school library? And all of a sudden it’s the Library of Congress? Except much bigger and in every language under the sun?

Anyway, here is what I discovered cruising Blogger – people use the hosting service in the weirdest ways. Maybe this is indicative of the blogosphere in general.

1. Personal diaries. By far the most common use, no? Sometimes sarcastic commentary. Wondering about the purpose of live. That’s sort of what I am doing, I guess. Common cultural ground. It’s funny to read music references on people’s blogs, and think “yep, they are 30 yrs old”, and be right after looking at the profile. But that’s a different post.

2. Family updates. The number of stay-at-home moms blogging is staggering. I get it, you are at home, and everything is a new experience, and your child is the most precious thing under the sun, and you found a good way to keep the grandparents updated. But do you have to blog about poop? Can't we just see pretty pictures?

3. Political rants. Less common than you’d think. Mostly liberal.

4. Travelogues. Some are abandoned, created solely about one trip in 2005. Some are sad – two midwives working in Uganda in a hut with no resourses. The one I really enjoyed is a guy on some sort of religious mission teaching ESL in South Korea. Soooooo sheltered.

5. Pages in Japanese. Can’t read those at all.

6. Pages in Spanish. Don’t know Spanish.

7. Pages in Italian. Ditto.

8. Pages in Dutch. Or Swedish. Or some other Scandinavian language. Can’t read that either.

9. Pages in Portuguese. These often have to do with various soccer teams.

10. Pages solely dedicated to a sport – auto racing, baseball, etc.

11. Pages in French – these I can actually understand somewhat.

12. Porn. You’d think it wouldn’t exist on Blogger, but when I first came across a page selling undergarments (how cheap do you have to be? You can’t pay $8.95 for your own web address?) I thought porn wouldn’t be far off, and I was right. Also, people trying to sell you web services and jewelry. Once again, WHY use Blogger? Cheapskates.

13. Religious freaks. God is great, and you should feel that way too.

14. And the one that made me want to call child services. Unfortunately, I will never find this page again, and I did not think to copy the URL at the time. A diary of an anorexic/bulimic girl, detailing her struggle with food. Probably not more than 18, living someplace in Europe. Complete with photographs of women (models) she finds attractive, and some pics that could have been her. Very scary, because only concentration camp victims are that thin, and there is NOTHING sexy about your spine sticking out. It made me very sad, because if nobody helps this girl, she will die. She would beat herself up for eating 500 kcal a day. She would triumph when the only thing she ate all day was an orange. She referred to her disorders as Ana and Mia, like they are her friends who are helping her through the day. Her blog tagline was “beautiful dolls…cause the prince always rides off into the sunset with the thinnest princess.” It makes me afraid to ever have a daughter.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I am too tired/exhausted/distracted to blog about all the things I really want to talk about.

I am also considering blogging more frequently but shorter - going for quality, you know?

Of course, the minute my season actually starts, there will be zero time for such games.


So anyway, JT, you know? He definitely brought sexy back. There was LOTS of simulated sex in the stage show. Of course, I didn't photograph it. So we will have to rely on blurry flickr pics courtesy of midnightlounge.

Why am I showing you a picture of his tour bus? Because we could hardly get to the train following the concert due to the crowds of girls waiting outside the Garden next to above bus. I decided we did not need a JT sighting in a crowd of screaming 12-year-olds.

I thought we would lose our hearing completely during
the show. The noise that 20,000 females under 25 can produce can quite possibly shatter glass, and definitely hurt human eardrums. They screamed so much that in the encore, JT couldn't help but remark that we are definitely the loudest audience he has ever heard (and I would hazard he says that to ALL his fans, but he kept cracking up and not being able to sing, which made it more believable) which of course spurred another 30 seconds of screaming.

This is him during the encore. He rocked on the slow songs. The sound was clear, the instrumentation perfect, the stage show very spectacular.

BTW, is there a trick to posting pics on Blogger that DOESN'T always top-post, or am I just retarded? I am sooo tired of dragging pictures down...

But the screaming girls? The first half of the show was virtually useless - you couldn't hear anything because of the screaming. Sure, there was cool choreography going on, and special effects, but the whole effect was a bit disconnected.

Once they started playing with the screens more, the crowd calmed a bit. It didn't help to constantly repeat "Hello Boston!!!" on Justin's part, as that just wound girls up even more.

You know how I talked about a UFO at the Police Concert? Well, there was one here too. A circular truss came down center stage to right above JTs head (I can't remember the song though, I was too fascinated by the truss), it was hung with probs 12 moving lights and shining red everywhere. The truss then pivoted about 60 degrees, and began rotating about its center.

I am not explaining this very well, but it was something like having a giant angled halo rotate around your head, you know? Here's a picture of the rig before that stuff came down (the white downspot is shining from that halo):

There was also a half-time show. You heard me right. Timbaland came out and rapped for 30 minutes or so. It was awesome rapping, with a video on the screens, incorporating samples from famous singers that were synced with the videos (including Aalyia (sp?)) And I don't care a whit about rap, so that's saying a lot.

I guess JT needed the rest from all that dancing (and not too much singing, I am afraid). Justin had four back-up singers - the men were built like houses - and the back-up is what did most of the singing. The audience contributed quite a bit as well.

Plus, the stage was shaped like an oval with random appendages, creating a true "theatre in the round" experience. And the choreo for the set was very even about how much time JT spent with every section of the audience. For the above slow songs on the piano, the piano platform slowly rotated around. So you can imagine how much running around was to be had.

Where it says "137" on the diagram - that's where we were. "Premium Club Seating" - it was kinda cool, being on a level of the arena that had private bars and things that the "General Public" is not privvy to.

I kept thinking about the fact that his singers were African-American, his dancers all white (except one sorta-Latina chick), there was an all-white 6-piece string ensemble, and the rest of the band - you guessed it - black. I don't know what the conclusion of this observation is.

Overall effect - mixed. The stage show was definitely the most lavish I've seen. The dancing was amazing. The singing - not so much, which is a shame, since JT CAN sing, you know? But I've learned a giant lesson - 12-year-old girls are a force to be reckoned with, and I NEVER wish to be surrounded my them en masse.

Saturday, August 4, 2007


Ladies and gents,

I am going away for a week without my computer. Well, *with* my computer, but consciously with no internet access. So I'll talk to y'all next Saturday, yeah? There will be also an account of the JT concert. Have a good week!!!

Thursday, August 2, 2007


So Riese decided I should play her little game, and I will joyfully comply, though I always refuse these things when they come by as chain-emails:
  1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
  2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
  4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  5. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.
It is my understanding the facts should be more or less unknown to the general reader, no?

1. If I had less common sense and more physical space for living, I would be a crazy cat lady. Every cat I see, I want to take home. Last night we discovered this beautiful tuxedoed Maine Coon in the hallway of the building, and even though he eventually went home to his little Asian girl-mother, for a minute I wanted to take him home. I've been that way since I was a toddler. The only time I did not own a cat or two was in college, where I was too terrified of breaking the rules to have a kitten. However, I gave LK and her girlfriend at the time two kittens from my house, and visited them periodically.

2. I desperately try to be less preppy. I don't currently own any loafers, but that's only for lack of trying. Most of my wardrobe is black and white and brown, and I still own my high-school letter jacket.

3. I read more slowly in English than in Russian. It's a curse, because English is my primary language now. But in Russian I can scan a page and get all the information out of it, whereas in English I need to sound out the words in my head, making me constantly feel like I am in grammar school. Paradoxically, I type in English 10 times faster than in Russian.

4. I have trouble following orders and fulfilling requests. Like, ever. That's one of the reasons I don't understand the army. I need to understand the specific reason behind what I am being asked to do, and then I will do it, even if I don't agree with the request or the reason. This gets me in trouble at work sometimes. And in real life, too, just ask my family.

5. BUT, if I said I will do something for you, and give you a timeline, it will get done well and on time. I can't understand people who disregard deadlines. I am also NEVER late for appointments, unless there are factors way beyond my control (shitty public transport, anyone?) in which case I will call you and tell you exactly how late I will be. It has taken me YEARS to not be the first person to arrive at a party.

6. I was trained as a classical pianist for years. I hated it until I was 15, at which point it was too late to be serious about a career in music. I never had the drive, patience, or technique to become a concert pianist. I would have made a decent accompanist or a musicologist. Often I miss playing. Piano is not an instrument you can easily acquire and move around with you, like a guitar or a flute.

7. I've never done karaoke. I would LOVE to go to a karaoke bar. I don't have any serious desire for embarrassment, but I want to try it. I've been obsessed with this Griffin product for a while - it's a mike you plug into your iPod, and it supresses the vocal track - can you imagine the possibilities?

8. On the subject of music, and if I knew the last thing about guitars and playing rock music, I would love to have a Zemfira cover band. I guess we could cover Nochnye Snaipery too. No Russian pop, though. I could translate the songs and do some in English, some in Russian. There isn't much of a market in the US for that, I know, but it's cool to dream about.

So - no tags for me - but maybe those of you who read the blog and NEVER comment (you know who you are...) - write a note or two? You know, anonymous commenting is turned on now (it took me a month to realize only Gmail people could leave comments...) so write away...