expat

Becky takes a GCSE exam

In America, SATs are used as one of – and, occasionally, determining – criteria for gaining admission to a higher education institution. In England, the functional equivalent is called A-levels, and they carry enough social recognition, so that college graduates habitually list which of these examinations they passed on their CVs. The main obvious difference[…]

logo-notitle

Book review: The Amber Spyglass

Oh man! I feel pretty let down by how the trilogy ended! I don’t exactly agree with Becky, since her view is more specific towards the last scene, but I am rather dismayed with how the overall story and all of its plotlines ended.

And the sadly ironic thing is, the third part of His Dark Materials trilogy finally rises to the level of engaging storytelling that I like to see in epic books. Landscapes are painted in detail, not briefly passed through. Things happen not just for the sole purpose of advancing the plot, but to make the world alive and substantial. Characters develop, even though most of it is due to revelations, as opposed to steady emotional progress.

I cannot avoid spoilers in this not-exactly-review, including events up to the very end of the story. If you plan to read the book yourself and are sensitive to the idea of discovering the plot on your own, please do not click on the link to the rest of the article.

[…]

children

No career in acting, apparently

So, Kimmy wanted to stage a play tonight, and as soon as I walked through the door upon my return from work, I was conscripted to play the Prince in Cinderella. Becky, apparently, demurred, so the play had only four characters, of which two, the Evil Stepmother and the Fairy Godmother, were played by Natasha.[…]

logo-notitle

Belle

Just because I like it (and have no time to write otherwise). Big kudos to my brother for showing me Notre Dame for the first time years ago…    

logo-notitle

Various stuff 04/22/08

A lot of bloggers do it, but I’ve never tried before. Seeing that between resumption of my new work duties and catching up on the variety of internet material, I have no time to actually write a post (there is a Champions League semi-final game tonight, so I won’t have much time when I get[…]

passport-1

Back from Holland

Simply going to the Keukenhof gardens for a few hours – which was the main point of our latest expedition – was worth the trip. There are literally thousands of varieties of tulips on display there, not counting the other flower species, of which there are plenty as well. Natasha was absolutely enchanted and the[…]

logo-notitle

YouTube’d memories: Rasputin

I’ve been a bit preoccupied at work this week – moving on to a different role, frantically extricating myself from the responsibilities of the old one, thank you for asking! – to find time for a full-bodied post. I’m leaving you with another of those YouTube’d memories instead. My memory of this song is quite[…]

logo-notitle

Blog measured (2)

Surprisingly, my rating has “improved” from boring G.     Do you know why? Apparently, I have used the word “knife” several times (all in a book review), and the word “drugs” once. Go figure! What’s more, the readability of the blog has matured from the earlier elementary school level.     Still, kiddie stuff!…

logo-notitle

Blog measured

Not that it’s important – or trustworthy, really – but here is a virtual verbiage-ometer, as applied to my blog.     More importantly, it appears that I cussed at least once on this website. The question is – which post? (It cannot be more than one, I simply have not produced that many yet.)[…]

expat

More on British medical care

Basic medical help is free in the UK, we have already talked about that. You don’t need any identification to walk into a hospital emergency room or an NHS Walk-in Centre to get assistance. You may even be able to arrange an appointment with a local doctor when you need it, on availability basis.

If you live in the UK, though, you are expected to be registered with a GP (which means “general practitioner” and conversationally universally used in the abbreviated form). The idea is very similar to the primary care physician concept: Not only is your GP a doctor who knows you well and who possibly has been your physician for many years, but (s)he also guards the strings of the purse that holds the public money that might be spent on your treatment, having an important say on whether you need any, and what.

So, a Brit with a medical problem is likely to go see his/her GP for an initial consultation, and then, if needed, be referred to a specialist. The physicians’ pay – whether GPs, or specialists within NHS, – is mostly the function of the size of the practice, and the margin earnings rate for each additional visit is puny enough so that there is little incentive to see the patient more than minimally necessary. Plus, no doubt, every GP is incentivized to expend as little money as possible on treatments.

[…]

diary

Walking in the park and sleeping like a baby

The weather was not too bad in the morning, so we got together with a family of fellow Russian-American expatriates for a stroll around the Greenwich park. Becky climbed to the very top of an ancient pine tree, the younger kids rode scooters and ran around, the adults spent time acquainting with the new friends,[…]

logo-notitle

YouTube’d memories: Live is Life

I’m not sure why I remember this song or what’s so great about it, but it was a famous European hit that got some playtime on the likes of Утренняя Почта (translated as The Morning Post, it was a Sunday staple of Soviet television). Which is why I remember it, I guess. I have no[…]

diary

Same old topics: Driving and weather

The downside of having spring break holidays de-synchronized this year is that, while Becky went back to studies immediately upon returning from the American trip, Kimmy is now spending almost two weeks at home, with little to do and with Natasha having to come up with entertainment activities. The upside? The morning drives to Becky’s[…]

logo-notitle

Book review: The Subtle Knife

I certainly went through The Subtle Knife much faster than through Northern Lights, which is partly of function of having more spare time on my hands in the absence of the rest of the family, but also a function of the second book being better than the first. The things that are important to me in a large-sized book all improved: The dialogues became conversations and not a vehicle to briefly state an important fact before moving on; the descriptions of places became multi-dimensional; and the action morphed from following a single main character obsessed with a single idea to following several undoubtedly converging plot lines and focusing on multiple characters along the way.

[…]

diary

No longer lonely

The family is safely back with me, and the usual routine of getting up earlier to drive Becky to school has kicked in already. Kimmy is fortunate enough to have a two-week school break still ahead of her, which means that Natasha will be quite occupied with keeping her busy.

Here’s a re-cap of my time on my own:

[…]

logo-notitle

The River IQ game

Many of you may have seen this before, but it was long on my to-post list, so I figure I’d finally post it today. I came across this test courtesy of my Father some nine months ago, and I must say it took me a while to arrive at a solution. This is supposedly a[…]