YouTube’d memories: Champs-Elysées

All pretense of being seasoned travelers aside, Natasha and I only started to make regular trips abroad in 20021. Our first voyage was to France, with almost a week in Paris followed by a jaunt around Loire Valley castles and French Riviera destinations. We fell in love with Paris on that first trip. Large part[…]


Back from Scotland

Can I pass up a chance to travel someplace new, even when the focus of a short trip is on a subject of limited interest to me and the logistics involve spending a lot of time on the bus with a bunch of strangers that I have little in common with?

The answer is, resoundingly, I cannot!

A few weeks ago, during a get-together, my old friend Alex unexpectedly invited me to join him for a three-day trip to Scotland. I enthusiastically accepted. I had a number of reservations about doing it, but the little trip seemed like a perfect opportunity to explore a locale that I had never visited before, and it shaped up like a needed distraction from everyday gloom and doom.

I am happy to report that even though every one of my reservations played out true, the trip was nonetheless quite delightful.


Model houses

I mentioned in my Valentine Day’s post my collection of model houses and then promised in comments there to illustrate. Here is a slideshow of about half of my collection (I’m currently moderating its growth on account of not having space for display), with brief notes on where the houses were acquired. As with most of my interests, the collection started as a device to commemorate the places that we travel to, but there are now non-travel-related acquisitions as well. Too bad that in many locales, this type of collectible can often not be found.

The slideshow is now hidden below the fold to help with the front page freeze problem on some PCs accessing it via IE. Apologies.


Going to markets

Kimmy was participating in a grand show with her dance school, which shaped up as a day-long exercise, with two final rehearsals and then two performances crammed into a single Sunday. After dropping her off at the venue in the morning (we later went to the evening show – it was really nice), Natasha and[…]


Happy Valentine’s Day!

I don’t care much about Valentine’s Day. A commercially-driven imperative to inflate your expression of love for your significant other on a specific day of the year sounds like a wrong concept to me. I am not counting, but I am pretty sure that I tell Natasha that I love her every day of the[…]


The last time I drank vodka

As I mentioned in 25 things meme and probably elsewhere, I defy stereotypes of a Russian being a hard-drinker. I’m very partial to red wine, I order a screwdriver once in a while, I drink beer under right circumstances (such as when watching sporting events or gathering with friends for a barbecue), I enjoy sherry…

But I don’t drink vodka straight up.

Back in my college days, I successfully combined being more or less a non-drinker with an ability to imbibe a lot of alcohol at parties. Most of the time, I did not even suffer from much of a hangover the following mornings, but there were a handful of notable occasions1 where I lost control of the amount – and/or mix – of my alcohol intake and regretted it a lot afterwards.

This is the story of the very last such occasion. It happened almost precisely 13 years ago. The exact day is probably lost in the annals of history, but it is linked with a birthday date of February the 13th – the numerical symmetry makes it fitting to name today as the anniversary.


YouTube’d memories: Tum-Balalaika

In the last couple of years before my emigration from the USSR, I used to frequent the sole Rostov synagogue. Not out of any sort of religious interest, mind you, but purely for social reasons. Perestroika brought some measure of respite to formerly suppressed ethnic identities within the empire, and seemingly every Jew in the[…]


GCSE choices

If we were to stay in England for another year or two, Becky would have to start studying for GCSE’s next year. Year 9, which she is in now, is when the students choose their optional subjects. First of all, there are 6 compulsory subjects: English, English Literature, Information & Communication Technology, Mathematics, Science (which[…]


Jumping off a boat

Even a person who never seeks thrills, always drives under the speed limit and avoids the smallest possibility of appearing adventurous can probably name a few “close calls”, situations that had the potential of ending up with unpleasant consequences where it concerned his life and limb. Off the top of my head, I can think[…]


Brief weekend recap

Our desire to move house has been quickly replaced by the pragmatic contentment with staying put. A sizable reduction in the rent amount has that type of effect on us. At the same time as we started to look for different accommodations, we suggested to our current landlord that in this deteriorating market we should[…]


Listen to this

I’m sure a lot of people would love it just for the Star Wars music. I’m mostly impressed with the guy’s singing abilities. Via The Speculist. [Ed. Upd.: Speculist since posted that Corey Vidal is a talented lip-syncher, rather than singer. The real singers are found here – Matt was correct in identifying them.)


Early February movie roundup

I am of two minds about continuing with this regular series.

On the one hand, I no longer like it: I realize that I lack the wit and imagery necessary to make such reviews captivating and I also recognize the fact that commenting on movies that are all yesterday’s news is hardly of any interest to the majority of you out there. (Unless I happen to accidentally hit on someone’s favorite flick…)

On the other hand, I have this unexplained urge to make some sort of a written statement about every “first-seen” movie.

I’ll allow the “other hand” win, for now. Which means that you are stuck with another one of these.

An Officer and a Gentleman 1982
Desperado 1995
National Treasure: Book of Secrets 2007
The Untouchables 1987
War 2007



This could be useful

So, Natasha often enters various contests and promotions. She reasons that it does not cost her anything and you can’t win unless you enter. Over the years, she won an occasional freebie, as last evidenced here. The local magazine that we receive is always full of various promotions: Free dinner, tickets to some show, a[…]