YouTube’d memories: Hafanana

Sometimes, the most insignificant of memories lodge themselves in one’s brain… I must have been four or five when I overheard my Mom and her girlfriends discussing comparative qualities of foreign singers who appeared on the Soviet state TV. I cannot recall anything from that conversation except the consensus that nobody moved onstage quite like[…]


Zero loss

A few days ago, Natasha found a couple of small items that we thought were lost during the relocation move, stuffed into a decorative box that we did not think had anything inside. A souvenir small Russian wooden bowl, one of the hedgehogs from Becky’s collection, that type of stuff. We sort of gave up[…]


Movie review: Avatar

I freely admit that I’m not a cinema-going type. My misanthropic tendencies are acutely tested in the presence of inconsiderable louts with their cell phones, eating habits and inability to refrain from talking to one another during the showing. As a result, I rarely go to the movies, unless it is for some kid-oriented viewing with my children, or a personal can’t-wait-must-see-now target such as a new 007 movie.

Occasionally, though, a new release rises to a level of an event, and I make specific effort to go see it.

In my eyes, Avatar was clearly such an event. Everything I saw and heard in the weeks before it came out, suggested that this movie will open a whole new chapter in the history of cinema.

I was not disappointed.

Below the cut I try to explain what I liked about this movie and why it deserves in my book. If you are not afraid of a vague spoiler or two and interested in my musings, feel free to read on. Otherwise, just go and see the movie. In 3D, preferably.


Speed limits

How the perspective changes with just a bit of time… Precisely two years ago, while describing my preparations for the driving test for a UK license, I noted my annoyance with the speed limits treatment in England. The absence of clearly posted limits on any road where the “national speed limit” was in effect required[…]


B[b]otH interview: Kimmy

Burlaki.com finally got around to interviewing the youngest member of the family on her impressions and feelings regarding Europe and coming back to America. In the practically unedited words of a 9-year-old… Burlaki [back] on the Hudson: Are you happy to be back in America? Kimmy: Kind of… I miss London, but I’m also happy[…]


Twelve-sentence tradition

The third annual largely-meaningless exercise of combining the first sentences posted herein each month of the year. As on previous occasions, not much coherency achieved. A couple of usual traveling undertones, clear relocation markers, a couple of obvious holiday notes… Interestingly, most of these sentences clearly suggested the topic of the posts that they introduced.[…]



I’m walking towards my bus stop one morning, maybe four minutes into my fifteen-minute walk. It’s a crisp clear morning, so I don’t particularly mind the walk. A car pulls up next to me, the driver rolls down his window and asks: “Are you going to the bus stop? Can I give you a lift?”[…]


Unusual roads

A fascinating – if, as usual with these types of compilations, arguably incomplete – list of the world’s most unique roads. Sadly, I’ve only driven one of these myself. Which makes it several more destinations that I’ve never been to and need to eventually visit. Via Instapundit..


A bit of charity

Natasha realized the she forgot to mention one other thing she misses from England in her little essay. It is not an obvious point either: Charity shops. Where we lived in Southeast London, seemingly every other town had at least one of these, selling everything from second-hand clothes to souvenirs to books and CDs. What’s[…]


Foodstuff costs compared, UK vs US

Some two years ago, I wrote a cost comparison entry for basic UK-vs-US costs. It was based on generalizations rather than some hard data, but I hope it was useful for someone.

Having now been back in the States for a few months, I am probably due an updated treatise on the subject. And, predictably, I find it hard to work up any sort of enthusiasm for an exercise of this kind. Fortunately, my lovely wife has come to my rescue, at least partially. She made quite a few references in these past months that she finds some foodstuff costs to be higher in the US compared to what we knew in the UK, and she graciously agreed to perform a sort of analysis, which I now present for my audience.

A few important notes. One, the comparison is between suburban New Jersey (Middlesex/Monmouth counties, to be precise) and outer edges of Greater London (Lewisham/Greenwich boroughs); it is more than likely than the prices will be different the closer you get to Central London or if you put New York City into the equation. Two, the exchange rate has been holding relatively steady between $1.6-1.7 per pound sterling; I am going to use 1.7 for the conversion. Three, as noted in comments to that old post, UK local salaries are generally numerically lower than respective US ones, which means that proportional outlay for any given product may actually be higher even when the absolute cost is lower; for the purposes of this highly scientific study, we will imagine ourselves receiving a US-based salary, as if we were on an expat package.