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Random stuff about me

Taking a relay baton from Jason, here are a few tidbits about me that you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask.

  1. Bought everyone in the bar a drink?   For a reluctant pub-goer such as myself, that would be way over the top.
  2. Swam with wild dolphins?   No, but watched my daughter do it.
  3. Climbed a mountain?   Not a very high one, but I’ve been on enough trips to Caucasian Mountains in my youth to having had climbed a couple.
  4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive?   Cars for me are primarily about comforts. I’m not sure I’d find the experience remarkable in any way.
  5. Been inside the Great Pyramid?   Not yet.
  6. Held a tarantula?   No, thank you.
  7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone?   The candles never figured in it.
  8. Said “I love you” and meant it?   Every day of my adult life.
  9. Hugged a tree? …and got splinters?   No.
  10. Bungee jumped?   Never had any interest in extreme activities.
  11. Visited Paris?   One of my favorite cities in the entire world.
  12. Watched a lightning storm at sea?   No.
  13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise?   I have had nights when I did not go to sleep at all; sunrise was entirely coincidental on all occasions.
  14. Seen the Northern Lights?   Not yet.
  15. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa?   Yes, but there are towers with better views elsewhere in Italy and beyond.
  16. Grown and eaten your own vegetables?   If you count the stuff that my wife grew at one time.
  17. Touched an iceberg?   No.
  18. Slept under the stars?   I certainly slept in a tent at a campsite, but I do not recall actually falling asleep under open skies.
  19. Changed a baby’s diaper?   But of course! How could I not with two kids of my own!
  20. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon?   I’d like to.
  21. Watched a meteor shower?   No.
  22. Gotten drunk on champagne?   Gotten drunk. Although not in a longest time (it’s a famous family story about how I stopped drinking hard liquors one day). And never on champagne – I don’t particularly like the stuff, unless it’s Dom Perignon
  23. Given more than you can afford to charity?   Nope, sorry. Paying for kids’ education will be a financially painful exercise, and I am not rich enough as yet.
  24. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope?   I might have as a child, but no specific recollections. Occasionally, I have thoughts about what a neat thing that would be.
  25. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment?   When I try to control my otherwise rambunctious laughter, it might come off as suppressing giggles, I guess. And, yes, fits of laughter happened to me at inappropriate moments.
  26. Had a food fight?   No.
  27. Bet on a winning horse?   Not a betting type.
  28. Asked out a stranger?   Not that I readily recall.
  29. Had a snowball fight?   Many times.
  30. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can?   Shouted at the top of the lungs would get a yes, but taking the question literally, I must have in my infancy.
  31. Held a lamb?   No.
  32. Seen a total eclipse?   Only read about other people experiencing that.
  33. Ridden a roller coaster?   A few, but I am not a fan.
  34. Hit a home run?   No. In an alternative universe, I would have come to the States when I was a kid, started playing baseball (or golf) in high school, and long be a household name by now.
  35. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking?   Must have done that in high school, but the truth is, I hate dancing.
  36. Adopted an accent for an entire day?   Funnily, I cannot even do heavy Russian accent when I want to.
  37. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment?   Most of the time.
  38. Had two hard drives for your computer?   Yes. Counting an external one, that would be three.
  39. Visited all 50 states?   Nope, only 23 states plus DC (although a couple of those I’ve only driven through or landed at an airport at).
  40. Taken care of someone who was drunk?   Yes.
  41. Had amazing friends?   Why the past tense? I have amazing friends.
  42. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country?   My hatred of dancing notwithstanding, an animacíon crew member at a Dominican resort once pulled me onto the dance floor…
  43. Watched wild whales?   Not high on the wish list, but a future possibility.
  44. Stolen a sign?   Not in any sense of the phrase.
  45. Backpacked in Europe?   Nope. Started traveling already as a married man; wife’s comforts – to say nothing of my own – have always been at least somewhat important.
  46. Taken a road-trip?   Surely.
  47. Gone rock climbing?   No, although assorted members of my wife’s family are big adherents.
  48. Midnight walk on the beach?   In my youth, certainly.
  49. Gone sky diving?   Despite an occasional desire to experience what many people swear is one of the ultimate thrills, I’m just not into thrills much.
  50. Visited Ireland?   [updated later in the year] Yes.
  51. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love?   Having known the love of my life for almost half of the said life’s duration, I cannot be more emphatically negatory.
  52. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them?   Been to a couple of places on my travels where the seating was more or less communal, on long benches by the long tables. Cannot say that I actually had a meal with the strangers; rather, a meal sitting alongside strangers.
  53. Visited Japan?   Not yet.
  54. Milked a cow?   When I was three or four, my parents took their somewhat sickly kid to spend the summer at the countryside. I am pretty sure I saw cows milked during those three months, although that was certainly too long ago to have a clear recollection…
  55. Alphabetized your CDs?   Tried to, many times. The kids never put them back in the right place.
  56. Pretended to be a superhero?   Had my Superdad moments, certainly…
  57. Sung karaoke?   One of my favorite pastimes. Not at a public place, though.
  58. Lounged around in bed all day?   Due to sickness, yes.
  59. Played touch football?   No.
  60. Gone scuba diving?   No. I have a “breathing claustrophobia” – is there a term for that? – having trouble with anything less than unobstructed air intake. I can do snorkeling for short periods of time…
  61. Kissed in the rain?   Of course.
  62. Played in the mud?   I am a bit of a clean-freak, but I must have done this when I was little.
  63. Played in the rain?   Used to say that I liked walking in the warm summer rain. That was long ago…
  64. Gone to a drive-in theater?   No.
  65. Visited the Great Wall of China?   Not yet.
  66. Started a business?   No.
  67. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken?   How else would I be happily married for this many years!?
  68. Toured ancient sites?   Yes. Pompeii in Italy and Tanais in Southern Russia are two that immediately jump to mind.
  69. Taken a martial arts class?   Used to do judo in school. Hardly able to use any of it today.
  70. Played D & D for more than 6 hours straight?   Another thing that I am not a fan of – online gaming.
  71. Gotten married?   Yes.
  72. Been in a movie?   Only the ones which we taped ourselves (hold your innuendos – I make travel movies).
  73. Crashed a party?   Not that I can recall.
  74. Gotten divorced?   No. And don’t ever intend to.
  75. Gone without food for 5 days?   No. And don’t ever intend to.
  76. Made cookies from scratch?   No, but all three women in my family can do it.
  77. Won first prize in a costume contest?   Sadly, never a first prize.
  78. Ridden a gondola in Venice?   One of my biggest regrets is having been to Venice, but eschewing a gondola ride on account of it costing too much for our at-the-time tastes. Next visit – unquestionably.
  79. Gotten a tattoo?   I dislike tattoos on other people. No reason for me to do it to myself.
  80. Rafted the Snake River?   No.
  81. Been on television news programs as an “expert”?   No.
  82. Got flowers for no reason?   I don’t recall when I last got flowers, period.
  83. Performed on stage?   Quite a lot in high school and college.
  84. Been to Las Vegas?   A couple of times.
  85. Recorded music?   Recorded Natasha singing and playing guitar. Does that count?
  86. Eaten shark?   I am pretty sure I ordered shark on one occasion somewhere.
  87. Kissed on the first date?   Probably not (my last first date was almost eighteen years ago – how can I remember?). I was always the gentlemanly type…
  88. Gone to Thailand?   Not yet.
  89. Bought a house?   Yes. Sold it, too.
  90. Been in a combat zone?   No.
  91. Buried one/both of your parents?   No.
  92. Been on a cruise ship?   No. I have had brief episodes of seasickness that make me wonder whether going on a cruise would be a good idea for me.
  93. Spoken more than one language fluently?   Yes.
  94. Performed in Rocky Horror?   No.
  95. Raised children?   In progress. Although, Becky is practically a grown-up, no?
  96. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour?   Nope. Not a rabid enough fan of anyone, and do not particularly like exulting crowds.
  97. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country?   I biked minimally in foreign countries; never taken a tour, let alone an exotic one.
  98. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over?   How about another country? (although the decision to emigrate to the States was largely not mine). Relocation to London was not of the start-over kind, so does not qualify on the spirit of the question.
  99. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge?   Driven, not walked.
  100. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking?   As much as I love singing, I am sure my instinct would be to sheepishly stop if I caught someone’s look. But I am sure I sang loudly and did not realize that people were watching even when simply walking down the street.
  101. Had plastic surgery?   No. I am entirely too handsome for that.
  102. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived?   I’ve had a couple of falls – and one jump from a considerable height – that, on reflection, could have ended very badly. But, on balance, it was nothing major.
  103. Wrote articles for a large publication?   No.
  104. Lost over 100 pounds?   I am not that overweight.
  105. Held someone while they were having a flashback?   No.
  106. Piloted an airplane?   I’d like to learn, but wife is against it.
  107. Touched a stingray?   Yes, at aquarium displays.
  108. Broken someone’s heart?   I hope not, memories of ignoring girls’ advances while in high school notwithstanding.
  109. Helped an animal give birth?   No.
  110. Won money on a TV game show?   I don’t even watch TV game shows.
  111. Broken a bone?   Yes. Although cracked would be more like it.
  112. Gone on an African photo safari?   Not yet.
  113. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears?   Not even ears. I find men with piercings objectionable.
  114. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol?   A rifle at a firing range during my youthful “army” training. Nothing to brag about. I am more proud of the fact that I could disassemble and then reassemble an AK-47 in something like 20 seconds…
  115. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild?   I am sure that I have.
  116. Ridden a horse?   Just last year.
  117. Had major surgery?   No.
  118. Had a snake as a pet?   No.
  119. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon?   Not yet.
  120. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours?   Not since infancy, I am sure.
  121. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states?   Disappointingly – shockingly even! – but no. Even counting the former Soviet republics by themselves (when I was there, it was still the mighty Soviet Union; anyway, I have only been to four, counting Russia proper), giving a separate “country” status to Monaco and Puerto Rico, and including a brief airport layover in Budapest, I come to a grand total of only twenty-one countries. I feel manifestly deflated as a professed active traveller…
  122. Visited all seven continents?   Not yet.
  123. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than two days?   No.
  124. Eaten kangaroo meat?   I could swear that it was mentioned amongst the selection at some churrascaria.
  125. Eaten sushi?   Yes, love it.
  126. Had your picture in the newspaper?   I did. At the tail end of my komsomol career, I took part in some think-tank exercise involving a dozen of “young leaders” held at the local administration offices. Did not say a single word, as I remember, but had my face in the next day’s regional newspaper alongside some attributed profoundly vacuous quotes.
  127. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about?   Not that I can think of.
  128. Gone back to school?   Almost, although it was just a year or so after getting my bachelor’s. Occasional thoughts of getting an MBA have always been met with a Why? that has no overwhelmingly positive responses.
  129. Parasailed?   No.
  130. Touched a cockroach?   Not with my bare hands, I am sure.
  131. Eaten fried green tomatoes?   No.
  132. Read The Iliad and The Odyssey?   Not as such. Cliff’s Notes, or something like it.
  133. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read?   No, but as I get older I start wondering if I might have missed out with my lack of appreciation for Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky.
  134. Killed and prepared an animal for eating?   Interestingly, despite being a card-carrying meat-eater, I find the notion of killing the animal somewhat disturbing.
  135. Skipped all your school reunions?   Yes, although the fault does not reside entirely with me. I don’t think our class ever had a reunion. But, honestly, if they did, I doubt I’d fly across eight time-zones specifically for that.
  136. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language?   Ordering food at a German kneipe when the waiter does not speak English can yield interesting results…
  137. Been elected to public office?   If the posts that I happened to be elected to – or was it appointed? – during my prior life as a young komsomol functionary can be counted as “public office”, then yes. But it’s a stretch.
  138. Written your own computer language?   No.
  139. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream?   Nope. A guy can dream, can’t he?
  140. Had to put someone you love into hospice care?   No.
  141. Built your own PC from parts?   Not exactly built, but I am a computer professional, after all; I know how to take the thing apart or put additional stuff into it.
  142. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you?   I can’t think of ever selling my artwork to someone whom I did know, that’s for sure. Having some artwork to speak of would be a start…
  143. Had a booth at a street fair?   No.
  144. Dyed your hair?   I am having thoughts. Too much grey…
  145. Been a DJ?   Yes, in high school. And it was fairly disastrous!
  146. Shaved your head?   No.
  147. Caused a car accident?   I want to think that I never did.
  148. Saved someone’s life?   No.

Et voilá!


Komsomol is the widely-used abbreviation of Russian for the Youth Communist Union. Almost every child in the former USSR was obliged to join this organization upon reaching 14 years of age, and stayed in it until 28. Political careers of people whose names you know well often started in komsomol functionary roles.


  1. mama

    Very interesting & impressive, all answers with a good humor.
    But how is it: like mother like son.
    For the most personal questions I would answer the same way (if I have so bright English).
    And whatever your answers were for the questions I would never think about, I know for sure that it is a right answer(except of going for master’s degree). All my life I was dreaming about a PHD (that is not happened at first with your father, so I always continue to hope for you).
    May be your little brother now…..

  2. Jason

    Wow, Ilya, I didn’t realize how long this survey thing really was… 🙂

    What does it say about me that of all this Ilya trivia, I am most impressed by the fact that you can strip and reassemble an AK-47? I’m a total firearm neophyte, myself; the one time I fired a gun, someone else loaded it for me and took it away after I was finished…

  3. Ilya

    Jason, sadly, – or happily, depending on perspective, – the operative word is could. I don’t think I have any recollection of how to approach the task. I don’t get near firearms any more than you.

  4. Kisintin

    Wow, AK-47. If you scrool down they have a full disassemble procedure. The only thing i remember that’s different is you had to remove the cleaning kit from the butt of the rifle, and the metal rod thingy under the barrel (shompol in Russian).

    Before anyone asks, there’s no real reason for me to remember this, it’s just the way it is 🙂

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