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I miss blogging. I’m thinking about making a comeback in the new year. Watch this space.

I think I’ve figured out why I haven’t been into blogging lately. I’ve mentioned some of the reasons before: life is pretty uneventful in small-town Sweden, I’m quite busy right now, and the readership seems to be a lot less interested in hearing about life in Sweden than they are about life in Russia. But the other big reason is that Facebook seems to pretty much do everything (and more) that I hoped blogging would do when I started, which was to let friends and relatives all over the world know what I was up to without filling their inbox with possibly-unwanted mass e-mails. Facebook is an improvement on this because it is much more interactive and ostensibly more private.

I’m not going to quit blogging. This has been a major project of mine for the past four and a half years and I don’t want to just abandon it. But I may just keep the personal stuff on Facebook and use this blog for my political rants and travel stories. Feel free to friend me on Facebook, though I’ll warn you that my (somewhat flexible) criterion for friending someone there is that I’ve actually had some kind of friendly dialogue with the person, whether online or in reality.

It seems I only really have the time and inclination to blog on Monday mornings. These days I’ve got a work schedule which is quite nice in some ways – the weekend begins at 10.15 a.m. on Fridays and ends at 5 p.m. on Mondays. But in between I work from early morning to late evening, so there’s no time for blogging. I spend Friday and Saturday recovering, and on Sunday there are better things to do. So below are a week’s worth of blog posts; perhaps regular readers ought to read just one per day, because there won’t be any more til next weekend at least.

Here are some pictures from a square in the north-east sector of St. Petersburg. I haven’t spent much time in this part of town before, but now I’m teaching four lessons a week at a company located there.


The banners are imploring St. Petersburg governor Valentina Matvienko to return the square to the people. I’m guessing that the blue construction barrier you see in the photo is guarding a construction site that used to be a park.


“At the smell of gas, call” (the gas company, presumably). There’s a similar public service announcement in another part of town which I’ve always wanted to take a picture of. It’s on top of a fire station and says “Don’t allow children to play with matches”.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I changed the header art. This is the view out my window. It is not photoshopped. I know the rainbow’s a little cheesy, but it’s real!

I’ve added a section on the sidebar of links to blogs that are not in English. Some of them are in languages that I don’t speak myself, but they are blogs of real-life friends and acquaintances who link to me. I visit these blogs and look at the pictures sometimes. I put my Russian LiveJournal down there as well – now I only have to update it more often.

1. Well, of course the first thing I’m going to do is have a nap, and then get drunk. Then we’ve got a fun weekend planned: hosting a housewarming/thesis-turning-in party on Saturday, and the Vyborg film festival on Sunday. 

2. Have a proper summer. Early August is pretty much the end of summer in St. Petersburg. But I’ll be in the U.S. in early September, so I can extend summer a few more weeks.

3. Blog more regularly and more interestingly, both here and on my Russian blog.

4. Start a project based on my thesis: a website for expats in St. Petersburg who are disturbed about the ecological situation, with links to local environmental organizations, information about recyling points in the city, etc.

5. Make time for jogging and yoga again.

6. Translate another of Kostia’s stories into English, which will give him enough material so he can publish the bilingual edition of his book that we first thought of doing two years ago.

And probably some more things too. But first, I’d better go finish the damn thing.

Unrelated: I saw this postcard on PostSecret and it struck a chord…


This is my first post to be posted officially on WordPress and not simply imported from Blogger. I’ve been blogging on Blogger for two and a half years, so this feels a little strange. But I think the change will be better for all concerned.

Can someone tell me why Flickr is so popular? I started an account because several people I know have one, and WordPress has this nice feature that posts your most recent Flickr photos, but I find it absolutely user-unfriendly even if it looks cool. Does one have to pay $24.95 in order for it not to suck? Because I’m not paying.

This has been an unusual week. Aunt Kelly and Sister Emily were visiting (remind me to do something with the photos from the stuff we did while they were here – some of them are on Flickr but since figuring out how to organize them is such a pain I don’t really want to promote my Flickr page at the moment), and the same day they left Kostia went to a Fancypants Writers’ Conference in Visby, so after a whirlwind of activity, suddenly everything was quiet. And the university library was closed yesterday for some holiday – one of those obscure religious ones that are observed in secular Sweden for some reason – and again today for the “squeeze day”. And the weather is crap, cold and rainy. And I should work on my thesis, and I did, this morning, a little, but mostly I’ve been wasting time in the computer lab and doing Sudoku puzzles and eating cereal.

All right, I’m off to pull myself together.

How much will you all hate me if I move my blog to WordPress? That means those of you with links to me will have to change them. And those of you who have me bookmarked will have to make a new bookmark. I know that not all of my readers are people who care about the finer points of blogging and if they have to bookmark something new, they might just stop reading.

It’s just that Blogger is a pain, (though the new Blogger is an improvement), and some snooty people don’t like its comment function. And WordPress is so sleek and nice to use.

If you have objections to a move, please comment below.

Last week I started getting some comments in my Russian Live Journal that said “I read about you in Esquire…” At first I didn’t understand what was going on. It turns out the March edition of the Russian version of Esquire did a piece on non-native Russian speakers blogging in Russian, and I was one of the ones featured and quoted. Russian Esquire’s website is still under construction, but a kind Live Journal reader took pictures of the article and posted them for me.

Strangely enough, it’s not the first time a blog of mine has made it into the Russian press. This post was translated and published in the SPb version of Afisha magazine in July 2005. They were quoting blog posts by foreigners about St. Petersburg. I shared a page with Moby and David Byrne.

Because something was messed up with the formatting, it looked like there was nothing on this page for a few days. Actually it was all there at the bottom. I re-posted the last few posts and it seems to be OK now.

I’m pretty sick of Blogger, so I’ve got a mirror of this blog over at Vox. I’m still toying with it to see if I like it, but if I do, I may switch. Anybody out there have any other suggestions for blog hosts that don’t suck and will let me import all my old posts?

All right, everyone knows I’m a leftist. I’ve been called a communist many times, even though I’m not, not exactly.*

But I’ve been reading Carl Bildt’s blog, and I’m impressed, not with his ideology, but with his style. Can you imagine an American politician writing a humble, down-to-earth Blogspot blog? (FYI: Bildt is a former Prime Minister and the current Foreign Minister.)

Maybe I’m wrong, and lots of politicians have such blogs. Or maybe Carl Bildt’s blog is written by a clever spin doctor to make him look humble and down-to-earth. But it’s an interesting read, anyway.

So, forgive me for linking to a right-wing blog, but anyway, the Swedish right is still to the left of the U.S. Democrats.

* Yesterday Kostia was reading a book (Fundamentalist World: The New Dark Age of Dogma) in which the author referred to himself as a post-Marxist, and I decided I liked the term, even though it’s not quite clear what it means (“If by ‘post-Marxist’ you mean someone who likes eating chocolate, then yes I am a post-Marxist!”). Actually I’m not as radical as I used to be, and I think that Sweden pretty much has it all figured out. So I’ll just call myself a Swedist. That’s still a communist by American standards.

About This Blog

I'm an American who started blogging when I moved to Russia in 2004. Eventually I moved to Sweden, where life is pleasant but uneventful, and stopped blogging for lack of interesting things to say. And then I joined Facebook, which further destroyed any motivation for blogging. Maybe someday I'll start blogging again, but for now, this blog is dormant, an archive of The Russia Years: 2004-2008.

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September 2020