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My life has been so much better since I uninstalled Internet Explorer from my laptop. So I’m happy to promote Firefox Download Day, an attempt to set a Guinness world record for downloading, with the newest version of Firefox. More info here: http://www.spreadfirefox.com/en-US/worldrecord/

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I just got back from a quickie trip to Moscow, where I got to meet for the first time two people who I previously knew only on the internets. I love when that happens, because despite the amount of time I spend on blogs and Facebook and stuff, I really am not one of those losers whose social life only exists in cyberspace. I love it even more when the people I meet are as lovely as Veronica (and Marta) and Julia.

I was reminded that I actually like Moscow. After my first trip to Russia in 2002, when I spent 3 months in SPb and a week in Moscow, I actually had this tentative plan in my head that I would return to Russia in a few years but live in Moscow. But then I had the chance to live in SPb with Aunt Kelly, and then I met Kostia, who is a confirmed Moscowphobe, and, well, the plan hasn’t materialized.

I like Moscow because it’s big and exciting, not as dirty as St. Petersburg, more cosmopolitan, and for all St. Petersburg’s self-congratulatory “we’re the cultural capital” stuff, obviously Moscow has at least as much culture. I’d also say it’s more “culturniy” – though I had the opportunity to ride the public transport during morning and evening rush hours yesterday, nobody pushed, shoved, or squished me unnecessarily. Why, Peterburzhtsi, why must you push so much?

On the other hand, not having been there in several years, it was a bit of a shock how expensive Moscow is compared to SPb, which itself is considered shockingly expensive to people from other parts of Russia. I hopped on a trolleybus (which had a card-reader machine and a turnstile rather than a conductor!), asked the driver if I could buy a ticket, and he said yes, of course. I had no idea what the fare was so I handed him 20 rubles thinking it would be plenty – the full fare for public transport in SPb is 14 rubles. “Devushka, 5 more rubles,” he said. Oy, how embarrassing!

… I’m addicted to Facebook.

All right, I held out for a long time, thinking that having profiles on Friendster, LinkedIn, and Vkontakte was enough. But everyone is always talking about Facebook, Facebook, Facebook, and so, dammit, I finally joined. I have to admit that it is a much better social networking application than any of the others, though.

So if you’re on there, friend me already. But don’t “poke” me, ’cause I don’t know what that means yet, but it sounds inappropriate. 

Kostia (in Russian): Khuy, khuy, khuy*. Why is spam always about khuy?

Me: Because people make money by creating insecurities and then selling products to relieve those insecurities. But do they really write “khuy” in Russian spam?

Kostia: No, I’m talking about English spam. Russian spam is all about real estate in Moscow. 

* The worst Russian swear word, meaning “penis”. Information on the rich Russian swearing vocabulary here and a bit more here.

OK, we got the internets.

The installation guys came this morning just as Kostia was running off to teach a lesson, and they were the sort of guys who mumble and make me feel as though I don’t understand any Russian at all, even though at other times I don’t feel that I have any serious comprehension problems. After an awkward 45 minutes, we were hooked up.

Awhile after they left, there was a knock at the door. I looked through the peephole and saw a short, stocky older woman. I opened the door and she elbowed her way into the flat. “Um, who are you?” I said. “You open the door for the men but you’re afraid of me?” “I just don’t know who you are.” “I’m the building administrator. Close the door, you’ve got a skvoznyak. Where are they? They installed the thing? ” “Yes, they left already.” “They left?? I didn’t see them.” She left the flat, muttering something about the keys to the basement.

Grrr. This is not a rental building, the administrator shouldn’t be able to think she can just push her way into the apartment. Even our landlords, the nice couple who own this flat, overly-cautiously ask us permission to come over to fix something or pick up their mail, even though I trust them and I would have no problem with them having a key and coming over whenever they want, provided they knock first. This is a clear illustration of the generation gap in Russia: Sovoks vs. normal human beings. 

The latest on the DSL is that it’s coming tomorrow. At the moment I’m using a public computer that is making WordPress formatting all weird, so I wasn’t able to post the picture of the Cheburashka necklace, and I can’t seem to make proper links… hopefully I’ll be able to do all of this in 24 short hours.

For all of you who expressed surprise that Kostia and I did not find the jobs of our dreams in Sweden and stay there for ever and ever, check this out: http://shazzerspeak.blog-city.com/dr_darling_phd_postal_carrier.htm . It was nice to read that, actually, to be reminded that it’s hard even for super-educated real Swedes to find jobs there, not just American losers like myself.

Damn, I should have known it was too good to be true. The installation guys came, but it turns out we have a typical Russian bureaucratic problem. The building we live in isn’t a rental building – all of the flats are owned by individuals (we rent from a very nice young couple who just bought a second flat nearby), but the building itself is controlled or administered by some city government office. For companies to have permission to enter the building and install things like DSL cables, they have to make an agreement with the building manager. These agreements have an expiration date, so every year or something they have to meet with the building manager and negotiate a new fee. Now, it doesn’t cost the management anything to let these guys into the building, so basically this is just a scam on the management’s part. 

So, as it turns out, the internet provider DID have an agreement with the building manager, as witnessed by the fact that our landlord’s friend and downstairs neighbor has DSL through this company, but it has expired, so they have to spend a couple of weeks arguing over whether the fee is going to be 10,000 rubles or 15,000 rubles before we can get our goddamn DSL installed. Basically the building manager has the ability to deny building residents the right to purchase services from any company that doesn’t pay them this exorbitant sum. I don’t even know how this works out for the internet provider – it seems like they aren’t doing a lot of installations in this building, so if they’re only getting a handful of new customers per year at the price of 15,000 rubles, when monthly charges for DSL are something like 750 rubles for the most expensive plan, they can’t be making much of a profit, if they aren’t in fact incurring a loss. 

And unfortunately, Kostia and I can’t make an official complaint to the building management, because we’re just renters and not the official residents of the flat and therefore have no rights whatsoever.

Anyone who has some kind of site meter on their blog has the privilege of seeing what kinds of disturbing things people type into search engines, and worse, how some combination of words on your own blog brings these freaks to it. I’ve already mentioned what brings the most people to my blog. Jane must have a really high page rank if Googling for “naked women” brings her so much traffic – I mean, aren’t there several dozen million porn sites featuring pictures of actual naked women?

Anyway, Google referred two particularly amusing Sweden-related searches to my blog today:

1. swedish food bajs

As we learned here earlier this academic year, “bajs” is decidedly not food, even if it was at some earlier stage. Sometimes an actual piece of poo is referred to as “bajskorv”, or “poop sausage”, due to its sausage-like shape, but “korv” is the food word here, not bajs. Someone is confused.

2. swedish snot band flash kindergarten

I’m trying to imagine what the hell this person was looking for, and the only thing I can think of is The Ark, Sweden’s Eurovision entry. Anyone else have any theories?

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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