Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Happy Mutual Birthday!

Today is Arnold Schwarzenegger's birthday. This evening in Rostov-on-Don, we will be celebrating Governor Schwarzenegger's big day.

Today is also Paul Anka's birthday. We will be celebrating his birthday too at Mama's Pizza, a neat Italian place.

Say do you remember his song, Having My Baby, summer of 1974? What were you doing back then? I remember long days of lifeguarding, heading into my last year of college and student teaching. Life was golden. In part because somebody else was havin' his baby.

Henry Ford was born on July 30th too. This evening we will think grateful thoughts in his honor. Where would we be without vehicles? Or, for that matter, without the assembly line that he developed?

(Photo courtesy of Time magazine)

Hilary Swank will be blowing out birthday candles today too. She won the Best Actress Oscar and Golden Globe again for playing a boxer in Clint Eastwood's 2004 Oscar-winning film Million Dollar Baby, a role for which she underwent training in the ring and gained 19 pounds of muscle. I can relate to that gaining of 19 pounds. Might have been muscle, might not have. . .

(Photo courtesy Internet Movie Database)

Dr Elizabeth Haley was also born on July 30th. I knew her as Dean Haley when she was dean of the College of Home Economics - now the College of Human Sciences - at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas back during my graduate school years, 1987 - 1990.

During those years, Dean Haley was tapped to serve as acting president of the university. She was in her mid-40's then. What a visionary leader, Dean Haley. Now she serves TTU as Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean Emeritus, which probably involves in strategic planning and fund raising. Now there is one smart cookie. Under her leadership the College of Home Economics flourished, with 2,000 some students enrolled, one of the top two home economics programs in the nation.

Oh yeah ~ and today is my birthday day too! We will be celebrating around 7:30 or so this evening after our Wednesday pm Bible study. It's just a short little walk from our church building to the restaurant so we'll hike there and that will help burn off calories. And that's something we all want to do, is it not?

I've invited everybody from our Bible study plus several favorite people to join us and can hardly wait to be together and enjoying exotic Italian ice cream. See this is the Russian way, throw yourself a birthday party. I love this system! Say, care to join us? We'll save you a spot and maybe some ice cream too.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Today in History: The Royal Wedding

Britain's Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul's Cathedral, London on this day in 1981. Twenty-seven years ago ~ what a special pair and what a perfect day.

Were you one of the millions worldwide who watched the festivities on TV? Or perhaps you attended in person?! I wanted to go. Even then, I was well qualified to represent the U.S. in the competition to catch that bridal bouquet. . .

Looking back at all that wedding, at the marriage and at all that has transpired, what can be said? It's safe to say that things are not always as they appear. That royal families have struggles too. And even a princess is not exempt from a broken heart.

Dear blog reader, any special insights or memories from that royal wedding? What advise would you have given the royal couple, had they asked?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Versatility of Russian

On a flight from Rostov to St Petersburg, I asked my seatmate how he would compare the Russian and English languages. He spoke good English and so I was interested in his insight. He was ready with a quote from Mikhail Lomonosov.

First, you simply must meet Mr. Lomonosov. What a character he was: Born to a fisherman in the 18th century, he walked the 430 miles from St Petersburg to Moscow to go to school -- let's assume this was a one-time trip versus a regular thing -- he eventually studied in Germany. As a scientist, Lomonosov was an expert on the atmosphere of Venus. He was also a linguist and helped develop the grammar of the Russian language. (Photo courtesy StockpileMedia)

So now, here's our hero, Mikhail Lomonosov, and his comparison of Russian and other languages:

They say that Spanish is good for talking with God,

French – for talking with friends,

German – for talking with enemies,

Italian – for talking with women…

But Russian is good for talking to all of the above,

because it has the grandeur of Spanish,

the vivacity of French,

the strength of German,

the gentleness of Italian,

and in addition to that,

the wealth and … brevity of Latin and Greek.

My seatmate, bless his diplomatic soul, added a line to the quote: . . .and English is good for legal purposes. Maybe solely for my benefit. Perhaps if Chinese were my first language, he would have gone that direction.

Anyway, tell us, dear blog readers, how you would compare Russian and other languages, particularly English. You native speakers of Russian, you are the experts on this subject. Please share with us your ideas. . .

Friday, July 25, 2008

The "Kitchen Debate" with Nixon and Krushchev: This Week in History

On July 24, 1959, U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev got into a lively discussion that came to be called the kitchen debate. Nixon was in Moscow for the American National Exhibit which featured an entire house filled with the latest labor-saving devices such as a dishwasher and lawnmower. Items that the U.S. exhibitors claimed anybody in the U.S. could afford. It was a display of capitalism at its best.

Thanks to YouTube, we have this video snippet of their exchange. What impressed me was Nixon's composure and diplomacy in the conversation although he was no pushover with Khrushchev. The later had more of an in-you-face, bombastic style. No surprise there.

How about your family? Did you folks have a dishwasher? We did too. Ours was the two-legged type.

* * * * *

By the way, you might be interested in how to pronounce Khrushchev in Russian. It's different from the English pronunciation and the first few times I heard his name spoken here, I didn't recognize it.

Let's start with the easiest part . In Russian, the second syllable of Mr Nikita K's name is accented. And that changes how the "e" is pronounced. According to the rules of Russian pronunciation, when the letter "e" falls in the stressed syllable, its pronunciation changes from "ye" to "yo." Often in Russian, the accented "e" is shown with two dots over it. But not necessarily. Well mercy me, I see there's a "yo" right here on my keyboard. So here it is for you, ё.

The next thing in his name is harder to explain. That would be the first letter of the Mr. Nikita K's surname, which in Russian is the letter "Х." It looks like a letter in the English alphabet but don't let that fool ya. The Russian letter makes a very different sound.

Some Russian language books represent the sound by Kh, although that hardly does it justice. We don't have that sound in American English and, as per my language books, it's best explained by saying it's pronounced in the back of the throat. It's close to the gutteral "ch" sound in the Scottish word, loch. Which of course is a word we say quite often. Or maybe not.

That sound is similar to the sound made when a person clears the back of his throat and -- not to be crass -- and expectorates on the street. Which happens constantly here. Okay, so there you have it, the Russian letter "X." It's a little painful to say at first particularly for those of us who, you know, are not into expectorating anywhere, any time.

Well back to Mr K's name -- in Russian it's written Хрущёв. The Russian consonant "щ" is so efficient that it is represented by four English letters, "shch."

* * * * *

Funny, I ran across a funny tidbit about Mr Krushchev a minute ago. Apparently Russian folk have coined a term for the apartment buildings Mr Krushchev built in order to alleviate the housing shortage. The term is a combination of his surname and the word for slum. Don't imagine that he mentioned that during the kitchen debate.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Transition Day: Down off the Mountaintop (Part 1)

Last evening I caught the 22:18 train from Donetsk, Ukraine back to Rostov-on-Don, a 115 mile trip. Eight hours later, we pulled into Rostov right on schedule at 6:31, a golden morning with cumulus clouds back-lit beautifully by the rising sun.

But back in Donetsk, just before heading to the train station, I tweaked a little essay that I'd been writing, hit SEND and shared it with several special friends. I named the story, His Eye is on the Sparrow. . . and I told about what a faith-building experience the last two weeks in Donetsk have been and the overall tone was effusive. But see, that's how I am sometimes. When I recall how the good Lord holds me, a trembling little bird, so tenderly in his hands I go beyond gushy. (Time out while I get myself a tissue or two. . .)

But today it was down off the mountaintop and back to reality.

True, there had been no particular hassles at either the Ukrainian or the Russian border. Although that has not always been the case. . .

* * * * *

You see, there are two particular soft spots that I’m still trying to work out in my travels. One is arranging ground transport from the train station to home. What the national folks do is have a family member meet them at the station and that includes help with the luggage and probably catching a bus.

Call me stubborn or fiercely independent (oh, now there's a joke) but I’m just not going to bother somebody with fetching me at the train station any time of day. Especially at 6:30 a.m. Unless of course that person is a taxi driver. For one thing, I need help with my bags since not much of anything is easily accessible – sure there’s an elevator and escalator – but expect them to be out of order. Expect to be hauling things up a long staircase that goes over the tracks and then down to ground level. Oh yippee.

Taxi drivers are waiting out front of the station, that is true, but they’ll overcharge significantly because that’s how that bunch operates. We call them the taxi mafia. For me, the perfect thing is to call my favorite taxi company in advance and have the driver come meet me at the train. That’s an extra level of service that I need. Although their usual policy is to wait in the parking lot and let the traveler met them there. But hey, word gets around when a person leaves a respectable tip for the extra help. And that I do.

The only catch is, that plan requires calling in advance and I have yet to work out just how to do that. I figured it would work for me to call the taxi company from Donetsk the day before departure.

Dispatcher Lena answered the phone.

Lena, this is Eileen – and I’m calling from Ukraine. Can you hear me?

Don’t ask me how, but she seems to know me.

Eileen-oochka? (That suffix makes it a dimunitive meaning sweet Eileen - not something I necessarily hear every day. . .) Oh Eileen-oochka, I can’t hear you. . . our connection is so weak. Please call back.

Tried, nothing better. Tried again, no luck.

On to Plan B: I would call from the train an hour before arrival in Rostov. A lovely plan. Truly it was.

The train was set to arrive 6:30 a.m. I set my cell phone alarm for 5:30 which would allow me to be first in line to the wagon’s facilities next morning. And I then could make my phone call. The train would stop briefly in Tagenrog like 30 minutes before we reached Rostov, it would be a little quieter, that should work. Lovely plan.

Things were fine until I was compelled to swap SIM cards, trading the Ukrainian service for the local Russian service. Nice in theory. But the cell phone suddenly wouldn’t recognize my local SIM card.

Hmm. This little strategy has always worked before. On planes as we taxi into somewhere, I change SIM cards and it works slick as a whistle. Hmm. Tried several times and no dice. Oh my. Things weren’t looking good and we had already pulled out of Tagenrog. . . (Of course in hindsight, I realize that I probably could have swapped back to the Ukrainian SIM card, used roaming services and made the call. It would have been significantly more expensive, but I think it would have worked.)

Anyway, I casually mentioned my SIM card dilemma to the 40-something lady on the bunk opposite me. I need to confess that up to this point, I had found her annoying. She had major rolls of, um, fat lopping her waistband and hanging off all over. And then at regular intervals she would rub her knees through her polyester knit pants which made swishy sounds during the night. (Arthritis setting in?) And she kept guzzling from her 2-liter bottle of water during the trip making gurgling and gulping noises. (Diabetes?) But what really irked me, was her unsolicited advise that I, as a foreigner, didn't need to fill out the documents I was completing as we approached the Russian border. Excuse me little Mrs. Busybody, but obviously you have absolutely, not one iota of a clue about this. (Bossiness setting in.) So I had decided hours earlier that we would not be swapping email addresses and we certainly would never be best friends.

But then she offered to help with my SIM card. It was then that I noticed BusyBody's nice smile and kind eyes. And besides she was equipped with special tools for cell phone surgery. Yes, they were delicate bits of plastic glued to her fingertips probably at some beauty salon, I'd guess.

Well, sorry to say that Mrs. Busybody had no luck with the SIM card either. She tried several times, just as I had. And the cell phone still wasn’t recognizing it. Drat.

Then Busybody offered to call the taxi company on her own phone. This was a generous offer. And it was supremely thoughtful because that meant she had to wait around with me until the taxi driver appeared on the scene - so that the taxi company could call us when the driver arrived.

So finally a taxi driver made it to our platform 20 minutes later after we had pulled in to Rostov. Seemed he had worked all night and so he didn’t win any awards in the charm department. Later when he and I arrived at my apartment, he wanted 200 rubles, around $8.00. I’d say 150 rubles would have been reasonable. But by then I was just glad to be home. I told him he was overcharging but resisted the impulse to add some remark to teach him right from wrong - which, if I'm not mistaken, is one of the duties of a first-born child. Thing is, I was just glad to get home.

But those annoyances faded when I opened my door, or rather, when I tried to open it. Oddly enough, I had been locked out of my apartment from the inside. I wasn’t expecting anybody to be there. And that brings me to the second soft spot, an area to be smoothed out when I’m on the road. (To be continued. . .when I'm good and ready. . .)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Apollo Moon Landing: Thirty-nine Years Ago Today (. . . or not?)

The space race accelerated fast and furious in the late fifties, early sixties especially after the Soviet achievement of sending Yuri Gagarin, the first man into space in April, 1961 followed two years later by the first woman cosmonaut.

Later that year, President John F. Kennedy challenged the U.S. to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. And sure enough, July 20, 1969 it happened -- 39 years ago today. Or so they say.

There certainly are skeptics about the lunar landing, however, and I've encountered several in Russia.

* * * * *

And so it was that today, in honor of the July 20th lunar landing, I decided to conduct an informal survey here in Donetsk, Ukraine. Riding home from church on Bus 46, I realized that the nice blond lady sitting next to me would be the perfect target for a question on this theme. We were in the very last row of the bus and she was surrounded by three buckets of apricots.

Are you coming from your dacha?

Well, my parents live on some land outside the city and these apricots are from their trees.

Oh lovely. Say, I have a rather odd question for you. You know they say that 39 years ago today, the first man walked on the moon. But there are people who believe it was a trick. May I ask, what do you think?

Of course it really happened. Why would they say it happened if it didn’t?

Good enough. She rewarded my conversational efforts with a handful of apricots although I protested because I didn’t want any. But protesting and feigning disinterest is the Russian way of being modest and coy – and although we’re in Ukraine, this area is heavily influenced by Russia. And so a determined person will pay little attention to someone’s protestations about not wanting something. And determined she was. Soon I had 20-some apricots in a plastic bag that she had scrounged up from somewhere.

So far so good. I decided to take the conversation another step.

Let me ask you, the gentleman sitting next to you, would he be your husband? Maybe we could ask him his opinion about the lunar landing.

He was, in fact, her husband, probably mid-forties, prematurely white-headed, clad in a white, button-down shirt open at the neck and I guessed him to be in mid-management. Apricot Lady repeated the question for him.

Bad idea. The moon landing topic hit a nerve somewhere, somehow. In about 10 seconds, this fellow turned into a red-faced defender of national integrity against an American assault. I understood only a part of his outburst but it’s fair to say that he doesn't whistle Yankee Doodle or fantasize about emigrating.

Mercy me! Apricot Lady tried to calm him. But he couldn’t hear her through his rant.

Well, I have no particular emotional interest in this topic, I said. I’m just interested in what people think about it.

Still, he was approaching hysteria. The veins on his neck were bulging.

I turned to Lady Apricot. So, tell me, is this a good year for apricots?

She smiled at the diversion. Oh yes. The last two years we had absolutely nothing in the way of apricots and this year, it’s a bumper crop.

Soon we reached their bus stop and as he stood to leave, Mr. Hysteria leaned over to hand me three more apricots. Here, please don’t be offended about what I said.

And off they went. So, does he believe in the lunar landing or not? Hard to say. . .

* * * * *

Later that afternoon I found myself in a very different conversation at a restaurant with three Christian brothers from Texas and two local translators. While waiting for our milkshakes, we had, say, 30 minutes to fill -- I had no idea milkshakes were so labor-intensive -- and so the lunar landing came up again.

Little did I know that our little group included a NASA engineer.

I can tell you that it absolutely did happen, Bill said. Although I did notice his eyes flashing. I designed the lunar landing module and I was in it when we tested it, taking off and landing, taking off and landing several times. And I can tell you that it absolutely did happen.

Oh so you were in it when the fake film of the lunar landing was made? (You know engineers, they need some teasing now and then.)

Oh no, I can tell you that the absolutely went to the moon and came back.

* * * * *

So there you have it. A totally unscientific survey, but there are two very different reactions to the lunar landing is said to have happened July 20, 1969. And you, where were you and what were you doing when Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hello from Ukraine

Greetings from Donetsk, Ukraine! I exited Russia recently and the time has come to let you know. Actually it was Sunday July 6th and five of us from our congregation in Rostov caught the train to Donetsk to attend the annual Christian Singing School. The school is in its 14th year, or so, and is designed to improve congregational singing in churches across Russia and Ukraine.

It was an intense week of learning new hymns and songs, studying music theory, and learning to sing in 4-part harmony. We were busy with music from morning until evening except for a two-hour lunch break. Besides that, we found time to pose for lots of photographs, above. I'm in there, somewhere. . .

Here's the big group, nearly 60 in all. I'm in there too, I think. But you might know Brad Cawyer or Kostya Zhigulin ~ they're well-known personalities in the world of music. Or they will be.

As for me, much of the time, I was glued to the computer like a June bug to a strawberry. That's because over the years, I've discovered that making photo CDs of a conference is a unique contribution that I can make.

This time, several of us (Anya, Gennady, Mira, Olkesey, Nadya and I) took hundreds of photos and combined them. Actually, I pulled together the very best photos, 200-some total, edited like crazy and combined them in four slide shows. We burned them onto CDs and distributed them to folks before they left for home. The CD includes several additional slide shows from Russian Christian conferences since 1999.

After the singing school ended on Saturday the 13th, everybody headed back home. Except for me. I realized that time outside Russia will be much to my advantage with the new visa laws. Did I mention the wacky new visa laws of Russia? Let me rephrase that. A blog is a public forum, after all, and although the days of Stalin are long gone, there's no need to be stupid. So, ahem, let's just say that the new visa laws remain enigmatic for many of us expatriates. I'll explain more about this later. Right now I'm tired of explaining it. Except to say that I'm still in Donetsk and there's a good reason for it.

Say, would you care to see some pictures of this week Donetsk? Well, I don't have a single one, sorry to say. The thing is, after a major photo project, such as the photo CDs, just looking at my camera makes my stomach churn. I don't think I've even fired up my camera all week. A pity in a way, because there have been wonderful opportunities. Maybe tomorrow. But on the other hand, probably not.

Anyway, welcome to the Ukraine! I plan to catch the Monday train back to Rostov-on-Don. It will be so good to be back in my very own place! But I must say that my time in Donetsk has been a blessing far beyond what I had ever expected or even imaged. God is so good.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Today in Russian History: Last Czar and Family Executed

July, 1918 was a dark season in Russian history. Czar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra and five children were executed the night of July 16-17, 1918 in Yekaterinburg, Russia where they were in exile.

The Mystery of the Romanovs: A National Geographic Special

The Royal Family: Czar Nicholas II with his wife, four daughters and son. You may recall that Prince Alexsay, long-awaited heir to the throne, suffered from hemophilia.

The Romanov family and their assassination has been the source of much intrigue in Russia. Thanks to Russia Today for this fascinating video about the investigation which has put to rest many questions.

Over the years, there has been speculation that at least one of the children, Anastasia in particular, managed to escape death by the firing squad and that she was alive in Western Europe, as I recall. Dozens of women have come forward claiming to be the Czar's daughter. They were all fakers, of course, and I'll confess that I was one of them. Yes, in 1963 when I was in 6th grade I decided that I too was Anastasia, the long lost czaritza of Russia. There was a slight problem with the time-line, however, and little evidence that Anastasia was raised in Akron, Ohio and alas, I got voted out of the palace without fanfare. Anyway.

Summer of 1998, on the 80th anniversary of the execution, Romanov family remains were transported to St Petersburg and interred at St Peter and Paul Cathedral where rest the bodies of nearly all Russian Czars. I was fortunate to visit that site in 2000 and in 2002 and I'm quite certain that on this very computer are photos of the white granite (or marble or whatever) tomb of the Romanov family. Well wishers had placed flowers around it in respect to the royal family loved by Russians even to this day.

How about you dear blog reader? Please share with us whatever special information, interest or intrigue you have concerning the family Romanov.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dinner with Ambassador Beyrle: On My Wishlist

Earlier this month, John Beyrle – pronounced BYE-ur-lee – was sworn in as U.S ambassador to Russia. And oh, would I jump at a dinner invitation from Ambassador Beyrle. And his wife of course. But more about that later.

The real story behind the story, is the ambassador’s personal connection – or rather, his father’s connection – with
Russia. The late Joe Beyrle, or Jumpin’ Joe as he was called, is thought to be the only soldier who served in both the US and Soviet armies during World War II.

As a 21-year-old paratrooper, he was captured just after D-day and imprisoned in Nazi camps. On his third attempt, he escaped successfully and headed east, where he was taken in by Russian forces. By war's end, he had served longer in the Soviet army than he did in the U.S. army.

Of course volumes could be written about Joe Beyrle’s adventures from then to 2004 when he was honored in
Moscow on the 69th anniversary of the war's end. He was the only American in the group of Russian WW-2 veterans honored that day in Red Square and over the years, he has enjoyed near-celebrity status because of his unique experience.

What a rich, personal heritage for Joe’s son, now Ambassador John Beyrle. Thanks to MSNBC, touching interviews with both father and son are at the link above.

Now, back to that dinner invitation. If you'll pardon me just a moment, dear blog readers, and allow me a private word with John, not that we're on a first-name basis or anything. Anyway.

Dear Mr Ambassador: When you and your staff up there in Moscow are putting together guests lists for special events and such there must surely be moments when you're scratching your heads for an expatriate or two to round out the guest list. Perhaps you think, There's got to be someone out there in the hinterlands of Russia who might like to join us.

Well, here I am, hailing from Rostov-on-Don, volunteering for patriotic duty. I would be delighted to join you folks at some special event. Better still, would be the chance to visit with you and your family over cornbread and beans -- or borscht and pelmeni -- some quiet evening. See, I just want to hear some first-hand stories about growing up around the great Jumpin' Joe.

Oh, and by the way, Welcome Back to Russia! Wishing you a successful tour of duty in this magnificent land.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Little Cow that Flew Away

Hanging clothes out to dry is part of Russian life. Recently, I hung a cotton blanket on the clothesline outside my balcony. When I returned later check on it , I was surprised to see a little cow clinging to the blanket. It fluttered away before I had a chance to run for my camera but fortunately, another little cow, this one magnetic, volunteered to stand in.

Oh, silly me. I failed to mention that the Russian term for lady bug, *Божья коровка,* is literally translated sweet, little cow of God. Really, it is. Can you imagine such a name for a ladybug? Calling a ladybug a cow, not to mention a cow associated with divinity.

But then again, Russian folk have laughed when I've told them that in English, ladybug is literally, woman's insect. So whether you see the spotted beetle is a little cow or a woman's insect, it sure is cute. Say, did you happen to notice ladybugs in the headlines last week? Apparently they're an environmentally friendly way to control insect pests. Now that's not only lady-like, it's also divine.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Of Ice Cream, Bread. . . and Banking

Keeping you, dear blog readers, up-to-date with the latest billboards here in Rostov-on-Don is a responsibility that I take quite seriously. The billboard below is linked to the agricultural roots of the Rostov Region, where so much grain is grown.

You might remember this billboard - perhaps you made a note of it somewhere (perhaps not) - that SKB bank had earlier posted a billboard here featuring a pilot, a husband and easy credit. Both signs employ an charming style of art, let's call it Soviet-era nostalgia art. Care to join me for a closer look?

Oopsie, we lost our wheat girl. Well she'll be back around here in half-a-minute. Or so. . .

Oh good, here she is. . . and here's what she wants us to know. And memorize. You know these Russian folk are really into memorizing things.

Bread - (is) for the homeland.
For children - (there's) ice cream.

What's left - (is to)
deposit as an investment!

(Literally: for a percent of investment!)

Interest up to 14.5%.

Okay, you native speakers of Russian, we're looking to you to tweak this translation a bit. But anyway, we get the idea, don't we? For good credit, go to SKB Bank. Besides credit, they have bread and ice cream. All served up by Russian girls straight from the field. Or maybe not.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I Feel the Earth Move: Mysterious Explosion in Siberia Baffles 100 Years Later

The scientific community is still baffled by a mysterious explosion in Siberia that happened more than 100 years ago, June 30, 1908. Known as the Tungushka Event, the impact of the explosion was 1000 times greater than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

An interesting video from the History Channel - although it does appear to be misdated.

The blast was felt hundreds of miles away from the center of impact in Tunguska, Siberia, knocking people off their feet and breaking windows. For the next several weeks, folks in Great Britain could read outside at night thanks to the glow of suspended dust in the air. Based on eye-witness accounts here are paintings and a recreation of the event.

Well, dear blog readers, for those of us of a certain age, is it possible that Carole King had the Tunguska event in mind when she sang I Feel the Earth Move? Now there's an explosion! What memories does that bring back?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Daily Life in Soviet Russia

Thanks to English Russia for these black-and-white shots of a monochrome era. Please help think of an explanation for each of these photos.

Open wide. Boys line up for. . . checkups.

Care to venture a guess - what is the occasion?
Check-ups before summer camp.
Physicals before entering the army.
Other possibilities?

What's going on with this trio?
They're singing the Hallelujah Chorus - all soprano.
They gargling.
They're catching raindrops two ways.
What else?

What's the scoop here?
He's home from his first year away at college.
He's just got paroled.
Other ideas?

Dear blog readers, counting on you to help out on the possibilities here. These photos are submitted to English Russia and published without captions. So, we're on our own to provide them. I'm looking to you for some help on this.