Tuesday, November 26, 2013

From Rain to — Snow

When S left for work it was pitch black, before sunrise, rainy and cold.  Hard enough to leave for work in the dark, but then it has to rain too?  Transport was crowded, because nobody--even though Russians are great walkers--wanted to walk in the rain.   Then the rain turned to sleet.  Russian doesn't have a word for 'sleet.'  They say 'rain mixed with snow.'  Or 'unpleasant'.

Then about 11 am, it started snowing.  Off and on all day, but mostly damp, slush and rain by the time it hit the ground.  The girls didn't go outside all day.  Too cold to get that wet, too wet to get that cold.

But after dinner when we -had- to take them out on an errand, they were so delighted to see some white stuff on the ground!  Sorry the pictures are so dark, it was 7 pm.

This is K (left) and E (right), just delighted:

 And this is baby A, delighted:


And everybody who lives with this white stuff knows what damp, slushy snow is good for:

This was just an amazing trick of the wind and the flash, but it looks cool:

This is snow angels by K and E:

And this is E tracing out their names in Russian letters in the snow:

Hard to tell whether baby A was happier about the snow or about being let out of the stroller (which like hurricanes in Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire) 'ardly ever 'appen….):

Monday, November 25, 2013

Service Project

S recently participated in a service project with the sisters in our ward. Somehow it made it on to MormonNewsroom. You can read all about it here

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Baby A usually travels in a stroller, our lovely Joovy Sit n Stand, or a Chicco umbrella stroller.

This includes rides on tramvai, bus and metro.  Here is an example from 22 October, going to or from visiting some friends on a long metro ride:

Normally K rides behind A, but in this photo E took advantage of the seat.  A rare thing on the crowded Moscow metro.

On Sunday evening we went to go visit friends, and because we knew we had to crowd into a bus the size of a minivan to get there, we left the strollers at home for the first time.  Here is A, on the bus, looking slightly confused.

After a while, though, she really enjoyed being carried, and seeing the world from 6 feet off the ground instead of her usual knee height.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Back to Siberia

A got offered a chance to speak at an event in Novosibirsk: the 7th Siberian Venture Fair / 14th All-Russian Venture Fair, held concurrently with TECHNOPROM 2013. They paid the airfare but that's it, so he found a cheap hostel (450 rubles per night) instead of the hotel (4000 per night) to stay in in Novosibirsk.

Straight from the airport to a welcome party, complete with a string quartet:


And the governor of the Novosibirsk Oblast (tall guy on left):

Afterwards, he walked to the hostel (near the Opera house):

The next day was full of talks by various people

Including A's session, where he both spoke and served as co-moderator (with simultaneous translation!)

Afterwards, another dinner party, then more of the same the next day, including talks by a deputy Prime Minister of Russia, the governor, and a "Presidential Plenipotentiary". 

Wrapped up with a cocktail party, then whisked everyone back to the airport for the trip home to Moscow.

Gone a total of 72 hours, and didn't get to see anyone in Novosibirsk.

A few side notes:

This was his first time flying from Domodedovo airport, which is a nice airport, but contrary to what he'd heard, no nicer than Sheremetovo's new Terminal D. 

He collected a whole bunch of business cards, so he's starting to make the right kind of connections.

There is something new in Novosibirsk:

Yep, that's a new Marriott, just on the other side of the opera house from the hostel he stayed in. Opening soon. Maybe next time…

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Like Snow…Almost

Today about 10:30 am we looked out the window and saw snow flurries from the window of our high rise apartment.  The first flurries of the season!

So S by herself with 3 kids "hurried" to go outside (that means we were all ready by 11:15).  New babysitter came with us.

The girls were disappointed that all that happened was they got wet.  What looked like flurries from way high up, melted to water before it got as close to the ground as the kids are.

That didn't stop E from being excited about some ice.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

14 million people

Everyone in Moscow rides the metro, it seems.  Plus the bus or the tramvai.  We live only a couple of buildings away from a small street with tramvai (tram or streetcar) tracks in it.  There is no time, rush hour or not, when our tramvai is not crowded.  And even though we live only 2 metro stations from the end of the line, it seems like there is no time we get on, rush hour or not, when you can get a seat (i.e. already so many people on it some are standing).

And walking in the fancy but old underground passages connecting one metro train line to the other, it just seems like there is a constant stream of people up and down those stairs.

Sometimes you feel like you have seen all of Moscow's reputed 14 million inhabitants(FN1). Or that the 14 million have stood way too close to you (FN2)(FN3).

FN1: At some point Moscow's population was about 14 million.  But according to some speeches S listened to last week, even the professional census takers and city planners do not know exactly how many people actually live in Moscow.  A lot more people work in Moscow than live here, and people move all the time.  They keep their official registration at one place, but might live in a series of other places, or one if you go abroad.

FN2: Every culture has informal rules ("norms") of personal space. Think of personal space as a little bubble around yourself, and if someone gets inside that space they have to 1) be invited (i.e. give a hug); 2) be friend or family; or 3) apologize or 4) be stuck on public transit.   In the US, ours is very large, compared to Russia and Europe.  But even Europeans think Russians stand too close.

FN3: This is all the worse because most Russians don't wear deodorant…

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sound and Fury, Signifying … ?

Today, A went to the Expo part of Open Innovtion Forum/Expo here in Moscow. It was about an hour away on a combination of tram and metro. He didn't go to the first two days; probably a good thing, since the first day Medvedev (Prime Minister) came, and nobody could get in with all the security, and the forum part was all in Russian (although some parts were translated for international attendees). Day 3 however, was free and open to the public, so he decided to go and see.

When Russians put on a show, they go all out:

This is the booth for RusNano, nominally a mostly state-owned enterprise originally intended (as you might guess from the name) to invest in nanotechnology. It's now a more general middle to late stage investment vehicle, but you can see that at least a nice chunk of their money goes towards fancy booths at expos they do around the country.

Not sure what SmartCity is, but they've got money for a fancy exhibit…

Skolkovo, of course, had a major presence…

And even some people from our old stomping grounds in Novosibirsk showed up. A ran into a guy he knows from there, who he last saw in Riverside, CA, of all places.

There were even exhibits for school kids…

And there were a fair number of people ther, in spite of the "important" stuff having finished the day before.

The question, of course, is what happens after? The speeches are over, the booths taken down, etc., but entrepreneurs in Russia still face the same problems as before: red tape, favoritism, bureaucracy, etc. and as with RusNano, above, they seem to be more interested in putting on a good show than in making real progress on the ground. We'll see how things shape up, but that's what things look like at these big events.

P.S. This was held in the same location as the Miss Universe pageant will be next week, and there were already some official vehicles there. No word on whether he met any of the contestants…