Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bye-bye, my Island

This weekend I am moving out of Yerba Buena, a little island in the middle of the Bay, to the mainland San Francisco.

Nine months that I spent on the island were quite exciting overall. It was a relatively good period of my life, and living with roommates definitely had its perks. But it was only a matter of time before I started craving living on my own in a more urban environment. Yerba Buena, although only 5-10 minutes across the bridge from San Francisco, is a world away from the City. It's green, quaint, and relatively suburban in feel, with only about 200 people living on the entire island. There are lots of things I will miss about my island life, but there are definitely things that I am fed up with.

I will miss:

1) The killer views. This is what I saw every day from my bedroom window:

2) Living in the big house with a spacious living room and the patio.
3) The race-track curves of the drive up to the island.
4) Daily drives across the Bay Bridge's upper deck - one of the most beautiful drives in the world.
5) Ability to have large, noisy parties in the house without worrying about the neighbours.
6) SOME of my neighbours. It's a generally young professional crowd living on the island.
7) Free laundry in the house and free utilities on the entire island.

However - I will NOT miss:

1) My roommates.
2) Inevitable dirt and clutter in the living room stemming from one of my roommate's uncanny habit of gathering and stacking up junk.
3) Filthy kitchen 75% of the time. A while ago, this kitchen was reasonably maintained. I have long given up on both using it and trying to keep it clean.
4) White noise from the bridge traffic, especially with open windows.
5) Neighbour's dogs barking.
6) Raccoons in the rubbish containers.
7) Bridge traffic, especially with the earthquake retrofit construction every night.
8) Noise in the house - inevitable with several people living in.

The decision has been made a long time ago. And yet, as my stay on the island comes to an end, I am somewhat sad to leave such a unique living place voluntarily. While I certainly hope my new city living will be enjoyable in its own way, I may never have such a combination of being in one of the most beautiful areas of Bay Area yet so close to the city of San Francisco it's actually considered part of it.

Bye-bye, Island!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Oh, Canada?

A piece of news came into my sight that completely shocked me:

  • Canadian Wrongly Tortured by the US

  • It wasn't even what the US did to the poor man - it comes as no surprise that American government frequently detains and tortures innocent people - but that the Canadian authorities ASKED for the Yanks to do this.

    Can Canada do anything independently of its southern neighbour?

    Monday, September 18, 2006

    Happiness is...

    This morning, some smart-looking guy on TV was talking about happiness. Happiness, he said, was not a permanent state that could be reached and sustained. Happiness is usually a brief, almost momentary condition, usually achieved by a positive change.

    It made me feel a little better. Maybe everybody out there who tells me they are happy are either lying, or simply don't know what they talking about. Indeed, how can an intelligent person be happy all the time?

    My own moments of happiness were always associated with various changes. Getting drunk. Graduations. Women coming into my life. Changes of place. Travelling. Buying expensive things. Achieving various small successes.

    Come to think of it, as life carries on, even these moments of change that supposed to mean that evasive state of happiness, are always burdened by some other, not quite so wonderful realization. Risks. Consequences. Expenses. Imminent failures.

    All that remains is hope. Perhaps another bright state of happiness is just round the corner... If I remember it well enough to recognize it.

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    Office Tales

    Disclaimer: I did not write these, I merely translated them from Russian. I hope they are as funny to read as they were in Russian.


    The Boss came to the department to ask whether the report was ready. The report was not ready. Everybody was ashamed. The Boss was angry, kept asking who played Tetris instead of work. Everybody answered, “Not me”. Petrov was clever. The Boss asked him, “Did you play Tetris, Petrov?” Petrov said, “What is Tetris?” The Boss praised Petrov. Everybody else was ashamed.


    Secretary Masha came to the department and said that the coffee was over. Everybody started looking around their desks for coffee. Sidorov was stupid and said, “I have coffee at home”. And accidentally looked at Masha. Masha misunderstood and slapped Sidorov on the cheek. Sidorov cried and kept asking, “What for, Masha?”


    Sysadmin was clever. Everybody asked him to install the messenger. Sysadmin would say, “The Boss does not allow the messenger.” The coworkers bought him beer. Sysadmin installed the messenger but said, “If the Boss finds out, he will tell me to turn it off.” Whenever Sysadmin’s beer was finished, he would go to the server and turn off the messenger. The coworkers would worry and buy him more beer. Sysadmin always had beer.


    Webadmin Tanya came to the department and said that the cat that lived outside the office has just had kittens. Everybody went to look at the kittens. Webadmin Tanya said, “They are so cute!” Zinaida Stepanovna, who was a bookkeeper for forty years, said, “Let’s give them some milk.” Sidorov was stupid. He took one of the kittens, brought him to his desk and put him on his CPU. The CPU was warm. The kitten was frightened and peed into the CPU. Sidorov’s computer does not work. Sysadmin came over, said unpleasant words to Sidorov. The Boss also said unpleasant words to Sidorov. Sidorov was ashamed and cried.

    Birthday Present

    Petrov had birthday. Everybody gave him presents. Webadmin Tanya gave him a beautiful cup. The Boss gave him a day off. Zinaida Stepanovna, who was a bookkeeper for forty years, gave him woolen socks. Max gave him a bottle of vodka. Sidorov was stupid. He asked Max, “What are you giving Petrov vodka for? He doesn’t drink.” Max replied, “Mind your own damn business” and drank the vodka himself at the birthday party.


    Sysadmin came to the department and said, “Web traffic has exceeded the quotas. Who’s been surfing porn sites?” Zinaida Stepanovna, who was a bookkeeper for forty years, said, “It wasn’t me.” Everybody believed her. Sidorov was stupid. He cleared his history, but never deleted the temp files. He also said, “It wasn’t me.” Sysadmin looked into his files and asked, “Why did you lie?” Sidorov was ashamed. The Boss came to the department and found out. He reprimanded Sidorov and asked, “Sidorov, don’t you have a woman?” Sidorov was ashamed even more, and then cried and quit his job.

    Thursday, September 07, 2006


    So I'm 32 now. That sounds kind of old. I can't say I feel any different from a week before, or even a year before. In fact, I am quite enjoying my age and would have rather skipped a few years in my early 20s for an extra couple of years in my 30s...

    Of course, for my relatives in Belarus, I am alarmingly single. My aunt, a very kind woman, who is also quite blunt, quizzed me when I was Belarus. 'Zhenik*', she said, 'Do you have a girlfriend in America?' 'No, not really,' I replied.

    'But you are not gay, are you??' she then asked, genuine horror in her eyes. 'Because god forbid if you were. That would be just terrible. But I don't think you are, right?'

    My poor relatives. They would love to see another family grow and another grandchild born. In the meantime, alas, they will have to suffice with Yana, my cousin's Yura's daughter. She's 7 now and apparently very clever. To my grief, I did not see her this time in Belarus because she was in Turkey for holidays with her parents...

    *Zhenik - a name most of my relatives call me. My mother, however, calls me Zhenya. Both are derivatives of Evgeny, the Russian version of Eugene.

    Friday, September 01, 2006

    Vegas, Baby. Vegas.

    While some of my friends are at the Burning Man right now, I am going to Las Vegas. California Department of Transportation is closing the Bay Bridge for the entire weekend, and I have no choice but to escape the City or be stuck on my island for the weekend. At least that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

    As for Burning Man... I so wish I was there right now, but because of the Belarus trip, I couldn't make it this year. Here are some of the selected photos from the last one.