After breakfast, Scott and I walked to the office. It was about a 1.5 mile walk and I loved it. It was cold, but not so cold that I couldn't take a deep breath. As we walked, Scott gave me little bits of information about certain landmarks and I was amazed at their "sidewalks" over here. Many times I found myself walking on a "make shift" path through the woods. This is very normal for the locals to walk on these paths, but for it was very strange. I know that as the days go by, I will grow accustomed to it all, but for now it is still all very new to me. Of course, I took a few pictures as we walked and I will be sure sort through all of the good ones and put them in my online photo album when I return to the states.
We got to work around 1pm - 1:30pm and nobody seemed to have a problem with this. :) This is my kind of work environment. The fact that most of us work late at night is very acceptable and coming in "whenever" is not such a big deal. I really like this motto and actually live by this back in the states on the days that I do go in to the office. I'm not sure, but I don't think this is as "socially acceptable" as I some may claim... Even though people act as though they don't care, I still feel that certain "where you been?" vibe sometimes.
Of course, as soon as Scott and I got to work, I let Scott beat me in a game of Wii baseball (shhh). I got to create my own Wii Mii too and I made him look a lot like me; scruffy beard and all. :) After I let Scott win, I was able to get some work done in the "Apache room". It's great because the whole team that I work with is located in one room. Therefore whenever anybody has a question or thought, we just talk it out. It's really quite nice to be so close to each other, even when we don't talk... It's hard to explain, but very nice to know that when any of us have a question, we don't have to go through the whole process of:
- send an email from side a
- wait for time difference delay
- read email on side b
- send email from side b
- wait for time difference delay
- read email from side a
- rinse and repeat as needed
Today, Anna took me back out to get my Ushanka... Ok, have your laughs about how silly it looks on me!!! Are you done yet?... I'll wait... Seriously though, this thing was worth it's weight in rubles. I was surprised at the difference a "real" Russian Ushanka makes in this weather. I have been wearing my Carhartt toboggan for the last few days and I thought it was warm... well the "real deal" takes the cake. I put this thing on my head and went outside for a little while and actually felt the heat on top of my head. I think there is some kind of a magnetic heat suction utility built inside of these things. Honestly, my head was VERY warm; even without the ear flaps pulled down. :) Though, I must admit that there is a certain "cool" factor with the ear flaps down...
Anna and I did pretty good at communicating today. We had a few moments of miscommunication, but, all in all, I think we are getting better at talking with one another. :) She brought some English books with her today and I tried to use them in her car, but the Russian equivalent words were (of course) in Cyrillic text, and I'm still struggling to understand all of these symbols. I'm sure that by the end of next week I'll be better, but for now it's still 95% gibberish. I didn't want to frustrate her too much by pointing to words as she was driving, so I just shut the hell up and played "passenger" most of the time. :)
Let me add that I'm a bit amazed at the women over here! Most all of them wear very skinny high heel boots. To me, I would think that this would be very difficult for them to walk in, especially with all of the slippery / compact snow everywhere. However, I asked Julia about this and she explained to me that it is actually much more easier to walk in these high heel boots because the back heel acts as a "spike" that can be driven into the ice. Therefore, she has more traction than me in my "Americanski" shoes. It makes sense to me now, but before talking to her, I just thought that all of the women over here went to "Paula Abdul School" (ie. Paula Abdul is known for doing amazing things in high-heels... like flips, splits, jumps, etc... just YouTube it).
Around 6:30pm (Novosibirsk time), I was able to talk to Jennifer, Lizzie, and Jazzy over Skype from the office (Daizi was sleeping again). I got to point my web cam out the window and showed them how much snow is around me and the area where I worked. They all said "coooooool". :) As I was pointing the web cam out the window, there were some stray dogs walking around the streets and I explained to them that there are many stray dogs around here. The locals actually take very good care of them and they are all surprisingly very friendly dogs. I think it is great, for I am a dog person, and some of the stray dogs around Toboso are actually known for being mean... Especially when they get into packs. They have been known to kill livestock just to survive, and farmers are actually very intimidated by them when they are "in the area" (rightfully so).
We left work around 8:15 - 8:30 and then Scott and I met up with Oksana and her two friends (Tatianna & Gulia) at a restaurant. We had a blast! It was at the same Russian restaurant that Ivan, Maxim, & Semyon took me to yesterday. I ordered Jaquoi and 2 Piva's (beer). Luckily, Tatianna and Gulia both spoke very good English. Tatianna was actually an exchange student in Arkansas when she was in school, so her English was VERY good. She actually spoke faster English than I could comprehend. She helped me learn some of the russian words on the menu and we had a great time. It was cool to see Oksana and her friends talk "girl talk" while Scott and I just stared off into space until we heard English words. :)
After we ate, we went to this place where there were ice sculptures everywhere and many "man made" slides. Scott and I slid down the slides while Oksana and Tatianna just watched us like grown children. It was very cool to see such a place in the middle of the city. Apparently there is a bigger one in the center of the city and we will go there before I leave; rest assured, I will take pictures. :) Man, my girls would LOVE this place! Check it out:
When I got home Jennifer pinged me on Skype so that I could say good night to her, Jazzy, and Daizi (Lizzie was still at school). This Skype crap is AWESOME!! Especially for a husband/father who misses his family. I realized tonight that when they see me on Skype, they are actually more excited about seeing themselves than they are about seeing me. :) It doesn't bother me at all though, for I am more excited about seeing them, and that is what's important. :)
Ok, so the words of the day today are:
- Pah-kah = Bye
- Dah-svee-dawn-ya = Good-bye
- Ah-din = One
- D-vah = Two
- Tree = Three
- Chi-tree = Four
- Pyaht = Five