Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Novosibirsk - Day 7

Yes, today was yet another great day in Novosibirsk. I woke up at 7:30am, only minutes before my Tungsten T|X alarm clock went off (ie. BEDEEEEE!... BEDEEEEE!... BEDEEEEE!...). I was able to post yesterday's blog entry and get a few things done around the flat. I realized that the clothes I threw in my washing machine last night were still sitting in soapy water. This washing machine is driving me crazy! I've asked everybody I know how to work this thing and nobody knows how to work it. I've put it on every setting possible and have given it more than it's fair share of my patience, but it continues to do whatever it wants. Perhaps I'll figure it out after a few more loads, but for now it's winning.

As promised, I made a video of the "door situation" over here. On Day 1, I explained exactly what I go through each time I leave and reenter my flat. Now you can see first hand what I have to go through to ensure my absolute safety from all of the wild animals here in the Siberian forest. I must warn you that (1) it was 8am in the morning and I now realize that I was doing quite a bit of mumbling and (2) the lighting is pretty bad, but crank up your brightness and you should be able to get the idea...
  • Observer Note: If you live in Novosibirsk, then this video will be boring and you could probably live a happy life never watching it, for you too probably have the same lock-down security system and there is nothing to see here. :) For all other readers, sit back and enjoy:

So anyway, Oleg picked me up around 10:15 and we headed out to exchange some US dollars for Russian rubles. It was pretty weird to be a part of this process actually. We basically drove up to this guy on the street, rolled down the window, negotiated (in Russian) for a few seconds, then this guy literally unzips his jacket and pulls out this large wod of rubles and counts out the appropriate amount. The "transaction" is made, we all nod, and then we drive away... I felt so dirty and wrong after it all went down, but apparently it's not a big deal. I guess it's just normal. I accepted it and went on with my day. In hind sight, it was pretty convenient not having to go to a bank, get out of the car, deal with a teller, etc... I guess you can think of this guy much like a "drive up" teller... only without the bank... or a head set... or [everything else you would typically associate with a typical "drive up" teller]. Scott had a pretty good name for this guy, but it's not family friendly, so let's move on... :)

Oleg then treated me to breakfast at the cafe at the Trade Center and I had the usual "omelet & coffee" breakfast. The omelets are sooo good here in Novosibirsk; I could eat these every morning and never get tired of them. Honestly, they're that good. Ok, one cool thing that I learned this morning was that cigarettes over here are INSANELY cheap! Honestly, if you are a smoker, you need to get a passport, sell all your things and move over here. A pack of cigarettes cost about 60¢ each! A carton of cigarettes cost about $6!! I was blown away by this! I told Oleg that in some places in the states, a pack of cigarettes cost more than $6. It took me a while to comprehend this. I don't know how the cigarette companies make any money with such a price tag. If they are making money with this price then all American smokers are getting totally ripped off. It's amazing that smokers in America are paying such high prices for cigarettes (averaging ~$4.50 per pack) knowing how cheap they are over here. Anyway, that was the cool fact of the morning.

Of course as soon as I walked in the door at the office I was greeted with "Good morning, Sissy!" I LOVE IT! It really woke me up, and it was a great way to start the morning! :) Work was done and conversations were had, then lunch came and I found myself eating Japanese food with chopsticks. It's rather funny that I travel half way around the world to eat Japanese food. Especially considering the fact that I've only had Japanese food about 3 times in my entire life (4 times after today). The rest of the day was rather uneventful outside of work-related items.

After work, Oleg gave me a ride home and I was able to talk with Lizzie and Jazzy before Lizzie headed off to school. She was getting her hair put up in piggy tails and telling me about what she's learning at school this week. This week they are learning the letter "Q" and on Friday, "Q" and "U" are actually getting married. The entire kindergarten class gets to have a fun day in honor of the big wedding. :) I thought this was a pretty cool little concept to teach kindergarten kids that these letters are typically found together in words. It's also a great excuse to slack on a Friday. I might run this by the guys at work and see if we could celebrate this event too... Wha'do ya think??..

Jennifer told me that the weather in Newark is pretty crazy right now. Yesterday when I Skyped home it was 8 degrees Fahrenheit, and it eventually got up to 51 degrees Fahrenheit... that's a 43 degree difference in less than 24 hours. Today she said it was supposed to get up to the mid 50's. When I was talking with them yesterday there was snow all over the ground in teh background. However, when I called today it was all sunshiney and green; Jennifer said everything had turned to mud and some nasty thunderstorms storms were expected for later... Yep, that sounds about right.

After talking with the fam, I got a call from Semyon and he was able to get a SIM card for me so that I can make phone calls finally. See, the phone I have in the flat can only call other land lines. Julius CaesarI can't call a cell phone from this phone for some reason. Therefore, I've only been able to call peoples home phones from my phone. I can accept calls from cell phones, but I can't place calls to cell phones. Anyway, Semyon was able to help me out and I'm now caught back up with the 21st century. I bundled up and headed for the Gorodok to have some dinner with him and get my phone... finally! Tonight I ordered a caesar salad and more coffee. This caesar salad was (hands down) the best caesar salad I have ever had.. in my life. I told Semyon that he was very lucky to live so close to this salad. To all Novosibirskians (?), you too are fortunate to have such gourmet-ness at your fingertips. Scott told me it was good, but wow! My ushanka goes off to the caesar salad chef behind the caesar salad counter for this 120 ruble caesar salad masterpiece. Semyon also explained to me in many words tonight that I'm addicted to coffee. Duh. :)

After dinner, I walked back to the flat (~5 minute walk), did a few chores, and caught up on some overdue emails. Jennifer eventually pinged me on Skype again and said that Daizi wanted to see me now that she was awake and feeling better. Wow, she was feeling much better after going to the doctor, for she was pretty happy to see me this time. If you recall, she wanted nothing to do with me yesterday and I knew that wasn't true because she is a true-blue "daddy's girl". It was good to see her back to her normal self again. :) I got my "Girl Fix" for the day and I'm ready for bed. Before getting off the webcam, I made Jennifer give Jazzy a big hug from me. She squeezed her, while I made the "grunt" sounds over Skype. :) I think it worked well for a good bye "daddy hug".

Russian Words of the Day
закрыт = Closed (pronounced zah-krit)
открыт = Open (pronounced ah-krit)
педаль = Pedal (pronounced ped-ahl)

Yummy Russian Foods
борщ = Borsch
блины = Blintz
Гриль Сыр = Very Tasty!

Day 7 - Closing Statements
Lastly, I want to thank you all for the mass amounts of feedback I'm getting. I love all of the feedback from everybody; both in the states and here in Novosibirsk. Honestly, I can't believe all the emails flooding my inbox these last couple of days! I didn't know that so many people were interested in this silly little "journal" that I was going to do, but the response has been awesome! I'll keep doing it, so please keep sending feedback. :) These posts do take a bit of time to whip up (especially with pics and videos), but it's proving to be worth it. Also, adding your comments to the posts will allow your thoughts to stay alive as long as the posts themselves. Otherwise, your comments get buried in my email never to be shared or found again. Blog comments are much more preferred. :) Either way, thanks again!!


Unknown said...

Hi Lucas...wanted you to know that Raji and I had a good laugh at your video of your door escapades today. Hope all is well for you and it seems to be based on your blog. Tell everyone we say hello (especially Sergey A & P). You are missed around here as I am sure you are by the family. Take Care, have fun and get some work done. Sincerely, Darin

Luc said...

Thanks Darin! Glad you enjoyed. I must mention that Raji is an icon over here. They even have a Wii Mii of him and it looks surprisingly like him. :) His Mii gets used a lot too. I was playing Ivan in some Wii Tennis and I asked if he uses his own Mii character and he said "No, I use Raji". :D

I'll be sure to tell the Sergey's you all say hi. See you soon!!

James said...

Wow, those locks are insane! Funny that they have the RFID thing followed by such ancient locks too :)

Jon said...

Well, at least you'll have that video in case you ever forget how to open the door... just make sure you have access to your camera, laptop, or wherever you're keeping that video. (I can't imagine why that would ever happen... at ~2AM or whenever bars close in Russia :))