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[sticky post] 3 questions --- 3 вопроса

I have intended to do this for a while, so let's try.

If there is anything you want to ask me but haven't or don't for any reason (the occasion did not seem right, it's a society taboo, you think the question is hurtful, etc) ask here. I promise to answer up to three questions (from each asker) as truthfully as I can, either in a comment, a DM, or a separate entry.

The catch is that I will ask the same number of questions (if I have so many) in return, and you will then answer them.

It would also be nice (but I am not asking for this) to know why you did not ask these questions before.

UPD from July 7. This entry will be a sticky for a while. I will update it if/when I do not want to answer more questions. Right now, ask away.


Давно хотела сделать такую запись, поэтому давайте попробуем.

Если вы хотите о чём-то меня спросить, но не спрашиваете по какой-то причине (нет повода, этот вопрос считается "табу", или вам кажется что тема мне неприятна), спросите в комментариях к этой записи. Я отвечу на один, два или три вопроса (каждому их задающему) настолько правдиво, насколько смогу — или ответным комментарием, или в ЛС, или отдельной записью.

"Подвох" в том, что в ответ я, возможно, тоже вам задам столько же вопросов (если у меня есть столько), и вы тоже мне на них ответите.

Ещё было бы любопытно (но не обязательно) узнать, почему эти вопросы вы не задавали мне раньше.

АПД от 7 июля. Запись повисит пока верхней. Когда больше не захочу отвечать на вопросы — напишу. Пока же — задавайте, задавайте.
The trolley problem is a thought experiment in ethics. The general form of the problem is this: There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options:
-Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track.
-Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.
Which is the most ethical choice? Wikipedia

Content warning for various injuries.

The summer after I turned one, my parents took me to their friends' vacation house in Moscow region, and the next day, together with our hosts, we sent swimming, or bathing in my case, in the shallow river that ran nearby.

The adults were having fun, and thought that I was, too, until a stranger, one of the many who were also bathing in the river, cried, "She is drowning on you!" and pulled me out of the shallows where I was bobbing up and down.

(I am retelling this event from my mother's words, because I have no memory of it. I have bathed in that very spot when I was older though, and can confirm that the current is deceptively slow and shallow there.)

The summer after I turned six, my mother, my brother, who was then four, and I rented a summer house of our own in the Moscow region, and while there, we bought fresh cow milk from the residents of a local village.

The first visit to the cow owners to agree on the price and the amount of milk (three liters twice a week) did not go as planned, however. My ever-curious and fearless little brother spotted a calf in the back yard of a house, and rushed in to meet it. This intrusion on her territory did not sit well with the guard dog in the front yard. She jumped my brother, seized him by the thigh and started dragging him toward her hut!

But not a second later, my mother ran after my brother with a loud battle cry. Luckily, the dog was cowered, released him and hid in the hut herself.

After telling me to turn around and not look, mother checked the wound, determined that she needed to take my brother to the hospital a few train stops away, and gave me a choice of either returning to the house with our neighbours who were also present, or going with her. I chose to go with her, and had to carry her handbag to help; it was unexpectedly huge and heavy. My brother was left with a large scar.

When I was nine, I was taken to the children's teeth clinic that had just opened nearby to straighten my teeth (they are too large for my jaws and very crowded). The first year that I went there (teeth straightening takes a while) I was accompanied by my mother, and one visit in particular I will never forget. We had just left the clinic and were walking home when there was a screech of tires behind us; mother looked back, quickened her steps and told me to follow and not turn around, but unlike the time with my brother's thigh wound, I did look back.

A man had just pushed a kid who had run out into the street from in front of a coming bus and was hit himself. It happened fast and ways down the road, but I can still see the man falling as if in slow motion. (Although I am not completely sure I am not imagining it, or that the image was not a psychic imprint of the emotions of people on the bus stop where it happened who also saw the accident.)

Several years ago, this time in winter, I was returning home from work. It so happens that the metro stop I usually get off on is the next one after the metro train terminus. (The terminuses are not, like one may believe, situated at the very end of the metro lines.) Every evening after the rush hour ends, part of the trains run only as far as the terminus station, their passengers having to get off there and wait for the next train to continue their journey. That day, I had to do just that, and was slowly walking up the platform of the terminus station toward the middle of the train that is usually less crowded when a drunken man nearly walked into me. He'd obviously just been woken up by the metro workers and made to get off the same train as I.

I gave into the natural reaction of avoiding collisions, and drunks, and watched the man stagger on across the platform when he was intercepted, I think, by the same metro worker who'd made him get off the train. She caught him by the arm, steadied him and made him get his bearings. Her face was pale, and it was only then that I realized that in his disoriented state, the man could have walked right off the opposite end of the platform.

In December last year, I returned home quite late one night, and had just went out with the dog when and older lady sitting on the bench near the house addressed me and asked where the nearest first aid station was. I replied that I did not know but that I was going to ask my mother at once, hurried back home, and learned that it was about six bus stops away. Coming back, I told the lady the address, confirming what a young man who was with her, her grandson, had already found on his phone.

And then I somehow stayed with them, called them a taxi after learning they did not have any taxi company numbers, and waited until it arrived, making sure that the lady stayed conscious (she had fallen and most likely broken her arm, it turned out), even as she was getting worse before my very eyes. I wonder if I should have called emergency services instead, and hope she was all right.

I am sure that for every little story I have just told, you could tell me several of your own, but to me, all of them serve to illustrate that the thought-up moral dilemmas the like of the Trolley Problem have little to no bearing on real life for the simple reason that you do not know how you will react to an extreme situation until it is upon you.

Will you freeze? Run away? Be a bystander, like I so often have been, like the old lady's grandson was? Will you be able to take charge? Will you take charge and not make matters worse?

Only first-hand experience will tell.

What I did in Zvenigorod this year.

1. Oversaw poster sessions;
2. Sold two extra books of abstracts (against at least a dozen last year);
3. Chose presentations I wanted to visit, and visited them;
4. Took several hundred pictures of conference guests during and outside the poster sessions;
4a. Came to the obvious conclusion that both cameras I own are crap;
4b. Came to the less obvious conclusion that maybe I can take good candid pictures of people;
5. Took a piece of paper to the closing banquet at which there were, one more, no sexist speeches (maybe the piece of paper scares those off? Even if the speakers won't know what it is for?)
6. Made a toast for the first time ever, but I was so nervous and struggled with the mike so much I am uncertain if I got my point across (was asked to explain what I meant by my table mates afterward);
7. Point-blank refused to dance paired dances, which is what I am going to do from now on, because the hetero, boy-invites-girl, girl-cannot-quite-refuse-if-asked norm in them is revolting;
8. Overate. Like, really overate, for the second year in a row. I need to stop this unlucky trend next year.


Как я провёл Звенигород в этом году.

1. Сидела на стендовых докладах;
2. Продала два дополнительных сборника тезисов (в прошлом году продала как минимум дюжину);
3. Выбрала интересные доклады и слушала их (или читала стенды);
4. Сделала несколько сотен фотографий участников конференции, на стендах и вне стендовых заседаний;
4а. В очередной раз убедилась, что оба моих фотоаппарата - фуфло;
4б. В первый раз подумала, что может быть я у меня получается снимать людей, когда они не замечают, что их снимают;
5. Взяла с собой на завершающий банкет бумажку и ручку, и снова не услышала ни одного сексистского тоста (так вот в чём секрет, значит. Люди, которые их произностят, боятся неизветсно зачем лежащей на столе бумажки);
6. Сама впервые сделала тост (правда так волновалась и не умела правильно держать микрофон, что его наверное никто не понял. Соседи по столу, во всяком случае, переспрашивали, что я имела в виду).
7. Наотрез отказалась танцевать спаренные танцы, и дальше намереваюсь отказываться, потому что гетеро, мальчик-приглашает-девочку, девочка-по-умолчанию-соглашается, норма для них вызывает бешенство;
8. Слишком много съела. Обожралась так, что за ушами трещало, короче, и уже второй год подряд. Надо избавляться от этого дурацкого обыкновения в следующем году.


I have thought over the promo post situation and my reaction to it, and I need to say the following now that I've calmed down.

1. The existence of this thing is a dark spot on LJ's character and a breach of trust on its part, not that it cares anymore, not that it is the first one or will be the last, now that this site is nothing more than a cash cow for its owners.

2. My emotional reaction was justified.

3. My actions, though, were not, or at least not all of them. Making an example of that poster was justified, cussing at them (including swearing at them in comments to that entry) was not. Promoted posts have existed before now, harmlessly on the main page of the site, true, the page nobody needs, so it is not exactly their fault it was their particular post I saw (unless getting a promo shoved in the face of strangers like that is something they could, and did, specifically opt into).

4. I am not going to apologize to them, however, even though the cussing amounts to hurting the messenger, not dealing with thethe true perpetrator, and was in bad form. Had people not looked for cheap notoriety, a lot of problems could've been avoided.


Слегка успокоившись, подумала ещё о промзаписях и о своей реакции на них, и поняла, что нужно написать о ситуации второй раз.

1. Появление этой мерзости — чёрная метка на ЖЖ и очередной повод ему не доверять, не первый, к сожалению, и точно не последний, потому что новым его хозяйчикам нужны от пользователей только бабки.

2. Моя эмоциональная реакция оправдана.

3. Но при этом оправданы далеко не все действия, вызванные этой реакцией. Правильно было поставить в отрицательный пример автора промзаписи, но не правильно — ругать его дурными словами, и особенно крыть матом в комментарии к записи. Платный промоушен в ЖЖ появился уже давно, правда до сегодняшнего дня он жил своей жизнью на никому не нужной главной странице. Ругать пианиста было неправильно, если вина — ЖЖ, а не его собственная, если в процессе промоутинга нет отдельной галочки "совать записью в морду чужим людям".

4. Извиняться перед ними в то же время я не собираюсь. Да, мой поступок — дурновкусие, но если бы меньше людей искало дешёвой популярности, было бы меньше проблем.
ЖЖ окончательно охуел. В ленте друзей сегодня появилось дерьмо под названием feed promo — словесные экскременты неизвестно кого, даже не репощенные кем-то из друзей. И да, аккаунт у меня платный частично для того, чтобы не видеть рекламы.

Осторожно, потенциально вредные записи в вашей ленте, сегодня, сейчас!

Пора в Dreamwidth? Но делать репосты оттуда сюда всё-таки некрасиво.

Лучи поноса inamora. Пусть их купленные читатели принесут им столько же счастья, сколько приносят их грязные деньги.

АПД через пять минут после опубликования записи. Оно исчезло. И теперь мне стрёмно за безопасность своего аккаунта, надо менять пароль.


LJ has done it. "Feed promo" was shat onto my friends list today: the verbal excrement of someone that was not so much as reposted by one of my LJ friends. (Part of the reason I have a paid account is getting rid of ads.)

Beware of untrusted bullshit content on your reading listlist from now on.

Time to go to Dreamwidth? But reblogging entries from anywhere else is not sufficiently involved or polite.

For now, fuck you, inamora. May your bought readers bring you as much joy as your dirty money.

UPD 5 minutes later: I do not see that entry anymore, and it's spooky security-wise. Time to change LJ password.

LJ Idol X - 8: No comment (~450 words)

There is one thing that unites cats and dogs but especially, of course, dogs: they do not like seeing you leave, whether to the shops or for work, and suffer greatly when you go away for several days, when packing a bag or a suitcase is involved.

My dog, Hera, hates my suitcase. Whenever it makes an appearance, she becomes anxious, whines, and won't let me out of her sight. She would also jump onto my bed after I have laid out the clothes I'm packing, and lay on top of them with the most suffering and forlorn mien she can manage.

This picture was taken before a vacation and shows her expression well.

[A bed with a pile of clothes. To the right lies Hera. She is white with large patches of brown fur covering her head and the middle of her back, long-legged and long-eared. She is gazing away from the camera to the right and slightly downward, her eyes liquid pools of misery, her ears standing up and her pink tongue licking her nose in distress.]

Cats' reactions to packing are slightly different. Both a friend's cat and one of the two I live with after moving out of my parents' house seem to think that the suitcase is their personal kingdom, or maybe a throne to use at will.

I was adding the last items to my case this morning before going to the Zvenigorod Conference on Plasma Physics, and after docking out of the room and returning with one more thing to pack, I beheld this picture.

[An grey and white suitcase lays open on the wooden floor, its lid propped against the blue-painted wall. On the stack of clothes within lays Rysya, a fluffy grey-brown tabby cat. She has the air of a queen reunited with her throne. The cat faces the room, and the camera, but does not look at the photographer, her eyes half-closed in contentment, her front legs stretched out and dangling slightly over the rim of the suitcase, a picture of self-assured repose.]

I should have gotten used to this spectacle after years of housing dogs, yet every time I am still speechless after discovering animals hogging my possessions this way, and can only chuckle, torn between fondness, exasperation and irritation with the need to brush fur off my freshly laundered and ironed clothes, because one more thing the furry friends have in common is their uncanny ability to choose the best garment to nest on, or the one on which their shed hairs are going to be the most visible. It may not be obvious in the pictures I show above, but Hera and Rysa are both lying on black cloth.

Как я уже говорила, я люблю штопать одежду, там где штопка не видна — в основном носки, нижнее бельё и ночные рубашки. В процессе можно послушать музыку или подумать о своём.

Примерно год назад я задала себе вопрос: а что будет, если штопать какую-то вещь, и штопать её, и штопать, и штопать. Чем дело кончится? Сказано — сделано. Несколько вещей, которые уже давно можно было бы выбросить, я так и штопала.

Результаты эксперимента :) такие:
- если начал что-то штопать, то так и будешь штопать дальше сначала после каждой второй-третьей стирки, а потом уже и каждый раз, потому что ткань истончается, а штопка создаёт в ней дополнительное натяжение в разных направлениях;
- чем дальше, тем больше между стирками открывается новых дырок;
- и наконец ткань становится такой прозрачной, что штопать дальше не имеет смысла — на каждую "закрытую" дырку к следующей стирке образуется две — три — четыре новых (вот вам пожалуйста, тот змей-горыныч, у которого головы отрастают, если все сразу не отрубишь. Только у этого змея отрастание не остановить, потому что это не сказка, а реальность).
- теоретически где-то между появлением первых дырок и их неостановочным ростом можно поставить заплату, укрепив или заменив истершуюся или истлевшую часть ткани, но это уже лишнее, ненужное и просто мне сейчас не интересное.


Like I have already mentioned, I like darning clothes, mostly the ones nobody sees, undergarments, socks and nighties. It is nice a meditative process that may also be coloured by music.

About a year ago, I asked myself what would happen if I darned something, and darned it, and darned it. When will the process end. So I did. I did not throw out a few things that I normally would have and kept darning them.

Here are the experimental results: :)
- once you start darning something, you will keep darning it, first after two or three washes, then after each new wash because the material gets thinner and thinner and the darned patches create irregular tensions in it;
- the more you repeat the process, the more new holes open up between the washes;
- finally, the material becomes so "transparent" that darning it further becomes senseless: for each hole you darn, two or three new ones open by the next wash (quite like that three-headed serpent in fairy tales all of whose heads you had to cut off at once or several new ones grew out of each stump. Only in this case cutting of all heads does not help, because it's the real life);
- theoretically, some time between the first holes and the unstoppable hole growth you could patch the garment with extra material, strengthening or replacing the one that grew too thin, but this is going over board as well as not something that interest me at the moment.
Каждый, кто отметится в комментариях, получит имя художника, одно из произведений которого он должен будет разместить на своей странице а также (если будет желание) рассказать, почему выбрал именно его.

От Sonnenbarke: Зинаида Серебрякова
Имя этой художницы я сышала и до флэшмоба, и помнила две её известных картины - "За завтраком" и "Крестьяне. Обед", но одно с другим не ассоциировала, и других картин тоже не помнила. Стала смотреть, и мне очень понравилась картина


Как будто я сама там была, жарким летом под палящим солнцем, которое выбеливает стены домов и заставляет воздух дрожать от зноя, когда даже тени прозрачны в рассеянном свете.

От Paula: да Винчи.
А вот с ним тяжело. Я равнодушна к его картинам, или во всяком случае к их репродукциям, вживую может быть совсем по-другому, а карандашные наброски его меня когда ужасают (наброски техники), а когда и ужасают и одновременно отталкивают (этюды людей, жестов, частей человеческого тела). Набросков я тоже никогда не видела вживую, и не хочу их видеть - они вызывают очень яркое ощущение колёс в колёсах их стремления видеть не человека, а машину, аппарат, это в них и страшно.

Выбрала вот один, который всё-таки могу поместить у себя в дневнике - "Природную катастрофу".

Но и в нём то же - техника, человеческая техника, пружины, проволока, контроль.


Comment here, I will name a painter and you will post one of his paintings and (optionally) tell us what it means to you.

2 answersCollapse )

LJ Idol X - 7: Where I'm from (~800 words)

Let me tell you stories of four people who once were led by circumstances to the town Slavyansk, in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, in the summer of 1939.

Two of them, Lev and his girlfriend of eight years, Lydia, where slightly older that year than I am now. Lev was 38, and Lydia, 36.

Lydia was one of the three children born into a solid middle-class family who, before the October Revolution, had two properties in Moscow, a small restaurant in the city center and a large apartment nearby, and who, because of it, very nearly were not granted Soviet passports in 1917. They did become citizens in the end, but the mother was sent outside of Moscow and forbidden to live closer than 100 kilometers from it, a very common restriction laid on criminals, homeless and various other undesirables during the Soviet era. The children were not obliged to join her, but the youngest, Kira, left with her mother while Lydia and their eldest brother Apollon remained in Moscow.

Apollon went on to become a Dr. Sci. in Technology and a Professor at the Moscow Aviation Institute, which was not easy for someone of his origins. It was rumoured that at one point he either denounced or was pressured to denounce his mother, another common practice in the Soviet Union, and this understandably caused a lot of tension between the three siblings.

Lydia, for her part, occupied a senior administrative position in a publishing house which was where she met Lev, an accountant.

Lev came from a family with seven children that, while less well-to-do than Lydia's, was still solid enough to put all of their children, two boys and five girls, through gymnasiums and then give them whatever career education they desired. Lev's elder sister Tanya, the one he was closest to, became a school teacher and taught Russian and Russian Literature for more than 50 years.

Before meeting Lydia, Lev had served in the Red Army and been in a short relationship in which he had a child, a girl also named Lydia, who died when she was two years old.

Lev and Lydia spent their summer holiday in Slavyansk and returned to Moscow, where three years later they had a little girl of their own.

In the same year in Slavyansk there also lived a younger girl of 21 whose name was Anya.

Anya was born in a large peasant family in a village near Orel town in Russia, and was the only girl to survive infancy along with her five brothers. As the only girl, she was her mother's favourite. As her mother lay dying, she made Anya, who was only 11 at the time, promise that the girl would continue to learn past the primary school in the nearby village where all of the children went on foot, or on ski, or on rare occasions in a neighbour's cart.

Anya kept her promise, something she would have been unable to do under the "Old regime", and first went to a boarding school in Orel, and then to a railway college in Moscow, where she stayed with the family of her elder brother Mikhail. After graduation, she was sent to Ukraine, worked on the railway in Slavyansk and was also part of the town's komsomol committee.

Both in college and in Slavyansk, Anya had many suitors, and then a fiancé called Boris, a miner. And it was in Slavyansk that she met Nikolai, another railway worker who came from a family of railway workers living in the Russian town Tuma. Nikolai, who was then 24, was smitten with Anya, but she was neither free nor interested.

But then tragedy struck, and Boris was killed in a mining accident. Nikolai continued to pursue Anya and ask her to become his wife during his work trips to Slavyansk. After two years, she gave in, married Nikolai and returned to Russia with him. This happened not long before Ukraine was occupied by the Nazi Germany. All of the members of Slavyansk's komsomol committee who remained in town were killed during the war.

Nikolai and Anya moved a lot during the first years of their marriage due to the nature of his work. At one time, Nikolai was assistant head of the entire railway system in Vladimir, a town 200 kilometers from Moscow. He would hardly have been given a post this high under the "Old regime". Eventually, they settled in Vladimir and had two boys.

Lydia and Lev are my maternal grandparents, and Anya and Nikolai are my paternal ones. They never met in Slavyansk to our knowledge, and Lev died before my mother finished school, but it is curious that that one long ago summer all four of them were in the same small Southern town so far from home.

Работа над ошибками

При переводе (технических статей), ситуативно, рекомендуется заменять кого, чего и где глаголами.

То есть "разряд между плоскими электродами" --> discharge excited between plane electrodes; "одномерная теория (нормального тлеющего разряда) Энгеля и Штенбека" --> one-dimensional theory of the normal glow discharge developed by Engel and Stenbek.

Но, вообще говоря, это относится скорее не к переводу а к редактированию текста, или адской смеси и того, и другого. [Описание смайлика]Улыбайющийся смайлик, парящий в воздухе вверх-вниз, держа в руках две веточки дерева вместо крыльев, а может быть это у него два листочка марихуаны.


Oh, boy. This entry is one of those that are hard to translate, since it is a translation tip from myself to myself.

Basically, we are "taught" that it is better to insert verbs in certain phrases where the Russian author go without, like "discharge excited between plane electrodes" where they literally say "discharge between plane electrodes" and "one-dimensional theory of the normal glow discharge developed by Engel and Stenbek" instead of "one-dimensional theory of the normal glow discharge of Engel and Stenbek".

It is a mix of translating an editing and also not always applicable. [Smiley description]A smiling smiley floating up and down in the air on a pair of green tree branches, or maybe those are a pair of cannabis leaves.

LJ Idol X - 6: Heel turn (~600 words)

My grandmother had two sons. The elder son was my father, the younger was my uncle Kolya.

My father was a "good" child, quiet, industrious, seldom in trouble, if you don't count him missing a lot of classes one term in college in favour of going to sports competitions.

My uncle Kolya, he, was boisterous and as gifted in the literary arts as my father was in physics and mathematics.

Only where my father went to college, graduated as an aviation engineer and a lieutenant of the reserve, then served for two years in the army, then worked in science and helped develop two or three inventions,

my uncle Kolya did almost the exact opposite. He dreamed of college too, and of becoming a writer, but in high school, he got mixed up with a crowd of juvenile offenders among whom the idea of the then obligatory army service was unpopular, and whose way out of this civil duty was committing a minor offence punishable by jail, because those who had been in jail were exempt from military service.

And to jail he went. The letters he sent to grandmother while doing his time are preserved in the family archive, and it was from them that I learned what little I know about uncle Kolya as a young adult. They are sad and odd, these letters, full of remorse that feels genuine, and dreams of a better future; most of the letters end in requests of material items, or small sums of money.

Uncle Kolya did not hold a college degree, and I do not know if he ever tried to enter one. He finished a vocational school instead and became a high-qualification mechanic. His choices though continued to be what could be called not very proper, and ten years later he got a seventeen-year-old girl pregnant and married her by special permission from her parents, because she was not yet of age of eighteen.

His wife left him when the child, my cousin, was only one year old, because uncle Kolya had started drinking somewhere along the way, and she did not feel safe with him anymore. Yet through a miracle of goodwill, she kept a good relationship with my grandmother, and through her, my father's, our, side of the family.

My father, meanwhile, was studying, serving, then working, and eight years after his niece was born, he married my mother and had my brother and I. My parents will have been married for 40 years in 2018.

After the marriage, my father returned to working as an aviation engineer, and raised his children, and opened his home for his parents when they grew older and needed support and care, because uncle Kolya, who they lived with before, was drinking more and more, and was also becoming a violent drunk.

After she moved in with us, my grandmother went to see uncle Kolya every month upon receiving her pension, to buy him food and leave him some money, for because of his drinking, he could hold no post long despite his qualifications. He bought booze at once with the money she brought him, and if she did not leave soon enough, he would often beat her up.

Uncle Kolya died when I was in high school in a house fire he'd started while drunk.

My grandmother passed away seven years later, and as was her wish, she now rests in the same cemetery plot as uncle Kolya for, you see, he has always been her favourite son.

And the stars are black and cold

Позавчера, год назад. — The day before yesterday, a year ago.

Валериан Иванович Гервидс. — Valerian Ivanovich Gervids.
Photo credit.

Сегодня, год назад. — Today, a year ago.

Алан Рикман. — Alan Rickman.
Photo by Jastrow.

Я благодарна случайности, по которой узнала о своём Учителе, В.И., только лишь в мае. — I am grateful providence for only learning about my Teacher, V.I., in May.

Seven years ago, a colleague and I became part-time technical translators for a publishing house that prints bilingual scientific journals. A couple of years after that, we started working in the same room and occasionally comparing translation notes and grousing about the poor quality of writing in the articles we were translating.

Quite often, my colleague would wish that the particularly inarticulate authors were forced to "go through" an editor who she'd worked with when she was younger first, a legend in our field of plasma physics whom many were afraid of because of his sharp tongue and profound knowledge of the subject, and who also, if you managed to stand up to him, would teach you to write and formulate your thoughts remarkably well.

And in those moments I felt a yearning, a wish that I could be something similar. Not someone to be afraid of, but knowledgeable and capable of working with the written word not only as a corrector, something my innate literacy easily permits, or a beta, like I was on and off on fanfiction sites, but a true editor.

For years, this wish remained something so far-fetched I always wanted to chuckle derisively at myself whenever I remembered it. Indeed, me, an editor in the field I can barely call my own? A field in which, however much I felt it was expected of me, I could never find the drive to become and independent researcher? The same field whose "language" is mathematics, a subject that has always been my weak spot? A field in which, in a single word, I have always felt small?

And yet this year, I am making a step in the direction of that dream. I can feel the rightness of it in my very bones, and I am excited, absolutely terrified and not at all afraid all at once.

Our department's Scientific Secretary is retiring and I will be trained to replace her. So far, I have discussed the duties the position entails twice with her and with our chief, I cannot quite envision them all yet.

I will have to be a go-to, both from "below" and from "above", to help ascertain that the higher-ups' directives are known and fulfilled and that the paperwork my colleagues need is ready and in order, participate in organizing the internal annual conference of our department, dabble in editing end-of-year and intermediate reports, do who-knows-what at Scientific Councils which I now only attend in the rare events of PhD presentations, simply be aware of who works where and does what, and I do not know what else.

I will have to be attentive, organized, aware of explicit and implicit deadlines and policies without letting them overwhelm me as has frequently happened in the past. I will have to work with a lot of people and need to build and affirm boundaries around my personal time. I will have to sometimes be strict (about deadlines) with laboratory chiefs and colleagues my parents' age.

In a short, I will have to grow and learn in ways that do not force me into the "independent researcher" groove which I do not fit by nurturing my developing writing and people skills, something that interests me passionately and terrifies me just as much.

I start today.


Случайно ещё раз убедилась в том, как важно быть зимой "правильной" капустой.

Я уже несколько лет не ношу под брюки колготок, а вместо них - леггинсы или рейтузы с носками (потому что носки стираются гораздо чаще, дак к тому же и тёплые леггинсы найти проще). Но поскольку я ношу одни и те же две пары леггинсов все эти несколько лет, и новых пока не покупала, обе продрались. Продрались и продрались, под брюками не видно, а зашивать лень.

Но тут у нас на Рождество ударили настоящие морозы, седьмого января температура опускалась почти до минус 30, и я сильно озябла, когда выползла за едой, несмотря на тёплые брюки. Побудительный мотив оказался достаточным, чтобы заштопать леггинсы — и разница, оказывается, очень и очень ощутима, между слоем одежды с дырками или тем же слоем без дырок. Это кажется очевидным, но не зря говорится, что очевидное — невероятное.

Вот так. В добавок скажу ещё одну очевидную вещь (вдруг для кого она пока всё еще невероятна). Одеяло без пододеяльника и одеяло с пододеяльником — две очень разные по теплоте вещи, даже если одеяло достаточно тонкое. Причина тому — два слоя воздуха между пододеяльником и одеялом обеих сторон одеяла. (Поэтому же двойные оконные рамы теплее одинарных — воздух очень классный изолятор и утеплитель.)

И наконец, познакомьтесь с моей новой иконкой: всегда любила штопать, а сейчас мне и вовсе очень хочется мастерить что угодно руками.


I have just confirmed my knowledge of the importance of dressing "like a cabbage", in layers, properly, when it is cold.

Several years ago, I have stopped wearing tights under trousers, and began wearing leggings and socks instead, because you wash socks more often, and because warmer leggings are easier to find and cheaper than warmer tights. However, I have been wearing the same two pairs of leggings all these years, and both are now holey. I did not have a problem with those holes though, because they were out of sight, and had no intention of mending them.

No intention until this Christmas, that is. We've had real Christmas frost this year when on January 7 (Orthodox Christmas), the temperatures dropped down to almost –30oC/–20 F. I went out for some food that day and got really chilled despite wearing warm trousers. This was motivation enough for me to darn my leggings, and the difference before and after is unexpectedly considerable! This should be obvious, but nothing is sometimes less so than the things that should be.

So yeah. I will add another obvious thing (in case it is not for someone else). A blanket without a cover and a blanket in one are two blankets of very different warmth. The reason for this is that there are two layers of insulating air between the cover and the blanket, on either side of the blanket. (For the same reason, double glass frames on windows are warmer than single glass ones: the air is a very good insulator.)

And finally, meet my new icon celebrating my love of darning clothes, and the need I currently feel to do stuff with my hands.


От Purring Cat

Ответы, помеченные (c) стащены у предыдущего отвечавшего.

1. Где вы обычно читаете?


2. Книжная закладка или просто листок бумаги?
Запоминание номера страницы. (с)

3. Вы можете остановиться во время чтения или вам нужно обязательно дочитать до конца главы?
Могу остановиться всегда (с) но иногда препочитаю дочитывать до конца главы.

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От Purring Cat

1. Where do you usually read?

2. A bookmark or sheet of paper?
Remembering the page number.

3. Can you stop anywhere while reading or do you need to finish the chapter?
I can stop anywhere but sometimes I prefer to finish the chapter.

+18Collapse )
Во вторник я участвовала в комедии. Действующими лицами её были: жертвы номер раз и номер два — муж и жена-которая-ходит-без-паспорта, я, жертва номер четыре — женщина пенсионного возраста, и два сотрудника дорожного патруля, капитан как-его-там отдельного батальона номер какой-его-там и сидящий-в-машине безымянный и беззванный молодой сотрудник дорожной полиции. Комедия называлась: попадись в засаду и получи штраф за переход дороги в неположенном месте со спокойным движением, вместо того чтобы переходить дорогу в положенном месте с неприятным движением (поворот улицы и худшая видимость).

Коллектив участников вслух дружно обсуждал правила перехода улицы. Про себя, и в прошлом, настоящем и будущем коллектив участников, в полном своём составе, продолжал, продлжает и будет продолжать переходить ту самую улицу в том самом месте, с той лишь разницей, что жертвы номер один — четыре теперь будут на этом самом месте внимательнее смотреть по сторонам и через дорогу.

Если без ёрничистваCollapse )


I participated in stand-up comedy this Tuesday. There were six participants, victims one and two, man and wife-who-does-not-carry-her-passport-with-her, me, victim four, a woman of retirement age, and two road police officers, captain what-was-his-name of the separate battalion what-was-its-number, and a sitting-in-the-car nameless and rankless younger officer. The comedy was called: get into an ambush and be fined for jay walking in a forbidden place with calm road movement instead of crossing the street in the place you should do it where the movement is more dangerous because the road turns there and the view is limited.

All participants discussed the road code at length. All participants jay walked, jay walk, and will jay walk, in that very same place with the small difference that victims one–four will now look both directions and across the road more attentively from now on.

In all seriousness thoughCollapse )

LJ Idol X - 3: Brushback Pitch

"Brushback pitch" ("отталкивающая" подача) - бейсбольная подача сомнительной дозволенности, при которой мяч пролетает близко к бэттеру. Такая подача служит для того, чтобы "оттолкнуть" бэттера, который придвигается слишком близко к "дому" (первой базе).

Научные конференции производят реки, горы и озёра бумаг.

Если вы автор, вам нужно не только получить результат и написать о нём, но также предоставить написанное "соответствующему органу" организации, в которой вы работаете, на изучение на наличии в нём гостайны. Орган должен выдать бумажку, подтверждающую отсутствие тайны, а также разрешение на публикацию. Кроме того, вы и все ваши соавторы должны подписать договор о передаче авторских прав, и предоставить бумажные оригиналы всех трёх бумаг оргкомитету конференции, потому что электронные копии не считаются документами. В то же время текст тезисов можно, и нужно, посылать по электронной почте.

Если вы организатор конференции, которая не настолько богата, чтобы печатать тезисы бесплатно, то на каждую оплату печати тезисов вы должны оформить три документа в двух экземплярах каждый: акт приёмки работы и две счёт-фактуры, авансовую и окончательную.

Затем во время самой конференции каждый автор должен расписаться на шести бумажках за каждый опубликованный им тезис.

Авторы здесь, авторы там. Авторы живут в гостинице, в которой проводится конференция. Авторы приезжают только на свой доклад. Авторам неинтересно отрываться от дела, чтобы подписывать бумажки. Авторов приходится заставлять это делать, потому что хотя их копии бумаг им скорее всего и не нужны, тебе, о организатор, без них может придтись туго.

Если же вы глава оргкомитета или бухгалтер принимающей стороны, помимо всех остальных обязанностей, дел и всяких разных пакостей (большая часть из которых создана плюющими на инструкции авторами), вам придётся подписывать бумажки.

Давайте посчитаем количество бумажек на конференции, членом оргкомитета которой я являюсь уже пять лет. 250 тезисов на 3 на 2, 1500. Тысяча пятьсот листов бумаги, или три пачки листов для принтера.

Бумаг много, разных, неприятных, нелогичных, иногда бессмысленных, но от этого не менее необходимых.

Меня очень вдохновляет подход к подписыванию бумаг нашего начальника (он же - глава оргкомитета). Приходит в штабквартиру оргкомитета (каждый год это один из люксов), здоровается, садится за стол и начинает подписывать бумажку за бумажкой за бумажкой и при этом болтает с остальными ошивающимися в оргкомитете, смотрит телек, уделяет бумажком внимания столько, сколько нужно, не больше и не меньше, и не позволяет подписи превратиться в закорючку не взирая на бесконечные её повторения.

Такой внимательно-отстранённый подход идеален для некторых задач, которые, к сожалению, просто нужно выполнить. Выбросив эмоциональную реакцию на них, а-ля "да никому не нужно это дело (информация)!", "какая чушь", "как же я устала", "не хочу это делать, но приходится себя заставлять" на свалку, можно направить силы на то, чтобы как можно быстрее оставить дело в прошлом, а не на эмоциональное сопротивление механической работе.

[LJ Idol explanation HTML — HTML для пояснения тем в LJ Idol]

A brushback pitch in baseball is a pitch that is thrown closer to the batter's body than is considered safe, strictly speaking, and aims to push the batter back if they crowd the home plate too much.

Any scientific conference produces a lot of paperwork. Mountains and rivers of it, in fact.

If you are an author, you have not only to do research and write the paper, but also submit your results for perusal to your organization's security department and obtain two writs from them: one, that your text does not contain information constituting State secret, and two, permission to publish the material. You and all your co-authors then have to sign a publishing copyright agreement and present the originals of all three documents to the conference's Organizing Committee, for digital copies are not considered legal. You may, however, and should, send your paper in by email.

If you are a conference organizer, and collect publishing fees for the papers, you have to issue three documents in two copies each for every fee you collect: one, the acceptance act (for services rendered), two and three, advance and final invoices.

Then, at the conference, each author who has payed for publication has to sign these six documents for every paper they have published.

Authors come, authors go. Authors live at the conference venue, authors only arrive to present their papers. Authors do not care to be pulled away from business to sign papers. Alas for their wants, and alas for yours, oh organizer running around with stacks of papers in your arms. You need these signed documents for your accounts even if the authors do not need their copies for theirs.

If you are the head of the Organizing Committee, or the accountant of the host party, on top of all of your other obligations and troubles (mostly caused by authors running amok and ignoring instructions) you have to sign paperwork.

Let's do the maths for the annual Zvenigorod Conference on Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion for which I have been a member of the Organizing Committee for the last five years. 250 papers times 3 times 2 equals 1500. One thousand five hundred pages, three packs of printing paper.

Summing up, paperwork can be varied, frustrating, mind-numbing and mind-boggling and as obligatory as it is illogical.

Over the years, I have been both impressed and humbled by my chief who is also the Organizing Committee's head, and his attitude toward signing these mountains of paperwork. He comes to the Committee's quarters (always a luxury suite at the conference hotel), he says hellos all around, he sits at the table and he signs paper after paper after paper, all the while chatting amiably with others, watching some TV and unobtrusively paying attention to his gargantuan task. He also never allows his signature to slip despite those countless tiresome repetitions.

Sometimes this cold-fish tireless attitude is the best way to overcome the mindless challenges life throws your way. Taking emotional responses like "this makes no sense", "why would anyone require this kind of work or information", "what drivel", "tired", "I don't want to do this and have to force myself to" out of the equation lets you conserve the energy and to leave the unpleasant task behind faster and with less emotional friction.

Note. I am not familiar with the titles of the above mentioned documents in English and dictionaries only get you so far. If they sound particularly odd, I have probably mistranslated them.

If you liked my LJ Idol poem this week, please vote for me.

Here are this week's entries I liked most (the asterisk means the entry is especially close to how I am feeling).

I also have an unrelated request: if you see this entry on your friends page, please drop me a comment. LJ did not show an entry one of my friends has written about 7.30 a.m. today (4.30 a.m. GMT), and because none of my friends have written anything since, I don't know if this is a one-time glitch or something more sinister.
P.S. The last friend's entry I see on my friends page was written at 7.23 a.m. (4.23 GMT), then it is this one. It is a relief to see it, and I was just told a friend sees it from their friends page as well, but I am still anxious.


Если вам понравилось стихотворение, которое я написала в воскресенье для конкурса LJ Idol, пожалуйста проголосуйте за меня.

Ниже я опять публикую ссылки на записи, которые мне понравились на этой неделе (звёздочки означают, что запись была мне особенно близкой.

И ещё одна просьба. Если вы видите эту запись из своей ленты друзей, напишите мне комметарий об этом, пожалуйста. ЖЖ отказывается показывать в моей ленте запись, которая была сделана друзьями около 7.30 утра по Москве; с тех пор никто из друзей пока ничего не написал, и я не знаю, разовый это глюк или что-то более серьёзное.
П.С. Последняя запись друзей, которую я вижу в ленте, написана в 7.23 по Москве. За ней я вижу в ленте свою, эту, запись. Подруга только что написала, что эту запись она в своей ленте тоже видит, но мне всё-таки неспокойно.

Tribe one
eeyore_grrl: http://eeyore-grrl.livejournal.com/638607.html *
ellakite: http://ellakite.livejournal.com/557070.html
eternal_ot: http://eternal-ot.livejournal.com/13705.html
flipflop_diva: http://flipflop-diva.livejournal.com/53286.html
fourzoas: http://fourzoas.livejournal.com/188449.html
garnigal: http://garnigal.livejournal.com/167245.html
halfshellvenus: http://halfshellvenus.livejournal.com/697373.html
hwango: http://hwango.livejournal.com/300381.html

Tribe two
mirrorfortress: http://mirrorfortress.livejournal.com/14648.html
murielle: http://murielle.livejournal.com/296112.html
soldevenus: http://soldevenus.livejournal.com/1041.html
team_jessie: http://team-jessie.livejournal.com/834685.html *

My parents have a friend, I've known him all my life.
At first, when I was little, his presence caused me strife.
His visits to our home, he would sit next to me
And his most simple questions would send me "to the fields".
I did not know back then, I still don't know now
How can most inane phrases come off as teasing salvos.

And then I went to college, and started growing up,
And one day I decided: Enough, enough, enough.
So during his next visit, when he went off again,
I no longer answered his teasing in old vein.
I stayed there right beside him, and held in my reaction,
And no longer gave him my flight in satisfaction.

That day will stay forever before my mind's eye
For he looked very young then, unsure, lost, hung dry.
I felt very vindicated in that one perfect moment,
For he was now the one experiencing the torment
Of being all wrong-footed, left drifting at wide sea
Since that's exactly how his teasing had felt to me.

If you liked my entry for the LJ Idol last Saturday, please vote for me.

Here are the entries I liked this week, separated by voting group or tribe. I am borrowing belenen's idea and putting stars next to the entries that resonated with me the most, from people who write as if about my own experiences.


Если вам понравилась запись, которую я делала для конкурса LJ Idol в прошлую субботу, пожалуйста проголосуйте за меня.

Мне же на этой неделе понравились следующие записи (они поделены по голосовалкам или племенам). По примеру belenen ставлю звёздочки после записей, которые оказались мне особенно близкими (иногда эти записи создавали впечатление, что человек рассказывает обо мне).

Tribe 1
adoptedwriter: http://adoptedwriter.livejournal.com/387203.html
alphaloria: http://alphaloria.livejournal.com/1152541.html
estelle: http://estelle.livejournal.com/131941.html *
fabrisse: http://fabrisse.livejournal.com/349405.html
fading_light: http://fading-light.livejournal.com/126366.html
favoritebean: http://favoritebean.livejournal.com/46547.html
furzicle: http://furzicle.livejournal.com/436329.html
kindabrisk: http://kindabrisk.livejournal.com/922.html *

Tribe 2
morettaallstar: http://morettaallstar.livejournal.com/10025.html
mrstotten: http://mrstotten.livejournal.com/119396.html
rayaso: http://rayaso.livejournal.com/20622.html
shadowwolf13: http://shadowwolf13.livejournal.com/1253666.html
team_jessie: http://team-jessie.livejournal.com/834505.html *

Нарыли дома дискеты, и сегодня я с их помощью проверила дисковод — к счастью, он оказался рабочим.

На дискетах, кроме всякого древнего хлама, нашлась также любопытная фотография. (Скачивание её на компьютер показалось мне бесконечным. За то же время с флэшки можно было бы скачать в несколько сотен раз больше информации.)

Я очень рада, что училась в МИФИ, но никому не посоветую туда идти учиться или работать, пока они не изгонят мракобесов. Последним, что я видела в новостях — заявление нынешнего ректора, что-де успехи МИФИ связаны с его, дословно не вспомню, чем-то вроде богобоязненности то ли богопочитания. (На оборонку они работают. Оттуда и деньги, оттуда и "успехи".)

Картинка кликабельна --- The image is clickable.
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We dug up some floppy discs at home and I checked the floppy drive at work. Luckily, it is still operational.

There was a lot of old crap on the discs, but also a curious photo. (Transferring it to the computer took seemingly forever. I could have transferred several hundred times as much info from a flash card in the same amount of time.)

I am very happy to have studied in MEPhI (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, but I would tell everyone who would listen to avoid the nest of heresy it has no become. The latest I saw from it on the news was the current head declaring that it's recent successes were caused but it being god-fearing now, or was it god-venerating. (The truth: they work for the ministry of defence. Hence, the money, hence, the "successes".)
Все сейчас полушутя жалуются, как рано вывешивают рождественские декорации. В Москве тоже начали загораться зимние украшения, хотя, несмотря на весь выпавший снег и морозец, зима ещё "не наступила", только конец ноября.


I will (jokingly) join those who complains about Christmas decorations being put up too early. Winter decorations are lighted too early in Moscow, because despite all the snow that has fallen and the just below freezing temperatures, it is not "winter" yet, but still the end of November.

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This one is for st_martin_a who inspired me to take this picture by his last entry.
Trigger warning for non-graphic descriptions of depression.

When I was a kid, a clear road lay ahead of me: finish school, receive a higher education and work. Finish school, because it is necessary to enter college; get a higher education, because you need it for "proper" jobs, and work, because that was the way my mother, father and grandparents all lived.

When I was a kid, people had higher objectives in their lives, something to live for. The air was saturated with the knowledge of it back then, during the last decade of the Soviet Union. My mother also had a larger goal in her life. It was because of this goal that she helped recover idle lands* when she was a student, it was because of this goal that she was a komsomolka then a member of the Communist party. It was also in part because of this goal that she was on both my brother's and mine parents' committees when we were at school.

When I was an adolescent, I did what I was supposed to do: graduated from high school, entered college in a field that appealed to me, graduated with a grade just below the one that would have made my diploma "with honours", and started working at the same science institution where I had prepared the final project for my college program.

When I was an adolescent, I realized that I, myself, did not have a higher goal in my life, but the lack did not bother me, for surely, the goal was going to reveal itself once I started working and did not need to study all the time anymore.

When I was a young adult, a fresh college graduate, and a new worker, I approached my older colleagues and asked what their goal was, what they were doing at work "in a larger sense", toward what they were employing their efforts.

I failed to express myself in a way that would have made myself understood. An my colleagues, most of whom were my parents' age and older, and for whom having a higher purpose was as natural as breathing, failed to understand my problem.

I floundered. I did not see the higher goal behind the smaller tasks and problems my co-workers where occupying themselves with in these times of the cholera when the State was and is not interested in supporting fundamental science.

I floundered; I tried working on the still smaller tasks set to me, but without the backbone of the higher goal that I'd deluded myself I would miraculously acquire "later", these tasks did not engage me.

Outside interests and hobbies flourished: I became fluent in French and continued nourishing my English and started going abroad for events of interest. Yet at work, I felt like a misfit. Forever dragging my feet, disrespecting the deadlines, I behaved like a spoiled child, using my quick mind to only do enough work for my discontent not to be obvious. I started missing a day here and there, and nobody reacted, because not clocking in and out every day is not sanctioned here so long as you are pulling your weight.

I fell deeper into depression, and eventually missed 6 weeks straight at work and was nearly fired. A colleague from another work group prevented that from happening: he vouched for me and said he would make sure I work properly.

My memory of work-related events in the two years that followed is fragmented. I was out of sorts; I had to force myself to get into work every single day because there was still no rigid control over me (for which I was also grateful). I felt that the dark cloud inside of which I had lived for months before and during the not-going-to-work-at-all episode was still close, still within my mental eyesight and arm's reach, still just a few steps away.

I do not know how and when this situation changed. It probably happened when on a whim, I accepted two tasks unrelated to my everyday duties. One was translating articles into English both for my immediate colleagues and for other physicists, and the other, helping organize a big event our department is responsible for, the annual Zvenigorod Conference on Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion.

Both tasks are finite, tangible, and give me the satisfaction of knowing I do something immediately useful. They also help my self-esteem by making me visible, at work. I am the person who does these concrete and obvious things, and not the grasshopper among ants anymore.

As and adult, I am a jack of several trades. I can do well enough in them, but I do not consider my patchwork skill set particularly marketable at the moment. I work, I get by, and I am slowly rebuilding myself.

As an adult, I do not have a higher goal. I have small, visible ones that I set, and reach, and move past without fanfare.

*Recovery of idle and fallow lands in Kazakhstan, Siberia, and Volga and Ural regions in 1955–1965 was a massive endeavour devoted to increasing grain production in Soviet Union. For the first few years, these lands did produce much higher than average crops of grain, but then they fell largely to disuse, because the work on infrastructure and protecting the new agricultural lands from extreme weather phenomena in those regions not characteristic of other, traditional, agricultural lands was not done properly.

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