Category Archives: Blogs and Social Media

The category collects posts on the subjects of blogs, social media, and marketing, as well as themed industry events and talks, e.g. BBC Manchester Blog, Social Media Cafe Manchester, London Book Fair, and others

Coming Soon

This is a brief note to say hello to my readers and subscribers! I’m delighted to learn that people are subscribing to LCJ. To let you know, I’ve been blogging since August 2006, and it was almost a non-stop entreprise until 2014, when I began teaching and there was less time to research. So please take your time to browse the calendar or the list of categories.

In the meantime, these are the views from a hospital window in Moscow where I have to spend this weekend. Apparently, it is necessary once in a while.

Five Habits I Wish I Had Not Lost

One of my favourite pairs of shoes

Over the years I’ve waved goodbye to a few habits that I now wish I hadn’t lost. I cannot say the loss causes too much pain; however, it’d be better if I could regain the skills and renew the routines. So, as I’m sharing my trouble with you, will you please also let me know if you ever had a similar problem and what you did.

1.Wearing high-heels

I became very wary about heels after I’d hurt my ankle in 2008. Then in 2010 I worked in direct sales, we had to walk fast, so high-heels were not fit for purpose. I resumed wearing heels between late 2010 and 2013, but then I changed jobs. I started teaching, and in all four years of my working for a local community centre I had to walk and run once again, and flat footwear was best. I do love high-heels, and I’d love to get back into habit of wearing them regularly, but I’ve also got used to moving fast or philandering lazily, and 8cm heels are just not good for that.

2.Keeping abreast of all things social

Can you believe I used to be an SMM manager for nearly 4 years? Or that I used to run a very socmed friendly blog and, generally, was very active on many social channels? Some of them, like Klout, have since stopped existing; I still have accounts with others, but I’m not quite active there at all. I’m getting reaccustomed to the pleasure of sharing things on Reddit, Pinterest and Facebook, as much as reading up on SocMed trends. However, as my interests have firmly shifted to my own literary endeavours and teaching, every bit of new industry info feels like a huge information overload. I feel, though, that this is one of the most valuable habits I wish I had not lost.

3.Travelling far and wide

Whatever happened to those itchy feet? Admittedly, I needed some rest from my peregrinations. On the other hand, it now feels like an act of heroism to get myself out of the house and out and about. The main reason for my being sort of tied down is time: I can only go on day trips, and Russia is not England. There you can travel from Manchester to Edinburgh in 3 hours, and Scotland is almost like a different country (or so it may become after Brexit). Here in Russia you can only travel to smaller cities and towns, like Kaluga, Yaroslavl, Podolsk, Ivanovo and Tver, and, regardless of certain differences, it’s the same Central Russia as most people know it. It will take you 5 hours to get to St. Petersburg by train, and if you wish to travel to Kazan, Novgorod, Arkhangelsk, Yekaterinburg or Vladivostok, it’ll take you even more. I read and view travelogs, but it’s not the same as going somewhere.

4.Cooking at home

This is a difficult one. Living in Russia was not good for my kitchen abilities because my mother is a great cook. A small kitchen space didn’t help, either. I started cooking in England where I could have the whole kitchen to myself. Back in Moscow, I only cook now and again, and I do wish I could do it more often. Each time I gaze at the mouth-watering food photos on Pinterest I wish I could bake, fry and grill every single dish. Sadly, when we were redoing the kitchen following a terrible flood, we chose not to have an oven. Perhaps I will do something about it (or not).

5.Spending time online

I agree with those who say we need a break from the Internet. There are paper books to read, and someone like me is much better at writing on paper than using a typewriter or computer. Still, we need to be online, as life is happening there, too. There are things to which I don’t want to react, but there are others that certainly require my attention.

So, here are my 5 habits that I wish I had not lost and which I want to regain now. What about you? Have you lost any good or useful habits? Have you regained them or decided to part with them for good? Share your story in comments!

11th Blogiversary

Eleven years ago today I started this blog because I needed space to share my knowledge, passion, interests, worldviews. This has developed into a habit, which has since acquired many outlets (e.g. VK, Facebook, Instagram), but the blog hasn’t lost its attraction. It’s great to show to my English and Journalism students and even to keep it up as a way to brush up my languages and general knowledge. Since I resumed it earlier this year, I’ve been most successful at blogging in Russian, perhaps because it has become my lingua operandi in the last two years. But I’ve got ideas and plans for further developing LCJ for the English-speaking audience. So, seeing the blog into its 12th year, I hope it will be the most successful.

Changing, It Rests

Notwithstanding the well-known statement by Plato that one cannot step into the same river, it appears that Heraclytus did mean that the river had to flow to remain a river, hence we could step into it again, even though its waters could have changed over time.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that in the past two years I was silent here. I lost access to my hosting account, and thus to this blog and other projects… only to realise it could be a blessing in disguise. So I took time to review many things, prompted, as strange as it may seem, by the events in my country. My friends list underwent some clearing, and I concentrated on teaching and writing.

So, two years later I’ve finally published a book (in English!), a lot of my articles appeared in print, I began to perform as a singer and discovered almost magic teaching abilities: some of my students passed exams in flying colours even though at the start of our lessons they could barely read in English!

And now I’ve decided to get back to blogging here. I really missed LCJ these past 6 months, and this was an indication that my river was waiting for me again.

Following Penguins: Photos And Stories From Antarctica

Betty Trummel of Science Roadshow blog is currently visiting Antarctica (!), but her friend and colleague Jean Pennycook has finished her research season at Cape Royds and shared some photos from the penguin colony there. We all love watching kittens and puppies, so how about some penguin chicks? To entice you, here are 3 from the photos are going to see over at Betty’s blog: A Final Penguing Update.

Feeding chicks (© Jean Pennycook)
Penguin dance (© Jean Pennycook)
Reaching for food (© Jean Pennycook)

Bloggers Portraits (Or, The Fruits of Improvisation)

I‘m taking part in a photography project by Kirill Kuzmin, Bloggers’ Portraits. This Internet moves in mysterious ways, and I cannot even remember now how I came across Kirill’s blog, but my decision to take part was instant. Yesterday I visited his studio where for the first time I met two other Russian bloggers, and between the four of us we seem to have produced some awesome, if odd, work. The mention of improvising is necessary, as along the way we swapped some “accessories”: I lent my cap, while in the end I got to put on the image I’ve always secretly wanted to wear.

The photos will be available in a short while, and my plan is to shed more light on the project, but in the meantime here are the heroes of the yesterday’s session (arranged, hatted and snapped by Kirill).

Bloggers Portraits: shok_darvina, loscuadernos, tesey
Не успела я приехать в родные пенаты, как мне довелось участвовать в проекте Кирилла Кузьмина “Портреты блогеров” (условия проекта и галереи участников). Пути Интернета сего неисповедимы, и я совершенно не помню, каким образом меня “вынесло” на блог Кирилла, но решение принять участие было моментальным. Вчера же я, наконец, приехала в его студию, где, кроме меня, оказалась еще пара блогеров-рунетчиков, и на четверых мы сообразили нечто замечательное, хоть и немного странное порою. Упоминание об импровизации обязательно, ибо по ходу съемки мы “махнулись” предметами одежды и бутафорией. Я одолжила Евгению свою любимую черную кепку (которую я во время оно безуспешно искала в Манчестере, Лондоне и Оксфорде, но обрела-таки в пригороде Лондона). А потом Евгений предложил дополнить мои Hosenträger головным убором и очками из коллекции Михаила. Так неожиданно я примерила на себя образ, который меня давно интриговал.

Фотографии и прочие материалы будут доступны в скором времени. Пока же – несколько моих портретов (снимал tesey) и групповое фото троих вчерашних героев (взято у shok_darvina).

I’m interviewing Kirill, talking about the project
Meinem anderen Leben…

Polling Results, and Special Projects Page

It’s time to tell you what happened to those two polls I threw at you in April-May.

First, countries you thought I would visit in 2011. Most of you thought I’d go to Ukraine; the second place is divided between Italy and Israel; the third place goes to France, Belarus, and The Netherlands. I’m really grateful, as it does actually give me a focus in planning my trips for the rest of the year.

As far as wine poll goes, although the margins are very small, most of those who voted love dry red wine; this is followed by rose; which is followed by dry white wine. Well… I love rose, and I guess I shall have to like dry wines more.

Among the changes I made to the blog recently, is the page dedicated to the Russian-Italy cross-cultural year, with a calendar of events. Another page presents some of the available interviews that I made and special projects in which I took part since 2005. I thought I’d better display all that wealth of files and links on a separate page than on the main page. The page will be updated, as there are more files to display, and many more will still appear this year.

Friendship Awards to You

Friendship to me is no different from Love. I may expand on it in another post, but in short, I do not associate love primarily with sex or marriage, yet it is an important constituent in making a decision to call someone a friend. Naturally, my friends are the people whom I love. I tolerate them, I put up with them, I support them in any way I can, I think about them, I want them to be better, healthier, happier; I believe in them. It does not mean I can or want to marry them, and, bearing in mind that with some of them we both seek men for our relationships, a marriage or even sexual encounter are not in the cards from the start. But I love them in that very inexplicable way that leaves us speechless, when trying to unveil the mystery.

Jess Mendez

Jess Mendez from The Art of Jesse blog has dedicated two images of Friendship Award to his friends, and especially to Paola. In a heartfelt post Jesse has told his friends and followers about his experience of fighting a serious illness during the last couple of years, and that alone makes the award all the more special. He wanted us to share those awards with our close and dear people, and so I give them to you, to pass on. Thank you to Jesse, and take care, my friends in France, Italy, America, Russia, or wherever you are.

Blog Action Day 2009 – Choose the Topic

Those who read this blog for a while know that I have been taking part in Blog Action Day since 2007 when it was initiated. In 2008 I even translated their website into Russian and even contributed a short audio in Russian introducing myself and this blog. Visit Blog Action Day 2008 website, to get a complete idea of what is happening on the day. The idea is that ahead of the October date you think about the topic, and then on October 15 the global conversation surges. The previous years’ topics were Environment and Poverty (clicking on each link will take you to my blog post). Because this blog is about Arts I looked at both issues from the Arts&Culture angle.

The BAD is coming down on our virtual universe on October 15 this year, but there are some changes on the way, too. This is the email I received from BAD 2007/2008 coordinator, Collis:

It’s almost that time of year again, and this time I have some exciting news to announce.

When we started Blog Action Day two years ago, we had no idea how large it would become. Now that it’s grown beyond our wildest expectations, we’ve decided that it’s time Blog Action Day had a more permanent home where it can continue to expand.

To that end, we’ve asked the social issue blog network to take over the project and make Blog Action Day bigger than ever. I’m thrilled to say that they’ve agreed, and their team has already started working on preparing for this year’s event on October 15th.

As a first step, the team wants to get your thoughts on the selection of this year’s topic. To give your feedback on the topics being considered or suggest your own, click the link below to a short 5-question survey:

If you have any questions, additional suggestions, or want to get involved beyond blogging, email Robin Beck,’s Director of Organizing, at

Thanks for all the support – we look forward to having you all involved in this year’s event, and you’ll being hearing more from the folks at over the coming weeks as we all get ready for Blog Action Day 2009.

Finally, don’t forget to add us on Twitter:


All this is quite self-explanatory, and I will be looking to team up with BAD as a translator once again (assuming they need that). And this is the list of topics they are considering for this year’s Blog Action Day:

Interestingly, this is not the first time an event is being produced with the help of people who are going to participate in it. Take your time to go through the presentation on socially-outsourced event – a public opening of a renovated square in Manchester’s Ancoats – produced by Manchester-based design and event promotion companies. I think it can give some food for thought to the BAD 2009 organisers, as well.

Blogiversary, Awards, And A Blog of Note


I was still in work when I discovered a present for my blog. It will take a bit of time to sink in… but Los Cuadernos de Julia is now officially among Google’s Blogs of Note. I feel… something like what Gavin Hood must have felt when he won an Oscar in 2006. He won for Tsotsi, but some may better know him for X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I did an interview with him in January 2006, and before then I also did an interview with Mark Rothemund, and together they were in the shortlist in Best Foreign Film category. Hood won. I gulped watching him accepting the award on TV. “For Africa!”, he proclaimed. (Having been born in Russia, I may very well say “For Russia!”) Immediately after the ceremony I felt compelled, in a good way, to send my congratulations to Gavin. I didn’t know his email, so I traced the address of his manager and sent my greetings that way. Hood came back a few days later, saying something along the lines of “Thank you! It’s a crazy time but wonderfully crazy“.

Indeed, it’s a wonderfully crazy time for me now. A huge thankyou to those who were involved in making a decision. I know I worked hard all three years but the text below indicates where I stand re: awards etc. It is all the more wonderful and crazy to be recognised. Thank you.

So, this is Monday, 24 August, and three years ago, in 2006, in the early hours of the morning, I was sitting in front of the blank blog post form, thinking of what to write. This is how Los Cuadernos de Julia started. Without going into too much detail, it has been fantastic writing it, and being three years old is even better.

The book I had on my table since 1 August will be mentioned some time later in another post. It is sad that its author is no longer with us, but it is good that he’s left this book behind. And there is this chapter that I shall quote in full:

NEARLY everybody likes to win awards.

Awards create glamour and glamour creates income.

But beware.

Awards are judged in committee by consensus of what is known.
In other words, what is in fashion.
But originality can’t be fashionable, because it hasn’t as yet had the approval of the committee.
Do not try to follow fashion.
Be true to your subject and you will be far more likely to create something that is timeless.
That’s where the true art lies.

In three years I have never knocked any competitions nor tried to win awards, so even without reading that wonderful little book I was still following its advice. The truth is, ever since this blog was started it has been no more about my personal experience than it was appropriate. It was, first and foremost, about Arts and Culture; the category in which I have always registered my blog in directories, and the category in which this blog features in most other blog rolls. It’s hard to rank high in such competitive category but it’s more fun this way. And it is no more about Manchester than it can or should be, given the fact that it is written by someone who was not born in Manchester. It is certainly not “local” and will never be.

I have no problem with this blog being counted among Manchester blogs (I live in the city centre, after all), but being lumped in Personal category – sorry, this is a stretch too far. Yet this is what happened at Manchester Blog Awards in 2007, although I know from some of those who nominated it, they chose Arts and Culture category for it. I did not submit my nominations in 2008 because I was busy attending to my broken ankle, and now I realise that the Eternal Wisdom was definitely at play. The observations I made between 2006 and 2008 entirely prove the above quote; they also indicate that, as with many other contests like this, it serves to publicise something different from what is announced. This year I am not submitting, and I shall never submit. An MBA is too small, anyway. I’d like an MBE some time in the future. And if I must win an award for my blog, please let it be national or international.

Therefore, since this is Arts and Culture blog that also incorporates my creative writing, my goal for the next year of this blog is:

Be true to your subject and you will be far more likely to create something that is timeless.

Last but not least, I am immensely grateful to all the readers. With some of you I have connected not only via comments form but by email, Twitter, and Facebook. If I wanted to apologise for something, it would be the speed of responses. I must be pretty similar to Seth Godin in this respect: apparently, Seth doesn’t accept comments or loiter on forums. As much as I love socialising on the Social Web, and as much as Social Web can help a writer to find subjects and characters, doing this all the time is detrimental to creativity. I respond to comments but forums are not my forte; which is why I am so grateful to those who found and discussed my post about Susan Boyle on her fan site. I spent this Saturday at the University of Manchester library, although I could spend it on Twitter. And then I was writing until 4am Sunday. It pays to be somewhat unsociable.

However, I am very grateful to everyone who finds me, comments and offers help, particularly to Naukishtae, for being such a tireless and passionate commentator; to Robert, for offering insights into language (without me asking!); to Martin, for our on-and-off communication since 2007 and for his brilliant political tale with a maze-like structure, inspired by Bulgakov and the Russian Art; to Craig who was an indispensable advisor for two of the years this blog was running until he moved to France; to Guy who writes a brilliant blog on ancient history; to Patrick, for his translation of Chanson de Prévert and great photos; and to a long list of Twitter/chat/email/real life contacts, especially Tim, Andrew, Joely, Sarah, Louise, Carola, Richard, Sam, Mennard, David, Robin, and Adrian. And, of course, to my parents and a small team of Russian readers who have been with me all along on this journey.