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Happy New 2012 Year!

I love writing New Year posts, especially when this post draws the line under such a great year as 2011 was for me.

I wish all of us to have the freedom. The freedom to be what we are. The freedom to be with whom we want to be. The freedom to love, think, and create. The freedom to dream and to make our dreams come true.

I also wish that we find the strength to stand for ourselves. Over the course of 2011 I’ve seen and noticed too many instances of people controlling other people. They create fake profiles in social networks where they write the most ludicrous posts. They break into other people profiles and post alien pictures there. Sadly, the issues of trust and privacy are mostly non-existent in Russian Internet discourse as yet. People whose names are thus jeopardised seem to be quite passive in getting things sorted. I do wonder why on Earth people allow these things to be done to their good name. I guess I should put myself into their shoes in this situation, and I admit: I can’t.

We so often talk about the Big Brother, but the actual Big Bro may not even take the slightest interest in you – your neighbour can, though. The problem is that we tend to trust neighbours more than the Big Brother. Remember the notorious 1930s repressions in the USSR? The Big Brother acted on what he heard from the victim’s neighbours. Nobody ever forced people to report on others. Nobody had to report yet made the choice to do so, and I don’t think Stalin should be made responsible for that.

So, when others intrude on your life, it’s you who has to sort things out. Whoever your offenders are – children, women, elderly, disabled, peers – tell them to get out of your life. The best of them will actually respect you for that.

Back to pleasant things: I finish 2011 as the published author and translator. So the last wish I have for you is to go after your dreams like there’s no tomorrow. And always remember: it’s how good you want to be that matters. If in doubt, consult the Nike advert above.

Happy New Year! S Novym Godom!

In Russian

Дорогие читатели и друзья! Поздравляю вас с Новым Годом! Пусть у вас будут силы и стремление осуществить ваши мечты! Будьте свободны – работать, любить, думать, мечтать и творить! Будьте смелы и мужественны! Не позволяйте кому бы то ни было распоряжаться вашим добрым именем по их усмотрению. Это не вопрос возможности, это вопрос характера. Пусть вас окружают достойные, умные, бескорыстные люди, а со всеми остальными попрощайтесь. Невозможно выйти на первое место, если бояться остаться без второго. Желайте, но делитесь своими желаниями только с теми, кто их поддержит и поможет реализовать! И любите – себя, верных друзей, жизнь – искренне и без обид. Все вам вернется!

С Новым Годом!

Russian Winter in Arts: Alexander Pushkin – Devils

Storm-clouds hurtle, storm-clouds hover;
Flying snow is set alight
By the moon whose form they cover;
Blurred the heavens, blurred the night.
On and on our coach advances,
Little bell goes din-din-din…
Round are vast, unknown expanses;
Terror, terror is within.
– Faster, coachman! “Can’t, sir, sorry:
Horses, sir, are nearly dead.
I am blinded, all is blurry,
All snowed up; can’t see ahead.
Sir, I tell you on the level:
We have strayed, we’ve lost the trail.
What can WE do, when a devil
Drives us, whirls us round the vale?
“There, look, there he’s playing, jolly!
Huffing, puffing in my course;
There, you see, into the gully
Pushing the hysteric horse;
Now in front of me his figure
Looms up as a queer mile-mark –
Coming closer, growing bigger,
Sparking, melting in the dark.”
Storm-clouds hurtle, storm-clouds hover;
Flying snow is set alight
By the moon whose form they cover;
Blurred the heavens, blurred the night.
We can’t whirl so any longer!
Suddenly, the bell has ceased,
Horses halted… – Hey, what’s wrong there?
“Who can tell! – a stump? a beast?..”
Blizzard’s raging, blizzard’s crying,
Horses panting, seized by fear;
Far away his shape is flying;
Still in haze the eyeballs glare;
Horses pull us back in motion,
Little bell goes din-din-din…
I behold a strange commotion:
Evil spirits gather in –
Sundry, ugly devils, whirling
In the moonlight’s milky haze:
Swaying, flittering and swirling
Like the leaves in autumn days…
What a crowd! Where are they carried?
What’s the plaintive song I hear?
Is a goblin being buried,
Or a sorceress married there?
Storm-clouds hurtle, storm-clouds hover;
Flying snow is set alight
By the moon whose form they cover;
Blurred the heavens, blurred the night.
Swarms of devils come to rally,
Hurtle in the boundless height;
Howling fills the whitening valley,
Plaintive screeching rends my heart…

Translated by Genia Gurarie

Russian Legacy.com

A Moment of 2011: Skills and Views

Image: creativenerds.co.uk

The amount of literature on personal development and business skills I’ve read since 2009 isn’t particularly huge, but I resolved to go ad fontes and to try and read those who paved the way. Naturally, Napoleon Hill was the top dog, along with a few others. Plus, I regularly receive Seth Godin’s blog by email. In 2010 I came face to face with Direct Marketing when I worked for Cobra Group in the UK. In short, I was fairly well prepared to some bossy tasks I was entrusted with in 2011.

The beautiful thing is that when you take on a position for which you are not entirely prepared, it takes you on a massive learning curve and requires a complete lack of fear. I cannot be thankful enough to those who recognised my capabilities and gave me positions in spite of my CV. This was the case of the BBC, Latitude Group, and Cobra (Appco).

But what a good leader should be good at is motivating people. Vision, enthusiasm, authority, it all counts until the moment you realise that “leader is a lonely job“. Not necessarily in the sense of being alienated or needing to keep the distance, but – in my case – a gap in knowledge or experience.

I am eternally grateful to one of my mentors this year who gave me an article to read about Russian workers, and how to best get to work with them (or to get them to work). The article said that Russian workers are sometimes afraid of taking on a task, or being proactive and showing initiative. The opportunity to test the findings came soon. In my years online I’ve learnt many things I didn’t expect myself to learn when I was researching History in archives. Yet I still didn’t become a techie person. I cannot write programs and scripts, and this time I needed an RSS feed.

The person who was going to do it is a bright guy who is just a bit cautious. Like many other people, he’s afraid to fail. He has never dealt with RSS feed scripts. I have also never dealt with RSS feed scripts, but I assumed that for a professional it shouldn’t be difficult. The first time I asked him to write an RSS I gave a very strict deadline. I recently read about our brain’s reactions to fear, and I now understand that my request must have made him so uncomfortable that we ended up exchanging a few heated emails.

The middle ground was established when we agreed a flexible deadline in exchange of him twisting and bending to figure out how to write the feed script. In the meantime I did my best to explain that 1) I don’t feel like looking for somebody else to do this task, 2) I cannot see why he cannot learn to write a feed if he’d learnt many other things, 3) I want him to be proactive and creative, and 4) I don’t mind something going wrong along the way, I rather don’t want him to live off his old skills.

The result is that this week he’d finished yet another RSS feed. The first one is working fine.

To motivate someone means to give them strength to go after their goals and dreams. It means to alleviate the destructive impact of fear and doubt in the ability to achieve something. I’ve always given support to my classmates and unimates, but not so often to business colleagues – or at least I didn’t always see how my support influenced them.

And just yesterday in the evening I had another very pleasant occurence. I held the door for a gentleman, as we were both entering the underground. I needed to buy a ticket, but he called me out of the queue and insisted on letting me through with his pass. Although I did something that is absolutely natural to me, he told me it wasn’t quite so, which is why he also wanted to do something unusual for me.

I know someone may be reading this, thinking: “Oh that’s just luck” or “Well, there was just no other way“. I think the mistake many of us make is that we confirm our “principles” and “views” long before we acquire any experience. And even when experience is acquired, we seldom bother testing either principles or views. Or, if one believes in the law of attraction, we attain experience that confirms our principles and views. This is good if we have a positive outlook in life. Unfortunately, many people have a negative outlook, and this results in such wide-spread cynicism that it’s frightening. As people at Cobra say in their morning meetings, world is good, it’s your mind that’s a sh*thole. It’s up to us to dig out diamonds from under all the rubbish, to use the analogy from a Paul McKenna book.

The RSS image is courtesy of Creativenerds.co.uk. Click on the link to see a complete selection of RSS feed icons.

Enjoy the 2011 Yuletide!

I wish all my readers and friends a very merry Christmas, if you celebrate it today. Let it be blissful, peaceful, and plentiful. As for me, I toasted the Bethelehem Star last night, and today I did a lot of painting in the house. Christmas is not widely celebrated on December 25th in Russia, plus we need to finish what has been started in September, hence my mother and I have been adding some of the finishing touches to our “small” house decorating project.





A Moment of 2011: Work

When I look back at 2011 I remember it as an absolutely amazing year. This year was marked by the following:

  • publications of my poetry and prose in Russian national press;
  • participation in a conference in Ivanovo, dedicated to the problems that post-Socialist cities face in modern times (a kind of urban reconversion, if you like); I spoke about Manchester;
  • six big conferences and events where I went as a journalist, e.g. Moscow Design Week 2011 and Moscow Tourism Week;
  • a trip to Yekaterinburg, when I also spent 25 hrs on the train each way;
  • publications at various authoritative web portals;
  • yet another photo inclusion (and that’s not Schmap!);
  • translation of two books into Russian;
  • very many translation and editorial engagements;
  • participation in a fascinating project, Bloggers Portraits;
  • big bossy time (as the editor-in-chief)…

I probably forgot to mention some projects, but even so I’m delighted to be finishing 2011 pleasantly tired. As they say, doing nothing is the hardest thing in the world, and nobody ever died from work. The full body massage I finally had two days after my birthday in December was very well-deserved, put it this way.

The good news is that even with this amount of work I managed to continue with Los Cuadernos de Julia; not only that, the amount of posts is mind-blowing even to me: 466, and it’ll be over 470 by January 1st.

And even better news is that I previously mentioned some technical support that I needed in the guise of gadgets, and last weekend I got everything I wanted. How good is that?

So, on Christmas Eve when I’m writing this I say a huge ‘thankyou’ to my Guide and Protector.

A Moment of 2011: AIDS Quilt

Klout.com has generously offered me a chance to participate in making a quilt to fight AIDS. There is a conspiracy theory about AIDS. The proponents argue that AIDS has been designed by one of the American departments as THE biological weapon. The death of Freddie Mercury was actually an orchestrated murder to spread the horror and to behead the rock’n’roll.

It may or may not be true, but it does not change the fact that a lot of people contract AIDS and die from it daily. Along the way they also contract other people, sometimes – as in Africa – they use children in an attempt to save themselves. However AIDS came about, it is the plague that, like cancer, has already consumed zillions of lives and is hungry for more.

I’m glad to have taken part in this Fight Aids initiative, alongside many celebrities, including Annie Lennox, Ellen DeGeneris, and Oprah Winfrey. Below is my quilt and my statement: “Fighting AIDS means alleviating poverty, providing better healthcare, and free advice and education. If this should be the stick and the magic wand that help turn and change the planet, then Let It Be“.


A Moment of 2011: Meeting a Real Reindeer Owner

I went to the Moscow Tourism Week in October 2011. You may have heard about it, or maybe even attended one. Tourism Weeks take place globally several times a year, not dissimilar to Book Fairs. They are normally international and provide a meeting space for tour and transportation operators from all corners of the globe. Moscow Tourism Week takes places twice a year, and the one in October was my first one. Thanks to it, I finally went to the Crocus City Hall exhibition centre in the North West of Moscow.

And there I met this lovely man who is a professional reindeer breeder. His stall was quite popular thanks to how he decorated it. In the photo he is wearing a traditional male costume from the Kola Peninsula, while I jumped into the super-comfy and hot (in every sense of the word) deerskin boots. Leonid owns 20 reindeers, and the kolkhoz to which he belongs has around 50,000 cattle. The figure, enormous as it seems, is actually critical: this is the point below which reindeers are driven to extinction. Unfortunately, pothunters hardly care.

My generous exhibitor offered me to taste reindeer cooked meat and servelad prepared from it. The meat is dry, with salty taste, and it was a very timely tea break.

Apparently, it costs 30K RUB for a week holiday that includes a reindeer sledge ride. As the winter season in this part of Russia lasts longer than in Moscow, I may be able to travel to Russian North West.

A Moment of 2011: The Blazing Setting Sun at the Border of Europe and Asia

Sunset over Europe-Asia border


Champagne fence
Trees of wishes
Urals pine trees
Walk into sunset

Since 2006, 2011 has been the most positive and wonderful year. The moments I pictured may not have always been the most uplifting, but they nonetheless bring back good memories. I want to share them with you in these last 11 days of the passing year, and we start with the sunset in Yekaterinburg. The picture was taken at the small park “on the border of Europe and Asia”. The park hosts wedding parties, therefore here’re trees of wishes, “the Gates of Love”, and a fence made of champagne bottles. I was lucky to have been taken there at the sunset. The warm September evening saw us, three girls, enjoying ourselves that included posing in front of the Europe-Asia obelisk you see here in the photo. This was the last day of my visit to the capital of the Urals Region, and I doubt it could be better.

Russian Winter in Arts: Alexander Pushkin – Winter Road

Through the murk the moon is veering,
Ghost-accompanist of night,
On the melancholy clearings
Pouring melancholy light.
Runs the troika with its dreary
Toneless jangling sleigh-bell on
Over dismal snow’ I’m weary,
Hungry, frozen to the bone.
Coachman in a homely fashion’s
Singing as we flash along;
Now a snatch of mournful passion,
Now a foulmouthed drinking-song.
Not a light shines, not a lonely
Dusky cabin. . . Snow and hush. . .
Streaming past the troika only
Mileposts, striped and motley, rush.
Dismal, dreary. . . But returning
Homewards! And tomorrow, through
Pleasant crackles of the burning
Pine-logs, I shall gaze at you:
Dream, and go on gazing, Nina,
One whole circle of the clock;
Midnight will not come between us,
When we gently turn the lock
On our callers. . . Drowsing maybe,
Coachman’s faded, lost the tune;
Toneless, dreary, goes the sleigh-bell;
Nina, clouds blot out the moon.

Russian Legacy.com

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