Thursday, August 30, 2007


I've been in Moscow for nearly 3 days, now. Perhaps the jet lag hasn't hit me yet, or maybe I've acclamated to criss-crossing my way across this good green earth, because I've been downright perky ever since I bounced off the airplane. I was immediately installed in my cozy new apartment. It's a 12th floor cell in the "Mezhdunarodnaya (International) Hotel" - the same building that houses the Moscow World Trade Center. You'd think that my digs would therefore be rather swanky, but on the contrary, they're satisfyingly spartan. My hotel room is rather analagous to a studio apartment with a small kitchenette, bathroom, and walk-in closet. I wouldn't have enjoyed a big fancy room with the attendant 5-star hotel accoutrements, and this sparsely furnished room is just perfect. It does have maid service. Which is even perfecter.

I don't really have much to say about my job since I haven't started it yet. It appears that I'll mainly be working with investigating applicants for refugee status in the United States. These include mainly persecuted ethnic and religious minorities. I obviously can't talk about details of cases, but I get the feeling that there will be many interesting issues to discuss regarding refugees' experiences in the former Soviet Union. Unfortunately, I will be unable to continue my smart-aleck commentary on political affairs in Russia. As a US Embassy employee, I have to avoid political pontificating. I figure that this is no one's loss but my own. Hopefully my blogs won't be too bland and unenlightening. If they are, may I recommend Ann Coulter. She's still unenlightening (perhaps even more so), but far from bland.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Train wreck in Russia

The Moscow-St. Petersburg Express figures to be one of my most traveled routes when I'm in Russia. Hopefully this is just and isolated incident.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Got Soul?

In my entire life, I've been to only one legitimate rock concert (i.e. it wasn't a promotion and I actually paid the full concert price). It was Collective Soul's "Youth" concert tour back in 2004. Collective Soul for me is one of those bands that will always be inextricably connected with high school. They've got an upbeat, medium-rock, progressive sound that paved my break away from my Dad's Moody Blues-era geek-rock into the more mainstream modern music of my high school years. This included bands such as Weezer, Live, and Better than Ezra. My musical tastes naturally mellowed as I grew older, and most of those high school-era bands fell by the wayside. (I realize that I'm a serious sap if my mellowing trend precludes me from enjoying Weezer.) I rediscovered Collective Soul, however, when Bret (my youngest brother) started his own high school music kick. One of the only bands that we could both mutually enjoy was Collective Soul (which we shortened to just plain "Soul"). To my surprise, Bret got in to them far more than I or my other two brothers ever did. So when the band came to Utah as part of their Youth tour about a year before Bret left for his LDS mission, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to attend my one and only concert. The concert was so much fun, partially because my little bro was totally jammin' and having such an infectiously great time, and partially because I realized what a positive, upbeat, and fun band Collective Soul is. So as a result, they've become firmly entrenched on my elite list of music that is worth listening to.

Anyway, Soul is releasing a new album at the end of this month. Linking to their website will play one of the new singles on their album. It's been playing an endless loop on my computer for the last 15 minutes, and I still enjoy it. Maybe Bret and I can catch a concert when he gets back.