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September 2008

August 2008

"hey buster"

Scooter dan

friday was the departure of another american family from vladivostok.  dan, lisa and anya took off for home and their onward assignment. that's dan on my scooter, before his successful foray around the outer regions of vlad. thanks chris for the photo!  after they left friday, i could already feel a void at work and the townhomes.  it's multiplied double with chris leaving earlier this summer.  after processing it for a couple days, it feels like a new post all over again.  you get use to the americans you work with and then the time comes for you or they to depart.  i'll never get use to it.  it's probably the worst part of the foreign service.  unless you can stand the person, then you're counting the days till they have to leave.  but with dan and lisa it was easy to say they'd be missed by everyone at the consulate, including me.  i'll miss the conversations.

along with their leaving, we also had our first change in weather.  some tropical storms have been stirring up cold fronts that reached well into our neck of the woods.  the past couple days have been rainy, cold and miserable.  

i've finally found a dog kennel for lucia. unfortunately, she doesn't feel the same way.  i'm trying to find the right place to keep it permanently.  she doesn't act thrilled where it's at right now but usually settles down after a bit of whining.  it's done wonders for my cleaning duties though.  she's a champ at holding back her endless barrage of urine and poop, while she's caged up.  i started out with keeping her in it and checking on her during the day every 3-4 hours.  during the night, i was worried she'd have a problem, but so far she's been doing great.  

i've been having a bit of trouble finding a nice selection of dog equipment around the city.  i can find food and medicine but toys and accessories have been difficult.  thank god for online pet stores.  i found a good pet clinic also.  she's even got a pet passport now that has a list of the shots she's gotten so far.  everyone there speaks russian so it's been a good test of my russian vocab with words like worms, fleas and ticks. 

looking back over the last month, i sometimes wondered if i made the right decision adopting her.  with my busy schedule i felt like i just added a project that would consume every free moment i had.  but now that work is quiet and i have more free time, it's become easier to organize her feedings, walks, and playtime.  i do have to cancel out of over night trips that people invite me to, which is a bummer but a small price to pay. right now there's not a lot of options for finding someone to look after her if I'm away.  when she gets older and more use to travel i think we'll be able to make the trips together.



saturday morning, i left early to head to shamara, a large beach outside of vladivostok.  the ride is close to an hour, more so if traffic is bad.  since i left home around 10:30, i was able to avoid all the traffic that tends to build up around noon.  i decided it would be a great trip via scooter.  i packed up my gear and check the tank, tires and brakes.  it was a beautiful day, with plenty of sun and an occasional cool breeze.  the ride is direct enough, and not many potholes to avoid.  i had a couple cars try to come up close behind me trying to push me to the side in order that they could pass.  i guess the solid white line didn't deter them from voiding the no passing zone that stretched for several kilometers.  since not sure why they were in a hurry.  i had three cars stacked up solid in front of me, so i wasn't going any where.  but that's basically the way some people drive here in regards to scooters and bikers. 

the beach offers some parking but i found a nice spot next to a steel pole where i could lock up the bike.  i wasn't too sure how safe it was out in the boonies but with a big chain and padlock i knew it wasn't going anywhere. i found a nice spot close to the water and laid back to soak in some sun.  unfortunately, my ipod was dead due to a drained battery, so i made the most of it and just listened to everyone around me.  i could pick out small conversations between couples, families and friends as they asked the typical questions everyone does at the beach, "is this spot ok?", "can you also get me a drink?" "i'm going for a swim.", etc..  after I had enough sun I ventured around the long beach and checked out the local venues for drinks and food.  it was a perfect day for forgetting about work and just relaxing. 

not working

Stopped light

the last couple weeks have been filled with upgrades and installs at work. several all night sessions were involved that i would like to soon forget.  but i'm reaching the end of working on them now and just have a few loose ends to tie up.  unfortunately loose ends usually don't fit into the schedule when there's some other "issue" that is brought through my office door.  i try not to get stressed about it but it's difficult if it's impacting other people.  i'm just hoping monday will be a return to the quiet zen-like days of the past.  this morning was the first time i caught a full uninterrupted night of sleep in weeks. 

nothing else going on besides my studies.  now it's a balancing act between learning russian and how fast can i train a puppy.  the russian classes are still going well.  and the training is being handled with reinforcements that arrive each week to make the task easier.  i.e toys, leashes, etc.  i was finally able to find all the stuff i needed locally to take care of any future fleas, tick or worm problems.  i'm even getting the puppy bath down to a science.

i don't know how i'm going to fit in my IT self study training.  i was planning on starting that this year and it dawn on me it's already august now.