Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Is Russian as difficult to learn as they say?

Renowned polyglot, interpreter, psycholinguist and TV host Dmitry Petrov talks about the incentives for learning the Russian language. Read it! 

RBTH: What is the role of psychology in foreign language learning?Dmitry Petrov (D.P.): Learning a new language is about both psychology and mathematics. A range of basic algorithms makes language learning akin to mathematics, and psychology is about removing barriers, feeling at ease, having an enjoyable experience. Many learners panic about making mistakes, which often is more of a problem than the objective challenges of taking in new information.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

Will there be an international boycott against the upcoming Sochi Olympics?

Will there be an international boycott against the upcoming Sochi Olympics?

Dr. Conor O’Dwyer (University of Florida, Political Science) will give a lecture, "The Politics of Gay Rights in Russia and Eastern Europe: From National Taboo to International Cause Célèbre." Tuesday, November 12 in the Stetson Room at 7:00 p.m.

Read more about the situation here

Title: "The Politics of Gay Rights in Postcommunist Europe: From National Taboo to International Cause Célèbre"
Abstract: In recent years, homosexuality and gay rights have entered the political arena in postcommunist Europe. From the banned Pride parades in Poland in the mid-2000s, to the recent adoption of laws against “homosexual propaganda” in Russia and the looming threat of an international boycott against those laws in the upcoming Sochi Olympics, it is clear that across the region gay rights are moving from the realm of the taboo to that of the politically contested. Seeing this process as offering a new and compelling perspective on the rapidly changing conceptions of national identity, citizenship, and belonging in these societies, my research examines how and why it is occurring. In this talk, I will focus on the question of the extent to which the European Union has been successful in supporting gay-rights advocacy groups in the new member-states of Eastern Europe. I then explore the implications of this example for attempts by international actors to use the upcoming Olympics to pressure Russia to improve its legal framework for LGBT persons.

Friday, September 20, 2013

George Balanchine

George Balanchine, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and is regarded as the foremost contemporary choreographer in the world of ballet. Balanchine began to choreograph while still in his teens, creating his first work around 1920. Balanchine formed Les Ballets 1933. For the company's first-and only-season, he created six new ballets, in collaboration with such leading artistic figures as Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, and Pavel Tchelitchew. The troupe disbanded in a matter of months and Balanchine was offered a position at a ballet school in New York City and accepted the position. Thus, the School of American Ballet, founded in 1934. The School remains in operation to this day, training dancers for the New York City Ballet and companies worldwide. The first ballet Balanchine choreographed in America was Serenade. Balanchine created and toured with many different shows during the next 23 years. From 1946 until his death in 1983, Balanchine served as ballet master for the New York City Ballet. Although it is for ballet choreography that he is most noted, Balanchine also worked in musical theater and movies. Balanchine also created new work for television. In 1970, U.S.News and World Report attempted to summarize Balanchine's achievements: "The greatest choreographer of our time, George Balanchine is responsible for the successful fusion of modern concepts with older ideas of classical ballet. Balanchine received his training in Russia before coming to America in 1933. Here, the free-flowing U.S. dance forms stimulated him to develop new techniques in dance design and presentation, which have altered the thinking of the world of dance.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Russian Prisons

After having a brief overview of what three Russian prisons are like, there is no need to say that I would never wish those living conditions upon myself or anyone else I knew. Russian prisons vary greatly from prisons located in the United States.


 In Black Dolphin, a maximum security prison in Russia the inmates are kept completely isolated, except for their one bunk mate. There is no mess hall where the inmates gather to eat like in many American prisons, they are fed in near isolation. They have certain practices that are unique to their prison, for example whenever a prisoner is being moved he must assume a crouched over position facing the ground. This is referred to as placing the inmates in a stress position to put them at a significant disadvantage. In addition, whenever moving the inmates across the grounds to other buildings they blindfold them, to prevent them from gaining an understanding of the layout of the prison.


 Black Dolphin specializes in incarcerating murders, and well beyond demented murderers. One prisoner killed, dissembled, and ate two people. He then went on to give part of the left over meat to friends who ate it with their family, unaware that they were eating human flesh. It is no surprise that Russia must have specialized prisons for murders as they have a murder rate 5 times that of the United States!


This is not the only high security prison that Russia has, there are many just like there are many in the United states. Another one is Vladimir Prison. This prison has similar traits however, it does not practice the stress position, or blindfolding the inmates. At both prisons many of the inmates have prison tattoo's. These tattoos are nothing like those of United States criminals. It does not depict status quo or number of people murdered. These tattoos are illustrations of religious figures that tell a story about the kind of person the carrier is.


Although there is a higher murder rate in Russia, I am tempted to say that their approach to smaller crimes in a quick and affective deterrent for crime. At the Prison Camp 13, young men who had their first drug offense was charged and assigned with 4 years in prison. In America you would have to be carrying a lot of drugs to see that kind of time behind bars.


There have been some complaints stating that these prison's mistreat and behave unjustly towards the inmates, however, there was no evidence of such at this point in time. It seems to me that in general they are a lot stricter, and have different but approved tactics than in the United States. They also place emphasis on first offenders to be held just as accountable as someone who has been caught before to discourage continuation of the behavior. It almost seems as though their system is better at acting as a rehabilitation center, because it deters the behavior.

Pусский Cordiality on the Rise?

On September 11th, 2013, Vladimir Putin released a letter from Moscow directly to the American people through the New York Times.

What happened to the good old motherland who ruthlessly contested the US during the Cold War, cut off lines of communication and competed in an arms race which, if ever sparked, would wipe living beings off the face of the earth? Vladimir Putin claims that the times of “insufficient communication” between our two nations needs to come to an end and that by overcoming the rocky relationships of the past our two nations can work towards a better future.


This appeal is a warm and fuzzy one, but its origins are rooted firmly in the conflict in Syria involving the alleged use of chemical weapons and the Russian government’s continued use of the emergency veto power during UN debates about global action. Putin may truly believe that the best response to this situation is coalition of superpowers who remain neutral in the face of this now-global issue, but this incentive is quite different from the proposed “combined better future.”

Now, that is not to say Putin hides his true intentions in his letter to the American people. He [Putin] outlines the collapse of the League of nations, cites the reason of the fall of the organization as its lack of authority, and then points out that by bypassing the UN Security Council and performing a military strike in Syria the US is opening a whole in the United Nations frighteningly similar to the one which existed in the LoN.

The question that must be asked (and probably can’t really be answered at this point in time) is one of Putin’s sincerity in this matter. A nation’s leader who has a track record of not exactly propagating human rights and who once served an agency which made lying and underhanded tactics [KGB] a point of pride does not necessarily present himself as the most trustworthy on such matters. Questions continue to circulate about Russia’s involvement with Syria’s chemical weapons as well, and this may be another reason Putin wishes to discourage any kind of international investigation or military action in Syria. Moreover, Putin’s appeal directly to the citizens of the nation shows a desire to circumvent our own authoritative body [the US Government.] Utilization of such an action may be indicative of an attempt to create national turmoil and slow down any planned military response. Putin further appeals to the cathartic side of the American people by mentioning the Afghan conflict and it's negative effects on September 11th, and pointing out US "police actions" in recent decades, calling them "brute acts of force" and saying the US creates "if you're not with us then you're against us" scenarios. (Wow ... Being told that by Russia is a new turn of events.) 

So, I suppose this is a personal question still, seeing as there haven't been any major breaks in the situation in the past eight days. What do you think about Putin's letter to the people? Are these the actions of an ex-KGB agent protecting his interests, or those of a concerned leader embracing a humanitarian worldview?

Russian Steppes 3,000 BCE

Long before Russia was Russia, in approximately 3,000 BCE, the steppes of northern Eurasia were dominated by nomadic pastoral tribes. Steppes are, at least according to, "a large, flat area of land with grass and very few trees especially in eastern Europe and Asia". Essentially the savannas of Eurasia. These lands were not ideal for the city or village building that was predominate at the time, especially near major rivers. Instead tribes herded their cattle across the grass. They came and went depending on the needs of the herd. The needs of the herd depended on it's size. Although these nomads often returned to the same general areas, they weren't determined by season or anything else. Horses were extremely important to this culture. They were the first to domesticate the horse and as a result created weapons and tools that corresponded like the chariot. Much like slaves and gold were in other cultures, horses were a sign of prestige and pride. These people were very dependent on their animals, using them as beasts of burden, riding them, milking and slaughtering them for food, and using the hair for clothing purposes. They were also a huge advantage in warfare as the Hittites found in Egypt and the Mongols found when building one of the greatest empires in history, stretching well into modern day Russia and influencing the development of the resulting culture.
On a visit to St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2005, New England Patriots' owner Robert Kraft says he had one of his three Super Bowl rings taken, in broad daylight by Russian president, Vladimir Putin. He said,
"I took out the ring and showed it to (Putin). And he put it on and he goes, 'I can kill someone with this ring,'" Kraft said, according to the New York Post. "I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out."
After the incident he said that he received a call from the White House telling him to say he gave it to Putin as a gift, in order to preserve US Russian relations. In later quotes Kraft does not specifically say that Putin 'stole' the ring, he just said that he had emotional attachments to it as it had his name on it. Currently the ring is on display in the Kremlin and is now the reason of the recent popularity of Patriots fans in Russia.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Catherine The Great!!!

                    In my History of Russia class we have been discussing the reign of Catherine the Great! She was Czarina from 1762-1796, coming into power after she was a part of the coup to unseat her husband the Czar at the time. The achievements of Catherine the Great will not be what she is remembered for though, because they are constantly over shadowed by her scandalous personal life. The two things I find most interesting about Catherine II are her background before she came to Russia, and her lovers. Catherine the Great, before she came to Russia was neither great nor named Catherine. She was the daughter of a lowly Prussian prince, born in 1729 and named Sophie. It was Czarina Elizabeth, a daughter of Peter the Great who paired Sophie with her nephew Peter, future Czar. It was then after the marriage that Sophie's name was changed to Ekaterina. As if that was not outrageous enough, after the coup with her husband, she claimed power. It was believed that she would only serve as regent until her son was of age, but as history has shown that was not true. She took power and with it she also took lovers. In total it was said that she had 12 lovers during her reign and her husbands. She was not involved with more than one at a time though as she was very loyal to her lovers. Almost always when a relationship ended it was on good terms, and she bestowed upon them gifts and titles. Catherine's circle of trust did not stretch far. I believe she gave such recognition to those that were her previous lovers because they were not only ex-lovers but some of her most trusted companions. There was much hatred felt for Catherine among the nobility and peasantry. Over all though Catherine was a great ruler and a great figure of power for women throughout history.

Soviet Afghan Vet Thought Missing Found.

The country of Afghanistan has earned the title "The Graveyard of Empires", and rightfully so. What many people forget is that the United States wasn't the first country to go toe to toe with the Afghan people. Alexander the Great tried to control Afghanistan, as did the British in the 19th century. In the 21st century it was the Soviet Union who wished to expand their empire into what they thought would be an easily fought war to support a people who wanted to drift away from radical Islam (sound familiar?). On Christmas, 1979 the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan with the invitation of the new communist government that took over the capital in Kabul.  The Soviet Union wasn't prepared for the harsh Afghan environment, and the resilience of the Afghan Mujaheddin fighter whom was motivated by religion. The Soviet Union also faced difficulty because their air power was put in check by American C.I.A. operatives who trained and supplied Jihadist with Stinger Missiles. The result of this was some 15,000 Soviet Casualties with 264 Russians missing in action.

One of these Russians was found over 30 years later, in an Afghan village located near the city of Herat. He had been wounded by the Mujaheddin fighters, and later taken in by a village and nursed back to health. He since then chose to stay in the village, changed his name, converted to Islam, and took up the profession of his care taker and became the village healer. Fellow Russian veterans found him and according to the article Sheikh Abdullah (formally known as Bakhretdin Khakimov) had suffered severe head trauma from the injuries, and never tried to reach out to his family after being nursed back to health. He said that he feels lucky that he survived, and apparently enjoys his new life as a village healer.


Hockey In Russia

     Hockey was introduced to Russia during the Soviet era. Even though it was relatively new to Russia their national team dominated the world. They won 7 gold medals at the Olympics and 19 World Championships from 1954 and 1991. Once the Soviet Era ended though there was a 15 year drought for gold for both the Olympics and the World Championship, and the country's main hockey league, the Soviet Championship League, turned into the International Hockey League. During this drought the NHL was starting to attract a lot of Russian skaters as well so hockey was at a downfall in Russia. The International Hockey League only lasted from 1992-1996 and was replaced by the Russian Superleague. The Russian Superleague or RSL for short was considered the second best league in the world to the NHL. This league lasted until 2008.
     2008 was a big turn around year for hockey in Russia. It started to establish itself as a dominant force for hockey in the world again by winning back to back gold medals at the World Championship, and it was ranked as the number one hockey team in the world, overtaking Canada. During this time the Kontinental Hockey League formed and absorbed the teams from the RSL and started to branch off into different countries, adding one team from each Latvia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. Since then many expansions have been made and the league now is in central Europe.
      Although a lot of progress has been made in the league it hasn't been so easy. Starting the fourth season one of teams, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, located in the city of Yaroslavl located about 150 miles northeast of Moscow, was in a horrible plane crashed that killed all the coaches and players except for two who weren't on the flight. The team didn't play for a year but did come back in 2012 with a whole new roster and coaching staff.
      In 2012 the NHL, still considered the best hockey league in the world, had a lockout which forced it's players to look towards other leagues which caused players to look at the KHL. Over 40 players joined the KHL during the lockout. The league even created a rule that no team could have over 3 NHL players to their team.
      The league currently is going strong and looks to have a promising season.

Advertising in Russia

What is advertising? Advertising is a form of communication intended to persuade, influence or otherwise affect the target audience, which varies based on the specific advertisement. Generally, the concept is to push a consumer into purchasing the company's product instead of competitors. There are many mediums of advertising that affect diverse groups, some more effective than others. Specific companies advertise in specific ways to target their audience. For example, you won't find ads for life insurance during childrens shows here in the United States. In Russia, there was an effective strategy that I found to be quite interesting. Below you will find a picture of eggs being used as a medium for advertising.
These eggs say "продам пежо" which means something similar to "Selling Peugeot" which is a manufacturer of cars. The printers that are used to stamp every egg can be reprogrammed to say just about anything and lets be serious, who doesn't like scrambled eggs in the morning? Just another interesting thing that happens in Russia. 
Recently in the news Russia has been brought up because of the anti-gay laws that have been passed, so I thought I would look into what the laws were and how it affects the citizens of Russia. From what I have read the anti-gay law prohibits the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors." Essentially this means gay rights parades, gay rights organizations, or individuals showing support for gay rights can be fined and shut down. Individuals who have been charged with gay propaganda can be fined between 4,000 and 5,000 rubles (120-150 USD). Groups and government officials can be fined even more if supporting the 'gay propaganda'. Even if you're not a citizen of Russia you can be fined for 'gay propaganda', and even jailed for it. Since this law has passed a rise in homophobic violence has occurred, meaning the LGBT citizens have quite a bit to fight for their equality.

Russia and Ballroom Dancing

Russia and Ballroom Dancing  

Ballroom dancing is generally not something that is at the forefront of popular culture or though (outside of someone watching Dirty Dancing or an old Fred Astaire/Ginger Roberts movie). As a professional instructor and dancer, I have been exposed to a number of interesting and unique opportunities that go so far beyond nostalgic movie choices. Today the world of ballroom dancing is a diverse (if not stratified) community of dancers and instructors from essentially every background and social strata you can imagine. This diversity is one of the main reasons I am taking Russian language (besides it being a necessary trait for studying Central/Eastern European history). Throughout the last few years as a dance instructor and participating in competitions and events around the southeast, I have come to realize that probably 7 or 8 out of every 10 professional ballroom dancers is Russian (or some derivative thereof such as Ukrainian). I really don't know why this is, but the fact remains that I hear more instructors speaking Russian to each other than English, so learning Russian will be a great professional development tool in both careers (both academia and dancing).

I have a couple hypotheses as to why the dance community is inundated with Russians, but no evidence to back them up (yet). One is that during the time of the Soviet Union and state controlled arts, a large number of dancers were unable to participate in their profession and thereby emigrated to America. However, that seems to be questionable as getting out of the Soviet Union wasn't exactly a cake-walk. The other time-line would be after the fall of the Soviet Union, groups of dancers decided to emigrate to America, and slowly built their own contained and self-propagating culture within the dance community - people who have already emigrated and settled would help others do the same, mostly staying within the niche market of dancing. Regardless, I would imagine that this propensity of Russians to be excellent dancers links ultimately back to the Russian Ballet, although again, I have not researched this sufficiently enough to know whether this is true.  Hopefully over this semester these blogs will serve as my opportunity (and excuse) to spend time researching these questions and to comment as to the nature of the culture of the ballroom dance community.

While we're thinking about that, enjoy this bear dancing with two well-dressed people:


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

You think you party hard?

In class we often make fun of the word "водка" because the Russian's cannot get enough of the stuff. 

In 1945, during World War II, the soviets were approaching the german capitol of Berlin and allies were approaching from the West. Knowing defeat was on Germany's tail, Hitler committed suicide. This caused Karl Dönitz to surrender to the soviets. 
On May 2, the soviets conquered Berlin.
On May 7, Dönitz gave word of their surrender. 

This surrender caused an utmost celebration in Russia, especially in Moscow. By the time Stalin addressed the nation less than a day later, the entire nation had been drunk. Russia partied harder than any of us college kids ever could, eventually depleting the entire nations supply of vodka
Picture taken in time square the day the nazi's surrendered. 


---Brooke Shepko

Durnovo: A Russian Diplomat's Prediction of WWI

 Peter Durnovo wrote to Tsar Nicholas II in February of 1914 a memorandum warning of the consequences of war, mere months before the onset of the first World War. Tensions were brewing. Franz Ferdinand had not yet been assassinated, but there was a deep sense of growing unrest. Only a decade earlier, Russia had experienced a failed revolution after the Russo-Japanese War (Steinberg). Durnovo, a reactionary determined to keep the status quo, recognized the risks of what a war would bring and how it would sever the last threads holding Imperial Russia together. He blasted the Triple Entente as having been meddled in by Britain, and that Russia had pragmatically gained nothing as a result – but could lose everything, as the battering ram of Britain. “To sum up, the Anglo-Russian accord has brought us nothing of practical value up to this time, while for the future, it threatens us with an inevitable armed clash with Germany.” Many of his warnings eerily came true, down to Russia's inadequacy to fight a war on the side of Britain, to how the socialists would rise up in the smoke, to the fall of Germany (Steinberg). There is one glaring error in Durnovo's memorandum: the mistaken belief that naval and imperial tensions between Britain and Germany would be the primary cause of a greater European war. While “the Great War” did occur, its origins and onset were not as Durnovo envisioned. To fully understand how Durnovo made this poor call, in the face of being so right on so much, one must examine not only why, but how he was wrong.
     Durnovo wrongly states that “The vital interests of Russia and Germany do not conflict.” History tells us a different story. Germany pursuing an aggressive policy for years, perhaps even making realistic plans 18 months in advance of the onset of World War I for military action (Sheffield). Kaiser Wilhelm II had deliberately decided against renewing a treaty with Russia years in the 1890s, and instead opted for the creation of a purely German alliance – this key factor had been the cause of the first entente, an alliance between Russia and France. Britain, fearing a powerful Germany, would later engage in mending relations with France and Russia, dividing the powers into those of the Central and the Entente. Durnovo neglects to bring up the fact that Germany, by proxy through its support of Austria-Hungary, was pursuing a more aggressive policy in the Balkans as well. Russia, through its alliance with Serbia, stood in the way (Steinberg).
     It would be Germany that played the part of aggressor, not Britain (Sheffield). While Durnovo was right that the growing imperialist ambitions, along with military buildup, would increase tension, his prediction was ultimately wrong. The entangled web of alliances, mutual defense, treaties, and severe foreign policy miscalculations would be the brush. The spark would be the assassination of Franz Ferdinand  not a war between Britain and Germany spilling over. The assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne was blamed squarely on Serbia. Russia, bound by alliance and treaty, announced the mobilization of its forces (Kubilius). Germany, which had written as essentially blank heck to Austria-Hungary, had perhaps not anticipated that Russia would go this far. Nevertheless, they had encouraged the concept of war, and readily declared war on Russia with the view that mobilization was an act of war. France, allied to Russia, would also be engaged at war – Germany would invade the neutral Belgium in order to reach Paris quickly (Sheffield). Britain, which was morally obligated to defend France per treaty, would also utilize a nearly century old treaty with Belgium to justify its involvement after Germany's invasion. Germany's rampant aggression directly conflicts with Durnovo's predictions, who had warned that Britain would play the part of antagonist, and would exploit Russia as a battering ram. “The main burden of the war will undoubtedly fall on us... The part of a battering ram, making a breach in the very thick of the German defense, will be ours, with many factors against us to which we shall have to devote great effort and attention.”
     Durnovo either failed to include or intentionally omitted the potential idiocy of Russia's own decision making in his memorandum. The decision to mobilize the military in the face of Germany's blank check to Austria-Hungary was foolish, regardless if it was backed by treaty. Without Nicholas' decision to support Serbia, World War I almost certainly would not have happened – at least, not the way that it did. The alternative would have been to remain idle, abandoning Serbia to Austria. While this would have resulted in incredible criticism from Pan-Slavicists, it would have permitted Russia to at the very least have more time in building its forces. Even the most optimistic predictions stated that Russia would not be ready for war until 1917 (Sheffield).
     One explanation for Durnovo's insistence to the Tsar that better relations with Germany were preferable is Durnovo's belief that Britain was a natural ally of the socialist opposition within Russia. “Strange as it may seem, England, monarchistic and conservative to the marrow at home, has in her foreign relations always acted as the protector of the most demagogical tendencies, in variably encouraging all popular movements aiming at the weakening of the monarchical principle.” As a reactionary, Durnovo was doubtlessly terrified by the idea of the monarchy falling. It was only rational, then, that Russia should ally with Germany, to which it was ideologically closer. “It should not be forgotten that Russia and Germany are the representatives of the conservative principle in the civilized world, as opposed to the democratic principle, incarnated in England and, to an infinitely lesser degree, in France.” Whatever Durnovo's idealization of the German monarchy, it would be the conflict of Germany and Russia over Austria-Hungary and Serbia that was the first sign that war was now inevitable.
     Durnovo was wrong that war was an entirely British prospect. He was wrong that a war between Britain and Germany would pull its allies in – instead, the opposite happened. It is unlikely that even if Russia had heeded Durnovo's advice that war could have been avoided for too long. The end of monarchism may have been inevitable. Ultimately, Durnovo's warnings would not be heeded. While World War I did not start the way he had envisioned, the difficulties Russia would face both during and after the war came true. World War I would accelerate the end of the Russian Tsardom. The Socialists would be victorious in Russia, and monarchism would come to a crashing end. Durnovo would not live to see the end of the monarchy, dying in 1915 – not long after his warnings.
Sources cited:

Durnovo, Peter. “Memorandum to Tsar Nicholas II.” Course Material; Provided Reading.

Kubilius, Kerry. “Russia's Position in WWI.” Web. [], accessed October 30th, 2012.

Sheffield, Gary. “The Origins of World War One.” Web. [], accessed October 30th, 2012.

Steinberg, John, Anthony Heywood, David McDonald. “Could Russia Have Avoided War in 1914?” Web. [], accessed October 30th, 2012.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

"Moscow Cat Theater"

     Evidently, there is a theater in Russia in which all of the central performers are cats! 
These four-legged actors and actresses include headlining names such as 
Appendicitis (yes, you read that correctly), Britan Cat, Banana, Sausage, Sock, and Roll. 
A few dogs even make it into the show, never ones to be out-shined by their kitty comrades. 

     Led by father/son duo Yuri and Dmitri Kuklachev,
 the theater has been recognized worldwide for its unique (and fluffy) talents, 
the majority of which are trained since birth to take part in the performances. 
     Sadly enough, though, the theater has also gained some recognition over 
controversy regarding the owner's handling of the animals... 
According to some, the routines that the cats are required to perform are both "ridiculous" and "humiliating", and their treatment between public appearances is far from ideal.
     The circus's response to these accusations? 
Numerous anti-defamation lawsuits, and a webpage proudly proclaiming:
"This theatre helps children to grow up in kind and good adults, who treat cats and every living being on our beloved planet with care and respect."  
     And just in case you're interested - 
The website also "meows" if you move your cursor over certain areas. 


--- Kasi Leclair