Saturday, April 30, 2016

Tatlin's Tower

Vladimir Tatlin designed Tatlin's Tower also known as the monument to the Third International to be built in present day St. Petersburg after the Russian revolution in 1917. The building was going to be purposed for the comintern, who's purpose was the spread of communism on a global scale and would be a news outlet for the country. While never built the building had very ambitious plans. It was going to rotate at three different speeds. One part would rotate daily, another monthly, and another yearly. The building was intended to show the strength and ambition of the newly formed Soviet union. It is considered part of the constructivist movement in Russia.

As an American I find it strange that it is ingrained in Russian culture to not smile. So in order to better understand why and how I did some research. Below is what I found out.

The closed-mouth smile: Most often, Russians smile only with their lips, only occasionally showing the upper row of teeth slightly. Revealing the top and bottom teeth is considered vulgar, as it resembles that of a horse.

The servants smile: In Russian communication, a smile is not a signal of politeness. Russians consider a perpetual polite smile an “servant’s smile.” It is considered a demonstration of insincerity, secretiveness and unwillingness to show one’s true feelings.

The non-smile: In Russian communication, it is not acceptable to smile at strangers. Russians smile mainly at people they know. This is why salespeople do not smile at shoppers.

The responsive smile: Russians do not automatically respond to a smile with a smile. If an acquaintance responds to a smile with a smile, this is considered an invitation to come over and start a conversation.

The smile as a symbol of affection: A Russian smile demonstrates to the recipient that the smiling person has personal affection towards him or her. A smile directed at a stranger may elicit the reaction, “Do we know each other?”

The official’s non-smile: Among Russians it is not acceptable to smile while performing one’s job or any important business. Customs agents do not smile because they are occupied with serious business. This is the same for salespeople and wait staff. It is not acceptable for children to smile in class. One of the most common remarks Russian teachers make is, “What are you smiling at? Write!.”

The genuine smile: In the Russian collective consciousness, there is a rule: the smile must be a genuine reflection of a good mood and good relationship. In order to have the right to smile, one must truly like the person in question or be in a very good mood at the moment.

The smile with no reason: If a Russian person smiles, there should be a good reason behind it – and everyone should know this reason. If the reason for a smile is not clear, Russians may worry about the reason behind it.

The appropriate smile: The other people present must consider the smile to be appropriate for the context. It is not acceptable to smile in a difficult situation or if there are people around with known serious troubles, or if someone is ill or preoccupied with personal problems and so on.

A laugh as a smile: Among Russians there is a blurred line between a smile and laughter; in practice, these phenomena are often the same and are likened to each other. Russians often say to people who are smiling, “What’s so funny?”


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Russia Launches Rocket From New Cosmodrome

Russia has recently finished construction on a new place to launch rockets called the Vostochny Cosmodrome. This new launch pad is located in an isolated area of the Amur Region in Russia's Far East.  On Thursday, a day after its original launch date, the cosmodrome had its first rocket launch at 5:01 AM (Moscow Time). The rocket carried three satellites into orbit. Russia's President, Vladimir Putin, was there in person to witness the launch. The first manned mission to the ISS (International Space Station) from the Vostochny Cosmodrome is expected to happen in the year 2023.

Here is the footage of the actual launch:

Ключевская сопка

Russia is also home to the world’s largest active volcano Klyuchevskaya Sopka, which has a height of 4,750 m (15,584 ft). It is cone shaped volcano, that can be climbed from all sides. Mostly, climbs are from the pass between Klyuchevskaja nad Kamen from the south. Less popular is west route. The height of Klyuchevskaja is in the range from 4750 to 4850 m according to different sources. However, on the north side of the summit crater it is 4750 m.During the summer a helmet is necessity due to the falling of stones and rocks. In summer 2003, one Czech turist was hit to death by stone on the slope of Klyuchevskaja, and several members of rescue team were injured. For winter and spring climbs you need crampoons, ice-axe, avalanche transceiver, snow showel, etc. Helmet is recommendable, but not necessary, as majority of stones and rocks area stabilizated by ice and snow. 

Difficulties of the climb are mostly near the summit - strong volcanic activity, gases, temperature, etc. During the climb the worst troubles are falling stones and rocks. We set up our camp on the north at the altitude 2070 m, so that, 2700 altitude meters were for summit day. Usually, the advance camp is set up from the north/north-west at 2700-2900 m. From the south the summit day starts from the pass between Klyuchevskaja and Kamen.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Kasha

Since we learned about kasha I found a cool recipe for it.


  • Peel and clean pumpkin, removing all seeds. Cut pumpkin into one inch cubes.
  • Place pumpkin pieces into a large pot, add water and boil until pumpkin is tender.
  • Add milk or half & half, spices and rice and let simmer for 40 min, covered on medium heat. 
  • Mix well and add raisins.
  • Serve hot

  • - 1 pumpkin or butternut squash
    - 1 cup of rice
    - 1/2 cup of sugar
    - 2 cups of milk
    - 1 cup of water
    - 1 tbsp of butter
    - 1/2 cup of raisins
    - Dash of cinnamon or nutmeg

Unit 9 Blog

Ten cool facts about Russia
  1. Russia is home to the worlds longest railway.
  2. Russia also has the worlds largest McDonalds.
  3. There are approximately 10 million more women than men in Russia.
  4. Russians have a tradition where you wear your wedding band on the ring finger of your right hand.
  5. Russian men never typically gift flowers to anyone as it is seen as bad luck/being associated with deaths and funerals.
  6. Russia is larger than Pluto by landmass.
  7. Moscow has approximately 74 billionaires living within its boundaries.
  8. Russia is the second largest oil producing nation in the world, behind Saudi Arabia, the US is third but is likely to surpass both nations in the near future.
  9. The Russian metro system is among the worlds leading means of public transportation.
  10. Russians have a superstition of shaking hands in a doorway and believe that in doing so will spark heated arguing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Сегодня в лингафонном кабинете (второй год русского языка)... Если бы я знал!

Линк на упражнение по числительным. Listening link for numerals.

Если бы я был дома, я бы готовил обед с мамой, я пошел бы в церковь...
If I were home (I'm not!), I would fix supper with mom and I would go to church.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Kissel (Кисель)

Kissel is a soup made with cherries or other red fruits (cranberries, bilberries, etc.) that can be served hot or cold. It was traditionally served in the summer when these fruits were in season, however, now it can be made with frozen fruits at any time of year. The soup is fairly easy to make, requiring water and 4 other ingredients. When we made this dish this weekend, we started by adding pitted cherries to a pot of water, then bringing it to a boil. We then set the heat to low, allowing it to simmer for fifteen minutes. Then, we added sugar and lemon juice before allowing it to simmer for a little while longer. Lastly, we dissolved some potato starch in cold water and stirred it to the pot. We served the kissel warm. I found that I was not as big of a fan of cherries as I had once thought and did not particularly care for the dish. However, I acknowledge that this may be purely a result of personal taste or the specific recipe that we used.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Top Russian senator proposes ‘Ministry of Happiness’ to improve life

House Speaker Valentina Matviyenko has recently pushed for a separate ministry to be created that would aim to increase happiness and feelings on any government initiative within Russia. Piggy-backing on the United Arab Emirates creation of the ministry, she feels that its creation would be beneficial to the government and its people. The UAE added the minister of happiness in February this year and is said to use work by the UN and various other experts and researches to base their work on. Matviyenko added that another benefit of such an institution is that citizens who are happy themselves would try to cheer other people up.

Valentina Matviyenko, chairperson of the Russian Federation Council. © Alexei Danichev

Friday, April 15, 2016


     The original blini are similar to French crêpes, if only a bit thicker. This is the kind that you will be served 99% of the time in Russia. There are even cafés dedicated to them, the blinochnayas. They can be paired with anything you can think of: ground meat, cheese, smoked fish, fish roe, sour cream, jam, honey, etc.
Blini and Oladi, Russian Pancakes
  • 12 oz flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp powdered orange peel (optional)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 12 oz milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 12 oz water
  • 2 oz butter, melted
     In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the flour, baking soda, powdered orange peel, salt, sugar, milk and eggs with the paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth. Add the water and melted butter and mix again. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Portrait by Nikolai Gogol

Nikolai Gogol's  "The Portrait" is a fantastic novel about a very talented poet.  This poet is doing well but is painting pictures that will increase his talent rather than increase his wealth. But, once he becomes famous he starts to produce portraits that require very little talent but get a decent amount of wealth in return. This truly was one of the first modern novels to cover someone selling out their talent.

Колобок: The Little Round Bun

Колобок is a Russian Folk Tale of a little round bun trying to escape being eaten by various characters. The following is a translation of this beloved tale.

Once upon a time there lived an old man and an old woman who were very poor and had nothing at all to their name. And they kept getting poorer and poorer till there was nothing left to eat in the house, not even bread, Said the old man:
"Do bake us a bun, old woman! If you scrape out the flour-box and sweep out the bin, you'll have enough flour."
So the old woman scraped out the flour-box and swept out the bin, she made some dough and she shaped a little round bun out of it. She then lit the oven, baked the bun and put it on the window sill to cool. But the bun jumped out of the window and onto the bench outside, and from the bench onto the ground, and away it rolled along the road!
On and on' it rolled, and it met a Rabbit coming toward it.
"I'm going to eat you up, Little Round Bun!" called the Rabbit.
"Don't do that, Fleet-Feet, let me sing you a song instead," said Little Round Bun.
"All right, let's hear it!"
"Here it is!
"I was scraped from the flour-box  
And swept from the bin
And baked in the oven
And cooled on the sill.
I ran away from Grandpa,
I ran away from Grandma,
And I'll run away from you, this minute I will!"
And off it rolled and away. By and by it met a Wolf coming toward it.
"I'm going to eat you up, Little Round Bun!" called the Wolf.
"Don't do that, Brother Wolf, let me sing you a song instead."
"All right, let's hear it!"
"I was scraped from the flour-box
And swept from the bin
And baked in the oven
And cooled on the sill.
I ran away from Grandpa,
I ran away from Grandma,
And I'll run away from you, this minute I will!"
And away it rolled.
By and by it met a Bear coming toward it.
"I'm going to eat you up, Little Round Bun!" called the Bear.
"Don't do that, Brother Bear, I'll sing you a song instead!"
"All right, let's hear it!"
"I was scraped from the flour-box
And swept from the bin
And baked in the oven
And cooled on the sill.
I ran away from Grandpa,
I ran away from Grandma,
And I'll run away from you, this minute I will!"
And away it rolled and away!
By and by it met a Fox coming toward it.
"I'm going to eat you up, Little Round Bun!" called the Fox.
"Don't do that, Sister fox, I'll sing you a song instead."
"All right, let's hear it!"
"I was scraped from the flour-box
And swept from the bin
And baked in the oven
And cooled on the sill.
I ran away from Grandpa,
I ran away from Grandma,
And I'll run away from you, this minute I will!"
"Sing some more, please, don't stop!" the Fox said. "Hop onto my tongue, I can hear you better."
Little Round Bun jumped onto the Fox's tongue and began to sing:
"I was scraped from the flour-box
And swept from the bin-"
But before it could go on, the Fox opened her mouth and - snap! -she gobbled it up.

Helpful Resources for Learning Russian

Having trouble in class? Want to get ahead in class? Below are links to a couple of resources that offer a variety of activities and lessons to help you in your endeavor to learn a new language.

The final link is my personal favorite online resource for many reasons, but the biggest reason is that it's quite helpful when you need to study for a grammar quiz.

Spring and Labor Day in Russia

Before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, May 1st was a symbol of class struggle in Russia, and workers would hold protests on this day. It became known as the "Day of International Solidarity" in 1918, where cities across Soviet Russia would hold parades and obligatory workers' marches, until 1990. In 1992, the Russian parliament renamed this day "Spring and Labor Day". Now, Spring and Labor day is a public holiday where people relax and may go to their country homes (the дача). People may do some work in their gardens, or spend time with their families. Many families go on picnics and barbecues, and men give spring flowers to women, mostly tulips and lilacs. This day also celebrates the end of the cold season in Russia.

Sand and Stones

This is ice cream?

Apparently so.

My dad is currently in Russia for work and sent us that picture. Apparently it's ice cream that has the literal translation of "silica and stones." I tried Googling it, but to no avail. The picture is from somewhere in St. Petersburg.

Is it a common, normal Russian dessert? I'd guess not, though Google can lie.

Is it really ice cream? Yeah, my pops wouldn't make it up.

Was it a fluke thing presented to my dad to be impressive since his company deals within silica and the like? Potentially, though rocks for ice cream may not be the way I'd go about it...

The mystery of rock-looking ice cream has yet to be solved, but apparently it's Russian.

Russian National Parks

So when I first began to research this topic, my hypothesis was that I would not find any national parks in Russia. Some of what we’ve studied would support this theory. Russia does not have a brilliant track record for environmental care, with disasters like the Chernobyl of the Soviet Union still fresh in our minds, it may come as a surprise to note that Russia has not only national parks, but the best protected parks in the world. Check it out.

Few people realize that Russia has one of the world's premier systems of protected areas, which preserves millions of acres of wild landscapes - important habitat for a vast number of plants and animals. Wild Russia is an international effort to document images of the wild nature harbored in Russia's system of strict nature reserves and national parks. Through the Wild Russia project, we aim to promote worldwide appreciation for Russia's vast network of protected areas and to increase understanding of the opportunities these areas offer for conserving the planet's biodiversity.

Many of Russia's wild lands form part of a network of strictly protected scientific nature reserves called Zapovedniks (Zap-o-VED-nik), the highest category of nature conservation in the world (IUCN category I). The first Zapovednik, Barguzinsky, was created in 1916 on the eastern shore of Lake Baikal. Now, 101 Zapovedniks, covering more than 33.5 million hectares (82.7 million acres), protect diverse wilderness areas across the country. From the tundra in the far north to the steppe (prairies) in the south, from the Black Sea to the Bering Sea, these Zapovedniks cover a tremendous diversity of territory and play a critical role in nature conservation.

Check the link!

The History of Ice-Cream in Russia

We all love ice-cream, (unless one happens to be lactose-intolerent, in which case I feel deeply for your inability to enjoy such a delectable treat!) but when was this delicious dessert first created? The first forms of ice-cream were eaten and enjoyed in the Ancient Greek, Roman, and Chinese Empires about 5,000 years ago. However, this ancient ice-cream more closely resembled a "slushie" than today's dairy dessert. The ancient ice-cream was a mixture of snow and pieces of fruit like oranges, lemons, and pomegranates. The first ice-cream factory was built in the USSR in 1937, and it was ordered that the ice-cream must be mass produced and sold at a reasonable price. The first Soviet ice-cream was made on the 4th of November, 1937. Here is a must-have recipe for White Russian ice-cream (of course there is vodka in it):


  • 1cup whole milk
  • 12cup sugar
  • 1pinch salt
  • 5large egg yolks, beaten
  • 2cups heavy cream, chilled
  • 2tablespoons coffee liqueur, chilled
  • 2tablespoons vodka, chilled
  1. In a small saucepan, cook the milk, sugar and salt over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, about 4 minutes (do not let the milk boil).
  2. Slowly pour one-half of the hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring and scraping with a heatproof spatula, until thick enough to coat the spatula, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the mixture into a metal bowl. Stir in the heavy cream. Refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours.
  4. Stir the coffee liqueur and vodka into the ice cream base. Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal is located in southern Siberia. Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake by volume in the world, containing roughly 20% of the world's unfrozen surface fresh water. With a maximum depth of 5,387 feet, Baikal is the world's deepest lake. It is considered among the world's clearest lakes and is considered the world's oldest lake at 25 million years. It is the seventh-largest lake in the world by surface area. With 23,615.39 km3 of fresh water, it contains more water than all the North American Great Lakes combined.