Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Thoughts, post test

I finished up the FSOT this morning.  As of writing time (June 15th, 2013) I should have about three weeks to wait until I get the results this time.  I'd like to say I feel good about this time, because I kind of do--the questions seemed simple enough and I thought I answered most of them well...but I felt the same way last time and I ended up four points short of going to the next exam we'll just have to see I guess.  Even then, the exam process is still a pretty tough one with a huge rate of attrition.

I'm writing this in Murat's flat, which is actually really nice compared to the one he used to have with Victor.  It's a little bit larger and they have their own shower; though there is no kitchen so they don't cook.  Dad, you'll be excited to hear that Murat's roommate is one of the guys you went to Oskamen with two years ago--Yerlan I think--the younger (but still older than me or Murat) history guy.  I gave him your regards and he did the same to you.  

The bus ride here kind of sucked--the bus was better than I expected; one of those greyhound type buses, but they still didn't bother to turn the AC on and my seat was directly above the driver at the front of the driving westward meant I was getting the full force of the sun the whole journey.  So it was quite hot.

I'm sitting here snacking on some peanuts and I'm not sure if this makes the Kazakh/Russians crazy or brilliant--but they are bacon flavored peanuts.  I would say the flavor is mild, mostly coming from the seasoning, but more like that Italian slice ham thing that I can't remember how to spell it and I have no google so I'm out of luck.  They are OK.  I'm sure they'd be much better if I was drinking beer instead of coke.

One thing I should mention before I stop writing this for now, is that the guy who was proctoring the exam was an ex-army guy.  We got to chatting because I had gotten there first and we still had to wait for the other examinees (two guys who worked at the embassy--'in house' but if they worked at the embassy...why were they taking the exam?  Were they interns?  I never found out).  Anyway, I found out that while you and he probably never served together, he had served with H.R. McMaster and I think is mentioned on the acknowledgements of McMaster's book because he helped McMaster get a computer to write it.  Talk about degrees of separation...he'll be coming to Oskamen for that summer camp that I'll be helping out at in July.  I'm not sure if I'll have my results by then, but that's still pretty neat coincidence.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Still alive...

If I'm brutally honest, and sometimes I am, I'll have to admit that I am an extremely lazy person.  I'm not sure if I'm actually any lazier than other people, but I think I am.  I enjoy doing nothing productive.  I should be studying Russian, I should be preparing more lessons in advance;I should be reviewing English concepts so I can remember specifically the proper names for things, instead of just going "Dammit, it's the conditional where it's not realistically going to happen, or impossible, i.e. hypothetical" (2nd Conditional for all you wondering).  I should be keeping this blog updated, I should be preparing for FSOT...blah, blah blah.

Probably most damningly, I should be exercising...but dammit I hate running.  If I'm lucky, I force myself to do something or at least a good number of pushups/sit ups, but it's nothing like I used to do.  I can't really even complain about being too busy right now...I also hate waking up and cooking and etc.  It's not really a good sign for me that my last two blog posts are basically on the them of laziness, and I'm sure anyone reading this is probably bored to death by my self loathing ("Get up and do something about it, you whiner!"--I hear you...but...Meh?)

So, how about something actually Kazakhstan related? Let's talk about how I stay functioning on those days where (for some reason that I don't really understand) I can't sleep the night before and I have several classes or I need to stay awake until the next sleep period so I don't screw myself up even more?

Easy right?  Coffee?  Except I have yet to find any decent, non-freeze dried coffee here that isn't prepackaged from Nescafe with tons of sugar and creamer or doesn't cost me an arm and a leg.  Tea isn't strong enough--or is it?

Allow me to introduce the marvelous(...) Russian invention: Chifir.  A popular drink among convicts and gulag inmates--all you need is a crap ton of black tea and time.  As far as Victor and I can figure out, since there's many different recipes online--you want about eight teaspoons of loose-leaf tea per serving.  Boil that sucker for about 15 minutes, till the leaves (or in my case because you don't got actual leaves, just these little pellet deals) drop to the bottom.

Then you drink it.

Chifir is bitter and hard to drink, but if you do it right (or at least somewhat right) you'll get some serious caffeine.
 You'll also get a stomach ache and the need to use the toilet in ASAP.  But the caffeine rush you get lasts a lot longer then what you get with coffee and I sometimes need it...

And of course I'm going to put this video here.