Sunsets and Languages

Sunday, October 24th, 2004


Two Completely Unrelated Topics Rolled Into One Post

Yesterday as we left chow and went up around the corner ahead of the JDAM Palace, I looked back down towards Mosul itself and the river. There is a bluff that I sometimes look at, though usually the air quality is so crap it’s hard to see anything. Today was different, however. It was about 5:30, maybe 5:45. I saw one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. Shades of red, yellow, and orange filtered through the clouds. In fact this is probably the only time so far I recall noticing any sort of wonderful sunset or sunrise in Iraq. I hurried back to get my camera, but it faded out as we went back. We’re talking only 5-10 minutes here, but that was enough. No shots. It wouldn’t have come out anyway, I’m sure. I do need to read the manual on my camera again. Another interesting visual item, which I would certainly hesitate to describe as stunning, is the smoky mist that usually happens down in the fields below our hill. I am not sure exactly what the cause is. It may be some kind of smoke pot putting out bug-killin’ aerosol. It usually happens about the same time of evening, and sort of lingers lazily over the fields at about 100 ft elevation. Doesn’t really seem to drift much, and eventually disperses.

I have been going through an intermediate Russian reader. I do pretty good, and can understand most everything going on. I misread one chapter heading. It read “Tanya Protests” in reference to some poor girl who’s family lets her do all the work and never helps. Eventually she takes off (in this chapter, where she “protests”), and the family realizes the error of their ways, blah blah. Anyway, I keep seeing the heading as “Tanya Prostitutka” for some reason. Protestuyet is the word for protest, so you can see the basis on this one. It recalls to mind when Guli and I watched “Brigada.” This was a popular series in Russia about 4 friends who ended up being mafia guys. At one point they are leaning on some businessman, and refer to having his “secretutka” make them some coffee. I didn’t catch this at first. It had to be explained to me. The guy combined secretar with prostitutka – the meaning of both of those words should be fairly obvious. I found this so amusing, that for the rest of our trip I continually referenced it. A driver became chaufferitutka, a doctor (vrach) would be vrachitutka, a maid (slyzhanka) is a slyzhitutka…damn I love to make up and combine words. Smile Russian is a little different in that while in English we like to make up acronyms, they prefer to abbreviate. Moscow Bank becomes MosBank, well you know…there’s a bunch of others, only I suddenly don’t feel like explaining them. It gets too wordy. You get the point. Anyways, I respect that because I have always liked to express my creatocity by creatulating new words. If I don’t know the Russian word for something, I might be able to make something up, or by reading the word literally, figure it out. For example, a windowsill is a podokonnik. A nik is a thing or person that does something, okno is a window (some knowledge of grammar and spelling changes is appropriate in this case), and pod implies being under something. Therefore, the literal meaning is “the thing under the window” or…windowsill! I really like that word. I have a lot of other examples but I won’t bore you with them right now, on account of I can’t quite recall any specific ones. Of course my favorite word is “doctoprimachatelnosti” but that one is pretty hard to suss out. Languages are neat things. I made a pun once when I was taking a test. I needed to define nadaest, only I couldn’t remember what it meant. So I made a joke instead. Since nada means “needs to, is necessary” and est means “to eat”, I wrote in “when I am hungry, I need to eat.” Of course this was wrong, and I knew it, but was hoping to get some humor points. Didn’t work out that way. Nadaest means to get bored, by the way. Which is what happened to me and this topic. Bye now.

More Random Stuff (Now, Improved With Picture!)

Wednesday, October 1st, 2003

I’m so lazy. I didn’t get anything done, and tomorrow I leave for Tashkent for a few days. Been really busy with wiring and connecting the new Bullpen in our construction project for the trades guys to work out of. So much to do, and so little planned properly. At least my wireless stuff came in so I can get started on that.

Some of the locals complained about getting shot at while working, so we put up a sign.


I was talking to some of the kids from the warehouse the other day. I’ve been messing with them for a long time. It’s my plan to make them think I am totally crazy. I am not sure I have them totally fooled. Then every so often I give them a peek at the real me. Of course, my backup plan is for them to think it’s all an act so then when I do act bizarrely, they don’t think it’s real. I win either way! Whoohoo! Go me! Twisted Evil

Oh yeah, anyways. I was talking to Lena and she kept laughing because I speak slowly. Hello, not my native language! I take the extra time to think about my words because I have to think about each thing I need to say, and want to do it correctly. 5 minutes earlier when she was trying to get me to say I hate Commo Jack she’d misunderstood me. She didn’t hear me say “Ya Ne Nenavizhyu Evo” which is “I don’t hate him” and dropped the first “ne”, which is of course the “don’t” part. But even when I lose I win, so I pouted and made her feel bad today like she hurt my feelings. She didn’t, though I did find it strange, to be sure. It didn’t strike me that funny. It was complicated enough saying we worked together and weren’t best buddies but I had nothing against him, and trying to be clear on the meaning. BAH! Foreigners! (Gotta love ’em, that is!) They made me talk too much yesterday — it’s weird when you are trying to explain something to them, but maybe don’t know a word, so you explain the concept and try to use analogies…and 10 minutes later they come back with the word you’ve been asking about all along. “Is the word for soandso thisorthat?” 10 minutes of conversation later, “Oh, you mean thisorthat!” Had I not been actually saying the correct word repeatedly (and correctly) I would understand. Smile I was asking for the noun form of “to act” or “pritvoryayetcya” which I thought would be “an act” or “pritvoryeniye”. The patterns are there to deduce these, but you never know when they will turn out to be exceptions. It’s only a simple 10 minute question. “I know the goddam verb, what’s the corresponding noun!!!! Is it thishereword?” Life’s funny. Wink

Field Trip!

Monday, March 17th, 2003

So day before yesterday I’m hiding out in my office. It’s the 4th day in a row that I have actually been busy. I go about 3 months filling up my day working and working (on the internet) and working (visiting) and working (wandering) and it’s like all of a sudden people realize they have computers and problems and an IT guy. Hey! A match made in heaven! Of course, as always it was all silly stuff, but that didn’t stop me having to move back and forth across camp all day long. It is a definite change to go from “I make myself busy doing things” to “I am very busy, how am I going to work in those other things?”

Quick side trip here: I do more before 9 AM than you do ALL DAY! That’s because, you know, your 9 AM is my 9 PM. Ha. Sigh…this is a tough audience.

Anyways, earlier in the day I had been conversing with some folk, and we talked about getting off base, even if there isn’t much to see. Even if there isn’t much to see, there aren’t endless seas of tents and this crappy rock surface to see. That works. So later a party unrelated to that conversation pops his head in the door and mentions going to the airport, do I wanna go? Can I get a Hell Yeah? Oh well, I don’t even know if Steve Austin still wrestles anymore. (more…)


Sunday, March 2nd, 2003

Ok, so how many of you can type? I can type purty good, fairly fast with not too awful many mistakes.

But that’s not so difficult.

How many of you can type in a foreign character set?

I’m going to guess none. I’m also going to include myself in that total, but go ahead and reckon that I’m further along. Let me tell you, it’s right damn hard. Never mind the issues of trying to remember the word for soandso or how you were thinking you might make an actual understandable phrase. Let’s throw a different character set and layout into the mix too! Yaay! Fun! (more…)

Another Good Reason to go to Uzbekistan

Sunday, January 26th, 2003

…cheap haircuts. Spent $5.25 yesterday on a chop. Hasn’t gone up so much really. 10 years ago it was like$3.25/3.50 on post, and there was this place just off post that was $4, but less waiting. I had been spending $15 with tip in Denver.

It may surprise you to know that it’s Uzbek locals who were doing the haircutting instead of old guys that had been doing it forever. It still doesn’t take all that long in any case, though I think she spent extra time on me. I guess she liked the shape of my skull or something, because she was almost massaging my brains. Skulls are funny things. Used to have a creepy neighbor who had various small animal skulls on display. It was sorta related I guess, as he worked with the Wildlife department, but strange nonetheless. (back to o’zbekistan) Maybe she just had extra time, what with no waiting and all, and it was something to do. (more…)

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