Monthly Archives of: November 2011

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The Internets has changed how we think about people.

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I’ve always been under the assumption that I’m very leery of trusting the internet, because, everyone on the internet is a creep murderer and that I would never want to give up all my data to Zuck and the Gootch, but a couple of events recently have convinced me otherwise.

The first thing that happened is that a couple of weeks ago, my grandpa discovered a long-lost relative merely from the fact that he goes to a pharmacy, she’s a pharmacist there, and they have the same last name, and my grandpa’s last name is not very common. Once they got to talking, they realized that they are definitely related, and he wanted her to meet the rest of the family.  Sounds like a crazy sitcom coincidence, too good to be true, right?  That’s what I thought.

At first I was really excited.  We have a very small family as it is, and any new relatives, especially ones closer to my age, are welcome additions.  So we met, talked, the whole deal.  Afterwards, I tried to Google her.  Nothing came up. I immediately became unsure.  Because who’s ungooglable in this age?  (by the way, that link is the whitest thing I’ve EVER read.) Then I realized I was spelling her name wrong, and came upon her Facebook page and a couple other of details, which meant she was legit.  To me, unlike the rest of my family who believe in meeting someone a number of times, having an active and not sketchy online presence means you are who you say you are.  I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just saying that the internet has completely changed how my generation understands social cues.

This came into play for me when my friend Anton stayed with us for a couple days before Thanksgiving last week. Can you call someone a friend if you’ve only talked to them on Twitter or Facebook for the past year and a half? I’m doing it now. Anton was in America for work and mentioned that he would be in Philly, and that we should meet up.  On a whim, because he is funny and smart and interesting and I love to learn from people that are smarter and more well-traveled than me, I invited him to stay at our house.

I know what you’re thinking.  The end to this story is that Anton really murdered both of us in our sleep because we were stupid to LET THE INTERNET CREEPERS IN and in fact is writing this blog post right now because, hey, you have to keep up appearances.

Or maybe, everything turned out normal because I already trusted Anton online and we had an awesome time, and I learned SO MUCH that I didn’t know before. Oh yeah,  I  did almost poison him because I forgot he was allergic to mushrooms.  My bad.

Also, he brought me posters for the kitchen. Ooo.

The internet really strips out the amount of background introductions you have to do, which is PERFECT for introverts like me.  On Twitter and Facebook and here, I can be as weird as I want, and if someone from online wants to meet up based on that, they already know what they’re getting themselves into.

If I tell someone face-to-face for the first time at a cocktail party that I think God has it out for me because he screwed me over in Jerusalem, that person will leave the room, or worse, become disinterested.  But online, there’s no need for awkward first conversations, for me to explain the fact that I’m Russian/Jewish, live in Philly but used to live in DC, like really nerdy stuff but also ponies, Nutella, feminism, the whole works.  You already know who I am based on what I write online.  If you accept the fact that I’m weird and nerdy and shy, we can get into a conversation about something else right away.  There is no room for me to get rejected.

For introverts like me, the internet is the best thing that ever happened.  I would have never met Anton in real life, because our circles are too different.  I also would have never, ever, ever met Sophie or David or Sarah or Neil in real life, because I would have been too shy to introduce myself.  Acquaintances have become friends as the result of this blog.  I would have never, ever known anyone who reads and comments on this blog, and all you people are really smart and funny.  My world has grown exponentially.

The Internet is a wonderful thing if you want it to be, and if you have enough common sense to parse out the dangerous parts, which do not include this blog.  I’m like the guy in the white van, only I really am offering only candy. I promise.

 

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A Very Russian Family Thanksgiving, complete with Russian movies.

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Mr. B and I went to my parents’ for Thanksgiving. My parents recently got a free year of Russian channels on their cable account, which makes for some entertaining viewing.

This is the face of a mother who would do anything for her child. Thank God I have never been to Chechnya.

For example, on Thanksgiving, my mom was two episodes deep into a show/movie about a Russian guy returning from Checnya (or Afghanistan) who had PTSD related to the fact that he saw a young girl die right after being raped when he was fighting the Taliban (or the Chechnyans).  Because of this, after he returned to Russia, he could not have proper sexual relations with a number of women. So his dad decided to hire a sex worker for him to get him over the hump, so to speak.

Because I refused to watch the first two parts on principle, I had to take my mom and aunt’s word for this part of the action.

The dad decides that his son does not need a medical professional, but this fake blonde woman who looks like the anthromorphization of Russian Sorrow.

In parts three and four, unfortunately, he fell in love with said sex worker and these episodes consist of the drama of the father trying to separate son and sex worker in the very same way he brought them together, as well as her other employer, who she babysat for,telling her she can keep her job by suggesting she sleep with him.  The soldier and the sex worker get married in the end.   This movie is called “Shortness of Breath.”

Unfortunately I’m not making any of this up. (By the way, God bless VKontakte, Facebook’s Russian ripoff, because you can totally watch almost any movie on.  I don’t see you implementing this, Zucks. What’s that, you say, copyright laws? )

Anyway, so we’re sitting with Mr. B, my dad, my mom, my aunt, and Mr. B’s mom and watching this catastrophe unfold when I felt the need to say something.  (If you’ve never watched a movie about prostitution with your immediate family, I highly recommend it.  It is really something.)

“I can’t believe this is actually the plot of a movie,” I remarked. “This guy comes back with disfunction and severe battle trauma and Russian society decides that the best move is to hire this guy a prostitute? That will cure him right up!”  Mr. B added, “Why not send him to a medical professional who can diagnose him and treat him?”

Our parents looked at Mr. B and myself as if we were clinically insane.  ”You’re going to go to a medical professional?  What are they going to tell you?  Take some pills?” They all laughed. “This boy was on the verge of suicide.  His father did the right thing.”

Are you telling me,” I asked, experiencing some Shortness of Breath of my own, “that if Mr. B were a soldier and came back unable to be with anyone romantically, that you would hire ‘professional help’? “

Mr. B’s mom looked at both of us as if we were idiots. “Of course.  I would do anything to help my child.”

My mom nodded her head vigorously. “You don’t know.  You don’t have kids.  God forbid you ever come to this point.”

My dad looked sadly at us, and turned to my mom and Mr. B’s mom.  ”These kids.  They’ve been completely Americanized.  They want to treat everything as a problem with a pill as an answer.  They have no common sense.  It’s a wonder they’ve made it this far in life.”

“That’s because we brought them up incorrectly,” my aunt, who was at this time knitting and also keeping an eye on the movie, chimed in.

“But can you imagine,” I said, “Can you imagine if this was something actually prescribed to American soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq?”

“Yeah, it’s already being prescribed,” my dad said conspiratorially. ” You don’t know what’s going on in Afghanistan right now with your tax dollars, they hire-”

“That’s enough,” my mom cut him off.  She looked at us, unblinking. “You will do anything for your child.  You don’t have kids yet, you don’t know.”

And then they all burst out laughing at the Naive American Kids.

I thought about this. ”Well, what about me? What if I went to Chechnya and came back traumatized? What would you do?”

My dad looked at me like I was a moron. “You would never go to Chechnya.  You’re a girl.”

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I’m getting an MBA. It won’t make me smarter. But it’s a smart move.

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Serious businesslady pose.

 

Sooo.  Remember when I was taking and struggling with my my microeconomics class?

Well, I decided I’m not doing a master’s in economics anymore somewhere after class number five, because it is simply too much work in a degree that will not get me where I want to go. And where I want to go is not only Big Data, where I work now,  but project management, because managing teams is something I am good at and truly enjoy. But also maybe something else tech-related. But also maybe international business. But also maybe a field that doesn’t exist yet.  So bascially, I want flexibility.

And while an economics degree would be extremely helpful for data mining and machine learning which are how Facebook figures out how to keep you on its site longer, I’ll probably end up taking a couple courses in it outside of my degree.  I just cannot handle at least two more years of intensely heavy math plus my fast-paced job, plus the Real World stuff like remembering to take the laundry out of the washer before it grows into a spore colony.

So, for the second time this year, because the university doesn’t do transfers between majors,  I went through the entire grad school application process again and was accepted to Temple’s part-time MBA program.  No one is happier about this than me, except for maybe Mr. B, who had to pick me up from class on Tuesdays since Temple’s main campus lies in the area of Philadelphia gently known as borderline ghetto, even though the business building is Awesome. MBA classes are downtown, close to work.

I know what you’re thinking. MBAs are stupid and useless. Well, yes. They don’t teach you how to be a manager.  No one can teach you that until you’ve been in a situation where, six months out of college, you had to manage four of your closest work friends in an international project that was exceedingly over budget and deadline and experiencing significant scope creep (cough).

They also don’t teach you the in-depth that are so needed today in the hotness that is Big Data: the math and statistics skills which I am leaving behind with the master’s.  I hope I’m wrong and that I do learn lots of stuff that is really applicable to my job. I am particularly excited to retake some finance classes since I’ve forgotten a bunch since undergrad. I am also excited to do case studies. I love case studies of business problems.

But what an MBA does best is give you leverage and signaling.  That is, it signals that you have a secondary degree, without which you can’t get to a certain level.   That you can do management work, even if you’ve already indicated you can in your resume. Most importantly, it signals that you, uh, have an MBA, which everyone is interested in these days because, if you’re working while doing one, it shows that you’re in touch with the market on multiple levels.  Also, networking.  Since I am crazy introverted except for on this blog, having a built-in network will be a huge help in extroverting myself.

So, I start classes in January.  Which gives me just enough time between now and then to take a break and do a thorough business case study on Nutella.

 

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“What does popravilas mean?” Bad things, little girl.

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I know I’m doing something right when one of the search terms that leads people to my blog is “What does popravilas mean in Russian?”  Well, Googler, I’m assuming you’re American and your mother-in-law said this to you.  It means you’ve gained weight.  But it literally kind of means you’ve straightened out.  Sideways.

I know.  Russian women are the worst.

I would never say that anyone popravilas.  Except Oprah.

 

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Friday Links

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Here they are:

  1. There is nothing about this story that is not awesome.  Here’s a sample:  ”The most serious candidates invariably hired tutors and worked more or less round the clock for months. The historian Alex Craik notes that C.T. Simpson, who ranked as Second Wrangler in 1841, topped off his efforts by studying for 20 hours a day in the week before the exams and “almost broke down from over-exertion… [he] found himself actually obliged to carry a supply of ether and other stimulants into the examinations in case of accidents.”
  2.  This is what it looks like when your teeth are growing in. Don’t you want to touch it?? I dooo.
  3. It’s not easy being single…in an art museum
  4. Mazal tov! Bittersweet…kids of immigrants will never understand being immigrants.
  5. Anyone read the new Murakami yet?  I can’t bring myself to.
  6. Dearborn, Michigan.  A more vile hotbed of delicious baklava I have never seen.
  7. Speaking of baklava, don’t read this if you hate French desserts and the joy of life in general.