The Air and Space Museum is located in the very centre of Washington, at the National Mall. Like the majority of Washington museums, it is part of Smithsonian Institution, so the entrance is free of charge, but donations are welcome.
Long Russian New Year holidays is a good time to put photographs in order. I was in Bulgaria from 22 to 30 June. My former Washington housemate invited me to spend there several days together, she was born in Bulgaria, she has relatives and friends there and comes to see them each year. Her friends took us almost all over the country in five days—from Sofia to Varna through Veliko Tarnovo, Silistra and Kaliakra. Then already the two of us came back from Varna to Tarnovo by bus, and I went to Sofia to my plane back home.
The country is very nice, although one can see it’s not too rich. As to the economy, the locals complain of almost the same problems as in Russia: the heavy industry doesn’t work, it’s difficult to find a job outside Sofia, salaries at academic institutions are the same microscopic as in Moscow (literary the same: €300 a month is all right). The main difference that can be seen immediately are fields in cultivation. After abandoned Moscow area it makes an impression. They say, however, that most of the fields belong to big agricultural holdings, there are not so many small farmers.
As to living conditions, it was a surprise for me that there are no baths in bathrooms, both in hotels and in houses: all four bathrooms I could see had only shower, and the floor of the shower was not even separated from the rest of the bathroom’s floor. Seemingly they have no tradition of taking a bath. One more interesting thing are small room woodfuelled stoves, usually metallic; we don’t use anything like that in Russia.
The sights are numerous, Bulgaria even officially is older for centuries than Russia, and has a rich antique legacy. We saw a lot in a week, but one can come here for a month if desired. I rented a room at a three-star hotel in Sofia for 60 Bulgarian leva a night (lev has a fixed exchange rate, just under two leva for one euro). For the same price we rented an apartment in Varna with two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and a balcony for four adults and a child. I can imagine a dinner for 15 leva, but I could never ‘eat’ more than 10 leva myself ;-) Intercity buses are rather cheap as well.
The language is more different from Russian than, for example, Ukrainian (there is a difference in grammar, not only in vocabulary), but written text is mostly quite understandable. As to oral speech, I could understand it only in TV news ;-) Bulgarians seem to understand Russian better than we understand Bulgarian, I don’t know why. In older generations, one can meet people who have learned Russian (this is one of those few parts of the Soviet legacy that’s really a pity to lose), but to younger people, you’ll have to talk in English.
Now the photographs. The first two days I spent in Sofia. The historical centre remained mostly uncorrupted, but there are modern buildings nevertheless, in place of those destroyed during the war. Local volunteers, by the way, organize walking excursions in the centre of the city in the evenings. They are free of charge and quite informative, the only problem is that it’s not convenient to take photographs in such a regime. So I have only a few pictures from Sofia:
The fire at our Institute began on 30 January 2015, that is already a year ago; time runs fast. We decided it was a good reason to organize a kind of a ‘party for our friends’ and to meet once more with our volunteers, with our sponsors, with people who granted computers to us so that we were able to continue our work soon after the catastrophe, and with our librarians as well—we work at separate buildings now, so they not so often have an opportunity to see people from the research departments. There were not too many of us, but the party seems to have been rather good:
These are some of those books which survived at the very centre of the fire on the second floor. We thought everything was completely lost there, but we were wrong: when the workers began to throw down the wreckage and ashes, books began to fall as well. In the evenings, when the workers went away, our volunteers were digging those heaps of ashes and extracting what had survived. Wish I could have taken part in it more than twice. It was the last stage of our collaboration with volunteers, the Federal Agency of Scientific Organizations forbade us to invite them just after that. Now the rescued books are kept at several cold storage facilities, but our librarians are taking away those which are not too wet and dry them in the survived part of our old building. To dry all the other ones, special equipment is required, we were promised it would be bought this year :-)
Miracles do happen, here you can see a photograph of one of them; this sheet of paper became a symbol of the whole our meeting. A brick of burnt paper picked up by one of our librarians, opened at the only survived page. The text is probably in the Church Slavonic, you can see the line В пламени незгорѣвшихъ—‘Those having not burnt in the fire’…
Last spring, or, more exactly, on 20 April in the previous year, I happened to see frogs’ ‘weddings’ in a forest not far from Moscow. As I found out later, they last only three days a year, so that’s really a good luck to see it. It looks rather funny: a large puddle full of frogs like a saucepan with dumplings, and gurgle and bubble can be heard almost everywhere in the forest. I heard all of this even before I actually saw it, and my first impression was that it was a sound of a train ;-) And there were quite a lot of such puddles in the forest. In some of them those frogs who had already finished all the ‘work’, were having a rest; they looked as if they were already in nirvana. I had nothing to record the sounds, but at least I had a photo camera. Have fun:
These photographs were made in the previous year. I had just prepared them for publication on this website a few days before the fire at my institute, but I hadn’t actually posted them by the time of the fire. The ‘main hero’ didn’t suffer from the fire itself, but was heavily flooded with foam, and I decided not to post the photos until it was recovered. Now it’s finally at work again, so I publish the pictures and the text without changes :-)
In an odd moment, I had a good opportunity to see and to photograph our main computer. Here it is—HP 3000 Series 70, produced in 1985, and still at work:
Some more photographs from my trip to Washington. Here is the institute where I was working since October 2012 till March 2013:
Our opponents were rather active this time. No comments, only some translations:
You can also see the flag that looks like the Ribbon of Saint George which used to be widely associated with the commemoration of World War II, but now became a symbol of radical Russian nationalists.
Our demonstration was also crowded:
All the pictures are clickable, as usually :-)
Let’s continue our walk along Washington:
At last I’ve put my American photos in order. There are quite a lot of them, in spite of all my attempts to filter out uninteresting ones, so I’ll divide them into several galleries. Hope they’ll be interesting for you too :-) Most of them were made in Washington where I spent six months and had a good opportunity to study the city rather carefully, at least the downtown. Let me start with just some interesting pictures without any general subject: