The Library of Congress


The Library of Congress is one of the biggest libraries in the world, its collections include more than 167 million items. Established in the early nineteenth century literally for the U. S. president, vice president and members of the both houses of the Congress, it’s now open for any adult readers including foreign citizens. The library is physically housed in three buildings at the very center of Washington, right in front of the Capitol. The oldest is the Thomas Jefferson Building, constructed in 1890–97. The second one, the John Adams Building, was constructed in the 1930s (opened for the public in 1939), after the Jefferson Building has run out of space. The James Madison Memorial Building was constructed in 1971–76 and opened in 1980; it’s the biggest one of the three buildings. It wasn’t enough either, however, so one more storage was built later outside the city.

All the three buildings are connected by underground passageways that is quite convenient. For me, the Jefferson Building is the nicest one, so all the photos are from there. The access to the entrance hall, by the way, is open for all the visitors; the library card is required only in the working area.




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Klingle Road—a ruined street in Washington, D.C.

Klingle Road is a small street in Washington, D.C., just near Macomb Street where I lived in 2012–13.  By now, it has been already repaired and transformed into a walking root, but eight years ago it was out of use and even closed to motor traffic.  The cause was that the main part of the road lies in a ravine, so that it used to be flooded by water and mud from the slopes after every heavy rain.  At the same time there are no houses at Klingle Road itself, all the nearest buildings look to other streets.  If I hadn’t been shown this street at the beginning of my stay in Washington, I would probably haven’t even noticed it at all.  The street is not too long, surrounded by nice and comfortable residential areas.  Its eastern end leads to Washington Zoo.  To see such a ‘secret’ small area of desolation at the heart of a big city was especially surprising.

Klingle Road
On 26 January 2013 I finally managed to take a photo of snow in Washington.  The previous days, it fell in the morning and melted away while I was having breakfast 😉

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Alexandria, Virginia

American town of Alexandria, Virginia, is one of the oldest towns in the country, founded in mid-eighteenth century, and the first settlements of European colonists emerged there already in late seventeenth century.  The town is near Washington, on the opposite bank of the Potomac River.  In 1791, Alexandria was included in the newly established District of Columbia, but in 1846 the federal government returned it to the State of Virginia.  The town in quite nice, with old streets and neighborhoods, so you certainly ought to see it if you ever come to Washington.

I was in Alexandria twice—in 2012 and in 2017.  The pictures below are made in 2012, when I was there together with Claudia Galloppa. It was in October, in the midst of autumn, on the eve of Halloween and of the presidential elections 😉



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Air and Space Museum in Washington

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.

Something brought from other planets is certainly kept inside these stony cubes 😉
Voyager.  The first non-stop and non-refuelled flight around the world was made on this plane in 1986.
The car of Breitling Orbiter 3 stratospheric balloon.  Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones made in it a non-stop flight around the world in 1999.  It was the first flight like that made in a balloon.

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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:

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, serves as a cathedral church of the Patriarch of Bulgaria, designed in Russia and built in 1904–12 in honour to the Russian soldiers who died during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, as a result of which Bulgaria was liberated from Ottoman rule.
I don’t know who is this, but it looks wonderful 😉

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A Party for the Friends of INION

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’…

Народ начинает собираться…
People begin to come…

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Frogs’ ‘Weddings’

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:

Лягушачьи свадьбы


Лягушачьи свадьбы

HP3000 computer, still functioning

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:

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