Good Links on Experience and Perspective

Another great link from Alex’s Facebook is this article on how relativism came to bite its proponents in their smug, dumb asses. This lesson would be funny if it weren’t costing us all so dearly. 

Also, I picked up New Yorker after a break and was very pleasantly surprised. There is, for instance, a very good article on Trump supporters in Colorado: “People have reasons for the things that they believe, and the intensity of their experiences can’t be taken for granted; it’s not simply a matter of having Fox News on in the background. But perhaps this is a way to distinguish between the President and his supporters. Almost everybody I met in Grand Junction seemed more complex, more interesting, and more decent than the man who inspires them.” Don’t pay attention to the dumb subtitle. It was changed from the print version.  

There is also a very interesting piece titled “American Inferno” which one can use to teach students how dangerous it is to trust a first-person narrative. 

As you can see, all 3 links point to the danger of deifying “experience and individual perspective.” 

A Fit of Consumerism

Coming home after an absence of two weeks can make one feel very much out of it. I went to the grocery store yesterday and saw crowds of people drag away enormous quantities of boxed food supplies. I wondered if the whole town was experiencing a weird attack of consumerism. It looked like a bunch of Soviet people visiting an American supermarket for the first time and losing their minds amidst the abundance.

And today I found out that half of the town hasn’t had any electricity for two days because of the Saturday night storm. It’s good to know there’s no crazy buying epidemic going on and no Soviet people have moved in. 

Okroshka: The Recipe

Okroshka is one of the most typical Soviet dishes that is very popular in the summer. All that you need to do is chop quite finely the following:

  • radishes
  • cucumbers
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • parsley
  • boiled potatoes
  • green onions

You can just leave it at that for a meatless version, or you can add some chopped cooked skinless chicken breast. I actually use bologna because that’s what N prefers but it’s just as good meatless. You can also chop up some apple instead of the meat. I know it sounds like a weird way of substituting the meat but it totally works here. 

Russians pour kvass over the chopped vegetables but in Ukraine we mix water and kefir in equal proportions and add a bit of lemon juice. I don’t add any salt because there’s already bologna and kefir in there but most people do.  Then we pour the liquid over the chopped vegetables and put the whole thing in the fridge for a couple of hours.

It’s eaten cold, of course. 

Vacations Rule

With all due respect, people who were saying that spending 2 weeks by the beach and doing zero work is wrong and unproductive have no idea. After my vacation, I’m flying around the house, super energized and managing to do 4 times more than usual. 

Our goal is now to go on beach vacations twice a year. We don’t want to become so American that we’d feel bad for that. By the way, one of the reasons why I publish as much as I do is that I take a ton of time for rest, vacations, reading for fun, aimless staring at the ceiling, bubble baths with glossy magazines, etc. Of course, I’d still do all of it even if it got in the way of publishing because I don’t see the point of having a rich CV if I never get to indulge in the pleasure of lounging about aimlessly. 

Housework Day

Today is my first full day back home home, and I’ll dedicate it to household duties. Cleaning, unpacking, cooking (borscht for me, okroshka for N). Oh, the joy, the happiness! My DVR recorded 76 hours of Law & Order reruns, so housework is an excuse to watch. 

Does anybody want the okroshka recipe? It’s one of those cold soups that I detest but it’s a Soviet staple.