Hey, Prizrak I did see Bill Gates, but only from about 100 yards. The hall filled up with people really quick. I saw him at VSLive in San Francisco in 2004. He had made a funny video which he showed us there, but the video he showed yesterday completely topped the VSLive one. He hired the actor from Napoleon Dynamite and it was really, really funny. Seriously, you might think that it wouldn't be, but it was.

After the conference, I took the metro and the bus to get to the Russian part of town. I found a really cool video, book, and CD store. The guy who ran the place was really cool. I got to practice a lot of Russian with him. I told him that I spoke English, but I like to practice Russian, so he said, "okay we'll go with the Russian, and if we have a problem, then we'll use the English." He moved to the states back in '87 from St. Petersburg. He said he left because they didn't like Jews there. After getting exactly what I was looking for and more, I asked him if he knew where I could get some borsch. He ran next door to the store/cafe and asked them if they had any left. They did. Over at the cafe they were really nice too. I got to practice more Russian. The girl at the counter was from Uzbekistan, and she spoke just a little more English than I spoke Russian. She didn't know where Montana was, but that's okay. She said she'd find it on the map.

Although my camera quit working after the second time I dropped it on the cement, the day didn't turn out too bad.

9 comments:

Prizrak said...

It's cool that you found the Russian neighborhood. Funny how that guy told you that he immigrated because they didn't like Jews over there. Most of the Russian-speaking people in NY and LA are Jews from Russia and Ukraine and it's an interesting story as to how they came to be there in such numbers.

You see, in the late 1970's the Soviet government decided to let anyone who wanted to leave the country do so and thus began this wave of immigration. Of course, it made no differnce to an average person, because no country was willing to accept them, unless they were some famous dissident like Solzhenitsin. As for the Jews, Israel was willing to accept them no questions asked and a lot of Russian and Ukrainian Jews quickly moved there.

In the US the immigration laws also favored the Jews. They could apply for asylum based to claims of antisemitism. Now, I am sure a lot of these claims were true, but I also know for certain that some of them were not.

You see, the Soviet Union wasn't exactly like the Nazi Germany, as the Jews were legally not denied any rights, anti-semitism was highly looked down upon and it was very common for Jews to occupy very prestigious positions in society and government, so you can't really say that they were discriminated against on an official level. The Americans knew that an so, a lot of the asylum claims were based on personal discrimination. Some of the claims were rather outlandish.

I have a Jewish friend from my home-town in Ukraine, who now lives with his family in New York. He was telling me how before he came to the US, he got coached on exactly what he needed to say to get an asylum.
They basically told him to make something up involving antisemetic violence. Something as simple as "My Russian neighbor chased after me with a big axe because I am Jewish". They told him that "the dumb Americans will believe just about anything." He said that a lot of his friends made up stories like that in order to get an asylum in the US. I have also heard of non-Jewish Russians and Ukrainians buying fake documents that "proved" their Jewish heritage to the Americans.

Honestly, I can't really blame them for wanting to escape the political and economic systems in place in the USSR and make a new life for themselves in the US. It is just unfortunate that they had to make Russian and Ukrainian people look like antisemetic brutes in the eyes of Americans in the process. The Ukrainian Jew comedian Yakov Smirnoff made a career in the US out of making Russians look like barbarous bafoons. In Soviet Russia, the blog posts you! :)

By the way, Sergey Brin, the founder of Google, came to the US from Leningrad with his parents in 1979, at the age of 5, as part of the initial wave of immigrants. I read that his parents made sure that he learned Russian language and culture. He apparently frequents the Russian neighborhoods in SF, especially Katia's Russian Tea Room. :)

lance said...

That's cool, I tried to go to Katia's while I was in San Francisco, but they were closed. I went to the Russian Bear instead.

zeliphias said...

oooh poor camera, what kind is it btw?

lance said...

Well, it was a Kodak EasyShare CX7220. At the time, it was the cheapest camera which took an SD card that I could find. At least I won't have to buy a new card when I get a new camera.

lance said...

Bill and Napoleon now reported on CNN.

lance said...

Funny, I found a link to my flickr picture on zdnet.

lafalda said...

hey, 100 yards will do. i think i gave you 100 feet, but put that little star in that little box, little fella. stick away.

lance said...

Thanks for the leniency, lafalda. I will.

KrystyKay said...

How could I have missed this? it's AMAZING!