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Most memorable events of 2009

December 19, 2009 3 comments

A few days ago I learned about the writing contest on Real English, a pretty cool site for natives Speakers of Russian learning English. Why I think it’s cool is because if I wanted to create a web resource about learning English I’d probably put together something similar. I even registered there. Probably the only thing I’d do differently would be the amount of Russian on the site, sure among its target audience are people who’re just making their very first baby steps in English so explanations about grammar, pronunciation and spelling in Russian are inevitable, but I’d try to stick to English exclusively in the sections for intermediate and advanced learners. It’s just my opinion though, all in all real-english.ru seems to be a very useful resource with a very friendly community.

Ok, here’s my entry for the contest.

Most memorable events of 2009

Economy
The global economic downturn caught up with me this year and I had to deal with its consequences on a local and very personal level. In other words I had to look for work for the first time since the dim and distant 2001. For a time I tried to sit it out burning through my savings but sticking to my guns, unwilling to look for a ‘real’ job. Truth be told I’ve never found a real job, but I got a job of sorts with a real estate agency and in spite of a very depressed residential real estate market in the city I live in I’ve managed to close a ‘whopping’ 5 deals. There’s a serious downside to a job where you’re paid commission only; no sales means no pay. One can deal with this sort of approach to compensation when selling is easy but in a seriously depressed real estate market and with very limited experience in real estate making a sale depends at least as much on luck as it does on the amount of effort you put in and luck is notorious for being the opposite of dependable most of the time. So I’m now looking for a job where there’s some sort of base salary.

Technology
MS released Windows 7; we downloaded and installed a release candidate back in May. It was a pleasant surprise after Vista, I even wrote a piece about it in a forum, titling it Vista done Right and indeed Windows 7 is everything Vista aspired to be but never lived up to. I don’t suppose there are going to be any downgrades from Windows 7 to Vista or even to the venerable XP. Finally MS has once again managed to roll out an OS that just works, the first time having been with XP. It has to be noted however, that MS have gotten into a rather nasty habit where they first release a half-baked bug-ridden excuse for an OS with lots of hype in the media that lures scores of hapless users and early adopters into actually paying money to essentially beta-test it (Windows ME in 2000 and more recently Vista) and then about one year later they release another product(XP in 2001 and now Windows 7), which when compared with its predecessor, seems to just work.

Google demoed their Chrome OS; I watched the video on youtube; I was underwhelmed. It’s just a Linux kernel with the Chrome browser on top, functioning as a very crude and rather simplistic GUI. The thing Google showcased probably isn’t even an alpha, let alone a beta or a release candidate, so my earnest hope is that by the time it’s released they’ll have developed it into something a bit more sophisticated than a glorified, or should I say disgraced, web browser. I mean, even on a net-book, which they say is the niche they’re targeting, it would be a miserable sight. Just my opinion, though. And for the record I do like the Chrome browser, when it’s used properly, i.e. as a web browsing tool in a decent operating system. Maybe I’m getting old.

Deaths
My grandmother has died this year. My cousin’s been taking it really badly. When I talked to him on Skype yesterday he was talking gibberish about how if only she’d been looked after properly, grandma could have lived to be at least 120. Well, she was 93 when she died and she’d been senile for the past two years. Last year when we came to visit she didn’t recognize us, she didn’t know who my mom was, she thought I was my mom’s brother or husband and she kept asking my aunt about that woman that was staying with them, meaning my mom. Every day she’d come and ask us who we were and where we’d come from and every time we told her, she’d muse about what a long distance we’d traveled and how tired we had to be. To say she wasn’t all there would be an understatement, in effect she wasn’t there at all. My aunt told us  a few months before we came grandma’s blood pressure went through the roof, they called an ambulance, the doctor told her to stay in bed and take it easy for several days, but she wouldn’t listen, the very next day she was up and about, making jams for the winter and a couple of days later she began losing it, she stopped recognizing people, she’d come into the kitchen and eat even though she’d only eaten 15 minutes ago simply because she didn’t remember eating etc. Basically as far as her personality is concerned it was then that she died, it was just her body kept going for another two years. Sort of like Lenin, only without being embalmed.
And just a couple of days ago, Gaidar and Turchinskiy also left the gig. I was in a cafe with some clients, waiting our turn at the registration chamber. There was a TV hanging in the corner over the bar, news came on and they reported the two deaths. The reaction of my clients to Gaidar’s death was rather peculiar, ‘Serves him right, the bastard left our whole country destitute’. They were really sorry about Turchinskiy though.

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