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Old 09-05-2014, 01:54 PM   #1
illlefr4u
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 4
bloobfish

Good whatever time of day it is where you are!

I am a Russian-of-almost-30 who has been living in São Paulo(Brazil) over the last 3 and a half years. My attempts to integrate into the local environment are of varying success, and so is the study of a new language. I came here with no money on my poker account and (how ironic it might be) with no job other than poker.

Now, for the first time in my life, I make a living playing poker, and earn more then routinely spend though Sao is not the cheapest city to reside. So, I decided to bring something to the poker community. It is supposed to be a three-language (English, Portuguese and Russian) blog, and it is the first time I am making notes in a foreign language, so, please, don’t judge me too harshly.

Well, it is supposed to be a blog of an ordinary asocial person from a little out-of-the-way place who wanted to become the smartest, but failed.

Now, few words about my humble self. I was born and grown in a closed administrative-territorial formation (according to Wikipedia) in Western Siberia (about 3000 miles from Moscow) with the population of 120 thousand. My family was poor, but we never starved. My mother is a teacher (in Russia this job is far from being well-paid), my father is an Oracle database manager (though he could have found a place with a reasonably good salary, he always preferred legal local job to provide a pension). I have three sisters, one of them is one year older than me, she lives in Moscow; she is a Ph.D. in Art History (Music, to be more specific). My second sister is 7 years younger than me, she works as a school teacher in my native town (together with my mum). And the last of my sisters studies at Moscow State University, Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics.

I started school when I was about 5 (**) and have been taking courses together with my elder sister. My mother has been working at that same school, and that, actually, had affected all my schooldays. I was a typical nerd, I loved maths. Other courses didn't seem important to me, and I never hesitated to show it. So, I graduated from Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics in neighboring city.

At the same time I've finished an Art School specializing in Violin.

I have been switching jobs frequently, 5 places (and about 14, informally) in 5 years, have started two Ph.D. programs, but never completed any of them.



Being an introvert I try to fight all the extreme manifestations of such temper. I have liberal views on most aspects of life.

This might sound like a school-kid-essay thing, but, anyway, my leisure activities are: cycling, soccer, horse riding and I usually go to listen to my favorite musicians (both at nightclubs and fests) or to see the show of some bands that are new to me.

I am planning to post stories that happened (to me or not to me) or just some stuff that seems important, to make notes about things that really catch my attention. As the matter of self-control, I'll try to include some stories where I was not the one to play a positive role. As I am totally ignorant in the matters of visual taste, my friend artist agreed to help with some illustrations.

It would be interesting to consider some examples of cultural differences between the countries, that is why all the comments and questions about Russians’ behavior (whether atypical or strange) in various situations are always welcome.

I don’t want to discuss poker questions in this blog, such as strategy, limits, hands. But I am ready and open to discuss all near-poker stuff, like discipline, player’s life, ethics, etc.

Since I have no idea of how to justify mentioning the direct participants of events apart from not using their true names, I claim all stories and characters being fictional (which is true, actually, since the reality has already passed through the prism of my mind) and not to have much in common with what really happened.

Thus, guys, let's get started!

*- a closed area in Russia where they keep strange objects and make nuclear weapons.

** - in Russia suggested age to start school is 7.

Last edited by illlefr4u; 09-05-2014 at 02:02 PM.
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Old 09-08-2014, 03:32 PM   #2
illlefr4u
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Re: bloobfish

It's raining in russia:
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Old 09-13-2014, 07:54 PM   #3
illlefr4u
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Re: bloobfish

After the first grown-up equitation experience I ended up cherishing an ambition to make riding a part of my routine. It all started with Altai Mountains where I've been spending my holidays. For the locals, hiring their horses out to the tourists for a couple of hours is a usual way to get extra money. So I took the bait.
I got on the horse, took some instructions and went dawn the small wood. I liked it so much that in a week I found myself having a one-day horse tour through the Altai villages.
It was the first time I rode at a gallop and experienced the way horses love competing with each other. Coming back to my native town I started looking for an opportunity for regular horse riding. There were two stables in the town. In one of them horses were kept in awful conditions (not because of a good life, of course). The other provided better conditions but there were only two options: to take riding lessons or to walk dawn the same 1 km track between the road and the stadium. I didn`t want neither of these, especially when the seven-month freeze entered the picture and the horses were sure not to feel comfortable taking someone somewhere through the snowdrifts.
So, I have abandoned the idea right away.

When I moved and settled in a new place I started my first attempts to find a good stable but failed at first because all the stables I found couldn`t be reached by public transport and we didn`t have a car. At the end I managed to find an acceptable bus route. 10 minutes walking from the bus stop an enormous space of ground opened to my view. It was surrounded by the forest; there were stables, two round pens for training and a place for grazing and paddock. It looked comfortable and as if it was designed for the animals.
The stable offered horse riding lessons as well as park rides, one to three hours long, and once in two months they organized several-day trekking in different areas of Brazil. The ordinary riding turned out (as I further realized) to take place in the nearest 10 sq km large ecological park open for riders and cyclers only.

I didn`t wait long for my second park ride as I wanted to refresh the sitting-in-a-saddle feeling before the forthcoming all-day trekking.

It was on a weekend when me and my friend gathered for a second ride, and an eight year old girl Amy decided to join us after her riding class. Amy was riding Luna. I got Cardinon. When we reached the park our instructor let me and Amy go up the top of the mount and focused on my friend`s trotting skills. Only once I'd been to that park which turned out to be really huge, with lots of trails. But little Japanese girl looked confident, so I followed her way. At one trail fork she seemed unsure about the way and I went forward to take a look. While I was passing the horse around whether the girl or Luna made a strange whistle-like sound. That time I thought it might be the way Amy cued her horse to start off from standing position. But Cardinon shied and galloped away. Amy`s horse followed. After galopping down and up the mount I managed to halt panting Cardinon despite Luna approaching.

We decided to stay in the bushes and have been waiting for our instructor long enough to conclude that it would be easier to go back to the park entrance to figure out if we`d taken the right way. We got to the main road and went along at a slow trot. I was riding at the back. Amy, as she wanted to say something to me, halted her horse. As soon as Cardinon`s head reached Luna`s withers we heard the same sound and my horse galloped again.

Amy had been already frightened since the first time, so now, from my first meters at a gallop, I heard sounds more like hysterical ones ’Stop, Luna, stop! Do stop!’. I didn`t panic, I pulled the rein trying to halt the horse and sometimes making attempts to direct it to the clump of bushes (a usual way to halt the horse in a critical situation), but knowing that there was 3 meter gate on our way where the horse would have to stop, I didn`t try hard.

Sometimes Amy stopped screaming, she seemed to put a lot of efforts into keeping in the saddle. Having reached the gate, Cardinon looked around and stopped as I expected. Amy was getting closer and I made Cardinon turn left to leave some space for Luna. It was a fatal mistake. Hearing the hoofbeats, Cardinon started looking for the ways to escape and succeeded. There was a man wide, small path where my horse lunged down. The path wasn`t supposed to be used for horse riding: lots of turns, tree branches at the height of a horseback, not to mention the height of a rider. It was far from easy to gallop with all these turns so I focused on keeping in a saddle and trying to avoid the branch`s thrusts. I didn`t hear Amy`s voice, but the hoof-beats made me think that Amy was doing the same – doing her best to be less injured.


At one of the turns I saw the riderless Luna following me. The branches were getting denser, the path, running along the fence of the park at first, now was getting into the forest. I felt my arms burning from the branch`s thrusts and hoped that I`d get on some wider road. Another turn and I got a surprise - a tree trunk crossing the way, fixed tightly at a bit lower than the horseback height. Cardinon seemed to be going to bend his head and go further but I...I just seized the saddle and prepared for the hit and being thrown out. The next thing I remember was my hand seizing the saddle, me still on the horse, clear blood taste in my mouth, the blood from the gash on my forehead running to my eyes and we are going down a wide road. That time It wasn`t hard to turn the horse to the clump of trees and stop. I got off the horse, took it by the bridle and had a break. In half a minute a park guard on a motorbike arrived. He went out of his guardhouse having heard the girl`s scream. He asked how I felt, said that the second horse was on its way to the park entrance and went to search for our instructor. I got away with the forehead gash and a couple of teeth missing.

Still being in a slight shock I didn`t dare to get on the horse and walked towards the park entrance.
When I reached the entrance gate the guards there told me that the girl got off with some bruises, as she`d fallen off the horse, frayed nerves and strained voice. Soon our instructor arrived and we continued 'the walk'.

Concerning the moral aspect of keeping horses in captivity, people are said to torment the animals and make them exist for the good of humans, not of their own will. It makes some sense concerning the horse racing. In spite of any stallion`s having emulative spirit, the amount of money staked on will get the animal bled white. But if we`re talking about the equestrian sport or about the farm keeping significance then it doesn`t seem so obvious to me.
This is the environmentalists` usual reason: would a horse live with a human if it had a choice?
I rely on my own experience.
I used to live in a small village in the Altai Mountains for some time. The existence of this settlement would be impossible without a horse, because by car or, even more so, by tractor it can`t be reached. So the horses supply sowing and harvest, people`s livelihood. In response, people give them a warm shelter for freezing winters (the temperature drops to -40C). Thus this union helps both to survive.
Another point why I see keeping a horse as a domestic animal reasonable is the following. If there was no equestrian culture, the population of horses would dwindle to a numbers much lower than the current ones. As the horse riding is popular, people defend these animals, keep an eye on their health and population, and derive new breeds.
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Old 09-23-2014, 11:00 AM   #4
illlefr4u
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Re: bloobfish

For a long time I`ve been wrestling with a question: what is absolute importance for man. What can one develop forever and, in spite of all side effects of this development, get better as an individual and society unit?

When I was a child my parents thought me that being clever is the most important thing in one`s life. All the other features are on the second place. If you are clever, you are helpful for the society, the society will respond with the same, so you`ll live on Easy Street. You have to be clever, not well-read. I lived with this idea, tried to get cleverer and hoped to become a part of a clever men society. University was considered to be such a place for me, especially its scientist community. As it`s a clever men society, everything is thought-out, fair, everyone is pleased.
But Russian reality turned out to be a little different.
So it has been in Russia since the Soviet government that the majority of higher education institutions are state.

The founding of Russian universities is poor; the average salary of the scientist is officially $ 550 (18 thousands rubles). In comparison with Brazil, the first year professor here gets about 4 thousand dollars after tax. It`s another order of magnitude. And taking into account that heads of departments and professors have higher salaries, in the beginning of their careers at university young scientists earn about $ 400 in average. In order to survive they have to work part-time somewhere else, which of course makes worse the quality of their scientific works. Another option is to seek their fortune somewhere else: to look for a non-scientific job or a scientific one, but abroad.

Oh yes, how could I forget about grants! They support the scientific researches that the government recognizes as important. These are defense projects and some applied sciences. To receive a grant, apart from extra obligations, you have to fit some criteria. As one smellы money, everything is done by any means possible, and usually the one who is the best at showing off wins: they paraphrase the same research paper and publish it five times, ask some scientists to mention their names among the list of authors in exchange of mentioning these scientists` names in theirs, they quote from their own papers in order to increase their citation index etc. That`s the way the money melts away. The funds have been allocated but a real exhaust is approximate to zero. The pure science is just kept on short commons in this case.


As a result in Russian universities there are either fanatics in the best sense of this word (especially dedicated and willing to work and make two ends meet for any sum of money) or those who aren`t able to get a better paid job (narrow-minded or just stupid), or showing-off-lovers. The fanatics are linchpins, though there aren`t more than 20 per cent of them like in any other sphere.
An argument for all these ideas is my own experience of meeting Russian scientist of the new generation. Most of them are slippery customers and that kind of people who are constantly looking for a profit. However I`ve already got enough stories about Russian scientists and their strange unexplainable actions and that`ll be another post.

By the way: Brazilian scientist community looks much more like I imagined it in my childhood.

But let`s drop the subject of Russian government`s problems and stick to the point of human values. While I was a final year student I came up with a clear idea that being clever was not a panacea. Even by intuition, who seems to be a better person, a clever one but doing bad things and, due to their intellect, doing them well, elegantly and elaborately, or a simple fool trying not to harm? A striking example of clever evildoers in exaggeration you can see in comics that are so popular at the moment: Dr. Hugo Strange, Mr. Freeze and Anarky from Batman, Dr. Mobius, Alistair, Dr. Octopus from Spiderman. This counter example encouraged a new research for an absolutely useful man`s characteristic.
This place tended to be taken by the truth. Be always honest and the society will always be well. The society is well – and you are as a member of the society is also well. But an apple turned out to be wormy.

Imagine a situation: a plane is wrecking. To increase the chances to survive, what implies for people on board, a flight attendant mustn`t tell the passengers about the wreck. And if questioned, they have to tell a lie about some turbulence zone to avoid panic. So the best thing in this case is to tell a lie.
Another striking example of a lie needed is a novel by Boris Akunin ‘Sister Pelagia and the Black Monk’. In the novel a scientist, not willing to spray curiosity around radiant asteroid fallen, prefers to lie to people in order to save their lives.
At the moment the balance is aspiring to being an absolute. To be clever but evil is bad. To be honest but stupid – bad again. To know only mathematics but to have no idea about neither history nor art – questionable too. The balance can be developed (i.e. searched) forever. But maybe it won`t last long and I`ll find another counter example soon.

Unfortunately in the modern world, money is the most valuable thing. It`s strange to hear that from a poker player because in poker almost the only aim is to win some little gold circles. For most people only life of their family or their own one is more valuable than money. The rest is cheaper, (what a word?) and much more. If a person said something questionable, he`s suggested proving by money, and everything is not so clear then. A word is something that you say and forget. But money is a thing you`ll have to look for somewhere, earn it somehow. Bets used to be even higher: one could be challenged to a duel. But humaneness won. Today it`s just money. And just because it`s precious for the majority.

As I see it, that`s one of a few unpleasant after-effects of the Fall of the Iron Curtain – giving an absolute value to money. When they saw a free market, people decided that if you can buy almost anything for money, you can sacrifice anything to get it. To tell a lie – easy. To be rude – why not? To steal – here you are. What if there`s no other chance to steal? It`s better to take more. To kill – but this money is sure to change my life for the better.

Is it for the better?
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