Archive for July, 2012

Russian Meals

July 26 2012

I arrived in Russia a few days ago.  I need food.

I am living in what appears to be some medical/retreat facility deep in the woods of Russia, about 40 minutes from Yaroslavl’.  We can walk to the Volga river from here (and we plan to go swimming on Saturday!)

I need to explain how the food here works, as it is VERY regulated.

Breakfast: 9:00-10:00.  I haven’t figured out this meal yet.  We get two plates (I think).  Most of the time, I can eat very little of it, as the porridge often has butter slabbed on top and I don’t see hot-dogs as a morning  meal.

Lunch: 13:30-14:30.  This is the biggest meal of the day.  By the time lunch rolls around, I am starving since I had such a meager breakfast (and it is a rather late time for me to eat lunch).  For lunch, we start with a small salad, often involving cucumbers in some way.  My favorite salad so far had cucumber, egg and capers.  Then comes the soup, sometimes a vegetable-broth based soup and sometimes borscht.  (Yes, I ate borscht!)  After this comes the main dish.  It is also on a small salad plate and has one starch (often potatoes or rice) and some meat or fish.  Lunch comes with a glass of juice.

“Tea” 16:30-17:00. At tea time, there is sweet water (once it was canned peaches) and a packaged sweet.  The sweet water is a little to sweet for me usually, but I gladly eat the snack they provide.

Dinner: 19:00-19:30.  Yes, this meal is only 1/2 hour, and they mean it too.  I had my plate taken from under me as I had a fork in my mouth one night!  Dinner is similar to lunch, although we don’t have a soup.  But, a sweet pastry, a mini juice box and a piece of fruit is given as dessert.  One day the “sweet” pastry was a bun with sliced hard-boiled egg inside.  To me, it was a perfect dessert, especially after I shook on some salt and pepper!

Some of their favorite ingredients are egg (hard-boiled!), cucumbers, minced meat and beets.  I’m not used to eating so many beets, but at least it is not cheese!  The thing that I am most grateful is that they do not use too much dairy in their cooking, so I am able to eat most items placed in front of me (and I do!)

I do not want to seem like I am complaining about the experience here, since I am actually enjoying the experience.  It is a beautiful (and clean) facility and I am really experiencing Russia.  It’s just very regulated, and not as much food as I am used to eating.  We (luckily) have a stock-pile of snacks to keep us fueled in between meals.


The Defense

July 24 2012

First, I apologize for taking so long to finally write this. But, let me write about my dissertation weekend:

9 June 2012: Some of my family members (mom, dad, Dana & Peyton) embarked on a road trip down to NC. Jersey Frank also drove down solo (haha … why wouldn’t he want to drive with the Fasys?!?!). As they were driving, I practiced my defense talk a few more times. Dave and I went to our friend’s wedding in the afternoon, then we went out to dinner at the Saratoga Grill in Hillsborough.  After dinner, we met our newly wed friends out at the West End Wine Bar.  We didn’t make the actual reception, but at least we were able to celebrate with them a bit.

10 June 2012:  In the morning, Kathy flew in.  My family went shopping at Southpoint to shop, while I practiced a few more (final) times, Kathy settled in, and Dave was grading (I think).  For dinner, we went to Mama Dips since I wanted fried pickles!  Darrell came over that evening to give Dave a haircut.  I went to bed as they were still talking.  I found it incredibly difficult to fall asleep.  I’m not really sure how much I slept that night.  Late in the evening, my brother flew in from Philly.

11 June 2012: This was THE DAY.  I didn’t realize how nervous I was until the day began.  My mom came over in the morning to braid my hair (I attempted to get my hair blown out on Saturday morning, but it just looked like I stuck my fingers in an electrical socket … not the hair style I wanted for my defense).  We eventually made our way to Duke, where we set out a table full of snacks and rearranged the room.  Slowly, everyone started to arrive.  Darrell even showed up with a mo-hawk for the occasion.  I didn’t realize that I was presenting my PhD defense until about half way through.  It seemed surreal.  The questions were friendly (in my opinion), and no real hardball questions were thrown my way.  A little after one hour after I started the presentation, the spectators were kicked out of the room.  In a closed session with my committee, they asked a few more questions before kicking me out too.  We were in the hallway for a little bit (but not too long) before Carlo came out to tell me about a problem .. the committee wrote the wrong date on my paperwork.  His wording choice made Dave have a fearful moment, but I was still in such a daze that I don’t think I heard what he said to me.   I had only a few comments on the dissertation document itself from John.  Other than that, no changes needed to be made!

That evening, we met at Spanky’s for dinner: my family, Herbert and some of my friends.  We got my favorite dish on the menu: the ribs.  We ordered the rib entrée as an appetizer, but could have ordered them for dessert because they were so sweet.  After dinner, Herbert drove Joey to the airport and the rest of my family went back to the hotel (it was Peyton’s bedtime).  The rest of us continued the celebration at the West End Wine Bar and the Crunkleton.

And,that’s how my defense weekend went! I have now submitted all necessary paperwork, made the corrections from John and submitted my dissertation for publication.