Saturday, September 11, 2010

Experiential Refugee

I have renamed my blog.

Here is why:

First of all, having a Russian titles is maybe a little inappropriate for a number of reasons. First, the blog is written in English. I don't know where the convention originates, but most things I've read match the title language with the content language.

Second: I don't even live in Russia any more. (As a side note, there are still a few things that might yet appear on the blog about Russia -- but don't be confused; I might finish one of a number of half-formed writings about Russia, even though I'm not in Russia.)

The other main reason for wanting to change the title is that I think my Russian has come far enough that the title is no longer accurate. Granted, it's still fairly accurate to call my blog I don't speak Russian, but I would feel more comfortable if the title were adjusted to reflect my linguistic potential. Unfortunately, as a title Limited Conversation Potential when Employing the Local Language, Although Functionally Competent in Certain High Occurrence Situations, flows like a morning-after vindaloo. I have thus decided to abandon the notion of titular discussion of my Russian.

Hence, the new title of my blog: Experiential Refugee.

I was going to go into a pseudo-academic spiel about things like the difference between the formal and informal definitions of refugee; and I was planning to explain the historical context of it all, in order not to seem like I'm demeaning the seriousness of what it means to be a real refugee, fleeing from war and persecution and all the rest of that -- but I got bored with trying to detangle refugee from displaced person, and the historical and diplomatic contexts surrounding the definition; and I chose to believe you would too. I've decided to limit the content of my writings to complaining about women, bemoaning my poor grasp of Russian, and how bad things taste when I cook them.

So, Experiential Refugee means that I've left my home country to experience things I couldn't do in New Zealand. This is not to say that Aotearoa is impoverished of interesting things to see and do -- I just thought it was a clever title.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Explanation Wanted

I just found that I can check the statistics for my blog. No surprise that readership levels seem to be on the wane, since it's been four months since I last updated.

Blogger also has a breakdown of the sites that have referred to my blog -- that is, where people found a link to here. Number one on the list (with a number more at home on a thermometre than on a tally of readership) was Facebook. Either people are clicking the link I have on my FB page, or someone has posted a link to this blog on their FB page; which seems so unlikely that I don't know why I bothered to suggest the idea.

Next on the list is People come to my site from search topics as diverse as anecdotes porusski, govoryu po russki, need for speed most wanted russki, and last time it's only cause we need three questions what colour is your eyes?? po russki. It turns out that, for that last search, my blog is the most relevant thing on the Internet.

We have now crossed the line between that makes perfectly good sense to if you want to participate in the Internet, you need to learn to stop finding things weird.

Number three on the list is the homepage for a company called Kompaniya Reinvest -- a name that would be misleading if it looked like it meant anything. KR deals in renovation and construction of residential houses and apartments in and around Moscow.

The logical question to ask here is What? Behind Facebook and Google, the third biggest referrer to my blog is a Russian renovation company called The Reinvest Company? How on earth does one get from there to here in one step?

If I was bewildered by number three on the list, number four makes me want to quit the Internet. I don't even know what it was that I found, but it looks like the homepage of a 15 year-old Russian shut-in, designed using Geocities and a passing familiarity with aesthetics. The front page of the site is a list of links to short articles (most more like paragraphs than articles) on topics that could only be interesting to people who have given up on self-improvement. There is an article on how snoring increases the likelihood of divorce, an article about a man in Novosibersk who illegally painted markings on the road, a collection of photos of people pulling funny faces, and a description of a book of semen-based recipes (not a review, or a link to where to buy the book, just a statement that this book exists). The only external links were to porn and dating sites, and the most prominently displayed of these was a dead link. And halfway down the page were 12 photos of naked women, six with penises, the other half without.

I'm at a loss. What? How? Why?