Thursday, October 15, 2009

Leaving on a Ferrybusplane

This weekend three friends and I will be travelling through Estonia to Tallinn, then across the way to Helsinki, where we'll spend a day filled with IKEA and H&M and Sibelius-dedicated sculptures before heading back to the Baltics. That's one good thing about living in a small country – it's much easier to get to the bigger ones surrounding it.

Today, through the assistance of a friend, I found this guy, who roughly translates popular English songs and performs them in Latvian. Some are pretty amusing, while others are just a bit off. The video I've linked, however, has over 95,000 hits on, which is a pretty decent number. It's amusing, to say the least.

English Conversation Group is going well - at the second meeting last week, all three students showed up again. They seem to get my jokes, which is a relief, and are responsive, which is rewarding. After the last lesson the two girls came back to the classroom after getting their coats and were like "This has been bothering us since last week, but...WHY ARE YOU HERE??" It's mostly the mid-teenage group that doesn't understand why someone from the States would so willingly set up life-shop in Latvia. I thought I had explained things fairly well during the first Group, but I guess I still left some things unanswered.

In other Riga news, yesterday we had a wind storm advisory. I guess that's what you'd have to call it. The TV screen was literally scrolling a message that read something such as "Unless absolutely necessary, it is recommended for people not to leave their homes". I didn't think it was that bad, but it was very rainy, very windy, and rather cold. Some parts of Riga have gotten their fall colours, but the majority of it is still stuck in a stunted air of almost-there. It's like watching a little kid trying in vain to blow up a balloon because their lungs aren't strong enough or they're just missing something.

I had another analogy involving a dog trying to pass excrement, but I won't go there. But I guess I just kind of did.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Subject Unrelated

This is almost entirely unrelated to anything, except for the fact that I am in Latvia and that's where our dog, Kimene, was born. But for no reason that I can immediately identify, I really really miss her today. She was a one of a kind dog. Excuse me -- person. It would be offensive to refer to her as having been anything else.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Just had my second of what will end up being three trips to the clinic. Today's task was to hit up the ultrasonoscopy/ultrasound section to be, what I have now deemed it, "jelly-bellied". This physician was very grandmotherly, and after looking at the write-up of Tuesday's surgeon looked at me and very sincerely asked "Alright, but how do YOU feel?" The procedure itself was...surprisingly calming? The ultrasound "wand", I'll call it, was very warm. I could have fallen asleep and kind of wish I had done so and had started snoring, just to see the physicians face when she'd have to shake me awake.

Of all the institutional things in Latvia, I think I like the health system the most, minus the 1. Riga Hospital, which seems to be the home to rampant ignorance, with the exception of the women at Registration. I'm also VERY glad I signed up for the health policy offered through work, as the visit to the surgeon would have set me back LVL 20 (~$40) and to the ultrasonoscopy a whopping LVL 30 (~$60). I'm pretty sure that I'm closing in on the coverage limit, but since I go so rarely to the doctor for actual problems, I'm not complaining yet.

Tomorrow I go back to have my ultrasound results looked at and explained to me by the surgeon. What I can discern from the medical text (another perk of my job -- you unwillingly pick up jargon the form the ability to decipher texts you otherwise would never look into) tells me that I need to ask the surgeon to explain to me what's going on. But overall the report reads positively and doesn't scream "IMMEDIATE SURGERY!" or "THIS IS THE MOST MESSED UP CASE EVER!" or "WTF?"
So I'm not worried.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Looking the Other Way

Yesterday I had an appointment at a nearby clinic with a surgeon. During the visit I had my lower abdomen poked and prodded and was then instructed to turn my head and cough.

I was lying on the exam table and almost lost it in a fit of laughter. Turning your head and coughing is something I associate with the 1970s-1980s, males and prostate exams. I guess it works both ways. It was all I could to to turn my head quick enough and cough extra loud to mask my guffawing.

I've said it once and I'll say it again: the Latvian health care system never ceases to amaze or amuse me. I get to go back tomorrow (Thursday) and expect a whole new adventure.

Also, after several days in a row of rainy and overcast weather and general fall frigidness, it promises to be a nice 12°C today, which means I may be able to finally get a decent run in. My flatmate Julija is also back from Russia -- TDA Ligo, the dance troupe she rolls with, won the Grand Prix in St. Petersburg.

I look relatively dishevelled this morning because my cat has taken to lovingly kneading the back of my head while I sleep. The effect of his furry pads and ruthless talons digging into my scalp create a nice 80s prom look that is hard to brush out or comb down. I will have to find a way to avoid this. The easiest ways probably involve wearing a hat or reactivating my account and researching whether the sale of animals is legal.