Friday, April 23, 2010

Weather by Sybil

The weather summary for Riga today is as follows: rain, snow, rain, snow, sun, rain. Repeat ad nauseam.

We're nearing the end of April, and though Spring had seemed to more or less figure itself out, it's suddenly freaking out and throwing us all for a loop.

In other news, flights have resumed for the most part, which means our friend Emma will be able to return to Belgium a week after her initial flight date. I think at least one of my co-workers is still stranded somewhere, most likely in England or Ireland, judging by how long she's wherever she is now. Since family has asked previously, there are still no signs of volcanic ash in Latvia and I kind of doubt there will be. Unless that snow was really ash. In which case, jokes on us.

After this weekend I'll have finished my two-week stint of dripping a combination of liquids and gels into my eyes. I'd say I'll be glad to be done with it, but oddly enough I think I'll almost miss it. It quickly became a part of my morning and evening routines, and with the exception of the evening/morning of the work party out in Sigulda, I didn't miss a single dosage, which is strange, even for me. Usually I'm horrible at remembering to take care of things related to my health (re: that cough I had in high school and let go untreated for two months before learning it was a form of walking pneumonia, or those kind of painful months leading up to finally booking what was my first ever colonoscopy). Part of me thinks that I value my eyes a bit more than I may let on. I don't think I'd mind eventually going blind, but not at 24. Not on my watch.

Pun not intended.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

About Geocaching

Saturday I went on a work outing that involved a day full of running and driving around the city trying to find as many geocache points as possible before lunch.

For those who don't know what it is or do and want to know more: There's probably a point near your house. I know there's one near mine :)

Though there are many disappointments in geocaching and the joy of finding a hidden cache is brief, however intense, it's also a great way to see more of the city or region in which you live. For example, I would have never gone to the former USSR Military Academy grounds (a now abandoned, bum-ridden and spray-painted complex), or picked my way through mounds of broken glass and shattered cement blocks to the top of one of the abandoned buildings in the VEF area of Riga. In addition to being a great team-building activity, it was also a great time and reason to explore.

The hardest cache to find was the one located by the Fire-fighting Museum in Riga. We spent an hour at the site looking into every possible nook and cranny, overturning every stone in the tiny flowerbed out front -- all while a group of fire-fighters looked on in amusement during their smoke break. Eventually we gave up, but after realising later that there were encrypted hints for most of the points, figured out the clue and drove back to the museum to triumphantly jump up and down when we finally had the cache in hand. Mid-day traffic was sparse, but cars did slow down as drivers tried to understand what why this group of four adults was prancing about a street corner in glee.

My team found 4-5 out of the 10-12 points we visited. Sunday afternoon after I got back from Sigulda, where we had our "8th Grade Reunion" themed party and feast, I did some work from home then headed out to find a few more caches. That night I told my mom about all of it and in 15 minutes had her writing down coordinates to find a cache near her house back in the States. It really is a global phenomenon and an addicting one at that.

I haven't really heard that much from other grad. schools yet. There seem to be a lot of technical issues going on: one school's system had my application fee marked as "not paid", but when I wrote to ask "WTF" and by the time I got a reply saying that's not what they saw, it was back to "paid". Other school systems seem to be missing or temporarily misplacing recommendation forms from my people, but if my in-box has three confirmations from three different reviewers, why should I think differently? I'm hoping these issues will be resolved, as I would be somewhat uncomfortable writing my former professors to say "So you know that thing you filled out five months ago? D'ya think you could do it again?"

I'm also hoping that the delay in hearing back from schools has a lot to do with the fact that I'm in Latvia, not that the schools are trying to decide on the best way to crush my confidence. At the same time it's frustrating, but what are you gonna do?

Spring in Latvia is in semi-swing. We've had sun and brisk weather, but today is a bit overcast. I wonder if that volcanic ash is finally making its way to our little country...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sore Eyes

I apparently have papillary conjunctivitis in my left eye. I went to the doctor this evening and after the ophthalmologist thoroughly poked around my eyeballs (so thoroughly, in fact, that we probably should have gone on at least three dates, first), she gave me a diagnosis, two prescriptions and sent me away bleary eyed and sniffling. For the next two weeks I get to administer two medications two times daily. Then I have to go back and meet with the contact lens specialists to have them tell me if I can even WEAR lenses. I think? Maybe she just meant whether or not I can wear them in respect of my poor, sick eyes.

As opposed to previous trips to the doctor's, this trip was a bit more expensive. Though I did get some kind of note qualifying me for a discount next time. The Latvian medical world works in strange ways.

Wonderfully sunny in Riga.


As much as I appreciate my cousin's work in setting up a family server run blog for me, I have to admit that navigating and keeping things in order is much easier with the Blogger system. This is especially true considering the Blogger system also connects with the Gmail server, which will make linking to my Picassa albums much, much easier. I hope Steve will forgive me!

As of today I will be slowly transferring older posts from to this blog. The most recent posts will appear first. This means that over the next week my archive will balloon to a size large enough to knock over the radio tower in Riga.

I also hope to make more headway with this. Expect Latvian music reviews and Riga restaurant reviews. Possibly even Latvian city reviews. Oh, how the writing will commence!

Slightly Absent

I haven't written in what seems like a long, long time again. I seem to have lost my drive for writing, partially because I've been pushing all my energy into photography-related things. I'm learning new tricks with Photoshop and am even playing around more with colours and contrast. The results are good so far.

Easter was spent with a group of friends at our friend Ilze's house out in Jurmala. We had a feast of home-made Latvian style pancakes filled with ground beef, bananas and Nutella, and cheese. Soy cheese for me, of course. The fantastic soy cheese I picked up on that weekend trip to Brussels :) We also walked to the beach, took many photos, and then decorated eggs the good old Latvian way. Lots and lots of onion skins. The eggs also turned out lovely, and were then bashed to near smithereens during our friendly egg-wars.

The weather has been better in Riga, too. The week after Brussels (which was a weekend trip of running around seeing everything we could possibly see and eating everything we could possibly eat -- including escargot -- which was DELICIOUS) we still had snow in Latvia, and the weather got rainy and damp and disgusting. Then it miraculously all passed and one day the snow was gone! Today was about 45ºF, which allowed me to go for my first run of the Spring season and spend most of my time outside for the rest of the afternoon.

In the evening I was to meet relatives to go to a play at The Stage Theatre, but there was a huge miscommunication and two of the main actors were in some other Latvian city putting on some other play, so... everyone was apologised to and invited to come back the next weekend or to get a refund. So next weekend it is! Instead we backtracked a bit to Gallery kim? to catch the last three Baltic Student Film Festival shorts and then have a delicious dinner at Meta Cafe. The Spikeri area of Riga used to be kind of shady, but in the past year has improved by leaps and bounds and is quickly becoming a hipster/indie hot spot for galleries, concerts and good eats. Whereas before I would have told people to think twice before heading out there, I'd recommend it now. Even with all the drunks and slightly creepy people still around. But they exist in groups and generally stay to themselves.