Friday, April 10, 2015

A Night in Moscow

Have you ever needed to book a trip to Berlin, and thought, "I could take a non-stop eight hour flight... or, I could spend 16 hours in-transit and connect through Russia" and then chosen the latter? No, you haven't, because that's a stupid idea. Do you have any idea how tired you'll be when you get to Berlin? Can't sleep on planes? Not a problem if you enjoy thirty consecutive hours of consciousness - well within the ability of any recent college graduate.


I'm at least as good at procrastinating as you are. I was heading to JSConf EU in Berlin (a JavaScript software developer conference) and plane tickets were cheap (about $900 round trip), but I knew I needed to act soon before prices went up. And that's why I only waited a month. Waiting two months would have been irresponsible.

Most prices had more than doubled, but there was this one flight option still in the $900 range. Yeah, it's out of my way, but on the way back it puts me in Moscow for 21 hours. So I'll get to explore the capital of Russia for a night. Sure, why not?

Why Not

Did you know that visiting Russia requires a visa? Did you know that that visa costs $200, requires an official invitation and voucher from your hotel (an extra $25) and a picture exactly 35mm by 45mm?

First, I got my voucher by sending a photograph of my credit card and signature in an unencrypted email to Russia, because that seemed like a pretty legit way to conduct an international transaction.

With voucher in hand, I walked down to the visa center (two blocks from where I work), but there was a problem. You know how you probably have a middle name, but you don't put it on everything because you're not a narcissist? (my theatre friends won't understand) My voucher didn't have my middle name, but my passport and visa application did. This is obviously a problem since there might have been two Bret Copeland's with the same birthday traveling to Russia on the same day and staying at the same hotel. The only way to unequivocally verify that this voucher was for me was, of course, with my middle name - a fool-proof government system.

Oh, and I also needed that photo. I told the clerk "I still need a photo. I guess you offer that here." and in return, I received a devastating look of motherly disappointment, as if she expected better of me, but still loved me and would help in any way she could. "No. Where did you hear we offer photos?" Um, well, I read it on their website which says, "The Russian Visa center offers express passport-style photo service on site." That's alright, I'm sure they didn't mean it.

She told me "if you can get a new voucher and photo today, then you can come back and put in the application, otherwise we charge $45 per day to hold onto your documents." That's okay, how about I just take my passport and four pieces of paper with me and not pay you $45 to keep them in a folder?

Why does going to Russia require a photo which looks like you've been arrested? Does it make processing you in Russian prisons easier?
Alright, so the Visa Center doesn't do 35mm x 45mm photos, but you know who else doesn't do 35mm x 45mm photos? Everyone. I had to take my own photo against the white walls of my apartment. Luckily I'm too lazy to paint them. It was annoying, but not smiling was a requirement, and I'm good at that. After some time in Photoshop to lighten the background, the slightly out of focus photo was cropped and sized for printing.

Tried printing it on my printer at home and remembered it sucks. So I went to FedEx Office and they told me they can't print on glossy paper since it murders the parents of baby elephants in North Dakota, or some other excuse that didn't make sense to me. But they do have a photo printer which conveniently ignores the dimensions specified by your files.

I was told that if I wanted the photo printer to print exact sizes, I could print the photo off on regular paper, scan it on the photo machine, and then have it re-print the photo on photo paper. The staff earnestly believed this was the best solution. Instead, I printed a test page, took it home to measure the ratio between the size it was and the size it should have been, adjusted my image file, and then re-printed on the photo machine.

I own a paper cutter for some reason, so cutting it down to size was the only painless step. The last step is to glue it on the application. Glue: a supply which is more common than a paper cutter, but not in this particular apartment.

Two days later, with a bunch of cash, an application including photo, and a voucher with the word "William" on it, I went back to the same visa center woman as before, whom, upon seeing me, immediately said, "you still haven't applied yet?" Thus disappointing her once again.

When I picked up the visa a couple weeks later, it had a blank spot for a photo which says "ДЕЙСТВИТЕЛЬНА БЕЗ ФОТОГРАФИИ" (translation: "lol, wat foto?").

Let's Go Meet Snowden

If you ever find yourself searching for Aeroflot's check in at JFK International Airport, they're the ones with the long line that's not moving. One of the only ones with a line at all, actually. But that's alright, spending hours in line listening to everyone speaking Russian gave me my first of many opportunities to consider how thoughtless my choice to fly through Russia had been.

I forgot to bring any issues of Flying magazine with me for the trip, so I bought a copy of Wired at the airport. I had no choice, the current issue had Snowden on the cover. Are you kidding me? I tried to keep it hidden for most of the trip, thinking it might be awkward. That was probably just in my head though.

I don't sleep well on planes. I thought there was a chance the seats in "comfort class" (sort of the international version of premium economy) would be enough to allow me to sleep, just like in moments of denial and desparation when I've bought those neck pillows. Unlike the neck pillows, comfort class had a few redeeming qualities: there were lots of empty seats so I didn't have to sit next to anyone, the food was pretty decent, and it had power outlets so I could work on my laptop for the whole flight. I didn't sleep at all. Not even for a minute. I spent my time writing a formal grammar for my domain specific language for defining schedules (it's here, and it's exciting) and looking out the window.

I was so excited that we were going to fly over Greenland and Iceland. However, they were white, and looked almost exactly like clouds. Only the eastern half of Greenland ended up being visible - a glacier-covered mountain range lit by the moonlight. It was one of the most romantic sights I've ever seen, so I took a picture:
I guess you had to be there.

Norway was neat, but incredibly barren. I didn't get to see Sweden because of the cotton balls. Estonia was flat. I've never seen such an impressively flat country (when evaluating that significance of that declaration, keep in mind the fact that I'm from Kansas). But I mean, I'm sure you Estonians have a lovely country for other reasons, and if the Estonian girl who I secretly had a crush on and used to read her livejournal "a long time ago" is reading this, I think we can still make things work.

What? Oh, Russia... that place seriously just looks like rural Indiana. If you take one thing away from this blog, it should be: go to Indiana, I guess, or do whatever you want. Probably don't go to Russia though, or do, or don't take anything from this blog. These are all options.

Russia, Mother
We landed in Moscow at god fuck if I know what time it was, just soon enough for my body to validate my earlier concerns that this trip was a bad idea. Waiting for my Berlin flight, I explored the international concourse of Sheremetyevo International Airport, and I can assure you there is a T.G.I. Fridays, just like a normal airport.

Actually, the biggest difference between Moscow and US airports is that the Russian Skittles still have lime flavor, instead of green apple. Oh, and everything is in Russian.


Here's the thing, everyone's been to Berlin, just like everyone plays guitar. I'm not going to write a blog post about it because, quite frankly, it was great. JSConf was great. The city is easy to navigate. The history is omnipresent. The culture is thriving. There's no reason to not go to Berlin. I'm sure you have a friend who's been, so ask them all about it. I could be that friend, if you need me to be. Go on some Berlin Underground tours while you're there. Point is, when I got back, no one asked me how Berlin was, they wanted to know about Russia.

But real quick, here are some highlights from my Berlin visit:

  • Arrived
  • Spent most of my time at JSConf.
  • Think I got scammed out of five euros at the Brandenburg Gate.
  • Walked to the Siegessäule (Victory Column) and Reichstag because they were there.
  • Went up in the Berlin TV Tower.
  • Ordered a cheeseburger, and attempted to convey that I only wanted the burger, not the meal, but the guy didn't know what I meant. Then, he asks me if I meant "no mayo." Realizing it was pointless to continue this conversation, I said "sure" and he, in turn, relentlessly made fun of me until my order was ready (the burger wasn't supposed to come with mayonnaise in the first place).
  • Got a tour of a WWII bomb shelter.
  • Another tour talking about people who dug tunnels under the Berlin wall.
  • Asked a couple of cute Australian girls from the tour if they'd like to get drinks with me.
  • They didn't.

Back To Russia

Just before I left the US on my trip, I inquired with the Moscow hotel what the best way to get to the hotel from the airport is, and received this response:
We can offer you a pick-up service at the rate of 2500RUR [ ... ] Also you can use express train form the airport to the train station and then by metro you get reach the hotel.
2500 rubles is about $45, and most rational people would just pay it for the peace of mind of having a car service. Instead, here's how I responded:
I didn't know about the express train/metro option, but I'll look into it. I live in New York so I'm fairly comfortable navigating big cities. I assume there are enough signs in English to help get me where I'm going if I choose that option.
I took the fact that they didn't reply as confirmation of my "signs in English" assertion. I met some Russians at JSConf who also put my mind at ease saying "you'll be fine. Everything's in English." Looking back, there's really only one Russian who was honest with me. That was my coworker Adam at Stack Exchange, and our conversation went like this:

Adam: "How's your Russian?"
Me: "Non-existent."
Adam: "Well, good luck."

I thought nothing of it. All I needed was to do a little preparation work, so on my last night in Berlin, I made this map and instructions sheet describing how to get to my hotel in Moscow:
I assume this is how people navigated before the internet anyway.

Finding My Hotel

I had two thoughts while walking to passport control in Moscow, "I hope they let me into the country" and "I bet knowing the Russian word for 'exit' will be important." The customs agent asked me where I flew in from, then sent me on my way, and the bilingual signs in the airport facilitated me discovering the word выход. So far, so good.

I was looking for the Aeroexpress train to Belorussky station where I could connect to the metro (subway), so I followed signs in the airport until I got to an automated kiosk with the Aeroexpress logo on it. I paid for a ride and it printed me a receipt. That's all. Most notably, it didn't print a ticket. Just a receipt - as if the machine was purpose-built to provide mementos which remind you how much your mistakes cost. Thinking it was unlikely I would be able to explain that the machine had ripped me off, I went up to a human kiosk and simply paid for another ticket.

From the train, I texted my mom "In Russia now. On a train which I'm really hoping takes me to the subway." I wasn't sure where else it might take me, but I didn't want to go there.

I honestly don't know how to describe how I felt on the train watching the sun set on the outskirts of Moscow. I would imagine if you've done enough world traveling you know this feeling. A little bit nervous about being out of your element, and a little bit excited. You can't believe you're really there. You keep reminding yourself to take everything in, and try to form memories of what it was like to actually be there.

When I got off the train, I saw this beautiful creepy building. It seemed like the perfect welcome to Moscow. I wish I could have gotten an unobstructed picture.

Okay great, I've made it to Belorussky Station in Moscow and have abruptly begun recalling the story in present-tense. Now, all I have to do is find the subway entrance. The signs are in Russian, but I see what looks like the word for metro, and decide to follow that until I get to a ticket window where I ask for "two rides." Ahahahahaha, oh she just yells at me. Neither one of us can understand the other one, so I just say the word metro. "NO METRO!" and waves her hand, perhaps in an attempt to give me directions, or perhaps simply a motion Russians make when they want people to go away.

A nice woman, about my age, approaches me as I'm walking away from the counter. Having overheard my recent unsuccessful interaction, she asks me, "you're looking for the metro?" Yes! Local New Yorkers love giving tourists directions, I'm sure Muscovites feel the same way. "Follow me" she says as we walk through the terminal building, eventually ending up back near the train platform. She pauses, looks down at a locked gate, and says, "I don't know, maybe it's down that way. Sorry." I never saw her again.

What is intriguing about that gate is that it has the symbol for the metro on it, and I can see that it leads to a street, but there's clearly no way to get through it. I backtrack through the terminal to an exit I've seen before, but had been intimidated by the presence of metal detectors. The last thing I want is to end up in trouble somehow. However, everyone is just walking around the metal detectors, so I do the same, and find myself here:

Can you tell from that picture which direction the metro is? Nope, neither can I... and... cue the little bitter voice in my head: "You're so fucking lost. Why did you think this was a good idea? Oh sure, you got close, you got real close, you could probably even walk to the hotel from here, but which direction is it? That's right, you have no fucking clue, and you can't speak Russian to ask for directions. What's your backup plan? ... Huh, you don't have a backup plan? How's that working out for you?"

If you only take one thing from this blog, take this advice: when all else fails, follow the wisdom of the local guides and think to yourself, "I don't know, maybe it's down that way." Then, walk down that way.

On my way down that way, I see a sign post on a side street. I can tell this is the street which the locked gate exited to, and the sign post has the metro symbol on it plus an arrow. This arrow points up, which a rational person might interpret as go straight ahead. However, straight ahead is the side of a building with no entrances. So... I don't know, maybe turn left.

There it is! After the most stressful block and a half I've ever navigated, I've found the entrance to the subway. Time to give my ole' "two rides" another go. Aided by the universal hold-up-two-fingers, it works better than expected this time.

The Moscow subway gates aren't like those in New York, or any other subway I've ever ridden. Even their temporary tickets are RFID inside what feels like heavy cardstock. You hold it up to a sensor and then walk through the already open gate, but if you try to walk through without swiping it, then the gates slam shut on you. By some accidental preparation miracle, I'm already aware of this little fact, and manage to avoid additional humiliation.

You've never been on an escalator this long. It goes forever. Several of their stations are apparently deep underground - much deeper than you typically see in New York, except for maybe the 7 train.

If you refer back to my handwritten cheat sheet, I'm looking for the 3am towards Alma Mater... or, something. Really, I have no idea what I'm doing, but remember, there are supposedly English signs in the subway. At the bottom of the escalator, I dutifully scan for anything that looks remotely like English. I not only don't find English, I can't even find the Russian words I'm looking for. Here, you look at this sign and tell me which direction to go:

Actually, I didn't take this photo, and I don't know what station it's from. I stole it from this website, where it has the caption "To take the metro, you should have enough Russian to decipher the platform signs".

I see a train come, and wonder if I should just get on it and hope for the best, since, after all, "maybe it's down that way" has served me well so far. No, my New Yorker instincts are telling me that's a bad idea, If you only take one thing from this blog, remember this: that random train you're thinking about getting on is not going where you think it is. But, I have a 50/50 chance, right? Nope, because you're not even on the right platform.

Oh right, there are two train lines at this station, and maybe I'm not seeing my destination listed because this train isn't going to my destination. The signs are a bit inconclusive, but I attempt to follow them towards the other train line. I walk in one direction, and then the signs reverse and point to where I just came from. Somewhere in between is a staircase, so maybe it's down that way.

A few sets of stairs, and possibly additional escalators later, and I've found the right platform. It's glorious. The sign even says the incomprehensible Russian words I'm looking for.

There are likely newer models in-service, but the train I get on looks like it was built in the 60's, and felt most similar to the old C trains in New York, though still very different. What I don't notice until I'm on the train is that there don't appear to be any signs which tell you what station you're at. I know the New York subway is confusing, but one thing "we" got right is that there are about a hundred signs, visible from the train, at each station telling you what stop this is. You can't miss them. In Moscow, those signs either don't exist, or you can miss them. Whatever, I got this. I wrote down on my little paper that I'm only going three stops, so I'll just count them, and hope nothing breaks my focus or confuses my memory.

The man to my left says to me, "nvsgrblhskjdgvwkjsdbf." Um, "what?" I say, like an idiot who is clearly not from around here. He points to my backpack which I suspect must have a zipper open. Awesome. Now I have to take it off, set it down, zip it up, put myself back together, ponder whether anything important fell out, and say thanks to the nice man, because even though I think I've figured out from context what the Russian word for thanks is, I'm not going to risk it.

Hold on, let me get my phone out and pretend like I always hold it perfectly vertical while checking my email. No one will suspect I'm taking a picture.

I didn't get any photos of the subway stations themselves. Some really good examples of what they looked like are here. They were beautiful stations.

Oh shit, uh... I think... two stops have gone by now? Yeah, hopefully two.

I count to three, step off the train, and follow выход with every intention of being completely lost upon reaching the street. But instead, I step outside and see this:

I'm guessing that's the Bolshoi Theatre, and if it is, I know exactly how to find my hotel from here. Yes, I'm smart enough to have studied the map and know there's a theatre around here (the subway stop is called Theatre Square), but not smart enough to have ever looked at a picture of the theatre.

I really have no better option than to trust my intuition at this point, so let's take a walk through Moscow at night.

It's actually quite pretty, especially the sign at the end.

The Hotel

I felt incredibly relieved when I got to my hotel, so I switched back to past-tense. Navigating from the airport to my hotel was the part of the trip I was stressing about the most. The staff of Hotel Budapest were friendly and spoke decent English. I was room 216 on the second floor. A single twin-bed room which I could only describe as your grandmother's guest room. Especially if your grandmother lived in the Soviet Union.

There was a knock on the door shortly after I arrived, which I considered might represent danger, and, eh, opened it anyway. Apparently if you want to use the minibar, you have to put down a deposit, and if you don't then they send someone to your room to lock it. It seemed surprising to me, considering the fact that US hotels purposely keep them unlocked in the hopes your resistance to bad decisions will degrade at some point during your stay.

But whatever, the guy was awesome. We talked for about five minutes about his years in Australia while he searched for the right key to the liquor cabinet. Seriously, he had a huge key ring, and seemed to have no clue what any of them went to.

The hotel had the greatest mis-translations.

I don't know what the fire-cock is. Luckily I didn't have to use it.

Red Square at Night

I didn't really have any plans for the night. I would have loved to have gone and hung out at a bar, but not by myself, and I didn't know anyone there. So I thought I could at least go see Red Square at night. It was only a 15 minute walk from the hotel (the main reason I picked it).

On the way, I came across a small crowd gathered around and dancing to a street-artist singing Knocking on Heaven's Door. It was a magical moment. I felt like this could be anywhere, and was a subtle reminder that Russians and Americans aren't necessarily that different from each other.

It took a while to figure out how to cross the street to even get to the entrance of Red Square. It was a busy street, and there were no crosswalks, but I eventually guessed that I could use the subway entrance to go in on one side and come out on the other.

Walking into Red Square was surreal and exciting. I don't really have other words to describe it.

Did you know that the name "Red Square" (Красная площадь) is neither a reference to communism, nor the red walls of the Kremlin? It got its name in the 17th century when the word красная meant "beautiful." However, in modern Russian, that meaning has become archaic, and today the word more commonly means "red." So, if we were being true to the square's historical origins, it should probably be called "Beautiful Square."

I walked around for a little while, took a selfie in front of St. Basil's, briefly wandered through ГУМ, which I think was about to close (there weren't many people around and they were making announcements in Russian), then walked back to the hotel.

The Kremlin

The word "kremlin" (кремль) is really just a word for "fortress" which is applied to many forts in historic Russian cities. The most famous kremlin is the Moscow Kremlin.

The next morning, I had a few hours before I had to leave for the airport (yes, this was a very short visit), and I wanted to spend it walking around the Moscow Kremlin. Many Americans (including myself) tend to think of the Kremlin in the context of the Cold War or as where Putin lives, but it actually dates back much further. The site has been inhabited since around the 2nd century BC, Slavs built original fortifications in the 11th century, and the current walls were built under the reign of Ivan the Great in the 15th century. It was the coronation site of the Russian Tsars before becoming the residence of Soviet leaders.

I prepared for my Kremlin visit the same way I prepared for the rest of my Moscow visit - by thoroughly researching its history, learning the landmarks, their Russian names, and how to pronounce them. Or maybe I just winged it. I don't know, the latter kind of sounds more like me.

I'm not sure how I found the ticketing window in the first place, or how I was able to express what I wanted, but I definitely had no idea how to get inside. I asked the ticketing window lady, and she probably gave me an answer. She might have even answered me in English. I heard "white tower" which... might have been what she said because the entrance is sort of a white thing that I guess, in castle-terms, counts as a tower.

I walked up to what I considered a plausible entrance point and showed my ticket to a guy who I thought was maybe supposed to take it. He glanced at me, glanced at the ticket, and then went back to his conversation with a colleague. I stood there confused for a few moments before he looked back at me with equal confusion and said, "go!" And like that, I walked up Troitsky Bridge and into the Kremlin.

Troitskaya (Trinity) Tower

Inside the walls there are several palaces, an armory museum, an active arsenal, two churches, three cathedrals, and other buildings like the Ivan the Great Bell Tower (which kind of sounds like it's a great bell tower named Ivan... "Ivan, the Great Bell Tower").

Oh, and big balls. To go with the big cannon, of course.

The Tsar Cannon
Kremlin Arsenal
Kremlin Senate (left) is the residence of the Russian President, and former site of Imperial Russia's Seanate. Kremlin Presidium (right) formerly housed the Supreme Soviet (legislative body of the Soviet Union) and currently houses presidential administration offices. Although, it was obviously under some sort of construction when I visited.
Tsar Bell
Ivan, the Great Bell Tower and Assumption Belfry
Church of the Twelve Apostles
Dormition Cathedral (where Tsars were crowned). Church of the Twelve Apostles is to the right, and the Church of the Deposition of the Robe is behind and to the left (under restoration work).
Closer look at Dormition Cathedral
Cathedral of the Archangel (left) is a necropolis containing the tombs of many of the Tsars. Cathedral of the Annunciation (right) was the personal chapel and confessor of the Tsars and Russian royal family.

The cathedrals were beautiful from the outside. I really wished I could go in them, but assumed they were off limits. Then I remembered I had specifically bought the "Cathedral Square" pass, which... probably meant I could just open the door and walk in. Although, I have to say it's a bit intimidating to just walk up to a 600 year old building inside the Kremlin and pull on the wooden door without knowing whether a Russian was going to come yell at you.

Inside, they were like nothing I've ever seen before. Beautiful Eastern-Orthodox style artwork. Amazingly colorful and busy. Every inch of the walls were covered in paintings. Photography is officially prohibited, and I didn't really want to risk getting kicked out, so I don't have any photos of my own to share, but here are some from their wikipedia pages:

Dormition Cathedral (source)
Cathedral of the Annunciation (source)
Cathedral of the Archangel (source)

After the cathedrals, it was about time to leave. I found a gift shop on my way out and bought a couple of nesting dolls, a glass egg-thing, and a bell. I have no explanation for why I bought a bell, but once in a while I pick it up and ring it, because I can.

I took a walk through Alexander garden both before and after the Kremlin (it's where the Kremlin entrance is located). It contains an impressive display of flowers and landscaping, and is the site of their Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Romanov Obelisk

Patriarch Hermogenes of Moscow Statue

And then I took one last stroll through Red Square, in daylight this time.

On my way back to my hotel, I spotted a Winnie the Pooh nesting doll, which I initially passed by, but then thought, "I wonder what's inside it." Well, Eeyore was inside, so I decided I needed to have it.

Really not sure what the smallest one is supposed to be. My best guess is that they assumed you wouldn't open it up fully until you got home, so it was painted in the style of "screw you, tourist."

I should have bought a bunch of nesting dolls. That would have been smart, especially if I had known that the Russian Ruble was going to fall off a cliff a few months later (before I got around to exchanging them for dollars). I'd rather have more dolls than the 10400 rubles sitting under a pile of papers on my desk.

Coming to America

Since I'm not a complete idiot, I opted to have the hotel arrange a car ride back to the airport instead of pushing my luck with public transit.

Of course, I didn't quite realize that the car ride would be an adventure of its own. Living in New York, I'm fairly used to crazy cab drivers, but I've never had one driving off in the dirt next to the road before. Granted, there's not really dirt shoulders in New York either, so maybe it's not a good comparison.

In the background is Belorussky train station, where I had been the night before.

There were a ton of these baby delivery trucks.
Driving in the ditch.

I didn't actually have to check in at the airport, because my stop in Russia had technically just been a long layover, and I was still checked in from my Berlin to Moscow flight. So I went straight to customs, where I don't think they said a word to me; just stamped by visa and sent me on my way, probably glad to be rid of me. I was excited to be going home.

Нью-Йорк is the phonetic translation of New York

Do you ever feel uncomfortable about the decline in stereotypical gender role reinforcement? Good news, Aeroflot's pre-flight training video will put your mind at ease.
Goodbye Russia. Maybe I'll see you again someday, but probably not.
Norway. Seriously, does life exist in that country?
My view of Greenland, courtesy of those fucking clouds again.
Canadian clouds.
American clouds!
The map thought that Elizabeth, New Jersey was really important, but I took it as a reminder that I was flying back to Liz.

I can read the signs again!

Good ole' A-Train to take me home.

Russia Achievement Unlocked

Looking back at the trip, I had fun. I was never in any real danger and the navigation difficulties were greatly exaggerated in my mind. See, here's a map of my whole "adventure" trying to find the subway. It's an embarrassingly short excursion.

At position 4, I was right around here.
If you only take one thing from this blog, it should be that I have no idea what Russia is like. Seriously, I was there for a few hours, I visited the most touristy place imaginable, and then went home. It's about the same amount of time I've spent in North Dakota, and if there's one thing I should really teach you, it's: don't go to North Dakota. It's the most boring state I've ever been to, and I've been to 46 of the 50, so I'm kind of an authority on the matter.


  1. That sounds like a beautiful adventure. Not a lot of Americans get to go to Russia. I hope I get to one day.

    And to be fair, though some of us are narcissists, a lot of us go by all three names on legal documents or play programs for exactly the reason you ran into problems on your visa. I went to Jr. High with two other girls that had the exact same first and last name as I do.

    But some of us are seriously narcissists. It's a problem.

  2. Hi! I am from Russia and it was really fun to read you.

  3. Hi Bret! i watched your space shuttle explanation video repeatedly and it was very interesting facts that i never know (of course). Can i make a silly request from you? Since you had explained how it landed so why not the next video you telling us about how the space shuttle starts the journey to the space. thanks in advance. (non-english speaker from south east asia)