Friday, January 25, 2013

Sretensky Monastery in Moscow - Built in Memory of Miracle

The history of Holy Russia includes many amazing stories. One of them is about the Sretensky Monastery (Russian: Сретенский монастырь, Москва) and the icon called 'Our Lady of Vladimir' aka 'Theotokos of Vladimir' (Russian: Владимирская икона Божией Матери). This story is for the glory of God.

An old monastery in the heart of the modern metropolis. Photos by Nika.

On August 26, 1395, invasion of a Turkic ruler Tamerlane (Timur) threatened Moscow. A huge army of enemy soldiers came closer and closer. The Muscovites were afraid, and prepared to martyrdom. In this situation, the ruling Prince commanded to bring an old miracle-working icon from Vladimir to Moscow to protect the capital city from the invasion of the enemy.

According to the OrthodoxWiki: "Along the way, on both sides of the road, countless people prayed kneeling: 'O Mother of God, save the land of Russia!' At that same time, when the people of Moscow were meeting the Vladimir Icon on Kuchkov Field, Tamerlane while sleeping in his camp, dreamed of a great mountain, at the summit of which were the holy hierarchs with golden staffs coming towards him. Above them, in a brilliant radiance, was a Majestic Woman. She commanded him to leave Russia. Awakening in fright, Tamerlane asked the meaning of the vision. The experts answered that the Radiant Lady was the Mother of God, the great Protectress of Christians. Tamerlane then gave the order for his troops to retreat."

It was a miracle, that big army just turned away without any battle! The Mother of God had saved Moscow!

The grateful monarch founded the monastery to the memory of miracle. Sretensky Monastery was built on the spot where the Muscovites and the ruling Prince, Vasily I of Moscow, had met the icon.

Orthodox Christians in Russia believe that 'Vladimir Mother of God' has saved Moscow many times during the history. The last time was in December 1941, when the Nazis attacked Moscow. This sacred image is very old. It is said that icon was painted by the Evangelist Luke himself! The icon is presently located in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

On this week my dear Russian friend Nika visited Sretensky Monastery and made a short documentary film about it. Please see her video and enjoy the sacred trip. You can feel the wings of history!

The photos in this article (except the icon) are taken by Nika. This is our first collaboration, and I'm grateful for that. We wish you all God's blessing. God is the Lord of history, and this is why miracles happen.

Teisuka & Nika

'Our Lady of Vladimir' aka 'Theotokos of
Vladimir', an old miracle-working icon,
has saved Moscow many times.

Attachment: Hymn (Troparion) of Theotokos of Vladimir

O Mistress, Empress and Lady,
Defend all who are in danger and misfortune
Or weak from many sins,
And who stand before your holy Icon
Praying with tears, humility, repentance, and invincible hope,
Free them from all evil,
Give them the grace they need.
And save us all, O Virgin Mother of God,
For Your are the divine refuge of those who follow you!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sick and Tired of Youtube

Lately, I've become sick and tired of YouTube. That's why I like to take a break from there from time to time. Why I am so tired of this "wonderful video-sharing website"? Let me vomit out my frustration, and then I'll feel better. Haha. Here they are, my collected frustrations regarding the YouTube! So solly (like Michiko-chan use to say), but I have to do this. ;)

My frustration started when the new layout came out about one year ago. Ah, how much I hate that new layout! It looks awful, ugly, and plain boring. Just gray and cold, very uncomfortable to use. The old layout was so much more easy, more clear, and more versatile. New style channels are not as beautiful nor practical. New design is a long step backward, just an innovation for innovation's sake. Actually, this new layout is the most horrible and anti-social layout I have ever seen in my life!

First they took our friends (there is no "friending" on YT anymore), and then they took our subscribers, I mean: we can't show them anymore. The number of characters is more limited, when you write comments or info on your own profile. Icons and avatars are so tiny that you need a microscope to see them! And so on, and so on...

All these changes makes me feel that we users have less and less space there. New layout is so clinical and primitive, not beautiful and personalized. Ah, such a boring gray boxes. Every channel looks like a tombstone!

I hate how YouTube treat us. They have no face. If you ask something, they never answer you. If you need help, they never help you. They treat us like a big dumb mass, and they don't care about our opinions at all. They are acting like an arrogant damn fascists! (Sorry, I'm mad as hell right now, and then I use the "F-word". Hehe.)

I lost 70 % of my video views!

On 7th December 2012, I got a second copyright strike (warning) from YouTube. If you receive three copyright strikes, your account and all videos uploaded to that account will be removed! That's why I had to remove 27 "dangerous" music videos from my channel. It was a precaution. I removed my videos, before YT will suspend my account...

I was so sad to remove all those old videos, which have been there for many years. So many viewers and wonderful comments there, and I lost them all... :( Before this "mass removal", over the years, I had removed about 20 other videos from my channel. So overall, I have lost almost 50 videos. If every video takes two days to make, I have done 100 days work in vain! Now isn't this frustrating?? Oh yes, it is!!!

The number of viewers on my channel is getting lesser and lesser. On 7th December 2012, my channel had 1.001.851 video views (see the screenshot above). After I have removed those old videos, I have lost more than 700.000 video views. Number of views is now only 369.381. So I have lost about 70 % of my video views!!!

View counts are going backwards… I just wonder how long it will take to get zero viewers??? "Lost views" is not only my problem. Nowadays, many people lose viewers all the time on this new brave YouTube. Just check out the channel called YouTubeHelp, and see all the angry messages there. So I am not sure if this phenomenon is just because I had removed some videos.

Why I'm still on YouTube?

After I have created my new channel, I have had troubles with promoting it. Regardless of my diligent promotion campaign, I got only 66 subscribers. I am very disappointed that even some of my old YouTube "friends" haven't subscribed my new channel. So, are they friends in that case? Anyway, I think this process (to start everything from the beginning) has shown to me, who are the real friends, and the more I am grateful to them.

YouTube has become more and more strict with copyright issues. You dare not load there almost nothing anymore. And when you load, your videos can be blocked somewhere. For example, all my Teresa Teng videos are blocked in Germany, and my latest upload (Johnny Cash's song) is blocked in Germany, Canada, and the United States.

Besides this all, there are all the time bugs and problems on this NewTube. For example, some private messages never get through. Yep, you can not trust YT email at all! And those YouTube "monkeys" change the rules and settings every week. So it feels like nothing works on YT anymore. They try to save the monster they have created, but it is becoming increasingly worse!

Why I'm still on YouTube, regardless of all these frustrating things? First of all, through YouTube I have found some really great friends worldwide. Secondly, there are so many wonderful videos and interesting stuff in that bloody place. So I can not stay away too long... Hahaha. Love and peace to everyone. ( ̄ー ̄)

"What the heck they have done to this place?!" asks the
Angry Samurai when he sees the new YouTube layout.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Summer with Nikolai Gogol

Nikolai Gogol postage stamp, Russia, 2009.

Summer of 2011 was particularly sad and tough time for me. On June 24th (Midsummer's Eve), my beloved mother suddenly got a seizure, and she was knocked unconscious. A brain aneurysm had ruptured in her head! I was there and I saw my mother's seizure, and it was the worst and most traumatic thing I have ever experienced. I'd like to forget it!

An ambulance took my mother quickly to the hospital. After an intense brain surgery, she laid for two weeks in the hospital, and for most of the time, was unconscious. She never talked to us anymore (her last word, before the seizure, was "Petroskoi"; it is a city in Russia)... My mother passed away on July 9th, 2011. She was only 67 years old.

In addition to this tragedy, I will always remember how I read Nikolai Gogol the entire summer 2011. In three months, I read all his works: novels, plays, and short stories. I had found a new favorite writer; and more. Mr. Gogol's humorous and imaginative stories gave me something else to think about during that serious time of sickness and death.

I remember one night that I spent in the hospital beside my mother. I had to stay awake, and I brought Gogol's book with me. I heard the heavy, painful breathing of my poor mother while I was reading Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka (a short story which I was reading at that moment was St John's Eve or May Night). My dear Russian friend Nika had recommended this short story collection to me, it's her personal favorite from Gogol. And I read... and I stayed up with my mother (that was her next to last night on earth)... I was in two worlds at the same time!

Daguerreotype of Gogol taken in 1845.

A Brief Introduction to Mr. Gogol

Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852) was a Ukrainian-born Russian dramatist, novelist and short story writer. He was an Orthodox Christian. Many of his stories are funny and humorous, but he also wrote some really scary ghost stories. Quoting the Wikipedia: "Considered by his contemporaries one of the preeminent figures of the natural school of Russian literary realism, later critics have found in Gogol's work a fundamentally romantic sensibility, with strains of Surrealism and the grotesque."

My favorites from Gogol (besides Dikanka) are his great novel and magnum opus Dead Souls, his satirical play The Government Inspector, and his short stories  Viy, Nevsky Prospekt, Diary of a Madman, The Nose, and The Overcoat. After my mother's death, I bought all Gogol's books. Actually, collecting Russian classics has been one of my hobbies since summer 2011.

Altogether, I love Russian literature especially much: Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, and other great authors. Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita (1940) is the best novel I have ever read. For me, reading is the dearest "hiding place". More than ever I needed that happy place in 2011. During those days, Nikolai Gogol led me to another world. I will remember that as long as I live.

 ✿⊱╮ ✿⊱╮ ✿⊱╮✿⊱╮✿⊱╮✿⊱╮✿⊱╮

A later addition: The main purpose of this article was to tell about Gogol and how I  found the Russian literature, once and for all. I didn't tell everything (all important things) about the summer 2011 and my mother's death, and how I got comfort from many of my friends, and from many things. All means were used! But please note the limited context. Above all, this time I wanted to write article about my new favorite author.

On those tough times, I had actually more than just one "angel". Those angels were my few best friends (you know who are are), who prayed for my mother and encouraged me. I haven't forgotten any of you. I thank you for your good words and prayers, they will be always remembered by God as well as in my heart. Thank you! m(_ _)m

Russian literature section at my home library. On the shelf, you can also see matryoshka dolls and one of my icon, both bought from Russia.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Lovers in the Mist

On this sleepless night, I wrote a crazy little poem. I put there all elements I love: walking, silence, park, snow, mist - and the girl. My dream girl... ( ̄ー ̄)

All was silent, all was white
when we walked in the park.
Not one trace of the night,
we were safe from the dark.

Snow and mist on our side
call us out of reality,
giving a place to hide
far beyond insanity.

Lovers feel no sadness
since they live
in the mouth of madness.