Not His Worst Valentine’s Day

(micro fiction, 1

It was exactly twelve months since Ivan’s previous date: that incredibly sexy blonde with a mole on her lip ran away from the bar… with his wallet and keys.

It took Ivan almost a year to recover after the stress. Still, that wasn’t his worst Valentine’s, he had to admit. At least, they cuddled and kissed, and she called him “My Captain”. Twice. 

Ivan lit a few candles and opened the wine. Luda was to arrive within minutes. They’d been speaking online, and now they decided to meet on the Valentine’s Day for the very first time.

I am making the right choice this time, he assured himself as he waited. She is honest and kind, she is smart, and she’s never been late for a chat...

At two minutes to six, a knock on the door made him start. Ivan’s heart started hammering, he hurried to open.

The first thing he saw were his keys.

Hi, Captain!” said the voice from the chat, and the mole on the lip made a short sexy dance as she spoke.

Ivan gulped and stepped back. She walked in.

Happy Valentine’s Day!” She exclaimed and dropped Ivan’s keys on the table. “Hey, Captain, come on, stop staring and pour me some wine! Let us talk…”

What Can Social Networks Disclose To Us About Our Future?

As unbelievable as it may sound, Facebook has become a significant part of daily life for nearly 1.4 billion (!) people worldwide. The aility to instantly address and receive feedback from such a mind-blowing number of users makes Facebook (as well as other social networks) a powerful research tool that has been largely overlooked. The informaiton available on social networks might be invaluable not only for social sciences, but for any other field of knowledge, because it could help to address a major challenge faced by the scientists today: they have to rely on samples that are relatively small and thus, are insufficient to make statistically significant conclusions. With billions of users turning up online daily and willingly sharing their opinions, experiences, observations or concerns, Facebook becomes an unprecedented storage of research information for scientists.


During the latest decade, social networks have grown into miniature versions of the real world’s community of people, they bear all major characteristics of the human society, so a network like Facebook can be regarded and studied as a dynamic model of the world community that reflects modern tendencies of human interaction and communication!

I have seen many articles reviewing the opportunities and challenges of Facebook research: some of them provide practical recommendations for conducting research within social networks, others discuss ethical considerations of such study, some focus on ways of collecting self-reports on Facebook, but I have not seen any attempts to see our dear FB as a new, 21-st century-born, worldwide communication model.


Historically, the phases of human communication developed like this (you can read more here: Language (pre-history) – Written Language (circa 3200 BC) – The Printing Press (circa 1440 ) (Johannes Gutenberg) – Telephone (1861/1875) – Radio Broadcasting (circa 1910) – Television Broadcasting (1928/1936) – The Internet (1969) (ARPANET) – Smart Phones (1992) (RIM BlackBerry 1999), and – us, a literally worldwide multibillion community of human species, voluntarily sharing everything that comes to their minds electronically, via social networking systems!

Today, in 2017, all the world’s books, dictionaries, maps, and other printed materials are being rapidly replaced by electronic informational resources, especially by those which offer information in condensed, digest-type blocks of pictures, video snippets or visual schemes rather than text or any materials that require reading. People are forgetting how to write, they are growing lazy enough to type and it seems that even traditional reading is beginning to irritate many. (I have deliberately colored these lines to attract your attention to them – please, send me your comments if you think I am not getting it right). 

I could fantasize more about possible changes of life in the far future, but, to be honest, the problems of tomorrow concern me more. The boosting development of Facebook (read: social-networks-based) communication has opened a new era of human interaction, where everybody communicates to everybody at the same time, and neither time nor space matters anymore. If in the previous centuries we needed to overcome distances and time to convey information to masses of people, today it is sent all over the world by a single click of your mouse. Information can literally travel at the speed of thought today!

I can drop a line on my Facebook page and in no time thousands of people will see what I have just thought. Likewise, I can get to know what they think within seconds, too, no matter how much distance lies between us. I can teach online and learn from my students; I can read someone’s book and connect with the author for feedback within seconds, I can share my opinions with the whole world and – what is really new and unusual – time and distance are no longer regarded as participating factors of the communication process.

Does this mean that our future communication is going to experience major changes? Will our children be able to write and read or will there be a new way of conveying information? I can imagine a world where they won’t need those skills… Are we going to develop a new – much faster and more convenient way of communicating information than exchanging words by means of reading and writing? Today, our technologies are developing so quickly that our minds are not ready to digest all information that comes. This means that the rapid change of living environment may cause unprecedented psychological reactions, because people are not machines… therefore, there is a large potential for social scientists and psychologists to study these new and quickly developing phenomena.

So, dear colleagues, what’s next? How can we predict our future, based on what we are observing today? Let us think about it and exchang our thoughts. I am certainly going to study this question and return to this topic again soon.


Picture taken from


A Follow Up on “How to Spot a Liar?”

Dear Friends, I have received dozens of comments in connection with my previous post How to Spot a Liar? and would like to thank you all for sharing your thoughts with me. Here are a few follow up ideas about the topic. I just read another dozen of articles about identifuying liars (many of them seem to repeat each other) and found a few more little details which I would love to share.


First of all, I thought that each of us, of course, has some skills in lying. Even those who try to always tell the truth and only truth, have to say white lies now and then, anyway. Remember the moments when you need to take your kids away from an ice cream kiosk, or when you tell your elderly parents that you are doing great knowing that your office or private life has been quite stressful 😉 Yes, let us face it: each of us has to lie once in a while. And- however surprising this may sound, our first teachers in lying are… our own families (parents, grand-parents, siblings, all those who we love the most)!

Some kids become very good at identifying lies already in very early childhood, especially if they have to adapt to some challenging enviroinment. The kids who live in fear of being misunderstood or punished, usually develop certain social skills very early, by the age of 3 or 4. At this age, they can easily identify our dishonest behavior by analyzing our mimicks, intonation patterns and body movements. At the same time, other kids, who do not have to be so self-protective, may not develop the skill until they are teenagers or even grown ups. So, all of us have different ability to identify a liar and to deal with those who lie. To follow up with my yesterday’s article, I have put together a few more little tips. I have collected them from a dozen of articles (some academic, some popular) which I have read this morning:

  • Liars are usually good at acting. Why don’t you act a little bit, too? Simply play the one who cares. Ask them questions they don’t expect and look at the reaction.

  • It is difficult for deceitful people to be consistent with their lies; they forget where they started the lie and where it ended. If you are beginning to sense this, ask the person to recall events backward rather than forward in time… and again, enjoy watching the reaction.
  • Liars tend to listen less and speak more with unnecessary information, because they need to distract, convince, and sway you into believing them. As soon as this begins to happen, stay alert.
  • It is good to always keep in mind that when stressed, people usually begin to speak faster, and often- louder. Cracking in the natural tone of voice may also occurs at the point of deception. Repetitive coughing and clearing the throat are other signs of tension.
  • You should be cautious when liars say “no” and immediately glance in a different direction or say “no” and close their eyes, or when they say a long “noooooooo” in a singsong manner.
  • When your conversation partner all of a sudden starts speaking formally (happens when the stress levels are high) or starts giving exaggerated responses, or begins to forget critical things during a conversation, or if they apparently look a bit confused/distracted by something, these are also the right signs of hidden lie.
  • It is necessary to watch out for someone who is trying too hard to make a good impression or showers praises constantly, or laughs at all your jokes and keeps reminding you of your qualities and talents.
  • If this happens, try asking follow-up questions. If your conversation partner starts responding to questions with short answers, or refuses to provide details when cross questioned, you have all the reasons to suspect such people of lying to you.


How Far Should a Strong Independent Woman Go?

Despite the fact that every strong, independent woman can find happiness on her own and repeatedly states this to every next man on the “X-th” date, still, to many of us being strong and independent… sucks. I am writing these words because I have been – more than once – that friendly supportive shoulder, on which my strong independent female friends cried their eyes out in the moments of weakness. Every time this happened I could not help thinking that too much of independence does not suit the woman, while living all by herself for too long makes her feel insecure, and being strong at all times eventually makes her lose the most unique and precious thing a woman can have: her femininity. So, where is the limit? How far can a woman go in her desire to be independent and strong? Here are a few thoughts.


The “WE CAN DO IT!” approach is not always good. Moreover, it is unnecessary.  It is the surest way to lose your femininity and to scare away even those who recently seemed to support your independent spirit. Besides, a woman who cares too much about doing things all by herself, sooner or later becomes aggressive – the quality welcomed by some employers, but not too popular in many other sides of life.

A strong independent woman and an angry lonely bitch are two VERY different women!

There are three ways to remain unhappy: do not get into that trap! The three ways look quite innocent at the first sight, they are-

  • living for the others (putting other people’s interests higher than your own);
  • living in your memories, as well as living with hopes and dreams about the better future;
  • looking for someone to blame in your mishaps.

Once you start doing this, you are certainly in trouble, because then your “independence” will turn into slavery and end in depression, at best.

To be strong, independent and happy, the woman needs to stop buiding obstacles for herself. Yes. It is that simple. Quite often, the craving for being strong and independent is just a result of fear: the fear of being unable to cope with complexities of life. So, I would put it this way: she should be strong, but not too strong; she can be independent, but her independence should not make her feel lonely.

It is okay to be a strong independent woman… until something heavy needs to be lifted.


The best solution is to be strong, independent… and in a healthy relationship.

There is a happy medium in everything: be strong, but don’t lose what was given to you by Mother Nature – femininity, grace, tenderness and sensitivity; be independent, but don’t push away others and don’t let yourself grow angry, arrogant, or mean. And- here are a few more, the ideas I picked up from the women who manage to be independent and strong, yet happy and never lonely:

  • always remain unique, do not compare yourself to other women;
  • stand up for yourself, but do it in a wise way (you don’t always need to get aggressive);
  • truly believe in yourself;
  • learn to submit (without it, you will never become really independent);
  • be comfortable with your body and looks (no need to say that for this purpose you need to take care of your body and looks);
  • understand and respect your powers;
  • be independent financially, but do not brag too much about it;
  • stand for what you believe in;
  • know what you want, and
  • be proud of yourself.


A Few Thoughts on the Nature of Intuition


My book, The Soft Spot for Luck, is a suspense fiction novel with a few elements of fantasy. It is narrated by Luck, an immaterial being that carries chances and watches how ignorantly people waste their time, opportunities, health and lives in a silly rush for happiness, quite often- without knowing what happiness means to them. Luck watches people from her own point of view, and thus, she can see us differently. Here are a few of her thoughts.

“The more I watch human beings in action, the better I understand their motives and behavior. Whenever human brain is about to make a decision, it always looks back at its body to make sure that the outcome of mind work is not going to affect it. Like a clam, whose entire outlook is limited by the size of the shell, supporting its life, a human being is bound to thinking within his body’s physical capacity. Instead of trying to make maximum use of their brains, people have learned to minimize their mind work – sometimes even switch it to zero activity mode – because this, they believe, can protect their bodies against unnecessary risks in given circumstances and environment.”


Luck comes up with the term zero activity mode and comes to a sad conclusion that people deliberately teach each other to set their minds to it:

They said on TV that a glass of red wine equals an hour at the gym–”, People say it is safer to vote for the Democrats, so I will–”, Like my mom, I always take a hot bath when I am getting a cold”: These are examples of setting one’s brain to a zero activity mode. Listen to what others say, follow exactly what others do, and relax! Hmm.

Well, I don’t blame them. This is people’s way to feel safe. The dangerous part is losing intelligence. Because people have to be so cautious about their life and health, they share accumulated knowledge and experience with the young generation to protect it from thoughtlessly ruining their bodies, which, of course, results in nothing else, but boosting their fears to unprecedented levels. Every child’s parents invest most effort into teaching the kid how to switch his mind into zero activity mode since very young age. Uh–huh.”

Due to her ability to look at human beings from a different angle of vision, Luck identifies a few components, which influence our mindwork, but these factors are of litle use to Luck, because people cannot use them to improve their skills of picking lucky chances:

“At the same time, I have come to the conclusion that the human brain operates in a certain, always individual, environment, which is generated by a complex combination of the person’s experiences, fears, knowledge, beliefs and intuition. Every human being, of course, has peculiar levels of each.

These five factors, however, are of little importance when it comes to picking a lucky chance. Chances come and go too quickly, leaving a person no time to process available knowledge, experiences and beliefs; neither he has time to measure his risks by the yardstick of fears. No, these factors are negligible here. Still, one of them attracts my attention as a direct antipode to mind work: intuition. I wonder, how does it influence human decision making?”


Here are Luck’s thoughts about human intuition. I have been wondering, what would people say to these thoughts? If you are not bored reading this so far, please, take na look at two more paragraphs, and maybe you will have something to add or to argue here.

“People describe intuition as “knowledge or belief obtained neither by reason nor by perception.” If I had a human body, I would grin here. This isn’t even a definition! I wish I could face that guy who said this and ask him to clarify. I would say, “So, dear scientist, what is your point? Is your personal intuition a knowledge? Or, maybe, it is your belief? Be precise, please. Define them for me. You suppose that intuition “is obtained neither by reason nor by perception.” Doesn’t it mean that it can’t be obtained at all? And what do you mean by the word “obtained”? No, dear scientist, you have just demonstrated your complete ignorance. You agree with me? Eh?”

Finally, Luck realizes that, of all the five abovementioned factors, intuition is the only one that boosts – rather than slows – our mental activity.

“People know really little about the processes taking place in their own minds. Their knowledge about intuition is fragmentary, despite that every person has it to a greater or lesser degree. Based on intuition, people have made hundreds of outstanding discoveries; intuition helps many to build up correct strategies, make lifetime decisions or plans. But most importantly, intuition is a basic condition for making the right choice of chances. Why? Because it helps people block their fears.”

What do you think about Luck’s conclusions? I would really love to know your thoughts. Today, we are facing the world in its most dramatic change since the beginning of human history. We have created incredible technologies, but we still have not studied the powers given to us by nature. Intuition is one of them, but only a few individuals in the whole history of the world have ever devoted time to studying it. Albert Einstein allegedly called the intuitive or metaphoric mind a sacred gift. He added that the rational mind was a faithful servant. It is paradoxical that in the context of modern life we have begun to worship the servant and defile the divine, he said [1976, The Metaphoric Mind: A Celebration of Creative Consciousness by Bob Samples, Quote Page 26, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Reading, Massachusetts]. Do you agree with all this? What do you think about the nature and powers of our intuition?


How to Attract a Woman: Some First Date Ideas

Every guy wants to be able to attract women, but quite often this task proves to be more difficult than it seems at the first sight. To simplify the task, let us take a look at the woman’s expectations of the first date. A man who knows how attraction works from a female perspective can develop a successful approach to building the desired connection with his girlfriend.


1. First of all, you should never forget that women are attracted to confident men. A confident man tends to perform more successfully in every element of his life and the woman will never fail to notice and appreciate this. She seeks a strong, protective shoulder (even if she states something different). Your confident look and behavior will certainly attract her attention.

2. Women are attracted to men, who take good care of their looks. This does not mean that the guy must be handsome (I have heard quite opposite confessions from women, by the way), but a nice-looking, neat, well-dressed guy, who is apparently not indifferent to his hair, skin, clothes, and style, has a lot more potential with women.


3. Every woman loves men, who can control their own facial expressions, gestures, bodily reactions, and general behavior. If you remain good-tempered and smiling during the first date, you have very good chances that she will grow attracted to you.

4. Your walk plays an important role, too. If you still don’t have it, try and develop a pace of a busy, self-respecting man. The good news is that you can learn such skills quite quickly and use them with success in every other aspect of your life.

5. Keeping eye contact with your woman and doing it naturally is a good tip, too. At all times, try to look natural. When meeting a new person, many of us feel shy and even a little uncomfortable. If you train yourself not to show your nervousness, this skill will soon become a part of your success image, and will work in your favor in all situations of communication.


If you have these simple, but powerful skills, you will little by little develop a new image of a confident, successful person, and I am sure your women will adore it.

Now, let us take a quick look at a few common first-date mistakes which prevent men from being successful with women. These notes were made by Slavic women while they were looking at pictures of first dates. You may not agree with these notes, but this is how women see it!

a) “This guy looks like he is a bit narcissistic, he must be talking too much about his chores, which makes the whole date quite boring. Also, he slouches, which produces a subconscious feeling that the man has no backbone.” Nadya T.

b) “This lad is too relaxed, and he is certainly there for his own pleasure. I would not go out with him another time, he is too self-centered. A polite guy whould at least try to show his girl that he is there for her, not just for his own fun.” Alina B.


c) “It seems this guy does not know what to do with his girl. Probably, he has been through some failures with women before, and now he is simply afraid to do or say anything. I am pretty sure this woman is thinking about a polite excuse to finish the date and go home. The guy looks nice and smart, by the way. I think he could be a great man for some woman, but he needs to overcome his fears first.” Oxana N.



d) “This guy looks quite confident, and he certainly knows how to date. But it seems he is a little too fast to use his hands… you know what I mean. He has no other thoughts and he can’t talk about anything else but sex. The romance of the moment is lost and the girl is moving away from him, you see? I think he failed to show her his personality. Life, and even dating, is not only about sex.” Olga K.


e) “Oh, no! No-no-no! This is the biggest mistake to make! The rule No.1 of dating says: focus on your woman, and only on her! You can’t look at other girls in such moments! This is impolite to your woman, not to say more.” Olga K.


f) “Apparently, this man talks too much about himself. The dinner has not begun yet and the girl is already bored to death. The guy looks nice, he must be a successful and confident type, but it does not look like he carres about his woman at all.” Irina V.


g) “This guy must be an inexperienced type, or maybe he belongs to those always-nice, modest, righteous guys… I don’t know… I think he should be thankful to this woman for being brave and taking the first step torward him. If she did not kiss him, he would never dare to approach her. In fact, she is showing him what we, women, like so much: the spontaneous action, driven by desire. Why not? In my opinion, a smart guy would never move away from the woman at such moment.” Zhanna P.


g) “Oh, I remember that scene… I felt really sorry for that guy in the scene, because he looked so nice, very well-bred, and he was so patient and understanding. But I think he could perform a bit better if he took control of the situation from the very beginning. He is a bit too modest… no, rather, he looks… mm… indecisive. I also think he could wear a shirt of a brighter color… this would make him a bit more noticeable. Women are attracted to bright personalities, and this guy is just…mm ordinary.” Alla R.



A Few Things Creative People Do


I have been thinking, what are the distinguishing qualities of a creative person? Why do we call one person “creative” and another… just a “skilled” or “hard-working” guy? I have come up with these answers. These are the things that creative people always do:

  1. They concentrate on and “listen” to their inner self;
  2. They are not afraid to make up their mind and change their decisions;
  3. They tend to connect ideas, which other people find incompatible;
  4. Creative people tend to surround themselves with beauty, they have a physical need to see, hear, smell and sense beautiful things every day;
  5. They hate borders, especially mental borders that keep them within the frames of “well-set” approaches;
  6. Creative people often fail to follow time limitations. In fact, it is not them, but the time itself that fails to develop the same pace as the creative person’s mind does;
  7. Quite often, creative people become victims of their own desires, but this does not discourage them;
  8. They often take problems and failures as opportunities to start something new;
  9. They look at every event taking place around them as a way of self-expression;
  10. Creative people observe the world and the people around themselves, and find inspiration in them;
  11. Failure only makes them more curious;
  12. Creative people question everything that they see or hear around;
  13. Creative people seek for new impressions and emotional activity as thurstily as they look for beauty;
  14. they work only in the hours which are convenient to their personal “mental rhythms”; and
  15. They dream.


Golden Marriage Howto: Ukrainian Experience

Ukrainian sociologists recently conducted an interesting research: they met and interviewed dozens of couples who have lived together happily for 50 years and more. Traditionally, a marriage that lasts as long as 50 years is called a “golden marriage” here, and most of those people are over 70 today. The couples were interviewed all over the country; they have shared their “secrets” of stable relationships.

Among their stories, there are many sad, uneasy, and even dramatic epizodes, but every couple confirmed that they went through the hardships together. All in all, the interviewers could pick out three main features which were common for all couples that helped them remain together-

  • sharing pains and hardships;
  • tact; and
  • hugging daily.

Amazing, isn’t it? One may say, “How can it be that simple?” Yet this is true! I think those people simply learned to take each other’s emotions, troubles and chores as their own (maybe even higher), while mutual respect and daily hugs worked to cement the relationships and lead them through life.


Russians Hate Relationship Coaching

I just ran across a Facebook post, which attracted my attention. A young woman wrote on her timeline: “An author of a book about harmony in family life shot his wife and published photos of the body on the Internet; Dale Carnegie, the author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” died in loneliness; Benjamin Spock, the author of numerous books about bringing up kids, was nearly put in a nursing home by his own sons, and a Korean bestselling author of “How to Be Happy” hanged herself of depression. In fact, this is all I know about the personal growth trainings.”

Kind of sad, isn’t it? Well, the fact is: Russians don’t like psychologists. There is no tradition of visiting counselors and advisers, like many Westerners use to do. Family issues are considered very personal, and so, they can only be trusted – if ever at all – to a closest friend. Reading books about relationships is not a traditional thing, either. Some people – mainly women – would read a book once in a while and discuss it with friends, but still, majority of the Russians make relationship decisions mainly based on intuition and on previously acquired personal experiences.

In my practice as a relationship coach, I have seen numerous couples of a Russian woman and a foreign man. The men would frequently love talking to a coach, while Russian women tend to close up and refuse from any contact with psychologists at all. So, coaching for couples is practically impossible in Russia, which makes the western men even more curious about listening to an expert in mysterious Russian character.


What Makes Learning Russian so Hard for the English-Speakers?

When asked this question, native English-speakers usually provide similar answers: the main difficulties are (in an approximate order of lowest to highest difficulty, and this is not a full list): learning Cyrillic, pronunciation, case for nouns / adjectives, verbal affixes / aspect, intonation, and word order.

Many language learners believe that, if they know a certain number of words, they will be able to communicate the language they are studying, and this may be true for some languages, but not in the case of the Russian language, where words change a lot due to numerous suffixes, endings, and prefixes, which are not only difficult to remember, but, what’s more, they may change the meanings of words dramatically. Learning words and their meanings is not enough in Russian. You’ve got to know a lo about various language structures and grammar rules, if you want to understand and speak Russian.

Those who have just started studying Russian say that learning Russian pronunciation is quite challenging, but in fact, it comes to you with practice. A more difficult thing, probably, is having to remember cases for nouns / adjectives and verbal affixes / aspect.

English has a large number of phrasal verbs which can have wildly differing meanings. In fact, Russian phraseology is very developed, too, and using it may be quite a task to a beginner, when all Russians use lots of phraseology and idioms in daily communication, which makes understanding Russian quite difficult for beginners.

Really many things in the Russian language are left to the learner’s memory. Russian suffixes, for example, may have predictable meanings, which tend to be “technical”, for lack of a better word, while prefixes are more abstract and polysemic—as are the English particles. For example, Rusian words распустить, выпуск, запуск, запущенный have the same root, by the way, but very different spelling and pronunciation, to say nothing about the meanings.

While English phrasal verbs like give up, go on, take off, take after— let you make educated guesses at what they mean, especially if you encounter one of them in context, a learner of Russian cannot reliably deduce the meanings of words by only knowing the meaning of a root or of the parts they are built of.

Also, many English-speakers find Russian language structure lacking logic; they believe that there are too many exceptions to each rule to even be able to call them rules at all. Other learners complain that Russian free word order makes it even more difficult to speak, because while putting words at random places in the sentence, you never know what logical accent your final phrase will acquire.

Here are a few interesting notes which I picked up at Russian learner’ forums;  these comments give you a great picture of their troubles while trying to master Russian:

Comment 1: “It is certainly the vocabulary that is giving me the most trouble, although I seem to have reached a point where words are beginning to be related to each other and I recognize the root and so can guess the meaning, and anticipate the form. The grammar, apart from becoming accustomed to the verbs, does not seem difficult…”

Comment 2: “DO NOT try to learn Russian by roots, prefixes, and suffixes. My SMALL experience with Russian prefixes and suffixes is that they do NOT modify in a logical manner.”

Comment 3: “Basically, you could learn 3 other languages as easily as you can learn Russian. And then there is the grammar.”

And now, for the last comment, on the most optimistic note, to wrap up the discussion for today. Enjoy!

Comment 4:  “If you put solid effort into learning Russian and maintain motivation and dedication, you will become conversationally fluent sooner than you expect! Once you get a foot-hold into the language, you will be learning and retaining more and more, easier and easier. It’s like learning a new word in your native language – it isn’t hard at all to remember it because you can subconsciously find the roots and words similar to it, and you hear it around you so you’re exposed to the word and “revising” it. Just take it slow and understand everything handed to you and you will be on the road to fluency in no time! Good luck :)”


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