As well, during the 90's, Walter attended several annual  conferences of the AAASS (The American Association  for the Advancement of Slavic Studies) with great  interest, though obviously not as an academic.  His  home library of Russian-related books had swelled to  over 700.  After the family business closed in 2000,  Walter went to Irkutsk as a complete non-Russian  speaker with the intent of trying to learn some Russian  over a 1-year period.  This process continued and in  2002, Walter reached a Russian Goverment-certified  basic level of proficiency.  Having taught English from  the very beginning as well, he decided to just keep on  going, on a year-by-year basis, with informal Russian  study and teaching through 2010.  Though a lifelong  batchelor, compelling circumstances made him decide to  move to his current status in Australia.  The stark  contrasts from the beginning remain as utterly  fascinating and illuminating.  As an American and  devoted capitalist, Walter decided to put the perceptions  resulting from his experiences and informal study at this  site, with the hope that they may prove useful to the  99.9999999% of the non-Russian, non-Eastern  European people who suffer from Churchill-syndrome  (Russia is a riddle-mystery-enigma triple packaged).   Though his model is subject to superficial, short-term  change, the basic mentalities of Russia's leaders and  led are absolutely not.  It's a uniquely Russian  static/dynamic.  Please, enjoy!!! 
Walter is 62 and 50% of German ancestry, 25% of  British/French ancestry.  He had no interest in Russia  growing up in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles,  having only learned about it as the big red evil place on  the map then-named the USSR.  Everything changed  in 1977 during a trip around Western Europe, during  which it was decided to make beer-tasting side trips to  Pilzen and Prague.  The stark contrasts between East  and West got Walter interested in their root causes,  namely the USSR and its incursion into  Czechoslovakia earlier in 1969.  Working in a family  business meant very few vacation opportunities, so his  first trip to the USSR was in 1983 for 3 weeks  (Moscow, Leningrad, Kharkov, Kiev, and Odessa).  The  next trip was in 1988, also for 3 weeks (Moscow,  Leningrad, Bratsk, Irkutsk, Ulan Bator in Mongolia,  Tashkent, and Khiva.  The next trip was in 1991 for 10  days, via Alaska:  Magadan and Khabarovsk.   The  next trip was in 1992, a 3-week cruise:  Hokkaido,  Japan, The Kurile Islands, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky,  Sakhalin Island, and Khabarovsk.  The next trip, also a  cruise, was in 1994, for 3 weeks:  Moscow, the  Moscow-Volga Canal, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Plues,  Nizhni-Novgorod, Simbirsk, Kazan, Samara, Saratov,  and Volgograd.  The next trip, mostly a cruise, was in  1997, for 3 weeks:  Moscow, Krasnoyarsk, Yeneseisk,  Dudinka, St. Petersberg.  The final vacation was in  1999, a 10 day visit to just Magadan. 
About the Author: WALTER
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