Monday, August 31, 2009

İsanın doğum günü münasibətilə!!!

Isanin dogum günü münasib?til?!!!
Originally uploaded by gaikokujinkyofusho

Ok, that was supposed to be “Merry Christmas” in Azeri but it actually (literally) means “With the birth of Christ” which is strange anyway since Azerbaijan is an Islamic country… but I guess the Soviets instilled a sense of yuletide cheer in Azerbaijan too (Celebrate, Be Happy, or off to Siberia you go!!!). My staff was telling me that actually Azeris use Christmas trees as part of the New Year celebration and for that one would say “Yeni il” (Happy New Year I think).

Anyway, I saw this Christmas tree (or New Years tree as it were) while I was walking through town, I had seen an Azeri Santa Claus (Ded Moroz in Russian) and most amusingly an Azeri Snegurochka (Amusing because Russians are a “bit” prejudice and certainly have their own concept of the Russian ubermensch, which is almost always blonde, not a big deal except if you are familiar with Russian pride/tradition/culture) while walking around town so the Christmas tree was not so much of a surprise, I guess its just that in an Islamic country one doesn’t normally expect to find celebrations of a Christian holiday around (though if you as an Azeri they say that it is not a celebration of a Christian holiday at all, its for new years!)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Nixon dug deep for dirt on Ted Kennedy - Yahoo! News

I just came across this article today "Nixon dug deep for dirt on Ted Kennedy". I guess it is not a surprise to some but the dispicable levels that Nixon sank to, levels that you thought "na, even Nixon wouldn't do that" are amazing. These phone conversations are quite an eye opener, I just hope that the same information has been collected about Cheney and that they are published before he dies.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Offensive Thriftiness

Yesterday one of my staff asked if I would mind meeting two European inters who were doing some sort of evaluation of cheese production in Azerbaijan. I will post another time about my thoughts on trying to push European cheeses and cheese making practices on cultures that are perfectly happy with their local products. This post is about how these two were operating, they were carrying backpacks, they came by marshutka (like a van/taxi/bus service found in many CIS countries, and is quite cheap [albeit very uncomfortable]), and they don’t seem to want to pay for anything. They came and had some questions for me etc but seemed to be wanting more assistance which I ignored at first but then caved and offered the organization’s vehicle/driver to take them around a bit. One of my staff put these intern in her house for the night (I was not willing to go that far since I already have to host consultants and regional staff sometimes) and my staff also found a student who would do translation for me (seemingly for free) and these two girls don’t seem (hopefully they will prove me wrong) to have any inclination to reimburse the organization or this student translator. While not reimbursing an organization is acceptable having someone help you for free, not treating them to a lunch or transport back home just seems irresponsible and rude and no, not thrifty, it is downright cheap.

I have seen some pretty obnoxious expats, and some locals that are hell bent on ripping off expats but thankfully most expats seem pretty willing to compensate locals for time/services in some fashion. Those expats who mooch off of locals who are much less fortunate (financially) than they are… are just loathsome.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The impersonal nature of the extra personal networking sites

I accept that networking can be pretty impersonal, and the masters are those who can network and make every networkee feel like there is a personal connection; I am not one of those people. Now comes all these social services, like FaceBook (which is a bit more personal since there tends to be a less business like air about it) and LinkedIn which is a bit less personal due to its business angle... but the gaps between the two are narrowing.

I just received another invite through LinkedIn from a person I know of but hardly know personally, which is a step up from those i have never even heard of, and it was simply a "X wants to connect with you". I got another invite via Facebook which was almost the exact same thing, which is a bit more insulting to me in Facebook because both of these are generic invites but facebook is supposed to be more personal and in facebook i *thought* the purpose was to make friends not contacts. Anyway, I have inboxes in facebook and linkedin full of unaccepted invites. I have made it a point that anyone I invite (very few so far) I include a personal message to, to at the very least not give the appearance of totally superficiality be it for facebook or linkedin... I thought these two services were supposed to promote socialization but they seem to have done the opposite with people taking the attitude of who-ever-dies-with-the-most-online-friends/contacts-wins... sigh.