Hey Stefan, I just finished perusing the SAIS page and felt I would be remiss if I didn't add my own inane gibberish.
Things in Cental Asia are OK, but I certainly am in need of a break. We currently have no hot water in the country (which is rumoured to continue until Sept!) and I've eaten enough cabbage and borsch to choke a sturgeon. The jobs OK, but I'm ready to move onto to bigger projects. In case you didn't know, I work for the Central Asian-American Enterprise Fund and we invest in small/medium sized, private companies, debt and equity from $1000-$5,000,000. It's interesting work, but is amazingly frustrating dealing with, and trying to comprehend, the people here. Let's see, a few anecdotes to demonstrate...
1. Small dirty man from the country enters the office and tries to convince our Loan Officer to consider a Hydroelectric plant project. After being told that we don't invest in such projects, that even if we did want to the cost of such a project is completely out of our dollar realm, that his 3-page handwritten business plan with accompanying hand-drawn diagram which consisted of a line drawing of a river scratched on construction paper with a line across it designated "Hydroelectric Plant" did not breed confidence, that it would be difficult to discuss his project since he didn't know how much money he needed, and that we were basically not interested, he demanded to talk to me to see if I would consider it. Well, no. Though I got stuck repeating the same things that our Loan officer said while he kept repeating "Help us!" I literally could not get him out of my office, so in the end I gave him an application which I'm sure will only confuse him and sent him on his way. Needless to say, I hope not to have to deal with him.
2. A few months ago down in the second biggest city in Kyrgystan, Osh, we reviewed some projects. One consisted of a cotton/wool processing plant. After we saw the operation, we had lunch with the client. With bread and fruit on the table, I assumed that was our lunch (which was totally fine with me) and ate my fill, and then some. Unfortunately, they then brought out a huge dish of PLOFF, which is the staple food here made from rice, mutton, garlic and unbelievable amounts of oil and melted sheep fat. (Just a note for all you gourmands, I hear the best ploff relys on the butt-fat from specific sheep with unusally large, floppy butts. "Baa-Baa's Got Back!" Sorry for the really bad reference to old, though cleverly written rap music, but this place can really mess with your mind at times.)
Well, we began discussing the pleasures of food and I casually mentioned that I think it is more important to eat well, then a lot. Bad move. My host responds that here, the amount of food you eat is the surest sign of how much you respect the host. Although I was already full, I commenced to prove my respect even at the cost of my comfort. After a couple hours of eating, we retired to the hotel to rest. I fell fast asleep for 3 hours only to be awoken at 6:00 to return to the same host's house for our next meal.
To quicken this story, we ate for another 4 hours and drank plenty of vodka so by the end I was sick as a dog and didn't need to eat for about two days. The highlight of the meal was when they brought the boiled sheep's head out for the guest of honor, yours truly. I knew at some point in my time here that would happen but I didn't expect it to happen so soon. Since I didn't know the ceremony behind it, which is quite important, one of my local staff "helped" me to deskin it, rip out it's tongue and the roof of its mouth, extract the eyes, and then crush the skull to access the soft sweet brain. MMMMM.... Since this has dragged out much longer than I anticipated I will leave the rest to your imagination.
3. A short list of other "interesting projects" we have considered: circus performer who wanted to open a dentist shop, recording studio in the middle of nowhere for aspiring local folk musicians, and a brick manufacturing company that side-lined in sheep shearing.
The weather here has turned nice and the mountains are spectacular. Anyone interested in a visit to go rafting, mountain climbing/biking, glacier skiing, or just hanging around talking about people with more interesting lives than ourselves, etc... is more than welcome. I haven't done much since I've had to work a lot, but I plan to get out of the city much more frequently now.
I hope all is well in NYC. I should be in the States the 3rd week of June and might try to make it to the city. By the way, Julia Holman's stories are really funny and I hope her breasts return. Take care.
Jancsi Strohmayer's new address: email@example.com
News Flash: Jim Cerenzia and Julie Reynolds are engaged! Wedding date to be announced.
I finally quite my god(grotius)-forsaken job at the American Society of International Law. After 1 year and 9 months I have emerged from the quagmire. Amy Berks contiues her tour of duty there...
My last days at the American Society of International Law were spent rebuilding corrupt index file errors in the Aztech membership database and bullshitting their entire budget document. Concurrently, and while the "accountant" continually begged me to fix his veriphone (the thing you slide the Amex card through), I found 400,000 missing dollars in the sorry thing they call their "system". The director called me into her office crying...It was a mess.
Andrew Stephens and I took a joy ride in his Cop-Transmission-Cop Motor-Cop Suspension-spotlight-donning-gas-guzzling-pezzo-di-ferro-Dodge Diplomat. I smoked my first tobacco product (cigar) since I quit smoking (March 1995). By the time we arrived at the domestic beavers' house (Jim Cerenzia and Julie Reynolds) I was feeling pretty ill. Their place is nice...there are small battery-operated excavation toys available in the backyard.
I am now consulting for the "Office of the Net," a Xerox subsiduary in charge of thinking about ways of coaxing huge clients to spend a fortune on Intranet "solutions".
Scribe International continues to exist...even though Josh (my best friend) [and business partner] took a job with the Sporting News (in St. Louis). Just yesterday, I got a call from the Juan Valdez coffee people asking me (I don't know why) to build a site for them (they'll pay for numeorus trips to NYC). If it moves forward, coffee samples are on me.
inter gentes jus et pax
I went to Bologna for the alumni weekend, as I'm sure you know. It was quite all right really. The best bit was when I went with Prof. Row and Jon Williams the Librarian to Bambi Bar very late on the first evening I was there. Rosanna, the nice middle aged-owner of the place still, believe it or not, remembers me, yelled out Johnny! when I went in, and served me three half-half ginintonics, which impressed Row no end.
We stayed with Cathy Blake, who also had Suzannah Gold staying over, who seemed on top form. Another good bit was when I went shopping with her and Birgit, and in all the shops they both swanned about in front of me in all the clothes they were trying on, and I felt a bit like a Turkish satrap taking my favourites from the hareem out for a reward, which is a bit pathetic probably, as well as being patently untrue.
The only fly in the ointment was that I got so stupefyingly drunk on that first night with Row and the Williams that I felt absolutely abysmal for the rest of the time I was there. I tried to go to Il Druido one afternoon, but it was closed, which was a pity.
I'm bored again, so I'm going to watch some telly now that these warbling German harridans singing on a CD that Matthew [house-mate] likes to listen to have finally shut up.
Jeff Rowland's new address: Jsrowland2@aol.com
Chris Donat's new address: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been waiting for several weeks for Jeff Rowland to update the S@IS homepage, but, since he seems to preoccupied to do it himself, I will do it for him...
During his most recent trip to Egypt (Ketchum has been sending him about once a month), Jeff not only got sick (a regular occurrence for him there), he also got engaged. Specifically, the last time he went he had to stay for about a month, so he took Laura (who has been living with him in DC since just before Christmas) with him. I have not as yet gotten the play-by-play out of him, but apparently they spent a weekend in a former royal hunting lodge overlooking the Pyramids, and he proposed on the balcony.
The big day is tentatively set for May of '97 in Rome. I reminded him that Gioia and Sebastian are also reportedly planning their wedding for sometime next spring in Bologna, and gee wouldn't it be nice if they were somewhat close together so that we could attend both. (I wish he would quit rolling his eyes like that when I make such suggestions...)
My job with Ericsson is progressing fairly well. Look for our tiny cell-phones in a market near you... (the product is sold under the Sprint Spectrum brand name in DC) - they are the front end of the system of equipment we sell. I am trying to pick up on all the things they don't teach you at SAIS (like how to get someone several time zones away to do something for you which is really not their responsibility, but which your boss feels is essential to your continued presence with at the firm...)
On a final note, I have been forced to forsake the crime-ridden, run-down, but infinitely interesting habitat of DC for the netherlands of Reston [Ebola capital of the world]. On the positive side, I am less than a mile from my office in Reston Town Center, and the fact that I no longer have to commute out of DC seems to have added hours to my day. However, the fact remains that I have to drive 20-40 minutes into DC in order to do anything social.
This is NOT for the SAIS page, by the way [, she wrote. I called her and begged for the publishing rights. After pointing out similar acts of bravery on these very pages (namely, Craig Jacoby's testicular exhibitionism) she was moved by a noble sense of SAIS camaraderie to tell all. A laudable act, that; one I hope will tempt other SAISers to similarly loosen the reins of self-censorship.]
You were asking how Atlanta is: we have been pleasantly surprised that there are a veritable shitload of bars and restaurants, clubs, etc. One could say we live in a cool area of town, considering that the southeast's finest "girlie bar" is right up the street. (I haven't been there yet. Osten has. We're waiting for you and Jame to come down and we'll all go!! [I'm shocked, shocked] Supposed to be full of big-breasted college women, which is a treat for Osten because my boobs have COMPLETELY DISAPPEARED!! One day I looked down, and they were just gone. When I run across Victoria's Secret catalogs, I pass them on to him so he doesn't feel deprived.)
Aside from the no-boob thing, what else is new, let me think. My job at the Fed is the coolest. The guys I work with are (not from the south, of course) very open-minded, hilarious, and pranksters. My boss Mike is only 31, which means I can say "fuck" in front of him and he doesn't even blink. The job itself is very interesting. We (John, Mike, myself) are the Latin American research group, and we assess country risk for most Latin American countries, especially those that have opened branches or foreign operations here in the US. My countries are Venezuela (totally fucked up), Chile , Brazil , Bolivia, Argentina and the Dominican Republic. John covers Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Central America. Mike supervises us, and also covers Asian and European markets.
We have learned a lot and had a good time doing it. The bank is paying for my Portuguese classes too, which is a plus. I'll have to take Statistics and Econometrics soon, which is less fun, but necessary. So all in all, it's a great job. Oh, except for the pay, which doesn't really suck, but isn't great -- considering that I pay $500/month for my student loans. Ouch. But my rent is probably free compared to yours in NY [That's an understatement].
Osten works for a real estate investment firm/sort of a mortgage bank, I guess. His boss is smart, but the rest of the guys are idiots, one of whom snorted too much coke until he fried his brain to hell. Yesterday Osten had a meeting with a Mr. Woodruff (as in the family who started Coca-Cola), trying to talk him into investing in their project. So he's learning a lot, but hates the people he works with, which kind of sucks. Oh, but get this, his job title is CFO. Isn't that funny? His first job out of grad school and he's a friggin' CFO!
On a recent World Bank business trip to Moscow (a "mission" in World Bank terminology) I got to see the Bank at its best and worst. I witnessed events that would make a Current Affair expose seem like Sesame Street in comparison. I am too loyal to this institution to print them here in front of God and my peers. But anyone interested is certainly welcome to e-mail me for the juicy details.
Citibank refused my credit card application, as well as my overdaft protection request! Now get this: They are not giving me a credit card because I've never had a credit card. They will not be lending me money because I've never borrowed money! I have no credit history, so I can't get a credit history. This is a catch 22 so momentous I've been staggering about town incredulous for 2 days already. This is more than a catch 22; it's a topic worthy of a kafka novel: man does everything right, never veers from a path even more virtuous than the others, then gets punished because authorities find they can't trust him--he doesn't behave like the masses. He is unpredictable, an outsider, and thus dangerous. After chasing him to the outskirts of society because he exhibits no human weaknesses, like borrowing, but also lying, one gusty night they hound him and kill him. His name: Jesus. Yes I am feeling a wee bit the martyr here, but I can't find a good cause. Maybe I'll embrace world government, buy a one-way ticket to Montana with the last of my savings, and walk into the Freemen compound wearing nothing but a UN flag, armed with the UN charter, demanding their surrender lest they be smitten by Chapter 7, article 42.
That feels better. Other News: Tom atkins and Uta Hanischfeger had a little engagement/wedding party in DC this saturday. The big day will be here shortly--They're getting married in Augsburg, Germany, on June 7.
Natalie Goujon is quitting her job with Agip in early July [as well as this email address, presumably]. She is moving to Trieste to (be with her boyfriend Luigi and) work as export manager for a telecommunications company, which will involve developing foreign sales, participating in fairs/trade shows, etc. Since travel opportunities are many, she will not, in her own words, "suffer to be in a smaller town."
The Black Crowes played in Atlanta last weekend, to which I was unable to drag Osten, who says he feels "surrounded by idiots" at his job, which is probably true.
It sounds like you [Stefan] and all of the New York SAISers are living the life of Holly Golightly up there in the big city. Here in swamp of our nation's capital, Wisdom, Compassion, Thrift and Honor continue to steer our legislators along the river of good government -- or something like that. My news is that I have moved. New Address : 220019th Street, NW, Apt 702, Wash. DC 20009. New Phone: 202 986 2694.
Otherwise, all is well -- China MFN, Caspian oil, and the reasonable, even-tempered peoples of the Middle East are keeping my days filled. I'm still looking for a new job for after the Senator's retirement, but I may wait out the elections and find something with one of the dozen new Republican senators sure to be elected then.
Jancsi Strohmayer's new address: email@example.com
I've moved into a town-house in SW Portland, with an extra room and futon. So if any of you concrete jungle (NYC) or glorified swamp (DC) -dwellers should feel the urge to forsake the sticky heat for breezy evergreen forests, lemme know, the door's open to SAISers.
A couple of Web links: [Paul's employer's website] to see what ex-SAISers do when they choose to ignore the fact that they ever went to SAIS, and Lollapalooza's website to see a really cool site (but you need Netscape 2.0 or more).
Louise Ferguson has finished her EU internship, and landed a job working for an American company in Brussels. Rumor places her on vacation in the States at the moment, so if you see her on the streets of DC you're not hallucinating.
And drop a line now & then, lest I forget SAIS/BC ever happened...
First of all, I have a new e-mail address to add to the list. The old one is obsolete. The new one is is KBlake@mail.jhubc.infn.it.
News from BC: We have (as of two weeks ago), totally new Compaq computers with Internet access, Word for Windows, and Windows 95. Training classes will start soon to teach us how to use all this stuff. Students will also benefit with new computers, and, as of this summer, hopefully, totally on-line card catalogue. Bad news is that Lexis/Nexis has raised its overseas subscriber prices to such lofty heights that the library has had to scale back access to that.
Other news is that I spent Easter with Marilyn (Laurenzano) von Hoenning O'Carroll and her husband Janos in Munich. Marilyn had just returned to work after the birth on 31 December 1995 of Angelina Helena. Mommy and baby are fine. I enjoyed playing with her without any of the responsibility of actually having to take care of her.
What to say... I've been working far too many hours (if only I were being paid on an hourly basis), but I really love my job (is it possible that these words are actually coming from me?) despite the hours, and being in project finance, which is completely a manšs world, I've been able to attend more playoff games this spring than ever before in my life. You just can't beat free hockey and basketball tickets, even if you do have to go to the game with the lawyers. Knicks games are excellent opportunities for star-watching, and I'm demanding from the lawyers that the next game they take me to I want to be sitting next to Matthew Modine.
Other than that, I've been trying to make the most of being in New York. I was always meant to live here, so I've been amazingly stationary for the past several months. The urge to travel has apparently left me for the moment, but if I don't start working on some sort of international project soon, I'm going to demand being moved to London or Hong Kong. The most exciting trip Išve taken has been to Philadelphia. The good news was that I got to wear a hard hat.
I don't bring much gossip from London, let alone Geneva [Markus went travelling], since nobody but Aygen and Nick were present when I was there. Nick is seriously considering LAW SCHOOL, and I feel we should set up a rescue committee. Aygen is still at EBRD and enjoys dams and power station management in Georgia. His soccer team is about to become Turkish champion, and so we talked about soccer for 48 hours straight.
I guess I fucked up my WTO interview, which is too bad, because Geneva seems to be a decent place, quiet enough so that Serra can get some sleep at night. Also, my salary would probably not have fit under the SAIS salary cap and I would have been cut soon. (Am I making sense?, No?, good then, you are healthy.)
Ivo Partchev's new e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For Manhattanite SAISers, the outer boroughs are alien places, dark and uninteresting pockmarks around the crown jewel of Western urbanity. In short, we don't go there. However on Sunday, May 5, an intrepid group boldly went were few SAISers have gone before.
This brave band journeyed to the underbelly of Brooklyn, to Brighton Beach, a.k.a. Little Odessa. This voyage of discovery unearthed a strange land, a world of gangsters named Sasha and of vodka on the beach. But what they really discovered is that there is a universe beyond the parameters of Battery Park and 85th Street. Diehards like Liz still wore black, however.
It should not be surprising that the architect of this adventure was SAIS '95's sole Brooklynite member, Charles, who was also the only one who spoke Russian. For those unfamiliar with Brighton Beach, it is heavily populated with Russian immigrants. It is also on the sea--Manhattanites forget that New York is an ocean-bound port city. We ate lunch at Cafe Tatiana but we could have just as easily been hanging on by the Black Sea. The food--borscht, herring, other things I can't spell, the ubiquitous vodka--was undeniably Russian. So was the shitty service and the tacky apparel of our cherub-cheeked hosts. But we were undeterred, because the weather--which has been rotten of late--took a turn for the beautiful and nothing was wrong with the world.
We then took a walk along the beach toward Coney Island. Liz, who had opera tickets, and Hylke, who had to iron his boxers, departed. Rebecca, Stefan, Beth and Jame opted for bumper cars while Charles, Jennifer, Dan and Tina (she's not a SAISer) cruised the boardwalk. Hmm, a Bologna-Washington divide. Oh well. There was a happy reunion in the arcade centering around spectacularly violent video gamemanship. If I may digress here, I think that if for every time your video game character got shot the player was delivered a sharp, excruciating electric shock, our children would not be engaged in carjacking and schoolyard shoot-outs. On the other hand Stefan's derangement precedes video games, so perhaps I'm off the mark.
Then we went home.
Everybody, This is to announce that I am finally connected to you all electronically again, and can be reached at email@example.com (Please! I am dying to get mail) Also, I am now officially at the worldbank and will have access to other modern wonders such as voice mail. A long cold winter is over, and with trees blossoming everywhere, the Fox and Hound completely packed, summery smells and all things nice, DC is not at all a bad place to be. More interesting details will be provided in response to mail. Hope you are all doing well wherever you are. Love Tonje
This S@IS.faction Page URL: http://sighs.com/S@IS.newsroom.html
Inaugurated November 7, 1995; last revised May 27, 1996.
Questions, feedback: contact Stefan Geens at firstname.lastname@example.org