Hi all. I have been in Almaty for about a month now, its cold here,
and the Kyrgyz and Uzbeks have just informed the Kazakhs for the 12th
time that they will not be supplying electricity to Almaty anymore on
barter terms, they actually want money instead of coal. I will have
to get in touch with Tom Jacobs about this, its just not fair, and I
like to take long showers.
What is interesting about Kazakhstan is
that the average man on the street is fairly conversant in the subject
of energy, so that you might hear a conversation between two
pensioners about bcm of gas or how many megawatts their neighborhood
Gosh that reminds me, anyone who
wants the low-down on the energy situation in Kazakhstan should turn to the Financial Times, of January 21 and
28 page 4 which is actually quite near the
front page if you think about it, and and read
the unmistakeable prose of Charles Clover whose
name appears in about 86 point bold font, which is why he's willing to
work practically for free as a stringer in a
place with no hot water.
By the way, it's true everyone at the FT does have to dress up in
frilly pink nighties when we're inside the office, and all the food in
the cafeteria is dyed pink. Apparently a public school holdover.
Hi fellow exSAISers,
I wanted to let you
know that my email address has changed, and thought I'd include bits of news as well. To serve your varying
degrees of interest and/or patience, we'll start with the new address, then the
short and long versions of the recent news ...
The Portland SAIS graduate population rose by one (Cigdem Oktem).
I turned 30, and am rapidly on the way to fat and bald.
I walked in to work to find my job gone (hence address change), and now I'm paid
to do nothing for a while.
Visiting back east soon, would like to see folks.
It's still wet here.
News (long, i.e. I try to make the above sound interesting ...):
Another exSAISer reports from the wide world, in this case from the western
wilds of Portland, Oregon (motto: "if it could float, nail it to the floor").
Work continued crazy-busy as usual until one Wednesday morning a couple of weeks
ago, when my colleagues and I walked in to find out that we'd all been canned
and the project canceled - after 1 1/2 years of work and just a week before
shipping it out the door. [In techo-dork terminology, the cutting edge turned
out to be a precipice.] So it's update-that-resume time, and probably a change
in venue (current nominees include NYC and Luzern, or maybe somewhere nice and
warm). Alternatively, since we all got fired at once, my team is talking about
starting a new company. The international marketing portfolio is conspicuously
un-filled ... hmm ... or perhaps can I get a job watering plants at the WTO
office in Geneva while Markus skis? Anyone got a PhD program to recommend?
It was hardly equivalent to getting married for Swiss immigration purposes
whilst ducking bullets in a hotel in Sierra Leone and dining on Bishkekian
sheep, which is what I gather we're supposed to do post-SAIS, but I did get
mildly caught in the recent winter flooding. Fortunately both my home and
office are on high ground, so my adventure was limited to a lengthened and
sloppy commute. All kinds of stuff floating around, from branches to small
animals to road signs to ... um, I think I even saw a couple of things Julia
reported missing go floating by toward the Columbia river ... Julia, if you
hurry out here we might be able to catch 'em before they get to the ocean. I
also got to watch a tree fall over and actually shatter due to the amount of ice
caked on it, that was a new one.
Cigdem Oktem is also in Portland these days. She's working for US Bank,
one of the big regional banks out here, in the international banking division.
We saw a really funny play around Xmas time, about the town of "Tuna, Texas" -
catch it if you can.
My family has two recent additions, kittens by the name of Aslan and Bertha.
Nearly forgot to mention it, but the raging fight I just broke up reminded me.
They're cute as all get-out, but can get nearly as rowdy as oh, say, Jame with a
couple bottles of wine in 'im.
And yes indeedy, I turned 30 sometime back there. For those of you who ain't
there yet, don't worry it's not that bad. For the rest of you, you know damn
well I'm lying. Amazingly, fully 1/2 of my hair spontaneously leapt from my
scalp as the clock struck midnight on my 30th. I'm unsure what to do about
this: rug? Rogaine? weave? or just let 'er shine? Then there's the weight
thing. Now I attribute this to being a professional on-ass-sitter who drinks a
lot of beer, rather than age, but the results are disturbing nonetheless (the
squeamish should avoid reading the next sentance). I started going to a gym and
I can still say I have never weighed in over 200 pounds, but last week I only
managed it by the extraordinary measure of, well, dropping the towel. And
besides all that, in case you hadn't noticed, I'm turning into an old grouch.
So that's the news from lake PaulBGone. A happy 1997 to all.
Serra and I got married.
Unlike Craig, we are pretty sure we did it for real. Proof is that
there were numerous Swiss people around stamping documents, photos
were taken, and our mothers cried. Serra carried a bouquet of plastic
flowers courtesy to her mum who brought them from Istanbul. We almost
canceled the wedding since I refused to wear the tie Serra's mum
apparently bought in the same shop. Only, and really only in
parentheses: This tie exhibits true Turkish ingenuity when it comes to
circumventing the Multifiber Agreement. Just don't put any fibers
whatsoever in your products and you are all set. As expected, the tie
did not burn when it caught fire, it melted. Now that we are married,
all the cross cultural troubles begin, of course. Do I need to get
circumcised? Will our kids be Muslim or Christian? Will the sharia
apply to them? Do I really need to get circumcised? If I become
Muslim, may I beat you regularly? Do we have to meet all the neighbors
every time we visit Turkey? Won't it hurt a lot, such a circumcision?
and many more.
We did not have a party, as we married on short notice to avoid
Serra's expulsion from paradise Switzerland. So it was just signing
papers. The real party will happen in Istanbul in the summer (early
August, we reckon). We are still trying to find the proper i.e. best
place and will send out invitations to you all some time soon.
Geneva is under clouds since New Years and you have to climb up the
mountains to see any sun. Skiing around here is just phenomenal. Some
of Europe's best slopes are between 45 minutes and 1 1/2 hours away
and we are going skiing all weekends. On particularly good days, the
WTO closes down and we all go skiing together. It's great to have
Workwise, things are picking up a bit. The WTO has given itself a
mandate to explore whether they should simplify and harmonize customs
procedures, and I was asked to prepare the background paper for the
delegates. Yeah, it's not exactly the coolest project one can imagine,
but at least I get to do something other than wax my skies during the
week. (For all those who are already corrupted by all the dirt on the
internet: This is not figurative language) Most surprisingly, none of
the old ladies at work has died yet. I always thought, also women
die around 85 or so, but these here seem to be hanging in until they
have watered their last office plant to death. I keep you updated on
any casualties here, since it means jobs for you all!!!!
PS: Serra's email is email@example.com
Am alive and well in Hong Kong.
Living on the opposite side of the planet has doubled my appreciation of
not only the Internet but the efforts of Stefan to maintain this Web site
and the contributions everyone makes to keep it interesting and fun. For
the regulars on these e-pages, let's try to get some of the other folks
to write in every so often....
Life is a bit of a mess right now. I have a new apartment but it has
fewer beds than Mr. Sinclair's new pad. In fact, it has fewer of
everything, or rather, it has nothing. Living on the floor will soon end
but the move has been a little more trying than I expected. I've moved
yet I have bills to pay in the US and I'm at the office but have to
develop my news sources from scratch, and so on. I'm half-here, half-not.
This netherstate is temporary but wearisome.
On the other hand this is a pretty amazing city and I am happy to
rant on the Fictions page of this site, for those interested.
My e-mail address is, I think (I'm quite cyber-clueless),
firstname.lastname@example.org. If someone sends me a message and doesn't hear a
reply after a week or so, it may mean either I haven't figured out this
newfangled stuff--or that I don't like you. Gimme a try.
Talk to you later,
Oh, and regarding New Year's Eve: no comment;)