Saturday, December 18, 2004

Winter light is blinding me

Another photo shot in Sofija. Everyone warned me about the winter weather, how cold it would get and so on. They were right of course, it is cold (+or-2 degrees Celcius during the day - colder at night) and the coldest days are yet to come.

What I was not warned about was the hazard presented by the low azimuth winter sun. Even at noon I am blinded by the light and I have glasses that darken in the sunlight. I often cannot see where I am going, and I mean that literally. I wonder what it will be like with snow on the ground. Speaking of snow, the Bulgarian word for snow is "сняг" pronounced "sneeyagk" (sort of).

Backyard gardening is popular

My block (apartment building) has some space in the rear that residents use for gardening. They don't have to go far for fresh veggies. The towns in Bulgaria are a strange mixture of rural and urban. Many people have gardens and it is even common to raise animals such as sheep and pigs in the city limits. This does create a problem with flys. On the bright side you can obtain flypaper here, but they sell this in the pharmacy not the hardware store or supermarket.

Yes, we do have supermarkets in Bulgaria, but only in the larger towns and cities. The super in Razgrad is about 1/4 the size of a small Safeway in a rural town in the U. S. The produce section is miniscule because one goes to the outdoor market for fruits and veggies. Most of the produce you would find in the U. S. is available, but it is locally grown and thus very seasonal.

The upside is that what you get here would generally qualify as "natural", since very little pesticide is used in Bulgaria. The issue is money to pay for pesticides, not health. Because Bulgaria is still such a poor country, insect damaged produce commonly is sold here that would never make to one of our markets. I'm talking about apples with obvious worm holes. The vendors just mark their produce down and sell it anyway. Why not? After all, most such fruit is perfectly edible if you cut out the bad parts, but many Americans would recoil at the site of a worm hole in their fruit. Life is much more basic here and one begins to appreciate this.

Do we have enough patterns here?

Bulgarians (maybe Eastern Europeans and Russians in general) love patterns in their furnishings. It is not my taste, but I cannot complain because my apartment is provided for me along with the furnishings. Very few people in this world can make that statement and I feel fortunate.

Mosque in Sofija

This is my first attempt to use "Hello" a free communication control program made for sharing photos. The program is supplied by Picasa, which is the photo cataloging program I use. Hello appears to be a little buggy, but for the price and functions provided is working ok. The user interface seems carefully designed to eliminate a lot of technical considerations that can get you bogged down when trying to mount photography files to the web. For a program this good, it's just a question of time until the authors start demanding money. As well they should, I suppose.

I don't know much about the mosque, but I'm sure it has historical signifigance for Bulgarians.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Here we are in Bulgaria

Weeks, nay months, have passed since I started this blog and in the interim I have traveled halfway around the world and learned how to be a Peace Corps volunteer in three easy lessons. I don't believe I wrote that. Actually, the business of being a Peace Corps volunteer involves working at community development, which is a many faceted endeavor and not at all simple. The good news is that I am not counting the days until my tour ends. In fact I am having the time of my life.

Today I have spent nearly 8 hours at my computer doing research and writing to friends and associates. It is freezing outside, but my room where I work is comfortable -- one might even say cozy. I am wired in to the world at my fingers and I wonder how it must have been for the early Peace Corps volunteers who lacked computers and the internet. How did they survive and do their work? I'm glad I have the benefit of modern communication technology.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Mo'olelo founders stars in play

My friend Seema Sueka is going to be appearing in the play "The Inteligent design of Jenny Chow" here in San Diego. I received the following announcement:

Mo`olelo Night at The Old Globe - SAVE THE DATE JULY 15

Check out Mo`olelo founder and artistic director Seema Sueko at The Old Globe! Seema plays the lead role in the upcoming production of The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow, opening June 12th. See the show the LA Times calls "…a dazzling display of stagecraft that harvest many laughs and finally a few tears". For more information, visit

A good play, a good party, a good cause...

Join us on Thursday, July 15 for Mo`olelo Night at The Old Globe! For just $52.50 you can enjoy a VIP reception with complimentary cocktails, appetizers and a performance of The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow, with all proceeds benefiting Mo`olelo. As a non-profit organization, your generous contribution helps us to produce interesting and unique plays that attract a wide range of audiences. Tickets are limited and are going fast- to reserve your tickets, send a check to:

Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company
Attn: Mo`olelo Night at The Old Globe
PO Box 710564
San Diego,CA 92171-0564

Please be sure to include your name, address, phone, and number of tickets requested.
Call 858-761-3871 or e-mail with any questions.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

A million things to do and I start a Blog!

I must be nuts or going that way. But I tell myself if I establish a blog I can publish the internet address and this way my friends can tune in to me as they like and I can cut down on my email correspondence. I'll try to keep this current with new posts as frequently as I can. Tell me what you think.

Here we go!

This blog will be the way I keep in touch with friends and family as I take up my new adventure in the Peace Corps and travel beyond. Where I go from Bulgaria is very much an open question right now, but I am learning that many PC volunteers choose to stay in Bulgaria after their tour of duty. The price of real estate cannot be beat and it seems that many English, in particular, are flocking to Eastern Europe. Bulgaria has a lot to offer with respect to history and culture. This was (and still is) a strategic region between East and West.

Talking to PC headquarters yesterday I found out my three month training stint may take place in Pajardjic or Stralja. Pajardjic is about 100 km from Sofia, the capital. From what I gather the population is around 100,000 so I will not feel stuck in the sticks. Plus it is easy to get to Sofia.

I will travel to Philadelphia around August 6 for two days indoctrination and then leave from JFK on August 8. I'll be abord a Delta flight arriving August 9th in Sofia after a stop in Paris. In Sofia our group will be met and treated to a welcoming dinner before we go to our training town where there will be more official receptions and greetings by locals. The Bulgarians are very formal, something I will just have to get used to.

The business environment is also formal so I have to wear a suit to work. Not looking forward to that I can tell you. Working in high tech California companies ruins one for dressing in suits.