Sunday, October 30, 2011
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I would start off with my typical apology, but I won’t because I’m not sorry. I write when I have the will and the time and that hasn’t happened for a while. There are only a few people who look at this anymore anyhow.
Work has been a rollercoaster and I honestly feel like ever since my arrival at KIMEP, I’ve yet to have a calm, normal week. In fact, the word normal is probably the antonym to what I’ve experienced here the past seven months. Investigations, problems with internal employees, problems with external bodies, restructuring – it’s been one up and down ride for me. At the very least, one could never call my job boring. There is a chance I’ll be moving jobs within KIMEP as well. I’m just trying to be flexible, learn all I can and be open-minded to change.
Olga and I are getting excited about our trip home to the states for Christmas and the New Year. We’re coming in on December 16th and will be around until January 8 – just over three weeks. We want to do a little travel, but we also want to enjoy our time and not try to get everywhere. New York City, DC, and Raleigh look to be on the list so far. What I’m most excited about is introducing Olga to my past and our culture. She has seen pictures and heard all kinds of stories, but it isn’t the same as being there, tasting this or that food, and of course, meeting and talking with friends and family.
The pictures below will show what I’ve been up to for the past few months.
Our national sales rep hard at work!
Cute kitten we decided to feed once.
At the Jazzystan (i did the english translation) festival, a French DJ spuns tunes while mixing in some jazz flute.
A group from NYC - Tortured Soul.
This is the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange - love the color and architecture.
Went hiking up in the mountains only to run across these horrific bridges over rapids. No railings and links of rebar missing.
Hiking to a small shelter for a break.
Among the pines was this rather sizeable birch patch.
Olga and the pretty birch trees
Scary bridge two - this one was worse for me because the rebar has been welded on the bottom side, meaning if a weld breaks, it's going down. I about had a heart attack trying to focus on the narrow bridge with rapids gushing visibly below...
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
I finally got a chance to get out of Almaty with a five day weekend and so I headed for
Friday included breakfast with some friends and then a small walk around the city. I took a couple hours to visit Samal and to see the kids and have tea with some of the staff as well. In the evening, I played the DJ role for the Annual Pavlodar Awards and had a blast dancing until late. Saturday I met up with Viktor and headed for the village for some R&R at a slower pace. We went to the salt lake, whose salinity is similar to the
Monday I ran around the city meeting people and organizations. Three lunches later, I caught a ride to the airport, where I currently sit, awaiting my flight. There are mosquitoes in the waiting area… ужас! So that was my short vacation. There is a chance I’ll be here again in September, though it isn’t definite. If I do come, I won’t visit so many people, but for my first return, it was necessary to try to get to as many as I could. I really miss
DJ Swede at the Annual Pavlodar Award Show!
The Salt Lake just outside of Pavlodar - the concentration of salt is similar to the Dead Sea.
Victor making stew over the fire.
Vasilyi, Victor and Aset
Mary Couri, a third year volunteer, spend her last evening in Pavlodar. Here's to you, Mary!
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Lots happening, busy life – that has been the past couple months for Olga and I. First news first – Olga has officially taken a job with the American company Bosch & Lomb as its first national sales representative. Her first three months will be spent just in Almaty, but then she’ll branch out and be traveling more to other cities within
I have completed my first Master’s level course with what will hopefully be an A (to be confirmed tomorrow). It was a mix of interesting, boring, studying, and of course writing and researching. After having not formerly studied in a classroom setting for 3 years, it was a bit strange getting back into the swing of academia. But I’m glad I have and even if I don’t finish my Master’s here, just taking classes and expanding my knowledge is useful, healthy, and potentially beneficial if I want to transfer in the future to a program elsewhere.
Several weeks ago, Olga and I traveled with some friends to a small village about an hour and a half outside of the city to go camping and swimming. We drove out to this lake and grilled out, hung out, and lay out in the sun. At night, we slept outdoors, even though it was raining. In an event that played out to our advantage, the wind earlier that evening had blown over one of those sun tents that you see people set up at the beach and it had destroyed the frame. We took the covering off of that and laid it over top of our sleeping bags and gear and stayed dry the whole night.
Work has been a bit slow since the entire Executive Vice President’s office is on vacation except me. On the one hand, it’s been super boring and super quiet with little to do with the exception of the occasional translation of incoming mail, but on the other hand, it has given me time to work on my research paper and study for exams. At the end of July, I have a couple days vacation that I’m going to take and travel to
With the 2010 World Cup coming to an end, I’ve made a commitment to get in shape and lay off the liquid carbs after it’s over. I’ve been going to many games and drinking beer and it’s showing its effects in my torso, even in spite of the biking I do. I’m going to try to ride more on weekends and get into swimming (if I can find a cheap pool) and rock climbing. Since I hate gyms, I look for activities to do rather than machines to work out on, which is fine with me because I’m not trying to be the next Mr. Universe.
I’ve also taken on some side work to add to my modest salary – I’m editing news updates for Visor Capital, an invest bank headquartered in
In general, life is good and the summer isn’t blazing hot (knock on wood), but time is flying and I’m worried that I won’t be able to break into the development field if it doesn’t happen soon. The more experience I have in education, the less I’ll have in projects and grants and I’m worried that I won’t be able to transfer those skills and knowledge. If you hear or see anything international development related anywhere in the world, let me know! Well guys, a that’s thaaa thaaa thaaa that’s a that’s all folks!
Since one of our assistants quit, I've been moved closer to my boss's office. My desk is on the right.
Olga attempting to ride my bike, but having trouble with the high seat ;-)
Yes, you know you love my handlebar mustache (don't worry, i only had it for about 5 minutes).
The trimmed beard?
"Umka" (Smarty), the cat that Olga allows into our apartment and feeds, even though it has an owner next door.
On Zach's last night in the country, we went out to a bar and showed him off right!
Earlier in the evening, we met with our two former Peace Corps trainers, Dinara and Nina for some drinks.
Just outside of the village of Kurti, we were near this lake and saw a team of horses cooling off.
The group we went with - my friend Alina is the girl int he white shirt, sitting in the middle, olga is sitting at the bottom of the picture. A very interesting group of people - the darker guy sitting across from Olga can throat sing and there was a yoga master there as well.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Since returning from Tajikistan, nothing that big or overly exciting has happened, hence my silence. But life happens, things change, and so I document them here. I suppose I’ve gotten more settled into my job since the completion of my first major project, editing and putting together the new 2010-2011 Academic Catalog for work. Hopefully now that this job is more or less behind me, I’ll be able to start working on more interesting projects and being challenged more.
Been out for walks in the near by mountains with Olga a few times, which has been nice. The week days are usually gorgeous here, but weekends are filled with clouds or rain, which is frustrating as it hampers our ability to do stuff outside. I finally made a bike purchase after long debate and research – and it’s pretty sweet! I ride to work most days, unless rain is expected – I’m not that hard core yet. In the mornings, it’s more or less straight downhill, so I can wear my work clothes and speed downhill, flying past all of the traffic and buses. On the way home, though, I usually change into shorts and a t-shirt, as the uphill battle is a bit more strenuous. But nothing feels better after a mentally-exhausting day than to let some of that stress out via physical activity.
Olga is studying English at KIMEP and I’ve started my first master’s level class. In case you haven’t heard, I’ve been accepted into the Master in International Relations program, something I’m quite excited about. My first class focuses on the
My original plans of coming home thrice this year have been reduced to one – I’m no longer coming back in July or October, but I am coming for an extended Christmas (at least 2 weeks if not 3) and going to try to bring Olga along with me. I really want her to meet my family and friends, see
And lastly, I can finally report with success that I am officially back to being a morning person after years of struggling to get up in the mornings! Getting up at to make tea and read for an hour is the perfect way to start my day.
My office - you can't see it, but I also have a coffee pot, a water cooler, a refrigerator, and an AC unit!
Olga along the river up in the Al-marasal region.
Cinco de Mayo - a Mexican holiday that Mexicans don't even celebrate. Our regular group got together to drink beer and eat mexican food.
Veggie burgers and wine = very nice!
A field of Iris in the mountain
The view from one of our hikes.
The kitchen, 1
The kitchen, 2
Veggie burgers + home fries + beer = very very nice!
Gloomy day lunch - hot indian curry, nan, and fresh veggies