Monday, June 30, 2008



Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
Here is a slightly better picture of my 'pet', the grasshopper that came to my place in search of asylum.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Hail Storm in Sarajevo

Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
this is film of the big hail storm day before yesterday. The hail stones were not all that big, but the hail went on for at least 45 minutes. There was lightening with it, but I think I missed the one really good flash at the end.


A closer shot

A closer shot
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
Here she is at the corner of the blinds, the bricks give a fair idea of her sheer size. I am assuming it's a she due to the lack of music.


Great Big Grasshopper

Great Big Grasshopper
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
This isn't a particularly good shot of her, but there are more to come


So we did lunch...

Among other things. The other Obama supporters are an American with diplomatic immunity, and his very pretty, very sweet Ukrainian girlfriend. We actually had to go all over Sarajevo first on varying errends, but I wasn't complaining, because the car was air conditioned, it was hot, so that felt really nice, and we got to all sort of get acquainted.

The girlfriend is opening a sort of hangout for women in Bascarsija. Which reminds me, Cop Count and Niqabi Count for this last month, 3 Nikabis, one Female Bosnian Police Officer, who mostly works in Bascarsija. The first time I saw her, she had come to the help of a child who was not sure whether a Female Police Officer or Being Lost scared him worse!

Anyway after they took care of some business, where I did a little informal interpreting, we went to the fish place. We all ate, and conversed, and they are really nice people! We had a lot of fun, then they dropped me close to home. I did not want to take the responsibility of directing them up my impossible street. I am not good enough. I can show them with a map, and landmarks in a non-driving setting sometime.

They have a dog, a Chinese Pug. I did not get to meet their dog this time. Like SENSIBLE dog people, they had their pet at home. I like Chinese Pugs, I like their velvety skin, their usually calm demeanor and the worried look on their faces, so I am sure I will like the dog. They brought him with them from his last posting, Sri Lanka.

And Thanks for lunch and the lift home. I should really invite them over for chili a la Nuevo Mexico!

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Well, I finally get to hang with some Yanks!

The other Obama supporters did get in touch, they just got a new mobile phone, and I guess all the new features were confusing.... Been there, know how it feels, so we shall meet by Sebilj and I will show them the nice place that has salmon...It also has the advantage of a staff who do not speak much if any English,and a calendar with Tito on it! :).

Last night, there was an UN-FOR-REAL HUGE MONSTER hailstorm, a LOT of rain fell on Sarajevo and the surrounding area, and there was thunder and lightening. I am glad I got home when I did, at least I wasn't out in it, but people who were, could not get taxis, it messed up bus service and generally was not fun.

The poor rose bushes in my garden and all the other nice little plants my landlady put in showed signs of damage. The hail just went on and on. I did get some film, but I wanted to travel light today so I did not bring my camera this time. Anyway it was something else again. . .

I was glad to hear from the other Americans. They do seem like nice people and well, fellow Obama supporters! Always a plus!

Friday, June 27, 2008


Well the grudge match I wanted to see won't be happening...

I was really hoping Russia could beat Spain, not anything against Spain, I LIKE Spain, and was also glad they won, just that I wanted to see what would happen if the Russians played Germany. The Red Fury beat the ex- Reds big time though, in a driving rain. People were slipping, sliding and crashing into one another, lots of passes were made by players using their heads, in short a pretty interesting game to watch.

Today is going to be hot again. I had something to do in town, I called my Obama website friends that are in Sarajevo, but no reply. I HATE when people say they will call and then they don't! I really find it annoying. I realize people are busy and maybe scared of meeting someone they barely know online, but damn, we might be the only Democrats in this burg! We should at least get together for a damn coffee! It's not like I don't pay for my own lunch! sheeeeesh!

Well off to see what kind of cheesy reading I can find at the book fair. I have a genuine Kinky Friedman book! I LOVE Kinky Friedman, ever since he started the Texas Jewboys! The very notion of Jews in Texas back then was a deal!

A lot of shops in Baščaršija are closed. People might be on holiday. Lord knows even with a fan it can be too damned hot. The only cool place to hang is the Bezistan. The stuff there is better now that t here are tourists coming to buy stuff.

I did get more old Geographics. One had a cool article with Preying Mantises. I love those insects! I have saved them from ignorant people before.

Once back in the Gulag, there was one by the newly opened Petco, I think Petco is gone now. Anyway it was on the sidewalk and a small crowd had gathered around her, I assume it was a her, and they were acting awed and frightened. None of them had ever seen one of those things before. 'It's a Preying Mantis, please don't hurt her!' I said, and then I bent over, coaxed her onto my hand, 'What are you going to do with her?' 'Take her someplace with a lot of plants so she can make a living!' I took her to the bus stop, there were lots of plants there, and stuck her on one, she took off and that was that. I love their Alien From Another Planet heads. They seem highly intelligent for bugs.

I have to say the National Geographic isn't as scholarly as when I was younger, it is more what one of my English teachers would have called 'chatty' than in the old days, still nice pictures, and given how much that publication costs here, not a bad deal at all. It is nice out even though it is pretty damned hot. The bus routes are still messed up, but in a few days they won't be anymore.

The big Obama-Hillary Summit was on Euronews this morning. Her campaign debt is STAGGERING! I could have funded all sorts of things with that kind of change! I say no more, The Swedish Menace could be reading these pages.....

Thursday, June 26, 2008


In town for a few hours...

I decided to go into town, the Book Fair is calling my name.... It is going to be hot again today and due to the much needed work on Branilaca Sarajeva, a key street for the bus routs up to my hill, not just MY bus, all the busses, I probably am taking a cab home. Where they turn is a long way from Baščaršija if you are traveling under a load, and I might be...

So Turkey lost to Germany. I was pissed off about the blackout, but then sense of proportion time, EVERYONE got hit by the same thing. Bad weather in Vienna.

I was hoping to see a really good grudge match between Turkey and Russia, now I am hoping for a really good grudge match between Germany and Russia. Seriously, I want to see that match! The Turkish fans in the stands were fun to watch. I guess the Swiss didn't manage to confiscate ALL the flares either, there were a lot being used in the rowdy celebrations by the German fans. One thing I loved about the German fans was that some of them wore traditional German outfits, not soccer shirts, not face paint, honest to God German peasant outfits, and I thought that was really cool!

In the night it cooled off a bit, and I opened the windows after dark to let in a lot of nice fresh air. I slept not as long as I needed, but better than night before last at least. I go to sleep early if I don't like what is available on T.V. and I should really have eaten first. I woke up hungry two times, but decided not to eat. Eating in the middle of the night will make you fatter than in the day! I hope I can get back home before it gets too miserable out there....Looks like all my family members who went to Florida to see my father had a safe trip back. That is good.

Some of the bad weather back in the U.S. is really distressing to look at on Euronews.

This is funny, I'd commented a few days ago about how FAST I have to run to catch the Market news section, and it seems to have slowed down a touch! Now if they could make it bigger that would really be nice!

One thing I LIKE a lot about the new 'rebranding' I like that they do show the weather here in Sarajevo on the map of weather, not on the crawler, but at least on the map. We are due for 33 C today! oooooj!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Casual Wednesday...

I am staying closer to home today as it is going to again be hot out, and I don't want to go far. My flat stays relatively cool, but last night it stayed hot until the wee hours. and it was very humid. Going to sleep proved to be a big challenge. There wasn't anything worth watching on T.V. I checked out Crna Hronika, a local series on FTV that is on at an un-Godly hour, and it wasn't my cup of tea. It's sort of a cop show, they had a guy hijacking someones little sport fishing boat in Neum at gun-point. and the hour was rather late for all that violence. So I retreated to the bedroom with a copy of National Geographic. The book fair had old National Geographics sorted by year, and bundled for 25KM a new copy costs 11KM so right there, I could not resist. The beauty of the Geographic is it is light weight readage, and informative. I should really go back and get some more. The book fair is going to be on another couple days at least, so I will go get more, and there was other light reading in English available.

I read Bosnian perfectly well at this point, but it is more work than reading in English. I have read two whole books in Bosnian, 'Nowhere Man' by Aleksander Hemon, and I am re-reading Balkan Bluz, which is about the war and has a lot of interesting stuff in it. Sometimes though, I just want some light reading in English, and that isn't all that easy to find here.

i went to the new Connections Book Club in Bascarsija last time I was in town, and really like the place. You can sit outside and linger over coffee, and if so inclined a cigarette, (not my cup of tea, but it's available!) Or you can go inside, and linger over coffee, and a book. I need to go back there anyway, because they have several decent Bosnian-English English-Bosnian dictionaries. My little blue dictionary has survived 10 years, God only knows how. It hasn't got enough words in it, leaving me sometimes at a distinct loss for words!

These are large, but at home, it might be handy. I have expanded my command of the language a lot by using subtitled films. But there's limits to that technique! You already should speak a language passably enough to know when some English language slang is being translated too literally or not literally enough, some stuff just doesn't translate all that well.

A big favorite with me is what I call 'The Bird Show', this is really just a show about birds in BiH, it covers different families of birds, and tells where they hang out, what they look like and has both drawings and film of the birds. This way I am learning the names of some unfamiliar and familiar feathered friends.

I like birds anyway, as people might have noticed. One of the things I like about Sarajevo is the great number and variety of birds!

Sometimes there is really no substitute for a good dictionary!

Anyway, the book club has nice chairs and tables, you can order a coffee, they have fruit, they have what looked suspiciously like cheese cake! The help is nice, and it's very attractive. They plan to add an internet club soon too. The one thing that is not so good for me is the stairs, a beautiful winding stair case goes up two stories, and down to a basement. Not enough railing, but very pretty. I found a seat up in the second level where I can watch the door. :)

So Turkey vs Germany tonight! You can be sure I will be watching that game! :)

Monday, June 23, 2008


tiny, cute adorable pears!

tiny, cute adorable pears!
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag


I am in a better mood than this post would indicate...

More on the horrible crash, the poor guys were burnt alive. I think it is rather shocking that Euronews did not report on them. How many have to die before 'If It Bleeds It Leads' kicks in ? How terribly do they have to die? Just asking...

I hate the 'rebranding' too, a lot of things are not visually useful for me on Euronews since rebranding. For instance, exchange rates, oil prices and stock market stuff. I do have investments and I like to know what the market is up to, and I have to run and stick my nose on to the screen to see that stuff, and I do mean RUN! the music is too quiet, and I sometimes miss it. All t he graffics are inferior. Anyway, 'rebranding' is more corpspeak, line them up and shoot them for even using such assinine expressions!


A reply to Owen, I do think the whole deal with the grave and the brucellosis infected dead sheep IS deliberate. I feel it is an effort to compromise evidence or prevent later exhumations. People really don't like to catch nasty stuff like brucellosis... Even Archeologists, the most morbid of scientists until you hang with pathologists, have their boundaries!

In fact it bothers them more than the mines. Mines can be removed. Brucellosis germs hang around a long time.

Carcasses of infected animals ought to be incinerated, burying them risks the ground water. BiH has decent ground water, and ummm what are people thinking to just throw the sheep carcasses into holes in the ground anyway? Just asking....

So the victory of the Turks over the Croats, was an excuse for massive rioting in Mostar, and at least some rioting in other towns, Čaplinje, Neum, Stolac...

One girl was accosted by Croatia supporters and spat on and called names, the police had to come break that up. She thanked the police for doing a good job... Police actually were injured, and tear gas was used.

Even Sarajevo had minor stuff, mostly people driving around in their cars, waving Turkish flags and throwing firecrackers...

Mostar however was in a bad situation until the wee hours....

In one town, the police went around to the kafanas and told them to shut off the loud music, and that was a bad mistake. People in kafanas listening to loud music b eats people running around the streets breaking windows and burning trash containers anytime... just sying....

Last night I watched 'Children of the Revolution' Funny as Hell! do see it if you haven't! The guy who plays Stalin was hilarious, and halfway convincing...

I also watched 'Frida', which was mostly pretty good except for a modern song thrown in at the end which spoiled the ambience of the film.

Selma Hayak is visually convincing and the guy who played Diego, and the guy who played Trotsky both were excellent. Here is something funny, I understood a good bit of the arguments between Mr. and Mrs. Trotskey...

The screenplay was excellent, lighting was great, and the accident was done well. Again, do see it if you haven't.

It is going to be hot the next few days. I probably will stay closer to home for a bit. Baščaršija is FULL of tourists! This is good news for Bosnia and I am happy about it, but it's a pain for me.

Wonderfully filmed, and I almost watched it again, but 1 am when I plan to go pay rent is not doable anymore.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Sunny today, hot tomorrow too...

It is going to be fairly hot today, and same goes for tomorrow. My ankle is better. It seems that unstable weather is worse than if it is steadily any one form of weather. I am not however going into town. There is the big 'Just Say No To Drugs' foot race and walk, and I imagine traffic will be a mess. It takes long enough getting into town and it can be worse returning to my hill, due to much needed street reconstruction on a key part of the bus route. I am fairly tired. I stayed up and watched the excruciating Big Game, Croatia v.s. Turkey. Turkey won in penalty kicks, and it took forever to get there. At the moment Turkey scored the goal immediately after Croatia, the people next door, and indeed people all over the mahal shouted. It was one great BIG shout in a usually pretty quite neighborhood. I felt bad for the S.O. who of course was supporting Croatia, as was I. Both sides have very good goal keepers. But penalty kicks is a different thing from regular play. It was simply agonizing. I began to feel sorry for the players on both sides who plainly were exhausted, physically and emotionally. There were some minor scuffles among the departing fans. I still don't know how things went in Mostar, nothing on the news about it, and I haven't read my copy of Oslobodenje yet. I will at home. I am going to just go home and eat. Tonight they are showing 'Frida'.
That film only got a very brief run in the Gulag, it was Finals Week and I had heavy papers I was working on, and going places at night there was no picnic either. When it was up for rent, it was up for rent at 'new movie' prices for a very long time, and despite the fact I love Frida, and Diego for that matter, I never got to see it, here it is showing TWICE on T.V.! :) Excellente!

There were some interesting items in yesterday's Oslobodenje. One item was that a partially exhumed mass grave in R.S. Bunarevic, near Manjaca a former internment camp, from which 28 bodies were removed, (then they found landmines and stopped the exhumation) is now being used to dump sheep euthanized due to brucellosis!

Needless to say people who were in the camp, and who may have loved ones still in this mass grave are angry. No one knows how many dead sheep got thrown in. It is a second crime perpetrated on the victims.
I realize this is a small country and places to put the remains of dead sheep are not that easy to find, but this is UNACCEPTABLE! There are still human remains in there, which should be exhumed and buried correctly, both of Muslim and Croat Bosnians who were murdered in the camp.

Brucellosis continues to be a problem here, it has disappeared from news coverage pretty much, but it is still affecting sheep and people who make their livings raising sheep here.

There was a little more about the helicopter crash. Interestingly enough, the crash got no coverage on Euronews. You'd think it would have. No one knows what caused the crash yet. Everyone feels bad about it too.

Friday, June 20, 2008


You are not in Kansas anymore!

Bosnian house slippers
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
It is funny, but Sarajevo means two things to me, red house slippers, and cevapi! The first gift the S.O. gave me that wasn't chocolate was a pair of red fuzzy house slippers, since worn to a frazzle.

Basically he told me, 'Here are your papusen!' I said 'Thanks' and put them on, then he said 'You I tired, You I no cooking, I going, I get cevapi, you like beer?' So I said 'yes' to the beer, and hoped cevapi would be o.k..

'I going, pet minut,'

While he was gone, the azan was called from the nearest mosque, and I stood at the window and listened. It was very bluesy sounding.

I looked at my feet, at the red house-slippers and said to my self, 'Well Dorothy, you aren't in Kansas anymore!'

I left them back in the States, knowing that a new pair of house slippers would come my way, like it or not, they did, they are red too.


And now for some T.V. reviews...

Yes petty of me, but oh well!

'Pecat's' 12 episode was EXCELLENT! I have become fascinated with the Wahabi village! Seriously, it looks just this side of familiar. I love the actors, especially the one who plays the coke-head bitch, and the one who plays Sanja.

'Pecat' is the Bosnian answer to 'Twin Peaks'. It has equally creepy, brooding music, it has a wonderful sense of place, and great acting. It's also fun seeing if you have been any of the places in the program!

I can't wait for more! Ranko is quite an operator!

Last night I stayed up far too late and watched an Irish film called 'On The Edge'. It was filmed in not such nice parts of Dublin, some familiar to me, some not, and the psychiatric hospital, not familiar....except from the outside. I got lost in the area looking for Kilmainham on one of my earlier trips.

It was all very well filmed, and I especially liked Toby, a slightly nerdy guy, who REALLY can't bowl.

It was a wonderful film! Do see it if you haven't before.

The escapes reminded me of a time I spent doing work-exchange in a hostel, and I would occasionally 'arrange escapes', basically this meant finding someone I could trust with the kids, and since the curfew did not apply to work-exchange people, we'd go out quite late and enjoy Irish music at a pub barely in walking distance, and cab back. It was great fun. Lots of good music, and people often bought us drinks! Nothing like being sent a whole pitcher of Guiness! :) Even if you are sharing with say three others!

Another favorite was the New Year's Eve party they organized. I say no more, I don't want to have to post a spoiler alert.


Awful news

Last night, I heard on the news that a EUFOR helicopter belonging to the Spanish EUFOR contingent went down, near Novi Travnik. Four people died in the crash.

As if it wasn't bad enough being in a helicopter that went down, on a routine flight, the chopper went down in a minefield.

The crew member who called in that they had a problem only spoke Spanish. Not that many Bosnians speak Spanish. (Surprising considering the HUGE number of soaps from Latin American countries!)
So he could not make himself understood.

The fact the helicopter crashed in a minefield made matters dicey. Appropriate people had to be called in to clear a path to the crash.

As well no one could report directly from the scene or film the story 'for reasons of security'.

So there were interviews with the usual distraught, often elderly villagers.


The other awful news story involves a Bosnian who died in Afghanistan, working for KBR.

I have probably mentioned before that KBR recruits heavily here. The ads I have seen are all in English. So I am assuming knowing English is desired, if not required of those Bosnians who do apply for this sort of position. The guy was a driver and was killed by what has come to be called a 'roadside bomb'.

KBR messed up the paper work. The American Embassy did become involved, and the unfortunate man's body is being brought back here. It may actually already be here. The body was stuck in Kuwait. It was shipped by military transport to Turkey, and then Sarajevo.

People who go to work for companies like KBR do know it is a risk, people here are not always able to get work, they will try all sorts of things. KBR doesn't pay non-Americans the same kind of money, but it is still from a Bosnian point of view, good pay.

There was no comment from KBR, there was film of the phone call to KBR, and the 'we don't have any comment, I don't know anything' response.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


New E.U. rules on 'Illegal Immigration'

The E.U. is setting up base rules that are stricter than in many member states, 18 months of jail time, deportation, exclusion.

I can't say I like it, because it hampers a basic human right, the right to flee oppression.

My prediction is that it will make things worse, not better having such draconian measures. God knows similar measures did NOTHING for the U.S.

Actually, it is better to stem the tide of migration at SOURCE, here is how:

Help create stable governments that respect human rights

Help create jobs in people's home countries.

People basically leave home for those two reasons. Or to be near someone dear to them.

People don't start off WANTING to make long journeys to places far away where everything is different and they don't speak the language.

Most people only migrate for compelling reasons. Either things suck where they came from, to the point that going someplace else is an idea, or there is some major draw in another place. Like work.

Put work and decent government in place, and most people are going absalutamente nigdje!


Kultur Shock get some local ink

Geno of Kultur Shock was born in Sarajevo, he left during the war years, and became a key player in the Seattle Grunge/Punk scene, even the San Francisco Punk scene. There was a huge layout about Kultur Shock in yesterday's Oslobodenje.

They are hitting 'Exit' in Serbia, and festivals up and down the coast in Croatia. Sadly, no word of any venue in Sarajevo, I missed them, I was in Dublin while they were here last, and could not speed things up. They are so excellent!

Seriously excellent.

Get on YouTube and see some of Geno's raps on various things. I especially like the rap set off by the pool rules.. on 'ethnic cleansing'


File Under: Too Important to Be Buried in 'Comments'

Excuse me turning you into Yakima Amazon - may I leave a URL to Hasan's book on the fall of Srebrenica "Under the UN Flag":
also the Women of Srebrenica's "The United Nations on Srebrenica's Pillar of Shame":

Thanks Owen!


The Swedish Menace

My late mother, swore up and down that there was such a thing as 'The Swedish Menace', a shadowy successor to the Vikings. She may have been right, Sweden is on the verge of legalizing wholesale phone tapping and wholesale reading of people's e-mails. From this out, ALL ANY AND ALL PROBLEMS I have posting here, or getting at my e-mail will be blamed on the Swedish Menace.

Seriously, that is a serious step they are taking. Euronews mentioned it, and not just in passing. The youth branch of one of the complicit coalition parties sent copies of George Orwell's '1984' to members of the party in the Swedish Parliament.

Good, someone knows that the Right Thing is NOT being done in this case. It is shameful for a nation that prides itself on human rights to do such a thing!



yes THAT Ivo Komsic!

yes THAT Ivo Komsic!
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
Thought it would be of interest to some of my readership.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Thanks Skelly!

Political Picture - John & Cindy McCain
see more politics and fun!

It's true you know!

pšššt! My recaption 'Can Everyone just say 'Republicans for Torture'?


Signed Sealed Delivered....

So the big day was yesterday, the Stabilization and Association Agreement got signed, a bit late, o.k. who was late? I hope it wasn't anyone from BiH! There is such a stereotype about it!

Seriously, first it was supposed to be at 16:00 hours, then it was supposed to be at 16:35, then it got moved all the way to 17:00 putting at least F.T.V. and BHT1 into some sort of T.V.-land holding pattern. First of all, the re-run of the last episode of 'Pečat' got bounced in favor of 'My Dear Fatty', which is a series I absolutely HATE! Probably it is the WORST Spanish language soap on T.V. here, so not to sound petty, given how late the treaty signing was, they could have let us at least see 'Pečat'!

Instead, an easily interupted documentary about a fairly good artist was run, complete with serious music,for a time on BOTH F.T.V. and BHT1, then F.T.V. switched, and ran some show with Kemal Montenegro. I suppose some people like him, but I happen to prefer other local musicians.

I almost would rather have watched a half hour of Ceca to tell the truth!
BHT1, had a bunch of fat boring, political pundits, so it was a total Lose-Lose situation.

I hate to say this,because it makes me sound petty, but any country where an event, even a positive historic event buggers up scheduling to that extent, isn't doing as well as one would like.

Another thing, WHY is the picture so much BETTER for the Big Games, than for normal programming? Just saying... I watched in suspense wondering how late all the assorted big Drama Queens,( OOOPS I meant VERY VERY Important People! ) would be...

I halfway hoped they'd REALLY be LATE, to see if they would bugger up the Big Games! Then I just wanted it to be over.

They had excellent Simultaneous Translation. The skill of people who do Simultaneous Translation is unbelievable, I can sort of do consecutive. Even that is difficult at times.

For me seeing the interpreters at work was one of the highlights actually.

( Back in the Gulag, it was part of my homework to practice Simultaneous Translation. I used rented movies for this purpose and sat with friends, FAR back so I could not see the ever helpful subtitles! It could be pretty funny! I translated all the swears properly.)

Later, I went into Football Huligan Mode, and watched the Croatia vs Poland Big Game, that was fun! Croatia of course won, mostly by keeping Poland from winning, so they go on to play Turkey.

I had an extremely tiny glass of medovača to celebrate.(the type of glass that holds like a tablespoon!)

Then I attempted to watch a Good Film, but fell soundly asleep on the couch. So off too bed.

This morningćs Euronews was full of the President Bush Farewell Tour. It was fun watching him try to act like he LIKED Martin McGuiness! I have to admit I enjoyed that moment in a sick way! Jerry Adams? Where was HE?

Robinson, who is Paisley's replacement was also present. Robinson is much more someone Pres. Bush WOULD feel comfortable with.

Probably the only true words spoken in the ENTIRE Bush administration were spoken at this get-together, and I paraphrase, 'Progress that could not even be imagined 10 years ago has been made'. Sorry, I should really have taped it, with my mobile phone, just to have an accurate record.....

I had no idea that Iraq sent people to Northern Ireland to study how things got calmed down there...That information was on Euronews, for what it is worth.

Iraq is an entirely different situation! Bad as Northern Ireland got, it was NEVER in the same league of awfulness as Iraq, or when things were bad here, the Balkans...

For the record, I do think E.U. membership for both the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland was at least somewhat helpful, if only in the short term.


a teeny tiny glass of medovača

a teeny tiny glass of medovača
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
I poured this glass to celebrate Croatia's 1-0 victory over Poland, Samo naprijed ! Now they get to play Turkey!

Monday, June 16, 2008


BiH is to sign the agreement with the E.U. today.

The big pact with the E.U. is the biggest news this morning, and the other important news is the case of the people from Srebenica who were kicked out of the U.N. 'Safe Area' against the Dutch government begins today. Hasan Nuhanovic has involvement in this case. He was an interpreter for the U.N. and his parents and brother were all sent to their deaths by the Dutch U.N. forces.

His life was ruined. Whose life wouldn't be ruined by such an event? A much earlier post in my blog has the series 'A Cry From The Grave'

Nuhanovic also has written a book about his experience, and the Srebenica massacre.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


A nice day out...

It started off rainy, and I woke up late. I was up a little late watching movies. I fell asleep during Pecat, and again during Sleeper Cell, despite having taken a good long nap once I got home. Darwyn looked to be in some serious difficulties. I will probably not know anytime soon what happens to him, because I think it is the end of the series. They don't re-run it.

Pecat, I can catch a re-run later. I do think it is the last of it. Just when everyone was really getting interesting! I watched Dogma last night too. That was probably rent -able back in the Gulag, but I never got around to it. Screamingly funny at points. Of course high level blasphemy as well all around. Well filmed. I could get with some points they were making, but not the entire program.

The rain yesterday was not heavy, it was not even worth carrying an umbrella, and I didn't because frankly, I get sick of carrying stuff.

I lugged home some stinging nettle syrup, that is a stomach remedy, and I got some rose jam. EXCELLENT, it and marmalade are now my favorites. It is a very adult jam, sweet, but not tooo sweet, great on pancakes, and my pan biscuits. I hung out for a bit at the dress shop, then went to the Internet cafe down there. Good thing I did, my relatives back in the States are having a bit of a get together.

Right now they have other selections from Dino Merlin's new album on. Excellent.

How Clean is Your House is being run on OBN, my sister told me about it years ago. There are basically two nice English ladies who go clean the slovenly squalid messes of sorry people who never clean anything. The place yesterday was AWFUL! It was like watching a train wreck crossed with a crime scene clean-up.

I recommend an empty stomach, this show is not for sensitive viewers....

In fact I switched to one of the many Euro 2008 game shows to wait for something else.

I am just staying in the neighborhood because I am tired. Basically only went out to get a paper, and some time at the local internet cafe, Club BIT.

Yesterday, when I was in town, the 'Informal Gathering of Citizens' were in front of the Katedrale. It was sort of noisy, but easily avoided. I went to the Healing Herbs fair a last time. It closes today. Some products available there are available in a couple of the little stores. I learned that here, different forms of honey are recommended for different illnesses, heather honey is recommended for gout and arthritis for example. Certain forms of honey are considered better for children and older people etc.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


But it was free, so Hvala Vam!

But it was free, so Hvala Vam!
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag


and coffee from a rather smaller one

and coffee from a rather smaller one
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag


The world's biggest Bosnian coffee pot

The world's biggest Bosnian coffee pot
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
So t his was yesterday's cheesy tourist fun! :)


Tiriz II

Tiriz II
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
Thought you'd like this


I give up!

The S.O. and I met, he has been very busy with having some teeth removed, but we met for a little lunch, in Baščaršija yesterday. Today is in fact our anniversary, so something was sort of called for. We had liver and somun and some fake beer. Bavaria makes a very good fake beer.

I told him how the whole stinking mess with the students has gone, how only two are worth a rip and only one actually has time, and we are in total agreement that I ought not work with just one. for basically the exact same reasons.

I do think that something is up, my bad luck in this matter is Beyond The Laws of Probability. I do suspect a bit of Social Engineering, and I am not thrilled with it. The S.O. was horrified basically.

He was not only horrified that people would treat me t hat way, he was horrified that people would waste such a good opportunity to learn English, from someone with a decent accent, and a decent education.

So at least until Euro2008 is over, I am not going to try anymore. I hate just giving up, but doing anything else might be a Very Bad Idea. When my circumstances change I can apply at the language schools, and that would give me regular hours. Just now I can't do it.

So Ireland resoundingly rejected the Lisbon Treaty. I think it was because of what I observed there in Ireland, so far the E.U. has been bad for regular people. It has been fine if you hold an executive position and never have to walk on foot down O'Connell Street, to be besieged by Roma from Romania. My method of defense was to roundly curse at them in Bosnian if they failed to take the first 'No'. I would in fact NEVER speak English to them.
The ONLY good that came of all those Roma showing up, was that The Travelling People gained a certain level of respectability. Now they work in home repairs. They have a niche, and actually are not doing too badly as a community compared to before. A taxi driver told me about it. This was last year, and he was no Sinn Feiner, but pretty anti-E.U. Most of the no votes came from people who do not like Sinn Fein. But whether an Irish person supports Sinn Fein or not, any interference with national sovereignty is resented, they fought too hard to have it, too long, and some appeals on the yes side, insulted this sensibility.
I think in terms of the Balkans, Ireland offers some lessons actually. I will go into it more at another time. I need to think about it a bit, and organize my thoughts.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Out and about...

So Croatia won against Germany last night! Way to go! They played very well, and the Germans were not at all easy to beat.

It occurred to me that I should not expect much for the rest of the Euro 2008 deal, because basically people are going to LIE to me about even coming to a meet-up let alone class because of this madness. I understand, it is not too different from the Super Bowl the difference is it lasts longer and it's more nights a week!


I watched two films that did not make it to the Yakima Gulag, I am not sure either was even available locally for rental...

Mystery Men, which I could not watch to it's conclusion, but I like it, parts appeared to have been filmed at the Burning Man Festival! Luna City to be precise! I loved that, and I loved the bad guys, it seems like in these films, the bad guys have the best parties, and my favorite bad guy Big Tobacco had a great mob-guy suit, and a cigar, he was majorly into downsizing people. That makes him a bad guy right there in my book, phasers set to stun shoot to kill! shoot to kill!

The other film was 'Pretty Dirty Things' I loved it, it has made it onto my list of favorite films. Kick-ass story, wonderful acting all around, and the actors were easy on the eyes. Especially the leading man and woman. The villains were great. I can't say more without spoiling it for someone who hasn't seen it. Get your hands on it, oh, NOT FOR children, there are a human heart and a kidney and some scenes involving sex. Speaking of which, the hooker was one of the best I have seen in a film. Great shots of London too. A lot seems to have been filmed in the Kensington Gardens area.

As well, they showed the less pleasant but very interesting immigrant neighborhoods. Just a great film, Katja recommends it highly!

So today I made another run down to the Healing Herbs fair, I picked up some stuff for my stomach, it is made from stinging nettles. Stinging nettles are approaching the buggier part of the year, so I figured some concentrate would be a good idea, besides, less work for me. Other stands had medovača, but it was in smaller bottles than what I got before, and the other stand had more. If I could have carried it, I might have got more.

Anyway a great fair, lots of good stuff in the line of healing products.

People here do use natural remedies a lot. I always have. I research stuff carefully though and I don't use stuff I don't understand. The owners of the stands do have knowledge of what they produce and sell, and a great enthusiasm for their products. Bosnia has some serious potential to expand into the world market with these products. These are not just villagers sitting on the curb, these are serious entrepreneurs. Not that I am against villagers sitting on the curb to sell their stuff, that is far better than people having no income, and if you know what you are doing, you can cheaply pick up good remedies that way. The people selling them in return have the means to purchase things that they can't gather or grow. One concern I have about the E.U. is how will this affect people producing on a very small scale like that.
When I left home, the Irish vote on the Lisbon treaty wasn't in. I know it is close though!

Thursday, June 12, 2008


And yes, they can bust people when they WANT to....

I don't see a coincidence here, and neither do many others where I am....


Healing Herbs Fair

The Healing Herbs Fair started yesterday, for some silly reason, I had the date wrong. Anyway, I had a look, came home with more medovaca. I as well was able to lay hands on some rose syrup, and that was a pleasant thing, because I have not been able to find it at all in Sarajevo. It's odd because some Bosnian recipes actually do call for it! It's served as a refreshing summer drink. Rose syrup is used to mix with milk in India, and I like having it that way after I make a particularly hot lentil curry.

Anyway, these items were all in glass bottles, and I knew the bus would be crowded, as well, even though I have a cloth bag I always take when I go out, I was afraid it would give under that weight. So I got a taxi and got that all home, and took a rest. Tonight I hope is a class night, and I may have friends over as well.
My friend at the dress shop had a turquoise colored skirt I like, but it was for someone WAY thinner, and I like some room in my skirts ANYWAY, but I realized, 2 of them could be sewn together. She in fact had two of that particular pattern and size, ONLY 2, so I promptly bought them, and took them home. I worked on that by hand. It took me about 3 hours, to get the whole job done, and I have to say, I didn't do at all a bad job! it looks great! I was afraid the waist would be the most trouble, it was trouble, but I actually have it looking like it was MADE that way in the first place. For a girl who damned near flunked Home Ec, not bad at all!


record shop

record shop
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
The promised picture, just go to the picture for more fun....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Stuff you probably won't see on American Television...

Stuff you probably won't see on American Television...
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
This ad only gets more tasteless as it goes along, I was trying for a shot of when the girl takes a bite out of the guy's dupa, and comes away with a chocolate covered face.......tacky tacky tacky.....


Another landmine death

Yesterday's Oslobođenje reported that a man of 74 was out gathering mushrooms and spotted a few choice ones right in the minefield where the young man was killed day before yesterday. Now I like mushrooms as much as the next person, and I know what it is to be hungry, which I am sure the man must have been to risk himself that way. Anyway he walked in, and got killed.

This particular minefield has killed a lot of people this year, and in BiH last year a total of 22 people died in landmine explosions, this year the toll is 20 so far.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Hot and muggy today...

I made two runs into town again today. One of the two people I had to school yesterday may well still show up for the preliminary meeting, and maybe having had my special brand of sensitivity training will make a decent student of him. If he doesn't show, I don't care, but if he shows, I'll get the first couple of guys started. I don't really think his car was broken either.... The missed meeting, now show no call, coincided with a football game. He accepted the meeting time, it would have been perfectly fine to just SAY he had something else to do...
Then he followed it up by SMSing me the moment the damned game was over, asking unwarrented personal questions, getting schooled, and then saying to please not think anything bad about him.

I am sorry, but I DO when people behave that way. I don't deserve that. I am perfectly willing to accept that tutoring and teaching English may not here pay as well as I was paid to JUST SIT AROUND WAITING at the Yakima Gulag People's Institute of Higher ReEducation... What I am NOT willing to accept is this form of disrespect, that guys who should have been reading the Personals call me, pretend they want to learn English and then turn out to want Something Else.

The guy who may or may not show was informed that it is uncultured, and stupid to be that way.

I went by a place that has shawls, last year I got a lovely turquoise colored pašmina from that lady, and a little scarf with sequins more recently. She does want to learn English. So I set up a class time for her. She has a little place that has a room or two, and a lot of her customers speak English but no Bosnian and she doesn't speak English. Hilarity can ensue! She has decided that was enough fun and I cut her a break, on two conditions, she recommends me to her friends, and starts right away.

She hopes to drop by tomorrow night. I far prefer female students, fewer issues all around! She does want me to teach her husband too, and she understands me not wanting to work with like just one guy. So they plan to come together, and it will be just basic stuff, so they can tell people prices, handle problems, and be able to make better money. Like I said to them, 'It's not like you need to read contracts or Shakespear!'

Anyway, that is great!

I went home and seriously cleaned the bathroom. I have come to hate area rug like things in bathrooms. They collect dirt much more than just a flooor. The floor in there is lovely blue ceramic tile and the little bit of rug is icky, blue stuff, that sticks to my feet and squishes, I don't always put on slippers before going in there, sometimes I am in too much of a hurry! I will wash it and air it, and put it away. When I move, I can put it back the way it was. :).

The bus broke down on the way home, and a replacement bus did not seem to be on it's way. I walked until my ankle gave me a problem, at which point, I took a taxi, even though I wasn't so far from home. but before that point, there was a guy selling books, and for 20KM I picked up a simple text book with handy phrases, and a dictionary. Both really were Serbian, but they had a good transliteration page, , and that will be helpful for students. It's all fairly close. There were some cute misprints.

The heat is hard on me, and it is especially hard when it is hot followed by cold. This morning it was just hot, now it is up and down.

The decertified police who have been protesting in front of the Parliment building may go on hunger strike. Ever since the whole hunger strike deal in Northern Ireland, I have HATED, really HATED that form of protest. It is self destructive, and really I wonder what it ever gains.

I did not bring my camera into town today either, because I knew I was going to purchase something in town, and knew I wanted to take the bus, and this trip, I am going straight home, and also just want the load light. I proably will take a taxi again, out of sheer exhaustion. Two people called me while I was negotiating with the female student, and from land-lines, so I did not take either call, I didn't reject either call either, just didn't answer. So when I called back, they refused the call. I don't care for that. Frankly, it annoyed me also. I do call people back. I just can't always answer, seriously with any change in my so far dismal luck, I will be holding classes some of the time. SMS is WAY less obtrusive!

The other reason I go with SMS is it is a slower means of communicating, and here in Europe, SMS is cheaper than in the States. Plus you can save messages to the calendar, which is handy if somebody is playing stupid guy tricks.

Monday, June 09, 2008


Second trip into town...

Well, I am annoyed, highly annoyed, because of the fact I got an S.M.S. that started out ok from what looked like a potential student but it was another guy who wanted Something Other Than English lessons. So this meant, because I had given him the meeting place and time, that I had to S.M.S. the OTHEr fellows and tell them the NEW meeting place. I am getting really sick of stupid guy tricks. I did tell that guy he should go take his villager body parts to Hell. (The nicest way I can say what I in fact DID say to the little prick! and I ALWAYS assume guyx who brag about themselves don't measure up to NORMAL let along big or something!)

I S.M.Sed the semi normal sounding guy and switched to my old meeting place. and now I am sitting in Easynet, looking at stuff. So it goes.

Earlier, on the way home, I ran into the crowd waiting for signed copies of the new Dino Merlin C.D. Since I had my camera, and it looked like a cheerful crowd, I stuck around and got a few pictures, but then the crowd grew by such leaps and bounds, that I decided to go on home. I don't need a signature, although I would have LOVED to meet Dino Merlin! Not all Muslims are offended by it either, saw lots of very obviously Muslim young ladies in this crowd.

I'll have pictures up tomorrow ako Bog daj. I wanted to lighten the load a wee bit, and didn't bring my camera on this run. Or my umbrella. I am probably taking a taxi home anyway, and if I do take the bus, it will be crowded and I don't like having an umbrella and a big bag in a crowded bus, it just isn't fun for anyone involved!


Someone decided that Dino Merlin's new video is offensive to Muslims...

But my take is it gets EVERYONE, there's a guy dressed like an Orthodox priest and a guy dressed like a Franciscan, and guess what, the hodža is leading the Franciscan by his belt like the Franciscan is his bitch or something. . . .

So as a Catholic, should I be offended? Maybe, but I find the video too much fun to be offended. Should we all be offended at the guy dressed as the Devil in Laka's video? Should the Satanists hit the streets now?

Today is rainy, so was yesterday, I liked that, it has been way too hot for me so some cool weather was not only nice it was really helpful, I slept decently for a couple nights.

I made something helpful for myself. It's a paper pillow. What you need is paper, other than newsprint, it needs to be torn into quarter inch squares and then put into a mesh bag, then put a pillow case on it. The hobo factor is kind of up there, but such pillows and even whole paper 'feather beds' were used in 19th century America to sleep on in hot weather and for people with fevers and I am here to tell you it actually works, plus the neck support is the BEST EVER. When the paper gets funky, throw it out, and make a new one.
I used an error filled first print out of my last year's NaNo.

There is a demonstration today of de-certified policemen, they hand-cuffed the doors of the Parliment building in the wee hours. It's fairly orderly and not anyplace I ever go, so I feel perfectly fine with being in town today. Besides it will probably rain a bunch in a bit.

Yesterday in Maglaj, a guy was killed by a left over landmine. He was very young, 17 or something.
Maglaj and the area around Jablanica have a LOT of landmines. More than average if I understood the news correctly.

Landmines offend me worse than anything Dino Merlin could ever get up to!


Stuff you probably won't see on American Television...

Stuff you probably won't see on American Television...
Originally uploaded by Yakima_gulag
Sorry this picture is so fuzzy! The guy is made out of chocolate, and I guess t he advertisers should be damned grateful that the Afro-Bosnian community isn't very big! There are people of mixed African, Afro-American and Bosnian origin, admittedly they are rare. There's more Black folk here than when I first came in 1998.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Rainy and warm in Sarajevo

Today there is changeable weather, I was forced to carry an umbrella, it's a nuisance to have to do that, but oh well!

On the bus, not fir the first time either, I was witness to something I love about the people here. My bus passes the hospital on it's route, and of course that means often people who are not well, and elderly come on board and at a point when most seats are taken. What I love is that if people see such a person, they offer their seat to him or her. A lot of times you will see a middle aged lady not in wonderful health herself probably give her seat to a frail old man, sometimes you will see men with disabilities they plainly got in the war, and people always offer their seats to these people. Sometimes the guy refuses, because men here like to offer their seats to ladies, even very old men will do that. If that happens, that seat is likely to stay empty for the duration of the run, or until at least the next stop where people exit and enter the bus!

I have benefited from the very nice habit of people offering seats to those older than themselves or in less than ideal condition. There was one day when both ankles were giving me trouble, and I could not avoid going into town, It was crowded more than usual, I think it was one of the poor abused mini-buses, and someone immediately offered me a seat, bless them forever!

Buses here can be very crowded indeed! I am lucky, I live at the end of the run, and I can usually get a seat either way, because of that fact, I sit WAY in back, there are three doors on most buses, so no trouble getting out. I try to sit by an open window. Buses here are not air conditioned and it can be miserable if you are not near a window.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Beautifully Lost

It has been very hot and muggy. I am probably not sitting in here long, I did not eat before leaving home, meaning I soon will want to tear into some nice čevapi someplace. I try for an indoor place to avoid the attentions of the Roma people who come to Baščaršija. It helps that I almost look local, but they still bother me on occasion, although I must say it is NOTHING like the situation in Dublin!

If Padraic H. Pearse could see what has happened to Ireland he'd weep, and probably tell the English, 'All is forgiven! Come back!'

Here they'll usually take a couple refusals as 'no' and go away. I decline politely. I do help, but what I do is there is in most post offices a collection point for one of the public kitchens, same goes for the Turkish Bank. I donate that way, because I know it goes to FOOD! Not that people who live hard don't have other needs, like shelter, clothing, medicine.

A lot of the Roma here go through the trash. When people throw out something like clothing that is potentially reusable or bread that has gotten too hard, but is still unspoiled they hang it on the handles of the trash bin, so that it won't get dirtier than it has to.

As well, if something big that is still good gets thrown out, I've seen people tell their friends if they happen to know any Roma. I was in the dress shop one day and the lady told a Roma who came to say hello, 'Listen, the neighbors are redecorating, they threw out a really good bed!' and she told her how to get there. Roma here sometimes have proper flats, but usually they have to scrounge to get things like beds, clothes and so forth.

Trash day here can be awful! The bins in some areas overflow. There is only a beginning effort at recycling. The way they are going to do it is have separate bins for separate sorts of trash, but that isn't finished yet. It will take time.

Dealing with such fine tuning has come slowly. So many things seem more urgent.

I got really lost in a very interesting neighborhood yesterday, it was so hot, but I grabbed sips of water from the fountains at mosques along the way. I was trying to duplicate the interesting route taxis sometimes take from Baščaršija to my street, and I wasn't REALLY That Lost. Just enough, though. I saw some wonderful old Bosnian houses, and passes the Svrze house. Several beautiful mosques, which have been restored. Finally I arrived at a store that I know is just a short walk from the bus stop! I rejoiced knowing that I could get cold water and a shower in minutes! Usually when I get lost, it makes me mad, but I knew there was a chance I'd be lost, and I had nothing to hurry for, and it was so beautiful out, and so many wonderful new sights, places the average amerikanka probably isn't going to see.

Oh and for once my ankle didn't give me horrible problems, there were a lot of those messed up stone stairs where I was.

Monday, June 02, 2008


Hvala najlipsa Andras!

O.K. the woman calling out, for those of you still in the Yakima Gulag, or in Rio Del, is a news-paper vendor on Ferhadia, I frequently buy my copy of Oslobođenje from her, not to mention the occasional classic video. When I was first here, I hurt my ankle on one of the loose paving stones and she, realizing I don't see very well, showed me how to get to the nearest taxi stand so I could go home. So if I am in town, I get my paper from her usually.

She is a very nice person, she's right in front of the main market most days.

The red cafe is 'Oasis'. I have never actually gone. Briefly shown are places I have shopped or had lunch, the 'Special' and the place with the fence like deal, I like Special better in terms of prices, but both places are good.

As Andras said, it's hokey but I love it anyway! Maybe I love it because it IS so hokey!

Yesterday a woman was sort of shopping for English classes and called me, my first female caller. She said she wanted to check prices elsewhere first, and called from a land line.

I saved her number and if I don't hear back, I may give her a brief call just to see how it is going, and if she still would like lessons.
She actually said 'Your ad says high school students, but do you teach older people?' and I said, 'Yes, I have more experience with younger people, but that doesn't mean I can't take on an older student, and since you are female, I can do private lessons for you!' (Sorry guys!)

Anywyay I hope I do hear back. The competition is getting ugly out there.

So today I have assorted business in town, and then I will go home.

Again, thanks Andras! I had a hell of a time searching 'YouTube' something has gone wrong with my password and they have not sent me a new one. I didn't forget it, something went wrong and I don't know what.

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