Friday, February 29, 2008
Nice out today, Happy Independance Day Bosnia and Hercegovina!
The S.O. called me and said he still felt crummy but he wanted to at least come over for lunch. It turned out he had a mildly ulterior motive, no not what you think! He needed a good back rub. It isn't enough that he's been dizzy, he walks perfectly steadily but he feels like he is swaying back and forth. I am sure that is no fun. He also has next to no appetite. He has lost quite a lot of weight. Now both of us definately needed to lose weight, but to lose it due to no appetite is not a good thing. He brought me a whole chicken, they make beautiful roast chickens here, there is a very old school place that does that in Ilidza, and he already had half a chicken his neighbors brought him. He did not want it to go to waste and he knows how much I love the local roast chicken, it really is excellent!
He also brought some white wine, that was delicious. I only could have a half glass because I had to take a Cofadon for migraine again yesterday. The same this morning, I woke up just ratty.
Anyway, I made him some soup, and he did eat two dishes, I had gotten some bread for him too. He likes bread and probably eats too much of it. Bread here is good, I am not much of a bread person though. I am glad I got a smaller loaf! He couldn't eat it. I have told the kids if the S.O. turns down bread you need to take his temperature. I put a hand on his forehead and he said 'Why did you do that?' 'Because you NEVER have said 'no' to bread in the whole time I have known you! I even told my kids that if you say 'no' to bread it's time to take your temperature and put you to bed!'
He also came over yesterday because he knew there was perhaps going to be a demonstration on this day and Tomorrow is Bosnian Independance Day, no one is going anyplace! :)
So don't expect to see any postings tomorrow from this quarter. Most places will be closed, and I am sure there will be some sort of celebrations here and there.
I wish all Bosnian readers a Happy Independance Day and a brighter future to this beautful country!
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Banja Luka ...Department of Loose Ends
Other businesses were looted as well. The police didn't do a lot about it, most of the looters were juveniles, many were wearing Serbian flags, and even the Četnik flag.
My landlady never did call, and I realized it might be best if I went down and just asked for my bills. That turned out to be the best thing.
I expressed my sympathy to her on the loss of her father, and said that I felt bad for both her and her brother that he isn't with us anymore. She was I could tell devastated, but I could see also has a very healthy take on death. She also informed me that tragedy had visited my English neighbors upstairs. We haven't gotten to know each other, but I learned from my landlady that their little one year old baby died the day before her father died. I was very sad to hear this. I remember Christmas morning being awakened by the little children upstairs rushing to open their presents. It was a happy noise. I feel so bad for them. It is one thing when someone has lived to a good age, done a lot of what they wanted to do in their life, that is sad, but it is not devastating like the loss of a child.
She gave me the bills so I could go and pay them, and a small very good vacuum cleaner, that she bought specifically for me. I did not know if the vacuum cleaner in the corner of the bedroom was any good or not, and did not dare find out the hard way. So this little vacuum came very welcome. I thanked her for it, and took it upstairs.
Previously I was sweeping. Thank God Bosnians don't go in for wall-to-wall carpeting! I would have a REAL problem by now if they did go in for that stupidity here! So at least things weren't REALLY bad, but vacuuming the place made a difference! I got the worst of it last night, and will finish it whenever I get over this migraine.
I took the bills to the big postoffice, and paid them there. For some reason I get lost going to the little neighborhood post office, but the big one on Obala Kulin Ban is hard to miss! :). I think it is actually very sensible that you can take any bills to the post office and pay them there. It is one thing I wish they would do Stateside. That and have suho meso available in every store. I have lost weight without feeling at all hungry. Anyone who knows me well knows that I used to get these absolute feeding frenzies at times, especially if I was recovering from a migraine. Now however, I don't get feeding frenzies where everything in sight gets eatten. I have for the first time in my LIFE control of my appetite. This is a very great blessing. So this time I will see if that is so after a migraine.
The weather is steadily improving, it is a beautiful day out, and windy so the air is very clear.
There are more tourists in town. There was a huge bus loading up some in the area near the National Theatre.
So far no reaction in Sarajevo itself to the Kosovo business. People in Sarajevo are sensibly more concerned with what is the business of Bosnia-Hercegovina, not what is the business of other countries.
I am going to have a look at the rest of my e-mail. Editing work on the NaNo novel is about complete, and I need to get it so it is all set for me to put numbers on every page, then I will print out, printing seems to cost about the same everyplace. My S.O. called yesterday, he is still experiencing vertigo, but felt better enough to cook for himself, which is good, he thinks he will be alright tomorrow. So I should get some lunch things. I got some cardamon seeds at Badem. I don't know the Bosnian word for them, but I alway keep in a pocket a little thing with the usual mix Indian people use for bad breath. It includes cardamon seeds. I took one out and showed it to the girl, and thank God they have them. So now if I want masala chai I can make some, they go in Indian sweets too. I want to do a nice Indian dinner one night. Like Lister in 'Red Dwarf' I never underestimate the healing properties of a curry and a lager!
Last night Dubioza Kolektiv were on Retrovisor. I love those guys! It was crazy. The guys all had bright orange jumpsuits, which are similar to what prisoners in the U.S. wear, and the girl had this long shirt and some pants. They did all sorts of stuff, some in English. They were excellent. They did some stuff that was rap, and some stuff that sounded like a combination of reggae and Balkans type music. I really enjoyed them. Then I did something terribly American and watched the Oscars. Never used to watch them at home! Quite enjoyed some of the music and the film clips from 'There Will Be Blood' looked good. I actually would like to see the Kazakh entry 'Mongol' it looked very good. In fact I think this might have been an above average year for films.
There was one song from 'Enchanted' where the dancing was so Bollywood, the music wasn't but the dancing was.
People are sitting at sidewalk cafes again, it is the warmest February in 120 years.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Massive demonstrations continue in Serbia.
Russia too has had demonstrations.
Every war of the preceding 20 century has had an oil angle, except maybe Northern Ireland. That was full of terrorism but a refressing lack of an oil angle unless you count petrol bombs.
I have been trying to figure out what the oil angle is with the Balkans, I have really been trying to figure that out a long time.
Last night in the wee hours while I was watching 'Est Ouest' it occured to me, this region has some oil, not enough to merit the rivers of blood which have flowed here though. The REAL oil issue is pipelines. Russia depends on pipelines through the region to be able to sell their oil elsewhere. They are afraid governments less under their control might interfere with business.
As well one sad reality of the post-Communist world is hardly anyplace that used to be Communist or Socialist escapes having a thriveing kleptocracy at the top. Republika Srpska is full of brand new highways, I saw some of them on the news. Dodik is up to his flabby armpits in this and in real-estate. The Serbs are not alone in grabbing the goodies, a friend of Silajdžić has a huge mine near Vareš, and I am talking about open-pit iron mining. The guy's last name is Jata or Jala, sorry fuzzy pictures on T.V. are not my friend. The mine is HUGE and I am sure there are nice payoffs all around.
Not that the Communist era was free of that stuff, it is just more open now. It is scary, far scarier than the scary demonstrators who are angry about Kosovo.
And unlike the demonstrators who will get tired and go home eventually back to their underpaid and hard lives, and who may or may not be able to think about things later, the kleptocrats are not going away. They come in all religions and ethnicities, being a kleptocrat is an equal opportunity offense.
March 1 there is another demonstration about juvenile delinquency planned. Again, I am not going. It will start by the Katedrale and I guess end up where it ended up last time, but I don't know, I just know it is another Saturday I won't leave the mahala.
My landlord's father died, not sure if it was yesterday or the day before. I found out that bills meant for my flat were ending up downstairs. That is never a good thing. I knew something was wrong when I got a notice to pay the gas bill or else on my door but had not recieved a gas bill in the mailbox, where it should have been. I got ONE phone bill in the mailbox for my flat, I should really have gotten two. Anyway I had to come into town to draw money for those bills. I figure everyone is busy with the funeral and all the after people die stuff. My landlords are extemely nice people. I am sure their father was a great man, he lived to his late 90s. I didn't ever get to meet him, but I know from meeting his son and daughter, he had to be a good man, because his children are good people.
Anyway all this meant that even if the S.O. had felt alright yesterday, which he didn't, I could not have him over for lunch. I will need to go back home soon and await a phone call from the landlady. I thought I'd come in here and catch up with stuff for a bit. I am down in Baščaršija.
It has been nice the last couple days. I really did not want to wear my coat, but it is still nippy in the mornings. Everyone else is wearing their coats still.
'Est Ouest' btw is worth seeing. It conveys a pretty full impression of the Soviet Union in the Stalin era, it is in Russian and French. I only had a little high school French and no formal study of Russian ever. My mother attempted to teach me their alphabet, and I never got the hang of it. It is much harder than the Serbian alphabet, which bit by bit despite BHT1's best efforts to prevent it, I am picking it up. I will never read it with the ease of Latin characters but I can slowly make out words now. It takes me back to being four and having my dad sit down and teach me my alphabet. He did a good job. I remember it still fondly. He is 80 today! Sretan Rođendan Tata! (Happy Birthday Dad!)
Sunday, February 24, 2008
If you don't see me for a couple of days don't be alarmed...
At all of those folks who are happy that Kosovo is free, alright, what next? I hope things go alright for the people there. I don't want to see another war anywhere around here, mostly because aside from a large number of huligani in various parts of Serbia and R.S. and a few in Kosovo, no one else around here really wants another war. I think that goes for a lot of Serbs comeing down to it. They too lost loved ones. I don't think anyone wants to drink that Koolaid again. I come from a country that recognized Kosovo, the U.S. and I am living in a country that doesn't DARE recognize Kosovo because doing so might start the next war. So I hope my respected readers will understand that I am staying neutral on this subject. I do not want any stupid flame wars here. Anything that looks like flame responses will not make it onto this page. A little exuberance fine, but actually around here, it isn't party time. It is time for thought. How to get through the next few months in a civilized way, and then the next few months. The S.O. and I don't entirely agree on Kosovo incidentally. He has lived there, and worked there a LONG time ago. He is a Croat and no fan of certain of the Serbs, but he thinks of it as their territory. We just don't discuss it. I don't think of it as Serbian territory. A bunch of them LEFT in the Great Migration, and if they had stayed on instead, 1, neither BiH or Vojvodina would have Serbian people in any real numbers, and 2. Kosovo would probably not be something like 90% Albanian. Stuff that happened in the 1600s can't be fixed this late in the game. As wellthere was what Milosevic did. He did Serbia so much harm. If he'd left autonomy alone, the Kosovo Albanians NEVER would have gotten freedom. There is no nation that would have recognized them. Genocide made it happen. If there had been no genocide, no one would care what the people in Kosovo wanted. Kosovo instead was what broke Yugoslavia.
National borders are something that have changed a lot in centuries. I am not saying it is right or wrong that they do, they just do. About a hundred years ago this whole place was either part of the Ottoman Empire or part of the Austro Hungarian Empire. Empires rise and fall. What matters is what people pay for taxes, whether people can work, whether people can go to work and school with a reasonable hope they can again go home without someone killing them and taking their stuff.
I hope in Kosovo they can set a government that manages to do that for people. That would be a really good thing. Lord knows it wasn't the case under Serbia for a long time.
If governments, any governments want peace out there, they need to take care of their people. They need to NOT set up the material conditions for revolution. When people have jobs, educations, housing, health care and something called a future, they don't rebel. It really is that simple.
As for Dodik and his bunch. There is a pretty neat series of pictures of the home he has for himself in Belgrade. It is a totally tasteless example of the WORST sort of Balkans Moderne architecture. It looks like a fortress. He paid for it with money he basically stole from his own people. That's it get your people scared of the other people, and then rake in the boodle! Lajcak visited him up in Banja Luka, and reminded him that his people signed the Dayton Accords and the agreement includes not having referendums about independance for R.S. They showed all this on the news. It included a visit to a very fancy Orthodox church in Banja Luka where there was a wedding. It was a nice day out, and people were passing some rakija around outside the church, in a big brown bottle. Lajcak wiped the bottle uncomfortably with the sleeve of his sport coat and had a sip. He shouldn't worry, rakija kills all germs. :).
So what did I do this morning? Nothing much, had a couple helpings of suho meso. I have discovered it is better if it has a little fat, taste wise and as far as controlling my appetite goes. I had that some cola and sat watching Euronews, then Dinotopia.
Anyone out there who hasn't seen the Dinotopia series needs to! It really is great fun! It was filmed in Hungary and Germany and England. The cast is wonderful. I especially like the 'Outsiders' and the baby dinosaurs. I used to have a Dinotopia calender. I bought it for Ivan the Terrible, but it wound up being a mommy toy! I loved it, the drawings on it were fantastic.
Costuming on the film is amusing, you see all sorts of fun clothes, like the Outsider Torres with black jeans and a Ren Faire type corset in red, very sexy. One girl had what DEFINATELY was a Bosnian ladies vest, the guys are equally cool. Everyone should dress like that! :).
Then there's the dinosaurs themselves, the T-Rexs and the city, Waterfall City is rendered quite nicely in the film.
I have continued watching 'Jesen stize dunjo mojo' too, that is a wonderful series, mostly filmed in Serbia. It really has wonderful actors. The little girl who plays Dunja is cute, and the sets are wonderful.
They haven't had Folk Show a couple weeks and reception on SATV has been kind of bad so I have missed out on programs like 'Meraklija' which I love. 'Meraklija' is mostly about sevdalinke, and they have really good singers. It's very low key and very nice without being boring.
Hopefully Folk Show will be back. I passed on 'Bloody Bordello' they have been running a bunch of 'Tales From the Crypt' late on FTV. I can't even wrap my mind around watching that for the subtitles! It's just icky. I watched 'Monk' though, where the doctor trys him on some new meds that make him all maniac and he becomes 'The Monk' and wants to go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. People just want his old OCD self back by the end of it!
That one is good for subtitles. I sit with a notebook and make note of anything I didn't know before. That helps a lot.
I learned at least six new expressions from last night.
So off to work over the book again. I keep finding stuff that needs work. So it goes.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Another Demonstration in Sarajevo, about Juvenile Delinquency
I got a copy of 'Dani' yesterday, and it came with a little plastic whistle and a red card just like they use to red card soccer players. There was a big ad for people to go to the demonstration which is by the Katedrale.
I totally agree with the people who are upset with juvenile delinquency. For all my relatives at home, again, I do feel fairly safe, I don't go a lot of places where juvenile delinquents hang out, I only eat out at the neighborhood cevapi place or the slasticarni in Bascarsija, I never go alone anyplace that is an actual bar, only with the S.O. Most of my fun outtings are to museums or other places juvenile delinquents never go. My flat is well secured. There are JAILS that don't have such good locks!
That said, juvenile delinquency is serious here. There are not enough places to put people for reform or punishment, whether adults or children, and there is not the money to make it happen. People do a lot of bad stuff before they get locked up. There are still a fair number of people who haven't gotten what they deserve for war crimes, and probably this makes the law less strong. It isn't that people here don't respect the rule of law, they do, in fact in public people here are basicaly very good. People do the best they can. But if someone does something bad and needs to go to chokey, there isn't any chokey to put them in.
As well, legal reforms on all sorts of matters are an ongoing process. Domestic violence was according to everyone I speak with, RARE in all communities here. Now it is very common. I consider domestic violence the mother and father of all other crime. If kids see violence in the home, well that sets the example early. Tackle that problem and a lot of the others will go away given time.
The city of Sarajevo just instituted a curfew with very heavy fines, for juveniles out after a certain hour, now curfew Stateside never really worked, but who knows, maybe it would work here.
Just have to wait and see.
As far as demonstrations to do with Kosovo, nothing in Sarajevo that I know of yet. Banja Luka has had demonstrations, but that is in a Serb majority area. A lot of Bosnian Serbs originally came from Kosovo in the first place.
Here most people do not think the demonstrations in Belgrade were at all spontaneous.
Regular readers of this blog know that I am a Democrat, and did not vote for the current president, and that I am not a member of the Condeleeza Rice fan club, but I saw her on the news this morning, Euronews to be exact, and was really pleased with how she handled herself. She was excellent! She said it like it is and just left. That was EXACTLY right. She may not 'get' the Middle East, but she understands about Eastern Europe. She did take a lot of stuff about Russian politics and maybe, just maybe she understands a little bit about this region. In any case I thought she handled that press conference just right.
It is beautiful and sunny today, I am going to do my internet stuff and then go have a nice time doing other stuff.
The S.O. is still in Dubrovnik. He went Monday, and I have not been able to get hold of him. I have successfully called him on my mobile phone before when he was there, so perhaps the network is messed up.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Last night a bunch of angry people in Belgrade burned the U.S. embassy and there was a charred body in some of the destroyed part of the embassy. The dead person likely was one of the rioters, as all American personnel and embassy employees were evacuated.
Absolute masses of people turned out for an officially sanctioned demonstration.
I keep close tabs on the news, so far there have been demonstrations in Banja Luka, and those involved stoning consulates, as well.
Like doing that is going to change anything!
I am not worried. There is no real reason to be worried.
I keep close tabs on the news, and I stay far away from large public gatherings. That would be a good idea no matter where I was, including in the States.
Looks like Obama is ahead in the primaries. One of my relatives REALLY likes him, and I am starting to be more interested as it looks like he will be the nominee. I must research him more, because if he is strong enough to give Hillary such a run for her money, he must have something to offer. He has gotten a lot of votes from unexpected sources, like White people in the Deep South. Something he is doing is working, and if he can beat McCain, that would be good. Given percentages, he probably can.
McCain at one time could have gotten my vote, but caving on the issue of torture was not good. There are military people I know who will not vote for him over this. If the United States tortures people and it is government policy to do so, Americans will also be tortured. That is something that maybe soldiers understand better than anyone else.
Given that war is not going away anytime soon, not crossing the laws and customs of war is important.
A person who was tortured himself and a prisoner of war himself should really know better!
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
There's a little Spider Jerusalem in all of us.
He should be back in a week, maybe sooner. Depends on what the doctors decide they need to do with him.
I had trouble with my ankle going home yesterday, and the last thing I felt like was cooking so I dropped into the cevapi place and grabbed a cevapi, took it home and watched movies until late.
It is disconcerting to go home, and find the gate you closed carefully sort of open, and wonder who was there, and why. Whoever it was was large and had smooth soled shoes of some kind. There was still snow. Also whoever it was was not a good tracker, they should have noticed one set of footprints leaving and none going back. Anyway, no real reaction to the Kosovo stuff here in Sarajevo. Banja Luka got uglier than I thought yesterday.
No one here is terribly excited about Kosovo. One comment I heard was 'With everyone joining the E.U. anyway down the road, what is the POINT?' My reaction was yeah, given that Ireland joined the E.U. and Britain is either in or on the road to being in, the whole business about Northern Ireland was rendered even more stupid and pointless than it really was to start with.
Frankly, the English ran things better than the E.U. is so far doing in the case of Ireland. I mean they knew how to have an inter national empire! Yeah sometimes dirty deeds were done, but they did do their best to be fair.
There was a time when a nice little country of one's own made sense, now nationalism is just so 20th century! It is so over. The real world isn't Serbs vs Albanians not really, it's Nerds vs Gangsters. Nerds+Gangsters vs Corprate. Clones Corporate Clones vs EVERYBODY.
It's about people who should stay in the village but can't bear it anymore, it's about people living in cities that have become like something out of Shadowrun, or 100 Bullets, or Transmetropolitan.
I don't know what anyone can do about all this...
I feel bad for just ordinary people who get their lives fucked up for nothing.
Monday, February 18, 2008
15:49 17/2/02 Kosovo Declares Independance, what it looked like here in Sarajevo
There was later film of a massive demonstration at the American embassy in Belgrade, and it got pretty ugly. Mostly it was young people. They threw burning objects at the embassy, broke some windows, threw trash at the embassy, journalists and equipment from four news outlets including B-92 were damaged. This is from what I saw on local news channels here.
As well the crowd attacked the Albanian embassy, and the Slovenian embassy. There was a more quiet demonstration in Baja Luka. I don't have a lot of info for you yet on it, except to say it was peaceful.
Reaction here in Sarajevo has been very little. Some Albanians who live here did get together and cruise Titova in their cars, they had Albanian flags.
Somehow in Serbia they managed to get hold of the new Kosovo flag in order to burn it in front of the U.S. embassy along with the American flag.
Oh funny aside on the Kosovo flag, they showed film on the news here of the new flag being brought into the Kosovo parliment, and at first I was all like 'WTF is the Bosnian flag doing in the Kosovo assembly very much please?' The colors are the same, and there's the six white stars, which looked like a few more. Basicaly though, it is a sad crib of the Petrich Hanky. I heard on the news it was the winning flag out of 1,000 entries in a contest to decide what the new Kosovo flag would be.
Now is the time for BiH to go back to it's original flag! Seriously, any country that copies the Petrich Hanky is in bad trouble already.
I totally understand moving away from the Albanian flag or anything remotely like it though, that was a good sign.
Still I would have chosen differently. I bet there's some likely flags on NationStates! :)
There has been snow here the last couple days, not a lot, but it has been very cold. My ankle has bothered me, it often does ahead of changes in weather. I can't say it always does, but it usually does, so I stayed in this weekend. The S.O. finally felt good enough to visit on Friday. I made some lovely fish and tomato salad, and rice, and got bread and some nice Plavac to drink. I teased him that he might have felt better if he'd come over sooner. He is now in Dubrovnik for his regular check up stuff. He isn't experiencing anything like the same level of dizzyness. Hopefully they can track down the problem while he is in Dubrovnik. I sure hope so.
I told him what we had to do to make up for Valentines Day and my birthday. I want us to go on an outing to Vrelo Bosna and ride in one of the fijakre this time! They have become a part of my plot to restore Bosnian traditional attire, as this in Spring is to be the required uniform for all fijakre drivers. There is also to be a fixed price. I think it will be very good for tourism here.
I also want to take pictures.
I have been glued to the tube following events to do with Kosovo. I hope things can remain calm here, but who knows.
At least the last demonstration against juvenile crime came off peacefully, it was like 1500 to 3000 people, according to police estimates and was noisy, but at least no ugly incidents. I think the people who did the stuff last time were provacateurs.
I take the advice of the State Department and stay the Hell away from mass demonstrations of any sort here. 1. much as I love this place, it ain't my sand-box. 2. I really hate getting hurt. 3. I hate the concept of being busted. Never been busted. Don't care to start here. 4. I was on the news too much back home. I don't want to be on the news here.
I found out the name of the Spanish Civil War Soap, it is 'Amor en tiempos vueltos'. It is really very good, one of the best telenovelas EVER. There is always Spanish language programming here. I don't know why it is so popular in the Balkans, but it is. Spain is a favorite vacation spot for people from BiH if they can afford the trip.
Anyway, I watch it nearly every weekday morning. I did get to see Northern Exposure last nigh, saw a few friends from the Rez on there. The Raven story is a Yakam astory but the costumes used were Tlingit or Haida, not sure which, very beautiful anyway.
Anytime there is a program in English, it has subtitles, and I use that to improve my language skills. I like detective shows and medical series the most, but I watch anything.
I watch telenovelas so I don't forget my Spanish.
Today is very cold, I am down at Club BIT because my ankle is bothering me and Club BIT is closer to home. They make pretty nice espresso here.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Not what it looked like! :)
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
More on the Big Demonstration...
They showed various people who are officials at the Cantonal level and one of them, the premier was simply livid. He was speaking so fast I only understood every other word. I won't venture to translate it all.
Anyway, I sat down this morning to watch the news, first Euronews because it is in English, and therefore helpful, and then local news on BHT1 because it is followed by a soap I love, I don't know it's name in Spanish, but I call it the Spanish Civil War Soap Opera. My late mother was obsessed with the Spanish Civil War, and she would have loved it. It is also Spanish I understand. There is one soap from Argentina which sometimes totally is impossible for me to understand, due to the accents and the slang being too different.
Stuff on Euronews included the information that Congress and the Senate have voted to outlaw waterboarding. About damn time. It gives Americans a very bad name to be doing such things.
Anyway the T.V. went off, the fridge stopped doing it's imitation of mating frogs, and the boiler stopped huffing. So I decided to go entertain myself someplace other than home. The S.O. doesn't feel great today either. I called him and told him he was off the hook for today due to the power failure. I don't feel like going out there that much. I didn't really even feel like leaving the flat. I only left because probably the power will be off all day. Haven't checked the paper yet, and I really can't do much there, eat, that means opening and closeing the fridge, not good. I think the stove requires electricity to light, even though it's a gas stove, so cooking or a cup of coffee is out. Clean, pretty much limited to sweeping, wash clothes, not all that much is acutally dirty. No point. So I am going to eat out, and have coffee out and indulge my internet addiction.
Another Big Demonstration in Sarajevo
I heard about it from one of my Baščaršija friends. She said if she didn't have to work, she would totally be out there! Basically it is about the juvenile delinquency problem, which is serious in both the Federation and R.S. People here really have had enough if the talk shows on the radio are any measure. Basically no one really feels safe.
Back when Tito was alive there were all kinds of ways of keeping young people off the streets and out of trouble, quite aside from jail. There were the Red Pioneers, cultural stuff, and there was always work. Plus people to a point did take care of the religious education of their children. Religion is not perfect, but one of the purposes of religion is to positively modify behavior.
Then too there is the deplorable example set by politicians. Most all of them are bad news, even if they started off with good intentions, they ended up bad.
A lot of people seem to think a new constitution and some legal reforms would help. I also think that the economy is a good place to start. People just don't have jobs, they have a hard time. Those families which are intact are in crisis, because couples fight over money. That can happen in any country under economic pressure. Then the kids go out, they see all this stuff they can never legitimately own and take matters into their own hands, in a bad way.
So people will be gathering at the City Hall, and probably by the Katedrale as well.
Kosovo is supposed to declare independance the 17th of this month, and the police up in R.S. are already preparing for things to be tense. As well in Kosovo itself the E.U. has upped the numbers of police, because those Serbs left in Kosovo are scared.
My hope is that independance won't create any regional problems. Not only are people somewhat worried here in BiH, they are worried in Macedonia as well. There is probably more reason for people to be concerned in Macedonia actually than in BiH.
Other stuff that made the news locally is that both Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama got campaign contributions from a known Greek lobbyist. There was a long deal about it in Oslobođjenje. I would be interested in knowing if this story is out Stateside, and how much does it matter to people.
Lobby groups often spread the money around in a campaign, it is not unheard of at all for opponents to each recieve something. I would be interested if the same lobby group also contributed to Republicans.
The Greeks have had a big problem with an independant Macedonia for a long time.
Other stuff of interest, the F.B.I. was invited to help in the investigation of an assasination in Republika Srpska. The man assasinated was the victim of a car bomb and there just are not enough clues. This was back in September.
Also worth noting, Mario's Cyberspace Station has a bad virus. I can't even access them here because of that. They are one of the best sources for news of the region too, so that is a real shame. He puts in EVERYTHING. The virus has been present at least the last three or four days that I know of.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Happy REAL Lincoln's Birthday
The latest news here is the border police and the SIPA police have threatened a job action. They are not exactly well paid, and they do very hard work. SIPA busts organized crime and war criminals. So they need to be properly compensated, that is dangerous work.
Border police need to be paid well enough that they won't be tempted into corruption. I don't care what country we are talking about, border police face temptations.
Ah here is my fun stuff about Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln was one of a very few GOOD Republican presidents, Eisenhower makes the cut, but aside from him or Eisenhower, Republican presidents have as far as I am concerned, either been disastorous or with God's Grace, they have been mediocre. Mediocre isn't so bad. In fact mediocre means no wars, no disasters, no having to save the nation because the stock market crashed.
I think I have mentioned before that the United States has more ties with the Balkans than people generally think. 1. Democracy, a Balkans invention, it started in Greece, which is in the Balkans.
2. Anyone with royal blood probably has some Bosnian ancestry, either from Jelena Grub, who really was Serbian, or from Jelisveta od Bosna, who really and truely was Bosnian. She was power hungry, but very learned.
She was the mother of Queen Jadwiga of Poland, and Maria of Hungary.
Quite a few famous Americans descent at some point from Jelisveta.
No LIncold was NOT one of them.
There is in America a little known and rather secretive minority group called Melungeons. There have been DNA tests on Melungeons because they have diseases which occur primarily among people of Turkish descent, and people from Bosnia. Mostly Melungeons have Irish, or English names, they don't however look all that Irish or English. Their coloring is darker. They were discriminated against, and another thing, they did not have problems with inter-racial marriage. They tended to go far ahead of the Anglo-Saxon settlers and the settlers of Celtic descent, into the woods. They intermarried with Blacks as well, so some Melungeons are Indian enough to be enrolled in various tribes, others look Black.
Famous people with probable Melungeon descent include Elvis Presley, and Abraham Lincoln, on his mother's side.
The Melungeons are thought to be descended from people on a slave ship that broke up in a storm off the Carolinas. They made it ashore and were helped to survive by local Native Americans.
Melungeons began to organize themselves in the late 1990s. There is also a lot of nonsense written about them.
The solidly known information is that they do have certain DNA ties to Turkey, and to the Western Balkans, and they have been in what became the United States a very long time. I first heard about them from my late mother, who sent me a few short articles about them.
Since now the U.S. marks the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln, and honors all presidents in one day, President's Day, the 15, rather than have two three day weekends in February, I am honoring Melungeons today. :)
Monday, February 11, 2008
More Just Stuff...
It is just that public transport is generally less crowded back in the Gulag, and similar incidents are pretty rare. Here there are times the tram is as crowded as a cattle car. I have seen trams so crowded that the driver could not close the doors. I am careful what time of day I take the tram or a bus. I usually manage to get on at such a time that there are still seats. He doesn't always do that. The dizziness probably is related to blood pressure problems. He was doing just fine before, now it is up and down like a yo-yo. I actually hope he does go to the doctor's today. He better if he feels up to the little walk.
Me I am out enjoying the nice day, there were TWO guys out walking their huge Tornjak dogs, beautiful dogs both, and well trained. Both guys looked like ex-soldiers.
Last night some jerks threw a bomb at a bus stop in Dobrinje. 3 people were somewhat injured, it was early evening. No political motivation, it was more of the juvenile crime wave and totally random.
Well it is my birthday, Off to go do something special.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
What I salvaged of the very bad little avacado
Big Demonstration in Sarajevo
There have been about four really terrible crimes committed by juveniles lately. Facilities for juvenile delinquents of a more violent sort are far from adequate. There's the juveniles who steal stuff, and then there's the ones who kill people or rape people, big difference in the type of offender and a big difference in the type of facilities required.
There were massive numbers of people out in front of the Katedrale, people were simply crammed in there, and the crowd was all the way to Ferhadia. The crowd went next to the Presidency, which was egged. One speaker pointed out that poor Denis Mrnjavac who was killed on the #3 tram, a tram I personally ride sometimes, was killed about 100 meters from the Parliment building and some people in the crowd threw eggs at the presidency building. I only saw it on T.V. I decided not to go anywhere yesterday because I was plain tired. I haven't had any trouble with my ankles since buying a pair of ankle supports just outside the Gradska Trzniste from a guy who was selling them for 5KM a pair. These in fact are better than Ace bandages, no pins, they aren't bulky, I can basically wear them with any type of shoes or boots.
Last night someone or other did a drive-by bombing in Dobrinja. I think it was a crime thing not a political thing.
There was also in Kakanje a big fight between two whole families. A lot of them wound up in the hospital. It sounds like this was some problem among two families of Roma.
Over the weekend the Sarajevsko Zima festival began, there were fireworks I could actually see and hear from the flat, I feel really bad for not having gotten pictures of them, they were pretty darn good. Especially they were good when you consider that it was a damp evening.
Friday, February 08, 2008
News in general...
Osolobođenje ran an article that detailed four brutal crimes committed by juveniles in the last like four months. I did not hear about the robbery at knife point in Baščaršija of a goldsmith shop. They did get the suspect.
The other news is that the new Serbian government might fall over both the E.U. and Kosovo. On Euronews, which I watch most mornings, they showed film of the Serbian mayors having a meeting. They vowed to obstruct and boycott all E.U. peacekeeping work in Kosovo.
Actually it scares me a little. Kosovo is probably going to declare independence soon.
On a personal note, the S.O. has been ill a lot lately. The latest is the vertigo. He lives in a building with four flights of stairs, so with vertigo, he can't even go out. He doesn't want me going there, partly because the visits of both neighbors and family are assuring him of food and more than enough company, and partly because the stairs in his building are not so safe for me. They are concrete, and ill-lit, and sometimes my ankles are not up for the trip up or down. I like my flat because I don't need to do stairs at all.
I wish one of his relatives would take him to Dubrovnik, the hospitals here are alright, but the equipment is better in Dubrovnik. Thank you Martin Sheen.
So Mitt Romney has pulled out of the Republican race, leaving Huckaby and the front-runner McCain on the Republican side. On the Democrat side, despite enough expenditures to fund a small war someplace or to rebuild like a couple villages here in BiH and perhaps even demine some places, there is no decisive edge for either Hillary Clinton or Barak Obama.
I will vote for the nominee of my party whoever he or she is, but I would given my location in the world, vastly prefer Hillary.
The Sarajevo Winter Festival opened last night. Fireworks were visible from my back window, and I missed the shot because 1. I did not realize this in time, and 2. the shutter on my camera was acting up a LOT.
The ceremony was on T.V. which is a good thing, I don't go places at night, especially not alone. Too many ways to re-injure my ankle, which has finally come to be in decent shape.
There was a light dusting of snow last night. The birds hated it. They woke up early, even before the azan was called and sounded mad as Hell to me.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
There has been some serious growth in both bank robberies regionally and just in town, really ugly, brutal crimes committed by young people. BHT1 ran a little program last night on t he juvenile justice system. It is not a bad system as such things go, but they don't have the facilities for the more dangerous sort of young people. They have perfectly decent facilities for rehabilitating juveniles guilty of lesser crimes.
In January, three young Roma all born outside of BiH burned a 71 year old lady so badly that a week later, despite the strong efforts of her doctors to save her, she died.
Yesterday three teenaged guys attacked one on the tram, the Ilidza-Sarajevo run, and they stabbed him and ran away. They were arrested, there are not a lot of details about the perpetrators yet. The guy that was stabbed was also a teenager. He could die.
Sometimes bus or tram drivers are attacked, for no reason I can think of. I have found transport workers here, whether they drive the busses, the trams or a taxi to be courteous, hardworking and decent all around.
This is a city of some 300,000 people, the majority of whom are decent people. One should not get a mistaken impression of the place when there is the occasional sensational crime, but it is unsettling, and people worry about it.
The best cure for crime is to have enough jobs and enough of a future that people don't do those things. The only people who feel some security about their income are the retired, and for them it isn't adequate, just steady. You see old people going through the trash in search of food that isn't too spoiled to eat, or old bread. People here often don't keep bread beyond two days, so it's often still edible when disposed of, just not as nice.
You also see, especially Roma going through the trash for things which can be recycled.
That last doesn't bother me as much. I'd rather see everyone well off enough that no one has to do that sort of thing, but at least if people go after recyclable materials, they are doing something productive and useful, and it's one less person begging.
Beggars stateside are actually a lot more aggressive than beggars are h ere. They tend to ask once, and have done with it if you ignore them or say no. Not many people here really have spare change. For most people here, every penny they earn is needed.
Housing prices in the States have crashed, meanwhile over here, they are rising steadily. I don't know how long that will last. We'll see.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Anniversasaries to note
The other anniversary was yesterday. This was the anniversary of the Markale massacre. I remember seeing that on the news, and being simply horrified at the sheer brutality of the attack. These were innocent people who just needed to buy food for their families, or make a living selling food to people. Capitalism in action even under terrible circumstances.
I shop regularly at the Markale, it is where to go to get suho meso, and a few other things not as easily obtainable in the neighborhood. The people who do business there, the vendors help each other out, if someone needs change, he or she can get it from a neighboring vendor. In general everyone is both friendly, and cheerful. Crossing the street to get to the Pijaca, which is the open air market there is a huge Sarajevo rose in the crosswalk, and others along the street. This is where people met their deaths. I did not realize there was a Sarajevo rose in the crosswalk the first few times I went to shop there. A good rain cleaned the dirt off it, and it is huge. Anyway yesterday out of respect, the Markale was closed, and there was a ceremony to lay wreathes there. Komšić and Slijadžić both were there. Hundreds of people showed up. The Markale and the Pijaca are and always were important to the functioning of this city. Anyone who is here any lenth of time shops there at least sometimes.
Today it is nice out, people are enjoying to nice weather by going out and about. I have only two chapters left to edit. I am going to stay here and Just Do It! :)
Monday, February 04, 2008
Moscow Times Crime Pages, Coutesy of Ivan the Terrible Minister of IT
Anyway, he told me that if I ever needed to feel better about ANYPLACE I ever lived in my life, I should get online and Google up the Moscow Times and just read the crime stories.
My favorites from the list of flamboyantly imperfect crimes:
* A guy killed his wife accidentally when he dropped a hand grenade, a VERY old hand grenade in her near vicinity.
*A guy poisoned someone or other by putting the poison on the man's home telephone
*Some guys killed another guy, not sure of the motive, but they disposed of the corps by cutting it into bits and flushing the bits of the victim down the toilet. This resulted in MASSIVE plumbing problems for the ENTIRE building AND the crime was discovered so if this sounded like a good idea to anyone, just don't o.k.?
There were other stories, oh the phone poisoner was caught after like what 13 years? He did the crime in 1995 and was JUST caught very recently, so that method is not so reliable either....
But then what do you expect of a country that is run by a known poisoner? Maybe the big wall needs to go back up....
Serious Fashion Mistakes!
Then there are ALL those piercings! He had like six silver earrings in one ear, two in the other, and one silver HOOP nose ring for each nostril AND an eyebrow piercing. Males ought not wear nose-rings at all. I don't mind a guy having an earing in one ear or the other. On this guy it would have worked, he's obviously a rocker, but he had more earrings than the girl.
Here's where she went wrong, TOO TIGHT! HOW THE HELL DOES SHE BREATH? Really tight jeans are not healthy. I can see wearing jeans, they look nice, if they are not so tight that you see parts that really should be covered a bit. When they are that tight, it makes them impractical as work attire, and instead of highlighting a well made body, it brings out the worst. Just loosening the jeans a little would have improved both these fine looking singer's looks and probably their health. :)
By the way they ARE good singers, I enjoyed their perfomance once I wasn't looking.
I do not have the same level of faith in the International Community that the S.O. does, so anything that lowers the ante in this region comes as welcome news.
I was up kind of late last night. I watched a Blacksploitation film with a young O.J. Simpson. It was called 'The Klansman' and was about things going to Hell very fast in a pink handbasket, in a small Southern town. The violence was considerable. I could not have watched this if the S.O. were around. It had a lot of sick stuff quite aside from all the shooting, three rapes, lots of murders, and I do mean lots, one castration, followed by shooting. I am not proud that the K.K.K. was ever a part of U.S. history, but it's too bad if people get a mistaken impression of boht the South and the rest of the U.S. as a result of such films. It was interesting to see O.J. on film before he was totally corrupted by his many later mis-deeds.
The other thing I watched was a re-run of (apologies to A.R. if I spell something wrong, go ahead and correct me!) 'Jesen stize dunjo moja' which is a really great series. There were some customs the people observed that I can't get an explaination for from my usual reliable sources. So I am going to post pictures and ask for someone to please comment and explain it.
Basically the people had something a LOT like Jack-o-lanterns, but I know that Halloween was never really a part of Balkans culture, it's a Celtic observance, still it looked a Hell of a lot LIKE Halloween. Any explaination would be greatly appreciated. The S.O. did not understand my questions, and I drew pictures too!
The other program I watched this morning has this French guy who skiis in WEIRD places where you'd NEVER think of skiing, he snowboards in such places too. Places like Kashmir where he showed some rather hefty Indians how to snow board, that was definately amusing! This time he went to Siberia, which looked Suspiciously like the Yakima Gulag. Then he went on to Mongolia. Now I always figured Mongols might occasionally have the right attitude to be bikers, just give them motorcycles and let them go. That was true! They showed Mongols enjoying a bit of cross country motorcycling. Probably Hell on the environment, but it looked like the guys were having a great time.
Another show I catch often is Zelena Panorama, it's a show for and about farmers. Often they show parts of the country I am unlikely to ever visit. This time they showed Tornjak dogs, and a family that raises this breed. Someone in town walks a REALLY gorgeous huge Tornjak everywhere, he's shown up in pictures on Flikr. His dog is well trained and well cared for, and a nice dog. Someone else in the near vicinity owns a big, very FAST Dalmatian. That dog scared the crap out of me one day, not because he did anything bad like bark at me, but he went by so fast I didn't know what I was seeing, just a HUGE blast of air and a black and white blur sped by me on the side where I don't see so well. A very gorgeous dog. There are many stray dogs and cats in Sarajevo. The neighborhood has packs of these dogs, but so far they haven't molested me in the least. They try to get stuff to eat out of the trash. There was one that looked like an Irish Setter mix I saw this morning.
A big favorite thing that I watch, even if it's a re-run is 'Positivna Geografija' This guy who looks like he has to be a Yakama or perhaps, given how much he smokes, an Anishanabe person, but no he is despite his trademark red and black wool shirt, and his jeans and sneakers and his longer than average black hair, a Bosnian does the show. He goes different places in BiH and just talks with people and it's interesting. Again he goes a lot of places I may never see in person. He's on F.T.V. Last night he went to this village near Mostar where a guy had a smoke house and was makeing suho meso. Already I was all eyes and ears.
Suho meso is delicious, and often kilo per kilo GOOD suho meso is cheaper than not as good fresh meat. So I mostly get it now, as it doesn't require hours of cooking, and in the event of the fridge failing, you don't have to worry about spoilage. Fresh meat of course can be a risk. Fridges here do not run as cool, and there are sometimes announced and unannounced power outtages as they repair the infrastructure. In fact you are not supposed to cook suho meso, you are supposed to slice it thin, maybe some fresh onion slices and garlic slices, and some bread if you want, then a cup of coffee, if you drink you might have wine or rakija with it. All in all delicious, and you are supposed to eat the fat parts. Here they call that the bijelo meso, and you had BETTER eat it. :) If you don't eat a lot of it, a little won't hurt you. The guy that had the smoke house said he eats a kilo to a kilo and a half a day, and he was thin as a rail, wirey and fit. He said, 'No it won't make you fat, it's those people that eat macaroni that get fat!'
Here is the funny part, all my life I have had th e sort of appetite that is not easy to control. I gain weight a lot more easily than when I was younger, and unfortunately appetite control pills are really dangerous. It turns out that a very small snack of suho meso will do the trick, I am talking two to four thin slices, then I don't crave the more fattening types of junk food. So the guy with the smoke house may have a point saying what he said. Seriously, I find there are since I added it to my diet, things I eat WAY less of, cookies, chocolate, macaroni for that matter! :)
A nice salad and a few slices of suho meso makes a perfectly adequate meal, and then some wine, or mineral water to drink with it. Seriously, I need to learn how to make this stuff because at whatever point I go back to the Yakima Gulag, I need me a smoke house! :)
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Bits of rain today...
I've already told the S.O. that this stuff is delicious, but I can't eat it. If I'm ever invited someplace I'm just going to say, 'It looks delicious, it smells nice, but sorry I am allergic to it. My doctor said I should not have it.'
That's what I do if offered anything that I can't do. If I just don't like it, I take a very small portion, VERY small, and say 'Thank you.'
So since I got a slightly late start, I decided not to leave the neighborhood.
Hello Kitty is warped, but sort of cute. My son's girlfriend is a huge fan. They dub it into Bosnian and translate any titles, not with subtitles, they just take the font, do a whole new frame for the title, and put it into Bosnian. This is actually kind of good for me, it helps me with learning the language.
It's cute in that scary Japanese way.
I wanted to say something about cartoons in general, and kids shows. It's the voices. I realize that sometimes a funny voice is great fun, especially for the grown-ups actually doing the voices, I recognize the skill involved, but here is my problem with it.
It ALL GETS TOO FRANTIC sometimes. The voices are sort of like an excited child's voice, and usually over exactly nothing. After a lot of nothing, the children watching are going to tune it out and wait for something Really Interesting, and I think this is one of the ways television contributes to a short attention span in children. What is worse, children learn to speak not just from their parents, older children and the rest of the village, they also learn from television, and they start sounding like one of the characters on 'The Muppet Show' or something like that, and it drives me Bat Shit Crazy!
Personally I did not permit my children to speak that way. They heard the magical words 'You aren't getting what you want until you talk to me in a regular voice.'
So they early learned that if they asked for a cookie in one of those damned muppet voices 'no cookies for you dear!' and a regular voice might get them a couple more.
Earlier today, I watched a bit of 'Lord Fauntleroy' very weird experience. I kind of liked what I saw of it, but the picture was fuzzy and I did have other things to do. Despite having satellite, the picture sometimes is deplorable. I don't want to mess with the T.V. and risk making matters worse. The last time I messed around with settings on a more modern T.V. was at my daughters and I messed things up big time. It took my son-in-law about 3 hours to fix things to where they were and another hour to make the improvements I was trying for. So never again! :)
So no news yet about the Serbian elections except that they are happening. They made Euronews, and the Balkans area seldom does. As well protests here in BiH about the deportation of guys like Abu Hamza have been big news. Sorry, it's part of the Dayton Accords, it has to be done. Besides some of those guys genuinely are terrorists.
Basically though, if there never had been a September 11th attack, they might have been left alone, so long as they didn't bother anyone. As things stand though, too bad, they really all need to go someplace else. Lord knows the region has enough that can upset the apple cart without them!
Friday, February 01, 2008
I took the skirts back and exchanged them, the ones I got instead look nice. Since there is not a real dressing room there, it is better to just take them home, try them on with a mirror handy and then make sure they don't go up too much in the back, that I can actually walk, sit down, get up, breathe, so on. One looks a hair too small, the black one, but maybe it isn't, We'll see.
So I see by the papers that Obama and Hillary Clinton have made peace. That would be a good idea, because the time has come to stop tearing up the Democratic party, and to go for victory.
Infighting is never a good thing.
So the big Serbian elections are this Sunday, and Koštunica announced that he was not able to endorse EITHER candidate. It is going to be a very close election. There was even some campaigning in BiH, up in Republika Srpska. I have to say people here really know how to do a campaign rally! There were dancers and there was music.
Dodik was shown on T.V. at a HUGE party, there were Roma musicians who had a brass band, and roasting critters, mass quantities of rakija, beer, wine, etc. itd. and it looked like they were all having a high old time.
Nearly half an hour of this wild wing-ding was shown.
People here really know how to throw a party.
It is absolutely lovely out today, not bleak like yesterday. The street repairs in Baščaršija are not blocking access to Easynet so much. The people here are very friendly. Whole families come on the weekends to call their overseas relatives on Skype.
They are going to start showing 'Hello Kitty' on FTV. Ivan the Terrible's girlfriend is a big fan of 'Hello Kitty'. She collects memorabilia ....
So now I can see what the fuss is all about. I watched a show called 'The Peacemaker' I take notes at such times, I learned how to ask for a light, 'Imas li vatra?' literally, 'Do you have fire?' A dear friend of mine in the Yakima Gulag asks for a light that way, and she is mostly Irish! She loved it when I shared that with her!