that's our james

Disclaimer: This is my blog. No one else's. This is what I think about stuff. If others think the same thing, it's up to them to express it. The sole purpose of my writings is to keep my friends and family informed. My opinions are just that, opinions so don't get to worked up if something offends you. Thanks.

26 April 2007

Earth Day 2007, phase one…

Where to begin? We’ll start with Earth Day (E Day) plans in Berat.
As you’ll recall, we had a discussion about volunteering during English Week. Later, during one of my after-school classes, the girls expressed interest in taking part local volunteer activities. I told the girls about our ideas for E Day. They were game.
I told my counterpart and she was excited. She was afraid that the students would not be interested. She felt bad asking them to do more clean up activities only to see the places trash filled again.
As I am writing this, there is some major drama outside. Some roma/gypsy people are really mad and they want to come into the city hall. Of course our doorman will not let them in. The roma are treated very poorly here. There is social prejudice but there’s also outright discrimination. Roma are usually refused social services and even treatment at hospitals. So they are mad about something and the discussion has escalated into a full blown shouting match.
Now nothing really gets planned in advance here. Our idea was to do an activity at a different school each day the week of E Day. On Sunday, E Day, we wanted to have a student demonstration. We started with the Artistic School because we wanted them to create a piece for display in the center of town. The vice director was very supportive and was planning to do something at his school anyway. We decided to have a meeting with the schools we wanted to participate so we could coordinate efforts between the schools and the municipality (my counterpart suggested this and of course I was all for it).
We manage to get the meeting together for the next day. The vice director from the arts school arrives late and then becomes a complete JERK. He took over the meeting and started making demands of the municipality. He wanted at least seven new trees, and not just normal trees that the city usually plants. He wanted expensive, pretty ones. He said he needed at least $2,000 for his school. If the city couldn’t deliver, he wouldn’t participate. Nice. Of course the city has extra money lying around for his school. After he disrupted everything and ruined our plans, he mentioned that he also ran a business on the side. Any guess what that business is? Yeah. He has a nursery that sells all the types of trees he requested. ARGH. What a jerk.
Due to funding and time limitations, we scaled back our plans. We decided to plant a few trees and flowers in one school (which was recently renovated and is across from the city hall) on Saturday and hold a simple student march on Sunday.
Friday rolls around and we still don’t know if we have the money to buy the trees and flowers. We scrapped the whole thing. My counterpart had been really really busy because she was in the final stages of the adoption process.
Oh well. There’s always next year. Plus Katie and I could still participate in Juliet’s Global Youth Service Day which was Saturday, April 21.
Our day in Kucove was also interesting. That’s where I got cranky. You’ll see.

25 April 2007

Run, baby, run…

Yay. I finally dragged my lazy butt out of bed and went for a run this morning. I’ve been trying (not too hard though) to start my running routine again. Several mornings I’ve woken up early, started to get ready, only to mysteriously end up asleep in my bed again. Yesterday I woke up early, actually got out of bed, had a snack, and rinsed my face and hair (ironically I get really funky bed head from the little hair I have left), went to get dressed only to find that all my running shorts were missing. Dios Mio!
I searched everywhere and located only one pair out of three. I’m guessing that I left the others Stateside. Oops. I guess I will have to go to the gabi (open-air used clothing market) shopping. That’s ok, I’m always looking for an excuse to go gabi-ing.
Gabi-ing is one of our coping strategies. The goal is to find tacky, hideously ugly, ironic, vintage, or Euro trash shirts. The second goal is to purchase these shirts at extremely reasonable prices. Personally my goal is $1 or less per shirt. Sadly the gabi in Berat is a little pricey. I usually can haggle them down to $1.50 per shirt, especially if buying more than one.
My winter gabi quest was “old man” sweaters. I found a couple good ones, two of which are argyle. If I was going for Cosby sweaters, the sky was the limit. I can do ugly t-shirts, not awful sweaters. What can I say, I’ve got standards.
In the last two weeks, I purchased six t-shirts and a sweater vest (yep, that’s right a sweater vest). These items totaled all of $11. Nice.

I’m a little behind with my posts. I will be posting about my Earth Day activities soon. I got a cranky. It was fun.

11 April 2007

My friend...

To all who have not experienced the undeniably adorable Dominique, allow me to introduce to you my youngest nephew Dominique. He is SUPER cute. It helps that he has charisma to spare (just like me when I was his age). Add into the mix the big blue eyes and you're in trouble. I heard that he is one of my faithful blog readers so I thought I'd say a special hello to my friend Dominique.

06 April 2007

pretty pictures...

Just added about 50 new pictures to my flickr page. The pictures are not organized yet. That'll have to wait till next week. They are all from January to the end of February.

I will try to put up some pictures from English Week next week. Till then, enjoy.

03 April 2007

My new neighbors...

I would like to introduce to you my new neighbors. The current count is 11 dogs, 9 of which are new and do not belong to my landlord. The dog in the picture in the top right, curled up asleep, is Mangy. He's kinda the meaner one and he is usually tied up. I like him the most because he just looks so sad and his fur is SO dirty. He approaches me with his head hung low and brushes against my leg until I pet him. I only pet his head because I am afraid to touch the rest of his dirty coat. Our other dog is pictured second from the right in the bottom row. She's cleaner so I pet her more. She has learned that belly rubs are quite nice. I don't think either of these dogs have ever been petted or actually cared for. I bought them dog treats, which are new to the country and only available in Tirana. They didn't eat them. They don't know what they are. Plus I am guessing the treats aren't that tasty.
These other dogs started showing up two weeks ago. I am not sure why. My landlord doesn't seem to think it's a problem. At first I was nervous having to pass through the gang but I was fine. I think they knew I was a good guy and wouldn't hurt them. I made sure to pet our dogs so the others could see I was nice. I think it worked. If you want a dog with character, I can try to bring one home for you. Just let me know.