Thursday, April 30, 2009


forgive the typos in the last's been a tough day.....

No where is immune from gun violence

Thanks for the emails and texts that I received asking if all is well here. The shooting at the State Oil Academy (think MIT training those for the oil industry) was tragic today and very shocking to all the sensibilities that Azeris have about violence, guns and death. SOA as it is known..was and still is the leading university in the country and in fact this most of the leaders of Central Asian, USSR (back in the day), and Africa oil executives...well, it looks like a former or current student who is from the country of Georgia walked into the building at 9 am this morning and started the time the police and miliatary arrived..he shot and killed 17 and injured 10....he later shot himself.

For me..and unfortunately, most Americans, this sounds way too familiar but here access to guns and this level of violence is unheard. The President Aliyev has announced an investigation and it probably a day of mourning. The gunman..shot the security guard (think campus police without a gun), the cleaning lady, a professor and students...just anyone he encountered in the hallways.

I've not been in the building but we did recruit there earlier this year and I know the neighborhood...walking distance from my campus and my apartment. It's sad and I'm sure it will define some of my time colleagues understandably are upset...and I spoke to my boss (who is the former Azeri ambassador to the US)...just say how sad it is but he's not surprised and of course, no one here understands the level of school shooting in the US...but even more profound we talked about how the news traveled around the world about this so quickly...and whether it is a global financial crisis, a flu, or violence...the world is flat and more like and more connected than we

Unluckily Tammy and the kids didn't hear about it before I told them...otherwise, I think Tam would have been freaking out...again, everyone thanks for checking on me...


All is well here

Everyone..just in case you awake this Wednesday morning to news about tragic events here in Baku....I am was not my university. However, I know this part of town where SOCAR (the State Oil Academy is located) but it seems like an isolated and very targeted event. I guess school shootings have become all to common throughout the world now.

I did receive an alert from the US Embassy here in Baku...and of course, everyone here at my campus is deeply saddened and am I but trust, I will never jeopardize my safety and continue to keep a low profile whenever possible.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Feeling better

I've been sick for a few days since returning...but a co-worker's sister is a doctor and recommended two over the counter things..seems like all drugs are over the counter here..umm. Anyway..didn't have the nerve to break the glass vial, mix with h2o and drop into my I opted for the other drug a script....well four doses seems to have cured me...and I would rather not know what the drug is...likewise, the Azeri version of Theraflu....which is some Russian product...I would rather not know either..but feeling better.

So I have not been out and about....but I did prevent my water from being turned off...seems like with everything else don't get a're just expected to remember to go pay it every couple of let's don't get a cell phone bill, an electric bill, a cable bill, or an internet access just have to remember....and since i don't have gas yet...i don't get a gas bill either...

Life in Baku....

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My return to Baku

It was great to be home in Carlisle for those ten days...Tammy, Sierra and Dakota were all glad to see me..and the pets Scout, Bailey and April too. Tammy had a quite a list of "honey do things" for between the rain drops Dakota and I painted the rear porch, cleaned out the basement (lots of paint cans) and did a bunch of other things around the house. Tammy and I also had a great day trip into Philly...and just had some fun time together. It was hard to leave but we'll all looking forward to our family vacation in London...we'll meet there in June after the kids are done with school.

So arriving back in Baku...I know many of you have travelled around the world and lived for periods of time in various places too...and so have I have but I must say it is rather challenging here for lots of reasons....and let's just say I'm doing all I can to stay healthy and minimize my exposure to environment risks. However, the Azeris desire to capitalize on their oil revenues like many countries...everything else is considered collateral damage worth the growth...air, water, resources, construction safety, etc, etc....but no need to scare any of you. Don't worry...I'm being very smart about my day to day existence.

We'll start admitting students for the School of International Affairs this week...and that should be interesting as this inaugural class is going to be very geographically diverse...

I hope to be out and about with the camera in the next week...and begin to post more photos...and for those of you who've asked about writing, packages, etc...forget about it...the residential service is almost non-existinct, too expensive via Fed-X or just email me via this blog....


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Busy Day but only two more to go before heading to PA

In all the years that I've done admissions work, very seldom if at all, have I had the chance to interview candidates before admitting them...well, who would have guess I would have to be in Azerbaijan for this to happen. This week we (the Admissions Committee) are interviewing in person or via Skype about 45 candidates for our desired class of 25. The 45 are split between being Azeris or international's been a struggle for me to figure out the time zones based on GMT to call applicants in Ghana, Uganda, Krgystan, Moldova (all hell is breaking out there right now), Pakistan, Macedonia, and the Czech Republic. So many of the international students are quite capable of continuing their education in the US or the UK...but the cost and the possible lack of post-graduate employment is keeping them closer to home also the master's degree program is in Conflict Resolution and International Security so many want to help their own home land deal with the issues at hand.

It's unlikely that I'll post anymore before leaving on a 4am Lufthansa flight Saturday morning...flying through Frankfurt (a six hour layover..but it's nice airport) before landing in Dulles airport in northern VA.....Tammy is driving down to pick my's about a two hour drive from I'm sure we'll giggle all the way home.

Friends, thanks for checking in on me...and I will be back in Baku on April 24th...


Monday, April 6, 2009

The weekend April 4-5

Every time I walk (still haven't road a bus or the metro yet) since most places within two miles I'm comfortable walking's pretty flat here..some hills, but on the other side of town. Anyway, every time I walk I see something I have seen before even if I'm walking on a street I've been on a dozen of times. On Sunday, I actually passed a Christian church, don't know the demonination but I knew immediately it was Christian...remember this country is nearly 95% Muslim..but they don't seem to practice. Walked inside and at first I didn't understand why the usher at the door escorted me to the very front of the pews...we're talking at least 40 rows filled with people...but there was a group of US missionaries and someone was translating the I got hear the service in Azeri, Russian and English....and since I was all the way in the front..I was stuck for three hours...oh, well.

Here's a pictures of barber...he's not smiling..Azeris never smile for photos...and too bad since he has the most gold teeth I've ever seen on a human being. He posed for the photo only since I promised to come back for my next cut soon.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

I think I've figured it out1

Okay, sorry no photos..but as I begin my fifth week in Baku...I've accepted the fact that I'm not in the USA.....and regardless how much one might complain about "the way things are in the States"'s all relative. Yes, in comparison to most other places in the former Soviet republics...trying naming all the 'stans...and you'll see what I in Azerbaijan is about as best as it can be for it's citizens and ex-pats like me.

I now have a place to get my haircut, a gym, several neighborhood grocery stores, a tattoo shop, an indian restaurant, a nike store, and a place to find english truth be could be worse.

At the school of Friday was a debate with several big wigs...including the AZ minister of finance, and it was fascinating as an American to sit and listen to them all point the finger at USA for being credit crazy and living larger than our means as a reason for the world's financial crisis....but inflation is very high here...since there is no credit market...but I understand "mortgages" are just starting...

I saw the first dark skinned person today I've seen in five weeks....she definitely looked African and she didn't even make eye contact with me...oh, well...

People in my building have started calling me Obama...when they see me...

'Til next time,