Sunday, February 28, 2010

Last Post in February

Another month has come to an end on my time in Baku. I think I've learned to read my cycle's always in the eight week or so that I get the blues. And, I think one thing that even nearly a year of living here and now after twenty months of coming here...I think it's the sheer constant uncertainty that gets too me...and it's the culmination of the little things go to the grocery store, all the stuff on the shelves is different

..whole blocks of buildings that were there with stores, suddenly leveled

..lucky I have 5 gallons bottles of drinking water....some days water is on ...some days it's not

..electricity the same

..each day a new person appears at the academy (who knew we were hiring)

..I must be just sleep pattern is completely gone...bummer

Hope your day(s) is better than mine...

Photo is the the church that I've been going too...not sure what denomination, Christian of some sort...sermon in Azerbaijan, translated into Russian and someone in the audience will translate into English...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Justice for Khojaly

I guess those of us living in America don't realize how ethnic conflict and mass killings mean outside the comfort zone of our nightly TV. Of course, I am fully aware (and remind people here) that America for all it's greatness is not without it warts and problems. As I continue to experience Azerbaijan, the South Caucasas and the former USSR republics I learn more about the tragedies that have occurred in very recent within the last 20 years.

Today several of our Azeri students conducted a teach-in about Khojaly tragedy when Armenia and Russian soliders herded the people (unarmed civilians) of the village of Khojaly and killed over 600 and injured over well as committed atrocities against humanity to the dead and living. A horrific moment in the history of Azerbaijan....

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Did you that the Russian population is declining and currently is 141 million..that's like half of what the population is in the US...and for many, geography, breakup of former USSR....alcholism is the leading cause of death...and like big time...death by vodka is literally killing the country....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I'll keep you posted but looks like I am going to Kuwait for a few days in early March to represent my academy at an educational fair. Yeah, I've been to some interesting places since being here...of course, Azerbaijan generally, but Istanbul, Tbilisi, Dubai and upcoming trip to Kuwait. But the best place will be getting back to my family in Pennsylvania!

Cheers and more later of course.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Azerbaijan Opera and Ballet Theatre

On the way back from church (yes, church....more on that next time...I again walked past this wonderful building...built during Soviet times...the interior is quite grand...I've been to two productions...opera here..unfortunately, there season is very short....

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Found a Crown Jewel in Baku

On my travels to and fro from the Baku airport named after Heydar Aliyev (the former president who's revered like a God here), I pass the Modern Museum of Art...which is a brand new quite striking building but someone oddly placed on Hedydar Aliyev Prospect (that means street) today I decided to take a taxi (my regular driver Tarviz) and spend some time there.

IT WAS FABULOUS! I am sorry I didn't take my camera....though I don't think I can take photos addition to seeing nearly 800 works (I was there for nearly 3 hours) of Azeri men and women artists (impressionist, cubic, classic, sculpture)...great stuff. And, it's an extraordinary building ...I hope to go back as it's a relaxing, light filled, soft space....just something spectacular....

ESPN came back on ...just in time for me to see Tiger's mea culpa

Friday, February 19, 2010

Iran and uranium enrichment

Don't know if you've been following all the discussions and conversations about Iran's movement towards manufacturing enrich uranium (the type that is used for non-peaceful means) is definitely creating quite a stir here. Iran is Azerbaijan's neighbor to the south and in fact, there are 30 million Azerbaijanis living in northern Iran. There are only 9 million people living in yes, there is concern, lots of concern, if Iran is able to develop a nuclear weapons.
It will destablized this entire region as every country Pakistan, Israel, India...will work to develop their own arsenal....

I thought that if s*** jumps off, I'm out of here...but I realize that it's likely one of the first places to shut down would be the airport....just remember I'll try to get to the US Embassy here in Baku....

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Do you recognize these faces?

These fellows are among my favorite characters reside in the historic Comic Museum in Brussels...Tintin, Captain Haddock, Snowy and the Thomsons..Herge, a Belgium started drawing Tintin and Snowy in1929....I loved the place

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

ESPN is gone

I guess I must be taking things more in stride has been two months that my ESPN channel has left my cable line's a real bummer since I missed all of the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl...who knows what happened. I guess I'm just still very happy that I have electricity, heat and CNN.

I will ask about ESPN when I go an pay the bill again....

Monday, February 15, 2010

more photos of brussels

the on the surface it's hard to wrap your head around the european integregation processes. Visitng cities like Brussels, you get a real feel of the dynamic city is is as all the EU officials are there...I can't get over how diverse.....and you realize the historic immigration patters from colonialism and liberal entrying requirement...I had no idea that I would see so many french speaking black people...mostl, from west's some more photos..

Friday, February 12, 2010

Brussels..a great city

OMG...even though I am here on business representing ADA at the 11th annual EU (European Union) Educational Fair it is so refreshing to be out of Baku and in a real city. Like many of the EU cities...I can't believe the ethnic and racial diversity on the streets...amazing.
Here's a couple of photos from one of the historic squares.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Who's that kitty in the window? And, Brussels

I looked out the living room window across the parking lot and check out the occupant on the 9th floor just across from me.

I'm heading to Brussels on Thursday to represent the Academy at the EU Educational Fair...should be interesting. I'm arriving with celebrity status as the Azerbaijan Embassy in Brussels will be taking care of to come...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Make sure to replace batteries in your smoke detector

So I thought I knew, I mean really knew what if felt like to be helpless....well, not until Sunday morning. My US cell phone rang (which means someone calling from the states around 7:30 am EST), Tammy was hysterical on the phone...saying that the house was on fire and the fire company just arrived. I can tell you that my heart stopped and I nearly collaspsed. But thank God my manic personality and quick action by our 13 year old...saved the day.

Tammy left a candle burning on the nightstand (don't ask why she had a candle burning at 7 am but she's always loved candlelight) and went downstairs to the kitchen, the curtain ignited, table lamp...she heard the smoke alarm go off and after figuring out she really had not started cooking yet...ran back upstairs to the flames, Dakota now out of bed, remembered that the fire extinguisher was in the mud room closet...ran and got it....and they successfully discharged it.
Fire department still came to make sure....sprayed more chemicals, tossed the night stand and other items out the window (thank goodness they opened the window first) into 20 inches of snow.

All I can say..God is great...and I'm glad I changed the batteries when I was home and glad I'm the only person I know (until now---since I hope many of you will go out an purchase one) who actually has fire extinguishers in the house. Everyone is safe, family, animals...not much destruction...that I will just be painting in March when I'm home and hugging everyone really tight and likely I'll buy more extinguishers. Tammy went to get the used one recharged today.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Weather has gotten better yet, but

Sunday, the weather has improved here..still cold but the snow is starting to turn to slush...oh, will be muddy and wet for days are a few more photos. Picture on top is my view from the lounge area at school and other photo is my 'hood....

Friday, February 5, 2010


Looks like the weather in Baku and also on the eastern seaboard is it's been near blizzard like conditions for two days with two more days in the forecast...made an effort to get out yesterday (campus closed and power out there and also in apartment) restored later..check out photos more tomorrow

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Pictures of me with Gunay and officials from SSAC. Below is Ms. Maleyka Abbaszade, Chairwoman of the organization. We are standing below a photo of the President IIbram Aliyev. And the next photo is me, Gunay and Mr. Natig Aliyev, who is the director of the SSAC divison that deals with masters degree. I felt very honored to be with them.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Education in Azerbaijan

On Feb 2nd..I conducted a presentation at SSAC (State Students Admissions Committee). I've talked a little about how this organization operates as a combination of the US organization like Education Testing Service (ETS) and US Department of Education. At the nexus, SSAC basically administers the standardized tests to BA, MA, civil service jobs, etc., etc....In my role here I've worked with them to set up the entrance test of ADA...and as promised I conducted a presentation there titled Higher Education in the United States, Admissions Decision Making Models and ADA (Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy). I went the additional step of havaing all of my Power Point slides transcribed into Azeri so it would be much easier for them to follow along. I presented in English with simultaneous translation. It was great and they loved it...

See the link to their website posted last night.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Admissions is and always has been my business

I've spent nearly all of my adult life (which is now most of my entire life) working in admissions. You know deciding or helping to decide who gets in to some academic program. This is exactly what I'm doing here in Azerbaijan. The leaders of my institution aspired and continue to have aspirations of bringing the western style of education and student life to AZ. I admire their ambition and I guess that's why I signed on board to help. Yet, I knew when I visited even before I accepted the position..that it would be complicated and complex to achieve their goal. This observation hasn't left me.

If compared to any system of admissions in the US..we're basically using a comprehensive review of the candidates (at least reviewing what criteria we have access to---which by my standards and norms is very limited)...thus, interviewing is probably the most important tool in our arsenal. This is also unusual since most nearly every Azeri has never interviewed for anything...they just don't.

All this to say...I'm stunned but remain silent on the type of questions that are put to our applicants. In the US, these questions would be not only consider inappropiate but I just cringe. This is different place and I acknowledge and respect that.