1.24.2008

Human rights

I'm just finishing my big project up, so regular posting (and travel!) should resume shortly. In the meantime, you (or any foreign journalists covering the EU Presidency that you know) might be interested in this resource: the Mirovni Institut (Peace Institute) has set up a Human Rights Press Point, both online and at the City Hotel on Dalmatinova.

For now, I'm off in search of coffee. After what seems like months of grey skies and thick fog, this is the second day in a row of clear, cold blue sky. Enjoy the sunshine! I'll be on a cafe terrace with a bela kava and a trashy mystery novel, soaking up some vitamin D if anybody needs me.

1.17.2008

Looking for a Slovenian woman

Get your mind out of the gutter! I need someone who has a Slovenian accent to do a quick voiceover in English. The clip that needs a voiceover (it's in Slovene) is quite short, so it shouldn't take too long to record. Maybe ten minutes at the absolute most?

Update: I found someone to help me and the voiceovers sound fantastic! Thanks, A!

1.16.2008

Just checking in.

- Apparently, Union does not transform my face into a bloated swollen mess. Yay!
- After months of trudging back and forth to the passport office, I finally received my student visa. Another yay!
- That means I can travel outside the country.
- Of course, I get my visa around the same time I have four essays due, which means no traveling for me for awhile. I HATE YOU IRONY
- My essay for Information Cultures and Subcultures class is coming along nicely. I'm drawing a lot from cultural and social theory and it's really fun.
- I have no exams this semester. One class is two semesters long so the final is in April, one class does not have an exam scheduled and I'm exempt from another because I'm an outstanding (and handsome) student.
- The cat is doing well. I think he's lost more weight, though. Which reminds me, we have to find a good vet for him. Any suggestions, Slovenian pet owners?
- I'll be submitting a short story for publication and the deadline is Febuary 15th. Should I submit an old unpublished story or try to finish the one I have on the go?
- We saw the source of the Ljubljanica with the venerable Pengovsky. Good times were had! We went to Vrhnika where water seeps out of the ground and rocks and collects into a frothing river.
- I've been going to Metelkova now and then.

That was longer than I anticipated. Okay, off to bed.

1.15.2008

I've been playing around with Audacity, an audio recording and editing program. I love it: it's easy to use and great for editing sound. Best part? It's free! The people who made it have a fantastic philosophy about sharing their product.

1.06.2008

Sailing Through Winter: Impressions and a Personal Update.

Ljubljana is slowly emerging from its holiday slumber. More people are walking the city streets, although they do so cautiously like drowsy bumblebees. The snow is fading into thin ice. I haven't seen a stray cat in days. The Christmas decorations are coming down today, I think. Faint scents of baked bread, grilled meat and car exhaust linger in the air around our neighbourhood. The sky is the colour of ash and I sit at my desk, dreaming.

Here's what I've been up to:

- Listening to psychedelic Finnish music, particularly Sateenkaarisuudelma. I was also introduced to experimentalists Vapaa and Keijo.
- I'm writing a paper for my Information Culture and Subcultures class. The course centers on how subcultures use digital technology to produce and distribute themselves and their material culture. For this essay I'm writing about the relationship between slash fan fiction and the internet. That's all I have at the moment.
- Or maybe I'll do something on open source digital graffiti projects.
- Avoiding beer and sticking to wine for the time being. I miss beer.
- As always, keeping up with Slovenian bloggers.

Pa ti?

1.03.2008

Two good things for the new year

Apparently Uzbekistan has just abolished the death penalty, as of January 1st by decree of Islam Karimov (who makes few good moves in his dictator-like approach to rule of his country). Now if we can get everyone else (ahem, neighbours to the South of Canada) to follow suit!

On a Central Asia-related note, I just joined a group called Kiva that allows members to make loans to small entrepreneurs and business owners in developing countries. Instead of charity, which decides how money will be applied to problems by outsiders, this is micro-credit, which puts money directly into the hands of people who decide how best they will use the funds. Loans are made to people who would not traditionally be granted loans by banks (or who would be prey to usurious money lenders, charging as much, as in the case of Tajikistan, as 86% interest on loans). Over a specified term, they make payments (to a local organization that administers the funds) and over time the loan is repayed. I can then choose to reinvest my money in other businesses or withdraw it. As these are loans, there is a small chance that there will be a default. In places like Afghanistan and Iraq, where the infrastructure has been totally destroyed, borrowers may not be able to pay money back even if they want to. However, Kiva's default rate is tiny compared to traditional loan default rates, and the most you can lose to default is $25.

The business I chose to fund is a dairy in Tajikistan. The owner, Mr. Boboev, will use the combined funds to buy a bull and another dairy cow, and to expand his line of products.

If you have any Christmas money kicking about and feel tired of shopping for yet another trinket, consider funding a loan! It's neat to see what people are up to in different parts of the world, and to sort through the different loan requests (each borrower has a page, and some put up journals throughout the loan term). As someone who has been part of a small family business for six years now, I can really understand the impact of such a loan.

1.01.2008

Sre─Źno novo leto!

Happy New Years 2008!