Tag Archive: Ukraine



 

"Looks like a yellow biscuit of a buttery cue ball moon rollin' maverick across an obsidian sky"

I’m writing this from the top bunk in the sleeping car of the Kiev-Kryvyi Rih (pronounced Kree-voy Rog, dont ask me how they ended up with that spelling) train, all my current possessions once again stuffed in a select few suitcases, Babulya (Lidas grandmother) and Lida sleeping below, rumbling through the Ukrainian nightscape while being lulled to sleep myself by the musty smell of a coal powered engine and an inconsistent yet comforting undulation of soviet era tracks. Many things have transpired over the last month, not all that I’m at liberty to divulge here, for reasons that were not fully explained to me but that I understand none-the-less.

Before my Indonesian experience I railed against social networking and blogs. It seems to have a way of sucking the organic element, and thus the excitement, from of our lives. While technology is the catalyst for my life, I also realize that its not the purpose. I had always drawn a line with this unfiltered access to my personal life with no reciprocation required. Reciprocation is, in my opinion, the definition of a healthy relationship.

I remember my friend blogging during the birth of one of his children. It was a real commitment by both mother and father (perhaps more the mother to tolerate husband with phone in hand while experiencing excruciating pain). It allowed everyone that desired to have a connection to that family a chance to share in a very pivotal moment. However not all of lives important moments can be so neatly translated into the cloud.

In 2008 after ending a dead end relationship, I started reconnecting with old friends that had subsequently been pushed out (Rachael, both Buffalo Jessicas, Iwan to name a few). On one such trip I visited my remaining Jessica in Buffalo along with her 8 year old daughter Sarah and husband Jeff. It was my second such trip and I enjoyed the comfort of a more tangible adult life that many of my still single or undetermined friends hadn’t the ability nor desire to create. Id always known I would some day have a family but that still didnt seem realistic to me, this gave me the opportunity to see how it might function when two people truly committed. It was also nice because there was no one in Buffalo that still remembered me, as it had been over 10 years since my last visit. While hanging out in a bar downtown off Elmwood with Jessica and some of her friends, a voice came from behind “Maaaaatt Nyyyye?!”. I turned to face a man that looked nothing like anyone I knew and yet he was convinced he knew me simply by the sound of my voice. Even after telling me specific instances of things we did together in high school I still couldn’t come up with a name. After one or two incorrect guesses, not 100% sure I had the right person, I ventured a guess “Jim Hickey??”.

Buffalo Reunion

Hidden behind hipster glasses and a well groomed Johnny-Depp-five-o’clock-shadow was my best friend from Junior and Senior year. The only person I’d ever met that was possibly as hyper as me. Somehow we had lost touch in the late 90s and never reconnected. Later I found out he is a total Facebook whore with over 800 friends. Had I been on Facebook we surely would have connected, shared some unenthusiastic stories and perhaps met for a drink some where down the road. Gone would have been a night of sheer elation at the coincidental meeting, of telling story after story of the past ten years and the resurrection of a small portion of my youth, however fleeting it was.

I say all this simply to illustrate the point that while I enjoy writing my blog entries and talking over IM with my friends the world across, its no substitute for the humility of a face-to-face interaction and the reaffirmation of kinship in a flesh and blood exchange. Ill continue these entries, even though the title of the blog is no longer relevant (perhaps I should change it to помочь я глупый [pomochʹ ya glupyĭ], doesnt quite roll off the touch does it), but please don’t confuse my ramblings here for a clear understanding of me or as a replacement for sitting in a bar in some shady eastern bloc country or on a snow-white beach in the south pacific talking about life, the future or my family.


Ok, I know I havent posted in almost a month but its for good reason.  Business has been exploding, Lida left for Russia and I moved out of the apartment.

im still juggling work in the States, working on Eastern Standard Time and developing the business here. I swear the security guards at my office probably think Im a vampire as I get to work around 6 or 7pm and leave before 6am. I dont know what happened but about 3 weeks ago things exploded.  Someone contacted me via our website to help them bring their business up-to-date, I have a proposal into one company to do their website and a small CRM, I met with a guy that pitched a great idea about developing VPN access clients for South East Asia (which Im keeping quite until we close the deal) and I met the Indonesian equivalents of Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They have about 5 different ventures including payment gateway (ala Paypal) for online gaming in Indonesia (soon to release for hotels and airlines), Golf course reservation system targeting the foreign market and they own their own submarine fiber optic line from Singapore which they use for their businesses as well as lease to hotels in Jakarta. Their CTO is no more than 25 and was offered a job with Yahoo Indonesia at twice the salary.  He turned them down because he was given stock at the current company. The main investor went to Loyola Marymount and speaks a minimum of 4 languages (Bahasa Indonesian, English, Mandarin and Japanese). They wanted to talk to me about the VPN concept as well as developing an ERP system for the largest palm oil plantation in the country (yes, all my activist friends would be proud of me, what? Ive got atleast one).

These guys were amazing and they helped me realize something about my own business model. Ive been trying to find Indonesian talent at a cheap price, banking on them growing and my experience to create a solid brand, but thats not going to fly.  Ive got to get my self a partner that is as technologically gifted as I am experienced and driven.  I need to pay a premium price for that individual and offer them a share in future profits. I may have that person, I will start working with him later this week on one of the projects. Hopefully it will all work out.

Lida is in the Ukraine right now at her families farm house. Apparently there is much contention in the house, not helped by me sending a text to grandmas phone that said “You should donate your body to science.  Im Science”, I thought Lida had the phone.  Apparently her uncle was nice enough to translate it for grandma.  I was talking to her the other day on the phone as she was pushing the trash cart down the road (love that mental image).  I could hear all the babushkas coming out and talking to her, apparently asking her to take their trash as well.  The stereotypical old Ukrainian woman blared through on the phone and made me miss her and being there even more.  Shes been gone 3 weeks and she wont be back for a little more than 3 weeks.  One thing is glaringly obvious now, I didnt come here for the business. It was a good disguise but the prospect of her not coming back made me think I didnt want to be here.  But luckily she will be back and their are some good leads on a job for her, including teaching art classes at an international school.

So I moved out of our apartment after Lida left. I want to get a house with some outdoor space but even though cost of living is cheap in Jakarta, in a city of 25 million, space comes at a premium.  In order to stay within an hours drive from the main business area (The Golden Triangle) and be in a house its looking like US prices ($1000 a month give or take).  To make matters worse, all landlords expect 1 year + 1 month security deposit.  You really dont realize how much you pay for rent every year until you have to pay it all at once. I found the perfect place, including my dream, a Koi fish pound.  They want $1300 a month, Im gunna try to talk them down to $1100 or $1200.  Its in an area called Kebayoran Baru.  Theres a great warung that serves Turkey shanks and a traditional butcher shop that even sells pork!  On a good day its 15 min taxi ride from The Golden Triangle, on a bad day 45 min.

So in the mean time Im staying with my friend Robert in his maid quarters. The shower is a bucket shower, which is surprisingly refreshing if not colder than a well diggers ass. Miu Miu was kind enough to pee on my mattress and blanket the first night so now the room smells like cat piss.  Yea for me.

So I think that gets everyone up to date. Just sittin at a coffee shop about to give a presentation on Business Intelligence to a group of developers at a large magazine publisher.  Its my first one since January so hopefully I can get back into the swing of things. Ill try get back into posting more often.


For instance, Slavic people don’t like to smile in photos:

Belarus Winter Olympians – Maybe 4 but 3 of those aren’t so much a smile as it is a stretching of the mouth and at least 3 of the guys look like they killed the photographer right afterwards

UkrainianWinter Olympians – 5 and that’s being generous (Lada looks like she twitched before her picture)

Kazakhstan Winter Olympians – Wow, that’s a grand total of 0

Georgian Winter Olympians – I’ll give it 1 cause Nina really gave it the old Georgian try.

But I feel like the only reason Stefan is any good at Alpine Skiing is because he was one of the guys chasing James Bond down the mountain with a rifle at the beginning of The Spy Who Loved Me

Interlude:

James Bond movies always baffled me. This scene in particular:

  1. Why is the worlds greatest agent wearing a yellow ski suit with orange boots? Isnt that counter productive for an undercover spy?
  2. Why do the Russian agents speak with an English accent, did they go to Oxford?
  3. Whats up with the one moron with a pistol? When he was preparing for this ill-conceived ambush and he had his choice of the KGB arsenal did he think that a snub-nosed pistol would be the most effective?  I mean really, youre skiing 3 meters behind him. Shotgun would be much more productive
  4. The rifles sure do make a lot of noise for having a silencer on them

Ok and now for the Slavics cheery counterparts.  Im gunna skip showing the Americans because its obvious we are always happy.  I mean we invented drive-through/fast food restaurant, the nuclear bomb and modernized porn.  Whats there not to be happy about?  So let’s go with some less obviously happy nations, like…..

Norwiegen Winter Olympians – Ive been there, theres no reason for them to be happy unless you like your food over-salted and pickled fish.

Italian Winter Olympians – Ive always said that Italy would be great if there werent any Italians but this group looks a lot more cheery than the “WOPs” I dealt with.

Canadian Winter Olympians – Canadas happiness can be gauged by their success in hockey.  While two Olympic gold medals in the past decade is all fine and good, Lord Stanley’s cup has been absent for the past 2 decades (0k 17 years to be exact), along with the loss of an NHL team in Quebec City, Winnipeg and Hamilton. Theres really no reason for them to be happy.