Archive for the ‘Admin’ Category

…and I’m back in Istanbul airport waiting for my Turkish Airlines connection to Dushanbe.  Sounds like déjà vu, feels like déjà vu, must be déjà vu, right?

Anyway, I spent 14 months in Africa, and you got, like, three posts.  One of which was an apology for not posting.  Poor.  I do have some more in the hopper, I promise, and hopefully, my flights back-and-forth to Europe next week will give me time to pound out some more posts on Zimbabwe and my Southern African experience generally.

In the meantime, here’s the brief version of what’s the what:

  • Moving back to Tajikistan for work;
  • Hopefully will be there a while;
  • Had precious little paid work in Zimbabwe;
  • Got married in December;
  • And again in June (to the same wonderful woman, for legal reasons); and
  • Expecting a baby in January.

So, it’s been an eventful 14 months that I’ve been essentially silent on this blog.  I’m going to see that the eventful next months aren’t so quiet here.

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The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com (their cheesy phraseology, not mine – ed.) mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 7,400 times in 2010. That’s about 18 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 36 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 115 posts. There were 69 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 6mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was July 20th with 117 views. The most popular post that day was A first growth Bordeaux hiding in Dushanbe.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, tojikvso.blogspot.com, carpetblog.typepad.com, syukyuman.blog95.fc2.com, and en.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for dushanbe, devushka, nurek dam, roghun, and roghun dam.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


A first growth Bordeaux hiding in Dushanbe July 2010


Dushanbe’s Haji Yakub Mosque April 2009


Roghun Dam: A story of water, cotton, corruption, and coercion January 2010


Good-night, sweet Carpetblog January 2010


About April 2009



So that’s the end of WordPress’s summary of my blog, and I wanted to take a brief moment out of digging through several hundred unresponded-to e-mails that I ignored over the holidays to wish everybody a Happy New Year, and also to apologize for the dearth of posts since about June.  That’s when I moved to Zimbabwe and it has been an amazing six months, filled with romance, stone sculptures, furniture commissioning, job hunting, and English solicitor qualification exams.  All is well though, better than great in most ways, and my New Year’s resolution is to keep in better touch with this blog and my other, wine auctions one too.

So, best to everyone and expect more soon.

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Under an African sky at Great Zimbabwe... oh shit, cliched again!

As many of you know, I recently moved to Zimbabwe.  It’s quite a departure from Tajikistan, and there’s lots and lots to write about here.  But being new to the country and the continent, and knowing a bit of the difficult history of both the country and the continent, I’ve been hesitant to blog about Africa.  Luckily, I ran across some advice for people like me.

The title of this post is from an article that appeared in Granta magazine in 2005 by Binyavanga Wainaina and was relatively recently referenced by Ta-Nehisi Coates, one of my favorite bloggers at The Atlantic magazine’s website.

It turns out that I’m not the only one finding that it is tough to write about Africa, and Africans, without sounding like a ignorant racist asswipe.  Wainaina gives some tongue-in-cheek advice for the would-be Africa writer, and since I’d rather avoid giving people that impression about me, I will do my best not to fall prey to the many, many tired cliches that he mentions and which writers lapse into when discussing Africa.* If I fail, call me out on it.

* I know, “tired cliche” is itself a tired cliche, but that’s par for the course for me in blog posts and doesn’t unmask me as a racialist dick, just as a sometimes lazy writer.

In the meantime, here’s the sort of stuff I’m trying to avoid:

Your African characters may include naked warriors, loyal servants, diviners and seers, ancient wise men living in hermetic splendour. Or corrupt politicians, inept polygamous travel-guides, and prostitutes you have slept with. The Loyal Servant always behaves like a seven-year-old and needs a firm hand; he is scared of snakes, good with children, and always involving you in his complex domestic dramas. The Ancient Wise Man always comes from a noble tribe (not the money-grubbing tribes like the Gikuyu, the Igbo or the Shona). He has rheumy eyes and is close to the Earth. The Modern African is a fat man who steals and works in the visa office, refusing to give work permits to qualified Westerners who really care about Africa. He is an enemy of development, always using his government job to make it difficult for pragmatic and good-hearted expats to set up NGOs or Legal Conservation Areas. Or he is an Oxford-educated intellectual turned serial-killing politician in a Savile Row suit. He is a cannibal who likes Cristal champagne, and his mother is a rich witch-doctor who really runs the country.

Any of you see my falling into stereotypes or florid prose, as I said, call me out.  Please.

And with that disclaimer and plea for help, expect posts on Zim and Africa soon.

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My domain hack: http://friejo.se

Recently, I came across the concept of a domain hack.  The idea is to use an odd or little-known internet domain to spell out a word or two for your domain name.  An example is http://nyti.ms, a domain name set up by The New York Times that uses the .ms domain (assigned to the Caribbean island of Montserrat) to create a domain name to looks awfully close to “nytimes.”  Aha, branding!

Anyhow, I thought that would be a cool thing to have for myself, so thanks to the kind people of Sweden and the cheap European registrar Netim, I now am the proud owner of http://friejo.se.  Right now friejo.se simply redirects to this blog, but who knows, it could do something more cool or interesting in the future, and if it does it’ll be here first.

Also, as part of my registration of friejo.se, I’ve set up an e-mail address for people to contact if they have questions or comments about this blog: blog [at] friejo.se.  Feel free to drop me a line, unless it is about how vain it is to register a domain hack, it which case, just leave a snide comment for this post.

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Straight outta Minsk

Thank you Belarus!

Thank you Belarus!

You ask, and the internet delivers.

A very special thank you to C.B. who prompted her IFC colleague in Minsk to take a look at this blog.

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Thank you Hellas!
Thanks Hellas!

Once you pop, you can’t stop.  Yes, it’s a Pringles ad, but it also is true for blog stats.

So indulge me for a bit more navel gazing.  Shortly after my plea for a site visit, Greece, or one random Greek dude, stepped up and visited this blog.  Where have you gone, Belarus (the ancestral home of my paternal side’s maternal side)?  I turn my lonely eyes to you.  BTW, the postcard offer for Greeks and Belarusians still stands: leave a comment on here and subsequently e-mail me your address, and I’ll send you a postcard from lovely Dushanbe.

Meanwhile, I’ll put up some more interesting stuff soon.

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Thank you Flag Counter

So, due to the vagaries of the Internets and perhaps due to my compelling photos of hot dogs, web surfers from almost every significant country in Europe, as well as some of the small ones (looking at you Montenegro), have viewed this blog.  The two major laggards: Greece and Belarus.

Because I know you care, I will periodically keep you informed as to whether anyone from the sun-drenched Hellas or sleeting White Russia has visited this site.  To the first visitor from either or both of those countries who posts a comment here and subsequently e-mails me their address, I promise to send them a postcard from lovely Dushanbe.  Tajik Post might lose it, but I promise to mail it.

In related news, thanks to the people behind our 17 unique visits from Latvia, the most, by far, on a per capita basis for any country.  I haven’t been there since 1994, unless you count three recent layovers in Riga airport, but if the Latvian love keeps coming, that may have to change.

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My buddy’s blog

Another Tajik-themed blog to recommend, and which I’ll add to my blogroll: http://tojikvso.blogspot.com/

This blog is from my buddy who’s a VSO volunteer here in Dushanbe, and though he doesn’t update it super-frequently, it has some style and insight about it.

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Actually not a Tajik herself, but a Canadian who’s working for a local NGO in Khorog in the Pamirs. I liked her first in-country post about her initial impressions of Dushanbe:


I haven’t done a lot of the sort of post linked to above, and maybe I should do more impressionistic stuff. In the meantime, enjoy this one; I did.  I also added a permalink to her site on my blogroll under the “Tajikistan” section.

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Hello Monday.

So, this will be my attempt at blogging, Take Four.  But this time, I have a particularly good reason to stick to it: I’m going to be living abroad for a year.  Not only will I be an expat, but I’ll be an expat in one of the most interesting and (for Americans) little known parts of the world, Central Asia, in particular, Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Dushanbe comes from the Tajiki word for Monday, ostensibly for the weekly market on that day that was held for years on the location of the modern city.  Thus, I say “Hello Monday, I will be there soon.”

In the meantime, I’ll post stuff on tying up loose ends here at home and getting ready to leave.  Please bug me incessantly if I haven’t posted in awhile.  Shame me into blogging.  Shame is very powerful.

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