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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

INSANITY, WOMEN AND GEORGIAN POLICE


INSANITY, WOMEN AND GEORGIAN POLICE

We had a guest who stayed at the hostel for three days then left, presumably and hopefully for greener pastures.  Other people who were in the hostel were all agreed on one thing - she was nuts.  I breathed a sigh of relief when she was gone.

Then, she came back.

Fortunately, the boss of the hostel trusts many of my decisions.  I tried the 'we're booked up' excuses with the girl but rather than just going off to find a different place, she insisted on staying here.  I closed and locked the heavy hostel door after telling her in no uncertain terms that she was not welcome to stay here.

She began trashing things outside, saying she wanted to kill people and die.  She insisted I call the police.

This put me in a bit of an awkward situation.  So, I called the owner of the hostel.

Unknown to me, he was literally in the middle of giving a speech on conflict resolution to a university audience.  Perhaps I could let her in until one o'clock then he could come and ask her to leave?  Not a good idea I responded.  She's trashing the place.  Eventually, he reluctantly agreed I should call the police.

While the owner was running out of the startled auditorium and heading back to the hostel, I phoned 112.  This is the emergency number for pretty much everything in Georgia.  Different than the American 911 or the much more logical UK's 999.

A couple of nice police officers showed up and worked on talking to the sullen woman who stood there hugging herself with her small wheeled suitcase nearby and large purse-pack on.  She wouldn't give them her name or passport and claimed to be a Hezbollah terrorist.

From my old days, I knew what that was.  How I wish we had been in America at that point.  While it is true that the people of America are some of the most paranoid in the world, they know how to deal with people who want to claim to be terrorists.  Cuff, search, car, gone.  Down to the department to process this bat shit crazy girl.

Not here.

This next part won't make a lot of sense without a bit of a detour into what I like to think of as the 'basic programming' that goes into Georgian's when they are kids.  In the Wikitravel page on Georgia, it says "Women are highly esteemed in society and are accorded a chivalric respect." This doesn't quite cover it.  To any Georgian man, the most important person in his life - until he dies - will be his mother.  Some cultures may find this baffling but here it is part of the 'basic wiring' that makes up Georgians.   Along with this, all women are placed onto a high pedestal.

Including women that are nuttier than a squirrel turd.

Despite the woman doing things like physically attacking the police, trying to steal their police hats and shredding the part of their notebook that contained information about her - the police treated it like a bit of a joke.   They were kind and patient with her to a point that, in my eyes, parted company with logic and prudence long ago.  Had this been a man doing these things, I am convinced he'd have been taken down hard, cuffed and stuck in a car.

Eventually, more high ranking and harder eyed police officers showed up until we had a couple dozen cops here.  Lots of cigarettes and paperwork were gone through.  One of the police officers mentioned he had even seen me on TV.  Small world.

She still refused to show her passport and nobody made her.

By this point the boss of the hostel had shown up and took center stage dealing with the police.  Despite the police dispatch having been thoughtful enough to send along a young officer who was very skilled in English, I was happy to fade into the background and let the hostel boss (Lasha) take lead.

Rather than leaving, I stuck around.  Police often have follow up questions.

They then informed me that their Criminal Investigation (CI) division would be showing up to sort things out.

CI did show up but no matter how many times they nicely asked, the sullen woman would not show her passport.  According to CI, this was not the first time she'd run afoul of the law though they didn't wish to elaborate on others.

Perhaps her rampant insanity is why she couldn't stay anywhere else and came back here.  Other hostels presumably denied her entry.  Gosh, I'm glad we didn't have any other guests.  With all of the police officers we had both in the hostel and smoking outside they would have had no where to sit.

It was baffling watching the procedure.  Nobody took the girl seriously.  They left their back open to her and even moved her inside in case she was getting slightly cold standing outside.

Eventually, CI passed the buck back to the local police who had called in the anti-terrorist unit (ATU).  After more waiting, they showed up and the local police and CI all left.

The ATU asked everyone (ie non- ATU) to please wait outside while they questioned the girl.  Again, even the gentlest of questioning could not get her to take her passport out of her tightly clutched bag to show them.

The ATU decided she was not a terrorist and posed no threat.  No bags were checked, no finger prints taken to compare on records, nothing.  They became of the opinion she was merely mentally ill.  The girl was also an Iraq citizen and it was felt that she was merely trying to get political asylum.  They have no department (or, according to the cops, budget) for such things here. 

So, despite having a go with personal property destruction, assaulting a couple of police officers, threatening to do harm to herself and others, they let her go.

Wish I was joking.

Her last words were "I know what to do!"  Earlier, she had threatened she would be back.  No doubt she will come back and reap more havoc upon the hostel.

Lasha, the hostel owner, is one of the more easygoing people I've met.  He was literally so enraged he couldn't say more than "Fucking Georgia!"

The sad thing is that had I gotten into any sort of physical altercation with her initially, I'd be cooling my heals in jail despite her being the one dancing with madness.

It's amazing to me how much bureaucracy and the programming given to children runs people.  It will be interesting to see what happens to the relatively crime free Georgia as more and more refugees keep flooding in.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

TV TIME

TV TIME

It's odd that someone who completely shuns televisions as I do would get onto TV in a foreign country but here's what happened.

I have a friend named George who is a producer.  Yes, it was another of those sorts of conversations:

Logan:  "You are a producer?"
George:  "You know that I am."
Logan:  "I do?"
George:  "Yes."

If I don't have Alzheimer's, I may be able to fake my way into it.  Unintentionally.  Sad.

So, George called me up and wanted to 'make me famous' by having me on Georgian television.  While I don't think it would make me famous, I figured it might be interesting.  Since I was suppose to work for him that day and because I respect his opinion, I contacted Mark, the game designer I've been working for and he encouraged me to try it out because it was something new and different.

It was different.  

They sent a car out to get me.  I ended up talking to the driver in a mix of Georgian, English and Spanish.  While I know that anyone who actually speaks Spanish would laugh at how little I know, I can 'make that shit work'.

We arrived at the station.  George was curious as to how I would handle this but in the USA I was on TV for some horrible 'cable access' type show so the cameras and lights weren't new to me.

I spent a short time in an office where the mayhem normal to a TV station took place.  A lady with blond-white hair seemed incredulous that in seven months I hadn't learned a lot of Georgian.  Despite it being one of the hardest languages in the world that I can't even hear some of the consonant changes of the truth is that I just can't be bothered.  But I didn't mention that.  Probably a good thing as she turned out to be one of the hosts of the show.

After a short time of waiting, I was whisked off to the set.  They were trying to explain I'd need to be wired up (earpiece, mic).  Since I didn't see any boom mic operators around, figured that would be the case.  

It would have been nice to be dressed in something other than a sweater and black t-shirt but I'm sure as hell not buying anything for a fifteen minute spot on a television show I don't even know the name of.  If the president or prime minister of the country invited me over for dinner, I'd ask their intermediaries if clothing would be provided or if I had to go buy something for the night.  Or if I can just come naked.

The earpiece they gave me came in really faint and kept trying to pop out of my ear.  While it is accepted that you have to wait for the translation, it was horrible to be trying to get it and not hear what the guy was saying.  This is at least part of the reason I look as clueless as I do.  The rest is all natural.

Interesting stuff on the way they do things:

It was all live.  They didn't tell me but it was.  Interesting.  Suppose it is cheaper than editing later.

The food on the table was not only real but fresh.  I expressed surprise at this.  Normally, food is either cold or fake.  They told me "You can eat it if you want."  Fortunately, I had enough common sense not to eat on camera.  Survivors tell me it is horrifying enough to live through but I don't want the moments captured and shown to prisoners as torture.  Violates the Geneva Convention.   Even the wine was real.  As you can tell by my slight choke it was pretty horrible.  Stuff I buy in plastic bottles for 5 GEL per liter is better.  Much better if I get the fancy stuff for 8 GEL per liter.  Don't know why they had that stuff.  Probably to discourage people from trying to drink it all.

There was no 'on the air' or guy giving a countdown.  When you are on the air it comes as a shock to the guests I suppose.  Well, at least those who don't speak Georgian.

The hostess had a laptop on the table.  Not sure why this is.  Haven't seen enough American TV to know if they ever do that.

No make up.  Due to the lighting, you can see how shiny my forehead is.  Bling!

At the end of the interview, I asked George what he thought.  He seemed happy and said I spoke from my heart.  Being just myself is what I was going for but I can't help but feel that if I'd understood the language it would have been a bit better.
WTF is up with my silly looking grin the whole time?  Guess I am just a happy person.  Or it was the fish hooks.  Not sure.






Friday, March 8, 2013

DO YOU HATE AMERICANS?

LINGUISTICS


Although I have picked up and can speak bits of more languages than I can usually remember, nobody other than the most generous - or demented - would ever think of me as a linguist.  With that in mind, I present for your reading pleasure,

A GEORGIAN LANGUAGE PRIMER - FOR AND BY NON LINGUISTS

Several factors make the Georgian language a huge pain in the ass for non tourists.  First, they have a unique alphabet.  While it can be argued that it is pretty, it doesn't type well on normal keyboards and looks completely incomprehensible to anyone looking at it.  This includes anyone who has not bothered to learn the alphabet.  That is to say, most of the world.

Compared to English, Georgian words often have two to three times the syllables.  This means that for simple things, long words.

Not sure if this language is in any way related to Russian, but like many central and eastern European languages, they have sounds not found in western European languages.  You may not be able to correctly hear the sounds, much less pronounce them.

It seems that the proper way of speaking Georgian is something between normal conversation volume and shouting.  Not sure why this is but anyone who says Americans are 'loud' clearly hasn't been to Eastern Europe.  This trait is not unique within the world, there are other languages which do it.  But, my brain seems to have seized up and none are coming to mind right now.

The one saving grace of the Georgian language is that they don't have words for many things so have stolen these words from English and added an 'ee' (as in 'tree') to the end of them.  Thus, 'computer' becomes 'computer-ee'.  Not sure why they do this but it is common.  At a guess, one out of ten nouns seems to be a word waylaid from English.  Unfortunately, as in many other cultures you have some people who don't understand their own words even when pronounced correctly.  This could be due to the foreign ear not being able to hear subtleties within the word, the dimness of the person or their obstinacy.   Hence, when you are trying to find something, attempt adding the 'ee' sound to the end of the word.  Even if the word itself hasn't changed, no understanding will be reached without the 'ee' sound.  Why is unknown.

In conclusion, it is dubious whether the Georgian language will catch on within the rest of the world.  Lazy people won't enjoy it as you have to make a lot more noise to express the same idea.  Computers don't like it because the keyboards are set up with the 'common alphabet'.  Quiet people won't like it.  My guess is that even 'pillow talk' is shouted.



NEW JOB - SOUNDING BOARD

How much is an idea worth?

Well, unless you know how to package it, market it and so on the painful answer is 'nothing'.

While I'm a great person for ideas, it is hard to get hired to simply come up with them and let someone else do the implementation.

Fortunately, I was hired by Mark Rein-Hagen.  For those who don't know, he did stuff like the company White Wolf, wrote the Vampire RPG, Magic the Gathering and so on.  And he has hired me to be his 'sounding board'.

The back story:

A friend let me know that not only was Mark on Facebook, but he was living in Tbilisi (Republic of Georgia).  I contacted him and we got together.

I pitched him the idea of me doing three free sessions with him as a sounding board to see if I could feed him useful and interesting ideas.  I figured that would be ample time for him to see if I was worth hiring and for me to see if I'd enjoy working with him.

Working with Mark has really put a new and interesting spin on staying in Georgia.

After the three sessions, we negotiated out a per session price.  For him, I figured this would be fair.  If he has a lot of projects and feels he is getting good value for money out of me, he can have me over to work more often.  If not, less often.  He is the kind of person who always seems to have several projects going so I figure there will always be work.

For me, I get paid every time.  Assuming we meet at least twice a week, I'll be making about two and a half times what I'm currently getting from the hostel.  If I do good work, he may have me over more often or up the rate.  All good.

I'm also enjoying this work for reasons than money:

Credit - I'm getting credit within the games.  Having my name in various projects made by someone with such a track record is a good thing.  Should I ever decide to write something, I'm pretty confident that it would at least get a serious perusal rather than just tossed into the 'unsolicited manuscripts' pile.

From my earlier attempts at writing fiction, I'm thinking that I will never be a serious writer in my own right but should I be a sounding board to a great (and apparently prolific) writer, that's great.

This is just the beginning.  Who knows where it will go?



QUESTION AND ANSWER


Michael Stone asks:

Do you ever get harassed/etc by being an american in these countries? A lot has been said since Bush was in office at the damage done for Americans travelling abroad and I was curious if any of it was true?


Logan answers:

I remember hearing a lot about that before I started traveling. Since traveling, I have discovered it is utter BS. Either it is xenophobic people or people who are justifying why they are too poor/scared to travel. In fact, I have found that in many countries, Americans are loved just as much or maybe more than other nationalities. Now mind you that people may not like the government but that doesn't apply to the individuals. Nobody from any country I've ever met seems to like their government. Also, I've met up with people that America is dumping bombs and shit on (Iraq, etc) and they've never given me any grief about being an American. Of course if they did I'd probably say something like "We're not charging you for the bombs are we? Stop yer bitching." Then they might start hating Americans.





PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster

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