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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

UKRAINIAN RAMBLINGS

WHAT TO DO WHAT TO DO

I suspect that through sheer laziness combined with the un-professionalism of those attempting to do business and desire to save money coupled with lack of funds, I will probably be remaining where I am (Lviv Ukraine for those who have lost track) for another month.

My time at the current lodgings started out well enough but 'the deal got changed' part way through.  And the deal never changes in a positive way.

Oh, if only...

When I first moved in, it was me and the guy who normally lives downstairs.  Great.  Aside from occassional overly emotional outbursts toward his long distance girlfriend on the phone, he's quiet.  After a week and a half, his cousin moves in.  Now don't get me wrong, his cousin is nice and all - but it's still another person.  Who likes to sometimes play loud music.  And we all know how I feel about loud music.

My chosen super power would be blowing up things that play music with lightning!  Probably invisible so I don't get beaten like a red headed step child.  (Note, if you are a red headed step child who got beaten by their foster parents and think that's insensitive - fuck you.   Get over yourself and make me a turkey pot pie before I shoot you with invisible lightning.)

So the place has moved down in comfort.

Logan gets on the internet and begins to research.

I'm not sure of the price in the USA for places that help people find places to stay (do we still have them?) but here they charge half the rent again for short term and a full month's rent for long term.  Not sure if it's just me or that price is on crack.  It does have the effect of turning a 'good deal' (say $200 per month rent) into a pretty 'standard deal' of $300 per month rent.  Which I can get in lots of different places, including 'not here'.

So that seems a bit high to me.  Fortunately, I can take consolation in two things.  First, I've only got another month or month and a half to go here.  Second, the internet should eventually completely decimate their business like Netflix did to Blockbuster.

Not that I'm vengeful or anything.


So anyway, I'm doing research, looking for a place rented by the owners themselves.  And this is where the lack of professionalism kicks in.  You see it a lot in businesses here (like in Asia) where they demand change from the customers because they didn't bother to stock up on any.  I'm beginning to think that for the poor people and poor countries - yeah.  There is usually a series of reasons.  Some are obvious enough that even I notice.

So I'm going through the ads and realizing that a lot of people (including on AirBnb - I did check) seem to have a very unrealistic view of how much their place is worth.

But keep in mind that I'm looking on the low end.  Charging more than a couple hundred bucks for some of the places I've seen moves into a different kind of robbery.

Sadly, a lot of the places listed don't have valid phone numbers, contact information, etc.  See also previously explained lack of professionalism.

Right now, my plan is to see if I can continue staying where I am.  If not, I may as well go to the next town to check that out.  Plus, it gets me a bit closer to Romania.  Sadly, the train schedules to that town seem to have been set up by sadists.  There are some ride sharing options I may explore as I've not done that before.

Update:  They wanted me to stay.  I expressed my only concern (the music) and was told that a set of earphones will be used.  While I have doubts this will actually be stuck to, I will (in the interest of attempting to save money and general laziness) stick around for another month.  Lviv is a good place to drop two months.

I'm going to also work on doing some research this month.  That is the one sucky thing about Europe - more research is needed.  It's not like you can just drop into a place and say "What do you have for $10?"  The answer might be 'nothing at all'.



TRAVELER'S TIPS

If you are going to a party, be sure to have an escape route planned.  After a couple hours of listening to a language you don't understand (nobody will translate for you - plan on that) it will be time to escape.


In doing my research on Romania (my possible next stop after Ukraine) it struck me that if someone had the money to drop $25-$35 per night for guest houses and such, it would be nifty to go on a train or car tour of the country for a couple months.



COSTS (Still in Lviv, Ukraine)

A $25 to $50 (anywhere sane) pair of sandals, $125.  Not kidding.  Pretty much anything imported (shoes, clothing, etc) is completely insane in the prices - but you can still get a nice $2 bottle of local wine.


Apartment agency:  For three months and shorter rental term, 50% of the price of the apartment.  For longer term, 100% the rental price.  In other words, if you want a $200 per month place for a month and they find you one, their fee is $100.  I found that on the WTF side of unacceptable.  In Bulgaria it was something like $30.  No clue what's up with the high price.

Friday, May 6, 2016

DRUG QUEST

DRUG QUEST

There is nothing so boring as long winded 'oh this is all the shit wrong with me'.  Honestly, nobody cares.  Not even your doctor and he is paid to care.   [Old people talk about this partially because it is on their minds a lot and partially because they have nothing else going on in their lives.  Pity them before you push them into oncoming traffic or pelt them with donuts.]

I'm not going to bother telling you what is wrong with me, just the medical story because it could help someone.

The other day I was in the rheumatology department of the 'railway hospital' (described in a previous blog).  The opthamologist who had seen me then took me through that huge maze of a building over to see the nice lady after the wait of an hour.  Not bad for no appointment.

She prescribed a new medicine for me.  I had specified that I wanted something easy to get.  The other medicine had the effect on pharmacists of saying I needed to get laid, do they have any rohypnol in large sizes I could get?  She assured me the new medicine would be easy to get.

So I went on what I think of as 'drug quest'.  Totally different than what most people think of as 'drug quest'.

What nice scenery!

It appears I had forgotten to specify 'cheap' within my criteria.  The pill comes out to a bit over $1 per dose.  Considering I take five different ones daily (read as 'cocktail' just for the romance of 'drug cocktail') this is freakishly high.

Especially in Ukraine.

But not for this drug and sex fiend!

Considering how little money I deal with, I needed to find something cheaper.

Back to the lovely internet to find out what the generic is.  Found it and the next day went back out on the streets.

Less of this drug than Charley Sheen's virtue.  Could not find any of it.  Was told that it didn't exist within Ukraine.  Possibly anywhere else for that matter.

Not good.

Back to the maze.  Hospital.  Maze hospital.  Surprised that I don't come across parties of survivors looking for the exit, lost for years within it.

You can now play your own game of 'find the doctor'.  Good luck!

Approaching it in typically Logan fashion, I just found someone in a white coat and showed them my phone saying I was looking for the rheumatology department.  Eventually, a native guide was provided and they took me up several floors so that we could go down several floors later.

They pointed it out and I burst in to the doctors' office playing the crazy photographer from the movie Apocalypse Now.

"I'm an American!"

The poor doctor was one third curious, one third taken aback and the rest wishing they had hospital security.

I never did convince him I wasn't insane but he did give me a new medicine name after several bad translations on the phone and even guided me back out of the building.

Of course, the next two pharmacies I hit only had one packet each of the tablets I need but it's down to about a dollar for ten doses.  I can live with that.

Tomorrow is 'drug quest' day!



ARTEMIS FOWL (audio book series)

This one kind of snuck up on me. It didn't seem like something I'd like but I kept finding reasons to keep listening.

Essentially, the plot boils down to a couple of things -

The protagonist is twelve years old. And an evil genius.

Also, fairies and such exist.

I'm not going to go into everything (no spoilers) but I've come to like the characters.

Also, unlike pretty much every book series out there, the main character is not purely reactionary until the wrap. This guy makes plans and carries them out. Good plans. Obviously, we the readers don't get to find out all of the plans until they happen in order to keep some suspense and such but it is refreshing not to have a protagonist that just reacts all the time to stimuli.

I'd put it down as a quirky, fun series. Currently, I'd rate this as a very strong 6/10 - possibly a weakish 7/10. I enjoyed books two and three more than the first.

Still listening to the series.



TRAVELER'S TIPS

Due to it's connection with the old pagan religions and their moon cycles, Easter is celebrated on different dates in different years.  Also, Orthodox Christians seem to have a totally different Easter than their western counterparts.  Were one so inclined, Easter could be celebrated twice yearly.  For the traveler, this makes all the usual problems with transportation and finding cheap places to stay.  To compound the problem, Easter is two to three days (depending on the person and what kind of job they have) long.  This results in the usual shop closures and such.  Though many are still open, it would be wise to stock up and hunker down for a week before and after the three day long holiday and just observe the festivities.


On dealing with moms and such here:  It may often feel very uncomfortable having someone who will come in to your residence, clean it, cook for you and so on.  Be advised that there is nothing you can do to alter what will happen.  The best you can do is to thank them graciously.  Saying things like "that is not necessary" will be completely brushed aside.  Buy nice wine and share it with them - that is pretty much all you can do.  Trying to avoid a meal or cleaning will result in bafflement or their taking offence - and the end result will still be the same.  Trying to get out of being taken care of (hospitality) would violate local mores/folkways, hence should be avoided.  A good example (for men) is that the men typically go to a different location (outside, different room) to drink and chat while women do the dishes and clean up after a meal.  For a man to volunteer in such 'women's work' (NOT Logan's term) would be seen at the least as odd, at worse as believing them incapable of performing simple tasks.  Hence, it is just better to thank the women for the meal and head off with the men if you are male.  As a woman I am unsure if you would be allowed to clean but you could probably managed to at least sit in the 'women's room' and chat with them while they are doing it.  Offering to help as a woman might be appropriate but I am uncertain on this.  [Does Logan always approach other cultures like an anthropologist/sociologist/psychologist?  If it helps me to not stick out too badly, make too many blunders or insult/offend my hosts - yes.]



TEMPEST AND THE PLAGUE, A NERO STORY

(A short story in the NERO LARP)

Everyone sometimes has a 'John Wayne' day.

 Not sure why it's called that but every packet hits and the incants just flow.

Lumsie was traveling through some woods, got jumped by half a dozen ogres and shocked everyone (himself most of all) by having a John Wayne day. Taints for everyone. Taint's all around. A taint for yer taint - you get the idea.

The problem was that Lumsie only carried a dagger (the Squid of Horribleness) and beating down an ogre took longer than rubbing one out and is a lot less rewarding.

So a bunch of tainted ogres were wandering through the woods, throwing up.

At this point, Tempest the Dragon shows up and suspiciously asks his party necromancer (and healer) what happened.

"Plague!" Lumsie responded.

"Plague?" demanded Tempest.

"Oh, real sudden like! Best I should go before I catch it!" And Lumsie slowly hurried off leaving Tempest glaring.



COSTS

McDonald's - every now and then I need a jolt of moderately crappy food and nationalistic shame so I hit the local 'Micky D's'.  In Lviv Ukraine at the time of this writing (May 2, 2016) the price for a complete meal with extra burger is just under 100 UAH.  That's about $4.  Half or so of the usual price.  I suspect that due to the local currency taking a nose dive, they had to cut the price (or keep it the same in UAH) just to keep the doors open.  Cheapest meal I've had at McD's for years.


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 |

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