Well, this is it, my friends. This is the day I've been dreading for the past year. I'm turning 30 years old today, and I'm quite depressed. I don't want to believe that my twenties are already over. What happened? It went by in the blink of an eye. Is life equally short if I'm lucky enough to turn 60?....
When I look back, I can't say that I regret much, which is a very good thing. In fact, there is only a period of two years right after the end of my marriage that I regret ever happened in that particular way. The rest of my twenties, I think I spent quite well and wouldn't change anything if I had the choice. I traveled to over a dozen countries, partied in every single one of them, made friends in all of them, and thoroughly enjoyed myself in the process. In fact, I just realized that the only time I'm regretting is the time when I simmered in depression, so maybe I shouldn't feel so down on this day. Who knows, maybe my thirties will bring greater experiences yet. I'll let you know. But for right now, I'll be drinking today...
So there actually was an ulterior motive to my sudden road trip to Turkey, and that was my father. After his annual visit to the doctor, he was apparently told that his heart is weakening rapidly due to his big Turkish gut. Immediately after this visit my father called me and said that he'd like to take a trip with me some time in the next year to his village so that he can show me where he wants to be buried after he passes away. Hence, after that shock, my siblings and I immediately started working on making this happen.
I'm the oldest of the siblings and according to tradition have a responsibility to actually listen to special requests like this. Well, despite the fact that usually I'm the only one from my family who has never respected anything traditional it was absolutely necessary that I gave my dad this wish. Planning a surprise, I told him that I'd be there at the end of August of this year and maybe take him to his village next year when I'll have more money. In the meanwhile, one of my brothers decided to go ahead and take his wife, my nephew and my mother to Turkey two weeks prior in his own car (1997 BMW 318i touring) acting like my dad is going to have to stay at home. So, when I arrived in Germany my dad was completely shocked and in tears after he found out that we'd be taking a road trip to his village with my other brother's car (2006 BMW 118i).
And this is where the journey began.... We (being my youngest brother, my sister and myself) thought that we really couldn't waste any time on the road so that we have the most out of our vacations in Turkey, which also meant that we would have to change our route. After little debate we decided that the "original" route, which was treaded by father's generation for decades, would be the fastest to the Turkish border but we weren't very thrilled to have to wait for 8 hours at the "Kapikule" border entrance to Turkey. So, it made sense to cross over to Greece and then head into Turkey shortly before ending our transit through Bulgaria, which coincidentally brought us directly into the little village that my mother was born in. Our new route now took us through Villach (Austria), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Zagreb (Croatia), Belgrade (Serbia), Nis (Serbia), Sofia (Bulgaria), some little town (Greece), finally arriving in Turkey.
One of the highlights of this part of our journey was my dad singing old Turkish songs and reminiscing in his own past experiences on this road. He told of us of the countless difficulties they would face from being stopped for no reason and paying bribes to fatal accidents where close friends and family were lost on those treacherous roads. But the one common thread in all his stories was the brotherhood that bound his generation of Turkish immigrants. When one of them was in trouble a Turkish flag was waved into oncoming traffic so that another Turk would stop and help. Listening to all these stories I couldn't help but think about everything my father and his peers had sacrificed just to be able to see their homeland and how, in light of these obstacles, they never gave up hope to do so; truly incredible really...
The trip itself from our house in Germany to my grandmother's house outside of Edirne took us exactly 18 hours with my brother and I driving non-stop; and if it wasn't for my sister asking for bathroom brakes so often, we would have made in 15 hours, I'm convinced.
...................door to door: 1721 km = 1069 miles.........................
So here it is. I just finalized my vacation plans, which will start on Friday. I'm flying out to Germany where the beers flow endlessly and the cars are fast as hell. There I will pick up my dad and two of my siblings and start our road trip to Turkey. Our plan is to drive through the following countries before we end up at the Turkish border:
We'll start the trip in the most beautiful city of Germany, namely Munchen (or Munih as some heathens would call it). Then we shall cross Austria, a highly racist country towards Turks (and pretty much any other non-German speaking minorities, especially the ones who give Austrian women their real orgasms). Then we will continue into Slovenia through the beautiful city of Ljubljana. Afterwards our journey will take us through Zagreb in Croatia, where the beaches are pristine and the women very hot. So we're going to have to stop there for a short while. But then we'll continue through Bosnia and see how Sarajevo is doing these days. I heard it's a beautiful city and area with lots of green around. Then we'll be crossing Montenegro and a small region of Serbia before we drive through Bulgaria our neighbor.
You'd think that that's where the journey is almost complete, but you'd be wrong. Arriving in Turkey's west we'll be visiting my grandmother (mother's side) where we will also meet up with my other younger brother and my mom. Then we'll continue to Istanbul to visit 6 of my aunts (and their families) and 2 of my uncles (and their families) in a very short amount of time. Then we'll continue in two cars all the way to my father's hometown in the Kastamonu region of Turkey, which is an 8 hour drive from Istanbul towards the northeast on the Black Sea coast. What a road trip, right?
And all the way back, of course...... Yep, that'll be a great trip and I will be taking pictures of everything. I can't wait.....
This is definitely one of the most unbelievable incidents in recent history. A seriously disturbed South Korean student kills 32 people and then himself at Virginia Tech. 32 people?!?!?!?!?!?! And he is South Korean????
But the truth is that a psychological disorder, much like any other, does not see racial boundaries, of course. The problem now is that there is no one to persecute since the guy shot himself, so how does a family member of any of the victims find justice? I can't help but think of the young minds that could have been the greatest. I can't help but think of how devastating it must be to lose one of your own this way. How do you find solace after something like this? Or do you ever?
My thoughts are with the families of the victims. I am truly sorry for their losses.
Yes, it's raining very heavily. In fact, it's raining cats, dogs, and donkeys, for God's sake....... And as fascinating as it is to see that much water coming down, it is also quite destructive. I went out twice today, once to get breakfast and once to get dinner, and both times I came back soaking wet despite my umbrella, which was completely useless.
In the meanwhile, Governor Eliot Spitzer ordered 3200 members of the National Guard to be deployed to parts of Long Island in case an evacuation of low lying areas is necessary. I'd say he understood the strength of this storm quite well. We'll see in the morning how things develop over here, I guess.
Manhattan'ites didn't seem to care much in the beginning but as the hours past by, it became very clear that the rain was here to stay. I still saw a lot of people out and about in the morning. Now, however, after some subway lines flooded and have caused long delays as well as after taxi cabs have vanished into obscurity, no one is outside anymore.
Well hellooooooooooooooooooo Brits. These British sailors were released today to show the world how kind Ahmedinejad is. In fact, he is actually sending another message back with these sailors. Notice that all the men are wearing the same suits with the button up shirt without a tie, just like Ahmedinejad. The jackets and pants are of a very similar greyish silver type color that Ahmedinejad also dons a lot of the time.
He put it slightly different words, of course, invoking none other than the Prophet himself: "Under the influence of the Muslim Prophet, (Iran) forgives these 15 people and gives their freedom to the British people as a gift .... " --- Fantastic Ahmed. Thanks for your gracious "gift".
The bottom line: Stocks and dollar are up, oil prices down.
(Caption of the second picture: "It was just an April Fool's joke, mate. I thought you Brits had a sense of humor.")
The following is from this site and it's very interesting to know:
The history of April Fool's Day or All Fool's Day is uncertain, but the current thinking is that it began around 1582 in France with the reform of the calendar under Charles IX. The Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year's Day was moved from March 25 - April 1 (new year's week) to January 1.
Communication traveled slowly in those days and some people were only informed of the change several years later. Still others, who were more rebellious refused to acknowledge the change and continued to celebrate on the last day of the former celebration, April 1. These people were labeled "fools" by the general populace, were subject to ridicule and sent on "fool errands," sent invitations to nonexistent parties and had other practical jokes played upon them. The butts of these pranks became known as a "poisson d'avril" or "April fish" because a young naive fish is easily caught. In addition, one common practice was to hook a paper fish on the back of someone as a joke.
This harassment evolved over time and a custom of prank-playing continue on the first day of April. This tradition eventually spread elsewhere like to Britain and Scotland in the 18th century and was introduced to the American colonies by the English and the French. Because of this spread to other countries, April Fool's Day has taken on an international flavor with each country celebrating the holiday in its own way.
In Scotland, for instance, April Fool's Day is devoted to spoofs involving the buttocks and as such is called Taily Day. The butts of these jokes are known as April 'Gowk', another name for cuckoo bird. The origins of the "Kick Me" sign can be traced back to the Scottish observance.
In England, jokes are played only in the morning. Fools are called 'gobs' or 'gobby' and the victim of a joke is called a 'noodle.' It was considered back luck to play a practical joke on someone after noon.
In Rome, the holiday is known as Festival of Hilaria, celebrating the resurrection of the god Attis, is on March 25 and is also referred to as "Roman Laughing Day."
In Portugal, April Fool's Day falls on the Sunday and Monday before lent. In this celebration, many people throw flour at their friends.
The Huli Festival is celebrated on March 31 in India. People play jokes on one another and smear colors on one another celebrating the arrival of Spring.
So, no matter where you happen to be in the world on April 1, don't be surprised if April fools fall playfully upon you.
So, there you have it, folks. Happy April Fool's Day!!!!!!
All right, so this guy is 7 feet 9 inches tall. And then he marries a woman who is only 5 feet 6 inches tall. I saw this piece of news on CNN and couldn't help but wonder how these two newlyweds would have sex. I mean, the guy's dong is probably as long as her arm is, for God's sake. It just seems impossible you'd think, doesn't it?...
I don't think this is going to go well. He is going to rip into her insides and make a new path from her uterus to her throat, (or vice versa depending on preference, I guess). Well, either way, let's wish them good luck and a happy marriage. I hope the bride knows what she got into, or what she'll get onto.... Say 'hello' to his little friend, my dear, cause if you're not nice to him Bao might smack you unconscious with his baseball bat, honey....
I've been doing this shit for one whole year, guys. Of course, this makes me no expert, but I must say that it is a lot of fun at times. It was the day after St. Patrick's Day last year when I wrote my first real post, which was about that religious holiday. You should check it out...
However, sometimes I get really oversaturated with blogging; mainly because I work in IT and have to deal with issues all day. So when I come home and I still have to sit in front of this thing, it gets to me sometimes and I need to take a hiatus. This time it lasted 5 weeks but I really do appreciate the concern of the people who have emailed me and wrote comments in my absence. Thank you.
For the past week now, I've been working on part 6 of our great debate, which originally started as a response to Bolsa's long post. Please read his post if you haven't already because he brings a fantastically stereotypical setup to this conversation that I've been wanting to argue against for a long time now.
His setup is about explaining the historical context of Patriarch Varjabedyan's letter to the British Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lord Salisbury on April 13, 1878. At this point, I would also like to point out that I, myself, am also very much in favor of explaining the historical context. So, in search of this I found a lot of comments, references, and quotes, but nothing and no one stuck out more than Hovhannes Katchaznouni. He was the first Prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Armenia, founded in July of 1918 but later swallowed by the Soviets. Katchaznouni was a founder of the Dashnagzoutiun Party and previously also a member of the Armenian National Council. He delivered his report called "Dashnagtzoutiun has nothing to do anymore" to the Dashnatziun Congress in April of 1923. I selected the following exerts but you are welcome to read the whole thing in pdf format here (starting from page 29):
[...] In the Fall of 1914 Armenian volunteer bands organized themselves from organizing and refrain themselves from fighting. This was an inevitable result of a psychology on which the Armenian people had nourished itself during an entire generation [...]
[...] If the formation of the bands was wrong, the root of that error must be sought much further and more deeply. At the present time it is important to register only the evidence that we did participate in that volunteer movement to the largest extent and we did that contrary to the decision and the will of the General Meeting of the Party.
The Winter of 1914 and the Spring of 1915 were the periods of greatest enthusiasm and hope for all the Armenians in the Caucasus, including, of course, the Dashnagtzoutiun. We had no doubt that the war would end with the complete victory of the Allies; Turkey would be defeated and dismembered, and its Armenian population would at last be liberated.
We had embraced Russia whole-heartedly without any compunction. Without any positive basis of fact we believed that the Tzarist government would grant us a more-or-less broad self-government in the Caucasus and in the Armenian vilayets liberated from Turkey as a reward for our loyalty, our efforts and assistants.
We had created a dense atmosphere of illusion in our minds. We had implanted our own desires into the minds of others; we had lost our sense of reality and were carried away with our dreams. [...]
We overestimated the ability of the Armenian people, its political and military power, and overestimated the extent and importance of the services our people rendered to the Russians. And by overestimating our very modest worth and merit we were naturally exaggerating our hopes and expectations.
And we were unable to save those precious lives. Angered and terrified, we sought the culprits and quickly found them; the deceitful politics of the Russian government. With the politically immature mind peculiar to inconsequential men, we fell from one extreme to another. Just as unfounded was our faith in the Russian government yesterday, our condemnation of them today was equally blind and groundless. [...]
[After giving great detail of how Russia double-crossed the Armenian Revolutionaries, he lists a few possibilities as to how Soviet-Armenians could be freed.]
Are not we capable of doing in the Soviet Armenia what we did in the Turkish Armenia, for tens of years? We certainly are.
We might establish a base in the Iranian Karadag and send people and arms to the other side of Aras (Araxe), (just as we did in Salmas [Azeri city but province of Iran] once). We might establish the necessary secret relations and establish armed 'humb's and Sunik and Derelegez mountains just as we did in the Sasun mountains and the Catak stream. We might provoke the peasants in some regions difficult to access, to rise and then we might expel the communists there or destroy them. Later we might create great commotion even in Yerevan and occupy a state building at least for a few hours just as we occupied the Ottoman Bank or we might explode any building. We could plan assassinations and execute them just as we killed the officials of the Tsar and the Sultan and kill a few Bolsheviks; in the same way, just as we did to Sultan Abdulhamid, we could plant a bomb under Myasnikov's or Lukashin's feet.
We could do all these, I think we could. ... When we created a great hubbub in Turkey, we thought we would attract the attention of the great powers to the Armenian cause and would force them to mediate for us, but now we know what such mediation is worth and do not need to repeat such endeavors. If Europe has not been able to help us in Turkey, Russia will never be able to do it, nor will they wish to do it. As a method of controlling separate individuals, terror might have been of some use on the Kurdish troublemakers or the officials of the Tsar. However, we have to admit that the Bolsheviks are or a different fiber. If there is to be terror on both sides, the Bolsheviks will not be short of it, on the contrary, they will leave us behind in that respect.
[...] Are we capable of turning the tendencies among the people into a civil war? This is very disputable, but possible. [...]
But why? When the Bolsheviks are strongly in power in Russia and when in our back, there is Turkey in alliance with the Bolsheviks, is it possible to expel the Bolsheviks from Armenia?
I think not even one such naive person who might believe this can be found among our ranks. If there is civil war, it is going to result in our defeat. [...] As the Red Banner swings in Russia, it will inevitably swing in Yerevan too. [...]
--- Source: "Dashnagtzoutiun has nothing to do anymore"; The Manifesto of Hovhannes Katchaznouni (Prime minister from 1918 to 1919)
And so it did inevitably. So, here we have some great historical context from someone who has served in the highest Armenian ranks for years, has negotiated and helped push the Armenian cause as far as it got in his day.
Of course, I purposely chose him because it's an original source from the Armenian side admitting to certain facts of our conflict that many many Armenians either deny or dismiss completely. In fact, since Bolsa seems so eager reviewing historical context of the incidents, I would not mind hearing what the context of Katchaznouni's writing "really" is for today's Armenian nationalists.
No matter how much I dig and search, I seem to come up with similar events that I cannot, and no one else should, ignore. Whether being led by religious figures, rebels, or politicians, the Armenian consensus was not to stay as the loyal Millet but rather to become their own independent state at any cost. In the process of this they had to play the fiddle to all sides at pretty much the same time, while trying to mediate their gain, for which the basis really was religion. They played the Europeans and Brits against the Ottomans by victimizing themselves at first and hoping to be rescued into a statehood while still having some loyal elements in position. Then they also pledged unconditional allegiance to the Russians hoping not to be ignored when the time came for sharing the booty. On top of all of it, they then turn around and try to remind us how loyal they were and that Ottoman Turks had no reason for calling them backstabbers. What other name should they have been called?
I truly believe that all of this would come to light if the damn archives could be analyzed, and not just the Turkish ones, but also the Armenian ones. Yes, especially the Dashnak and Hunchak archives in Boston, which are not open to anyone, yet.
Well, I think it's safe to say that despite their historical loyalty, their opposing religious convictions and premature nationalistic aspirations led them into a bigger disaster than anybody could have imagined or planned. Katchaznouni pointed this out very well. So, if historical context is of relevance we should not ignore the true motives of the Armenian minority. On that same token, this also should never justify mass killings, but I just wanted to make sure that certain details are not overlooked. The justification of retaliation is a nationalists credo in any country, which reminds me.
Bolsa, in a previous comment, you implied in your last sentence that retaliation is a justification for genocide. Is this true?
Aya posted this video which I would also like to share with you all because George Carlin is my favorite comedian. He has a fantastic way to put so much logical humor into everyday subjects. In this first video, he criticizes the Ten Commandments and reduces them in count through sound reasoning. It's hilarious. (6 and a half minutes)
In this one he questions the institution of religion, "the greatest bullshit story every told". I absolutely love it. Enjoy!... (10 minutes long)