Tuesday, December 31, 2002

The murder of Tigran Nagdalyan, Armenia's main television channel chief is very sad.

The people here were expecting such things only after Kocharyan was re-elected, but I guess they were wrong in their estimates of when such things would happen and I fear they are right as what we can expect next.

Though it�s a tragedy when anyone is killed, I get the feeling this murder and the ones to follow are a direct result of the law and system failing the greater population.

"Those for whom a human life is of no value, who are restless at Armenia's stability and progress, who paid no heed to the festive mood of the people, have thrown down a gauntlet to the whole of Armenian society," President Robert Kocharyan said in a statement handed to Reuters by his press service.

What Kocharyan is referring to as stability and progress I fear is only on paper and this tragedy could be a direct result of that house of cards they have built which looks like it may soon collapse.

I hope that Kocharyan has the sense to see this as a wake-up call and take appropriate measures to correct his governmental actions and policies that could have brought this on and may bring other such murders in the future.

You may think that Ara is just talking nonsense, but mark my words, history will one day reveal that what I am saying is true.

My condolences to Tigran�s family, friends and the people whose lives he touched in a positive way. I�m sure they will miss him dearly.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

I just posted on the Ara Manoogian forum chapter 3 of Shahan Natalie�s �The Turks and Us�. It is titled �INEVITABILITY OF THE ARMENIAN STRUGGLE �.

This chapter addresses some of the faults of the Armenians for not preventing the genocides we faced when we had the power to do so. It�s a real wake-up call for us today to learn from our past so it will not be repeated.

For those of you who are new to the logs, I am posting chapters from a book by author Shahan Natalie titled "The Turks and Us".

Natalie was the mastermind behind the terminations of the young Turk leaders and their collaborators who were responsible for the 1915 Armenian Genocide and were in the process of planning a second genocide on the people of Artsakh. In this book, Natalie shares first hand observations as to what happened during and after the genocide.
I just finished watching Ararat. I don�t know what to make of it as it was the Russian version. Yes you heard it right, Russian version. And the overdub sounded like the same person that does all the overdubs for most of the movies they show on Russian television.

From what I could gather, it looked like an okay movie, but I guess I need to get my hands on an English version to really appreciate its full meaning.

I also watched a few old Armenian movies, one being �01-99�. Now that is a classic that I just can�t get sick of. If you don�t know which one that is, it�s about a guy (Frunzig) that is suppose to deliver a small canister of wine to some guy whose telephone number is 01-99. On the way he gets drunk and collapses on the side of the road and is found by a passing car and all he can say is �01-99� which the passers by mistaken for the car that must have hit him.

It�s really quite cold and today the wood that was delivered was all cut up and my room is now really quite warm and cozy.
Just as I decided to go to Yerevan, I decided to return home to Artsakh.

I just got in to Martuni about an hour ago and as you might expect, the return trip home was quite an adventure. I wont write about it now as I have to get some sleep and also make a few calls and get an estimate for some minor body work on my car. Not that it matters, the scrape on the side of my car was clearly not my fault and the cops in Goris were really nice to me and the chief offered to pay for the damage that someone else caused (though I think the guy is related to him in some way).

Anyway, I got home to a house and dog that really missed me. My room was 0.9c. My wood had been delivered, but not cut up yet, so I�m improvising on heating my room. It�s up to 16.1c and I think I should at least get it up to 18c before I go to sleep. I guess things are warming up as the refrigerator just turned back on.

Oh and Harout, how will life be without our puppies, Snoopy and Santa's Little Helper?

Friday, December 27, 2002

The Lake Sevan Adventure

Today Harout and I went to look for a rubber raft for my fish-farm in Artsakh.

We headed out late as I had to go find the HOM storage depot, which I did find and picked up Vagif Stepanian�s wheelchair.

So at 2:30 PM we left Yerevan in the direction of Lake Sevan.

On the way we got stopped at the Lake Sevan police checkpoint and in my best Western-Armenian I asked the cop how he was. Harout looking very Diaspora with his video camera got the cop to smile at us and tell me that they have much respect for us and to have a nice day.

So we arrived to the shore of Lake Sevan and I have to tell you that it was quite beautiful today.

The first real village that was accessible from our side of the road as not quite as accessible as I thought, as the road itself had not been cleared and I got us stuck in the snow.

Harout got out and started to push the car. A little bit of salt under the tires (I don�t know it this helped) and we freed the car.

We didn�t enter that village and stopped next to a couple of people that were from the village and asked them if they knew of anyone that may be selling a rubber raft. They told us no, but we may find a raft in Vartenis. I asked how far it was and they told me 20 to 30 kilometers.

We drove on and along the way stopped and asked people that were selling fish.

At about 20 kilometers, we spotted a couple of really cute puppies playing on the side of the road. Both Harout and I thought that they were just too adorable and I asked Harout if he wanted a puppy? He said that his uncle wanted a dog and I said that I too would not mind a puppy and asked him if I should turn back around so we could pick them up? Harout thought about it and without saying anything, waved me to keep going, but I knew that he really wanted one. So all the way, I kept talking about the puppies and how I hope they will make it through this really harsh winter.

We came to a village that in the road had a huge ditch with water running through it and I tried to stop, but the road was total ice and we drove right over it. I stopped the car and didn�t really notice any damage, but did notice that all the built up ice on the car had fallen off. A man from that village also looked under my car and told me it looked okay.

I asked the man if he knew about anyone selling a rubber raft and he said that there was no one like that in his village, but directly across the lake in the village of Dzovag Kyugh they would have something like that. I asked him how far that was and he said it�s just passed Vartenis, which is 60 kilometers away. Wait a second, 20+ kilometers away, Vartenis was 20 to 30 kilometers. I guess distance for someone of foot is not the same to someone in a car.

I want to mention also the condition of this road we were driving on. First of all, it is not the usual road that people take when going to Vartenis, so it�s not at all cleared of snow in some places and I have to tell you that at times if I didn�t have 280 horsepower under my foot to speed passed those points, we would have been stuck for sure.

So we drove on for another 60 kilometers and arrived to Vartenis. There I asked about a rubber raft and they said that no such person that I could find at that hour and should wait until morning (it was 5:30 PM). I asked the people in Vartenis if they knew about Dzovakyugh and maybe a raft being there and they agreed that my chances there would be better.

We drove on and not too far out of Vartenis, I stopped at a gas station to ask where Dzovakyugh was. I pulled up and honked my horn. The kid inside came out a minute or so later after we watched him through the window bundling all up. I asked him about Dzovag Kyugh and he said the road beside his station was the entrance. We thanked him a drove on.

As we were driving up the main road to Dzovag Kyugh I told Harout that I had better find a raft here after all we have been through or else I�ll get really mad and when I get mad, I�m not fun to be around and maybe we should get Vagif�s wheelchair out of the trunk and put it in the car so he could sit back there. Harout looked a bit concerned and I guess started to pray or something.

First people we saw at the entrance of the village we asked about a rubber raft and the relayed what we asked to some man that was walking in the direction of the village.

The man walks over to our car and asked what it was that we needed. I told him and he said that he asked again as he could not believe that we would be looking for such a raft as he had one he needed to sell. I asked him if we could see it and he said yes, but we needed to go to his brother�s house to get some valves for it and a pump.

We drove into the village and got what he needed. Then on to his house, which was on the outskirts of the village and the road there was quite covered in snow and he was concerned that our car could not make it to his house.

We drove on and at about 100 meters from his house, our car got kind of stuck, so I backed it up to the road we were on and we walked.

In his basement, he uncovered a very used but somewhat large raft. He told me in advance that it has a couple of holes, but they can be fixed by someone that fixes inner-tubes. He pumped it up and we found 2 small holes.

I asked him how much he wanted for the raft and he asked him how much I would like to pay for it. I told him I have never purchased a used raft and I�m sure he has never sold a raft, so he is going to have to decide.

He said that this was going to be a very sad New Year for him and his 4 children as they had no money and this by chance encounter was something very special. He invited us in to a cup of coffee and to talk.

We went into his house where his 2 daughters (one 14 and the other 9) made us coffee. He apologized for the blackened walls in the room they live in and told us that during Levon Ter Pedrosyan�s time of being president of Armenia, there was no heating materials for that first winter and they had to heat the house with transformer oil (which is used to cool transformers). He said the oil blackened the walls and also took its toll on their health. We didn�t see a wife in the house and I really didn�t want to ask.

Someone called us out to move the car since it was blocking the road. We went out and after seeing the road to his house, I decided to trying to drive it in.

I got a running start and made it to his front door. He told me that even Niva�s (little 4WD jeeps) have had trouble doing this.

So we talked price and I told him from the start that he name the price, I�m not going to haggle with him and if the price is okay with me, I�ll take it. He told me that such a boat is probably worth in this condition $150 (which is not really true since I knew a new boat with a motor, which his does not have is around $250), but since this is our first encounter and he wants to be friends with us, he will give it me to for $80. I asked him how much that would be in dram and we agreed to 45,000.

I pulled out the money and you had to see the look on his daughters faces. Compared to what they looked like when we first walked (though I think that maybe they didn�t know what to make of Harout was the reason for the puzzled look) and then, was a huge difference. They would now have some food on the table for New Years.

We all went into the basement to roll up the raft and the girls were helping their dad to put the raft in a couple of sacks so we could put it in the back of my car without getting the car dirty.

I exchanged phone numbers with our new friend and we turned him down for an invitation to dinner and a warm place to stay since this was said to be the worst day as far as weather goes and the people I stay with advised me not to go today so I really had to get back or else they were going to think the worst had happened to me.

We headed back towards Yerevan, which was another 160 kilometers, turning off at one wrong place, but finally getting to Yerevan at around 9:30 PM.

We went to Cactus Mexican restaurant, stuffed our faces with some decent food and a strawberry margarita (it�s been 3 years since I�ve had one of those, but they have no effect on me since I can now drink Vodka without it having any effect on me (nothing at all to be proud of)).

On the way to Harout�s place, I took a short cut, which is a hill that goes up the side of the main post office on Saryan and before we entered that hill, Harout pointed out that it was a sheet of ice and a Fiat was sliding back down as it had attempted going up it. I waited for it to come down, punch the gas pedal and up we went it with the car almost stopping at the top. We laughed at what the guy in the Fait must have been saying while we were going up the hill and more so when we made it up and drove out of sight.

For it to be one of the coldest days of the year and probably one of the days that most people stayed home, Harout and I had a great adventure that we will remember for a long time to come.

Harout, I just want you to remember that the puppies and what becomes of them are on your karma account.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

It�s Christmas!!!

Today was just like any other day in Armenia since Christmas is not celebrated until January 6th.

I did some shopping and lots of running around.

Tonight I got together with Harout (H.A. Der Hova) and his cousin (the guy that got the raw burger, but not the guy at Pizza Di Roma and the hair).

We went out for Chinese food at a restaurant on Gomidas. It was great, but the proportions were way too big. We stuffed our faces and there was still stuff left over.

Well it�s really cold out and I�m told that there is a really big storm moving in. I�m not looking forward to it as I really would like to spend New Years in Artsakh, but fear that it just may not happen.
Tonight was the big x-mas party with Nune and I have to tell you right off the bat that I was wrong again. Bottom line is that I was blinded by hunger that day and it turns out that Nune was in fact our Lena.

I really figured it out when someone who was at the Hovnanian x-mas party tonight told me while I was bragging about my x-mas party at Nune�s friends place that Nune was at the Hovnanian party.

Well it was a great gathering and was at Alex house. We ate, drank and had some great bonding time.

We finished as I had to drive Lena home and guess what? IT�S SNOWING and is really cold.

I read in the Armenian papers today that on the 22nd to the 23rd, on the road from Goris to Yerevan, 35 to 40 cars were stuck and covered in snow and 160 people had to be rescued. Well I don�t want to keep saying this, but I think I really in love with my car and its jeep like features. To this if I was driving my old car it would have been 163 people that needed to be saved.

I think my plans to go back to Artsakh is going to be delayed, as there is a big big storm coming in and it�s expected to be worse.

I wonder if Lena will run into Nune at the airport since they are both going to Italy for the New Year?

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Wow, my first internet caf� experience and what a great little caf� it is. 400 dram an hour I would have been willing to pay just for the heating. And the best thing is that the caf� is directly across the street from the Frank Muller store, which means that after H.A. and I go watch shopping, we can cross the street in our suits and log about our experience.

I know I should avoid police stories, but this one I think is worth logging about.

I got stopped by officer I don�t knowian (badge #0270) for allegedly not turning on my directional signal
while making a lane change.

He asked me for my documents and asked me if my California drivers license was my license. I said yes and he said okay.

So he argued with me about me making a lane change and I said to begin with, there are no lane markers to constitute a lane. I said that when he gets out there with a bucket of paint and marks the road, we can discuss his claim of me not making a correct lane change. He asked me if I was refering to my laws again (America�s)? He asked me with a big smile if they made me clean the window film on my car? I then knew that I had saw this guy during my visit to the impound yard and this is the reason he didn�t hastle me over not having an international license.

He argued a bit more and when I told him to write a ticket so I could go, he said this time he would forgive me. I didn�t thank him, took my documents and drove off.

So today I ended up spending most of the day (until 6:45 PM) at the mechanics, where they did a bunch of welding work on the exhaust system. It cost me a whopping 2,500 dram (less than $5).

Since I was hungry, I decided to go to Artbridge and guess who I ran into there? I really could not believe my eyes and thought that my eyes were playing tricks on me, but this time for sure it was none other than Nune Y.

Since they were so busy and there were no tables available, I asked this girl who was sitting with Nune if I could join them. I used my best American-Armenian accent so they would feel sorry for this poor Diaspora Armenian and guess what? Well since I�m writing this log, no be bad body guard jumped me and dragged me off the bathroom for a head bashing.

So I joined Nune and I think her P.R. person Liana. They were having cauliflower soup and broccoli pasta. I ordered the same instead of a steak since I think that Nune is a vegetarian and I didn�t want for her to be turned off of me on our first �date�.

Nune gave me her phone number and invited me over to her friends house for x-mas eve. So if anyone is planning on inviting me, too late, I spending X-mas eve with Nune!!!

Well tomorrow is a work day and I have to make arangements to pick up Vagif�s wheelchair.

I also want to point out that after talking to a bunch of people today, my coming to Yerevan yesterday was very risky as Armenia has not seen weather like this for a long time. I may also be stuck here for a while as we are expecting a big storm on X-mas eve/day.

I just checked the history list of where this computer has been surfing and I just want to say that after reading it, I wanted to put on rubber gloves or maybe a huge condom over my entire body so I would not catch anything. I can�t imagine anyone wanting to surf porn and really can't understand how anyone can do it in public.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

I�ve been up since noon yesterday and I think after being up for 36 hours this would be a good time to go to sleep.

My sleep pattern has been off since I've been researching my next forum item which also has a very good chance to make it in the papers.

So what have I been doing for those 36 hours?

Well at 6 AM I decided that if I was going to make it to Yerevan and if I waited for the weather to clear, I was never going to get here. So at 6:15 AM, I got in my car and headed to Stepanagert. Not to say the weather was bad, but I can say it was not good and it took me over an hour to get to Stepanagert.

My friend that was planning on going with earlier in the week, had work to do early next week, so could not go with me.

He insisted that I don�t go alone, since the road would be icy and the more weight in the car the better it would stick to the road,

I went to the bus station, and picked up a couple of passengers, who shared in paying for the gas.

We left Stepanagsert at 10 AM and half way between Stepanagert and Sisian, my car started to act as of one of the spark plugs where not working. So at the Sisian check-point, I had someone check to see if we had a bad sparkplug.

All the sparkplugs checked out okay. I knew if it was not the sparkplugs, then it had to be the injectors. Most probably gas with water and dirt is the culprit.

Fortunately, this is not the first time and the last time I worked with the mechanic on cleaning out the system and injectors with the help of the Yerevan injector specialist, via my cell phone.

I asked the guy that checked my sparkplugs if he had access to an air compressor and if he had the wrenches to take out the injectors. The work "injectors" prompted a worried look on his face and he gave me news that he had never in his life worked on injectors and has no idea as to what they look like or even where they are found. I assured him that I could tell him how to do it.

He said that we should drive in to the city of Sisian and got to Slavic�s garage where there is a compressor.

We drive the 6 kilometers to Sisian, which was so beautiful and looked so holiday like. I wash I had taken pictures, but the road was so slick that I could not stop or else I would possibly get stuck.

We got to Slavic�s garage and in a couple of hours we cleaned the whole fuel system and also Slavic, being an auto electrician fixed an on going problem with my starter, which was caused by a loose wire.

I paid Slaivc 4,000 dram (less than $8) and he and the crew pointed me in the direction of the main road (via the short road that we didn�t come in on) and pushed my car so we could get rolling in the snow.

We took a wrong turn and were redirected but warned that the road had not been cleared since it started to snow a couple of days ago and my car world probably get stuck.

Nonsense, my car can out drive any jeep and sure enough, on the road there were a couple of stuck jeeps, but my car just kept going all the way to the main road.

We drove on and on the way we ran into a couple of people I knew who were quite concerned with the road condition and were planning on camping out until they came and cleared the road. I told them no thanks, I have a passenger that is leaving for Moscow in the morning and were continuing on.

I�ve never in my life encountered blizzard like winds like the ones I drove through. My car was totally unaffected, as if on was on a Sunday drive to the mall. I wish I could say the same for the wedding party with the decorations attached to their car.

Traffic came to a stop at one point as the Iranian trucks that travel our roads were stuck and they had done a good job of blocking the road. I got out in this blizzard to help with lighting so they could fit their chains on.

After a 20 minute delay, a Jeep belonging to the Artsakh Minister of Internal Affairs came driving by me and worked his way through the trucks with me following close behind.

We can to a second jam of Iranian trucks and after a 5 minute wait again the MIF Jeep made a trail and before I could follow, a Volga 24 with summer tires cut in front of me, slid and got stuck on the bumper of one of those big bad Iranian trucks. Well I hope the big black crease in that guys white car will serve as a reminder to not cut me off again.

We made our way to Yerevan by 8:30 and in the last hour of our trip, the exhaust pipe which I guess I hit on a rock or something, cracked and caused our car to sound like a formula one race car. It was not exactly the most pleasant sound after all we had been through.

I have to say that besides the bad gas and the injector problem, I was really impressed with my car and the supper safe ride it provided me in such hazardous conditions.

I think I�m going to be staying in Armenia for Christmas and then as soon as the weather clears, I�ll head back home.

Oh, I got a donation from an organization called HOM of one wheelchair for our aid recipient Vagif, the guy I wrote about who spends his days sitting in a wagon. I want to thank JD for the offer to purchase him one, which started my search that yielded this find.

Ps. For those loggers that are planning on being in town on the 25th, I taking invitations.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Well it really looks official. Winter is here and I get the feeling that before it starts to warm up, it�s going to get really cold.

My pipes were frozen yesterday so I didn�t get to take a shower. I was able to recover 3 liters of water, which I planned on using today to bathe with (reminds me of the good old days in Yerevan 1991 to 1994). Fortunately for me the temperature got up to 4c and the water started to flow. I took advantage of the situation and took a nice long HOT shower and filled up any bottles I had with water.

I had planned on going to Yerevan to participate in the celebration of Garegin Nzhdeh birthday, but due to the snow, the road conditions are not all that great. So I guess the Nzhdeh celebrations will have to go on without me.

I�m thinking that it would not be so bad to go out and get another chicken to fry up in the deep fryer. Not exactly the most healthy way to eat, but it�s not like I cook this way all the time. I need to get some buttermilk so I can make a really thick batter.
Fried chicken has lost it charm, not to mention its flavor, which has made its presents in my clothes. So with that, just maybe I�ll stick to only French fries, which I�ve become a master at making.

Tonight I was watching Armenian T.V. and there was an old Armenian film (black and white), which I caught the last 30 minutes of. It was about shepherds who a government investigator was investigating the loss of a sheep. It was really interesting to see Armenia as it use to be and one of the interesting messages in the film was that we should put government to one side and remember that Armenia belongs to all of us. I wish I had seen the whole thing and taped it, as the message was very powerful.

One other thing that was interesting in the film and I�m not sure if accurate or Soviet propaganda was there was mention of America and the man that created the atomic bomb that Japan was bombed with. The guy said that it was one man who won the war against Japan. He went on to say that the same man was believed to be able to make a bigger and more powerful bomb but didn�t and was put on trial by the United States for refusing to make it. This kind of history I�m really out of touch with, so if there is anyone that knows about this subject, please enlighten me.

Well it�s still snowing and it looks like my Yerevan trip is going to not happen until after the New Years. I was really hoping to spend at least Christmas with the other loggers (since it really is a holiday that is not celebrated here) and then make my way back to Artsakh for New Years.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Tonight was fried chicken night!!!

Last Sunday when I was in Stepanagert, I purchased a deep fryer/cooker/steamer. Tonight I cooked up some fried chicken, French fries and onion rings. This little miracle set me back a whole 8,000 dram (about $15).

I have to tell you it�s been almost 3 years since I�ve tasted fried chicken and as I was chomping at the bones, I could feel my cholesterol count rising.

It certainly was a welcome change from the usual baked chicken. The locals that joined me for this unique dining experience loved the taste, texture and speed at which the meal was prepared.

I fear that I�ve introduced a not so healthy delicacy to Martuni and I hope that it does not catch on or else we may have some future candidate for heart problems. Come to think of it, this will only add to their bad habits of eating such things as cooked pork fat with garlic.

When we finished up, I fried up the potato skins and fed them to my dog Juhka. He loved them.

Monday, December 16, 2002

I just posted on the Ara Manoogian forum chapter 2 of Shahan Natalie�s �The Turks and Us�. It is titled �IDEOLOGY OF THE ARMENIAN STRUGGLE�.

For those of you who are new to the logs, I am posting chapters from a book by author Shahan Natalie titled "The Turks and Us".

Natalie was the mastermind behind the terminations of the young Turk leaders and their collaborators who were responsible for the 1915 Armenian Genocide and were in the process of planning a second genocide on the people of Artsakh. In this book, Natalie shares first hand observations as to what happened during and after the genocide.

Sunday, December 15, 2002


After 5 days of no power, our power was restored. This all thanks to a collective effort from the electric company, assisted by the army.

In those 5 days, I was busy with wiring up my neighbors houses with light. My generator ran on a somewhat regular schedule, sundown until 1 AM.

Other than the telephone center, we were the only ones with light. It was quite strange to drive through a dark town and then come home to a neighborhood with porch-lights on.

I could tell that with a combination of the cold and no power, people were not in such a festive mood.

Anyway, a big thank you to everyone evolved in working to restoring power to our region. I know at the next meal, there will be a special toast to all of you.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

This is not the best time to log as I just came from my neighbor�s house after the 2 of us just finished consuming 4 bottles of Areni wine.

Anyways, we still have no power and the neighborhood is dark, as if no one lives here. The only houses are 3 houses, which is my neighbor across the street and my contactor, who lives about 90 meters down the street.

The latest on the power is that it could take a minimal of 4 days before maybe we see power.

Tomorrow, we are adding 2 more houses to our electrical network.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

All this talk of snow in Yerevan is very interesting, but maybe you will find my talk of snow in Martuni a bit more interesting (just kidding).

Snow is a natural occurrence and for most people and is connected to the holiday season.

Well like in Yerevan, it snowed here in Martuni and snowed and snowed and snowed�

I could hear my neighbor�s children giggling at the sight of snow this morning. They were all excited and could not get enough of it

I guess what makes my story a bit more interesting is that the snow started a couple of days ago and the storm that it came in on also took out a bunch of high-voltage power poles that brings in power to Martuni and part of the region.

The power poles are located on a mountain top and with the snow, winds and ice, it�s very difficult for the equipment needed to get in there to replace the poles.

So 27 hours ago, the power went out. I was working at the time and my lap-top battery died at some point, so I went onto my rechargeable POWER SOURCE Multi-Volt Output with LED Display that I brought with me from America a few years ago. Well when that died, I went to bed.

So this morning I was waiting for the power to come on and it didn�t. I called the Mayor on his cell phone and he told me that we could expect the power to be restored that evening.

Well being that it was the 10th of the month, which is the day we transfer money to each of our 15 people that get aid from a few of our readers, I had to resort to getting out of my warm bed (a big thank you to the person that came up with woodstoves, because my electric heater is useless in situations like this), get dressed up really warm and go down to my car to plug in my power inverter so I could print out the transfer sheets for the aid.

So picture this, I�m sitting in the back of my Mercedes with the engine running and the heat blasting, working and charging the lap-top and then unplugging the lap-top and plugging in my bubble-jet printer (the inverter can�t take the load of both) to print out the transfer slips.

Outside the snow is just coming down like you can�t believe.

So I finished and pulled my car out of the garage, onto the dirt road and it�s just sliding around everywhere. I won�t bore you with the details of getting stuck in a snow-drift and all the neighbors coming out to push me up a hill, but will say I made it to the bank.

I find the banks front door locked. The guard tells me that they are closed until the power comes on, but lets me in and I go up stairs and drop off the transfer-slips with the bank manager, who told me that when the power comes on, she will make the transfers.

Seeing that this was not some light snow-storm and after the experience with my car getting stuck due to having summer tires, I called a friend of mine in Stepanagert who has an auto-parts store to see if he had winter-tires for my car. He told me yes, but they are going fast as there is a mad rush for winter tires today. He asks me if he should hold them for me and I tell him defiantly. I tell him that I�m going to make my way over to Stepanagert, but I�m not sure if I�ll make it since I don�t know what the road it like. He tells me to call him if I can�t make it so he can sell the tire to someone else and will get m more for me when I can make it.

I head out and man was it dangerous. The road was so icy and I experienced fish-tailing like I�ve never seen before. After a slow ride, I made it to the auto-parts store, where I purchased 4 snow tires, new sparkplugs and motor oil. The total came out to $214, which was less than I was expecting to pay. The tires are the kind that can have nails that dig into ice added (which I think I�m going to do).

I went to the tire-changing service which was so busy. They told me to come back in 2 hours, which I did and got the tires changed, which made a huge difference.

I went and paid for my internet service which for the special phone-line and internet service came out to a little over $10 this month :)

I drove back to Martuni and got in at 8 PM to find it dark. I drove to the Mayor�s house and learned that the power poles that need to be replaced will be replaced at some point and they are estimating that power will be restored in 3 days!!!

So here I am with almost all my batteries dead and were talking 3 days. I really feel sorry for the people that had their houses remodeled and were going to use electricity to heat. Those people have gone to stay with friends and relatives that have woodstoves or the lucky ones that have natural gas.

Well after a couple of cups of tea, I went home, found my contractor (who just went to bed since there was nothing else to do) and we got to work on digging out my emergency generator which was covered in snow. I parked the Mercedes as close as I could so we could light the generator as we chipped away at the ice and got it all cleaned up.

We took the battery out of the Mercedes and after a couple of minutes, the generator, which has not been run for a year, fired up.

We ran a cable to my house and there you have it, I was back in business and set for the 3 days wait.

Tomorrow, we are going to run cables to the other neighbors houses since my generator is 20 kilowatts.

Monday, December 09, 2002

Today was a day to relax, stay home and keep warm after being away for a couple of days on business (I was in Stepanagert).

The temperature didn�t go above -0.5c (below freezing) today and I only went out to bring in firewood.

Everything outside is frozen in this beautiful crystal clear coating of frozen rainwater. All my Pomegranate trees look like they are made of glass. The Persimmon trees still have fruit on them and they look so beautiful in their frozen state.

If it�s still this cold tomorrow (which I think it will be), I�ll go out when there is some good lighting and take some pictures which I�ll post (if they come out good), so you can see this natural beauty.
The latest posting on the Ara Manoogian Forum is:

�Artsakh Government Forces Citizens to Donate to North-South Road�
I just posted on the Ara Manoogian Forum, chapter one of Shahan Natalie�s The Turks and Us, titled "THE CAUSES FOR ALL OUR TRAGEDIES ARE OTHERS."

Saturday, December 07, 2002

Like Raffi logged, I now have my own forum for posting my political and social views that are not part of daily life here in Armenia.

From time to time I will post something and let you know in the logs that there is something new there and those of you interested can click on the link and go read my latest post.

For those of you that are interested in Armenian history written on the subject of the first Armenian Genocide of the 20th century in Western Armenia and Artsakh, I am posting chapters from Shahan Natalie�s �The Turks and Us�. I�ll post a random chapter every couple of weeks (the first one I�ll post on Sunday).

So far I have posted the Introduction, Shahan Natalie�s Concise Biography and CONCORDANCE.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

For the last week, one of our aid recipients Raya has been asking me to come for a visit, but with my busy schedule I have been putting it off.

Tonight I went over for dinner and a long conversation at Raya�s, which was filled with so many thank yous to me and her sponsor JD.

I asked her if life is better in the area of her economic condition and she said that she can�t without crying tell me how good she feels in that area of her life now. She said she no longer has worries about where her next meal will come from and now eats healthy.

She told me she owes nothing to anyone and has also been able to buy a new pair of slippers and winter socks.

She told me that she does not know how she survived for as long as she did on what she received. She said that for her 40 years of service as a legal clerk she gets a 6,600 dram (about $12) a month pension which only pays for electricity, telephone, water and trash service. The pension of a little over 5,000 dram she gets for the loss of her only son in the war paid for the most basic food (cooking oil, bread, macaroni, rice, ect.). She had almost forgotten what meat tasted like.

I had mentioned to her about Rosa Myrig and her blood pressure and she said "that woman is like a stone." She went on to say that she lost one son, but Rosa Myrig lost all three of her sons and for her to still be alive after that shows remarkable straight. She said that the only thing that Rosa Myrig has that she does not have is a husband and if something happened to her (Raya) it could be weeks before someone finds her. It was very clear that she feels very alone.

One of the many things Raya said was that she thought it would be an interesting experiment to take someone like the President, give him 6,600 dram and tell him to live for a month and see what happens.

As we were talking I got a call from Rosa Myrig, who I had been trying unsuccessfully to contact. She told me that she had not seen the doctor yet. I told her I would arrange to have him brought to her house tomorrow and she said no, I�m not ready yet. She did tell me that her blood pressure shot up again (170/80). I said that I hope that she is ready tomorrow and said that I will come over tomorrow to see her, at which time I will convince her to see the doctor (I hope). Raya spoke with Rosa Myrig and was giving her advice of herbs and plants that she should make into teas that may help her blood pressure. I was very cute to listen to two little old ladies sharing their home remedies.

I finished my visit and Raya gave me a bag full of preserves, bottled tomatoes and 10 farm-fresh eggs from her chickens to take home with me. She said she felt sorry for me as I don�t have my mother here to look after me and as a mother herself, it�s the least I could do as if her son was in the same situation, she would want someone to look after him too.
Last night I went to Rosa Myrig and Hurant�s house for my monthly visit and dinner.

On my way there I ran into a neighbor of mine who was also on her way to see Rosa Myrig and informed me that Rosa Myrig is having some very bad spells of high blood pressure.

We arrived to Rosa Myrig�s house to find her laying down on the couch.

I asked Rosa Myrig what had happened and she told me that the night before her blood pressure was up to 200/80 and it felt like her whole right side was made of wood as she could not move that side of her at all.

The neighbor who arrived with me came to take Rosa Myrig�s blood pressure and the reading was 140/80. An improvement, but still not good.

I asked Rosa Myrig what brought on all this and she told me that on the 21st, she was unexpectedly visited by a film crew who are making a film about the Artsakh movement and war and they interviewed her. She said the interview was very upsetting and since then her blood pressure has been up.

She said that since that interview she knew she needed to see a doctor, but feared that they would find something seriously wrong with her and would keep her in the hospital for observation, something she does not want.

I insisted that she sees the doctor today and didn�t tell her but think that maybe her 200/80 the night before and the symptoms she experienced could have been a light stroke. I hope I�m wrong.

So what was this interview all about?

Well on the 21st, another of our aid recipients Era was also visited unexpectedly and while they were interviewing Era, one of her neighbors found me coming out of the Karabagh Telecom office after paying my cell phone bill and told me about the film crew at Era�s house and it would be a good idea if I go there to see what they are doing.

When I arrived to Era�s house they were filming and asking some very upsetting questions.

With them was also an assistant to the regional mister who was taking the film crew around and a journalist from the Artsakh government television Norig, who was also asking questions.

Era was very upset and having problems controlling her emotions. The director was not backing off with the questions and it seemed that he was intentionally trying to get her to cry for the camera.

Era apologized to the director for not being able to control her emotions and he said there was no need, it was good, people need to see that she suffers.

She pointed out to him that many of the things she was telling him were upsetting because she had forgotten them and only now were they coming out again.

She like Rosa Myrig mentioned, if she knew they were coming, she would have had some time to prepare herself so she could better deal with the interview. He said no, he wanted raw emotions like she was giving.

She told many stories that I had never heard. She mentioned Monte Melkonian and his significance in the movement. She also talked about Saribek Mardirosyan, the man who also was very active and died in the same skirmish as Monte did.

Era was asked by the director if she was proud of what her husband had done and she said no, I am mad at him as look at our condition today. The director said you don�t mean that and she said yes I do. I would feel it was worth him and my 2 sons who gave their lives to this movement if things were right, but look at the people who ended up in power and look how they take care of us? They have been making promises to fix my house for many years (looking to the assistant to the regional minister), but look at my house, I can�t even go upstairs as we have plastic where there is suppose to be glass. She went on with a whole list of problems that they recorded, but I�m sure will end up on the cutting-room floor.

The director asked Era if I was her son and she said no, he is not my biological son, but he is like a son to me. She went on to tell him that if it was not for me, she would probably not be home right now and would instead be roaming the streets collecting firewood. She told them that I was the one that keeps her house in tact as appose to the government and they should be interviewing me to see what I can tell them about what life is like for them. The director agreed and before I was to be interviewed, he had me stand in the background picking persimmons off of Era�s tree while she was being interviewed.

So after I finished picking persimmons and a few close-up shots, I noticed the director and his friendliness with me got a bit cold. It was as if he had talked to someone while they were filming me and was told that I should not be interviewed (I suspect the regional minister�s assistant who does not care too much for me or my opinions (I wonder why?)). So I didn�t get interviewed and there was no explanation why (no big deal, everything I would have said would not have even made it to the cutting-room to be cut).

Era insisted that they have tea before leaving and I got an opportunity to find out more about what they were doing.

It seems that the minister of defense is making some film about the Artsakh movement and it will be shown in 60+ countries. I guess they are trying to show to the Diaspora that Karabagh Armenians are a proud people and after the war, we are taking care of ourselves.

I asked the director if they had already interviewed Saribek Mardirosyan�s widow? He asked who that was and I pointed out that Era had told them about him and he being one of the very first people who practically started the movement. He said is his widow educated and can she talk well? I told him that she use to be a judge (before someone paid a bribe to someone on the President�s staff so they could replace her) and is very intelligent. He said that he must interview her. I told him that I would call her and he said that he was going to a village and would be coming back in 2 days and to have her waiting. Our guest finished their tea and left.

I visited Saribek�s widow Lilia later that night and told her the news of the film people wanting to interview her.

She told me that she had talked to Era and said that the director basically told what she could and could not say. She said that I have nothing nice to say and they wont let me say what I would want to say.

I told her that she should speak her mind and I would make it a point to be there during the interview. Who knows, maybe I could be the guy in the background stacking firewood during the interview like Hurant was during Rosa Myrig�s interview?

Lilia agreed but said that if the regional minister has some influence on who they will be interviewing, then they will not come. If he wanted them to interview her, they would have seen her without my telling them about her.

Well 2 days later I waited all day at home for Lilia to call me to let me know they arrived and there was no call. They didn�t show up like they said they would.

So what do we need to do about this situation? I guess first we need to make sure that Rosa Myrig gets her blood pressure under control. Then I think a letter from me to the minister of defense is defiantly in order.

Monday, December 02, 2002

Enough already with the power-failures!!!

Last night the power went out and so did the heat. When I woke this morning it was freezing in my room (50f), which for some people may not be cold, but for me it�s really cold.

The power was restored at about 8 AM and before the temperature had a chance to rise, it went out again, coming back and going out all morning.

I decided not to wait until it got warm and bundled up and in the snow (which is still falling now) went to my upper storage area, got the marble slabs that go under my woodstove (they were very cold and I forgot to wear gloves � Ouch), the woodstove and a sack of wood.

I installed the stove, put in a couple of pieces of wood, put some scraps of paper in and then went to the kitchen to get some matches.

In the kitchen I went to the drawer where I keep the matches and found there were no matches. I guess my smoking friends over the summer had used them all up.

So I plugged in the hotplate (thank goodness the power was on) and with just the right materials, I was able to get a fire lit, take it to the woodstove and light it on the first try!!!

Well as I write this, the stove is burning away and my room is warming up.

Bring on the power-failures cause I�m ready for them (I bet we wont have another power-failure for the rest of winter).

Mental note: Get matches from the store or make scraps out of old underwear with shoe-polish on them to light on hotplate.
Here's a little word of advice. NEVER take a shower, when there's going to be a power-failure. You'll find yourself screaming for dear life, with shampoo in your eyes, and soap all over your body, wondering just what the heck is going on, while trying to turn off the hot water knob, after accidentally shutting off the cold water and almost scalding your skin with superheated H20 in a fury of confusion. Trust me, it happens more often than not, and it's not pleasant.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

What a great way to welcome in December!!!

Today we had our first snowfall.

To say the least, it�s very cold outside and I did my best to stay home, keep warm, write and relax.

The electric heater is working overtime and tomorrow I�ll put back in the woodstove as it will do a better job of heating and wont be effected by power-failures (like the one were having right now due to a windstorm).

I want to thank my last visitor Vahe, who left for me some new thermal underwear and a really nice army-green wool blanket. They are coming in very handy right now.

I rented a building in the center of town to use as our temporary office until the new office complex is built at our industrial park site next year.

My Accountant was very happy that we got this building as she had been working at home and I too work at home so it has been a real problem getting things done over the phone, especially since the phones don�t work all that well.

The other nice thing about this new building is that in the next month it will have natural gas, so heating it this winter will be very easy and economical.