Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Today was an extra busy day, which I got only 30% of what I planned on doing completed.

This morning I went to Stepanagert to take Rosa Myrig to have some tests run to see what is the cause of her high blood pressure. After checking in with the diagnostic center and waiting a bit, we were told that since Rosa Myrig ate breakfast, she could not be tested and would have to come back in the morning on an empty stomach and have a bunch of tests run where she could then eat something around 11 AM. I dropped her off at her relative�s house.

After that I ran around from one place to another like a chicken with its head cut off.

My last stop was at a friend�s house to pick up some materials that he had brought with him from Yerevan for my factory, where I had my first meal of the day at 4:30 PM.

While we ate, they had the television on some Russian channel. It was some talk show that everyone in the room watched. It was the Jerry Springer type of show but worse. For those of you who don�t know who Jerry Springer is, he is a guy that has a talk show that is all about conflict between couples, friends and so on that is pure made up revolting junk.

Since I don�t understand Russian, I had to rely on pictures, which I�m quite fluent at. So this show was about 2 brothers who have learned to hate each other thanks to some girl. I knew this because the brothers boxed it out a bit and the word I picked up on was �orgasm� (in reference to what one of the brothers could not give her) and also because at one point, she started to unzip one of the brothers pants. It also helped that my friend explained it to me.

So now were all talking about what a stupid and harmful show this is and what business does it have being aired in Artsakh? I suggested that maybe it�s because we were picking it up from Russia and how can we block that? No I was told, it�s relayed from our very own television station and if the NKR government�s ministers of social security, education, defense, health and the President and Prime Minister had any common sense and cared about our well being, then they would not allow such garbage to be pumped into our homes for children to watch and get ideas (this remark was not made by me, but by a native who is younger than me). In fact I learned that there is one station that is aired here in Artsakh, but is banned from being aired in Russia because the content material is apparently harmful to some viewers. I guess this subject is going to be added to my list for the second time in 12 month, as I recall this subject coming up a few months ago by one of my mechanic.

Anyway, after a meal and long conversation I headed back to Martuni to find that we had no power and was told that Stepanagert was also in the dark. The power came on a couple of hours later.

Oh I would also like to report that I now have a cat, who I think belongs to the whole neighborhood and I also guess my mice got their eviction notice as I am now on day 3 of no mice noises.

Monday, January 27, 2003

A friend of mine was suppose to make me an electronic mouse/rat repellent device as I have a mouse living between my floorboards.

Well my friend didn�t come threw yet and a couple of days ago, I could hear my mouse has turned into mice who were arguing with each other and chewing on the wood floor under me.

Now I�m not sure if they are trying to cut a hole around my bed so I will fall threw to the room below me, but before things got to that point, I decided to send them an eviction notice.

I put in an envelope the eviction notice, which is poison coated wheat, which I inserted threw their mail slot which places the notice right in their living area.

I hope I�m not talking too soon, but I think my little unwelcome guests have got the message as there is no sounds coming from my floor today.
BBC Correspondent: Armenia - The Betrayed, was broadcast on Sunday, 26 January, 2003 on BBC Two at 1915 GMT

One of our readers wrote me:

Here is an article at that I think needs good attention since readers can have their say, and the link for the article appeared on the Headlines.

I was following the BBC news for a while already and this is their best article so far on the subject.

If the number of the comments increase the article might stay online for a while.

May I also suggest that when you write to the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Philadelphia Inquirer, in regards to the article by their Turkey-based "journalist" Amberin Zaman, that you reference the above link as reading material for them to better understand the Armenian genocide.
For those of you that missed the fight on January 24th at Crystal Park Casino in LA, then let me be the one to announce that Shawn Yacubian won the fight!!!

I know some of you are probably wishing you could have made it out to LA to see that great fight, but didn�t. Well guess what, your in luck thanks to modern technology. You can relive that great moment in your living room with all the beer and pretzels you can stuff your face with while relaxing in your favorite chair in your underwear, thanks to pay-per-view (note: I am sorry to report to those that live in the city of Martuni, Artsakh, that this service is not yet available, but there is really good Armenian made beer and pretzels for those that can only read about this great fight). For a schedule of fight times, you can click here.

Congratulation to Shawn for his win!!! I know you will keep on winning those fights and gain the world championship title you have been working so hard to get and deserve.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

One of my neighbors has a hobby of making churches out of matchsticks.

This church is made of over 15,000 matchsticks and measures 30� wide, 14� deep and 22� high. It took her over a month to make. It�s quite detailed with miniature gravel and grass.

I asked her which Armenian Church it is and she told me that she saw it on television once and didn�t get the name. If there is anyone that knows which church this is, could you please e-mail me.

Saturday, January 25, 2003

I had a very disturbing dream last night.

It took place on some street in Armenia. I had a house and just purchased a second house a couple of doors down from my existing house on that street.

I was having some work done on the house and my contractor from Martuni and some laborers that are also from Martuni were doing some cement work.

My contractor had agreed to purchase a cement mixer for $600 from some Turk and had taken possession of it without asking me if it was okay to spend that much and was trying to convince me that it was a great deal since I was angry at him for spending my money without asking and didn�t think it was worth it especially since it was from a Turk.

As they were working in the back yard of my new house with the new cement mixer, some Turk neighbors came over and asked my contractor if we could mix up some cement for them and my contractor agreed.

They gave us some unmixed cement in a bucket and my contractor told me to take it back to the guys working on the mixer to mix it up.

I took it back and before putting it in the mixer, I noticed how creamy it was and had to taste it. It was so sweat and smooth and I thought to myself that I just ingested cement and once it gets in my stomach, it will turn hard and clog my system. How stupid of me. I wanted more since it tasted so good and I was hungry, but didn�t because I also knew that it was not good for me. My workers said that we can learn from the Turks how to make good cement and it�s good they gave it to us to mix.

While the workers were mixing up the cement, I went back out front and it looked like the Turks were waiting for me. In front of my wall they had dug a grave where I guess we were going to be using their cement and I understood that it was for their son who had died.

Then I see a friend standing out front talking to the Turks. Next thing I see some guy of about my friend�s age (45) walking by. He looked lost, blind and maybe even on drugs.

My friend knew this guy and called to him. His name was Marat or Mourat. He didn�t answer to my friend and my friend asked him what was wrong and followed him, trying to see what was wrong with his friend.

They crossed the street and walked up an embankment. When they got to the top of the embankment, that Marat guy looked my friend in the eyes and it was clear that this Marat guy was just faking his condition and pushed my friend off the edge of the embankment so he would fall and maybe hit his head.

When Marat pushed, my friend jumped at the same time and landing on his feet. I can still see his hiking boots landing firmly on the ground.

My friend look at Marat in anger and said �is that the game you want to play!!?� Marat jumped down the same way my friend did and grabbed my friend by the hands. Oh and with my friend was a woman. Maybe his ex-wife, but I can�t really remember, but the whole time she was standing by him.

So this Marat guy is holding my friend and I immediately started to run towards my old house to get my gun. I was running as fast and hard as I could. I could also hear the Turks telling Marat to hold him for them and I could see one of them rushing up to my friend. I hear a single shot from a larger caliber pistol and my friend dropped to the ground.

I could still feel myself running really fast and extra hard for my gun so I could shoot at these Turks in hopes to save my friend, the whole time thinking that how could we be so stupid to let our guard down with the Turks. If I had only had my gun with me, I would have opened fire on that Marat guy the minute he pushed my friend and they would have all fled.

I felt so stupid that I was so na�ve to believe that I could trust the Turks and we can�t trust them and need to always have some weapon with us just in case. I was also thinking that maybe they had recognized my friend from the war and they wanted to kill him for that.

To say the least, I woke up and was not at all happy.

I�m not sure what this dream meant, but will say that it could have come on since a few people have asked me about where my friend is.

Oh, one other thing I�ve noticed is that I�ve been having more dreams of this kind with shooting and guns and even seeing people I shoot die. In America, every now and then I would have dreams of being attacked and for some reason my gun would always malfunction and not fire.

Any ideas what all this means?

If anyone is wondering what all this has to do with life in Armenia, at very least, the dream took place in Armenia and the subject was defiantly Armenian.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Today I met with an investigator at the Prosecutor�s office over the death of Vartush Myrig.

The meeting in all took 20 minutes and the question of if I ever heard Vartush Myrig talk about suicide came up 3 times. I told him that she had only mentioned how she was not well looked after by her son and bride and that it was clear that she was not happy with her living conditions, but never did she talk about suicide with me.

He asked me why I was helping her with food? I told him that before the help, she use to beg to the neighbors for food and it became clear that she was not able to provide for herself from the money she received. I also mentioned that I believed that her son was taking a good part of her pension and once she even suggested that.

Though I�m sure if I asked for more details of what had happened, he would have told me what was going on, but I personally don�t want to know too much about this case and will wait to see how the law is applied.

I then went to meet with the Deputy Prosecutor and he started in on me about why was I giving her food? He said that if we suspected that her family was mistreating her, we should have reported it as there are laws that protect her from such treatment.

It seems that the law reads that when one gets old, your children automatically are responsible for your care and only if they withdraw in writing such responsibility and award their elder to the state, they have to answer for their elders welfare. This sure was news to me and seems like a good law that America does not even have.

Unfortunately for Vartush Myrig and fortunately for me, I had never seen her living conditions with my own eyes, though my contractor and I had plans to do that a couple of months ago to see how her life had changed with the aid, but got too busy with the new factory. If I had seen her living conditions and had done nothing about it, I could have possibly been found guilty of some form of negligence.

My conversation with the Deputy Prosecutor went on for an hour as we discussed the law and the lack of how it�s not being applied and enforced.

I asked him if he really feels that if someone had reported the neglect that Vartush Myrig was under if something would have really been done?

I reminded him how I had documented the exploitation of the little adopted girl who has a deformed hand who was put to work to beg for her family and his boss (the Prosecutor) who I reported it too, did nothing and the only one that got fall out over it was me when the abuser complained to President Kocharian, who harassed me instead of upholding the law.

I got the feeling from the Deputy Prosecutor that they were going to charge the son and bride with neglect or causes they created so Vartush Myrig committed suicide or murder.

I would also like to note something for those that make comments on my logs from now on. You can say anything you want in the comments as long as you use a real name and valid e-mail address. If your comment lacks such information, it will be deleted without exception. And of course the �float your boat� policy still does apply even if you do follow all the other rules.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

I was speaking to a friend of mine who is an elected member of Parliament and asked him about what we are going to do about the gambling problem. He told me that in the next couple of months, all the casinos in Stepanagert will be closed and will have to relocate away from the city. I asked him if it was because of the hanging and he said he didn�t know.

Well that should give us all a good feeling and some hope that just maybe someone is thinking about the well being of our people.

Today was another very busy day, which I not only got a bunch of work done (business), but I also got some work done around the house that I�ve been wanting to do for a long time.

Rosa Myrig�s husband Hurant, who by profession is a carpenter, came over and worked for an hour shaving all my doors that stick. Though it should have only taken half that time to do this work, he started to talk about all sorts of different things, which slowed him down. It was fun playing apprentice, handing him tools and cleaning up behind him, while listening to him tell about his life and the way things use to be.

Tomorrow will be another very busy day and since I have to be up early, I better try to get to sleep.

Monday, January 20, 2003

I don�t really feel like writing about this, but as it happens, death is something natural that does happen every now and then.

I got a call yesterday morning while I was sitting down for a meal of Khash from the grandson of Vartush Myrig, one of the people that a reader of ours helps out financially.

The grandson asked me where I was and said that he needed to meet with me right away as his grandmother has died, the financial condition at home is not good and if I can redirect the help I was giving his grandmother to them for a few months, that would be very helpful.

I told the grandson that I was busy and I would call him back in a few hours at which time we could discuss it.

Not one hour passed and I get a call from the grandson again, asking me if I had finished what I was doing and could he come see me as they were planning the funeral and needed me to help out with the meal they will serve after they lay his grandmother to rest. I was very short with him told him I was not done and would call him back in a few hours.

Just to give you a little background on Vartush Myrig. She was the exception to all the aid recipients as she was not receiving $50 a month in cash, but had the right to go to a store near her house to get whatever food and clothes she needed. We did this because the son she lived with was taking a good part of her pension (and would do the same with the $50) for himself, in return she had a small room under his house, which the deputy prosecutor when investigating her death described the room to be in worse condition than a stable (goom).

Before calling back the grandson, I called my neighbor to see what had happened with Vartush Myrig and learned that Vartush Myrig burned to death. From her waist to the top of her head was blackened. The police are handling it as a possible murder and the suspects now are the son and his wife. Though no one believes the son would do anything like this since he was benefiting financially, the bride on the other hand did not like Vartush Myrig at all and for years I�ve heard many stories of how the bride was abusive towards Vartush Myrig.

From personal experience with the son, I once let him make a repair on my car while Mama Manoogian and I attended a graduation 3 years ago and not only did he charge me 300% more than any other mechanic in Martuni would have for the repair, he also stole 10 liters of gas and a brand new bucket from my car.

Though there are many things about Vartush Myrig�s son that I�ve seen for my own eyes, the worst and maybe most insignificant, but hurtful that I�ve experienced was when I had her grandson pick 2 laundry baskets full of Pomegranates from my trees to take to Vartush Myrig, as Vartush Myrig and I had a deal when I purchased the house that belonged her only son who really took care of her (he was killed during the war) and that deal was that every year she would get a supply of fruit from the trees her son planted. Well that year after sending off the Pomegranates, Vartush Myrig told my neighbor that she was very pleased that I have been keeping my end of our deal, but this year since I sent the Pomegranates with her grandson and not given it to her directly, her son and wife picked out all the good Pomegranates and gave her the cracked and damaged ones. I was going to go and have it out with the son at that time, but my neighbor advised me that if I did that, it would only make things worse for Vartush Myrig.

Having all that information, I decided that it would be better that I not call the grandson back, but did call the store owner to tell him that under no circumstances are they to give Vartush Myrig�s family anything with the expectation that I would pay them for it. He told me that they had already come and practically cleaned out the store, but he would not expect me to pay for any of it and would make them pay for it.

Well today, Vartush Myrig was laid to rest next to her husband. I didn�t go to the funeral, but was told that it was well attended and my neighbor�s wife (who Vartush Myrig had once asked to be sure to attend her funeral and cry for her as no one will do that otherwise), attended and said that she cried, but not alone, as everyone felt very sorry for Vartush Myrig and the way she died.

Tomorrow I will go alone to visit Vartush Myrig�s grave and take her flowers.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

For those of you that are following the Raffi Hovanessian and his bid to run for President story, I think it is going to turn into a huge stink if they don�t allow Raffi to legally run, recognizing his application of 1991 as the start of his citizenship. I say this as the normal process takes about 6 months if there is no extra government red-tape.

The more Raffi pushes this issue and the more the government violates his rights, the more support people will give Raffi and resent Kocharian and his government. I say this as the big question to me here in Artsakh from the general population and government workers is if I have yet received my citizenship? Though it�s not that important to me, it seems to be a very important issue to the people here and it just adds to the resentment they have towards our �elected� president, Goulkasian.

I wont get into details, but will say that Kocharian is knowingly making his way down a very dangerous road and he is not just playing with fire, but a huge bomb that is going to at some point blow up in his face.

Remember what happened in Yugoslavia? I get the feeling that if Kocharian is �elected�, the same thing is going to happen in Armenia and real democracy is going to finally be introduced to Armenia and I believe that Raffi is going to play a huge role in finally bringing that real democracy (which does not exist today) to OUR country.

Bravo Raffi!!! Give them hell and don�t ever let them forget that they are not the only ones living here. They and their 300 friends that control 60%+ of the income to Armenia are the equivalent to a flee on a dogs butt and one good washing can rid up of such a pest.
I�m sorry to have to report this, but after 8 days of waiting, my worst fears may have come true.

It seems that my dog Jhuka (the best garbage disposal I had) is gone. Has he run away, or has he been dognapped? One thing is clear, he is no place to be found. Asking around and calling for him has produced no results.

The last time I saw Jhuka was when I gave him a nice hot meal of macaroni and leftover chicken.

One thing we fear is that someone came into my yard and led Jhuka away. The picture to the right is a representation of what a surveillance camera could have seen in my front yard and the picture below is a representation of what Jhuka looked a little like before he vanished.

One thing I did notice the night following my seeing Jhuka for the last time was the sound of wolves or coyotes under my bedroom window in my neighbor�s yard. Could they have led Jhuka off to join their pack? I can picture him now with a black bandana and patch over his eye, barking out orders to the others in the pack.

I�m also thinking more on the line of these pictures and the man in our surveillane picture who maybe led Jhuka off to work with him since he was so smart and could provide sound advice to that man. I mean that man looks like he is in need of sound advice, don't you think? Okay, maybe the wolves or coyotes make more sense, but you never know.

My neighbor says that I should not give up hope, as maybe Jhuka has found a girlfriend and when he is done having fun, he will come home. I sure hope so, as there was nothing better than the joy I got from seeing Jhuka when I would come home and he would dance around from being so happy to see me.

I guess I really have no luck with dogs. Maybe I should stick to goldfish or pet rocks instead.

Friday, January 17, 2003

I�m really having some problems with my dreams lately. This may sound totally irrelevant to life in Armenia, but since I�m dreaming it here in Armenia, these dreams must have some reflection of life here in a way.

The common theme of my dreams lately is WATER.

Yesterday it was me drinking water and it somehow spills out of my mouth. This didn�t happen one time, but it happened 3 times in 3 different dreams.

In today�s dream, I was driving a boat on a freeway, which people were looking at me as if I was nuts, but the road ends up being flooded and the cars around me had to stop, while I kept going, driving my boat round in the water. I have to tell you that I felt very clever to be in a boat.

I�m not sure what water dream I will have tomorrow, but it�s really starting to bother me to have so many water dreams.

What does this all mean?

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

I just posted on the Ara Manoogian forum chapter 4 of Shahan Natalie�s �The Turks and Us�. It is titled �BUILDING A NATION�.

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.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Today was a very long and exhausting day. I spent the whole day in Stepanagert running around, returning to Martuni in the dark and rain. I wont get into details as it was all the standard run-of-the-mill stuff.

I will tell you about something that happened yesterday, which I heard the conclusion of today.

I am a committee member of the Martuni water project, which is funded by USAID and managed by CRS (Catholic Relief Service). Part of my duty to the committee is to help manage a water project which is to resolve our water projects.

Yesterday I went to inspect work being done in an area near my new factory and while taking pictures of the pipes and work, I see walking towards the houses in the area a fox. Mind you, this was 11 AM and besides the chickens nearby eating from a garbage heap, there were people.

I didn�t notice in which direction the fox went after it went behind some building blocks, but figured that it was going towards the chickens that were eating garbage, so I walked towards that area to scare off the fox.

I neared the chickens and could not see the fox and suddenly, I could hear screaming up the street and could see some commotion. I ran over to see chickens running for their lives and a teenager chasing the fox, who jumped over a wall to escape a stoning the boy was giving it.

Next thing I see are men and young boys running out of their houses with shotguns. I really didn�t get a chance to count, but will estimate a dozen shotgun and maybe 30 people running after the fox.

I didn�t hear any shots, but later learned that they tracked down the fox, killing and skinning it.

I have to conclude that there is a very good chance that this year we will not have a mouse problem in our fields, as if we had mice, most probably the fox would have been stuffed with the little rodents, rather than coming into Martuni in broad daylight, looking for chicken to feed on.

I have to tell you that I felt sorry for the poor fox, but also understand that people can�t allow such a creature to come into the city and make off with their chickens which they raise to feed their families.

I also feel a little bit safer to know that many of my overly protective neighbors have shotguns and in the event of some threat (man or animal) from outside our neighborhood, I believe they know how to deal with it.

I know 2003 is going to be the year of the Armenian people and nation�I can feel it!!!

May everyone do what they have to from this point on find what they are looking for in life and follow their dreams so they enjoy all their living days on earth to there fullest.


Ps. We are welcoming in old new 2003 with rain which started at 12:01am.

Monday, January 13, 2003

Today is the eve of the Old New Year (referred hereafter as �ONY�). I�m not too up on the ONY, but people here seem to know all about it. It seems that based on the old calendar, January 14th of the new calendar is the day that January 1st fell on the old calendar.

A friend of mine gave me 2 candles to light so I could observe the ONY, one of them on the eve and one on the actual day.

So I decided that it would not hurt to play along and put a candle in a candleholder that I got as a gift from someone on the new New Year and lit it after it got dark outside, as I had been instructed.

I guess at midnight I�ll be welcoming in the ONY, that is if I happen to be awake and maybe I�ll even pop open a bottle of the bubbly (Jermuk) to welcome it in..

Happy ONY to all, may it bring to you all you want and then some.

I think I need a cup of coffee because I�m getting a little yawny and if I�m going to be awake to welcome in ONY, I have to do something to rid myself of the darn yawny feeling.

Note: The candle to the left is the actual candle that I have lit to welcome in ONY and the candle that I will light tomorrow will look almost identical to this candle at some point of its burning.

I did the artistic touch up to make it look like it is floating in the clouds (thought that was not my intention and maybe it does not even look like it�s floating in clouds). I wonder if I could do photo touchup for a living? I better keep my day job. Wait, I don�t have a day job!! Oh well.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Today I went on a duck hunt in Varanda (Fizuli). No big thrill for me or the Mayor of Martuni, as the two of us are not real hunters.

Though we usually try to hunt alone (less of a hunt and more just to walk around nature), this time we took with us an seasoned hunter (the Mayor�s nephew) and his assistant to carry the kill (another of the Mayor�s nephews).

The Mayor, his daughter and I dropped off the hunter and assistant, four kilometers closer to the front line from the Varanda lake (where I have a fish farm) and drove back to the lake to wait for them to make their way up stream.

While we were at the lake, we decided to do a little bit of hunting ourselves and on a little island with a tree that is in the middle of the lake, the Mayor swore that there were birds in the tree that we could kill if we took our boat out to get closer.

I looked at the tree and it looked like there were at least 7 large birds sitting on it, but looking through binoculars it was clear that they were just old nests which were drooping off the branches. Yes, we really are not hunters.

In a field nearby, it looked like there were geese feasting on a newly planted wheat field. We drove over and snuck up from behind some old abandoned buildings to find that they were not geese, but were storks. Too bad storks are not considered edible or else we would have had a feast.

We returned to the guard�s house at the lake and waited for our hunter and assistant to return with some kill.

Well after two hours, they showed up with two Mallard-ducks, one which looked to me to still be alive. I pointed this out and before I was able to take a picture, our hunter took the duck by its feet and smacked it in the head with the barrel of his rifle, decapitating the duck.

We returned to Martuni with our kill and on the way the Mayor and I admitted that we were not hunters but eaters and proved it when we got back by giving the Mayor�s wife the kill to clean and have ready for us to eat on Monday for lunch as a duck with wheat stew called �koorkoot� or I think we call it �herisa� (see comments from Mama Kocharian as to the difference). If we were real hunters, we would have cleaned the ducks our self and barbequed them on the lake instead of eating a turkey that the Mayor�s wife had fixed for us as she knew we were going to come back empty handed as we usually do.

One thing I learned today is that I really don�t get any thrill in hunting. I�m into hunting for the food, which means that animals that you can�t eat are off limits. I�m usually the driver that takes the hunters to hunt and snaps off the head of some dead animal to drain the blood from their lifeless body for those �hunters� that get squeamish doing such things.

I was thinking while waiting and watching the little black ducks in our lake that hunting should be something you do to survive and feed you and your family and not just for the thrill of going out to kill some living creature. Again, just my opinion and maybe there is more to hunting than what I see it to be.

I was planning on posting a picture of our kill, but I took a picture after the duck was decapitated and thought that it may be a little offensive to some of you animal lovers out there. Apologies to all you blood-thirsty hunters.
Sorry for not logging earlier, but I got home today from running around and I laid down for a nap and well, you get the idea.

Today it got chilly. It was 5c all day and tonight it�s 5.5c.

Since it was cold, the work on the roof was delayed as were not too sure if it�s a good idea to get started on it as if we have a freeze within 3 days of the cement being laid, it could crack and a roof is not a driveway where water is going to leak through. So I guess the roof will have to wait and I hope all that nice cement I�m trying to use up does not harden before I have a chance to use it.

Instead of the roof, one of my workers started to dig a trench along side the main water pipe that has never froze, but did last month. It�s going to be buried 50 centimeters deep, after being coated with tar, so it won�t freeze or corrode prematurely.

Today was bank day for me to distribute money to our aid recipients and on Monday I should be receiving the Christmas donations that one of our readers (DD) was so kind to arrange from members of her church. Eleven families will be receiving an unexpected one-time gift of $25 to $125 as a result of her efforts. I�m sure God will reward you and your fellow worshipers for your unselfish deeds.

I�m feeling much better now and really all that�s left of this flu is some very light discomfort in my throat (which I guess is not part of this flu) that the doctor said will go away.

I got to park my car in my parking area as the cement of the new driveway was dry enough to drive on. All that�s left of that project is to have a small steal tank or plastic barrel fitted with a heating element, circulating pump and some fluid that wont freeze. I was thinking vodka and water, but that could be a problem around here, as the evaporations rate is much higher for such fluids in this part of the civilized world. Does wine freeze? That would be cool to say that I heat my driveway with wine.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Today was 21c outside, but I stayed in bed nursing a light flu. Between drinking tea with honey, I slept and had some great dreams (an indications that I�m not all that sick).

When I woke a little while ago and watched a little bit of Armenian television via satellite.

It happens so often that when I turn on Armenian television they are showing music videos. I guess Armenians really love music. I think what they were showing was a rebroadcast of the holiday video show.

The first video I saw was System of a Down. I can see why System is so hot. Their music is supper energetic and all natural (I didn�t notice any synthesizers or drum machines), not to mention their songs are very thought provoking.

System was followed by a couple of somewhat patriotic Armenian videos.

The first was �Our Homeland�(?) and the pictures were about Armenia and its development. It was sung by quite a few different singers, but the only one I recognized was our very own Arthur (Madlene�s husband). The singers were all dressed very formal, as if they were attending an important meeting. The video was not staring the singers, but was staring none other than our president Robert Kocharian, who was showing how much the people love him and all of the major accomplishments that took place during the time he has been in office (as if he did all those things himself). There was even pictures of him and Kirk Krikorian.

The next video was about a solider that goes off to serve in the Armenian army. It was very touching and made me very proud to see our army in action with all its equipment and so on. Then at some point who becomes the center of attention in the video? None other than president Kocharian. In combat uniform, he passed out a metal to some soldier, shoots a rifle, looks through binoculars and so on. The video made him look very strong and in control.

Both those videos only lacked the message �Vote for Kocharian in 2003!!!� or maybe they did.

I can�t imagine that the artist of these songs envisioned that the video would be staring the president of Armenia.

I was waiting for the next video to be another presidential campaigning video, but it was some American video.

I watched for a little while longer, but didn�t notice any more Kocharian presidential videos or equal exposure videos for the other candidates.

The last video I watched was by Hasmik Garabedyan called �I�m leaving�. This video I�ve seen a few times and don�t care for it too much. It�s a video about a girl who is living with her boyfriend or husband (it�s not made clear) and while he is sleeping, she packs a suitcase and gets in a cab with him waking up and running after her, but he is unable to catch up to her before the cab drives off. The whole song repeats the words �I am leave my love and closing the door behind me� and has pictures of her remembering her and her boyfriend doing fun things together. Never did they show him being abusive or giving her reason to leave the way she did. She moves into a new place that she fixes up on her own, while remembering the good times she had with him. My understanding is that Hasmik is glorifying someone leaving their lover without any reason other than starting a new life alone someplace else (almost telling people it�s okay to leave what they have and start a new life in another country). Maybe there is another message that I�m too dense to understand.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

If I was living in the states and my computer power-supply burned out like it did today due to a sudden power serge, I would have been looking at placing a special order to the manufacture and spending $150 to get a new one (Mama Manoogian once had to do this).

Living in Armenia and Artsakh has its advantages when it comes to such situations, as we don�t have quick and easy access to such parts, thus there is always a service available that repairs things that we throw away in the West.

I took my power-supply to Armen, who is known for his resourcefulness to fix anything that is electrical and can be fixed.

Armen dropped everything he was doing and got to work disassembling my power-supply which clearly was made not to be taken apart, but Armen took it apart. He quickly determined the problem, took out a burnt component, which he gave to me so I could pick one up in Stepanagert. He put the power-supply back together so it would continue to work until we replace the burned out part.

The repair cost me a whole 1,000 drams (less than $2) and that includes Armen again taking the power-supply apart and replacing the component that I will bring from Stepanagert.

So my computer is back up and running and I saved myself $148+. I guess this is one of the advantages of living in Artsakh and Armenia, people really are very resourceful.

Like Harout said in his log, the weather is incredibly nice. It peaked at +20c today. I hope it does not get any hotter as the tress my come out of hibernation and start to bloom, which would mean when things get really cold in February, they blossoms would drop off and we would have another year of little or no fruit.
When I was in Yerevan I picked up a cassette copy of System of the Down�s �STEAL THIS ALBUM�. From the hand written cover, I really thought that this was a totally pirated copy (which I�m sure it is since it cost less than $1), but didn�t say anything to the seller as I really wanted to hear what System sounded like.

What did I think of System? Well I�m really not much into aggressive music and the first time I put it on (on my way back to Artsakh), I only got passed the first song before I turned it off.

The next time I heard it, I didn�t put it on, but a couple of teenagers put it on as we went to Stepanagert and were just passing Aghdam. They had no idea what it was and thought they didn�t understand a word being said, they liked it and I was forced to listen to the whole thing. If you have ever heard System, then you can only imagine what was going through my head while listening and driving through Aghdam�s destruction. It was defiantly an experience I wont forget.

So not only did the kids like it, but I got use to it and after making the most of it and listening to the words (which I rarely do), I really seemed to enjoy the message they were giving. Okay, maybe a couple of the songs I don�t totally agree with, but overall, the music and messages seem very cool.

Another thing I want tell you about is something that Harout told me when we were circling the Lake Sevan and talking about music and System (before I got the cassette). Harout said that a non-Armenian friend�s younger brother is a System fan and knows all about the Armenian Genocide because of System. I guess before every concert, System gives their fans an Armenian history lesson and particularly talk about the Genocide. I�m sure Mama Manoogian will soon be a System fan for this reason, as she has always perched and practiced that it is our job to educate non-Armenians of our cause if we are going to be successful in getting international recognition and resolve this problem we all face. It seems that System is doing just this by educating the next generation of non-Armenians, which is a huge service to everyone.

One downfall to listening to System is that I now crave pepperoni pizza and we have no pizza restaurants in Martuni. Why pizza and not fried chicken? I can deal with fried chicken!!!
My January 2nd log about "YOUTH HANGS HIMSELF OVER GAMBLING LOSS TO STEPANAGERT CASINO" became a little bit of a hot topic. Before it got too ugly, I decided it best to close the topic to comments. Since then I've received quite a bit of e-mail from our readers on this subject and learned a little more about the young man and also to the reasons why the casinos in the major cities of Armenia have been closed down.

If you are one of the 324 viewers of that topic or are interested in knowing more about this subject, you can visit the Ara Manoogian forum and read all about it.

Saturday, January 04, 2003

On my return to Martuni from Yerevan on the 28th, I had a minor fender-bender.

The incident took place 209 kilometers from Yerevan, which is someplace between Sisian and Goris.

On a straight stretch of road, I came up to a slow moving white Mitsubishi mini van (license number 153 SU 61) who was driving in the middle of the road where I could not pass him.

I put on my left directional indicator and he moved over to the right to allow me to pass.

I moved as far left as I could and began to pass. While passing at maybe 5 kilometers faster than the van, the van began to creep over into my lane. I honked my horn to warn the driver and next thing I know, he bumped into my car.

I kept driving straight and looked into my rearview mirror to see the van swerving all over the road, looking as if it would turn over, but the driver was able to regain control and we both stopped.

I got out to see the damage to my car and though it was minor, it was noticeable.

I asked him why he hit me and he said that I hit him. His passengers sided with him and claimed to witness me hitting them, though after my pointing out to them that their windows were fogged up, most of them backed down to their claims.

I asked that we exchange documents and the driver quickly told me that we have to move on as the road was going to be closed ahead and if we don�t move now, we will be stuck.

I followed them into Goris, figuring that we would go to the police station to settle our dispute, but as we passed through Goris and it was clear that we had passed the police station, I passed the van and signaled him to stop, which he did.

I told him that we need to go to the police station and he said that if we did, then I will have to pay for the repairs on his car. I told him that if I am at fault, I have no problem taking responsibility and would pay.

He told me that he would not go and I told him that I was going and will have to tell the police that he refused to come. He told me that would be fine with him.

I drove back into Goris to the Ministry of Internal Affairs building, where the police are found.

I was at first somewhat rudely welcomed, but as soon as they understood that I was from the Diaspora, they warmed up.

I first was taken up to see some guy named Grisha, who asked me what had happened. I told him and he got on the phone to have the van stopped and to return back. He told me that he would pull the guy by the ear and make him apologize to me for hitting my car.

It seems that the law is that the driver of the other car had no right to in anyway drive into me when I was passing and probably do it intentionally, but probably slid over due to ice and snow.

When we determined who the driver of the van was from making a few calls, it was Eshkhan and it seems that he is related to someone with a position of power.

I was next taken to see the deputy chief of police who started out trying to talk English with me.

He told me that these things happen and they would call Eshkhan to come see him the next time he passed Goris to apologize to him.

The deputy also said that he was sorry this happened and he personally would pay for the damage. I told him that it would not be necessary and that if Eshkhan caused the damage, then he should pay. The chief said that times are hard these days and it�s not a big deal for him to pay.

He then said to come with him and took me to a room where some other police people were having khorovads to celebrate a birthday.

We sat down and talked about life here and why I moved here and what they do and so on.

I didn�t drink as I had to still make it home and though they invited me to stay the night, I was in no mood to stay.

So a couple of days ago, the damage to my car was fixed which cost me $60. Though $60 is not a huge amount of money, I should see what the deputy will do when I tell him how much I spent to fix the car.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Today I got a call from Yerevan wishing me a happy New Year and asking me how the weather is? I told the caller that the sun was out and the temperature was 12c. The caller informed me that it was very cold and snowing in Yerevan.

Since my return, up until today, my main water-pipe had been frozen. You can only imagine how happy I was when water started to flow. My washing machine has been going non-stop since then.

I�m not sure when winter will continue, but right now we are enjoying a nice break from it.
I didn�t' t post to the Ara Manoogian forum a log that I found very disturbing sooner as I wanted to wait until everyone enjoyed their New Years celebration. For those interested in learning the effect of gambling and bribery on some Armenian youth today, please take a look at this posting (that means click here).

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Happy New Year to all!!!

I wish I could say that the New Years celebration was over, but it feels like it just got started. In fact, it will continue tomorrow and all the way to the 6th or 7th.

On the31st of December until today, I�ve been making my rounds. I�m stuffed and just want to explode.

This year as appose to last year was less festive, but in some ways more joyful.

It�s as if the people have a better understanding of life and the show is over and real life means of living are being applied. I also get the feeling that the people here are feeling that some of the long waiting for a new beginning is nearing, meaning that life just may get better for all soon.

Even I get a feeling of greater comfort, and being in more control of my surroundings exist. Maybe others are feeling the same power as I am.

I made my rounds to 5 houses before midnight, which included delivering Vagif Stepanian�s wheelchair. I think that was the greatest joy I got yesterday as I know that wheelchair will really make a huge difference in that mans life.

Today I took my car to the body shop and tomorrow afternoon, it will be ready for me to pick-up.