Pustolovina: adventure in Serbian

Friday, November 24, 2006

scariest e-mail ever

So, I am on the Belgrade US Embassy's e-mail list. When I get a message from them, it is never good news: "stay away from rallies... or certain splavovi."

The most recent one is truly horrifying:

Warden Notice #14-06 American Embassy Belgrade

November 22, 2006

Avian Influenza

How to Prepare for “Sheltering-In-Place”

Health professionals are concerned that the continued spread of a highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) virus among animals in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe has the potential to significantly threaten human health. If a virus such as H5N1 mutates and spreads easily from one person to another, avian influenza may break out globally. While there are no reports of sustained human-to-human transmission of avian influenza, the U.S. government and international health agencies are preparing for a possible pandemic.

Depending on the severity of a pandemic, commercial airlines might drastically curtail or even cease operations. Travel restrictions could also impede people from returning to the United States or fleeing to other countries. For these reasons, it may make more sense to “shelter-in-place” (i.e., stay home and practice “social distancing” to avoid contagion) for an appropriate period of time.

United States Residents: The Department of Health and Human Services suggests that US residents prepare two weeks of emergency supplies (food, water, medicines, etc.) in order to shelter-in-place during an influenza pandemic.

American Citizens Abroad: Due to varying conditions overseas, Americans abroad should evaluate their situation and prepare emergency supplies accordingly (non-perishable food, potable water, medicines, etc.) for the possibility of sheltering-in-place for at least two and up to twelve weeks. Water purification techniques such as boiling, filtering and/or adding chlorine to locally available rainwater, swimming pools, lakes, rivers and wells may replace the need to store large quantities of water.

What can you do on a daily basis? Cover your cough. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to eradicate viruses and bacteria or apply a hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol content when soap and water are not available. Stay home if you are sick. Vaccinate yourself against seasonal flu.

Travel: American citizens living in or traveling to countries with human or animal cases of H5N1 virus should consider the potential risks. Keep informed of the latest medical guidance and practical information and plan accordingly. Consult www.travel.state.gov for the latest tips on international travel.

On-Line Resources: Detailed information about suggested preparations, as well as planning checklists, are available on the U.S. government’s one-stop web site on pandemic influenza (www.pandemicflu.gov), also the World Health Organization (www.who.int/en/) and the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) websites.

12 weeks of 'sheltering-in-place?' Drinking from swimming pools?

Maybe I should unsubscribe from these e-mails.

Monday, November 20, 2006

sweet dream

On Saturday night, I dreamed of Barack Obama.

I was back in college. He was a professor. It was Thanksgiving. He was organizing an ‘orphan’s thanksgiving’ for all of us who had no where else to go. [I always had places to go on Thanksgiving, but in dreamland I didn’t.] And it became a huge production. People abandoned their plans with their families in order to go to Barack’s house. I was in charge of baking the pies (I explained to Barack how my family always has key lime pie for Thanksgiving, but that I can’t find the ingredients in Belgrade.) and writing the thank-you notes (which made sense in the dream). Over dinner, Barack described Illyrian architecture. (Is there such a thing as Illyrian architecture?) My dreams are rarely so interesting... usually just my teeth falling out.

I do want him to be the next American president… I know he’s a little young and inexperienced, but I am not at all excited about anyone else.

And he passed my dream test, which means quite a bit in my own little world. Usually when I dream about famous people or acquaintances, they do terrible things. In college, I dreamed that one of my professors killed my mom. I couldn’t look him in the eye the rest of the semester.

a first

I was ‘controlled’ on the tram yesterday. When the ticket-checking man asked to see my ticket, it took me a bit to find it, but it ended without a fine.

I don’t take public transportation too often, maybe an average of once a week. In over a year of living here, this was the first time I was controlled. I am glad that I had bothered to validate my ticket. Sometimes, I don't.

When I was visiting Sarajevo and Zagreb, I was controlled on the first trams I took.

I don’t know if this is praise for those cities or Belgrade.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I am the majority

So I am literally as pleased as I could be with last week's elections.

In every contest--senate, state rep., state supreme court, initiatives, county ballot measures, etc.-- I voted with the majority. Everything that I voted for won. That has never happened to me before. It's really satisfying.

I feel better about going back to my little corner of the states someday.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Bread and Circuses

The first half of my yesterday was consumed with bread making. To mark The International Day against Fascism and Anti-Semitism, Women and Black had a vigil followed by a potluck party. The dishes were all Lebanese. I don’t really know why that was decided upon. Maybe it was an attempt to be fair and balanced. Regardless, it was delicious.

It was my first attempt at cooking with Serbian yeast, which comes in a paste, about the consistency of softened butter. The bread wasn’t Hoda’s quality, but I was satisfied and I brought the recipe to a coworker today.

Yesterday evening, I met up with a few Americans that sent an e-mail to Women in Black about a month ago, saying they would be traveling through Belgrade, wanting to know more about the organization. It turns out that they are circus people. They had been volunteering in Kosovo with some sort of reconciliation-through-circus-skills initiative.

As we were walking along the pedestrian street, we happened across some circus punks (I never knew there was such a thing) that they knew. These two guys were putting on a show—impressive juggling (fire, lots of balls), some acrobatics, etc. I hadn’t seen juggling in years—it was really entertaining. Watching the little kids around us get excited was almost as good as the show itself.

When sitting in a park and drinking non-alcoholic spritzer (if there is such a thing) was cut short by a downpour, we sought refuge at A&T’s nearby flat. A’s visiting brother does magic, so the evening ended with card tricks, magically twisted forks, a levitating 500 dinar note, potato juggling and much discussion of the juggling and magic subcultures, which I have learned are very curious places.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

vote early, not often

I dropped my ballot off at the embassy yesterday. It is currently in a diplomatic pouch slowly making its way to Seattle. Convenient for me, my county is still a 'as long as your ballot is post-marked (or embassy-stamped) by election day it counts' place, not a 'we have to have your ballot in our hand when the polls close' place.

Diplomatic pouches are not known for their speed. My ballot will only come into play if there are a couple of recounts, which is not at all unprecedented in my purple homeland.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

mildly noteworthy

So I realize that writing about the weather is approximately the most boring thing ever, but the weather has been noteworthy as of late.

Last week, it was 27 degrees (that’s 80 for you Fahrenheit users).

Yesterday (and today) it has been snowing.

Day of the Witches

So I write Serbian compositions once a week for my Serbian class. I have been waiting for an at least mildly interesting topic so I could post it here. I’ve written about diabetes and the time I got my foot caught on the bus. This week, the topic was fashion, still not too interesting to me, and the grammar point to work on is ‘if…then…’ statements. I am fairly pleased with my composition. I don’t know if it is satisfying or horrifying that this is my writing level after a year or so of Serbian study.

[The English translation follows.]

Odeća me ne interesuje mnogo. Ne pratim modu, samo je gledam. Ali volim da napravim kostime. Sreda je bila Dan veštica, jedan od mojih omiljenih praznika. Obično, Amerikanci nose kostime kada slave Dan veštica.

Prihvatala sam poziv za žurku Dana veštica i morala sam da napravim kostim. Da sam imala više para, kupila bih odličan kostim. Da sam imala više vremena, kupila bih materijal i šila kostim. Razmislila sam o svojom kostimu. Odlučila sam da se obučem kao noćno nebo. Već sam imala tamno plavu haljinu. Pravila sam zvezde od kartona i folije i oblake od loptica od vate. Zakačila sam ih na haljinu iglama.

Kostim je bio uspešan. Na žurci, moja prijateljica mi je rekla da da je bio takmičenje kostima, ja bih bila pobednica.

Clothing doesn’t interest me much. I don’t follow fashion, I just look at it, but I love to make costumes. Wednesday was Halloween (in Serbian, literally ‘Day of the Witches’), one of my favorite holidays. Usually, Americans wear costumes when they celebrate Halloween.

I accepted an invitation for a Halloween party and I had to make a costume. If I had had more money, I would have bought an excellent costume. If I had had more time, I would have bought fabric and sewed a costume. I thought a lot about my costume. I decided to dress as the night sky. I already had a dark blue silk dress. I made stars out of cardboard and tin foil and clouds from cottonballs. I pinned them to the dress.

The costume was a success. At the party, my friend told me that if there had been a costume contest, I would have been the winner.