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Showing posts from December, 2012

2013 Is Going To Be Awesome

Fin. With 2013 about twelve hours away, I don't even have the time to look back on the past year and reflect on all of it, let alone the will. I have to keep moving. I want to build on past experiences rather than dwell on them. That we've all made mistakes is a given. Do we have regrets? Regrets exist only if we didn't learn anything from regretful incidents. Overall though, this past year has been good. I'm thankful for all of it, the good and the bad. But I want more in 2013. More involvement with people. More walking on hot coals. That brings me to what 2013 is really going to be about, for me but also for others, I hope. The Battle Cry for 2013 is, "I can't accept that." There is far too much indifference to injustice in this world. We see it in our communities, we experience it at work, when we shop, when we talk to people who think life's about getting ahead at the expense of others. We hear of it when we turn on the news, or read a pape

Every Moment Matters

I don't think there's any disclaimer that forces me to blog only about Romania, though inevitably, whatever I do write is somehow connected to living here. A couple of weeks ago, I watched an amazing TED talk given by Benjamin Zander, an orchestra conductor. At the end of the talk, he recounts the story of a lady he'd met, a concentration camp survivor. She told him that on the train to Auschwitz, she'd gotten mad at her younger brother for forgetting his shoes. She said something a typical big sister might say, "you're so stupid, can't you keep your things together?" Unfortunately her little brother didn't survive and that was the last thing she said to him. When finally freed, she made a vow that she wouldn't say anything that couldn't stand as the last thing she'd say. I loved the talk for many reasons, but that little story at the end really stayed with me. I've often thought about it, intrinsically, mostly after an argumen

The Art Of Getting Things Done (In Romania)

As I do nearly every morning I use the phone as a stimulant, reading new messages as a means of clearing the mindfog that blankets my still sleeping brain. Some days I groan in annoyance at the world, others I snap right up with a mission. Saturday was an example of the latter. One of the local news digest publications shared the mayor of Cluj, Emil Boc's, bold statement that he would fine the snow removal contractors if every street in the city wasn't clean by 9pm that evening. Oh really? My street wasn't cleaned once last year and so far this year it didn't look like any contractors were planning on bucking the trend. I instantly went over to the computer, searched for the city hall website and the contact numbers. Right at the top was the Mayor's Office. This is gonna be good , I thought, rubbing my hands with glee. If you're expecting a witty exchange with a bored and uninterested official you will be disappointed. The gentleman who answered the phone tol

Five Ways To Improve Romania (Why The Elections Don't Really Matter)

I don't write during the weekend (or at least, I don't publish) and by the time Monday comes around, we'll most likely have a good idea of Sunday's parliamentary election results. They won't be the official, 100%, definitive results because the losing party will claim fraud and the winning party will also claim fraud. After an official 'investigation' the winning party will be declared the winning party and the losers will continue their whining. Like the fake promises, the outcome is also scripted, I guess I just happened to get an advance copy. Let's be serious. The only winners will be the hobos who get a seat in Parliament. The newly elected Deputati (MPs) will be very interested in making the country better -for themselves and for their friends. Maybe amongst them are a handful of young idealists, I don't know who they are, but I wish them well. Instead of going on and on about how selfish, short-sighted, and spineless our politicians are, I&#

Why Did YOU Come Back? - Part 3, Paula

I'm happy to say the country's not running out of 'Romanians who came back' just yet. Paula was kind enough to answer the usual questions about her experiences abroad and to share her hopes for the future of the country in light of her foreign experience. 1. How many years did you spend studying abroad? Where? I spent four years as an International Studies and Sociology student at York University, Canada, and another year at the University of Amsterdam, where I got my MSc. in Political Science/Conflict Resolution and Governance. 2. Why did you come back? What do you do in Romania? Romania had absolutely no room in my initial post-graduation plan. I wasn't planning on returning to Canada and I wasn't going to stay in Amsterdam either, but I did consider looking for a job in the Hague, Brussels or even Warsaw at some point. On the other hand, I wasn't in the mood to start over from scratch in yet another country and I wanted to be close t

Maramureș: Where Romania Comes Home

We left Cluj on a very damp Friday evening. The bus was supposed to leave at 8pm but it didn't arrive at the station until 8:15pm. Fashionably late, aka: Romanian Time. Roxana and I were lucky to get the two seats across the aisle from each other, it was a full-house otherwise. It wasn't a bad trip, but what sucked big-time was that the bus smelled as thought it was made out of a giant air freshener, the kind you hang up on the car's rear-view mirror. My brain was nauseated but otherwise we made it out fine after three hours of driving up and down serpentine roads in the fog. Ionuţ and his dad picked us up from the bus station in Baia Mare and took us home. It's worthy of note that up until a week before I'd never spoken to Ionuţ. Life has a funny way of bringing people together. A friend from Toronto put us in touch to discuss an initiative being carried out by a Romanian students association -of which Ionuţ is vice-president of development. We met to talk about