Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas

In case I do not have time to blog between now and December 25th, I wish all my readers a Merry Christmas. I get both Western (Catholic and Protestant) Christmas and Eastern (Orthodox) Christmas off this year. Well I got them both off last year too, but I was unemployed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Accordion Player

For most of the fall I walked past an old Russian accordion player on the way to work. I took to giving him four to five som each time I saw him. He always expressed great appreciation. When the weather got cold I did not see him for many weeks. Finally, yesterday it was quite warm and I saw him again. I gave him 10 som this time. Since I have finished all my work for the semester I figured it was a good way to start my Christmas break.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Election Day

Today they are holding parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan. I predict that President Bakiev's party, Ak Zhol, will win a majority of the seats. But, despite the elections, today looks like any other calm Sunday in Bishkek.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Possibly the coolest present ever (R-E-S-P-E-K-T)

Today was the last day of classes of my first semester of teaching. My final class was my Russian Politics course. I brought some snacks and most of the students showed up despite the class being optional. This was a bit of a surprise since the last class for my Democratization course had only four students show up. My last Political Culture class managed to have an even lower attendance with three students responding to my advertisement of free food. But, the biggest surprise was what the students gave me. They presented me with a shirt bearing the university emblem. Beneath it they had written out CCCP (USSR in Russian) and then vertically spelled out the acronym in Russian as Samyi, Samyi, Super, Respekt. The t in Respekt then intersected with Otto written horizontally at the bottom of the shirt. On the back of the shirt many of the students had written personal messages and thank you notes with their signatures. I spent a long time in the desert looking for "just a little bit."


Quoted material from A. Franklin

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Almost Done

The semester is almost over. I am just waiting for 40 more research papers due tomorrow at 5pm Bishkek time so I can finish calculating final grades. Early this week my students filled out their evaluations of me . Today and tomorrow my classes are optional. My students can show up and hang out with me for a while over some snacks if they want. Or they can use the time to work on their research papers. So far most of my students have taken the second option.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sunday at the office

Today I came into work to meet a student. While waiting for her I read and marked a draft of a research paper by another student. Now that our meeting is over I am going to delay going over any more research papers until tomorrow.

Friday, December 07, 2007

My bank's new building

This morning I went to my bank's new location around the corner from their old place to deposit a big chunk of my last pay packet. The new building is much larger and built like a fortress. They have metal detectors, armed guards and who knows what else. The actual deposit of money is even done underground behind bullet proof glass. So I think my money should be safe.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

New Publication Coming Soon I Hope

I finally got my copy edited proofs for my chapter, "Loss, Retention, and Reacquisition of Social Capital by Special Settlers in the USSR, 1941-1960." It is scheduled to appear in Cynthia Buckley and Blair Ruble (eds.), Going Home? Population Movements and Belonging in Eurasia (Washington DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2008). I have a deadline of 28 December 2007 to make the corrections and return the proofs. So I hope the book finally sees print sometime early next year. The book is the result of two workshops I attended at the Kennan Institute in 2004 and 2005.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

From One Semester to the Next

Now that I have nearly finished teaching a whole semester here, I think I have a better grasp on how to manage my time next semester. For one thing I know the subjects I am teaching next semester better than the ones I taught this semester. I also know more what to expect out of teaching here. Because I had been falsely led to believe that university teaching was something on the order of brain surgery or rocket science I started this semester with a lot of unjustified anxiety. I am still not sure why hundreds of people on search committees at universities including several here claimed I was "incapable of ever teaching." I found teaching much easier than working as a barrista.

At any rate I think this next semester I can make some time to do some research. Now that I have an institutional position I might even be able to get some funding to carry out this research. But, even if I fail to get any funding, I have a steady income now and should be able to gain access to Soviet era archives here in Bishkek. Previously I had no money and except for the US and Estonia no country would give me permission to look at any of their archival collections. Having removed the boulder of unemployment from my life everything else looks like a cake walk.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Today's Progress

Today I marked up two student drafts of research papers and wrote one letter of recommendation for a third student. I might have done more if I could have gotten the printer in front of me to work. I was too lazy to switch computer terminals and try another printer.