My Swiss Miss Advertising Love in Zurich

On my long flight back from Macedonia to Washington DC, I transferred through Zürich International Airport (ZRH) in Kloten, Switzerland. There, as I took the driverless train from one international terminal to another, I fell in love.

Yes, I lost my heart on an underground people mover.

Blowing me a kiss from the other side of moving glass and steel was Heidi, my Swiss love. Calling to me, to my soul, to my tourist dollar, was an advertising beauty you must see to believe:

Read More

Business Tripping With the Boss

With this foray across Macedonia added to our sojourn to Lebanon, I’ve now business tripped twice with my boss, Tarek. And I have to say I like traveling with him. He’s a very relaxed yet organized traveler. He’s flown enough to have his routine down, he gives me space to do my own thing, and maybe best of all, we don’t sit near each other on long flights.

But it’s more than that, for Tarek is amazing to watch in-country. While I may seem to meet people everywhere and make friends easy, I am still junior varsity compared with his professional social skills. He makes connections, business connections, with a practiced skill.

In meetings with local people, be they Lebanese lawyers telling dirty jokes, Macedonians offering ouzo toasts at 10am, or clueless Americans trying to bluff, Tarek never looses his cool. He’s precise, diplomatic, professional. And I love watching him work.

Read More

My Anti-Jet Lag Drug Cocktail

In the book Pattern Recognition the main character put forth the idea that your soul only travels at human speed. So when you take a cross-Atlantic trip, jet lag is really the body trying to function in absence of your soul, which is slowly making its way to you at its own pace.

While that’s not medically true, I can appreciate the idea as my body tries to adjust to a six hour time change yet again. But the adjustment is actually rather mild, like the last few I’ve done.

Now it’s not because I am getting any younger, or somehow found a body Zen where I can adapt instantly. I may travel a lot, but not that much. No, I’ve just found better living through chemistry.

Read More

Freestyle Vlogging From Downtown Skopje

Might you wonder what its like to stand in Skopje’s central square? The open space at the center of town where everyone meets, greets, and begins their social scene for the weekend?

Luckily, during my hectic scrambling from one meeting to another with Eight Shoe Sue, I paused in Macedonia Plaza long enough to give you a taste of urban living in Southern Europe. From this plaza, famous for the Stone Bridge over the Vardar River, where you can have a noon-time epiphany, a myriad of walking streets spiral off in every direction.

Read More

My Geek Dating Life Revealed

As a professional geek, an uber-geek even, and the Director of WiFi addiction, influences the way I interact with the fairer sex.

But just how might my geekdom affect my dating life? Listen to my interview with Free Software Macedonia geeks, and learn:

Read More

Be Quiet in Sveti Jovan at Kaneo

It’s so quiet, I can hear people talking father up the hill. I strain to tune them out. Why? Because I am sitting on the precipice of Sveti Jovan at Kaneo, a tiny, beautiful 13th Century Orthodox Church perched on a cliff overlooking Lake Ohrid.

This location is spiritual even if you are an Atheist. Protruding out into the air above the tectonic lake, it unites man with nature in ways few places can. And brings you back to the struggles man has with her when from the left you hear church bells , while from the right, an imam’s call to noon prayer.

Read More

Oh Yeah, Let’s Go Lake Ohrid

It is a beautiful Al Gore Spring day in Macedonia and what better day-trip than a drive to the fabled Lake Ohrid. This tectonic lake is mentioned so often by Macedonians as the greatest tourist destination in the country that you start to wonder if there are any other destinations.

You also start to wonder if Lake Ohrid might be suffering from the over-hype common in small countries with not much going for them. Or in countries who might have the best in the region, but when compared on a global basis, pale.

The beaches of Yalta and Nungwe are the best two examples I can give. Both are over-hyped in their respective countries mainly because they are the best in the region. On a global basis, both are quite lacking.

Read More

Al Gore Spring: Sunny Days in January

I am here a T-club, a too-hip outdoor café on Macedonia Boulevard, the see and be seen walking street in Skopje, and they should change the café’s name to T-shirt for it’s that warm today.

Do not tell me this is January, or that I should be shivering in wool and leather. Global warming is here and the Europeans, with their quick wit, are already calling warm winter days an “Al Gore Spring” after his movie.

Read More

Hello From A Smoking Hell

Over the past year, I’ve eagerly awaited Washington DC’s approaching non-smoking legislation. Smoke Free DC makes all indoor spaces, even bars and restaurants, smoke free establishments. Smokers are relegated to the streets, like the social lepers they are.

But before I could truly enjoy the wondrous clean air of a burning tobacco free city, I was hustled off to Macedonia and into my own personal hell. A thick, stinky hell of chain smokers.

See these two guys at the left? They sat next to me at a big table of people and chain smoked the entire party. And they were not alone. Seemingly, the entire country chain smoked. And I’m not talking about a cigarette here or there, or maybe two or three a day.

Read More

Want a Social Life in Skopje? Live Alone!

In America, its odd to be living at home after you graduate from college. You better have a damn good explanation if you’re still eating Mom’s cooking if you’re old enough to drink her under the table.

Not so in many parts of the world. In many countries, and not just the religiously conservative states, children are expected to live at home until they are married. Sometimes even after that.

When talking with such people, they often cite economic reasons for still living at home. Reasons I think are bunk. I’ve gone over the math with them, and yes, the numbers prove me right – they could afford to live alone, or with housemates, if they so desired.

Read More