Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Target Practice

It's been a big week. Something of a turning point.

Prior to Monday I still had zero sales. I don't want to make excuses for the relatively slow get go to my career as a professional solution slanger (sic)...

Despite the work ethic of a chinese child laborer, addicted to cocaine; I couldn't close deals. Our first project was particularly challenging, for a number of extremely extenuating reasons. Heading "directly to the deep-end without passing go" made me very uncomfortable. I also believe it made me worker harder and learn more than I otherwise would have. For fear of looking as capable as a severely premature baby, strapped to the "most serious incubator of all times".

Literally, 9 weeks and thousands of phone calls later, all of that changed. And it happened more rapidly than I imagined possible. It was the last week of the month. A naturally urgent month in the business of sales as yet to be reached monthly targets loom. I had a few decisions floating out with people who were in places to make the decision -or pull the trigger as people on the floor tend to say. I was reassured my pitches had gone well, but sitting and waiting I was not hopeful. You learn to lower your hopes pretty quick after a few weeks of only hearing "No!"

But this time I had kept trying. In the words of our boy F. Scott Fitzgerald "...the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther...."

Then, in one week I hit my targets and doubled the sales of my team members.

I hope this is sustainable.

I've had this semi-developed notion about short term sacrifice in the name of long term gain. That's obviously the case here. I sucked it up each day and tried my best, the depressing lack of results and intense nature of the job made things all the more difficult to endure. While I had this ill-formed Jenga tower of thoughts on the idea of doing the hard stuff now, it never occurred to me that I might be going through such a situation myself.

How obtuse. Extreme thanks to those who listened to me bitch and bemoan in those first uncertain days. As well to my team members who offered endless motivation and constantly critiqued with the most constructive of criticisms.

My desire to earn has been made insatiable by the smell of uncapped earnings.

Let's hope I can keep it up. By hope I mean I now have much reason to do everything in my power to keep it up.

In the names of Saturday morning. What a great routine! Other than it's a creepy prelude to axe murder.

More to come on my thoughts on morning routines in the future. As inspired by @sbdot

OH YEAH: I came home the other day and Sarp was watching the Discovery channel and I understood what they were saying. The month of August has brought some much welcome diversity to the CNN/BBC duet that I was previously restricted to. I like the news but after 45 minutes you just start hearing the same things again.

Off to return some videotapes.


I felt a little uncomfortable. My black shirt and increasingly giant, not to mention greek-looking, hair stood out amongst the sea of soft blue jerseys and skin heads. Teams of riot police stood a few meters back from each entrance. A quasi eroded concrete wall and rusty blue fence posts engaged the tired looking stadium. The odd colour and floor to ceiling aspect of the turnstlye rendered it's resemblance to a weird, smurf-torture device.

We found the beer line quickly enough. It seems Slovaks have yet to understand the concept of monopoly, as beer within the event was some of the cheapest in town. A far cry from Sens games. My boss had copped some free tickets to the Slovian vs. Olympiakos 3rd round Champions League Qualifier. Rather than do much needed laundry and get a good nights sleep, my arm was twisted enough to coerce me into participation. Mostly I don't like soccer (sic) that much. I figured it might be a cool experience though so I checked it out.

As the kick off edged nearer, the increasing pace of a beating drum made it feet like the pulse of the crowd was going into tachycardia. I learned we had tickets directly across from the realest of hooligans. Despite a quick 2-0 deficit their hollers crescendoed throughout the match. Their determination was admirable, and might have helped the home team had it been bestowed upon them instead.

We went out for some beers after, sat on a patio and watched supermodels walk by.

Just Another Wednesday Morning

Nothing to see here. Last night I went out with a few co-workers after a long day at the office. A few pints (for dirt cheap) on a rooftop patio, after pounding the phones, is relaxing. We're investing most of our time in calling America these days so we usually end up working late to make the most of the time zone discrepancy. People are also more aggressive, which is making my job a lot of fun/crazy. I didn't get home until later than I care to say, and tonight I'm going to my first Football Champions League qualifier. Although I wasn't by any means "piss-liquored drunk" it's not something I would have done a few months ago. My priorities have shifted. Not too much though, usually I'm still pretty week-day boring. I also still lack vegetables in my diet.

Rewind 80 days or so and my weeknights were stark in difference. I sat huddled over my pitch, in a dimly lit kitchen. I practiced and wished and hoped things would go better tomorrow. I poured the majority of my time and effort into work. There was no work-life balance.

I closed another deal yesterday. I'm beginning to believe quotes like: Success is failure meeting persistence.
It's not such a glamorous idea but I think it's encouraging. You don't gotta be born a Mozart, bitches.

Aside: Forget Starbucks, that gang of baristas doesn't even franchise. While I plot a new scheme to sway their over-caffeinated drip coffee in my direction I think I should make a Bratislava survival book. Something flashy, "Bratislava, WTF: All I needed to know for my year in Slovakia." Or something like that.
When I picked up Jackie at the train station people were lost and confused. No information was available. Staffing a little booth with a really hot girl would probably help with profitability. I would need to learn things like number of english speaking people arriving, and what things are like at the bus station and airport...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


This blog has deviated a little bit from what I really want planned it to be. It's my own fault, obviously. My recent claim to extremely hard-earned victory was just what we needed.

While a large part of this web-diary will chronicle my gregarious escapades in Eastern Europe, in turn saving me from writing a plethora of e-mails, it also needs to document my quest to achieving optimal awesomeness. You see, I'm not all fun and tricks. Despite what gossip you might've heard on the street corners, or the image of myself I've managed to project on this url.

It's about building a personal brand, whatever that even means.

It's about time management and persistence. It's about 10,000 hours. It's about patience. It's about earning. It's about riding out the dip. It's about humility and the desire to learn from mistakes. It's about making thousands of phone calls just so that one person will say yes. It's about doing things now.

The only way you can find out what's around the next corner is to go take a look. Working hard today will put us in a better situation tomorrow.

Monday, July 27, 2009


I finally convinced a rogue VP Global Health Outcomes to throw some scrilla my way.

I got what it takes to win, while ya'll are thinking I'm trash

Loving the taste of success and this drink in my glass

As TV pundits have begun to declare the bull market in full swing, I have raised my cash position and locked in healthy profit in the ol' Investopedia accounts. I've heard that flexibility is important. Not just the yoga kind.

I have a lot to blog about, but not a lot of time. Primarily as a result of my crazy antics that will soon be the subject matter of a multitude of posts. Coming soon, to a blog near you.

In the interim I still have a few pieces of my life to pick up. Needless to say, but which I will say anyways: I had a great time with Jackie.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


5 hours later, at 10:00 am it's too hot to sleep. My blinds are closed and I'm in bed with sunglasses on. The fun started rather promptly after I met Jackie at the train station.

Jackie and I shared a few memories, and vodka-Fanta, while we waited for Sarp to return from the airport. A few minutes later he arrived with Christina, a girl who hails from near Valencia, and our resident couch surfer for the night. I immediately hid my few valued possessions and we went to Dezmara.

I'd only been privy to the hole in the ground, that was Dezmara, once before. Flashback to the Wednesday night of the Champion's League final: I ducked as to not hit my head on the low stone roof as I stepped down into the tiny underground room. A man slumped on a stool at the base of the stairs and vomited on himself. Closer to the bar two tired looking late to middle aged women groped one another. This time was different. I was pleased to see the majority of my colleagues. Ridiculousness ensued. I remember being very inebriated very early on.

I could go into more detail about my escapades. But to be honest I don't really feel like it. What shitty reporting on my life, for you, the internet reader. Watch twenty minutes of The Real Cancun and you'll start to get an idea. Just more rainy and communist, but the level of disregard for societal standards and level of consumption are on par.

I went to bed at 5:18 am.

Instead of sleeping I think I'm going to make some coffee and read. It might be futile but I won't know unless I try. Plans for the day include trying not to feel too bad for myself and recovering for tonight. When I am so decrepit and useless on weekends it makes me excited about work on Monday. Weird?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Matter of Fact

GQ: N.W.A’s stage show used to include a lot of weapons. You’d be waving guns. They were unloaded, but they were real. Is it true that you traveled with the guns on one bus and the bullets on the other bus, so that problems wouldn’t develop?

Dr. Dre: That’s not true. [Pause] What good would that do? [Laughs]

Thursday, July 23, 2009

ADD Blogging

Lightning is blowing up the sky in every direction. It's not raining so gale force winds are blowing dust into my eight story windows. It's swelteringly hot and sleep seems unlikely.

Work was especially tedious today. It was an exercise in futility and a lesson in patience. The American obsession with voicemail is seriously getting in the way of my work.

In other news, the S&P 500 is marching higher, making my Investopedia account green with positive percentage points. I need to accumulate more dollars so that I can do cool stuff.

My boss gave me what he says is his favourite book. Everyone he has lent it to has gone on to be wildly successful, or so he tells me. I guess the pressure is on.

Jackie is coming tomorrow, I'm excited. It makes the world feel smaller.

UPDATE: There is a half-built building across the courtyard. People live in it but they ran out of money so couldn't finish the top two floors. I just watched the entire roof blow off and come crashing down. This storm is nuts.

UPDATE II: This morning about 30 cars were completely crushed by falling debris. Felled trees and what had once been a roof blocked the entire road. Sarp was lucky to have parked up the street.

A Note on Change

It has been swelteringly hot here. As a result, sleeping, which I disdain enough on a regular day, now is even harder to attain.

In Slovakia, it's a commodity of the highest regard. I've learned this the hard way about 4 times this week.

At your local gas station, or convenience store: If you don't have exact change, people give you looks of scorn and contempt. It's a malicious bluff to try and extort you out of your last pieces of Nickel-Zinc alloy. You feel a bit better because you know someone just did it to them. It has always been at extremely regular times of day and only a few cents but none of these bitches have coinage.

I guess the Euro is still too fresh here.

UPDATE: On Twitter the other day I mentioned that the water in my bathroom tap was brown. Turn out the water in the washing machine was too. FML.

UPDATE II: Today at the grocery store it happened again. 9 cent short, it's just another hidden cost of life here.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pohodatrocity 2009

The small tent was getting thrashed around consistently by the vicious gusts. I was coming up on an hour, trying desperately the entire time to deal with the lake that was forming in the bottom of my polyester shelter. Sirens blared for longer than any normal circumstances could justify. My phone flashed "Low Battery" twice before turning itself off. I sat for a few minutes longer, soaking wet and freezing cold feeling particularly unconnected. I overheard some friends in an adjacent tent. "A structure collapsed, people are dead, this thing is over." It was time to formulate an exit strategy.

If you had asked me July 17, 2008 what I would be doing a year from now, my wildest guess wouldn't have proved anywhere near accurate. The reality: speeding down highways towards the East of Slovakia without any ID, in an uninsured car, filled with liquor and an illegal American immigrant proved well beyond the imagination during my most distracted daydreams. Work had just finished for the week and two days ripe with beer, music, girls and debaucheries lay directly ahead. The drive was especially scenic as we weaved past bright sunflower fields, imposing castles and cars packed full of gypsies. We arrived at the abandoned Trencin airfield. A decrepit looking control tower and soviet era AA guns stood watch as the long cue of cars snaked in. Forest covered mountains framed the scene; Trencin castle perched on a particularly jagged jut of rock to the East providing a beautiful contrast to the rancid portable toilets and hordes of people seeking asylum from sobriety.

The sheer size of the event would remain unfathomable to me for a little while still. I started to get an idea after trying to meet up with some friends, not to mention the 35 minute walk from car to tent. Estimates put the number of party-goes just shy of 40,000. Despite the huge volume of people I managed to rendezvous with some friends from Montreal who had came to B-Slav a few days earlier. We poured contraband vodka into 2 liter plastic bottles and spent the next hours swigging vociferously as The Ting-Tings rocked out not far in front of us. As the first show of the festival came to an end so did our ethanol supply. We headed excitedly, something between speed-walking and dancing, to the nearest beer tap where we promptly punished plastic cups of beer with impunity. Half an hour after midnight we found ourselves in the front-row of the O2 tent. It was the largest sheltered area of the festival and the place where MSTRKRFT, the Canadian DJs would be performing. We managed to get their attention as they set-up. They seemed perplexed at the presence of Canadians in Eastern Slovakia and even tossed us a few tall cans. To say the show was one of the most incredible I've ever been to would be an understatement.

I staggered back to the tent, grabbing aKofola on the way. You see, by this point, I was in serious need of electrolytes. My flip-flops ravaged the skin separating my first two toes. The grass appeared more appealing than the tent and so I passed out under the stars outside the small triangular prism I was meant to share with Sarp. My concept of time at this point became unimaginably skewed and the night was punctuated by the comings and goings of various people in various states of mind. Around 5am, music was still coming from a few stages; the first rays of sunshine shot up at the Easterly sky. My buddies from Montreal, minus one, arrived back at the tent and collapsed on the ground. Butch stumbled back a few hours later. He had had some trouble trying to find one tent in an ocean of canvas domes.

I rolled around my sleeping bag and watched cumulous clouds idle in the bright blue sky as I drifted in and out of consciousness. I thought about life as a hippie before I re-inserted my earplugs and escaped chatter in foreign language and a bright-blue pick up truck filled with hornists pumping out conspicuous tunes on their twisted pieces of shining silver. Crickets jumped from my arm to my back. I began to sweat as 8 am and 25 degrees celsius bore down on me. The thing about airports is, there are no trees, and therefore no shade. I felt bad, but not too bad -knowing that all around me there were literally thousands of people who shared my woes, provided much comfort. The wind offered a reprieve and allowed me to sleep until we decided to head into town.

Without too much trouble we found an outdoor swimming pool. It was like any other community pool except everyone had a beer or seven and the lifeguard chairs were empty. I tried to make myself feel better with corn on the cob and liquor in my Kofola. We swam and slept in the sun for a few hours. I noticed that most of the people who were fast asleep on the pool deck were also toting Pahoda wristbands. As the forecast predicted, heavy, menacing clouds began to accumulate in the sky. I copped a ride back to the festival with my boss ahead of Sarp and the others who remained a little longer at the pool.

The wind was relentless, coming from every direction. A mountainous perimeter encircling the festival grounds provoked the low lying clouds, as they rolled in, to release their contents on the valley floor. As seems to be the norm, I was too hungover to properly pack for this trip and found myself in shorts and a wife-beater facing increasingly dire meteorological conditions. We returned to find thousands of people scrambling. My friend joked that Slovak's were half-gremlin, half-sugar, naturally they needed to get out of the pending rainstorm. By the time we ate a quick bowl of curry the rain began falling in heaps. Instead of heading to the O2 tent with my boss and co. I decided to check on my own tent, and wrap myself in a sleeping bag for awhile. This turned out to be one of the best decision I ever made.

I walked briskly towards the tent, silently cursing the ubiquitous yellow and blue ponchos that mocked me. Our tent was in bad shape. I re-secured it to the ground before diving inside and into my sleeping bag. Water dripped in from all sides. The thin material was saturated with cold moisture and stuck to me whenever I accidently brushed against it. No amount of packing would have protected me from the elements this time but my particularly poor clothing situation kept me prisoner in my sleeping bag. I wanted to go seek shelter with my coworkers in the O2 tent, and get too drunk to worry about weather patterns. The unfortunate thing is that that is exactly what a huge amount of festival goers did. A homegrown hip-hop act was spitting rhymes to a packed house when it all went awry [watch the video at the bottom].

Thursday, July 16, 2009


The beautiful May weather was contrasted by the wettest June since the records started, as evidenced by the flooding Danube, or Dunaj, as my Slovak neighbours call it. July has been witness to frequent bursts of intense rain as well.

They don't have earth worms here. Not that I have seen anyways. Just snails and slugs, which on average seem to be about 3 inches long. They drag themselves across the sidewalks at an excruciatingly slow pace leaving a trail of "slug goo" likened to contrails in the sky. It makes for exceptionally nasty sidewalks as the locals don't seem to have much regard for the friendly, albeit gross looking Gastropods. I do my best to avoid crushing them but mainly for the sake of my shoes. Nevertheless most damp mornings a veritable slug genocide occurs.

On an equally atrocious note, the drainage and sewer systems in this city are "Communist as hell" if you know what I mean. All too often I am strolling to a bus stop, or the local gas station dodging the remains of half squished slugs, when I am punched in the olfactory glands by the pungent odor of fermenting sewage. I feel a little obtuse, for the number of times I've seen construction workers taking long slow pulls form vodka bottles should have better alerted me that the manual labour here is bereft of any real quality control standards.

At least I don't live in Toronto.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Note on Subtlety

Today, while making my way to the office, I got off the tram a stop earlier than usual. I'm quite tired you see, with Marc-Andre visiting and all. I decided for a quick Tesco detour to get some nourishment since my fridge is emptier than a gypsies stomach. Ergo the preemptive tram debarkacation.

On my stroll through the Tesco parking lot, I glanced to the left and saw a man with only a few millimeters of hair capping the head that looked too small for the body which had undoubtedly been injected with copious anabolic substances. He stood in a black under-armour shirt and black pants. I can only assume a hefty gold chain draped around his neck. He stood beside his matching black Merc-Jeep and swigged from a 1.5L bottle of water. On his left forearm was a "HITMAN" tattoo.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fake it 'til You Make it.

I'm watching clips of the boiler room, in an an attempt to get in a better head-space for work. A future post will discuss what I have found to be intricacies of the term head-space

You know the fall mornings, when the bright, clear, cloudless blue sky beckons you outside. The dry leaves crackle and dance in the wind; a pleasant change from the wet and dreary overcast that all too often predominates the Kingston forecast. The dry air cuts your nose, and what had just seemed like a pleasant breeze suddenly negates any comfort your cardigan offered, seconds ago. It's a lot colder than it looked out.

It was on one such a morning that I learned an important lesson.

Like most Saturday mornings I dragged myself to Starbucks, and then my local campus library, despite my crippling hangover. I patrolled the first floor, looking for a spot at a table that looked "just-right." Or maybe that was just part of the ritual procrastination that punctuates such tedious visits. On my meander in search of the perfect place to put down my books I ran into Greg.

A sense of kindred warmth befell me when I saw him donning sunglasses, and a tuque, probably hiding a mat of hair. His right hand held an over-sized cup of coffee, mirroring my own. He cracked a huge smile and I asked him how he was. I don't remember his exact reply but it was way too positive for the parameters to realistically permit. I felt like an even bigger heap of trash when he told me how much time he had already logged. I immediately thought of my keener classmates working hard to push back my spot on the bell curve. I felt a call to action.

We turned to walk to the extra spot he had egregiously been taking up in the event someone like me might show up. He looked at me and said "I feel like shit."
"Really??" I replied, feeling much better about myself while simultaneously losing all my motivation.
"Fake it 'til you make it man."

We spent the rest of the day drinking coffee and eating bagels struggling to do menial work. Whatever, we graduated.

Soon Enough...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

City Juxtaposition

I finally made it to Vienna the other day. Despite the geographic proximity (50km), the differences between Bratislava and Vienna are night and day.

Slovakia is the first European country I've been in. Before I arrived, I didn't postulate too much about what life would be like here. The result of which, I think has been good and allowed me a lot of fun while minimizing disappointment. I think it also paved the way for the astounding impression the other European capital imparted upon me. Come to think of it, I was also a lot less exhausted and scared when I got to Vienna, maybe that swayed my perspective as well. Regardless, keep in mind throughout my descriptions that my exposure to European cities is limited but that it will continue to grow.

In fact, next weekend I'm spending my weekend in a town in the middle of Slovakia where the the Romans first made their presence known in 179AD. Ok, mostly I'll just be getting drunk in a field.

As soon as we got out of the train station two things struck me with similar degrees of bemusement. There were Turkish people everywhere, as evidenced by Sarp's smile and the lingering scent of kebab, the architecture was astounding and filled me with a pining desire to voraciously consume as many relevant Wikipedia articles as possible.

I found a Starbucks. I had no problem dropping 5 Euro on a Venti black coffee. It almost felt good to be cheated so badly. It felt even better to know that the extortion was not a result of my accent. It felt the best when my heart was circulating a potent dose of caffeine 20 minutes after I finished it. Most things, kebabs exempt, were about twice as costly as in Bratislava.

We explored some churches, parks and generally gawked at the amazing array of statues and astounding architectural accomplishments. Not so much at the girls. It was however, cool to see a city so full of people.

For an hour I watched windmills and fields of sunflowers fly by, before returning to a station erected around rusted Hitler-era tracks. I still can't believe how nice it felt to be back.

UPDATE: Yesterday night I watched, on three occasions, a mosquito landing on one of my various exposed appendages before taking off again. I must wreak to them or something.

Reshuffling Priorities

First, some weekend reading:

America lives on lawsuits

That's a messy death.

Organization is getting easier.

If only this city didn't run on instant coffee. The french press is my fave, I'm going to buy one this week.

For the Ears. Those of you listening to the audio-coke that is the new DMB album: I hope you have all the songs.

I went to send a text message yesterday. I scrolled through my address book. A process that took a little longer than I have been used to. I guess the rolodex is slowly growing, I'm finally making some friends!

For whatever reason, 6 hours of sleep feels like more than enough today. Maybe it has something to do with the sunshine cutting through the slits in my blinds, or because I spent half of yesterday in a prone position. Regardless, I have noticed a few trends in my life that are starting to develop. I think I can distill some insight by objectively pondering about them a little more.

I have been going to Slovak lessons twice a week. Until this past week I just sort of went through the motions of gawking at my supermodel teacher, taking notes and then immediately forgetting everything. I now find myself developing an active interest and insatiable curiosity in learning this especially challenging language. I think it stems from two contributing factors.

If I was born 5 years later but followed the same path I now find myself on, I would probably discover that the girls speak English relatively well. Unfortunately, the Slovak females in my current age cohort seem to sparse amounts. It's limiting, and made worse by the fact that they remain skeptical of foreigners because of the inundation of English Stag parties. As travel and tourism continue to expand here English is becoming more and more prevalent. The youngsters working at McDonald's and hotels speak the best and with the most confidence.

The second, less hedonistic reason for my desire to dabble more seriously in Slavonic dialect is because of what I dare say is acclimatization to this crazy place, and my need to be more autonomous. I think that to increase my ability to get by, and thusly my quality of life, learning to converse with the locals is the next big step. I confidently ride the bus and buy groceries. I'm still not great with menus or ordering food. It's extremely limiting to not be able to get what you want.

Most critically though, is that I think I am getting the hang of work. In a few weeks time that hypothesis should definitively prove to be true. Once I am banking serious coin on the regular I will have more free time to work on my communication skills, which again, I believe will be critical to really getting the most out of this experience. Until this time I haven't cared about learning, aside from the very basics, because I have had too much other stuff to worry about.

My number one priority is always being able to do what I want, which translates to getting money and getting girls. I think I'm going to start seeing some progress on the accumulation of bills which shall bestow upon me, a few extra hours a week to start learning the local slang.

If I keep adjusting like this I might even start exercising again soon!

My nails need to be cut and filed.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My Hangover is Serious

Excuse me if this post lacks clarity, but my current state of affairs would be paralytic to any lesser of a person.

The Turkish representation in the flat has increased 16% leaving me the 2-1 minority. You see, Sarp's cousin is visiting from Turkey before August when he will be conscripted to a one year mandatory military term. The expectations around his arrival were therefore quite grandiose. As I hear military beef with the Kurds isn't such a blast.

The Danube river has been flooding in a big way. The rain has been all kinds of annoying on it's own but has now led to thick clouds of mosquitos consuming the sky, as soon as the sun starts it's slow amble below the horizon. Lucky for me, I have never really been bothered by mosquitos. Maybe my blood is gross? I also find some sick, twisted pleasure in watching other people suffer. I only begin feeling bad when friends are so obviously overcome by paranoia, left imagining bites and slapping at nothing. I think it might be another reason I miss camp.

Last night we did a little pre-funking with some of my coworkers before heading to Harley Bar. The caliber of those who frequent it keeps me coming back, and I don't mean the Skin-Head bouncers. One of the bouncers had a huge SS-Swastika tattoo. It's disturbing. On the note of neo-nazis, I almost got into my first serious altercation with one. Allow me to elaborate.

I had just waded up to the bar with Sarp's cousin, to freshen my drink of course. A man in his late twenties with a freshly shaven head and steroid infused pipes was directly to my right. Towering over me. Maybe I stepped on his toe, or accidently elbowed him, but I'm pretty sure it was premeditated only by my inability to communicate in Slovak and the increasingly Jew-esque appearance of my hair. I fear cutting it will result in disaster. Having just caught the bartenders eye I was about to place my order for another pivo (beer) when the veritable goliath exploded with ire, making me the unjust recipient of a verbal lashing, of which I could not comprehend a word. Not one to look for conflict on the best of days, and given my blood alcohol content and the number of like-minded sympathizers this behemoth probably had, I did my best to apologize and convey to him that I didn't speak much in the way of Slovak. It didn't do anything to diffuse the situation although he eventually got his point across by repeatedly yelling "This Harley Bar, Slovak!! No English!!" Realizing by his crescendoing voice that my apologies and broken Slovak were only fanning the flames I promptly ordered 6 tequila shots. I lined them up in two rows of threes, looked him in the eye and said "Som, Kanadsy. Na zdravie!" (I'm Canadian, cheers), before handing him his first glass. He only took half the second shot and declined the third. I shook my head, called him a bitch and walked away.

In retrospect I was quite lucky. Tequila is generally not my potable of choice but deliciously enough they serve it here with cinnamon and orange slices instead of the classic salt, lemon combination. I spent the rest of the night with friends and beautiful girls so all in all not a bad time.

I can't decide if I should go back to sleep or make a liter of coffee. Probably the latter, I hate sleep.

ASIDE: This is a neat idea.

ASIDE II: If anyone is looking to bank some serious coin I suggest they contact me about opening a Starbucks in Bratislava. There's isn't one here yet but based on my observations so far I have great reason to believe people would drink that stuff up in a big way, I'm telling you. Seriously, I need a business partner with some seed money, call me.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Out of Control

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Glory Days

It's sort of shameful to revel but I'm just doing some reflection. For no real reason other than procrastination.

I didn't do a bad job with the media, in retrospect...

The mess I walked into:

The biggest hurdle:

Nice Quotes Jeff

I would feel more legit if I could find Whig-Standard archives.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Hours after I post my concerns about China revolt breaks out. That's some prophetic shit.

I digress. Today was Monday, the day I so arrogantly declared I had been waiting for. Truth be told, it was great and my prophecies ring true once again. I was three minutes from spooning out my eye balls from the boredom/headaches associated with watching movies for 72 hours, work offered some reprieve.

Things weren't looking good, initially. My boss started this rant about "expectations" while I looked for English speaking Dr.'s on the internet. The settling of mucus in my lungs while I slept the night before had things looking dire. In previous days I've had some sort of fog occupying my brain that puts me on par with a trisomy 21 fourth-grade spelling bee, not so today. I should have known the mental clarity was a sign things would improve. A few hours later I was breathing clearly and now I feel better than ever.

Stay tuned for my official declaration of victory.

I also think it's worth mentioning that I "ran train" on call-rates. Hopefully I'm going to close some deals this week, and by hopefully, I of course mean: I will do everything in my power to make it so.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Critical Concept of China


This particular tyrade does have an immediate and underlying prompt.

Since arriving in the present post-communist destination I find myself occupying, I have thought a lot about China. Maybe it's because the last chapter of the last book I finished was about China. I've started new books, and an audiobook, so that seems unlikey. More probable is that I am interested to see how the Chinese political situation plays out. After having my own reality sucker punched by a vivid account of the shortcomings of state-run markets my curiosity has been tickled.

Yesterday I caught myself in the middle of posing a question to myself about the aging population. Either a lot of people are going to sufer a quickly eroding quality of life and then death or healthcare costs are going to get a baseball bat to the bottom-left side of the jaw and fly through the roof. Drugs are getting more expensive despite what mitigation might result from novel risk-sharing pricing strategies.

Their military is the biggest employer in the world, so that must help.

ASIDE: With regards to my health, I dare say it's improving. I have some information on Slovak Doctor's that looks promisingI will continue to lay low, work and watch pirated movies. I think the highest level activity I will pursue is going to Strkovecke Jazero for a few hours. A true communist working mans paradise.

UPDATE II Crazy Unemployment Map

Saturday, July 4, 2009

That time I felt like an asshole.

When concert girl was here we had just gone to Tesco to buy what else? Absinth, d'uh. We were waiting for a tram and this strange looking old lady approached us slowly. She was decked out in quasi-gypsy clothing and wheeling around some kind of trunk/cooler. She hobbled towards us and started mumbling hopefully-sounding in Slovak.

I know how this gig goes, she's going to ask me for money, or to sign something pledging money or distract me while i get robbed. I shake my head and back away. She looks especially disappointed. Our tram was coming, I had to go.

From the window I see another strapping young fellow, apparently Slovak, helping her lift her trunk of groceries onto the same tram. Oops.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sick Day

Given how I was quasi-berated for my health status at work yesterday, and the hybrid SARS-H1N1 condition that hallmakrs my current state, I've been cornered into taking my first professional sick day. It's bullshit. While those underachievers amongst us might revel in sporadic naps interspersed with episodes of House, the pleasure I find is equatable to the most meagre slice of the pie. I think this metaphorical pie might also be the pre-made kind that's crust crumbles when you try to remove it from the aluminum tray, you also get whipped cream on your shirt sleeve during the vain effort. Moreover, you can only watch so many episodes of a show about people with the craziest diseases before you start to imagine new symptoms.

Sometimes I think I'm getting an outrageous fever before I remember it's 34 degrees, humid and sunny.

I feel like a giant slacker, but the accompanying lethargy is surprisingly debilitating. Sorry ambition. This afternoon I will strive to make the most of my situation. Like when hungover, productivity and usefulness can be amped up by doing small easy and menial things that you have to do anyways. Examples include laundry, cleaning, other simple things. Unlike Saturday mornings, I feel my cognitive faculties are a little less impaired. I will find the apex on the "productivity vs. mental ability" hyperbola for my particular state.

You see folks, this morning I deemed it of priority to drag my decrepit corpse (really it's not THAT bad, just being dramatic) to the pharmacy. On the first few days I lived here, before I started working I learned we had an elementary school within an empty beer bottles lob from our balcony. Listening to hundreds of screaming kids at 9am reminded me of days off at camp. At the time it was comforting. Today, for only a second, I caught myself wondering why there were no kids screaming, obviously it's summer. After that, I felt a little bit out of touch. So, I think I'm going to sit on the balcony and plan, make some goals and figure out how to be a little more awesome, if I may be so bold. I'm going to bake in the sun listening to a fresh playlist on stolen beach chairs. I think the consistently consumed record levels of fluid intake have helped but they have also kept my kidneys busy in a big way.

I'm making the most of my miserable situation. I dare say it but I cannot wait for Monday, assuming I survive.

UPDATE: Billy Mays, lessons learned.
UPDATE II: Slovakia on the front of the International NYT

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Surprising to feel safer in Bratislava.

I think I have a bacterial infection in the sinus region. I drank record-setting levels of tea today. I need to be healthy. I get temporarily stuck in the elevator about once a week, I don't want that same standard of healthcare. The idea of doctors not being able to understand you, or you them, is a little disarming. This breathing thing is becoming somewhat laborious.

The number of people that have quit or been fired stands at 8, since my arrival. I think that puts us at 1.3 a week.

I'm falling asleep in a big way.