Friday, December 21, 2007

Footloose and Borderfree

While people in America are scrambling to erect borders on every eligible piece of land, in many European countries the borders are falling down as part of the Schengen agreeement . Slovenia is one of those countries, and is featured in an informative little pictorial on the BBC news site. The crummy photo representing Slovenia gives me a somber reminder that when I go dancing across one of those borders in a few weeks I'll probably be passing some very sad, soon-to- be-unemployed, border guards.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Slovenia in the Economist

I have been amazed with how horrendous news coverage is here, in the states. I watched NBC Nightly News and their major stories were about snow, staph infection, and a special CSI unit for pet crimes. There was nothing they'd reported on that was Actual News. Even when I took off my Expat Snob glasses it was still abominable. There are a number of stories that I'd been following via BBC and Sky News when I was in Europe and I haven't heard any mention of them on any channel since I've been here. I have not even seen any coverage of Iraq or anything. I guess I am going to have to rely solely on the internet for news whilst I'm here.

One of the stories I have been following with great interest is the Kosovo imbroglio in Serbia. The Economist has a good write up (a few weeks old, I'm sorry) about the effect Slovenia's fast approaching EU presidency may/could have on helping the EU deal with this conflict. I hadn't really considered the points the article raises, but now I have my fingers crossed that Slovenia will be The Little Engine That Could on this issue.

(Photo from Economist by Peter Schrank. Thanks to Marko Bucik for linking that article!)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Three Times The Fun

Couldn't stay away for long....

Just wanted to write a bit about something I recently learned, and something that-- unfortunately--may take many of my American readers by surprise. It turns out that instead of just one plump and rosy-cheeked wintertime gift-giver, Slovenia has three jolly old men who come baring gifts during the holidays. Allow me to introduce...

(pictures taken from this site, in Slovene)

The first one is Miklavz aka St. Nicholas. He's the unofficial Catholic patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, children, and students in many European countries, known as a notoriously generous gift-giver, and he has his own day earlier in the month. This year it was observed in Slovenia on 3rd6th December.

The second one is Božiček aka Father Christmas...Yes, you heard me right, American readers, St. Nick is NOT Father Christmas (don't even ask who in the heck Kris Kringle is, no one around these parts knows the guy). Though Father Christmas and St. Nicholas share the same spirit of giving, they are actually two different dudes. I couldn't really get much of the skinny on this guy, but no one is aking many questions since he reliably drops the good stuff off every 25th December.

you heard me right...

The last guy is Dedek Mraz aka Grandpa Frosty and I'm told that this is the only guy who was handing out anything during Communism times (St. Nick and old Božiček, presumably, being deemed too lavish for those simpler times and shipped off for reeducation at Goli Otok or some other gulag situation). According to the Wiki entry for old Gramps, he was originally imported from Communist Russia and fashioned to be a non-religious, generic, wintertime gift-giver. He generally presents his gifts on New Year's Day. Though Communism has been given the boot over the last almost 20 years, Dedek has managed to hang around, and as you can see from the above photo, those years in exile don't seem to have soured the other two guys against him.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Headed West

On the heels of an excellent and excessively boozy "going away" party (for both me, and a friend who is headed to Austria to work at a ski lodge all winter), I'm headed west for the next few weeks so the posting will only be sporadic. I'll be back up and in full working order in the new year.

If you celebrate Christmas then Veselj Božič (Merry Christmas)!

Srečno Novo Leto (Happy New Year) to everyone. I have high hopes for 2008.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sudan to Slovenia: Combatting Crisis

On our walk in Ljubljana last night, we ran across this really interesting exhibit by artist Pepi Sekulich honoring Sudanese human rights lawyer Salih Mahmoud Osman who has recently been awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament.

You can also click here to read more about Osman and also the Slovenian human rights activist (and former Slovenian special envoy to Darfur), Tomo Kriznar, who was arrested last year in Sudan and held for a few months due to his own efforts in the region.

Ljubljana Lights

The Captain and I had an impromptu date in Ljubljana last night.

Society for the Recognition of Sauteed Potatoes and Onions as an Independent Dish (Društvo za priznanjo pražnega krompirja kot samostojne jedi, better pic here)

Note the DNA lights...

What does this mean?

After our interesting evening, which ended with a lovely meal (restaurant review coming soon), The Captain was utterly pleased that we'd gone and promised that we would have more regular date nights in Ljubljana in the new year. Sounds good to me...

Monday, December 3, 2007

Winning By Losing Out

So realizing the holiday season is upon and that I will the need the money to be buying gifts, I passed on Laibach and Fiddy Cent last week. However, this doesn't mean I wasn't having any fun....There was a little matter of a 5th birthday/ pizza party here in our stately manor.

Judging by Vest's video footage (here) of the 50 Cent spectacle, I have no regrets about my choice of party.