Thursday, October 11, 2007

You Ready For This?

This past week hasn’t brought much excitement to the great city of Lankaran, but it hasn’t been completely boring either. I have had some company at the office which has been nice. The cleaning lady comes by once or twice a week, and another volunteer (Azerbaijani) at one of the other NGOs in town comes by to answer the phones for me and help out with clients that come in. Turns out it’s much easier for her to talk to them than me. Plus she doesn’t speak English, so it’s a good chance for me to practice. Which is important because next week, I have a test.

During our service, Peace Corps organizes several trainings for all the volunteers in Baku. We had one last year, and next week is our Mid-Service Conference. I’ll leave Lankaran on Tuesday morning and arrive at the Peace Corps office a few hours before my Language Proficiency Interview. We had to take these during training as well. Basically, you sit down with the Peace Corps language coordinator and talk in Azeri for 20 minutes or so. She’ll ask questions or just let us talk and she judges how well we can speak and understand. This wouldn’t be so bad, but the part that freaks me out every time is when she turns on the tape recorder. I don’t know why, but it always unsettles me for the first minute or so. I’m hoping to get a higher score than I did in training, obviously, or at least maintain (insert awesome “thumbs up” picture here). I really hope I haven’t gotten worse, but I’m fairly confident that I haven’t. Time will tell though. On Wednesday and Thursday the Peace Corps staff will have sessions planned out for us to refresh us on things we have learned in the past and also to motivate us to get back out there and break the monotony of being at site. On Friday we have our medical and dental check-ups. Can’t wait for these! And this brings me to the Great AzerAloink Reader Challenge #2.

As most of you know, or have at least noticed if you have seen any pictures of me recently, I have lost some weight during my time here in Azerbaijan. I thought that this week, I will post another challenge for everyone (update on Challenge #1 coming later). I will even through in a prize. The winner will receive a phone call/voice mail from me at some point in October. I know, I know, it’s very exciting. I will be weighed on Friday morning, and will post the results in two weeks. Everyone has until my next post two weeks from today (October 11) to make their guesses on my comments page. The winner will be whoever guesses closest to my weight on next Friday.

Some helpful hints:

When I left America in June of 2006, I weighed around 160 lbs.
Between then and now, I may have misplaced somewhere between 20 and 25 lbs.
While in America this last June, I gained roughly 10 lbs.
I’ll be in Baku next week. That means McDonald’s, nachos, beer and pizza.
I walk to and from work every day… about a 25 minute trek, one way.
I try to work out, but have no set routine.
My good friend Carlo got so worried in Barda that he made a diet plan for me, which I have yet to follow.

Ponder all this and get your guesses in!

As for Challenge 1, two people entered, and that was Dad with a guess of 24 days of rain in October and Katie with a guess of 17. We are still at just one night, so it looks like Katie will win.
I'm surprised we're still only at 1 day, but I'm more than happy for it. I'll think of a prize, Katie.

Barda was a great time last weekend. Each softball weekend involves one day of just the American volunteers playing a game or two, and one day of the Azerbaijani/American teams playing against each other. This weekend, the American games were on Saturday. And John, yes, I did hit a home run. Aside from stellar play in left field and that home run, I really didn’t do much else. It was a rough go around, but still a great time and a good tune up for next week. A group of us will be playing some of the Marines from the Embassy in Baku on Saturday. The volunteers won the basketball game last year, and we hope to keep it up in softball.

Aygun is returning from Australia this week (today she should be in Turkey), so it will be good to hear her stories, see her pictures and see if she brought back some Vegemite, which we all know is an acquired taste. Granted, it is a taste that I have not yet acquired. Lyka is staying at my house since Ashley has gone to America, and has become a little bit more well behaved. She still barks at night, but not nearly as often, which is nice. I have gotten her to stop digging at the concrete in front of my gate, but now she digs under the house. My yard has a nice collection of bones and other random objects that she has pulled out from under there. I just found out yesterday that the tourism booklet my office had been working on with another NGO will not be getting made like we had thought. The other NGO is experiencing some budget cuts and decided to cut our project. I’m disappointed and frustrated but have a few other ideas on how we can get this completed so we will see what happens. Other than that, everything is pretty normal in Lankaran. And Zach, I’m waiting for that video hello and letters from your co-workers. Let’s see if they can entertain as well as a group of 5th graders.


Anonymous Dad said...

Well, the contest rules didn't specify how many guesses each person could make. Since I am going to be the loser on the rain, I will have to fully consider the guess on weight.

6:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crikey, Tom, I'm worried about you - are you getting enough to eat? Any ways, this is from Bonnie's mom and I'd like to enter your contest. My students here in the US would be thrilled to hear from an Azerbaijani PCV. My guess is 148, and if I win I'm gonna send you some snacks.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Zach said...

102 pounds soaking wet. And I demand that you weigh yourself while soaking wet.

Which reminds me, I need to send you a care package.

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey tom - this is dina rachford. I just got this link from jim ivers and have been sitting at my desk all morning reading your blog. It's amazing. I'm in awe of all of your experiences and can't wait to hear more.
Safe Travels.

I'm going to go ahead and say you weigh an even 150 at your weigh in.

7:59 AM  
Anonymous john (Tom's Brother) said...

I'll say, you seem to have gotten the hang of this blogging thing. Nice update, I like it. Anyway, on to our guesses. Kristi thinks you weigh in at 132.7 pounds. I'm going to go with a little heavier than that, at 138.8 pounds. I asked Joel what he thought, and he yelled ELMO!!! I don't know what that equates to. Hope you're healthy.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Dad said...

Tom, Two weeks from 10/11 is 10/25 so I should be still in the stated timeframe. I guess 140.

7:34 PM  

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