Friday, 31 December 2004

I'll Stick To The Indigenous Turkish Brew...

From http://sg.biz.yahoo.com/041224/15/3pgzz.html:

Anadolu Efes In Licensing Agreement With Foster's -IHA

ISTANBUL (Dow Jones)--Turkish malt beverages and brewery company Anadolu Efes Biracilik ve Malt Sanayi A.S. (AEFES.IS) said Friday it has signed a licensing agreement with Foster's Brewing International, part of Foster's Group Ltd. (FGL.AU), the Ihlas News Agency reported.

Anadolu Efes said it has secured the production, marketing and distributing rights of the Foster's brand in Turkey. Anadolu Efes wants to launch Foster's in the Turkish market before next summer.

Anadolu Group including Anadolu Efes focuses on brewing and soft-drinks. It is the Coca-Cola Co. (KO) distributor in Turkey and the producer of the well-known 'Efes Pilsen' beer.

The group recently took over the licensing rights of the Turkish unit of McDonald's Corp. (MCD). Anadolu Efes posted a 9-month net profit of $122 million.

Agency Web sites: http://www.ihanews.net; www.iha.com.tr


I'm sure when Foster's is released in Turkey some of the locals will think it is cool for me, an Australian to drink it...I'll think I'll stick to Efes, Marmara 34 and other Turkish beers, thanks!

Press Freedom In Turkey

Turkey is going forward in many areas, particularly politically and economically, but one area that needs more attention is press freedom. Reporters Without Borders has article detailing the pressures journalists face in Turkey, entitled "Turkey still far from European standards of press freedom". Very interesting...

Thursday, 30 December 2004

Internet Problems, But....

For almost 2 days work's ADSL Internet service was not working. I could go on about how this inconvenienced work and how I wasn't able to write any emails or post messages on the blog. BUT...

...tens of thousands of people have died, millions made homeless and countries from Somalia to Indonesia are suffering in the aftermath of one the greatest tragedies in modern history, so, who gives a damn about 2 days without Internet access?

My thoughts go to all those having a really hard time and facing real problems.

Monday, 27 December 2004

Tragic December Floods

As everyone should know, an underwater earthquake created waves causing massive flooding to several countries bordering the Indian Ocean. It is very hard to imagine how powerful the earth is and how much grief it can cause. My thoughts go out to all affected.


Hearing about the latest flooding gave me flashbacks to a far more minor but personal flooding experience 3 years ago in Mersin. Following is the account (unedited) I wrote in an email sent on the 21st of December 2001:

For about 3 ½ weeks from November 19 onwards Mersin experienced rain day-in day-out. I don’t know how much fell during this period but anything from 300-500mm even 1000mm would not be unrealistic. This the wettest Mersin has been for ever, if not, a very long time. For the first time in a couple of years I used an umbrella. I didn’t even remember how to open one up; I soon learnt very quickly though.

The results of this rain were two floods, on Sunday December 2nd and on the following Friday (7th). An article about the first flood is at the bottom of this newsletter. I did not suffer much and my apartment and work are okay. As always, it was the poor people who bore the brunt.

On Sunday afternoon/evening I was cooking dinner for my boss’s family. After dinner Ahmet (my boss) must have received a phone call, because down he and a friend went to rescue his two cars from the underground car park. The water was above the exhaust pipe of the Mercedes and he was very lucky to get the two cars out of the car park. 10 minutes later and the cars would be stuck. As well as the car park, the apartment block entrances were flooded. To compound things (and make the atmosphere romantic with candles according to one of the children) the electricity cutout and the back-up generator for the apartment block did not work, although an adjacent block in the same complex did have power.

For the work office I was fearing the worst as it was across the road from a river and all my photos and negatives were in a bag on the floor adjacent to my desk. As well as this, most of the computer hard drives were on or near the ground. Luckily the river did not overflow and the office was safe. The river flowed a million times faster than in Summer (my very scientific guess) and much of the riverbank was washed away, including several park benches.

After spending Sunday night at my boss’s and then going to work the next day I eventually got home Monday night. On Tuesday morning whilst waiting outside my apartment complex for the bus to work I saw snow on the mountains in the distance. It was great to see snow again, although I still have not handled it in Turkey.

The second flood occurred the following Friday. There were cars stuck in the flood waters just West of Denizhan 2 (my complex) and it was quite a sight watching the vehicles try to get through the waters. In the second flood several of the “cities” (apartment complexes) were cut off from the rest of civilisation. The river in front of work destroyed more river bank and threatened to topple a gum tree onto the road. When I left that day for Adana (on the way to the AIESEC conference in Bursa) it was still raining and the water was still rising.




Here is a Turkish Daily News article on the same Mersin floods:

04 December 2001

Floods kill three in Mersin, destroy hundreds of homes, businesses


Governor Tig: We are on alert; 100 kg (sic) of rain in last 24 hours; reports it will last another nine days

The torrential rain that had paralyzed Icel/Mersin stopped in the early hours of Monday morning. Three people were killed as floods drenched hundreds of homes and businesses. The body of a child was found drowned early Monday morning in the ground floor of a home in the southern Mediterranean city of Mersin, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Earlier, a man drowned as rains beat down for the fifth consecutive day in Mersin while a woman died after being electrocuted by a power line pulled down by the floods, Anatolia said.

Waters swept away roads, a bridge and a highway and overturned vehicles, carrying some into the sea. Heavy flooding was also reported in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya and in the Aegean port city of Izmir.

With this the flood waters began to subside. Icel/Mersin Governor Akif Tig has said they are still suffering under torrential rain and that they are on a high state of alert in the province. In a news statement, Governor Tig said that over 100 kg of rain had fallen in the previous 24 hours and that all the drainage gulleys in the city center were maxed out with water now flooding out onto the roads resulting in many vehicles, including service and police ones, being stranded.

Governor Tig said that they were unable to reach the excavators and other plant in the Rural Affairs Provincial Directorate vehicle park and put them to use, and that they had requested plant to be sent in from Adana. Houses and businessed in a large proportion of the city have been hit by floodwaters. The Mezitli road junction subsided when the soil underneath was washed away. Surrounding buildings have been evacuated for fear of collapse. Several bridges have collapsed and many trees and pylons have been brought down.

Weather forecasters say the rain and storm-force winds will last another nine days. In Erdemli, the drinking water and sewage water systems have mixed. Municipal authorities say there will be no drinking water for the next couple of days.
Much further westwards along the coast in Izmir, 90 kmh (55mph) winds have blown down trees and power lines. Meteorological Office officials say the winds, which are gusting at up to 100 kmh (62 mph) are going to last another day.

Ankara - Turkish Daily News

Saturday, 25 December 2004

Fruit Smoothies!

Recently my workmates gave me a hand-held blender for my birthday (a month late - but it's the thought that counts!). Last night I used it for the first time to make the following stunningly delicious concoction:

Ingredients
2 large extremely ripe persimmons
1 orange
1 large apple
1 small pomegranite
mint (fresh or dried)
a swirl of honey

Steps
1) Skin and seed persimmons
2) Peel orange, cut into cubes
3) Core apple, cut into cubes
4) Skin pomegranite and extract the seeds
5) Place all the fruit into the mixing bowl
6) Add mint and honey to taste
7) Blend until very smooth
8) Add water and blend until it the smoothie is of correct consistency
9) Sieve the pomegranite seeds
10) Pour into glass and ENJOY!

Apricots, peaches, bananas, strawberries other berries, pineapple, mangos and other fruits can also be used in addition or instead of the above fruits.

Happy New Year!



A scan of a Turkish Christmas/New Year Card




Many Turkish people believe Christmas and New Year are both celebrated on the 31st of December. And to think Saint Nicholas actually comes from Turkey...

Friday, 24 December 2004

Many Spams Received Today

Since 10 am this morning I have received almost 30 similarly formatted spam emails. The spams all contain attachments and are either 78 or 79 KB in size.

As I have a collect-all email account, messages sent to any @taheny.com email address end up in my inbox. These spams are addressed to many different, seemingly random, @taheny.com addresses. Another common link are they all have the following at the bottom of the email:
*-*-* Mail_Scanner: No Virus
*-*-* TAHENY- Anti_Virus Service
*-*-* http://www.taheny.com

I have my own anti-virus service? This is news to me.


If ever you receive similar messages or even any emails with attachments that you are not expecting do not open them. Even if you know the sender, their address may have been hijacked and the attachment could contain a virus or other damaging software.



Here is a screenshot of my email account 'Trash' folder featuring the similar spams:

Joe's Christmas/New Year Email

Dear Friends and Family,

Greetings again from Mersin, Turkey!

The end of 2004 is rapidly approaching. I hope this year was a good year for everyone with great outcomes and a positive base set for 2005 and beyond.

The main highlight of 2004 for me was my trip to Iran this summer. The friendly people, unique culture, food, crazy traffic, history and architecture of this much maligned country were well worth visiting. In future I want to return to Iran for a longer trip. You can read about Iran on the August, September and 3 October archive posts at Taheny.com.

Other highlights of 2004 were Port winning the AFL premiership, attending a high-society wedding with friends in Aleppo, Syria, winning my court case against the Turkish electricity distributor, Brad and Olivia visiting, winning 735,000,000 lira in the Turkish lotto, Maria singing at Cazara, hearing about my high school's 10 year reunion (unfortunately, I couldn't attend) and getting in touch with former classmates, and many, many other occasions. Apologies if I have not mentioned occasions I should have - there were so many highlights.

I wish those who celebrate Christmas a wonderful and happy time, particularly for people suffering in the cold climates! Believe it or not, but this my 4th cold-climate Christmas in a row. Christmas is actually meant to be like this!

1 January not only brings 2005, but also signals the introduction of the New Turkish Lira. I was not alive when Australia changed currencies and this will be the first time I will experience a currency change first-hand. I'm excited! To inform people about Turkey's currency change I have started a website at NewLira.com. I hope you find it interesting.

Once again, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a healthy, positive 2005!

Lots of love,
Joe

Thursday, 23 December 2004

Christmas in Adelaide

(emphasis added)

Hello Joe, just wondering what you will be doing for Christmas. we are getting organised for the onslaught on Saturday, really looking forward to it. I have many lists made and day by day instructions so I shall be organised on the day. I am sure I have already said that Dads family will be here, 29 in total and for a traditional hot meal. It will be 38 degrees tomorrow but thankfully a cool change later in the day and 27 degrees forcast for Saturday. We will organise tables for outside, start with a prawn coctail, so that everyone gets a taste, then the hot roast meal of turkey, chicken, pork and lamb plus all the vegies. Then onto pudding with real sixpences in it, or trifle.
Well I am really tired. Dad and I get up most days at 5.30am, only because we are awake, and the mornings are beautiful. But it makes for a long day.
Take care and enjoy your Christmas. Love Mum.


Sounds brilliant...

Cappadocia Under Snow!

Located in central Turkey, midway between Mersin and Ankara, Cappadocia (Kapadokya in Turkish) is an amazing area. In my opinion, it is one of the two absolute must-sees in Turkey, the other being Istanbul.

Although I have visited Cappadocia three times, I have never seen the sandstone chimneys, formations and caves under snow. Recently, friend C. Gizem sent me the following photo collage. The photos are of the town of Goreme under snow. One day I will witness this first hand...one day...


Wednesday, 22 December 2004

Interesting New Turkish Lira Article

Reuters has some good analysis on Turkey's chances of succeeding with the currency changeover.

In the meantime, I have added my own predictions on what will happen at NewLira.com.

1 Hour Of Blissful Relaxation: 6 million TL

I've just come back from the coiffeur after a haircut, shave, shampoo and massage all for 6 million Turkish lira (just over USD $4) plus 1 million lira tips to the barber and his helper. A few times I was close to falling asleep. Aren’t haircuts great therapy?

Tuesday, 21 December 2004

Google: The Counterfeit Turkish Version

If Google sees http://www.googleturkiye.com/ I believe a few lawyers will be busy.


EDIT: In case the website is pulled, I have added homepage and top & bottom screenshots for "Mersin" search results below. Click on the pictures for larger screenshots.

Homepage:




Results page for "Mersin"

Top:



Bottom





Do you think Google has a good case?




UPDATE [2004/12/22]: GoogleTurkiye.com is still in existence.

If you are not squirmish or at work, for a laugh, check out the archived best matching results for 'joe'.
WARNING: the file is 345 kb and contains adult content!

Hakan and Merve's Wedding

Saturday night I suited up for friend Hakan's wedding to Merve. I met Hakan through my first flatmate in Mersin, Ali. Hakan's family run a flour sales business.



The wedding was held in the south-facing (shown in the above photo) ballroom on the 46th level of the Taksim International Hotel. The views of Mersin's city centre at night along with the harbour, Republic Square (Cumhuriyet Meydani) and the ship lights in the bay provided a great backdrop.

The night was fun with good food (several courses), friends (Hakan's and Ali's classmates), Turkish dancing, a five piece band playing Turkish folk songs and a wonderful newly wed husband and wife.

Towards the end of the night, people lined up to congratulate the newly wedded husband and wife, with gifts of gold and money. I placed a 20,000,000-lira note in Hakan's shirt pocket.

After the wedding, 3 or 4 cars followed the married couple back to their new flat. As is the tradition, each car's hazard lights were flashing but Hakan discouraged horn beeping as the time was past midnight. Outside the flat we waited for Hakan and Merve to finish changing their clothes and whatever else they were doing. We then went to Cici Kunefe for kunefe!

All the best to Hakan and Merve in their wedded life!

Gaziantep Revisited

The weekend before last I visited Gaziantep for the first time in 3 years. Like my two visits in 2001, this trip's purpose was also to see Ali and his family. I also came to see Rifeh, the Tunisian AIESEC trainee I previously met in Adana.

Some notable events from the time in Gaziantep:
*Seeing a light snowfall, my first snow this winter. Gaziantep is colder than Mersin.
*Visiting some ancient tombs outside of the town with Ali and Rifeh
*Entertaining Ali's nieces and nephews aged 6 to 10 with different hand movements, clapping and juggling. They are so delightful.
*Meeting the rest of Ali's generous and kind family
*Eating kebabs, baklava and more kebabs
*Eating breakfast, including homemade sucuk (spicy sausage), homemade jams, home-pickled olives, almost homemade everything...
*Eating more kebabs...
*Visiting and observing Ali's family's butcher shop, "Kasap Ali". I will write a special feature on this shop sometime soon.

Overall, the trip was very successful despite my suffering from a cold. I hope to visit Ali's family again, particularly during a warmer time of the year.

NewLira.com Updated

It is less than two weeks until the New Turkish Lira, Turkey's new currency, will be introduced. I have added a new article on NewLira.com and made a few modifications, including the addition of commenting. See it for yourself at NewLira.com and get ready for a new era in Turkish financial history.

Friday, 17 December 2004

New cookbook brings Palestinians, Jews to the table

I was kindly requested to post about the following:

New cookbook brings Palestinians, Jews to the table

In spite of discouraging acts in the Middle East, we thought your readers might like to take a moment for some inspiration -- a glimmer of cooperation and shared creativity.

PALESTINIAN AND JEWISH RECIPES FOR PEACE is a new, very-grassroots, very-nonprofit, beautiful cookbook publishing-first we just helped write.

There are stories about the people, photos, and recipes for the table and for relationship-building at home, in school, and between nations.

This useful cookbook is newly-produced by our 12-year-old Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group here on the San Francisco Peninsula, preparing for its 151st meeting.

Especially at this special season of light and hope, please take a moment to read about this publishing breakthrough at:

http://traubman.igc.org/recipes.htm


Read the book's reviews in the San Francisco Chronicle and San Mateo County Times. Needless to say, the book is a very good gift idea going to a worthy cause. Helping promote good food is a bonus!

Mmmm....food...time to eat...if only I had the book to make some great recipes with...

Turkey -> EU or not?

Tomorrow, 17 December 2005, is the 'D-Day' for Turkey's 40 year journey towards formally joining Europe. Will Turkey receive the go ahead to begin accession talks or not?

There is no shortage of places to get up to date won this issue.

Personally, I hope Turkey is given the go ahead as I think accession will benefit both sides:
a) Turkey: Accession will continue the positive political and economic progress that has occurred over the past few years.

b) EU: Turkey's accession, as Muslim country, should help open minds in the EU.

What will actually happen? Who knows?

Even if accession talks do start and Turkey satisfies every condition of entry, they are not likely to join the EU until at least 2015. For the average Mehmet and Elif on the Mersin street, the decision tomorrow will probably not change their lives in a material way for a long time.

Wednesday, 15 December 2004

Fire Disrupts the Premiere of a Turkish Horror Movie

Hundreds of people have escaped from a packed cinema in Istanbul where a blaze broke out at the premiere of a Turkish horror film, causing panic.

"A candle used as part of a "fright tunnel" in the cinema's foyer is said to have started the blaze."



As no one was badly injured and the event is in the past, I think it is safe to laugh now. A fire at the premiere of a horror movie caused by a candle as part of a "fright tunnel"!

Monday, 13 December 2004

Mean Streak - move the cursor over the ad - open up the ad's website

Whilst checking one of my past Yahoo! email accounts I wondered why the website www.meanstreak.com.au opened in a new window. I thought this was a pop-up ad so I closed it and returned to Yahoo!. Then, when I moved the cursor over the Mitsubishi Lancer banner advert, the meanstreak website again opened in a new window. I didn't click anything, just moved the mouse over the advert.

With the high ignore rates of web ads these days, I wouldn't be surprised if the "ad-opening by moving the cursor over" becomes a trend.

Friday, 10 December 2004

Case Dismissed, Drugs Seized, Great Band!

I've been sick the past couple of days so I haven't written any posts or replied to emails. Despite this lack of posting, lots has happened:


On Tuesday TEDAS's case against me was dismissed! If I get the time I will write more about this.


On Wednesday almost 500 kg of heroin was seized in Mersin.


However, the biggest news has to be my brother, Liam's band Headdress Of Neon Flames. Headdress Of Neon Flames not only supported American act Faun Fables, but, according to the DB Magazine reviewer, Kelly Parish,
"Headdress Of Neon Lights (sic) were definitely the star attraction".
Just a pity Kelly could not get their name correct. Congratulations Liam and your band co-members!

Tuesday, 7 December 2004

Winter Pollution

On the weekend I caught the train to Adana for fun with the AIESEC'ers and trainees. I met a few great new people and enjoyed mixing with other foreigners again.

In winter, Adana, like Mersin, suffers badly from pollution. Many people in the heavily populated cities burn wood to warm their homes. The combination of poor quality timber, thousands of fires and unfavourable atmospheric conditions lead to visible and pungent pollution. This pollution is particularly intense at night when most fires are burning.

Clothes hung out to dry end up smelling of smoke by the time they are ready to pick in. The haze visible on the Mersin horizon reminds me of Istanbul's year-round pollution.

I wonder how the region's wildlife remnants handle the pollution? Does the pollution affect the fish stocks? Will the burning and pollution be regulated and reduced in the future? Too many big questions to answer...

Saturday, 4 December 2004

Turkish Daily News - 69 words in 1 sentence

From a 2003 edition of the Turkish Daily News, Turkey's only daily English newspaper:



In full, the sentence reads:
Protestors hold portraits of Abdul Abbas, a leader of the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) also known as Mohammed Abbas, the leader of PLF, who killed an American on the hijacked cruise liner Achille Lauro in 1985 and US Special Forces captured him Monday 14 April, 2003 in Baghdad, during a protest to demand the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, along the streets of Gaza city, on Monday.

In 2001, the Turkish Daily News cost 300,000 TL. The last time I checked, customers have to pay 1.5 million TL to put up with the above poor standard. As the monopoly English newspaper in Turkey, the Turkish Daily News can do whatever it wants and foreigners will still buy it. I used to buy the paper on a semi-regular basis. Now I hardly ever buy the newspaper.

A few years ago there was a second, livelier newspaper, the Turkish News, however this paper did not last long. Since the demise of the Turkish News, the Turkish Daily News has price-gouged its captive audience. The price may have increased 500% but the content has remained thin and dry.

In contrast to Turkey, Iran has at least 3 daily English newspapers.

Some readers may argue, like the Turkish Daily News, Joe's Ramblings' grammar is poor and content thin and dry, but I don't charge 1.5 million (more than USD $1) for you to read it! :-)

Friday, 3 December 2004

People of the World

Joao Leitao was kind enough to leave an entry on my GuestMap (see link on right hand side). Joao is a photographer who specialises in photos of people from around the world. The photos on his website are fantastic and the subjects really shine. Visit, you won't be disappointed!

Turkish Torque: The First Turkish Blog on the Internet

A thought-provoking and well written Turkish current affairs blog (link removed as blog no longer exists) by Ugur Akinci, a Washington, D.C.-based Turk.

Make Love Not Spam

Via the BBC. A few days ago I downloaded a screensaver called "Make Love Not Spam". When the screensaver is activated the websites of goods and services mentioned in spam emails are endlessly sent data requests with the hope of slowing the websites down and increasing the spammer's hosting bills. Let's hope it works.


UPDATE: Apparently, the screensaver was too successful.

A Futher UPDATE: The campaign was stopped.

Blogs Are Growing and Growing

In 2004 the importance of blogs and blogging has grown enormously, enough for Merriam-Webster to choose 'blog' for its word of the year.

No doubt, blogs will only become more widespread in 2005 and following years. In the next 5 years I wouldn't be surprised if a blog becomes an expected part of a person's fabric. A few years ago I expected everyone would have a website within 10 years. I did not know the website would be in the form of a blog.


UPDATE: 2 years too late like usual, Microsoft joins the ranks of blog providers.

Photos from Gozne

Orhan has kindly uploaded Victor's photos from Saturday night and Gozne on Sunday.

Some of the photos do look dodgy. For the dodgiest photo/comparison of the lot, click here. You were warned!

Quirky Mersin-Related News

Findings from a University of Mersin report show: Erectile dysfunction affects women too.

A Post Internet Bubble Reflection

"What The Bubble Got Right," an interesting article all about the changes the Internet bubble helped implement.

Ali Returned!

The past week was very busy. Every night I was doing something, somewhere with someone.

On Tuesday Ali and Hakan rocked up to the office. Ali was my first Mersin flatmate and I had not seen him since early 2002 when he left for an internship in Atlanta. The US has substantially improved his English. Now even his Turkish has a slight American accent!

It was great to see Ali again. Before he returns to Atlanta I will see him again at Hakan's wedding and I hope to visit his family in Gaziantep.

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