Thursday, 31 August 2006

Yesterday's News: A Bomb in Mersin

A bomb exploded in Mersin yesterday. As usual, I didn't hear about it until I read the international news websites the next day.

A home-made bomb planted in a rubbish bin has injured a 25-year-old woman in southern Turkey, officials say.

One person dressed as a dustman was held in connection with the blast in the Mediterranean port city of Mersin.

BBC News Link

I feel perfectly safe living here and have always done so, except for the odd occasion my life is in danger from locals forcing me to eat too much food.

Wednesday, 30 August 2006

30 August, Victory Day

Today in Turkey is Zafer Bayrami or Victory Day, commemorating the Battle of Dumlupinar in 1922 when the Turkish army defeated the Greek army in the War of Independence.

As usual on commemorative days there are Turkish flags and banners of Ataturk hanging up everywhere. Here is a photo from Cumhuriyet Meydani (Republic Square) last night:

The commemorations today will probably be like any other 30 August except the bombings two days ago may add an extra edge to the speeches.

UPDATE: Below is a photo of Peggy and Al from tonights Married... With Children episode on TV channel CNBC-e. Note the picture of Ataturk and the Turkish flag in the top left corner. On national days like today, almost all Turkish television channels feature patriotic symbols in the corner of the screen.

Monday, 28 August 2006

Pearl Jam @ Reading Festival - Wow!

The live webcast of Pearl Jam's headlining set at the Reading Festival has just finished. It was a wonderful concert and I feel privileged to be able to see it live. The webcast was clear most of the concert with only the odd interruption. Isn't technology amazing?!

The band were really into playing tonight and I'm now, more than ever, looking forward to see them in a few weeks. Yeah!

Turkish Wedding Season

Turkish wedding music is again blaring in the street near home. This is the third evening of the past four or five I have had to put up with it. If tonight's wedding follows the previous wedding times, the music won't finish until after 11 PM.

The music for Turkish street weddings is almost always similar in style, with two main variations:
a) a 'davul' (drum) and 'zurna' (clarinet) for poorer weddings and
b) a band, including vocals and keyboard at more expensive weddings.

Turkish weddings are generally exciting for newcomers to Turkey. However, living here for close to five years, they are now 'a dime a dozen'. I could close the windows but then I would suffocate from the heat. At least the weddings are better than the Ramazan drummers... On that note: Ramazan begins in less than a month.

Sunday, 27 August 2006

15 Days To Go

In just over two weeks I will be winging my way towards Central Europe to see my favourite band play 4 concerts.

In the space of 7&1/2 days I'll take 4 flights and 6 intercity train rides travelling the following itinerary: Mersin-Adana-Istanbul - Basel-Bern - Bologna-Verona-Milan - Geneva-Basel - Istanbul-Adana-Mersin.

The concert tickets are paid for, hotels reserved and flights booked. I'm really looking forward to having a break, eating Italian and Swiss food, meeting friends and seeing Pearl Jam in concert. Pearl Jam began their European tour in Dublin on Wednesday.

As a prelude to the trip, I made bruschetta, the Italian favourite, last weekend. I found a few perennial basil plants on a random street in a different part of Mersin and 'borrowed' a few leaves. It is a national tragedy that Turks don't feature basil in their cuisine.

I can't wait to eat real bruschetta in Italy.


Depending on ones sensibilities, for a native English speaker, 'Ufuk' can be the most-liked or least-liked Turkish name. In English 'Ufuk' means 'horizon'. 'Ufuk' is both a male and female name.

As I have a very lame sense of humour, 'Ufuk' is one of my favourite Turkish names. I particularly like the nightclub poster I saw the other day promoting "dj u.f.u.k"'s visit:

My Dream Ute

On a vacant block of land one street away from my flat in Mersin is my dream ute, just waiting for me to take her away.

She's a beauty, isn't she? Just a little bit of work and she'll be back on the road in no time...

Monday, 21 August 2006

At The Movies: The Lake House

The film viewed at Mersin Cinemall (formerly Metro Sinema) was "The Lake House", a fantasy/drama/romance starring Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. I first saw Sandra Bullock perform in The Net a decade or so ago.

Whilst waiting for the film to begin it was a pleasure to sit in the smoke-free cafe area, despite the air-conditioning not functioning due to a power-failure. This weekend the power failed 7 or 8 times.

Without giving the plot away, the film's concept, involving weird time sequencing, was very difficult to pull-off. I thought the film was confusing and unclear, although sometimes suspenseful. If you are desperate to see a movie go see it. Otherwise, don't worry.

Gig: Radar @ Tribu

Last night I attended a fun gig. It wasn't quite up there with Everclear destroying Silverchair @ Thebarton Theatre in 1996, all areas access @ Nibe Festival in 1999 or front row Pearl Jam @ the Entertainment Centre in 2003 but it was still good. This is despite my stomach ache gained from eating too much humus and felafel at Lido's earlier.

Radar are a cover band I had seen several times previously at Bad-Lik Bar (now sadly closed) and Tribu. However, tonight there was something extra in the air (besides the mary jane). The underground concert area was buzzing with moshing, sweating punters and the crowd kept singing even when power failure stopped the music. I wonder what made the difference tonight? 3 lira 1/2 litre beers perhaps...

Friday, 18 August 2006

Dell Battery: To Recall Or Not To Recall, That Is The Question

My Dell D410 Latitude laptop is one of the models involved in the massive battery recall. Luckily my computer's battery was made in Korea and not Japan or China, so it is not one of the four million-odd batteries to be recalled.

Thursday, 17 August 2006

Stray Cats

Tonight, close to where I found the dog tag, were up to 15 stray cats feeding on food scraps provided by a local.

Feeding the stray cats is common in Mersin and is probably the main reason thousands of them survive each year. I'm not sure why locals feed the stray cats, but i suspect it is either:
a) as a form of rodent (rat and mouse) control; or
b) out of pity

Found: 1 Dog Tag

Last night, not far from work, I found a dog tag on the ground.

As the military base was very close by I asked one of the sailors on guard if the tag belonged to someone there. Although I didn't understand everything the sailor said, I was pretty sure he mentioned the dog tag was not a Turkish military tag.

I'm guessing Ugur Yardim was born in Mersin in 1989. If it is not a military tag, I'm not sure what purpose it serves.

If you read this Ugur, drop into the local IES office and reclaim your tag.

Monday, 14 August 2006

This Just In

I received the following email from a previously unknown to myself member of the Amerikanturks Yahoo Group:

(name deleted for privacy)

Rear Ruya, I am < NAME > 26 years old, student, 1.85 largely, 82 weight,
dark-blond I would like gladly you to know to learn, if you have
desire Write down me please. Do not forgive me my English is perfect.
Good night. < NAME >

I guess the person assumes I am female as he addresses me by 'Ruya' a Turkish female name and the beginning of my Yahoo! ID.

I could respond by writing him down, praising his perfect English and asking him how he knew about the prominence of my 'rear' but I don't think I'll bother.

All Hail Reverend Scott

There are many evangelist television channels accessible via Levent's satellite dish. Watching the evangelists sell their snake oil is both funny and frightening.

Tonight, on a different channel, I discovered my favourite evangelist so far.

At The Movies: The Break-Up

Today Eda and I went to see The Break-Up at Metro Sinema.

Starring real-life partners Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, I quite enjoyed The Break-Up, although the end was somewhat tacky. The similarity in attitude and behaviour between Vince's character, Gary, and the traditional Turkish man was striking.

Funny Chatterbot Conversation

Yahoo's games have a chat feature that anyone in that particular game window can use. This feature is often hijacked by chatterbots promoting gambling, porn or other ventures. I find it easy to tell if a chat username is a bot or not by their post frequency and content.

Last night, whilst playing JT's Blocks, I witnessed a funny conversation between a bot (a_wild_chicky_61i_9368) and a real person (dawn2dust1318). Despite her increasing doubts, dawn2dust1318, kept on with the conversation with the bot. From observing the whole conversation, it seemed she was from a disturbed household, lonely and seeking attention. I guess this is why she continued the conversation.

Unforunately, I did not get the beginning of the conversation. The beginning included gems such as:
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: What are you listening to?
dawn2dust1318: my parents argue in the background

Below is the conversation I did manage to type out. First, some explanations:

- 20/F means a 20 year old female. The purpose of this particular bot is to make people click the link (presumably porn) in her its profile.

- For a short time in the conversation there is a third username, nadia10lyl. Because of its small, non-specific input, I'm not sure if it was a bot or a person.

a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: 20/F webcam and pics
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: so?
dawn2dust1318: 20/F webcam and pics
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: my cat is walking on my keyboard
dawn2dust1318: wat kinda cat?
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: where are you?
dawn2dust1318: is this some kind of computer machine asking the same questions over and over.?
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: web cam in my profile on my computer profile
dawn2dust1318: do not care
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: *~* 20/F pics in my profile *~*
dawn2dust1318: thats nice
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: you play good
dawn2dust1318: thnx
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: xoxoxoxoxox
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: hows life?
dawn2dust1318: sucks!
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: am I talking to myself?
dawn2dust1318: depends
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: so?
dawn2dust1318: i must be talking to myself or else a computer
nadia10lyl: how are you?
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: why?
dawn2dust1318: good u?
nadia10lyl: im good too
nadia10lyl: where are you from
dawn2dust1318: texas
nadia10lyl: how old are you
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: yup
dawn2dust1318: 18
nadia10lyl: you are a little baby
dawn2dust1318: y ur only 20
nadia10lyl: 21
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: do you have a profile
dawn2dust1318: no hav not set it up yet
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: xoxoxoxoxo
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: are you in college?
dawn2dust1318: yeh
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: ummm yessssss
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: 20/F webcam and pics
dawn2dust1318: w/e
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: awww
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: guys press 111 to chat!
dawn2dust1318: ghj
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: 20/F webcam and pics
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: 20/F webcam and pic in my profile
dawn2dust1318: thats nice its still me do not care
dawn2dust1318: plus i thought u said u were 21/
dawn2dust1318: ?
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: I'm not a bot... are you? lol
dawn2dust1318: u mean boy no
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: 20 female ~ pics in my profile ~
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: 20/f here guys! web cam and pics in my profile
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: yeah, I'm on cam now
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: isn't it?
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: a/s/l?
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: whats that thing doing?
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: pour some sugar on me
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: I'm using my web cam
a_wild_chicky_61i_9368: thats hot

The bot continued on chatting to itself ad nauseum.

Saturday, 12 August 2006

Dolphin Meat Doner?

The above photo is of "Yunus Et Market". In English this means: "Dolphin Meat Market". Unlike most butchers in Turkey, this butcher in Silifke specialises in dolphin meat.

The dolphin meat is a by-product of the tuna trawlers in the Adriatic. The butcher receives the meat at a discount price as it cannot be sold in the EU or EU member countries. With Turkey beginning official membership talks with the EU there is strong pressure for the trade to be made illegal, drastically affecting Yunus Et Market and other dolphin meat distributors.

I've never knowingly tasted dolphin meat so I can't give a first-hand account. People have said the taste is a cross between game and red meat.

Although not official, I've heard one of the main uses for dolphin meat is as a filler for lamb and chicken doner stacks. Apparently the meat is very good for holding the doner stacks together and the flavour does not differ enough from either chicken or lamb to be greatly noticeable.

When you next have a doner in southern Turkey you may want to ask the restaurant if it contains dolphin meat.

Thursday, 10 August 2006

Website Downtime Explanation

For a while in the last week this website was down. An anti-war hacker (with a Turkish email address, oddly enough) accessed the server my website is hosted on and promoted an anti-war message written in poor English. All is okay now and this website has moved to a new server.

Wednesday, 9 August 2006

Mersin Mooning

Last night the moon was full and low over Mersin:

Luna Park in the lunar light

The moon on a yacht's Turkish flag and the real moon in opposite quarters

Shining over a ship in the bay

Tuesday, 8 August 2006

Onya Libby!

LIBBY Taheny is more water-wise than most. Along with some of her neighbours in Union Street, Northcote, she is already conserving water by installing a drip irrigation system in her garden, recycling the rinse water from her washing machine and installing flow reduction devices.

But even she had her eyes opened when she attended a series of information sessions organised by commmunity education group Watermark Australia.

"The information we learnt was amazing," she says. "Just realising how much water is used in the production of food; how much we waste; how crucial the water problem is in Australia."

Ms Taheny, a horticulturist, along with a small group of neighbours, felt that as individuals there was not much they could do to influence water policy. But they could make practical changes and perhaps persuade others to do the same.

UPDATE: Below is the photo accompanying The Age article. Auntie Libby (on the far left) thinks the photo is 'horrendous' so that is good enough reason for me to include it :-)

Photo credit: John Donegan

A Bundy Good Time 6 Days A Week

Reading the TV guide on Saturday I discovered my favourite American comedy Married... With Children is showing on CNBC-e at 19:15 Monday to Thursday and 11:30 Saturday and Sunday morning :-)

Monday, 7 August 2006

The Weekend

For the first time in living memory I have had 2 or more consecutive days off work and not travelled. Well, I did travel a short distance--down the coast with Levent to his family's rental flat in Tomuk. Coincidentally, Buket and her family were staying only 3 levels above in the same complex and building!

Lots of swimming in the sea and pool, eating of great food (icli kofte, lamb stew, a full Turkish breakfast and amazing lahmacun) and chatting with good people all took place; email writing, hotel searching and long-distance bus travelling did not.

I am now refreshed, slightly sunburnt and ready to get back to work.

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