Archive for December, 2005

No more 2005

I’m all sore today from yesterday’s many physical activities. We had to shovel snow at work to clear the parking lot. Then just as we recovered a bit, we had to carry some furniture up and down the stairs. To top it off, after work I went to move my futniture into the new apt. It was definitely an unusual day in the life of a mailman.
Today I walked around Zagreb a bit to enjoy the snow before it melts into slush. I realized that Saturday mornings in Zagreb are quite interesting - we have street magicians and performers, loads of Italian tourists (we go to Rome for New Year, they come here!?), and religious and anti-religious preachers on the main square.

Zagreb in Snow
Zagreb in Snow Gallery

2 comments December 31st, 2005

The most boring strike

It’s really boring to strike. Everyone was just sitting around today, having lots of cigarettes and coffees. The 3 of us civil service guys did about 1 man-hour worth of work in 7 hours. I really hope that they give them raises soon…
On the bright side, Zagreb got about 20 cm of snow in the last 2 days, so it’s all nice and white now instead of brown and muddy. However, precipitation and wet sidewalks mean that my mom calls me to check on me - you never know when I might slip and break all my bones or the bus I’m in will fall off the bridge. Fortunately, I’m moving to a rented apt very soon, so mom won’t know where I am and that I might be outside in the cold!

1 comment December 28th, 2005

Unleashed doggies

About 90% of dogs in this city are not on the leash, and I mean not only in parks, but while crossing busy roads as well. The other day at work we saw a woman carrying her dead dog that got hit by a car while crossing the street.
Today I saw a dog today almost get run over by a tram because some other unleashed dog started chasing it. The stupid owner who was yapping on her phone and pushing a stroller didn’t even realize that her dog had a close encounter.
I heard from Igor that Zeljka got a dog yesterday, not sure if she’s a stray or lost. I’m gonna go see the dog this afternoon, and take it for a walk with Igor (hopefully there will be a leash involved).

Add comment December 23rd, 2005

4 days off

How nice, as a last minute arrangement I got tomorrow off, in addition to Monday which is a holiday. So now I can enjoy the pre-Christmas crowds, Christmas lunch with family, and then maybe a hike to Sljeme on Monday.
I might get an unexpected holiday next Wednesday as well, since all government employees might go on strike as a result of unsuccessful salary negotiations today. They were unhappy with the proposed 3% increase across the board, which would give about $13 monthly increase on an average salary, while only higher level employees would gain anything worth mentioning.

Add comment December 22nd, 2005

First day of winter

With some nice spring-like sun… Now the days will start getting longer, maybe I’ll feel like running more often. Crystal noticed that days are somewhat shorter in Zagreb, and indeed, Zagreb gets half an hour less daylight than Philly these days.

At work we’re busy delivering presents to the Minister’s cabinet. Her excellency is getting a shitload of wines, calendars, candies and other fancy goodies. After she received 11 boxes of tangerines, we thought she’d share some for sure, but today we saw her driver loading them up in her Audi.

And now for something completely different - Igor and I went to see a Croatian band playing instrumental Irish music in a crowded, smoky bar, where high-school girls were dancing to the fiddle, and a German shepherd puppy was barking while people were clapping. The reason for the band playing tonight was the Winter solstice… Guess I’m not the only one looking forward to longer days!

1 comment December 22nd, 2005

So far, so good

Don’t have any news about my service yet, but I’m still showing up there every day, so I suppose it’s all good for now.

I’m going to do a price comparison for a few things - see how Croatian and US prices compare. If someone wants to do a price check on any item (food, clothing, services), let me know how much they cost in the US, I’ll look up the price here and add it to my table.
I just bought a $46 Chinese DVD player (with Croatian menus however!), that plays DVD/DIVX/XVID/MPEG4/SVCD/VCD and other mysterious acronyms. This way I can take advantage of abundant DIVX movies here. Sorry MPAA.

I had another “don’t run today, it’s cold out, you’ll catch a cold” conversation at work today. This was with a young, reasonable woman. Apparently her doctor told her that you can get a cold by being exposed to cold, and that it’s different than the cold you get via a virus. She was telling me how she trusts her doctor, and I wanted to convice her to change her doctor.

1 comment December 15th, 2005

I might be able to breathe

I went, I begged, but the official answer was “you’re stupid, you start all over again, sorry we can’t help you”. The unofficial deal is that I’ll probably keep working almost as if nothing happened, just get my completion paperwork done about 3 months after I’m done working.
I won’t go into more details so I don’t leave any incriminating evidence againsy myself on my blog. Even though I would probably be ok, since in Croatia, a blog is not “an official document with a signature and a seal”, which as I have learned, is the only thing that counts :)
All this has to be confirmed tomorrow so stay tuned…

4 comments December 13th, 2005

The Twilight Zone

I wouldn’t believe it if it didn’t happen to me!
So today I found out that since I didn’t pick up my original assignment paper (my mom had a copy) when I started my civil service, and there were some other complications which were never explained to me, I have basically been working for over 2 months without official approval! Yes, you’ve read it right, I’ve been volunteering for the past 70 days. They office in charge of civil service doesn’t want to acknowledge that I worked this much already, but they can reissue my assignment so I can start all over again…
My work today told me to go home until the paperwork gets resolved. I’ve practically been sacked from a job that I’ve been doing for free, and I was probably the most dedicated mailman they ever had for free!
It also would have been nice of them to tell me this when I started so this paper can be reissued, not 2 months into the whole disaster.
So tomorrow I go there and try my best at begging them to be nice and acknowledge the time I already served.

Tip of the day - don’t do any official work in Croatia without an original, signed and stamped, hard copy of any document you need.

3 comments December 12th, 2005

“Real” coffee

The other day Crystal and I were walking around Zagreb, and some lady from New Jersey stopped us because she heard us speak English. She wondered whether we knew where she could get a coffee “to go”, instead of sitting and sipping your small coffee for hours. After about 10 minutes of talking in the rain, we concluded that it’s impossible.
Well, Crystal is back in Philly now, having her Starbucks latte, while i’m stuck with small-coffee-to-be-slowly-sipped-while-sitting for another 6 months.

3 comments December 7th, 2005

Getting paid on time

It is really weird how people get paid at my work - every month they get paid at a different time. It depends on how quickly the accounting dept gets done, and when the Finance Ministry approves the paychecks. Really odd… So everyone walks around for a whole week spreading rumors about when they might get paid this month. Supposedly this is good compared to some companies that often don’t pay their employees for months at a time. I get paid a big zero, so I’m not concerned at the moment.

One thing you can count on though, is that whenever someone has a birthday they bring tons of cakes and sweets to treat everyone. We’ve had 3 birthdays in the last week, so I probably gained a few pounds right there.

Add comment December 6th, 2005

Two months of service behind me

I’ve officially finished a quarter of my service. It’s actually a bit more than a quarter when I include the 25 vacation days that i’m allowed to take. I’ll try to save as many of them for the very end so I can be done early.
Crystal’s been here for a week now, so we’ve been walking around rainy/snowy/cold Zagreb. We also definitely found an apartment for when she comes here for five months. It’s tiny (all of 400 sq feet!), but well newly redone with a new kitchen and bathroom. Being that everything in Europe is smaller but therefore more functional, better laid out, and no space is wasted, we’ll be just fine.
I have until January to order DSL so Crystal can work from here (and I can finally surf at more than 31k), and gather some furniture for the place.

3 comments December 4th, 2005


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