Orange Fever...Catch It!

Dark Overlord...er...Vice President Dick Cheney was in Poland yesterday to mark the occaision of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. While there he met with President Yushenko. Check out the color of Cheney's tie. Posted by Hello

Couple Items

1) Hillary Clinton and John McCain nominated Viktor Yushenko and Mikhail Saakashvili for the Nobel Peace Price. Guess we'll have to wait a bit before we see if they win.

2) Last night I was talking with my Russian tutor. She's actually an English tutor by profession, and teaches me Russian as a favor. She has apparently been approached to possibly teach "nasha" Julia Tymoshenko English. She's very excited about this prospect. This also amuses me, as one of her teaching methods involves having her students memorize poetry. So I'm having these visions of Julia reading Emily Dickinsn (one of my tutor's favorites) while someone from the Regions Party is blabbering away about something or another in the Rada.

3) Another story my tutor told me last night that I had to share: Back in 1995 then-President Clinton came to visit Kiev. During this visit my tutor was hired by CNN as a local translator/assistant for star reporter Wolf Blitzer. Wolf sent my tutor out on an assignment with a camera crew to get a story and local reactions to how Kievans were preparing for Clinton's arrival. Problem was, no one in the city seemed to know or care that Clinton was coming. So my tutor goes back to Wolf and says "We can't find anyone who is preparing to welcome Clinton, but I am a Kievan...so do you want me to put things together for your cameramen?" Wolf says "absolutely." So my tutor goes over to a friend's apartment by the opera house here, and she makes a banner that says "Kiev welcomes Clinton!" and hangs it from her friend's balcony. The CNN camera crew dutifly films it. She then calls up a principal she knows of a school on L'vivska brama. She asks him "do you know Clinton is coming?" The Principal says "No." My tutor then asks him, "Well, since you know now, can we come over and film some of your students singing to welcome Clinton?" The principal says "sure." So my tutor goes over with the camera crew and films a fifth grade class singing a song, ostensibly in practice for when Clinton arrives. Both shots made it into Wolf's report.

THIS...is CNN.



Got a fair amount of snow last night. I've come to notice that the snow makes this town look really good. It's probably just the fact that all the run-down buildings and infrastructure gets covered up by white stuff. It also has a subtle way of emphasizing problems, such as when our local staff highly suggests shoveling accumulation off of our balcony so that it doesn't collapse. Good times. I also get a kick out of the snow removal techniques. For as much as they get here you would think that they would have imporved somewhat. But no, people shovel with a flat piece of metal on a stick, nothing curved or fancy. You even see some babushkas using brooms made of twigs tied together. I have yet to see a snowblower.

Oh yeah, schools and government are still open, suck it Fairfax. Posted by Hello


Dancing Pensioners

So the other night I'm walking down Bogdan Khleminitsa to Metrograd to run an errand of some sort. I walk under the Perihod (an underground quasi-mall that they use for pedestrians to cross major intersections in this part of the world instead of traffic lights) by Teatralna metro. In the perihod I saw the oddest thing. A large crowd of pensioners dancing together in front of the entrance to the Teatralna metro. They had a band playing and everything. Also note that it was freaking cold that night and they were doing this all wearing heavy coats and hats. Consider this another part in my "Russians are odd" series. Posted by Hello

"Nasha" Yulia is new PM

Political firebrand (and Dnipropetrovsk native) Yulia Tymoshenko was appointed Prime Minister yesterday by Yushenko before he left for a fence mending trip to Moscow. Most Orange types are quite pleased by this. She had quite a prominent role in all the Orange protests.

However, there are going to be some that are going to be slightly off put by this. Saying that Yulia made a lot of her fortune through questionable dealings in the Ukrainian energy sector back in the 90s would be a bit of an understatement. Many say that these charges were politically motivated, even then. Others I know that worked with her back then tell me otherwise. In either case, I hope that things work out with this.

The best comment I read about this easily came from Discoshaman over at Le Sabot Post-Modern. "While lacking the erudition and gamine beauty of Yanukovych, Tymoshenko will be implacable in the fight for economic and social reform."

Regarding Yushenko's Moscow visit, this quote from Putin had me in hysterics: "You know that Russia has never acted behind the scenes in post-Soviet space," Putin said. "We have never acted [in a way that would] bypass the government..." Really? I wonder what the Goverhments of Moldova, Georgia, and Tajikistan (among others) would have to say about that. I guess Putin forget to say "Except in the cases of Trans-Dniester, Abkhazia, and Ferghana Vally (among others) but what are you going to do about it? You're 'nasha' anyway. Yob Tvayo Mat."



During all the protests in late November and December, this electronic billboard over Independence Square continued to show nothing but the time, temperature, and advertisements. On Innaguration day it finally acknowledged what was only yesterday the opposition. Posted by Hello


At the end of his speech, lots of orange balloons were released. They all started heading towards Podol and the Dnipro. Posted by Hello

Bolshoi Yaitsey

I almost feel bad for this guy. He was in a line of Yanukovich supporters surrounding that group with the flags. While he wasn't getting stomped, he (and others) were holding off a lot of people in the crowd and taking a constant stream of verbal abuse. He may be backing the completely wrong horse, a criminal, and a fraud...but at least he's dedicated about doing it.

Yanukovich People

Some of them were less interested. All those blue and white flags are in the middle of a crowd of Yanukovich supporters. Amazingly enough they weren't getting stomped by the Orange Army. Posted by Hello

In the Crowd

During the speech, the crowd was enraptured. Posted by Hello

Yushenko Speaking

Look closely. The guy at the podium underneath that arch, partially obscured by flags, is Viktor Yushenko giving his innaguration speech (thanks digital zoom!). Posted by Hello


One of the Mercedes driving down that street holds Viktor Yushenko. Posted by Hello

Colin Powell

Other Americans were there too. Look it's Colin Powell! Posted by Hello

Orange Sea

Here's what it looked like in the middle of the crowd. Posted by Hello

Heading to the Square

A lot of people other than me decided to walk down to Independence Square to observe/take part in the innauguration. Posted by Hello

Flags on the Street

This morning. Could tell it was a big day, as the flags were out on my street and building. Haven't seen this since it was Shevchenko region day. Posted by Hello


Coincidence that the refuse truck is orange? Posted by Hello

Orange Mess

I've been lax on the photoblogging lately, so I'm going to make up for it in spades with pictures from the past 24 hours. First up, last night on Kreshatik. What does it look like when a tent city that has been on the street for two months or so close down? See above. Posted by Hello


If Arnold's Orange, how can anyone NOT be?

Arnold Scharzenegger has officially congratulated Viktor Yushenko on his presidential win. I think it's safe to say that that's the endorsement we've all been waiting for here in Kiev.


Small Amusements

There's a feature of the on-line version of the New York Times that never fails to amuse me. On their front page every day they have a little side bar that shows the top 5 most emailed articles from their paper. Check out the full list here.

Keep in mind, that this list is constantly being updated and changed, but the types of articles that are consistently in the top 5 are what amuses me. At the time I'm writing this 4 of the top 5 are basically anti-Bush/anti-conservative screeds. Number 1 is a typically meandering and incoherent bloviation from Maureen Dowd. Number 2 showcases some extreme right-wing religious nut wack-a-doo who thinks that SpongeBob Sqaurepants is trying to convert the nation's children to homosexuality. Number 3 is a Tom Friedman piece whose central thesis is that Western Europe is the world's biggest blue state. Number 4 is actually a technology piece about digital photo organizing software. Have no fear though, Number 5 is another editorial piece that says that Democrats should be happy that Bush is being innagurated because "the dollar is down, the deficit is up, foreign relations are in disarray and the party that presides over this looming miasma may well have elected its last president for decades to come." I had no idea that if things were so bad for the country people were supposed to be happy!

Why does seeing this list bring me slight mirth? Every time I see it, I can't help but get an image of some granola chomping weenie sitting at some independently run coffee shop with wi-fi, sipping chai and listening to the Kings of Convenience on their i-Pod, still bitter inside about losing to Chimpy McFlightsuit, reading the Times on their laptop after checking out democratic underground and sending out emails to people who have since "moved on" from the election, are just trying to live their lives, and don't give a shit what Maureen Dowd thinks about Condoleeza Rice (or anyone else for that matter). OR they're sending them to people that have already read and emailed the same article, mainly to show that chick they met at the A.N.S.W.E.R. rally that they're as progressive as she is. And as they fill out that form on the Times on line to email that article the complete unfairness of it all is just eating at them. I suppose this is schadenfruede at it's worst, but I've never claimed to be free of that. Christ, I stayed up until 3AM this past Sunday just so I could watch Peyton Manning choke in a big game again.

I really wish FoxNews, FreeRepublic, and the Washington Times had a similar feature.


It's Official

Yushenko Wins. Supreme Court announced it. Parliament confirmed it. Innauguration scheduled for Sunday. Yanukovich is probably home weeping. Count on a plethora of pictures over the weekend.


Must Read

There is a must read article The New York Times > posted in the NYTimes this afternoon about the role Ukrainian intelligence officers played in supporting the opposition during the Orange revolution. Some of it reads like post fact posturing, but some of it strikes me as pretty accurate. Read for yourself.


Blue Tents?

In his Ukraine update for today Le Sabot Post-Modern notes: "There are now 18 tents in the center of Donetsk, in hopes of a Blue Revolution. That makes about as much sense as rioters burning down their own neighborhood. The government offices are all in Kiev, so why should it bother Yushchenko if they close down the Square in Donetsk?"

That's really just awsome. How stupid are these Yanukovich supporters?

Unfortunately, Yanukovich himself doesn't seem to be entirely stupid. He's doing everything in his power to delay allowing a governmental transition to occur. I was speaking with a freelance journalist I'm acquainted with yesterday and he was telling me that the soonest we can hope for a Yushenko innaguration is the week of January 24th. This is because of all the stupid court challenges Yanukovich keeps making (or delaying in filing). It's really getting absurd though, you can't get anything done over here with a state or state-affiliated employee as they all want to sit on their hands until they see who their new boss will be...and the probably won't know that until March after everyone has been fired and replacements have been put in.

Another interesting tid-bit I gleaned from this journalist. Apparently, on December 27th, the day after the re-vote here, when it was clear that Yushenko was going to be the winner, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs just happened to issue over 200 diplomatic passports. Hmmm...wonder who got those?


Orange Washington?

Is the above picture from a U.S. Embassy SUV here in Kiev from late November of last year? Well, no. It's actually from a car located in Washington State (I found the picture while googling around for links for this post). I know next to nothing about the subject, outside of the basics, but from what I understand; this past November Washington State had an election for Governor. Originally the Republican candidate was declared the winner, but it was by an really close margin. After a mandatory recount, he remained the winner. The Democratic candidate then demanded a recount, got one, came out the winner by something like 130 votes, and is apparently about to be sworn into office.

Washington state republicans are apparently pissed off about this turn of events and are challenging this in court and demanding a re-vote ( I guess reports of Dead Voters will do that to people...it did here). Amusingly, protestors in Washington state seem to have taken a page from the Ukrainians' playbook and adopted the color orange for their revote campaign. Check out the end of this Seattle PI article or even the color of this blog (sound politics) which appears to be dedicated to covering this electoral mess.

Go figure, U.S. politics being influenced by events in Kiev. Posted by Hello

We have a winner

The Central Elections Commission here finally declared Yushenko the winner of election round 3. Now we just have to wait for Yanukovich's protest to the Supreme Court here to (hopefully) get smacked down. Of course, even that might not end things. Yanukovich says he'll appeal to a European court should he not get a ruling in his favor. Hilarious really, given Yanukovich's position of rejection of Europe for closer ties with Russia. Are there Russians or Belarussians on the European court?



Downton Austin as seen from South Congress Street. Putting this picture up suddenly made me think of that TV show that was on MTV in the late 90's, "Austin Stories." From what I remember, that was a really funny show. I think that needs to be put out on DVD. Christ, if you can get "Sledgehammer" on DVD, you should be able to get that. Posted by Hello

Wildflower Center

The Courtyard of the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. Site of my upcoming nuptials. Posted by Hello


Didn't find too much in the way of great pictures from my Texas excursion. That's me above in the midst of some piece of art outside of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. Posted by Hello


Commie Christmas

Amazingly, communist symbols were even able to find their way onto my family's Christmas tree this year. Posted by Hello


I'm Back

No semi-loyal blog readers, I haven't forgotten you or the blog itself. I've just been home (again) for a couple weeks for holidays. I came to find it's really difficult to get fired up about writing when you're writing about basically the same shit you did in high school. Let's examine two days that occured within about a month of each other:

November 22nd, 2004 - I go to the first rally at what will turn out to be a peaceful democratic revolution in a country that was part of the Soviet Union a scant 14 years ago.

December 23rd, 2004 - I go to a Barnes and Noble at Fair Oaks that has been there since 1994.

Anyway, I suppose the past two weeks weren't all filled with the same type of everyday drudgery as that. Pere Connard did have some scheduled heart surgery and that was quite a noteworthy event (he's home now and recovering quite nicely). XMas and New Years were certainly very nice holidays and it was good to spend time with the complete Connard clan. And a journey was made to Texas for a couple of days after New Years. I'll spend some time going through pictures and will post anything that I find interesting.

And with the Supreme Court here tossing out Yanukovich's bogus challenges to the legitimacy of the third round, I'll be sure to check out Yushenkos inauguration next week.

By the way, driving back from the airport, the tents were STILL out on Kreshatik. Cabbie said that they weren't going anywhere until Yushenko was actually sworn in. That's dedication folks.