Turkey, Armenia and Football Diplomacy cont.

Remember this entry? Well, everything seems to have worked out well enough for Sarkisian to attend the Turkey-Armenia match in Bursa.


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Job Interviews

I’ve not really had any jobs that have required going through a whole formal interview process. I often didn’t really have interviews at all — I’d just send an e-mail in response to an internship posting and then have a phone interview. Or, in the case of Austria, I applied and then was informed of my acceptance by snail mail several months later. When I have had interviews, though, they have usually gone as follows:

1. I dress up in my finest college chic duds (usually khakis with a cardigan or something like that).

2. I attempt to arrive at the interview location 15 minutes early, which almost always results in my arriving exactly on time.

3. I talk to the interviewer(s) for five minutes about myself and the position. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Interviewer: So. Do you like American University?

Me: Yeah, it’s got a great program for [insert something related to position].

Interviewer: So. Why Turkey? (They always asked about Turkey, but never about Germany. Countries with squat toilets usually seem to evoke intrigue.)

Me: [Explanation of interest in Turkey]

Interviewer: Do you speak Turkish?

Me: Some.

Interviewer: How did you like university in Turkey?

Me: [Discussion and elaboration on attending university in Turkey]

Interviewer: Can you use the Microsoft Office Suite?

Me: Yes.

Interviewer: Mac?

Me: Yes

Interviewer: OK, then, we’ll call you within the week to let you know our decision.

4. I am hired.

In June, however, I returned from the land of schnitzel and kaesekrainer and plunged into the world of Applying for Jobs in a Terrible Economy. Even getting to the interview stage has proved to be an agonizing process. My usual course of action is as follows:

1. Choose from one of the five resumes I currently have going (administrative, publishing, journalism, non-profit, exchange programs).

2. Further customize said resume.

3. Spend between five and forty-eight hours agonizing over writing a cover letter.

4. Send cover letter per e-mail and fax or snail mail.

5. Wait.

6. Wait.

7. Wait.

8. Wait.

If by some strange twist of fate someone at the organization I’ve applied to manages to see my resume amidst the thousands of others that have poured in, and if, by an even stranger twist of fate, they happen to be interested in me, I get a call. And then there is, of course, the interview process:

1. Set up an eyebrow threading appointment.

2. Pick out a suit to wear. Perhaps buy a new blouse.

3. Print out resume, position description, interview confirmation e-mail and information about the organization. Place in folder.

4. Look at various university career center Web sites in order to prepare for interview questions.

5. Wake up early day of the interview. Shower. Blow-dry hair (I never do this, so you know the occasion is special). Make sure make-up is absolutely perfect. Consider showing cleavage. Decide against it.

6. Catch an early train into the city.

7. Locate interview building. Drink an Americano at the Starbucks across the street. (It’s NYC — no matter where you are, there’s a Starbucks across the street. Even if you’re already in a Starbucks.)

8. Get to the office five minutes early. Read over organization information to make sure I haven’t missed out on some crucial aspect of the business. Think about answers to potential questions.

9. Interview with one person or several people. How the hell am I supposed to know what I’ll be doing five years from now? No, I don’t think I’m overqualified. I don’t know what I would ask me if I were you — we’ve already been talking for an hour! Foot enters mouth several times.

10. Thank interviewers. Leave the office feeling nervous. Drink more coffee.

11. Think about the answers I should have given and wonder why I can’t be more composed and confident.

12. Send thank-you letters to all the interviewers.

13. Wait.

14. Wait.

15. Wait.

Usually it all culminates in a rejection e-mail — you know, one of those send-to-the-masses-and-cover-all-bases-type deals that says “we’ve unfortunately chosen someone whose qualifications better match our needs” or something like that.

But today I got a second interview — it’s scheduled for Wednesday. Here’s the expected process:

1. Repeat Post-College Interview Steps 1-15.

2. Wait some more.

3. Hope for the best.

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Proof that the Internet is being taken over by pubescent youth and pirates

I’m trying to create a Web site using Drupal, and, though I know the basics, I could always know more. I just went to look up “how to use Drupal” in the little Google search box in Firefox.  Anyway, I got up to the word “use” and the Google search box gave me a drop-down menu with 10 filler choices:

1. How to use Twitter

2. How to use Facebook

3. How to use a tampon

4. How to use a condom

5. How to use torrents

6. How to use a compass

7. How to use Excel

8. How to use Photoshop

9. How to use chopsticks

10. How to use Bittorrent

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Obama Administration to Announce European Missile Defense Plan

“WASHINGTON – The Obama administration appears likely to adopt a compromise European missile defense plan that shelves many of the components that have been a major irritant in relations with Russia, with an announcement expected Thursday.”

Predicted conservative backlash commentary:


“Obama is endangering the ‘Murcan people by talking to Russia.”

“America’s gettin’ to be more like communism every day, ya heard?”

“Why are we trying to negotiate with Europe anyway? They’re all terr’ists.”





“Them communists are gonna come over here with them bombs; it don’t matter if they get the lazy Euros, but trying to be friendly with RUSSIA? Just proves that the health plan is socialist.”


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Reasons I Wish I Still Lived in D.C.: The 9/12 Rally

On Saturday, tens of thousands of conservative voters marched on Washington, D.C., to protest the Obama administration’s reckless spending (or merely suggested reckless spending) on such traditionally un-American issues as: universal health care; taxing the rich to give to the poor; taking bonuses from Corporate America’s CEO’s; communicating civilly with governments of Muslim-majority countries; and the presence of black people in the White House.

The protests were headed by several conservative groups, including FreedomWorks and the Tea Party Patriots, the latter of whom were responsible for Teabagging America ’09:

Here are some gems from among the quotes. I don’t generally read the Daily News, but some of these were too awesome to pass up:

“You want socialism? Go to Russia!” — Susan Clark, D.C., The Washington Post

This might have been effective if she said “communism,” and if this march happened before 1991.


“We want our country to go back to the roots of doing what our Founding Fathers wanted us to do — less government in every aspect of my life. We walked the streets of Williamsburg, and it felt like we were learning how to be a patriot.” — Debbie Wilson, Apollo Beach, Fla., The Washington Post

Patriotism = using outhouses, wearing bonnets and churning your own butter.


“I’m outraged prominent black politicians use the race card [to cover up their failed policies].” — Deneen Borelli, New York, N.Y. Times


With regard to Obama and healthcare: “It’s not that he’s evil, but the outcome will be.” — Suzanne Mullen, Fayetteville, N.C., N.Y. Daily News


“Health care is not listed anywhere in the Constitution.” — Brian Burnell, 45, M.D., The Washington Post

But multi-million dollar Wall Street bonuses totally are.


“What he’s doing to the budget, and taking over health care, is only a part of it. He’s bankrupting us. He’s not protecting us. He’s apologizing to Europe and the terrorists.” — Richie Mitzner, Fort Lee, N.J., N.Y. Daily News

Yes, trying to negotiate peacefully with Iran — as opposed to nuking them before they nuke us — is a TERRIBLE plan.


“We’ve got a deficit so large, my grandkids won’t be able to pay it off.” — Pete Jones, New Hartford, C.T., N.Y. Daily News.

OK, so are you saying that Wall Street wouldn’t have exploded last year (WHILE Bush was still in office) if Obama hadn’t won the election? Would it be alright for your grandkids to be in debt if all the proposed health care money were going toward the defense bill?


And don’t forget all the fabulous visual documentation of the event:

Move over, White House czars! The Boob Czarina is totally more informed and better at leading the country than you are.

Move over, White House czars! The Boob Czarina is totally more informed and better at leading the country than you are.

A future death panel victim makes his way toward the Freedom Mobile.

A future death panel victim makes his way toward the Freedom Mobile.

The next "Vogue" cover model

The next "Vogue" cover model

Uh. What?

Uh. What?

This young racist has something to say.

This young racist has something to say.

You mean about how Obama wants to institute universal healthcare as a means of effecting reparations for slavery? Totally.

You mean about how Obama wants to institute universal health care as a means of effecting reparations for slavery? Totally.

There are no words...

There are no words...

Augustus Gloop and friends

Augustus Gloop and friends

Only a conservative can be this egregiously racist.

Only a conservative can be this egregiously racist.

And be sure to check out The 10 Best Signs from the “March on Washington”, which includes “Most Racist,” “Cutest,” and “Most Ironic Acronym.” Priceless.

EDIT: I just realized I’ve forgotten to thank the photographers who so kindly posted distributable photos on Creative Commons. Thanks to: KCIvey and Andrew Aliferis

EDIT: I just realized I’ve forgotten to thank the photographers who so kindly bore witness to the event and posted re-postable pictures on Flickr. Thanks to: KCIvey; Andrew Aliferis


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The Weird America Series: American Cheese

When I was a child, I loved American cheese. I loved the way it melted between the golden-brown bread slices in a pan when I made grilled cheese. I loved unwrapping it and eating it plain, relishing that strange, unnatural chewiness that only American cheese possesses. When I went to Friendly’s and was given the choice between American, cheddar and pepperjack, I undoubtedly went with the American cheese. Everything else seemed foreign and repulsive.

But now, having experienced Gruyere, feta, multitudinous goat cheeses, extra sharp cheddar, Camembert, brie, Jarlsberg and many others, I just have to ask: what sick human gave birth to the idea of American cheese? Its floppiness is distressing, the individually plastic-wrapped slices make it terrible for the environment, and it usually appears on the grocery store shelves in a sickly shade of chemical orange. And on top of it all, it’s not even actually cheese.

According to my extensive research, American cheese used to be manufactured from a mix of naturally produced Colby and cheddar cheeses. If you’ve eaten American cheese any time within the last, oh, twenty years or so, you’ll know that this is no longer the case. These days, American cheese is a true chemical concoction and doesn’t even meet the legal criteria for being called “cheese,” so instead needs to be labeled as “processed cheese product” or “processed cheese food.” This might be the worst one I’ve ever seen:

cheesefront2Imitation pasteurized process cheese food?? Seriously? Why would anyone buy something that claims to be an imitation of a processed food? The American consumer mindset is extremely confusing to me.

Anyway, here’s the list of ingredients in Kraft American cheese:


And here’s the list of ingredients in Swiss Gruyere cheese:


The worst of all this is that we seem to be using our marketing power to contaminate the otherwise dignified European cheese culture. Everywhere I go in Germany, I see “Toast Kaese” (“toast cheese”).  Well, at least the most disgusting cheese in the supermarket isn’t labeled “American.” And at least they’ve relegated our processed cheese food to a specific culinary arena: toasting it between bread slices (often at music festivals when they’re in need of food that lasts an unnaturally long time in conditions which are less than superb for food preservation). In my opinion, cheese should be more versatile than that. But maybe that’s just me.

UPDATE: I discussed this topic on the train ride home with my friends Brian and Courtney. When I asked, “WHY does anyone buy American cheese?!”, Brian replied, “Because it tastes good on an egg sandwich.” Good point, good point.

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Turkey, Armenia and Football Diplomacy

Last September, Turkish President Abdullah Gül traveled to Yerevan to attend a World Cup qualifying match between Armenia and Turkey. This October, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian is expected to attend another Armenia-Turkey match in Istanbul — as long as Ankara makes moves to open the Turkish-Armenian border. And thus, amidst a flurry of criticisms, doubts and speculations, football diplomacy between the two countries has taken hold.

Gül’s trip drew heavy criticism from both Turks and Armenians — many Turks (and particularly Turkish nationalists) claimed the visit showed a sign of weakness on Turkey’s part and would hurt Turkey’s image; some Armenians claimed that the visit was simply a reaction to the Russian invasion of South Ossetia — that the Turks felt they needed to exercise more power in the region to fight off a Russian threat.

Indeed, Gül’s daytrip to Yerevan marked the first visit of a Turkish leader to Armenia in the entire history of the two nations.  The Republic of Turkey has been around since 1922; the Democratic Republic of Armenia was founded in 1918, though was taken over by the Communist Party in 1920, was swept into the Soviet Union in 1922 and finally gained independence in 1991 after the USSR’s collapse. Of course, the real trouble began before either country even existed — Armenians were always viewed as second-class citizens in the Ottoman Empire, and things got really nasty when  more than 1 million Armenians were killed under Ottoman Turkish rule between 1915 and 1918. Since then, the question of whether the mass killing of Armenians should be declared a “genocide” has been cause for the complete lack of diplomatic ties between Turkey and Armenia.  The “genocide” issue has also been a topic of international debate and even caused a rift between the U.S. and Turkish governments in 2007, when a bill proposing official use of the term “genocide” came to the U.S. House floor.

So. Now what? Today, both governments announced that they would officially establish diplomatic ties, meaning that leaders of both countries will meet and discuss their “issues”– sans football and with the help of Swiss mediators. As far as any of us can tell, the most pressing issues are:

1.The aforementioned “genocide” snafu

2. The Nagorno-Karabakh dispute (In short: the Armenian majority in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan wants to secede and join with Armenia; the Azerbaijanis don’t especially like this, considering that Nargorno-Karabakh is officially considered part of Azerbaijan, though the Soviets declared it an “Autonomous Region” in the 1920’s due to its 90+% Armenian majority. Turkey has sided with Azerbaijan on this issue and closed its borders with Armenia in 1993 as a result of the dispute.)

3. The opening of the Turkish-Armenian border.

I predict that the issues will be addressed in this order: 3, 2, 1. I don’t really want to go into my own thoughts on Issue 1, as I’d prefer not to be attacked by The Internet; with regards to Issue 2, I’m not especially knowledgeable, but there’s certainly no way of getting it figured out any time soon — or at all — and I think it should actually be avoided for the time being in favor of Issue 3. Getting the Azerbaijani government and Nagorno-Karabakh separatist representatives involved will only greatly complicate the Turkish-Armenian issues. What Turkey and Armenia really need is some relationship counseling under supervision of Swiss therapists, followed by alone time — candlelit dinners, long walks on the border, that sort of thing.

At any rate, the fate of President Sarkisian’s intended visit to Istanbul to watch the October 14th match rests firmly on the progress of Issue 3. Will these border-opening moves be made? Will Sarkisian be allowed to sit in the Armenian fan section, or will ne need to sit with the Turkish leaders to conform to diplomatic etiquette? For that matter, IS there even an Armenian fan section in Turkish football stadiums? And most importantly — who will win and will the results affect non-football diplomacy?


P.M. Erdogan: You're going to the match in Yerevan, OK?/Gül: Well, I don't know, Tayyip. Would that really be right?

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