An Apple A Day

(this post has VERY little to do with Georgia)

My name is Sanchez and I am an Apple user. I am well aware that there is an ongoing rant against Apple products and their users. Something about the overpricing of the products or the uncritical devotion mentality towards the company and it’s products. I don’t even care. I love Apple products. Sure I have problems sometimes, ergo this post, but for the most part, I am a happy camper.

When I switched from PC to Mac, my world and computer interaction changed forever. Which is something that the non-Apple haters can not even comprehend. The interaction is just so much more intuitive and streamlined.

My first purchase was an iPod, then Mac Pro laptop, then an iPad. I remember seeing the video of Steve Jobs introducing the IPhone. I knew that that phone would change phones forever, which it did. And I also knew I had to get one. But to my frustration, they were introduced only for AT&T… which was stupid, but that’s neither here nor there. I had a contract with Verizon and I loved my Verizon service. I heard horror stories of how the AT&T service was wretched. Surely Apple would come to its senses and contract with Verizon. So I waited…. and waited. iPhone II came, then iPhone III. Still no Verizon. I remember my dreams rising and crashing with each rumor of contract negotiations. And through it all I held out. It came time to get a new phone as my contract was up for renewal. I decided to renew again with Verizon and bought a Droid X, the coolest thing they had out at the time. And I lie to you not, not even 6 months later the iPhone came to Verizon. BUT I couldn’t switch phones or alter contract without paying full price.  UGHHH.  So I was still without my dream phone.

Brought my Droid X smartphone to Georgia. Here they switch out SIM cards like trading cards. But Verizon, more specifically Driod X’s don’t use SIM cards. But I could still use the smart features of my phone occasionally with the wifi, which is always free everywhere that has Internet service. After the first year my phone smartphone died. UGH.

This past trip home, a friend offered to give me her iPhone. She had already upgraded to the latest version and her old phone had a cracked screen. She was going to give it to her dad and just have him go have the screen repaired.  But I intervened and she gave it to me instead. (Love you K.R.!!!) So I happily had the screen repaired and sat down to reset the phone.

After I reset it, I noticed that the wifi wasn’t working. (I had no intentions of activating service in the States.) I reset again and troubleshot the phone. Nothing. Maybe the person who fixed screen unattached the antenna. Nope. Come to find out, the version of phone that I have the 4s, and only the 4s, has chronic issues with wifi connection. Which is SOOOO annoying. Apple HAS to know about this problem as it’s all over their forums and blogs, but still no fix even after 3 updates. I tried several other suggested ‘fixes’ to the problem, but still didn’t work. (Two suggestions, that I did not try, were to put the phone in the freezer or to use a blow dryer to heat it…)  I had resigned myself to just waiting and crossing my fingers that the next update release will have a fix to the 4s problem.

So to make a long story longer…

I was turning in my plane ticket stubs to my program representative, when I saw another volunteer in the program. We were chatting about the holidays and how I would have called him but I didn’t have his number programmed. He took out his phone and said he thought he had my number. He was scrolling down his iPhone.  hmm….  He had gotten a Georgian data plan for his iPhone. And said the service was pretty inexpensive for what he needed internet-wise.  And since our program has a contract with the service provider, we get a really great deal.

So I’m currently having the phone unlocked (which is a whole other phone thing that cell providers do) and hopefully by Monday, I’ll finally be able to use my very own iPhone.

It only took 7 years.

***

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Put It On My Tab

We have a small café on the first floor in our school. It has a total of three tables to sit, but one usually has boxes. The other two tables are surrounded by stools. The heated gas radiators don’t seem to heat this room, so it’s usually cold. The café has a counter along the back wall. Behind it is Nana. Nana runs the cafe. She has two helpers, one serves the food and drinks to whoever sits at the tables and assists with the traffic at the counter and the other cooks the food in the side kitchen. There are limited options in the café. They serve coffee and tea. They also have some pastries like khatchapuri, grilled Panini, and sweet treats.

The parents of the first graders stay at school all day to watch and care for the needs of their kids. During class they sometimes sit in the café to talk and wait for the class change. Or the teachers without classes come in for a quick snack.

There is not an actual cafeteria for the kids. This is it. There is another café next to the school, but those are the only options for food or snacks. As the school day is from 9 until 3 pm, obviously the kids are going to get hungry. So between classes, they flood down to the café for a snack to tide them over until after school.

Most of the kids have coins to buy the cheap treats and snacks. But the café also has a tab system. Which I love. I always wanted to have a place I could go to and say, “Put it on my tab!”  But unfortunately I haven’t been able to exercise that yet. Every time I go, another teacher usually buys and puts it on THEIR tabs.

My co teacher is disappointed in and usually doesn’t take me to this café because she thinks the host could do a better job with sanitation, specifically she touches the pastries with her bare hands instead of using gloves. That sort of thing would have been a deal breaker for me in the States, too, but now…. eh.

But I did notice a phenomenon today that gave me pause. The kids come storming into the café between classes buying this and that. They don’t have a legitimate cafeteria or eating area but they are also forbidden to eat during class. so they are either scarfing down sandwiches between class or sneaking bites as the teachers turn their backs. they also offer free water from the sink. There is a rack of glasses against the window, but there is usually one drinking glass on the counter for the kids to use. And when I say for the kids to use, I mean plurality. One kids comes in grabs the glass, fills it with tap water, drinks it then returns it to the counter. Minutes later, another kid comes in and repeats. Then another kid and another.   I can only think of the germs being shared and distributed throughout the day. That process alone can wipe out the entire school to sickness.

***

“Yes I will call this home
I have no time to justify to you
Fool you’re blind, move aside for me
All I can say to you my new neighbor
Is you must move on or I will bury you
Don’t drink the water
Don’t drink the water
There’s blood in the water”

Don’t Drink the Water, DMB

Updates

In no certain order…

There are stray dogs all over Georgia. But after a while they, too recede into the background. I have never had a confrontation with one.  They tend to mind their business, and I mind mine.  But walking home from school earlier this week, I met a dog on the street. At first things were cool. He was walking a good pace ahead of me. But I guess he thought I was following him as I closed the distance pretty quick. He turned around several times to check. (Now that I type this, I’m pretty sure he thought I was stalking him.) When I was maybe 8 yards away, he turned around and starts barking (scolding me). As this hasn’t happened in Georgia to me ever, I was startled into immobility. After he set the fear of God into me, he nonchalantly turns and continues on his way. During the few seconds it took me from being scared to death to embarrassed, to very angry, the dog thought it best to put some distance between us again. I looked around for rocks to throw (not to retaliate, but to be prepared for another confrontation). When I had found a few good ones, he had already reached what I assumed was his yard, which also (as we both knew) was a safe zone- or as we called it in childhood “base”- and therefore free from any further skirmishes.  I walked the rest of the way home with a wary eye to all other dogs.

In the middle of the last intersection before my house sat Bingo, my host dog (which sounds funny to title him that way). Him being out of the yard was a rare thing, but he sat there with full confidence and not a care in the world. I said hello to him as I passed. When I reached the gate, I realized that he had followed me home. If you haven’t been reading this blog long term, let me just say that Bingo and I have not had the best relationship. He looked at me expectantly. I looked at him. Then I opened the gate to let him pass through. …not a thank you or nothing.

***

When I got back to school, the teachers and students were sincerely excited to see me and I them. I was smiling so hard, my jaws hurt.  My favorite activity of the day was to stick my head into a classroom and shout, Hello. Recognition would register on their faces and they would all scream like they had just won the lottery…. literally scream. And then come running to the door en masse. At that point (now that they were sufficiently riled up) I would shut the door and continue walking down the hall.  I know, I know. I’m a vain fella.

***

I not only am physically on the other side of the planet from everything I know, I am mentally on the other side of the planet as well. Everything feels like I am in an alternate universe. It’s good to go back to the States occasionally. I need to recharge my batteries, be comfortable for a while and to have things just be convenient. My mindset is totally different there. But there always comes a time when I am ready to get back to Georgia. Usually it is indicated to me when my thoughts are absorbed by thoughts of Georgia. But although I am mentally prepared to return, its always difficult to leave my friends. The reality of ‘leaving’ doesn’t really sink in to me until the airplane’s wheels actually touch down in Georgia. That moment is usually comprised of several sensory inputs. It’s usually 4 in the morning local time. I am groggy from endless hours of travel, nodding in and out of uncomfortable spurts of sleep. It is either misty or cold or both. The screech of the wheels impacting the runway immediately followed by the vacuum sound of the reverse jets always… always jars me awake. And therefore thrusts me into my alternate universe. And with a heavy sigh for transition, I am back in Georgia.

***

The evening of my first day at school, Giorgi calls me downstairs. I was napping from the afternoon lunch. Mildy passed out is a more appropriate description. At lunch my host father either in his excitement for having me back or he was proud of a batch of homemade wine decided to get me tipsy. Anyway, when I came downstairs, there was a gathering of neighbors and a table full of food and wine… again. At first I thought they had come because of me. But I was vainly wrong. The day was a religious day known as Epiphany. On this day the Georgians also visit their godparents. (This might be a common custom in all Orthodox/ non-Protestant Christian faiths, but a first observation for me). I thought it was the nicest thing. Conveniently, Gurami’s goddaughter, Salome lives down the street and the dinner was to honor her. Giorgi’s godparents live in Tbilisi.

***

Pete

Pete

I spent a day in Tbilisi before making the final leg of my journey back to Oz. That night, I met up with some old friends. Pete, from summer camp and Bekki and Sibusisiwe from my TLG orientation group. Bekki is no longer with TLG but works in Tbilisi and Sibusisiwe still works for TLG. Joining us was Jenny, a co worker of Pete and Bekki’s boyfriend. It was really good to catch up with them and access in hindsight how far we all have come and how much we all have learned.

Sibusisiwe and Bekki

Sibusisiwe and Bekki

***

Jet lag sucks. That is all.

***

When I got back, I noticed a bag with a blanket next to my bedside table. Before I left, it was C.O.L.D. And I think my whining got to my host family. Georgians do not make a lot of money comparatively speaking and therefore don’t buy ‘luxury’ items often. But whenever I pay them at the end of each month I notice little things that were purchased.  I guess this was their purchase for December. We all have electric blankets now. And not that I am not grateful because when its cold in Georgia as you try to sleep with no heat, every little bit helps. But what would keep the bone chilling cold at bay better for me would be a space heater. I need the room warmer, not just the bed. To me the difference is huge. But alas, the electric cost of using one is too great a burden. Even using the electric blanket, they instructed me to only turn it on an hour before I go to bed and turn it off once in bed. (I think the turn off thing is to also keep me from burning myself up in my sleep. But the gesture is not lost on me. I now have an electric blanket to warm my toes at night.

***

Holiday Season in Tbilisi

Holiday Season in Tbilisi

***

“It’s time to begin, isn’t it?
I get a little bit bigger but then I’ll admit
I’m just the same as I was
Now don’t you understand
That I’m never changing who I am”

It’s Time, Imagine Dragons