Sunday, October 19, 2014

Day of the Dead

Well actually it was just a morning. Richard was off for a US Federal holiday, but the kids still had school. Since it was also not a Georgian holiday or a weekend, we decided it would be the best time to visit a cemetery up the street from our house.

Richard had heard about the very elaborate Eastern European cemeteries and I had gotten a quick glance when our GPS routed us through a cemetery (still don't understand that). At a cultural orientation, we found out every year on Easter Monday Georgians will visit the graves of deceased family members and have a feast/share a glass of cha-cha (Georgian moonshine) at the grave site. So we saw lots of plots with small picnic-like tables.

It appears he was pilot for the UN. He had one of the most elaborate plots.

Note the cup of cha-cha left for the woman.

She was close to our age (born in 1977).

An abandoned church towards the middle of the cemetery. At the cultural orientation, it was mentioned that it is common place for funerals/wakes to be held in the family's home (so I'm not really sure what the function of this building was).

Lots of family portraits.

The moon was still out that morning.

The guy in the chair looks like he's walking towards us. Note the picnic table in the front right.

From the top of hill, overlooking the cemetery.

Pretty flowers.

I'm guessing that is a shoe-shaped wine bottle brought to drink with the deceased. This was one of the only graves that appeared to have birth/death dates. Most engravings listed only the years.

The soldiers section of the cemetery was right in front. All these graves were marked with 2008 (the Russian-Georgian War took place in August 2008). All of the photos showed the men in their uniforms.

Neat cross. I'm not sure if it symbolizes the soldiers section or just a cemetery/church instead.

While very different from American cemeteries, it seemed much more personal. Maybe it was due to seeing the faces of the deceased.

Afterwards, we headed downtown to the markets and then out to lunch. Made for a nice date day.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Sun Always Shines On TV

Before we departed the US for Post, we (ok me) were trying to decide what to do about a tv. The US runs on 110v electrical current. Pretty much every where else runs on 220v. In the US, other than a few specialty stores and online retailers, you cannot find a 220v tv. We did consider just purchasing a 110v tv at Costco or Best Buy and shipping it over and just running it on a transformer, but I received some good advice from someone in the Foreign Service who said to wait until I got to post. So that is what we did.

Once we arrived at Post we were supplied a small tv as part of our Welcome Kit. By small I mean maybe 32" (we had a 50" tv before in our house so anything less than that was small to us). The tv worked and served us well, but we also knew that once our House Hold Effects arrived, the Housing office could take back the tv. Before we arrived in Tbilisi, we had been in contact with some of our new neighbors to find out about stores, etc. in town. We found out there were two "Wal-Mart/Target" style stores here, Goodwill (no not the Goodwill back in the US but a German-based chain) and Carrefour (French-based chain). Both of which sold electronics.

When we arrived I started to check out both stores. Goodwill had a small selection whereas Carrefour had a quite large electronic section.

The above picture is illegal. For some reason stores here have some sort of "no pictures allowed" rule. But you can see from the above Carrefour has a decent selection of TVs (this is just a small fraction of what they carry). Carrefour carried everything from Samsung, to Sony and with all sizes. After doing some comparison, I found a 47" Samsung LED tv that was dual voltage and multi-region for like 800 or so GEL, or roughly $650. Ok, this will work. So when I went to pay for it, I popped down my Diplomatic ID (which entitles us to have the Value Added Tax, or VAT removed from our purchases). All of a sudden, the price dropped to around 740 GEL! Bingo!

We have been extremely happy with the tv. We have our Blue-Ray player, Wii-U and Apple TV connected to it via HDMI. The tv has only 3 HDMI connections, and to get a tv with more would have been quite a bit more money. Sorry, I'm cheap. Only once that I recently recall have I had to remove something in order to connect another device.

A few more things to add. We don't have cable/satellite service. It's not that we can't get it, but all of the packages we can get, the majority of the stations are in Russian/Georgian. While it may be good to help us pick up bits and pieces of the language, we just don't think it's worth it. We use an Apple TV (which you can pick up refurbished from Apple for $75). With pretty good Internet here + VPN we are able to stream quite a bit from the US. Also, the Wii-U has the Amazon Prime app, so we have another means to get movies. Allot of people here use AFN but at this point (because of our good Internet connection) we opted not to spend the money on an AFN dish/decoder. We may get one for our next post if our Internet connection isn't all that great. Also, the tv is connected to a UPS. While electricity is more or less stable here, we do have the occasional brown-out/power loss. Having the UPS just adds another layer of protection to the tv.

Since we are an Apple household (yes I know I have Microsoft certifications but Apple does make things easier) we can connect to say and then use AirPlay to stream the content from our iMac to the AppleTV. So Deb and I can still watch our shows, just a day later.

One final thought, if you do purchase a tv, save the box/packing material. Ours is saved in the garage, so we when move next December we can just put the tv right back in to its original packaging and send it on it's way to our next post.