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January 1st, 2006


11:12 pm - 2006
Welcome to 2006.

I had one of those "amplified beers" last night. Other than that I did nothing out of the ordinary. I has considered going to the First Night this year, but I just never got going. I stayed dawdled watching some TV and net-surfing. I had a page from SPIN of "essential downloads" and was going to try to get them and put some CDs together. However, most of the links were to pay sites. I stayed up far too late farting around on the net. As usual.

The neighborhood was incredibly loud at midnight. Much more so than in previous years. I overslept and almost blew off church until I remembered Father saying that he hoped SOMEBODY showed up this week. So I went to give him a surprise. There was a special lengthened service so even though I was late I caught quite a bit of it. Apparently, the ones who know how to use the coffeemaker didn't show so there was no coffee after.

I hit up one of the more well-off guys for a hook-up with his company so I can try to pitch A Thousand Books. He wasn't very encouraging, but took the info I gave him.

The day was actually very nice, if mostly cloudy. For some reason my mood was good. The sun periodically peeked out. I tried to get some salad fixings, but the salad bar was not set up.

I almost started cleaning my apartment and settled for re-starting this blog. I'll be off work tomorrow and if it's dry I may take my scooter out for a spin.

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July 10th, 2005


11:18 pm - At least we sent over 1,000 pounds of books...
The Plan:

I had planned to go to Chicago over the 4th of July weekend so my Chicago acquaintances wouldn't be working and we could visit together. But then I saw a book sale on that following weekend and I offered to change my plans and come then to show them how I co-ordinated my book gathering project. They said it sounded good and one offered me a place to stay. I sent e-mails to the people I wanted to contact and also to 2 that I NEEDED to contact, letting them know I would arrive on the morning of the 9th.

The plan was to stop at Senator Lauzen's office to give greetings. All his grandparents are from Romania and he has offered encouragement in my book project. Then I would stop off at a church that sent $100 and say thanks. I would briefly meet one of the teachers we sent books to, who is now back from his 2 year job there.

Then I would stop off at the Romanian Cultural Center and drop off some books that would go into their library. I would also try to get a story written about the project in the Chicago Romanian newspaper. I planned to make my way to the Borsec distributor (who also handles shipping things to Romania) and drop off the packages I had prepared and buy some music CDs from her. Then I would socialize until the next day and the book sale.

The Reality:

I called to check in with the Borsec Lady Friday morning and she acted surprised and told me to come the next day. I was stymied because she made no mention of this in answer to my e-mail. Finally she said she would accept my packages if I hurried over with them. I told her an hour. Of course the out-of-towner was a little more than an hour. Chicago traffic is hell.

As I drove, I called the guy that offered me a place to stay because together we were going to that book sale. He said he couldn't talk then and we arranged to talk after I dropped off the books.
I arrived at the Borsec office and started rushing the packages in and sorting them by where they had to go. When I had them all stacked and she finished making the forms she said I had them all wrong and ALL the packages had to be taken apart because there couldn't be 2 boxes tied together, they had to be individual only. Many of the boxes were not closed except as they were tied together so after I cut them all apart I had to re-tie (or tape) most of them. Then they started getting all mixed up and she was in a hurry to mark them all when they were now all mixed up.
I was frantically trying to accomodate her and keep the boxes in order and sorted. Everything was getting confused and I was sweating and working had with the rope and tape. I was getting very irritated at the situation as she was getting irritated at me. We both knew there was nothing to do but carry on, but it was not pretty, believe me.
She told me I should have called because she never checks her e-mail. Of course, I couldn't know that. She said never put 2 boxes together. Of course, I couldn't know that. I expect she will have an armed guard to prevent me from entering her office ever again.
Once I finished that, I tried to contact the guy who offered to put me up for the night. He never answered his mobile again. I can't imagine what happened with him. He still hasn't returned any of my calls.

I had an early light dinner with the one person who did answer her phone and after we parted I drove around aimlessly for some time and finally got a motel room and slept.

The next day, true to my word, I went to the book sale and got 3 big boxes of books that looked like they might be useful to add to the 2 boxes I brought from St. Louis and dropped them off at the door of the Romanian Cultural Center.
I made a couple of phone calls and then went back to St. Louis.

It was a bummer of a trip as I had planned nothing but pleasant times and words with all, including the Borsec Lady, and in the end the only thing I accomplished was the barest essential of the mission. Books were sent to Romania and the Cultural Center library, but I seem to have pissed off more Chicagoans than I made happy.

As you can see, it wasn't a catastrophe, but it was a trip filled with frustration and disappointment. (sigh)

Here is a list of books in transit to Romania. We are rapidly approaching the 2 ton mark. May God and the other positive forces in the universe allow us to get the money necessary to get the other 2 tons on their way as well.

July, 2005 - 1012lbs
(just sent... arrival around Columbus Day?)
three boxes (68lbs) to Bistrita
four boxes (78lbs) to Sibiu
four boxes (100lbs) to Botosani
five boxes (144lbs) to Onesti
five boxes (168lbs) to Sibiu
six boxes (131lbs) to Manastirea Humorului
twelve boxes (323lbs) to Galati

May, 2005 - 860lbs
(they should begin arriving soon)
two boxes (63lbs) to Galati
two boxes (61lbs) to Radauti
three boxes (75lbs) to Onesti
three boxes (89lbs) to Iasi
three boxes (102lbs) to Sf. Gheorghe
three boxes (106lbs) to Alba-Iulia
three boxes (121lbs) to Timis
four boxes (120lbs) to Constanta
four boxes (123lbs) to Letcani

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June 20th, 2005


01:43 am - what i'm up to in the next couple weeks
A THOUSAND BOOKS
books for teachers in foreign countries

The next week or so . . .

I'm on holiday from work during the entire week of 4th of July. After watching some fireworks and eating a couple hotdogs I am planning a very busy week.

I'm going to try to make some contact with a couple local businesspeople who are only available during working hours and see if I can't generate a bit of interest in this book project. God knows we can use help moving this mountain of books to those Peace Corps people in Romania.

As far as the mountains of books go, I intend to finally fully clear off the front porch and bring order where there has been none. Further, I hope to box
up ALL the loose books that we foolishly allowed to accumulate over the past year, planning to sort later. I have been making slow progress, but progress nonetheless. This week will take us over the hump in the sorting process, I hope. I'm looking at 150 boxes and the makings of 40 or so more.

As a side note, I have been doing very good in my resolution to only bring sorted/boxed books into my apartment so they will be sitting waiting to ship, not sitting waiting to be sorted. LOL

We have been getting some really GREAT books recently, books that we are proud to add to our stockpile. We are getting better and better at this.

We've also bade farewell to Peace Corps Group 17 and look forward to welcoming Group 20. We also look to include volunteers in other countries who have local St. Louis regional ties.

To get the latest load on the way, I'm borrowing a small trailer from a friend. The last time I took books to be shipped, my truck was seriously overloaded with the 900+ pounds and me. This time I'll put most of them in the trailer. We're not quite sure how many will go, but we're hoping for 700 or 800 pounds - that should be about 30-40 boxes.

I'm going to get some sleep early Thursday night and leave about 3AM. I'll take it easy on the road and get to Chicagoland about 9 or so. I hope to swing by a couple places to say hi before arriving in Chicago-proper. Then I'll try to hookup with one of my new-found Chicago friends and deliver the books to the shipper before noon.

Then I'll have some free time. I'll have to park the trailer in a safe place and then I intend to explore a bit and do a little socializing. At least this time I'll have a cell phone, though the 45 minutes I have left won't go far. LOL

A friend is graciously providing sleeping arrangements.

Saturday I'll do a little schooling of my Chicago friends as I hope to let them in on some of my book acquision techniques for their own projects. It'll fun to share my expertise with them. Then it's back to St. Louis and the regular grind.


-------------------------------
"The mystery of human existence does not lie in the living, but in knowing what you are living for." Nicolae Iorga
-------------------------------

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August 26th, 2004


10:41 pm - the Romanian Festival


I worry a bit about the annual festival at the local Romanian Orthodox Church. I have been to 2 of them so far. The highlight of the first one I was at was the booths. I liked looking at the crafts and books and postacards. I bought food and took some home for leftovers.

The second year all of the people who had booths were absent because they had all gone out of business and it seems the highlight was MY table which had a lot of tourist brochures that I brought back and my stamp collection display. That seemed rather lame.

There was no live music or dancing or other cultural things. All they had was tours of the church with a generic explanation of Orthodoxy. It was little beyond the normal post-service social they have each Sunday.

I have heard some comments about why the Greek Festival (they are Orthodox, too) is so well-attended and successful. One theory is advertising. That is true, but if they is nothing to entertain and amuse the public when they arrive they won't stay long. The Greeks have (seeming non-stop) dancers, musicians, booths, food, and more.

I'm not a member of the church and have no influence, but it seems to me that a decision should be made as to what outcome is desired. If they want an EVENT they much put on a show for the public and start to build the thing over the next few years.

My brainstorms have included dressing certain parishioners in costumes. A local folk-dance troupe (who will perform for free). Someone who will learn and play folk songs with parishioners recruited to sing - maybe even some karaoke. Some live music. Storytelling. Exhibits of family albums or postcards. Screening some Romanian films.

Of course, the choice can be made to keep the event small and private if that's what people want, but I want a PARTY!!!!!

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August 23rd, 2004


11:16 pm - my weekend


On Saturday I stopped off at Wash U and went to Frat Row, trying to find someone interested in helping out with fundraising. Not much luck because it's still a bit early, but I know where it is now.

I was out collecting books (for Romania, you know) and before I returned home I stopped at a market near my house to see if they had any Bosnian saugages already cooked (I pretend they're mici). They didn't and I went home. I suddenly remembered it was the weekend of the barbeque at the local Romanian Orthodox church and maybe - maybe - they have mici.

So I went there and they had Albanian-recipe sausages instead. grrrr.... However, I stayed around to chat and wound up making sausages in a crank press and did other things, too. I think they really appreciated it. I returned to help on Sunday. So by the end I was an "honorary rom orth" I think.

Monday I got 10 more boxes of used books from The Jewish Book Sale and 4 boxes of freshly-published books from a newspaper editor. Next Thursday I expect another 8 or 10 boxes from the YMCA Book Fair. I think we have about 4000 or so of books - a ton and a half. Someday the money will start coming to mail them.



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July 10th, 2004


02:37 am - overwork

10 July

  • Half of the mail collectors at my post office have been on vacation for the past week and the boss has doubled up the work on the rest of us without even a please or thank you. You ever wonder where the disgruntled postal worker comes from? And now I find out it will go on for 2 more weeks, until everybody is back. And you can see where this is going... We've shown we can suck it up and do extra work so it will become the new standard.


  • My scooter is still in the shop and no word when it will be finished. The scooter shop manager is pissed at me and has been cold for weeks. He can sure hold a grudge. The owner is quite a bit nicer.


  • I found out a Romanian girl was in my town with some kind of peace group from Europe, doing some public service-type work in the ragged north side of town. I tried to hook up with her to show her around a bit, but found that they left today. And she was here for 4 weeks! I hope she (and her friends) got to see something of our city other than the area they worked in.






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    July 8th, 2004


    10:30 am - 8 July


  • Finally I got around to going to a gym class again. I hope to put this back into my program. It was a "step class" and God knows I have no co-ordiantion for it, but classes are never really so pretty looking in real life as on TV. At least not at the Y. I stumble over my feet and don't get the hand/feet rhythm down, but at least I'm moving the muscles and getting the heart going a bit.


  • As for my stamp collection, I bought some new paper to use for the pages. I downloaded the pages from www.stampalbums.com and heavily edited them to change the font, header and style of frame for the stamps. My most recent update (and huge project) was to reorder the presentation to conform to Romfilatelia numbering and adding all the non-Scott items. I also added the Romanian names to the stamps and printed the pages on a pretty nice mid-priced 'parchment' paper. It's gonna be a GREAT album.

    My Romanian trade partner sent his up-dated "USA Want List" and his collection is sooooo good and complete that he only needs the high-priced older stamps and I fear I will NEVER be able to accomodate him very well, but at least on the more recent things it should work nicely.


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    June 20th, 2004


    01:44 am - my filatelic story
    I was asked to submit a story to a Romanian philatelic journal - "Curierul Filatelic" - by its editor, who was my host in Sibiu. Here is my submission. I imagine he may edit it a bit.




    "My Stamp Story"
    proper title pending . . .


    I've always been attracted to slightly odd things. As a very young guy I had the idea to travel to visit Transylvania and look for Dracula's castle. In my youth I thought this was in Hungary. That idea faded, but later I did travel to DDR, Poland and Czechoslovakia about the time Chernobyl melted, before the Berlin Wall came down and all the changes occured in Eastern Europe.

    I've been using a home PC for about 12 years. A few years ago I discovered some chat rooms on the internet and happened to meet quite a few Romanians there. So I could have better conversations I started reading about it. I like history so it was very interesting to read and learn some of the fascinating background of Romania. My friends were very impressed that I knew so much when others didn't seem to even know Romania existed, much less where it was.

    Because I hadn't travelled in so long, I decided to visit some of the friends I made. I have now been to Romania 4 times. Each visit was a bit different. The first visit was simply to the obvious tourist spots in Bran, Predeal, Sinaia, etc. The second time I added Bacau and Cluj. The third I travelled by rented car throughout Moldova and eastern Transylvania. And this last time I volunteered for a few days at a foundation in Radauti, "Habitat Pentru Umanitate".

    Like most of us, I collected stamps as a child, but outgrew the habit. I don't remember the exact thing that started me collecting again except maybe as I was searching for books about Romania on "www.ebay.com" I may have seen some stamps. I bought a few items there and started the core of my collection.

    I continued to buy from ebay, making a few bad purchases and some very nice ones. Romania is not a popular country to collect in the USA, so finding other sources was difficult. My work program doesn't allow me to join any local Stamp Clubs at this time, so I am entirely self-taught. There are only two shops in my area that sell stamps, neither of them very actively, as more of their business is in coins. Stamp collecting here is declining, as it is the world over.

    As I started to organize my collection in the beginning, I downloaded pages from the internet ("www.stampalbums.com"). I recently re-edited them to go from the Scott sorting system to Romfilatelia. I have the English and Romanian names for the stamps included and I'm working on a historical timeline for each year, using a translation of "Istoria Romaniei In Date" that I found at a nearby university. A long-term idea is to have an "On-Line List" with scans of the stamps. My "Want List" is written in Romanian and English and notes Scott, Michel and Romfilatelia numbers.

    A year or so ago I found Dr. Constantin Sova's web page and actually visited him in Bacau. I got a good selection of stamps from him at that time to add to my slowly growing assortment. He also presented me with a copy of the "Lista De Preturi A Marcilor Postale." Soon my purchases from ebay were so successful that I stopped finding anything there I needed at good prices. Dr. Sova passed my name to Nicolae Salada and we exchanged e-mails until I met him a few months ago at the Stamp Show in Brasov.

    I was rather exhausted from lack of sleep, but I enjoyed the show quite a lot. I had never seen so many Romanian philatelic items in one place before. My main interest is filling the holes in my pages as economically as possible and I saw that almost all the available items were mint. I am one who is not especially unhappy with CTO items. I was able to find one table with a box of CTOs and as my eyes kept closing with sleep, I went through the contents. I found quite a few that were useful to me and now, as I think back, I wish I would have taken tens and tens more because now I have an idea of how to use them artfully.

    Similar shows in my city in the USA happen a couple times a year and are not quite so large, but are limited to stamps, covers and postcards - sometimes with an exhibition area. I usually go to them, but there are seldom many Romanian things, so I mostly just look around and ask: "You have Romania?" There is a once-a-month gathering called a "borse" with 6 or 8 small dealers who normally sell by mail from their homes. I see that the most popular countries to collect are US, British Empire and Germany. My only true interest is Romania, but I look at all things at least passingly.

    I learned quite a lot from my Sibui host, Mr. Salada, and I hope our philatelic exchange was as satisfying to him as it was to me. He generously presented me with a copy of "Catalogul Marcilor Postale Romanesti - '74." I have had the good fortune to recently find a source for postally-used US stamps that should help his demanding collection nicely.

    Collecting the stamps makes me feel a little closer to my friends in Romania. Each change and addition I make in my pages gives me a little more knowledge and sense of accomplishment. Because I don't speak Romanian I will never be an Advanced Philatelist, but I have a very good collection for an amateur. I plan a little exhibition at the local Romanian Orthodox Church Festival in my city this autumn. I also plan to see more of Romania in the future.

    John Korst, USA
    estielmo@yahoo.com

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    June 14th, 2004


    01:28 am - Part II of my "Romanian Journal"
    No, I didn't post Part I, yet.




    (Part one will tell St. Louis to Bucuresti to Bacau to Radauti - this picks up after I finished several days at te Habitat for Humanity work site in Radauti.)


    When it was time to leave Radauti, getting the tramsportation wasn't so easy. It's a rather remote place and it was the weekend. My friend had decided to return to Constanta early and we decided to travel together as far as Bacau, where I would get off as she continued to her connection in Iasi.

    She found the bus station in Radauti and we went there and waited for some time in the Waiting Room. A lot of kids from villages come to school in Radauti each day and the room filled with them as they filtered in from school and post-school hanging out. Some old folks - yes the classic grannies and old guys wearing their war medals on their lapels - were there as well as some wierd woman, who was sleeping on a bench in a kneeling position with her head on her bag. I though it was some prayer position until it became obvious she was drunk and snoring from time to time.

    We took the bus and made our way to Suceava, where it was evident that some incorrect information had us expecting the summer bus while they were still on the winter program. Adriana was very irritated with herself and also those who misled her. We were far from the train station and she was in a foul mood. When I asked what our options were she said: "You find the train station for us! It's a survival challenge!"

    Whew!! Well, I had to do something. I approached a few likely looking candidates in the large crowd and got nowhere. Finally someone had enough kindness and confidence to give it a try. She walked me to the corner of the autogara and pointed in a particular direction and said "go and go and go" to a (sign for circle) and (sign for left) and "go and go and go and go" to McDonald's.

    I returned to my leader and reported "mission accomplished" and led the way. I was quite leary of the "go and go and go" stuff, but we got to the roundabout soon enough and headed left for a short walk until we spotted the golden arches. As I ordered some coffee my companion was flirting outrageously with some guy with a backpack (not really, she was asking where to catch the proper maxitaxi). As we had quite some time until the train would be leaving we enjoyed the rest and refreshment.

    The maxi took us to the Suceava station and the train to Bacau, which Adreana would take on to Iasi, before transferring to Constanta.

    I got off in Bacau around midnight and found myself in familiar territory, as it seems. I'm beginning to know Bacau almost as well as St. Louis. I had no trouble finding my way back to city center, trailing my rather noisy baggage trolley behind me. It was several hours before my appointment to hook-up with my Bacau friend for the trip to Brasov. He had told me about the stamp show there and highly recommended it. He said dealers showed up from all over the place. The original plan was to go in a maxi-taxi together, but it turned out he, his wife and son-in-law would drive and I could tag along.

    I killed some hours in the non-stop netcafe until 4AM, when Constantin said he would awaken. I walked to his house and waited outside til the water sounds came from his place and then went to the door that he opened as I walked up. He fed me breakfast (Romanians seem to all eat hot dogs for the first meal) and coffee and after I straightened out my bags we left.

    The trip was in a Skoda (Czech/Volkswagen) and uneventful except for a traffic ticket for speeding.

    When we arrived in Brasov, I found the largest array of Romanian postal items I had ever seen. But the event also featured coins, bills, postcards (they are nuts for old postcards right now) and assorted collectibles. As with other shows the stamps here were mostly mint and therefor more than I wanted to pay. But they were nice to look at.

    I met up with a trading partner from Sibiu and he warned me off from several purchases because he had prepared a large assortment for me to see at his house (to which we would go later). I was VERY tired and amused myself by going through the one box of CTOs (Cancelled To Order - the least desireable items) that I found and getting quite a few to add to my collection, while my companions took care of their business.

    The trip to Sibiu was in the backseat of a classic Dacia and we were almost killed as someone pulled in front of us as the beret-topped driver cursed and swerved violently. My friend, Nick, invited me to stay at his house with his extended family which consisted of him and his wife, his parents, his two sons and new daughter-in-law. With no other invitation pending, I gladly accepted his offer.

    I contacted my Peace Corps buddies in Sibui - the source of my original invitation there - and arranged to meet Tony for a little socializing. Nick offered to walk me to the meeting and I think he might have been interested in meeting the American teachers serving his community. In my haste to make the hook-up I got totally confused about where we would meet and I ran out of minutes on my mobile.

    Nick walked me past his school and showed me a couple sights on the way to the center. We went to the place I thought Tony mentioned, but then I started second-guessing myself about the details and as Nick - very nattily attired - stood in one spot, I wandered up and down the street trying to look as American as possible so I would be spotted. I failed, and walked back to Nick, loudly lamenting the crossed signals as a guy who had been loitering about stepped forward and said: "John?"

    With that, and intros all around, Nick departed and Tony and his friend Roxy and I met up with his wife Amanda and went for a bite and drink. After trying a few packed places we found a nice table at a quiet restaurant and ordered. The girls had salad and I saw mici on the menu and ordered one, with bread and mustard. The waiter hesitated and Amanda asked how many I wanted. I replied "one" and everyone looked at me very strangely. "Nobody orders just one, John." "Hey," I answered. "the top of the page says 'snack' and that's all I want is a snack. One will do nicely."

    I took a cab back to Nick's place, as I was a bit unsure of the directions and he greeted me and we socialized a bit. He gave me one son's room and I very reluctantly asked if I could use the wash machine I saw in the bathroom, as most of my clothes were "lived in" bit too much. He said his mother would do them and knowing my proper place, I accepted that offer.

    They fed me nicely and were kind enough to honor my refusals of overindulging the great food. The only thing I had trouble with was the ciorba de burta (stomach soup). They also had hotdogs for breakfast. Work was being done on the third floor of the house, turning it into an apartment for the newlyweds. They were doing quite the custom job. An aunt and uncle lived on the ground floor. I had the great pleasure to watch his daughter-in-law make a cheesecake from scratch under the watchful eye and tutilege of granny. When I noted to her that many American girls would just go to the store and buy it, this educated, modern Romanian looked shocked and adamantly said: "Never!"

    Amanda (the Peace Corps teacher) asked me if I wanted to see her high school and sit in on a couple of her classes as a guest. I thought it would be very cool, so I gladly accepted. I wore a tie and spiffed up as much as I could. I introduced myself and explained a little about my interest in Romania and fielded a few questions. It was a lot of fun. Following that we met with Magdelena who is the head of the community branch library Amanda volunteers at. The library is part of the "County Library" system started an organization about 150 years ago. Many of the books I send will go here. She was so enthusiastic about what I'm doing that I was a bit embarassed, because only a handful of books have arrived so far. I also got the grand tour of the main library.

    The big thrill the next day (do I have the days in proper order? hmmm...) in Sibiu was an expedition to the Metro (their version of Sam's) to buy a erasable marking board to use in Tony and Amanda's Romanian language study. It was not quite in pristine condition and the price was not marked so the afternoon's entertainment was haggling and whining about it with the clerks and getting the price down to something within reason. That done we went back to the center and I took my leave and returned to study philately with Nick. It rained much of the time I was there, preventing much touristing - in fact, the weather was cool and wet like Radauti.

    I presented Nick with the stamps I brought to offer and saw what he had gathered for me. Neither of us is much interested in unused stamps, but both of us find them easiest to get. The only thing is, for him the used ones in Romania are much more accessible. He turns down the mint ones in favor of the used, just as I would, but for different reasons. For him, it is a matter of "philatelically-used" and for me it is a matter of being thrifty.

    As I soon discovered he was not simply a school teacher who trades for US stamps, but a grade school principal who publishes a respected magazine: "Curierul Filatelic" - http://membres.lycos.fr/dgrecu/CF.html - and has huge piles of awards from his exhibition efforts. He presented me with a copy of the HIGHLY recommended "Catalogul Marcilor Postale Romanesti (1974)" which I'm a bit embarassed to admit I didn't realize how highly-prized this reference book was until weeks later. He taught me quite a bit and I came out far ahead on our stamp trading. But it looks like we will be able to help each other out quite a bit in the future. I tried to buy some current stamps at the Philatelic Office, but silly me ran out of Romanian money and had to defer.

    My time was drawing to a close and it was time to head to Bucharest. Nick kindly discovered that the nearby maxi-taxi station has a bus that went through Sinaia where I would stop for a short visit with a friend. The biggest pain in the butt about travel in Romania is that you have to figure for yourself what town you are entering. They don't announce the towns and signs seem non-existent.

    I successfully disembarked in Sinaia and met Mihaela, a girl who is married to an American and who has been not-so-patiently waiting for her paperwork to go through. We have chatted in Yahoo Messenger several times and a few minutes for a coffee and conversation was pleasant indeed. We commiserated over the problems they had with improperly filled out forms and I tried to give her encouragement. After we separated I had a short walk around the center of town before boarding another maxi to Bucuresti.

    I was able to jump out at Piata Victoriei and walk the half mile or so to the Funky Chicken, a cheap, nice hostel I have often stayed at. They have become 'official' since my last visit and welcomed me nicely. The first thing the hostess said after greeting me was to watch out for the "tourist police". I could confidently tell her I was fully experienced in this and knew all about it.

    I was only going to be in town for a day or so until my plane left (and in fact, the original plan called for no time in Bucuresti at all), so I couldn't try to contact many of my old friends because there just wasn't time. Plus I didn't have the password to my online phone book - grrrrr. I did have an after-work drink with a couple of those who answered my e-mails. I unsuccessfully tried to contact a couple people from the Yahoo Group and wound up spending most of my time simply walking around in the distinctly warmer climate. Unfortunately, I lost track of time and was unable to pay a courtesy call to the Peace Corps office in Bucharest and I also missed the opportunity to go to the Post Office Philatelic store, as well.

    I got a couple hours sleep and took a cab at 4AM to the airport. As on the last few flights there was much time to kill at Otopeni, though this trip the place was a bit more alive. The time in Amsterdam was long and boring. The "Museum in the Airport" which they are so proud of was really just an exhibit room, but it was rather nice. They also do have quite a few "quiet areas" which are a little too tempting to me. I can just imagine sitting down and zoning out and missing my flight.

    The flights were packed again (God, I miss that first journey with the half-filled planes). On arrival in Minneapolis I was berated for getting in the wrong Immigration line, though they passed me through with little fanfare. It was good that I had my bags tied together in one bundle. but the unloading of the cargo hold was endless and the security was obnoxious. It took so long that once I got through and checked the Departing Flight schedule I saw that the last leg was all the way across the airport and leaving in 10 minutes. I grabbed my stuff and ran for the gate, stopping a few times to ask someone to call ahead to let them know I was coming. No one called and I missed the plane. So did another passenger running up. grrrrr....

    Another few hours to kill as I wandered another airport. It would have been the first time to arrive home at a decent hour and with someone waiting for me. So, once home I did the public transport thing again and was glad I travelled so light this time. I think on the next trip I will take my toothbrush and an umbrella only.
    Current Mood: pensivepensive

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    March 27th, 2004


    11:03 pm - book pick up

    Tony Renner <cen2@yahoo.com> wrote:


    John --

    Got a call from a lady (Linda) where you dropped off a flyer, who has a "half a room full" of books, ranging from Golden Books to encylopedias and includes lots of paperbacks. Sounds promising...

    Tony
    </p>


    Thanks, Tony -

    I stopped off at a number yard sales. Most didn't have books or they weren't right for us, but this one was pretty good. Probably 8 or 10 boxes of books. About half are junk (25 year old encyclopedias, Jesus books, etc), but a few boxes are certainly useable. Since they don't live in the neighborhood it will take a couple days to hook-up.

    Another woman gave 40 to 50 books, mostly science fiction, which I will space out among a number of boxes (can't let subject material get too concentrated, IMHO). Another couple had a pile of books and promised an e-mail soon. This yard sale begging looks like it might be a good source. The promise of a tax letter helps greatly and the Journal article may really goose it.

    I stopped off at a couple of churches and talked to a few priests about posting notes in their lobby and/or weekly bulletin. I also suggested school/scout/church projects. I'll follow-up. I have a friend who mails out one of those coupon books to all of St.Charles County and he said he might give us a free page when space doesn't sell. I think I can convince the guy I bought my scooter from to accept and store them, he has a lot of room in his shop and may want the walk-ins.

    Now we need money, dude! I'm gonna be in for $300 in stamps alone very soon. And as books start to come in more I don't know how much my budget can bear. You should think about a grant application.

    Regards.

    John
    Current Mood: excitedexcited
    Current Music: Hearts of Space (NPR)

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