Day 15: Money is different here

Money in Canada or the States is a very private, hush-hush kind of thing. Not here. Last time we lived here we kept our money in the bank. I go to the teller, who knows me by name, and ask to withdraw a thousand dollars. "A thousand dollars??" she asks loudly with incredulity. To people here, 50 dollars is a large sum of money. All the other customers in the bank turn and look. "But Chris, didn't you just take out a thousand last week??" Well yes, I did, I explain, but I needed to purchase a large item. "Well you sure know how to spend money, Chris!" Yes, I admit, we have been forced to spend some money. And could I please get a balance on my account, too. "Good grief!" She shouts, as always. "Well, I guess you're not afraid of running out of money, are you Chris?" Well, no, I say, not
exactly, but could you write the balance down for me? "No need to write it--you've got $4500--why, is that U.S.?" Everybody in the bank is staring at me, customers and staff alike. I wonder which one is going to follow me out and drag me into an alley. Yes, that's U.S., and thank you very much for your help, I reply. Then I leave, nervously glancing over my shoulder every few seconds.

TODAY'S WEIGHT: 167 lbs. 4 pm. A new record!
FOOD HIGHLIGHTS: 2 espressos, 2 calzones, 2 oranges, 1 banana, 476 corn flakes. It's only 4pm, but I promise to be good the rest of the day. Thank you for your concern.
EXERCISE: 9 km walking
SUMMARY: Thumbs up

Day 16: Workin' the Web

My mother and father-in-law are starting a bed and breakfast in Nelson, BC. So I made them a logo and put together a web site. Check it out: Chatham Street Bed & Breakfast

TODAY'S WEIGHT: 168 lbs. 9:45pm on a full belly.
FOOD HIGHLIGHTS: Corn flakes, espresso, cabbage pasta, mocha, homemade bread, chili burrito
EXERCISE: 3 km walking. Not much, but I'm sick. I have a cold.
SUMMARY: Thumbs up

Day 17: Bosnians love to touch

Bosnians are hot-blooded, fun-loving, emotional people. When they feel something, they feel it strongly. That's probably why they touch so much.

Bosnians love to touch. Not just touch, but kiss and hug and hold hands. On our trip to Sarajevo two weeks ago, Gina probably kissed a hundred women, once on each cheek. Men are big kissers too. I got kissed, I got huge bear hugs, I had my hair stroked, my arm grabbed, my head held and my cheek squeezed. And you know what? I love it. I wish I could import some of that lovin' back to Canada. Sometimes people here seem so much more real.

The downside to all this touching is germs. I have a cold, and of the 438 people that touched me last week, I don't know who gave it to me.

TODAY'S WEIGHT: 167lbs @ 9:30pm
FOOD HIGHLIGHTS: Corn flakes, espresso, chili burrito, orange, chili burrito, orange
EXERCISE: Pilates workout
SUMMARY: Thumbs up

Day 18: International baby names

Choosing names for your progeny is a difficult task. A new consideration for an increasing mobile society is this: how will this name work in other countries? In other languages?

For our little girl, we went with a short, classic name that works in most languages. And for a twist, we spell it the Slavic way, with one 'n': Ana.

The name 'Chris', however, is plagued with problems. I'm sure when my parents decided to name me Christopher, they didn't consider the potential ramifications in the Serbo-Croatian language:

  • There is no English 'r' in Serbo-Croatian. Just a trilled 'r' with a flick of the tongue against the roof of the mouth, kind of like you do with the letter 'd'. So 'Chris' sounds like 'K-dis'.
  • There is no short 'I' in Serbo-Croatian. Instead, 'I' is the English sound 'ee'. So everybody here calls me 'K-dees'.
  • Chris isn't a name here, but they're familiar with 'Christ'. So lots of people call me Christ, which is pronounced 'K-deest'.

If I ever decide to change my name, I think I'll go with Lee. Hard to go wrong there. Works in English, Serbo-Croatian, and even Chinese.

Chris's Brief List of Bad International Baby Names

  • Matthew (the 'th' sound is a killer)
  • Chris (avoid 'r' and short 'i')
  • Heather (the 'th' and the 'er' will cause problems)
  • Troy (the 'r' and the 'oy' are problematic)
  • Cathy (avoid 'th')

Chris's Brief List of Good International Baby Names

  • Ana
  • Lee
  • Mike
  • Gina

TODAY'S WEIGHT: 166lbs @ 9:30pm
FOOD HIGHLIGHTS: Corn flakes, espresso, veggie samosas, chocolate (not too much!), samosa filling with rice, 2 oranges
EXERCISE: Walked 3km. Not much, I know.
SUMMARY: Thumbs up

Day 19: Things I do in Bosnia

Things I do more often in Bosnia:

  • Play my guitar
  • Play Scrabble with Gina
  • Walk
  • Drink coffee
  • Watch dubbed TV
  • Play with Ana

Things I do less often in Bosnia:

  • Go to Starbucks
  • Talk on the phone
  • Drive
  • Work
  • Talk English

TODAY'S WEIGHT: 162lbs @ 7:30pm. In my birthday suit. Apparently makes a big difference.
FOOD HIGHLIGHTS: Corn flakes, espresso, calzones, cabbage salad, mocha, spaghetti
EXERCISE: Walked 5km
SUMMARY: Thumbs up

Day 20: Watch out for Canadians

Thursday, March 20 - Apparently there's some mysterious deadly pneumonia floating around the globe. They carried a big story on the news here, warning Bosnians to avoid contact with Chinese, Vietnamese and Canadians. So this is a big joke with all our friends—they stand far away or won't shake our hand. Be careful--we may be contagious. 

TODAY'S WEIGHT: 164lbs @ 8:00pm.
FOOD HIGHLIGHTS: Yogourt, espresso, spaghetti, small mocha, spaghetti, stewed cherries
EXERCISE: Walked 4km, rode bike 3km
SUMMARY: Thumbs up

Day 21: I'm done blogging


Saturday, March 22 - I've decided to renege on my commitment to blog for 90 days. In fact, I think I'm done today. Sorry to everyone who's been following, but here's why I'm quitting:

  • It takes a lot of time, time that should be spent writing individual emails or working on the language
  • I'm running out of things to write about
  • My audience is extremely diverse and therefore hard to write for: family, friends, colleagues, Bosnians, Canadians, complete strangers
  • Some have misinterpreted my stories (not everyone appreciates my particular sense of humour)
  • The effort-reward ratio is low

Really, the reason I have a web site is because I'm a web developer. This site should showcase my skills. To that end, I'm thinking of doing a redesign, archiving this personal site, and making more of a static portfolio.

Survivor: Dieting in Bosnia

The fat-fight is being won. I'm down to 163, a loss of 9 pounds. That was quick and easy. I'm eating everything but eating less of it, and I think I can do this permanently. So I should be back down to my optimal fighting weight of 150 or 155 before too long. The Pilates is going well, too--if I keep it up, I might actually change my smooth, pale, dome-shaped stomach into one of those bumpy ones with the six lumps. Wow, wouldn't that be cool.

Thanks for reading my blog. Drop me a line sometime.