Monday, September 29, 2008

Ice Ice Baby

Stardate 35487 (i.e. Day 1)

Remember that game, Dont Break the Ice?  Well, this is the exact opposite of that.

As I hugged my cousin good-bye, all I thought was "Okay Tobin, man up".  And man up I did. The first few moments of Staging were intense. For me, the extrovert, the whole thing was sensory overload. Too many new people and too small of a space. As the day wore on, everything began to fall in place and I even made a preliminary friend or two (check out my new "couple" friends, Emma and Mathais, on their blog, Baku to the Future - Mathais shares the best birth date with a special someone - ME!) and found myself calming down enough to make the occasional sarcastic side comment or two (darn you Tobin genes!).

Whew - one day down, 800ish to go.

P.S. Don't worry Will and Gina, you have not been replaced.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

And I am off...

As I may have mentioned before, my Staging/ Orientation started on Saturday at about 1 p.m. and concluded Sunday late in the evening.  Monday, we (the Volunteers-In-Training), hitched a ride to JFK to catch a late evening plane to Frankfurt.  After that, it was off to Baku, with a scheduled arrival late Tuesday evening.

I am hopeful that at some point I can peruse an unlocked wireless network and post some pictures and first impressions of the whole gig.

At any rate, I will see you all on the flip side!

P.S. Thanks Sash for the ridey-ride.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Warmed Up

I like visiting family.

In July of 2005, my family grew when the spiritual bonding of the Sichers to the Tobins was solidified during my cousin's marriage to their incredible (and quite handsome) son Matthew. Growing in family size is awesome and in November, our family will again celebrate another addition with the offspring of Jesse and Matthew.

During my Tour d'Tobin, I was meant to be put to hard work making a baby mattress with Jesse. Unfortunately, I got very sick before I arrived and have been unable to fulfill those "volun-told" duties.

Luckily, that meant I was free to volunteer for the Pennsylvania Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Festival. On Thursday, I gave up 4 hours of my time to earn a t-shirt (it's orange!) and to get free admission to the Festival on Friday.

And guess what Friday was? Colin Beavan (No Impact Man) keynote day! Woo-hoo. Even cooler, I wrote him and email and HE WROTE ME BACK!

Ah, my life is great. I am warmed up to volunteer. I am about to get the experience of a lifetime, and I didn't have to rub my cousin's butt (her hips are spreading).

Friday, September 19, 2008

I am not going to Africa

While visiting my East coast peps, it came to my attention a certain sister of my mother's, let us call her my aunt, was telling everyone I am going to Africa.

I am not going to Africa. I am going to Azerbaijan. It's no where near Africa.

Imagine the aghast of my family when they found out my aunt had been misinforming them for the past few weeks.


Anyway, I have had a great time this past week visiting with my Moms and family. I was reminded again of how my Aunt B puts everyone to shame when it comes to cooking. Her Sunday dinner makes Thanksgiving look like a nice snack.

Thank you again and I will miss you all (and don't go visiting me in Africa, I won't be there).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Callin' Out Across the World

I once made the comment, "I am almost done shopping!  Only one more trip to the store."

Later, my dad laughed at me and informed me my friend Eve made similar statements up until she had made her billionth "last trip" to the store.

I thought he was just joshing. Turns out, he/ she was telling the truth. A few days ago, I swore I had made my last trip to the store. Yet, just yesterday, I realized I was still in need of a radio/ alarm clock. While waiting for a train, I dropped into a Radio Shack and found the Grundig Mini 300 AM/FM/SW Pocket Radio. This thing is wicked sweet as it combines a radio and an alarm clock., just one more trip to the store (I still need a watch battery) and I should be done!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Odds & Ends

Okay everyone, here comes the nuts and bolts of the next few weeks:
  1. I am canceling my cell phone on Friday, September 19.  Before you pick up and dial, please remember I am on the East Coast and there is a 4 hour time difference.
  2. I will try and set up a few posts to publish automatically over the next few weeks, but please be aware that I am in the middle of craziness and may not get a chance to blog.
  3. Just because I haven't answered your email in awhile, doesn't mean I forgot about you. I will write back, I promise.
  4. I will post my most up-to-date contact information as soon as I get it.
  5. Don't forget about me (or my blog)!  I won't forget about you!
  6. Please cut and paste news articles and email them to me.  I need news to survive.
P.S. The picture is of recent Nome Girl Scouts completing their Gold Award projects.

Friday, September 12, 2008

My Sister, the Doofus

I had a great title for this good-bye post, but my sister thought it was dumb.

Whoever thought to buy her a plane ticket to Nome for the week was a doofus...or maybe just desperate to get rid of their extra clothing and unused cosmetics...

Anyway, I love Alaska. I love Nome. I love my friends, the Team. I love my family and extended family (Marsha, Mike, Annie, Olivia and Hunter). I love my church family. I love my former co-workers.

Really, I love everyone.

Thank you all for being my support, my rocks, and often my inner voices of reason. Thank you for teaching me neat strumming patterns and how to make kuspuks. Thank you for making me coffee and listening to me rant about politics. Thank you for making me steaks and sharing your crappy beer with me.

I heart you.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Packin' & Lockin' It

No, I am not doing some sort of weird break dance - I am packing it up and locking it in!

Since I am leaving Friday morning, my sister and I thought we should do a "test" pack this past Sunday. Now, if I had been a bit smarter, I would have done a "test" pack well before the five day mark...

At any rate, we got most of the stuff in there...

Then, we realized we left a good amount of stuff out.

The good news? The stuff we got in weighed in at a grand total of 25 lbs. That means I have 25 lbs left in that bag and another 30-40 lbs available in my carry ons! Wicked sweet yo.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Letter to An Editor

Here is a recent letter I wrote to the editor, Nancy, of the Nome Nugget.

Hi Nancy (or Dear Editor)!

Monday, September 8 denotes an incredible day in our great nation, National Literacy Day. In a fun activity for my friend and family, I asked everyone to send me a list of books they believe every high school student should read prior to college. In honor of National Literacy Day, I compared and contrasted lists to create the Top 50 Books A High School Student Should Read Prior to College. It is my belief that instead of spending money on silly SAT prep books or listening to a college professor lecture about "Utopians" and wondering what the heck the man (or woman) is talking about - each high school student should invest in a library card and a canvas book bag. After preparing the list, I thought I might send it to you in hopes that you can pass it along. This list is not finite. It is only a suggestion of books created from super smart people who know books, high school, and college classes :). Enjoy!
  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  2. Leaves of Grass
  3. The Good Earth
  4. Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank)
  5. Grapes of Wrath
  6. The Invisible Man
  7. The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  8. Macbeth
  9. The Odyssey
  10. Juliet and Romeo
  11. The Crucible
  12. The Yellow Wallpaper
  13. Paradise Lost
  14. Stranger in A Strange Land
  15. To Kill A Mockingbird
  16. The Iliad
  17. The Old Man and the Sea
  18. Moby Dick
  19. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
  20. On the Road
  21. I know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  22. 1984
  23. Animal Farm
  24. Of Mice and Men
  25. Lord of the Flies
  26. Uncle Tom's Cabin
  27. The Scarlett Letter
  28. As I Lay Dying
  29. Mayor of Casterbridge
  30. The Painted Veil
  31. The Giver
  32. Brave New World
  33. Fahrenheit 451
  34. Pygmalion (My Fair Lady)
  35. Jane Eyre
  36. The Color Purple
  37. The Great Gatsby
  38. The Chocolate War
  39. The Handmaid's Tale
  40. Crime and Punishment
  41. The House on Mango Street
  42. Catch-22
  43. Farewell to Arms
  44. Siddhartha
  45. Black Like Me
  46. Raisin in the Sun
  47. Death of a Salesman
  48. Waiting for Godot
  49. The Jungle
  50. Schindler's List

By the by - the books I have read or own are in bold. If you are so inclined, the un-bold books are probably ones that would be neat to include in a "care package".

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mail Instructions & Mail Request List

For those (and I hope there are several) who are interested in mailing me anything, please read the following:

1. Consecutively number mailed items in an easy to find spot. That way, if one box or letter goes missing, we know which one it was and what was inside.

2. Please do not send superfluous items (this means you Lew Tobin). I have to pay to pick up my mail and the more is not always the merrier. Not to mention, I have to lug it all around with me.

3. Please do not send expensive stuff. Bank of the idea that all my mail will be thoroughly viewed before I get it.

4. Please do not send time sensitive items. It takes roughly 1 month for anything to get to me (unless you are willing to give up your PFD for shipping charges).

5. Insure your package. It may seem like a drop in the bucket, but at least it gives you (and me) some measure of protection if anything gets lost.

6. Check out USPS Azerbaijan Shipping Rates. Generally, a postcard will run you about $0.98, a Priority Mail International Flat-Rate Envelope is $13.45, Priority Mail International Medium Flat-Rate Box $43.45 and a Priority Mail International Large Flat-Rate Box is $55.95.

My mailing address is:

In Azerbaijani:

Löki Gale Tobin, PCV
Mǝrkǝz: Poçt
Tǝlǝb Edilǝnǝdǝk
Zaqatala, Azǝrbaycan
AZ 6200

In English:

Löki Gale Tobin, PCV
Central Post Office
Hold Upon Arrival
Zaqatala, Azerbaycan
AZ 6200

Sending your love is special enough, but if you are interested in sending any additional items - here are some things I appreciate from the States (updated 10/05/2010):
  • CoffeeVacuum sealed ground coffee (preferably locally roasted)
  • Pineapple
  • Baby corn
  • Peanut Butter
  • Hot apple cider packets
  • Brewer's Yeast
  • Tea (normal and caffeine free)
  • Vacuum sealed bacon
  • Any type of holiday candy or Swedish Fish
  • Chocolate chips
  • Stationary
  • Recipes
  • Brown sugar
  • Magazines (anything and everything)
  • Chocolate Bars (Green Guide to Go Chocolate Bar buying guide [link])
  • Dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, apples, mango)
  • Smoked salmon, smoked salmon
  • Molasses

Friday, September 5, 2008

Inappropriate, but...

The intent of this blog is not to spout off my political views, but I had to post this picture.  Of course, all those who know me have probably already heard me yammer on about my personal convictions. You know whose button is pinned to my jacket, and you know not to call me after 6 p.m. because I am watching the conventions.

So, what am I doing this next week while I spend time with my sister and finish packing (because we know that is not enough to keep me busy)? I am spending my free time volunteering for that guy.  It is extremely important to me to help the person I know will lead us to a better tomorrow!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Labor Day

Labor Day in Nome is a rocking event. We race bathtubs down front street and watch thousands of plastic ducks float down the Snake River (a fundraising event for our Rotary club). This year, I volunteered to help my dad and Charlie collect ducks and man the duck boat; however, before we could get underway, a fellow boater needed our (more specifically, Charlie the Awesome's) assistance. In the wise words of Brian, "And I learned something today..."

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Monday, September 1, 2008

September Bashes

Before I began the countdown to my first day as a Peace Corps Trainee, I began the countdown to my birthday. I love birthdays. I am pretty lucky that my best friends Meghan and Regina also have September birthdays, as that means for the last several years, I have had some pretty kick-hiney birthday parties. I always believed the bigger - the better, the crazier - the more memories, and the more people - the better the food.

This is the first year in a very long time that I will celebrate my birth without my crew. Although, a piece of me is a bit sad, I am heartened by the fact that my friends plan on putting aside their "Löki birthday money" to help fund their eventual AZ excursion.

Which brings me to the point of this post, please don't get me any present now or in the future (Christmas, Kwaanza, birthdays, Halloween, etc). Save that money for some grand adventure or donate it to your favorite charity (I am a fan of Planned Parenthood).

I love birthdays, but I love visiting friends and family even better (and donating)!