Saturday, September 30, 2006

Internet Companies Compete!

The two big internet companies are competing hard for providing broadband internet service in the home for the many internationals that are interested.  For just under 10 Euros a month, both IPKO and Kujtesa are offering broadband internet service with VOIP, game servers, and cable TV. 
For around 25 Euros a month you can get a 1MBps connection with no download/upload limit and 50 channels of cable TV.  Someone like me that spends a lot of time downloading music will find the speed of this connection is the most acceptable.  With the standard level 256KBps connection that both Kujtesa & IPKO offer the connection is just too slow...and I have had continous problems with my connection cutting off with the new landlord's Kujtesa line.  I have requested him to switch to IPKO and upgrade tot he 1MBps line with me paying the difference in cost.

Also another good feature of IPKO's service is that there is no monthly fee.  You purchase refill cards just like for prepaid mobile phones and recharge your internet connection.  If you need more or less internet during a month, you can purchase the cards you need.  Or say you are going on vacation for a simply just recharge when you get back and don't pay while you are away!  Quite simple and cost-effective!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Smokey Goes to the Kennel

Smokey was off to the Kosovo Shelter today for a short stay while I am vacationing in Thailand.  Conveniently located near the airport, the shelter is boarding Smokey for a mere 5 Euros a day in a large outside kennel. 
Smokey has adjusted well to life in Dragodan.  The neighborhood kids are torn between being terrified and curious about my over-friendly and still a bit wild monster-mutt.  Some of the kids will come up when I am out walking him and give him a quick pat before running off squealing.  I guess it is good for both Smokey and the kids...Smokey gets used to more people than just me and the kids realize that not all dogs are vicious.  Although I do have to confess to a certain amount of amusement at the adults of the neighborhood, particularly the gangsta-wannabes and the security guards of the surrounding liaison offices.  Many of the adults will either cross the road or make a wide berth around us when I am out walking Smokey.  Earlier this week I shocked one Balkan Security guard to a standstill when an oncoming car forced us to go around a parked vehicle at the same time...the guy literally froze in place until we passed.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

5 Days, 4 Explosions

Yesterday, an explosion tore through a house in Kline/Klina injuring four Serbs, three of which were women.  This brings the total of explosions in Kosovo to four in the past five days.  Over the weekend there were three explosions in Ferizaj and Gjilane targeting Kosovo government officials or their vehicles.  The first explosion on Thursday was in Ferizaj, the second explosion in Gjilane on Friday (14th) night and was reportedly aimed at the Minister of Internal Affairs while the third explosion in Gjilane on Sunday night again targeted parked government vehicles.
In other news, the Serbian parliament has approved an amendment to their constitution stating that Kosovo is an integral part of the country.  This creates problems for the UN Security Council should they wish to impose a solution for Kosovo as the charter of the UN strictly states that the organization cannot make any decisions that would violate the constitution of any of the member states.  The news is full of articles about the final status of Kosovo.

The contact group has requested special envoy Ahtisaari to come up with a draft plan for a solution to the Kosovo problem.  Of course, basically everyone knows that the contact group is pushing for Kosovo to be independent so there is little doubt what the plan will contain.  The only question now is how with the international community force Serbia to come to their terms?  Will they threaten or promise EU membership in exchange?  Isolation from the world if they don't cave in?  Then the next question is, how will the international community make sure that minority rights are respected and Kosovo does not become a strictly Albanian state?  Will they threaten or promise EU membership in exchange for good behavior?

An Albanian member of parliament has stirred up a lot of trouble after making statements that Kosovo should be granted independence or else the citizens would revolt.  Following the grenade attack in Klina last night, UN officials are condemning the statement and warning ethnic Albanian leaders to watch their words.
The new SRSG has also stated that it will be part of his mission to ensure that the northern part of Kosovo does not secede from Kosovo.  Of course, the northern part can't really secede until Kosovo is independent so the statement seems a bit presumptuous to me but then who am I to question the big guys in suits? :o)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

New Accommodations!

I have completed my move from Gracanica to Pristina this weekend. I'm very happy with my new flat.  It is so comfortable with the exception of the German Shepard from across the street that likes to bark at night.  Smokey is being very well behaved and only barking every once in awhile in response.  He has also been allowing the neighborhood children to pet him...usually not paying much attention to them as he looks to mark every rock, electric pole, bush, and tall weed as his :)  I first brought him over on Friday when the moving truck brought the furniture over.  I think the move was a little traumatizing as he followed me everywhere (including the toilet) during the course of the weekend.
I hooked up to the internet last night so I'll be online from home now.  I'm thrilled because I also have cable TV so I can watch the music channels (I get MTV in German!) and download songs if I like them from iTunes :)  The landlord will be getting his money out the connection with me living in the flat!  *hehe*

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Moving to Pristina

It's official now...I am making the move to Pristina.  After five years of living in Gracanica, I will have power, water, and central heating during the winter.  It will be interesting not to suffer through the winter...coming home to turn on the generator, start a wood fire, and crawl under a mountain of blankets to keep warm.  I will probably be able to sleep in my bedroom instead of on the fold-out couch in the living room through the coldest parts of the winter.
I will be making a move to the Dragodan neighborhood of Pristina.  I found a good deal on a three-bedroom flat with a huge balcony with a great view of downtown Pristina.  I'm sure the call to prayer will echo up the hill to wake me up in the mornings *hehe*  That and the blackbirds are something that I will have to learn to deal with in the mornings when I make the move from the quiet surroundings of village life.

My new landlord seems nice and the flat appears to be well-maintained.  The flat is part of a larger house with a common entrance.  The landlord lives on the ground level and I have the top two levels to myself...I think.  I have a feeling that I may be sharing the washing machine and possibly the internet cabling.  I will have to check and see if having the landlord come into the flat will be a problem.