Jan 13 2012

Right Tool For The Job

Category: Amsterdam,Friends,Personal,WordPressChrisM @ 11:49 pm

Almost four weeks since this blog had a “proper” post on it. Since Christmas, New Year and Amsterdam all took my focus away from the blog, I tried to tweet photos or updates occasionally to keep some fresh content coming in. Anyway, back home now, though in a month or so we will all be moving back to Astana. I will try and post up the rest of Anna’s photos from last year, and also some info/pictures from the recent Amsterdam trip as soon as I can.
Before I forget, if anyone has noticed graphical glitches in the last few months, after a few WordPress core and plugin updates, please do let me know.

PDA Laptop Keyboard Right Tool For The Right Job

Anyway, I’ll be trying to use this netbook’s keyboard more often when adding to this site, and once Anna is at most one month behind in her photos, I’ll try posting Anna and Tim pictures within a week or so of them being taken. That way Ira’s family and friends can see Tim before he gets there, and once we move back to Kazakhstan, our family and friends back in the UK can keep an eye on the children in something closer to real time 🙂
When we are in Kazakhstan, Irina has some more maternity leave available, so it will be both of us looking after Tim and Anna a little longer. One possible direction to take would be me taking on more daytime work, and finding a nanny/childminder for a few days a week. The obvious field of work would be more IT based work, as this requires virtually no preparation time (beyond my normal techy-based idle research) compared to teaching English, my main other work when in Astana. Given regulations soon to come into force in Kazakhstan, I will not be able to write about some current topics of interest, but others who aren’t based in Central Asia have been doing a good job keeping people updated with links and thoughts. When fund management jobs were recently juggled around a little, KZBlog, eurasianet.org and neweurasia.net all caught some articles worth reading.
Anyway, I have not had any voice-over work since before Anna was born, and although there are definitely a lot more students who want extra lessons, the time spent preparing for each one can sometimes double time away from Anna (and now Tim). Fixing computers, installing new set ups and recovering from digital disasters also don’t require me to pay special attention to the (English) vocabulary spilling out of my mouth, lest I should pass on any bad habits to locals wanting to use English for academic or job related reasons! I just have to hope we can get a GPS sorted for our Kazakh car, as trying to find streets can take a long time in Astana, not only do you have the near gridlock achieved when traffic lights are turned off in favour of manual control, but with names actually changed fairly frequently, you want to spend your time away from home working on a errant computer, not battling against the massed 4x4s around the city!

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Dec 12 2011

Zen Working

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 1:46 am

When we return back to Kazakhstan, I will need to start considering how to use my time more carefully, and try to ensure I maximize earnings along the way. When Irina goes back to work, looking after Tim and Anna at the same time is likely to be pretty knackering at first, so I’ll need to try and set aside a few hours every couple of days where I can focus on work related tasks. I probably need to start thinking about changing the physical work environment a little as well. I had wanted a little whiteboard to write tasks to do, contacts to chase up etc., but as my PC is in the living room back in Astana, this adornment would not be welcome on the wall. In the end of the living room that we’ll call my office chairs are not a problem, however trying to type from a sofa or armchair is a bit impractical.

Office Chair

We currently have a dinner table seat at the desk, as the original proper office chair was broken when a couple of friends decided that it could take them both at the same time! It now permanently tilts all the way back. Even I had to agree that it looked messy. Rather than throw out a mostly functioning piece of furniture, we relocated it to the living room balcony, which is where people can smoke. Once Anna was able to walk though, I no longer had use of a comfy reclining seat on the balcony though, as Anna proved very early on that she had the dexterity to lock Daddy out!
Part of the problem is that any PCs/hardware I’m attempting to fix then competes for desk space with another couple of PCs and a printer, and all sorts of odds and ends. Maybe I should set up a very narrow study/office on the balcony!

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Oct 17 2011

UFO Blurry In The Background

Category: Kazakhstan,Pictures,TweetsChrisM @ 7:12 am


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Oct 10 2011

Anna’s Progress

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 9:33 pm

Just a quick post to keep people updated with how things are going here for Anna. Since we moved over from Astana, we have been trying to make sure that Anna was slowly getting used to behaving like a little girl, rather than a large baby!
The first thing we did was to stop using her special high chair at meal times. Now obviously we were not looking for an armchair or lounge chairs to place at the dining table, but given that she isn’t quite tall enough to comfortably sit on a dining room chair and reach her food easily, we originally put a few folded up blankets under her. This was OK for a couple of weeks, but then she decided that sitting like Mummy, Daddy, Nana and John would be her preferred position.
I’m writing this post having just returned from taking Anna swimming again. Although we took her to lessons in Astana almost two years ago, that was in a huge paddling pool, and was really just to get her used to being in the water. Over here we are taking her to a lesson each week (when possible) and/or just some free time in the pool.
Although she has had her own “proper” bed to sleep on (rather than a cot/crib) in Astana for a while now, this visit was the first time she used a big girl’s bed here in Clydach. Other than moving the bed-side table further away from the bed (in case she falls out, having a wooden corner to break her fall didn’t seem to clever) we haven’t had to make any other furniture based changes.

Relaxing In A Chair

Yes, OK, I admit that I chose that picture because I think it will cause a few of this site’s male readers to actually read the post! Anyway, why are we trying to ensure that a lot of Anna’s behaviour and accessories from her baby years are altered or removed? Because when her little brother is born (he was due a couple of days ago!), and eventually starts using them himself, we didn’t want Anna to see this as her brother stealing “her” things, but rather him going through the same processes as she already has. “I’m a big girl who doesn’t need these things” rather than “My little brother arrived and now I can’t do lots of things I used to be allowed to!”. If I’ve not spoken with you recently, and we’re not connected on facebook, this post may be the first time you have heard Irina is pregnant; everything is going fine, no problems so far, and although her due date was a few days ago, that is using the UK ETA – Kazakh doctors reckoned she wouldn’t give birth until a week later.
Finally, we have potty training (round 2)! Although Anna had used a potty first thing in the morning since she was able to sit up unassisted, when we took her back to Kazakhstan, she straight out refused to sit on one! Rather than forcing the issue, we had originally hoped she would warm to the idea on her own. We now have a combined step/potty/toilet seat adapter, and during the daytime she now wears big girl’s knickers (with only a couple of accidents so far), though night time or long car journeys would probably be asking a bit too much too soon of her, so nappy supplies are still on hand. The step is used to reach sinks (so she can wash her own hands) and kitchen surfaces when she cooks etc.
Anyway, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that Anna will continue to (overall) happily shed her baby habits and furniture, so when the newest Merriman addition arrives, no ill will will surface towards him from Anna.

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Oct 04 2011

Mum found somewhere selling Ef…

Category: Pictures,TweetsChrisM @ 12:04 am

Mum found somewhere selling Efes (Turkish(?) lager that reminds me of Astana) 🙂 Tesco in Llansamlet now has none left! http://t.co/sfKzCeUM

Efes, Vodka, Gin, Juice & Reflection Of A Sexy Beast

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Sep 29 2011

Posting, Money & Plans

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 1:05 am

I finally have a few minutes to sit down and write some posts for this site. I’m hoping regular readers will forgive the lack of text-heavy posts recently, but now we are mostly settled into life in Clydach. In around nine days’ time, there is likely to be another temporary blip in output levels. Tweets will continue where possible, but this family will be very busy around then, so please don’t be insulted if I take a while once again to reply to IMs/e-mails. See facebook for a visual clue as to what I’m skirting around right now.

Anyway, I’ve some interesting articles bookmarked about what is happening in Astana right now, so today or tomorrow I’ll start drafting some posts on that. For now, I have been thinking about how to try and earn more money when back in Kazakhstan. I could take on more pupils, as there are never enough English native speakers in Astana with the time to teach. This however obviously means being away from Anna & Irina more often. The pay isn’t bad (especially compared to some other jobs), but this one definitely requires a careful balancing act.

Although I’m fairly certain I can predict what Irina’s reaction to the idea would be, I do sometimes wonder about schemes that involve information analysis, investing (or gambling) and then waiting to see if your predictions came right. Something like Fantasy Football but with real money to be made (or lost obviously). People who understand sports well dabble with spread betting, but I’m not too hot on following teams.

As with sports, Financial Spread Betting Online doesn’t reward a gambler/investor for simply choosing a binary result (a team wins or loses), but rather on how much they won or lost by. For example, with sports you might predict that your local rugby team will win, and be prepared to spread bet £5 per point. IF your team wins 37-12, you would gain £125 (£5 per point above a draw), HOWEVER, if your team lost 9-74, then you would lose £325. The same applies to the financial/stock market based schemes. Rather than winning or losing a match though, share prices can obviously rise or fall.

Euro Coin

However, before looking at trying out this form of financial pattern detection, I obviously need to have some money to gamble/invest. Other than teaching English, I also work as an IT consultant sometimes, with a wide remit covering technical support for faulty hardware/software, constructing custom-built PCs, training people, designing websites and servicing slow computers. Whilst I definitely enjoy fixing computers and helping people, the taking the money side of the matter has always been a slight fly in the ointment for me at least. This is why I often work in conjunction with a local company who sort all the invoicing and paperwork – I just assess the hardware/software/wetware, fix or build what I can, and then leave still happy!

Over the past five or so years, my final income stream has occasionally included doing some media work for a government department in Kazakhstan. This was mainly suggesting re-writes for the English version of the script as well as providing the actual voice over material. This sort of work was probably the easiest, however they haven’t made contact in a while.

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Dec 04 2010

Just shot this clip (#qik) htt…

Category: Friends,Tweets,VideosChrisM @ 10:16 pm

Death By Chocolate Cakes being made for tomorrow’s charity Winter Bazaar at the Hotel Radisson, organized each year by the embassies here in Astana.

Just shot this clip (#qik) http://qik.ly/EC5Zq
Click the (0) link at the end of this tweet to see the video embedded on this site, or the link above to see it over at Qik. Their videos are still autoplaying, I assume, so can’t be left straight on the front page.
Continue reading “Just shot this clip (#qik) htt…”

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Nov 23 2010

Low res video through fly scre…

Category: TweetsChrisM @ 7:22 pm

Low res video through fly screen of Xmas lights outside Astana park. yfrog used as media service. THIS IS A TEST http://yfrog.us/6b3xqz

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Nov 21 2010

Proper snow here in Astana, an…

Category: TweetsChrisM @ 5:44 pm

Proper snow here in Astana, and it might be cold enough to settle this time. It has been a very mild start to the winter so far. #weather

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Nov 21 2010

If anyone is looking for info …

Category: TweetsChrisM @ 4:03 pm

If anyone is looking for info on what, where and when things are shutting down in Astana for the OSCE conference, check http://kzblog.net

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