Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Dream Café

Dear Colleagues

Last Monday evening, we were invited to “Dream Café” in CaddeBostan Cultural Center in Istanbul. For those who do not know where it is, the address is - CKM HaldunTaner Street.11, CaddeBostan, Kadikoy- Telephone 0216- 4670387

At about 1900 hours, we chose left end corner table and ordered a good Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon and Cesar’s salad each, it was like we were in the film "Sideways" in conversation with Paul Giamatti or in "A Good Year" with Russell Crowe,

At 2200 hours, the middle tables were removed and beautiful ladies, handsome gentlemen appeared, they changed their ordinary walking shoes with dancing shoes, we understood that on Monday evenings at 2200 hours they have a regular program of “Tango Hour, dance of passion”

So our film changed and we started to watch "Shall We Dance?" with many Richard Gere- Jennifer Lopez couples dancing with passion as if they were on a rough sea.

At about 2300 hours, a young man with seeing disability (blind) with his mother (presumably) came to the café. At first he danced with his mother. Then the other ladies wanted to dance with him. He was dancing Tango with great talent, with no hesitation, no disability, with no restraint as if the dancing platform was all his

So the film again changed and we started to watch Al Pacino's "Scent Of A Woman"

At about 2400 hours while we were leaving, he was still dancing

“Dream Café" is this type of hot place where you can watch 4-films nonstop, and you do not know which backstage you are in.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Nabucco in Ankara Opera House

Last night, I was in Ankara Opera house to attend Nabucco.

Staging an opera like "Nabucco" (Nebuchadnezzar), a masterpiece by Giuseppe Verdi and one of the most glorious pieces in opera history, in Ankara is really painstaking work and requires courage, said Ankara State Opera and Ballet Director Mr Gürçil Çeliktaş in the booklet.

"Nabucco" is Verdi's third opera and the one that gained him a permanent reputation as a composer and is considered to be one of the most glorious operas in terms of costume and stage design, together with Verdi's opera “Aida” and Puccini's "Turandot."

Based on a biblical story, the four-act performance is the story of the destruction of Jerusalem and the plight of the Hebrew slaves in Babylonian captivity during the reign of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, full of passion, romance and political intrigue.

"The best-known number from this opera is Hebrews' Chorus, "Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate" ("Fly, thought, on golden wings"). Music historians have long perpetuated a powerful myth about the famous "Va, pensiero" chorus sung in the third act by the Hebrew slaves. Scholars have long believed the audience, responding with nationalistic fervor to the slave's powerful hymn of longing for their homeland, demanded an encore of the piece. As encores were expressly forbidden by the government at the time, such a gesture would have been extremely significant. However, recent scholarship puts this and the corresponding myth of "Va, pensiero" as the national anthem of the Risorgimento, to rest. Although the audience did indeed demand an encore, it was not for "Va, pensiero" but rather for the hymn "Immenso Jehova," sung by the Hebrew slaves to thank God for saving his people. In light of these new revelations, Verdi's position as the musical figurehead of the Risorgimento has been correspondingly downplayed. Today, "Va, pensiero" is regularly given an encore when performed; interestingly, it is the only encore Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine has ever allowed" says Wikipedia

Ankara Opera House choire was extraordinary last night while singing "Va, pensiero".

Italians mourned at Verdi's grave when he died on Jan. 27, 1901, singing “Va Pensiero” from “Nabucco,” which is be staged in Ankara for the first time last night.

The performance is being put on by Ankara State Opera and Ballet Director Gurcil Celiktas, with a cast of 242. Ankara State Opera and Ballet General Music Director Dario Lucantoni and Sunay Muratov will alternately conduct the opera, with costume and stage design by İsmail Dede.

Celiktas says that the piece is the first composition that gained Verdi a permanent reputation as a composer in the opera world, adding: “The piece will be staged in the capital for the first time. It is one of the most spectacular operas in the world in terms of costume and stage design. It is really a painstaking work that needs courage to stage.” in the booklet.

Stating that the opera had been shown in numerous countries around the world and that they had had difficulty due to the physical requirements of the stage, he said: “The stage is small. We thus tried to match the stage with our huge list of artists in the piece. Moreover, the role of Abigail is one of the most difficult roles in operatic literature. Greek soprano Maria Callas, one of the best-known opera singers of the post-World War II period, once said that the role pushed the limits of the human voice and was too emotional and that she wouldn't perform it again, after doing so in 1949 for the first and last time.”

“The leading role of Nabucco, on the other hand, requires a strong and sensitive voice. We tried to be faithful to the original form and text of the piece. I hope the Ankara audience will like the performance,” said Celiktas in the booklet.

Eralp KIYICI, Metin Turan, Ünüşan Kuloğlu, Bülent Ateşoğlu, Tuncay Kurtoğlu, Mithat Karakelle, Nilgün Akkerman, Reyhan Görbil, Şebnem Algın are some of the artists who will be performing.

I feel that I need to go to Ankara Opera House multiple times in order to understand and appreciate the beauty of Nabucco. I plan to be there on 29th Dec 2006 once again. 13th and 20th January 2007 are the dates for the next performances.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Economic Crisis of Turkey- Creation and Solutions

Dear Colleagues

Yesterday lunch time, at about 12 hours we gathered in Cicek (Flower) restaurant at Tunali and Bulten Streets of Ankara. We are year 1968 graduates of Ankara Ataturk High School -6th grade science section/ all- male class.

Our waiter Mehmet Bey- retiree of Presidential Palace, welcomed us and after our courtesy wording back & forth, he advised us to taste their Black Sea fish grill (hamsi tava). As usual he exaggerated his service with lots of salad and dessert and tea.

While having our lunch, we sent SMS mobile messages to our colleagues who missed our lunch but would be in Ankara, to join us. One of them, just after his recent landing to Ankara airport, heading to his office, joined us within 15 minutes. He got cold flue during long hours of international flight to participate a tender in Libya. He explained his last experience in tendering. He says that administration is adding new procedures into commercial tender documents such as compulsory partnering with a local company not less that 30% ownership etc.

Since we approach to New year, we gave our book presents to each other. My choice was Ms. Zeynep Atikkan’s “American Insanity” explaining the difficult procedures/ and policies after 9/11.

My present was “New Economic Crisis of Turkey- Creation and solutions” by a young scholar named Selim Somcag. Who is this guy?? What sort of book is this? With those questions in my mind, I started reading the book before sleep as if it was one of Orhan Pamuk books. However I could not sleep all night. I finished the book. I strongly recommend you to read the book. You can sleep later, if you can.

We have no forward messages here, all original. Your comments are always welcome.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Global Capital, Local Banking Sector and Alienation

Dear Colleagues

Yesterday evening, I attended a Panel in ODTU alumni Club Visnelik premises conference hall.

Panel subject was "Global Capital, Local Banking Sector and her Alienation"

Panelists were

Dr. Ergin YILDIZOGLU - Cumhuriyet Daily newspaper
"Financial capital at its last stage of Globalization and evolution of the financial sector"

Prof. Dr. Oktar TUREL, ODTU (Retired) Academic
"Restructuring in Turkish banking Sector after 1980 and -Re-regulation"

Hakan OZYILDIZ , Deputy Undersecretary of Treasury (R), Consultant in TEB Bank
"Capital accumulation in Turkey, financial restructuring and foreign Capital"

Panel Moderator: Seçkin GÜLTAN (MAN’86)

Let me try to summarize my notes taken during Panel

Turkey has a very fragile financial structure and also very fragile economy. People insist on keeping their saving in foreign money - USD or Euro- in local banks despite of low interest return. Due to tough international competition in international markets, Turkish companies cannot generate enough money to finance themselves, they have profit squeeze, so they look for external financing. Private company savings are not much. Private companies can not generate enough profit for self financing. In the history we had always the same experience in capital generation and financing the projects. We always look for restructuring of dept, not restructuring the companies in financial difficulty. Contrary to the general practice in the past we need to concentrate on restructuring the companies in dept, we should let them to bankrupt if needed.

In future, if we shall face a devaluation of local money against foreign currencies - which is expected in 2007- local companies with high dept will face financial difficulty, and hence their ownership may be changed, and banks may get their ownership, that may not be avoidable, nor should be to change the natural consequence.

In the international financial markets, foreign banks had certain saturation in their local banking instruments, they cannot generate more income. However, Turkish local market still has opportunities since it is not much utilized. That is why international financial institutions are coming into Turkish banking sector. It is roughly estimated that they now have almost 1/3 of Turkish banking sector.

In future if USD gets appreciated high, and we face devaluation in the local money, transfer of company ownership will accelerate, and most of the local companies will be owned by financial institutions, frankly speaking into foreign ownership.

Nowadays, the financial figures as released by Turkish Central Bank, and her "expectation public surveys" are not optimistic. We questioned that we ask ourselves "are we approaching a very well foreseen financial crisis in early 2007 ?" What can be done?

We need to erase our foreign dept as much as possible, we need to reduce our expenses, we need to save foreign currency as much as possible. We need to be in "liquid" financial position. You cannot sell your real estate in financial crises, but you can purchase many.

While driving home, I listen to NTV Radio, Can Dundar's "Why?" program. Tarhan Erdem, a reputable and reliable pollster, said " Turkey will experience RTE as the new President in 2007. There is no escape from this result. There is no alternative in the opposition. There will be no military coup. "

Today Ege Cansel says in his Hurriyet daily article "We can only pass the financial crises with the foreign savings of private citizens. This foreign savings will be the buffer to compensate financial crises."

Both political as well as financial crises as expected in early 2007 in the local market, will create a difficult time for the people in Turkey in the short run. We cannot estimate how the management in power will manage these difficult times. I would estimate that we shall force our tolerance limits to live in harmony in our democracy. Your comments are always welcome

Monday, December 18, 2006

Mission Completed

Dear Colleagues

This morning I planned to fulfill my long postponed mission to complete.

Let me try to tell about, maybe it may concern yourselves.

Earlier I was leaving my car to nearby certified service station and they would created an expensive invoice at the end of the day

Nowadays I do it in a different procedure and that is more competitive

My car exceed 60,000 km millage, so it was time for a major overhaul, which I was postponing for a while.

This morning I was too determined to complete my mission.

First I stopped at the gas station and filled my tank full, then asked the workers to wash my car.

Then I drove to car mechanics compound. First I stopped at the spare parts shop and purchased the following

4 lt (10-40) engine oil 35 YTL
Oil filter 3 YTL
Air filter 9 YTL
4 new spark plugs 25 YTL
Trigger belt 125 YTL
Recirculation pump 95 YTL
Radiator belt 15 YTL
4-lt anti-freeze liquid 20 YTL

With some loyal client deductions, I paid total 300 YTL

Please do note that 4 YTL is 3 US Dollars at the current rate of exchange

Then I called my mechanic Dursun by my cellular if he would be available, he was.
So I drove to his workshop early morning.

Two youngsters dismantled the old belts, filters, spark plugs etc, and replaced them also the engine oil and engine anti-freeze liquid.

The old recirculation pump was also leaking so I was lucky to replace

I paid 70 YTL total, we had some conversation with my mechanic as well as with other newcomer clients, how to put order into our existing local national economy, where to invest or where not to invest, get more prudent, reduce spending etc.

I gave 2- soft drinks to workshop trainees for their lunch

With pleasure to complete my mission, then I drove to my favorite local restaurant, ordered local fish soup, fish with rice, and dessert plus tea, and paid 15 YTL

There is no forwarding any incoming mail from my end, all deliveries are original as always, and Your comments are always welcome,

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Creative Writing Class in Ankara

Dear Colleagues

Last Wednesday, we completed our first period of “Creative Writing” course in METU (Middle East Technical University) Alumni Premises, the fifth session, one class per week.

We could name our activity as “Introduction To Creative Writing” from a reputable Turkish novel writer. Our teacher, Mehmet Eroglu (METU CE’71 graduate) said “Writing, is stripping in the crowd”, as stated earlier by J.P Sartre, he continues some more sayings maybe from reputable writers or original from himself

”The worst master in the world is our own habits” which we do not want to change,

“The easiest person we can deceive, is ourselves”

”Whatever we postpone all our life, we should immediately start to do it right now”

”The most important thing is to use your time in correct way”

He said that he started to play saxophone in his mid-40s. Nobody took him seriously when he started since he knew nothing about reading the musical notes. However he said that he worked 2-3 times more than others. Now he can play at 100 pop pieces properly. He has certain limitations obviously. For example he still can not play “improvisation” and he feels that he will never do it.

He left his high income top management post from a local construction company in his mid-50s, and devoted all his time to writing.

He is now giving “Creative Writing” lessons to newcomers in a Journalism Foundation (UM:AG) in Ankara

He has about 10 best seller books in the local bookstores.

He says “Artists, writers are selfish, in order to create something important, they should devote all their time to work and suffer, there is no more time for anything else”.

Some sayings he loves to state from other writers,

”What a pity to value goodness, rather than to be good” Moby Dick- McRude ??

"I will not have my hair style to this years fashion " Lillian Hepburn (to respond Elia Kazan)

"Big things can not be done without love" Schoendoerfer

Our teacher says, "Freedom is either complete or non-existed. Each morning it should be gained once again".

"Do not satisfy with small happiness, get bigger expectation from happiness "

Then he taught how he wrote his books,

“When you write a book, a novel, you should write the end at first. Then you will plot the writing with that fixed end. You should know the end upfront. When you complete the book, you should read your writing loud, to check if words flow smoothly one after another, without any interruption, ”

“If there is no courage, personal virtues are at danger”

“Macho courage may slide to wilderness so easily.

”You should leave all your ethical values, in order to create you need destruction first, break your taboos first”

”Art is something to get used to death. All living creatures will die. Art, courage to create, is something to reach immortality, to live in future. Saying -Do not forget me! Living in the future is only possible through Art”

”While writing, you should question every preaccepted notion”

”You will have a talents to take risks”

”Limitations are necessary and good for creations. The most important thing is to create something incredible within limitations. The most important artworks are created by order”

”Creation can be learnt”

”You should have extraordinary work discipline”

”Happiness is something within seconds. Literature is writing PAIN on plain paper. It is expressing feelings. It is expressing of beauty.”

”You should have a story in order to write”

“Artist have a responsibility to the community”

”The real critic is time”

”You will have characters in your novel, they should have pain, they should have pain of indecisiveness, they should have difficult choices, they should suffer because of their incorrect untimely choices. Main characters cannot be happy in the novel. Each character should have a function, evolving in the novel, a clear consistency in their responses.”

Born in 1947 in Izmir, English based high school, then Civil Engineering from METU in 1971. Long term prison due to political activities. Then trilogy during his prison years, Many Literature prizes in 1980s. Then work in public institutions then in a private construction company. Then one day, leaving everything just to write novels and giving lessons how to write.

His web site in Turkish is

His email address is

The first book he advised in his first lesson was "Tatar Desert" by Dino BUZATTI.

In the last lesson, we evaluated that book. A young lieutenant goes to a remote castle next to a desert at border. He waits there all his career to fight against enemy. In the end enemy comes, but it is too late. He is to old to fight.

Teacher says “talent, is combination of energy and determination”

”Creation, is sum of talent, preparation and imagination”

”Imagination, is habit of dreaming”

”Art, needs creation and courage.”

He advised us the book named “Courage of Creation” by Rollo May, of USA. I purchased and started reading now.

”Those who would take the writer to future, are real readers, critics and mostly the luck.”

Do you wish me to write more about our “Creative Writing” lessons in Ankara?

Please feel free to post your comments, and advise the original wording of those sayings stated above.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

10 Rules for Being a Great Panel Moderator

1. Be quiet. Too many moderators think they're actually panelists. They never shut up. Still other moderators won't let panelists engage one another without interjecting a question, a comment, or a snide aside. Don't. Your job is to help the conversation happen, and then get the hell out of the way.

2. Be loud. Your job is to visibly and audibly keep the panelists on track, thus helping the audience feel safe and secure. If it seems that no-one's in charge they worry that they'll be stuck in this room for the rest of their life (see point 9). So be loud about telling people why they're there, what's going to happen, and when it's going to end. Let there be no uncertainty that you're in charge and going to make this worthwhile.

3. Be prepared. Know the subject at least as well as most of the panelists. You can't steer a discussion that you don't understand. Have ready a set of topic-organized possible questions, provocative statements, quotes from third parties, Madonna music lyrics, or whatever conversation starters you think will work. Be prepared, of course, to abandon all of them if the discussion takes an unexpected and interesting turn.

4. Be an invisible conductor. A great moderator invisibly plays his panelists like a life-size set of musical instruments. You're conducting a chaotic and wilful orchestra, so you have to know what instruments you've got and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Don't, however, steer every question: Let people surprise you -- and the audience -- with the notes they're able to hit.

5. Be able to think about more than two things at once. This is a biggie. When I'm moderating I'm typically listening to the current discussion, while thinking about my overall planned discussion arc ... the time ... how long the current discussion has gone on ... and about where I want to go next on my way to closing the arc. If you can't do that sort of thing -- or at least three of 'em -- reconsider being a moderator.

6. Be deferential. You're not the star. The panelists are. The audience is. You're just there to keep things moving and make sure that the next panel starts on time.

7. Be ruthless. While you're not the star, you need to be the audience's advocate on time, answers, and issues. Cut off filibusters. Tell people that you don't think they answered the question. Ask follow-ups. Summarize an audience member's question in a way that makes sense, even if has nothing to do with their deranged question. Even, as a last resort, cut off spirited panel discussion if it is going on too long. (As a rule you'll never get through more than three broad issues in a single panel, so be careful not to over-stuff the thing.)

8. Be clear. Good moderators, like good interviewers, ask short questions and make clear statements. Watch the best interviewers on television, even people like Larry King: Their questions are almost always short, declarative, and direct. Who? What? Why? What about? They want to get the issue on the table and get things going.

9. Be timely. This is so important. Get the panel started on time, keep it moving, and get it done on time. And never let there be any doubt that you're going to pull the trick off. Let people see you confidently check your watch. Let people know that you know there's "only five minutes left". Let people see you confidently keep the discussion moving. Manage time, or don't be a moderator.

10.Be fun. I shouldn't have to say this, but I have experienced enough funereal, unsmiling, self-important, and over-serious (and sometimes all four at once) panel moderators that it has to be said: If you don't have fun, your panel won't have fun, and your audience won't have fun. The world does not need more unfun conference panels.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Tal Salhab, Syria

Ankara December 12, 1993 9:57 AM

Minutes of meeting in Tal Salhab, Syria

We visited Tal- Salhab Sugar factory in December 7, 1993 Tuesday between 0900-1400 hours. Sugar plant is originally built by Italians. It is clearly understood that quality of equipment is generally not good. We met two engineers then their technical manager in the plant.

Client would like to have steam attemperation between 40-60 tph steam output range, at 35kg/cm2 pressure and 380+/- 10C steam temperature. General process requirement is 90 tons. They have three each 30 tph Galtieri/Italy supply steam boilers and one 10 tph hot water boiler for service water requirements.

Feedwater is received from condensate water tank at 105C which is situated on the first floor at about 8meter elevation. No deaerator, no water treatment necessary. They need two each new 100% capacity feedwater pumps, one driven by steam turbine, the other with e/m. Ambient temperature is assumed to be 35C. (summertime, day temperatures between 30-40C, night 20-25C). Altitude is 300m

New boiler will be placed in an open space close to fueloil tanks. They have one fueloil nr.6 and one diesel oil daily tank plus Main fuel tanks 700 ton and 90 tons.

The real difficulty in this proposal is that they would like to have the civil works to be carried out by the client. Soil is week. Some parts of the plant, piling has been done for 22meter deep. Boukai advises us to contact a local civil contractor to handle the civil works but requests us to deliver the necessary civil works design drawings, loadings etc to delivered as soon as possible. He also advises that rule of thump 1m3 reinforced concrete is about 400 Syrian Pounds (approximately 10 US$). That has to be reviewed carefully.

Available electrical conditions is 380volts/3ph/50HZ and they have enough capability in their nearby transformer upto 1000KW. We shall deliver our MCC and control panel. Control panel will be next to existing control panel serving existing 3 boilers. New controls will be able to work parallel to existing pneumatic controls. In a separate tender, they also want to have replacement of existing pneumatic controls with new ones. We offered all microprocessor replacement, but they did not accept.

Acid cleaning procedure is requested. Expanders and tube replacement equipment is requested in maintenance equipment.

In a separate package, they need our assistance for vendor specifications for one each Pressure reducing station for 30tph steam 3bar/1bar. We promised to assist them through Boukai.

Existing Back Pressure Steam Turbine is cantieri Navali Reuniti, Genova.

Year 1976, Max Output, 5,250KW

A Turkish company whose name is Glenko, Istanbul (phone 5624782) has worked in the plant to supply conveyors. We faxed them to have further information to have local information and assistance.

Plant is generally not in good condition. There may be further activities to be carried out after receiving the first order. BWG general manager Mr. Jeffrey Green was with me in this visit.