Author Archives: marychandler933

Entrepreneurs: 3 Things to Start Your Day Right

As an aspiring or active entrepreneur, there’s lots of content out lately about the morning habits of the highly successful. Can you emulate these people to guarantee success?

Exercise, meditation and eating a good breakfast are healthy morning choices, but they don’t necessarily reflect what all entrepreneurs do.

In her recent Entrepreneur article Carolyn Sun lists the morning habits of 10 entrepreneurs How Does Your Morning Routine Compare to Elan Musk’s, Sheryl Sandberg’s and Warren Buffett’s?  Some of these celebrities exercise, some do email, some read papers. Breakfasts range from fish, salad, Egg McMuffin, coffee or CocaCola. Pretty much what you’d probably find in a survey of the general population. @CarolynSSun


A link from this same article gets you to another Entrepreneur article. 8 Actions You Can Take Every Morning to Build Your Side Business Faster by Ahmed Safwan. Meditation, ignoring email and social media, exercise, affirm, visualize, read, journal and finally work are his list of must do items for successful entrepreneur’s mornings. @ahmedsafwan10

Here’s 3 things you need to start every morning and move your enterprise toward success – literally before you get out of bed – from the sublime to the ridiculously easy.

  • Get out of the tunnel – Tunnel vision is dangerous, take a few minutes to get yourself out of the tunnel and widen your vista.
  • Put out fires – Check email or other information sources to make sure that the wheels didn’t fall off the bus during the night.
  • Refine your focus to today – Check calendars, review tasks, plan for upcoming meetings, etc. Again, try and evaluate each use of your and your employee’s time and verify that it’s useful and moving the needle toward your goals.

Meditation, exercise and eating healthy are great for you, but being an entrepreneur takes a commitment from you that goes beyond normal lifestyle choices.

Take these three first-of-the day steps to start your day right.



Mary Chandler, Entrepreneur, Peace Corps Georgia Volunteer, Instrument Rated Pilot and Botanist. This blog was written as an assignment in Coursera’s Social Media Marketing specialty from Northwestern University

Find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Accidental Time Travels


@Ali Akbar Shirjian

For the last three hundred years humans have communicated daily in newsprint. Newspapers have served to incite, quell, provoke and entertain. For many, they’ve been an integral part of every day, brought to the doorstep or picked up in the newsstand. Generations of kids have financed their childhood delivering them.

No more.

Newsprint is disappearing from the landscape. Stacks and stacks of old newspapers and what to do with them is now a forgotten problem. We used them for dress patterns, fish n’chips, cleaning windows, insulation, cat litter, bird cages…

So what’s happening in all those sheds, bakeries, fish shops, dressmakers? Every spot on earth that had a stack of old newspapers rising daily is now shrinking. As it shrinks we take an accidental journey back in time.


The photograph below is from the Botanical Garden in Kutaisi, Georgia. They are back to 1987.


Mary Chandler, 2017

Ali Akbar Shirjian, a photographer from Iran, doing a photo essay in a cherry orchard became captivated by photographs in the old newspapers being used to collect the cherries. The photographs were of missing people from the Iran revolutionary era. Those papers were from the the late 1970’s.


@Ali Akbar Shirjian

This is a phenomenon happening world-wide.

Soon, they’ll all be gone.

I neither lament the old days, nor champion the new newsprint-free world. It’s just a new paradigm deserving a little bit of notice.

Many thanks to Ali Akbar Shirjian for the use of his photos from the book “The Cherry Orchard.” His book, lecture and photographs were featured in Georgia’s Batumi Photo Days in 2016. 


The content of this website/blog are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S.  Government or the Peace Corps.


Flora of the Caucasus

I freely admit that I’m a plant geek. Discovery of a particular plant, whether it’s rare or common, beautiful or grotesque, imparts a joy to me that I have difficulty in describing. Knowledge of any plant – its name or natural history, lofty or low, slips another piece into the puzzle of our existence. That’s the best way I can describe it.So beware! Go no further in this blog unless you share some of those same sentiments. This is a blog about plants.


Chestnut Castanea sativa

As you read this blog, you’ll come across links that support my ramblings. Explore those at your pleasure! Also, if you’d like to see all my photos of Georgian flora, you can click here.

Why study plants? Some may question its importance. But, consider that animal life would not have evolved on earth in its present form if early flora had not poisoned the atmosphere. The carbon-dioxide rich atmosphere of pre-Paleozoic earth was a floral paradise – free plentiful CO2, a warm climate and lots of light in the right wavelength, these early plants had it made in the shade. They gave off oxygen as a by product of photosynthesis and tied up precious carbon in their dead skeletons, thus the atmosphere of the earth became oxygenated. So, we aren’t the first living things to modify earth’s atmosphere. It was done first by lowly plants 470 million years ago.

Speaking of animals, all of us rely on floral production for their existence. Not only did plants prep the atmosphere to allow for respiration, but they also directly or indirectly nurture us all. How we grow, hybridize, market and modify plants in the future will determine how the human race will survive. Preservation and conservation of flora can be considered from a self serving point of view. Which grass species now poorly studied or understood will replace wheat as the staple crop of the human race? We don’t know, but we better be sure that we have some options!

Medicine too relies on flora for future innovations in health care. That lowly daisy on a high mountain in the Caucasus may hold the key to some future cure.

OK so what’s interesting about the Caucasus flora? There’s a very high level of endemism, about 25% of the flora, which is very high. The Caucasus are also extraordinary in the number of ecosystems represented. From coastal lowlands to high alpine systems and everything in-between. In addition, the Caucasus area was an important glacial Quaternary refugia during the last glacial maximum. This means that much of the European flora and fauna were repopulated from this small area.

According to IUCN red list, there are 9 critically endangered and 19 additional endangered species in the country. This in a country the size of West Virginia!

One of the first things that’s striking when you travel to Europe is how many plants you recognize; many of our common weeds originated in Europe/Asia. 


Viper’s bugloss, Blueweed Echium vulgare

Viper’s bugloss blooms in profusion on roadsides and ditches. It’s one of the highest pollen and nectar producing plant in nature. It’s not a great bee plant due to the fact that it contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids that will be in honey produced from the flowers.  But, I find this plant a brutish beauty! Why such high levels of alkaloids in this plant, it’s producing these as an antibiotic, basically poisoning animals that eat it.


These two epiphytic ferns were photographed in Mtirala National Park. A temperate rain forest within a biodiversity hot-spot.  This park’s name means to weep, very high rainfall and constant wet conditions are prevalent.


No discussion of Georgian flora would be complete without something that’s eaten. In my experience, Georgians eat a lot of wild or wild growing plants, using them in many traditional dishes. This plant is Coriandrum sativum – known by many names including coriander, cilantro and Chinese parsley. In Georgia, it’s kindzi (ქინძი) and called the same thing for the seeds and leaves.

The content of this website/blog are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S.  Government or the Peace Corps.

Architecture of Batumi, Georgia

All photos are available for view in this post (along with others) here.

I have a fleeting understanding of the art, science and engineering of architecture. However, like most people, I have an appreciation of beautiful and/or interesting buildings.

Batumi’s architecture is surprising. Contemporary buildings are  daring and unusual, older buildings are beautiful Romanoff and other fin de siècle buildings. And, remnant of the recent 50 year occupation, there’s the soviet built buildings. Most are crumbling now, whether that’s from neglect or poor building techniques, it’s hard to say.

Here’s the skyline.


Remarkable, no?  Those mountains on the left side are in Turkey. We are very close to the Turkish border!

I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that, according to a 2011 census, Batumi is only 125,000 people. I’ve lived in Madison, WI, a town of 240,000 people for many years, and Batumi feels much larger. Some say it’s the summer visitors that swell the population. I guess the answer there is to wait and see!

Batumi was in the fabled region in pre-history of the Golden Fleece. It’s considered to be the destination of Jason and the Argonauts. A statue of Medea in European Square attests to this.


Batumi has flown the flag of many nations, entering into history as a Greek/Roman port, it’s name Bathys from the Greek for deep harbor. In the ruins of Apsaros, just to the south of Batumi, one can see the varied layers of history evident in the walls. This site served as Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and finally a Russian fort. 20160824_154000(2)

Of course, before, and interspersed in between the conquerors, the city was in various incarnations of what is now Georgia, and now it’s in the region of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara, within the country of Georgia.

With these competing empires vying for Batumi, there’s a history of religious tolerance here. Old and beautiful, there’s a mosque and a synagogue in old Batumi.

I especially like how the star of David motif is worked into the filigree ironwork on the synagogue’s fence .

Some of old Batumi’s buildings are reminiscent of New Orleans.


In the late 19th century, Batumi boomed as an oil city. It was one of the main oil ports of Russia. Oil was transported to Batumi from Baku by rail, later there was a pipeline constructed. The Rothchilds and Nobels both vied for the upper hand in the oil business.

Modern architecture verges on the bizarre. 20160730_17314220160713_18224620160803_191506

In Georgia’s new, daring architecture, some creations are truly remarkable, others have flopped. For instance a 37 story skyscraper which was to be the American Technological University is a awaiting re-purposing into a hotel.

On the remarkable side, a MacDonalds/fuel station creation by Giorgi Khmaladze has won accolades for it’s earth friendly, small footprint design.

The content of this website/blog are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S.  Government or the Peace Corps.




kartuli tsota vitsi

OK, before I get started, I’m going put the most important item right out there. There are Snickers with hazelnuts here. Yes, a true Mars bar Snickers, but with hazelnuts instead of peanuts. With that out of the way…


I know a little Georgian 

ქართული ცოთა ვიცი – kartuli tsota vitsi


The alphabet


Just to be clear, it’s not Arabic or Cyrillic, it’s Georgian. It’s one of 14 alphabets in use in the world today. Same vowels as English and quite a few additional consonants for a total of 33. Some have no English equivalent. One very useful thing, each letter has only one sound. Not like English with many sounds for each vowel and consonants with multiple sounds too – George and Gertrude for instance. Not that there aren’t subtle differences. There are 3 letters that represent the letter K; კ (aspirated), ყ & ქ. And there’s 2 consonant cluster letters that have the sound of TS; ც&წ. Useful. Like old/middle English letter thorn “þ” for the TH sound.  Other letters have specific, mostly guttural sounds. One other thing, sometimes useful sometimes confusing, no capital letters for proper names, or for anything else, for that matter.

The pronunciation

It’s hard. Lots of consonants strung together and as I mentioned, guttural sounds. I’ve had several people correct me on what sounds to me just exactly like what I said. Remember above on the 3 letters for K? The ყ is the deepest, it originates around the glottis. The letter კ is less deep, back of the throat kind of K. And then ქ often represented in latin letters at q; is made in the mouth. Sigh.

The tenses and post-positions

There are 7 cases in Georgian. 7. English has 2. The most puzzling and opaque one is the Ergative case. Lucky for those not learning Georgian or Nez Perce, it’s found in only a few languages in the world. To change the tense in Georgian, you change the post-position on the nouns and adjectives. And Georgian has LOTS of post-positions, there are no pre-positions in Georgian, or almost none. To say you are at, by, near, on, in or from (to name a few) you add a post-position to the noun.

To be, to have

There’s the usual stress on these 2 verbs, so interesting that these seem universally important in human communication. In Georgian, there are 2 verbs for “To have,” one used for inanimate objects and one used for animate. You have time, pens, computers or i-phones. You have friends, family, pets or cars. Cars are the an exception in common usage. While not grammatically correct, it’s often on used in conversation as animate. 

The word length

Words seem impossibly long, at least at first. Mnemonics work to help remember words, but you need several!  This makes learning that much more difficult; more syllables to string together to get it right. The word for teacher for instance, 2 syllables in English, mastsavlebeli – 6 in Georgian. It reminds me of Tolkien and Entish, “hill” being a hasty word for something that’s been there since the dawn of time. “Hill” in Georgian? Bortsvi – maybe not quite Entish.


What’s easy

There are a bunch of things good about the language. You spell it the way it sounds (as soon as you can determine which K used). And, there are no silent letters (no pesky e at the end of the word that isn’t pronounced).

Unlike English, it’s logical. The words might be long, but they are logical. At least at this point in my learning. Further study hints at extreme complexity for verb forms…That’s yet to come. In my current understanding, however, the phrase “for the teachers” is a word mastsavlebeblistvis. It’s teacher (mastsavlebeli) in the plural form (adding -ebi to the end, and in this case dropping the final vowels, mastsavleblebi); then possessive (adding -s, just like English, but no apostrophe) then the post-position -tvis meaning “for.” Logical perhaps, but then you have in Georgian მასწავლებლებისთვის. თავი მტკივა, and I rest my case.