Thursday, January 31, 2008

Vienna is a Museum

I don't know what to write about that hasn't already been written. We are down to a routine now a lot like we did back home so what is to say. I got off the ubaun trying to think what I was going to talk about then I heard the church bells ring. It was a huge church with a big green colored dome on it. And it's gorgeous. Whatever stop you take or ubaun you get off you see art. The buildings are covered with sculptures and it's very intricate work. I've been taking a lot of pictures of the buildings but it doesn't do it justice. In this picture the yellow building is the cafe and the white one it the one we live in.

Emily is funny. She'll look at all the work and the sculptures but not the naked ones. She turns her head. So if you come here, look up and not down at the ground when you go for a walk or you'll miss a lot.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

On novelty--

We've been here over a month now and I thought I'd better look back and remind myself what is unusual here. I've learned from my travels that you should buy your souvenirs the first few days of arriving to a new country because by the time you leave you've become accustom to the culture and what surprised and delighted when you first arrived has become common and ordinary by the time you leave. Only when you get back do you think, "Shoot, I should of bought one of those." That's when you recognize how unique some of those things were.

So first, our apartment. Water isn't heated in a big tank and stored, it is heated in a thing called a 'Therme' which heats the water on demand as it goes through the pipes. It clicks on when you turn the water on. I haven't noticed any more delay at when the hot water arrives compared to the American system and you never run out of hot water when the whole gang has to shower in a row like right before church. When I think about how well this works I wonder, 'Why do we heat so much water at a time?' Refrigerators are small (hence Lori's complaints about shopping everyday).

Many of the streets are of cobblestone. The cars are mostly very small. They pay $4.50 for a gallon of gas. We pay $1.70 for a liter of milk (about a fourth of a gallon). Otherwise, prices are comparable to the US. People dress very neatly and seem generally to care more about their appearance than in the States. I never see people wearing sweats or exercise clothes (well, except when they are exercising). Except rarely people do not wear running shoes except to run. Hair is short but well styled. Hair dressing salons are everywhere. Even in the lobby of the UN! Women of all ages sometimes die their hair Run-Lola-Run red (one of the best German movies ever made). Coffee houses, restaurants, and gasthouses (pubs) are everywhere. Toilets are made so you don't poop into water, but on a little porcelain shelf over which the water runs to take it down the hole (now isn't that something worth knowing!). Our Toilet is in a room of its own and not in the room with the washing basin sinks, mirrors, and showers for dressing (there is a little sink with only cold water for washing your hands in the toilet room). Pedestrians mostly wait for the light to change. People buy lots of things at Ikea. People wear a lot of fur, I think much of it real. People of all ages hold hands with their significant other and sometime the young kiss wildly in public. No one is surprised if you order chocolate at a coffee house and lots of people do. Vegetarianism is rarer than in the US. Nathan gets asked for cigarettes in the U-bahn stations every time he goes to seminary. He doesn't have any. I told him to carry some to give away. He refused.

One challenge we've had is remembering that Euros are not dollars. The dollar has fallen so low, that dollars are like pesos were a few years ago, well not that bad but they've lost about 33% of their value from when the Euro opened a few years ago. The tricky thing is goods and services cost here in euros about the same as they cost in dollars in the states so it's easy to forget. We'll see a meal for 10 euros and think its a good deal until we remember it's really 15 bucks for that meal. Euros are the currency used over most of Western Europe (with a few holdouts like Denmark and England) and is currently a very strong stable currency. In fact with the fall of the dollar, some states that used to base their economies on the dollar are switching to the euro. In the eyes of many in the world, America has lost respect not only morally, but economically.

But Europeans follow very closely American politics. At lunch all the people I work with (none Americans) speak more knowledgeably about the presidential elections than most Americans. I often learn the results of the primaries from them. They follow the presidential races very closely and can speak about the different candidates' platforms and history in depth and with great insight. They all seem much smarter than me. I don't know any of my co-workers that do not speak from three to six languages (I need to keep in mind, of course, I am at the UN). They speak about history with ease and familiarity. I don't want to generalize but even on the U-bahn in the morning lots of people are reading the paper. In fact yesterday a rough looking teenager sat across from me. He was covered with piercings (nose and eyebrow rings and such). Suddenly he pulled out the paper and started reading. I shouldn't have been surprised (but obviously I was). The events of the world seem somehow closer here than they did in America. I don't know if that makes sense, but the internationality of the place seems to bring world concerns to the front.

But America still rules here. American music, movies, TV, books, all of these things are still held in the highest esteem and dominate. To some extent fashion, but less so. English is the language of both Science and Business and American leadership in both still plays in the Major leagues here. English is a mandatory second language. In short, American interests still seem to be on everyone's mind. If only the dollar was not slipping into obivion (I mean, holy cow, the Canadian doller is worth more than the American and that has never happened in the history of the world--'ey.)

Well, those are some of things I can think of sitting here. Oh yes, I'm getting fat on the pastries. They are of such a tempting nature that only the devil himself could have designed these delights. I cannot resist. What wine is to France and beer is to Germany pastries are to Austria. Heaven help me.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Wachtel Eier By Emily

It was a windy day. Me and my dad went to go get dinner. The dinner was yummy to the tummy chicken. As we walked home we saw the tiniest eggs on earth. My dad said Look at those tiny eggs. I asked What kind are they? I was shocked what dad said Quail. Quail eggs. My dad said should we buy some? I don't know I said. So we walked. We got to the cross walk. Then my dad said should we get it. Same answer I don't know. Than dad said come let's go get them. I said ok. Wait do want cheese or quail eggs? I said quail eggs. So we got them. My dad said ya- ha-hoo. Lets surprise mom. We got home. My dad said we got some eggs. Oh my mom said. We showed my mom the eggs. Wow they're tiny. Will eat tomorrow. Then we ate the chicken. I went to bed. I woke up. We cooked the eggs. they tasted like chicken eggs. I'll never forget this.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Theory of Relativity-by Proffesser Nathan D. Peck (im not really a Proffesser it just sounds cool)

Today i have decided to write to you all about the Theory of Relativity. Websters Dictionary describes Theory as"A well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena; "theories can incorporate facts and laws and tested hypotheses"; "true in fact and theory"." and Relativity as "the theory that space and time are relative concepts rather than absolute concepts." so basically the relativity explanation sums it all up.
So now that your all bored out of your minds with the Theory of Relativity i shall now tell you about the average good day of my life (Friday). so i normally am woken up around 7:00 by my parents and sister being really loud. and then fall back asleep in about 5 min. so ya and then on certain days i wake up at 8:00 to play Halo 3 with my brother Christopher..tis fun..then after that i take a shower then start on school. which i have to do 5 hours a sucks well any way i normally start with German then go to English 11, English 12, sociology, or earth systems..horribly fun huh...well at about 1:20 i leave to go get my sister at school that takes about 40 min. then i come back and finish school and then once school is over i head over to the other room and play xbox YAY tis the best part of the day...then have dinner with the fam. and then we usually watch a movie then i play more xbox...YAY by this time i normally play Halo 3 with Chris some more and then i go to bed...which is another great part of the day. and that's the end of my day...and the end of my lecture on the Theory of Relativity.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Question..........Which is best? by Lori

I thought I would write about our normal everyday life here. It has some of the same things as back home but it's also very different. It usually starts at 6:15am when Steve and I get up and get ready. Emily is up by 6:30am and gets ready for school. We bundle up and are out the door by 7:30am for a 5 minute walk to the u-baun (subway). After the 3rd stop we get off and walk to her school. Her school is grade 5th-12th. It is at least 4 stories tall. Emily loves it there. She is making new friends and learning more about the culture. She is very well accepted there and she helps them with their English as she learns German. I get back to our apartment and get Nathan up for his school. He works on his Internet schooling 5 hours a day. I think he gets bored with it sometimes but he's doing good.

He loves the ward we're in. There are 2 Priest to 5+ young women his age. So there are ALWAYS young women around him. Then I go shopping for food. You know why there aren't very many overweight people in Austria? Because they walk everywhere. I walk 2-3 blocks to the grocery store, buy what I can carry and head back. This is a sign I walk under every day when I walk to the store. Funny huh?

The cashiers are getting to know me well. They are all very nice. They know a tiny bit of English and I know a tiny bit of German so we can figure out what we are each saying. I usually go to two different grocery stores a day. Nathan leaves at 1:20pm to pick Emily up from school. I think this is the safest city I have ever been in. I feel very comfortable letting Emily and Nathan ride the u-baun alone. There isn't the sense of fear here. You see kids all the time alone riding the bus, trolley or u-baun alone and there's no problem. I'm out alone a lot and I feel safe. For the most part the people here are very nice and friendly. Every once in a while there's one who's not but that's normal.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

PE by Emily

The only thing I want to do at school is PE. I met my to good friend in PE. First swimming, I have to take 2 differant u-bauns(subways) to get there. Then we cross a long bridge. I did my very first dive. I'm the only one who can't swim good. I love swimming. PE is so fun. They do game I never heard of. I never want PE to end.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Five stars for the UN cafeteria

Today for lunch I had Ratatouille. Really. French Ratatouillie. It took me back to my childhood. I rated the UN cafeteria has having five stars and thought it daring for serving a peasant dish.

The UN cafeteria really is an amazing place. Each lunch they have five international meals things like African perch, perhaps a Thai dish, or maybe a lamb and humus dish from the Middle East, I had an Afghan meal yesterday a roasted meat (of unknown kind) in a yogurt sauce. There is also a Japanese chef making sushi and sashime in one corner. I think this corner rotates because when I was here in November it was an Italian chef making salads of rare mushrooms, olives of such variety that I never knew existed. Yum!

Vienna sits on the border between Eastern and Western Europe. When you ride the subways the sense of international presence is stunning. A variety of languages is constantly being spoken around you some recognizably Slavic (I can't distinguish Russian from Lithuanian), French, Italian, English, Arabic, and of course German and English. But this sense of international milieu is most palpable in the market near our house! The Naschmarkt! (Which translates literally as the "sweet little tidbits to nibble on market."

Every fruit we ever had in Hawaii is here. Monday night Nathan and Emily were introduced to the wonders of pomegranates (Emily found them far less wondrous than Nathan who ate almost the whole thing). There are entire stores devoted to cheeses. Another devoted to bread. There is a little place we visited that served us carved lamb sandwiches with yogurt sauce. The kids favorite is just getting a half of roasted chicken. Or rather three halves--we like these a lot! We even found fresh whole ginger like we had in Hawaii and we have been making ginger tea every night as we watch the first season of Lost (our one decadent indulgence (well not our only one (don't you hate it when people embed too many parentheses))).

There is a butcher, a baker, and a candlestick maker! Lori buys meat from the butcher. Well, one in particular. When we first got here we came up to another butcher and I asked in flawless German (see my B+ blog) for a half kilo of hamburger. He laid out a white piece of . . . well, butcher paper. . . and proceeded to pile on kilo after kilo of meat. He was moving so fast he had about 10 kilos on the paper before I could stop him. I reiterated how much we actually wanted. He started putting it back until we really had a half kilo. Then I paid with a 20 euro note. He gave me the change, except he held on to one of the 5's he owed. We just stared at him trying to figure out what was going on, but he refused to hand over the cash. At last we walked away confused. It was more complex than this, as he was acting all hurried and we WERE confused by the miss communication and so it wasn't until we had walked away that the full force that we had just been cheated dawned on us. Make no mistake this was intentional. He had the right change in his hand but would not give it to us. By that time we had walked away it was too awkward to go back and sort it out. Say la vie, or rather auf wiedersehen. But the huckster has payed with a year of loss of business and as you know we Americans eat a lot of hamburger so that's a lot of euros he flushed. It's our national cuisine! Lori is already good friends with the butcher we use. We scowl at the blaggart who ripped us off every time we pass. He never notices.

On Saturday a flea market opens there with used brick-a-brack from all over Eastern and Western Europe. It deserves a blog on its own and I'd best leave that to Lori. Get ready to drool in envy.

Photos by Lori.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Blue Vienna By Emily

Vienna is very cloudy. But you don't notice it unless you just came here. The first few weeks were cloudy. But while I was in school I looked out the widow and I saw a miracle. All the sky was blue. School ended Nathan was there to pick me up. I told him to look up. He looked up he wasn't very exited. I told he it was blue . Nathan said yep.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Seminary day thing that we did stuff and had fun doing stuff..basicly.-Nate

So yesterday (Saturday) i went to a seminary conference thing. when i got to the church i learned that Mormon standard time applies everywhere not just in i was the first one there and i was alone for 5 to 10 minutes. but when everyone got there we left for a church in Neustadt...not that any of you would know where that is but just in case you want to look it up on a map. well once we go there we had an opening ceremony i guess ill call it which was weird because it was all in German and so our whole ward was wearing these retarded looking head phones that someone translated them on. so ya twas weird. well after that was over we went to classes which was also weird because we had to have it translated and most of the time we were way behind so the class would laugh at something then like 10 seconds later we finally hear what they were laughing at. but it was still pretty cool. well after class we had tacos for dinner..which i really liked because i got to know the other people in my ward a lot i really liked that. then after dinner we played a game where you get into groups and have to go to stations and earn points and with the points you get Lego's and then had to make something that had to do with religion with it and the winner would be designated bob the builder of the day. so my group made Joseph Smith with Moroni and the brass plates.. and it was pretty hilarious made me laugh...but anyway we totally was amazing...then that was pretty much it and so we went home and i went to bed the end.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Shopaholics...I'm watching out for you. By Lori

I have to admit.....I love to shop. Shopping here has been a new experience for me. But I feel I need to do it for when company comes I will know where to take them and where to stay away from. Somebodies got to do it so I'll sacrifice. Last night Steve and I went to stephanplatz. It's the tourist hang out and where they go to buy souvenirs. I can tell you first hand that you'll pay almost twice the amount as you would at stores outside the area. Just 2 blocks up from our apartment is a long (at least 2 miles) street called Mariahilfer that has stores on both sides of the street. I haven't gone the whole distance yet but almost. It is famous for it's stores and great deals. You could spend days there shopping. And some of the stores you go in are like mini malls. There are also some that are 4-5 floors high. I have found great things here. If you're hungry there are lots of little bakery's on the side that you can buy pastries or sandwiches. But be advised.....there are not a lot of bathrooms. You have to really look for them. I will scout them out before anyone comes. But when you do come, bring an extra suit case and lots of money because there is so much cute and fun stuff here!!!!! Another great place to shop is the open market that also has a flea market on Saturdays. There are tons of antiques there. They have lots of fresh fruit and veggies and bakery's too. You won't starve here. So get your walking shoes on and get in shape for lots of shopping. We will have a BLAST!!!!!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Jaron's first area

So we found out where Jaron went (I emailed the mission president to find out since I knew it would be weeks before a letter would arrive). He's in Kekaha, Kauai! Kauai is the north-western most 'main' island (there are a whole slough of islands and atolls heading off to the Northwest--remnants of islands that grew over the Hawaiian geological hot spot). One of the most beautiful. He is at the end of the road where the 'A' is on the picture. I did a lot of my field work near Hanapepe so spent lots of time in the coffee fields studying the fruit flies just a few miles down the road from where he is. Jaron's area is very rural and tourists don't usually go that direction. He is in for a treat. What a great place to end up! So Jaron is really on the other side of the world from us, 11 hours or 7800 miles away. Timothy and Christopher are 8 hours or 5550 miles away (Nathan and Emily are less than 30 seconds away and within 50 feet). This is as the crow flies of course. Or perhaps as the Arctic tern flies as crows are unlikely to make that distance. Unless, of course, they were very motivated and had a strong tail wind. Even then . . . but I digress. Kudos to Jaron! He has arrived!!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What I do

You may wonder what I'm doing at the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency. As you will recall this a high security organization involved in regulating the use of nuclear materials all over the world. The truth is I can't tell you what I do. In fact, it is so secret that I can't even know. I first tried to to get myself to tell me what I was doing, but I dug in my heels and refused to say. I tried everything, bribes, threats, but I would not budge. Finally, I did something terrible. I tried to torture it out of me. This fills me with shame when I think how I engaged in such horrible actions. However it also fills me with pride when I think how I did not give into it and there was nothing I could do to make me talk.

Actually, I haven't been doing anything but reading about tsetse flies and working on a philosophy paper. My computer hasn't come. Neither the one at work (which they are special ordering for me) or the one coming from BYU. You see, the company that moved us made a slight mistake. They said we had X number of pounds that would be shipped air and Y number that would be shipped by tug boat. Well it turns out that the moving company got every thing right except the and was really an or so everything was shipped by tug boat. Meaning all the things we thought were going to come two weeks after we arrived are really coming in late February. Really. Late February. Back home before we left, Lori made two piles of things, the first with essentials and the second with stuff we might want to have later. She was very selective and thought very hard about what should go by air and what by boat. We debated about several items. We pulled things from one pile and then moved it back. Weighty decisions these. Then the moving company came, packed the piles carefully. Then somewhere after our goods left us, someone, somewhere noticed the and was an or and shipped it all by tug boat (or maybe it was by canoe I'm not sure). So all my books, notes, etc, are floating contentedly over the Atlantic (unless of course they took the scenic tour over the Pacific).

So eventually I will build cool computer models of tsetse fly population dynamics. But for now I'm being the department receptionist--making copies, taking dictation, doing my nails, and staring out the window wondering how our things are doing on their ocean cruise.


Jaron has arrived in Hawaii! Here is his picture on arrival. Make sure you write to him!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My Closet --by Nate

So today i have decided to tell you all, all about my room...oh wait i don't have a i have decided to tell you all, all about my closet...the whole closet is about 20'x6'. but there is a curtain that separates the room (which i call the veil), so i have about 1/3 of the room to myself...probably a little less, but that's about right. once you cross through the veil, you'll see my tiny bed that i barley fit in, and theirs like 5 or 6 pillows because one of the mattresses is smaller then the other so i have to have tons of pillow so that my head is level with the rest of my body...sometimes its hard to sleep cuz the pillows slip away so my head falls down...and early in the morning i can hear everyone coming into my room to get there clothes and sleeping is really hard because of than and then i have my own radiator for my whole closet so it gets really hot at night so that makes it hard too...well then i have a little night stand think where i put all of my stuff...that's about every thing in my room..oh sorry my closet.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Safety concerns in the city

View of the Danube from my office
If one year ago if a soothsayer of some kind had told Lori, "A year from now you let Nathan ride the subway alone through one of the largest cities in Europe." She would have said, "Not Likely." If she had told her further, "He's going alone to pick up Emily from a foreign school where she has spent the day studying another language." She would have asked what this person was smoking. If she had been told that it was true and they were going to ride back alone through the city. She would have suspected that if such a course of events were really going to take place in a year's time, she must be dead--if in truth such strange things were going to transpire. But so it was. It's Nathan's job to make his way on the U-bahn to Emily's school where Lori drops her off in the morning. Nathan makes his way there and they ride back together by themselves. Thursday, Nathan will take U-bahn, buses and trolley's to seminary--again alone. (Even more unlikely, if this soothsayer, had said, "Behold in one year's time, I say unto you, you will be drinking diet Coke without ice." She would have suspected that the Millennium must surely begin in the coming year. (Of course, she would ask could it really be a paradise without ice in your diet Coke?))

So what allows her to sit at home while two of her children wander around a major metropolis? Vienna is very safe. I used to worry if Nathan walked to Walmart. It seems strange, but here things are very safe (it's claimed that it is the third safest city in Europe although I'm not sure what that means). I'm not sure why. There is no large police presence, in fact I cannot remember seeing one except in cars on the road. I've seen people begging, many from Eastern Europe. So I figure there is probably crime about, in fact, there are warnings about pickpockets at the airports and major train stations, but then in general people leave things laying around that I think would be taken in the US. There is just a feeling of security about the place. Very curious. And of course most people would think us over protective--I mean why are we sending Nathan when Emily could come home by herself?

Of course, there are some exciting challenges that we didn't face in Utah. Walking on our way to church there was a van parked near the church with a twice life-sized picture of a big-breasted naked woman kneeling provocatively on the side. As we passed, I said to Nathan, "You know when we walked to church in Pleasant Grove we hardly ever saw pictures like that." He laughed. So did Emily. Both kept their eyes on the ground--pretty much.

You also have to get used to smelling like cigarette smoke.

There are a lot of good things. It's hard to find non-organic food. People smile a lot and seem to help out when they can. Dogs can go anywhere--On the U-bahn (if they are muzzled), into the stores, etc. I haven't seen but the occasional dog poop, and I don't know what they do with it. And Walmart had to shut down (in Germany actually, but close enough) because no one would shop there. At night from 10:30-11:00 there is a concert pianist above us that plays wildly modern classical music (think Phillip Glass), at first I was annoyed, but now I listen and feel robbed if he or she does not play.

Church is wildly diverse. The people are from all over the world. The Bishop is from Africa as are many in the ward. There are people from the Philippians, Hawaii, North America with all economic and educational levels represented and appreciated. It is going to be fun getting to know people of so many walks of life. Plus the scenery on the way to church is stunning--just ask Nathan.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Different and the VERY different.......another perspective by Lori

I want to let everyone know some of the difference here and some things that are non-existent. Like one thing is my all favorite diet coke. It's not diet coke here but coke lite. It tastes more like diet Pepsi. But the weird thing is, is that there is no ice. They don't put ice in their sodas. I did special order ice with my coke lite at McDonald's. I got a little bit of a weird look but they gave it to me. I think that's the only time I got ice here. So if you come here and want ice in your soda, either bring it or go without. Speaking of sodas......I have yet to find Mountain Dew (Nathan is suffering bad), Root beer of any kind (Emily is suffering bad) or Dr. Pepper (Steve Waters would suffer bad). And I've been to quite a few places. The only kind of candy bars I can find so far are Snickers, Kit Kat, Twix, and Mars. The rest I cant pronounce and have no idea what it is. I have done some venturing. Some were hits but most have been misses. But I still have hope. I still haven't found brownie mixes, muffin mixes, or cake mixes. I did find a soft pretzel with salt on it. I took a bite and it was a rye bread pretzel. That was a miss. But on the other hand I both another one somewhere else and it ended up being a sweet roll with little chunks of sugar on it. That was a great hit!!! All the eggs here are brown and the yokes are really big. It looks different at first but they taste great. When you get a cart at the grocery store you have to put a euro in the handle part and it unlocks it from the other carts. When you return it there's a key to get your euro back. I walk to the store everyday (except Sunday) to get food. I bring my own plastic bags so I don't have to pay for them every time. It's only a couple of blocks but you can't buy too much because you have to carry it all home yourself. There are lots of differences here and we are all learning to adapt. And it is fun. But even Emily is trying new things and we are all having a great time with our new

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ascent to our apartment

Please see this video for my summiting! Few make it to #28.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The subway by Emily

The subway is not the best thing in the world. You're either late or you have to wait, rarely you're just on time. You my have to watch were you sit, because it has throw up. They clean it every day. The subway is very clean. Only after Holidays you have to look out or a sport thing.

Their are good days and bad on the subway. A good day is not crowded. a bad day is crowded. I do like the subway.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

They do check

No one takes your ticket when you ride the U-bahn, buses, or trolleys. You just get on and ride. There are machines to buy tickets, but you don't see anyone buying them. There are places to get your ticket stamped, but you never see anyone stamping tickets. It looks to all appearances like, well frankly, it's free. But to my horror this morning there where these yellow-vested uniformed authorities on my car asking random (random? yes as far as I could tell random) people for a ticket. It was one of those panicky moments like I experienced in fourth grade when the teacher says 'hand in your homework' and you know you don't have it (if you know my grade school history you'll know I suffered this angst almost every day). I could not believe it. I'd never seen this before. No one else seemed surprised, a few people pretended they were asleep and that seemed to be enough to keep the ticket conductors at away, but I was standing up and an obvious mark. Sure enough they headed straight for me. I really was panicked. A whole bunch of wild ideas rushed through my head--pretend I was asleep standing up, that seemed work for the people sitting; Pretend I didn't speak German, oh right, I do and had a B+ to prove it (maybe they wouldn't bend down to read the transcript I'd pinned to my chest); Or maybe, I suddenly remembered, I should just give them a ticket. Yes foolishly before I realized no one seemed to pay I had bought a monthly pass and incredibly I had it with me! Saved! I pulled the ticket from my Franklin Planner (which device elicited not a few wry smiles of curiosity) and showed it. He said, 'Danke' and left the car without asking scores of people standing behind me. Now I've got to buy one every month. I'm so disappointed.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Hi I am Emily . My School is Big,very big, you won't believe how big it was!!! I have a teacher that will teach me what my teacher is saying. My first class was music. That's when I met all my Friends. In music my teacher put on music and we had to guess what its from. To guess we played hangman. We had to guess the composers name was too. Then we had to go Biology class. We had to go up a long staircase. Finally we got there. We learned about pigs. There's not much to say about it. Next was math. I did not like math. Very boring. Then German. I had to read it. Well that's my school day in Vienna.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Brave Emily

So living in our apartment is one brave little girl! Emily, Mom and I went to the school to day to enroll Emily into the Austrian school system. We met the principal and one of her English teachers. Emily (and I) were nervous! But the principal was so nice and helpful and Emily's teacher was so kind and delighted to have her, that it looks like this may work. She starts tomorrow! I don't know what I expected, but all yesterday I kept wondering if this was too much to put on a little girl. To throw her into a foreign classroom, in a school that uses a language not her own, with students who would accept her (or not) in unpredicted ways, all made me doubt our wisdom in doing this. However, her teacher, Prof. Streicher, speaks fluent English and was so kind and made Emily feel so at home I had my first inkling that this might turn out to be a very positive life changing event. The students had actually been told about Emily's joining them, and when Prof. Streicher opened the door to introduce Emily, the children, catching a glimpse of Emily through the crack in the door, began excitedly whispering and pointing and in a way that expresses excitement and novelty. She then brought Em to the front of the class and introduced her completely in English. Emily just beamed. So it begins. I expect there are many challenges ahead, and probably not a few tears, as the reality of attending a German speaking school sets in but Emily is very brave just to make the attempt. But what a fun school. They swim for two hours a week, have sports, learn to play the Guitar, and she will even take a class I woodworking. They have four hours of English a week (I'm thinking she should do pretty well in that class). It is likely this will be a very challenging experience. I'm sure it will be. We recognize, still, this may not work. And we are ready to home school Emily if this turns into a very negative and destructive experience, but we are off to a hopeful start.

Emily also is in essentially 'High School.' Meaning that unlike in the US with Middle School, it is at grade five that the students split into two tracks. One that leads to a technical track and the other, called the Gymnasium, leads to the university. At age 10 they have to make a decision of which track they take, and they must pass tests to get into the Gymnasium. At Emily's new school, one of these Gymnasium schools, she is there with students aged 10 to 18. At this age she does not go to separate classes with different students, but remains with her class the whole day, but they do have different teachers for each class period and change rooms. The Austrian schools are much more difficult that American schools. If Emily completed all 8 years here, she would at the end have learned 2 to 4 more additional languages, and mathematics at the level equivalent to the general education math expected at BYU. Also required of Catholic students is two hours a week of religious instruction. Emily got out of that because she is Mormon, but maybe a couple hours a week with nuns would really improve her German? And this is a state school. There are still things that surprise me in a state which has an official religion.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Our Elevator. A perspective by Lori

I know what you're thinking. Why write a blog about the elevator. Well for one, this elevator is really neat...and OLD! It reminds me of something you'd see in the Twilight Zone. It has a black metal cage around it and the metal door doesn't open till the wooden door on the inside is all the way open. If you're tired there is a seat to sit on. It's only suppose to take 2 people at a time. We didn't find out about this until all 4 of us at once used it several times. We live on the 2nd floor which really is the 4th floor so we use it quite a bit. But to get to the 2nd floor you need a special ELEVATOR KEY (which we have) or you'll get dropped of at the 1st floor. I don't know, I just think it's so cool and we need some of these in Utah!!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Cold and a B+

The temperature dropped and the wind picked up. I would have thought that the atmosphere would have turned liquid at these temperatures. It's too cold to wander much and for those not going to work (like me) I fear cabin fever may be setting in. Lori did wander the shops near our home and found some fun things. We live about a block from some of the best shopping in Vienna. We live about two blocks from the museums. We haven't seen any of those yet. I did find an antiquarian book shop but its been closed.

I think this may be colder than Mars.

Today a colleague took me to where I might jog. We walked on the ice to the Danube where the wind was blowing about 20 mph. Wow. Cold, but beautiful. I don't know how I'm ever going to run again.

I found out today I got a B+ in my BYU German 101 class. You may sneer that I did not get an A, but I was so happy to pull that off. It was a hard class! (Just ask me about the acquisitive and dative cases in grammar! Now I know!) However, no one I meet seems impressed. They start speaking English almost as soon as I say anything--well if they do speak English. If they don't they just look at me quizzically, perhaps wondering if those are human sounds coming out of my mouth or just some sort of animal-like utterance. I've decided I'm going to carry my Semester transcript with me to prove I speak a little German. Otherwise I don't think they will believe me. Nothing I'm saying would provide any evidence.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Something Different....A Testamonial by Nate

so today (1/2/08) at 7:00pm me and my dad went to a Japanese restrant...twas odd...they started out by surving us soup...which was really quit good...and after the soup we got a HUGE plate of raw fish and other weird i started off by trying a weird i think it was a shrip think which was really good...and then my dad told me to try the raw fish...i was i tried it...kind of and odd taste and texture it felt like i was eating a jelly was odd..and the taste wasnt too bad just way different..and thats about all we had to eat there oh and rice of course and surprisingly rice and raw fish is surprisingly if you ever want to try raw fish theres your heads up.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Something So Appalling . . .

Certainly there have been cultural adjustments in coming here. But we discovered something so culturally disturbing that we cannot get our minds around it. It almost seems a kind of decadence. Something so unheard of and shocking that we shutter every time we think about this being a part of the culture in which we live. It begs the question about if there really are universal standards of morality when something this appalling can be deemed to be a part of the culture rather than a throwback to more primitive times, perhaps even Neanderthal times. Be warned, everything you've ever thought is a rock solid part of human behavior is about to be turned on its head. This is the condition is widespread here and so entrenched that it cannot be moved. The people accept this strange condtion: Once you buy something it cannot be exchanged. There are no returns. Ever! Can you imagine? Is such an attitude possible? Lori is in a state of shock. Every time we make a purchase we stutter in fear that this is the final decision. If we made a mistake in size or color we are stuck with it. No Returns! Can it really be true that people embrace this horrifying condition without question? Without rebellion? Why is there not rioting in the streets? Where are the leaders of the revolution? Who will raise their fist skyward in protest and scream 'Not here, not now, not to me!' Come people of Austria throw off the chains of retail imprisonment. Buyers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your inability to exchange!

Nate Thoughts

Hello All
here in Austria things are very different. like at the age of 16 you are aloud to drink beer and what not...hehehe...there for it is legal for me to get drunk not going to get drunk...ya that was a weird thought for me...ya the food is way different...nothing tastes
the is really weird getting used to all of the weird food...but its not all bad i mean some of the foods are much better...ok well i cant think of anything but the food is really good....well most of it.
well our apartment is pretty cool really quite spacious...the ceilings are 15-20 feet high...pretty cool...i live in the closet...its about 20'X6'..but i live in part of it so for me its more like 8'X6'...haha...thats seriously how big it is...its pretty cool though so im fine with it. i have also been sick sense we got here so thats...great i cant go out for very long and im up half the night on the toilet...but i thing im finally starting to get better now. so thats good. one cool place i did get to go to was a cathedral...that was awesome...i dont really know how to explain it but it was amazing.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Getting natural -- Steve

Coming from Utah has been a bit of a cultural shock for the kids. They have come from the land where statues by Da Vinci are covered to keep them modest, to where nudity is displayed in the subways in both art and fashion advertisements. The drinking age in Austria is 15 for beer and wine and so we pass kids on the street younger than Nathan standing around having a beer. It seems like about one in three people smoke--even kids much younger than Nathan. Apparently they don't have much problem with public drunkenness and the kids mostly stay out of trouble. However, we run into puke on the sidewalks every so often which sort of take some of the charm of the old city away. However, people care about the streets and it is quickly cleaned and made right.

Emily seems the most surprised by it all, but she is adjusting. We've told her its important not to see the people through the lens of our own culture and its values. They are still good people, just like everywhere, they just have different perspectives. She is starting to get used to big differences although there are often surprises. Navigating these difference as been interesting and fun. Where as we are surprised to see young kids drinking beer, they would be horrified at the violence of games like Halo. Their movie advice puts things rated R for nudity, sex and swearing in our country, as recommended as For older than age 12 whereas violent movies, like the 1960's Bonnie and Clyde, that have neither sex nor swearing as For older than age 18 and above because of the explicit violence.

I'm thrilled that there are recycling bins everywhere. Global warming is recognized a real (America is the only county in the world where a substantial number of people still disbelieve in it.) Public transportation is amazing. The U-bahn, trolleys and Bus connect everything. It is widely used and we have been able to get anywhere! It is wonderful. We won't need a car to get anywhere at all in the city or even in Europe. The Europeans have done some amazing things in this area.

Last night was New Years Eve and for hours they set of flash-bangs and fireworks. Huge building rattling explosions where going off all around us. Luckily we had been warned. It was unbelievable. At midnight these things were going off in frequency like a string of Black Cat Firecrackers except with the power of flash bangs. I've never heard anything like it. Emily came running into the room and Nathan came in too. Lori woke for a second and then fell back asleep. The fact that it woke her up at all is the amazing thing because she has slept through a house fire alarm that went off for 10 minutes. That gives you a sense of how powerful these explosions were.