Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The importance of exposing your children to skeletons

There are far too few opportunities to expose your children to skeletons in the U.S. I can honestly say that in all the years we lived in Utah and Hawaii none of our children had much of a chance to see human skeletons. It seems to me that this is odd and is a major omission, one aspect of child rearing which most parents have neglected--much to the detriment of their offspring, I might add. Sunday at the Wien museum (which is free on Sunday so it seemed not only an appropriate activity for the sabbath, but a cheap one) there were all kinds of skeletons. I wish you could have seen Emily's face as we looked at the bones of someone that had lived about 4000 years ago, curled up as if they were taking a nap. Her countenance was an intriguing mixture of pure horror and fascination. I'd never even seen that expression on her face before so it reveled an aspect of my daughter I'd never before beheld. Who would have thought a dead body could disclose an Emily I'd never before met!

But the Wien museum is so much more than dead bodies! There were also people yelling at you in every single room you entered telling you in loud German that you cannot use a flash. Realizing you are a foreign devil of uncouth manners, and seeing the digital camera in my hand, they really, really want you to get the message (In every culture speaking loudly allows you to be understood). I asked a few questions in broken German but it did not go so well. I was trying to ask during which time period the model city (photographed below (without a flash)) was supposed to represent:

she carefully pointed out the sign on the model city which gave a date of about 1820. But I could read that the model had been made in 1820, but is that when was being depicted too? I'll never know, my German was too poor to make that kind of distinction so I praised her showing me the sign. She was pleased.

Now look at this painting from Klimt:

In this picture it looks rather ordinary, but in the museum hanging from the wall in all its detail it takes your breath away. I never understood why some art I'd seen in art books was great art, it looked so ordinary, but I think something gets lost in the photography and miniaturization. Full size, with all of the detail these were stunning. Plus its legal nudity (see the little person she is holding?) if its Art its OK. Right?

How do you teach your children without skeletons and nude art I'll never understand. I suggest you have a Family Home Evening on such.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Our Lori

Some of you already know but just to let EVERYONE know that when we come back to visit in June, me, Nathan and Emily are going to stay. Steve will come back to Vienna and finish the last 5 months on his own. This was a very hard decision for Steve and I to make but we thought it was best for the kids. Emily is doing good in school here but the stress of trying to learn a language so fast and trying to communicate with other kids has given her quite a few stomach aches. There are a lot of things she loves at the school but it's hard on her mentally and physically. Nathan is doing great at home school here but his social life is the pits. He stays in the apartment all day and does school or whatever. We thought it would be good for him to do his senior year back at home and one last year of marching band. I know the kids have had wonderful and great experiences that they could get no where else but we thought it time for them to be home. We will all miss Steve so much but he will be home before Christmas and we will be emailing constantly. We just wanted all our family and friends to know what are plans are.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Mary popin you look beautiful by Emily

We got back from a museum. I was a bright and sunny day. It was warm and nice. We were on our way home. Then my mom said'', How about me and my dad take a walk in the park.'' We said'', Yes.'' so I gave mom my coat. Then we went on our way. We grass so green. O it was beautiful. Leaf buds were sprouting. We saw flowers. It was nice. We went home. All the window were open. I got a drink. I went to my room. Nathan came in I asked Nathan if he wanted to play Foosball he said sure.'' So we played. Then my goggles for swimming dropped. Then I said oh my goggles. I won the game. Then we played baseball and basketball. What a good day.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Good Knight-Nate

But seriously today we went to the Wien was pretty cool...and free;) so we got there and on the first floor there were some really cool roman pots and other cool was pretty amazing...there were also some ridiculous looking helmets...haha..ya...and then we went up to the 2nd floor were they had some really cool sets of armor...and were quite spiffy..i though...there was also a funny looking man...yup he was funny looking...and some really long spears..that were pretty cool...and then up to the 3rd and final floor where there were lots of painting that were quite amazing i thought and some really cool swords...that i thought were awesome...twas cool...and that was basically the museum...and may the force be with you.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Rood & Thorn

Wondrous was that tree of victory, and I stained with sins

wounded sorely with defects, I saw the tree of glory,

honoured with garments, shining joyously,

adorned with gold. Gems had

splendidly covered the Lord’s tree.

I was able, however, to perceive through the gold,

the ancient hostility of wretched ones, [that] it first began

to bleed on the right side. I was all troubled with grief,

I was afraid in the presence of that beautiful sight.

From the Dream of the Rood, 8th Century Saxon Poem

Today we saw wood from the one true cross. Validated and venerated, it is one of the four pieces thought to be genuine, with proofs many and strong from antiquity. We also saw a thorn from the Saviour's crown of thorns. We saw his face emblazoned on a cloth--the image of Christ formed when a woman name Veronica wiped his face with a cloth as he carried the cross up the hill to Golgotha. We also saw the head of the spear that was thrust into the side of Jesus and one of nails that had come from the cross. If it were not true of course they could not have put it in a museum. So we are feeling pretty lucky.

All this was part of the Schatzkammer. The treasures of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Of course it's taking quite a chunk of the treasures of the Pecks to see this stuff, but then, how else do you get to see a piece of the rood? Every time we go to one of these museums we are putting about $30 into their coffers, but I've never yet regretted paying the admission price. How else do you learn things like this:

Do you see those black things marking the white boarder? Those are the black-tipped tails of the ermine pelts that make up the white boarder of the mantle. Weasel tails! Who would have guessed. I've seen those things in many pictures but would not have guessed what they were without seeing them up close? You just don't learn this stuff on TV.

There were swords from the middle ages, which were Nathan's favorite. Emily liked the baby clothes from the 18th century. Lori liked the crowns. The crowns were unbelievable--one had sapphires and rubies the size of walnuts. One of the main treasures on display was a emerald that weighed over half a kilo (1 kilo = 2.2 lbs). It was claimed to be the largest in the world. One the Medici in Italy had offered the Emperor three tons of gold for the stone. The Emperor told him to to keep his gold. There were also on display unicorn horns. Real ones. Well if you believe like I do that narwhals are unicorns. One of the swords hilts was made from a unicorn horn I was thinking that must give you a sense of confidence going into battle; and I would hate to face someone wielding a weapon hilted with a unicorn's horn. There is something simply intimating about that.

My favor ate were the relics of the satins. Holy bones of the various matters. I felt particularly healthy after visiting the relics of St. Stephens. I don't know why.

The Holy Lance (which also contains another of the nails from the cross)

The Schatzkammer. Worth every penny.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Frozen Lori

For the last four days we had to survive without hot water or heat. The heater/hot water heater broke. The temperature of our apartment was the same as outside....freezing!! Sunday night I boiled lots of hot water for baths and it was nice to get clean and I did a lot of baking. The warmness of the oven never lasted very long and then it would be freezing again. Finally today (knock on wood) it is fixed and working. I have the temperature on higher than usual to help us to thaw out and we did all showered so we don't stink. Chalk it up to another experience in Vienna.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Goods and bads of my room.

I have a fussball table, swing ,and a Desk in my room. I have a reading area high up. I have lots of space. Its hard to be bored. I'm the highest window.

I bruise my knee on the swing .......alot.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Today i have decided to right to you all in the color of GREEN!!! Because i am writing in green you can now wear this blog on Staint Patricks Day and not get pinched, plus, while your walking around wearing this blog people can read all about us. so it all works so i would sugest that you all do it

On to the real dealio yo, so on the day of yesterday i left early to go play b-ball with the young mens and elders. I left at 10:00 to go there and we were planing on meeting at 10:30. so to get there, I have to get on the U2 (that stands for U-ban 2 and their are 6 U-ban lines so U1-U6..if no ones told you that already) so i ride that 1 stop and get onto the U3 which i ride 3 stops..and then get on to the U6 and ride that 6 stops...ya and thats pretty fun...its not as complicated as it sounds though. so once i get there i wait at he U6 stop and wait for more people to come. and once more people have come we head over to the basket ball place. once there we usually mess around for about a half an hour, then we get into teams and play...we usually play for 3 hours, and its really fun. after wards its really hard to walk cuz we've been running for 3 hours strait. and when i get home all i want to do is sleep or play halo.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Office training

I suppose anywhere you work you have to go through some orientation on how to handle the day to day problems that might crop up during an average workday. It is not different at the UN. I finished my mandatory training, but there were a few useful things I thought I might share. For example, when stopped at a checkpoint by children soldiers treat them with respect, and take them seriously, and treat them as you would dangerous adults. Of course, my policy has always been treat anyone with a AK47 pointed at my head with respect, but that’s just me.

I also learned several things to do when taken hostage that I didn’t know, like if you speak their language use it, don’t argue with them, don’t talk to them about politics, but stay on conversations about personal things (as hard as it is to believe, they might not like Obama). Also try and exercise your body and mind by going over movie plots and doing physical exercise to the extent you can. Keep in shape and keep a positive mental attitude. Also don’t appear to be impatient or too demanding. It’s ok to ask for food and water when you needed it and to ask to use the bathroom. This was good to know because I think I would have become impatient with my captors and would have likely earned a beating (which was something to be avoided the training pointed out). Also one should never plead for your life, or act undignified or too friendly. Calm stoicism and obedience seemed to be the rule. Do what your told but don’t lose your perspective that you are an important person too who deserves some dignity!

I have to admit though that even as a university professor I crapped out on the land mine spotting portion. Me, I thought the picture quality too poor to pick out the hidden land mines and when the message kept coming back “You spotted 0 out of 3 landmines” I was quite embarrassed and blamed the unclarity of the photo. It may have just been sour grapes, but just in case, if we are ever walking in a mined area you may not want me on point.

However, if an unruly mob appears, I will show you the skills needed to keep things calm. I think I would be particularly good at the last skill, “You may need to vacate the area quickly.” I might even use that one first. I also found out that many countries carry diseases that are dangerous and life threatening. Who would have thought.

And what office training would be complete without the mandatory “What do you do when you come under fire.” And those little tidbits like an engine block is a more effective cover than bushes. I see the possibility of a series of office motivational posters that really haven’t been tapped yet, like, rather than an eagle soaring with, “Limits are only how high you dare fly” you do something like a bush next to an log, “Cover: its only as good as the stuff it’s made off” or an angry mob waving machetes, “Keep your head and you’ll keep your head” or maybe a picture of a small cell with chains next to a chair, “Movie plots: keeping positive when no one else is.

Well, so it was just another day of office training. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

bus by emily

Me and my dad went to look for books called Bone and Siderwick. We rode subway. Then saw in big letters comic books. Then we went inside. Nope not there. So ask my dad if we could go on the bus. No my dad said. So we went to subway. Then we saw a book store nope not there. So we walked a book store it was big. I mean very big. It took us a whil to fide the english part. We looked through one part. We saw Spiderwick. You know we fould the book store was I asked again we ride on the bus. My dad said yes well ok. I said Look a book store! We went then you know. On the way home we had cake and it was good. Very good. Chocolote cake. Mmmmmmmm

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Opposite....sorta. by Lori

It's true, with the shipment we got a lot of stuff that we thought we needed and wondered why we even packed it to bring over here. BUT, when I opened the box full of brownie mixes and chocolate chips, I wondered how in the world did I survived for 2 months without them. No wonder I was feeling a little low some day and didn't have quite the energy I'm use too. I needed more chocolate than what I was getting. M&M's did help a lot but there is nothing better than fresh brownie dough right out of the bowl to bring such exceedingly great joy to ones heart! Except for maybe Sees dark chocolate mints. But I can't get them here. They don't sell them. So far I haven't found any chocolate better than Sees. There are lots of good chocolate but there is nothing like Sees dark chocolate and fresh brownie dough. I made brownies today. Emily, Nathan and I practically ate the whole pan up (what was left of the dough). I am so glad we packed a ton of them. The other boxes I opened that I'm so glad we brought was all my Bath and Body Works stuff. For one, it's in english and I can read it and know exactly what I'm using. I have bought so much stuff that I thought was shampoo and conditioner. Some of it was but not what we're use too. I'd just try to guess what the german words are and hope I got the right stuff. I didn't have the best of luck guessing right. Now, instead of the 3 lotions that I brought in my suitcase, I have at least 7. I feel spoiled and I have more to choose from. Nathan is also happy that his bed came. Before he was sleeping on a lawn chair type thing and now he has a queen size bed. Emily is happy her toys came. She hasn't surfaced much except to eat. She has been busy playing and having fun. But for the rest of the stuff.......I think we could have left most of it at home.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I was thinking about our Klamotten, the German word for gear, things. Our stuff arrived today. It was 31 boxes of essentials, things that we could not do a year without. Oddly enough we've been doing fine with the small set of things we were able to carry in our suitcases. Of course, our apartment is furnished so there was nothing like bed or chairs of knives or desks that we needed, but even so, we thought there were really essentials that we could not do without-piles of clothes, gobs of creams and things, books many and varied. All essential. Yet when it arrived all of it seemed unnecessary. Why did we bring all this I kept wondering? From the other side of our adventure everything we packed was unquestionably essential. It had been pared down from the mountain of things we owned to the tiny subset of goods that we simply could not do without. When we looked at the pile of things we were allowed to bring, we wondered how we would get by without so many of our belongings. However, 0n this side of the adventure we've needed very little of it. Lori is glad to have more towels so maybe she doesn't have to wash as often. We brought lots of food along to save money. I bought three boxes of books that I couldn't imagine life without. But now? I don't know why I brought so many books. I don't know why I thought I needed so many clothes (although my workmates must have wondered that I only ever wore two pairs of pants and three shirts and one tie during the week). But really, we were doing fine. We could have made it the whole year living like this. I think it was actually nice to unclutter our life for a bit. To have just a few essential clothes, books and things was actually refreshing. When I have my shelves of books around me at home, I am constantly reminded of how much I haven't read, so here I grew fond of having only a couple of books, the one I was reading and one to anticipate when I was finished with it. Now with the arrival of our boxes, I've got more books on my shelf than I can possibly read in a year. It was also kind of nice not having to pick what I was going to wear that day. I wore the thing that was washed. It was that simple. I was just sitting on the couch thinking, 'I've got to look through all the clothes that arrived so that I can figure out what I'm going to wear tomorrow. No wonder we live such stressed lives, we wallow in so much abundance that we are constantly having to make choices about which things from that abundance we are actually going to engage with on a day to day basis. I'm reminded of biologist Jared Diamond's book, Guns, steel, and germs in which he explores why western culture was so materially successful. The book begins with a local person living in New Guinea asking him, "Why do you people [meaning western people] have so much cargo?" Cargo is a good word for it. Why do we have so much cargo? Why does it all feel so necessary and essential? When we were packing, why did we feel like we were leaving so much when in reality we had way more than we needed? Nathan said it best, "All we really needed was the Xbox."

P.S. We live for your comments! Nathan's been checking every hour waiting for something on his last blog. And you lurkers--add your voice. We miss all of you!!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

WHAT!!! that was so cheap!-Nate Peck

So my average weekday here in wien is rather boring...on weekends its pretty fun but weekdays its quite i normally i im doing 1 of 4 things during the day. the thing that you would probably see me doing the most of is school...which is so boring i just feel like falling asleep most times.

(refering back to this pic of me sleeping while at school)

but i endure through cuz i know at the end of school theres a BIG cake waiting for me...yay cake...well theres not really a cake the cake is a metaphor for the injoyment after school of not having to do school till the next day tis a good time of the day when i finally finish for the makes me happy when i get my "cake"....mmm...speaking of cake...i do really want has been along time sense ive had a really good dilicious, melt in your mouth piece of be greatfull all of you who can get cake...cuz i can get cake to..but it probably costs twice as much.

the 2nd thing you would see me do is playing my PSP...ah..tis a fun little can play it for hours and never get sick of if im not doing school and its a monday tuesday wednesday or thursday im probably playing my PSP..and being very most intensified in the game im playing.

the 3rd thing is (and this is only on fridays and saturdays) playing Halo 3...which is probably the best game ever made...i can play it for hours nonstop...i have gottin quite good at it...and when i play online i usally get 1st or im amazing...little old unstopable Dartherll (thats my xbox live name)...and me and christopher play agenst each other online quite often....i am still better than him and always will amazing

(these are a couple of halo 3 screenshots i took, there pretty amazing)

The 4th thing is kick my dads butt in chess...he has only beat me 8 of the 10 games we've as you can tell from the amount of games ive won i am so much beter than he is...ya im amazing at that could just say im amazing at everything...well i should probably go play him again in another game and kick his but once again...poor poor father cant even beat his own son in chess.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

stampede by Emily

Me and my dad were looking for book stores. We saw some pigeons fighting over some food. Then I pointed at a charge. The next thing I know there’s a stampede of pigeons come. One piece of food ONE!!! After there were a few stragglers that flew over our heads. Well over my dads head. So we walked on.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.

Warning: This blog may contain scientific propaganda from so called 'scientists.' Things should be taken with a grain of accuracy.

Sunday the wind was uncanny. On our way to church some gusts almost knocked us over. That night the wind really picked up thundering and bellowing low like a lion's roar. It shook our building. You have to remember we have walls as think as a castle's. Some of the wind found its way into the building and doors rattled. "Windy." we said to each other. Lori went to lunch with some of the ladies in the ward and they were all talking about the wind storm. It was a hurricane they said. When Lori told me I scoffed knowingly. First it's not Hurricane season. Second, they don't penetrate this far inland when they originate in Africa and none from the Pacific could reach us either. Well, maybe they've occurred 'historically' very, very, rarely but not in winter. I mean, really, I taught all about huricanes and El Nino's in my Ecology class! Always willing to follow the data, however, I decided to check. Sure enough there was an article in the Austrian paper on 'Hurricane' Paula. It had caused damage all over Europe. Now I was confused. I knew global warming was changing the climate worldwide (oh, just as an aside Global Warming is causing climate change, not necessarily warmer temperatures. It's redistributing moisture (anyone seen a crazy winter anywhere?), causing droughts in some places, floods in others, cold bitter winters in some places, warm in others, changing the monsoon patterns, etc. Don't expect it to get warmer everywhere just more variabable (and if you think this is natural variability you must mean 'natural' longer ago than about 650 thousand years because as far back as we've been able to construct temperature from ice cores and it's never been this warm (over the course of about six ice ages (cycles of warming and cooling). Some 'skeptics' say was natural variability but, no scientists say it, just 'think tanks' no one that is actually taking or analyzing the data (I'll let that speak for itself))) where you able to get all those parentheses straight (I wasn't)). Anyway, a hurricane didn't make any sense unless climate change had scrambled things up way more than I knew about. Apparently, Poland really had suffered a lot of damage. Here it was a few trees down and roofs blown off. But this made no sense. Hurricanes? Well, live and learn. Europe is vulnerable to a weird weather pattern called 'Winter Hurricanes.' It's cyclonic like a tropical hurricane (like those that hit the US), but there is not the masive moisture picked up in mid-latatude hurricaines. They're caused by a strange arctic weather pattern where they originate, but typically don't come this far south (and just to confuse you with more parentheses ,we are pretty far North, about even with Toronto). I guess they hit Scotland often enough. But Winter Hurricanes? Who would have thought? I learn something new in Austria every time the wind blows.

Surprisingly this Nazi bunker with 5 foot concrete walls designed to take a direct air raid attack was undamaged by Paula's wrath. Nathan in forground by tree.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

German by Emily

German is a hard language. It’s so hard to do it every day. My dad so good at German. Nathan just barely learning . I’m teaching my mom to speak German. I am in the middle. There’s a lot of the’s in German. There’s die[dee] der[dare] das[d-us] dem [dem] den [den]. It’s hard to know what the goes with a sentence . That's hard.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Outside Appearances Count by Lori

What you wear here is kinda a big deal. Being the laid-back kind of person I can't dress so when I go out. You never see women wearing tennis shoes unless they're exercising. You can wear nice jeans but you have to wear a nice shirt with it. Unfortunately hoodies will not pass for nice. We did have an incident where we were told we weren't fashionable. Not that we were dressed badly but just not in style for here. It's not a whole lot different but there are some differences. I guess there goes my plans for all of us to get a new wardrobe. But you do need to look nice and look a certain way. So we will save some of our stuff to wear for when we get back home. I guess I can shop for some new clothes for us......right?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

I think I'll pass-Nate Peck

So...yesterday (saturday) the mum and pops went to the store to get much needed supplys. and when they got back they told me they got something for me..and they pulled out of the bag a none alcoholic beer...for me to i was kinda excited to try some cuz i was thinking hm...this should be pretty good seeing how so many people like my dad poured me a glass (and emily had some to)but right when he opened it..i could smell it and it just smelled i its just the smell..but then i tasted it..and oh my gosh it was the most discusting thing in the world..i dont even know how to explain it it was just so horable. so i really dont know how people drink that..cuz it is so ya dont drink beer it is horable.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Emperor and Me

I think I could get used to being the emperor. They made it sound hard, but really, how hard could it be? I mean, sure, his wife as assassinated by an Italian anarchist and his son Rudolf killed himself and after shooting his own lover in a murder-suicide, and there was the whole thing about loosing the Empire after 600 years of Hapsburg rule, so there were some downsides but you should see what they ate off of! To the left is a small example. Franz Joseph was the last emperor in the Hapsburg dynasty and we visited his old digs today. The entire first 45 minutes was spent touring his dining ware which had its own museum. You think I’m making this up? I’m not. And the weird thing was that it was interesting. Case after case of silver settings, porcelain dinner settings, gold center pieces, of such intricate beauty that even Nathan and Emily were not bored. Yes we looked at 45 minutes worth of place settings. But they were really nice ones. The Hapsburgs knew how to eat in style.

Every night the family would gather with Franz Joseph in the center. They had ten forks and seven glasses for seven kinds of wine (remember this was nightly). The emperor was served first and the eating continued until he placed his knife on the plate. Then it was over for everyone—even the teenagers. You were only allowed apparently to talk to the people next to you and you were seated by rank with sexes alternating. Servants took care of everything so you didn’t need to ask people too far away to pass the potatoes. Everyone had their own salt and pepper shakers, which to me was the ultimate sign of power and affluence. Imagine! Your own salt and pepper shaker!

The coolest bit of crockery was the footwashing gift mugs. Once a year the emperor and empress would wash twelve old poor men’s feet (who had better have gotten their feet meticulously cleansed before showing up). After, as a commemoration they were give a stein of a dark, forest-green shade that seemed earthly and wild. I found it the most surprising and awesome pieces in the collection. They were beautiful. The lucky peasants also got a silver cup with the date of the washing engraved on its side and thirty silver coins (I think all the New Testament symbolism in all this is obvious). On display was the washing tub, the mugs, cups and other things. I found this intriguing and thought what it must have meant to these commoners to have their feet washed by the royal couple and to receive these gifts. I suspect these implements were handed down as the greatest of treasures to their descendants generation after generation (until the age of Ebay where they were sold of quickly and went for a lot of money!).

Upstairs we toured through the tragic life of Empress Elizabeth of Bohemia. Married away from her youth of country living, horseback riding and fun, she became a morose recluse, who hated her older children, wrote dark poetry, traveled to escape her inner demons (among which included opium and cocaine) extensively suffering panic attacks when she stayed anywhere too long, and had her life taken by an assassin while on one her trips. After, she became an icon that the world loved. She was known as Sisi (Franz Joeseph’s nickname for her) and was reimaged as the perfect monarch (echo’s of Princess Di). We saw her death mask. She really wasn’t a bad poet.

Her dressing room was telling. She spent four hours a day doing her ankle length-hair (unless of course it was hair washing day, in which case it took all day). You think she was wasting her time, don’t you. Wrong! She looks absolutely gorgeous in all her portraits. But beyond that she spent the four hours in language study. She was fluent in English, French, Hungarian and Greek (and German of course). Often she had someone reading to her Homer’s Odyssey in Greek while her hair was done. It was one of her favorite books. At my barber’s back home they at least have it tuned to the discovery channel (and I do usually spend about four hours there except 3h 45m are spent waiting in a chair to be the next number called—next time I’m bringing Greek literature).

Franz himself was a likable chap. Lost the empire though, but there was a lot of that going around (China, Russia, Britain etc.). Many call it the great age of empire loosing. Me, I would have tried a little harder to hold on to it—if just for the place settings.