Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Time Cost: Ten hours on a train; Gain: Six hours of memories--Prague in Fall

Thursday I found out that I had a day off Monday, no one bothers to tell me these things. A couple of times I found out it was a holiday when I went to the UN and no one was there. I thought if only I could have been told about this a couple of weeks before I could have planned an adventure. It’s been hard being here alone and I like doing things when ever I can but I hardly every feel like doing too much anymore. Vienna has lost some of its shine without Lori and the kids being here. Saturday I was feeling especially lonely and it was shaping up to be a boring long weekend. All the stores would be closed Sunday and Monday. So what to do? Well, when all seems boring they say there is nothing like a trip to Prague to lighten your mood. So Saturday I booked a ticket to Prague up and back the same day for Monday, my day off. It’s about 4.5 hours on the fast train (+300 km/hr). Why Prague? Well why not. It was a doable one-day trip. Doable meaning I could get there and back in only 9-10 hours total and still have about six hours to see some sights. Brutal? Sure but so is sitting around Vienna. So I did it. My reasoning was that I never know when I’m getting back here. I remember being in the Army in Germany and not taking advantage of travel because Europe seemed present and always available. I could always do it next weekend. It’s hard not to feel like it will always be this present and available and easy not to take advantage of it. How often will a trip deep into Czechoslovakia even be possible?

But first a note and a confession. I am a terrible traveler. Ask Steve Hawks about my ability to worry while we were traveling here. He will tell you that my ability to fret is shameful. Puke worthy. I always expect the worse. Indeed it is a wonder that I just don’t stay home and hide I’m such a bad traveler. It is a testament to my fortitude and courage that I can rise above such anxiety and brave the hassles of travel as often as I do. For example because I had 10 hours to kill I thought I would bring my laptop and toil away on a paper I’ve been trying to get out. Well, that is fine in theory, but it meant that I was lugging my laptop (and it’s battery), my Kindle book reader (in case I had to read), and food and water with me everywhere I went in Prague. So my trip was way less fun than it would have been had I planned a light and breezy excursion, one filled with snoozing and a good novel. No I had to come equipped as the modern traveler loaded with electronic gizmos, hand sanitizer, baby wipes (In case I need a dipper change), cookies and candy bars, bottles of water and Diet Coke, camera, camera batteries, umbrella, two wallets (one with passport and single credit card just in case the other gets stolen, the other with money, tickets and other things I really need access to) and then there are the accumulating souvenirs. Add hoody and coat and I’m like a lumbering camel packed with too much stuff. My Bushman ancestors must be shaking their heads in horror at the cargo I carry with me: “Who(!) is thi(!)s a decen(!)dent of(!)(!)(!). He is a (!) dis(!)grace.” So I was lugging my bag around all day. It was soooo heavy. Who packed this thing anyway? My travel consists of the travel plans of most people, two or three backup plans, contingency options for just in case, expectations for major accidents and robbery. Precautions to keep from getting horrible diseases. It’s embarrassing. But I give you this because most of you will think it no big deal to hop on a train and travel to adjacent country for a day of sightseeing. No it was a big deal! It took raw courage. Undying fortitude as I said. And a touch of insanity. So there. I just didn’t hop on a train and go for a day trip. NO I mounted an expedition into the unknown. (Which was truer than you might guess, since I just sort of picked Prague out of the air. I knew absolutely nothing about it except it was in the middle of Czechoslovakia, which sounded cool, and was on my list of countries to visit ever since I stuck my foot within the border while guarding the German-Czech border when I was in the Army. With only my right foot having been inside it, it never really felt right adding it to my list of countries visited—although I did). I should have at least Wikipediaed it before I left I suppose.

But there is a lot of history that has taken place there:

Someone once told me that Vienna and Prague were the twin gems of Europe. Well, they are! I’d heard that if you had to choose Prague would be the winner. Not so, but let’s see why. First we’ll play a game called Prague or Vienna see if you can guess!

Which is Prague, which Vienna?

St. Stephen’s Dome or St. Vitus Cathedral?

Which is the Kafka Museum in Prague or Museum of Art Vienna?

Skyline Vienna or Skyline Prague?

Horse-drawn carriage Prague or Vienna?

Danube or Vltava?

Museum of Communism or Flaktrum Art Museum (military bomb proof building Nazi era)

(One of the ways the communist regime controlled its people was with the use of an addictive drink!)

Could you tell which of the ‘Gems’ it was? What? That’s like not being about to tell a Jack-in-the-Box Hamburger from McDonalds. Yes Vienna and Prague are that different!

There were lots of puppet activity, stores people all kinds of things:

Advantages Prague:

Fewer people with dogs and so less dog poop.
St. Vitus won over St. Stephens Dome.
Pastry (clear winner)
Friendlier (this was close, but advantage Prague)
Cleaner (Prague Clear winner)
Fewer homeless
Large Jewish quarter (Vienna’s was almost completely lost to Nazi purges, Czechoslovakia’s were ghettoed).

To Vienna:
Diversity of people
Diversity of museums
Managing crowds of tourists
Restaurant diversity

Orange roofs.

But I did it. I pulled it off. Yea! I’ve been to Czechoslovakia! Man, am I tired. And it was just like my right foot remembered it.

Answers to questions:

Which is Prague, which Vienna?

First is Vienna
Second Prague

Both St. Vitus

Woman is from Museum of art Vienna display at Flaktrum the rest are from Kafka museum

Sky line: 1st Vienna, 2nd Prague

Horse drawn carriage Prague

River Vlatava

Heads-Museum of Art Vienna Flaktrum
Lenin-Museum of Communism Prague

For your entertainment scenes from Prague:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dancing at Thanksgiving Point

Yesterday Emily and her dance company performed at Thanksgiving Point. They all did a really good job and Emily had fun performing.

Here Emily is 2nd from the left in both of these pictures.

Emily is 2nd from the right in this picture.

I have to say that Emily is a very beautiful and graceful ballerina!!!

You Rock Emily!!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

BYU competition

I uploaded the BYU competition. I know you can't get this mom but I really want Steve to see it (and anyone else). They just missed first place and got best music and drum line. Sorry about all of the back ground chatter. I didn't plan to put this on the blog so you get to hear what Natalie (drum major 2 years ago for PG) thought about it. I am really, really going to miss marching band.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Marching Band, Saddies and Snow

This has been a really busy few weeks. Marching band is going full steam ahead. It's not for the faint of heart if you're a band parent. Lots of rides on a school bus with 40-50 teenage kids, late night hours and standing out in the rain and snow for hours on end while they warm-up and perform. I do this for one person........my Nafey Burger. He enjoys it so much and all the friends he has there. There is something about a big group of teenagers working for a common goal. They become really close.
Look at the icky sky. It was in the low 40's with a canyon wind wipping through. These are tough kids!!
Also Nathan got asked to Saddies by Kristen. She is a flute player on the marching band (of course). He answered her by laminating his answer,"My guts say yes." We bought 2 pumpkins and then dumped the guts of one pumpin into another and burying the answer in all the guts.
Saturday Nathan, Kristin and 3 other couples all went to Saddies. They got started kinda late since they had a very cold marching band competition that day.
Nathan said he had a blast!! Then sunday morning we woke up to snow and it snowed all morning. We only got a couple of inches but it was fun. Emily took most of the pictures of the snow. I only took the one of her. She may grow up to be a photographer like her Aunt Melanie. Whenever we give her free reign of the camera she goes for it.
Do you feel like getting a cup of hot chocolate?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Home again home again jigitty jig--and back to cell block U-N

Well, I'm back in Vienna after a wonderful time in Utah. Forgive the long silence Jet lag and a few things have worn me out. But I'm back in the saddle (which mostly means I'm saddle sore). But I did get back home and had a wonderful visit. Absolutely wonderful.  Timothy picked me up at the Airport (wonderful son) and the next day Lori hosted a hot dog roast in our back yard for my Mom and dad and our kids. A good time was had by all (except I was pretty jet-lagged). The next day at church everyone wondered what I was doing back for a week because they all thought I was serving time in prison and no one really thought I was in Vienna and that that was a story Lori made up to cover it up. 

The week passed in a hour or so, Monday we had a Korean dinner with the Waters and took in a Greek tragedy with them called Medea. It was about a woman who kills her children to get back at her husband. We debated if the play would have been more believable if kids had been teenagers, but then decided that would not have been much of a revenge on her husband. It's good to debate the arts. 

Tuesday Lori and I went for long walks and shopped a lot. I could not have been happier spending my time in any way.

Wednesday we attended a marching band concert for parents. Thursday Nathan and I saw Batman and enjoyed a great movie. Friday, Emily and I went out for KFC and to a Shakespeare play for children called Pericles. It was a blast.

Where does the time go? It passed so quickly that it seemed over before it started. And, I enjoyed every minute of it. Sunday Christopher drove me back to the airport (wonderful son) and it was back to prison . . . er, I mean Vienna for me. It's hard to believe but I've almost been back a week. Weird things have happened though in the meantime. Just last night I was asked to be one of the permanent bloggers on By Common Consent one of the most widely read Mormon blogs on the internet. Wow. Then I was made the science editor for Dialogue: The Journal of Mormon Thought, then also yesterday an opinion piece came out in the Chronicle of Higher Education. So it was a busy day. How am I going to keep up with all this? Well, Yesterday at the 'UN' we ran our tin cups across the bars of our 'office' and demanded more time for writing. The warden, I mean the director, agreed to our demands. 

My thoughts exactly.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mom's addicting salsa

I just have to tell the story of my mom's salsa recipe. I have made several batches this year and have given them to my friends. I gave some salsa to one of my friends who wanted the recipe after her family devoured it. She has also made several batches and can't keep it long in her house. Her 14 year old daughter has to have some every day for breakfast....with chips of course. She told her mom that she has a hard time concentrating in class because all she can think about is getting home and having chips and salsa.
Another friend of mine likes to have the heads up on when I'm making salsa. She wanted to come over when I was making some so both of us can snack on it. Her meeting went late and couldn't get here. She said all she could think about on the way home was eating salsa. She called when she was almost home and I met her at her house with a tub of it.
Nathan's friends also ask when I'm making salsa so they can be here with their bags of chips. I only can about 2/3's of it and leave the rest out to eat. Next time I make it I may only can half because we have already opened a lot of quart bottles.
Mom, you've made one GREAT recipe and Pleasant Grove will never be the same.


12 Cups peeled, seeded tomatoes cut in pieces
3 Large onions, diced
1/2 Cup diced Jalapeno peppers or1/2 Jar Mrs Renfros Jalapeno peppers, diced
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Cups Chopped Green Peppers
1 - 4 oz can green chili's
1 - 12 oz can Tomato Paste
1 Tblsp salt
1/4 Cup sugar
3/4 Cup vinegar
2 Tblsp dried cilantro
1 Tblsp Mexican Mix (optional)
Pack in sterilized pint jars, and process according to canning directions for tomatoes. Makes 9 pints.

MEXICAN MIX 1/2 Tblsp Coriander
1 Tblsp Cumin
2 Tblsp dried Parsley
1 Tblsp dried Oregano
1 Tblsp Onion flakes
1 Bay leaf
1 Tblsp Whole red peppers
1/4 Teasp Garlic Powder
2 Tblsp dried Cilantro
1 Teasp Celery Seed
Mix in blender until well blended. Store in dry place.