Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Winter Adventure Begins

Dzień dobry

Dzisiaj mamy śnieg!

Oh, did I learn Polish overnight? No, just discovered a good translator -- and that's part of whole different story sometime.

We have 3-4 inches of fresh snow this morning. This will probably stick around for a good long time, so the winter adventure begins.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

One Step Towards a Great Adventure

Today I received the letter from the Council for International Exchange of Scholars which adminsters the Fulbright programs. I have been recommended for a Fulbright Lecturing Award in Hungary for the 2009-10 academic year. The next step is that my application now goes to the Hungarian-American Commission for Educational Exchange. Even if I make the cut in Hungary, it isn't a done deal, for as this letter advises: "the number of meritorious applicants routinely exceeds the number of available grants."

It does feel good, however, to be recommended.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday Adventure

Today while millions of people were shopping, about 200 people and me were at Unity Unitarian church observing the Frist Black Friday service. This is a new effort designed to help all deal with the cultural and spiritual aspects of a holiday that is somewhat out of control. We had magnificant music an acoustic group specializing in Southern US and Celtic music, a story by the magnificant Kevin Kling,and conversation with those near us in the sanctuary. Children 4-10 had their own discussion group, considering the question: Is it possible to get too many Christmas gifts? They seemed to consider more the consequences of too many gifts: One would have to take over all the houses in the neighborhood for storage.

Press photographers were there, too. The idea of celebrating the season with music and thought rather than shopping seems to be novel. Here's a link to the Minnesota Public Radio story:

Later in the day-- our church made the news such as news is these days -- about 30 seconds -- as something that is new totally in the United States and something that may move to other faith-based communities next year.

Later yet: Here's the story on the KARE-11 web site:

Monday, November 24, 2008

An Evening in Europe

No, not by Concord flight! Tonight I watched a new PBS program, The Rape of Europa. This is about the stealing of art during WWII and efforts undertaken to return the art to rightful owners. Find it on PBS. It's wonderful.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Another Trip to Central Europe

My church is one of three others-- another in the United States and one in the Netherlands-- that has a partnerships with a church in Transylvania -- a part of Romania now, separated from Hungary at the end of WWI. The persons in this area consider themselves Hungarian and speak Magyar as their first language. Today we honored that partnership. One of our church members is a member of Mila, a women's vocal ensemble which specializes in music from Central Europe.

However, we began with two Hungarian songs presented by the Children's Choir. In the service Mila presented music from Georgia and Bulgaria in addition to Hungarian songs. I understand none of these languages and enjoy them all.

Curious -- See more about Mila here:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Adventures in Poland

No,I'm not in Poland, but I've just spent 15 minutes in Poland via You Tube. It was such great fun to see some of the kids I've taught, another video with the camp director which whom I've worked, and others of Siedlce folks that I know. Curious, go to You Tube and search for Siedce, Reymontowka, or my very favorite, Ania speaks Hungarian.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Found it -- Adventure!

I had read in many guidebooks about the Milk Bars in Poland. These are getting hard to find. Thus I was glad to find this one in Torun and preserve it with a photo, knowing that perhaps the next time I'm there, it will not be there. This bar is near by park in my photo from two days ago. I noticed many stopped here for a snack that they ate as they crossed the park on their way to either a bus or tram.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Many Ways to "Skin the Cat"

One of the lessons one learns when traveling is that there is more than one way to solve or deal with a problem. In the middle of this picture one can see a spire. This is the top of the "Palace" that Stalin ordered built in Warsaw. Every Polish person has an opinion about what should be done with this building. At the time of freedom in 1989 there was a great bit of sentiment favoring knocking it down. The more recent strategy, however, seems to be building around it and soon no one will be able to see it. This strategy seems to be favored by the under 25s that I know, and one that appeals to what I call the "wicked" Polish sense of humor, -- and I mean that all very respectfully.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Still Looking for the Sun

November is the gloomy month in Minnesota. Pictures have sun! This is one of the granaries in Torun. The building is now used by the university there. This park is between the Rynek and a busy street where the buses and trams stop.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Green rather than Gray

It is November, and that means gray, gloomy days. Today was a cloudy day so even the sky is gray. Time to remember other colors. Upon arriving at Reymontowka last summer, I noticed buildings up the road that weren't there in 2007. In 11 months a barn for horses and a home for a stablemaster had been constructed. The horses were enjoying a cool summer evening. Now, I wonder what I'll find different next summer.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Planning Adventures

I've made all my hotel reservations for Summer 2009 in Poland. I intend to fly into Warsaw on June 24 and have reservations to stay at the Boutique Bed and Breakfast on ul. Smolna. I made this reservations by e-mail during the past 12 hours. What would we do without e-mail?

I'll have my same room back. Here's a photo of it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Adventures with the Computer

Oh, it's been one of those times. Suddenly I couldn't access my personal e-mail account from my home computer. I could do anything else on the net, and I could access my personal e-mail from other computers. I tried rebooting the modem. That didn't work. I tried emptying out the cache, that didn't help. So I called Comcast, and the technician helped me really clean out the cache. Now no internet memoray. I've been very bad at book marking sites I use all the time, just scroll down and there they are. Now I've got to reconstruct all this again, but at least my e-mail works again.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Real Adventure

Still working on editing pictues from my summer trip in Poland. I have called this a "real' adventure because these are the colors of that July evening, not a Photoshop invention. We were watching a kids' program at language camp when I saw the color of the sunset. I excused myself saying this was simply too good to miss.

The house is just up the road from Reymontowka. For me it is a special house because I watched its building progress from between 2004 to 2007. My team members in 2007 were all new to Reymontowka and couldn't/didn't share in my delight in seeing it all done. Seeing the changes over time is one of the things I've enjoyed during my various trips to Poland.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Photography Adventures with the Stork

The change of seasons made me think of the storks I saw this summer in Poland during my stay at Reymontowka. I imagine the stork is now enjoying warm weather somewhere in Africa. At Reymontowka, there is a nest board on the historic cottage. Of course, the storks decided instead to build their nest on one of the lodging buildings. I could not believe it, when the first time I was being driven to Reymontowka, I heard there were storks in the area. Since then I have seen them in the fields many times, as well on chimneys at nearby farms.

This summer gave our best view when a pair decided to nest at Reymontowka. I watched for days and days following advice to up and about at 6:30 AM. Then while doing a teaching activity my students on the patio, I suddenly got this view of the stork instead in the mid-morning. The approach of winter is a good time to begin to relive summer memories. I'll be back in 7.5 months -- not that I'm counting.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Won't be an adventure

Amazing election story! I mentioned my cell phone comes from CREDO. Today we received an e-mail message from CREDO saying the company will fund 1000 parties by giving $100/party to celebrate the end of Bush. I won't be having a party but may watch the web site to see if someone nearby is having one.

I can't remember anything like this ever before associated with an election.

Election Adventures at School

I called to find out what my grandchildren's perceptions were about this election. Because each of has African-American heritage there is no surprise that they are happy. My grandson is in fourth grade. He said they didn't discuss this at school, but it was the talk of recess and lunchtime. He said there is one classmate who was for McCain, but "she didn't say anything; she just played tag with the rest of us." That's really what peaceful transfer of power is all about.

My granddaughter who is seventh grade has picked up the theme that it is time for change. She said they discussed this election in their history class, which right now is centering on President Arthur. (Well, I'm certainly going to have to do a google search after this to recall anything about that President) When I last helped her with history she was studying the Reconstruction period after the Civil War. She shared that the principal of the school has asked the students to make posters of what they want this president to do. I cannot remember such engagement before in an election.

Another Election Adventure

One of my work colleagues took her children to the DFL celebration in St. Paul last night. They left after the news came about the new President. She says there was a Somalia man outside doing High Fives, saying with great joy: "Anything can be done!"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Adventure Begins

It is 10 PM Minnesota time and the networks have just called the election for Obama. About 30 seconds after the news hit the TV my younger duaghter called with the news, too. That demonstrates how this election has changed how people feel about participating in government. During the last election she was taking an African-American History class. Her professor felt so strongly about students voting that he told them he would excuse a quiz if they could produce the "I voted" sticker. She didn't even vote under those circumstances. This time she was even buying me campaign T-shirts.

Recently her children have either been misbehaving or not studying well for school and they lost their TV privileges. I called her this evening saying I thought the privilege should be restored for this evening so they could participate in history. I remember exactly where I was when watching people walk on the moon for the first time, and I thought they needed to start building such a history for themselves. The kids did get to see this change in our country.

For those of you in Europe perhaps you didn't see the huge collection of people in Grant Park in Chicago -- 500,000 perhaps. Tonight I saw a woman with tears of joy running down her cheeks. I can remember seeing the police beat up people in the same park during the 1968 convention in Chicago.

For those of you elsewhere, you may also not have seen McCain say it is good that our country has set aside bigotry -- that he could remember when African-Americans were not eligible to be guests in the White House.

Election Day Adventures

This election is like no other before. When Poland had the election that resulted in Tusk being named Prime Minister, I watched it with fascination, believing I was seeing the first election influenced by the Internet and other 21st Century technologies. Whether it was true or not, I enjoyed the story that text messages flew around Poland, saying, "Hide your Grandmother's ID card." For American readers, this is based on the view that the older generation supported a different political party than did young professionals and university students.

Well, we've now had the first 21st Century election as well. "I read it on the Internet" is commonly heard. And certainly the candidates did a good job of filling up our e-mail boxes.

Today is still a very warm day -- anytime when one leaves without a coat, wearing sandals -- November in Minnesota -- that's a very good day. I truly thought I was going to be home all day reading papers, that a meeting had been cancelled, but then yesterday came an e-mail telling me that I was wrong. I had to go into the office for a 2 hour meeting. I started home after the meeting, and due to a snack food truck being parked in the wrong place, I ended up having to take the freeway home rather than the city street I usually do. Not usually a problem, but the freeway was plugged due to a bridge repair project. I finally got off on an exit, only to find that I had chosen the intersection at which someone had crashed into a fence and then taken out the signal lights. (I heard later this resulted in a loss of power to two election sites for a short time.)

After much frustration, I saw high school male students standing on a corner campaigning. What is unusual about that? Well, they were shirtless with slogans and letters painted on their chests. Now that is another unusual sight in Minnesota in November.

I read two papers and then decided to take care of some errands and get some lunch. I reached for my cell phone to call one of my daughters and discovered I had received a text message from my cell phone provider, CREDO, urging me to vote.

Oh, by the way I had voted before the text message arrived. I stopped and voted on the way home, but couldn't complete my errands then because it was recess time for the Catholic grade school up the street. A zillion kids were crossing the street, and it just wasn't the time to try to get to the shoppiong area.

Later in the day -- More papers done! And I went to the KARE-11 web site to see what the news is. I found a very touching story in one of the reporter's blogs. He explained he had been at a school in Minneapolis in which those who are immigrants/refugees went for training about elections. One of the refugees did his practice ballot and then asked, "Where do I sign my name?" He could not believe he didn't have to sign his name on the ballot so that the government would know not only that he voted, but who he had voted for.

This is an important election!!! We need to preserve this freedom that we often take too much for granted.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Adventures with Global Warming?

It's November 2 and at 5 PM it was 70 degrees (21 C). It is more unusual actually to have such a warm high temperature. The major effect of global warming in Minnesota is that the low temperatures are rising, both winter and summer.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Adventures in Learning

Today is a very special day in Poland when families visit cemetaries and honor their lost members. One of the things an American quickly learns is how different are Polish cemetaries from the average American cemetary. This picture shows the beauty of the old cemetary in Zakopane. I invite you click on this photo so that it opens up larger and you can see the detail.

One time while visiting Warsaw I ran into a weekend of very rainy weather. I had a half day before departing to the airport, so decided to walk through the cemetary near my hotel. I was totally fascinated by the beauty and history I found there, but with my American view, it seemed like an odd way to spend a morning. Upon returning home I happened onto visiting this cemetary as one of the top 10 things to do while visiting Warsaw!