Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Whew! Post Office Adventures

Yesterday, after shopping at two bookstores, I took some laminated handouts about using Excel and Powerpoint and the Internet to the post office and sent them by international priority mail to Poland. The country manager there for Global Volunteers will be traveling in late January (we will miss each other in the Amsterdam airport by 48 hours)to Tanzania where she will help the Tanzania country manager to use his computer. This is his first computer.

Today the Economist magazine published that there is now 1 computer for every American. That surely doesn't mean everyone has one, because many have more than 1 computer. The number of computers in Europe is 70/100 persons. The number in Asia is 20/100 persons. No number is given for Africa.

Today, with supplies I brought home from the post office, I packed up two boxes of educational materials that are to make their way to Hungary. The primary contents are copies of a textbook for a course I was asked to teach. These go to the U.S. State Department with a special address that means they are to go the Hungarian Embassy in Budapest, and then make their way a couple kilometers more the Hungarian Fulbright Commission Office.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Digging Out and Wringing Out Adventures

This is the headline from an article in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press today. The major snowstorm hitting our area turned to sleet and rain on Christmas Day. The area is now covered with 2 inch puddles of slush everywhere. Yesterday I went out looking for some computer handouts to help one of the African country managers for Global Volunteers (who went back to his home country with the first computer he has ever owned -- and with Internet available only 25 kilometers away!). I first went to drop a letter in a postal box and had to wade across the intersection. I decided this was ridiculous and continued on to the shoe store and purchased a new pair of boots. I thought perhaps I'd just pass this year, knowing I'm leaving January 25. It felt so good today to have boots with high thick heels as I wandered around the world today -- much better than wearing summer shoes! Give me snow anytime. These puddles of water everywhere are a pain.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Adventures with Snow Emergency

The network news is all abuzz with news of snow emergency here, like that is a big deal. A snow emergency happens anytime there is 3 or more inches of snow and it's a way to get the cars off the streets so they can be plowed. It is a drill, not an emergency!!! I've enjoyed watching all the go on from my third floor apartment, and loving again an underground garage.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Adventures Out the Window

Winter Bluff
Fall Bluff Day

Here are views from my apartment window. The wintery one was taken earlier this afternoon as I was intrigued with the snow sticking to the bluff rocks. The lower picture was taken only about three weeks ago when the beautiful fall clouds intrigued me. What a difference three weeks makes in the northern latitudes!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Nebraska Adventures

I have returned from spending several days in Lincoln, Nebraska, visiting friends. Before leaving, I shopped at Trader Joes for some wonderful holiday cookies to take along. While waiting in line to check out I overheard that the clerk was originally from Nebraska. He said he was here "because nothing happens there."

Well, things do happen. On Friday we drove to Omaha. My friend is having a ring made from the diamonds from the wedding ring of her recently deceased mother-in-law. This is being done at a very interesting shop called Goldsmith in the Old Market Area. I did not escape the store without buying something. My treasure is a new pair of earrings with three pieces of colored glass coming from sea glass. The artist who made them is Charles Albert. After the jewelry store we walked to a nearby Italian restaurant we remembered and had a wonderful late lunch.

On Saturday my friend and I went to the Homestead Museum in nearby Beatrice, Nebraska. This is a national park providing information about the homestead process that allowed many to get their financial start in the United States - at obviously the expense of the Indians who had lived on those lands for many, many years. We saw an a truly amazing exhibit of photographs takes at pow-wows. I belive the photographer is Tidwell. Our primary reason for going was a display about different cultural customs associated with Christmas. After this visit we stopped for at a Runza fast food place, something one can only do in Nebraska.

Sunday found us having brunch at the Wilderness Ridge Restaurant. Everything served was wonderful. We enjoyed the architecture of this building as well as a very talented jazz musician.

Monday found us delivering cookies for a cookied exchange at my friend's place of employment. Then we went to a new restaurant, Cup and Bread, for lunch. I had corn chowder that was very good. If in Lincoln, look for this place. It serves a limited and changing menu of very good food along with beer or wine if desired. On Monday evening my friend's son came by and we went out to a new place, a combination Chinese buffet and Mongolian grille. Sounds odd perhaps, but the food is very good. After supper, he showed me a computer program he had written that enhances student registration for classes as well as giving faculty better information about who is registering for classes. I showed him how the software works that we use for online classes. Forty years difference in our ages, but we are both into the same thing.

Tuesday found me flying home without any much difficult. I felt like a fairy princess. One perk of this apartment is that one gets airport transportation. I got delivered home right into the underground next to the elevator that is the closest one to my apartment unit.

So one can do something in Nebraska.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

End of Adventures

This morning I took my friend, Dorota, to the airport for a 7 AM flight. We have done so many things since I last posted anything. We went Christmas shopping of course. I took her to brunch and discovered, despite the fact she has been in the states ten times, that this was her first experience with a buffet and going back to get more! I joined all the many here for Global Volunteers training for a Welcome Supper. Then a teammate I had worked with last summer came up from Florida for training as a volunteeer team leader. We all enjoyed supper together at Cafe Latte. Minnesota "instructed" her about winter snow and cold.

Many of us who have volunteered in Poland joined the Polish guests here for the Global Volunteers celebration at a lovely dinner at LaGrolla Restaurant. I planned to pick up the check for the Polish guests plus myself. Imagine my surprise when I looked in my purse and found I had forgotten my credit card. Some whispering to a friend solved that problem, plus a check quickly sent to her to cover my mistake.

On Friday, December 11, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of Global Volunteers and had a great, great time. On Saturday we went to a breakfast where some planning was done for a 20th anniversary celebration of Global Volunteers in Poland. This will be in October, 2010, and alas I can't attend. Then we picked up a volunteer visiting here from Colorado and headed to the Minneapolis Art Institute to see the Louvre Exhibit.

On Sunday we truly enjoyed a "down day." It was great to eat breakfast and then not do much of anything else for awhile. Later in the afternoon we went to the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre to see a production of Oklahoma.

I've got great memories of these past two weeks, and hope that in the interest of frugality, Global Volunteers again decides to ask families to host their international staff when they come here to work.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Party Adventure-- Cultural Adventure

I hosted my university department in the cybercafe room in my apartment building for a holiday party. It's a great space. First is the space really is space, quite spacious. Secondly there is a microwave and refrigerator and even a dish washer. There is a fireplace. If the weather would have been just a bit warmer, we could have walked outdoors only 30 seconds to find a view over the Mississippi River. I do think everyone had a good time.

This was a cultural event for my Polish friend who is staying with me. We do a white elephant gift exchange. White Elephant is not a Polish thing, but now Dorota says someday it will be. She will work into something in when she does an event with some friends. I got the most ghastly chicken that walks around and makes a lot of noise. Dorota got a three piece set that put together makes a snow man. I think maybe it's for serving snacks, but indeed it's a white elephant. The person who put this into the gift exchange said, "once it was cute, but not anymore."