Friday, August 30, 2013

Boogaloo Bag Count: 112

Remember that procrastination I predicted last week?
...yeah. Thursday about 10 pm I remembered that Friday is Boogaloo Update day, and so I worked on the last handle a little bit more, but it’s still not long enough to fasten on and start stitching.
Hopefully next week I will be a bit more diligent.

Boogaloo Bag Count: 112 (Body 71, Handles 9+7+7+16, Attachment 2)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thursday in History: Ottoman Victory

The Ottoman Empire was a large and prosperous empire that was born out of the fall of Rome and lasted until after the first World War. Maybe it gets ignored in Western Civilization classes because it’s too far east or because professors would rather focus on the million different little spats that France and England got into over the years. That doesn’t mean that the Ottoman Empire wasn’t interesting, or didn’t have it’s own million little spats in different parts of its territory over the six and a half centuries of its existence.
During one of its periods of growth, culture was flourishing and its military was victorious. Suleiman the Magnificent (so called because he was pretty awesome), was a great leader to his people and his troops, and under his rule, the Ottoman Empire expanded rapidly.
Ottoman troops in Hungary
via wikipedia
This day in history seemed to be a good one for Suleiman’s magnificent victories.
In 1521, the city of Nándorfehérvár was captured. It would not be the last time that the Ottomans had to take the place that is today Belgrade; it passed back and forth from their hands to Hapsburg control and back several times in later years.
The Battle of Mohács was won on this day in 1526. As a result, the Jagiellonian dynasty, a royal family that had ruled different parts of Europe for centuries, was ended.
Twice, Suleiman laid siege to Vienna: once in 1529 and again in 1532, but he must not have been campaigning in the end of August, as both attempts to take the city failed.
After taking most of Hungary in the victory in 1526, the Ottomans again attacked the Kingdom of Hungary in 1541, and took its capitol, Buda, on this day in history.
Since August 29th seems to have been a day of great military victory for them, I think it’s only fitting that we remember the Ottoman Empire today: its rise to greatness and its defeated fall, its drawbacks and its achievements.
And if you ever gain possession of a time machine, make sure not to arrive in the sixteenth century on August 29th, because if you do, it’s pretty likely you’ll be conquered by the Ottomans.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Writing Prompt: Happily Ever After (How I Met My Wife)

The story of how I met my wife begins, like most things, with my little brother.
His favorite story to tell to girls at a bar was a highly embellished story from our childhood. His version was different, but the truth was just another normal scene that anyone could have been through while growing up.
We were playing in the kitchen while our mother’s back was turned. He wanted to play in the frying pans, and I, as his self appointed protector, was trying to keep both of us out of trouble by putting them back on top of the stove. I eventually won the battle by virtue of being twenty months older, but he was very determined, and when our mother finally returned to the kitchen, she found him in a pan on the burner and me standing on the chair he’d pushed up to the stove to climb up, trying to make sure he didn’t fall.
My brother told it differently. He’d lean on the bar, chatting up the prettiest girls he could convince to listen. “Let me tell you about the time that my brother tried to cook me for dinner…” he’d say. I’d stand by and roll my eyes and the girls would look between us and giggle. They’d also gasp and say “oh no!” in the appropriate places while my brother hammed up his mostly fictional version of the story.
The night I met my wife, my brother had his eye on her. He brought me along to the other end of the bar where she was standing with her friends, to be his ever faithful wing man. My wife and her friends listened rapturously like all the other girls my brother had subjected to his favorite story, but that particular night I had already heard it twice and was getting rather annoyed with the whole song and dance.
By the time he got to the bit about “my brother had his hand on the temperature dial and was seasoning me with oregano when our mom walked in,” I had had enough.
The girls were laughing as my brother imitated the look on our mother’s face, so I added, “if I’d known he was going to tell this story to everyone he met for the next thirty years, I’d have turned on the burner a lot sooner.”
It’s a good thing my wife likes dark humor; she was the only one who laughed.
While we live happily ever after, I’ll make sure to keep a gate on the kitchen so our kids won’t ever have a story like mine to torture each other with.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Blog to go: Learning and Laundering

Recently I broke down and got a new phone. It's a fancy smartphone, and it's pretty nice, except that I can't quite figure out how to make a phone call.

Another thing that has broken down is my washing machine. So this morning I piled all my laundry into my car and zoomed off to the laundry mat. That's right, I'm blogging on the go.

Using a new machine is the same whether it's going to clean your clothes or text your mom: you never quite know which button is the correct one to push, so you just poke at it until you think it's doing what you want. Then you step back and let it work, and hope it's not going to call your brother instead of your husband or bleed your colors instead of just cleaning them.

I'll eventually get used to my new phone. And the machines at the laundry mat too, I guess. Although at least I don't have to sign a 2 year contract and pay for a data plan to wash my clothes.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Happy Lay in a Pile Day

My week is not a normal week.
For most people in the world, weekdays are the worst: they have to get up early, go to work and work all day, and it’s only when they get home in the evening that they can veg out and do whatever they want. Weekends are treasured because the alarm doesn’t go off and they can sleep in, and when they do get up, they can play video games all day.
Since I have a job making wedding receptions more awesome, and most weddings take place on the weekend, the weekend is my work week. And when I have a full work week, I get no downtime.
While everyone else is complaining that they have to go back to work on a Monday, I’m laying in a pile recovering from my long weekend. Monday is my Saturday.
So excuse me while I go lay in a pile.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Boogaloo Bag Count: 110

I have entered the final procrastination phase with Bag the Bag Part 2: the Electric Boogaloo. I haven’t quite finished the last bit of the handle yet, but after that procrastination should hit me even harder. Fastening handles is a chore. I’m definitely going to try something else with Bag the Bag Part 3: the Sequel to the Sequel.
I actually have worked on that a bit this week, almost finished with the base and getting ready to start the main body of the bag. Someday it will look awesome. Today it’s… under the couch, I think.

Boogaloo Bag Count: 110 (Body 71, Handles 9+7+7+14, Attachment 2)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thursday in History: Patron Saint of Cryptozoology

On this day in history in 564, a Christian missionary was walking down the road in Scotland.
He told that beast off so hard that it
wouldn't show its face for another 1400
years! (John R Skelton, 1906.
via wikipedia
He and his disciple had come to evangelize to the Picts, one of the tribes living in the area, when they stumbled upon a group of men by the river who were distraught over the death of their friend. A monster in the river had attacked him, they said, and though they had tried to save him, by the time they got close enough he was already dead.
To show them the power of God, the missionary commanded his disciple to swim across the river. The men tried to prevent him, but the disciple swam boldly out into the water. When the monster approached, the missionary commanded it to get back and never bother any human again. The creature was stopped as if it had been “pulled back by ropes,” after which it disappeared into the Loch. All the men were amazed, and invited the missionary and his disciple back to their village to tell them more about God.
There are lots of stories about the travels of St Columba and of the many miracles he performed. He was an Irish man who established the abbey on Iona in Scotland, and was the most instrumental person in bringing Christianity to the people there. What makes this particular story so famous is that it is the first recorded sighting of the Loch Ness Monster.
The Nessie craze started in 1933, and those who insist that the monster is real like to point out that the story (and the alleged plesiosaur) has been around for centuries. Doubters say that it’s just a folk story like many others being told and recorded around the same time.
But I would like to point out that a large majority of the population of Scotland, with its patron saint, St Columba, is not pagan, but Christian.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Writing Prompt: Not a Mermaid

There’s a lot of great things about being an astronaut. You’re one of a handful of people on earth who have actually left its surface for longer than it takes to fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo. You get to see the world we live on spinning in space and feel tiny and huge at the same time.
When you’re in orbit, you’re homesick, mostly for food and family. But when you’re planet bound, you’re homesick for the vastness of space reaching away from the earth, and you wish for that feeling you get when you double check your tethers and step out into the void.
Astronauts see--or think they see--lots of weird stuff in space. My friend Rick always claimed that he had seen a mermaid once, but I don’t see how that’s possible when we’re over two hundred miles above the ocean.
Rick never tells the sub story, though. He was out there with me when it drifted past. We both looked at it for a few seconds, then at each other, then back at it. Rick tried to pinch himself, but it turns out that it’s pretty difficult to do when wearing a Thermal Micrometeriod Garment.
It looked like one of those old German subs from World War II, propellers spinning. We weren’t sure we were really seeing it. How long had it been circling the planet? And what was it doing there?
We watched it float silently away.
When we got back inside, I wanted to file a report, let someone know about this undocumented thing drifting through space, but Rick vetoed that idea. “Some things you just gotta let go their way,” he told me.
Since then, whenever he tells anyone about his mermaid, I have to wonder if his “mermaid” was actually something else that he “let go its way.”
Maybe I’ll start telling people I saw a dinosaur in space. It might be more believable than what actually happened.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Midnight Stroll

I don't usually stay up until midnight, but when I do, strange things happen.
Lincoln, Nebraska is not a hard city to learn to navigate in. The streets running from north to south are numbered, and the streets running from east to west are lettered. When the city planners ran out of alphabet, they just started giving the streets names.
Friends visiting from out of town have often made fun of A Street, which is pronounced by the locals with a long a. The street sign inevitably get some laughs: “Look, it’s a street!”
It's not hard to figure out where you're going in Lincoln, that is, unless you're downtown, but that's another story.
My neighborhood is outside the letter zone and easily navigable by numbers. Most corners have two or at least one street sign, and all of them are lit up with street lamps at night. You can’t miss the street signs unless you’re purposely doing so.
Last night before bed I was at the computer finishing a few things (read: “playing a game”). The door was locked, but the light was on in the front room, and after a few minutes I became oblivious of time.
Until the doorbell rang.
I looked at the clock. 12:01. Who could be ringing my doorbell at midnight?! I thought. I got up to go see.
The only light was from the inside of the house (no porch light inviting anyone in or anything), but I could discern two people standing on the porch. Due to the late hour, I refused to open the door.
“Can I help you?” I said, in a tone that suggested to them that it was a bit late to be out for a walk.
One of them asked for directions to a numbered street nearby.
“Well, since this is X7th* Street, and they count up to the west, X9th Street would logically be two blocks that way,” I said, in a tone that made clear to them that I wasn’t expecting to give a navigation lesson so late.
I pointed west, and after double checking the direction, they went off to whatever destination they’d been headed to when they got so turned around in this easily navigable city as to have to ask for directions at the nearest house with a light on at midnight.

Maybe the next time they go for a midnight stroll, they should take a map.

*I don’t really live on X7th Street. The first numbers have been removed to discourage those who read this blog from coming to my house and ringing the doorbell at midnight.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Culinary Wizardry: Sneaky Lasagna

My mother-in-law is a culinary wizard.
Every mother of small children faces the same battle of how to get vegetables into picky eaters. Some kids snarf them up, but most kids, at least at first, will turn up their noses and make faces at broccoli, zucchini, or mushrooms. My brilliant mother-in-law got these foods into her kids with a combination of reverse psychology and subterfuge.
While making dinner, she made sure her three boys knew that they weren’t to sneak anything off of the counter while she was prepping it. They would stealthily approach, observed by their mother out of the corner of her eye. After making off with raw carrots, green beans, or cucumber, they would joyfully wolf down their ill-gotten gains, giggling triumphantly. Occasionally, she would pretend to catch them and say, “get away from there!” and playfully smack their hands. They would retreat, waiting for another opportunity to make off with what was supposedly forbidden to them.
This scene was often played out while she was making her famous vegetarian lasagna, a lasagna so delicious and so hearty that even the most carnivorous dinner guest wouldn’t be able to tell that it’s missing any meat.
The best part about this is that she has bestowed the recipe on me. This mouthwatering dish is extremely time consuming to make, but totally worth it.
First, you need to go shopping. That is, unless you keep dry curd cottage cheese in your house all the time. You’ll also need a variety of vegetables of your choice (current favorites in this household are mushrooms, olives, spinach, and zucchini); these can be found at the grocery store or in your backyard if you happen to have an awesome garden. And of course you need lasagna noodles and sauce and mozzarella cheese.
After all the chopping and boiling and grating is done, layer everything. A little sauce on the bottom of the pan before the first bit of noodles will keep it from sticking when you get ready to serve it. You can put your secret vegetables where you want them, but after each layer of secret vegetables, there should be one with cottage cheese, mozzarella, sauce, and noodles. Top your final layer of veggies off with noodles, sauce, and mozzarella, and bake it at 375 degrees for 35 minutes regardless of whether it is August because it will be delicious no matter how hot it makes your house.
Let it settle for about five minutes before you burn your mouth on it. On second thought, let it settle for about five minutes and then make sure it’s not too hot to eat before you shove it in your face so that you don’t burn yourself. Once these two things have been accomplished, it’s time for the final phase:
Enjoy my mother-in-law’s culinary wizardry.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Boogaloo Bag Count: 105

This week I almost exclusively used those cushy packing material bags instead of the grocery bags I’m used to. I have some translucent AIRplus packing bags and some green Earth Aware packing bags, which are made of already recycled plastic. It’s giving a very interesting stripe to the handles.
I’m about ⅔ of the way done with the final handle,and it’s going to be good. The Earth Aware bags are strong. Soon I will have to rely on sheer will to drive me in finishing Bag the Bag Part 2: the Electric Boogaloo, since fastening the handles together is so taxing. I don’t know if working on Bag the Bag Part 3: the Sequel to the Sequel will help at all, since it’s still in a stage where it is fun to work on.
Don’t worry, I’ll find a way to motivate myself. And maybe next week, you’ll be seeing a wrap up of Bag the Bag Part 2: the Electric Boogaloo.

Boogaloo Bag Count: 105 (Body 71, Handles 9+7+7+9, Attatchment 2)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thursday in History: Shakespearean

William Shakespeare is one of the greatest writers of all time. He wrote some of the most iconic plots, made up well-used words, and brought interesting characters to life. What we don’t realize sometimes, however, is that many of his plays are works of historical fiction. Shakespeare would occasionally take a famous person from history and enhance his or her life story.
On this day in history in 1040, Duncan, the young king of Scotland who had led his troops into battle to expand his kingdom, was killed. Unfortunately, it was by some of his own men, who were led by one of his dukes, a man called Macbeth.
The king wasn’t elderly, and he wasn’t killed in his sleep, and there was is no historical evidence that Macbeth’s wife had any influence on her husband in his decision to defy his king. Shakespeare’s version of events is definitely more interesting.
On this day in history in 1057, the Battle of Lumphanan was won by Duncan’s son, Malcolm III. So seventeen years after his victory and ascension to the throne, Macbeth was killed by Duncan’s son, the one it truly belonged to.

“Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Writing Prompt: Man in the Moon

The lake by my uncle’s cabin is very still. The wind hardly ever makes ripples in it, and at night its surface reflects the stars so clearly what you almost can’t tell if you’re looking into the lake or into the sky itself.
When I was a kid, we used to skip rocks across the water and tell each other wild stories about the island in the middle of the lake. My cousin’s favorite was the tale of the mystical man who supposedly lived on the island. My older sister, however, hated it. She’d stop him as soon as he got to the good part.
“Sometimes at dusk we would see him come out from the hidden interior of the island,” he’d say spookily. “For years we had no idea who he was or what he did, until...”
“Can we do something else, now?” my sister would interrupt. “Besides, there’s no way someone could live out there. It’s tiny! And there’s no boat! Where would he live and how would he get food?”
My cousin and I would whine and offer nothing but wild conjecture for answers. “Maybe there’s a secret underground bunker!” I would say. “Maybe there are nets in the tree and he uses them to catch birds to eat!” my cousin would propose.
“Ugh,” my sister would respond. “Let’s go roast marshmallows or something.”
I never got to know the end of that story until the summer I turned 18. My family was gathered together, celebrating the fact that my cousin and I had just graduated from high school. My sister was home from college, bringing a sparkly diamond engagement ring and her brand new fiance.
It wasn’t that I was jealous of her, or that I thought she was stealing my thunder or anything, but I needed some air; some time to myself. I took a walk alone by the lake.
As the sun slipped behind the mountains, leaving a glow of its remembered presence behind, I walked past the dock where we used to sit and tell stories, and saw movement out of the corner of my eye. Movement on the island.
I stopped to look, thinking it was just a bird. Sometimes birds would gather on its shores. It was something different, though. Something bright. Something glowing. It was him.
“Hey!” my cousin called, walking down from the house to where I stood. “Your mom wants to give a toast to your sister. She said she’d give us champagne!” When I didn’t immediately answer, he became concerned. “Are you okay?”
I grabbed at his arm and pointed, unable to speak. He gasped, and I knew he could see it too. “Sometimes at dusk we would see him come out from the hidden interior of the island,” I whispered, hoping that my voice wouldn’t scare away what I was seeing. “For years we had no idea who he was or what he did.”
“Until we saw it for ourselves,” my cousin breathed.
Either the full moon had risen in the sky during my walk or if the island was really glowing. The lake was so still that you couldn’t tell whether it was reflecting the sky or if the sky was reflecting it.
When the glow of the island receded, the man we had seen was gone. The moon shone brightly off the surface of the water. My cousin and I smiled at each other. My sister would never believe us even if we told her. Maybe we’d roast marshmallows later in honor of our discovery.
Maybe we’d toast them in honor of the man in the moon.

Writing Prompt: Mysterious Island

Monday, August 12, 2013

Infectious Syntax

Having a roommate is awesome. My roommate and I lived together for 2 years. We shared an apartment as well as a place of employment, interests, and a sense of fun. We visited the same websites, watched the same television shows, and loved the same movies. We could play Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit together and never have to look at the answers. We had nicknames for each other and could finish one another's sentences.
Most importantly, we shared the same style of speech. I don't mean merely that we both spoke English, but that we used the same kind words, the same sentence structure, so that it if you were talking to one of us on the phone you wouldn't necessarily know which one was which.
After moving away from one another, “Lindy” and I have continued to speak similarly. Every time we get together (which, sadly, isn’t as often as we would like), there’s at least one moment that we say the same thing at the same time.
I always thought that this similarity was because we were together almost all the time, so our way of speaking just naturally mixed. Things that pleased us got the response, “HOORAY!” or “HUZZAH!” and displeasing things were met with “BOO, FISH.”
But I never really knew that I was evangelizing my speech patterns until an internet friend of mine mentioned to me the other day that she had started saying “YAY FOR [whatever]” as well as typing it. I wonder if Lindy has had any converts of her own.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Boogaloo Bag Count: 90

Every Thursday night I look at the calendar and freak out. “It’s almost Friday!” I tell myself, “I’ve gotta crochet!” This is a weekly occurrence, and does not go away no matter how much work I’ve done. The deadline to show off what I’ve gotten done approaches, and I stress about there not being enough, even though there’s usually plenty.
This week I finished the arduous task of fastening the handle onto the bag. I celebrated by starting the other handle. The bag count doesn’t seem that much higher, and that’s because it isn’t. The other handle is two thirds of the way done on the outside, and I’ve only used one more bag. It’s one of those huge bags they use to cover your clothes when you pick them up from the dry cleaners’. It’s the biggest bag I’ve used so far.
Who knows what I’m going to use to motivate myself to get his handle attached when I finish it. Maybe I’ll have to start working on Bag the Bag Part 3: the Sequel to the Sequel again.
Pretty handsome.
Boogaloo Bag Count: 90 (Body 71, Handles 9+7+1, Attachment 2)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Thursday in History: Rebel Persistence

Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate Forces at the Battle of Gettysburg, was an honorable man. When his men failed to triumph over their enemies in that historic battle, he did the only honorable thing: on his day in history in 1863, he turned in his resignation.
Robert E. Lee in 1863
photo taken by Julian Vannerson
When the President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, recieved the letter, he refused to accept it. He knew that Lee was an excellent general, and wasn’t going to waste an excellent asset. This was not the only time that “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” would apply to the Confederacy’s war tactics.
One proof of this is the intersting case of the H. L. Hunley, the first submarine in the world to sink an enemy ship. Before its success, it had had some failures. Some very spectacular failures, in fact.
The Hunley was one of the first submarines in the world, and there was obviously some trial and error in training a crew to use it. The first time it sank, it was because someone accidentally activated the diving mechanism while all of the ship’s hatches were still open. Five of the crew were killed; the man who had made the mistake was not one of them.
The H. L. Hunley, by R.G. Skerrett.
The original painting is in the Navy Art Collection
in Washington D.C.
Two months later, after the ship had been raised and re-crewed, her creator was on board during a test battle, and a malfunction caused the ship to stay submerged when it should have surfaced for air. All eight men on board were killed.
The Hunley was deployed for its first real mission during the Charleston blockade in February of 1864. It sneaked up to the USS Housatonic, fired a torpedo, and sank the Union sloop. Unfortunately, after this victory, it was lost.
On this day in history in 2000, the H. L. Hunley was rescued from the bottom of the ocean, where it had come to rest near its first and only victim. Today it can be seen at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in the Charleston Navy Yards, where visitors can observe evidence of the real reason that the Hunley went down for the final time: the torpedo it launched was definitely enough to take down the Union ship, but also had plenty of kick to take the little submarine down with it.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Writing Prompt: The Bermuda of British Columbia

Everyone has heard of the Bermuda Triangle. Disorientation, strange readings from instruments, and outright disappearances have plagued the area for decades. However, Bermuda is not the only place in the world where these things happen; it is merely the most famous. If you have ever been backpacking in the wilds of British Columbia, you know about another place that fits those descriptions.
Perhaps the only reason that the St Christopher Valley* is not more well known is because no one has yet to disappear entirely in the area, which lies between the Dall River and Altin Provincial Park in British Columbia, and stretches northward across the provincial border 50 miles into the Yukon.
The interesting thing about St Christopher Valley is that the landmarks: rocks, trees, even hills, seem to move during the night. Hikers and campers have reported waking in the morning to have their tents turned as much as 180 degrees, or in extreme cases, awakening to find that they are in a completely different area. When checking a compass or a GPS device, however, they discover that they are in the same place.
The only explanation that has so far been accepted by most parties is that the campers themselves are not moving, but rather it is the landscape that changes in the night.
Veteran hikers have gotten used to the odd ways of St Christopher Valley. “It’s just something you get used to,” said Roni Knudsen, who has hiked through the area every year since he was seventeen. “One time I woke up with a bush in my face that had been at the edge of the site when I went to sleep.”
The area has been visited by many people determined to debunk its strange happenings. A camera placed for a week in St Christopher Valley could detect no nefarious persons moving rocks or shrubberies, and the crew that came along could not discover any disturbed soil where trees had been located, nor any holes or even any depressions where rocks had rested the night before.
One would suppose that a valley named for the patron saint of travellers would be more friendly, but St Christopher Valley will always be host to them, at least as long as Roni Knudsen is around. “It’s challenging,” he said. “I can hike the same ground a million times, but it’s different every time. It’s not like any other place in the world.”
Writing Prompt: A Nightly Landscape Change
*The St Christopher Valley came out of my head. To my knowledge, it is not a real place, and any similarity to a real stretch of land in British Columbia or anywhere else in the world is coincidental.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Letting Go

Sometimes it's hard to let go.
Doctor Who, the long-running British sci-fi show, gets a new main actor once every three or four years. The fans don't take this change with good grace.
The stages of passing the baton in this iconic role are: disbelief ("What? Actor is leaving?! This can't be!"), grief ("Nooo, why would Actor want to leave? He loves playing the Doctor! All the fans love him! This is terrible!"), and acceptance ("We will miss him so much; he'll always be the best, no one could ever replace Actor."), anticipation ("Who are they going to get to fill his shoes? I hope it's not Other Actor, he could never be as good as Actor."), discovery ("They chose That One Actor?! He'll never measure up!"), comparison ("Ugh, I wish Actor had never left. That One Actor just isn't as good."), enjoyment ("Well, he'll never be Actor, but That One Actor is pretty good, I guess."), conversion ("I don't know why I ever doubted him; That One Actor is awesome... Maybe even better than Actor"). And then the cycle continues.
On Sunday, the BBC announced that Peter Capaldi will be assuming the role upon Matt Smith's departure. Fans have been oscillating between the first four stages ever since Smith's plans to leave were announced. Now that we've got a name, we're in the more complicated 'discovery' stage, where we exclaim excitedly or complain bitterly, and sometimes, we do both.
I'm not sure why we're always surprised when the man who plays The Doctor decides to move on with his career. It's not like he signed a contract to be our dancing monkey forever. Nothing we can do or say will make him stay, so why don't we just remember what happened last time an actor left the show and skip the negative parts? Honestly, we know we're eventually going to love the new guy, so why not be excited for the one who is departing (he's going on to bigger and better things! Things that are better than Doctor Who! That's something we should be excited about!), and get ready to be wowed by whoever takes over?
I'm sad that Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who. He played a deeply dark Doctor while managing to keep the character funny and lighthearted at the same time. I'm excited to see what he does next. And I'm ready for Peter Capaldi to step into Smith's shoes and make us love his Doctor.

Sometimes it's hard to let go. We know good times are up ahead; they may not be what we're used to, but we know we'll have fun.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Bounce Fest

Bouncy castles aren’t very Czech.
The Wilber Czech Festival takes place the first weekend in August. People come from all over the world to enjoy the music, food, and atmosphere of the busiest weekend of the year in the Czech Capitol of the United States.
My family goes every year. We put on our vests, drive down to Wilber, find for a parking spot, have lunch at the Sokol Hall, and fight for the last plate of kolaches and some jaternice at Frank’s or Wilber Meat Market.
The parade is necessary. This year the weather was amazing: cloudy, breezy, and cool. Usually we’re sweltering in the heat and humidity, but we still stand out on Main Street with everyone else, enjoying the procession of classic cars, tractors, past and present Czech Queens, and marching bands. Our favorite things are the pool bus (it’s nice to get splattered with water in the heat; even more fun when it’s because someone’s just done a cannonball into a tank of water on a repurposed school bus) and the Wilber-Clatonia Alumni Band: years of graduates back home for another performance, all dressed in traditional costumes.
The new hat we bought this
year. It fits everyone!
We sometimes grab a lemonade or a funnel cake from a street vendor, or acquire new Czech memorabilia to wear next year. This year we walked past the Bohemian Tractor Pull, which my dad tried to convince me consists of several people pulling a tractor instead of a tractor pulling something. But apparently he’s right.
Another thing we added to our Fest experience was paying too much money for five minutes in a bouncy castle. My daughter is finally old enough to giggle and jump up and down at the same time, so my dad made sure she had a good time. The hardworking employees from a local bouncy castle rental company in Crete had inflated a traditional bouncy castle, a bouncy obstacle course, a bouncy slide, and a couple of other things that were “too big” for my three year old.
The Bouncy Slide in all its glory
My brother and sister-in-law headed home to make sure my nephew had a nap, my mom and brother took my one year old on a walk, and my dad and I stayed and laughed as my three year old took possession of the slide.
Children of various ages would stand in line, the employee would take their tickets or check to make sure they were wearing an “unlimited” bracelet, then help them up if needed. The kid had to get to the top before the next one could start climbing, and then they could slide down as slowly or as quickly as they wanted, with as much or as little bounce as they could handle.
The line was sometimes long, sometimes short, but it was interesting to watch my daughter learn that she had to wait for her turn behind a line of people. Then she’d climb to the top, run back and forth trying to decide if she wanted to try the slide on the left or the slide on the right, and then zoom down, giggling.
Bouncy castles may not be very Czech, but they do fit with the spirit of fun at the Wilber Czech Festival. Even though it’s hot, it’s worth it for the food, the music, and the good times. My daughter definitely enjoyed herself; she even said the next day, “Mommy, are we going to the Czech Fest today?”