Desierto norte de Chile

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Laptop troubles . . . and a solution

So yesterday, my beloved (cue the sarcasm) Gateway laptop decided it wanted to depart my service. It had been warning me for a few months, with random bouts of dis-service, and now it's time has come. Fortunately, last night it gave me a few more hours of operation, allowing me to copy my files from the hard drive and backup most (whatever files I could find) of my work from Austria and summer in Oklahoma.

Because time is fleeting, and I cannot afford to lose too many days sans laptop, I have already ordered a Dell. Only bad thing is that the new laptop's expected delivery date is not until 05/02 until 07/02 (feb. 5 to 7). It will be two weeks of patience and borrowing. Some specs of the new laptop, which I am excited about!

- Inspiron E1505, Intel Core 2 Duo processor T7200 (4MB/2.00GHz/667MHz)
- 15.4 Inch TrueLife Wide-screenWXGA
- 2GB, DDR2, 533MHz 2 Dimm RAM
- 160GB 5400RPM SATA hard drive
- 8X DVD+/-RW Drive

It should be a fast system, and I view it as a worthwhile investment in my professional future.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Back in Norman ...

... and all moved in (maybe, if the leaks are fixed and OU housing decides that we are able to stay in our place).

My address:

143-D West Constitution
Norman, OK 73072

This weekend Norman is expecting 3-6" of snow/sleet. Very latest computer model trends indicate more low- and mid-level warming, and if they are correct, we will see more ice pellets than snowflakes. Regardless, liquid-equivalent precipitation is expected to be 0.50-0.75", which would translate into ~ 2" of pure sleet or ~ 6" of pure snow. Stay tuned, I'll try to post a photo.

Hope everyone is well wherever you are -- and thanks for keeping up with the blog. I'll have to think of another title -- "the hills are alive" isn't so appropriate for the southern Great Plains! Any suggestions??

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Retreat to Bosnia-Herzegovina

Last weekend, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to take the night bus to Banja Luka, the 2nd largest city in Bosnia, for the day. I wanted to get away, have time to think, pray, and process this semester, and I figured a 24-hour venture to Bosnia would offer me just what I desired. So I boarded the Eurolines bus at 8:30 p.m., and arrived in Banja Luka at 2:30 a.m. While on the bus, I met two friendly Turkish guys who were serving in the multi-national peace-keeping force near Sarajevo (in the south of Bosnia-Herzegovina). They asked lots of great questions, and we chatted about politics, weather, Turkey, USA, and Bosnia. The 6-hr ride passed swiftly, and before I knew it, we had arrived in BL.

To my great - and pleasant - surprise, the city was teeming with young people (16-30 yr olds), all out celebrating the Orthodox Christmas (also celebrated as the arrival of the wise men to visit the baby Jesus). Almost immediately after walking to the city center, I ran into 2 Serbs who invited me to celebrate with them. So we went off in search of food and drink, and enjoyed ourselves until 5 a.m., when we went to the local cathedral for the liturgy. After our stay at the church, we napped in their car for 90 minutes, and at 6:45, I sent them on their way and set out to find a cafe. I found this very nice cafe attached to a local hotel, and there I stayed for a few hours, reading, praying, people-watching, and enjoying a nice cup of coffee (it cost 1.50 marka, about $1).

Once the sun was up and shining, I ventured out to explore a little of Banja Luka. I discovered that BL is the capital of the Republic Srpska, which is about 1/2 of the country of Bosnia-Herzegovina and populated mostly with Orthodox Serbs. The Federation is the other 1/2, and its largest city is Sarajevo and its people are primarily Bosniak Muslims. As I spoke with my Serbian friends, and also a Bosniak on the bus ride home to Graz, the geopolitical (and religious) situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina is incredibly complex, and I couldnt hope to learn it all in a few short hours! Regardless, I found Banja Luka to be charming, and it does resemble a city emerging from both war and a slumbering economy. Who knows, perhaps in ten years it will be a very popular tourist destination?! I got some strange looks as I walked around the city snapping photos (I was the only person I saw the entire time with a camera, which is unusual for Europe, where it seems every place has at least a few tourists at any given time!) I was asked by the police force to not photograph the president's house (but I did manage to get a photo before they asked me not to take a picture). I also photographed the two main orthodox churches, and found a few fun statues. The alphabet is both Cyrillic and Roman, but most (~ 90%) of the written things I saw were in Cyrillic. Fortunately, the "bus station" was written in English! :) Here are a few photos of my stay in Banja Luka.

Where I met the two Serbian guys who took me around the city at night. This place had hundreds of people, and I met 2 of them!

The presidential office (Republic Srpske). No photos, please!

Some famous Serbian guy.

Oh, that's who this guy is. Thanks.

A memorial to the fallen comrades in wars past.

In front of a yellow building.

The Hotel Bosna! To get this pic, I set the timer and put the camera on a lamp post ;)

A local theater.

The church where we had the Orthodox christmas liturgy.

Oh. Thank you. Now I know which way to go!

Banja Luka is famous for its tree-lined boulevards. This one would be very impressive in summer. (The photo doesnt do the length justice ... this boulevard is straight and tree-lined for at least a mile.)

Hey, abstract art with the flags of the Republic!

Art above the doorway to the Orthodox church.

A building within the church grounds. Maybe it's the home of the priest?

The Orthodox church.

A sign with both Cryillic and English!

A government building in Banja Luka.

Wow, and OKC radio station! 95.9, dial us in!

One of the remnants of the war. I guess people lived here? Couldn't really figure it out.

A very nice park on the edge of the city-center (and along the tree-lined boulevard). Even saw a guy jogging laps.

There are indeed very flat lowlands in Bosnia-Herzegovina!

The long line of cars, trucks, and buses waiting to cross the border into Croatia. A 6-hr bus ride to Banja Luka turned into 9.5 hrs home because of the delays getting back into the European Union.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Tim came to visit and ski last week, but before we hit the slopes (die pisten), we toured around Salzburg. Salzburg is basically famous for two famous things: first, it is Mozart's birthplace, and second, the Sound of Music was set nearby. We saw Mozart's geburtshaus (birth house), and we enjoyed the castle (die festung) from its base and saw the city below. We also ran into a game of human chess (well, outdoor chess played with 3-feet-tall pieces on a board 30 ft x 30 ft (1 m, 10 m x 10 m) and watched some ice skating.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Yahoo music

I have discovered, and decided that I really like, Yahoo! Music's "Coffeehouse" radio station. Wow, what good tunes: acoustic guitar, vocals, a good beat, catchy lyrics... what more could you want??! Where has this channel been for the past decade, seriously? Check it out for yourself.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Flo's 27th birthday, and christmas day sledding!

Florian turned 27 on Friday 22 December, and he and Babsi threw a party for their close friends. I enjoyed a nice early-morning game of pantomime (not sure if that's the correct name, but you get the idea: we had to describe something, either by using words or actions), even though my German is pretty weak. It was guys vs. girls, but the guys lost.

I took the train to Paternion on the 25th and joined the Lassnig family for lunch and afternoon sledding. Flo and I had a good talk in the night, and I think we cleared up much of the misunderstanding that was clouding our friendship from the past months. The lessons to be learned are (1) rooming with people is hard, as it tends to amplify the idiosyncrasies of people's personalities; (2) I still struggle with being selfish and prideful, even if I like to think of myself as a jolly good fellow. But there is grace sufficient for me, which is good, because I need it! Here are two photos from the birthday party, and two from the christmas day sledding.

Photo montage: Budapest, snow in Graz, Czech Republic, Istanbul, Venice

Enjoy a selection of photos from my various travels over the past two months. I hope to add commentary soon, but most of the photos are self-explanatory (and I don't know the names of many of the sights that I have photographed!)

Budapest: 28-29 October 2006

Schockl Mountain with Trygve and snow in Graz: 01-02 November 2006

Kralupy and Prague, Czech Republic: 10-12 November 2006

Bratislava, Slovakia: 19 November 2006

Istanbul, Turkey: 20-26 November 2006

Venice, Italy: 01-02 December 2006

    Newer›  ‹Older