Donnerstag, 17. November 2011


Hey hey hey...

So I took a peak at my syllabii earlier this week and low and behold I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. That's right.. only 6 more Shorts Stories, 4 More Poems,3 more translation, 1 more Play, and 1 more Novel to go until I'm officially into Christmas Break. Bring on the Leberkuchen, and Kinderpunsch.

It makes me all sorts of excited. :) The sunning is setting at 4pm, and the lights of the Weihnactsmarkte are making up for it with enough cozy twinkling to give even the jolliest elf nausea :P

Ok.. it's not that bad, but German sure know how to celebrate Christmas. I mean. Honestly.. It puts us Americans to shame. As far as Christmas goes in America we got three days of good ol' celebration/fighting. AKA Black Friday, Christmas Eve, and Christmas (You can throw in New Years if you want.. still won't make a difference.), but In Germany we got The 4 Advents, St Nicolas Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Second Christmas. (I'm leaving out Mary's Conception Day, and Ephinany because while cool they're not too celebrated.), and that gives us a total of 8 DAYS of celebration. Not even the Jews got it so good.

Anyway, you can probably tell that I'm excited, but who wouldn't be. What's even more exciting is that not only do German's take Christmas seriously. They also don't mess around when it comes to Christmas Break.

Starting sometime within the first two weeks of Christmas, until Mid February, I am going to have more free time, (and thanks to budgeting and school grants :) ) and money than I can shake a stick at.

What am I to do? So far I've got three ideas, on which I can't decide, and so.. I'm leaving it up to you. My loving masses (12 people can count as a mass right? 33 if you count Nieces, Nephews, and In-Laws) to help me decide. To your right there is a poll wherein I have set the parameters for my possible January Adventures.

If further explanation is needed here are my options in detail.

1) Cycling Italy
Pretty straight forward really. Get a bike, catch a train, and go far enough South to find the sun. I'm thinking somewhere between Rome and Sicily. The plan here would be to spend 2-3 weeks, more or less riding where ever I felt like. Most towns have a Hostel and so every day I can pick a destination and ride there. Take in the sights, Catch some Rays, Get lost in Translation again. All in the life of a Cyclist.

2) Ski Bum Around Austria/Switzerland
More or less the same thing as Italy, but instead of going for sun, I'm going for snow. Places like Innsbruck, and St. Anton are Skiing Meccas for the european scene, and once again.. Hostels are cheap and warm, and ski rental prices are pretty reasonable. With nothing but a bag full of gear, and a lunchbox full of trailmix, bratwurst, and gouda, this trip could be a once in a lifetime homeless experience ;)

3) No place like home
This option I came across whilst looking for plane fair to England, but right now flights back home to Idaho are SUPER cheap. And Mom's homecooking always does a body good. Just an idea.

So go to the polls, and click your dot. Lets see where you would go if you were me.

Freitag, 11. November 2011


So a question. What has to be wrong with you before the following occurs?

So as many of you know I love bikes. I've ridden and/or competed in nearly every form of cycling from XC Races to Road to Time Trial to Cyclocross, and even DH and Freeride. I also seem to have a bike for every form of race as well. On top of that I've worked for the past 6 years in bike shops. First as a salesman, and later on as a mechanic. The collective worth of all my bikes combined, is probably more than what was paid for my last two cars (combined). I also have a name and personality for each one of my bikes. :) Ok.. so maybe love is too weak of a word here, but I believe I make my point clear that for me, biking isn't just a hobby, it's a passion. Whether that passion borders on the sociopathic, I'll let you decide.

Anyway... knowing who I am, I knew it was going to be tough living here in Germany without a bike. I thought I could make do. I mean "logically" it's only ten months, it'll be winter most of the time, and it wouldn't be worth it to drag a bike all the way over from the states. Little did I know that not only beauty, but value is also in the eye of the beholder, and I was scarcely here a month before I realized the gravity of my error in coming to EUROPE without a bike.

And when it rains it pours, because we're now a fair chunk into November and we've yet to even hit below 0 C (32 F for Americans). Heck.. today was warm enough to spend outside with only jeans and a t-shirt on. And everywhere I look there seems to be someone with a bike (The apartment bike rack is right outside my window), and more than once I've contemplated buying a pair of bolt cutters.

Obviously something is up, and in order to keep myself from going Rogue and ending up in some German Prison with nothing but a single Bratwurst and a warm beer (ask a german for bread and water and he'll just look at you funny), I've found many small ways to cope.

First, was the internet. Specifically Second came Bike Magazines (an article rating Germany's Mountain Bike Parks caught my eye), and most recently it's been visiting Bike Shops on my free afternoons, specifically a shop not too far from my house called Stadler. Imagine Performance Bikes, but larger selection (Sorry for those who don't know about Performance Bikes. You'll have to remain out of the loop [and if the paranthesis(or would that be parenthii?) are bothering you, just skip em. They're kinda useless comments anyway.].).

Well earlier this week I was going through one of my normal perusals of their wares, when a pretty snazzy looking bike, for a decent sum, caught my eye. Pulling it off the shelf for a closer inspection I found it even more appealing, and decided to take it for a spin(This store has a built in track for test riding.), and much to my dismay I found that the bike was COMPLETELY out of tune. Rear Shift Cable needed tensioning, Front Derailluer was out of alignment, handlebars were rolled too far forward, front quick-release was loose (didn't get too far with that one), and the wheels hadn't been tensioned properly (most likely not at all.).

Disappointed, but knowing that sometimes these things happen, and that the mechanic responsible for building this bike was probably a newbie like I once was (I remember weeks, where everyday my VERY patient boss would bring my works back down from the sales floor and tell me to get it right) I found a salesman and told him what was up.

And guess what he said. He looked at me somewhat confused and said "Oh, that's not one of our test ride bikes." HUH? Wrong answer there buddy! I don't care if this is a test ride bike or not, 1) if you intend to sell this bike, you better well be concerned that it's built right or you're going to have a very pissed off customer, and 2) if you're going to let customers ride around on bikes put out on the floor then you better make sure that they're safe to ride. That and about 4-5 points drilled into my head by my boss over the last few years ran through my head, but arguing with someone who doesn't know what they're talking about is alot like arguing online with people in the comments section. You may be right, but you still look like an idiot.

So I didn't say a word. Just nodded, put the bike back, and went home vowing to myself that I'd never buy a bike from this place.

Now here I am two days later, and nearing the end of this lil' novella. It's friday afternoon, and I'm once again bored (aka can't read another novel about German Buergertum or else my head will explode), and in need of some fresh air I find myself wandering through the automatic doors of Stadler again.

Accept this time. I've got a multi-tool stashed in my pocket. With all the relaxed-suave-super chill moves of Danny Ocean I slowly make my way to that poor deprived soul (I mean the Bike, and yes.. they do have souls.) to see if anything had been done. Nope.

A careful look around shows that we're alone. I can't spot any cameras swiveling from the rafters, and all the workers seem to be occupied with one task or another. I've got my tools in my hand, and while pretending to be simply "looking" I loosen, adjust, and retighten, one piece at a time. And then, hop on the bike and go for a short spin around the track, secretly loosening barrel adjusters, and putting the derailleur stops back into place. All under the secret guise of a simple customer, testing the fit of a bike.

The whole process was maybe ten minutes. And most of that was spent doing a few victory laps around the store, because after getting the love she deserved(didn't I explain that all bikes female, I don't know how they reproduce, but they are), she was so in tune that she sang like the fat lady at the end of the show. It was great, and I think I may have found myself a new level of bike obsession to keep me satisfied until I can be reunited with Miss Devinci, Fuji Apple, and Sweet Pea next summer. Namely: Superhero Bike Mechanic (any nieces/nephews who wish to submit crayon drawings of my superhero outfit will be greatly loved [I'd offer presents but Uncle is poor and love is free.].).

Or maybe I'm just sick. But if this is sick then I don't want to be healthy.

Dienstag, 8. November 2011


So as many of you already know. There's a certain man in the LDS Church who is kind of a celebrity amongst Saints, Airline Pilots, and German Speaking Missionaries, and if you've managed to come this far without reading the blog title I'll give you a hint. He's the only German Second Counselor in the First Presidency. That's right, it's President Dieter F.(Short for Friedrich I believe) Uchtdorf, and his birthday is on November 6th, (Guy Fawlkes fans may enter their own "Remember Remember Jokes here"), and in order to celebrate he decided to throw a fireside. Quite the partier wouldn't you say? Well I guess when you've got enough friends to fill two stake buildings, a fireside is the safer way to go, but anyway I digress. Back on topic, in celebration of his birthday, President Uchtdorf came back to his home stake and held a fireside for the members he's known almost all his life.
And luckily for this German bound guy, President Uchtdorf is the former stake president of the Darmstadt/Frankfurt/Heidelberg area, which just so happens to be my stake. :) hooray.
But wait, there's more!
In a special invitation to many of the YSA in the area who are active in institute, the choir seats were left open as a place for them to sit.

So... fast forward to last sunday, as the chapel, cultural hall, overflow room 1, overflow room 2, and overflow room 3 were filling themselves one mini van sized family at a time, this skinny college student managed to squeeze a spot roughly ten feet away from the podium. After assuring that both the podium, and estimated seating arrangement of Uchtdorf and Frau were as close as possible, and that a clear line of sight would be maintainable at all time I settled in for the next 90 minutes.
As he walked into the chapel there was the expected wave of silence, as the congregation stood, but what took me by surprise was how instead of taking the most direct route to the pulpit, he progressed around the chapel through a series of hugs, and handshakes from one old friend to the next, until he eventually made his way to the stand where he took his place.
I didn't have a camera handy, but my friend Sara was kind enough to provide this shot. Basically if you remove that clump of hair on the left side, and slide the camera a few inches over to the left you'll see me. :) I know this is about as much proof of my being present as there being life on other planets, but hey.. they're both plausible right?

Anyway, President Uchtdorf gave a wonderful talk, that as far as my notes say was about the using of small and simple things to build and bear testimony. He didn't have a specific topic as far as I could tell, and mostly his tone was that of speaking to friends and family rather than teaching a specific lesson.

He provided a few anecdotes, recalled a few memories, and gave his testimony of the authenticity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

My favorite story, was probably the one he tells of when a newly baptized family first came into his ward. There was a young woman in this family that he described as "the one with large brown eyes", and he explained how as a teacher, he'd try and organize his route while organizing the sacrament so that he could be the one to hand her the bread/water. He always wore his best suit on those days, and made sure it didn't get wet or wrinkled or worn.

She knew him as: The boy who always wore the same suit.

He argued it was the only one he had.

Needless to say that brown-eyed girl eventually became Sister Uchtdorf, and it's funny to note the effect one pretty girl who knows her standards, can work on even the scrawniest of deacons.

All in all the fireside was a grand ol' time. And after the closing prayer Uchtdorf surprised us by running back up the microphone to tell everyone to not run away so fast, as he still needed to track down some friends and catch up. We surprised him in turn by sinking an off key, multilingual rendition of Happy Birthday.

I didn't get to shake his hand, but he did shake the hand of the guy next to me, and was probably about to shake mine, but the quickly growing mob (interesting that now our Prophets are mobbed with handshakes and hugs) swept him away before he could. It's all ok though. I got to stand a few feet from him, and got to look him in the eye. (He's shorter than I thought), and that really was more than I could've ever hoped form.