Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

30 Favorite Songs of 2009 - #30-21

One of the things I always love to do towards the end of the year is take a look back.  I love to go back through what I've watched/read/listened to over the past year.  One thing I enjoy doing in particular is looking at what music influenced me over the year and why.  What music hit me the hardest.

So this year I decided to figure out my 30 favorite songs of the year (the list keeps getting bigger).  These are by no means the best of the year (I could never claim anything like that), but are just songs that impacted me the most.

Here we go!

30.  Mos Def - "Life In Marvelous Times"

Although this is a great song, is it possible to say that I liked the album overall more than I did any one song?

29.  White Rabbits - "Percussion Gun"

Although the title is already a pretty good description, the song is full of striking percussion-- but also striking piano and guitar riffs as well.  I like it.

28.  The xx - "Crystalised"

Pitchfork actually described it well: a "dare after dare to risk more with less."

27.  Fanfarlo - "Harold T Wilkins, or How to Wait For a Very Long Time"

The band sounds an awful lot like Beirut, maybe almost too much so at times.  But I still enjoyed the album a great deal.

26. Death Cab For Cutie - "Little Bribes"

My favorite line:  "Every slot machine is a robot amputee waving hello."  And check out this incredible fan-made video that the band decided to make official for the song

Death Cab for Cutie - Little Bribes from Ross Ching on Vimeo.

25.  K'naan - "Wavin' Flag"

Songs from artists like these make you laugh about what other hip-hop artists in America here brag about.  K'naan is a Somalian refugee, who REALLY has something to boast about.  It really puts things into perspective, and definitely humbled me in my own personal life.  What do I have in my life to complain about, really?

24.  Welcome Wagon - "Up On a Mountain"

You may think to yourself, "this group sounds a lot like Sufjan Stevens."  That's because he had a big hand in the production of this album.  But the real players here are Reverend Thomas Vito Aiuto and his wife Monique.  The rest of the album is similar to this beautiful song.  Simple gospel music.

23.  The Swell Season - "In These Arms"

Each year there's at least one of those songs Beth and all call (as many couples do) "ours."  This was definitely one of them.

22.  Frightened Rabbit - "Swim Until You Can't See Land"

One of my favorite lines of the year:  ”Are you a man or are you a bag of sand?”  I'm really excited about this upcoming album.

21.  Bat For Lashes - "Glass"

This artist has been an unexpected surprise.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Moderated Comments (Alternative to #1)

There are many areas that can be commented on, but I'll just say that several of the professors you've tagged (Shelton, Fliger, etc.) and others that you haven't (Dr. E., Wanner, White, so on and so forth) prove it is in fact possible.  I'm kind of surprised you would ask this in this manner (I might be insulted if I were one of these profs).  I was fortunate enough to have some of these kids as friends growing up through middle and high school who helped me significantly in my spiritual and mental growth.  Surely something right was happening at home.  And God definitely used them--I don't think I'd be were I am if it weren't for some of the best friendships I have.

i would talk to these profs and get as much wisdom and advice that you can in this area.  If this is a serious question for you though, then not having kids is definitely the best option at this time.  But if you ask me, just being able to look at the people who do have kids and still exercise the "life of the mind" show that it's a false dichotomy.  Maybe a little bit more difficult, but entirely possible.

I know that when Beth raise our kid, not only will I not stop trying to learn all that I can, but I'll also be learning just through raising a child.  And that's the scary kind of learning.  Where it matters.

Petrozavodsk: Day 5 and 6

Well we've reached our last day in the capital of Karelia.  The time has flown by, but we're definitely worn out from all the activity.

Yesterday much of the day was spent getting necessary footage.  We were able to walk around town, see parts of the city one last time and try to capture those really great moments:  kids sledding, people ice skating, parents walking through the snow with their children, and so on.  We especially wanted to get shots of people in the normal day-to-day routine.  We stopped by a well near our hotel where people get clean water (for a great post on that, check out Marc's blog post) for the daily necessities.  Despite being a sizable city, many people still do not have running water in their homes.

This morning we went to the church we were able to find back on Thursday.  A sign on the front door posted a service was supposed to be held at 10:30.  We got there a little early, but 10:30 came around and still the church remained locked and empty.   It was pretty disappointing.

Right now we're in our hotel room, finishing things up and getting ready to pack up for our train scheduled to leave at 7 tonight.  We're going to get in to Moscow around 9 tomorrow and rush to the airport to catch a 1:30 flight to Sochi.  Our adventure is not over yet!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"with just half of a sunburn"

Thanks to Meredith for this one!

Petrozavodsk: Day 4 - Of Stand-Ups and Ice Fishing

Another cold, snowy day in Petrozavodsk.  I told Marc earlier that although there's knee-deep snow everywhere, I still love it when more falls.

So we were out around lunchtime to do some stand-up shots for the upcoming Engage Russia: Karelians video series. We walked out to the lakeshore and decided to do something Marc and I had never attempted previously:  walk on water.

Don't worry, we're not trying to sound holier than thou.  Walking on water is entirely possible when it's frozen and two feet thick.  Pack two more feet of snow on top of that and you're going to be okay.  Marc and I spotted some ice fishers about 200 yards out on Lake Onega, the second largest lake in Europe (Petrozavodsk being the largest settlement on that lake).  We walked out and met Vladimir, and struck up a conversation with him.  He was incredibly friendly and let us watch as he fished (and caught a few!).

After our time with Vladimir, we quickly did a few more stand-ups and hurried back to the hotel.  Although temperatures were okay when we first left the comfort of our hotel room at noon (around 14 degrees Fahrenheit), the temperature eventually dropped to 5.  We did some relaxing in our room and then took a taxi to attend a service being held at the church I found yesterday.  Sadly, when we arrived  we found the lights out and doors locked.  We just hope it won't be that way when we return on Sunday morning.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Live Vampire Weekend - "Cousins"

Petrozavodsk: Day 3 - The Search

С Рождеством! Merry Christmas!

Today was a rather adventurous day for both Marc and myself.  Marc was able to grab a spot on a helicopter taking people out to Kizhi Island and got great information and footage of some beautiful Orthodox architecture.  While he was on the tour, it was my personal mission to find a particular church here that we're trying to connect with.

Marc and I had been given both an address and a number to a pastor and church here in Petrozavodsk.  Unfortunately the number didn't work out, so it was my job to find this elusive church.  After scouring our map we were able to locate the church.  I decided to head out in the morning on foot.  It was much further than I thought, but I found it.  The church was a mile or so outside of the main city, where apartment complexes and grocery stores are nowhere to be found.  It was a complete change of scenery where small cottages were in abundance.  And there among the wooden fences and water pumps, was the light blue cottage of a church--it didn't stand out or look any different from what I had seen on that particular street.  Here are some photos of the walk there--you'll notice the distinct change:

Petrozavodsk: Day 2

**Just imagine you're reading this yesterday**

What a second day in Petrozavodsk!  While we did sleep in a little (granted, sunrise here is around 10ish), we were off to wandering the streets and lakeshore of Petrozavodsk, looking for museums and anything that would aide us in our research and media project.

The town itself, although small (a mere 260,000 compared to the behemoth Moscow and it’s 15 million inhabitants), bustles with life in a city where the season can be pretty depressing.   Part of that may be because of the holidays—it’s Christmas Eve today (as Orthodox traditions operate on a different calendar than our own), and most Russians have been enjoying some time off since New Years and won’t be resuming their normal work schedule until the 11th of January.  Despite the frigid cold (days here have been hovering around 0-10 F, but it’s usually colder than that around this time) and the scarcity of sunlight, Petrozavodsk seems like a vibrant, cheery town.

Our job here while visiting Petrozavodsk is to learn more about the native Karelians who live here.  Most research we have scoured shows us that there are around 130,000 native Karelians living in the Republic of Karelia—about 10% of the total population.  And that number has been on a steady decline for over 50 years.  Most Karelians it seems have assimilated with Russian culture, while a small number who live in the villages outside of town still live as they have been for the last hundred years.

We will stay in Petrozavodsk until the 10th, so we still have much planned.  Marc is going to the island of Кижи (Kizhi) tomorrow  (by helicopter!), where many beautiful wooden churches are located.  I’ll be in town getting photos and information from anywhere I can find.

Tonight at 11 we are going to head to an Orthodox service here in the city.  It’s not the Christmas Eve/Christmas that you probably imagine.  During Communism the government secularized the holiday as much as possible, making the larger celebration on New Years.  Although many acknowledge and celebrate Christmas, there is little fanfare.  It seems that New Years and Christmas here are a split of our secular and Christian aspects of Christmas -- New Years is the more secular (celebrating with Santa Claus-esque figure Father Frost who delivers presents, etc.), with the Christian and almost entirely religious holiday of Christmas.

Anyways-- here we go.

Engage Russia - To Karelia and Sochi

I have forgotten to mention in previous posts, but for the next 9 days I will be outside of Moscow helping a good friend and co-worker with an Engage Russia video series.  We will spend now through the 10th of January in the city of Petrozavodsk and then head to Sochi on the 11th and stay until the night of the 13th.  Needless to say I'm pretty excited.

We got into Petrozavodsk today after a 15-hour overnight train ride from Moscow.  It was already mostly dark but we still were able to explore part of the town.  We were able to walk up and down Leninsky Prospekt (basically main street), and found out that our hotel is conveniently situated right on the lake!

We look forward to daylight tomorrow and where our adventure will go.

"I like it."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Inception Trailer

WOW. A lot is packed into this minute and twenty second trailer. I have high hopes for this movie.

Resolutions for 2010

Happy New Year!

I hope your holiday season was great.  We're still on a high here in Moscow-- New Year is the big celebration and people are still relaxing and taking it in this weekend.

I've decided to make some resolutions for this year.  I've never really done much with resolutions, and most years I've just made jokes about them, but I'd really like to set some goals for this year:

  • Read more (at least three books a month)
  • Resume budgeting (something we stopped doing once we got to Moscow)
  • Be more comfortable with silence
  • Finish editing videos I've been working on all year (I'd like to time-stamp this one to be finished by the end of February)
  • Learn how to do at least one new thing a month (I don't know if you've seen Away We Go, but there's this scene where after John Krazinski's character finds out he's going to be a father, he tries to learn things like tying knots and whittling wood.  I feel kind of that way--like I need to be more prepared for a child.  Just five months to go!!)
  • Walk three times a week in the morning (but really this is just so I can go a few metro stops down to this awesome French Pastry shop)

There might be more.  I've tried setting goals for myself, and it seems that New Years is a good corporate way of doing so.  We'll see how things go.

Also, be on the lookout.  Beth has started a new hobby-- photography.  She's also starting a blog where she takes at least one picture a day of something involved in our lives.  Her spanking new blog is at:  A Year Through My Eyes.

And finally, here's something I've always been wanting to know (and possibly you have too):