August 28, 2011
My writing mood has shifted slightly today.
I am enjoying writing each day, but I found that I was starting to dread the late night technological challenges, particularly regarding uploading photos. Roughly two-thirds of my attempts to upload time out after 4-5 minutes while the rest take 2-4 minutes. In short, a man can lose an hour or two to the process.
Since I am committed to maintaining my sunny disposition, I plan to reduce the amount of photos until I get a better connection.
In its place, I will regale you with wit and insight. Not sure you believe it? How about decent spelling and generally acceptable syntax?
Here is the one picture from today. I got a post from a camp parent challenging us to find the statue of an upside down horse. As we have previously determined, a statue with a horse is not a problem. These countries dig their dudes on horses, but they seem rather particular about the horses being both 1) standing right-side up and 2) alive. Finding one that is neither is a bit of a trick. After little Internet magic and a good mapquest moment, we found this statue entitled “Object” by a young artist named David Cerny. I am not sure exactly what his message is. Possibilities include “the refutation of traditional authority”, “don’t drink and saddle” or “do not try this at home”. In any event, we never shirk form a challenge, so here is a picture to prove that we got there. Wiley chose to connect with the horse in this shot.
Chatting with the Baskins
I love my kids, but they have some conversational quirks. Virginia can become a human filibuster. As we walked home last night, I was hand-in-hand with her (OK, every can say “aaawwww”. Done? Now we can return to the tale) and she was telling me camp stories from both Camp Champions and the camp she attended later in the summer in North Carolina. I think she shared every such story. I am not sure she even inhaled long enough to take a break. Instead, I suspect that she utilizes “circular breather” that enables her to inhale through her nostrils while continuing to talk through her mouth. When she really gets on a role, we call it “death by conversation”. I loved hearing it all, but my mind requires the occasional break. None are available.
Terrill, on the other hand, treats life like a libretto. She will sing a question or answer. To be clear, there is no real discernible melody in her singing, but this does not deter her. We have gone an hour with all her comments accompanied with music.
Wiley has adopted a love for random humor. Let me stop there. Let’s call them “random thoughts”. Some are just too bizarre to be real humor. I have been asked would I rather eat a taco shaped like a penguin or a taco filled with real penguin. BTW, there is a right answer. I did not choose it.
Liam is on the cusp of being WAY too cool to travel with his parents, but he also can be extremely appreciative. Whether we get the embarrassed teen or the enthusiastic traveller seems to be a random event. I have seen no pattern.
Hunting vs Gathering
The boys were frustrated as we walked through an open air market full of jewelry, crafts, cool clothes and other interesting items. They knew we had a goal (get to the Castle). The booths were not part of that goal. The gals, on the other hand, were enjoying observing the wares and commenting on them. Their annoyance reminded me of an epically funny one-man comedy show called “Defending the Caveman”. The writer postulates that all major differences between the genders started with the caveman. His best example concerned the very phenomenon that I described above - shopping. He suggests that men were hunters - they chose a goal (kill mastodon), they developed a direct and focused plan (surround mastodon, fill with spears) and they executed the plan. Women were instead more skilled at gathering, which was more conducive to child-rearing. A good gatherer is constantly scanning the environs for possible food - evaluating color, smell, touch and taste - to assure its quality.
These tendencies emerge in stark contrast in shopping. A man says “need shirt”, so he enters store, buys “kills” shirt and returns home with the trophy. A woman will get the shirt, but she will also see and appreciate other interesting or attractive items - perhaps for purchase, but just as likely for a cursory evaluation. I got a huge kick out of watching my boys experience for the first time the fact that everyone is not as goal-oriented as they are.
Finns vs Hungarians
Finally, we learned and interesting fact and an amusing insult today from our Czech host Dagmar (I kid you not, that is her name). Susie and Dagmar were discussion how tricky the Czech language is. That brought them to a discussion of other tough languages and Hungarian (famous for its difficulty). It turns out that Hungarian is quite dissimilar to that of all its neighbors. Instead of being a close relative to the Slavic tongues or German, it is extremely similar to Finnish. Yea, I did not see that one coming either.
In any event, there is no love lost between the Finns and the Hungarians. [Note: how do two countries separated by a lot of land and a lot of water get to be rivals? The Texas Longhorns are rivals with A&M and OU, not Utah or Tennessee. I cannot think of any major trade - blubber for beer? I would love to have more information on this one.]
This setup explains a favorite Finnish joke. A wise Finn once decided to gather more subjects to his land. He traveled to Hungary and erected signs: free beautiful land to anyone who comes to Finland.
Everyone who could read, moved to Finland. Everyone who was unable to read, stayed in Hungary. This explains the superior intelligence of the Finns.
If you are Hungarian, I mean no offense. It is not my joke. In fact, it is not all that funny. I, however, do love the fact that two disparate countries can have such a bizarre rivalry. It reminds me of similar (but more understandable) rivalry between Australia and New Zealand and a similar joke. During a big economic downturn in New Zealand, a large number of Kiwis were leaving for Australia to find work. When asked what she thought about this trend, the New Zealand Prime Minister drying replied, “It is raising the average IQ of both countries.”
PS We want to tell all our friends affected by Irene that we are thinking about you and hope that you weather the storm well!