Sunday, July 20, 2014

Things You Don't See in the U.S.

Just a few of the pictures I took around Eastern Europe of things you just don't see in the States. 
This was a mini-mart/7-11 type of store (0-24 indicates that it's a nonstop, open 24 hours store), that sells chicken. Every time we passed it, I thought it looked like there was a giant turd on top of the chicken's finger.



A contacts vending machine I found in the Moscow airport.


At a "beach" in Belgrade, Serbia (a dammed off river area), this ginormous water bottle (easily 3 stories tall, maybe more) was also a water spout/fountain. Most original marketing gimmick I have seen in a long time.

Just a random kid out walking her Shetland pony on the sidewalk. (Which begged the question, was it really a Shetland pony? or some other breed of midget pony?)

This was my hotel room in Timisoara, Romania. No sheets on the beds. Just this oddly folded blanket/comforter. And everything was folded into triangles.

Pepper cream cheese? (which, by the way, we ordered, and was exactly that- cream cheese with paprika and pepper in it). Grilled "chilly" pepper? I do love poorly translated English!

I didn't mean to buy this. I was attempting to ask if some chocolate candies were chocolate covered pomegranates. I kept point at this can and then at the candy. Next thing I know, I've purchased the drink, and not the candy. It was absolutely disgusting. Little floaty bits of aloe jellies in it. So gross. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Favorite Picture


This picture will forever be one of my all-time favorites for the way the moment was captured. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Finally- a real travel post on Romania and Serbia!


I finally have a few minutes to myself for the first time since arriving in Europe last week. I just double-checked the date and time, and discovered it is Thursday, July 10. I honestly thought it was Monday. Traveling on tour can mess with your head that way.
I guess I’m going to have to give this travelogue in reverse order, and jump all over the place. My brain refuses to remember the beginning of this trip. It was too long ago.

Tonight I’m in Timisoara, Romania, a town once known as the Paris of Eastern Europe. It’s also famous for being the city of roses, and the first city in all of Europe to have electric street lamps. All odd claims to fame. But as it turns out, Timisoara is one of my all-time favorite cities. There is a large town square (piata – pronounced pee-awt-suh) in the center of town. My hotel is “Hotel Central,” which is conveniently right off this square. The hotel itself is very clean, but something of a 1960’s stark nightmare. The bathroom has an accordion door to it, which locks from the outside. What would you ever need to lock a bathroom door from the outside for?

The hotel has very typical European, tiny, narrow elevators, designed to hold 2-3 people. I call these the violent elevators. Someone else described it as “they buck you off.” It’s pretty comical. You squeeze into this shoebox of an elevator, which is all mirrored on all sides, and go to your floor. It may or may not actually squarely reach the right floor. But when the doors open, the elevator gives a violent bump. So far I’ve had to grab the wall each time to keep from falling over. It’s amusing to watch someone else do it for the first time. 

Which brings me back to last week in Serbia. As I’ve mentioned, I lived in a floating bar/clubhouse. Each of us that lived in there have had a rough time getting our land legs back under us. I figured it was just my Meniere’s Disease doing exactly what I would expect it to do after living on water, but apparently the other 3 houseboatmates have it too. The elevators here send all 4 of us into a funky swirly dizzy spell for just a minute. For me it’s just a very intense Meniere’s attack. I think it’s the violent jolt with the mirrors, throwing off the sense of balance, and the part where we went from sea level to high mountain altitudes in one day.

Which brings me to the town before this one. We have been in Baile Herculane, Romania for the past few days. We drove to Timisoara today. Herculane (pronounced hair-kyu-lawn) was sort of the Park City or Deer Valley of Romania. Except without shopping. It had several high end hotels (by Romanian standards), and some fun history to it. So maybe it was more the Heber City of Romania? It was way up in the mountains, and simply beautiful. It translates to the “Bath of Hercules.” It’s the natural springs and cold bath houses where Isis, Neptune, and Hercules all supposedly came to rest and relax.

In typical Romanian style they’ve built a whole town around their historical marker, but haven’t bothered to fix up the actual bath houses. So you can only look at them from the street or through a boarded up door. Very cool marble statues, and nice cool air. But no springs, because in typical Romanian tradition, they’ve blocked off the water, to reroute it for some unknown use. So really it’s all a town about “something cool used to be here, we can tell you about it, but not show it to you.”


Our experiences in Serbia were, according to my companions, typical dance tour activities. We stayed with host families, went on a tour of the city, visited the orphanages, performed with the host dance company, went to church, had a party with the hosts, and left. Pretty normal stuff for Clog America apparently.
Our time in Baile Herculane was anything but typical. Everyone was surprised. We were put up in a 4 star hotel (I even got a massage- more on that bizarre experience later), ate (for free) in the hotel restaurant, walked to the performing venue (right next door to our hotel) with was an outdoor amphitheater, and had tons of free time. We also got a tour from a nice guide who took us up to a cave and to a zip line.


So let’s stop here and discuss clogging. I’ve now seen the Clog America show several times over. I’m becoming an expert on this one show. I’ve also seen Serbian folk dancers, Romanian, Georgian, Armenian, Ukrainian, Turkish, and a dozen others. (I have an affinity for the “tiny Ukrainian dancers.” They dress in little ninja costumes and do this cute little “he-man” dance. I love it. I can’t wait to see it again tomorrow.) 



Most of these dances are pretty similar in style. Men kick, women prance daintily around them. There are lots of accordions and saxophones. You really can’t tell the difference between most countries. And after you’ve seen about 5 of these dances, you’ve seen them all. It can get pretty boring. But one thing is for certain at every show. They LOVE Clog America. Our team gets up there and does the Charleston, a 50s swing number, and a bunch of hoedown numbers, and the crowd goes wild.

We’ve come all this way for approximately a 10-20 minute show every evening. Today we were supposed to be in a parade before the big show. (I use the term “we” lightly since I’m not actually a performer.) But due to the rain that never happened. After the parade got canceled, the sun came out. So the band (and our band is awesome) went in costume to the middle of the square, and put on a concert of their own. They got a huge crowd all around them. Romanians were dancing in the square and calling out requests for “Clementine” and “Susannah.”

Speaking of our band- 3 members of the band are family. Nate, Adam, and Chrissy Keller are siblings. Their dad, Ivan, is also on tour with us. I believe Nate and Adam have been on over 10 tours with Clog America, and Chrissy maybe 5. Ivan is 77 years old. He just likes to see his kids perform and to travel. He keeps his schedule pretty easy, but he tries to keep up with the rest of us. He’s a very nice man, and always doing kind things for everyone around here. Yesterday at the outdoor show in Herculane the team was presented a trophy from the festival, and the Kellers were acknowledged. Much to everyone’s surprise, the announcer also acknowledged Ivan, sitting up in the stands. The crowd demanded he stand up and take a bow. I’m sure we missed something in the translation, but basically they gave him a standing ovation for raising 3 talented children. It was really an interesting cultural moment to see how they honored this father. It was very touching for the Americans to witness. (Of course, we all adore Ivan, and agree he deserves more ovations.)

My free time is rapidly dwindling, so I'll end this travelogue here. I'll write more about the rest of this trip the next time I'm caught up on sleep and have some free time to myself. 
And again, please go visit http://clog-america.blogspot.com and http://instagram.com/clogamerica for more pictures and stories. I'm putting a lot of work into those! 

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Serbian Boathouse Living



Forgive me the poor quality of this video. It's just for fun to give you an idea of what life was like in our little boathouse in Serbia last week.
There was much laughter, chaos, and stuff everywhere. This was taken probably around 11 pm on Sunday night. We had 4 women in a studio apartment, living above a bar/clubhouse. Our bathroom was about the size of a train or airplane bathroom (plus a shower).
There was no furniture in the room- just 3 mattresses on the floor. (You'll notice there are 5 women in the video, including me. That's because one of the dancers, Ashlynn, was visiting us for a few hours.) We did find a few small chairs in the bar that we used as shelves.
Every time there was a lot of movement downstairs or a boat would go by in the lake, our little boathouse would rock. We had clothes hanging from a makeshift clothesline, and they would sway back and forth when the room rocked. I was trying to capture it on video. If you look closely, you can sort of see how the clothes never hold still.
But mostly you can just see the complete chaos we turned the place into. It was a brand-new apartment, very clean, and a very fun and unique experience!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

whereabouts

A very quick and fast attempt to explain my whereabouts-

We were in Belgrade for a few days.
And then we took a bus to Romania.
We've been here 2 days.
We'll be in this town 1.5 more days, and then go to another town.
I forget how long we'll be in that town.
And then we'll go back to a different town in Serbia for a few more days.
And then I will go back to Moscow for 1 day.
And then home.
Where I shall sleep a lot.



Monday, July 07, 2014

go read the other blog

i only have so much internet access while we travel.
and i only have so much energy to blog.
so please go visit http://clog-america.blogspot.com for the fun stories and pictures.

i'll get back over here sooner or later. probably later. or maybe tomorrow. i really don't know.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Orphanage Day



Today was orphanage day. We had a wonderful time visiting an orphanage in Belgrade and then a home for mentally disabled men. It was so much fun. I taught the little girl in this picture how to blow bubbles, and the joy of playing with a slinky. I may have even taught her to say slinky.
I won't be in many pictures during this trip, since I'm the one taking pictures of everyone else. There are lots of stories and pictures up on the Clog America blog and Instagram feed today.
All in all, a great day.
Stories and pictures to come when I have 5 minutes to myself. 

Thursday, July 03, 2014

I'm on a boat!


Okay, maybe not a boat.
I'm on/in a floating club house on a river. But it's not a river house. It's also not a lake house, regardless of the fact that we've dubbed it the lake house. I'm in a club house owned by a dance club (Klub Talija), where they come to hang out, drink, etc. It's the base camp for this leg of our trip. Our group members are staying with host families nearby and around Belgrade. I'm staying with a few of the other older staff members (some very fun ladies), in an apartment on top of this floating party house.
More stories and pictures when I'm not quite so tired!
Be sure to follow us on Instagram.com/ClogAmerica and clog-america.blogspot.com for lots more pictures and stories.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Sharing the Gospel through Social Media


My new book, Sharing the Gospel through Social Media, is now available on Amazon!
You can download it for free between now and July 3, or procrastinate and pay $2.99 after that. 
(And really, I don't mind if you wait and pay!) 

Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ has never been easier. This book was written to help bishops, ward mission leaders, stake presidents, stake public affairs directors, mission presidents, and every day member missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, learn to navigate and appreciate the potential of social media in their missionary efforts.
Explanations, ideas, and strategies are provided on how to incorporate Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and other networks into Mormon missionary efforts.
This ebook makes it easy for even social media beginners to effectively share the gospel online.

But wait! There's more!
I decided to make ALL of my books free on Amazon this week!
I've updated both, "Increase e-Book Sales with Social Media Marketing" and "You Heard It Here First." In fact, "You Heard It Here First," has been heavily edited and is about 80 pages shorter than before! (Which is a crazy load of work, I tell you!) 
Increase e-Book Sales with Social Media Marketing (now with a great new cover, and better editing)
You Heard It Here First Goes on sale Wednesday.
This Just In! (Also goes on sale Wednesday)
Beyond Perfection (not on sale, since the publisher controls that, not me)  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hello Blog, it's been a while

Wearing my Real Salt Lake team shirt to support Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando on USMNT!

It's been about a week since the last time I posted on here. Which isn't too bad considering I've been going about 2-3 weeks between posts lately. But it's been even longer since I posted any day to day kind of stuff.
I guess my day to day life hasn't been all that interesting lately. Unemployment can be like that. I don't have the funds to go out very often. But I've been making an effort to do something fun at least once a week, to try and stave off unemployed depression. Some weeks I succeed, oftentimes I don't.
Next week I leave for my big Eastern European dance tour trip. Which, by the way, you can follow at Clog-America.blogspot.com, and on Instagram and Twitter as @ClogAmerica. I'm the social media person for the trip, so I'll be the one posting on those accounts. GO FOLLOW US!
I started packing tonight, but I started preparing for this trip weeks ago. I learned a trick before I went to Cambodia to beat jet lag, and I'm doing it again. A lot of people make the mistake of staying up all night before a big trip, and then try to sleep on the plane, and assume they can wake up at their destination, and "be on the right time zone." This usually backfires, and instead you're sleep deprived and groggy, and it takes a few days to adjust.
Because I want to be able to hit the ground running on this trip, particularly during my layover, I'm applying this little trick again. Instead of staying up all night, you plan to wake up earlier and earlier in the days prior to your trip. Since I have a 7 hour time difference ahead of me, I start 6-7 days in advance, waking up one hour earlier each day. (And hopefully going to bed earlier each night as well. This part takes a few days to kick in, I've noticed.) On the day I leave for the trip, I'll wake up at midnight (and hopefully go to bed around 4-5 pm the night before). When I get to my destination (in this case, Moscow) I will already be on their time zone, and not need to adjust or be sleepy.
Which reminds me- I'm going to Moscow!
My real destination is Belgrade, Serbia and Timisoara, Romania. But due to a lack of direct flights to Belgrade, I have a 25 hour layover in Moscow. And I land in Moscow at 6 a.m. (which would be 11 pm in Virginia). I got my Russian visa so I can leave the airport and tour around Moscow for the day. I'm very excited about getting to see Moscow. And actually, I get to see it twice because I have the same long layover on my return flight as well.
The real pressure this past week hasn't just been sleeping at strange times and packing. I WROTE A NEW BOOK! And if all goes well, and I'm hopeful that it will, it will be available on Amazon on Sunday. The title is, "Sharing the Gospel through Social Media." It's non-fiction (obviously), and is a guidebook for Mormons who wish to do missionary work online, and share the Gospel through social media. It's only about 30 pages, and fairly easy to read (I hope). It's in the hands of editors and reviewers right now. Fingers crossed that all goes according to plan.
Oh and then there is this little thing called the World Cup. (If you recall I've been a soccer fan for a very long time. How many blog posts have there been about Real Salt Lake games?) I've watched more ESPN in the past 2 weeks than I have in the past 2 (4?) years! I have to admit, I've watched more soccer than I should have. I find it very hard to multi-task or write when soccer is on the TV!
That all being said, I have to wake up in 5 hours. Time for bed!

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