Friday, April 30, 2010

You can take the man out of the U.S., but you can't take the U.S. out of the man

I love me a good burger! I'm talking Five Guys in a paper back with fresh cut fries style. Although there are many tasty food delicacies I have grown to love in Iceland (Vinarbrau├░ for example) it's not always easy to come by a burger of Five Guys quality. About a month ago I went out to lunch with an Icelandic friend of mine who lived in the states for a long time and we hit up a little burger joint right by the school Annie and I go to for language class. I was quite pleased with the burger and tore into it like a well-trained carnivore. Somewhere in the midst of the fury I remember my friend saying something like, "I have had to get used to eating burgers with a knife and fork again now that I am back in Iceland." I looked down at my empty plate and thought...fork,knife?...I didn't even see those...well looky there. Yesterday I went to the same place with the same friend and ordered the same burger. Before I was overcome by my instincts I noticed a fork and knife and picked them up. It was unnatural and difficult for me, but I managed to eat the whole thing without touching it with my hands. I just wanted to let you know it can be done, but only with extreme discipline. And for those of you keeping track, I give 3 sporks to Vitabar for a nice lunchtime burger experience

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Volcano Pronunciation Highlight Reel

I realize many have already seen this, but I wanted to post it for posterity's sake. Pronouncing the name of the current volcano in Iceland is far from easy and the newscasters were in over there heads for the week that the volcano was such a big news story. Here is a highlight reel for those who have missed it. And while you watch, remember that we have spent a little more than a year trying to pronounce words just like that. Well maybe not exactly, but you get the picture.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Volcanic Beauty

There continues to be no sign of the volcano here in Reykjavik. On and off I have heard that we could experience some falling ash toward the end of the week if the wind changes. It's hard to tell what will happen really.
In the meantime there have been some breathtaking photos taken during the night as the lightning fires in the midst of the cloud coming out of the center. You can see some of the pictures for yourself here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Why I think the IPad is cool, but still love my Kindle

I really like Apple products. I have a MacBook Pro and an IPod. I think the IPhone is fantastic even though I do not have one myself. About eight months ago I bought an Amazon Kindle reading device, and I have not experienced any buyer's remorse in the face of the new IPad excitement. The net is abuzz with articles about the IPad killing the Kindle. I have seen multiple articles and seen quite a few videos asserting the superiority of the Apple tablet device over the low function Kindle. So, I have asked myself why, at this time, I am perfectly content with my Kindle.

1. Significant price difference. I would not have convinced myself to spend the money for an IPad (currently over $600) but found the price of the Kindle (I paid $250) attainable.

2. I am a reader and wanted a reading device. For me, I enjoy settling into a good book for an extended amount of time. I also found myself easily distracted at times when other forms of media are in reach. With the Kindle I feel like I have grabbed a book and not my computer. Others may not experience this, but I do.

3. The Kindle screen. I find reading on the kindle screen incredibly comfortable. For those of you who do not understand this, the Kindle does not use a backlit LCD screen. The screen is designed with the goal of imitating paper and does so quite well. There has been a day or two where I have spent more than 8 hours reading on it and never experienced the sensation of eye strain that I experience sometimes after prolonged periods in front of the computer.

4. Battery Life. Granted, I have not experienced the battery life of the IPad, but I have heard that it is about 8-10 hours. My experience with other Apple devices leads me to believe that number is probably a bit lower than that in reality, especially as the device ages. The Kindle has continually amazed me with its battery life. My guess is that it has to be well over 25 hours worth of reading. Even at times of high reading I have found it to last around two weeks worth of use.

If you love the written word and you are looking for a device that will function as a mobile library, go for the Kindle. It is the best reading device on the market. If you want a multi-use device and can afford it, go for the IPad. Among readers I think the Kindle will remain popular and for good reason.

Here is a good article that highlights some of what I have said.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The True Adventure

On September 1st, 2000, Colby asked me if there was any chance we would ever be more than friends.

I told him absolutely not.

I was happy to be neighbors for the rest of my life, but getting into a serious relationship was out of the question.  I wasn't ready to start dating him because I feared that would lead to marriage, and marriage would lead to boring lives that consisted of work and PBS television every evening.
I told Colby early that late summer evening that getting into a relationship felt synonymous to being locked in a prison.  I was only twenty, for heaven's sake.  I  needed to see the world first, I told him.  I had never been to Europe and it was calling my name.  How could I possibly settle down before backpacking Europe?  I wanted adventure, not confinement in a jail cell.  Poor Colby...He was just asking for a date.

His response to my soliloquy was that chasing adventure in and of itself is empty and the true adventure is found in pursuing God's purposes for your life.  For seven hours we sat on a park bench through a rain storm, a sunset, and twilight.  That night at 11:30 p.m., I finally consented to taking the first step on the road of our relationship, and one year later on September 1st we were married.

Over the last 13 months, life with it's unexpected twists and turns has taken us to seven different European countries.  The most recent was Spain.  I don't say this very often, but Colby was right.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Volcanic Excitement

I thought I would attach a couple video of the most recent volcanic eruption that began two days ago. Yes, there has been another one, very close to the first one. The most recent eruption was considerably larger and took place under the glacier producing major flooding from the melting ice. Most notable is the ash cloud that has extended to the British Isles and Northern Europe putting a stop for now to all commercial flights in the area that it covers. Yes folks, I mean all the flights in the UK and mainland Northern Europe. The irony is that because the volcano is to the east of Reykjavik and the international airport in Keflavik, and the wind has pushed the ash cloud to the east and south, it is still possible to fly out from Iceland to destinations not in the affected area. Here are some videos we thought you might enjoy.

Interesting Footage
Volcano Grounds Flights

And for those of you who might not understand the irony of an Icelandic volcano shutting down the airspace in the UK you might want to read this here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ultrasound Remix

We returned to the doctor on Monday for another ultrasound in hopes of gaining a little more information about the baby's heart condition. After some time the doctor spent some time explaining his findings and answering our questions. We are really appreciative of the medical staff at Barnaspitali here in Reykjavik for spotting the problem and helping us get started on the journey. So here is what we learned on Monday...

1. The doctor is pretty confident that it is Critical Pulmonary Stenosis rather than Pulmonary Atresia with Intact Ventricular Septum
2. There is a good possibility that a Cathetarization may be able to take care of the problem
3. The Pulmonary Artery looks good and he thinks there may be some blood getting through to it. If so it means there may be at least a small needle opening in the valve.

Over the past few weeks we have had the opportunity to settle into the reality of the situation and as we have come to a better understanding some of the fears have subsided. We rest in God's grace that has been evident in ways that I hope to be able to explain at a later time. Without waxing too theological, we are thankful for the confidence we have in God's love for us in the midst of difficulty. We have always believed that God's purposes in the world are more complex, interesting, and mysterious than simply providing us with individual safety and comfort. Many of the events in life help us to understand where our greatest good and most certain joy can be found, as well as where it cannot be found. It cannot be found,though we often look for it, in our own health and vitality - for they are merely gifts, when we possess them, meant to point us to their giver. We believe that God himself is our greatest good and deepest joy and trust that through this experience he will give us a greater measure of himself to know and enjoy by faith. The hope that we have through Christ making a relationship to God open to us is the same hope that the Apostle Paul writes about when he reminds us that "nothing can separate us from the love of God that is found in Christ." That "nothing" includes the fears that accompany finding out that your baby will be born with a heart defect. For this we are grateful.

As we continue to work through everything you can pray specifically that the baby's right ventricle would grow and develop well over the next few months and that we would have wisdom as we work with doctors to make a plan for the birth and procedure.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Monkey Business

Our day at Gibraltar was a big hit with the whole family as we had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the natives...