Tuesday, January 08, 2002

New Year's and Refrigerators

It's a belated New Year's greeting, but a greeting just the same. I hope everyone had a pleasant break and no problems getting back into the swing of things. I had an excellent break, which was spent almost entirely in a state of relaxation.

We had a huge Christmas feast on Christmas Eve in hotel Dum. In attendance were: Jerry and Carrie, Karen and Loren (as well as Karen's mother, father, and sister), Marsha, Tanya, and me. We had a traditional American holiday meal, with stuffing and the like, and it was great. I even took a picture of my plate of food. After the meal we played electronic Taboo!, which was as fun as a barrel of monkeys. It has an "expert" setting which lists 7 words you cannot say to describe your word, instead of the usual 5 prohibited words. We played using the expert setting, and I think "expert" accurately described the difficulty level of the game. It's hard enough not being able to use 5 words, much less tossing in an additional 2.

Anyway, that was Christmas Eve. The next day (which happened to be Christmas this year) everybody, except Tanya, Marsha, and I, left Prague to do some travelling. Karen and her entourage went on a whirlwind tour of Munich, Paris, and London. Jerry and Carrie went to Cesky Krumlov. I stayed at home and studied Czech. Over the course of the vacation I learned around 200 words including "pachnout" which means "to reek", and"zapachat" which means "to stink".

Both of these verbs can be used (with proper conjugation, mind you) to describe the current state of Jerry's and my refrigerator. So there you have it. Studying Czech can be both useful and entertaining.

My New Year's Eve was by far the most interesting New Year's Eve I've ever experienced. Tanya, Marsha, and I went downtown with a few of our Czech friends. We went to a bridge on the Vltava river, which is right next to the famous Charles Bridge. We had a nice view of the castle and the river and everything else there. Fireworks are far from being illegal here, and it was insane how many people were setting them off absolutely everywhere. It was literally like being in a warzone.

Once midnight came around it seemed like the entire city exploded. The most annoying of these fireworks was a certain kind of firecracker which people would ignite and drop on the ground while walking through a crowd of other people. This would give them time to get away before their concussion grenade went off. If you were too close to one of these (or unlucky enough to have one tossed under your feet) when it went off, it would stun you and cause temporary deafness in the ear which happened to be nearest the detonation. While walking back through the city, by way of Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, it seemed as though everyone had these things, and they were all making full use of them. We were in no danger of being stricken by silence at any moment during that adventurous frolick.

There were two days during the vacation that I spent doing photography in the fine city of Prague. Up until now I've been doing practice photography using print film so I could get an idea of the best ways of photographing different locations and such. I've also been scouting out good spots to take pictures from. Now I feel like I'm ready to start doing a serious study of Prague on slide film, so whatever chances I get in the next several months will be spent attempting to accomplish that. I took a few night shots with slide film at dusk on New Year's Eve, so I'm anxious to see how those turned out. The day before Christmas Eve I also took some nice shots in the snow at Vysehrad, which is an old fortress overlooking the Vltava river.


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