Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The winter of death


Winter here in Estonia is beautiful, everything is white and wonderful. It hasn't been cold so it has been a great winter so far. I see lots of cars getting stuck and I always think, boy public transport is so underrated! I thought I would highlight one aspect of the Estonian winter that you might find interesting. It's deadly! Several people have died already, one got lost in a snow storm and died, a few elderly people died as well. This is nothing too out of the ordinary, what is really crazy is the threat of falling icicles! Last year a girl was put in a coma. Each building is responsible for removing icicles and snow so they don't fall on people. This year one of the guys removing the snow from a roof of a building fell off and was seriously hurt. It seems if it is one of those darned if you do, darned if you don't situations. Anyway so far we are safe and hopefully it stays that way!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Snow!



There has been a huge snow storm in Estonia the last few days, yes in addition to the several weeks of snow earlier. This time most of the snow was in Tartu, last time most of it was in Tallinn. This is a record year for the amount of snow fall in December in most places. In the recent snow storm some places got 12 inches of snow in one day! It is pretty crazy out there, I'm glad I don't have a car. Maris is going to Tartu today, the roads should be cleared by the time she leaves. Good thing she got boots last Christmas, she will need them in Tartu!! Life in Estonia is never boring. The picture of the bus stop is from Tallinn the car picture is from Tartu.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas!







It is December and we are both getting excited for Christmas. We put up our Christmas decorations, and outside is a wonderful winter wonderland. I haven't been to old town yet, but I'm sure it is beautiful there too. They usually have a Christmas market and a huge Christmas tree put up in the town square. Did you know that the first Christmas tree was in either Estonia or Latvia? They both argue that they were the first.
Merry Christmas!
PS the beautiful snowflake in the picture was made by Maris.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving and a boat load of snow!




We had a wonderful Thanksgiving here in Estonia. We had a Thanksgiving lunch because I had class at night and Maris had class in the late afternoon. Maris made a fantastic cheesecake, we even found some Turkey at Stockmans! They really do not eat a lot of Turkey here. They eat a lot of pork. Everything is going great for us we are grateful for our families, our health, the gospel and the chance to be going to school here in Tallinn. Life is great. After Thanksgiving it started snowing and it hasn't stopped. We have about a foot right now and it is still snowing!! It is total madness. Winter is here and it won't be gone until April!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ode to Paul



The Utah Jazz went into Miami last night to play the Heat who had not lost at home all year. The Heat were the heavy favorites with Dwane Wade, Lebron James, and Chris Bosh, not to mention solid veteran role players. But the odd makers forgot about one little thing called Paul Millsap! Millsap scored 46 points, and willed the Jazz to victory scoring 11 points in the last 28 seconds of the game going 3-3 from the three point line and also scoring a last second tip in to tie the game forcing overtime. Considering that Millsap had only made 2 three point attempts in his entire career and that he is a Power Forward this is impressive. It was nice to see this night because this did not come as a surprise to the Paul Millsap fans. Anyone who watched how he played backing up Carlos Boozer knew that there was no drop off, in fact many (including myself) thought that Millsap was even better, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Now Millsap is a starter, has a good contract, scored a career high and outplayed Dwayne Wade, Lebron James in the final minutes of the game and destroyed Heat power forward Chris Bosh. But let's take a trip down memory lane to his beginning.
Millsap was a great college basketball player, he lead the NCAA in rebounds for 3 years in a row, something no one else has ever done. But Millsap did not have ideal size for a power forward he is 6'8" 250lbs, Many PFs are 6'11" and even 7'0" Take Tim Duncan or Dirk Nowitzki for example. Short PFs were usually very stocky and had the bulk to outbox taller players (6'9" Boozer is 266lbs) Millsap had none of this. He also did not have the shooting range or speed to play small forward. So the scouts overlooked the most important thing, his heart. Scouts got caught up in the numbers and overlooked the fact that Paul Millsap is a beast, a monster among men. Karl Malone, who went to the same college as Millsap lobbied the Jazz to take a flyer on him. With the 47th pick in the draft the Jazz took him. He got a non-guaranteed contract and worked harder than anyone to develop into the beast that he is. Paul Millsap fans have been waiting for years for Boozer to leave the Jazz so that he could get the minutes he deserves. In the 2008-2009 season when he replaced Boozer in the lineup due to injury he had 19 double doubles in a row. 19 people!!! Now he is the reason for what people are calling the Miracle in Miami. But the Paul Millsap fans know better, it wasn't a miracle at all it was just the beginning.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tartu!

After Tallinn we went to Tartu and Tõrva! We had a great time. This was a great picture taken on the town hall.

In Tartu we met Liisi, Liina, and Katrin, they lived in our home during the summer while they were selling books, it was great to see them again!!


This was in St. John's church, I hadn't been inside before it was beautiful! It was fully restored in 2004 but is from the 1300s

Mom played "we thank thee oh God for a Prophet" and another Christmas hymn! I bet this was the oldest building Mom has played the Organ in


This is not St. John's church, but it is another awesome building in Tartu, half of it is restored and is a museum of history now, the other half has some towers that people can climb up. This was on my to do list before I moved away from Tartu, I went up in the towers in June. Maris' graduation was also here.


I don't have the pictures from our visit to Tõrva, they are on Mom and Dad's camera. We had a nice time seeing Maris' family and seeing where she grew up. Thanks Mom and Dad for the great visit!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tallinn with Mom and Dad!

This week was a great one, Mom and Dad came to visit! They are now in Belgium, it was sad to see them go. This was their third trip to Estonia, I was worried that there wouldn't be anything interesting for them to see but we found lots of fun things to do and see! This is the view from our apartment! This is also the hotel where Mom and Dad stayed at for the second part of their stay in Estonia.

This is one of my favorite restaurants, Lido. It is a Latvian restaurant and it has great food and an incredible selection. They had cute decorations all over.

We went to the song festival grounds where every five years they have the song festival, it was empty this time but it was still nice to go see it.
We checked out the botanical gardens, half of it was closed but the half that was open was nice.


This is the Pirita convent, I had the chance to go here as a missionary but I passed it up, since then I have always wanted to go. This place was pretty cool, we were the only ones there that day.

Of course old town never gets old. We found a lot of the good lookout platforms.

Out of all the cool things we did the best was just to spend time together. After Tallinn we took a trip to Southern Estonia which will be the next blog entry! Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Riga!



I love Riga. It is one of the prettiest cities in Europe. This last weekend I went for a conference which was put on by a German political foundation. They paid for everything and it was a great conference. It was for young foreign policy analysts, so everyone there was either doing a PhD or had recently completed one. About 70% of the people were from Germany, with some others from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. One panel was on Baltic Energy Transit, I was the moderator for the panel. Friday we met in Riga and Saturday morning we went to an old manor home which was actually 90 km outside of Riga! It was really great. Sunday I got to go to church in Riga and see some old friends there. The only negative was that on the way back the Internet on the bus was not really working, so I didn't get to follow the 49ers game... but they lost on a late field goal like always so maybe that wasn't such a bad thing after all.
Today Mom and Dad are coming to visit! There was a Finnair strike but it ended last night! That means that Mom and Dad will be able to fly in ok.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book review

I just finished the book "A Little War that Shook the World" It was on the 2008 Georgian-Russian war. The author, Ronald Asmus, used to work in the Clinton administration and wrote the book from a pro-NATO pro West perspective. I thought the book was well written and added good insight why the conflict happened and why. This book reconfirmed my thoughts about US foreign policy. A point that I found most interesting is that Georgia could have done much better militarily in the conflict had it not been for their support of US policies. They had one of their brigades in Iraq at the time and could have used those forces in battle. Also to make NATO happy they changed their military doctrine to counter-insurgency, rather than defense against a possible Russian invasion. Had they had a military doctrine of countering a Russian invasion, and had they had their entire military in the country things may have not been so lopsided.

The whole conflict was in large part blow back from former US policy in the Balkans. NATO launched the campaign in Serbia without UN support, which infuriated Russia. Of course the Serbs were committing acts of genocide, but NATO did nothing to protect the Serbs from ethnic cleansing after the NATO campaign was over,also the targeting of non-military targets did not help Moscow "understand" the role of NATO in post-Cold War Europe. According to the author, the West did everything to involve Russia this was in large part to make himself look good. NATO-Russian cooperation was hollow, and meant nothing to Russia. The 1999 NATO conflict showed Russia that NATO didn't give a darn what Moscow thought. The West was not going to give Russia veto power in NATO, or decision making powers. Of course Moscow continued to see NATO as a threat and the West as a threat as well. Unilateral moves like the Iraq war and the West's support of Kosovo independence flustered Russia even more. To Russia the West was continuing to expand their global power at the expense of Russia. Of course the story in the US is totally different, and the thing is it is not important who is right, what is important is that we understand what the other people think and how they act. Well now we finally know what Russia thinks of us and what they are prepared to do to show us that. They used Georgia as a proxy to show the West that they had had enough.

Georgia was Bush's biggest fan doing anything to deepen US support for Georgia, despite this when the conflict broke out the US threw Georgia under the bus by letting the EU do the diplomatic work, which resulted in a flawed cease-fire agreement. They feared that if the US took the lead role it could lead to some US-Russian confrontation. I think we understood that the conflict was in large part a consequence of our actions so we offered them one billion USD to reconstruct their country. This is a classic example of blow back and why the US should reconsider its role in the World. We don't have the means, morals, or the smarts to be a world policeman. With the fiscal situation we find ourselves in we don't have the money to fight unnecessary wars, provoke aggressive world powers, or to throw billions of dollars at countries. This doesn't mean that we have to treat our enemies better than our Allies (I'm talking about Obama) It does mean that we need to understand the significance of our actions before we take them. So hopefully come 2012 we will have a smarter foreign policy for America. Here is a good article on a recommendation of foreign policy for the GOP. http://www.hoover.org/publications/policy-review/article/43426

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What a great weekend

This has been a great weekend so far! The last three weekends were filled with church activities, conferences temple trip and so on. This week there is nothing! It is very nice to have a free Saturday. Last night we went to a children's musical Nukitsamees, which is translated as "Bumpy" It is about two kids who get lost in the woods, an old witch/ogre/troll/nasty lady with horns kidnaps them and takes them back to her witch/ogre/troll/nasty person home where they have to do slave labor and watch the witch/ogre/troll/nasty baby, also with horns. They finally are able to escape, but they decide to take the witch/ogre/troll/nasty baby with them. When they get home they are happy to be in their ideal family situation where they are loved, they then show that love to the witch/ogre/troll nasty baby and he turns into a real kid, losing his horns. It was a good message about love and families. The concert building was right by our house. Today I am getting caught up on school work and anxiously awaiting the 49er game tomorrow night. Some of you were wondering about the last blog entry, well they lost that game... and the next one. That means they have to win this week right??
Here is a youtube clip of one of the songs from the musical.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The state of the 49ers


This off season brought hope to 49er fans across the world, all the experts chose the 49ers to win the NFC West, we had continuity on offense, a stellar defense, in short nothing could stop us. Every other team in the division was in a rebuilding mode. Going 4-0 in the preseason only supported that hope.

Oh how long ago that was. The off season was also filled with doubt casting events that did not seem significant at the time. The GM left/was fired for personal reasons, he was replaced from within. This was before the draft and the draft went well, so no need to panic. A former first round pick who was buried on the depth chart stopped coming to practice and then was traded for next to nothing to a division rival. Then a 2nd year player retired due to religious convictions, interesting considering that we have the most religious head coach in football. Mike Singletary always wears a large wooden cross around his neck. The season started and we quickly went 0-3, getting blown out twice by crappy teams. The game plans were terrible, the execution just as bad. The offensive coordinator was fired. He was replaced by the QB coach. Now our starting strong safety is asking for his release. He is upset over the way the team has approached him about his role with the team. The plan was to slowly work some younger players into the lineup, he didn't like that and didn't like how the team approached him about it.

The team is now in Atlanta ready to play a very good team tomorrow in the most important game of the year. If the 49ers lose they will be more than just 0-4, they will have self imploded, lost their mojo, quit, tuned out from the coaching staff or however you want to call it. The players that have already quit will look like the smart ones and more may follow. However in sports nothing can compare to the miracle of winning. Winning can cure everything, any bad relationship, any confidence issue, anything can be cured, or at least put on the back burner. If the 49ers go and beat a better team on the road the new offensive coordinator will be a genius, Singletary will again be the great motivator and the 49ers will be contenders in a weak division.


If there ever was a make or break game this is it. Good luck 49ers, you will need it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Conferences!

So it has been a quiet start to fall. The 49ers are 0-3 which broke my heart and got their offensive coordinator fired. School has been nice, but not too stressful, no major papers or projects due yet. I got my living permit without too much trouble. Last weekend we had district conference and this weekend is general conference. I am getting over a cold, so I was hoping to go and peacefully enjoy district conference, but it turned out that I had to translate into English from Estonian. I didn't have my English scriptures with me and had not translated into English for a while, I usually have had to translate into Estonian at church. It was ok, but not great. I was tired and in a bad mood by the end of day which was über long because of the leadership meetings and the general session. I have never supported Saturday night church, but what can you do. I translated again Sunday and it went much better. I am almost over my cold and am looking forward to watching general conference from my home computer in English! I am also looking forward for the 49ers first win, which will come any week now! I hope...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ohio











While in the states we also got to go to Ohio! It was really great, Maris lived there while selling books a few years ago and I had never been. My brother is doing a fellowship in Columbus, we also went to Cincinnati. We went to King's Island and stayed at a Gray Wolf hotel which has a fantastic water park connected to it. We also went to the zoo, and to a big science center where they had a Titanic exhibit.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

home sweet home




Before I do blogs on Redfish lake or Ohio, I wanted to say it was great being home. Twin Falls is a fantastic place and I have a fantastic family. We got to visit Lynne at work, see a lot of extended family at a Pocatello picnic and a wedding. It was great to relax, read go jet skiing, and enjoy small simple pleasures of life at the Crandall home. Thick luscious carpet, good home cooking, a big screen TV and a freezer full of ice cream and fruit bars. God bless the USA.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Redfish Lake











One of the cool things we did while visiting the States was going to Redfish Lake. It is a few hours North of Twin Falls. It was a little bit cold while we were there but we still had a great time. We went jet skiing, celebrated Jake's birthday and went to some hot springs! I had not been for quite a few years and forgot how beautiful it is up there. We did not see any red fish, even though there were supposedly some there for the first time in 20 years.

Friday, September 3, 2010

49ers


One of the things that I loved at home was being able to watch the first 3 pre-season games! They were all in high definition and on the big screen. The 49ers won all the games and played very well. I'm excited for Alex Smith to have a great year. I have lots of favorites, but the one I will highlight here is Dominique Zeigler. He was an undrafted WR a few years back and has been on the practice squad for 2 or 3 years, he always plays well in practice but was tall, skinny, and never had the status of a early round draft pick. This pre-season he has been fantastic, getting a lot of playing time. Most think that he won't just make the team, but he might even be their third receiver this year. That is a good story of a guy who never gave up and now will be realizing his dream. This Saturday we will find out who made the team and who did not. Good luck to the 49ers and to Dominique Zeigler

Back!

Hey everybody! I am back blogging, after taking most of August off. We were back in Twin Falls and for the last several weeks it was fantastic. Now we are back in Tallinn, it is cold and windy. The beautiful Estonian summer is over and now fall is here. Right now it is 6:30 AM and I am listening to the last 49er pre-season game on the Internet. I always wake up at about 4:00 AM returning to Estonia because of jet lag, what can you do. I will be doing some more blogs about how our trip to the states went and about things here! Stay tuned.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tallinn!

So I now live in Tallinn. We moved on Saturday and everything went well. Church was great on Sunday. Today has been nice, Maris's cousin came over for family night which was a lot of fun. I love living in Tallinn! It is beautiful and exciting, there is nowhere I would rather be. Wednesday we are heading home to visit! We are very excited.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Toy Museum

We all know that the Soviets were not good at making cars, tractors, or fostering agricultural growth. It turns out that the Soviets weren't any good at making toys either!
This guy was way creepy

Maris is beautiful.


The last thing on my list of things to do in Tartu before moving to Tallinn was go to the Toy Museum. There are always tons of museums in Estonia, most of them are pretty good. There was a KGB one that I would recommend, but in general I don't get out to museums very often, almost never. So I figured that I had to go to the Toy Museum before I left. It turned out to be fantastic! It was very big and they had lots of cool stuff in there. Most of the stuff was old Soviet toys, so a lot of it wasn't familiar to me, but toys are all pretty similar, trains and space stuff for boys, dolls for girls. Here are some pictures.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Last Sunday in Tartu


This Sunday was the last one in Tartu. The Tartu branch is great, I was here for a semester in 2005, and then for the last 2 years. Time goes by very fast, it is hard to believe that I am leaving. A lot of people have come and gone and the branch is in a new place too. Maris and I both enjoyed our callings and our time in the branch, we made a lot of friends and a lot of good memories. The Tallinn branch is quite a bit bigger, with lots of families. We are excited for a new experience and a new challenge. We move on Saturday! Tallinn here we come!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hansa Days




This weekend was the Hansa festival. Tartu was a member of the Hansiatic league and so they have these mid-evil festivals every summer. There were lots of people and it was great. We met up with Karoli and Katre! Karoli has been in Spain, and Katre looked like she has been in Spain, she was so tan. It was great to see them, they will both be at the University of Tartu next year.

The last days in Tartu!




We are moving soon. We will miss Tartu a lot, it is a fantastic city. One of the things that I wanted to do before I left was to go to the Dome Church. Half of it is restored and half is not so restored, but it had a great viewing platform! Here are some pictures.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

University of Tallinn




The University of Tallinn was founded in 2005 when several smaller universities merged. It is the fastest growing university in Estonia and now has 9,500 students making it the third largest university in Estonia. Its main strengths are in the humanities and the social sciences. The people there have been very nice and we are very excited to be studying there. University of Tallinn here we come!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tallinn!!!!!





As most of you know I finished my masters here at Tartu last month, life has been in limbo for a while but today I got some good news! I got accepted into my PHD program at the University of Tallinn. Some months ago I applied to a lot of jobs and got a lot of rejections. The good jobs I was looking at wanted a PHD or a Masters plus lots of work experience. I think the PHD program will give me a lot of skills that will be valuable in the future. The main goal is to become a scholar not just a student. The PHD would be in Political Science, my supervisor is from Finland and is fantastic. My dissertation will be on Russia's energy transit policy in the Baltic Sea region. Maris will be getting her Masters at Tallinn to become a teacher, so things all worked out very well. We really feel that our prayers have been answered. We are both excited for a new challenge and a change of scenery.



Monday, July 12, 2010

Small world


We had visitors yesterday! Uncle Randy and Aunt Kelly came to Tallinn on a Baltic cruise. We went out to lunch and enjoyed the beauties of Old Town! It would have been nice to have more time but what can you do. I haven't been to the family reunion for a while so I can't even remember the last time I got to see them. If anyone else wants to come visit us just let us know! Estonia is beautiful! We also got to go to church in Tallinn, it was nice to see some of the members there. Then Maris had an admissions interview at the University of Tallinn, she stepped up to the plate and hit a home run! She has been accepted to both the University of Tartu and the University of Tallinn. She is a superstar in the making! I have my interview on Thursday, hopefully it will go well. Check back next week for more updates. I know it isn't as exciting as when Lebron James was making his choice where to go, but it is still kind of exciting right!?