Monday, May 28, 2012

Eurovision Finals

It was another great Eurovision.  Sweden won, they were the favorites.  About 125 million people watched the finals on Saturday night.




Azerbaijan built the Crystal Hall arena just for the Eurovision song festival.  It holds over 20,000 people and cost 150 million to build.  The BBC had an article about how people were forced from their homes to make way for the arena.  And now the songs!

The winner was Sweden, it is good dance song. 



Russia had an awesome song this year, they got second.  I think this was my favorite song.  (Russia, Romania, and Cyprus were my favorites)



I also really liked Romania's song a lot.  This video was from the semifinals. 



Cyprus had a great song.



I also liked Lithuania's song



Ukraine's song was great.



Turkey had a weird song.  The first time I heard it I didn't like it at all, but now I really like it.




So what song do you like the best?  vote in the poll! (top right on the blog)



Saturday, May 26, 2012

Eurovison time!

Can you believe that it is already Eurovision time?  Time goes by so fast.  Maris and I both love Eurovision, this is our 4th Eurovision together now.  The last three winners have been Azherzaban, Germany, and Sweden.  Who will it be this year?  We will find out tonight!!

Eurovision comes at a nice time of the year, usually in May I get a little bit homesick.  The NBA and NHL playoffs are going on, the NFL draft has recently happened and at times I start to think about how nice it would be to watch a playoff game or sports center on ESPN.  But then Eurovision comes and I am reminded that there are a lot of nice things about living in Europe after all.

The two semi finals have already happened, so 16 countries are already out.  The Final concert is tonight where the top 26 countries will compete.  I have already checked the blogs and the polls to see who is predicted to win, but I won't ruin the secret.  They aren't always right anyway.  Here are 4 songs that I really liked that did not make it into the finals (you can change the video quality if you like).



This is Finland's song, the singer is singing in Swedish.  Swedish is an official language of Finland, about 6% of the people in Finland are Swedish.



The Netherlands, this song is kind of catchy, I really liked the Indian headdress the most. 



This is Belarus, I know Lynne loves Belarus.  It was a pretty good song too.




And Bulgaria had a good song this year too.

If anyone wants to watch the final it will be tonight at 10:00 PM Estonian time, 1:00 PM Twin Falls time.  You can watch it live from the Eurovision website http://www.eurovision.tv/esctv/future

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The best class ever

This semester I have been teaching US foreign policy, the last lecture was on Monday.   For the last lecture we had a special guest speaker from the US embassy come.  Bob Gilchrist is the deputy chief of mission, meaning he is the highest ranking diplomat after the ambassador.  He talked about US-Estonian relations.  It was a great way to end the course.  I spent a lot of time preparing for the course and it all went well, the students had a good time learning about US foreign policy in an election year and I loved teaching it.  The students were great.  US foreign policy was the best class ever.  Next year we will not be offering US foreign policy, it was just a special course but I am hoping that I will be able to teach it again the year after.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A walk to work

 So this week I took my camera to work with me.  These are some sights that I walk by every day.  There was a lot I could have taken pictures of but I decided to focus on remonts.  Specifically the half remont.  Often times only half of a building will be remodelled in Estonia, I'm still not sure why it happens, but it does. This first building is the classic half remont.  The ends of the building is remodelled, but not the middle.  The sides are just gray brick. 
 This is a classic upper level, lower level.  The lower level is owned by a business and the upper level is just apartments.  This usually means that the lower level is nice and the upper level is old and crappy. 

 I have no idea how this happened but the back side of the building is yellow and the rest of the building is gray. 
 This is two different buildings, so it isn't a half remont, but this happens all the time, where one building is beautiful and the one next to it is just a dump.  I really like the green color on this building, it is a nice change from the gray. 
 This isn't a half remont either, but this is one of the ugliest buildings in Tallinn, I hate it.  All they need to do is paint it. Shame on them.  (In their defense I think they are trying to move into a bigger newer building, so they probably do not want to invest in their old crappy building). 
Yes even a tram made it into the half remont blog post.  The middle tram car is new and beautiful.  It is low to the ground and is easy to get into.  They just put the nice tram car in between two old tram cars that they spruced up.  They didn't have the money to buy nice new trams so they went for the half remont. 

So what do we think of the half remont?  Glass half full, or half empty? 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Birds flew home

Today was a sad day, our friends the Birds flew home back to Utah.  Here in Estonia, Pete is doing his MA degree and Kimmy was teaching English.  They thought they would be here two years, but plans changed and they went home today.  Before they left they gave us a really nice memory foam mattress that they couldn't take back with them! It is amazing.
We'll miss you Pete and Kimmy, best of luck to you with everything back in Utah.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Birthday


I had a birthday this week! One NFL running back retired this off season who is a year younger than me, wow.  But it was a really nice birthday.  We went to McDonalds for lunch, I had a big mack, chicken nuggets, McFlury and a large roadhouse burger.  It was a little too much trans fat for my belly, but it was pretty good.  Maris made me a nice cheesecake.

 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

US Aid

Here is a great article about US aid. I've never been a big fan of giving billions to countries for military aid.  It usually doesn't make a big difference in the long run anyway.  Egypt gets 1.3 billion and they still closed western NGOs.  Pakistan gets billions and they were fine with letting Bin Laden hang out for 10 years.  Israel gets 3 billion a year and they are always fine with using that military to take out terrorists and any civilians near them, no matter what the US tells them.  Maybe we should start spending millions on changing the societies of these countries and not billions arming their governments.