Monday, September 27, 2010

Our passports are being held ransom


I hired what I was told a reputable company to process the Kid's visa... apparently the person who referred me was wrong. I provided all the information, signed the forms and handed over our passports for the Embassy's review. It was submitted - but more than 2 months after I engaged them to do the job... unnecessary delays which are going to result in Schengen issues, again.

The day the application was submitted I got an email stating that we needed to pay 200%+ what I'd been quoted and that once we pay we'll get our passports back.. and if I wanted an accounting of the charges there would be an further increase - the "discounted" rate would disappear plus they'd charge VAT, which apparently they hadn't done yet. Obviously the visa hasn't been issued yet, that's the final product of their work and it hasn't happened but payment in full is still required - and then some!

I don't have it. I won't for a while. Even then I don't really have it. I have more than enough to cover what I'd been told was the original price, but not enough for this. The money is a major issue, but still a minor issue in the big picture - I am so sick and tired of this kind of crap. I forget and trust people upon their word - they didn't create a contract so I didn't sign one, which means I don't have the original price in writing. I'm tired of non-Czechs being targeted like this. I hate feeling stupid. And I hate being broke.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

the last one

Tonight I attended the last back to school night of my parental career. My kid is a senior and will graduate in the spring, so there aren't any more out there on the horizon for me. With that perspective, it's so bittersweet.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Joy of Cooking

Could someone please send me one or bring me one? Please??? I forgot to get one, AGAIN!

More immediately - could you please send me the banana bread recipe? I've done google search but I'm not finding the recipe available to me out of this book, without my having to join some site or something... I just want some banana bread!


I found the recipe :) but I still want the book... if you can send me one please let me know the costs and I'll send you the money :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hike to Tocnik

I don't have the correct accent marks in the name of the castle, but it was a gorgeous, glorious 8km hike up a mountain to the ruins of a castle. (The castle had a bear and some goats living in the moat and a ton of historical re-enactors milling about, throwing fake fights and arguments and other interactions... we discovered them out in the middle of the forest in their historical camps and such - one got lost and started asking us if we'd seen his friends in English.)

It was a big CS event and the organizer, the same awesome guy who threw my birthday party, rented an old restored '65 Skoda bus. There were a ton of people - it was a much larger venture than expected, but it all worked out well... lost children, poisonous mushrooms, crazy hippies, wild deer, lots of cowbell, rabid ankle-biters, severe asthma - nothing in the world could stop us :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 - this day, this year

I think the events of nine years ago are firmly embedded in the memories of all American past a certain age. I know, even living on the west coast, the fear and confusion I woke up to that morning, watching the planes crash, the smoky skies and not understanding what was happening. It was a tragic day and the impact reached beyond the boundaries of the US. It brought to light the extent to which militant fundamentalists were willing to go and showed the world that the US was vulnerable. The way the world functioned changed.

I don't think we've learned the right lessons. I don't think we're doing what we should - too many people have become self-righteous in their religion and intolerant of other views. Rather than opening minds and eyes people now are too quick to label,assume, lump and dismiss - the whole debacle about the Sufi mosque in New York is one example. I wish people would take a look at what Sufism is and then try to continue lumping that in with radical Muslims. You can't dismiss a major branch of religion due to a militant division - Christianity would have been vilified and set for eradication centuries ago if that world had adopted today's approach.

The crazy Koran burning minister in Florida seems to have struck a note with certain American sympathies. I don't understand. Why live your life trying to offend others and work against peace and harmony? Why flame the fires of the radical few and alienate the peaceful majority? Why increase the global risk to Americans, not just the troops, but to tourists, students, over-seas workers, military families and even domestically?

I'm a little angry today. I'm a little angry not only at the people who caused 9/11 to become an infamous day in American history but also at those Americans who choose to remain ignorant - the ones who still say Saddam attacked us, that Iraq was about 9/11, that Obama is Muslim, that burning the Koran is justified because radicals in the Middle East can burn the Bible. I'm angry that in what is supposed to be the land of opportunity, the best of the best, the melting pot where we have freedom of religion and accept all - that the people who choose to remain ignorant are given the privilege and attention of the press and spew their hatred and lies to one and all. I'm angry that they choose to remain ignorant.

And I'm worried. Today people I love will be getting on planes - a lot of people I care about will be getting on planes today, flying both to and from the US. The increased risk to their safety due to the ignorance and hatred of an American preacher is completely unnecessary. I don't expect there to be an incident - but Interpol has already identified 188 additional areas of increased threats. I'm angry that we continue to live in fear. Something needs to change.

ringtone flashbacks and a cultural divide

People may joke around here that styles and music and such are a few decades behind... mullets, rat tales, manic panic colors, stuff like that.... but yesterday I once again heard the American version of the Ducktales theme song as a ringtone (yes, there is a Czech version)... and then Huey Lewis chimed in on someone else's phone with the Power of Love.

The I went to a CS dinner - huge gathering and people had little stickie name-tags... not really full name tags but little mini labels sized stickers. A Belgian friend named Bert had Bert - FOE on it... I, and a few other friends happen to know that FOE stands for Friend of Ernie - Sesame Street - get it?

Well, here's where you can see the curtain's cultural divide. French, Dutch, Spanish, Austrian and some German friends understood once Sesame Street was mentioned BUT Czech, Slovak, Romanian, and Polish ones asked, "What the hell is Sesame Street?!?"

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Zoo September 2010

Prague has the best zoo. Seriously love that place. The Kid and I spent another afternoon there - and for about the cost of a movie and snacks we each bought an annual pass. If you're coming you should come visit with us!

Click on the photo to see the rest of today's pictures (luckily for you my battery died!)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Photo Contest...again.

This is the photo for the contest mentioned below, for you all to see. :)
The link to vote is, and the picture you want is "View From Vysehrad". Thank you so much for the help. :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

photo contest

Hey! You wanna be super cool and help my kid in a photo contest? Well click RIGHT HERE and then like her pic. It's a good one even :) Taken up from Vysehrad Castle looking down on the Vltava River. Please... do it now. It may get us back to the US for a bit :-D