The United States of America: looking in from the outside. Pt.1

I have to admit that I didn’t know exactly what to expect upon returning to good ol’Merica. I was too excited to see all of my family and friends again to really think much about it.

Would there be bald eagles soaring through the skies with freshly picked salmon in their beaks?

Would there be a group of poorly educated patriots protesting the arrival of foriegners on American soil from an Eastern European country?

Would I even have the credentials to get past the Maginot-esque Line of defenses set up at customs to keep our land of freedom, well….free?

After 7 fairly pleasent hours of generic hollywood excriment playing on my in flight television, and a perhaps a beer or two (hey, they were free), I touched down in Big Apple. Man, what a sight to see. I grew up fairly close to New York, and when I worked in Somers, I passed near the city almost every day; routinely making deliveries into New York made me pretty jaded about the city as a whole. You take it for granted after awhile. But words really can’t describe the feeling of seeing that mish mash of steel rising up from Manhattan Island. We owe the Dutch a firm handshake and thank you for swindling the natives out of that plot of land for $30 and a couple of a tea cups, or whatever bullshit they traded for it. I think they all moved to Jersey City after that. Sucks for them.

I stood at customs for god knows how long. JFK airport made sure to notify all of us entering the United States that we were not allowed to bring Giant African Land Snails. Sadly, this meant the end of line for my pet land snail that I had brought from Nigeria. I was also forced to stand in the agricultural imports line for the dastardly crime of having a piece of bread and a banana from the European Union. After the government assured that neither my bread roll nor my banana were terrorists, I was freely allowed to pass through the ropes, and into the open arms of America.

Difference number 1:

American Flags. American flags everywhere.

Damn, we are a patriotic nation. There are pretty much no Czech flags anywhere here in The CZ. Only on a few government buildings. Nationalism is generally frowned upon here in Europe. Perhaps because it resulted in the deaths of hundreds of millions of people in the first half of the last century. I feel like everywhere I turned I saw a flag; at the airport, on billboards, on people’s shirts, on cars, pretty much anywhere with an open rectangular space. Not saying that flags are a bad thing. I too consider myself a bit patriotic about America, but I think we overdue it a little bit. When I came home late at night and saw a “pray your debt away” pastor flying the American flag as he claimed to be able to pray to god to make your credit card debts disappear, then I knew that things had gone too far.

Stay tuned for part 2.

woohaigotyouallinczech:

beautiful photos of Prague in winter. great work, Katy.

Originally posted on PragueByKaty:

I chose one day in my life for Weekly Photo Challenge. To be more precise, I chose January 23, 2013. That day I decided to go to Prague castle for photographing Golden Lane, before it is the opening time, because at that early time the Golden Lane entrance is for free and the place is not crowdy. Prague castle was almost deserted and some of my shots were used for post Lost In the Details.

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Prague Castle and Golden Lane

St. Vitus cathedral was deserted as well at the opening at 9 am, tourists were not yet there, and then the first group appeared.

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St. Vitus Cathedral, first tourists

I decided to go to the Kupka’s exhibition, but as it opened at 10 am, I had one hour walking around Prague Castle district and shooting, the shots were then used for Cee’s Foto Challenge.

_Prague_Day_03 Walking around Prague…

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Prague Towers (9) – Powder Tower

woohaigotyouallinczech:

Gorgeous. Only 36 more days until I move to Prague. I hope it’s as pretty as it is in pictures( I’ve never been).

Originally posted on PragueByKaty:

Powder Tower – in Czech we call it Prašná brána (= Powder Gate) – stands at the entrance to the Prague Old Town, next to the famouse Art Nouveau Municipal house.

Powder tower Prague

Powder Tower viewed from the New Town, from the Old Town and the statue of its architect Matěj Rejsek

There also starts so called Royal Road because King’s corronation parade started here. Formerly, the Royal Palace was at the place where you find Municipal House in 14-15 centuries. King preferred to live in the city center more than in the Prague Castle. Therefore, the Old Town Municipality decided to build here a new tower in 1475 to show the safety of the Old Town and to have an opposite to the imposing Old Town Bridge Tower on the other side of the town. They named the tower New, its bases were 30 ft (9 m) bellow the current level…

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My awards for the NBA season

The season is winding down, and with almost 80% of the basketball regular season out of the way I feel like the season awards are set in stone.  Other than MIP( most improved player), I feel like there is a clear winner in each category.Other than the Lakers, I feel like this season has gone mostly as expected: Lebron and the Heat dominate, Charlotte, Orlando and Phoenix are laughers, and Amare hurts his knee.

 

So yeah, here are my award winners:

MVP: Lebron James( Miami Heat).  No explanation needed.  He somehow gets better every year, and is off the charts in terms of efficiency .  Nothing this guy can’t do.  Maybe his best season yet.

 

ROY: Damian Lillard( Portland Trailblazers) .  This feels like a no brainer pick to me as well.  I really do think that Anthony Davis will turn out to be the franchise cornerstone/superstar that he was slated to be, but it will take him some time.  Lillard on the other hand came right into the league and didn’t skip a beat.  He’s averaging an impressive 19 points a game on 43% from the field and 35.5% from the arc , while dishing out 6.5 assists a game to boot.  From what I’ve read/heard he plays very little defense, but that’s OK because the Blazers don’t either .  At his size, its hard to ever really contribute that much on defense and as long as he continues to fill it up and dish em’ out, he will be a very good NBA player.  defense is about effort anyway and as the Balzers add depth and talent around Lillard, Aldridge, and Batum they will all care about getting stops…until then, fire away.

 


COY: Greg Popovich( San Antonio Spurs).  What is there to say?  The Spurs are going to be either the one or two seed when this season is all said and done.  While Tony Parker may deserve more credit for that than anyone, its hard to deny that Pop is still the best coach in the league.  While it is true that any good coach can’t win much without talented players, what Pop has done in SA is really amazing.  He has had his big three of Duncan, Parker , and Ginobli for a decade, but the way he has been able to seamlessly fit talent around them with many people nobody has ever heard of is unheard of.  Guys like Matt Bonner, Danny Green, and Dejuan Blair all owe him half of their next contract in my opinion.  Guys like Stephen Jackson have had their careers rejuvenated because of him.  Tim Duncan isn’t effected by father time because of him. I don’t think the Spurs are good enough to beat Miami, but no reason to think that they can’t make the NBA finals and win close to 60 games…again.

 

MIP: JJ Hickson( Portland Trailblazers).  Part of me wanted to give this to Grievous Vasquez, but I just think what Hickson has done is more impressive.  Although Hickson put up good numbers last season, he only played in 19 games so we can’t really say that he played enough last year to cal it a ” season “.  The season before that in Sacramento , he only played in 35 games and it was atrocious, probably through no fault of his own.  Before that he only played in 50 something games and put up modest numbers.  This season he has played in 61 games while putting up 13.5 points and 10.5 rebounds a game.  Maybe it would be better to call him the comeback player of the year, but there aren’t any awards for that .  Cleveland will probably live to regret letting this guy get away.

 

LVP: The Least Valuable Player award goes to the player who plays significant minutes to a team, but in reality contributes very little or actually hurts the overall performance of his team by being out there.  This years award goes to “useless” Kendrick Perkins.  He does practically nothing, and gets paid more than everyone in Cameroon combined.  I’d rather have Kwame Brown.

DPOTY: Joakim Noah( Chicago Bulls) The Defensive Player of the year award isn’t quite as clear cut as the MVP, LVP, or ROY because so much on the defensive end goes unnoticed.  Rotating, altering a shot, or contesting a jumper doesn’t show up on a stat sheet.  The reason that I would pick Joakim over someone like Tyson Chandler are because Chicago is one of the leagues best defenses consistently under Thibs, and Noah is without a doubt their anchor.  He is their energy guy, and always gives 110%.  Also, just like the MVP goes to the most important player on one of the best teams, so should the DPOTY.  The Bulls are on pace to be on of the top seeds in the East, and this is without Derrick Rose, their best player and a former MVP.  The reason they are having this success is because of their defense.  They are one of the worst offenses in the league, so their success hinges on being one of top 5 defenses in the NBA…They are, and Noah is the driving force behind it.

 

Nuremberg

Originally posted on Nom de Plumage:

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The name alone, for any person who has an interest in World War II, conjures up the infamous trial after the end of the war and the execution/imprisonment of some of the main perpetrators of the holocaust. To be honest, it is the main reason that I am visiting the city, and the other fact, that it is only an hours train ride away from Munich.

I exit the train station and to my right, the impressive stone courthouse stands before me. The weather, cold, grey and miserable, personifies the very emotion as I stand at the black gate and stare at the building that I have seen so many times in history books and documentaries. What I have to remember is, this is still a working courthouse. In the subsequent years and maybe because of its notoriety, it is also now a museum and tourist attraction.

‘Room 600′ during…

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