Thursday, January 21, 2010

Kazakhstan vs. Blogger

You may have noticed that we haven't posted anything since, like, last year. This isn't the typical "oh, sorry, I've been a bad blogger lately" post. The great nation of Kazakhstan has in fact blocked access to all blogger pages.

"But Nick (and Corinne)," you protest, "aren't you still in Kazakhstan? What up?" We're still here. We can access blogger through a proxy site but honestly it's a hassle and doesn't always work the way it should.

This really wasn't a problem until a few days ago. We haven't had things we really needed to write about (wanted to, yes) but now we do. So now you can find us at WordPress which is, as of this writing, still on the "okay for free speech" list of the great nation of Kazakhstan.***


See you around.

***I'll accompany this pettiness with another disclaimer that I never, ever, even in a pinch or emergency, even with a gun to my head or a million dollars in my pocket, speak for Peace Corps, the US Government or any other entity - living, dead, or bureaucratized - besides myself.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving + MST + Thailand!

So, this past week we celebrated Thanksgiving with 3 other volunteers from Zhezkazgan [Drew, Jamie and Laura] and 2 very patient and curious locals [Katя and Gulzhan]. For weeks now Nick and I had been looking for a turkey. One day about 4 weeks ago, we were at the Yarmarka [an outdoor bazaar] and loe and behold TURKEY!!! But, it was way too expensive for our budget so we waited until the next week and of course she wasn't there... so we waited again and when our friend Girl Jamie was here, from Merke, for Halloween, we saw her AGAIN, but this time we got her number! So, two days before turkey day we gave her a call, and I swear it was about the 15th ring before she finally answered the phone and then... BANG BOOM POW ----> the next day Nick picked up the turkey from her mini van. mMmmmMMMmmmmm

It was a whopping 8lbs, so in all of the pictures it looks very thin, but tiny turkey is better than no turkey. AND it was delicious. =)

So all day on Thursday and Friday Nick and I slaved away in kitchen. We made a variety of dishes including: pumpkin pie with a graham cracker crust, pudding pie that turned into a lava pie, stuffing from scratch, turkey, peanut butter cookies thanks to the Whitis', pumpkin muffins and pumpkin seeds. The other volunteers brought cauliflower and carrots, a REAL salad [with lettuce and mushrooms and walnuts and a vinaigrette], ice cream, wine, juice, and mashed potatoes. It was delicious.

Of course we had an activity... what kind of teacher without a holiday themed activity. AND thanks to Jamie Morris for the brainstorming the day before. =)

Everyone decorated their own turkey hand and now they are proudly displayed on our wall... its cute.

After lunch/dinner and coffee/dessert we played Phase 10. For some reason this was the LONGEST Phase 10 game of my life except for the one where we played with 7 people (and the box says only to play with 6)... lol.

Anyway, since we had 7 people, and I played on a team, so we had to create other things to entertain ourselves during the game.. so we started a skip bar graph: complete with who skipped who and how many times... it was awesome and colorful. THEN, since Drewber is so famous for being pun-ny, we decided to keep a chart of his puns funny-ness over time... all in all it was very amusing, super laid back, and really really nice.

Now we are packed and waiting around for our train to leave. We head to Zhez around 5:40pm and we will be on the road/tracks by 6:40pm. We get into Karaganda tomorrow around 9am and then we're off again around 5pm to Almaty. We'll be in Almaty for MST [Mid-Service Training] until Saturday and then early Sunday morning we will be headed out, by plane, to THAILAND! We will be travelling with two really good friends: Girl Jamie and Andy P. =)

We can't wait to be on the beach... doing nothing. I can't wait to see water, taste food, with taste, drink slurpees [because they have 7-11s], run in 70 degree weather, feel sand, see sun, feel sun, have tan lines, have flip flop tan lines, etc. But, mostly I'm looking forward to doing nothing.

Recently Nick and I have been swamped at site. Between setting up the resource center, the resource center competition, organizing the Christmas Musical at school number 4, tutoring Kazakh and Russian, going into Zhez once a week for Girls' Club, Music Club and Aerobics, and aerobics 2 times a week in Satpaev, not to mention lesson planning and all of our classes... WE NEED A BREAK!

So... we'll be gone for about 3 weeks, but once we get back we will blog about everything. We hope you all had an awesome Thanksgiving and here are a few pictures from ours. We miss you and love you and Happy Holidays!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Evidently this has become a pretty large event but this year is the first Corinne and I have heard of it.

NaNoWriMo is funky, Shift-key abusive shorthand for National Novel Writing Month, which takes place every November. The idea is to write - not edit - hard and fast to 50,000 words (supposedly in the vague shape of a small novel) from the 1st through the 31st (or the 5th if you're, um, Ryoki Inoue). While you write, you can go to the official NaNoWriMo site to keep your wordcount updated, trash talk writers from other regions who are (more than likely) absolutely destroying your own word count, or change your Writer's Info picture 200 times in desperate procrastination.

Once you hit 50,000 words, you're done. The idea isn't to create a work of art, the idea is to create. With a deadline. And that's why I think this is something worth a look for everyone. Well, almost everyone. I was really excited and ready to give this to my students (the link was sent to us by a US Embassy rep.) but the word counter doesn't recognize non-Latin scripts. :-/ Can my students write 50,000 English words in a month? Or maybe just 50,000 Russian words without the Cyrillic alphabet? Sure. As long as I give them a 48,000 word head start.

But Corinne and I are doing this. And we're inviting you.

Wait! Hey!

Check out the site at the very least, you lazy bum.

And more importantly:

TODAY IS OUR TWO YEAR WEDDING ANNIVERSARY! :-) We applied for Peace Corps about a month after getting married (although we'd already been together for years) and celebrated our first anniversary in Kaskelen, Kazakhstan a year ago so, as a married couple, we've lived in Kazakhstan longer than we've lived in America. And that's kind of bizarre but we like it. This time next year, we'll be celebrating our anniversary AND our imminent return to the United States of America.