Saturday, March 31, 2012

New Temples?

Today is conference, usually they announce where new temples will be built.  The church loves to build them in the US, Canada, and Europe.  There are some other places that are in dire need, so here is my top 10 list of potential temples, maybe some of them will be announced today!

1. Rio De Janerio, Brazil
2. Arequipa, Peru
3. Tooele Utah
4. Ceder City Utah
5. Torreon, Mexico
6. Jaxonville Florida
7. Lagos, Nigeria
8. Puebla, Mexico
9. Tucson Arizona
10.  Bakersfield California

Monday, March 26, 2012

The best two years

Recently Maris and I had our 2 year wedding anniversary!  It has really been the best two years.  We celebrated by going out to eat some Turkish kebabs and going to the temple in Helsinki.  It was a nice time.  A lot has happened in the last 2 years, we finished school in Tartu, moved to Tallinn and are now busy with school, church and other stuff.  We have had some amazing trips also, Canary Islands, Canada, Turkey, and of course Idaho.  Lots of good memories.  Maris is a wonderful wife and I love life with her.  If the first two years were this good I'm sure that the next eternity will be even better!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Back to Brussels!

I recently got back from a short trip to Brussels.  I got invited to go to a meeting for Baltic academics.  I'm not sure how I ended up with the invitation, but I am glad I got it.  The NATO meeting was pretty cool, we had speakers talk to us on many different topics like smart defense, missile defense, and their political agenda.  The NATO public diplomacy paid for everything which was pretty nice. 

 The first thing I did when I got there was go get some fries! They were pretty good, I loved the sauce. 

 Right after I finished up with the fries I went and got a Belgium waffle, it was good (and expensive)

 I got to go walk around the palace square a little bit, it is so pretty.  I forgot how beautiful it is. 

 This was the view from my apartment window.  NATO wasn't too concerned about budgets.  They also gave us some free stuff like a 4 GB flash drive.

This is a secret picture I took, they wouldn't let me take one when I entered the gate but I got one while driving away.  All in all it was a great trip.  It had been 6 years since I was in Brussels last time!  Hopefully I will be able to go back sooner than that next time. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Welcome Maris!

The marvelous adventures of Matthew Crandall has been transformed into the marvelous adventures of Matthew and Maris Crandall!  I have teamed up with my sweet wife Maris to bring you the best blog experience ever!  Now you will get double the amount of marvelous Crandall adventures here in Estonia.  Maris has already posted her first blog entry on how Estonians get rid of their Christmas trees.  We are very happy with our 12 inch tall artificial Christmas tree. 

Weird Estonians...

Lately I have noticed that there are a lot of old Christmas trees around our apartment building. I wonder why people do that? One reason might be that it is an old urban custom - throw everything out on the street right where you live. So in a sense it is just a cultural act.

I also wonder why people buy the trees if they know that they have to get rid of them. It is not an easy task. I imagine people going out late at night to dump the trees ... right in front of their building, just across the street. You can even observe what happens to the tree. Will someone take care of it? Will it be there until summer? Winter? Fascinating!

I think dumping the Christmas trees symbolizes the way Estonians act. It does not matter if it is an old tree, old wrinkly wife, an annoying son/a mooch - just throw it out and do not worry about it any more.

Here are some photos:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Estonia's iron lady

Yesterday Maris and I went to the Iron Lady, it was a really interesting movie about Margaret Thatcher.  Some of the interesting themes of the movie was how Margaret Thatcher dealt with the unions to implement her economic reforms.  Right now the teachers are striking in Estonia to get a pay increase, other unions are striking to support the teachers union and some are trying to get a pay raise themselves.  The public transportation in Tallinn is also striking, so public transportation is out today.  This is big news for Estonia, Typically Estonians are very peaceful and are not the type to join in public protests and to go on strike.  This is a change for society which is certainly a good thing.  The person who will deal with the teacher's union in Estonia is Minister of Education (former minister of defense who me, Mom, and Dad saw while eating breakfast at the hotel Ol├╝mpia) Jaak Aaviksoo.  He is known as a strong and powerful leader.  The government has promised to raise salaries in the past, the question is really how much do they raise them and when do they raise them.  Also should salaries be tied to a broader reform such as closing down schools in rural locations.  As the population continues to age and to urbanize there are some schools that need to be shut down because there is not enough students to support them.  Aaviksoo has already made the first proposal to raise the wage of all teachers to 700 euros a month, this affects only the young teachers who currently start out at 608 euros a month.  Senior teachers already make more than 700.  The teachers union has rejected this proposal.  If I had to bet on a winner I would normally bet on Aaviksoo, but this is a new situation for Estonia.  We'll see how it turns out for the teachers and for Mr. Aaviksoo.  But however it turns out it was nice for Maris to have the day off, otherwise we wouldn't have seen the Iron Lady.  Maybe in 20 years we will be able to see an Estonian remake staring Mr. Aaviksoo.