If you’re wondering Ninja Monkey translated to German is Ninja Monkeys

I had a great time in Nuremberg the past few days. I met some really cool guys to hang out with and see the city and I was able to visit Oma too. The city has 500,000 people, but still has a bit of a small town feeling. Will and I went out and saw the old Nazi rally grounds with the colliseum and the zeppelin field and then Chris and I went to check out the Palace of Justice Court Room 600 where the Nuremburg trials were held. I went over to Oma’s yesterday and we ate and sang and talked. So Nuremberg has been a great place to meet and visit with some really fun people. Best of luck in Italy and then back in Canada to Chris and to Will with the rest of your studies in Germany. I think with the great pitch that Chris gave everyone at the hostel for Canada that I’m going to have to go up north and visit. Here’s a few pictures and also a greeting from Oma to the Spohns in Ozark.

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On Today’s Episode Pictorama or Pictacular, Pictacular are these words in your vernacular?

So after spending an entire day on the train I was able to work on quite a few pictures to upload to the website. It may put you on picture overload, but here they are none the less. Separated by country. I’m in Nuremburg right now, because I decided to skip Frankfurt after seeing that the only two hostels I had listed which were very close to the train station were both in the red light district and while walking to the second I was offered to come inside and see something great…no thanks Frankfurt I’ll take my chances somewhere else. I guess I’ll have to have a true Frankfurt frankfurter some other time. So back onto the train for another couple hours to Nurembourg, which so far seem very nice. If I can get Oma’s contact information I’ll try and stop by to see her while I’m here too.

France

Belgium

Luxembourg

And I’ll leave you today with a funny Mitch Hedberg one liner.

“My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.”

1234… That’s the same combination of my luggage

Well it’s not quite that bad, but 0102 isn’t much better. And what is this number you ask? The code to the front door of my hostel tonight. Happy Belgian independence day by the way, living free since 1830. Tonight I’m “In Brugges” which is Dutch for flipping cool city! By far my favorite so far. Don’t know Dutch you say, or French or german? No problem because for the most part everyone is glad to speak English too. Pictures later, for know I’m biking to the sea for sunset ;P

Le Tour de France

Wow so my lifelong dream to see the Tour de France is now complete. I was at the first turn no more than 50 yards from the starting line to watch the beginning of the first stage of the Pyrenees in Toulouse France. The crowd was bustling with enthusiasm, fans from all over the world drape their flags over the barriers to the route and show their enthusiasm for their fellow countrymen competing, camera men everywhere and people pressed in to find a spot to catch a glimpse of the riders as they go by. They have a parade of the sponsors about an hour or more before the beginning of the race with all sorts of schwag or vendor trash being handed out to everyone.

Right now I’m back in Paris couchsurfing for three days with Nils a German that is subletting a place in the suburbs and has been a great host.

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Chucks in Paris

On Beards —

The reaction for the most part is the same. Strange looks, whispers, rude youths hollering out as I walk by. These are par for the course of a true beardman. That said there are those experiences that make up in spades for them. In Edinburgh a young spanish couple had a boy no more than 3 or 4 years old who they couldn’t get to stop pointing, jumping, and yelling, “Barba, barba, barba, grande barba!” In ireland on the walk to Wicklow an older gent cycling past shouted a reassuring, “Magnificent beard!” In Scotland walking to YWAM the first night a young lady leaned out of an apartment window above the street to shout an enthusiastic, “Great beard!” In Paris walking through the tunnels for the Metro a deaf guy even motioned “huge beard” to his girlfriend and then pointed in my direction for her to turn and see. (That’s the first time I’ve seen beard signed, but it’s fairly obvious when you see it.) I actually appreciate it that a dad leaned down to his daughter to point out the giant beard on that guy(at least that’s what I imagine he said as she looked up after) Though I think so far my favorite was while riding the Metro in Paris a young boy about 2 or 2 and a half looking over his dad’s shoulder actually reached out to touch the beard as his dad was taking a seat. He continued to be mesmerized by it during the entire ride and when he got off I gave him a little wave and he waved back. I guess back in regular life I’m so used to being around familiar people that I forget what an oddity it is to have a ginormous beard. I will say one thing by and large that among the bearded there is great commraderie and recognition. You feel an instant kinship or link with fellow beardmen (I suppose you would beard women too, but I’ve been fortunate so far to avoid that particular meeting). I’ve even had the beardless say that my ginormous beard made me more approachable and accessible to talk with upon initial contact, which I would have thought it would have an opposite affect. So there you have it, my observations on beards while traveling and otherwise.

I also have a few pictures from Paris too and one last one from Scotland.


Paris Metro

Well the metro was about all of Paris that I got to see yesterday as I zipped back and forth trying to find a hostel that wasn’t all booked up.  After 4-5 hours of riding the rails and looking hither and yon I finally gave up and just got a hotel room. Not as pricey as Belfast, but still not what I would have preferred. I had to stay in Paris last night because the train I had hoped to catch to Toulouse was all booked up as well because of the French Holiday on the 14th. Apparently everyone in France heads south and so it’s a very busy time.  Everyone has been very nice so far and very accommodating to  English so the language barrier has been less  of a worry.  I still have my phrase book though and try as much as I can.  Today I think I will see the Eiffel Tower  and a bit of  the area since my train to Toulouse doesn’t leave until 10:30 tonight.

Paris on Friday

I got my rail pass in today from DHL [surprising I know since it came DHL ie. the suckiest delivery service ever.] and my flight is booked for Friday from Glasgow to Paris. Once I get there I’ll be trying as best I can to get to see a bit of the 2008 Tour de France during the Pyrenees stages near Toulouse in the south of France. Then back to Paris for a few days to see the Louvre and all kinds of stuff, maybe even Jim Morrison’s grave. Finally a place that doesn’t natively speak English; now the real challenge begins.

After rewatching some of the Mute Math vlogs today I have a new favorite quote which I’ve shared below.

You can’t even fit a twizzler up there it’s so tight…and if you had one I’d eat it anyways. – Jordan (mute math roadie/merch guy)

Murder by Death

The tension was so thick you could have cut it with a knife. Our group of rag tag rock and rollers had just found out some terrible news. Unfortunately because it was a dream I don’t quite remember what that news was, but we were mad and it was terrible and there in front of us were the people responsible. They were another rock band that was popular, but couldn’t rock their way out of a wet paper sack. We rushed towards them as if we were going to jump them, but we knew what we had to do. Just when we were nose to nose with them I darted for my electric, the other members picked up their instruments, just in time for the lead singer to begin to wail on the microphone. The Rock and roll flew forth and in a short time we’d had our revenge. Oddly enough as I began to play I was thinking hmm this is weird because I can’t play guitar so even though the rock was coming out I was thinking how the heck do I do this.  And one may ask who was this legendary band that you were playing with? None other than the group Murder by Death.

Funny dream eh?

It’s not a question of where he grips it! It’s a simple question of weight ratios.

So this last week I was able to do quite a bit of fun stuff. I got to visit the William Wallace monument in Stirling which is quite impressive, visited Loch Ness and most importantly I got to visit Doune Castle. Doune is basically the most complete and well preserved example of a castle in the UK. But more importantly it was home to quite a few famous events. Including the ferocious taunting of the french knights and the grail shaped beacon of castle anthrax and finally the wedding scene of the king in the swamp. Quite literally a pilgrimage for any fan or follower of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I was also able to see a fine example of the traditional Scottish Highland Games in Fort Williams. And though I don’t have any pictures of the train ride back to Glasgow let me just say it was incredible going through just a bit of the highland area.

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Where were you when…

The one scripture that keeps coming to mind while I’ve been traveling has been in Job 38 where the Lord answers Job.

1.The the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,
2.Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3.Gird up now your loins like a man, and I will demand of you, and you declare to Me.
4.Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Declare to Me, if you have and know understanding.
5.Who determined the measures of the earth, if you know? Or who stretched the measuring line upon it.?
6.Upon what were the foundations of if fastened, or who laid its cornerstone,
7.When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
8.Or who shut up the sea with doors when it broke forth and issued out of the womb? –
9. When I made the clouds the garment of it, and thick darknetss a swaddling band for it,
10.And marked for it My appointed boundary and set bars and doors,
11.And said, Thus far shall you come and no farther; and here shall your proud waves be stayed?
12.Have you commanded the morning since your days began and caused the dawn to know its place,
13.So that light may get hold of the corners of the earth and shake the wickedness of night out of t?
14.It is changed like clay into which a seal is pressed and things stand out like a many-colored garment.
15.From the wicked their light is withheld and their uplifted arm is broken.
16.Have you explored the springs of the sea? Or have you walked in the recesses of the deep?
17.Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Or have you seen the doors of deep darkness?
18.Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth? Tell me if you know it all?
19.Where is the way where light dwells? And as for darkness, where is its abode,
20.That you may conduct it to its home, and may know the paths to its house?
21.You must know, since you were born then! Or because you are so extremely old!
22.Have you entered into the treasuries of snow, or have you seen the treasuries of the hail,
23.Which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?
24.By what way is the light distributed, or the east wind spread ofver the earth?
25.Who has prepared a channel for the torrents of rain, or a path for the thunderbolt,
26.To cause it to rain on the uninhabited land and on the desert where no man lives,
27.To satisfy the waste and desolate ground and to cause the tender grass to spring forth?
28.Has the rain a father? Or who has begotten the drops of dew?
29. Out of whose womb came the ice? And the hoary frost of heaven, who has give it birth?
30.The waters are congealed like stone and the face of the deep is frozen.
31.Can you bind the chains of the stars Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion?
32.Can you lead forth the signs of the zodiac in their season? Or can you guide the stars of the Bear with her young?
33. Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rulle upon the earth?
34.Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that an abbundance of waters may cover you?
35.Can you send lightnings, that they may go and say to you, Here we are?
36.Who has put wisdom in the inward parts? Or who has given understanding to the mind?
37.Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can pour out the waters of the heavens
38.When heat has caused the dust to run into a mass and the clods to cleave fast together?
39.Can you Job hunt the prey for the lion? Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions
40.When they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in their hiding place?
41.Who provides for the raven its prey when the young ones cry to God and wander about for lack of food?

It seems to ring out in my ears, affirming his greatness and might. His immense power and wisdom. When looking at the highest mountains or facing the sea with its mighty waves, it is his hand that has wrought these things and set them in place. He has set the boundaries of the earth and it is by his word that he sustains all of creation. Great in power and might, strong in mercy and loving kindness. In comparison to him my knowledge and understanding are completely inadequate. So how then can I question his ways and designs? What about the situations that he allows or brings into my life, even the difficult ones in which I’m besieged by troubles of all kinds? What shall I say to him then? In the early part of the book Job states it well;

Job 2:10 – Shall we accept only good at the hand of God and shall we not accept also misfortune and what is of bad nature? –

What do I know or understand of these things and how can I in of myself divine their purpose. For his eyes are cast across the ages and the days of man are but few. But even in trouble I may have peace still because of his great care and love for us.

Matthew 10:29-31 – Are not two little sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground without our Father’s leave and notice. But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not then; you are of more value than many sparrows.-

If he knows the number of hairs on my head, in my case beard also, should I doubt the plans which he has laid.

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans that I have made for you, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, to give you hope –

Job 13:15 – Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.

Great old cities and sites…but the trash

Let me just say for as much as the US has a long ways to go keeping our parks and cities free of trash, I guarantee you that we are lightyears ahead of the UK and Ireland.[I won’t make judgement yet against mainland Europe since I haven’t been there yet] It’s really shocking how in every green area, in every park, on every beach, along every street I find trash strewn about. Not just a little trash either, but a lot of it. It really breaks your heart to see these great castles and old cities splendorous in their beauty defiled by careless and hardened people. Ireland by far was the worst yet, but it seems none are free of it. Maybe my eyes were closed to the fact, but I don’t think even New York City was as dirty as the places over here. So I beseech any of you to continue doing your part and in the least please pick up after yourself when out and about.

Two real quick photos

I may be betraying my data network roots, but I had to get this one posted for the phone guys at Jack. I had to get a picture of this for you PBX guys. Aaron, Adam, and Rich don\'t hold it against me :)

And this next one is for my dad, because it’s a great pun and it’s scottish…where if it’s not scottish it’s crap!

Thought you would get a kick out of this one.

That’s it for now. On to run at St. Andrews and Doune castle(also known as Castle Antrax or the castle of our Master Louie Wampat)