Finding quality kids accessories in Guatemala

Kids Box

A large selection of cribs, playpens and car seats.

We have kids, and we live in Guatemala. That means that when we’re looking for kids toys, nursery furniture, and accessories that we would have been able to find  at our local Walmart, ToysRus or garage sale in the states, those items are much harder to come across. Thanks to some other missionary friends we found a place other than the area pacas where toys and kid equipment can be found in Guatemala City! Continue reading

Review: The Cherry Orchard by Chekhov


The play The Cherry Orchard was written in the last year of the life of its author Anton Pavlov Chekhov and was first performed the same year in the Moscow Art Theater in 1904 as a tragedy despite the fact that Chekhov insisted it was a comedy rather than a tragedy as the director portrayed it.

According to The Reader’s Companion to World Literature by Hornstein, Percy, and Brown (1984); Chekhov was a pre-revolutionary Russian writer who at least fairly accurately reflected the Russian society of his day.  With his family heritage and experiences as a physician, Chekhov was able to look at Russian society from the point of view of the poor as well as the rich.  RCWL describes the Russia of Chekhov’s day as including the suffering of the poor and the rich who live in boredom.

In his writings, Chekhov takes a realistic although sometimes surreal view of his subjects.

I once saw the Oral Roberts University’s production of Chekhov’s play The Seagull which seemed to have a tragic surreal air about the characters.  His play The Cherry Orchard is a good example of realism since it appears to show a slice of society not as Chekhov wants it to be but as it is.  Chekhov presents his audience with the common, the mundane, and the seemingly unimportant as it would be in everyday life.  Chekhov once wrote about life, “It is very monotonous and boring; one day is very much like another.” (RCWL, p.105).  In his writings this outlook on life is definitely apparent.

The characters in The Cherry Orchard are upper class but bored people who have just arrived home from a journey and are now discussing old friends, how tired they are, debt problems, and a myriad of other topics.  I find it ironic how devoted the servant girl is yet the aristocrats seem not to care.  The plot, if you can call it that, peaks at the suggestion that the family owned cherry orchard be cut down and leased to builders to get them out of debt.  While this would solve their debt problems the family is much more devote to the traditions of what the cherry orchard represents and how historical it is as a local attraction.  In contrast the problem-solving merchant who proposed its demise cares nothing for traditions.  I suppose this was an idea from that time period or Russian culture, but I do find it amazing that they would talk of marrying off one of the daughters to a rich man as a more viable means of relief from debt even more than selling a parcel of land.

I like the sense of tradition as held by the landowners.  This sense of something which outlasts themselves and should be held as it is despite their financial problems.  I felt The Cherry Orchard somewhat ironically displays the problems with selfish aristocratic living including arranged marriages because of money, apathy about the devotion of servants, and self-centered attitudes. Even now I think reading Chekhov’s slice-of-life style help people today to understand an era when people have lost this sense of dedication and seek after “their own thing”.  After all anyone can learn from the way people were if they are willing to consider the past and do something different in their own lives.

Review: A vocal concert

On Thursday, February 18,  I attended the senior recital of mezzo-soprano singer Charity Barker at Oral Roberts University.  Usually, I am not one to pick out concerts for vocal qualities.  I tend to prefer the more instrumental performances.  However, I did attend Ms. Barker’s recital and feel it was a good experience for me.

Ms. Barker has a strong vibrant voice.  As vocal majors are required, Ms. Barker sang songs in Italian, German, French, and British and American English.  Since I do not understand most of those languages, I followed along in the little flier in the bulletin. I was surprised at the depressive lyrics to several of the songs.  The song Son tutta duolo especially was full of saddened lyrics.

The Italian piece, Oronteasomehow reminded me of aristocratic gardens as one would watch out a large window pane.  It seemed to flow gently.  Even though I could not understand the lyrics, they held the quality which made me think of a lady missing her lad who was away.

As I listened to the music, I took notes so I could write some of the feelings I was having as I listened.  I described the German music as heavier and darker than the other pieces.  Of the German pieces I wrote, “Tries to be light and jovial but doesn’t quite make it.”  The German pieces somehow had a heavier sound.  Perhaps it was the guttural sound of the German tongue or just the style of those pieces.   The American pieces by Gershwin held a light sound with a hint of frivolity.

Overall, I think I gained a better understanding of what the different language styles and at least a little more appreciation of vocal music by itself.

Analysis of Mr. Holland’s Opus

The movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus, is a good example of how a teacher grows by learning from his own successes and failures.  Not only did he grow from the mistakes that he made at school, but also those he made at home. His experiences taught him to develop a good balance between family and career — something every teacher must  learn because teaching requires such dedication.

Mr. Holland needed a vision or idea where he wanted to lead his students.  His first day began with the usual nervousness and somewhat bewilderment that assaults anyone on a new job. However, he lacked a  long-term vision which would have given him an immediate focus and desire to dedicate himself to leading his students. Continue reading

Cafe Baviera, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Cafe Baviera Logo

Cafe Baviera is a quiet cafe/restaurant with several locations to choose from in Xela / Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Known for it’s European feel, cafe, and casual feel, Baviera is also the home of some great sandwiches, specialty coffee drinks and some very smooth banana shakes. Their cakes and desserts are also very refreshing to he traveler’s taste buds.

Interior at Baviera Cafe I

Often frequented by expatriates and featured in Lonely Planet, Baviera I is a great place to quietly study or strike up a conversation or discuss this city’s unique history and stories. Although, you have to be careful where you sit. If you want to study your Spanish, the upper couches are a bit more private than the lower couches. We were sitting on the lower couches when we ended up in lengthy English conversations with other expatriates when we were really there to study.

The frames of Baviera Cafe I

The downtown location (in Zona 1) has an eclectic feel with walls plastered with framed photos, posters and more depicting Guatemalan history and international imagery. Decorations also include many old memoribilia, cameras, metal banks, car parts and nostalgic radios.

Baviera Cafe II (in Zona 3) has a beautiful courtyard with seating for guests. We enjoyed taking guests to this location. It doesn’t look like much on the outside, but like many buildings in Guatemala, the exterior seldom hints at the treasure within. This location was converted from a house into a restaurant. The conversion really turned out nice.

Prices for sandwiches, crepes and salads are in the Q20-30 range and my favorite shake is Q20.

Continue reading

Camera+ App for iPhone

Camera+ logo

Camera+ is my new favorite App for the iPhone. ($1.99)

I’ve been using the standard camera option on my iPhone 3GS. It was handy but nothing fancy and with pretty much no options or editing capabilities. Camera+ has so many options, filters and editing tools built right in that it turns your iPhone camera into a photo machine that gives you customized images that look awesome!


Fresh bean dip

Easy to use and great additional features for your iPhone camera including zoom, filters, self-timer, and more! Many options are available without paying more than the basic 99 cents. (There are additional features available for additional costs but they’re just more filters.)

Things I love about it:

  • Quick button response — The Camera+ App provides quick response times. When you push the shutter button…the photo is taken. What a concept!
  • Timer — Want a photo of yourself? Camera+ includes a self timer with audible warning. There are 5 second, 15 second and 30 second timers available.
  • Cropping — Get just the good stuff when you crop down the image as you desire. Options allow you to keep a variety of ratios or crop freestyle.
  • Borders/Frames — This option really makes your presentation look good before you post your images out to your friends. Includes a variety of options to choose from
  • Filters — One of my favorite things… I really like the options that are provided. From antique looks to HDR and limited depth of field , cross processing and more, this App provides a wide selection of filter effects that can be expanded (paid service).
  • Sharing —  With Camera+ it’s easy to share your favorite images via Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, or by emailing the image size of your choice to your friends. Continue reading

Doxie scanner review

Product image from

We’re moving out of the country and tax season is fast approaching. After a conversation with my CPA, I realized that I’m going to need a way to easily scan in documents for e-mailing and such.

After searching the internet, visiting the local Best Buy, Staples and box stores, I finally found what I was looking for in a scanner. My criteria…:

  1. Must be small in size so I can pack it in wherever I go.
  2. Must be easy to use
  3. Must be able to generate quality scans
  4. Must play well with Macs
  5. Must be a space-saving device for travel

When I came across the amazing Doxie scanner for documents I decided that I’d give it a try despite it’s cutsie pink hearts. Besides, I had two days  before my flight and didn’t have any better options. Thankfully, I’ve not been disappointed.

I ordered the Doxie on and had it shipped overnight to my hotel so it was waiting for me when I arrived. The creative packaging and easy setup were impressive. Here’s my review:

Simple Startup

Easy instructions make Doxie an easy scanner to setup. Just download the application and install. There is a quick calibration with provided calibration sheet then you’re ready to scan your own color or black and white documents at up to 600 dpi resolution. Continue reading