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It’s rain rain rain and cold.  I can’t believe how blah it is today.  It’s a movie-watching, hot-cocoa, empty-quiet sort of day.

Which normally would be fine, except:

a) I have no VCR, and it’s no fun watching CNN instead of a movie.

b) My dad and I should be out seeing the Budapest sights.

We did make it out to a place called Szentendre (pronounced like Saint Aindray) which is a very small town with a whole bunch of churches from a number of different religions.  Turkish, Serbian, Greek, etc.  The town is very very touristy and full of craft stores, art galleries, restaurants and groups of people speaking every language.

One of the most interesting souvenirs you can buy is a lovely hat that looks like leather, but turns out to be made entirely of brown fungus.  Yum!

We took the train out there.  It was a nice trip, but the train ride took a very long time, stopping every 500 yards.  We took along a bit of lunch some 30% of which was salami (salami that’s 30% fat, I estimate) and some cheese and some Oreos that I’ve been hoarding.  We were going to eat down by the Danube, but there was a little problem: it stunk.  So we walked around town, up and down bench-less cobblestone roads.  The cobblestones were spaced out about 3 inches from each other and they were curved on top, so it was more like walking down a dried out riverbed than a street.


QUESTION OF THE DAY: What are you going to be for Halloween?


I picked up a package at the post office last week.  It took me about 30 minutes, and I had to go to at least three different windows.  But the best part was when I got to window #3 and the woman there took my slip, looked around for about 3 minutes to find my package, and couldn’t find it, so she comes back up to the window and shrugs.  I guess she was just expecting me to say “Oh, that’s too bad but I didn’t really want any mail anyway, especially not a package. Thanks for trying.”  I looked at her and said, “Yes, where is it?”  She shrugged again.  I said, “Can you look some more,” and she sighed and turned around.  Finally, she opened up the cupboard that had mail in it that looked like the mail on shelves all over the room and I guess mine was in there.  Harrumph.

Here’s an important word to know: TECHE.  It means “Tell me,” but it can also mean “I’m here” or “Go ahead” or “Next” or “Can I help you” or “There it is” or “This one?”  It’s used all the time, and is what you say to get across the idea that you want someone attention.  Now you know.

I visited Napi Magyarorszag’s bureau.  Napi is one of our clients, a daily newspaper here IN Hungary, and they’ve been getting great traffic.  Gyuri, a co worker of mine who does QA testing and site demos, was going to train the staff about how to set up and use online polling and e-mail publications.  We were also going to debug a part of our system with which they reported having trouble.

They’ve got a whole room dedicated to the Internet, as evidenced by a sign outside the door of a big room that says “Internet room!”  Inside, the room is completely empty—enough space to place a pool table comfortably, with one desk, two chairs, a monitor a computer and a long phone cord that snakes across the open space to a jack on the wall.  It was a great statement about how Internet access in Hungary is just beginning and obviously has a lot of room for growth.

Of course, when the woman there tried to recreate the error of our system for us, it worked perfectly.  If we could just hire someone to sit with every one of our clients and thereby ensure that the system never failed. smile

I had a beer last Monday with Peter, the photographer from the BBJ.  He’s a nice guy, says that he’s been here quite a long time, and hasn’t learned very much Hungarian at all.  He started talking about taking color photography, especially using slide film, and all of a sudden I got to feeling like I was, if not wasting my time with black and white, at least not meeting a whole world of opportunity with color photography.  It could also have been the beer thinking.  Now I’m starting to wonder if maybe I don’t need to buy some more camera equipment as well.

I went and saw The Big Lebowski tonight for the second time in two weeks.  The first time, it was with Rob, the artificial intelligence engineer from a net startup here.  I’d run into him by chance in the Burger King, and we went to the movie and then to eat some Italian in a restaurant that’s almost definitely a mob front.  This time, it was with Os, Charlie and James after my Dad and I had dinner with them in a different restaurant, OK Italia, a restaurant with large portions on the plates, and short skirts on the waitresses.  It’s a good combination, and different than in California, where often the pulchritude of the servers is in inverse proportion to the quality of the food.

We caught a taxi from the restaurant to the movie, and the movie theatre was entertainment in itself.  A huge crowd of people was handing out in the lobby.  There was a stand set up selling books, a stand selling CDs, and a stand selling beads.  The logic is obvious—if you go to a movie, you have time on your hands and disposable income and you like being entertained.  It’s a good idea, and I hope it catches on in the U.S.

When we came out of the theater, a taxi pulled up, and it was the same taxi that had taken us to the theater, but when we tried to get in, it turned out to have been called by someone else, a dark-haired, candelabra-bearing woman in a fur coat.

Remember I told you the plumber came to my apartment?  Well, I give the installation mixed reviews.  On the one hand, it’s nice to be able to adjust the water temperature in the tub.  On the other hand, when the water pressure is too low (like late at night), the tap in the kitchen will not run water hard enough to trigger the gas hot water heater to kick in, so I can’t get any hot water at all.  It’s a real pain, but it gives me an excuse not to do the dishes before I go to bed.

My dad wants to check the L.A. Times Sports section online, so I’m going to sign off now.

Overheard

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?

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