Travis Smith: my resume, bio and photos back to the main blog page

Today was the day of much furniture moving.

I awoke from deep slumber, stretched, showered, and headed downstairs to meet Maria.  She didn’t know the secret code for my apartment, so had no way of letting me know she was here, but I figured that would be the case so had headed downstairs to meet her.

We wandered south, and past a magazine store, where I bought a map of the city, a Lonely planet book on Hungary, and the Newsweek: The Europe.com cover, if you happen to have read it.

We went looking for a post office, but didn’t find one.  We did visit the largest covered market in Europe, which was impressive.  It was about 30% meat vendors, with sausage and salami assaulting the eyes from every direction.  There were also a lot of shriveled produce stands, and on the upper floor, a ton of Hungarian handicrafts, some very nice, some very Not Me.  The upper floor was almost entirely tourists, but the main floor was a lot of locals.  Not a single fish vendor in the place, as far as I could see.

Across the street from the market is the Freedom Bridge, and across the bridge is Maria’s university, a science university with its own small nuclear reactor.

I got into a lot of mischief with the campus newspaper.  Think of what fun you could have with a small nuclear reactor!

We walked back up the southern part of Vaci Utca and caught the metro to the office.  On the way, we ate baked goods from the Princess Bakery.  This is a chain of bakeries that are located in the entrances of the metro—small stores, constantly baking, and the scent wafts down the big escalators that lead down to the underground.  Sometimes you’re so thankful for the scent of something delicious to cover the vaguely disgusting “dirty human” smells that accumulate down there, you want to buy a bun or a chocolate roll just out of gratitude.  Today, it was hunger.

Os and I came back to my flat, and talked about the procedure for really testing new features—giving them a thorough run through on a zillion different combinations of hardware and software.

After he left, I decided that I needed to mark territory, and launched into a campaign to move every single piece of furniture in the place to another location.  Which I did.  Nothing was spared: I even unstacked previously stacked cabinets, moved the bed, the couch, the desks, the wardrobe(s!)  Thank god for hardwood floors—with two ugly wool rugs, I was able to scoot the heavy pieces around without damaging anything, including myself.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  The bed, a queen sized, is a large box.  The mattress is attached to the lower part, and swings open, like a coffin, to reveal a large storage space underneath.  To make it possible to open for mere mortals, there’s a spring system that pulls the bed open with minimal effort.  Well, when I turned the bed on its side to push it through the door into the other room, this removed the weight of the mattress from the springs, and the bed shot open and contorted itself like some ant under the beam of a magnifying glass.  The upshot being that, I had to unhook all the springs, some metal bent in odd ways, and now the bed doesn’t open like a coffin any more.  Who wants to sleep on a coffin, anyway?  Yeah, that’s right!

Everything’s pretty good now, though I need a better desk and office chair, and some other necessities.  I need to clean the kitchen, and re-plumb some of the taps—more on that later.

I took the rugs out to beat them, and got yelled at quite sternly by an old guy who I guess had just mopped the floor all over the place.  Didn’t seem so clean to me, but I guess people don’t beat their rugs here.  Apparently, saying “I don’t speak Hungarian, do you speak English?” is code for “Say something different, I’ll understand you then” in Hungarian.  This went on for five minutes until I realized that only by not answering could I get the guy to stop complaining to me.  He wasn’t yelling, he was just complaining.

The woman who lives two doors down came over to explain, in Hungarian pantomime, that vacuuming would be a better alternative.  I know I could have vacuumed, but I like beating rugs.  You can get out a lot of frustration that way, and it’s less noisy.  She also took the opportunity to pantomime that my night light was a fire hazard, but seems mollified when I put my hand on the night light and left it there and wasn’t burned.  Sometimes simple demonstrations can be quite effective.  Without a night light, it’s really difficult for me to get into my apartment at night.

There are many many many keys to my place: the front door has two, the gate in front of that has two, there’s one for the floor and another for the building.  The light is on a timer, and the switch is outside the door for the floor.  So if I unlock the floor door, go in and lock it, I then have about 20 seconds max to open the four locks to my place before it becomes pitch dark.  As all the keys but one are about the same size, and they all fit in each of the locks even if they don’t work in that lock, I’ve never hit the 20 second deadline.  Without the night light inside my door, I’d be stranded doing locks by Braille.  I don’t know how the other residents handle it—mystery!

I finished unpacking a bunch of my boxes by 8 p.m., and had hoped that Os would come back by so I could show him the miraculous transformation.  But instead I headed over to the office, we walked around looking for a place with an open kitchen after 9 p.m. on Saturday (and almost struck out).  We found an Eatery (they call them Etterems here).  I had bean soup and chickens stuffed with plums and cold fries.  Os had beef medallions.  We plotted and schemed about databases until midnight, and then I tried to take the metro home while Os went back to sleep in the office.  But the metro stopped running, obviously before midnight, so I walked home, it’s not that far.

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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