Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Almost There


I warned you I was cleaning the Windows 7 desktop. This is the last note I had to myself for a blog topic to share and then we are back to normal laziness. This was in the English translated news on May 13th on Caboodle, so I am not too far off in posting it now. Certainly there have not been any major breakthroughs during the last two weeks. Rather than rewrite the news article, I am just going to post it as it was posted on Caboodle. This Window cleaning is tiring work.

Budapest street cleaners said to earn same wage as new doctors
Street cleaners in Budapest are offered about the same wage as junior doctors, daily Magyar Nemzet reported on Friday.

The Budapest municipality is recruiting street cleaners with an offer of monthly 120,000 forints (EUR 450) gross, about the same amount paid to young doctors after graduation. This gross wage amounts to monthly 90,000 forints net.

The paper reported last Friday that doctors from outside were planning to write their notices and place them on hold, soliciting a response from the government. If by December 31 of this year the government failed to address their problems, the en-masse resignations become activated, the paper said.

The doctors demands are a minimum net wage of 200,000 forints a month for career-starters and 300,000 forints a month for consultants, it added.

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My Hats Off to You


I am not much of a hat person, only because they don't complement my face. When I wear a hat, no one else has compliments for me either. There are some hats that I just wish I could wear, but until the plastic surgery, it is a no go zone. All that is well and good, but I am also an old-fashioned guy regarding hats and hat etiquette. I may not have been raised in a wealthy household, but my parents learned manners of all kinds and taught them to my brother and me. 

It behooves me that simple etiquette has been cast aside without care. Either parents just don't care, they don't bother, or think it is too old-fashioned to care about. There are numerous exhibitions of disregarding those that we share this planet with, but today my pet peeve is about men who wear hats in the house. There just was not enough time in therapy to root out the reason why this makes me see red, but I come  close to the same reaction as a bull seeing a red cape. 

What is even more disgusting is when a man wears a hat to the table. I have actually asked paying guests to remove their hat while sitting at the breakfast table, but while freeing their hair or hairless scalp, they have to keep that crown covering annoyance a decent contamination-free distance from my table. 

Once I had to ask a non-revenue guest to leave when he refused to shed his derby in my dwelling. It is after all, my domain, you play by my rules or you pay the nightly room rate, but then we still may dicker on particulars. This created that itch to find out more about hat wearing and associated social norms regarding it.

At the turn of the 20th century, all adults wore hats when in public as a matter of personal hygiene; hats were a protection from industrial dirt. I promise, there is no industrial dirt in my place; hold your hat, put it on the bed, but make sure it is not on your head. 

According to etiquette sources, hats are to be removed when inside, except for places vaguely similar to public streets. These can include lobbies, corridors, and crowded elevators in commercial buildings, but not residential. In an office building where there are no residences, the elevator is considered a public area

If alone or with the fellas, you may choose whether or not to remove your hat in a public elevator; however, a gentleman (as opposed to a vulgar pig) takes off his hat, holding it in his hand when a woman enters the elevator in any building that can be classified as a dwelling such as an apartment house or hotel. Once he reaches the corridor, if it is too weighty to hold any longer, the man may now put it back on. He should then get to a gym to work those arm muscles so he can hold the hat a bit longer. Okay, I agree with some of you ladies that this is chauvinist, but bite your lip and let them take that damn hat off. It is certainly not going to kill them. 

Hats are removed for the National Anthem, passing of a flag, funeral processions, outdoor weddings, dedications, and photographs. After a hat is removed, it is held in the hand so that the outer portion is exposed. One must not expose the interior view of a hat. 

Certain places of worship require a head covering for both men and women such as Muslim mosques and Sikh temples. Jewish synagogues require men to have their head covered, but in more orthodox synagogues, only married women wear hats or scarves representing a display of modesty. The small, round head covering or skullcap worn by men is called a “kippah” or in Yiddish a “yarmulke”.  The wearing of the yarmulke is a reminder of humility before God, a mark of respect in Judaism, a sign of recognition of something greater than oneself. This is why many male Jews wear a head covering whenever they are awake, with the exceptions of bathing and swimming. Before you ask, I have no problem with any man wearing a kippah anywhere in my home, including the dinner table, because the underlying reason is so different. 

Women wearing hats has never been much of an issue for me, since most modern women don't wear hats around the house. By etiquette standards, a woman may leave her hat on indoors or while the National Anthem is playing, unless her hat is considered unisex like a baseball cap. When wearing such a unisex cap, a woman should be one of the boys and take the thing off. 

From what I found, the rules were different for the sexes because men's hats are not ornate; therefore, they are easily removed. Women's headgear are decked out with all of those bells and whistles so they look like they won the blue ribbon at the last horse race. They have ribbons, bows, flowers, artificial birds, and other small game. Not only can it be quite a production to remove, but something may escape from it during the turbulence of the removal. Often, these hats are anchored with hatpins, so removing them could cause excessive bleeding in public. No woman wants to display their "hat hair" either, which is likely if the hat were to be extracted. End of today's pet peeve, before I move on to all of my relatives who never absorbed this teaching. 

One last interesting tidbit: A lady (no definition included) never wore hats that had a brim after 5 PM. This rule of fashion was created for practical reasons. After 5 PM, the sun was low enough in the sky, she no longer needed the brim to protect her eyes.

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Cleaning Up The Place


Today, after mentioning the windows needed their spring cleaning, Ron offered to do those on high. I am petrified of heights, even getting on a chair is worthy of palpitations. Somehow he either became charitable or reached that Zen state; he had all of the windows in both guest rooms and the living room cleaned. It may not seem like much, but we have double windows, bottom and upper. Those rooms alone total 16 window-windows along with 4 more on the doors to the balcony

There are still the kitchen, both bathrooms, our bedroom, and the doors to the balcony to do yet. Doing them all in one day is a day long chore. What makes it even worse is the poplar trees are shedding their dust bunny like 'hairs' with the pollen inside. With the windows open, it looks like a rabbit farm during shedding season. It can get so thick, when you walk, it creates dust devils, which is difficult to explain to guests why they need to wash their face every three minutes. 

With Ron washing the house windows, I am cleaning off the computer windows. There are some tidbits I have been keeping on my Windows 7 desktop for blogging, but never got a round to it until now. Here is it.

Now that I have a round to it, I will get to it and post the couple of things that have been fogging up my Windows.
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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ron and I went to the Gozsdu udvar Artist's Market today. On the way back, we noticed this directory directly across from Klauzál utca 1. It shows all of the pubs in the area. Ironically, when you go to a pub, you drink, when you drink, you need to use the facilities (hopefully not the side of a wall). This directory is painted on the side of the public bathrooms at the Klauzál park. 

After you visit here, now that you are running on empty, you can plan your next stop.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

From the Flea Market to Kika


Ron and I went to the Flea Market for the very first time today. In reality, we went once before, but it was closed. Typically, the sign shows the days and dates it is open, but that particular Saturday that we went, the date was covered up. Today, we hit the jackpot. Good grief is that an overstatement for flea market?

I have never had to pay an entrance fee for a flea market in my life, until now. Check that off of my Bucket List. Done, did it. Entrance is 150 Huf and all I received in return was a ticket, not a single flea. Rather than try to describe it, I took three pictures with my phone. There is more under this slideshow, so keep reading.

Why anyone would need or want to go to a flea market to buy their Gillette razor refills is still I question I have not answered to my mind's satisfaction. There was no discount over the store prices. One table had children's toys along with hunting knives and assorted weapons. Was this to cater to the anarchist families? Something for everyone? We did find one little treasure; who would have thought it could happen! The seller dropped the price by 1,000 Huf, most likely figuring he would be stuck with it forever if he hadn't. He probably got it by accident considering his other wares. How could we resist, I ask you?

The rest of our outdoor shopping adventure was thwarted by the rain sprinkles which were becoming increasingly aggressive and resembling thunderstorm wetness. 

We ventured on to Kika, the housewares store. One of the fans in the guest room died today. Funeral arrangements will be announced later, but our quest was to replace it immediately. Nature abhors a vacuum, guests abhor the heat. 

I had a secondary agenda. I have been wanting new dishes for ten years. We have been using those left by the previous owner, which were serviceable for the time. As they break, we are getting continually confined in our social meal options. I had spotted some dishes I liked, but wanted Ron to like them also.  

After asking if they deliver, we picked out service for 8: dinner plates, salad dishes, coffee mugs (no need for saucers), and soup bowls. Knowing this was way too heavy to cart home on public transport, I asked again at the register before proceeding through using my phone to translate "Do you have a delivery service?" Both times I was directed to the same desk where I spotted the same word that Google translated for me, so I was confident. 

We checked out our 8 dinner dishes, 8 salad dishes, 8 soup bowls, 8 coffee mugs, 6 forks and 2 butter knives to replace those that have gone MIA, and a floor fan. I was so excited wondering how soon they could deliver, so I could get it all washed and looking pretty in the cupboard. While I finished up paying, Ron started the delivery process. No, he didn't. They don't deliver dishes. 

Crap! We are not proud owners of 32 pieces of dinnerware from Denmark and we have to take a taxi home? For what we spent, they did not even provide a bag. Ron had to buy a box. They do have a table with wrapping paper to protect the dishes. Once it was all boxed, we weighed our options. One bus stops right outside the store. I could carry the box to the bus stop and this would get us almost home. There is no way I could carry the box the rest of the way. The question was who would give out first, the box or me? Once we reached Oktogon, we called a taxi. It was less than $5 to get to our door. Well worth it and it would have been more had the store delivered. Dishes are washed and put away. If you want to see them, come on over for dinner.
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Friday, May 27, 2011

Life is a Parfait or a Truffle or a Pastry


Allison and Jeff invited us to join them when they went for a farewell pastry with Dana and Clara. Of course we would want to go with them. They picked one of the best pastry shops in the city. Oh, what I meant to say was that Dana and Clara were such incredible people we wanted to spend a little more time with them before they ended their vacation.

Who should show up with them, but my former student Árpád. He is a great person, so it was fun to see him connect. The pastry was fantabulous, the company was superspendosis, but it was a dreadful reminder that our few Fulbright friends will be leaving us soon, springing us into empty nest syndrome once again. It feels like Groundhog Day every semester.

Farewell Dana and Clara! Damn that cake was good.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dinner for Forty


One innocent thing leads to another and before you know it you are buying enough groceries to feed all the citizens of Liechtenstein with enough leftovers to give doggie bags. That is what Ron did this last week. First, he commented in Vriag's blog, you know the one, A Sprinkle of Hungary. She was thrilled and offered to give him a cooking lesson, which he accepted.

Arrangements were made, but Ron could not leave well enough alone; he had to extend invitations.He invited our spring semester crowd, Karla Kelsey, Allison Layfield, and Jeff Frawley. This immediately expanded since Allison's sister and her best friend were visiting. Sure, bring them along, but bring dishes too. We only have enough for 6. We were up to 8 and that was the extent of our chairs and room around the table, so the quota was max'ed out.

Virag insisted on coming over on Monday to take Ron grocery shopping. She did not trust that All American to get the right ingredients. Off they went to the grocery store and they came back with their arms full. Tuesday, she showed up at 1 pm for a 7 pm dinner. Just hearing that, I knew in my heart of hearts that Ron would never replicate this meal unless held hostage by starving Hungarian-Americans who had lost their ability to cook. Six hours of cooking for one meal is beyond Ron's comprehension, not that I can say it is high on my priority list, but I have done it for holidays.

The best place for me was out of the kitchen and when I could find excuses, out of the apartment altogether. Guests arrived, excited to be party to this party of experimental behavior. That was closer to the truth than not. There were times when I heard Virag yelling at Ron like she was training a puppy. If you have ever watched Seinfeld and remember the episode of the Soup Nazi, Virag brought back memories.

Dinner was spectacular, but having vegetarians and carnivores both, there had to be two options. When the meat eaters dared to put the veggie dish on their plate, I though Virag would stroke out. HUNGARIANS never mix those two dishes. They should; it was delicious. Everything was wonderful and a good thing too. We have been eating it for days, lunch and dinner. Someday we will have worked through it all and then I will have to walk it off.

It was a joy having Dana and Clara here, Allison's sister and her friend. They both just finished university giving Virag someone to share things with. They are both incredibly delightful young women. They easily charmed everyone, but their sincerity was apparent. It was an added bonus to have them as our guests.
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Deja Vu


The language may be different, but this video speaks to me. I can SO identify.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Change in Plans


Well, I decided to change strategies after deciding to ignore some business advice received about pricing. I have changed the membership plans to the BudaBaB Club to be much more in line with the economy. Everything is fixed, added to and looking good. I put a picture of the Member's Area part of the Site Map there also. I am even amazed at how much information is there.

There is now a "Join Us for a Coffee" 1 day plan at €1.95, a "Stay for Lunch" 7-Day Plan at €4.95, and the "Full Buffet" 1-Month Plan at €17.95 with a bonus gift. BudaBaB

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Trusting the Unreliables


One never knows the threads that run through life. I taught a course called "Religions Founded in the US" as an elective this semester. The class was small already, but one student came and went as she pleased. Mostly, she went, so we hardly saw her face. If I had to pick her out of a lineup, I would be pressed to get it right. She turned her paper in over a month late; actually, the last day of classes with a 'Sorry this is late' note. I sent it back with a 'Sorry you failed' note.

Alternatively, I have a student in my journalism program who was not able to be at the Blogging/Website presentation. He is a dual major with Biology and had a week long field trip. He desperately wanted to show off his well constructed blog that had received accolades from a US Professor of Microbiology already. We worked on Plan B. We attempted a Skype video call, but the quality was poor and the connection was uncertain in the room we were holding the presentation. He assured me he would work on it and let me know. We had discussed a video.

The presentation night, this last Tuesday, came and went with nothing from Mate. I was disappointed he had not gotten his act together in time. I did a minor presentation of his sites just as a courtesy, but not with the enthusiasm he could have done. I had sent a note to Mate telling him of my disappointment. He wrote back with despair, asking what happened to the video he sent along? He had arranged for one of his roommates to deliver it to me personally as she had a class with me on Tuesday morning. 

Thursday I went in to sign grade books only to find a pen drive on my desk with a note. 

Dear Dr. James,
I was supposed to give this to you. It is late due to my own fault. This is from Mate. It has his video presentation for your Blogging/Website show. I hope you enjoy it. Anna

Anna is the student who appeared in my religion class as often as the Lady of Fatima appears in Budapest cinemas. If I had only known, I could have exorcised the situation in time to save Mate. Not that I needed the contrition, but I did feel for Mate's blind faith in a false prophet. I uploaded his work to YouTube instead. Here I give you Mate.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Proud of the Pack


Last night my journalism students held their blogs and websites presentation; these are the ones they created for the class I teach. They start the semester with a blog and need to have eleven posts minimum. Half way through the semester, they have to create a website with 5 pages.  This is the 3rd year of the journalism program, but I must say, as a group, they really took the task seriously. 

I nearly fell off my chair when one of the students announced she had over 900 hits on her blog. That is amazing for such a short time. Others have had people writing them from various countries in regard to their contents from Hungarian cooking to explaining microbiology to the non-scientist. 

Considering I had sent an e-mail invite to the entire faculty, not just the American Studies department, I was sorely disappointed not one faculty member showed up other than myself. There were signs all over the school, I  advertised it in the two English newsletters, on the Creativity group website, Facebook page, and Twitter page. There were only ten attendees other than the presenters. 

Regardless, they presented like they were speaking to the masses. They did an excellent job. Here is a snap of their sites if you have time. If you do check one out, please comment on their site. It is encouragement for them to continue. If you click on it, it should be readable.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Beer With Me


I would have liked to be able to say that this post is late because I am still recuperating from the 1st Annual Budapest Beer Festival, yet it is not so.  Not that I wish it weren't. We had an overwhelming build-up of anticipation when they had first announced it last year. It was to be held down the block from us. We arrived that day, but the festival had not. Cancelled!

Our time had finally come and so had the festival. Our appetites were whet with anticipation, but our throats were longing to be quenched with micro-brewery beers of assorted gourmet concoctions. 

When we arrived at the fair square, the throngs of people looked more like a Lady Gaga concert than a simple street fest. We plunged, pushed, squeezed, plowed, and inched through the crowds until the light bulb went on and dismay, despair, and disgust crept through our still sober consciousness. The crowds we were trying to slither through was not an idle crowd of spectators, sampling brew, but hopefuls standing in line at the next booth to purchase their next round. 

Yes, gentle readers, the sad fact is that the line was longer than a Tarantella contest in Naples. It was quickly apparent that this would have been more successful as a team sport. One member of the team stands in line at a different booth and buys a round for the group. Eventually, we would all see each other again; the key word is eventually. 

Our usual compatriots were off in other lands, abandoning us at our time of need and desperate for a cohesive force. This left our little team of two to battle it alone. I stood in one line, Ron went to another. We had a meeting point as if it would have been possible to identify it through the masses. Little did we realize we may not even have recognized each other. How innocent we still were in those early hours, there was so much yet to learn about a festival of this sort.

If it were not for may smartphone, I would not have lasted. Patience is not my virtue, but standing in lines is on my all time number 1 HATE list. Being able to read e-mail, the news, and War and Peace made the time pass faster. I had not realized that my next birthday had come and gone, but still the only thing in my hands was a phone and not a beer. 

Ron finally returned. His luck was better than mine. He had two beers in hand. If his line was so short, what did it say about the beer? Taking little sips savoring this brew like one would the last drips of a canteen that once held water, while crossing the desert, we micro-inched closer to the beer taps in the far distance. A couple of times, just to feel like progress were being made, I climbed on the backs of the two guys ahead of me. It brought me a skin closer my goal, but they were not sympathetic to my desperation as they beat me off like embarrassing dandruff. 

When I had finally scored beer number two, we had all good intentions of immediately getting in line for beer number three at a different booth. When we approached what looked like an unappreciated brew master, we actually discovered those waiting were deceptively arranged. To join this queue, we would have needed to take the metro about 3 stops.  

Overcome with mood swings ranging from despondent to disheartened to discouraged, we raised our white flag and undulated through the crowd to head home. Next year, we will know better; we'll be there at 10am when they open.  

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Kill Two Birds...


I found out about this new or at least new to me, bistro off my beaten track, but still in my district. It is called Kalicka, which apparently means cage. It was the picture display that I happened upon that attracted my attention planting that curiosity seed which sprouts faster than a dandelion in a newly mowed lawn. 

Ron and I ventured off to check it out. What a fun place. Just look at these photos. I could sit there and read all day while taking lingering stares at the art work. This is an imaginative artist. The single waiter/coffee barista/bartender was extremely efficient, but did not speak enough English to play twenty questions. I will have to return with a student to learn more, hopefully when they are not as crowded as they were yesterday. A complete review will be on our website for future travelers.

Then when I came home, my CRENK computer newsletter was waiting for me. One of the announcements was "Now you can play Angry Birds for free on any computer". Well, heck! If it is free, let's check it out. I have heard about Angry Birds for ages now, so I was really curious whether they finally got revenge on those pigs or if they were still holding grudges. I had to check it out and of course they sucked me into pulling their slingshot to destroy the pigs. Personally, I was betwixt and between since I really like pork. I did manage to get through the first three levels without chirp, but at the next level, the feathers were flying. It seems that I was doing more harm to the birds, making them even angrier and me potentially their next target. If you want to try your skill, they are living here.
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Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger Down


I was hot to trot to post today, but this kept coming up. Blogger Status

Friday, May 13, 2011
We’ve started restoring the posts that were temporarily removed and expect Blogger to be back to normal soon. 

We went to the First Hopefully Annual Budapest Beer Festival and now I cannnooot wirte a fink.

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Free Trial


I have put a free one day trial subscription on the new BudaBaB website so people can give it a test run. There are a couple of minor things in the membership area that still need to be filled in like the map of restaurants on Liszt Ferenc ter, but the majority of it is there and it will continue to be a work in progress with things added all of the time. 

I am aware that the News stories on the front page are not working. I am working on getting it fixed, but at the moment neither Nigel nor I can figure out the cause.

If you want to give it a test drive, head over to BudaBaB, go to the Members' Area. When you click in, you will see the free membership offer. This will expire on May 26th, two weeks from today. If you find misspellings, etc. please let me know.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Premiering the New Site


After weeks of work, our new BudaBaB site has been launched. I need to publicly declare that this would not have been possible at all without the guidance, wisdom, Joomla knowledge, patience, and generousness of Nigel Hancock. Nigel is a British gentleman who is retired, but does website design as a sideline. He lives in Hungary, but not near Budapest. 

When I was looking for a Joomla tutor, he was one of the people who offered his services. The difference being that he was above and beyond a tutor; he has become a long distance friend. You see, we have never met, but have spent hours on Skype communicating. His patience is endless. We hope to remedy the meeting situation in the future, by hosting Nigel and his wife here as honored guests. 

If anyone needs a website created, you can reach Nigel through Hiros Design. I won the lottery with Nigel's services, but you will most likely have to pay his fee, which I am sure is reasonable. Here is a glimpse at the new BudaBaB site. Those who become members will see the list of options grow exponentially

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Monday, May 09, 2011

Doctor, Doctor


If you say "Ahhhh" don't believe it, you are among the many who don't. People think I am telling stories when I tell them how much a medical doctor earns in Hungary. Those who are working the clinics, accepting our health insurance card as payment are earning poverty wages. Yes, you may argue that this is for a resident, but I can assure you that the others are not making much more. We have lost multiple doctors ourselves after they found positions in the UK and Finland. The next two paragraphs are quoted from All Hungary News today's edition.

May 09, 2011, 5:01 CET
Doctors reportedly considering mass resignation over wages
Young doctors in Hungary are deeply dissatisfied with their wages and are considering to resign en masse, the head of the Resident Doctors' Association, Magor Papp told Friday's Magyar Nemzet daily. Papp said doctors were on their last rope and were very determined to pressure the government to raise wages. He said many would find it hard to believe that a resident doctor's take-home pay is currently 79,000 forints (299 euros) a month. He added that the doctors' association has turned to Prime Minister Viktor Orban, asking him to put more money into the health care sector.

Doctors from outside Budapest have told the paper on condition of anonymity that many of them are planning to write their notices and place them on hold, soliciting a response from the government. If by December 31 of this year the government failed to address their problems, the en-masse resignations become activated, the paper said. The doctors demands are a minimum net wage of 200,000 forints a month for career-starters and 300,000 forints a month for doctors with specialist exams, it added.

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Sunday, May 08, 2011

Just for Laughs


When we have B and B guests, I am hesitant to go into the living room to use my computer at 4am, 5am, or 6 am when I cannot sleep. I wander into the kitchen, close myself in and use Ron's/the guests' computer instead. 

This morning, l was looking over Ron's bookmarks across his Chrome browser bar and I spotted one for e-cards. Curious me needs to meander to the site. Where Ron found this site, I don't know. The e-cards are irreverent to say the very least. Why he has not shared this is another mystery. They are my kind of humor. 
Here is one very mild Mother's Day example.

What really caught my attention was on the right sidebar; there were lists of fun things. You can sneak a peek, but not before you finish reading this post. My personal favorite was the "The 11 best unintentionally sexual church sign", but not even I will reproduce those here. You have to see them for yourself if you can handle it. The next best were "The world's 13 most brilliantly pointless street fliers." One of the fliers had me guffaw out loud with such gusto, even with the kitchen door closes, I am sure I disturbed someone's sleep. This is my favorite. The look on the face is priceless.

I hope you had a chuckle today. Now you may leave me to read the links I gave you.

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What better way than to wake up and find an e-mail like this one? This set the tone for a positive day all around.

Hello Ryan,

I am a long time reader of your Budget Nomad articles - enjoy them all and appreciate the great variety of topics you cover.

On occasion, you have mentioned that you miss some things from the US that are not available in Hungary (food in particular). On May 16, I'll be flying to Prague to join a Road Scholar group; eventually we will travel to Budapest and staying there (at the Hotel Carat) from May 26 to June 1.
My suitcase will be neither full nor heavy, and if you tell me what I can bring you, I would be more than happy to do so.

I have been an expat myself years ago, and fully appreciate that there are times when certain items from the US would be so nice to have.

Consider my offer "a random act of kindness", if you will.  Who knows, there may just be a return trip to Budapest in my future and then I'll have you as contacts there!

Details, as to my free time during the tour, etc., can be worked out later.

I look forward to your reply.

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Saturday, May 07, 2011

Martha wrote:


Martha responded to my post on Ron's search for an airline ticket

"We'll be here whenever Ron and/or you want to come.. One of my bucket-list items is to visit you folk". Martha
Well Martha, you spoke too soon. Ron will on his way for his annual visit next month. The only way you will see me is on this side of the big pond. 
On a side note, the phrase "Kick the bucket" implies dying. It was defined in Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue as early as 1785. It is thought that the phrase originated due to the fact that when people commit suicide, they stood on a bucket while having a rope around their neck. By kicking the bucket out of the way, they met their end. 
Film poster for The Bucket List - Copyright 20...Image via Wikipedia 
Bucket list, however is a pop culture term thanks to Hollywood. Created from the movie by the same name with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, we have inherited a term for our pre-death wish list of things to get done.
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Friday, May 06, 2011

My QRC is Showing


QRC is Quick Response Code that you see in the right hand column. It kind of looks like the old time televisions back when TV stations actually went off the air in the evening or before cable when you could not get good reception with the Rabbit Ear antennas.

Hidden in the static is information. You need a QR reader to decipher it. It brings me back to my childhood with the secret decoder rings. No, I am not old enough to remember the coded messages on radio, but there were coded messages on some of the early children's shows and on cereal boxes too.

If you have a QR reader, send me the info you gather from it. I am curious how well the generator worked and if everyone receives the same information. There is a prize in it for the first 10 responders.
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Airline Search Hell


Spring is in the air and Ron's thoughts roam to Denver, Iowa and every once in a while Pittsburgh. Yes, it is his any adventure to the US, a place I have not cared to visit since 2003. Its all good that I stay away. 

Before Ron can plan any flights, he has to send out 43 e-mails to family and friends to verify which dates are good, which are not and then coordinate everyone's good and bad lists. There really should be a computerized calculation program that monitors people's behaviors that are fed into a giant data bank. When you want to visit, you plug in your ID and then the data bank spits out a report. This is an optimal time to visit 39.25 out of 43 of your friends and relatives. Of the 39.25, 13.05 don't give a hoot whether you visit or not.

Ron has been poring over airline consolidator sites looking for good deals. BUD>DEN, CID>PIT, and then PIT>BUD with moving dates here and there, but the prices still came out close to $2,000. That is more than what we paid to fly from BUD>ADL and that was a HEL OFA WAY FAR. This is nuts spending this amount of money for 3 weeks, but he insists. My view is if they want to see me badly enough, they will come here every other year. So far, no one has come. All the more reason for me not to spend the money to go there. 

Half of my day has been spent trying to find the best possible fares without having to mortgage my organs to pay for it. It still is beyond my perception why travel authorities praise Kayak search engine. I think bait and switch technique extraordinaire fits it well. Over the years, I have tried it a dozen times with hopes my luck has changed. Today, I found a great multi-city deal for Ron. When I clicked on "Book Now" it shows a message stating it has to redirect me to the US Airways website. Those seconds of transfer raised the price by $1,000. Orbitz was no better. All of the great deals "could not be confirmed by the airlines". So why are they still on the site if they cannot be grabbed. 

I tried different credit cards, different browsers, different sites; it was all an exercise in frustration. Then I gave CheapTickets.com a shot. The price was good if you can call $1,290 good, but still better than the $2,000 offerings elsewhere. 

I booked it not giving a rat's a*$ whether Ron liked the times or not. My day was shot, my patience wore out 2 years ago. Appearing before me was the same form as Orbitz, which did not bode well and I felt Murphy's Law creeping up on me again.

Success!! I was so excited I almost wanted to book a second ticket from excitement, but was able to keep myself at bay. Such are the joys of travel.
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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Don't forget to visit the brother photo blog related to this one. Here, you will find Ryan and Ron Do the World.

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Maybe Appearing Soon


I received this e-mail, which started off with...
I have been reading your blog... It’s great!

I’ve been reading blogs from every country on this planet looking for writers that would make great contributors for an online magazine my daughter and I are developing. I like what you write about. We could help each other.

My name is Patrick McCormick and our magazine is called “The e-Buffet”. Our prototype is online now. I hope you will take a look at it. It’s only been a month and we have assembled a remarkable group of talented artists and writers. It has become a Creative Collaboration and we are growing stronger every day.

Generally when I get e-mails like this, I check them out, but most are junk and get tossed. When I went to this site, I liked the looks of it, though it seems to be in an evolutionary stage. There is potential. I agreed to write for them, so starting soon, you will find that I can indeed bi-locate appearing here and at  the e-Buffet at the same time. Don't let the "bi" thing get out though, I have a reputation to maintain. 

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One Last Spoon Comment


Measuring SpoonsImage via WikipediaThis is the last comment on spoons before they all get placed in the silverware drawer. Fortunately for Kim and readers, I am not dispensing recipes, so no fear I will ruin any baking. I will pass this on to my student though. If you want to learn Hungarian cooking, see Virag's blog here. Please do comment if you visit; I want her to continue it beyond my class this semester.

Kim has left a new comment on your post "Spooning Isn't Just for Cuddles": 

Coffeespoons as it happens are a often used in Hungary to measure, mainly in baking, PLEASE don't change them (some cakes could get very ruined) to teaspoons as they are only half of the size, if you must change it, to be more accessible then I'd suggest half a teaspoon as that is available in the UK and the US. :-) 

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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Time for Dinner?


One of my former students wrote me when a reader was looking for the best Chicken Paprikash n the city.  

"I have seen that you were looking for a great restaurant with good Hungarian food. However, I do not know any by heart, I can suggest you one really great restaurant. They are specialized; you can order a variety of food, but the clocks around you can fill your heart with a special feeling. Take a look at their website. The restaurant's name is Clock Cafe.

We gave it a try last Friday with Dr. Karla Kelsey, Allison Layfield, and Jeff Frawley. Let me tell you, Time Is On My Side, your side, his side, her side, upside and downside. The place is filled with clocks of all sorts, shapes, colors, sizes, and dials. I wasn't sure if we were meant to "second" guess the timing of our food from the "minute" we ordered it or if it was a clue we had stayed overstayed our welcome and should leave. "Hour" waiter was great and spoke English with "precision". We had to "hand" it to him. He could "sweep" through the orders without pause. And honestly, we "timed" it just right. According to 72 clocks, a half-hour after we arrived, the place was jammed with diners.

The food did receive mixed reviews. My assorted grill was perfect. Those vegetarians who ordered the salmon spaghetti were disappointed. The others were fine with their choices too. The only thing I disliked now that I am a reformed smoker was the stale smoke smell. I can handle people smoking, but not old smells of smoke. Come January, that will not be an issue any longer.

Time to go. The little hand is on the 8 and the big hand is near 21.
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