Monday, October 31, 2011

Germany - Munich


Generally, I don't cross post my photos, but the Munich photos are an exception.

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No Halloween, No Museums, Plenty of Beer


After the herbal sleeping pill, I slept through until 9:30, but since our hosts are not around, all the clocks still shine into the room displaying an hour later than necessary. It adds to my guilt for sleeping in, but I am trying to kick a cold, so I have good justification. A hour here and there will not a vacation destroy.

Food for our breakfast was in the fridge, so we self-served. Our sleeping quarters are six metro stops from the Rathaus. Off we went for a day of exploration, but opps! Today is Monday, so all museums are closed. It is a holiday today and tomorrow, but they will be open tomorrow on regular Tuesday schedules. Most of the stores are open, the exceptions are the smaller stores. The chain stores of course are corporations, so they rely on consumerism habits. Let me say there is a tremendous amount of it. The streets are so jam packed, one would think this is the Christmas season and the Christmas markets were open and everyone was giving merchandise away. It is difficult to walk side by side without getting separated from Ron within seconds. Those who chose to drive their cars are probably cursing themselves for not keeping it garaged. The traffic just sits in place.

We walked and walked, but then finally fell victim to the tourism office for more information. We both had visions of castles dancing in our heads when we planned this trip. The tourism office woman was like the evil witch in Cinderella, “No castle tours! They all ended on October 31st, which is today and you missed them all.” She kept looking past us like Jesus was next in line and she couldn’t wait to get rid of us to tell him her sins and accept him as her savior. Being rude to us apparently didn't qualify on her "To do good" list.  There was only one other person in line waiting for her pearls of wisdom, but he did not resemble any representation of Jesus I had ever seen.

I could not take it any longer, by 3:30, I had to detour us to the Hofbraushaus for a beer. Ron and I had been here last in 1993. There are no longer the buxom women any longer who carry around ten liters of beer on two arms. There is a multinational wait staff, but most of them are men, grumpy older men, but no longer any spectacles of the olden days. They don't wear Bavarian outfits any longer either. The hall itself looks smaller than either of us remembers. The pretzels are crunchier and not as doughy or chewy, but a liter of beer will drown a few sorrows. What I really wanted to drown were those nasty cold germs. I gave them what for with a liter of beer here and later another ½ liter elsewhere. I can feel them grasping for a lifesaver, but I think they are goners. Just to be safe, we stopped at a health food store to get some remedies. For my cold and for Ron’s prevention, they sold us two different cures to the tune of 39.00 Euros, but heck, it is cheaper then suffering with bronchitis and then pneumonia like I have done the last two years. 

By 4:30 the darkness had permeated our surroundings, making our heads believe it was really 9:30 pm or later. What a crazy thing it is psychologically to have to push forward rather than want to head to bed. The streets and stores were still teeming at 7:30 pm, but we were running out of things to do. When the museums are closed and you don’t want to shop until you drop, what is left to do? Oh right, drink.

Well we did hit a few stores. Ron wanted better gloves. That is he did until he saw the prices, realizing he could have bought the cow and had the gloved made for less. We did come upon a store where I found some shirts I liked, but was not willing to mortgage the apartment for them. Who in this economy is paying over 100 Euros for a sports shirt? Finally, we found a ‘reasonable’ store with a fabulous sale. Ron found the gloves he wanted for 10 Euros and I found a sweater shirt on sale for 15 Euros. We both left happy, so we stopped by a restaurant for a beer and to continue to drown my little cold buggers.

Here and there, we saw some young people in costumes or young, young children with their faces made-up like cats or other non-ghoulish creatures. There doesn't seem to be much recognition of Halloween, which is only strange to me since it seems to have grown substantially in Budapest over the years. Many shop windows had some Halloween decor and pumpkins were ubiquitious. 

We will see what tomorrow brings. Without castle tours, this is really going to put a crimp in our week long plans. When it was still warm in Budapest, a bike tour here sounded like fun. Now I don't feel 100% and the weather is bordering on freezing. The idea has lost a great deal of its appeal. We will see.Enhanced by Zemanta

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Training for Twists and Turns


Slovenia train travel spoiled us for this trip. Then it was an easy 9 hours relaxing in a cabin for six with only the 2 of us most of the time. Our train to Munich was not so fabulous, though the RailJet promised luxury even in 2nd class. We were in one large open carriage; our seats were two to two facing each other with a table between us. It would not have been so bad if it were only the two of us occupying four seats, but a Hungarian grandma was with us. Okay, still not bad, but she did take up more of her seat than RailJet's designers had probably intended, spreading her girth into my train space. Still being generous with my seat, the legroom was minimal. If I had not been taking Pilates and Ron, yoga, we would have had difficulty twisting into the necessary pretzel positions to sit with a modicum of comfort. 

Grandma was traveling with her 2 darlings under 10 year old grandsons who were sitting behind us. If any nationality could earn a gold medal for nonstop talking, it is Hungarians. Those kids were talking the minute we got on the train, twenty minutes before it left, and never, ever shut up the entire trip. This is not to say they were bad, they were well behaved, but talk, talk, talk. They could teach how to do a Congressional filibuster without a second thought.  

To add to the mix, I woke up with a cold this morning. I had felt a dry throat for days, but with all of my sinus issues, it never really means anything until a full outbreak. The cold broke out this morning. A nose that was running a marathon with the intention of gaining the gold medal, I could not keep it in tissues. If I could diaper it, it would have needed changing every hour. It was not fair. I have been looking forward to this trip for weeks.

We arrived in one piece, though cramped, found our way to the underground station we needed, and hunted for buying a single ticket. There are no booths, but there are dozens of ticket machines, but even the directions in English are not totally understandable. We needed to change lines after one stop; do we need 2 tickets like we would in Budapest? I asked a cop who was in a huddle with a gaggle of other cops. He excused himself from the group, went with me to a machine and gave directions as he punched in the information needed. We only needed 2 one way tickets, each at 2.50 Euros. Our host had weekly passes ready for us when we arrived. Seven day passes are a paltry 12.30 Euros, a substantial savings.

As we approached our B and B, it soon occurred to me that we were staying in an apartment building, not a house as I had thought. The only problem with this was that our host will be gone until November 2nd; he has a friend waiting for us. We didn’t know anyone's last name, so didn’t know what bell to push. We are standing out in the cold, wondering what to do. Ron wanted to press all buttons and ask if anyone knew which apartment we needed. I remembered I had the guy’s home number and was directed to call so his friend could answer if we ran into trouble finding it. I called, she answered. We made it in. We are alone until November 1st when a Danish guest will arrive. The hosts return on the 2nd. They left breakfast food for us in the fridge.

We found with the help of the friend, a lovely typical neighborhood Bavarian restaurant down the street. After close to 3 weeks of the Atkins diet, I blew it with a cabbage salad and a beer. I am saving my first pretzel for the Hofbrauhaus.

After dinner, I hit the bed with the hopes of sleeping off the cold. By 1:30, I was up and wake. Time for a sleepy time pill to do the trick.
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's About Time


Well, I have been taking some time off, but only because I am gearing up for the next great explosion of posts brought to you from Munich, Germany. We are leaving tomorrow by train for a relaxing and might I add less expensive trip than if by air. Our scheduled return is November 7th in the evening, so I will be blogging along the way.  Photos will have to come later, as my netbook doesn't have a photo reader and I just don't want to carry the external one with me.

In anticipation for all of this fun and excitement I have been keeping busy otherwise. I have been dong a lot of running lately. I had to run to the house doctor who had me run to the Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist, who had me run to get a CT scan. Then when I ran back to the house doctor, she said my sugar levels were high so she wanted me to run over to the hospital for a glucose tolerance test. I thought exercise was good for maintaining sugar levels.

So I ran over to the hospital after running to the pharmacy for my glucose powder. I had to go equipped with the powder, water, and a bottle to mix it. My friend Lazslo went with to keep me company. I wasn't looking forward to this as the last time I went, the phlebotomist attacked my arm like it was a snake ready to attack her. After getting stabbed with the needle,  I had a bruise the size of California

When I went into the room, it was a different woman that motioned for me to sit in the chair. She smiled and said soothing things that I didn't understand, which really could have been anything. She could have been pouring her heart out or calling me a dirty rotten buzzard, but a smile makes all the difference. There are certain times when events make me think of my mother. This is one of those times. One of her favorite monologues was "What do you want from me, blood? Here's my arm. Go ahead, drain me dry." So very Italian, go for the jugular of guilt right off so everyone backs off fast. My blood was drained, I had to drink the sugary goop, and then sit still for two hours. This was here Lazslo was a real help in passing the time. 

After the two hours passed, I had to get jabbed again. The nice lady was gone. The Budapest thrasher from the last time was back. She gave me a smile, drawing me into a false sense of security, and then started in on her Anthony Perkins impression of Psycho. Thrash, thrash, thrash. My arm looks like a long eggplant.

The results of the test were supposed to be back to my house doctor by Thursday, but I haven't gone back yet. Why spoil a vacation? Yesterday, I went for the CT scan. That test result will not be back until next week, so I will get both when we return and Munich is just a pleasant memory.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Little US History


Our friend Jennifer posted this picture on her Facebook page for which I and at the time one other person had applauded her for doing. However, shortly thereafter, the rants started streaming in. I have not been back to check, but the last posts I did read did not include great critical thinking. I mean come on, what educated person points to Wikipedia as the end all source of information when there are so many other authoritative sites to visit.

We all learn erroneous history for any number of reasons. If you are curious, just use Lies My Teacher Told Me to jump start your investigations. Notice I said jump start, but not end all. 

This is what Jennifer posted, but below it I did some of the homework for you. 

In God We Trust:
The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from devout persons throughout the country, urging that the United States recognize the Deity on United States coins….
…t was found that the Act of Congress dated January 18, 1837, prescribed the mottoes and devices that should be placed upon the coins of the United States. This meant that the mint could make no changes without the enactment of additional legislation by the Congress. Read more on the US Treasury website here.
US issued paper currency and In God We Trust:
1861 - On the brink of bankruptcy and pressed to finance the Civil War, Congress authorized the United States Treasury to issue paper money for the first time in the form of non-interest bearing Treasury Notes call Demand Notes.
1865 - Gold Certificates were issued by the Department of the Treasury against gold coin and bullion deposits and were circulated until 1933.
A law passed by the 84th Congress (P.L. 84-140) and approved by the President on July 30, 1956, the President approved a Joint Resolution of the 84th Congress, declaring IN GOD WE TRUST the national motto of the United States. IN GOD WE TRUST was first used on paper money in 1957, when it appeared on the one-dollar silver certificate. The first paper currency bearing the motto entered circulation on October 1, 1957. For more money fun facts, click here.

Religion in the original Constitution:
Religion makes only one direct and obvious appearance in the original Constitution that seems to point to a desire for some degree of religious freedom. That appearance is in Article 6, at the end of the third clause:
[N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
This statement is simple and straight-forward, and applies to all offices in the entire United States, both state and federal. The clause simply means that no public position can be required to be held by any one of any religious denomination. It would be unconstitutional for there to be a requirement that the President by Lutheran, or even for the mayor of a small town to be Christian. Likewise, it would be unconstitutional for a law to forbid a Jew or Muslim from holding any office in any governmental jurisdiction in the United States. (This having been said, it should be noted that several state constitutions do have a religious test — specifically, they deny office to anyone unwilling to acknowledge God or a Supreme Being.) Visit the source here.

E Pluribus Unum:

"E Pluribus Unum" was the motto proposed for the first Great Seal of the United States by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson in 1776. A Latin phrase meaning "One from many," the phrase offered a strong statement of the American determination to form a single nation from a collection of states. Over the years, "E Pluribus Unum" has also served as a reminder of America's bold attempt to make one unified nation of people from many different backgrounds and beliefs. The challenge of seeking unity while respecting diversity has played a critical role in shaping our history, our literature, and our national character. Click here for more.

Pledge of Allegiance:

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy​ (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth's Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.

In its original form it read:
    "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

In 1923, the words, "the Flag of the United States of America" were added. At this time it read:
    "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower​ encouraged Congress to add the words "under God," creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy's daughter objected to this alteration. Today it reads:

    "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
To catch up on the history you missed, click here to find out more.
Class dismissed.
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Saturday, October 22, 2011

For Nigel


Yesterday, my friend Nigel just as little Alexander, was having a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Alexander was created by Judith Viorst. Nigel was created by... oh forget it. 

If you don't know Alexander, you can meet him here. To cheer up Nigel, I am embedding this video that Ron found and forwarded to me. Before you start to view it, remember this: in order to get the full joke, you have to continue watching beyond the credits. The punchline comes after they roll. It is well worth watching. 

BOB from Jacob Frey on Vimeo.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Happy 200th Birthday Frank


If you did not have it marked on your calendar, it is  
Franz Liszt's 200th birthday.
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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sharing With You


This was sent to me with beautiful pictures by a e-mail friend. Due to the length, I am just sharing the poem itself with all of you. It will save me from sending it out 3,489 times to each of you individually.

A Birth Certificate shows that we were born
A Death Certificate shows that we died
Pictures show that we live!
Have a seat. Relax . . .
And read this slowly.

I Believe... 
That we don't have to change friends if
We understand that friends change.
 I Believe...
That true friendship continues to grow,
Even over the longest distance.
Same goes for true love.

I Believe...
That you can do something in an instant
That will give you heartache for life.

I Believe...
That it's taking me a long time
To become the person I want to be.

I Believe...
That you should always leave loved ones with loving words.
It may be the last time you see them.

I Believe...
That you can keep going long after you think you can't.

I Believe...
That we are responsible for what
We do, no matter how we feel.

I Believe...
That either you control your attitude or it controls you.

I Believe...
That heroes are the people
Who do what has to be done,
When it needs to be done,
Regardless of the consequences.

I Believe...
That my best friend and I
Can do anything or nothing
And have the best time. 

 I Believe....
That sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down will be the ones to help you get back up.

I Believe...
That sometimes, when I'm angry,
I have the right to be angry, but that
Doesn't give me the right to be cruel.

I Believe...
That maturity has more to do
With what types of experiences you've had
And what you've learned from them,
And less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.

I Believe...
That it isn't always enough
To be forgiven by others.
Sometimes you have to learn
To forgive yourself.

I Believe...
That no matter how bad
Your heart is broken,
The world doesn't stop for your grief.

I Believe...
That our background and circumstances
May have influenced who we are, but,
We are responsible for who we become.

I Believe...
That you shouldn't be
So eager to find out a secret.
It could change your life forever.

I Believe...
Two people can look at the exact same thing
And see something totally different.

I Believe...
That your life can be changed
In a matter of hours
By people who don't even know you.

I Believe...
That even when you think
You have no more to give,
When a friend cries out to you,
You will find the strength to help.

I Believe...
That credentials on the wall
Do not make you a decent human being.

I Believe...
That the people you care about
Most in life
Are taken from you too soon.

I Believe...
That you should send this to
All of the people that you believe in.
I just did.

‘The happiest of people don’t necessarily have
The best of everything;
They just make the most of everything they have."
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Friday, October 14, 2011

A New Record


I think this is my new record. Wowzer, sometimes I really impress myself. If anyone else is impressed enough to offer a writing gig along with a monetary offer, please write to

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Andi K Posted on My FB Wall


Andi K. posted on your Wall.
"I had to laugh out loud reading your blog posts on pants and pilates. I hadn't known you were so much fun! :) By the way, I think it's a big thing you started doing exercise. Good luck with that!"

When I was a kid, mothers would scream at their children is they wrote on anyone's wall. Facebook people must have had more tolerant parents. Everyone is allowed to write on anyone's walls.

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Nigel Notes:


Ryan, you have a natural comedy writing ability, that everyone reading can relate to, hop on one leg, hop on two and an unbalanced wardrobe.... Sheer Magic
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Butterfly is Dead


Tuesday night was my first Pilates lesson. When we lived in California, Ron and I would go to Pilates twice a week. It was offered at our gym. We were good about being active then. After some investigating, I found a Pilates class in English, but the instructor was waiting to form a small group before starting out. 

When I arrived, I learned that I was the only student. One woman could only start on Thursday while another next Tuesday. The cost for ten lessons is 18,000 Huf, but one private lesson is over 3,000 Huf. I hit the exercise lottery! Of course, having developed an allergy to exercise, I did offer to wait for the others or maybe wait until she enrolled ten more. She was adamant about starting right away. 

One of the precepts with Pilates is to control your core strength through your abdominal muscles. The first command is to pull your stomach in as if your belly button were touching your back. I knew this from the past, but had forgotten. Now, the only way my belly button is ever going to meet my back is with the help of an archeologist, a pick-axe, and a whole lot of patience. I did the best I could under the circumstances, a mantra I learned well from my mother. She repeated it with every unpleasant life event anyone dared to reminiscence about in her presence. 

I am on the mat, following instructions. Keep the belly button in, make room for a butterfly to live in the space created there. The instructor was impressed with some of my hip movements and the ability to raise my legs in the air. I almost shared that these are muscle memory movements from trying to squeeze my body into pants that have apparently shrunk over time. There must be too much humidity in our wardrobe. All of the movement of trying to stuff too much sausage meat into an uncooperative casing was finally paying off. She loved the way I was able to twist and turn. All of the time I am tugging, pulling, stretching, flinging, and god knows what else, I was trying to avoid looking at the wall to wall mirrors that are showing this video of a tall fat guy in a loose gym suit making foolish movements. My instructor is giving breathing instructions like a coxswain in a rowing competition. "On this movement, breathe in, hold it and now release the breath as you return to regular posture. All the while, you are keeping your belly button pulled into your back, giving room for the butterfly to live."

In an upright or on my back position, this was too bad. It was when I had to turn on my stomach that the troubles started. Arms along your side, keep your belly button tucked in, lift your hips in the air, making a hole for the butterfly to live safely. She is still trying valiantly to pace my breathing, but I am huffing and puffing like an old steam engine that is ready to pull an overload of passenger cars up a mountain. Finally, she realized that we were out of sync. She said just keep your own pace. My own pace would have been alleviated with an oxygen mask in place, but who wants to look like a wimp on their first day of school?

By the end of the lesson, I felt energized, pleased with myself, thoroughly pleased with my instructor, and ready to return on Thursday, if I am allowed. Unfortunately, the butterfly never had a chance. It was smashed beyond recognition.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pant-pant-pant a Try-bunal of Broken Dreams


To pant - to breathe quickly in short gasps of air.
Pant, pant, pant = Pants - those items of clothing worn on the lower part of the body
Tri = three - try, try, try
The Try-bunal is here. Time to face the consequences.

It has been over an year and half since I accidentally quit smoking. I had no intention of doing so, it just happened; therefore, I just went along with it. Weighing my options, if was going to play this silly no smoking game, a reward needed to be added. Permission was granted to compensate oral stimulation from smoking by loosening the restrictions on eating. The problem arose when I had forgotten to put an expiration date on the offer. This is where the troubles crept into the mix. The old "next week I am going to diet" game started to play out, wearing thin over the months and eventually a year, the only thing that thinned during this time.

Concurrently, there were additional pants being imported by Ron and others, who had traveled to the US. I would order online; they would be my pants mules, carting them back. The closest was filling with jeans and casual slacks: all sized at my pre-quit smoking size. Month by month, the closet had to be reorganized. Nope, this pair of pants no longer fits. The pole on which they hung was like a fabric abacus, but the sums were not balancing. One side was the forbidden zone while the other was still the safety zone. Strangely how the same brand of pants in different colors could fit so very differently. Still, the "next week I am going to diet" game continued with a contestant of one. 

After a year, all casual slacks were now in no man's land in the closet, while there were only two pairs of jeans still in the daily wear arena. The warm months were a saving grace; shorts could be worn, jeans could be washed and dried within a day. 

My massage therapist and doctor continually tell me my joints were getting stiffer; I needed to get more exercise. I tell them both I exercise everyday that I have to wear pants. First I hop on one leg, trying to get into my pants, then I hop on two legs, trying to get them over my hips. That is followed by my flinging myself onto the bed. While in a prone position, I try raising my legs in the air to redistribute the excess water I am retaining. Women can identify with that water weight. It is not fat, just a real need to pee more. All the while this is going on, I am trying to button the snap on the top on the jeans. With all of the movement, I my lungs race from pant, pant, pant to heavy breathing that any obscene caller would admire

After twenty minutes of this, I have had a cardiovascular workout where every muscle group in my body has a thorough stretch, pull squeeze, and thump. Unfortunately, I have also worked up a healthy dose of sweat, so I have to get back in the shower and start again. 

Whether or not I can sleep in each morning depends on whether I can hang around the house is shorts, a baggy sweat suit or if I have to tackle pants. The later means getting up an extra hour. I have to make sure my racing heart and blood pressure are somewhat normalized before leaving the house. Strenuous exercise really does a number on them.

After all of this, I bit the bullet and made a major change. As I walked down the boulevard of broken dreams, I bought a pair of jeans one size larger. The pants abacus is stacked 17-2. Not great odds.

On a positive note, on the way home from jeans store in the mall, I received an SMS. The Pilates class I have been waiting for starts tonight and each Tuesday and Thursday.
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Fridge Festival


Now appearing at the Budapest Fridge Festival for a limited time: Ham and cheese on rye. Hmm...the Infected Mushroom is appearing? How appetizing is that? Makes me want to sign right up. 

I thought this may have been a mistake, meaning Fringe Festival. It looks like there is a Freeze going down, this must be one cool place to chill out. Don't forget to keep that fridge door open, so it doesn't get moldy in there. you see what happened to the mushrooms. Don't try to warm up to the ladies, they will only give you the cold shoulder.

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Sunday, October 09, 2011

Witch Museum Is This?


One summer, now many years ago, I had the personal goal of visiting every museum in Budapest. At that time, there were forty-five that were advertised through the TourInform offices. I actually made it to thirty-five of them. The ambulance and funeral directors museums went on the back burner. 

During my walk to the post office, I just accidentally came across this museum, which I have to visit; I know it will be enchanting. I would have gone in while I was here, but it was closed. It must only be open during new and full moons. Regardless, I am sure it will have some spell binding goodness. I am trying to get eleven others to join me for a visit, so we can coven (covet) the experience.

A dark Cave. In the middle, a Caldron boiling. Thunder.
Enter the three Witches.

1 WITCH.  Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.
2 WITCH.  Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin'd.
3 WITCH.  Harpier cries:—'tis time! 'tis time!
WITCH 1 -  Round about the caldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot!
ALL.  Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

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Saturday, October 08, 2011

Margaret Island Revisited in a Couple of Photos


I forgot to insert these photos in the post about bike riding on Margaret Island, but I am posting them belatedly. 

If you have been to the island during clement weather, you will already know about this fountain. It sprays water in time to a variety of classical tunes.

The island's flower beds are a delightful site. They really put a great deal of time into the upkeep of the grounds.

At the petting zoo, you just may be lucky enough to get a glimpse of the rare duckcock or as it is otherwise known, the peaduck. This rare bird has the upper part of a duck and the bottom of a peacock. It's feathers are used for both stuffing pillows and decorating.

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Friday, October 07, 2011

End of Other Things


Now only is this the end of our gorgeous weather, but it also brings an end to another tourist season. Sure, there are those that will try to find great airfares during the autumn months, but the real onslaught of tourists is in the summer months. 

As a hypocritical "thanks" to the global economy, the fact that "budget airlines" have fallen from the Hungarian airspace, and the real lack of the promotion of Hungarian tourism, this has been another lackluster season. 

To add extra credence to my own observations, this news article came in today. "Mass layoff of managers at Hungarian hotel operator Danubius". There was not much more in the article, because quite honestly, the headline tells the story. The Gellert Hotel is probably the most well known of the Danubius chain, but they have hotels in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom

I guess this means that the Gellert will not be getting the remodel job on its rooms that have been promised for the last thirty years. Well, for a sense of how it was in the past, if you like nostalgia, you know where to book.
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Autumn Leaves


Until today, the temperatures have been in the mid to high 70s. Those of you in Celsius land, you can either do the math or click here. As I walked to my hairdresser today, I noticed that suddenly and almost with a vengeance, the leaves were dropping from the trees. It was like the end of a dendrological love affair that has gone violently awry.

In tribute to this change in weather and to bring a spark of American culture to your attention, I want to present a famous singer from many decades ago. Doris Day was the first entertainer of any genre that I came to know as a child. My parents had all of her albums as they came out. She was also an actress of great fame, often starring with Rock Hudson. He was the first male actor that I was totally aware of, because I had seen every Day-Hudson movie there was more than once. This video that I came across is triply special, Doris Day sings about Autumn Leaves, and there are many shots of Rock Hudson as well. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Love Feedback


From: Thomas PF []
Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 7:48 PM
Subject: about Frommer's "Eastern Europe - thanks


I came back from Europe few weeks ago, and i have to write "Thank you" because of Frommer's "Eastern Europe" - hugary´s part.

I m a Brazilian guy, my english is not so good, so i ll try to say that i think Budapest couldn´t be the same thing if i didn´t have the guide with me.

I and my girlfriend followed the guide as much as we could and all the tips were perfect, especially the restaurant Paprika Vendéglő and Frici Papa Kifőzés.

If you tried to write the best of budapest,, you did.

Thanks a lot.



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Sunday, October 02, 2011

The $1.48 Hassle


For the third time in six months, I received a letter from Diners Club. The basic message is "In order to protect you, we have stopped all activity on your account, due to potential fraudulent activity." Please call us as soon as possible to remedy this situation.

I let it sit on my desk for a week, but finally needed to clear the pile of paper, so I called them. Here is the rub or rather rubs. This is turning into a lovefest with Diners Club. They seem to be developing a dependency on hearing from me. As long as they continue to accept those collect calls, I am prone to play their silly little game. However, this is gripe number 2. 

The number they gave me to call was the general number. I had to explain to the guy who was reading from his good customer service script wasting my time while he pandered on, before I was able to tell him my reason for calling. I was not calling to check the weather forecasts in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Well, potential fraud on the account, all of a sudden his attention has been stimulated to think in a new direction. He will now have to transfer me to a specialist in that area. Do they have their very on CSI unit, do they have the Mentalist on board, is Kyra Sedgwick running a major crimes division in their spare room? So, I get put on hold to wait for the Diners Club detective squad to come on the line to unravel the possible fraud committed with my card. Why can't they have a direct line to the fraud unit? This leads to major gripe number 3.

The amount in question was $1.48 charged on September 6th. Note where the decimal is placed, after the 1. One dollar, not even two. The last time the amount was !.57 and the time before was 1.89. It is not like I purposefully charge these small amounts, but when you do things over the Internet, you cannot exactly hand over the cash. The woman asked me if I charged something on the Internet for $1.48 on September 6th. How the hell should I remember? Then she said it was through PayPal. The light went on, so I said I could check my PayPal account while she held on. Suddenly, she seemed concerned about their phone bill. She wanted to stop my card completely and issue me a new one. For $1.48? It has to cost more than that to make the plastic, laminated it stamp the card with the digits and then mail it overseas. Let's be real here. So I am saying "Just a minute, I am checking my PayPal account." She is saying, "We can cancel your card, I am going to do that right now." Finally, I had enough. I sternly, firmly said "You will wait for me to check this PayPal account before you do anything." Hearing "Yes, sir!" told me I had her attention. 

September 6th, a PayPal transaction for $1.00 plus service charge, but not $1.48. Strange. Then I asked who the recipient was. It was me. It was when I was trying to test PayPal for credit card payments through our website. The PayPal gift that keeps on giving...aggravation. 

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Saturday, October 01, 2011

Do We Need Patented Sandwiches?


This one of those this thing leads to another. I was reading one of the computer newsletters I subscribe to where at the end they have some fun links to other articles. One such caught my attention, because, well honestly, because it mentioned peanut butter in the descriptor. Had it been ham and cheese, I could have passed it by. Peanut butter is like a five alarm fire drill. It needs my immediate attention.

The gist of the article is that someone "invented" a peanut butter pocket sandwich, patented, sold the patent, and now the corporation which owns it is going after anyone who dares to offer anything closely similar. If you want to read the full article, go here.

The two questions that come to mind, at least my mind are:
1. What are the limitations on corporate greed?
2. What happened to creativity? If we have to patent and copyright was is already in existence, have we lost our ability to be original?

Alternatively, if you did not know this, the rules for what is a corporation were created in England. The US in its toddler stages, adopted them. Corporations are in essence human beings in that they they as an entity can do anything a human being can do regarding any mode of commerce. The legal charge for any corporation is to produce and then increase profits for their stockholders. There are no ethical guidelines for how this is done. That is not to say that some corporations do not have ethical standards; however, legally it is not mandated for a corporation to have them in place. 

On a similar note, did you know that the "Happy Birthday" song is copyrighted? If you use it in film, television, or even some restaurants, you have to pay royalties for singing it. When we lived in California, one popular restaurant chain would bring out a cake and all of the staff would sing if it were your birthday. What they sang was not the traditional song, but rather one that sounded like a cowboy song used to herd horse while on meth. For the underlying reasons, read this.

What happened to community? What happened to sharing?
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