Friday, November 30, 2012

Back From the Dead


I am thrilled to sing the praises of Tom Koch at TRK Hosting in San Antonio, Texas. Tom and his team are my guardian angels that cleaned out the malware code from our BudaBaB website. He was also instrumental in getting the code needed for Google Webmaster Tools installed, so that the site could be reviewed again to be taken off the the naughty list. We are back from the dead.

Tom did all of this work, repeatedly cleaning the site, all without offers of additional payments for his services. 

This is customer service the old fashioned way! If anyone needs a website hosted for reasonable costs, I cannot sing their praises enough. 
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I Guess It Is Official


I went back to the doctor last night with my blood results. Although, I could not find anything out of normal range related to glucose levels on the list, he diagnosed me as diabetic. Strangely, he did a blood test in the office at 7 pm and it came right within normal range. 

Regardless, I now have to take some little pill once a day, test my blood twice a day for the first week and then once daily thereafter. Today's fasting test, when I first got up and before eating or drinking came up with 73. The normal range for fasting is 70 to 100 milligrams per deciliter. 

This will be interesting. After we return from vacation, he wants me to see an ophthalmologist and have a stomach X-Ray. I am not sure why the X-Ray, but when the time comes, I will question it further.
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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Paper or Plastic?


For years before I left the US, when you go into any grocery store, they ask you "Paper or plastic?" This refers to the bag for your groceries. Do you want an old fashion paper bag or a petroleum based plastic bag.

This question has come up yet again in a deconstructed context. Do you want your books in paper, either softcover or hardcover or would you rather have your books sitting in a plastic box such as a Kindle, Nook, or other e-reading device?

I have made my point of view very clear. I will not use an e-reader to read anything longer than a magazine. Been there, done that, didn't like it.

So this person Allison Morrison writes to me personally. Her note started with
  "I’m reaching out to connect with you about a graphic I helped create which examines the state of print books in the digital era, and why (contrary to popular belief) recent trends show that print books can in fact coexist with e-books."

I was curious and wrote her back asking for more information. She supplied it.
This is the site where is comes from, if you click here.

In addition to the graphics below, what I really love about the site itself is the sidebar. They have included "How to become a teacher" in each of the US states and teacher certification requirements as well. What a great service for potential teachers and those of us who want to make a career change. I love it!

Thank you Allison for writing.

Please Include Attribution to With This Graphic
  E-books Infographic
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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Example of Irony


We received this notice from TripAdvisor showing BudaBaB as one of the top bed and breakfasts in Budapest.

This happened right around the same time as this started appearing on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer in various mutations. It seems that the alternate site that was used for our booking engine went belly up suddenly and unexpectedly. As they were doing the out of business thing, they left malware hacks in all of the sites they were affiliated with. This has been a nightmare trying to correct. In the meanwhile, no one can get onto the site to check us out nor can they make a booking. The potential loss of income is questionable.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Flipping the Bird Back At You


As you should know by now, we had a lovely Thanksgiving sharing it with four delightful Americans who are living here for various amounts of time. Per customary procedure, each person asked what they could contribute to the dinner. One of our dear friends, offered to order and cook the turkey.

Getting a whole turkey here is a tremendous challenge, but we offered to buy it ready cooked from one of the hotels that were catering the holiday. She insisted that her turkey cooking methods were beyond comparison. Finally, she had me believing that if she did not cook the turkey, we would repent for years to come. The agreement was that we would pay for the bird and she would prepare it.

The preparations turned out to be monumental. The turkey had to be brined the day before. I had never brined a turkey, had no clue why a turkey had to be brined, but from the sound of it, I was just grateful I was not the one having to do it.

Thanksgiving Day, the turkey and the cook arrived via taxi. The turkey was stuffed as we soon would be on the entire dinner. Everything was lovely. Praises went to all of the contributing dinner cooks and thanks were given for the turkey.

Our turkey cook was not satisfied with what she sensed were meager accolades, so she later e-mailed me to get my honest reaction to the turkey. Again, I sent thanks for assuming the chore and saying how lovely the turkey turned out.  Since not appeased, she wrote me yet again wanting minute details on every thought I have ever had about turkey basting, stuffing, and roasting including all ingredients ever tried and the polls taken after each. This is how I responded to the last e-mail.

Reading your e-mail right before going to bed is not healthy for my sleep cycle. I had two dreams about you in succession, each causing me trauma.

In the first dream, you had hauled me off to witness a line up like you see victims doing in the movies. After being warned that this was a one-way mirror and I could not be observed, the veil lifted. However, instead of six potential criminals standing in front of height charts, one waiting to be pointed out as the culprit, there were six cooked turkeys hanging by scales. Each scale pointed to weights ranging from 7.8 to 9.1 kilos with minor differences in between.

As I stood there facing the turkeys, you tell me to point to the turkey you cooked for Thanksgiving dinner. You demanded that I should be able to pick it out from the rest. My mind was reeling with numbers trying to remember the pre-cooked weight you had told us the turkey was, but then I had to try to calculate the weight lost from a hot oven for hours.

Attempting a guess based on the color of the golden browned skins was nearly impossible as they were all as beautifully tanned as a devotee of a solarium salon. The only thing that allows me to rule out two of the six was the telltale pop-up timers jutting out of the thighs of those birds. That spelled Butterball for sure and not free range. There was nary a speck of grass or a partial gigerium that could be harboring a pebble giving trace evidence.

I failed in this task, so you walked into the room with disgust and flipped me the bird that I should have chosen.

After waking in a cold sweat from this dream, it took forever to return to sleep, but later I wish I hadn’t. Again, you penetrated my dreams. This time we were in a courtroom. I was on the witness stand. You were the persecuting attorney questioning me.

You: Dr. James, do you see the turkey you were presented for Thanksgiving in this courtroom?

Me: No, the only thing that was left was the carcass and we used that to make soup.

You: So, remembering you are under oath, would you say that this was the best turkey you have ever eaten?

Me: No, I cannot say that, because over the course of my life I have eaten hundreds of turkeys.

You: But, wouldn’t you say this was one of the most flavorful and moist turkeys in your memory? Now remember you are under oath.

Me: No, I am sorry. If you had six turkeys lined up and had me blindfolded, I could not pick this one out from the rest while doing a taste test.

You look at me with carving knives flying from your eyes and give me both the bird from both hands.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Getting That Jingle Bell Feeling


The Budapest Christmas Market opened a week earlier than usual this year. Generally, it opens on the first Sunday of Advent, but this year it beat Thanksgiving. Having been sick, I have been putting off hoofing over there, but today was warm enough and I needed the fresh air.

After eleven years, there are few surprises from one year to the next. I could probably diagram where each booth will be and what they will sell there without leaving home to do it. Can we say “predictable”? If you are around here at Easter time, the same booths, the same sellers and the same merchandise reappear then too. They are like the crocus appearing out of the cold earth.

Why do I bother going at all? Well, for one thing, it is tradition. Yet, I have great hopes that one of these years there will be a major surprise in store for me with a new vendor. I was pleased to see that one of my favorite shops in Szentendre has opened a Christmas booth here. They make and sell the best hand puppets I have ever seen. I love them.

There are the usual booths selling baskets, gourmet chocolate, which I have tried and did not find appealing at all, and of course tons of food. It always makes me chuckle heartily that the crowds fill the food booths and chow down like they have not tasted this food in their lives. 

I do pay particular attention to their conversations as they stand around the elevated tables stuffing their mouths in between a big chomp into a sausage. Each time I observe, the majority of diners are speaking Hungarian. Doesn’t mama cook for you anymore or did she send you here so she could get some peace for a change?

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ryanair Is No Relation


Ryanair announced they will cut 10 routes from its Budapest schedule come January 2013.

The chief executive, Michael O'Leary, said : "Ryanair regrets Hochtief Budapest airport's decision to increase charges, impose inefficient facilities and reject our proposals for a competitive growth offer which would have allowed Ryanair to grow traffic and routes at Budapest.

Due to this, there will be a loss of 800 jobs serving 800,000 passengers. 

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The Little Prick That Keeps Being a Prick


This Accu-Chek comes with a little plastic device that one is to use to prick their finger to draw blood to test. I have yet to master this either. After opening the case, you insert a lancet until it clicks. Put the cap back on and twist it to determine the depth of the prick. One is for sensitive skin that will start to bleed at the sight of a needle, while five is for those tough construction worker types who have calloused fingers that need extra deep bludgeoning. This is the same little machine that the nurse used in the doctor’s office, but at that time, I did not realize I should be paying attention to what she was doing. 

I inserted the lancet, twisted its protective cover off, replaced the cap, set it for 1.5 and then pressed the release while holding my breath and shaking with anticipation. Nothing happened. What did I do wrong? How do I pump this baby up again so that it will release, causing me a quick dose of pain and produce blood? No clue. Play, play, play, all to no great success, I decided that I would finally need to take the cap off to expose the pin. My dual nature kicked in. One side is screaming “Please don’t hurt me” while the other is angrily growling “Hold still and take it like a man.” In all of the excitement, I jabbed with the enthusiasm of a serial killer creating a blood river where a blood drop would have been plenty. The test strip was already in the machine, the little blood drop icon was blinking; I put my blood in the designated area and viola! The message is ERROR! Now that is really helpful, intuitive, and will direct me to do better next time. The PDF of directions is worthless in this case, not shedding light on a bad situation. Well that is the show for today! There is no repeat performance. Tomorrow is another day!

Well that was yesterday. Today, I tried again. Getting this drop of blood is reminiscent of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, yet somehow I manage without causing the neighbors to come to the balcony in distress. This time, instead of inserting the test strip first, I put my blood drop on the strip and then put it into the machine. This time I get E-5. There is nothing that tells me what this means either.

This little prick is going to have to wait until I see the doctor again and get some instructions. The way things are going, I will have used up the test strips and won’t be able to find a pharmacy here that sells more without having to order them from North Korea where there is a really big prick.

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