Thursday, July 29, 2010

Printing Adventures

I bought a new computer late last fall and could not find the printer driver CD after my earlier move in the fall. So printing has been a bit of hassle. I would have to hook up the old computer which runs very, very slow now. Also I no longer had a good place to put it.

Today I hit the end of my rope with using the business center in my building and went out to Best Buy and bought a new wireless printer. I can't quite make it work around the firewall to be totally wireless, but it works flawlessly with the UBS connection.

The clerk who helped me wondered if I was going to have a print party. Oh, yes, I have a backlog of journal articles to print that relate to a course I'm creating for fall, as well as a few online documents needed to finish up my 2009 tax documents.

It's heaven to have things rocket out of the printer! Now back to changing things around a bit to make the spaces fit right.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Adventure Outside the Door

Yesterday the Red Bull Flugtag was held on the Mississippi River. My older daughter and I only had to walk out the door to watch some of this. The event planners hoped for 40,000, but the police say 90,000 attended. That's when it is very nice not to have to find a parking place. There were moments I'm certain when one could have walked across the river without getting feet wet, just walking from one boat to the next. First time I've ever seen rush hour on the river!

Also it was amazing to see that the event had nearly disappeared by 6 PM. That was a fast take down and clean up.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Reality Activities

Today I attended the annual meeting related to the services my older daughter needs to work towards greater success with her disabilities.

I'm gradually chipping away at getting my income tax data all put together for the CPA.

I think some papers packed in a pocket in a suitcase never made the trip all the way back to Minnesota. However, today I discovered I had a magic user name and password for a very important web site related to my final Fulbright Report written down somewhere else.

I have one of my online courses ready to go for the fall semester. For us that starts very soon. Courses go live on August 18. I have yet to write a final module for another course, prepare the syllabus for that course, and also post the course schedule that shows when learning products are due. I'm teaching two other courses, too that need to be renewed.

And trying to decide if I want to put in my retirement papers!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Back on Wheels and other American Events

I got my car back this afternoon from the service garage. I have an early morning meeting tomorrow. I'll just hope it starts right up as it should. I tried it once after I parked it and it started right up, so I'll hope things are just fine.

I got my wireless Internet restored last evening at 5 PM Mountain Time rather than 5 PM Central Time, even though when I was told 5 PM I asked 5 PM in which time zone and was told Central Time. It's nice to have it working now again in my apartment.

Today I started working on getting my tax records in order. I'm missing some things, but too jet-lagged yet to do much problem solving!

So bit by bit I'm getting my life going again in Minnesota.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Life Restoration

Found out this morning that the reason the wireless doesn't work in my apartment is that the line is turned off. It is to be restored at 5 PM today Minnesota time. Funny thing! I came down to the business center to use the computers there and found an e-mail from Qwest, sent after my phone call. Hey! How do you expect someone really to read e-mail when the line is turned off for the Internet connection!?! Surely not everyone is as lucky as me to have another place to use a computer in the meantime!

Waiting now for the tow truck to take my car to the service center. It's really dead.

Managed to sleep straight through until about 6 AM this morning so little by little I'm getting back on Central US time.

Addendum: Internet restored, but can't read work e-mail. Well, that's a whole different story totally out of my control. The only problem is that one of my students from the University of Pecs wants a reference and I need to read her e-mail to get more information to make the reference letter good.

The tow truck driver was able to start the car, and I drove directly to the service garage. Good thing for when I turned it off there, it wouldn't start again. I came back home with a rental car, so I have wheels, and that feels better. This is after all a car society. In Pecs I could walk or take public transportation for everything I needed to do.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Minnesota Transition

The first thing I noticed is how noisy it is. After living in an area for six months in which cars cannot be driven unless one lives in the neighborhood, all the traffic seems particularly noisy.

I've been looking forward to having TV again, but now that seems strange too. I can't remember where any of the channels such as BBC America and Food Channel are. Going to have to write myself a cheat sheet.

It took me a long time to remember where in the kitchen I put the plastic food storage bags. I went to reach up into the cupboard for a skillet to make breakfast, when I remembered I was now in Minnesota and the pans are stored in a drawer under the oven.

American style showers seem strange, too.

Gradually resetting my bio clock to Minnesota time. Got up at 3 AM very hungry, ate some ice cream, read for a bit and then went back to sleep until 5 and got myself back to sleep until 7 AM.

After the final hot days in Pecs and no screens on the doors, I'm grateful for air conditioning and also screens so that there are no bugs, particularly mosquitoes, in my apartment. The pattern of mosquito bites on my legs are beginning to heal. On the other hand, since we have a Mosquito Regional Control Board, I could probably live here without screens and be OK.

And to compound the transition, for the past four summers I've been in Poland, so haven't July in Minnesota since 2005.

I've been invited back to the University of Pecs for the Spring International Week. If it is scheduled for the same time next year as this year, I'll be able to do that. Pecs is a very special place and I'll be glad to visit any time I'm invitied or can help.

Friday, July 16, 2010

At home -- No Adventures

Sometimes no adventures is a very good thing. My shuttle ride, which picked me up at 5:30 AM Central Europe time yesterday, got me to the Budapest airport in plenty of time. Enough time so I could easily handle the paperwork of paying for a second bag! When I bought my ticket one could take two bags on an international flight, but American airlines do not do a very good job of living up to the contracts they make with passengers.

The flight to Amsterdam left a bit late, but we arrived no more than 5 minutes late. I found the computer to check in for my flight to the states and found the flight was leaving about 15 minutes earlier than what I had on my paperwork for the flight. So I took the hike through the Amsterdam airport -- much easier than the walk I did in the Paris airport in January -- and got to my next flight in plenty of time.

The gate was very crowded and as people began to board, I thought, "That looks like Tari." It wasn't until I saw a man that looked like Harry that I realized one of my Fulbright colleagues was on the same flight. I knew they had gone home in June, but then were returning to Sweden. I don't want to even try to calculate the odds of our being on the same flight back to the States, particularly since they wanted to go to Chicago , but got routed on the Minnesota bound flight instead.

My daughter found me at the airport and got me back to my apartment. I crashed out to sleep probably by 8 PM Minnesota, which would be 4 AM Central Europe time, so I was on the go for about 24 hours.

I woke up at 3:00 AM or so, and decided to just get moving. The unpacking is all done, the laundry is all done, and most everything is put away. It surely seemed strange to be pulling the winter clothes out of the suitcase. I had packed them about 2 months ago, and not thought about those clothes again.

The TV is back on, and the little problem I had with my cell phone is solved. The computer can't connect to the wireless in my apartment, but I need a nap before I can begin to solve that problem. Thank heavens for the business center in my apartment building. Monday is the first that I'm going to tackle whatever it takes to start the car.

Later today I'm getting some groceries delivered so I'll be able to eat! There is no grocery store within walkable distance. I'm certainly back to the US car society.

My only task for the day is to take a walk to the public library and get myself some books for the next few days of setting the biological clock back to Minnesota time.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Thoughts About Returning Home

When leaving for an experience such as a Fulbright appointment, excitement and anxiety are the dominant feelings. Going home is a different experience, particularly if one is leaving such a beautiful place as Pecs. I would gladly have stayed here for a very long time, with visits home to family.

During my time here, without a television! -- I have done a great deal of reading. I found the feeling of going home expressed eloquently in the book, The Same Earth, by Kei Miller.

"To pack up and go home is not an easy thing. For every item folded nearly and stuffed into a bulging suitcase, the packer will ask him-- or herself, what am I really going back to? Most will believe, with all their heart, that there is place waiting for them. But this is foolish thinking. For every man exists in the world the way body exists in water; the moment you leave, the space you occupied will close over. What is left is not even the shape of your body, but the memory of it. The is no such thing as return .We leave one place. We arrive at another. But the person who arrives is never the person who has left. We grow. We change. There is no space waiting for us. Only a memory."

I will be leaving with great memories, even from the last two days. Kind colleagues have taken me out to dinner in restaurants up in the Mescek Hills. Eating very good food while overlooking Pecs and farther Villany Hills is a wonderful treat. I've been so very lucky and blessed to have been here for these past few months.

Now to the 17 hour battle of moving from here to Minnesota.

From Moscow to Mexico

As noted below I returned to Hungary on Saturday, July 10. My friends and I took the Metro to Moskova Ter to have dinner at a favorite restaurant. We returned to the hotel early for all of us had been up since 5:30 AM with our various travel routes back to Budapest.

My goal on Sunday was to the visit the Dohany Synagogue in Budapest. I slept in until 8:45, obviously tired. I walked to the synagogue and got a ticket for the tour. The first stop was in the synogogue itself. I joined one English tour in progress and then gradually worked my way back through the seating joining others. Each was different due to the questions asked by the participants. This synagogue was built in the middle of the 19th century. Many on the tours were puzzled by two pulpits. This is explained by the fact that language to be used wasn't determined at the time of its building. Hungary, at that time, had not settled on Hungarian. One guide pointed out for example that everyone around Pecs spoke German, and of course many Central European Jews spoke Yiddish.

One can see above that this a beautiful building. It was severely damaged, but not actively destroyed, during WWII. It was restored in the early 1990s. It is used for worship services during the warm months of the year. Another smaller one is used during the cold winter months to save on heating this very large building.

Outside is an area of mass graves. This area was originally given to the city of Budapest as park in the 1920s. During WWII this area was part of the ghetto, and became the gravesites for many who died in the ghetto. The stones around the grave sites hold the names of those believed to be buried in this area.

One walks from this area it yet a newer garden. There one finds a weeping willow tree sculpture.

The tree contains thousands of "leaves," each holding the name of someone who died in the ghetto or was deported.

In another area one finds a monument to the "just," those who worked to save Jews during this time.

One of the guides said that before WWII there were 5000 synogogues in Hungary, now there are 15.

Visiting this area was an incredible experience, part of the story I learned from visiting the concentration camps in Poland and part of the story of the foundation of the synogogue in L'viv.

I was glad there were no airline snafus from the day before and that I arrived back in Budapest as planned to do this final piece of sight-seeing.

When I was done I decided to ride the Metro to Mexico. I've always wondered about the location at the end of the yellow line. I found a working class neighborhood. I took the yellow line to the other end, Vorosmarty Ter, and found the place hopping with tourists. I had a ice cream sundae and watched in amazement the arrival of a Hare Krishna group. People were treating this like a cultural festival. I wondered, frankly, what would have been the reception had a group of Roma tried the same thing. The money collection by the Hare Krishna group was subtle, but it was there.

A couple hours later I rode the 4/6 tram back to Moskova Ter, then back to Blaha Luz Ter and then took a cab to the train station and got myself back to Pecs. So that the story of story of Moscow to Mexico in one day in Budapest.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Really back home

Back "home" in Pecs. The train ride back to Pecs was rather warm. I remember my first train ride out of Pecs in the snowfall, and how I was almost frozen to the bone after waiting a long time in the unheated Keleti train station.

Have a load of laundry going so I'll have some clean things to wear tomorrow after two weeks of washing things out in the sink -- looking forward to a cool shower as soon as I hang up the clothes.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Back home in Hungary

Today the language camp ended and I flew back from Krakow to Budapest without any difficulties. My fellow Fulbrighers, Richard and Wendy, arrived back from Rome just a few minutes ahead of me. We went to the usual hotel and then out to dinner. Since I got up before 6 AM I'm more than ready to crawl into bed. Going "home" to Pecs tomorrow afternoon.

Sorry I can't spend the summer as  usual at the other language camps. But as I said, "I'll be back in 11.5 months, it's not even one year before returning."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Celebrating the Fourth of July in Poland

As you well know, this year the holiday was on a Sunday. On Saturday and Sunday during a Global Volunteers program, those are weekend days for everyone, including our students. They climbed a mountain that day! We used the 5th of July to explain and celebrate the Fourth of July. I did the "history lesson" and explained while the holiday is celebrated everywhere, each place and perhaps each family does it a bit differently. I did this because 5 of us on this team are from Minnesota, and there is only so much to say and only so much about Minnesota that can be interesting to the students.

Each volunteer gave a short presentation that had something to do with American culture or history. One told how the Iceland volcanoes in the 1870s led his family to immigrate to North America. Another explained how his family re-connected recently with relatives remaining in Slovenia. Another high school student told about the Minnesota State Fair. There were ten presentations altogether and the students today told me they really enjoyed them. I found these are the best I've ever heard during my experience now in 12+ language camps.

The day had started out rainy, but it seemed like the rain had stopped at around 10 AM, so we all walked down the road to a school and used the athletic field there for a kickball game. We had only been there about 30 minutes when we had to call a "rain delay."

We came back to the hotel for a fine lunch and then afterwards had banana splits. These were such a hit that I may suggest we do this again next year. -- See I already have a plan!!!

In the evening one of the volunteers led games played at his family reunion. These included water balloon toss, a ping-pong ball race, and an egg toss which went on forever. Who thought eggs could actually survive all those bounces!?!

The evening closed with a bonfire -- the traditional Polish activities plus making S'mores. I always get amused by American volunteers who think they have to teach Polish kids how to safely roast kielbasa. They fail to know that Polish kids have been doing this since  before they were old enough to even walk.

There is a blog about our work here too on the Global Volunteers site. Go to and when there click on the link to "our blog" and then choose Poland. Happy reading.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Zakopane Firsts

This is my fourth stay in Zakopane and my third stay at the very nice Hotel Wanta. However, much of what I see I've seen before. However, I did get a couple of photos of new things.

The above is not entirely new to me. I've see it before, but this is the first time I've had my camera is the right place at the right time. One of the women who works overnight at the Reception desk carves fruits and vegetables as a hobby. You can see her work is lovely and inventive. The words on one of the vegetables is the name of a festival taking place at the present time in Zakopane.

Yesterday I took a walk looking for a museum, didn't find it, but found a new monument. This monument honors Chalubinski who was born in Radom in 1820, educated as a physician in Warsaw, and then practiced much of his life in Zakopane. He is remembered for establishing one of the first sanatoria in Poland to care for persons who had tuberculosis. There is a forest area near this monument also named in his honor. It's also fun to discover a new thing -- and meanwhile I'm still trying to figure out on what street is the musuem!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Scenes from Zakopane

Our first week has flown by quickly. Today most everyone is off to Krakow, but three of us who have been there stayed behind for a relaxing day in Zakopane. Today the weather is just perfect - sunny and probably in the high 70s!

Last evening three of us went with one of the Polish teachers to one of the concerts associated with the Organ Festival going on in Zakopane. The concert also included performances by musicians who played marimba and flute. The concert was held in a church, and as quite usual the organ was in the back of the church. However, a camera had been set up in the organ loft and the signal was broadcast the front so we could watch the organist.

When we started to walk back to the hotel we came upon some street musicians who were terrific. They were playing classical music!

Today I took a walk about trying to find a museum, and obviously on the wrong street. I saw the ski jump again. This remains a popular sport in Poland, and again during the last Winter Olympics athletes who train here did quite well.

Zakopane continues to develop at almost break-neck speed. Every year I see new things, but I was glad to still see a somewhat rural and undeveloped scene not too far from the hotel.

I saw some of my other favorite scenes. Above is a small nearby park with the mountain scene in the background.

I found the above while walking along a street. I was hoping the photo is good enough that readers can actually "hear" the water.

And for anyone who doesn't know why I'm here, please see Maybe you will find a place you wish to go to as well, either within the United States or in another country.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Life at Summer Camp

Greetings from summer camp. Again -- and I'll say as usual -- I'm having a wonderful time. I have three delightful students. I work with them for two class periods and then we join another group for two class periods. In this manner the students, and we, meet everyone. It is also easier to do some games or other activities with a larger group.

The Internet has been on and off for the past several days. In some ways, I find it amusing to watch the Americans. One would think the world is coming to the end if the Internet is down for two hours. When I went to a church service in Pecs, the minister later told me: "You are an atypical American, but I can still tell you are an American." I think because of the time I've spent in Europe my attitude about many things has changed. Certainly I've slowed down. So -- just send the e-mail later at 12:00 rather than 8:00. Everyone in the States is in bed now anyway!

Back to something more delightful.

Yesterday I got to do one of my favorite things in Zakopane. We took the PKL up the Gubolowka mountain, spent some time up there, and then walked over the chair lift to go down. I really like this chairlift. It is quite new and has great technology. One gets an amazing ride down the mountain, almost as if as on a magic carpet, for the ride doesn't even make a click sound when it hits one of the supporting tower connections. Yesterday I learned how to get from the chair lift area back to the hotel, so in the future years I can now go do this independently if I wish.

Camp is moving too quickly. It will seem strange to be going back to the States rather than staying for additional summer camps.