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Al-Ful Bright

art. mine and others. my life here-- here in durham, here in budapest, here in indianapolis. here. the state of the academic job market. occasional scrawlings on current politics of the US, Hungary and the EU. the sights and sounds of budapest. jotting

Updated: 2014-10-06T22:09:09.863-07:00


back at it



Pink 12" by 12" $100

It was about a year ago that I last posted on my blog, when I was in the throes of dissertation writing. Now I have finished the Ph.D. (yeah!), defended April 9th, revised and resubmitted April 24th, and walked with the cap and gown on May 10th.

Since graduation I have once again started painting more actively--with a show at Broad St. Cafe in September and a sale of some small stuff at Seeds fundraiser 'Art Grows in Durham' on Saturday, June 6th. I am transitioning this blog from what was once a blog about my Hungarian experience to now an outlet for my creative (or not so) ramblings on my post Ph.D. life. It will be part artwork and thoughts of works by other artists, part political ramblings, with an emphasis on the issues of the environment and climate change, a slice of academic job hunting, the occasional literary review, the status of my development of a new facebook carpool application and probably a whole lot of irrelevant jottings on the state of the world as viewed from the eyes, ears, nose and mouth of a 30-something PhD-holding woman who strives to live off her art until she lands THE-EVER-ELUSIVE-academic job.

To keep myself occupied in my post-dissertation existence, I am reading two books a week (one fiction, one non-fiction) while continuously plugging through David Foster Wallace’s tome ‘Infinite jest’. at the end of each week i hope to scratch down my thoughts on the books....this week it's 'girl with curious hair' by david foster wallace, and 'the history of the 20th century'.

painting sales---these two are for sale. the top one, 'pink' is 12 by 12 inches, oil on canvas and sells for a hundred. the one below 'mind' is approx. 30 by 24 and goes for 300. the flower one i painted quickly for 'art grows in durham. havent given it a price, and not sure i like it. all prices are negotiable. discounts for multiple purchases. will paint on demand. leave comment on blog or email me if interested.


mind 24" by 30" $300


flower (in progress) for sale at Art Grows in Durham

Back to Panting



a lot has happened since ive finished the fulbright and returned to the us. mom was diagnosed with lung cancer in october, i moved to indy to help out. she died on january 15th. im still figuring out what this means, to lose a mother, a friend whom i adored. what this means to me, our family, our world, both large and small. im in durham mostly, analyzing and writing my dissertation. ive also started painting again, to help process all that has happened in the past year. this painting has sold, but im working on several others, so feel free to email if you are interested in one (eaa8 at duke dot edu). peace, bets



"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"

--Albert Szent-Györgyi, Hungarian Nobel Prize Winner in Medicine


Due to the lack of discovery regarding water management in Hungary, i decided to stop studying for the night and partake in soul night at Club Vittula.

Cow in Various Forms


"I have thought of everything I can think of, and the one thing that gives me some hope is the ethos that underlies the educational exchange program. That ethos, in sum, is the belief that international relations can be improved, and the danger of war significantly reduced, by producing generations of leaders, who through the experience of educational exchange, will have acquired some feeling and understanding of other peoples' cultures why they operate as they do, why they think as they do, why they react as they do and of the differences among these cultures. It is possible not very probable, but possible that people can find in themselves, through intercultural education, the ways and means of living together in peace."(J. William Fulbright: The Price of Empire)Friday night. Grey. Dark. Approximately 40 degrees F, but no rain, so a decent enough evening for the Hungarian winter. I spent the majority of the evening working away at my database of Hungarian/Romanian/Slovakian/Austrian/Serbian towns and as the clock was nearing 11pm I was tempted to head to bed, call it a night, get some shut eye so I could be awake for my 9am meeting with a professor (yes, on a Saturday, I didnt schedule it, trust me). At which point my doorbell rang. A handfull of my friends had gone to a play in the theater in my building (Parisi Udvar), and wanted to know if I wanted to go "grab a beer". A bit fed up of typing the slovakian letters into excel (c, d, n, all with various accents over them) , i saved my database, tossed on my blue ski cap and headed for the door.We (Annike, Judit, Ashlin and I) headed to the Hungarians' favorite bar, Wichmann Söröző. Annike (a Hungarian) works as a dramaturg at the National Theatre with Ashlin and Judit (also a Hungarian) teaches English at a high school in Budapest. We walk in the small bar, a tiny basementesque pub, filled with picnic sized tables. When we walked through the door we were blasted by a barrage of smoke, no not a fire in the kitchen, just 50 some youngish Hungarians smoking cigarettes in a basement that has no ventilation. The back wall was barely visible through the screen of smoke. Anyways, we found a table and were introduced to the owner of the bar (a former olympian kayaker, apparently, who now weighs probably 300 pounds and is as round as he is tall, images of him stuck in a kayak and overturning floated through my head).Anyways, we ordered some beers and then Judit and Annike had the brilliant idea of getting shots of 'Palinka'. This is some awful national drink of Hungary, basically some kind of brandy, fruit flavored this time, from some region in Hungary. I tried to politely decline, as Im not one for liquor of this sort--but they wouldnt have it. At this point Annike teaches us that if the person who bought the shots cocks their elbow in a certain way as they are lifting their shot that means to do the shot in one gulp, but positioned in another way meant two gulps. Anyways, i ignored the position of Annikes elbow as she threw back her shot and i sipped mine in about 7 sips, trying not to display any of my not-so-subtle facial expressions as I did my best to swallow the stuff. Ugh.By this point, I thought it would be a good idea to eat something--I asked the owner if they had goulash (typical Hungarian stew), no, chicken breast on bread, no, lard on bread, no (my favorite heart healthy choice). So i asked what they did have, but I didnt recognize the name. Judit and Annike piped up and said yeah, order it, it's good, delicious even. They say it is the classic Hungarian meal after working in the field or after building a house. I decided to go ahead with it, i was hungry, although i certainly hadnt farmed or built anything on Friday. After one of Judit's students stopped by our table at the bar ( a much more common occurence in Hungary than in the states, the kid was 16), the owner of the bar brought our food---A BIG BOWL FULL OF TRIPE---YEP COW'S INTESTINES. I all of the sudden felt I was on so[...]

Wine and Cheese



Slightly bored of all of the good quality time i spend with myself, i decided to stir things up a bit and have a wine and cheese party at my flat. It was a bit late in planning (sent out email on Wednesday for party on Friday) and a lot of folks left town for the fall break at most schools, but i decided to go ahead with it. Bought some fancy cheese at the local cheese shop, and some bottles of wine at MATCH (the grocery store across the street). it was attended by some fulbrights and some folks (actors and such) from the(image) National Theatre. Here are some pics. Some folks from the National Theatre above. Aslin in the red shirt, the guy with whom i travelled to Croatia. Real nice guy. Sandra (fulbright musician) and Stephanie (fulbright mathematician) eating cheese. After spending a week fiddling with the "NPR Math Puzzler", a complex (to me at least) math problem, i emailed it to Stephanie and she solved it in 3 hours, damn her. Unfortunately it was too late to send it in to win the prize from NPR. Gaby, below, is a med student in Budapest, she is of Argentinian descent, but grew up in LA and Isreal, served in the Isreali military then went to the University of Arizona.(image)

Back to the Drawing Board: the Parade of Women Part II


With Hariet Mier's withdrawl of her Supreme Court nomination, Bush again is faced with sifting through the parade of female Republican judges, lawyers and dearest friends all while appeasing the conservatives and selecting a nominee that can make it through the nomination process--not an easy task. After scanning the major newspapers and blog-o-sphere, I have decided to put together a little odds sheet of potential nominees. Im sticking with the assumption that Bush will either stick with a woman or a person of color for his next nominee. This is by no means based on any scientific or for that matter sound methodology, merely my gut instinct. For those of you that are more interested in pretty pictures from Budapest and my daily activities, I will return to that ASAP. Unfortunately my life has been occupied with a lot of working on my research (reading, working on my database, meeting with Hungarians regarding water etc.), nothing too fascinating to describe on my blog..........1. Justice Consuelo M. Callahan, 9th Circuit Court of AppealsODDS: 1 in 3.Low-down: female, hispanic, Robert Novak suggested that she was Bush's preferred pick (although he turned out to be wrong it was Miers). Senate hearings for the 9th Circuit nomination went smoothly.Achilles Heel in Nomination Process: Has been referred to as "The Dancing Queen of the Ninth Circuit", suggesting that she might actually be a gay man and not a hispanic woman, this will not go over well with the conservative senators.2. Justice Edith Jones, 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ODDS: 1 in 5.Low-down. female, conservative credentials--has given speeches on the role the Supreme Court has played in the decay of American society including family relations, pornography, crime. Her comments on the Warren court include "extravagantly assumed the power to dictate new 'rights' not expressly stated in the Constitution and in so doing foisted its philosophical vision on the United States with consequences far beyond the Court's imagining." (click here for more)Achilles Heel in Nomination: While appeasing the way-right, Jones may ruffle too many feathers in the center and left at a time when Bush himself has few feathers remaining to be plucked before the fate of his political legacy resembles that of a H5n1 virus infected swan.3. Alberto R. Gonzales -- U.S. Attorney GeneralODDS: 1 in 6Low-Down: Hispanic male,Why he won't be Nominated: Deemed too liberal by conservatives, made a statement reported by CBS ""The constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is," Gonzales responded in the summer of 2003 when asked by Dr. John Willke, president of the Life Issues Institute, to comment on whether the document that created the US government addressed the issue of abortion." For full article click here. Would have to recuse himself in cases in which he was involved as an Attorney General (including cases having to do with terrorism).4. Justice Janice Rogers Brown -- D.C. Circuit Court of AppealsODDS: 1 in 4Low-Down: Originally from Alabama, daughter of a share cropper. Nominated to her current position in 2003 but stalled in Senate for two years by Democrats opposed to her conservative/libertariarian political philosophy. Been referred to as a female Clarence Thomas, while conservatives have alligned her school of thought more with Scalia. Served on California Supreme Court. For a speech she delivered to the The Federalist Society at the University of Chicago School of Law, click here.Risk to Bush: Fillibuster. Would a nomination of Rogers Brown (or perhaps Priscilla Owen) motivate Democrats to opt for the fillibuster in the post-fillibuster agreement era? If the Democrats claim that Rogers Brown is out of the mainstream of political thought for a Supreme Court justice although the signatories of the non-filibuster agreement agreed to cloture for Rogers Brown for the nomination of D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, then her nomination could le[...]

The Just War Theory


After turning in my NSF grant proposal to my committee members, I took this afternoon to think about some different things—as my mind needed a break from my dissertation and all things having to do with water. Yesterdays memorial of the 1956 Hungarian revolution (where the US and the Western European powers failed to assist the revolutionaries—Im not making a judgment here as to whether they should have or not, just stating that they didnt) and the ongoing war in Iraq have me thinking about why we, as in the US, go to war and how does a nation justly end a war. Is there a consistent logic to our use of military deployment over the past fifty years? And finally how does our use of military power allign with the Just War Theory, and what insights, if any, can this body of literature give us in how and when to end the war in Iraq.. For those of you who may not know, Just War Theory (or at least my interpretation of it) posits when military action by a state is justified. This theory, which is often thought to be a product of Greek, Roman and Christian ethics, largely developed by thinkers including Aristotle and Augustine, has been divided into three parts: 1) when is war justified; 2) just conduct in war; and 3) just ending of war. While Im not a political theorist by training, although perhaps I am by nature, I play one on TV (or shall i say I like to dabble in amateurish political thought). Since I have left 818 Clarendon St. in Durham, where my upstairs neighbor, and friend, is a political theorist by training, I feel a need to fill the vast hole in my theoretical livelihood. Ive been meaning to read Michael Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars, but haven’t gotten to it yet, that darn dissertation keeps getting in the way. Anyways…. I was reading on Stanford’s political theory website under Just War Theory, looking for insights into our Iraq situation and found a compilation of points that are needed for a just end to war put together by Brian Orend at The University of Waterloo in Canada. Dr. Orend received his PhD in political philosophy from Columbia and has authored a book entitled War and International Justice: A Kantian Perspective (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2000). I am directly quoting Brian from the website „A review of the literature suggests something of a 10-point recipe for transforming a defeated aggressive regime into one which is minimally just: Adhere diligently to the laws of war during the regime take-down and occupation.Purge much of the old regime, and prosecute its war criminals.Disarm and demilitarize the society.Provide effective military and police security for the whole country.Work with a cross-section of locals on a new, rights-respecting constitution which features checks and balances.Allow other, non-state associations, or “civil society”, to flourish.Forego compensation and sanctions in favour of investing in and re-building the economy.If necessary, re-vamp educational curricula to purge past poisonous propaganda and cement new and better values.Ensure, in a timely fashion, that the benefits of the new order will be: 1) concrete; and 2) widely, and not narrowly, distributed. The bulk of the population must feel their lives after the regime change are clearly better than their former lives for the change to be sustainable.Follow an orderly, not-too-hasty exit strategy when the new regime can stand on its own two feet. Again, this will probably take a decade of intensive effort.” While I must go find some food now as I am absolutely starving and I think Match closes soon, I will soon return to my thoughts on Brian’s list (some of which I agree with, some with I have problems with (e.g., "cement new and better values")), how it may or may not apply to the Iraq situation, and my thoughts on troop with[...]

My Tutor


Meet Orsi, my Hungarian tutor. Not only does she have the distinct pleasure of listening to my bastardized Hungarian three times a week, but she is also lucky enough to tutor me in the mornings. So not only is she quite helpful in developing my Hungarian skills, she motivates me to wake up, fix coffee and shower at a socially acceptable hour several times a week. She is quite patient with my Hungarian, spotty as it is,---nearly fluent in all foods, restaurant terms, swear words and commands a teacher uses with her students (e.g., sit down, stand up, come here, go there, where is your homework etc.), although lacking in certain areas of vocabulary (e.g., esoteric political theoretical terms).

23 October 1956


23 October 2005, photos taken by betsy.Today is the 49th anniversary of the 1956 revolution, where Hungarian citizens rose up against the Soviet communist powers.On the 23rd, students at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (where I am affiliated) demonstrated in the streets against the Soviet rule. The protesters wanted land ownership rights for peasants, free trade unions, freedom of expression, freedom for the Catholic church, and the abolition of the Államvédelmi Hatóság, the secret police. The revolution was short lived, the tanks rolled in Parliament square on October 25th and shots were fired by the Hungarian security police, killing many Hungarians.Kruschev of the Soviet Union ordered tanks in Budapest on November 4th, killing thousands and approximately 200,000 Hungarians left the country (for the US, Canada and Western Europe). The Hungarian Prime Minister Imre Nagy sought refuge at the Yugoslavian embassy and was replaced by Kádar, who was secretly flown in from the Soviet Union. Nagy was later executed along with 1,200 other Hungarians. About half of the Fulbrights here have parents that left Hungary during 1956 and moved to the states. Hungary remained under the control of the Soviets until 1989. Much discussion still occurs throughout Hungary about the role the US and western European nations should have played, but didn't, in the revolution. Many Hungarians feel that they were encouraged to revolt against the Soviets (by Radio Free Europe, A CIA sponsored radio station), but then when the revolution occured, some Hungarians expected the US, England and France to come to assistance. During this time period England and France were involved in the Suez Canal conflict and therefore their attention was drawn elsewhere. However, UN Security Council meetings were held from October 28th through November 4th, although no clear UN action was taken. Chain Bridge 23 October 2005. During the Revolution of 1956, the Communist insignia was cut out from the flags, leaving a hole in the middle (picture taken 23 October, 2005).[...]

my new swimming pool


after scouting out many of the thermal baths and swimming pools throughout budapest and surrounding areas, i think i have found my favorite--Széchenyi fürdo. It is not over the top touristy, and it's a good mix of indoor and outdoor (which they keep open all year round) swimming facilities and thermal baths. Today i braved the cold weather, gray skies and drizzle, the kind of day that typically makes me want to hide under the covers and read all day, but i ventured to the pool with my new swim cap in hand. First I swam in the outside lap pool (see photo above) with my new red and blue swim cap, looking quite marvelous and swimming quite fast I must say. Unfortunately the length of the lap pool is much longer than Mom and Dad's or the pool at Duke, so I did not have the opportunity to push off the walls every fifth stroke. Actually, because the ends of the pools are steps I had NO opportunity to push off. Oh well, whatever hurts you only makes you stronger, right--and at least i had my aerodynamic (or is that hydrodynamic?) swim cap on.

After the swim i jumped into the warm thermal bath.

(image) once i bone up on my chess skills, master the Danish Gambit (1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3) and gather all of the kahunas that i have, I plan on challenging the guy in the yellow cap.

If you want to watch a quick little film (45 seconds or so) of the pool, click below. I didnt put any witty, or otherwise, audio with it, next time i make a film ill work on that---just starting to figure out all of this techie stuff out, uploading onto the site etc.

Széchenyi Fürdo

It may take a couple of minutes to download from the site. More exciting film clips to come......i feel the blossoming of my independent film making career.

Diary of Daily Dilemmas Part 2


If you remember a couple of weeks back I started a diary of problems that I was running into regarding my flat, my clothes, my personal life etc. I have a new one to add---my trumpet playing neighbor. Now this isnt sweet Jeanette of my previous blog, this is some kid perhaps, based on the level of his or her trumpet playing, but Im not sure. Because the apartment building design is somewhat convoluted, I cant tell who in fact is tooting their horn at 7 in the morning. As some of you may know, Im not so pleasant when I am awakened at 7am.

Here is a sound clip if you want to listen, keep in mind this was recorded in my bedroom, NOT in the room in which he or she is playing. I think he/she might have a friend over, as it sounds like there is more than one horn.

(For those of you that arent that familiar with computers, you may get a pop-up menu when you click on the link below that asks to open the file in a software program (e.g., RealPlayer). Click OK and you should be able to hear the file):

My Next Door Neighbor/Trumpeter from H*ll

any suggestions on how to deal with this tone-deaf tooter?

My Neighbor


(image) Meet my neighbor, Jeannette. She and her Hungarian husband, Joseph, live down the hall from me. While they live in Boca Raton, Florida for most of the year, they are now renting in Budapest to escape the heat and hurricanes of Florida. Jeanette, a native English speaker, yells in English to Joseph, a rather rotund, 70ish and somewhat scantily clad Hungarian (from what i can tell boxers sans t-shirt is the preferred outfit). Joseph yells and grumbles back at her in his native Hungarian. I havent figured out if they really understand each other, but I guess at this point it probably doesn't matter. Jeannette and I speak about every day, although the conversations rarely, if ever, depart from two central topics: (1) her teeth (she has had multiple teeth removed in Hungary and as of today has a new bridge); (2) impending hurricanes in Florida and her philosophies of why they are occurring (too much partying before the Lords Day (Ash Wednesday). I know more about Hungarian dental practices then I ever dreamed that one could know---and am considering opening up my own private practice in my sitting room. Fortunately, Jeannette keeps an eye out on my flat for me and informs me of all of the comings and goings around my flat, who has stopped by, what they were wearing and why they were visiting. It's as if I have my own private security guard that I don't even have to pay (except in salt or herbs when she has run out). If only she could help me keep track of my things inside my flat, such as where I put my parmasan cheese (recently bought from the fancy cheese shop down the street, and it cost me 4 bucks)--she might be really useful. They will be departing at the end of October for the warmth of the Florida sun---and I have to say they will be sorely missed.

Don't Drink Duck Blood: Asian Bird Flu in Romania


(image) "The Birds, the Birds!!" jackson 10.17.2005
(image) As the virulent H5N1 strain of Asian Bird Flu has been detected in some ducks and chickens in Romania, sales of chickens throughout Hungary have plummeted. In response to the fall in sales, the Minister of Agriculture Jozsef Graf munched on a leg of chicken Friday at a downtown food market to allay any fears about eating the cooked bird. However, warnings have gone out to cease and desist the drinking of duck blood, although drinking Bull's Blood ( Egri Bikavér) is still highly encouraged.

Asian Bird Flu Tracker: EU Declares Bird Flu a Global Threat, while the World Health Organization confirms that there is not an increased risk of a pandemic flu. Hmmmm.

UPDATE: A parrot in the UK has died due to the Asian Bird Flu, while
six swans in Croatia perished as well. On the island of Chios, Greece, a turkey succombed to the disease.

STOCK TIP: Buy stock in company that makes these:


Budapest Carnival of Cultures


As the temperatures begin to dip below 40 F at night and the sycamore leaves begin to brown and drop to the ground along Andrassy ut, it was time to celebrate the fall season at the Budapesti light fields festival. An excellent opportunity for me to don my orange ski cap, hangout with some friends (ashlin, margit, (fulbrighters), gabi (med student) and some random israelis) listen to a Hungarian Eminem impersonator and to dance displaying all of my newly Euro-acquired techno dance skills, while sipping a mug of warm mulled wine and eating fatty grilled Szerbian sausage. The festival was designed to recognize and celebrate the minorities present in Hungary. Raypainting by Hungarian artists Dóra Berkes and Péter Kozma ( similar to many of the cultural festivals I have attended throughout the midwest and North Carolina, stands of food from different countries (my favorite being the naan and tandoori chicken from the Indian stand), bands, djs, kids skateboarding, old ladies in scarves with little dogs chatting. However, the one very unique twist, and centerpiece of the festival, is what they called RayPainting (a takeoff on spraypainting perhaps). Through the use of spotlights, an abstract painting (painted on a glass slide), was projected (via spotlights) unto a block-long set of buildings. The colors were absolutely brilliant and the dimensionality of painting and the buildings were phenomenol. These pictures dont do it justice. The originality of this festival gave me the idea that it would be fascinating to do a round the world tour of all seasonal festivals, conduct a socio-cultural comparison and document them via photographs and a book. Okay, im sure it has been done many times over, but it would be a great way to spend a year, wouldnt it?The Raypainting weekend and festival were sponsored by the Alliance of Free Democrats in Hungary (Szabad Demokratak Szovetsege, the liberal party in Hungary). Perhaps the leaders of the Democratic Party in the states (whomever they are currently???) should consider hiring Dora and Péter to shine a bit of light and add some creativity to their stagnant political party.[...]

October 15th, 1944


(image) October 15th marked the anniversary of the 1944 Hungarian Arrow Cross Party (Nyilaskeresztes Part Hungarista Mozgalom) regime takeover, the anti-semitic, pro-German, fascist party of the 1940s. The Arrow Cross Party was responsible for the deportation of approximately 80,000 Jews to concentration camps. In addition, the Arrow Cross militia was responsible for many deaths along the Danube River. This relatively new memorial of sixty pairs of iron shoes recognizes those that were shot from the banks of the Danube by the militia.

Out from Under the Knife


Just talked to Mom and it sounds like Dad's surgery went well (dad had a 7 hour back fusion surgery today for those of you that have no clue who i , or dad is). Sounds like there was a lot of scraping, cleaning, rodding, screwing, plating, forking, bolting and kniving going on, so yeah, he will forever be setting off the airport security alarms. Dad has promised Mom a dance by February, so hopefully dancing lessons come along with rehab.

Thanks for all of the love, support and prayers, it really means a lot to all of us. And special thanks, first to Dr. Cocia and his team, as well as to Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, the founders of Skype--which allowed Mom, Rob and I to talk for basically free, across the atlantic ocean, throughout the surgery. If you are looking for something nice to do for Mom and Dad (e.g., food, flowers, etc.) , feel free to shoot me an email, I 'm sure I can come up with some suggestions (e.g., sending cash to budapest, ha ha). If you want to send Mom and Dad a message, feel free to comment on the blog (click on Please Comment here!!! then sign in as an anonymous user) and I will pass the message along. Thanks. -Bets

UPDATE ON DAD OCTOBER 21: Dad is now staying at a rehab center, which he describes as a quite nice facility. He has physical therapy three times a week in order to strengthen his back as well as his upper body etc. He seems very happy with the care he is getting and thinks that the staff is very well trained and helpful.

Barack Obama on Political Discourse


some thoughts on political discourse from Senator Barack Obama.

"And I firmly believe that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, or oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose. Whenever we dumb down the political debate, we lose. A polarized electorate that is turned off of politics, and easily dismisses both parties because of the nasty, dishonest tone of the debate, works perfectly well for those who seek to chip away at the very idea of government because, in the end, a cynical electorate is a selfish electorate." Barack Obama, US Senator, Illinois

I will write some ramblings regarding my take on the state of political discourse in the States once I have recovered from my trip to Szeged (as I am sure all of you are dying to hear, ha ha ha). -bets



Over the weekend Ashlin (fulbright playwright) and I headed through southern Hungary (I wanted to check out region for my work) and down to Croatia. We spent most of the time in Dubrovnik on the Adriatic Sea. Here are some photos of our pretty amazing trip. I think Ashlin has some pictures of me on his camera, so once I get those, I will perhaps put those up (as long as my hair is in place and I look svelte as always).We travelled through Hungary via train, exiting the country for the first time with our official visas. I hadnt really thought much about my visa or passport until the Hungarian passport checker asked for them. We handed them over, the checker thumbed through them, glanced at me, thumbed through the passport again and then stopped on the Official Diplomatic Visa page, with a confused glare on his face. At this point the passport checker called the other passport checkers to check us and the passports out. Apparently the visas that the Fulbrights are given are Official, similar to what someone at the embassy might have. Now I dont know if the passport checkers dont run into these types of visas much, or were more thrown off that we look more like slightly grungy, somewhat unshowered, ski cap wearing seattle rockers circa 1990s than blue pants-suited, highly pressed and creased Embassy Officials. After some discussion between the checkers, mostly inaudible except for "Official......Visa D", they wrote down our passport numbers on a scrap of paper--that could have easily been the guys grocery list--who knows. They wished us safe travels and we were on our way--Croatia bound.The Croatian Flag. (the supposed homeland of my biological grandparents, although I have to say i dont look a thing like Croatians--- tall, dark haired, strong bone structures (Think Toni Kukoc, Croatian NBA player--not my blondish-reddish-brownish hair and skin, blue eyes, and cherubic face). Although I must have picked up mydeft athleticism and basketball acumen from my ancestral Croats.A lighthouse we passed on the ferry boat between Split and Dubrovnik.The town of Dubrovnik in the foreground and the island of Lokram in the back. Dubrovnik was bombed pretty heavily by the Serbs (in the attempted conquest for a Greater Serbia) under Milosovic in the early 1990s. The buildings in the old town were damaged by shelling from both the land and the sea and many young men died in the conflict in the city. After the war, much international money flowed into Dubrovnik to rebuild this World UNESCO heritage sight. The city is now being attacked by another, albeit more peaceful, invader----hordes and hordes of cruise ships park in the port and the tourists from all over the world descend upon the from to the UN Security Council ".....For this reason, the Battle of Dubrovnik is significant for law of armed conflict since the military actions of the JNA (Yugoslavian National Army), especially in the early stages of the battle, appear to have caused inordinately extensive damages not only to civilian but also to the cultural, historical and religious property in proportion to what would reasonably have been expected given the number, location and nature of valid military objectives within the District of Dubrovnik." For more information on the Battle of Dubrovnik in 1991-1992 go to a lighter note, after walking along the entire distance of the city's walls, hot and sweaty, Ashlin and I found this swimming hole and contemplated swimming in our skivvies from this rock. Unfortunately, we [...]

I have a COLD!!!


on monday morning (my morning that is), i started off with an itchy nose. By afternoon it turned into incessant sneezing. Tuesday my whole body was overcome by musculature aches and pains, so i downed a half bottle of Childrens Dimetapp (only thing i could find around the house), ate a Big Mac (okay, so it took me exactly 30 days to break my no-McDonalds pledge) and moaned and groaned in my bed while watching CNN. Mom, where are you when I need you? Today I woke up with feeling better, did work all morning and most of the afternoon, then decided to head to the thermal baths of Gellért to ease my pain (and perhaps infect all of the German tourists walking around proudly in their banana hammocks (i.e. speedos)). Here are some photos from my day. (image)



The view of Gell�rt from the Wave Pool. (image)



where i swam so i would feel better...... (image)



the old german ladies in swim caps that made me feel like an olympic swimmer as i flew passed them with my butterfly stroke. The swimming may have not helped my cold, but it did wonders in boosting my swimming-prowess-ego. (image)



where i bought lots of vegetables on my home so i could make up for the fact that i ate a big mac yesterday. (image)

Diary of Daily Dilemmas


I've decided to start a blog entry that is the reverse of Hints from Heloise. I describe my daily dilemmas, and y'all will provide some nuggets of knowledge which will, Im sure, provide greater ease in my day-to-day existence in Budapest.1. Washing. I have the standard edition Hungarian washing machine, with basically two heating options (40 and 60 degrees celsius). For those of you that arent into math, think hot and hotter. However, this hasnt been my major washing difficulty. I have been drying my clothes on a rack in my bedroom. After drying over night, the shirts are as stiff as my fathers back will be after back fusion surgery----no bend whatsoever. These perma creases usually work themselves out around 4pm or so, but i feel a little awkward showing myself in public walking through town, unable to turn quickly, bend over, or squat, not because of any lack of agility on my part, but merely because my clothes have been super starched and inhibit any such movement. Ive considered ditching the whole concept of clothes, as many Hungarians do, but the chill of fall has arrived and the apartment building heat hasnt been turned on.Please valued-readers, any suggestions out there?2. Since arriving in Budapest, I have been suffering from some severe water retention difficulties, as have some of my fulbright friends. Ive considered several potential reasons for this change including the higher levels of salt in Hungarian diet or the amount of mineral water i have been drinking. And then my hypochondriac side of me investigated some medical reasons including the following: Acromegaly Anaphylaxis Ganglion cyst Glomerular Disease Gout Hemolytic uremic syndrome Lupus nephritis Nephrotic syndrome Preeclampsia Proteinuria Pulmonary edema Scleroderma West African Trypanosomiasis Please, my doctor friends that are out there offer some sound advice (and by this I mean MD, not PhDs in critical literary theory, queer theory, marxist theory, or number theory, I will possibly consider advice from PhDs in psychology or any of the medical sciences, as they might have something valuable to say). Should i cut back on the mineral water and replace with tap water? Should i cut back on the salt-cured bacon? Heres an x-ray of my hand if that is needed for the diagnosis. 3. Cat. One of my most persistant neighbors (and I have many) is a stray cat that is constantly scratching at my door, rushing in the apartment when i leave the door open, and is overall a major pain in my derriere. As you may know, I typically have a strong dislike of cats, although they tend to be attracted to me. While I admit that I sometimes feigned a strong cat allergy with an array of friends throughout my life so i could get out of cat sitting, I do have a mild, if not moderate, allergic reaction to cats. Anways, as seen in the picture below, little "kiscica" crawls up the outside of my 15 foot door and sits there, watching every move i make throughout the day. Not only does the sound of her crawling up the mahogony doors send shockwaves up my spine, but the set of eyes glaring at me tracking all of my daily and nightly activities is starting to make me paranoid (my 80 year old neighbor has a similar propensity of watching me, but that is another whole entire blog entry). What should I do?[...]

Critical Mass Budapest ---AutoMentesNap--A Day without Cars


A BetsySelect Editorialcritical mass n.1. The smallest mass of a fissionable material that will sustain a nuclear chain reaction at a constant level.2. The amount of matter needed to generate sufficient gravitational force to halt the current expansion of the universe.3. An amount or level needed for a specific result or new action to occur: “The sudden national uproar over drugs and drug abuse has reached politically critical mass in Washington” (Tom Morganthau). typing the names and populations of 1,365 Hungarian cities into my lovely database, I decided to take a stroll down Andrássy Utca to check out the Critical Mass AutoMentesNap (A Day without Cars). While my friends were organizing the Critical Mass day in Durham, North Carolina, expecting probably a couple hundred bikes today, I estimate that 3,759 bikers converged on Hösök Tere to support biking in Budapest. Now, please dont quote me on that estimate, although ive had several careers in the counting field (e.g., US Census bureau, RGIS Inventory Specialist and Mt. Rainier Amphibian Counter Extraordinaire), im a bit out of practice and bikes move, making it all the more difficult. Unlike North Carolina, the Budapest police shut down the main biking route to cars and let the bikers bike.For those of you who are not familar with Critical Mass, it is an international movement ...."Critical Mass is not an organization, it's an unorganized coincidence. It's a movement ... of bicycles, in the streets." ( Anyways, one of my hungarian friends, Kinga, a dramaturg at the National Theatre (yeah, i hear that that is an English word, although i sure as hell dont know what it means, something about managing the theatre, reading and accepting scripts etc. if you really want to know about dramaturgy check out, quite helpful) anyways, Kinga was doing critical mass, and i wanted to check out the happenings on Andrássy utca myself.For those of you in the states, Andrássy utca is a tree-lined boulevard with many beautiful mansions and embassys, similar in feel to the embassy neighborhood in DC. It is also home to the Opéra House (above). The bikers convened at Hösök Tere (above). After walking my somewhat lazy (but getting more firm) american butt all of the way from my flat to the square while watching several thousands bikers burn multiple calories, I was feeling a bit ravashed. A big salty, cheesey pretzel seemed to be the answer.On the other side of town Ambassador Walker (President George Bush's first cousin) was also doing some peddling----of the latest in Cadillacs (Cadillac XLR V8 Northstar priced at $120,000, 18 MPG City / 26 MPG Highway) in hopes of turning Budapest into the next Houston. "These cars are distinctive, memorable and good, and you should all buy one."Amb. George H. Walker III([...]