Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Jack, I'll Take 'Grab Bag' For $1,000

Just to give a few more props to my people in Austria.

Just got back from a 2 hour ride, the first one since August. It was strange to be off the bike for so long, but I've been running a bunch lately so I wasn't dying or anything. There weren't very many people out on the roads, and everyone I saw was from NCVC. A dedicated lot, we.

Friday marks my return to competitive sailing. It's been over a year since I raced, or was even on a sailboat. The last time I raced (spring of '06) was after a year's layoff, and that wound up going just ducky so I'm not concerned at all, just excited. Two of my best friends are on the boat, so it ought to be a lot of fun.

One of the things that's been on my mind a lot lately is Budapest. The place is haunting me. I'd planned to do a post just about Budapest in the same vein as the Prague and Vienna posts, but honestly, the place deserves more. Not because I loved it and thought it was the greatest place ever, because I didn't think that. I didn't dislike it at all, it's just that I can't figure out the whole Nazi/Soviet occupation era. Half of the buildings in Budapest were harmed during WWII. Half of those were uninhabitably damaged, and half of those were completely destroyed. It's not just buildings, though. Far from it, the buildings are really more just a side effect. The real question is how do you drag a people out of 50 years of occupation under two of the most terroristic regimes ever empowered? When generations of kids have been taught that turning their parents in for not having enough zeal for the regime, how do you maintain continuity of societal norms and values? How much gets lost?

One time while there, I was pissed because two people had pretty much cut me off in line. To my American way of thinking, it was pretty rude, but then I stopped and thought "well, jeez, these people have probably been in bread lines, starving their asses off. If someone leaves a little gap, they take it." You could easily think that the customer service is pretty spotty over there, but then you'd have to realize that there was really no such thing as a customer in the recent past. You took what you were given.

They have a museum called the Terror Haza (Terror House) which does an incredible job of making the terror of the recent regimes come to life. Things as mundane as a telephone or a car, or a light, can be made to freak you out entirely. I've really never seen something that affected me so profoundly. If there are any Soviet experts who happen to read this, please comment, I would love to get your thoughts.

Oh, yeah, I also found out that I really like beer with no carbonation.

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