Tips on Budapest, Hungary

Editor’s Note: This originally started out as an email to a friend who was supposed to go to Budapest but then didn’t because of the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland. My friend, Matt, is also venturing to Budapest, so I thought I’d expand my advice and make a more permanent record of my suggestions for others to stumble upon.

My original posts about being in Budapest:

Day 1:
Day 2:

Map of where I took photos:

All my photos from Budapest:

Notes on Budapest:

House of Terror is the museum I was talking about. It’s located at “Andrássy út 60”

I also walked around Margaret Island and that was fun to see another side of Budapest.

Towards the Northeast is Hero’s Square, and there a pretty cool park behind it, including a hot springs (although we didn’t go to the hot springs).

The Great Synagogue, also known as Dohány Street Synagogue, is the largest synagogue in Eurasia and the second largest in the world. We didn’t go in, but it was cool to look at from the outside.

Right next to The Lutheran Church on Deák Square is the National Lutheran Museum, which we went to and I thought was pretty cool.

The restaurant I was telling you about is called “For Sale Pub” and is located at 1056 Budapest, Vámház körút 2, Hungary‎ (that’s the full address). Here’s the google map of it’s location:

As a side mission, if you go to the For Sale Pub and sit facing the door, as if you were taking this picture:

18.0 mm || 1/10 || f/8.0 || ISO800 || NIKON D70
Budapest, Budapest, Magyarország

…then look up. You should be able find my business card picture, as seen here:

18.0 mm || 0.6 || f/6.3 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Budapest, Budapest, Magyarország

If you find it, take a picture of it. I’ll see about arranging some sort of super cheesy prize.

I also recall seeing some theaters. I suspect they might have some ballet…could be interesting.

Make sure you take an evening cruise on the Danube as the sun is setting. It’s spectacular. Also bring a jacket.

That’s all that’s coming to mind now. I hope you have a great time! We were only there for 3 days or so and I was already quite exhausted from traveling. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability.

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Dubbed Results

I’m in a bar in Maryland, watching the election coverage on TV. Fox News is on the screen I can see, but the bar has the audio from CNN piped overhead. It’s like watching a poorly dubbed foreign film, but more hilarious.



Just finished my ballot and dropped it in the mail. I’m not going to provide a diatribe about how I voted, just the highlights:

  • I-1185: Yes
  • I-1240: Yes
  • R-74: Rejected
  • I-502: Yes
  • ESJR-8821: Approved
  • ESJR-8223: Approved
  • ESB-6635: Maintained
  • SHB-2590: Maintained
  • King County Prop 1: Rejected
  • Seattle Prop 1: Rejected
  • P/VPOTUS: Gary Johnson and James P. Gray (Libertarian)
  • Senator: Baumgartner
  • Congressman: Bemis
  • Governor: McKenna
  • Lt. Gov: Owen

I would, of course, recommend you follow my selections. But being as this is America, you are welcome to make your own choices.

The good news is that I’m in a lab most of tomorrow and flying all day Tuesday, so this political season is pretty much over for me!

A Foreboding of an America

Being Right, A Lot

Jason as SvN writes about Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ “enlightened observation about people who are ‘right a lot'”:

[Jeff] said people who were right a lot of the time were people who often changed their minds. He doesn’t think consistency of thought is a particularly positive trait. It’s perfectly healthy — encouraged, even — to have an idea tomorrow that contradicted your idea today.

He’s observed that the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved. They’re open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a well formed point of view, but it means you should consider your point of view as temporary.

What trait signified someone who was wrong a lot of the time? Someone obsessed with details that only support one point of view. If someone can’t climb out of the details, and see the bigger picture from multiple angles, they’re often wrong most of the time.

Great advice.

Not just great, fantastic advice! And something I need to continue to work on.

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Am I Funny?

The top answer on Quora for “What is it like to be incredibly funny?” struck me as interesting because either I’m more funny than I think I am, or the writer is more of a nerd than he thinks he is. I don’t think I’ve felt more understood since I read The Nerd Handbook.

  • Difficult to enjoy things.  You constantly evaluate the irony of the situation you are in. It’s hard to purely enjoy something, you feel like a sell-out if you do.  You want to enjoy things more, but can’t help feeling this sense of self-betrayal if you give in completely.
  • Curious.  You love nuance and idiosyncrasy.  You note the small pieces that make up things, rather than searching for the “essence” of the whole – mannerisms, motives, motifs are your specialty.
  • A well-honed insight into people.  You are highly self-reflective and, consequently, self-critical.  You usually dig about six levels deeper than normal as you evaluate why you really feel or think a certain way.  You have meta-analytical thoughts about your thoughts, and begin to consider the immovable nature of your thought processes as a whole. The alarming level of self-honesty attunes you not only to yourself, but also (deeply) to others.
  • Alienation/Isolation. Your mind is naturally wired for pattern-recognition.  The recursive nature of social interactions, the mechanization of life choices, the strangeness of formality – all of it is very frustrating and confusing.  Because people are averse to confrontation, you are often left with no choice but to point out the absurdity of these social tropes through humor.  You just hope people don’t realize that you’ve told them to go to hell until after they’ve gone home.
  • Not so good at relationships.  Partners often feel betrayed that the whole world gets to enjoy the gregarious and charismatic “you,” and they are stuck with the self-doubting neurotic version.  To compound the problem, you are extremely sensitive – over-sensitive at times – and you often try to play two to three steps ahead of your partner, which leads to a lot of emotional misfiring.
  • Profound conversational agility.  You feel as though you almost have an unfair advantage over others.  You marvel at the difficulty that others have stringing together a few simple thoughts in conversation.  You even feel sorry for some people as they make small talk with you, helping them along as they struggle to make a point or a lukewarm joke. You rarely meet a person with whom you can’t seamlessly engage, though you often wonder if you’re being manipulative, and you’re often bored. You consider that you should put this skill to better use, though you haven’t figured that one out yet.
  • Profound divergent thinking capabilities.  You are hypercritical of everything, and constantly evaluating the reality around you from multiple angles.  Consider a blanket and a brick.  How many ways could you use these two items to create something funny?  A really funny person could probably think of about 20 different ways in a minute.
  • Profound emptiness. It’s a cliché, and it’s very often true.  Most funny people develop their humor as a secondary social advantage because they weren’t able to gain advantage in the other categories (money, attractiveness, alpha-status). Humor was a way to make it to the inner-circles, but often at the cost of one’s self.  You begin to wonder whether people love you for you, or for the show that you put on. You constantly wrestle with the duplicitous nature of yourself, and even begin to think of your humor as a mass deception that you propagate on anyone you meet.
  • Hurt. You know that you are funnier than other people around you; you control crowds with ease, people are in awe of how fast you string together different ideas and relate conversations back to their roots five stages later.  You have a group of people in stitches for an hour. And then, just like that, you take a play off and they could care less.  You didn’t earn anything.  You were only useful as long as you could do that “thing,” and then it was over.
  • Gifted.  You have this ability, this talent, this gift.  You don’t know why your brain works the way it does, but at the end of the day, you get to make people happy by simply uttering words and gesturing.  You bring joy to people’s lives, perhaps even at the cost of yourself.  A lot of times, the cost is well worth it.  Life is hard, sometimes it’s nice to just laugh.

I’m not a professional comedian, I’m just a funny person who has thought a lot about what that means and what it feels like.  These things won’t be true for all funny people, but I bet they’re true for most of us.

I’m sorry if this wasn’t very funny.  I tried very hard to be honest.

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28093 Miles Later

Late last month, I made Alaska Airlines MVP. To make this membership level, I accrued over 25,000 miles on Alaska/Alaska Codeshare since January 1st. I currently sit at:

Activity Miles
Flown 28093
Bonus 3715
Parking 400
Total 32208

This entitles me to exciting things such as:

  •  Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades
  • Preferred Seating
  • Priority Boarding
  • Checked Baggage Fee Waiver

However, as I look at my status, I see that I also only have 19533 miles to Gold! And I think I might be able to make it. Here’s the forecast for the rest of the year thus far:

  • Return trip from Huntsville: 4022
  • Trip to San Diego: 2100
  • Trip to Maryland: 5820

That’s 11942 miles, 61% of the miles I need to get to Gold. The remaining 7591 miles could easily occur if I fly to Maryland and San Diego again, which is possible.

Non-work related, a round trip to Honolulu and back is only 5354 miles, so I would still need to travel San Diego again and even that would leave me a few hundred miles short.

If I do make Alaska MVP gold there still remains the fact that I would have flown over 50,000 miles this year, which is enough to miles to fly to Moscow (via Frankfurt) and back almost four times.


A Banana, Ring Toss, and The Fair

Rachel and I did the Puyallup on Saturday for our second year in a row! Rachel was obsessed about finding a UV teeth whiten booth, and I love looking at all the vendors. Of course, we had fair food and made ourselves sick on the rides…although Rachel still refuses to ride The Zipper with me.

There were two women in front of us in the line to play skee ball who had a giant tamale— it stood about as tall as the women, too. They won it playing ring toss. Naturally this was our next stop.

I failed to make any rings using my patent pending spinning technique, but Rachel managed to snag one of the bottles!

I insisted that we haul the prize around the fair a show of our skill and prowess. We got lots of, “Nice banana,” comments to which I wanted to respond, “Your mom said the same thing.” You’ll know why I refrained from saying that if you’ve ever been to the fair before. Showing of the fruits of our labor became quickly because labor intensive as oversize bananas are unwieldy and will not fit in your pocket.

As we made our not-so-quick run to the car to deposit our item, two things started to concern me immensely: was the banana even going to fit in the car; and what were we going to do with such an over-sized banana if we could fit it in the car?

Other people asked these questions too and I assured them that my Subaru could handle any size load. We managed to get banana into the car after following these steps:

  1. Open drivers door
  2. Roll down driver-side rear-door window
  3. Move drivers seat as far forward as possible
  4. Open driver side rear door
  5. Lay down rear seats
  6. Open hatch
  7. Insert banana into trunk space, with tail sticking out driver-side rear-door
  8. Force hatch closed
  9. Lift “tail” of banana and close driver-side rear-door so that the “tail” is sticking out the window
  10. From drivers open door, push “tail” back towards center of car and close driver-side rear-door window
  11. Push drivers seat back to original position

When we got home, we did the only reasonable thing we could do: put it in my roommates bed.

Photo/caption by Jacob Blount.

We now have a giant bananna with an afro sitting on my front porch. The default option is to take it to the dump, but that’s seems anticlimactic. Yet, we can’t just leave it there.

What do you think we should do with it, preferably integrating a safe disposal technique in the process?

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I’ve Been Everywhere, Man

This has been a heck of a week. I was in San Diego last Monday/Tuesday for a meeting, then got the call to go out to the East Coast for a week. I’ve been working about 12 hour days, but I’m finally at the airport ready to fly home. That will be nice.

Rachel and I are leaving for Bozeman Thursday night for a wedding that she’s in. There’s also a good chance that I could be heading back to San Diego early next week. And maybe back to the East Coast at least once more, if not twice, before the end of October.

We’re also flying out to Alabama at the end of September to go to Brian and Courtney’s wedding.

Did I mention we’re trying to do our own wedding planning too?