Report on “Sandy” from our town

Well, civilization has returned. We saw relatively little of the wrath of the storm. On Monday there were occasional gusts of wind but nothing out of the ordinary. However, here and there, by way of warning, the lights flickered for a second or two. I was madly writing “Misi, the squirrel,” hoping to beat Sandy.

Then around mid-afternoon the flickering was less friendly and actually brought down the computer. At this point I decided it was time to stop and retired to watch television. The TV watching didn’t last long. At exactly 6:08 the power went out, this time for good.

It seems, however, that practice makes perfect. Having gone through Irene last August and the Halloween snowstorm at the end of October we were very well prepared. Every large pot, for instance, was filled with water. In fact, we had more water than we actually needed. The chest freezer was almost full anyway, but we put in four gallon jugs of water days before the storm. We also jacked up the thermostat of the freezer to the highest point a day before.

Since we have a gas stove cooking was not a problem. On the other hand, the cold was really pretty demoralizing. On the first day it wasn’t too bad because we also turned up the thermostats fairly high before the storm, but from the second day on the average temperature in the house was 50-52 (10-12C) F. So, I spent at least half a day in bed under several covers and read.

The other problem was daylight. By five p.m. it was difficult to read without a lamp and in the morning it was pitch dark until 7:00. A lantern with fluorescent lights that works on batteries is excellent but not really good enough for hours of reading. Thus one sleeps and sleeps, and sleeps. And waits and waits for news.

As for news. We did receive daily information from town hall about the progress that was being made in restoring electricity. In the first two days not much happened around here, which is not surprising because first utility companies have to remove hazards (like live wires across roads) and restore important spots like hospitals and supermarkets. Then they move on to the heavily populated areas (not us). Our town’s schools were still closed on Friday.

Around Thursday we started getting better numbers until last night it turned out that we were one of the 250 or so households in town still without power (about 30%). This morning the crews appeared on our road. They came from Kentucky and Ohio. A couple of hours later there was light! People who were walking on the road beamed at each other when one of the crew reported “You have power!”

A fairly typical scene  from an area northeast of us /ReminderNews

After having so many devastating storms lately in this part of the world I often think of how well Hungarians would cope with such a disaster. In Hungary local outages often make national news, so I hear that in such and such a town fourteen of forty apartments were without heat because something or other went wrong. These problems seem to be fixed within a reasonable length of time, but the outcry usually is great. There seems to be little tolerance of mechanical failures or acts of God. If there’s a huge snowstorm and a couple of villages are impassable for a day or two, the workers trying to clear the roads meet with little sympathy let alone tolerance of the possible difficulties of the mission.

Of course, there are people here too who don’t cope terribly well. I just had a conversation with a friend from New Jersey, a state that is much worse off than Connecticut, who was telling me that his wife complains from morning till night. He himself was fairly cheerful although they were told that they might not have power for another two weeks. But on the whole there is an attitude of “toughing it out.” For instance, although in our town there was a shelter set up for the night for those without heat, no one showed up.

And finally, since I haven’t had time yet to look at Hungarian news, let me tell you about all the reading I did last week. First, I reread Ignác Romsics’s book on István Bethlen with special attention to his portrayal of Horthy and Bethlen. Then I moved on to Balázs Ablonczy’s biography of Pál Teleki. Here I was especially interested in Ablonczy’s opinion of Teleki’s antisemitism. I finished György Litván’s book on Oszkár Jászi that I had read only halfway through at the time I bought it, and I came to the conclusion that the best representative of the October Revolution of 1918 is not really Károlyi but Jászi. He was one of those men of his generation who never wavered from his democratic convictions and who condemned both Nazism and Communism. And finally, I read with great interest Zoltán Ripp’s excellent book Rendszerváltás Magyarországon, 1987-1990 (Regime Change in Hungary, 1987-1990). It provides a very detailed description of the political events leading up to the establishment of the Third Republic. I learned a lot from it.

I’m hoping that in the next few weeks there will be an opportunity to discuss some  topics from these books, and then of course on to the latest developments in Hungary. I understand that the IMF is fairly adamant in saying no to the Orbán government concerning negotiations as long as there are “differences of opinion” with the European Commission.

66 comments

  1. Believe it or not, I have 164 unread comments from Hungarian Spectrum! I will try to catch up and react to some of them, but it will take time. There are so many that are very interesting.

  2. Yes, it’s really good to have you back!

    The fact that you had no power for almost a week is due to political decisions: China spends 9% of GDP on infrastructure, the EU 5% and the US 2.5%. Here only villages (sometimes) don’t have underground power cables.

    But the CEO of Southern Company, Thomas Fanning, said on CNN to Richard Quest that the price/performance ratio of the rickety (and dangerous) electrical grid in the US – which he called the best in the world – was unrivaled. He added that underground cables may be better (although five times as expensive, which I doubt), but when something goes wrong it takes much longer to repair them, which is a blatant lie. I am now pushing 70, and I can count the power outages I encountered in my life in Europe (mostly Germany and Switzerland) on the fingers of one hand. The longest took two hours to fix.

  3. Welcome back, Eva!

    You sound really cheerful too – so it can’t have been to bad, lying in bed and reading all day … :;

  4. London Calling!

    Yes! Eva!

    Fantastic that you’re back.

    While the Cat was away – the mice played!

    We missed you – so good to know you are safe – and warm now!

    Regards

    Charlie

  5. Welcome back, Éva.

    As I said on a post while you were ‘away’, I still find it hard to believe that a country as rich as America has an infrastructure so easily damaged (by, known, normal and even predictable events!).

    If only the USSR had known that they didn’t need atom bombs, just enough explosives to blow up a few trees!

    On a more serious note – how come, in a country where power goes off for days quite frequently, no one seems to have heating that doesn’t need mains electricity to work?

  6. @Paul:

    I know from a forum on the USA that many people have generators in/near their houses (the fumes are very dangerous!), at least those who can afford them.

    Re infrastructure in Hungary:

    Even here near Hévíz power lines are sometimes cut by storms/trees, but repairs take usually only a few hours. We once had one very cold night without electricity (and heating) so we were very happy to be able to use our “kandalo”.

    Back to the USA:

    The tangle of wires everywhere is one of the first things I saw on my first visit to the USA around 30 years ago and even then I wondered …

    But of course a Hurricane this size would create havoc out of every infrastructure.

  7. Minusio: “The fact that you had no power for almost a week is due to political decisions: China spends 9% of GDP on infrastructure, the EU 5% and the US 2.5%. Here only villages (sometimes) don’t have underground power cables.”

    Yes, This is what I alluded to in one of my earlier comments. US infrastructure is in terrible shape. It is really shameful.

  8. I’m happy to hear that you have survived Sandy safe and sound.
    A good old fireplace could have solved the problem of heating.

  9. CharlieH :

    London Calling!

    Yes! Eva!

    Fantastic that you’re back.

    While the Cat was away – the mice played!

    We missed you – so good to know you are safe – and warm now!

    Regards

    Charlie

    I must say the “cats” played very well! Thank you all.

  10. Paul :

    On a more serious note – how come, in a country where power goes off for days quite frequently, no one seems to have heating that doesn’t need mains electricity to work?

    OK, I will try to explain. On the East Coast almost everybody heats with oil. There are not enough gas lines. Too bad for us because natural gas is a great deal cheaper than oil. But in order to fire up an oil furnace you need electricity.

    As for water, We are on well water. As long as your cold water tank is full of water you will be able to have water on the ground level as well on the upstairs areas. But in order to pump up more water from the well you need electricity.

    I’m really not very knowledgeable but I think this is a pretty accurate description of the situation.

  11. wolfi :

    I know from a forum on the USA that many people have generators in/near their houses (the fumes are very dangerous!), at least those who can afford them.

    Yes, some of our neighbors have them. The problem is not so much price but that you have to be a burly man to start them. One of our neighbors who had a heart operation not long time ago and who bought one said to me that he was afraid that he would a heart attack every time he tried to start the darn thing. Later he found out that there is something called “easy start” where you don’t need the strength of Goliath to start the generator. In any case, I can assure a woman cannot start them. All these power tools are designed for men.

  12. Cherry17 :

    I’m happy to hear that you have survived Sandy safe and sound.
    A good old fireplace could have solved the problem of heating.

    Have two fireplaces but never use them. So, there is no firewood either. We should reconsider.

  13. Modern society doesn’t work without electricity. One would think that with one or two aircraft carriers less, a lot of power lines could be put underground in the US of A. But the calculation is much easier: A friend (and former student) of mine lives in Virginia. After Irene, the power outage cost him 600 dollars when he had to throw away the contents of his freezer. That happened to every single neighbour. For that money you could have easily put underground cables along the road and to every house.

    When Lower Manhatten fell dark it was because the transformer station was placed to near to the water and exploded when it was reached by the surge flood. To have chosen this location was just as irresponsible as the location of Fukushima. The economic loss after Sandy is so enormous that the amount would have easily paid for underground cables.

  14. In two New York hospitals the back-up generators conked out after a few minutes or wouldn’t start. Imagine! Babys had to be carried from incubators to ambulances. I know no other country where the infrastructure is so rickety and almost purposefully neglected.

  15. Minusio, Naturally I agree with you. During the Halloween storm last year we lost 500 dollars worth of food. Luckily we had insurance with 100 dollars deductible. This time the freezer was a special concern and I don’t think that we lost anything important except a couple of packaged of frozen vegetables. But all the meat and fish seem to be OK. Mind you we did everything under the sun to save the food inside.

  16. Eva- I’m so glad to hear you are well. And I’m glad that you’re back in business. I have such respect for your work on this blog.

  17. Eva S. Balogh :

    Paul :
    On a more serious note – how come, in a country where power goes off for days quite frequently, no one seems to have heating that doesn’t need mains electricity to work?

    OK, I will try to explain. On the East Coast almost everybody heats with oil. There are not enough gas lines. Too bad for us because natural gas is a great deal cheaper than oil. But in order to fire up an oil furnace you need electricity.
    As for water, We are on well water. As long as your cold water tank is full of water you will be able to have water on the ground level as well on the upstairs areas. But in order to pump up more water from the well you need electricity.
    I’m really not very knowledgeable but I think this is a pretty accurate description of the situation.

    I assumed this was the case, but it must be possible to design something that allows an oil furnace to continue working for a few days without mains electricity. In the UK this probably wouldn’t sell well enough, as we rarely have need for such a device, but in the US, especially the East coast, long term power cuts seem to be almost an annual event. It must have been bad enough to have no heating for several days in early November, but it would be far more serious in the depths of an east-coast winter. People dying from hypothermia in the richest country in the world because there’s no electricity for a few days? Madness.

  18. Minusio :
    In two New York hospitals the back-up generators conked out after a few minutes or wouldn’t start. Imagine! Babys had to be carried from incubators to ambulances. I know no other country where the infrastructure is so rickety and almost purposefully neglected.

    You can’t help wondering if this is a manifestation of the ‘American’ fear of the State/’Big Government’ (as in Obama being regarded as a communist because he wants to provide basic health care to (nearly) everyone). Anything that could/should be centrally provided or regulated is regarded with suspicion.

    Except, of course, roads.

  19. tappanch :
    Dear Eva,
    Your experience in a tale of the small mole (krtek):

    Kis Vakond gets up to some odd things, but this episode has always struck me as his oddest.

    And, talking of whom, those of you who grew up with Kisvakond in Hungary in the 70s and 80s but now live abroad might be surprised to discover just how popular he now is back home. Not only can you buy all the episodes and films on DVD, but there is now a huge merchandising business built around him. This has been building up for a number of years, but I was still surprised this summer when we visited a celebration of Kisvakond at the local Culture Centre. They showed all the films, but really it was just an excuse to sell as much Kisvakond merchandise as they could – e.g. soft toys of all the characters from the films, and so many different sized versions of Kisvakond himself that I lost count (and all for breath-taking prices!)

  20. @Paul: Partly that, the fear of big state, yes. Also, the infrastructure is pretty old, but there is no incentive for private companies to modernize it. If you are a private company, you’d want to use the existing, costly built equipment/infrastructure as long as possible, to make money on your initial investment as long as possible. Modernization and advances in technology only happen in sectors where there is fierce competition among businesses (IT, for example), where companies are forced to modernize to stay competitive, but in sectors that are quasi monopolies (like utilities), there is really no business interest to modernize. And that’s where the state could step in, ideally, by either direct regulation, investment, or, if the state does not want to be directly involved, at least by designing regulation that would promote competition between businesses and break up monopolies. I think in Europe it is fairly consciously done by governments… in the US, not so much. My bet is that big business lobbies in the US are just way too strong and influence both Republican and Democrat lawmakers.

  21. Eva
    I realize you probably don’t do requests but…as you are reading and writing about Bethlen I would be very interested to know your impressions of Miklos Banffy. I’ve been reading his “Transylvanian Trilogy” and know that he was briefly a member of the post WWI government…and quit it. Well, if you ever have the time for a post on him I think it would be very interesting.

  22. “OK, I will try to explain. On the East Coast almost everybody heats with oil. There are not enough gas lines. Too bad for us because natural gas is a great deal cheaper than oil. But in order to fire up an oil furnace you need electricity”

    Actually, even gas heat requires electricity.If the gas heats the air, you need electtricity for the fans to circulate it, and if it;s a hot water system, you need electricity for the water pumps to circulate it. And of course your thermostats are using electricity and all the furnace controls are electric. An old fashioned one pipe steam system with a very old (and unsafe) steam gas boiler may be the only system npot requiring juice.

    I am gald you’re back and you’re safe.

  23. London Calling!

    And here Hungary has it right! – Dead right!

    Although I have mentioned it before – they use the wonderful ’tile stove’

    One of Hungary’s rich resources seems to be an endless supply of wood. Most houses around our village have seemingly tons of wood stacked in gardens, out houses and even in the roads outside the house.

    We have a ‘five’ tile stove in the heart of the house – the five relates to the width of the stove – five tiles wide – which is pretty big.

    What is amazing is that with just a few logs after the initial ‘firing’ the ‘monster’ will ‘stay in’ (alight!) all night when the air inlets are closed.

    This radiates throughout the house all night even when the temperature is -14C outside.

    So in the morning a couple of ‘kitchen-ready’ logs and the fire starts up again – just a few shovels of ash to take out from the bottom – and it can be kept going forever.

    Smaller rooms can be heated with an additional tile stove – say a ‘three’ tile stove. We are looking for a secondhand one for the other rooms.

    My partner gets her hair styled at the local hairdresser’s – and he has a beautiful tall, narrow luminescent dark blue tile stove – a real beautiful work of art – stunningly beautiful.

    Even blocks of flats incorporated a tile stove in every abode when they built them in the 60’s – although many have been removed since.

    And they are very cheap to run – despite 27% VAT. If you buy the tree-stump sections at the right time – and chop them up yourself, then it’s even cheaper.

    And – you will be a Man, my son! Your right of passage with your trusty Fiskars axe! (Plus ‘wood grenade’, sledge hammer, 5 ton log splitter and chainsaw – oops I’ve said too much!)

    The wood warms you twice! – Once when chopping it up – and again when you burn it!

    I installed an immersion heater when the useless Gas central heating packed up (the engineers refused to turn up within a reasonable time – sometimes weeks – while we froze. Their arrogance and lack-of-service was amazing!) when the permafrost of Hungary invaded the house last winter.

    It’s a Hajdu! – another amazing Hungarian device. Just so simple and reliable. But I’ve said too much already!

    Many Hungarians are getting rid of their tile stoves and replacing them for gas central heating – convinced by the supposed convenience.

    My advice is don’t!

    (Go on – tell me off! I know it’s not very ‘green’! )

    Regards

    Charlie

  24. Charlie: An immersion heater uses electrical power, right? To use this in a central heating system I imagine you are paying through the nose…

  25. Paul :

    You can’t help wondering if this is a manifestation of the ‘American’ fear of the State/’Big Government’ (as in Obama being regarded as a communist because he wants to provide basic health care to (nearly) everyone). Anything that could/should be centrally provided or regulated is regarded with suspicion.

    Except, of course, roads.

    Can you imagine what would happen if a Republican president actually kept his promises? Total collapse.

  26. CarlosD :

    Eva
    I realize you probably don’t do requests but…as you are reading and writing about Bethlen I would be very interested to know your impressions of Miklos Banffy. I’ve been reading his “Transylvanian Trilogy” and know that he was briefly a member of the post WWI government…and quit it. Well, if you ever have the time for a post on him I think it would be very interesting.

    I will try.

  27. About those old “kandaló[s]” Charlie is talking about. I must say the Continent was ahead of the English and thus the early Americans in the art of heating their abodes.

    My favorite story is from the eighteenth century. As a first-year grad student I was taking a course on colonial American history and my final exam consisted of writing a dissertation proposal on Newport, Rhode Island (which is, by the way, not an island). Ezra Stiles, later president of Yale, was a Congregational minister serving in Newport before he returned to his alma mater as president. He kept a diary that is an important source for life in New England in the middle of the eighteenth century. So, I was reading it for my proposal.

    One passage really grabbed me. It was a very cold winter day and in the fireplace wood fire was going. Stiles was sitting right in front of it. Yet, he mentioned that the ink froze in the inkwell.

    I often think of poor Ezra Stiles during times when we have no electricity.

  28. London Calling!

    Minusio

    The Hajdu immersion heater is almost 100% efficient – very little heat loss. And there is no long ‘dead leg’ – the immersion heater is in the bathroom very close to where it is needed. It is just dedicated to supplying hot water. The tile stove heats the house!

    In the kitchen very little hot water is needed – we have cold-fill dishwasher (one of the first things I transported to Hungary!).

    I am installing a new kitchen – and Hajdu make a small under-work-surface heater so again no long dead-leg.

    (This reduces water consumption of course – in a water-metered house. There are two wells in the garden but I have not had time yet to see how they can be used to water the garden!)

    With central-heating-supplied hot water (even with a condensing boiler) the warm-up time, and the long dead leg are very wasteful (even if the boiler has a mini-circulator).

    Immersion heaters are almost 100% efficient with an expensive fuel – Gas boilers are only 70% efficient with a cheaper fuel and long dead-legs and slow warm-up times for hot water.

    And you are not at the mercy of the Hungarian ‘customer-facing’ service engineers for gas boilers. (They are facing away mainly – and don’t know their products. Believe me I could fill a whole blog on my own with this sad litany of events.)

    However I will let you know how the stats work out.

    I am nevertheless amazed at the deep-heat cosiness of the Tile Stove!

    Regards

    Charlie

  29. London Calling!

    Goodness – you frighten me Eva! – Frozen ink while the fire was burning!

    I’ve never known such low temperatures in my life – at -14C that was bad enough!

    I am amazed how Hungarians keep their cars going in such extremes – It certainly makes you realise you need almost pure antifreeze in the engine to stop the cylinder block freezing! But diesel freezes solid at these temperatures!

    And kandaló[s] = Tile stove! Thanks!

    O/T – I really do hope Obama gets re-elected – If not least for the people of Hungary.
    (Hillary Clinton being on Orban’s case needs more attention!)
    And Romney would be a (right) disaster.

    Regards

    Charlie

  30. Paul: “… it must be possible to design something that allows an oil furnace to continue working for a few days without mains electricity.”

    In a small two-storey house my parents bought near Lake Constance in the late 50s they had central heating installed that worked with an oil-fired stove (like the small, smelly oil ovens you probably have come across, too). It was a stove you could cook on. It came with built-in water-pipe coils for the central heating that worked without a circulation pump. The problem was that fuel-burning efficiency was poor, and the stove and the chimney sooted up, requiring thorough cleaning twice a year.

    I doubt that a modern oil-fired furnace could be made to run like this – unless you want to have everything dismantled and cleaned after power is restored. It would require a modified burning chamber and a second – gravity-fed (!) oil intake. And the pipes and radiators must be arranged in such a way that they can be reached by the hot water without a circulation pump. If there is a mixing valve, that must be able to be pushed to open manually.

    Quite a feat. But I guess it could be done.

  31. CharlieH :

    London Calling!

    Goodness – you frighten me Eva! – Frozen ink while the fire was burning!

    I’ve never known such low temperatures in my life – at -14C that was bad enough!

    Well, if you think that is bad you should live for a while in Ottawa, Canada. It is supposed to be the first or second coldest capital in the world. After Ulanbator, Mongolia.

    One distinct memory from the past. I was taking the bus to campus. The bus stopped about a 100 yards from the building. As soon as I stopped inside, the frame of my glasses broke right in the middle. Luckily I had another pair but they were sunglasses. I looked rather weird sitting in class with sunglasses on in the middle of the winter and inside.

  32. Éva: Apart from the English, the French and the Italians also don’t know how to heat and cling to open fireplaces which are the most inefficient way to burn lots of logs inefficiently. In English and French castles, these fireplaces were so big that you could practically move your chair into them. If you ask me, this is no better than a camp fire out in the open.

    Anyway it’s better to move to milder climes… This is why I like the Ticino!

  33. Eva S. Balogh :

    wolfi :
    I know from a forum on the USA that many people have generators in/near their houses (the fumes are very dangerous!), at least those who can afford them.

    Yes, some of our neighbors have them. The problem is not so much price but that you have to be a burly man to start them. One of our neighbors who had a heart operation not long time ago and who bought one said to me that he was afraid that he would a heart attack every time he tried to start the darn thing. Later he found out that there is something called “easy start” where you don’t need the strength of Goliath to start the generator. In any case, I can assure a woman cannot start them. All these power tools are designed for men.

    Eva,
    In our cottage, we do have a generator, and as soon as the power goes out the generator takes it over. The only thing we have to make sure is not to run too many things at once when the generator kicks in. I will look into what kind of generator that is.

  34. “Well, civilization has returned.” Talking about civilization, the ancient Romans had a very fuel-efficient floor and wall heating system in their hypocausts. But those were for villas and public baths only. I wonder how they heated the insulae, blocks of flats up to seven storeys high (a few even eight and nine).

  35. CharlieH :
    London Calling!
    Goodness – you frighten me Eva! – Frozen ink while the fire was burning!
    I’ve never known such low temperatures in my life – at -14C that was bad enough!
    I am amazed how Hungarians keep their cars going in such extremes – It certainly makes you realise you need almost pure antifreeze in the engine to stop the cylinder block freezing! But diesel freezes solid at these temperatures!
    And kandaló[s] = Tile stove! Thanks!
    O/T – I really do hope Obama gets re-elected – If not least for the people of Hungary.
    (Hillary Clinton being on Orban’s case needs more attention!)
    And Romney would be a (right) disaster.
    Regards
    Charlie

    I couldn’t agree with you there, Charlie.
    The American ambassador, Clinton, and Obama..have all been a disaster for Hungary. America as the light of democratic principles is nowhere to be seen here. Domestically, the Republicans may not be good–Bush the Younger did mess up horribly–but internationally, they’re far better.
    I’m reminded of the knee-jerk response of Iran a day or two before Reagan took office..

  36. Paul :

    They showed all the films, but really it was just an excuse to sell as much Kisvakond merchandise as they could – e.g. soft toys of all the characters from the films, and so many different sized versions of Kisvakond himself that I lost count (and all for breath-taking prices!)

    Do not blame the Hungarians for that :-). I am sure that the ownership rights are still in Czech hands and the main benefits from this hype are also there (you should visit a toy shop in rague… but there you will find also a nearly equally broad range of other such characters which – unfortunately – were not as successful abroad). The Hungarians – as East Germans – prove to be really loyal to their childhoods’ friends… 🙂

  37. Hi everyone – most of all Eva, who came (in? -no le Carré today!) back from the cold!

    I guess, that the infrastructure is particularly vulnerable in places when it was implemented already long time ago – as opposed to the ‘developing’ countries, where even the power lines were laid recently, hence they have access to the latest technology.

    Noticeable too, that people having lived their entire life in capitalism, tend to be more tolerant regarding such failures than people used to live under the ‘socialist’ regimes and have got used to that someone ought to take care of their needs, so why don’t they, right now?

    Actually I managed only with minor glitches – my ISP were knocked down for about a half day or so, but nothing more serious. Must look after some ‘off the grid’ options, though.

    Eva, the life was far from complete without you, – we’re suffering from squirrel overdose already – so welcome back!

  38. Kirsten :

    Paul :
    They showed all the films, but really it was just an excuse to sell as much Kisvakond merchandise as they could – e.g. soft toys of all the characters from the films, and so many different sized versions of Kisvakond himself that I lost count (and all for breath-taking prices!)

    Do not blame the Hungarians for that . I am sure that the ownership rights are still in Czech hands and the main benefits from this hype are also there (you should visit a toy shop in rague… but there you will find also a nearly equally broad range of other such characters which – unfortunately – were not as successful abroad). The Hungarians – as East Germans – prove to be really loyal to their childhoods’ friends…

    I got two keychain holders in this October while in Budapest. I brought them back to my kids, and they know who Kisvakond is, even though they are 21st Century kids. Having said that, they were also selling Kockas Fulu Nyul, Mazsola, Maoncska and Tade. I liked the Kisvakond the most.

  39. spectator :
    Hi everyone – most of all Eva, who came (in? -no le Carré today!) back from the cold!
    I guess, that the infrastructure is particularly vulnerable in places when it was implemented already long time ago – as opposed to the ‘developing’ countries, where even the power lines were laid recently, hence they have access to the latest technology.
    Noticeable too, that people having lived their entire life in capitalism, tend to be more tolerant regarding such failures than people used to live under the ‘socialist’ regimes and have got used to that someone ought to take care of their needs, so why don’t they, right now?
    Actually I managed only with minor glitches – my ISP were knocked down for about a half day or so, but nothing more serious. Must look after some ‘off the grid’ options, though.
    Eva, the life was far from complete without you, – we’re suffering from squirrel overdose already – so welcome back!

    Also, do not forget to compare the size of the countries.

  40. Kirsten, Paul: On a related note, a funny story. My stepdad went on a work trip a few years ago where he met a Cuban colleague of his. This guy was so excited to meet a Hungarian and a few minutes in the conversation he asked if it was still possible to get a copy of the Mézga family series as it was his favorite cartoon growing up. Isn’t this amazing? They probably didn’t understand half of the show’s references and jokes but still Cuban kids used to sit down and watch the adventures of a crazy Hungarian family…

  41. Some1 :

    Also, do not forget to compare the size of the countries.

    Sometime I have the distinct feeling that our friends who live in Europe or in Great Britain don’t really realize the distances here that make underground cabling, wiring very, very costly. Just to give an example. Our road is more than a mile long and although I didn’t count them but I guess that there are no more than 20 houses found on that long stretch.

    By local ordinance the “frontage” of the properties must be at least 300 feet long because there are individual wells and septic tanks. So, imagine the cost of laying underground cables on this road for 20 households.

  42. Btw, even though I’m just 27, Kisvakond (or Krtecek) is still one of my most prominent childhood television experience (right next to Dallas…). I never cease to amaze how visual artists were able to convey so much message packaged as children’s stories. I rewatched a couple of episodes recently and they tell a completely different story once you can see the adult level. Still, Kisvakond for me is always going to make me reminisce about drinking a bögre of kakaó on my mom’s lap watching him (or her? I don’t think we ever find out the gender) teaching the snail a lesson or two:) Thank you and rest in peace Zdenek Miler!

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