Empty Resolutions

It’s the first of January and the time for the making of resolutions which will be broken, or forgotten, or at least seriously compromised by January 2nd. Every year I resolve to lose weight, but I don’t actually want to accompany that with any dietary restrictions on either type or amount of food, and just consumed a delicious, gooey, coconut covered chocolate roll whose taste still lingers in my mouth and goes very well with the morning’s third cup of coffee, and every year I resolve to write more, but more than what, and more of what, is harder to say.
There is a book I want to write, and have wanted to write for the last 20 years, but I still don’t even have it properly outlined, and there are always the poetry books, which I will probably get another one of out this year, but writing more is not the same as writing better, which should be my real resolution.
I do have a poetry reading coming up in two weeks, first one of the year, so for now I’m focusing on getting 3 poems written for that, and I’ve got the ideas, the themes, but the rhymes aren’t coming. One is about the speed of dark, one is that our minds cannot contain the thoughts which are within them, and the third is that wherever you are in the world, the sky is the same, the same gorgeous sunsets, the same vast expanse of blue, the same interesting cloud formations and it’s interesting how people on social media, whatever natural beauty or urban splendor surrounds them, will eventually point their cameras at the sky.
If I can finish those three in the next two weeks, that’s one resolution completed.

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Budapest Day 3 and Thoughts on Ghislaine Maxwell

Back in Prague after a brief, but experience filled vacation in Budapest. The plan was to get up early this morning to beat the breakfast rush, then check out of the hotel and leave all our stuff in the car while we went out to explore some more of Budapest on foot. Except for the getting up early part, things went more or less according to plan. We walked from our place down a long and not overly impressive boulevard, until we got to Victory Square, which was very impressive, and then the park behind it with more majestic and monumental buildings you could count, a huge skating rink, and the hot water fountain on the other side of it.
My basic impression was that we were seeing a whole different, but equally amazing, city as yesterday. Then we stopped at a cafe for a last coffee and tea in Budapest, and started the long drive home. It had been drizzly the whole time there, but the skies opened up and it started pouring down, and this was off and on until we were well into the Czech Republic.
Anyway, great vacation, and if anybody is considering Budapest as a vacation destination, it gets big thumbs up from me.

re the news of the day, the Ghislaine Maxwell conviction. It wasn’t actually in doubt, was it? I see a lot of people cheering it on Facebook, but I don’t really feel that. I don’t see this as a win. The trial ends, she will go to jail, there will be appeals, and a couple of years from now she will be quietly released, maybe for compassionate ‘health’ reasons, but it doesn’t matter. The trial has come to an end and no trials have begun against Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Alan Derschowitz, Donald Trump, or any of her other wealthy and powerful clients. Now, they never will.
They got away with it. They will continue to get away with it.

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Budapest Day 2

I do not approve of Fitbit. My wife informs me that we have walked 16 kilometers today and I thought for sure it was 60, at least. The more we allow machines to rate us, to judge us, the more we are not going to like the judgements.
Anyway, every step was a step well spent. Budapest truly is an impressive city. After a big breakfast at the hotel, we took the Metro to the other side of the river, and began on a route Sam had planned, which I was not thrilled with because he’d placed my Roman ruins at the end of our itinerary, and if there’s one thing I learned in Journalism School, it’s that you put the stuff at the end that you are the least worried about if it gets cut, because editors are just fucking lazy and will go ahead and lop off whatever number of lines don’t fit.
Whatever. As long as the kids see what they want to see and they’re happy, I should be happy, too.
First thing on the list was the “Statue of Liberty” which is atop quite a steep hill, and the area right at the top was closed, but it was a good walk with some great views and what we could see of the statue was lovely. We couldn’t help noting comparisons with Prague. One side of the river (Pest) is flatter, but more built up, and the other side rises rather precipitously, and that’s where the castle and a lot of the other monuments are. Seriously, the view from the statue of liberty reminded me very much of the view from Letna Park.

Next stop was the castle, and it started actually raining on us there so we ducked into the cafe at the art museum which, amazingly, had fairly normal prices. Another thing that impressed me about the castle was that from the gardens at the bottom up to the top of the hill there was an escalator. Most considerate.
A couple of churches and monumental type areas later and we did make it to my ruins. I was very satisfied, because ruins can be as little as damn near nothing, but you could actually see the outline of a city there, and the museum contained a lot of stuff that was pre-Roman as well, stone carvings and such that were 7,000 years old.
Then we went for a very late lunch at an American themed hamburger restaurant, which was a good deal cheaper than yesterday’s lunch but also came in somewhat oversized proportions.
Tomorrow any sight-seeing we do will be pretty close to the neighborhood where we’re staying, and we’ll be driving home tomorrow afternoon.

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Budapest, Day 1

It was an uneventful drive down, we got up and out at 7 a.m. with total precision, like the well-oiled unit we usually are not, traffic was light most of the way, there were no roadworks on the D1 anywhere and I believe that’s the first time in the 23 years I’ve lived in the Czech Republic that that’s been true.
We got to our hotel at about 1:30, technically before check-in time, but they had a room so they allowed it.
We’re satisfied with the accommodation. Not so luxurious, the shower/bathroom actually looks very much like what we’ve got at home, but it’s big enough, nobody needs to sleep together who doesn’t ordinarily sleep together, it’s within walking distance of the center, and the metro, and a street market, and lots of souvenir stands, and it seems a couple of strip clubs, but I’ve been trying to ignore that, being with family and all, and nobody else has mentioned it.

After a quick look at the rooms, we went out sight-seeing. It was kind of miserable and drizzly, but if that sort of thing brings you down, it’s hard to have fun as a tourist anywhere in Europe north of the alps, so we plowed on. Lots of really big, impressive buildings. The Parliament building we found particularly impressive. We were on our way to a restaurant which had been recommended to us when I asked my son “Sam, what’s that building there, is it a train station” and a sweet young girl in a blue coat who seemed to be waiting for a tram said “It’s the Market Hall.” She may have been a tourist with just slightly more knowledge than us, maybe an expat living in Budapest, teaching English by day and singing in a jazz club by night, or maybe just a Hungarian girl who spoke good English.
The restaurant was a place called For Sale and, outside of it costing a bit more than I’d thought, was excellent and I definitely recommend it. Order the goulash, the portion is huge.
After that, we walked through aforesaid Market Hall. It’s in kind of a spectacular building, but inside, it’s just a market and a butcher’s stall is a butcher’s stall, anywhere you go.
Tomorrow, I want to see some Roman ruins, everybody else wants to see the castle, there are a couple of other things on the list, we’re starting to realize two days isn’t going to be enough, but that’s what we’ve got.

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Bitcoin and Clean Energy

There are three reasons I don’t invest in bitcoin. One is that I can’t afford it and the second is I don’t understand it. The third is the reason I usually give when anybody asks me about it in a social setting, and it’s more of a jokey excuse than a reason: the instant I invest in it is exactly the point at which it will crash, which is pretty much my life story.
One argument against it which I totally reject, and consider absurd, is the argument that it is ‘dirty.’ It is the same argument used against electric cars and massive desalination, which could give everybody on Earth clean drinking water, turn the deserts green and end poverty. Bitcoin requires energy (for computing) and energy comes from power plants, which mostly run on coal and gas, which are dirty.
There is nothing inherently dirty about energy. Lightning is not dirty, the wind and the sun are not dirty. If we switched to clean energy, e.g. wind, solar, tidal, kinetic, those hydrogen batteries I sometimes hear about that leave only clean water as a by-product, and maybe even nuclear with a bit more research and a lot of restrictions, we could have all the bitcoin we wanted, clean water, and an international public transportation system which is cheap, efficient, fast and luxurious. It all comes down to energy and the only thing standing between us and a beautiful, utopian world without pollution or poverty is the fact that coal and oil companies want to make sure we keep it dirty.
They really do.

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