Oh, hah, my favorite part of the whole weeked: we came down off the mountain about five kilometers up the road from the town of Mszana Dolna itself, having aimed for a spot on the map that was marked with what looked like a beer mug. Sure enough, there at the crossroads was a nice little cafe with a patio that served us a plate of excellent pierogi and some ice-cold beers. (Nine pierogi on the plate for seven zlotys out of pocket I think, crazy cheap).
After getting our wind back, and Anne chatting up a local who wanted to speak some English, we decided that another hour down the highway was more than we could take right then. So she took Frank down to the road and stuck out her thumb, and within ten minutes had hooked us all up with a ride to the town with a Krakow cardiologist. Nice guy, had a friendly chat, and in a couple of minutes we were back at W's little property where the fires from the brush he'd been burning were just dying out, and he gave us a ride back to town. Now that's travelling.
W. drove us out to his place at Mszana Dolna on Saturday, dropping us off down the road a bit, and the three of us hiked over a neighboring mountain. The sky was just impossibly blue, maybe because there are no airplanes here. Or maybe because already in September the sun is low in the sky and your shadow is seven feet long. And the woods were thick and lush and green and just the gentle hush of the wind in the trees and the few birds that didn't want to sleep through the afternoon.
A brutally steep trail, though, I think the reason it looked so easy on the topo map was that I wasn't taking into account that the numbers were meters, not feet. We were exhausted on Sunday, but not so much we couldn't go to the charity concert W. had gotten us tickets for, a student orchestra, but a really good one. In a tiny 19th-century hall that looked like the good stuff we saw in Vienna, 50-foot ceilings and mirrors and chandeliers everywhere and acoustics that were just spot-on. Ending with dinner with his cousin the nuclear physicst. Ah, such a weekend.
Ok, yeah, we know that a meter is supposed to be one ten-millionth of the distance from the equator to the pole, and nice factors of ten, whatever, blah, blah, but this is so very, very wrong. They're eggs, not hot-dogs, dammit
Crazy shit. But they screwed themselves. The half-size carton contains six eggs, 'cause five would make a lopsided carton.
On the other hand, another sign that I'm living in paradise here. They have regularly have two flavors of ketchup. Take that Heinz "57 Varieties"
Łagodny is sweet, like barbecue sauce. Pikantny is slightly spicier than ours ("piquant").
If, like me, you are in Poland and you bought a USB key and SIM card from T-Mobile so that your MacBook could have internet access, branded as "Blueconnect", and if you have noticed that when you turn it on the performance of your MacBook goes to shit and the machine gets super hot, here's what's going on and how to fix it:
The blueconnect software is writing hundreds of megabytes of data every hour to log files in two locations:
The reason it's doing this is because of lines in these two configuration files:
If you look at your Activity Monitor, you may have noticed that the mdworker process is constantly active. What's going on is that the blueconnect software is writing hundreds of megabytes of log messages every hour to both files in the /Applications/blueconnect/log/ directory. As it's doing that, mdworker, which is responsible for updating the indexes that spotlight uses to find stuff on your computer, is desperately trying to add all that useless log data to spotlight. All that extra disk activity (writing the logs, reading the logs, and updating the indexes) will run up the cpu on your machine to the point you can't get anything else done except frying eggs on the case.
For good measure, you tell tell spotlight (the spyglass in the top right corner of your screen) to ignore any activity in the blueconnect directory, go to "Spotlight Preferences" and "Privacy" and add /Applications/blueconnect to the "Prevent spotlight from searching these locations" list.
...that's the opinion of a nearby 12-year-old boy after I described to him how the Amex Blue Sky program supposedly lets you redeem points against travel purchases but is apparently not set up to handle travel outside the United States. Apparently Amex users don't really travel that far as a rule. Hey, let's go to Danville and travel on our Amex Blue Sky card! l0sers.
Nothing makes a place feel like you live there like watching a movie together in the evening. And nothing reminds you that you're now living in Europe like having to switch the DVD region of your laptop. Woot!
Majorca is a Spanish island in the Mediterranean, between Spain and Italy. Robert Graves had asked Gertrude Stein where he should go to write, and she told him to go to Majorca because it was quiet and inexpensive and the locals were affable and sincere. He lived there and wrote most of the rest of his life, occasionally bothered by people coming to see him who thought that he kept an open house or that he could help get their poems published.
It's since become a tourist destination for the Germans and the English. It has facilities to extract any amount of money from your bank account, even up to the ultra-high end populated only by celebrities. But it's still gorgeous. We got to stay in Deia, in the mountains, Robert Graves' own town, winding cobblestone streets up the hillsides and olive groves on terraces. Just fantastic.
The worst thing about Deia is that it's unphotographable. The terrain exists in 360 degrees in three dimensions. The pictures just come out flat, and you can only capture a tiny bit of it at a time. The only thing I could think of would be to sculpt one of those bronze miniatures a lot of the old towns in Europe have.
The best thing about Iceland was the water. Check this out:
Except for the east coast, which is the geologically oldest part of the island, all their hot water is geothermal. So it's endless. Or it's at least as endless as Útgarða-Loki's drinking horn, anchored in all the seas of the world, that Thor tried to drink empty in one go. You can take a hot shower for EVAR. By the time we left, I was taking two or three hot showers a day. Plus because of the mineral content it smells to varying degrees of sulfur, which I find hugely soothing.
Whenever I see somebody in San Francisco buying bottled water instead of drinking the tap water, I feel a combination of pity and despair. San Francisco's water is straight from the Sierra Nevada, Hetch Hetchy, and is some of the best tasting water in the world. But after every place we've been in Europe, now know that it's not the best, because Iceland's tap water is absolutely sublime. It's all glacier water, some of it filtered through miles of bedrock. It's sooo good.
Their local mass-produced beer is "Gull", and is truly nasty. I finally realized the correct thing to do is skip the beer and just order water with ever meal. Sooo good.
I'm going to open a restaurant in Iceland that just serves water in different forms. Hot water, cold water, ice water, ice as cubes, as snow in a bowl. And it's going to rock.