more than gold

Tomorrow is the final day of the Olympics, and there are at least two things to keep your eye on.  At 15.40 on Sunday, Beijing time, Hungary will play the United States for the gold medal in waterpolo.  Hungary has won 8 gold medals in the sport since 1932.

The other thing to watch is the men’s marathon at 07.30 Beijing time (01:30 Budapest time / 19.30 Saturday Virginia time).  I’ve been waiting for this for the the last two weeks (though I’ll have to just catch the highlights on youtube).  Ryan Hall is the USA hope for gold.  Though Ryan has only competed in 3 official marathons, he holds the fastest olympic qualifying time for an American.  If I remember correctly, in London recently, he ran the marathon in 2:06:17.  Whoa.  That is not far off of the world record.  But there are three Kenyons who are running the same speed right now, so Ryan will be up against the fastest group in history.

But Ryan is running for more than a gold medal.  Ryan will be running in the memory of one of his best friends, Ryan Shay, who collapsed and died at the fifth mile of the olympic trials.  Ryan also talks a lot about letting go of all of the lofty goals of running a faster time or winning first place.  He talks a lot about the joy of simply running for God.  This is what he calls being “free to run.”  You can see his training video here.

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Vrsno, Sovenia

Last weekend Laura and I had some meetings in Vrsno, Slovenia with our Central and Eastern European Colleagues (Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, Bulgaria).  It was a very meaningful time in terms of our connection with friends who are tackling similar issues in their work.  We dug deep into our CEE related issues of Identity, Community, and Modeling.  It was also a rare opportunity to bring our kids with us to such a “work-oriented” meeting.  Thanks Milan, Dusan, and Stephan for making that possible!!

Now, let’s just say that Vrsno, Slovenia is not your typical meeting location.  It is a 7.5 hour drive to the West from Budapest (because I’m a slow driver), and it is an hour drive into the mountains from the border intersection of Austria, Italy, and Slovenia (It is amazing how close all of these countries are in Central Europe).  Vrsno is a little village at the top of a mountain (population of 60 people?, possibly 1700 meters?).  We stayed in a low-key panzio which was heated by a wood burning furnace, and there was a kitchen we could use to cook meals.

We spent the mornings and evenings working, and we used the afternoons to “get out” and have some adventures.  We are really looking forward to taking a group of students to Vrsno for an English Adventure Week.  Attention students, go to the outdoor club website for details.  And finally, I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story:


Yes, we will go swimming in this pool. No, I’m not kidding.

These are our neighbors.

Our Central European Network.

creatures on the mountain

Oh, I would love to do this.

mountain lake

Föld Órája

A világon elsoként, 2007. március 31-én Sydneyben több mint 2 millió cég és háztartás kapcsolta le az áramot egy órára a Föld Órájára, egy eroteljes nemzeti és világméretu üzenetet küldve arról, hogy van lehetoség tenni a globális felmelegedés ügyében. 2008. március 29-én este 8 órakor a Föld Órája világméretuvé válik, hiszen világszerte városok és emberek milliói csatlakoznak a programhoz bolygónkat valaha legnagyobb mértékben fenyegeto kérdésben csatlakoznak.
Ha szeretnél te is tenni valamit, kérlek, 2008. március 29-én este 8 órakor te is kapcsold le egy órára az áramot.
Kérlek, küldd tovább ezt a levelet minél több ismerosödnek, és nézd meg az alábbi weboldalon látható videót, mely a tavalyi Föld Órájáról készült.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcHz6Jv4l-g&feature=related

Two Years Old

On Friday December 28th, this blog turned two years old.  Happy Birthday utazni.com!  A few adjustments are coming for the new year!

According to Technorati’s April 2007 state of the blogosphere report:

  • there are 70 million weblogs
  • About 120,000 new weblogs are created each day
  • 1.4 new blogs are created every second
  • 1.5 million posts per day
  • 17 posts per second
  • Japanese is the #1 blogging language at 37%
  • English second at 33%
  • Chinese third at 8%
  • Italian fourth at 3%
  • 1% of blog posts are in Farsi

Schengen History

Last night, at midnight, border controls were lifted as nine countries entered into the Schengen aggreement and into Europe’s border-free passport-free zone.  The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia joined the zone.

In a way, this was a final step for many people in the lowering of the iron curtain and the barrier between Eastern and Western Europe.  A big day with big celebrations along so many border towns and cities. 

The town of Sátoraljaújhely (literally “Tent Button New Place”) is on the border of Hungary and Slovakia and was split into two when borders were redrawn by the Trianon treaty in 1920.  As of midnight, residents can simply walk across and visit their neighbors without going through border guards and passport controls.  

velkeslemence.jpgHowever, there is another town on the Slovak Ukrainian border called Velké Slemence which is still split.  For decades the two halves of this town had no access to each other.  But at the strong appeal of the American Association of Hungarians, the governments set up a border passport control station so that friends and family members could once again visit one another.  As a result of the expansion of the Schengen countries, this border will become much much tighter along with those on the Eastern and Southern edges of Hungary.