My Family’s First Visit to Budapest

January 28, 2013 § 5 Comments

I’ve had an amazing week with my family, even though the time flew by too quickly. My mom and I had a couple days together before the arrival of my Aunt Aida from England. Two days after her arrival, Christian joined us from Pécs. Poor Skjalg had 3 exams last week – all of which he passed! – so he wasn’t able to join us until Friday.

We spent our time catching up, drinking red wine and visiting amazing restaurants. It felt so foreign to me to have so much free time. I still have a week left of break before school starts again, but I will be filling the time with more productive tasks. Once the new semester starts next Monday, I can’t imagine there will be time for much else.

Here’s a little bit of what the past week looked like:

guest roomAll set-up and ready for my mom’s first night in Budapest

New York Cafe building Sunday morning breakfast at New York Café

new york cafeNew York Cafe 2New York Cafe 3The beautiful New York Café

my mama 2Dinner with my beautiful mama at La Cucina on Vaci utca

gerbaud mamaCoffee break at Café Gerbaud

mama tapasAmazing tapas dinner at Pata Negra at Kalvin ter

mom and aidaVisiting the Central Market

fruit veggie stall central market Meat case My mama

For Sale 2Lunch at For Sale – located across the street from the Central Market

Mama and Aida

Aida's Side saladThe portions at For Sale were beyond huge. We split 1 order of soup between the three of us and Aida ordered a main course. When it arrived, we were shocked to see the size of her “side” salad. Definitely a spot for sharing!

For Sale ceilingThere are thousands of notes from previous guests pinned to the walls and ceilings

our noteOur addition to the notes

For SaleSuch a cozy little spot

winter stopIt was a cold winter day, so we tried to spend as much time indoors as possible

Vaci utcaWe braved the cold and walked down Vaci utca, from the Central Market to Vörösmarty Square

palaceAfter a round of shopping on Vaci Utca, we walked along the Danube promenade, on our way to see the parliament building

palace and chain bridgeBuda Palace and the Chain Bridge

Basilica street viewWalking up to St. Stephen’s Basilica

Inside basilicaInside the basilica for the first time. It felt so wrong to take a picture with all the people praying in there, even though the guard said it was ok. This picture doesn’t do it justice.

S and CDropping Christian off at the train station before his trip back to Pécs

 

I love you, but it’s 3 a.m.

January 14, 2013 § 3 Comments

This is the response I got when trying to update Skjalg on the case of Aaron Schwartz’s suicide (founder of Reddit) and the hacker group Anonymous’ subsequent shut-down of the servers at MIT. I don’t normally spend the early hours of the morning searching for tales of tech tragedies online, but it popped up on my Facebook newsfeed – which I do check at various intervals throughout the day (unfortunately). Instead of playing games online, I’ve picked up a habit of helping to “map the retinal connectome” over at eyewire.org. They are a lab over at MIT, so if you’ve tried checking out their site in the hours after this post was published, odds are the site is still down. Here’s a little info about the site from their Facebook page:

About

Eyewire is a game to map the 3D structure and connectivity of neurons from Seung Lab of Computational Neuroscience at MIT.

Description

Inside the retina, tucked away at the back of the eye, lies an incredibly dense tangle of interconnected neurons. If we can map the many connections between these cells, we will be closer than ever to understanding how vision works. To achieve this, we need something more intelligent than even the most powerful supercomputer — you.

You can help discover things that machines can’t. Delve into the microscopic realm of the retina to glimpse the twists and turns of neurons hitherto unseen. You will be at the forefront of scientific exploration as you chart the entangled branches of those tree-like cells called neurons. Join us to explore the eye’s jungle

So, why are we up at 3 a.m.? Well, it’s finals season. I’ve been cramming for physics and Skjalg for anatomy. Yesterday at around 15:00 (and by yesterday I mean Saturday) I decided to start a log of my study time. In preparing for this exam I am pretty much just watching every video possible on yairmeiry’s youtube channel (see the Resources Galore page to the left). I was curious about how many actual minutes (with pausing, rewinding, note-taking, etc.) I use per actual minute of video. I love charts, lists, logs – anything to organize or assign a number value to something. Plus, after last week’s statistic exam, I’m a little bit more fluent in excel.
Click Image for Larger View

Click Image for Larger View

I noticed today that keeping the log actually made me actively more efficient. It kept me aware of and accountable for my time – and time for a med student is gold.

Ok, that’s it. Sorry for the nerdy post. That’s all I have to offer this far into exam season 😉

Snow’s here and we ain’t got no heat

January 10, 2013 § 2 Comments

Well, technically now we do. Our hot water heater went out on Tuesday night and a guy came to fix it yesterday morning. Everything was back to cozy when all of a sudden it went out again. It was too late for someone to come fix it, so he came back this morning. Apparently, the fuze has been blowing out once it reaches a maximum heat and he adjusted it so that it goes 2 degrees above the minimum. Yes, 2 degrees above the minimum. When the technician left he said that he hoped it would hold and that we should call if anything goes wrong again.

We’ve heard a lot of “horror” stories about how difficult it is dealing with apartment issues like this in Budapest, but we’ve been really lucky in our experiences so far. Everyone we’ve spoken to speaks a decent amount of English and are very polite and friendly. The best thing for us has been their response time. After our first call, we had a technician at our place within 1-2 hours and when we called this morning, he was here within the hour.

Hopefully we will be able to heat up this place with the heater set on such a low level. The snow is here and it seems like it might actually stay around this time. After living in Oslo for 3 years, it feels weird for there to be no snow yet.

In the meantime, we have been heating the apartment with tons of candles. It adds a little coziness to the study cave. In case you weren’t sick of the candle pictures, here’s some more! It’s pretty much all we look at all day…and this blog is documenting our experiences, so I guess it’s appropriate.

Candles 1 Candles 2 candles 3

Here’s a shot of the creepy, unfinished building across the way from us. In the 4/5 months that we have lived here, we haven’t seen any life over there. I can imagine that it will be quite beautiful when it is done, especially if they fill the courtyard with plants. Until then I will just continue to enjoy the post-apocalyptic feel I get gazing out the window on that side of the apartment.

creepy building snow

Margit-sziget

January 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

This past weekend we took a study break and went for a walk around Margit-sziget, or Margaret Island. It’s an island about 2.5 km (1.6 miles) long and located in the middle of the Danube river, which passes right through the middle of the city. We’ve heard a lot about it, it’s especially popular in the summer, but we have never actually been out there.

winterpark

We didn’t expect to see anything more than a running track and maybe some outdoor pools, but there turned out to be a lot more to it. After about 20 minutes walking along the water, we climbed up to the running path and low and behold – a zoo! Not a huge one, but it had some deer, miniature horses and birds (white flamingos maybe?).

zoo deer zoo horses zoo birds

A little bit further down we came across these beautiful medieval ruins. I was curious about them and looked them up once I got home. The ruins are the remains of a 13th century Franciscan church and Dominican church and convent and a Premonstratensian church from the 12th century. The buildings were destroyed during the Ottoman wars in 16th century. There is something both eerie and beautiful about being in the presence of so much history. Nothing gives me a a greater awareness of the concept of time than that.

ruins

After passing through the ruins, we reached a little outdoor workout area. I snapped a couple shots of Skjalg testing out the machines.

skjalg park workout

The last surprise of the island was a small japanese garden with a thermal fish pond. It was a cold day and the heat from the pool created a thick mist over the pond.

duck mist

I only had my phone with me, so the shots aren’t the best quality. Now that I know how beautiful the island is, I will be sure to bring the camera along with my next time.

creepy statue
runningpath shadow sun

Pictures from Skjalg’s 30th Birthday

January 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

On December 15th we celebrated Skjalg’s 30th along with a small group of friends at Sir Lancelot’s in Budapest. It is a medieval themed restaurant complete with a show and gigantic food platters. Here are some shots from that night! Click on the pictures for a larger version.

group1group 2S&B at Lancelotbirthday cardgiftbirthdayboyfoodplatter

bday beer boylancelot show

bday whiteboard

BandS

Chemistry Exam and Yoga

January 5, 2013 § 2 Comments

I wish so badly that this exam season was over! Only two more left and then I get a little bit of a break before the whole thing starts over again. I’ve started looking at some of the material we will be covering in anatomy next semester (though I should probably be reviewing the stuff from last semester that I don’t know). Everything in time…

Yesterday’s chemistry exam was a lot less stressful than the others – most likely because it was written. There is so much less pressure when it is a written exam! You have time to really think things through and no one is sitting there awaiting an answer.

The exam was split into two parts. The first included 10 structures and 5 calculations. I memorized all of the organic structures for the exam, but only briefly reviewed the inorganic ones (since I memorized them when I took chemistry in college in Santa Monica). I was able to answer all but one on my exam – orthophosphoric acid. I felt like an idiot when I got home and looked it up because that is just another name for phosphoric acid – which I couldn’t forget the structure for even if I wanted to. I think we’ve mentioned phosphoric acid at least 50 times throughout the semester. You’ve won this round, H3PO4!

As for the calculations, I was able to finish 3 of them with complete confidence. Luckily enough, I had done eerily similar ones to those in my cramming review session before the exam. For the other two I was able to list the equations and steps to complete the problems, but could not figure out how to actually do them in the few minutes I had left.

After we turned in the calculations sheet, it was time for multiple choice. There were few that I felt confident about. Some were taken from the review questions handed out to those students who had applied for exemption earlier in the semester – and luckily enough I got a copy of this from Charlotte. There were maybe 4-5 that I had to completely guess on – and I mean completely, as in “hmmm…B…for Bianca…and….D…because I haven’t done a D in a while”. For the others, I was able to make a more-or-less educated guess.

The third part of the exam was the lab portion, which was really just a retake for those that didn’t pass their lab exams during the last week of school. Since I had passed my lab exam, I waited outside until 1:00 p.m. when the exams were done being graded.

Once the doors opened to the lecture hall, we all filed in and headed down to the front of the room where our index books were spread along the front desk. Everyone groaned as soon as they found theirs – no one wants to stress about having to take an exam over again. I passed my exam, doing better surprisingly on the multiple choice than I did on the structures/calculations (curse you, H3PO4!). In hindsight, I should have asked to see my exam, just to see what I had missed points on, but as soon as I knew I’d passed – I was done.

After my attempt at taking a nap when I got home yesterday (I’m horrible at relaxing), I decided to fit in a little yoga session. I set up everything in the bedroom, lit some candles, and found a full vinyasa yoga class online. I tried to take a picture but it’s a really awkward space, so this is the best I could do.

yogatime

Alright, enough break, back to statistics!!

2012 in review

December 31, 2012 § 2 Comments

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 14 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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