November 20 - 2020 Unfortunately, the COVID crisis is getting worse. However, my sister-in-law told me to emphasize the survival rate instead of the infection and death rate – this could be more positive:
0-19 years 99.997%
20-49 years 99.980%
50-69 years 99.500%
Over 70 94.600%
Perhaps this way we can reduce panic and anxiety?
November 13 - Unfortunately, the COVID crisis is getting worse. In Hungary they closed everything again except elementary schools, and there is a curfew from 8 pm to 8 am. The USA is also getting worse. I can only emphasize to our group members to avoid large crowds, wear your mask, wash and disinfect your hands and surrounding. Hopefully a vaccine is coming soon.
November 6 - I am getting sick and tired of this COVID-19 (now 20 and will be 21). If I am stressed, I think others are too. Therefore, we should be very nice and forgiving to each other. I feel we have a very nice group now – we have not had any unpleasant things or fights since Andres quit. I remember fights in my group. When I started my academic career in 1996 in Canada, I had Canadian, French, and Iranian students and a German post-doc. Later I was told that the French student and the German post-doc had a fistfight in the lab. However, mostly I had very nice people with some exceptions. When I transferred to Akron in 2004, I have also had a few problem people, but mostly I had good students and post-docs. I would like to thank the current group members for their contributions – it seems that COVID has not been able to slow us down! Now we must advertise our achievements over our new web site and social media. I am very bad at that so I need help from younger members!
October 23 I’d like to commemorate the 64th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian revolution against the Soviet Union. You can read books and movies about this, and I will talk more later.
March 30. My grandfather was born in 1900, He was 17 when the Russian Red Revolution broke out. Hungary briefly had a Communist regime (5 months) in 1919. All men over 16 were drafted. My grandpa did not want to go so he was hiding in the cemetery of their village so he would not be found at home. My grandma brought him food to the cemetery. The communist regime was quickly defeated so he could go home. This is how he avoided going to war. My grandparents lived through two world wars and two revolutions – and survived. Hungarians are famous making up jokes, especially in troubled times. Here are some:
I am looking for a stationary bike. I need it for commuting to work.
I think this “work from home” is not a good idea. At least my family thinks so. Gabor, 31-old doctor doing autopsies.
During this pandemic, listen to the advice of an electrician: “It is better to be isolated than grounded!”
It is predicted that there will be a baby boon in 9 months. Then in 2033 we have to face the “quarantini” generation.
March 23. We may be telecommuting for longer than two weeks. Another story: During the 1956 Hungarian revolution against the Russians I was 3 years old, raised by my single mother. We lived on Madach square which was one of the hotbeds of the revolution. I came down with chicken pox. My mom moved the crib into the bathroom and kept the door ajar, facing the living room window. I saw a bullet breaking through the window. I still have the moment etched into my mind – the window with the hole, the chest under the window, the bathroom door ajar and my crib. That is my first memory. I was told that my uncle came to bring us food, endangering his own life. Those were also terrible times, lots of people died (mostly young people) and became refugees. Cleveland had an entire Hungarian section around Buckeye road. Try to think positive – we will come out on the other end, maybe with some bruises but intact.
Positive aspects of this crisis for this week:
1. In China the pandemic started to subside.
2. We can focus on paperwork and catch up.
3. I met virtually with lots of colleagues I have never met before!
We have hit crazy times – like a bad movie.
My grandmother, who lived through two world wars and two revolutions. Always told me: “There are two things nobody can take away from you: the food you have already eaten and the knowledge already in your head.” So, I feel and think the best is to concentrate on learning and teaching. I will also concentrate on the positive aspects. Positive aspects of this crisis. My grandmother also taught me that there is always good in anything bad you just need to look for it.
1. I heard this on the radio: after the 2008 crisis several US cities and states have built cash reserves to deal with any emergencies. Ohio and Wooster are conservative and are among the wealthy. OSU is also wealthy.
2. Major crises (wars etc.) always force changes. I have been trying to teach on-line for years and even young faculty were against it. Now we are all forced to do this, and the entire educational landscape will have to change.
3. A miracle happened – the Republicans and Democrats agreed on the COVID-19 emergency budget!
April 6. My grandmother was born in 1907 in a small village. She married my grandfather when she was 15 and delivered their first child when she was 16. My uncle told me they were so poor that often they were starving. After my second uncle was born, they moved to Budapest in search of better living conditions. They became caretakers in a rich house downtown Budapest, and their situation started to improve. My grandma went back to their village to deliver my mother. She told me that in the morning she gave birth, then in the afternoon she painted the room. Unfortunately, my grandpa invested all their savings into buying land in their village – he wanted to be a landowner to have a good life for his family. Little did he know that after WWII all land would be confiscated by the communist government, leaving them paupers again. At the age of 55, my grandpa became a miner and my grandma cleaned houses to make a living. To be continued!
The mostly American but also Western European “myth” of a stay-at-home mother only raising children is just that – a myth. My grandmother told me that in their village everybody was working the fields to produce their own food. She took her children to the fields as soon as they< were able to work (child labor?). When she had a newborn, she took the swaddled child and gave him/her poppy seed skin tea (low opium concentration!). When the child was hungry, she stopped her work to breast feed the child. Even though they worked from dawn to dust food was not enough – my uncle told me they were literally starving as he went to bed hungry often. My grandmother lost two children while still infants (Istvan and Ilona), likely related to malnutrition. Yet the remaining three children survived and even prospered – both my uncles ended up being well-to-do with their families, although my mother did not do as well – to be continued!
My grandparents were establishing a more stable and prosperous life in Budapest from about 1930. It did not last too long before WWII broke out. Unfortunately, the Hungarian political leaders sided with the Germans and ended up with a fascist government. Hungary had a very large Jewish population (the largest synagogue is still in Budapest). Among the 1.5 million Jews exterminated in Auschwitz 1 million were Hungarians! My older uncle Janos was 18 when he was taken to a forced labor camp. My younger uncle Andras was a teenager so my grandpa made him stay in the furnace room of the apartment building so he would not be taken away. One day a school mate of Andras came to the house and inquired after Andras. Since my grandpa knew the schoolmate as a friend, he called Andras to come out of hiding to meet his friend. It turned out that he joined the Hitlerjugend and came to take Andras with him to a labor camp! My grandma was devastated and told my grandpa – you let him go now you go and bring him back! My grandpa went with a small barrel of wine and bribed the guards and he brought back Andras! He also hid Jews in the furnace room, including Alfonzo, one of the most famous stand-up comedians in Hungary after the war.
It is Sunday and I am sitting in front of the computer and not sure what I should write. Perhaps to note that I seem to be very lucky. We just slipped back to North America before the planes stopped flying to Toronto from Europe, and to the USA before the US-Canadian border was closed. Our Toronto house sold before all real estate transactions were stopped. We are still healthy – no COVID symptoms. I am grateful for all positive aspects in my life.
I was thinking back on my career. I had an unusual pathway to become a professor. When I was young and started my career, I was sure what I did not want – to become a teacher. Yet this is exactly where I ended up. I started a bit late – was already 43 years old when I became a non- tenured professor the first time. I got my tenure two years later and tried to make up for lost time. I was lucky to have funding so I had built a big group – 20 coworkers at one time, but at that size I could not really give enough time to everyone. To date I have supervised 33 PDFs, 33 Ph. D. students, 23 Master students and countless undergraduate and high school students. There have been conflicts but mostly I had very good relationships with the people I supervised. I think young people around me keep me young and I will help everyone as much as I can.
I just reviewed an NSF proposal and it was very bad. It raised a lot of thoughts again that I have been having for some time. It seems that science is “diluted” – like overpopulation on Earth, there is an overpopulation of scientists who are in the wrong profession. Too many “scientists” are producing too many papers of no importance and often with major flaws. What is the solution? Hopefully, we are getting back to “normal” – but I think the “normal” will be different.
I started to clean/organize closets and cupboards in our house. I also made Gabor to clean his cabinet and drawers. He found old pictures – what a good-looking guy he was when we met! He also found his brothers’ high school graduation pictures. Those pictures brought back lots of memories. I loved my university years. We had a great class, especially the friends in the smaller groups called “tankor” or study group – we were in study group #7. At that time there was great competition for every spot – 5 applicants for each. Thus the university picked the brightest so everybody was very smart. The same applied to Study group #7 – but we also had lots of fun, studying and socializing together. The “class clown” was in our study group, which was an additional bonus. Those were the days my friend!
My grandmother always used to tell me: “Do not run after a carriage that does not want to pick you up.” Unfortunately, I often neglected this advice, which led to frustration. We often try to change others – but as we know, we can only change ourselves. The other side of the same coin is that if a carriage stops and offers to pick you up, you have to carefully evaluate the offer so you do not miss an important opportunity that can change your life. In this regard I have been quite successful – most often I jumped onto the carriage that carried me to success. However, sometimes I was stuck on the wrong carriage – but I still feel that it was worth the price to remain open to every opportunity that comes along.
Staged returning started! We are back in the lab as of June 22. Travel scheduled until December 31 to be cancelled/rescheduled. My husband and I celebrated or 43 rd anniversary on July 2. If we count the time from the start of dating, it would be 37.5 years. He always joked that even a life sentence is only 25 years! We had a good life with no major events so far – until this COVID-19 crisis. I think now we can appreciate the hardship our parents and grandparents had to endure during war times, revolutions and major economic crisis. For me it is important to try to stay positive and help others as much as I can. If you need any help, please do not hesitate to talk to me. I have still a lot to give.
Discrimination, sexism, racism, intolerant behavior
I am very pleased that these issues are finally getting serious attention. I grew up in Hungary and have been living in North America since 1986. I will share my personal experience – I realize that it is by definition subjective, but it still can be educational. I responded to you because I was taken that you accepted personal responsibility for COE practices. This is very important because change can only happen when the problem is recognized. I have always been vocal about these issues but unfortunately the result was me being labeled as “troublemaker”. I was told repeatedly that these problems exist only in my imagination. I sincerely hope that we will have more willingness to recognize the problems and try to fix them.
COVID-19 has been bad but good as well, with “silver lining” as the Americans say. The acceptance of “remote working” will help us to secure the future of our group that we need to discuss in detail. The American system has advantages and disadvantages: when an Assistant professor is hired, he/she is supposed to build a strong research group. When it happens and operates successfully, everybody is happy. When the professor is ready to retire, there is no continuation – the group is dismantled, and the cycle starts again. In my opinion it would be better to pass the baton to the younger generation, preserving what is good, discarding what is bad, and build an even stronger research group because the successor would not start from zero. A Hungarian poet said more than a hundred years ago: “Nepek hazaja nagyvilag” (the country of the future is global). With new technology this became a reality. I have a Zoom call with our Chair to discuss globalization of our group. I’d like to hear everybody’s honest opinion.
The first Seminar class went well. People introduced themselves and their research very briefly. We went through the SyllabusI also found a discussion paper about the future of agriculture in the USA. People who grew up somehow related to a farm have the love of the land. My grandpa was a sharecropper and the family grew their own grains and veggies, and raised cows, pigs, chickens and other animals for food. My grandpa wanted to own land, so he needed money. The family moved to Budapest and my grandparents were caretakers in a rich house. Every penny they earned went to buy land in their birth village. It all looked promising – until WWII. When the communist government got into power, they confiscated all private land – including my grandparents. So, they ended up penniless and my grandpa went down to the coal mine to earn a living. They moved into a 12-unit building. Behind the building each family had a little plot. Every spring I tilled the land with my grandma, planted seeds and watched the plants grow. I loved every minute it, even pulling the weeds because they did not use weed killers. We ate all fresh vegetables from that little plot. Fast-forward to now – my younger daughter and her husband are growing their own vegetables and herbs in their garden, and she is baking bread! Could there be a future for these family plots?
Yesterday while I was walking in the park, an interesting thought occurred to me about the election and all the turmoil in this country. In a so-called “democratic” election everybody has one vote so the majority wins. That works in a “homogeneous” society. However, minorities do not have a voice because they will always lose just by sheer numbers. In addition, the generational change in the population got skewed – there were never so many old people as we have now. It is really ironic that the two candidates are white men over 75, trying to lead a country that changed dramatically. The old are holding back on change. So before real change can come the old generation must disappear to give way to the new.