Sunday, August 02, 2009

Budapest ...

Pen and I have been in Budapest for the past week, drawn here by my annual symposium with the International Committee for the History of Technology.  The meetings are usually small, perhaps 90-125 people, but this year we met (as we do every four years) as part of the larger International Congress for the History of Science and Technology, so there were about 1300 participants.  Our group is a bit eclipsed by the larger doings, but we still have great fun and share good papers in sessions.

We spent three days in London before getting here and had a great time padding about the center of that amazing city.  Our hotel was just off Trafalgar Square, so we were well situated.  Nothing planned, of course, which it seems is the way we both like traveling ... seeing people, wandering into things (like the changing of the horse guards), and enjoying local food and drink.

When we arrived in Budapest, three days before the congress began, we followed the same course and felt good and acclimatized by the time friends and colleagues started arriving.  Our friend Peter Jakab, who's mother and father came to the U.S. from Hungary in 1956 (that's right ... in the wake of the revolution), had a special task on this trip to his homeland.  He brought his parents' ashes with him to scatter in the Danube, and we and some other friends joined him in this wonderful memorial.  Afterwards he hosted the most wonderful wake at one of the nicest restaurants in Hungary, and it was truly a delight to be able to share this with Peter.  We plan on getting together in D.C. when we sail up on Alizee in October for a Hungarian meal aboard ship.

For me another highlight was my election as president of the International Committee for the History of Technology (ICOHTEC, as it is called).  I first came to one of ICOHTEC's symposia in 1984 in Lerbach, Germany (outside Cologne), and this meeting (our second in Budapest), is my twentieth.  It's been a core part of my scholarly life in history, and I've been privileged to serve on the executive committee and be vice president of the organization.  But being elected president is very special honor.  It looks as though, while I may have retired from teaching, I haven't really retired from the scholarly/academic life.  And that's a good thing!

Another aspect of this Budapest trip has been a reprieve of the first time the ICOHTEC jazz group - The Email Special - played together.  The first time was in the Jazz Cafe in Budapest, a little basement jazz club.  This time the venue was a bit plusher: The Budapest Jazz Club, where I played a Steinway grand (as opposed to a tired-out electric keyboard) and where on the whole we sounded better than ever.  If I'm counting correctly, this is our 15th gig - 13 at ICOHTEC meetings and two at meetings of the U.S. based Society for the History of Technology (SHOT).  We figure we've played for two weeks, just spread over 14 years.

So, the congress concluded with a big banquet last night, which, although we had tickets to go, we decided to beg off.  Just too much excitement, I guess ... truth is we're exhausted, and since we fly to New York City on Monday for a week's stay with friends Neil and Ruth Cowan, we want to rest up.  Today is probably one to spend sitting in a sidewalk cafe watching the world go by, maybe while I plan my upcoming administration...

More photos


Blogger C4 said...


Congratulations on your election! Sorry I missed seeing you when you were here but it sound like you and Penny are doing really well.


4:45 PM  

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