Hristos a înviat

Hristos a înviat. Adevărat a înviat.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! This is the resurrection greeting and response in Romanian. To say “Christ is risen” beats “Happy Easter” any day.

Grace and Peace

P.S. On the Orthodox calendar, Easter is next Sunday, and Protestants in Romania conform to the eastern church calendar rather than to the western calendar.

Granite tables and countertops

McDonalds restaurants in Romania are superior to McDonalds in the U.S.A. The food is better, the service is better, they ask which Happy Meal toy your child wants, and… the tables are made out of beautiful SOLID GRANITE!

If it weren’t for “Super Size Me,” these tables would be enough to make any geologist eat at McDonalds every day. I didn’t eat there every day, but occasionally I would be there with students, and I would be sure to point out the granite tables. I would point out the potassium feldspar, quartz, amphiboles, and accessory minerals. I would show them the zoning in the feldspar crystals, and tell them that each mineral grain had a story to tell. I’d also point out that the table was probably somewhat radioactive, but at a level low enough that they really didn’t have to worry about it.

Earth Magazine has an article on this same topic: Granite Countertops: NOT Silent Killers.

Granite does contain elevated levels of uranium and thorium, and it releases tiny amounts of radioactive radon gas, which is the second leading cause of lung cancer after tobacco. But the radiation emitted by granite is generally at a level well within safety limits, and it is good to test your home for radon whether or not you have granite in the kitchen, as naturally-occuring radon seeping up from the ground is a greater risk than granite countertops. I wouldn’t recommend sleeping on a granite slab in an enclosed box every night for twenty years, but you are far more likely to die from the Big Macs and fries that are served on the granite table than from the radiation that table emits.

Grace and Peace

Christmas tree recycling, Romanian style


This picture shows recycling on two levels.

First, some enterprising person stole the manhole cover—a common problem here in Romania—and likely took it to a recycling center to sell as scrap iron. That leaves those of us who drive with a problem: a deep hole in the middle of a narrow street.

The second type of putting something to a new use is Christmas tree recycling. Romanians have a way of recycling Christmas trees that I’ve never seen in the United States, but I’ve seen fairly often here. When a manhole cover is missing, the city doesn’t do anything about it sometimes for weeks, but local residents will put a tree or a large branch in the hole to warn motorists. Right now there is an abundance of discarded Christmas trees laying around, so there is no need to break a large branch off of a tree.

Grace and Peace

Unirii Day 2007

December 1 was the Romanian national holiday, Unirii Day, celebrating the unification of Transylvania with the rest of Romania at the end of World War I in 1918.

The biggest celebration in Romania was at Piata Unirii (Unification Square), a twenty minute walk from our apartment. The highlight was the lighting of the “largest Christmas tree in Europe,” a giant lighted metal Christmas tree outside of one of the large downtown shopping centers. There are lots of videos of the fireworks and lighting of the tree on the internet; the best I found is here. The lighting of the tree occurs at 3:28 in the video, and the grand finale (around 6:00) is also worth watching. With the entire area surrounded by high-rise concrete apartment blocks, the sound of the fireworks was almost deafening.

The best part: the lighting of the tree.

The worst part: the densest crowd we’ve ever been in. Shirley and I felt like we were going to be crushed at times, and it was the first time I’ve ever been in a crowd where if there had been a panic, people would have been trampled. We are thankful that this didn’t happen.

Grace and Peace, and happy Ziua Unirii.

Hot Summer in Bucharest

It has been a hot summer in Bucharest, and it looks like it’s going to get warmer:

Psychologically, it helps to think of it being in the thirties outside. Ah, snow…

Unfortunately, this is just our Celsius forecast. Thirty-eight Celsius is just as hot as 101 Fahrenheit. It actually doesn’t take all that long to make the mental switch to metric, at least with units we use frequently, like kilometers per hour or buying potatoes by the kilogram.

We live in a large, concrete apartment block, with no air conditioning, but we’ll make it. We are on the first floor (which you would call the second floor in the States), and we have large trees outside our south-facing windows, so it doesn’t get totally unbearable. Still, we will be looking forward to fall weather.

Grace and Peace

Forecasts from