A Shocking Day in the Neighborhood

If you have read any prior posts recently, you will know that I attempted to visit the Museum of Electrotechnics last week only to find it closed except for Wednesdays. I ambled over there again today, since it is not far from home. The guard, who tried to converse with me last week, spotted me, surprised that I returned and punched in the code for me to enter. He bla-bla-bla’ed me in Hungarian, but the gist of what I understood was I was to go up the staircase.

When I reached the second floor, there were three doors on that landing, none of them open and no sign of a museum. I went to the third floor in search of a display, but found more doors, all locked. Back down to the second floor, I heard voices. I opened the only unlocked door where some electrical items were displayed. Not being an engineer, I thought this was a waste of time and was ready to scoot out just to check it off my list. Been there, done that, scratch it off.

Some electrical force drew me back to the third floor where I was just about to approach a door as it opened out to me. There was a woman standing there looking as startled as I felt, but I managed to utter “Hol van museum?” I thought she was going to take me by the hand, but she led me downstairs, through some doors, and to an older gentleman who was giving a tour in Hungarian. He offered to start again with me when he was finished with this trio.

With me as a single guest, he asked me how much time I had as a tour could take up to 2 hours. Whoa! Let’s squeeze it to forty-five minutes and you will still have my attention; after that I will be visiting never, never land. Ten minutes into his lecture, another visitor enters the room. The new entry does not notice me, but the guide asks if he speaks English. I jump in with the answer that he speaks it perfectly. He was one of my students from 2 years ago and his English is flawless.

So we go through the various inventions of electricity with the beginnings of unipolar generators to direct current on to Bláthy’s alternating current consumption meter (1889) that is still used today. I also learned that three engineers, Károly Zipemowsky, Mkisa Déri, and Titusz Bláthy invented the transformer, enabling the transmission of AC current over long distances. This in turn led to the extensive application of electric power. There were other things that I would need study guides to remember.

From here, we move to from one room to another room with other inventions, things electrical, and pictures of the Hungarians who invented them. The inventor of the hologram was a Hungarian who happened upon it accidently while working on a physics problem. Although the presentation kept my interest, I retained the information for the same time as a Chinese dinner. Science has never been my strongest area, but when I left, I had greater appreciation for Hungarian scientists.

I asked why the Tour Inform website has this museum listed as being open 6 days a week, when in fact they are only open on Wednesday. He explained that their website is three years out of date. My forty-five minute request went closer to an hour plus, but I was engrossed and did not notice time passing by. This is an excellent museum to bring children to and a must see for any science teachers.

From here, I wanted to finish off the museums on Castle Hill, so this meant getting to the Telephone Museum, the last one in that district. This was another museum Ron and I had attempted to visit, but arrived too late.

Note that on weekends, the entrance is on the opposite block, not the address given. Weekdays, you enter through large doors into an archway, then into a courtyard. The museum is on the left side. There is a bell to ring for entry, so I did…and waited, and waited, and waited so more. I did not want to make three attempts the charm, so I waited about five minutes before ringing the bell again, thinking the staff was in a huddle gossiping in a corner of the place and did not bother with the first ring.

After a few minutes of the second buzzer alert, the door was flung open by a short grey haired lady with a scowl to kill. If she were wearing a habit, she would have reminded me of the nuns that taught catechism and threw us over desks when we got out of hand. Feeling like a bad five year-old, I greeted her and waited to be invited inside. At the same time, I could not help but wonder if I dragged her off the toilet or woke her from a nap on the desk. Either way, she was a force to be reckoned with, but she locked the door behind me, so I had to tread easy or else. This was her domain and she held the key to my escape.

I handed her my 1,000 Huf bill for the 200 Huf admission fee, forcing her to scrape up the change for me. This did not make my unhappy camper want to break out in song. Looking around, it was just the two of us. I spent considerable time looking over the old phones, the switchboards, and other displays which all had an English translation. I was in awe.

Many decades ago, when I lived in Florida, I was hired as one of their first male operators and the prospect was thrilling. Being the first of anything is another check-off list I maintained. Sadly, it never came to fruition as the training date was postponed many times; I could not afford to continue living there and had to move back north. However, I did work as a switchboard operator for the railroad for a stint, so I could relate to some of the displays.

As I perused the displays within 5 feet of the desk, I was fine. Once I moved farther away, my charmer was at my side like a small dog who was not sure if she was going to bite my ankle or not. It made me insecure about making any sudden moves, so I made visible signs that I was reading each display, while ever so cautiously moving to the next one.
She must have eventually, been enveloped by the charm oozing from my aura or she has multiple personality disorder. Her mood shifted without warning and she started pointing things out to me in English, like we were the best of buds. After the large room you enter into, there are two other rooms. Each one had something of interest, even the huge connecting relays. It had never occurred to me that voice has to be changed into an electrical current and then recomposed on the other end.

By the end of my personal tour, I felt like giving her a csokolom (kiss your hand), but fearful of another personality change, I settled for a sincere “Thank you” and was grateful when she unlocked the door.