Romania had a pretty good Olympics: 21 medals, of which 8 were gold. That put Romania 14th in the world... not bad for a country of 21 million people. By way of comparison, Romania ended up with more medals than Canada, Spain, the Netherlands or Brazil.
That said, there were some peculiarities. The biggest one: all of the gold medals were won by women. I don't know this was true for any other country with that many golds.
Also, three of the eight golds came in (women's) rowing. Odd, because rowing was not traditionally a Romanian strength.
Romania's GDP growth rate for the first half of 2004?
6.5%. That's expected to slow in the back half of the year, but the annual growth rate should still be 6% or more.
That's a lot. 6% growth is better than the US or any country in Western Europe. 6% growth will double the country's gross product -- and, presumably, its wealth and income -- in just twelve years.
Okay, it's very unlikely that these growth rates will be sustained. A fair chunk of this year's growth will come from a really good harvest; Romania's economy is still heavily agricultural, so good weather accounts for 1-2% of that figure. Another big driver is rising global prices for certain sorts of product. The Chinese economy is demanding vast quantities of cement, scrap metal, simple electrical engines, rebar, wire; as it happens, these are just the sorts of things that Romania produces in quantity. That's good news for Romania's manufacturing sector, but it won't last forever.
And there are legitimate concerns about how well the growth is being distributed; more and more, it's looking like boom times for people at the top, not bad for those in the small middle class, but little or slow progress for the majority of Romanians. And even if the 6% is maintained, it will take Romania many, many years to catch up to Poland or Hungary, never mind France or Britain.
Still... it's an impressive achievement.
More on this in a bit.
I assembled the new bookshelf wrong -- i.e., I have to do the entire thing all over again. That means taking out 1,000 books, disassembling all the shelving, re-assembling it without mistakes this time and putting 1,000 books back in. At least, I already had put them into order.
This also means the Fagaras post will have to wait some hours. In order to sweeten the wait, here's a picture. The thumbnail is for those with small bandwidth. If you dare, click on the picture to get a largish blowup which will nicely show how the fog was pursuing us up the mountains. As I said before, it was spectacular and scary at the same time.
Off to tackle the books, once more. Oh, and I'm losing my internet connection about every five minutes or so. The Astral guys told me to unplug the modem and restart it. This helps but it's a real nuisance having to do this every couple of minutes. Later this afternoon, I will also have to tackle this problem. Sigh.
We're back for real now. Back in Bucharest, back together, back home, back online. Things have been a nightmare those past two weeks, but we've come out on the other side and we hope to see some light soon. Postings should resume their usual frequency in a day or two. (I know I said this before. That was before the nightmare.) Is anybody really still checking this site out?
In the meantime, we have driven our car down to Romania without any accidents, even though we chose to take the Transfagaras Highway. I have to say that this was a good thing to do that I will never do again. The road is breathtaking and horrifying, beautiful and utterly scary. We will definitely dedicate an entire post to this particular adventure.
But first, unpacking. Boy, did we get a lot of stuff into that car!
We flew from New York City to Frankfurt yesterday. The flight itself was not bad -- the kids both went to sleep quickly, and so did we, dozing upright in our chairs. Singapore Airlines, with those so friendly flight attendants.
The hard part had been getting to the airport, actually. Heavy rains in New York, so it took more than 90 minutes to get from midtown Manhattan to Kennedy Airport. David was squirmy and Alan was in full blown squirrel-on-crack mode, literally bouncing around the back of the taxi. Usually, car travel in the city offers a lot of distractions -- "Look, a BIG truck! There's a RED car! Hey, is that a CEMENT MIXER!?" -- but gridlock traffic, less so. So we were a bit frayed by the time we arrived; and finding our flight delayed by that same heavy weather didn't help.
But the plane did eventually take off, and land where it was supposed to. Claude took the kids into the car and we kissed goodbye and away she went to Ostheim, for a fun-packed week with inoculations and checkups and grandparents. And then I went to the little hotel reservation desk and asked for a cheap hotel downtown, near the main train station.
What I had forgotten is that the main train station is right in the middle of Frankfurt's very busy red light district.
Well, I was very tired. And the hotel room, though tiny, was clean. So.
Ah, world, here we are again. Painful days without internet access due to travelling (make that, due to travelling with two small kids). Doug is already back home - i.e. Romania - while I'm staying in Germany for a week or so to gather the courage to drive back with said two small kids in our funky new minivan.
But for now, the only tasks are to get over the jet lag and get some postings done. If anyone is still checking this blog, thank you. You shall get nice posts. Like, tomorrow. I promise.