Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chemists Are Awesome

Paul and I took a long-weekend road-trip this past weekend.  We spent one day exploring Berkeley, CA, one day in San Francisco, and two days of driving.  Paul and I get along well on drives, so the whole thing was pretty fun.  We stayed in Berkeley with a retired faculty member from my job who recently retired and moved there. He and his wife were lovely hosts, taking us to Berkeley Pier, Aquatic Park, the Berkeley campus and down around Telegraph Avenue where Paul scored a Nutella crepe.

This was the first time I'd met the wife of our acquaintance. She had some good stories. She was born in Hungary but her parents had to emigrate because of World War II. She lived in Venezuela and Canada before the United States.

When she was young, and her family was trying to get out of the country (more worried about the Russians than the Germans at that point) her father, who was a chemist, had the idea to make long matches, which apparently were hard to come by--because he was able to use these to bribe passage for his family of four on a river-barge that carried them up the Danube all the way to Munich.

In Munich they spent several months in an ex-enemy camp, where her father built a still and made alcohol, which he could then trade for food to feed the camp.

Basically, her dad was like Walter White, but a good guy.

She also told another story about the camp that wasn't about her dad.  Somehow, the people in the camp had managed to get a live pig, which they expected to be delicious, but for some reason, the officials wanted to confiscate the pig (maybe they thought it would be delicious too).  The crafty people of the camp dress their pig up in a woman's clothes and sat him on a toilet in the outhouse.  The guards made only a cursory check into the outhouse, and did not recognize the pig. After they left, there was celebration, and, I assume that not long after bacon was had by all.

Just in case you ever need to know how--here's how to make a match.

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