Thank you David Bonderman!

Because of Mr. Bonderman's generosity, I have been given the opportunity to travel the world and learn about culture. As a Bonderman Travel Fellow I plan on traveling through Western and Eastern Europe, East Africa, Northern India and Southeast Asia. I am excited to experience new and amazing things that will better enable me to empower and inspire the next generation of young students.

ALSO!!! If you are interested in following the nasty development of my beard and can follow it at

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hungarian Horntail


Harry Potter has faced many challenges in his over-dramatic, but inspiring, life. I'd argue that one of his toughest challenges came during the first task of the Triwizard Tournament, when he was matched up against a Hungarian Horntail. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Hungarian Horntails, these are a breed of dragon native to Hungary. Most wizards would say that they are the most dangerous of all dragons...but Harry came out on top! How does this apply to my life right now?? Well, I feel as though I was met with a challenge in Hungary last night, and I came out on top!

Here's the story:
Yesterday I took a night train from Prague to Budapest to save money and time. The train left from Prague at 23:11 and was scheduled to arrive in Budapest at 8:20 this morning. I got to the train station about an hour before departure so that I could brush my teeth, get my book ready and have my choice of seats. Everything was going perfectly! I found an empty compartment with bench seats and no armrest (the seats were long enough to fully extend my legs and wide enough to lay very comfortably)!

At midnight, I started to fall asleep, but a random conversation with my mom popped into my head. I remember her asking, "How do you secure all of your luggage when you're on night trains so nobody steals your stuff?" I told her that I've never really had any problems with my luggage so I don't worry about it too much. But for some reason, on the train I was a little more paranoid than usual. So, I used my handy dandy combination lock and all of the buckles on both of my back packs to securely fasten each of them to the overhead luggage rack (it took me about five minutes to free the bags from my own security system this morning). I fell asleep with a clear conscious.

But, periodically throughout the night, various conductors woke me up to ask for my ticket and make sure I wasn't riding the train for free. Then, at around 3 am, a conductor busted into my compartment and demanded my ticket. I showed him my Eurail Pass, but he started scolding me because it isn't valid in Slovakia and my train went 130 km through Slovakia at one point. I dealt with it and fell right back to sleep. But then, at around 4 am I woke up and saw another man standing over me in the dark. I thought it was another conductor, so I sprang to my feet and looked at him...he definitely wasn't a conductor and he was holding my jeans and my jacket. I approached him and he backed up into the corner of the compartment. I took back my stuff and kicked him out of the room. Then, looking at my bags, I noticed that he definitely tried to pull my smaller pack off the rack. My security system was successful!

I stayed awake for the rest of the night and two different thieves came into my room to rob me while I was laying down. Good thing I wasn't asleep because I scared them off pretty good. It was definitely nerve racking. I can't believe that there were at least three people on my train stealing things from sleeping passengers!!! Crazy!

Thank goodness, nothing of mine was stolen and now I know what to look for. I guess you could say I'm reading for the second task in the Triwizard Tournament.

And thanks mommy for haunting my thoughts :)


Brock Hartman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brock Hartman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brock Hartman said...


I would like to contend your point about the Hungarian Horntail being one of Harry's toughest challenges in his life. While it was an admittedly very tough and trying experience for Harry, it pales in comparison to many of his other more harrowing feats.

When considering feats and the challenge they present, it is of utmost importance to consider the specific challenge that it presents at the particular time in accordance with the skills Harry has at that instant. In the case of the Horntail, Harry was flying his firebolt. It could be, and has been argued that Harry is no where more comfortable in the world then on his firebolt (the only exception is perhaps Hogwarts and the burrow). Thus, the feat can be said to have not been too far outside of Harry's comfort limits or skills. Admittedly, there was a fire breathing dragon chasing him which renders the feat far from ordinary or comfortable, but in the grand scheme of all of Harry's accomplishments, it can objectively be construed as relatively normal for the boy.

Continuing, I would like to point out other feats of Mr. Potter that far and away prove to be much more challenging in terms of present skill level. For example, defeating a basilisk is an extraordinary feat for any accomplished wizard, let alone a 12 year old boy. This falls nothing short of a miracle and relegates itself above the Horntail. Also included is fighting off 100's of dementors with only a third year education (nearly impossible for all but dumbledore, snape, and voldemort), fighting Voldemort at the age of 14, obtaining multiple of Voldemorts horcruxes (supposed to be impossible for everyone) and finally killing the darkest wizard of all time. All of these feats are by far superior to the Horntail when one takes into account the challenge presents in accordance with the aptitude and skill that Mr. Potter possessed at the time.

I formerly request that you detract your statement regarding the Horntail and it being one of the most formidable challenges that Mr. Potter faced in his "over-dramatic" life.

I hope this letter finds you well and pray that you consider your statements much more careful in the future when discussing such a monumental and important hero. To some, Mr. Potter is much more than a fictional character, but rather a real life role model and hero. Therefore, please think about these children (and adults) before you begin to whimsically toss around false opinions as though they are fact.

SIncerely, Your Friend and Harry Potter Expert,

Brock Hartman

Jeff said...

Hey Joe,

I love Budapest. I got stuck there during the ash cloud last May. Many great tourists sites. Hey, if you have time, please connect with a young disciple I have been working with - Robert Bunker. I met him in Romania last spring at a camp I spoke at. During the ash cloud week, I stayed with him and his mom. We are now skyping- talking through the principles of Jesus. You can reach him at I think he would love catching a coffee with you. He lives in Buda - below St. Michael's church. Thanks Joe. I look forward to following your journeys.

Brian said...

Brock, your ridiculous.

Joe, please refrain form any Harry Potter references in future post.

Dave said...


Shame on you! Presumably you're a scholar, else you wouldn't have earned the largesse of Mr. Bonderman. Yet, twice in your Hungarian Horntail monologue, you used the word "lay" when you meant "lie". Twice. Think this is trivial? You should know that most adults with any education at all will view your "laying down" commentary as that of a poorly educated boy instead of the presumably more appropriate well educated man.

You need to learn the language, Joe!