More adventures in SC

Today, I met with my friend’s ex-father-in-law, Josef Roubal.

Josef’s story is extraordinary. Born in Czechoslovakia under communist rule, Josef attended university there and gained a degree in engineering. He was a member of the Czech Olympic Judo team in 1972 and travelled to Munich that year, though he did not compete.

Suffering under communist rule, Josef gathered his family into a Ford LTD Stationwagon, which he’d modified using his engineering knowledge. He welded a fake roof-rack and support structures onto the roof and front-end of the vehicle. In reality, the whole structure was designed as armor to protect the engine should Josef have to ram the gate at the immigration check-point.

Josef and his family managed to fool the guard into believing the trip was only for two weeks in bordering Austria. When they arrived in Austria, Josef immediately applied for refugee status; the United States stepped to the plate and he settled in Vermont, where he still resides. He is down here in South Carolina visiting his daughter.

Mr. Roubal is a font of knowledge with a teacher’s heart. I wish that I had him for a neighbor. He loves the United States. He says that he can move anywhere, work anywhere, and move between social and economic classes like no place else.

We talked about Ultimate Fighting. One of his students (Roubal still practices Judo after 42 years and also instructs students) actually had a spot on the Ultimate Fighter TV show. We also discussed some of his personal engineering projects, such as a driving simulator which mimics g-forces and the resistance necessary to turn a steering wheel in a real race-car.

As a child, Roubal loved to read science fiction books, and said that the story that influenced his thinking as an adult the most was “The hell-bound Train”, by Robert Bloch. He also admired Arthur C. Clark, Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein.

I concur with those choices.


2 Responses to “More adventures in SC”

  1. April 12, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    His story nicely illustrates the distinction between democratic and communist states. Communist state: people have to sneak out and want to do so. America: people want to be here so badly that some even try to sneak in. That says a great deal.

    Some would say that it is just a matter of money, but that raises the obvious question as to why the US is such a success. One plausible answer is that free and democratic systems do better than closed, repressive systems.

  2. April 14, 2008 at 1:22 am

    We get to argue, and nobody can stop us!

    It’s like a duel to the death, but nobody has to get hurt.

    And, we don’t have to dump all this good tea into the ocean, we can just vote instead…

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