Sunday, February 20, 2011

Portsmouth, England

I spent all last week at a workshop in Portsmouth, England. There is now only one flight per day between Brno and Prague so it was easier to fly out of Austria. However, the travel was a bit goofy this time. A colleague and I took a train from Brno to Vienna. Then an Airberlin flight to Hannover, Germany. Then a Flybe flight to Southhampton and a 20 minute ride to Portsmouth. We got checked in to the hotel by 4 PM so we had a couple of hours to walk around. It felt good just to stretch my legs after the train and two flights.

With only a couple of hours of daylight there wasn't a whole lot of time to explore but at least I saw more than I did last time. That's the thing about these work trips. We spend so much time working that we never get the chance to check out the sights. Normally it's just enough time to grab dinner, check e-mail and get to bed before the next day starts.

Portchester Castle is at the north end of Portsmouth Harbor. Originally named Portus Adurni, it was built in the late 3rd century and it is the best preserved Roman Saxon "shore fort". Henry I turned it in to a royal castle in the 12th century. It was enlarged in the 14th century under Richard II and this is where Henry V assembled his troops for the battles against France.

Portsmouth is also home to Spinnaker Tower. I'm sure the view of the South Coast is great at the top of the 170 meter (~558 feet) tower. Maybe next time.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Pelíšky (pronounced Pel-ish-ky) means “Cosy Dens." The comedy was directed by Jan Hřebeik and released in 1999. The film is one of the most popular post-revolution movies in the ČR. Don't even joke with people here that this is not one of the best films ever.
The film is a coming-of-age story that takes place in the months before the 1968 Prague Spring and ends after the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. Michael and Jindřiška’s families share an apartment house in Prague. Michael’s dad is an army officer and Jindřiška’s dad is a staunch anti-communist. While Michael develops a crush on Jindřiška, she falls for a mysterious hipster. The two fathers do not get along at all. However, the one thing they do have in common is that they think their children are total rebels.
The movie ends with the following dedication…
This film is dedicated to everyone whose friends, lovers, parents and children disappeared overnight as you remained here alone.
Here's a clip from the movie I found out on YouTube, with English subtitles.

Friday, February 11, 2011

British vs. American English

When Czechs learn English, they learn British English. And since not a lot of people here speak English to begin with, it is often better to use British vocabulary. That's why I find it much simpler to say "flat" instead of "apartment" and "lift" instead of "elevator".

I work with a few Brits here and at least once a week we have to sort out British vs. American vocabulary or spelling.

British English (BE) uses -our, -re and -ise while (whilst in British) American English (AE) uses -or, -er, and -ize. colour vs. color; neighbour vs. neighbor; fovourite vs. favorite; centre vs. center; theatre vs. theater, organise vs. organize, realise vs. realize.

Oscar Wilde once said "We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language". Here are a few of the vocabulary differences between BE and AE I've come across so far.

Next week I'm off to Portsmouth, England for a workshop. Who knows what new vocabulary I'll pick up next week?

Update: Here's some more British English
Update:  Here's about Cockney Rhyming Slang.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

1st Time Skiing

This past weekend I went snow skiing for the first time in my life. It's something that I've always wanted to do but just haven't...until now. I went with some friends to Buková Hora which is about 2.5 hours north of Brno.

I'm the only one in the group that can't ski. The equipment rental was only 220 Kč (~$11) for the day and a one-hour lesson with an English-speaking instructor was another 200 Kč. Much cheaper than in the U.S. or in the Alps. After my lesson, my friend Ivo spent another hour working with me on the kiddie slope. Just a short while later and I was able to stop and turn so I was happy with my progress. I figure it will take me a couple of more times before I feel comfortable enough to hit the adult run. At least I didn't hit a tree or anything.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Time For a New Work Permit

It's time to start the paper work needed to extend my stay here in the ČR. The first step is to request a new work permit. Here's a copy of my original work permit which was good for two years. It will take about a month to receive my new work permit, which will allow me to legally work in the ČR for another two years. But that won't let me live here. I's crazy.

As soon as I receive my new work permit, then I will apply for a new long-term visa (Schengen visa) that will allow me to live in Europe. This time, I'm going to apply for a two year visa so that I won't have to go through all of this next year. This year there has been a change where the Foreign Police no longer have responsibility for handling visas. It has been taken over by the Czech Interior Ministry. But more on that later.

Now back to the work permit. Luckily, IBM has a department that helps out with some of this stuff. In order to apply for the new work permit I had to supply a photo, a copy of my passport, a copy of my current work permit, a copy of my current visa, a copy of my highest university degree and a signed power of attorney for the Bureau of Labor. The paperwork will get submitted next week and in 30 days I should have a new work permit.