Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Kingdom of Morocco

The Kingdom of Moroccoالمملكة المغربية, is located in North Africa.  It borders Algeria and Western Sahara, as well as Spain due to the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.  Along with Spain and France, it is the only country to have both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines.  

Morocco is a little larger than California and is home to almost 34 million people.  The capital is Rabat and Casablanca is the largest city.  Other well-known cities include Marrakesh, Fez, and Tangier.  

Morocco has been ruled by independent dynasties since 788 AD.  It was the only country in North Africa to not fall under the Ottoman Empire.  In 1777, it was the first country in the world to recognise the USA as an independent country.  
The current royal family dates back to the 17th century.  In 1912, Morocco was divided into French and Spanish protectorates.  Independence only came in 1956 and today it is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament.

Morocco claims Western Sahara as its southern provinces and annexed the territory in 1975 after Spain gave up the territory.  It currently controls about 80% of the territory but this ins't recognised by the United Nations.
Berber alphabet

The official languages are Arabic and Berber.  Over 30% of the population speaks French and it is used in official documents for both government and business.  

The Moroccan dirham (MAD) is the official currency.  The country is home to Africa's fifth largest economy.

Islam is the predominant religion.  Morocco is no place to be openly gay as homosexual acts are illegal and punishable by 6 months to 3 years in prison.

Here's a video I found on YouTube about how powerful the country is.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Czech Republic Second

Yes, I am American and, NO, I did not vote for Donald Trump.  While I'm not a fan of our current president I will say that comedians love him.  The things he says and does, while are often tragic, usually turn out to be comedy gold.

During his campaign he continuously pledged to put "America First".  Then a Dutch show made a satirical video of "America First, Netherlands Second".  Now the new viral sensation are parody videos from other countries all trying to be "Second".

I love the Czech version.  This video takes a slight twist and doesn't want "Czechia Second", it wants to be the 51st state.  God love Czech humour!  Here's the video I found out on YouTube.

©Stream.cz International

Here's another funny one from a group here in Brno.  Genius!  But it's going to be a long four years.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Brno Technical Museum

One of the most popular museums in town is the Brno Technical Museum.  It's been on my list of things to do for quite a while but it's been one of things that "I'll get around to it later".

The idea to go normally pops up during the annual museum night but the thought of the crowds, with all of the families and small children, is enough to continue postponing a visit to another time.

The current location opened in 2003.  There are 16 permanent displays with a focus on the scientific, cultural, and educational function primarily in Moravia and Silesia.

There are also temporary exhibits.  Right now there is an exhibition of robotic dinosaurs and Tünde wanted to see the dinosaurs so we went today.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Paternoster Lift

A few weeks ago Claudia and I went to the main Brno post office after picking Tünde up from kindergarten.  This meant, of course, going for a ride on the paternoster lift (elevator).  She thinks it's a fun ride.

It's really the niftiest thing.  It's a chain of open compartments that move in a continuous loop between floors in a building.  Each compartment holds up to two or three people.

There's no call button since the loop is always running.  They don't break speed records or anything so that you can hop on and off.

Due to safety concerns, the production of new paternoster lifts ended in the 1970s.  Those same concerns are why many have been shut down but you can find them still being used in Europe.  There are around 230 of these still operational in Germany.  Czechland has 68 still running and I know that there are at least a few in the UK.  There are only two outside of Europe, one in Malaysia and one in Peru.

Update:  I came across another one.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

2016 EU Social Justice Index

The 2016 EU Social Justice Index was published and Czechland did quite well.  The index uses 36 indicators to compare the 28 EU countries across six dimensions.  The dimensions are poverty prevention, equitable education, labour market access, social cohesion and non-discrimination, health, and intergenerational justice.

Scandinavia did very well with Sweden, Finland, and Denmark taking the top three spots.  Czech Republic came in a very respectable fourth place.

It doesn't mean that everything here is perfect and those everything is terrible in the countries at the bottom of the list.  But it is nice to see Czechland near the top of the class.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Customs Inspection

Here's another first.  On the train today, while on my way back from Wrocław, I had to be checked by Czech customs police.  It was quite odd.

The Polish train I was on ended in Lichov in Czechland.  The connecting train onward was to arrive about 20 minutes later.  While waiting I was approached by two Czech police officers who wanted to inspect my bags.  They asked me how much alcohol, cigarettes, and medicine I brought back from Poland.  Again, odd because I thought there was supposed to be free movement of goods in the EU.  I've been through random Schengen ID checks before but never for goods.

I was cleared in only a few minutes.  They were satisfied with the gift bag I had containing one bottle of Żubrówka.  The police were more fascinated with my ID card because it says I was born in California.

They must have been looking for something specific.  There were a couple of Czech girls having the contents of their bags searched quite thoroughly and they never made it on to the next train.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Bad Polish Dubbing

One thing that always catches me by surprise in Poland is just how bad their television dubbing is.  I'm here for work for a couple of days and decided to take it easy.  An early night at the hotel, finish some e-mails, and try to find something on the tele.

Polish dubbing sucks!  To be honest it's not dubbing.  It's voice-over translation.  The translation is spoken over the actual person speaking.  I can understand doing this during a short news broadcast.  But for an entire movie?

It's frustrating because I can just barely hear the original English version as the Polish voice over starts.  And it's usually the same voice speaking for everyone so you can't differentiate characters, even between male and female voices.  It's the same translation for everyone.

I don't understand why they do this.  In Czechland, one of two options occur.  Either the show is properly dubbed or the original is used with subtitles.  Either of these two options are better for learning a language.  The exception though is for children's cartoons - those are always only in Czech.

This Polish voiceover thing is just madness.  At least to me.  Here's an example that I found out on YouTube.  Try to watch this scene from Notting Hill between Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant and see if it makes any sense.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Electronic Prescriptions Coming

Effective January 2018, Czech doctors will only be able to issue electronic prescriptions.  Doctors will need special software that issue prescriptions with a bar code.

I suppose some of the challenges will be for those doctors who don't have a computer or are in rural areas without reliable Internet access.  

Saturday, February 18, 2017

I'm Still Everywhere

So apparently I'm still everywhere.  While I'm not surprised that IBM has a section at the Brno Technology Museum.  I was surprised to find out that I'm on some video there.

I have no idea what this is for so I guess I need to go check it out.

Update:  I never found out what this was for.  A couple of weeks later I went to the museum but the exhibition had already finished.  I was quite surprised at the the coat check when the clerk apparently recognised me from the video, pointed to me and said "IBM".  Whatever I said in that video must have made an impression.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Some London Shows

This weekend was a London West End theatre fest.  Well at least it was for us.  For something different we decided to see a couple of shows in the West End.

On Saturday we had a nice wander around the city.  I had hoped to get a short break from the Brno snow.  I've never seen London snow before so I didn't actually mind it when it came down.

Kinky Boots was our Saturday matinee at the Adelphi Theatre.  It was amazing!!  I had heard so many good things about the show so it was great to see it for myself.  Here's the show trailer that I found out on YouTube.

After a break and dinner, we went to the Phoenix Theatre to see The Girls.  This show ends in April so we definitely wanted to catch it before then.  Another awesome performance!  I need to find the cast recordings of both shows.

Here's a clip of The Girls that I found on YouTube. 

It was great getting away for the weekend.  While we really enjoyed both shows it was a bit much fitting two shows in to the same day.  We're keen to go back and do it again but next time we'll probably stick to a single show.

Friday, February 3, 2017

An End to EU Roaming

Yeah for the EU!!  Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have finalised legislation that gets rid of roaming fees.

Currently, I use roaming every time I leave Czechia which is pretty often.  From 15 June 2017, I'll be able to use my phone the exact same way that I do here in Czechland, and not have to pay more for calls, texts, or internet access.  

I guess this is one more thing for the UK to sort out.  Brexit means leaving the EU so this will have to be looked at.