Sunday, July 30, 2017

Miloš Forman

Miloš Forman is a famous film director, screenwriter, actor and a professor at Columbia University.  He was born, in 1932, in Čáslav, Czechoslovakia.

His 1967 film Hoří, má panenko (The Firemen's Ball) was one of his biggest hits although it was banned by the communists for several years.

Fortunately, he was outside of the country during the 1968 invasion.  He became an American citizen in 1977.

He won the Academy Award for Best Director for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus.  He was nominated, but didn't win, for The People vs. Larry Flynt.

Over his career he has won Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and BAFTAs.  In 1996 the Czech Republic awarded him with a Medal of Merit, First Grade, and in 1997 he won a Czech Lion award of his contribution to Czech cinema.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

New Amendments For Foreigners

On 15 August some new amendments will impact non-EU foreigners living in Czechland who don't already have permanent residency.

One of the biggest changes is for people who change employers.  A person will need to submit a document from the current employer basically stating that the employee intends to leave.

This one sounds crazy to me because it could be awkward for some people to ask for a confirmation of employment because they intend to leave.  Again, this doesn't apply to people who are already permanent residents.

There are several other changes that pertain to people who intend to start a business, people with adult dependent children, and other family members.

The new rules aren't exactly clear so I feel for the people who will need deal with the bureaucracy.

Monday, July 24, 2017

My Team Missed Me Again

My team clearly missed me again.  It seems they get creative every time I'm out of the office for too long.

Last year, my desk and chair were tin foiled.

In December, my phone met up with some stickers.

Then, in January, there was the snow man on my desk.

I don't know when they pulled this stunt because they originally thought I was only going to be away on holiday for two weeks.  Last week's trip to Connecticut was a surprise.

This time they left my desk alone and only messed with my chair.  I must admit that the mushrooms were a nice touch.  #cantwaitforpayback 

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Week in Arizona

This was a very busy week.  It started off with a seven hour road trip from California to Arizona.  Thank goodness for air conditioning because the desert drive was 43,3 ℃ (110 ℉).  Way hot, but that's Arizona in July.

On one of the days we went on a historic walking tour of the centre.  It was interesting to see the "historic" sights.  Of course here, historic means anything over 100 years.  In Europe, that's nothing.

Shopping was something that left me gobsmacked at times.  There are so many choices when it comes to shopping.  I couldn't believe how many choices there were for something as simple as sandwich bread.

On one of the shopping trips to Costco I noticed that they had Moravian cookies.  It's funny that I actually live in Moravia and have never seen biscuits like these.

"No chip yet"
I noticed that my debit card worked but not quite the same way it works in Europe.  Over here, debit and credit cards are chip-and-PIN cards.  You enter your card and PIN.  My bank card is contactless so in Europe I just waive my card over the terminal.  I only need to use my PIN if the amount is over 500 Kč (~$22).

In the USA, chips have been added to cards only over the last couple of years.  Cards here tend to be chip-and-signature cards.  Even with the chip, the card is processed via the magnetic strip and then you provide a signature instead of using a PIN.

One day we went to the movies.  I was shocked to see a sign on the front door that said "No Firearms Allowed".  Incredible.  In Arizona, unless a person has been convicted of a felony, anyone over 21 can legally carry a concealed gun.  

It was great hanging out with my parents all week.  One of my favourite days was our trip to the Grand Canyon.

This was also my most stressful day.  On the way I got a message from my boss letting me know that I needed to be in Connecticut for a Monday morning workshop.  Fortunately, British Airways made it easy to change to my ticket to fly home a day early.

I ended up flying from Phoenix to London Heathrow to Vienna.  I made it home at 11 PM Saturday.  I had enough time for a long, hot shower, pack my suitcase, and grab my work laptop before catching 2:30 AM my bus back to Vienna Airport.  Then an Air Berlin flight to Düsseldorf and on to JFK.  I haven't been to the USA in five years, now twice in a month, but I could have done without a 15 timezone trip to get to Connecticut.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Grand Canyon National Park, USA

The Grand Canyon National Park is the top tourist attraction in Arizona with about five million visitors every year.

It became the 17th U.S. National Park in 1919.

The Grand Canyon is the result of erosion and was carved by the Colorado River about five or six million years ago.

It is 446 km (227 miles) long, 1,857 meters (6,093 feet) deep and 29 km (18 miles) at its widest point.

The train from Williams to the South Rim of the canyon takes 2 hours 15 minutes.

I had an awesome time visiting the Grand Canyon with mom and dad.

Definitely a day I'll always remember.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Williams, Arizona & Route 66

My parents live in Prescott, Arizona which is only about four hours from the Grand Canyon but I've never been there.  So today we drove from Prescott to Williams which is 109 km (68 miles) away on AZ Route 89.

Williams was founded in 1881.  It's a small city with just over 3,100 people.  Williams is known as the "Gateway to the Grand Canyon".  The city lives off of tourism so there are a number of inns, motels, and restaurants.

Williams was on Historic Route 66 and it was the last city that was bypassed by Interstate 40.

U.S. Route 66 was the Will Rogers Highway and it was one of the original highways established in 1926.  It was also known as the "Main Street of America" and as the "Mother Road".

The highway ran from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California and covered 3,904 km (2,448 miles).  Between Illinois and California it passed through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.

Most people know about it from the song "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66".

Part of the old Route 66
Interstate 40 was opened in 1984 and the following year Route 66 was removed from the U.S. Highway System.  In order help keep towns going economically, many states have adopted parts of the old U.S. 66 into their state road networks.

Part of what's helped kept Williams going is the Grand Canyon Railway with daily service to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park.  The trip is 105 km (65 miles) north and takes 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Prior to getting on the train there is an old-fashioned western show.

On the train today, on the way back from the Grand Canyon to Williams, we saw a barn or a house on fire.  Hopefully no one was hurt.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Blog Mention

I was mentioned in the Brno Expat Centre's June newsletter.  They did an article called Insights and adventures of expat bloggers

"An American's life in Brno can be followed at Christopher's Expat Adventure and his Facebook page BrnoChris."

Thanks for the mention!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Week in California

I just spent an awesome week in California.  This was only my second time back in the USA since I moved to Brno in 2009.  The last time I was here was in 2012 which seems like a really long time, and it was, but I did get to see my parents in Europe in 2014

It was a full day to get from Brno to California.  A 2:30 am Student Agency bus to Vienna Airport, a British Airways flight to London Heathrow and then an American Airlines flight to LAX.  It then took a couple of hours to get to Irivne thanks to Friday afternoon traffic.  But I made it and after 26 hours of travel my sister had a dirty vodka martini and home made pozole waiting.  Both were delicious.

Pazole is a traditional Mexican soup made from shredded pork, hominy, and red chili that you ganish with shredded cabbage, radish, onions, cilantro (coriander) and lemon.  She usually only makes it for Christmas or New Year's so this was a real treat.

My family took great care of me and they made sure that I got lots of Mexican food.  And of course, we had to go to In-N-Out for an animal style double-double.  Five years is too long to go without a double-double.  It's also too long to go without seeing my family but that's where FaceTime comes in to help with the distance.

We also did a lot of shopping.  On my way over I had a medium suitcase inside of my big suitcase so that I could fly back with two suitcases.  I only brought enough clothes for a few days because I knew that I would stock up at Costco.  Clothes are way cheaper in the USA then they are in Czechland, and the quality is better too.  I also picked up a new iPad here which saved me a couple of hundred dollars because I didn't have to pay the VAT.  I will miss out on the mandatory two-year warranty, had I purchased it in Europe, but Apple will cover the first year so I think I'll be fine.

This trip to the USA is only for two weeks so I didn't have time to go to Atlanta.  Fortunately, Steven and Michal flew out to see me.  I last saw Michal in 2012 and in 2014 Steven and his mom came to Europe.  They used the weekend to take a much needed break from planning their wedding.  After 23 years together they are finally tying the knot in September.  I'm gutted that I can't be at the wedding as I'll be in Beijing then so it was great to get to see them now.

On the 4th of July we went out to West Hollywood and had a drink at The Abbey.  While we were there I spotted Ross Matthews who's a television personality.  He used to be on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and is currently on a couple of Hollywood entertainment shows.  He's also a judge on RuPaul's Drag Race which thanks to torrents, I get to watch in Czechland.  He was so nice when I went over and said hello and told him that I watch him in Czech Republic.

That evening my sister put on a huge 4th of July BBQ.  We then joined in with all of the neighbors to watch the fireworks.  The kids played with sparklers before the real show started at the nearby high school.

One thing I really wanted to do this trip was just hang out and watch the fireworks with my niece and nephew.  Mission accomplished.

I had such a great time visiting.  The jet lag was a bit of a downer because I never got to sleep in since my internal clock always thought it was nine hours later.  Oh well, first world problems I suppose.  Week two will be just me and my parents in Prescott, Arizona.  Plus a trip out to the Grand Canyon.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

8 Years in Czechland

Eight years.  It's been eight years since I first set foot in Czechland.  It was a big leap of faith but it has turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.

But how in the heck has it been eight years?  It's hard to believe that in two years it will be my first decade in Brno.  Good thing that I love it in Brno.  Děkuji všem za skvělé dobrodružství!

However, I'm actually spending my 8th anniversary in the USA.  This is only my second time back in the states since I moved in 2009 and I was last here in 2012.