Sunday, October 25, 2020

Rome Family Reunion

Today was a little reunion on Skype with the Rome family.  It's hard to believe that our trip to Rome was 9,5 years (and 4 kids) ago.  Where does the time go?  

I haven't seen Janelle since the Rome trip.  I saw Eiko in Helsinki in March.  I think I last saw Liz at Eiko's wedding in Helsinki in 2016.

Since we couldn't get together this year, due to COVID-19, Skype was the the next best thing.  

Friday, October 23, 2020

2020 Pride Business Forum

The 10th annual Pride Business Forum was supposed to take place in Prague on 17 June but it was cancelled due to COVID-19. 

So today the event was streamed live, with parts having been pre-recorded.  I was impressed with how well the organisers pulled this off.
The entire event is available on YouTube.  It is 2 hours, 44 minutes long.

©Pride Business Forum

Among the key guests include:

Fabrice Houdart, Managing Director, Out Leadership

Vladimír Dlouhý, President, the Czech Chamber of Commerce

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, UN Independent Expert on SOGI

Zdeněk Hřib, Mayor of Prague

Dagmar Kuchtová, Director General, the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic

For the first time, IBM placed first for the the LGBT Friendly Employer Award.  If you don't watch the entire video you can skip to IBM winning at 1:46:41.

The jury praised IBM's comprehensive approach to LGBT equality in the workplace, including setting internal rules against discrimination and homophobic / transphobic bullying, a proactive approach to recruiting and retaining LGBT talent, active work by internal employee resource group and strong support for LGBT people in Czech society.  In particular, the jury praised the active role that IBM's management played in the country's debate on equal marriage in 2019.

IBM tied for first with last year's winner Vodafone.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

My FWAB Arrived

My Federal Absentee Write-In Ballot, that I had to drop off at the Prague Embassy almost three weeks, arrived in Atlanta.  It took about 2,5 weeks via diplomatic mail to the USA and then normal post to Georgia.  The good news is that I have confirmation that they received my ballot.

I was able to cast a vote for President and for the Senate.      

At least I was able to submit the write-in ballot.  Given the postal delays due to COVID-19 it's anyone's guess when my real absentee ballot will actually show up.

Monday, October 5, 2020

New State of Emergency

As of today there is a new state of emergency in Czech Republic. The country was doing well in keeping COVID-19 in check, including being the first country to mandate face masks.  However, with the recent surge of cases, Czechia is now the worst country in Europe for new infections.

The new state of emergency will last for 30 days.

  • Groups over 10 people indoors or over 20 people outdoors, except for family members, are prohibited.
  • Concerts and theatre performances involving singing are prohibited. 
  • Theatre, film or other performances, without sining, can take place for less than 500 people.  Everyone must be seated and no refreshments are allowed.
  • Sporting events can take place with up to 130 people but no spectators are allowed.
  • Religious services may take place for up to 130 people but no singing is allowed.
  • Restaurants can only have up to 6 people at a single table.  There needs to be 2 metres between tables.
  • In all red or amber regions, only distance learning is permitted for secondary schools, higher vocational schools, and universities.
  • Plus masks are back.

Hopefully this will allow things to get back on track.

Update:  As of 9 October there are additional restrictions.

  • All casinos and gambling places are closed.
  • The use of indoor sports grounds is prohibited.
  • All swimming pools and wellness facilities are closed.
  • All zoos are closed.
  • Restaurants now must close at 8 pm with no more than four people allowed to sit at a single table.
  • At food courts only two people can sit at a table together.
  • A maximum of two people may enter shopping centres together.
  • No public wireless internet is available in shopping centres (to prevent people from congregating there).
Update:  As of 12 October there are additional restrictions.
  • All cultural, sporting and social events, religious services, dance or club events are cancelled for over 10 people indoors or 20 people outdoors.  There's an exception for members of the same household.
  • All trade fairs, fun fairs, and carnivals are prohibited.
  • Weddings and funerals can have up to 500 people as observers.  A maximum of 30 people can be active participants while maintaining social distancing of at least 2 metres and wearing masks. 
  • Students are not allowed at universities except for clinical, practical teaching and internships for students in general medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and healthcare programmes.
  • Teaching at secondary schools, higher vocational schools, and conservatories is prohibited.
  • Elementary schools are divided into half-classes and the classes alternate weeks. Al l school clubs and leisure centres are banned.
  • Group language school courses are prohibited in person.

Update: As of 13 October there are additional restrictions.
  • School attendance is banned on 26 and 27 October.
  • Public authorities will limit public office hours, over the next two weeks, to only two days per week, for five hours per day.
  • Visits to medical and social facilities are banned.
  • Masks must be work at mass transit stops, platforms and waiting rooms.
  • People may not congregate in one place, either inside or outside, in groups over six people.
  • Bars and Restaurants are closed.  Take out windows can operate only until 8 pm.
  • All music, dance, gaming, social clubs, and discotheques are closed.
  • Public consumption of alcohol is prohibited.
  • Elementary schools will be completely closed from 14 October until 2 November.  
Update:  As of 21 October, people have to wear face masks even in cars if they are not from the same household.

Update:  As of 22 October, the free movement of people is prohibited.  You can travel to and from work, to see family, to visit the doctor or to purchase basic necessities.  Hotels and other accommodation facilities are closed, as are food courts in shopping centres.  All non-essential retail stores are closed.

Update:  As of 23 October, visits to people in jail, prison or pre-trial detention are prohibited.

Update:  As of 28 October there's a curfew in place from 9 pm to 5 am.  You can only go out during curfew when going to/from work, seeking medical attention or to walk your dog within 500 metres of your residence.  

Update:  The state of emergency has been extended to 20 November.

Friday, October 2, 2020

I Voted

Due to the postal delays I still haven't received my absentee ballot.  Fortunately there's the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986 which allows for overseas American citizens who have applied on time for a ballot but still haven't received it to use a write-in ballot.

Today I dropped off my Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) off at the American Embassy in Prague.  Today was the last day to drop off ballots at the embassy.  The ballots will now go via diplomatic mail to Washington, DC, and from there by regular mail to the appropriate polling stations in each state.

So my ballot will now get to Atlanta in time for the 3 November election.

It was a whirlwind day.  Normally I would go to the Bratislava embassy because it's closer to Brno but the border is closed with Slovakia.  

So I spent 3 hours on a train to Prague, then caught a tram across town to the embassy, dropped off my ballot, went back to the train station and caught the next train back to Brno.  Quite a bit of travel and I was only at the embassy for five minutes.

It was kind of ironic that while on a train to cast my vote for president that I used the time to study for my Czech citizenship test on 5 December.  

At least I'm still hoping that my exam will be on 5 December.  I have a sinking feeling that it will get postposed again in the next round of COVID-19 restrictions.

Update:  My FWAB arrived in Georgia on 20 October.

Update:  My real absentee ballot didn't arrive until 4 November.