Sunday, June 27, 2021

Vaccine #2

I received my second Pfizer BioNTech vaccine yesterday morning.  Like last time I had a 10 am appointment at the Brno Exhibition Centre.  I had to show my health insurance card at the initial registration again.  This time the woman looked at my name and said that she thought that she knew me.  Kind of hard to tell I guess as we were both wearing masks.  I assumed that it must have been from IBM but then the mention of IBM triggered that she knew me from my blog.  I thanked her for reading the blog and went on to the next station to see the nurse.

The nurse verified my insurance information, took my temperature and told me that I had to get in a separate line for foreigners.  This was different from last time.  Six weeks ago there was just one line.  Of course the place was busier this time because more people were here.  Last time everyone was getting their first vaccine.  This time some people were here for their first vaccine and some were here for their second vaccine.  In the past six weeks the government has sorted out the administration of vaccines for foreigners here in Czechland who have self-paid health insurance.  This mostly applied for English teachers and the like who are technically independent contractors.  Now that these foreigners could finally get their first vaccine it meant that there were more now more foreigners here so I guess that was the reason for a Czech line and a foreigners line.  

So it was busier than last time but still very well organised.  From start to finish it took me about 45 minutes and I walked out with my stamped vaccination card.  I was given a weblink so that at home I could print out a digital vaccine card.  Kind of funny to print out a digital card but whatever.  The important thing is that now I'm fully vaccinated and I didn't have any side effects.  I'm sure that at some point I'll probably have to go for a booster shot.  Now how soon before I can travel somewhere?

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Another Public Transit Exhibition

Every year the Brno Technical Museum puts on a display of old trams.  The last one I wrote about was back in 2010.

The historic tram is always popular and this one can still be ridden today.

The Golden Tram wasn't on display but then again it's not exactly historic.

Again, not historic but I like the Brno dragon šalina.  Leave it to the Czech sense of humour to have a dragon tram and with the dragon wearing a rouška to support the preventative measures to reduce Covid-19.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Brno Minority Monastery and Church of St. Johns

Yesterday my friend Vašek and I went for a walk to the centre to do a bit of shopping at H&M.  When we went past the church at Minoritská he asked if I had ever been inside before.  I hadn't.  I've passed it countless times over the past 13 years but I never bothered to go inside before.  What a fool I was.  Who knew that it was actually a 17th century Minorite monastery?

The Church of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, also called the Church of St. Johns, belongs to the Minorite monastery and was founded around 1230.  The site had been used continuously for almost 800 years.  The Church of St. John was consecrated in 1257.  In the 18th century the church and the monastery were rebuilt in the Baroque style.

The complex has been on the list of cultural monuments since 1958,  I'm a bit surprised that the communists actually put a monastery and church on the cultural monuments list.  It's well worth a visit because the inside is gorgeous.  I can't believe I've walked right on past it all these years.  I need to start figuring out what else I've missed out in Brno.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Czech Verb Prefixes

I'm still keeping up with my Czech while I wait for the results of my B1 exam.  Fingers crossed that I pass it.  I need B1 in order to apply for citizenship but I'll keep studying until I reach the B2 level which is the level required for someone to study at university.  I'm not planning on attending uni but I want to get my Czech to this level.  However, I have zero intentions of taking the B2 exam.  I'll be happy enough to pass my B1 exam.

Learning Czech verbs is both easy and a pain in the arse.  They are easy in that there are only three verb tenses - past, present, and future.  The past tense gets a little more difficult than in English because in Czech the past tense acts like an adjective so it has to agree in number and gender.

It gets way more complicated with aspect which is basically a concept of completeness.  Since verbs are either imperfective or perfective it means that Czechs use two different verbs where English just uses one verb but with lots of different tenses.

In English we use different prepositions to change the meaning of a verb.  For example, there's a difference between to to, to go into, to go out of, to go around, to go through, etc.  Czechs also use prepositions but there are also different prefixes which can change the meaning of the verb.

The different prefixes are do-, o-, od-, na-, po-, pod-, pře-, před-, roz-, u-, v-, vy-, z-, za-.  If you learn the meanings of the various prefixes it can help you guess the meaning of the verb.  This is doesn't help 100% of the time but the prefixes can point you in the right direction.

Jít = to go (on foot)

Přijít = to come; to arrive

Odejít = to leave; to depart

Přejít = to go over; to pass over

Rozjít = to break up

Najít = to find

Pojít = to die

Předjít = to prevent

Vyjít = to go out; to exit

Zajít = to go around

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Air Mail Stickers

Back in 2018, Steven and Michael took a trip to Canada and sent me three postcards from Québec.  I don't know why but for some reason Steven put Michael in charge of posting them.  Michael put the "air mail" sticker on each card but forgot to put an actual stamp on each postcard.  The Canadian post office must have felt sorry for him because I ended up receiving two of the three postcards in Brno even though they didn't have any stamps.  

Obviously, a stamp is always required when you mail a postcard.  The air mail sticker is optional.  When I was still travelling, pre-COVID, I would ask the post office clerk for a few extra air mail stickers.  Sometimes the post office had them and sometimes they didn't but when they did, no country's post office has ever not given me a few extra stickers.  

Just to have a laugh, I sent them a postcard this week that was chockablock with nothing but different air mail stickers from across the world.  Here's the card I sent prior to buying a stamp at the post office.  I'm sure that they'll get a chuckle out of it.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Language Exam Take #2

Yesterday was my second attempt at the B1 language exam that I need in order to apply for Czech citizenship.  Last time I failed the listening comprehension portion of the exam, by 3 questions, I had to retake the entire exam again.  

I was up in the air about when I would try to retake it.  Do I give myself a few more months to really focus on listening communication while prolonging the agony of having to face the exam again in the future?  Or do I try to take it again right  away?  In the end I decided to take it as soon as I could.  

Due to COVID-19 there were no Saturday exams so I had to take a day off from work to sit for the exam on a Friday.  Fortunately, this time I could take the exam in Brno at Masaryk University.  The language exam cost 3.700 Kč ($170).

The exam format was the same as last time but with different questions.  First came the reading comprehension test followed by the dreaded listening comprehension test.  The listening portion was unnecessarily complicated.  It's more of a test of how much you can remember in a short period of time than an actual listening comprehension test but what can you do?  

Then came the written exam.  The main essay I chose was on whether men make better bosses than women.  Following the written exam, I had a two-hour break before I had to take the speaking test.  The individual speaking test was easy and for the role play I was partnered with a Russian girl and we had to plan some elective education for our colleagues.  

I was finished with everything by 17:30 but I was completely drained.  Fortunately some of the fellas were meeting up at Honza's place to grill out and have a few drinks.  The timing could not have been more perfect.  Now I just have to wait another 30 days to get my exam results.  

Overall I feel better this time than I did last time.  Maybe because I had a better idea of what to expect.  I still feel nervous about the listening portion.  I hope that this section doesn't cause me to fail the entire exam again.  Fingers crossed!

Update:  I passed!

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Brno Asteroid

Two weeks ago a sculpture of silver asteroid was installed in the city centre on Kobližná street.  The sculpture weighs three tons and is the work of Czech artist Michal Gabriel.  

The sculpture reflects light so its shape appears to alter depending on how you look at it.

The asteroid was previously exhibited in Olomouc and Prague.  It will remain in Brno for at least four months.