Sunday, August 29, 2021

Road Trip to Poland

This weekend was the first time I've left Czechland in over a year.  I was in Germany in July 2020 and since then I haven't left the country.  Not having left the country in a year is unbelievable especially considering I had planned on 20 countries in 2020.  But that's the way things shook out.

This weekend was a quick road trip, with Jitka and Geetha, to Wrocław, Poland.  Besides a being a quick getaway we went to visit our friend and colleague Arek.

Arek was a great tour guide.  Geetha had never been and it had been a many years since Jitka was there.  I've been there more times than I can count.

We had a great time just running around the city.  Of course, no visit to Wrocław is complete without checking out the dwarves.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Kitty Cake

Since Covid I've pretty much worked from home every day.  I rarely go to the office which means I'm home when my housekeeper comes every Tuesday morning.  We have our system where we stay out of each other's way while she's cleaning and I'm working.

Well today she surprised me with two slices of homemade cake that looks like a cat.  

It was a nice surprise but I'm trying to lose weight and cake isn't on the diet.  However, she did say that it was sugar-free.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Black Ribbon Day

In 2009 the European Parliament designated 23 August as the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism, also known as Black Ribbon Day.  It's to remember the victims of totalitarian regimes, specifically Stalinist, communist, Nazi, and fascist regimes.

In Czechland it is Evropský den památky obětí stalinismu a nacismu and Mezinárodní den černé stuhy.  While Black Ribbon Day is officially commemorated in Czech Republic it's neither a public holiday nor a significant day.

23 August was chosen because it's the anniversary of the signing of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which was a non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.  The pact divided the territories of Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland into Soviet and German spheres of influence.  All of this further led up to WWII.

Russia, especially under Vladimir Putin, isn't a fan of Black Ribbon Day because it continues to downplay the atrocities under Stalin like the Holodomor, the forced starvation of millions, in Ukraine.

Here's a short video I found out on YouTube.

©UATV English

Friday, August 20, 2021

Increased Paternity Leave

Back in 2016 the Czech government gave new a week's paternity leave to new fathers.  The leave was to be taken within the first six weeks of birth at 70% of the father's base salary.

In 2019, the EU required that paternity leave be at least two weeks beginning no later than 1 August 2022.

In July the Chamber of Deputies approved the extension to two weeks and it was confirmed this week by the Senate.  Now President Zeman just needs to sign it and it will become effective 1 January 2022.  

It's a done deal that it will be signed since the EU will require it anyway.  Czechland will just be compliant seven months early.

One cool thing is that if the newborn child is hospitalised during the first six weeks since birth then the father can delay taking paternity leave until the child is released to go home.  Basically if the child has to be in an incubator then the father doesn't have contact with the child and the point of paternity leave is for the father to help care for the baby.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Driver's License Renewal

I got my Czech driver's license back in 2011 which was good for ten years.  To be honest I haven't driven much anyways.  I don't have a car here in Czechland and I don't need one thanks to the great public transportation system here.  To be honest I can't remember the last time I even drove in the past 8 or so years.

There was plenty of information on online about applying for a Czech license but nothing about renewing an existing one.  At least not in English.  I went online last week and managed to book an appointment for today right before lunch time.  I was provided a code and when I got there, I entered the code into the ticket machine and waited to be called.  

Once called I showed the clerk my license.  She printed off some forms, I double checked the data and signed the form.  She told me that I could make an appointment to pick up my new license in 2 to 4 weeks.  That was it.  I didn't have to give them a photo.  No fee and I kept my current license.  

My license actually expires today but I suppose that with this little paper I could theoretically keep driving until I pick up my new license.  I guess in Czechland. I wouldn't want to test this driving outside the country.

The best part was that I was in and out of the office in only 7 minutes.  Awesome!

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Macocha Gorge

On Friday I made plans with Vašek, Aleš, and Michał to go hiking today.  We headed out to the Macocha Gorge, also known as the Macocha Abyss, which is about 20 km (12 miles) north of Brno.

The gorge is a sinkhole in the Moravian Karst.  The last time I was at the karst was back in 2011

The gorge is about 174 metres (571 feet) long and 76 (249 feet) metres wide.  It was created when the ceiling of a huge cave hole fell in.  It is the deepest sinkhole of its kind, not only in Czechland but, in Central Europe.

There's a viewing platform at the top that was built in 1882.  

There's also a second lower platform that was built in 1899 that is about 92 metres (302 feet) from the bottom.

The weather was great and it felt good to get out for some exercise.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Double Booked

Yesterday I was double booked.  After work, I met up with Vašek, Aleš and Michał at the park at Kraví hora.  We made plans to go hiking on Sunday.  

After a couple of hours of hanging out I headed over to Jan's place for the traditional beer night with the lads, plus Štěpánka.

It was nice catching up with everyone. Especially after the never ending Covid restrictions.  After a while Vilém broke out the guitar for some traditional Czech songs.  I headed home around midnight even though the party was still going strong.  I heard this afternoon that one of the neighbours ended up complaining about the noise.  I just don't know if the "noise" was the general volume or Vilém's guitar playing. LOL!

Thanks to Simona had a birthday surprise for me from the Candy Store

Now I need to get some vanilla ice cream so that I can make a root beer float.  Except for at the Candy Store, root beer doesn't exist here in Czechland so all I can say is that it's the American equivalent of Kofola; kind of like Dr. Pepper but not at all.

A root beer float is pretty simple.  Take a cold mug and add two scoops of vanilla ice cream. Then add root beer.  Some people top it with whipped cream but I don't.  When the root beer hits the ice cream it causes carbon dioxide bubbles to release.  You eat it with a spoon and a straw.  Some people who don't like root beer will swap out Coca-cola and make a coke float instead.  These were always such a treat when I was a kid.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Hana Říčná

Hana Říčná was an artistic gymnast who represented Czechoslovakia during the 1980s.  She's the most successful Czech gymnast after Věra Čáslavská.

At the 1983 World Championships she won a silver medal on the balance beam.  Due to the Soviet-led boycott of the 1984 Olympics she missed her shot at an Olympic medal.  Instead she competed at the 1984 Friendship Games, held in Olomouc, which were the Eastern Bloc's alternative to the Olympics.  There she won silver medals in the all-around and balance team and a team bronze.  She would have been a contender for a medal in LA.

At the Wold Championships in 1985 she won a bronze medal on the uneven bars.  She probably would have retired after the '84 Olympics but she hung around so that she could compete in the 1988 Olympics even though she was no longer in her prime.  At the '88 games she placed seventh with the team and 29th in the all-around.

In 1983 she invented a move on the bars that is named after her.  It is a Stalder to counter reversed straddled Hecht over the high bar.  Here's a video I found out on YouTube of her bronze medal performance at the '85 World Championships.  The first trick that she does on the high bar is the move that's named after her.

She was a local Brno girl.  She was born and also trained here.

In 1994 she moved to the USA and is now a coach in Rhode Island.  Her son, David Jessen, is an elite gymnast who represents Czech Republic internationally, most recently at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Here's a video of him competing at the 2019 World Championships.  The third release and catch move in his routine is the move that his mom invented.

©FIG Channel

Monday, August 9, 2021

2020 Olympic Results

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are now complete.  Of course, due to Covid, the games were postponed to 2021. 

I feel sorry for the athletes.  First, I feel sorry for the athletes who were ready to compete in 2020 and due to the delay missed their window of opportunity to compete.  

Secondly, I feel sorry for the athletes who did get to compete but without crowds.  I'm sure that over the years they dreamed of competing in front of full crowds with their families and loved ones in attendance.  Again, due to Covid, that did happen.  But you can't take anything away from the athletes to worked hard and competed for their respective countries.

The USA topped the medal count with 104 medals (46 gold, 29 silver, 29 bronze), followed by China with 88 medals and the UK with 65 medals.

Czech Republic came in 19th place, behind Jamaica and ahead of North Korea, with 11 medals.  In terms of medals these were the country's most successful summer Olympic results.  


Jiří Lipták


Men's trap


Jiří Prskavec


Men's slalom K-1


Lukáš Krpálek


Men's +100 kg


Barbora Krejčíková

Kateřina Siniaková


Women's doubles


Lukáš Rohan


Men's slalom C-1


David Kostelecký 


Men's trap


Markéta Vondroušová


Women's Singles


Jakub Vadlejch


Men's javelin throw


Alexander Choupenitch


Men's foil


Josef Dostál

Radek Šlouf


Men's K-2 1000 metres


Vítězslav Veselý


Men's javelin throw

Here's a short YouTube video I found of the Czech gold medal winners along with the Czech national anthem.


There's a Brno connection as well.  Jiří Lipton, Barbora Krejčíková, David Kostelecký, and Alexander Choupenitich were all born in Brno.

Team Czech sent 115 athletes to compete in 22 sports.

One of the Czech athletes to compete was David Jessen, also born in Brno.  He is the son of 1988 Olympic gymnast Hana Říčná.  As a child he moved to the USA and competed as a junior gymnast before representing Czech Republic.  He competed for Stanford University and represented the Czech Republic at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.  In Tokyo he placed 57th in the all-around event.  In Czechland his club is Brno Sokol.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Finally Meeting for Lunch

Some of the guys from work and I used to meet up for lunch once a month.  Due to Covid restrictions, today was the first time that we were able to get together for lunch in over 18 months.  Way too long!

We met up for burgers as Pablo EscoBar.  The food was great but the company was awesome.  So good to catch up with Michal, Michal, and Andrew.  Hopefully it won't be so long until the next one.

Monday, August 2, 2021

18 Years

Wow!  It's hard to believe but today is 18 years with IBM.  18 years!  And 2/3rds of it has been over here in Euroland.

The division of IBM that I work for will soon split away and become Kyndryl.

But still, it's incredible to think that I've been with "Big Blue" for so long.  Where does the time go?

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Birthday Legos

While Claudia has been staying with me for the last week, Tünde has been with her dad.  He dropped her off so today was the first time I've seen her in a year due to Covid restrictions.  She has gotten so tall.

She loves Legos so for my birthday she gave me the new diversity set.  

I can't remember the last time I actually played with Legos but we had fun putting them together.