Thursday, February 12, 2004

Hey! I finally have web access from my office at Tulip Cafe. Rockin'! In the end, I signed a contract with Eurotel for their Data Nonstop offer. For the next few months it's just Kc 650 per month plus VAT, the activation fee was only Kc 1800 and by signing a two years contract, I got this cute little GSM modem for just Kc 1. Slower than caramalized sugar on a cold day on Svalbard, but honestly not much worse than, say, the standard Czech speed five years ago.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Don't tolerate indecency. A letter from Jill E. Summerhays, Utah Chapter Director, Parents Television Council.

Tulip's (Australian) chef was recently having trouble with the (Russian, Czech-speaking) kitchen assisant. So he asked our (Czech, professional, well-mannered) manager how to say, in Czech, "Shut up and work."

Without skipping a beat, the manager replied, "Drž hubu a makej, pièo!"

That's what I'd like to say to Mrs. Summerhays.

I might as well mention this to my close circle of blog readers: I have a hard-working, Czech-speaking American friend who's looking for a job, preferably something in the area of language teaching, proofreading, copy editing or translating. He has good experience in all these fields. You might think these people are a dime a dozen, but they're not, especially if you're looking for somebody with all their papers in order. This guy is completely legal -- married to a Czech, with permanent residence and a zivnostensky list. They're expecting a baby and need a long-term source of steady income to support the family, so it's not like he's a backpacker who's about to head back to Boulder anytime soon. (Not that there's anything wrong with Boulder. I just mentioned that randomly, really.)

If you know of any position that might be a match, let me know privately (email is on my CV).
By new favorite blog: BoycottMTV

My second new favorite blog: Don'tBoycottMTV.
OK, I realized there was a composer named Scott Macmillan in Halifax, Nova Scotia (link courtesy of NicMoc). What I didn't realize is that there are actually two people with that name both living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The other one's a self-help author.
As if there was any doubt left that things are just different out East...Russia's Missing Candidate Surfaces.
Ivan Rybkin, a former parliamentary speaker mounting a long-shot challenge to President Vladimir Putin in the March 14 election, returned to Moscow on an evening flight, saying he had simply gone to see friends in Kiev and was stunned to learn that people were looking for him.

His explanation left no one satisfied -- not the police, who have spent the last several days scouring Russia for him; not his financial backer, who said it could spell the end of Rybkin's political career; not his campaign manager, who fumed that she might quit over the episode; and certainly not his wife, who proclaimed that any husband who would go off on a secret vacation without telling her was hardly fit to govern the country.
This is the guy backed by exile oligarch Boris Berezovsky -- and reached in Lodon, even Berezovsky says he doesn't know what the heck he was doing. Rybkin, for his part, says he just wanted to see Kiev, which is lovely this time of year, and turned off his mobile phone.

Cut to his wife:

"Poor Russia, if this type of person tries to run the country," she told an Interfax reporter.

"You mean your husband?" the reporter asked.

"Yes," she said.
And people said Howard Dean's wife wasn't supportive enough....

Now the most common theory seems to be that Rybkin disappeared just to gain publicity. Yes, you read that correctly: He disappeared to gain publicity. Every day is opposite day in Russia!

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

OK, this Scott MacMillan business is really getting out of control! Yesterday Doug Arellanes implicitly congratulated me on writing such a witty rejoinder ("born in a log cabin, the daughter of wandering gypsies...") to the false Scott MacMillans. Thing is, I didn't write that post! You can tell because my name is spelled wrong.

(Amazing how people never seem to pay attention to whether it's Mc or Mac; even my great-grandfather, George Garfield McMillan, switched back and forth depending on his mood. I myself am a stickler about it. It even touches a nerve when people don't capitalize the second M.)

Anyway, I also know now that Doug wasn't the only one who thought that post was written by me. And today I received an email from my friend David, who writes:

I was just on Doug Arellanes' blog and saw that he thought the post I wrote on PTV (that you were "born
in a log cabin", etc.) was really from you! How funny. That fact that I misspelled your name in different ways was lost on him I guess (as was its humor on the guy who wrote the next post).
Dude!!! *I* wrote the next post!

Monday, February 09, 2004

Few people -- and no Czechs -- will ever truly understand the perverse thrill of having successfully navigated bureaucracy in Kafkaville. I'm not talking about standing in line at the DMV. We're talking about the real thing, the kind where not having form twenty-seven-B-stroke-six could take years off your life.

The other day I had to get a vypis z obchodni rejstriku for the company I own, Tulip Coffee, s.r.o. (Oddly enough, I'm not even sure how to translate vypis -- www.slovnik.cz translates it as "abstract." So "abstract from the commercial register." It's basically the piece of paper necessary for signing important documents, like a mobile phone contract, in your company's name.) Anyway, I only had the vaguest notion of where the Commercial Register actually was. Somebody told me it was near Namesti Miru behind the Narodni Dum. I found it. Turns out it's that big building with those funny concrete spheres parked out front.

So I marched right in through the front door, found the section for the vypis, walked right into an open door and proudly said in my rudimentary Czech: "Good day! I am the owner of a Czech firm and I would like to have an abstract!"

Naturally I'd chosen the desk with the ugliest old women ever to come down the D8. "What's your idenification number?"

I stammered, "Uh, actually, I don't know..."

"Well you should know your identification number!" she replied, like that was the end of it. A long pause followed, during which it seemed the whole endeavor might have been fruitless. (I half expected her to say, "Next please!") I just stood there.

"What's the name of the firm?" she finally said.

"Tulip Coffee s.r.o."

"Jak?" My god, if only I'd had a camera ready to capture the expression of disgust and contempt on her face at that exact moment... It was truly priceless.

"Tulip, jako tulipan," I replied cheerfully.

She banged away on the computer and something came up. "Prague 5?" Yes, I said. "Seventy crowns!"

At this moment I took out my wallet and started to remove some cash. Oh my. What a mistake.

"Not here!! Leave your things here, go to the payment window, buy the stamps and then return! Then I'll give you the vypis! Leave your things here!" It was starting to get ugly, because I hadn't the slightest clue where she was trying to send me.

I left the room and poked my head into the next door, where a charming, attractive young woman sat behind a similar desk. "Can I pay here? I just asked for a vypis and the woman said I have to pay..."

The attractive young lady helpfully guided me to the actual payment window, where I purchased my 70 crowns in stamps, returned to the first door, gave the ugly woman the stamps, picked up my things and my vypis, and left. And man, I felt tremendous.
A helpful reader just send me an SMS (text message) informing me that the T9 spelling function on his phone knows how to spell "Rehnquist." Bizarre.
Now why would he want to do that?

The man who has been charged with attacking editor-in-chief of the weekly Respekt Tomas Nemecek, is free, since a court rejected the state attorney's request for taking him into custody for possible influencing of witnesses.
The outrages never cease.