Category Archives: Uncle Davey's Warsaw

The City I call home. (Unlike Hemel Hempstead, which is the Town I also call home)

Conclusions from the Euro 2012 competition.


Poland: visa and stamps

Poland: visa and stamps (Photo credit: Sem Paradeiro)

So now finally, the inevitable has happened. The long-awaited competition jointly hosted by Poland and the Ukraine has come to an end, the teams and fans and the organisers have all gone home, that is those who weren’t home in the first place.

What conclusions can we draw from this competition? For each of us no doubt the conclusions will be unique and personal, but some of the ones I have reached are as follows:

1. England has in fact got a very good football team, however we do need for them to learn a few games other than football, especially the one involving the goalkeeper simply trying to save a ball which somebody’s kicking into the net from point blank range.  It would appear impossible to win a football tournament without knowing the other game also.  It seems tantamount to having a chess competition in which one grandmaster, unable to do more than stalemate the other grandmaster, suggests a game of draughts in order to decide the competition.

2.  The organisations which are responsible for arranging these competitions have turned into huge molochs whose every whim must be obeyed even by the state servants who are paid out of everybody’s taxes, and also by elected politicians.  People seem so desperate for their cities to be hosts to these huge competition is that normal democratic considerations – as in does anybody actually want this – are swept aside, and the people of the place put to amazing inconvenience in order to be able to host these events. Nobody seems to be in a position to present a business plan that shows whether a place is likely to be better or worse off for hosting an event. Also UEFA were able to stop people filming in public places as well as block routes to and from work for people.

3. The conception of Poland in the Western part of the EU wasn’t necessarily helped by being twinned-up with a CIS nation in order to run the show. The Ukraine got to host 17 of the 33 matches, a slight majority, as they had the final in Kiev, or Kyiv as they insisted on spelling it on the boardings around the pitch, like we didn’t already have a perfectly serviceable word for the place in English. There was no difference in quality of broadcasting and filming at all in the various game locations, and the camera work and cutting were of the highest quality I’ve ever seen. However, Poland played host to thirteen of the sixteen teams. One of the three teams in the Ukraine was of course the Ukraine itself as indeed one of the teams to choose Poland was Poland itself, so effectively Poland quartered 12/14 of the visiting teams and 5/7 of the visiting teams whose matches were played in the first part all in the Ukraine. This included England of course, who were based in Nowa Huta, an unlikely destination as that place has Stalin nostalgist tours running to it out of Krakow to show what communism used to look like.  The destinations chosen by visting teams really seem to have done their utmost to welcome them and whole towns in Poland have been decked out in colours of such countries as Greece, Portugal or Italy.  The hotels where the teams stayed have been inundated with post-tournament accommodation requests, with holidaymakers willing to pay top zloty to be in the room where their favorite football star stayed for the tournament.

4. Mr Platini who is the UEFA top brass had a lot of praise for Poland and said that this tournament had set the standard that everyone from now on would have to measure up to. He had great praise for the hospitality in Poland. He called the Ukrainian hoteliers “crooks and robbers” for upping their prices during the tournament, which seems to be a fine case of double standards seeing how official merchandise from his own UEFA is much more expensive than unbranded merchandise of the same quality.   Ecuadorian Radio Sports Commentator Alan Heath went on record saying how he was glad to see that a man like Platini, making several millions of EURO, could still find the time to criticize ordinary men and women who were trying hard to scrape together an existence.

Captions, anybody? Please give your humorous caption in the comments below!

5. Platini has also caused controversy since the tournament by suggesting that instead of countries winning and then appointing cities, individual cities, 12 or 13 of them from around Europe, will each bid to host some matches. The potential for bribery and corruption given that way of doing this will escalate tremendously, and so my congratulations go to Mr Platini’s personal advisers for dreaming up that one for their client. That’s real thinking outside the box.

6. It seems that if you want a road built in Poland, you need to wait for twenty years waiting for it and driving on overcrowded back roads with your life in your hands, and then when a football tournament comes along suddenly it will all magically be finished on schedule.

7. Polish people really care about whether they look good in the eyes of people from other countries. The Ukrainians were much less worried about that and just expected people to take them as they found them.

8. The police in this country are quite clever and capable of handling a situation with balance and without undue provocation, while putting the right amount of resource on the street.

9. International media are only interested in stories about yobbery and violence among fans, and immediately put out with relish the few such scenes that occured in Poland. They had very little to say about the 99.9% of the interactions of strangers on the streets in Warsaw, which were friendly and cordial, and frequently ended in sexual intercourse, if what I noticed is anything to go by. I don’t see the international news networks reporting on that. Likewise there were all these reports about likely racial abuse from Polish fans, whereas in fact there were no such incidents. Will the networks now kindly offer Poland an apology?

10. I still don’t understand the offside rule, and often get the impression that people make up the rules of football as they go along. Some goals that were disallowed, some things that were fouls and didn’t look like it or which were not fouls when they did – all of this adds to the impenetrable mystique of this game.

If you’d like to see my full coverage on film of the impact of EURO 2012 on Warsaw, please look up the EUROWARS series on http://www.youtube.com/usenetposts. In due course they’ll also be up on here as their own category.

Selling my car – because I am trying to lose weight


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It is a Chrysler Grand Voyager diesel registered in 2005 but only used from 2006. Always garaged and well-maintained. Has been very reliable and a pleasure to drive. But now I try to walk to work as much as I can and prefer to avoid driving. I have been so successful at that that I don’t use it enough now to justify the running costs and so we decided we can do without a car altogether. It has under 107,000 km on the clock and I am asking 33,000 PLN which is a quarter of the new price for a car that still has half its life to go.

Night Storm over Warsaw


Playout date: 6 October 2006
Camera: Fuji Finepix
Post Production: Windows Movie Maker – slight use
Location: Home – 12th floor of building
Other people featured: None
Genre: Environmental
Music used: Andrey Vinogradov – Kak na Moriul
Languages used: Bialorusian, English
Animals featured: None

It was a pretty active storm, with plenty of lightning. This year we’ve had several like this, but this was 2006, and back then it was more of a rarity. The hurdy gurdy music by Andrey Vinogradov also attracted a lot of comment over on YT.

Zachód słońca z okna mojego biura.


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Tak właśnie wyglądało w czwartek.

From my garden this afternoon (from Android phone)


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Convulvulus in flower, and the bees are out in force. Leaning on the sides of the tunnel, they seem almost drunk on the nectar.

Gay Rights March Warsaw 2010 – surprise surprise!


I had to go into work at the weekend and one of the things that that old office had about it is that whenever you were there on a Saturday there’d be something going on. Recently I filmed the Bikers’ Critical Mass from the same window on a VAT quarter when I had to be there on a Saturday.

Anyway, I put this video together both in the commentary and in the labelling on YouTube claiming that tyhis was the Gay Rights March in Warsaw.  Well it’s been up for months and nobody has said anything, although of course it may be that someone has twigged and just kept stum about it.

Does this look or sound like the Gay March? What it was in fact was the anti-gay march. They were coming out of the forest there and congregating and getting ready to confront the main march – which indeed they did as you can see from news reports the same day.

Interesting is what they are shouting “Polska dla Polakow” – Poland for the Poles. I think these people need to focus on one thing at a time: either they should be making a protest march protesting at the fact that some people are gay, or they should be making a protest march that 1 million of their compatriots don’t live in Poland but somewhere else in the EU, and urging society to make jobs so that these people can come back. I think mixing the two “wateks” just shows a certain confusion of thinking on their part.

So here we have it – stay subbed to Huliganov TV! Here’s where you get the real back story to the videos that go up on Usenetposts channel on YouTube!

Concert for Polish Grandparents


One of my Polish viewers who now lives in the UK didn’t believe that concerts on Grandma and Granda‘s day (near the end of January) are marked with concerts all over Poland, as she didn’t remember any from her school days.

The fact is that this piece of Polish charm was actually imported from the United States during the 1980s! It seems like the typical piece of socialism hangover, but the funny thing about Poland in the eyes of an Englishman is that a lot of things which we are tempted at first glance to write off to the Communist era actually has a completely different explanation.

That’s why you still see May holidays, Red plaques by buildings, military parades all over the place, grandparents’ day concerts and the habit of putting the water in the cup in restaurants without the bag – which I always assumed to be an East Europeanism until I got precisely the same in the States. Some of these things which the British would wave off as Sovietisms actually come from a totally different direction.

Frédéric Chopin

If Freddy Chopper had really liked Warsaw, nobody was stopping him staying! As it was he left even despite the fact that Konstancja was there. That's how desparate he was to go...

ANYWAY, this was Sophie’s first ever piano recital in front of a hall full of people. We thought she was going to be given a proper piano and not this joke of an instrument. Notice also how the music teacher doesn’t give any credit for the talents of the piano playing kids to their teachers (Sophie’s teacher is sitting with Irina and me in the audience cringing with the amateurishness of it all) as naturally there is nothing of the sort available in the State curriculum. The appalling song at the end about Warsaw being Chopin‘s city (which he dreamed of nothing but escaping, despite his liking for one girl there) which has been shoved out at kids in all the Warsaw schools just as a recorded karoke piece – although the sheet music is available on the internet just in case any Warsaw school music teacher can actually read musical notation.  Some pieces were played by the music teacher not on the tape recorder, that fine baroque instrument, but on a guitar of which 1 of the 6 strings was absent and I think she knew a good 4 or 5 different chords.

I didn’t write all of this in the YT description and discussion, I’ve saved it for here as I like to give you a separate perspective on here, or why would you come? The videos are all on YT and some of you have already watched them once.

Please add your thoughts on musical education in schools, including answering the poll on what the government policy should be.

 

Yom Kippur 2010


This is a Reformed Judaism service, in full. It would not have been permitted to record in an Orthodox setting. It’s the Friday Night Yom Kippur service in the Warsaw Beit.

In order to protect the privacy of worshippers, the image is obscured.

These tunes and prayers are hundreds and sometimes thousands of years old, unchanged, enjoy.

Don’t miss the enlightening explanations and sermons by the Rabbis. They tell a few fine stories in this service!

Diary of a New Decade #3 – 10th January 2011 – Mummers and Pappers


Mummers in Exeter, Devon, UK, 1994.

Mummers in Exeter, Devon, UK, 1994. Image via Wikipedia

Well it’s been a week since I did a post in this particular series, the DND series. Not much has transpired in that time. I went to Tczew and came back again, and there was a holiday on Thursday 6th January for Epiphany. That may be the best thing to talk about. The other thing probably worth talking about is the controversy around the large scale die offs of blackbirds and drumfish and turtledoves, which I looked into a bit at the weekend.

Language-wise I did some Czech and some Japanese, and I finished the Michel Thomas Advanced Japanese course, which I can recommend well enough as a course, but I have to say that calling it advanced is nothing short of laughable. There are a heap of structures that still need to be learned. The neutral forms of the verb and the bases were not even touched upon and the past tense and negative pasts of -i adjectives were not used. Moreover, the difference between na adjectives and -i adjectives before a noun were not looked at at all. I can only hope that there will be a so-called vocabulary course – the way the new Michel Thomas language series describes the third lot of rather dear CDs.

I read some rather negative reviews of the Advanced Japanese course on the UK Amazon – more pleasant ones on the US Amazon including one by a friend of mine whom it was a pleasure to bump into by chance reading Amazon reviews. My own view is that I can see where some of the negative comments were coming from but they are exaggerated. It is very good material, and a lot is packed into the hours you can physically get onto 4 audio CDs, if that has to be the constraint. Only don’t go calling it Advanced Japanese, especially bearing in mind not one single kanji and not one single kana has been explained and not even the issues surrounding syllabification and also the series and how shi, chi, tsu and fu appear instead of what you might expect in the sounds tables.

These are really basic things needed if you want to get at real Japanese. The person finishing the Michel Thomas course will discover they will have to go right back to the start again if ever they want to be anything more than functionally illiterate in Japanese. I’ve started now the Michel Thomas Greek course and that is really making strides at a faster pace. Again, nothing really about the alphabet, so a person relying on that won’t be able to read anything, but maybe in Greek that is easier to overcome.

I also have major misgivings about a few things in the Michel Thomas method. I do think that it has advantages over a lot of other methods, even Pimsleur, as far as being an audio-only course goes. But I do feel as if it is building so much in a short time that it rely pushes the short term memory. I wonder whether the students who did those course on the recordings actually retained it all for more than two weeks afterwards. I should say not more than 30% of it. But you can get round that as a learner by doing the course and then coming back to it again after letting the knowledge lie fallow for more than 2 weeks, and reactivating it all again. Rinse and repeat a few more times.

I was going to talk about Epiphany or Twelfth Night as a holiday. I noticed that people were regarding it as a Church holiday even though the Bible does not say which day this ‘showing’ of Jesus Christ was, whether it was the eighth day (which was traditional for the circumcision) or the twelfth day, who can say? But what we can say is that in pre-Christian Europe there were two twelve day long festivals, one around the winter solstice and the other around the Summer solstice. In the older calendar the final or twelfth night in the winter one of these fell on New Years and was a general party and carousal, with people dressing up.  This was simply carried over into the Church by an act of syncretism.

Generally speaking Roman Catholicism is happy to soak up and “christianise” just about anything the Pagans threw at them. It was so with turning men into saints, it was so with the goddess worship with Mary being placed into the role of Gaia/Isis/Diana, it was the same with the placing of the date of Christmas (at least there was more guidance over the celebration of His death and resurrection because the Jews still celebrate Peshach, but why did they give this time the entirely Pagan name of Easter?) So this is just another example of the way Polish Roman Catholics are ready to place religious holidays at every single one of the Pagan dates that have been syncretised into the so-called church calendar (including the non-biblical Assumption of Mary on 15th August – the date which coincides with many Pagan devil-worshipping dates worldwide such as O-Bon, the time when the Japanese believe that for 33 years (notice the significance?) after a person’s death, they come and spend three days (August 13th to August 16th) with their old families. This strange reversal of some of the beliefs about Jesus Christ’s life and death almost appears to be diabolical mockery. Doesn’t stop Roman Catholics from revelling in it, though, and choosing it as their time of year to go on Hajj to their various mariolatric meccas, trudging sometimes hundreds of miles in the searing heat to please God doing something He never once commands in scripture, whilst many of the explicit commands are overlooked, like not having graven images, like calling no man father, like not forbidding to marry, and many more.

And how the Devil, who manipulates people to do these things, laughs.

There’s nothing intrinsically Christian about 6th January. There is something intrinsically pagan about twelfth night, and there is some astrological thing that goes on that I don’t even want to remember or understand, but which you can look up if you like. The carry over of the baccanalia from that time into the mumming of the Christian era is clear even from the traditional costumes worn by the mummers, which follow those used in the pre-Christian era.

Anyway, we’ve all been forced by the Catholic Church to participate in this pagan holiday.

I used quite a bit of it having a walk with my son, and I also gave him a walk on Saturday and a really big one on Sunday, when we took a taxi to the old town and walked back. Those three times in total gave us about 14 km over those three days worth of walking, and I do feel that it’s done me some good. The good thing about my son is that he walks about the same pace and just enjoys the walk, he doesn’t run off. And then he is well behaved after as he has been able to use his energy up, although generally speaking he is not as tired as me.

As there is not that much conversation going on I can also listen a bit to the Michel Thomas courses during the walk. All in all a good way to spend time, but it was cold on Thursday and only gradually got a bit warmer over the weekend. At about 5-6 degrees Celsius most of the snow started to melt, but there are large puddles everywhere and of course the contributions to society made by the communion of dog-owners comes much to the fore, all melting in the water and mixing in with the sand that is laid down so that you can tell sometimes where the sand starts and the canine detritus finishes.

I was also going to talk about these big die-offs reported in the Internet and a bit in mainstream media. But perhaps it can wait for a later post. I will come to that, though.

Diary of a New Decade #2 – 3rd January 2011


The Treaty of Rome signing ceremony, at the Pa...

The signing of the treaty of Rome on the Capitoline hill, Rome. The reincarnation of the Roman Empire under the selfsame people who signed in Philadelphia.

If all goes well, this will be another technological first for me – this time the first post written on and posted from a train.

Anyone who has spent any time on my You Tube channel will know that I have made a number of films on trains before. In point of fact, I have made films on this very route before, on more than one occasion.
But right now, as my Creative Vado got wrecked by my son before Christmas while my wife was in hospital getting her mitoxantrone, I don’t even carry a camera, although this phone also has one and produced the shots of our New Years Day meal that you can see a couple of posts ago on this very blog.

But that is not the same as a dedicated HD video camera. So I did order another Vado, especially as I had just bought a lens kit for it and a couple of other accessories. The problem is that Amazon won’t ship electric goods to Poland. As a US company, they couldn’t care less about the free movement of goods in the EU enshrined in the Treaty of Rome. They probably respect all their own constitutional stuff very well, but have no idea how insulting it is to Europeans to have our highest laws entirely disregarded by US corporations doing business here. So I would have had to buy the replacement camera from the online creative.pl store, where it costs more than twice as much as in the UK Amazon.

So I bought it from Amazon, and asked my parents to send it on. Hence the shipment time has been doubled. It should arrive any day now, though.

Back to this train journey – I am in one of those good trains, an Atrocity, or whatever it is they call them, but this one seems to be stopping in fields every ten minutes.this may have something too do with the snow, but this train came to Warsaw from Krakow and arrived right on time.

I am supposed to be going to Tczew for a stocktake. This is the sixth year I have done this stocktake at this place at this time. In the first four years I drove up by car and that would take a big effort. One of those years I found myself driving through the thickest blizzard I have been in outside Russia. And then finally I started to use the train and things got a lot safer. You can complain about delays, but at least you don’t usually end up dead as often as you do in a car when conditions are treacherous.

And one thing’s for certain: there’s no way I could have written this post while behind the wheel of a moving car!

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