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Monthly Archives: February 2019

Some Q&A about Betta splendens or Siamese fighting fishes (Quora #3)


A couple of Saturdays ago I started a series which was intended to reproduce my inputs on Quora over here on this blog, as a repurposing and collating of them as well as a way of making sure I don’t lose my own content.

As explained last time to group answers around themes and I have a little sheet where I am preparing them for these Group posts, based on the format I’ll be doing today.

Please remember that my answers vary a lot from facetious to informative usually depending on my mood, the time available and what I think about the question. Be prepared for a rather broad range of approaches to questions.

Male Crowntail Betta by Wikipedia User Anandrajkumar

If you want to discuss or ask anything else around these themes, please get a discussion going in the comments. It’s what the comment facility is there for. I hope it is not onerous to log on and make some kind of utterance.

As mentioned in the title, the theme for today is Betta splendens, and these answers were given by me all in late 2015 or the first half of 2016.  It seems very random that I emerged as an expert on this species in Quora as I haven’t had an awful lot of them myself but I do know a thing or two about them.

1. What’s a good way to keep the temperature constant in a small fish bowl for a Betta?

Personally I would not keep him in a bowl at all. Just because an aquarium fish is hardy and will accept unnatural temperatures without dying and can breath air so that it is not affected by poor oxygenation it does not mean that the quality of life of a fish will be pleasant in a bowl.

A person needs to deserve to be looking after animals, you know, and the basis of that deserving is giving the animal a pleasant life. I would give a Betta a heater/stat and filter, gravel and plants and decent lighting and regular water changes and good food just like any other aquarium fish.

The specifics for Betta males is you can’t keep two of them together and you should avoid keeping them with fish that are likely to nip their lovely flowing fins. But you can keep them with small catfishes like Corydoras or Ancistrus no problem. I think it is nicer for them to have that kind of tank mate than be stuck on their own.

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Much Ado About Polish #4 – a question of “communication”.


Maybe in the future, when I read over this article again, it will all have blown over and will seem like another Y2K big fuss over nothing, but right now, in February 2019, with Brexit a month away and no major plan still in sight after 95% of the time available for negotiation has been wasted, it looks actually very tense for British people in Poland and Polish people in Britain.

In fact, Poland has been one of a minority of countries making generous overtures to the British living in their land that nothing bad will happen, they will get a transitional period and be able to get residence if they have been here a while.  At this point I said that finally the moral debt incurred when the UK allowed Poles full working rights on entry to the EU when all the axis powers, Germany and France especially, blocked them for years in a way not known when they had their own referendum on joining, but we UK or Irish people (soon followed by Sweden and Spain) had no returning advantages over the Germans or French living in Poland. As far as the UK is concerned, the concern that Poland has had to let us know that we are still welcome has gone a long way to cover that. Although some may say that 800,000 Poles in the UK are closer to their heart than 8,000 Brits in Poland, many of whom by the way already did obtain Polish citizenship or who have rights accorded to them by virtue of marriage with a Polish citizen, which is not my case, although I do intended to apply for Polish citizenship.

What is not so clear, though, even with Poland’s display of goodwill, is the issue of whether we will be able to exchange our driving licences so easily or indeed drive on our British driving licenses after leaving the EU. Probably we are not going to penalise them for their EU licenses. After all, before 2003, they could use their licenses in the UK and nobody really policed the issue of whether they changed thsdrem after a specific period. The idea was that people were supposed to be allowed to drive around wherever they liked, as part of the general freedom of movement. After all, it is hard to talk about freedom of movement and then have Soviet style restrictions on driving from region to region in your car.

As it is now, in February 2019, UK citizens can still simply exchange for any other country’s licence in the EU if they live there for six months or intend doing so. I am talking in rough terms. In fact you are supposed to do so, so as to make it easier to get your points if you are driving in a particular part of Europe and we farm animals should make jolly sure we don’t make it harder for Old Farmer State to get a full bucket of milk out of us, nevertheless if you do decide to “laisser passer sous silence” this petite nuance of EU living in practice nothing happens. I did have the police moaning and groaning about it, but given the way the laws are set out in a way that smacks more of guidance than absolutes, the Polish police were not ready to take anything further and were content to take the money without the points, this being, after all, what is most important to Farmer State, be that in Poland, the UK, anywhere you like to mention. They can’t give themselves pay rises out if drivers’ penalty points.

In the looming uncertainty of Brexit though, in which Heisenberg might as well stand in for Juncker, Tusk, May et al for all the uncertainty it is giving us, in fact I would not be surprised if the noted physicist cum drug dealer came back from the dead and launched a leadership challenge to the 1922 committee, things start to take a different turn.

I decided I had better change it while I am still entitled and while it is still easy and get at least one EU ID doc I can flash around and not get the worst case scenario maybe if everything goes pyriforme at the twentynides of March.

And so I did what is necessary, and I urge any UK readers living in the EU who have this little matter outstanding to go thou and do likewise. It takes a month to do it, we are one month and 12 days away from Independence Day, so you have about 10 days from the date of publishing to get there and do it. What happens after that might be something or it might be nothing, but changing the licence seems to be a personal hedging move with more upside than downside. Even if we need to go back to the UK, I don’t think the holding of an EU license is going to stop anyone driving while they are in the UK, or prevent us from being able to take it back withoout doing lots of tests again, and the tests to be done in Poland are much tougher, including psychometric tests, which we just don’t have.

But this is a Polish language blog series rather than a European Union driving one, so let’s get to the language points which emerged from the exercise.

The first thing is, you need to go to your Urząd Miejski, or Town Office. For those in village areas it could be an Urząd Gminy – Gmina is like a Borough, but not in the sense of a London Borough – the larger Polish cities have Dzielnicy. My own one in Warsaw is called Ochota – after an old Inn on the way out of Warsaw that gave its name, meaning “feeling like something” – and the Urząd Dzielnicy Ochoty is translated as “Ochota District City Hall”. I am not sure what a “District City” is, but okay.  Arriving there in the actually very well-redesigned and renovated building (with full disabled access and very friendly and helpful staff – as well as love-heart sweets to help yourself to for Valentine’s) and saying what I wanted to do, I was given a place in the queue (only one person ahead I hasten to say) for the Wydział Komunikacji.

This means “the Department of Communication”, or at least it looks as if it does, but the usual use of the word in Poland is not so much for communication between people. It can indeed mean that, but there is a perfectly good Polish word “porozumiewanie się” and therefore this Latin term (which loses the double “m” it has all over western Europe in the interests of being true to Polish spelling conventions) is more likely to be heard as one of the words talking about road use, rails, etc., in short getting from a to b. The word “transport” exists and is practically a synonym other than also being used for goods transport. So if you want to talk about traffic you could use komunikacja, or “road movement” which is “ruch drogowy”. The word “Trafik” is used as the name for a bookshop which I think went under a few years back, but it isn’t used for traffic or even drugs trafficking which is “przemyt narkotyków”, or even human trafficking which is “Handel ludźmi”, in honour of Handel’s song on the subject with the lyric “Did you not see my lady?”.

The word “telekomunikacja” exists, but the Company that was the state phone company Telekomunikacja Polska S.A. was bought by the French and included in Orange, as described in the song lyric “Bien sûr nous eûmes des Oranges, vingt ans d’amour ça fait bien de coups de téléphone…”.

So we see a number of false friends going on here. Komunikacja doesn’t necessarily mean communication, which does rather make things difficult for communication. “Ruch” is the main word for “traffic” but is also said when it’s your move, “twój ruch” or turn at Chess. (Backgammon is barely known or played by Poles, by the way).

The actual driver’s licence is a good example of how collocations trump isolated vocabulary in language learning every time. If you know that a driver of a car in Polish is known as a “kierowca” and a licence is usually called “licencja” (in fact numerous words exist depending on what kind of licence we are talkinga bout, but being the cognate form, that’s the one you might think of first rather than “zezwolenia”, “prawo” “koncesja” or all sorts of other permit words that there are. So you might expect the Polish for “driver’s license” (in US English) or “driving licence” (in UK English) might well be “licencja kierowcy”. This is likely to give rise to blank looks in Poland though, and if they do understand they are likely to explain that the term is “prawo jazdy” which in turn iterally means “a right of ride”, which is not really a very precise term as everyone of course has the right to ride along as a passenger, with or without this piece of paper, but this is the term which has become a fixed expression. You will usually find it as the full “prawo jazdy” or just abbreviated to “prawo”.  When the police stop you for speeding or not having your lights on (24/7 all year round in Poland, by the way) then they might come up to your window and say “prawa” – “your rights”. This is shorthand for “prawo jazdy” just as “dokument” is shorthand for your vehicle registration document and “dowód” (‘proof’) is shorthand for your ID card or passport. These tend not to be the meanings assigned to these singe words in dictionaries and so anyone dealing in these situations with the police who has learned Polish with a dictionary only, and not delved into this blog or lived here and learned the hard way, will find their interaction with the police or municipal wardens, “straż miejski” rather confusing. These days, the officers are able to speak basic English as too many people were getting away from their fines by not being able to speak Polish.

There used to be a story told of how a couple of traffic police stopped a motorist and asked him for his dowód, dokument and prawa, and the motorist said he couldn’t speak Polish, could they speak English, then he tried the same in French, German and Italian. Everyone got bored so   they simply let him go. Then the younger policeman says to the older “maybe I should have another go at learning foreign languages” at which the older replies “Why bother? He knew four and it didn’t get him anywhere.”

 

Thursday Poll – Valentines Day


Good morning, and it’s another Thursday, so time for another Poll. Today happens to be Valentine’s Day and so it seems fairly obvious what the topic of today’s poll should be, after all, Valentines Day won’t fall on a Thursday for another 11 years (it’s true, check the calendar if you don’t believe me) it’s either now, or in 2030.

Well I have to say I still hope this blog will be going strong in 2030, and hopefully have more going on ][=[p-than now, but nevertheless it’s quite a long way down the road and one never knows what will happen even this year, let alone in eleven years, it is all in the hands of God.

So there’s no time like the present to participate in a Thursday Poll (remember we vote on Thursdays to honour the British tradition of always having elections on Thursdays, and 60 million people can’t be wrong, can they?) so here it is:bitmoji1565841643.png

 

As always, feel free to comment in the comments area to this post. Please vote and share with all your Valentines.

A small request…


I have mentioned a few times about the images that are in the header. I am not sure that they work in the mobile phone interface of this blog, but they are there in the computer screen version at the top in a kind of long thin crop.

There are about 200 of these and they come up randomly.

Of the 200 about 190 are my own work, here and there are some I can use but are not strictly mine. I was wondering if you can look though a  few of them (done just by clicking on the header to get to the main page or by clicking the refresh button in your browser anywhere, so as to have a look at a few of them, and give me a bit of feedback, whether you think they are good, or not good, and why, whether they add anything to this site. I have to say I do quite enjoy seeing them myself.

Any feedback on these photographic efforts will be most appreciated.

Much ado about Polish #3 – Let get nasal.


Although, as I mentioned in the introduction, this series is not meant to be a course in Polish as such, some discussion of the alphabet is certainly necessary and this will be a topic we will need to come back to on numerous occasions, as the orthography of Polish, when properly understood, not only enables you to pronounce what you read probably but also understand the reason why things are spelled as they are, avoid errors and also spot the history and origins of words.

Attempting Polish Ą and Ę for the first time.

Attempting Polish Ą and Ę for the first time.

Polish is written obviously with a version of the Latin alphabet but there are various adaptions for the particular needs of Polish, which includes hard and soft consonant versions for sibilants, fricatives and liquids, as well as nasal vowels.

We’ll hold back the whole sibilants and fricatives discussion for another time, and for today we’ll just address the issue of the nasal vowels.

In Polish there are two nasal vowels, arguably three but only two are shown, perhaps because o with a line under would resemble Q, but more probably because Old Slavic already had the nasals described in terms of just two, Ѫ known as big yus and Ѧ, known as little yus which in time became У and Я in Russian, as it had abandoned nasal vowels and so had little use for little yus and no major use for big yus either, but most probably there were really three in Old Slavic also.  In French people talk about three, but not to be outdone, there are those who say French has four. I always managed OK with three in French and two in Polish, I have to say. And the two you find in the Polish alphabet are namely Ąą and Ęę.

Nasality basically means there is a reduced ‘n’ after them, n being one of the letters that comes out of your nose. You can think of the little tail on these letters as a reduced n on its side and joined to the letter, and in a sense that’s a very good way of showing in an image what is going on with ą and ę. Read the rest of this entry

Thursday Poll #5 – EU or UK – who’s wearing the trousers?


In today’s news, Mr Juncker has taken any kind of further renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement off the table. The backstop is what it is, so it is, as the Irish say, so they do. or at least Mr Darth Vadarker, the leader of the Teashop or whatever it is they call their parliament, does. It seems we don’t have many friends in Ireland, or if we do, they’re not being very vocal and they may need to go and kiss that Blarney Stone of theirs.

So we are left with two options. The withdrawal agreement was already voted on and ought not to be presented again in this Parliament without amendments and amendments are not forthcoming. Hence we are left with two choices:

1) No-deal Brexit
2) Cancellation of Brexit by the withdrawal of Article 50.

The option of a Second Referendum was taken off the table a long time ago from the government, and no delaying of March 29th is likely to be allowed without a U turn on that.

There being only two remaining options then, here’s today’s Thursday’s Poll:

As ever, please feel free to add your comments below.

Huliganov’s “Almost There”


Original YT playout date: 31 May 2008
Duration: 4:16

A rendition of the Andy Williams number “Almost There”. One of my perennial favorites.

My parents had an Andy Williams album and I used to listen to it as a boy and sing along to the songs quite a bit. So I tend to know some of this guy’s repetoire fairly well. Indeed I would describe myself as an Andy Williams fan and would be happy to visit his birthplace
one day. If there is one artist that deserves the london Philharmonic makeover more than any other (sorry Buddy, sorry Carpenters, I love you too) then this is the one it has to be, and it hasn’t happened yet. I don’t know if it’s in te pipeline, but if someone is in the know then maybe they can get this project going.

I remember once singing this number, or possibly “more” Read the rest of this entry

Huliganov’s Venice Experience #1 – Visionary Sinkers


Original YT playout date: 31 May 2008
Duration: 22:22

This is the beginning of a short series about Venice and actually I am pretty happy about this one, it is, for the technology I had, quite attractively done. Of course I get nowt, as the third party music takes any cash that might conceivably come from the ads they run, but I didnt have really the big picture back in those days. At least I made some nice things I can enjoy looking back on and hope you will also.
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See Lydia Machova’s TED talk – in which the GLM is mentioned. Thank you Lydia.


NTTBS 25th May 2008 (aka “Not the Not the Tommy Boyd Show”)


Original YT playout date: 31 May 2008
Duration: 2:58:08

Enjoy Tom himself in the studio, for the first hour of the night, leading to one of the forum regulars saying tonight should be called the “Not The Not The Tommy Boyd Show”. In the rest of the show we are joined by Isolde, a promising songwriter and performer with a lovely voice, who also performs live as well as showcasing some pre-recorded tracks.

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