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Something I started to do in 2011 for posts that were typical blogging of what was going on, but in the end I didn’t do enough of them to make a very full “diary”. but still I use it from time to time if I’m blogging something going on at the time.
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.
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.
I actually stopped the car at the time when Camping said it was going to happen so as not to cause an accident. I didn’t believe that anyone knew the time of the Rapture, and said as much to people who asked me – namely that the End will come when we don’t expect it to, as Jesus said. Nevertheless, one tries to be humble even in one’s non-dogmaticness about it, and so just in case Camping was correct, I did park up in Berlin with my daughter.
The time went by and we were both still there, as we expected to be. If I had been on my own I would have been worried that God had rejected me as not faithful enough, but as my daughter was still there I knew that it simply hadn’t happened, as she certainly would have gone. I was worried about being left there next to her clothes. But when six o clock came and went, we both just felt sad because we were hoping that our Saviour might have come and taking His own to be with him, but as it is we are still waiting.
Luther is accredited with saying (whether he said it or not I don’t know but it’s not in his writings, which is more than you can say about a lot of nastier things like his Antisemitism) that “If I knew the world would end tomorrow, I’d plant a tree today”. I hope that there are lots of new trees planted this month, and that they grow on anyway. I hope as well that Mr Camping will do his best to relieve the sufferings of those who gave away their possessions in anticipation of 21st May. It’s reported that Camping himself made 80 million dollars out of it. I don’t know whether this is true or a lie but the fact is that the accusation has been levelled in the press and now it’s up to Camping to explain himself, his finances, and make what amends he can.
Those who lived more godly lives in anticipation of 21st May, I hope they manage to keep up the new, higher standard, and don’t go back to old sloppy ways now that the heat is off. Especially me.
In many respects, the life of Christ depicted in the Gospels echos the history of the people Israel. Once of the aspects strongly identifying the person of God the Son with Israel is that in his very youth he is taken to escape disaster from Israel into Egypt, echoing the escape of Joseph’s family into Egypt to escape the famine in Israel. Later on other Pharaohs appear who do not know Joseph, and it culminates in the Pharaoh at the time of Moses, who oppresses the Hebrews and is forced in the end to let them go home. In the same way regime change – in the case of Jesus’ life the removal of Herod – enables Christ’s family to return to Israel from Egypt.
In the Bible, Zechariah 14.2 to be precise, you will read a prophecy of all nations gathering against Israel to fight. This verse has remained in every copy of the Bible ever printed, even through the hundreds of years when there was no Israel and atheists would have used it as another one of their “proof texts” against the veracity of scripture. The most savage enemies of the state of Israel are the Islamic States, with a notable exception in Egypt. The regime change now occasioned against Hosni Mubarrak, whatever his faults may be, is this a symbol that the final battle is now coming? The most influential Arab state that had been keeping peace with Israel is now in turmoil, and some other states, like Iran, are claiming that the unrest has an Islamic revolutionary character and are calling on Egypt to wipe Israel out. So now all the surrounding nations would be hostile, and a situation emerges where the prophesy of Zechariah 14.2, which many people believe to be an end times prophesy.
1And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
2And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
3And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. Read the rest of this entry
OK, I got to the end of January making a post each day so at least one month of the resolution has been achieved.
However, instead of driving views, the regular postings seem to be actually diminishing the daily views, and my stats have actually shown less in January than they did in December, in the time before daily posts.
Is the readership telling me that less is more? By all means let’s have your comments on whether you welcome the Postaday challenge being followed by this vlog, whether you’d prefer less width but more quality, or whether you don’t care either way.
I wanted to say just a couple more things to you today as we come to the end of January. Firstly, this is the month in which I have piloted a couple of new ideas, mainly ones that I planned to do, some that came along unplanned and I will just re-write my plan to include them as I would have done if I had known about them earlier.
One unplanned thing was that I discovered the website http://www.readthekanji.com – it is a very well constructed staged repetition system including all the cards and materials and all the research done, really the ultimate resource for learning Japanese and once you get the hang of it very addictive. I am seeing how far you can go with the free sample – it’s given me a good twenty hours’ worth of drilling so far, and I don’t think I’m even a half way through what you can get on the free trial so that seems very fair – I already made up my mind to buy a proper annual sub as they really do deserve it, but in the mean time I just wanted to see what happens if you just keep going until the JLPT 4 vocab is all at 100%.
It seems to be fairly close to Ebbinghaus compliant as far as the repetition algorithm is concerned. I’m not sure if there is a bit of supermemo style code in there or not.
So I am quite happy to admit that it is a good alternative to the gold list method for Japanese. The only advantage that the Goldlist might have here is that you don’t get your hand in, you type Romaji and the Java interface magically turns all the answers into Hiragana. Sometimes you have to watch out to make a double n for “n”, and care needs to be taken over some of the bya, cha, etc characters (the ones with the small soft vowel following) as the way I was expecting to write them different from the way the programme accepts them, but you can always see the right answer if you get it wrong the once.
So January seems to be a good month for piloting. Now is the last day and after three months of not using my car I also got it back today and paid a huge amount for the repair. But I will need to drive it tomorrow, and I needed to get it working.
So I’ll pilot my own car, as well.
And “Lost” final series started to show on Polish TV – all in all a month full of pilots.
So it reminds me of the song by the group Pilot about January, from way back in 1975:
When I was 11 years of age, I thought that the lyrics “January, sick and tired, you’ve been hanging on me” was all about how this dingiest month of the year seemed to go on forever.
Now that I am old I assume that the lyrics refer to a woman, but I still don’t fully understand whet the poet is getting at.
I think I’ll stick with my initial interpretation.
January is now nearly over, and a good thing too. The days will be getting longer day by day and there are only four weeks of February to go until it’s March.
February and March are both quite capable of delivering challenging conditions in Poland, but we will have to see how we fare. November gave us one of the earliest starts to a really tough winter, so we are now I’d say just over half way there. We have to just grit our teeth and work hard and not notice, and soon Spring will be here. I’ll be able to go and use my terrace again and the pleasant days will be here again.
And I have to use every opportunity to walk and lose weight, which was the idea of not repairing the car in the first place, but now I have places to go that aren’t well served by trains.
Let’s see how it develops. Please give me feedback on whether to keep up with the daily postings.
… but nevertheless that’s what happened last night. I don’t think he meant anything by it as I have never received this treatment at his hands, or paws, before.
But it did give my wife the excuse she needed not only to change the bedding, but also to reorganise all the furniture in the bedroom, so that the cabinet my grandfather made (probably from twocked materials as he was a bit of a wide boy by all accounts) is now on my side of the bed, and the Japanese step cabinet from reclaimed teak is on my wife’s side. This apparently creates a lot of space, although I will have to see how I feel about it after I have put it to the test by sleeping there, which will happen in the not too distant future. but first I have to watch Lost…
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.
So here I am embarking on the first of many posts for this year. I woke up ridiculously late this morning, in fact I’m not sure that morning is actually the correct word to use, and the first thing that I thought about was to make sure that I drank coffee before breakfast because we had planned to use the red caviar that my wife’s sister recently brought from Russia for our first breakfast in the year.
Now I don’t know about you, but personally I don’t like drinking coffee straight after eating red caviar. Or black caviar for that matter with the slight proviso that I don’t buy black caviar. I worry too much about the plight of the sturgeon, and also I don’t even like it as much as I like the red caviar which comes from the salmon, and is not endangered in the way that sturgeon-derived caviar is. It is a little bit endangered but then so is everything little bit endangered. Whereas sturgeons are more than a little bit endangered.
So I took my coffee without sugar, and perceived on my weight loss initiative. I should say that I weighed in last night just before midnight at 131.6 kg. This means that in 2010 I lost the grand total of 0.4 kgs. Before you laugh and pour scorn upon my weight loss efforts, I have to say this is a bigger success than you might think. I am perfectly capable of adding on 40 kg in the course of a year just be eating what I feel like and not watching what I am about. So all I really need to do is redouble my efforts and there should be a healthy weight loss. Anyhow the target is 101,6 for the year – a loss of 30 kg.
But I decided not to be weighing myself every day or week, I decided to make that a monthly event. For the first month to be on track I need to lose about 4 or 5 kg. It does slow down as a diet progresses, you see. I will not be crash dieting, just burning more by walking instead of using the car (which remains unrepaired while I get my teeth repaired, which appears to be a long-term construction project) and having smaller portions. The key is to avoid the things which are simply empty calories, to eat less at meals so that I still think I probably haven’t eaten enough when I push away from the table, to leave food when given too large portions, to order fewer courses, and to drink water instead of juice or anything with calories in it.
Calories taken in as fluid are a particularly deceptive thing – you don’t feel full but you’ve had some of your food allowance.
Anyway, I did some Czech Goldlist and then went for a walk with my son, George. He is a bit snuffly so it was a short walk. The weather is about plus 2 outside but there’s a bit of a wind so the so-called chill factor was much in evidence. I listened to the Michel Thomas advanced Japanese course a bit while walking. I do think it’s very good despite some of the mean reviews it had on Amazon.co.uk. One person didn’t get on with the presenter’s Irish accent, but I find it quite endearing, so I do. I know Paddy O’Donohue would love it. He would probably be wanting Niamh to be his colleen if he wasn’t already wanting Enya to be.
And then I came home and had some soup and one of my wife’s ‘kotlyety’ (Russian meatballs) and then it was now!
Hopefully that wasn’t too boring, as there’s plenty more where that came from, so there is…