pondělí 31. října 2005

My Photo Page

If you wanna enjoy more pictures from my trips and various endeavors, just visit my photo page at Fotopages.com. The site is regularly updated (well, depends on what you mean by "regularly").

pátek 21. října 2005

Jet Lag

Jet lag, that’s a lot of fun. On the way to the west, one can deal with an eight-hour difference without any problem. In my case, after three shorter nights because of social program (can you avoid Hungarian Dance Festival in Canada?), I had at last one very long night (14-hours) in a mountain hostel; it was just after a rushing hike/run of 1000m elevation within 100 minutes. After that, I was perfectly alright.
On the way back to the east, it’s getting to be a bit harder. Monday morning was my landing time in Prague, and upon arrival I had to do some work immediately at the Institute. Anyway, on Wednesday late night I thought that I’m finally back in GMT. Then I woke up on Thursday… It was neither 7 a.m. (usual time), nor 8 a.m. (wake-up time after a hard day), but 12 a.m. Of course I checked all watches, cell phones and alarm clocks to check if somebody is not playing with me. Well, to be honest, I’ve never experienced that before. The odd feeling is thus last but not least remarkable experience from Canada trip.

čtvrtek 20. října 2005

Canada versus Europe

Across the Atlantic, things are a bit different. Canada is not as shocking as some parts of the US, since it blends European and American influences; yet also here it’s interesting to watch for differences:

  1. Trains. Have you ever seen train with 108 wagons, pulled by three locos in a row?
  2. Warnings. Visiting a park, would you expect hundreds of ”SLOW” signs on the biking roads, whenever a small slope or bend approaches? Not to speak of warning signs at the gondola station up in mountains (”Proceed at Your Own Risk”).
  3. Cars. Ugly, nasty, environmental-unfriendly boxes on wheels.
  4. Roads. Four-line highways are standard even for roads up to gondola station in mountains.
  5. Oil revenues. Alberta province is so rich because of royalties that Prime Minister Klein distributed CAN$ 400 to each citizen of Alberta.
  6. Refineries. The factories are built on large areas; 10 km sq. is no exception.
  7. Cities. Most cities were built as on the green field, so have structure of a chessboard, with streets going north-south and avenues east-west. You don’t get lost unless you interchange street and avenue numbers. (You can also get lost when you don’t change the numbers, but become confused and convince yourself that you must have changed street and avenue numbers. This happened to me, Lucka and Kamila.)
  8. Food. Junk food is real junky. Canadians have it even worse because of socialized health-care, which obviously introduces moral hazard.
  9. Trails. In mountains, you walk for five-six hours and don’t meet any human. On the other hand, you have a good chance to meet some bear, canibou, deer, beaver, and thousands of squirrels.
  10. Phone. One-minute call from National Park to Edmonton (400 km) costs CAN$ 2.5. The machine doesn’t return change. Well, the price is like a call from Prague to some deserted places in mid Africa, or into slums in Bangladesh.
  11. Relieving. You get sophisticated instructions on how to cover and dig your ”droppings” in a national park.
  12. Highway passage. Below highways, there are passages for animals to trespass. They put sand there to study which animals use the passages and how. People can go through as well, but have reserved a special human path (animals don’t follow it because of smell).

Proceed at your own risk!

úterý 18. října 2005

Fashion Police

Myself, living in ivory tower, I tend to wear whatever I just find at hand. But sometimes even I realize that some outfit is totally out. Occassionally, it is so out that it's actually cool. Last weekend, I found such a couple at orienteering event south of Prague. What a style!

středa 12. října 2005

The North American Tragedy in Microcosm

Calgary is a really shocking place. When you are getting close to it, it looks like a slum city. Well, you realize that the houses are not exactly a slum for the lowest class, but a slum of the middle class. The subdivisions of half-million-dollar houses without any single tree look desperately.
An outspoken urban affair writer James Howard Kunstler writes on his blog (quoted by Edmonton Journal, Oct 9), that Calgary is ”an archetypal city of immense glass boxes in a sterilized centre surrounded by an asteroid belt of beige residential subdivisions.” He adds that a typical Western metropolis (though Edmonton is an exception) features poor urban design, with a core of uninteresting glass towers from which radiate districts comprise cookie-cutter homes and big box stores.
Fortunately I spent in Calgary a couple of minutes only. Truly, the first look was horrifying and I hope we never end like that in Europe. Edmonton is much nicer, with a colorful river valley joined by several creeks, parks, and much greener residential houses. Check Lucka’s photo pages to see how beautiful Edmonton can be, especially in Fall.

Back to native teepees!

středa 5. října 2005

Europeum Workshop in Bologna

IES suffered a temporary loss of tons of brain power when Professor Turnovec (nickname Francesco), Roman (Branco) Horvath, Adam Gersl and me visited Bologna for an Europeum Workshop. The Workshop as such was amazing, and I do not hesitate to say that I much liked the political economy sessions. Most people there were post-doc or junior department members, so we could have a feeling of doctoral "underclass", but in fact the atmosphere was warm and discussions pretty focused and helpful.
Bologna is special in several respects. The city retains the original Renaissance layout with dazzling porticoes. The parade is almost 40 kms long, with the single longest one of 2.5 kilometres. Rain, not to speak of snow, is no danger for pedestrians. Speaking of architecture, the city is full of romantic lanes, lively markets, and fascinating churches. The most famous is Basilica di San Petronio, which once threaten to be bigger than St Peter's Cathedral Rome, so the pope forbid to finish the building. See the photo shot below.
Another intesting feature here is...politics. Communist have been ruling the city for decades, therefore it is not so difficult to buy here entire Marx Capital (what a wasteful production!). Yet citizens apparently don't complain. At least there is a curiosity - Bologna is the only place in the world with a statue of Alexander Dubcek, the 1968 Communist Prime Minister in former Czechoslovakia.
The unfinished Basilica
City Hall on Piazza Maggiore

Ceiling of our villa room

Marx is not dead (fortunately only in Bologna)