Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sunday in Karlovy Vary

Karlovy Vary was founded by Charles IV (hence Karlsbad in German), wiki it yourself . . . but there is a legend that he founded it because he was injured when he fell over a cliff (and the deer he chased and his dog) into a pool of incipient spa water that healed him of his injuries . . . now we know that the unwary traveller drinking this water will have the runs for a week, but apparently that didn't happen to Chas IV . . . 8^D . . . else there would be something besides a spa-town here . . . The Czechs wanted to erect a statue commemorating such an event, but an individual wealthy from Slivovice profits, jumped in and put the statue of a mountain goat up instead of a deer, for his own reasons, so the event is mis-commemorated as only the Czechs can do.

We climbed up to Jelinec Skok to see this monument, but missed it, went too high, to a look out by the grave of Marie Therese Charlotte Dauphine, if you can believe it.

In the left of the photo you can see the Springs Museum, with a functioning geyser inside; in the middle is a park by a local bus stop; at the top in the middle is the 2nd best hotel in KV (hence in Bohemia, hence in the Czech Republic), The Imperial. The best hotel, the Pupp, is off to the right, at river level; our hotel, the Thermal is off to the left, mercifully out-of-sight.

We stopped off at the Eden Cafe, 3/4s down the hill for a restorative Kava & spring water, then marched up the other hill to the Imperial.

On the way up, we passed this rather non-descript installation . . . I can't decide if the artist did too much to create it or not enough, if you know what I mean.

So: the imperial is an impressive hotel, if you're into impressive lobbies, but it just made me hungry for some reason . . . so a quick inquiry confirmed that the buffet was open to outsiders and we sat down . . . the normal protocol for Czech dining "seems to be" that you seat yourself, then order your drinks, then order your food, but they sometimes make exceptions for Americans, with a kind of humorous condescencion, I personally find aggravating, but never mind that.

In this case, we were sitting there a while, when the steward we'd talked to came over and shooed us over to the buffet, and pointed out where the free tea was . . . well, dang, if I wanted tea, I'd go to an old ladies home . . . maybe that's what this place was . . . 8^D . . . I got this Cream of Chicken soup that wasn't horrible, in a refined, little-old-ladies' kind of way, if you know what I mean, but Mrs said not to take a picture of her vegetable soup, wasn't worth it, visually or gastronomically. I enjoyed mine, and eventually the steward came back over to tell us where the tea was again, but I interrupted him in my pidgin-Czech, "Prosim! Male Pivo?"

"Of Course," he said with deep misgivings obvious.

"Pilsner," I pointed to Mrs . . . "Krusovice," pointing to myself. The Krusovice is made locally, and the dark beer I find especially pleasing. Pilsner Urquel, of course, is non-pariel.

Mrs said, "Well, we should get something exotic, if we're going to eat here." So we assaulted the buffet line again. This is what I came away with. I tho't it was eel, but it's some kinda shark with mixed grilled vegetables. I have a picture from a seafood restaurant downtown that had the same shark on display -- might have been the very same shark! -- but I don't have enough words to show another picture, in all the ambiguity that lends itself to.

She came away with Lamb balls -- meaning reconstituted lamb meatballs, rather than anything else such a name might intimate -- and mixed legumes . . . we both felt rather pious and well-treated with such cuisine . . . I suppose for the 500Kc we could have returned to the buffet for more items, but this was plenty, and everything else looked rather ordinarily Czech: shiskabobs, goulashes, dumplings, etc . . .

In between bites, Mrs said, "when we come back to KV, we gotta stay here, instead of the Thermal . . . this is a lot better!" which is not damning with faint praise, but it's not really a contest . . . architecturally or gustatorially or, I expect, financially, but uvidime (we shall see!).

I wound up my lunch with a chocolate mousse, to which I was entitled only by the pious & spartan strength of my main course. Mousse, whipped cream, vanilla wafers, raspberry sauce, and a tube-cookie. I would have killed for a coffee and an armagnac, but they had neither in open view.

So we paid and left, after a quick pit-stop at the necessaries to make us ready for the hike back down the hill to town. Those rest rooms were very nice, also . . . love to see the rooms . . .

So we tramped back down to the Thermal, and over to the pool . . . the famous pool, 1/3 heated by hotsprings to a constant 29 C . . . It was 24C air temp, so that differential is very refreshing . . . very few serious swimmers, thank goodness, mostly bobbers. So we bobbed for an hour and then went out to see the Becherovka Museum. . . missed the english tour, declined the German tour, might've bought some samples, but you can buy those in PRG, anyway, and the clerk was a little surly, but she was dealing with some very indecisive and apparently penurious japanese and russian tourists, that would have tested the patience of Job, so we blew that off anyway, and went off to compleat our collection of cobalt-blue-painted porcelain hot-spring-water drinking mugs. Heaven Help Us.

We had amazingly enjoyed an Indian dinner Saturday, and seen a Thai restaurant near the Eden Cafe, and since we weren't very hungry tho't some Tom Kar Gai would hit the spot . . . but the Thai restaurant just didn't appeal . . . too many chinese dishes on display to be a bona fide Thai . . . so we walked all around downtown twice . . . finally wound up at the Bolero, by the river, a sort of italian bistro . . . with the added entertainment value of watching the waitresses dodge cars, horse-carriages, and pedestrians crossing the street from the kitchen to the riverside seating.

We managed to get our pivos ordered, but we had trouble understanding the waitress when was time according to protocol to order food . . . in desperation, she switched to German, "Essen?"

"Ja, Ja," I confidently riposted, "Wir Mussen Essen!" and we pointed at our orders on the menu, which she clearly understood with relief.

"Danke weilen!" I told her as she left, "Alles is ordnung!"

That was the last we saw of her. Another waitress brought the food and an english speaking waiter brought the check . . . apparently my German is even more execreble than my Czech, and she couldn't bear to hear it anymore. . . 8^( . . .

Altho' these plates look the same, they are not, except in mediocrity . . . not bad, y'unnerstand, just not as wonderful as the other meals we had in KV. Mine was a Penne Pepperoncini, which makes me think I'm getting tiny pepperonis, but in Czech it just means peppers . . . it was amazing hot for Czech cuisine. Mrs' was just chicken in tomato sauce on Penne. humpfh.

We were done for the day, we just didn't know it . . .

Monday Morning Blues in Karlovy Vary

I'll keep it brief.

We all agree that somebody else's complaints about travel are b-o-r-i-n-g . . . and this is mine . . .

we planned to take the bus from Karlovy Vary back to Prague Monday Morning, so as to maximise our fun-time in KV . . . little did we know the whole town shuts down at 8 on Sunday, and that the competition for seats on the PRG express Monday morning is intense, so we were unable to get seats until 10, meaning we would get back after 12, meaning we had 2 hours of killing time . . . which we spent in the "bus-station-bistro". . . I have no idea what the cuisine is actually like, but I was unwilling to tempt fate . . . but if there is a conceptualization of Hades that we can actually realize here on Earth, it must be the hard plastic chair in the grimy stirility of a Czech bus station with a TV blaring American SitComs, re-dubbed in czech: "Friends", "MASH", & etc.

We shudda tooken the red-eye back to Prague Sunday Night.

Je Ne Sais Quoi Outside the Thermal Hotel @ Karlovy Vary

Compared to the ubiquitous nudes everywhere, this has a quality of I don't quite know what, if you know what I mean . . . is it political or sexual or biblical or social? She (?) is set back in the shrubbery looking at the god-awful aspect of the Thermal, a communist-era spa hotel, the best thing of which you can say that the hot-spring fed pool is very excellent -- the worst would be something along the lines that even the Russians in Residence there seem grumpy about something.

SemiNude in the Imperial Hotel @ Karlovy Vary

Lobby Art in the Imperial Hotel

Monday, July 20, 2009

Kampa Museum Nudes

So I can hardly be called a serious art critic . . . nor even a commentator . . . my interests are obviously so juvenilely prurient . . . but my defense is only that these objects d' art are on public display in Prague . . . that they do not attach that stigma to them . . . that they consider them adornments to the public ambience . . . like, I suppose, the teenage tarts I pretend to not see, as they indeed, do not see me, on the trams and trains . . . it is the gestalt of Prague . . . one would have to be willfully ignorant not to see it . . . and I am not . . . I try to keep my voice down . . . I try to avert my eyes . . . but I see, I see, I see . . . and in my blog, I say, I say, I say . . .

Kampa Museum

From the Beckman exhibit at the Kampa Museum . . . there w? ere signs saying no pictures . . . but I discretely took a few shots with my camera phone . . . dodging the security guards . . . then I noticed the video-cams in the corner . . . oops. . .

I just absolutely love & adore this pre-war European aesthetic . . . it's so Cabaret! . . . the freedom of expression combined with the jaundiced eye, yet the not-entirely-unsympathetic POV . . .

who DOESN"T long for the life of the libertine? . . . who doesn't want to abandon themselves ? Is this a condemnation of the petit bourgeousis or a representation of the free-thinking artiste class?

(click on the images for a full-sized rendition)

Is this perversion or subversion?

Is it merely some pre-R-Crumb sort of Porn, or an artistic apprehension of the coming apocalypse?

Do I think it is funny? or is it mere tit-elation ?

Am I just being a dirty little boy, or a worldy aesthete enjoying the delights of a sophisticated display in a world class museum?

Is it juvenile or jaded?

I ask only so many questions, then move on . . .

Sunday, July 12, 2009

End of Communism, I think

Over near Andel, this installation had a plaque that led me to believe it was a representation of emerging from Communism.

Cosmonauts @ Haje

Like Sly Stone's ultimate destination, "I wanna take you higher!" is how you say Haje, so it is only right, when you think about it that this is where this statue of cosmonauts is placed . . . are they Czech or Russian? I don't know. Graffiti has obscured the legend on the bottom of the statue.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Adria Hotel / Triton Restaurant

It was Mrs' birthday, and since we were going to Bermuda for a wedding 2 weeks later, we didn't want to really go whole-hog, but in the end, I couldn't do nothing, so I found this interesting-looking hotel with an interesting-looking restaurant on the internet in Prague on Vaclavsky Namesti, and tho't we'd give it a fling . . . they promised to have Bohemian Sekt and chocolate covered strawberries waiting for us at check-in, so I figgered "what could go wrong?"

Keeping Mrs in the dark as much as possible, I dragged her suspiciously (her, not me) off to the hotel . . . we picked up a couple of Subway sandwiches for lunch on the way, just to keep her off-balance, if you see what I mean -- but it took a half-hour to do that . . . the difference between an American Subway and a Czech Subway would take its own blog entry, if not its own blog.

But we got to the hotel with our overnight bags and our subways and tried to check in.

"Passports, please".

"uh, oh." I had tho't-of and forgotten this, and Mrs was too perplexed by my mysterious plans to have considered such a thing.

"Well," I reasoned with the clerk -- adamantine because of Czech laws concerning non-citizens in hotels -- "can we check in, then I'll run home and get the passports. We just live over by Namesti Miru."

"Of course," he said, but his expression clearly shouted, "You crazy Americans! Why are you checking into a hotel 2 kilometers from your home? Especially one so expensive as this?"

But his inner misgivings remained unexpressed, and we were allowed to go to our room, dine in quaint-and-ancient elegance on subways, Bohemian Sekt, and chocolate-covered strawberries, before we zoomed home on the train to retrieve our passports, and zoomed back.

That done, we did a little shopping for some Bohemian Crystal Champagne Flutes, and window-shopped expensive liquors, books, and hats, just wandering StaroPraha . . . basically, enjoying not-being-sick-anymore and relatively stress-free . . .

We got back to the hotel and relaxed before dinner with another bottle of Sekt and a fruit-plate, and Mrs took a liesurely bath, while I flipped thru the tv channels. WHOA! A scene from the night-life of sodom & gomorrah: a porn channel, in fact, 2, which let you see about 10 seconds, then flashed up a purchase screen . . . I tried flipping between them, but I couldn't follow either plot, so I gave up and just cranked up a CD on my laptop, instead . . .8^D . . .

We had Candlelight Dinner Reservations in the
Triton Restaurant in the hotel . . . which may have been why I'd picked this place. They say:

"As if you were in another world.
The stalactite cave in the heart of Prague, the resident geniuses from 1912, the originality of the original
Art Nouveau interior, the tradition of top-class gastronomy and the classical story in the statues all around you... . The TRITON Restaurant has an unforgettable experience prepared for everyone."
Yeah, it's a grotto 3 levels down from street-level . . . not unlike the Ambiente Pasta Fresca place, only . . . grotto-ier . . . their pictures are better than mine, but mine reflect the genial creepiness of the place better . . . 8^D . . .

I ran around taking pictures in my amateurish way until the maitre'd seemed to insist I sit down and approve-in-advance the heinous cost of the dinner. We had a cozy little table for 2 next to the wine cellar, with a little candelabra lending authenticity to our experience.

The meal started off with a glass of Sekt -- thank god! it had been almost 20 minutes since our last glass and the Mrs gets cranky soon after that interval . . . 8^D . . . then we tinged our glasses as is our wont, looked each other in the eye, and chanted our current toast: "Na zdravny! Keep your panties unbunched!"

"Dang," said Mrs, "we ought to have brought our own crystal . . . I hate to hear a 'clink' instead of a 'tink'."

"I know just what you mean," I agreed, and I'm sure you do, too.

They say the artist that did this restaurant design back in 1912 was a Czech Genius . . . it was amazing how all the little stalactites looked so natural, but I think Czech Genius gets tossed around an awful lot, when Certifiable Fruitcake might be more descriptive . . . I mean . . . Look At It!

It all seems like some sort of Sensory Deprivation experiment, in a way, but Fun! If you see what I mean . . .

We spent the time waiting for our first course happily examining these ornaments from across the room, trying to figure out the gist of them and admiring the stalactiture and reckoning why the mixture of grotto-ness and art-deco . . .

and of course the inevitable salute of Czech Appreciation for Female Pulchritude . . . this is another topic worthy of its own blog -- but I'm not complaining, I'm just saying . . . it must wear on a girl after awhile to have to put-up-with and to compete with these idealized, or stylized, beauties of Klimt and Mouchta, and all their imitators . . .

So here we were, in the grotto, with a full cargo of Bohemian Sekt, in Candlelight, at a starched white table cloth, with as much silverware as my whole family usta use at one meal . . . ready to eat.

They called this course something like Dried Chicken with Avocado -- but I immediately re-titled it Chicken Jerky with guacamole . . . in my life I have had some jerky that I liked, but a lot more that I didn't like, and I guess I'm just not enough of a gourmet to rhapsodize about it . . . I think the brown sauce was like asian plum sauce, which made an odd combination with the guacamole . . . this was a "tasting spoon" course, as you can tell by the picture there. Hmmph.

Next was Seafood Bisque, which ought to have been alright, but then one remembers that the Czech Republic is a land-locked nation, so . . . . seafood is always a potential adventure here . . . note the perfect squareness of the tidbit in Mrs's soup . . . that's right: imitation crab seafood bisque. yeeeeeeecccccccccccchhhh.

Well, we ate it. It wasn't gross or anything, but, I mean, for crying out loud, if you're going to go to the trouble to serve a candlelight dinner in a century-old imitation grotto done up in art-deco style, wouldn't you want to have real seafood in your bisque? We would've.

I've always tho't of palate cleansing courses as an affectation, but we were anxious to scrub our palates after the bisque, so I almost missed any picture at all . . . it was champagne citron sorbet . . . kinda sugary . . . but it wiped away the traces of imitation crab from our taste-buds, so good for us!

Then came the final course: duck breast with dried fruit, namely apricots. I had to call this dish a home-run . . . the duck was absolutely perfect and I am such a sucker for dried apricots . . . go figger. I believe Mrs enjoyed hers, too, which was a definite relief. We had a bottle of red with it, don't remember what, but I always order NZ Syrah if they have it.

Oh, now I remember why I chose this restaurant . . . I wanted to have a glass of their 1912 armagnac that they laid down when the hotel & restaurant were christened . . . unfortunately for me, it was 4000Kc a glass . . . since it was Mrs' birthday and not mine, I passed.

What was weird was that because of construction or something, they served breakfast the next morning down in the grotto, too. Very Unusual.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dobris by Accident

So . . . these entries will be out of order for a while . . . I'm behind because I couldn't come up with a name for the blog . . . the first two I'd picked were already snagged by some squatters . . .

In A Sense, Abroad, which I liked because here we are living in Prague, but in Vinohrady, which is the English-speaking ghetto, so it's like living in NYC, more than anything else . . . if you see what I mean, and then,

Uvidime, which is my current favorite czech word, which can mean "we will see what happens" or "we will see you ..." depending how it's used, which is handy, I'm sure you agree . . .

So -- I have a backlog, but this all happened today.

Big Red wanted to make a road trip . . .she has her new car and wanted to try it out over the holiday weekend, while traffic is light, so we made a list of 3 destinations and set out, thinking, "what the heck, we might do 'em all" . . . the first target was Konopiste Castle . . . just a short jaunt . . . we thought . . .

Big Red has a new Tom-Tom GPS, too, and she had pre-programmed all three destinations, but . . . there was a screen she skipped past, that said, "Do you want to pay tolls?" thinking the default was "yes", but the default was "no", so Tom-Tom routed us around the expected toll-road . . . we had a very interesting drive along the Vltava, past some dam and a large reservoir, thru dozens of charming czech rural villages, but we realized belatedly that we had gone twice as far as we expected to get there when we turned back towards Dobris -- we were fairly sure we didn't want to go to Dobris . . .

we stopped when we saw this field of white poppies, 30 - 40 acres of white poppies . . . I joked it was a CIA operation . . . nobody laughed . . .I wish that blue barn in the back of the field had shown up better . . . it was kinda amazing to see . . . I had to take pictures of the big red poppies too. I think they grow wild. We had seen them along the road during the trip. Those and the tiny daisies. Just gorgeous. But I and the Mrs are suckers for wild flowers.

but we were all starving, realized we had thwarted the Tom-Tom, so we just doubled back to Dobris looking for lunch.

Dobris wasn't much to look at by our American eyes, but we saw a sign for a pizzeria, and Big Red decreed, "done!" . . . but when we walked in, the dilapidation of the place was evident, and the woman in broken English communicated that they had no pizza . . . as we walked back to the car, I bitterly admonished Big Red, "You're not in Prague anymore -- these rural old people don't even like americans, much less speak english!" Which she had to take, heh heh heh . . . 8^D . . .

so there was a wall of adverts facing the parking lot where we were that we puzzled over for a while . . . we settled on one that pointed east 2 klics to a mexican restaurant, but it wasn't a straight shot, and on the way we spied the Chateau Dobris with a restaurant, so we ducked in there. I have to admit to a certain amount of relief that we did not try the Mexican place. . . 8^D . . .

We wanted to sit outside, but the competition for tables there was very stiff in the gorgeous weather for the gorgeous setting . . . I would guess this is an 18th century building converted to a museum, hotel, and restaurant . . . nice place, if you're the Duke or what not . . . 8^D . . .

There was no room in the first inside dining room, and our desperation started to grow, but we found our way into a back room that was done up very fine . . . I had trepidations about the priciness about such a place but the menu prices were fine . . .

Big Red ordered a water (she's driving), but me and Mrs ordered male piva . . . over his shoulder, as he left, the waiter asked "Cerne piva?" . . . but I was ready for him: "Ano! Cerne piva (pointing to me); bila piva (pointing to Mrs)". He smiled approval and went away. Big Red expressed her approval, too, as I basked in my own self-approbation . . . 8^D . . .

When he came back with the drinks, he took our orders: Big Red pointed at the Chicken Stuffed with Langostini & Asparagus, Mrs tried to order the Chicken & Pasta and I tried to order the same as Big Red in Czech, but the waiter cut us off, as kindly and abruptly as he could to keep us from mangling the mother tongue any further . . .8^D . . . so much for my career as a UN Translator. . .

As can be seen from the photo, in part, anyway, this back dining room is very fine, very classy . . . from the glazed looks of the diners finished around us, our expectations started to rise . . . and we hadn't gotten any less hungry . . . so when the food came we tucked right in . . . I almost forgot to take pictures . . .

The chicken stuffed with langostini and asparagus was very good . . . I think it looks pretty good, but I want to be clear: it was very good. The Mrs said that the chicken and pasta was too cheesy for us . . . that is we are watching our diets . . . she said it was like chicken & mac & cheese -- not nearly as gourmet as mine & Big Red's.

After lunch, the girls had lattes and I had a cappacino . . . the lattes come in a tall, clear mug in a layered presentation that is awesome . . . I didn't get a picture before they had stirred them up . . .

Then we had a little walk around the grounds . . . lovely, lovely, lovely . . . there was some plaque out front from which inscription I got 1945 & fascism, so I think this site has some meaning to the Czechs that's not obvious to the oblivious . . . 8^) . . . I didn't check the hotel out. . . I think the lobby must be upstairs and I didna wanna bother, but I bet it's choice, too . . .

The statue of the 18th century soldier is a little kitschy, but the double fish fountain was pretty interesting . . . I don't know what you'd do there on vacation . . . they need a pool, a tennis court, and a golf course, but like I say, there may be more going on there than my american eyes could see.

We didn't scope the museum either, but in the breezeway entrance there was a pair of sculptures, that looked like Eggs with Eyes . . . one was open and the other was closed . . . the closed eye was more interesting -- in ways I can't explain -- but I fat-finger-deleted the picture . . . I don't know why they are different, across from each other in the breezeway in little alcoves, but I think they're cool.

Big Red was put out that we hadn't achieved even one of our goals, but I told her that the trip was worthwhile, for the field-of-poppies and the Chateau Dobris . . . the other trips had just gotten pushed down in the stack, to use a computer term. She agreed.

And you think you had a bad day?

[I don't know why I seem to attract the kind of friend that must one-up me all the time -- I mean, I don't have a lot of friends, but they ALL seem to feel the need to top my stories. It might just be that this fellow felt miffed by my less-than-sympathetic reaction to his begging off dinner the other night]

Waking up this morning I discover that the last remains of my brains are slowly dripping out of my nose. Tthe main part must have come out yesterday judging by the number of tissue boxes I have emptied. So the only solution seems to be to lie flat in bed for a few more hours. At least that does seem to slow down the ‘brain drain’…

Suddenly I wake up by some strange noises and loud barking coming from down stairs – it turns out its not a burglar: the dog is going mad about but my wife and her mum coming home from another successful scavenger trip to the local shopping mall.

Clever m-i-l then leaves the door open while the garage door is still up giving our young and highly energetic kamikaze puppy (yep, she’s Japanese!) the opportunity to make a dash for freedom!

“Quick, run after her” both shout so I grab a leash, some shoes, and the first coat I can lay my hands on and run after the dog. After chasing through the streets, the forest and the snow covered fields, I finally catch the nimble little thing! But walking home I get stopped by two shady looking Czech guys; one of them whips out his wallet, but instead of offering me money he shows me a badge and mumbles something in Czech; the only two words I understand are ‘Criminal’ and ‘Policia’!

After explaining that I do not speak the local lingo he manages to mutter a few words in Czenglish, telling me they are looking for a weirdo who’s been seen walking a dog in our neighborhood.

I then realize that I am wearing a women’s coat over my pajama trousers and still have paper tissue stuck up my nostrils (you know, to stop the brain draining any further); so no wonder they stopped me! It was only when his colleague pointed out that the dog did not meet the description they were given (they where looking for a weirdo with a Dalmatian) that they let me go home!

Coming home the two other girls where so happy to see the dog come home unharmed – nobody seemed to care if I was OK! On the contrary, I now felt much worse than earlier in the morning; that running after the dog must have loosened and liquefied a few more brain cells as the floods suddenly started again after entering the warm house. So back to bed gain and lie flat to stop this!

The bad news is that it is now half past midnight and I’m wide awake having slept so many hours today; the good news the floods have stopped and the brain is still working! And I can watch some tv with nobody questioning my choice of channels!

Am actually looking forward to go back to work tomorrow; just hope I not all of my memory has been drained off! ;-)

Bad Thursday

Train was delayed –it’s still not clear to me what was wrong (All the PAs were in Czech, of course); A* said a train broke down so they had to hold all the trains till they could clear it off the track. I don’t know anything, except I was stuck in the Florence train station with a rugby scrum of commuters for a full half hour, then had to ride a train stuffed to bursting, exacerbating my claustro-xenophobia.

Lunch was too salty – kurecim smes s Zampiony a reze (Chicken with mushrooms and rice) – I said to A*, “I don’t see how you ate it without a beer!” A* said “I like salty, but that was a little much.”

The HR Babe in charge of ReLocation didn’t remember me – she sent me an update today, but acted in her email like we hadn’t met and talked already for an hour . . . possibly, I am over-sensitive, due to my salty lunch and burgeoning train phobias, but such demonstrations I remain so un-memorable even in my distinguished old age depress me terribly.

My Boss didn’t pay attention to me – I wanted to show him how we were using SMS option to simplify APF authorization for my PreAlert install, and I called out to him . . . but he was “busy”: he signaled “1 Second” with his left hand while he kept typing intently with his right . . . when he finally broke away and came over to see, I took too long to describe what was going on (the last time I remember APF updates, they were in a module called IEAAPFnn, for you cognoscenti) and he had to answer a phone call back at his desk before I was finished . . . he came back later and showed me where the APF updates are, now, and he already knew about SMS attributes, so big whoop . . .

SYSPROG didn’t call me a problem – at the 8 o’clock meeting the SYSPROG reported “No Calls”, so I said, “what about my APF issue?” She said, “That’s not a problem, that’s just normal work” to the hoots of derision from the gang in the meeting: “Haha! Dave, you’re just BAU (Business As Usual) now! HAHAHAHAHAH!” How humiliating . . .

Cancelled dinner engagement – then my dinner date cancelled with some lame excuse about he was sick today . . . boy have I heard that one before . . .I guess another Table For One for Dave tonight . . . I *have* to go somewhere . . . the maid gets upset if you’re in the room while she turns down the bed . . I think she just doesn’t want me to see her cadging slugs off my bottle of Armagnac. . . 8^D . . .

All I can say is thank god for my internet friends (my pscho-therapists when I was young called them “imaginary friends”) , they rarely diss me like my co-workers . . . 8^D


I opened a ticket because one of my ISHARE web sites is down . . . which I described as when I click on Shared Documents, I get an error “An unexpected error has occurred” . . . so the HelpDesk personasked me “Does it work on un-shared documents” . . . so I asked “What would be the point of UnShared documents on ISHARE?”

There was a very long pause . . .

We finished up with the problem description for that service call, and I rang off. . .

Then I called back in to the help desk with another problem a few minutes later. We both realized that I had the same help desk technician – an awkward moment. I explained that I had had a ticket opened to get me a phone, but I had not gotten an accompanying ID/Password. Did you try your ldap with ***** or ****** (semi-secret standard phone passwords).”
“Why yes I did,” I replied.
“Did that work?” He asked.
‘No!” I answered reflexively, but then I added, “Oh, yes, it did, but I called you anyway!”

There was a very long pause.

“So that didn’t work?”


We finished that problem report, then he asked me, as all good help desk people must, “Is there anything else?”

“Yes, I have one more problem . . . I am sorry to be such a trouble maker . . . but this is an easy one, I promise: My HPSD password expired.”

“Oh!” he said with obvious relief, “we can fix that!” and he did.

I will never learn . . .

So my company sent me to Prague . . . . or rather, they off-shored my job and I came along, having attached myself like a remora to a shark . . . so I settled into the Intercontinental for a long stay before I actually moved to Prague . . . like an orientation trip, if you see what I mean, and I developed a comfortable rut within the confines of such a novel experience . . . brekky in the hotel (the finest "free" brekky I ever had), walk down to the Starometska station, then the same job as I had in phoenix, lunch with a small beer (god bless the civilized europeans!), work some more, then train back to the hotel for room service and web surfing -- or sometimes venturing out for dinner -- it was fricking February, so, down by the river, especially, the night air could be a little chilly for my thin arizona blood.

There'd been confusion about the length of my stay at first, whether 6 days or 6 weeks, but we eventually compromised on 3 weeks . . . the hotel said it was ok part of the time, but I'd have to leave for my last week at the Hilton, instead . . . no biggie . . . on the 9th, I wrote in my diary . . .

so on the 5th, following my usual routine, I came back to the hotel, disdaining dinner outside, planning on going to the spa after dinner for a swim and a jacuzzi in their fabulous facility . . . on a whim, I went to the rooftop restaurant, thinking a more elegant meal was in order, but they were having a full-blown wine-tasting/meal-pairing -- too much, so I opted for a simple room service cuisine.

While I was waiting for dinner, the door was knocked, and a maid rushed in -- she seemed surprised to see me and I was surprised to see her . . . they had not been turning down my bed, but this night, they did and left a chocolate on the pillow, a bath-mat by the bed with slippers, and some other housekeeping flourishes I forget.

"That's weird" I tho't.

When my meagre dinner came, I took the time to get comfortable, before settling in. Halfway thru dinner, another perfunctory knock preceded an unexpected intrusion by the housekeeping staff -- some sort of inspection -- I was irritated, now . . . my fault for not setting the lock, but I seriously was contemplating a complaint to the front desk about their turning my hotel room into grand central station -- she made a face like a pufferfish and backed right out, understandably upset by the sight of me nosshing in my underwear, but I was similarly unnerved . . . then my phone rang.

It was the hotel manager. In short, he wanted me to leave immediately, and I wanted to stay to the 9th as I tho't we had agreed, but he was adamant that it was the 5th, instead. I was amost equally resolute in my certainty, but in the end, I reckoned if they wanted me to go I didn't want to stay. So I packed up like the russian tanks were rolling on Vaclavsky Namesti again, and relocated to the Hilton.

I didn't at the time, but now I see that I simply made a mistake about the date so I was plenty huffy, prevented from making a horrible scene both at the Intercontinental and the Hilton by some empirical cunning based on the experience that when I am wrong I feel most outraged.

So I fiddled around unpacking and catching up on email and Da Bears after I got to the Hilton , after being summarily (and apparently justifiably) evicted from the Intercontinental, till around 10 pm, and then I started to head down to the SPA, to relax . . . the Intercontintal spa is open 24 hrs, but . . . naturlich, the Hilton’s closes at 10 . . .

so I took off my cozzie and got dressed again, and went down to the bar . . . there were a few people in there, not many, and a gorgeous bartenderesse, so I made straight for the bar . . . she acknowledged my presence, and I spoke: “make me a martini that will make me feel like I spent 2 hours in the spa, since it closed at 10” . . .

she looked startled, and slightly alarmed, so I clarified: “beefeater martini, up, stirred-not-shaken, with an extra olive!” all with appropriate, or inappropriate, depending upon your POV, hand-gestures and facial expressions.

So by now, she was cowering up against the back bar, as far from me as she could get, when a bartender who DID speak English inserted himself, and asked me if I wanted it dirty . . . “Dirty? Oh, Dirty!” I practically shouted, as he retrieved the olives from the refrigerator – then “NOT DIRTY” as he started to pour the olive juice into the shaker with the gin. “NOT DIRTY”. Oh!

Even when-and-IF I learn to speak passable Czech, I will still be misunderstood, even as I am often misunderstood in so-called English speaking realms, because my sense-of-humor is so . . . . . . . .I have to learn to say first of all, “Do you speak English?” the same way I have learnt to say, “Can you hear me” when phoning on my cell phone with the head set on . . . but even then, when I am certain my bartender speaks english, and is waiting for my order, I should say, “Yes, something potent, slivovice’, since I will have a hangover, anyway, tomorrow!”