25 August 2011

Poll results: The 2011-12 EPL champion

Looks like some Liverpool/Chelsea/Arsenal/and perhaps Stoke supporters chimed in, as did those from the school of In Bill We Trust:

Response No.
Someone other than Manchester United or City 3
Manchester United 2
New England Patriots* 2
Manchester City 1
Definitely not Liverpool 1
* - Actual wording of option: "I don't know what the Premier League is, but if the Patriots were in it, I'm sure they'd win it."

I've voided my vote for "Reading, in 2018," but for posterity's sake, when it happens, there you see it.

Mail bonding

Well now, those in the delivery industry had better have me on the top of their Wintertime Celebratory Event of Their Choice card lists. In the past five business days, I've sent an overnight package to South Korea, received an express package from the Czech Republic, sent two boxes to my school in Prague, received an overnight package from South Korea, and sent an overnight package to New York.

Why yes, of course I'll explain:

1. Thursday, I sent my criminal record check to South Korea from Washington so I could receive an Apostille. I've already written about that adventure here.

Excerpt of the criminal record check from South Korea.
2. Monday, I received the materials I need to apply for the long-stay visa in New York. This package was overdue, and it's a long story, and believe me, a thorough analysis of the impact of photosynthesis on the blade of grass underneath some maple tree in Thunder Bay would be more interesting. 

The package included a work permit, application form, and an affidavit I must sign in front of the Czech consular that says I have not committed a crime in the U.S. I'll be bringing those materials to the Czech consular in New York City on Friday, along with ...

23 August 2011

And Petr has run himself over ...

There's been some news out of Prague this week that will impact the global community for the foreseeable future: The Czechs have hired John Cleese to be an ambassador of sorts for the Czech Olympic team in the buildup to the 2012 Games in London.

Cleese is no doubt getting the public excited about the thrill of watching world-class athletes kick a beggar or pose for Hunt Ball photographs ...

As for other news, there's this, too.

22 August 2011

How to get a South Korean Apostille from the U.S. in 23 easy steps

The most painful part of a visa process is that so much of it is out of the control of the person who needs the visa. Work is done at government offices, both abroad and in your home country. Trust is placed in delivery companies, including those that leave a package at its shipping center in Boston, two hours from your home, for three full days after promising each day that it was on its way, not that I would ever mention DHL by name.

This is my second go-round with a visa, and there are three facets that make this one with the Czech Republic more stressful than my previous experience with South Korea: It's a longer process, I live a four-hour drive from the nearest Czech consular office (as opposed to when I lived in L.A., which had a Korean consular), and I'm required to produce a criminal record check from my previous home, South Korea.

I had little trouble receiving the criminal record check from Seoul. The tricky part has been getting the Apostille -- a stamp or form that tells other countries that the document is genuine and not, for example, the product of an expert forger from Bangkok.

This is process, which is not over, has been so fun that I thought I'd take you along for the ride, which, incidentally, took me on an emergency trip to Washington, D.C., that I may or may not have needed to take in the first place:

17 August 2011

Fun with Czech: Cooking words

Tonight, while compiling some more words for my homemade English-to-Czech-and-vice-versa cheat sheet, I learned ...
  • grilovaný doesn't mean "grilled" (It means "broiled.")
  • na roštu doesn't mean "roasted" (It means "grilled.")
  • and pečený doesn't mean, um, "cooked on top of your pecs" (It means "roasted.")
I'm so hot, brother, I cooked this on my pecs last night.
Meanwhile, the visa process continues. I won't bore you with the details, but a lot of it has involved waiting, and it's about to involve drives to Washington, D.C.; Concord, N.H.; and New York City. Should I wear my Tom Brady jersey on the latter trip?

Poll note: Only one day left to have your say on this year's English Premier League champion. Poll is on the upper right of the blog. Knowledge of soccer not required, which should be good news for my friends who follow Manchester United.

11 August 2011

Poll results: What aspect of Czech should I learn before I go?

Response No.
"Do you have the Red Sox score?" 4
Ways to hit on women 3
Greetings and such 2
Menu items 2
Numbers, months and days 1

Now that I've learned the popular choice, the next phrase I guess I should learn is, "The Red Sox are a baseball team in Boston." (Pause.) "Baseball is a sport where people use a rounded wooden bat to hit a round ball thrown toward them ... "

A slightly more serious blog entry about my adventures in language learning thus far is here.

From the Red Sox-Dodgers exhibition at the L.A. Coliseum in 2008.

10 August 2011

Ths hdln s prctc fr lrnng mny Czch wrds

I didn't learn Korean while I taught there for 2 1/2 years. I knew the alphabet, which was crucial when the sports channels listed which soccer matches they'd show that weekend. I was aware of the rules, such as the verb ending the sentence and the subject of the sentence often being understood and therefore left out. So I knew enough about the language to understand the students' most common mistakes. But when it came formal lessons, I opted to absorb the key words and phrases as passed down from people who (a) had been there longer than me or (b) were not nearly as lazy than me. I was able to communicate most of what I wanted, but was unable to carry on the simplest of small talk.

I will not make the same mistake when I begin working in Prague (which, paperwork pending, will likely be late September). For one thing, outside the tourist areas, English is not prevalent. For another, I don't think I'll get the positive reinforcement I got in Daegu, when middle school girls reacted to a simple Annyeong haseyo as if I was just named the latest member to join Super Junior.

If this violates any copyright laws, I am sorry sorry sorry sorry.

But most of all, learning Czech while living in the Czech Republic is the right thing to do -- and I have no excuses. My school offers free weekly classes. I also have had plenty of time to get started here in the States.

Memorizing the word for "embassy" has been a true joy.

03 August 2011

Overweight but well-endowed: Meet your average Czech male

Just a brief catch-up before I begin: I'm not in Prague yet. I've been hired to work there, beginning either later this month (not likely) or late September (more realistically). The paperwork's been started. But I remain in the U.S., basically living the life of a retiree, only without the golf (I do have standards). I've introduced myself to Peep Show, reacquainted myself with Red Dwarf and won a fake ACC football title (and the Orange Bowl) on PlayStation3. I also water the plants once a week and peruse the Internet roughly five hours a day.

Among the sites I visit, just to get a sense of what's happening in Prague and the rest of the Czech Republic, are The Prague Post and the Prague Daily Monitor. The latter site linked to an interesting article in which the author, after scouring several studies, painted a picture of the average Czech. (The article also got me in the mood to do my own research. My composite of the average Englishman can be seen here. And, to be fair, the average American can be seen here.)