Sunday, 23 October 2016

Poised for failure?

The question above pertains to Donald Trump’s candidacy in the oncoming US presidential election. Despite recent serious slip-ups which arguably could disqualify him straight away, he is not yet bound to lose it all.

According to a popular (don’t know to how extent it is true) belief, a president of the United States should boast of set if traits which pre-destine them to take this office. To cut the long story short, the president should be successful in all areas of life: should have a first spouse (to whom they are faithful) and children, boast about brilliant professional / academic / political career, be an exemplary citizen (e.g. not evade taxation, donate money to charities), crystal-clear in terms of honesty (no outstanding criminal charges / accusations), plus they should display impeccable manners and class.

Even if the description above is just a stereotype, it would not hurt if the bar for the president of the United States was raised that high. Bearing in mind the above, they very nomination of Donald Trump as Republican Party’s candidate has been mind-boggling. The very list of his numerous wrong-doings (BTW, an excellent summary containg what I miss in Polish journalism, i.e. citing sources substantiating each paragraph, hats down to the author):
- allegations of several attempts of sexual harassment,
- tax evasion,
- mistreating his wives, cheating on them,
- four bankruptcies of casinos he controlled,
- various cases of misconduct in running real estate business (dealing with tenants),
- mistreating his employees, including failing to pay contractors and workers, or hiring migrants illegally,
- running shady businesses, including a foundation, an university and an institute, all Trump-named,
is long enough to put a bunch of ordinary people into prisons, yet despite unprecedented slew of controversies around his name, the republicans decided he would run for presidency.

The recordings disclosed over a week ago, caused more uproar, but have not been a nail to his coffin. I would safety bet as the tapes of Mr Trump bragging about seducing married women and telling technical details on how he was making a pass on them could win some voters.

There will always be voters who would expect someone akin to them to hold such office. Mr Trump did what several males do when females are not around, proved he is a regular guy, not a spick-and-span well-mannered politician, but an ordinary chap from the neighbourhood, some who despite his richness has common ground with the underclass.

There is a theory that a statesman should adhere to higher moral standards than an ordinary citizen. The concept holds water in general, but conduct which is acceptable cannot be unambiguously defined. I am a straightforward man and never take umbrage when public figures commit the same sins as I do in their private time. I swear like a trooper (as many educated people in this Poland), even when there is no reason to use foul language. Swear words have become for me a part of communication with all people who have developed the same despicable habit, especially in the workplace (unfortunately foul language is tolerated there by everyone and hence thrives). I should be ashamed of it, yet if I broach this topic, I prefer to admit it that to pretend my civility is beyond reproach. Besides, I might not disapprove of eavesdropped politicians who swear in private conversations; by stooping so low, I have denied myself that right. The locker-room talks also do not shock me, since though I have never talked about any particular woman in such vulgar way, I am familiar with that style of language, but use it rather in self-deprecatory context (e.g. asked my a mate if I am fine, instead of straightforwardly confessing it could be better I tell him that “nobody wants to do me a blow-job”).

What might really drag down Mr Trump’s chances in the race of presidency was his declaration in the last debate he would not accept the victory of Mrs Clinton and would look into it fairness of the election procedure. By undercutting the foundations of democracy, Mr Trump moved closer to Mr Kaczynski who also implied several times elections won by PO or its nominees had been rigged.

Incidentally, Mr Kaczynski, as a bachelor, having no children, having not accumulated any property over more than 40 years of adult life, never taking private travels abroad as an adult, not having a driving license and not fending for himself over most of his adult life, also does not fit the profile of a statesman, yet for totally different reasons than Mr Trump.

The very existence of Donald Trump is not a problem, as there are many freaks roaming around our planet. His very willingness to run for presidency, if he can afford it, is not a problem as well. The issue is that for some reason he earned the nomination of the Republican Party and the biggest issue and a puzzle is why people want to vote for him. We need to bear in mind he does not tread the path of PiS in Poland and does not pamper the poorest with benefits raising their standard of living and does not resort to the most blatant economic populism for masses. The possible answers lean towards ideological reasons: Mr Trump wants to reinstate law and order, lift America from its knees, revise relationships with other countries, wants to make the United States an empire again, is a backbone of conservatism, finally some voters would sooner kiss their own arse than vote for a democrat.

Not being actually fond of Mrs Clinton, I keep fingers crossed for her victory on 8 November, thus I am keeping fingers crossed for well-being of the whole civilised world.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Not alone, but going it alone

If the blog is a form of a diary, I am catching the right moment to revisit what I wrote half a year ago. With hindsight I know I have committed my sorrow to the blog shortly before I reached a breaking point and thus left the mark of how I felt then to posterity. Most probably writing that piece was one of many essential steps on my way to recovery.

The vital notion I have explored over these six month is that I prefer to be alone than to spend my time with anyone, especially if that “anyone” is a drag for me or spoils my well-being. A human is not doomed to solitude. To realise why this sentence is not wrong, you need to realise solitude cannot be placed at the very bottom of relationships with people. In the language of maths, solitude can be assigned the value of zero, while relationships with people can have values other than zero; positive or negative. Relationships with people who abuse or harass you can have sub-zero values. Most people out of fear of solitude do not break away from such toxic relationships, while often only freeing oneself from people who impair our lives is the only way to build satisfying (having positive values) relationships with other humans.

If I am to draw any conclusions from the previous post, the paramount one is stunningly straightforward – I am not alone. I am surrounded by several wonderful people, many of which I could call friends (though I tend not to overuse that word), but I have developed a habit of going it alone in most of difficult situations. My choice has been shaped by experience of the past, but also by understanding and accepting how my friendships look is impacted by my age. If nearly all my friends either have families or are in long-lasting relationships, we cannot spend as much time together as I would like to, but I have learnt to appreciate the time we spend together, as each scarce good.

Any relationship is about giving and taking. Theoretically, giving and taking should be balanced. In practice, there should be no striking imbalance between the two. Various circumstances in humans’ lives often predestine one party to be a giver and the other a taker. Sometimes life reverses this arrangement, sometimes not. And on top of that, some people are born givers. I have been repeatedly told I am a type of donor.

The question I have faced recently is whether I do not want to take, do not need to take, or do not know how to ask to be given. Probably, all three answers hold partly true, with the very former being least valid. Being a giver brings me enough joy and satisfaction and I do not require my friends to reciprocate it with the same dose of support since if they reciprocated it, they would kill me with kindness. I am accustomed to cope with most of my troubles on my own, but when I desperately need to take comfort in somebody, I quickly find a guardian angel.

I wonder what qualities and individual should possess to become a confidant to their friends. What makes a man trustworthy?

On one of recent nights I found myself in a hotel room with my good friend (and workmate) after an off-site booze-up. The chap, ten years older than me, husband and father to two children, was pissed out of his head, I was moderately inebriated, since I was bound to sit behind the wheel in a few years to reach my next destination. All of a sudden he broke into tears and confessed he had fallen into love with his team-mate (also married and having children) and was running out of power to cope with it. Just one hour later, during the piss-up, he would tell folks around he had never cheated on his wife and would probably never dare to do so. I was so shell-shocked and the chastised him in foul language typical for our casual conversations. Needless to say the next morning we carried on as if that confession had not been uttered. He probably did not remember it and definitely had he not been tanked-up, as every civilised husband and father would have kept his mouth shut.

I still have not got over that confession and temporarily lack anyone to talk it over with, since I must not pass it on to anyone who knows him. The problem is that my closest friend is now his team-mate, the one he claimed to have lost his head for. Besides, I am amazed by how I have controlled myself and averted the problem he has. She is definitely my kind, yet before I realised it I knew she was married and having children and my conscience prevents me from breaking up a family. Besides, she lives and works in a different city, so we see each other on average once a month which helps keep a safe distance.

Besides, as I have counted, every single week I am asked by someone to have a conversation that stays between us only. Sometimes what I am told becomes a burden, I am not a professional helper and cannot absorb other people’s quandaries like a sponge. Getting it off my chest sometimes involves sharing what I have been entrusted with someone else. This looks at odds with keeping it for myself, therefore I need to talk it over, I do it with a person who has never met a person whose secrets I share. Should I feel guilty about it?

At the end, questions for next half-year period I shall revisit in April 2017.

1. I have noticed with some people I hit it off instantly without any effort on my side, while with others I struggle to make it play, but it does not work anyway – why?

2. How to handle an introvert? I have observed I am afraid of such people and find it hard to take first steps in building a relationship with such persons. I have read introverts are not unsociable, but are kind wary of new friends and it takes a lot to win their trust. How to overcome it?

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Wołyń – film review

Rushed to the nearest cinema yesterday to watch Wołyń by Wojtek Smarzowski, the film which had premiered the day earlier. Mr Smarzowski can boast of track record of directing films which authentically, yet sorely lay bare the darkest side of the human nature. I have watched all his films, except Róża, and reviewed Drogówka and Pod Mocnym Aniołem on the blog.

A dose of historical knowledge is essential if you are to fully understand the film which depicts the run-up to and the very Volhynia carnage and unless somebody is familiar with the topic, a thorough catch-up before the trip to a cinema is highly recommended. Despite me doing the homework beforehand, I was kind of astounded to see the joy of Ukrainians who greeted Red Army soldiers in 1939 as liberators setting them free from Polish tormentors and two years later, disillusioned with the new occupier, gave a warm welcome to Nazi army.

The film is less coarse and naturalistic than most previous films by Mr Smarzowski, though sexist scenes of crude intercourses appear to be an indispensable common denominator of all his pieces. In Wołyń, illustration of ordinary life, including its darkest aspects, is skilfully balanced with depiction of historical background of the carnage. The background which reminds a genocide is never a spontaneous misdeed, hatred needs a fertile ground to grow wild.

Dosage of atrocity in the film is, must I say, quite moderate. The film is meant to leave its audience mentally black and blue and renders appositely how the massacre in today’s territories of Western Ukraine actually looked. After reading historians’ records of how cruel the genocide was, the picture of murders comes out mild.

Comparing methods Ukrainian nationalists made use of to kill Poles, I believe most victims of Gestapo and NKVD at least had enviably short deaths. Prisoners of Nazi concentration camps were closed in gas chambers and fell asleep, breathing in lethal gases (most online sources I found while writing the post describe gassing as painless). NKVD officers killed their victims with one shot in a head. Both totalitarian regimes during WW2 ran industries of mass murder meant to annihilate Poles, quickly and efficiently. Ukrainian nationalists, though the death toll of the genocide committed by them is several times lower than number of victims of Nazis or Stalin, wanted not just to eradicate Poles from their homeland, but also did it with inhuman atrocity.

The film is a vital step towards truth and I hope it brings closer the carnage to Poles, as the matter is less known than several other acts of violence against Poles during WW2. The Wolhynia slaughter has also not been the subject of broader debate for the sake of building good relationships with independent Ukraine (how could it be possible without facing the truth?).

Germany has apologised and atoned for its WW2 felonies.

Russia, as a heir of the Soviet Union, has not atoned for its WW2 sins and cruelty, yet in 1993 when Russia seemed to be a civilised country (I longer consider it so since March 2014) its president Mr Jelcyn apologised to Poles for Katyn and in November 2010 its parliament passed a resolution condemning Katyn massacre. Today these might appear as hollow gestures, yet some steps were undeniably made towards reconciliation.

In 2001 president Kwaśniewski on behalf of Poles apologised to Jews for Jedwabne massacre.

Ukrainian intellectuals and artists have apologised for the Volhynia carnage to Poles several times, but Ukraine’s governments still take efforts to sweep the topic under the carpet. Remember the visit of former president Komorowski in April 2015? Mr Komorowski delivered a speech in the house of parliament, while a few hours later deputies passed a resolution glorifying Ukrainian nationalists responsible for genocide on Poles. Soon after the Smolensk disaster, Katyń by Andrzej Wajda was broadcast in Russian TV. In today’s Russia it would be unimaginable, however I doubt in the foreseeable future Wołyń could be watched by masses in Ukrainian TV.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Black Monday tomorrow

No, I am not predicting a stock market crash tomorrow. The black colour stands for solidarity with thousands (if not millions) of Polish women who are about to go on an all-out strike tomorrow, a protest akin to the one staged by females in Iceland in 1975, when a one-day walkout virtually paralysed the small country, yet has gone down in the history as a day when women successfully called out for their rights.

The initiative of the strike in Poland is the reaction to a proposal of tightening the already restrictive (by European standards) abortion law, i.e. banning the abortion at all, regardless of circumstances. The widespread voice of objection is similar to many Pole’s reaction to PiS (unfortunately successful) attempts to tamper with constitutional tribunal nearly a year ago. Yet, while independence of judiciary power and separation of three powers is an issue far in the background for an ordinary citizen, changes to the abortion law may have tremendous impact on lives of several families.

The current abortion so-called compromise allows for abortion in three general situations: when a pregnancy is an aftermath of rape, when life of a future mother is in danger or when a child is bound to be born incurably ill, disabled, handicapped or dead. Recently the parliament received two draft laws, drawn up by civic movements. One, putting forward liberalising access to abortion, has been turned down right away, while the other, submitted by ultra-pro-life activists, prohibiting abortion at all, has been pressed ahead to further proceedings.

PiS, seeing Poles’ approach to ban on abortion (nearly 50% of the surveyed are in favour of retaining the status-quo “compromise, around one-fourth would liberalise the abortion law, while slightly less than 20% would forbid it all) and bearing in mind the draft law is not their own, is going go back down and ease off some the most brutal provisions of the pro-life’s proposal, but the abortion law in its new shape will very likely be more restrictive in than today’s wording. The outcome is predictable – we will see more gynaecologists’ offices in basements offering “triggering menstruation” and more women will travel to Czech Republic and Germany to terminate pregnancies.

I hope the purport of the protest will be broader than standing out against tightening the abortion law. The strike in Iceland is reported to have brought the country’s society closer to partnership model of marriage / relationship. Although there has been improvement in Poland in this respect, many Polish men still need to be reminded traditional division of rules ought not to be imposed on women. Raising children and running the house and the accompanying obligations should be shared more or less equally among spouses, unless they both agree on a different apportioning of roles. The problem in Poland is still that a man who returns home from work is tired enough to lie back on a sofa, sip beer and watch TV, while a woman starts her second unpaid job, namely cooking, washing up, cleaning up, ironing, doing homework with children etc.

Tomorrow in the office I am standing in for a female colleague who is going to take a day off on demand, therefore I will co-ordinate a regular bi-weekly committee. Besides, I have offered to stand in for any woman willing not to turn up to the office. Though actually I do not expect the scale of the protest at the New Factory to be impressive, as in any private corporation where political views are hardly ever flaunted.

To make it clear, just like any human of sound mind, I am not in favour of abortion. Pregnancy termination is always an evil, but in situations in which I believe it is justified, especially those in which it is currently permitted, it is a lesser of two or more evils. Nonetheless, I am supportive of whatever can be done to avoid abortions which are often a result of unwanted pregnancies. Consequently, I am rooting for unbiased sexual education in schools, including familiarising youngsters with contraception. I am also calling for access to morning-after pills (which I believe is a late contraception method).

The discussion on abortion is not just about facts but about beliefs. If I am convinced a bunch of cells which might develop into an embryo, than into a foetus and be born, is not yet a human being, but just a bench of cells, my approach to abortion is pro-choice. Pro-life activists believe a zygote is already a human being, therefore a natural implication of their reasoning is that even taking a morning-after pill is a murder. The current abortion compromise rests on the foundation that pregnancy cannot be terminated at the stage when a foetus can survive (aided by medial devices or not) out of mother’s womb, this borderline moment is the 24th week of pregnancy.

Some people believe killing animals in order to eat their meat is an atrocity and therefore become vegetarians. Some people believe pregnancy must not be terminated, no matter of circumstances. I am of the opinion in situations when abortion is permitted by law, doctors should present it to their patients as one of two options and not encourage a woman neither to carry the child until birth nor to terminate the pregnancy. It is a matter of patients’ consciences and beliefs, so give them the choice!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

…Just a little insight won’t make things right

When in 2014 I resolved to leave the Employer, the main motive behind it was the decision was my strong conviction the Employer was going nowhere. The Employer was winding down, losing clients, laying off people, giving sparse opportunities to develop. The transfer to the New Factory was a breakthrough in many respects and despite some downsides, I am still of the opinion taking up the current job was the right move made in the right moment. Compared to standards of rewarding staff by the Employer, the New Factory still comes out absolutely superior, yet some cracks have begun to appear on the immaculate picture…

July 2015
Before I receive Level III results, I kindly ask the New Factory whether the employer would pay my annual membership fees on my behalf or refund them (the cost is USD 350 per year). An HR chick replies to my e-mail briefly: The Charter is not essential to perform your job. The content of the response is a fact. Two other facts are that I had decided to earn the Charter off my own bat and for myself and that the New Factory was under no obligation to cover the annual dues. Yet had the response been formulated differently, e.g. As a matter of principle the New Factory does not participate in costs of maintaining certifications by its employees. Nevertheless we recognise and appreciate your effort to earn the Charter, I would not have remembered it as the most painful slap in the face since joining the New Factory.

December 2015
Chicks from the HR Department organise a meeting to present a new personnel development and remuneration model. The very attempt to foster development of most talented staff is commendable, but opaqueness of the concept makes it fishy. Time has proved the fishiness true – the model is like Loch Ness Monster – everyone has heard of it, no one has seen it!

July 2016
A fellow junior analyst from another team all of a sudden invites me for a lunch. Unsurprisingly, not disinterestedly. He wants to take my advice whether to take up a job with the New Factory’s state-controlled competitor. The junior is of my age, has worked at the New Factory for five years and though his competencies have not been inferior, his chances for promotion to analyst position have been close to zero. Besides, as part of skurwienie, he has been harassed by his boss. Folks around have never seen him as happy as during his notice period; as happy as a man who breaks away from a torment.

Last Thursday he brought his farewell cake. I wished him well, though I would not follow his path. A state-controlled company is not a workplace I would fancy.

After two years with the New Factory I have made a name for myself. Judging by how my workmates and bosses treat me I infer my name is a recognisable brand in the organisation. I am flying high, my tide is rising. Time to reach out for benefits. If I am offering a lot to the New Factory, I can expect something in return. I submit application for two positions, one in another big city in Poland where the New Factory also has part of its head office, one in another European capital where the parent company of the New Factory is seated. Relocation plans (don’t know whether for a few months, a few years or forever) put my flat purchase plans on hold…

August 2016
In the middle of the holiday season some top dogs decide to pursue a new split of customers between business segments with almost immediate effect. The reshuffle involves also various transfers of account managers. The embittered account managers whose long-lasting relationships with clients will be shattered communicated the ill tidings to customers. Many of them threaten to quit, yet the protest does not convince top executives to abandon their plan.

I cannot believe this is happening. Such ridiculous moves could have been done by the Employer, but the New Factory for years has truly fostered its relationships with clients.

Early September 2016
My plans of relocating within the organisations all go down the drain. Besides, my boss shows my the e-mail in which a director from the HR Department remonstrates him over allowing me to submit those applications. He adds had he been an obedient corpo-swine I would have got it in the neck too. Oddly enough then I did not construe the course of events so far as a serious warning sign.

21 September 2016
The HR Department and Senior Managers organise a workshop with selected employees on career paths (I do not attend it, but it soon becomes a hot topic across the office). The workshop turns into veritable cut and thrust during which managers openly tell their employees they do not deserve to get anything more from the organisation and they should forget about prospects of promotions or pay rises. At the end a guy from the HR Department speaks it out: if you want to develop, look for opportunities outside the New Factory.

My comment: if a host shows you the door, for the sake of your well-being leave his place. Of course, changing a job wisely is a matter of careful lookout and take several months.

Currently I am not going to make any abrupt moves. This year has been good in terms of meeting targets, therefore I must not miss my bonus for 2016 I will be eligible for in late 1Q2017. Once the money is transferred to my bank account. Before this happens, around Christmas 2016, after my annual assessment is approved, I am going to talk to my boss what my chances of being promoted to senior analyst and getting a pay rise are and justify him why I believe I deserve it (I have been compiling a list of arguments for a few weeks now). Implications of that conversation will set the path I will take in 2017.

Sometimes during job interview recruiters ask candidates where they see themselves in five years (what their job description would be, what position they would hold, what competencies they would improve, etc.). I feel this question is totally irrelevant to me. I believe no matter what I do, how hard and diligently I work, how few mistakes I make, how much I stand out among peers, in five years I am doomed to hold the same position and earn the same salary. Unless I find a job with another company…

I am emotional now, I realise. I need to cool down and think things over. I had to spew out the most bitter emotions that have accumulated inside me recently. In the coming weeks I will soldier on, as in the short-term changing nothing will only benefit me. In the long-term the best choice is to take the path that will least harm me (at best).

Sunday, 18 September 2016

The handicapped generation

Ran across the link to this kind of outdated article on my friend’s wall on facebook. Read it twice and I am of the opinion this piece should be an obligatory read for most today’s parents who bring up their offspring to become… Why do they call the future adults zombie creatures?

It is not a secret that gap between people born in 1970s and 1980s is far bigger than the gap between the latter and born in 1990s. I can say nothing about differences between people born in 1990s and those born in 2000s since I lack sample to make such comparison. This abyss between people of nearly the same age is not just the effect of growing up in different economic and technological environment, but is an element of a deeper social change. In big cities childhood in late PRL or in years of nascent capitalism differed much from today’s pattern of childhood, moreover communication was not facilitated by the Internet and mobile devices; yet these differences make up just the tip of the iceberg.

How sensitive children are is a clear consequence of how parents raise them. An average child is told on every step dangers loom all around. Imagine you are told not to stroke an animal since it may bite you or bacteria from its fur may jump into you… Imagine you are instructed to wear a helmet protecting your limbs, otherwise learning to ride a two-wheel bike you will get bruised… Imagine you are prevented from taking a mountain-hiking trip or a canoe trip, because for a few days you would live without electricity, sleep in a tent and wash yourself in cold water…

Parents’ attempts to assure comfort to their children and to save them from harm at any price at the end of the day do more harm than good. Childhood by definition ought to be the most carefree period in life. But childhood and youth are the period of learning and experiencing, also learning from one’s own mistakes which usually do not kill a child, but make them stronger and wiser. If children are to manage on their own in their early adulthood they need to be taught to take decisions and responsibility for them.

Today’s parents who do everything for and instead of their children not only fail to teach them taking decisions and responsibility, but also deprive their offspring of the carefree element of their early years. There is a built-in pressure to meet parents’ expectations instead of enjoying childhood the way a child wants. Yet a contemporary child would not want to enjoy it the way I did it over twenty years ago, since patterns of pastime activities have changed. Go to any housing estate and look out for children aged less than 10 running around or riding bikes nearly without parents’ care. Such was the reality in mid-1990s!

While today, parents want to spare their children as much strain as possible and bring them up to become frail adults, shying away from hardships or becoming so-called kidults. Pains, suffering, defeats, eating humble pie, etc. are the elements of brutal life. Children should rather be supported in coping with them, rather than shielded from them…

The article dwells on the appalling fitness of Polish children. I stick to my theory that today’s children’s life expectancy will be lower than today’s middle-aged people’s. The first and foremost reason is that children move too little, spending too much time staring at smartphone. The second cause is less straightforward, namely physical activity is, I argue, over-coordinated, not spontaneous. Parents sign up their offspring for horse-riding classes, swimming lessons, tennis lessons, etc. which in essence is commendable, yet takes away the element of spontaneity… I wonder how many parents signing their children up for various classes ask if their offspring really want to attend them and how many do it because of the peer pressure or to fulfil their own ambitions.

On top of this an average child of well-off educated parents gets what they want without even asking. Such behaviours among parents have been witnessed more than ten years ago, hence we already see young adults claiming they deserve to get something, but offering nothing or little in return. If children think they are exceptional and the world should treat them as a hub of the universe, the fault lies with their parents…

The advent of social media and the culture of sharing one’s life with others via them has changed motives which drive people’s activities. Author of the article incites his audience to ask a question whether youngsters do things for themselves of to impress other people. The quintessence of leading a happy life is doing things for one’s own pleasure. I see nothing wrong in sharing with other people things done for one’s own pleasure (and do it occasionally, may facebook fellows know I’m having fun), yet if impressing others becomes a primary motivation for choosing what to do in free time, a person falling victim to such way of thinking will sooner or later get hurt.

Such reasoning leads to dangerous conclusion, namely the measure of how much a youngster is worth is how much appreciation they receive. Number of likes under a person’s post on facebook becomes a benchmark of who’s more trendy, cool or… valuable…

The author also points up helplessness of youngsters in simple situations. Sewing in a ripped button, mending a leaking tap, changing a light bulb for many young people, not taught to cope with such tasks at home, have become insurmountable problems. This is horrifying, yet I have witnessed situations when youngsters were helpless staring at an overloaded rubbish bin, not coming up with a solution that emptying it (throwing away rubbish) would help…

This is also a matter of widespread consumerism. In the economy propelled by disposable items which once wear out or break down are replaced by brand-new ones. Though socialist economy was bound to collapse and had built-in depravity, it taught people resourcefulness. If you could not come by brand-new stuff, you had to seek ways to repair the old one, plus oddly enough, what was manufactured, though technically obsolete was much more durable. In today’s capitalism once a customer buys a new item, its vendor already plans how to attract the customer again (planned obsolescence is one of the tools). In the economy of shortage, with supply falling short of demand, a vendor was bending down backwards to keep the customer away from it for many years, so that insufficient supply of goods was less visible.

There is no use in protecting children from life’s hardships. The later they face up to them, the more painful the head-on collision with brutality will be.

Criticise children wisely, get them accustomed to criticism. Balance stick and carrot in upbringing. Praise when due, but teach to draw conclusions from judgmental remarks instead of taking umbrage with the world.

As the author points out towards the end of his essay (quite long, I once read for an average Pole a text longer than four A4 pages is too long to absorb, while the one on which I base my today’s post is six A4 pages long), not learning to overcome problems leads to mental diseases in early adulthood. Statistics quoted by the author of the percentage of students prone to depression, neurosis and other mental problems is horrifying. If those number are true, they illustrate the price paid for flying away from the golden cage of carefree childhood…

BTW, what’s the English for pierdoła? None of the translations found on the spot online renders properly the context in which the word was used in the title of the article…

Sunday, 11 September 2016

The new bike - review

Bought the new bicycle in late May, prompted by the unforeseen theft of the previous rickety one. Three months (and approximately 300 kilometres, since I failed to equip the bike in with an odometer) on, it looks I am poised to review my single-track motor-less vehicle.

The first impression is similar to changing an over ten-year-old car for a brand-new, though not upscale, car. I was genuinely impressed with smoothness and lightness of the new bicycle. The bike underwent a showroom-exit maintenance, so nearly all stuff was properly regulated and the vehicle was prepared for the first ride. It soon turned out some screws were too loose, yet I tighten them up and it runs beyond reproach. Gears are changed smoothly, without a single grind and sufficiently precisely (what else can I expect from a bike which set me back less than PLN 1,000).

Fixtures do their job well. I rode through muddy puddles and mudguards protected my clothes from being grimed. I did not test the LED lamps, yet they look out neatly and should ensure visibility if I happen to use the bike after dusk. What I have not purchased so far and catch up with are a decent bicycle lock (I used the bike for recreational rides, I yet I intend to use it to move between places and then the lock will become indispensable) and a pump (I have used compressors on petrol stations instead and consider sticking to that method of pumping up tyres).

The only drawback of the bike is its saddle. When choosing it I noticed immediately it was hard and uncomfortable, so I added to my shopping car a gel pad which turned out to help little. Firstly, the pad has been flattened by my backside, secondly it served just as a quick fix and the hapless saddle will be due for replacement later this year or next spring.

The biggest pity is that I could not take really long trips on account of problems with spine whose onset coincided with swapping bikes. My longest trip so far was mere 30 kilometres, I was yearning to cycle longer distances, yet my body held me back. I will keep on exercising during winter and next spring I hope I am fit enough to enjoy cycling more.

Plus I have made a resolution to have the new bike regularly (at least once a year) maintained by a professional. My first maintenance, within six months from the purchase will be free of charge, yet each next one should cost less than PLN 100, a tiny expense if it is to extend durability of the bike and ensure safe and pleasant cycling.

Today I cycled for the third time this summer to Zalesie Górne. Not a long ride, yet 20 kilometres was an optimum distance given air temperature before noon. Today for the third day in a row, maximum temperature reached more than +29C. Tomorrow is forecast to be also that hot, so I have taken a day off to lap up last moments of the warmth.

The weather these days is typically summer-like. Length of the day reminds the equinox is near, around half past seven in the evening darkness sets in. Besides, nights bring relief from the heat, while mornings bring mists lingering above fields. Autumn is not felt in the air, it will take a while before the scent of changing season comes over. In 2015 the first whiff of autumn (defined as cool enough to wear a coat) was felt on 7 September, but in 2014 we had to wait for it until 24 September. Hope this year’s September stays merciful.

For those thinking such spell of summer in mid-September is an anomaly, a dose of weather statistics (and an opportunity for me to indulge in what I am fond of).
  • The warmest September in Warsaw since records began was in 1919 (monthly average of +16.3C), ahead of September 1967 (mean temperature +16.2C), well ahead of September 2006 (monthly average of +16.0, though for no apparent reasons this one is frequently cited as the warmest ever), not mention Septembers in 1951 and 2005 (mean temperatures of +15.9C) and September 1999 (monthly average of +15.8C).
  • On 17 September 2015 temperature topped at +29.9C, however this was one-day peak, with day-before and day-after highs a few degrees lower.
  • Between 12 and 14 September 2014 day-time highs were above +26C, while night-time lows were not below +14C (spent this time away from Warsaw on a two-night off-site and remember, yes I do remember, how warm (no ambiguity) those nights were)
  • September 2013 was one of two coolest over the recent decade and exactly three years ago day-time highs barely hit double digits.
  • On 11 September 2012 temperature topped at +30.4C, like in 2015 this was a one-day spell.
The past measurements clearly prove the second decade of September is the latest period when temperature near +30C stands a chance to be recorded in Warsaw, yet such prolonged September heat wave is unprecedented based on the data I have access to (ogimet page, whose archives have recently been depleted to my displeasure), so September 2016 stands a serious chance to go down as the warmest in history in Warsaw.

According to the forecasts, heat wave should begin to wane from Tuesday and by the next weekend maximum temperatures are likely to descend to still enjoyable range of +20C to +25C, with no rain bringing relief to thirsty ground within the coming week. By 25 September late summer is predicted to stay in Warsaw! Make the most of the perfect weather until it gives way to gloomy autumn.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Accidents will happen

I have held the driving licence for 10 years, I have used a car on a daily basis for five years on; the two last years were the period of more intense business travels, taken also by car, my own old Megane or company cars, meaning over the last two years I covered around 35,000 kilometres behind the wheel; on top of another 35,000 kilometres driven over previous eight years.

Driving instructors argue a typical driver has an accident during their first equator’s length (roughly 40,000 kilometres) of driving. Over that time I had one minor traffic collision, oddly enough not impacting my insurance track record, besides since October 2012 my track record behind the wheel has been impeccable, except for scratching right-rear wing in five weeks ago. I rubbed against a lamp post while parking parallel.

I varnished the eye-popping aftermaths of my haste and inattention, yet the scrape slightly dented my self-confidence, which after all should do more harm than good. Lesson learnt – I should be more cautious. Nevertheless, I did not change my mind and did not find driving on Polish roads dangerous, until last seven days, when I nearly had three serious accidents, none I would have been guilty of, yet they could have ended up with serious injuries.

Last Sunday on ul. Słowackiego (Warszawa Żoliborz), I changed lanes from right to middle and noticed an iffy driver in Honda City on left lane. I somehow foresaw he was an unpredictable motorist and braced for his manoeuvre of changing lanes from left to middle nearly ending in hitting the side of my car. Having cars on both sides, but no vehicle behind me, I pushed the brake to the floor and avoided the collision. Fortunately my passengers kept a cool head and did not scream (I still remember the attack of panic of my three female colleagues in November 2015, when somewhere between Płońsk and Sierpc our car was hit by an ice slab flying off the roof of a truck ahead of us (no damage to the vehicle to my surprise)).

On Wednesday as I drove up ul. Puławska, I nearly fell victim to kinked lanes and foolish driver on the intersection with Baletowa. He followed the swinging lanes before the intersection but behind it he drove straight ahead, cutting in on me, moving properly up the right lane. I swerved into the lane for buses marked out before intersection with ul. Pelikanów, thus avoiding bumping into meathead-driven Mazda 6.

The most scary narrow escape struck me the next day. I was on the slip road from Dolinka Służewiecka (westbound lanes) into ul. Puławska (southbound lanes). I spotted a ZTM bus running at the lane west of the viaduct carrying the traffic from ul. Puławska into Dolinka Służewiecka, but glimpsing to the left I failed to notice its driver was speeding (70 kmph) while I did at around 45 kmph. Where the slip road and the right-most lane of ul. Puławska met, he immediately began changing lanes into mine, not minding I was there and. to make it worse, not minding there was a cyclist (cyclists should be prohibited from riding such roads and she should have safety cycled down the pavement on the other side of ul. Puławska!) on the same (mine) lane. The presence of the cyclist (still wonder whether she realised what was going on, since she seemed to be totally unaware how dangerous the situation was) left me fewer room to move rightwards, while an idiot in BMW just behind my rear bumper left little room for abrupt braking. I slowed down gently, trying to keep minimum 20 centimetres from the bus side and the cyclist and managed. Only with hindsight I realised what near miss it was.

It occurred to me it would have been safer to travel by bus. The next day while driving towards Park and Ride Metro Ursynów I drove 75 kmph and kept a steady distance from a 331 bus. Indeed, both bus driver and I were speeding, however the difference in magnitude of our sins that I would stop my car (including time to reaction and stopping distance) within 50 metres and fastened belts would protect me, while the bus driver would probably stop after more than 100 metres and many passengers would be injured. In retrospect, I regret not having reported that incident to ZTM.

Speed and alcohol rank among the most frequent accident causes in Poland, yet the list should be supplemented with other sins of drivers, seldom mentioned…

Firstly, not looking around. Wing mirrors and rear view mirror help the driver control situation around them. If you know what is going on around, you immediately know whether you can swerve (this facilitates controlling the blind spot as well) or suddenly brake. Looking around involves also watching out for vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians or animals that might trespass onto the road.

Secondly, not foreseeing. As one gains experience behind the wheel, more situations become predictable and consequently, accidents avoided.

Thirdly, pushing one’s luck. Sounds ridiculously, but several drivers count they will make it (finish overtaking by forcing other drivers to brake or swerve, violating the right of way by assessing another driver will skim on their brakes to avoid a collision etc.). Even in 99% instances it works, the remaining 1% results in increased number or casualties and fatalities on Polish roads.

Fourthly, not keeping proper distance. The reasons why rear-endings are so common are not just speed or lapses of concentration. The dire effects of the above would not lead to so many incidences of bumping into rear of a car ahead, had the proper distance been kept.

Fifthly, tiredness. Fatigued, drowsy drivers can display similar reactions as intoxicated drivers. I should also tack on over-using mobile phones when behind the wheel as fumbling with them also worsen drivers’ concentration.

Sixthly, technical condition of vehicles on Polish roads. I do not want to gripe about the average age of vehicles on Polish roads, declining, yet still above eleven years. I have a 13-year-old car and I take care of it to ensure travelling by it is safe. Poles drive what they afford to but the owner or user is always to blame. Nearly brand-new (aged less than 3Y) vehicles from corporate fleets, if they are not looked after properly (believe me or not, 3Y post-lease cars are frequently rickety bangers), are in far worse technical condition that my car.

And #7, cyclists and pedestrians ignorant of perils in traffic or even traffic rules. Starry-eyed traffic participants not realising if they have right of way, for the sake of their own safety they should not exercise it at all cost and that fault of a car driver is not an excuse. What I hold most against cyclists is: (1) riding on fast-traffic roads (speed limits at or above 70 kmph), (2) choosing to take a road, where there is a decent cycling path running parallel to the road, (3) not sticking to the right thus hindering overtaking. What I hold most against pedestrians is that they (1) can stand (or hang around) next to a pedestrian crossing with no intention to cross a street, (2) cross streets where they are not allowed to without even looking whether a vehicle is going to smash them into pulp.

I have mulled over installing a dashboard camera in my next car, not for the purpose Russians put them up (to prove they are not guilty of an accident) but to keep record of on-going horror on the Polish roads. So far, I keep up with Polskie Drogi channel on YouTube and hold it dear. Watching the compilations of accidents helps me learn from others’ mistakes, adds to my experience and enhances my predictive skills. The scenes by Polskie Drogi often prove many accidents could have been averted, had somebody thought beforehand or foreseen other traffic participants’ crass stupidity.

Dangers on the road must not be shrugged off, yet this is the risk one should manage. Driving cautiously does not guarantee you will return safe and sound from every journey, yet minimises the chances of having an accident.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Warsaw, from guests’ perspective

Skipped last week’s piece of blogging to look after my family (aunt, cousin and his wife) from Jelenia Góra who came for a few days to Warsaw. Heedless of political correctness, I confess living under one (especially one’s own) roof with a few people you meet once in two or three years is a nuisance. Yet, we all endured it without major clashes and their visit egged me on sightseeing trips through Warsaw and around I would not take in such number without third-party incentive.

They arrived on Saturday (over a week ago) before noon by Pendolino. For no apparent reason they chose to go by train, though door-to-door journey is shorter and less costly (for an equivalent of three adult ticket from Jelenia Góra to Warsaw they could buy petrol to come to Warsaw and drive back home.

On Saturday, after unpacking and lunch we set off to Prażmów where several of our common ancestors are buried. We visited their graves, burnt candles and I took the opportunity to discover areas of cemetery I had never ventured into, despite dropping in on there twice or three times a year. To the right, one of such places, a plaque commemorating local insurgents who fought in January Uprising.

On Sunday morning the relatives refused to sit back on a terrace and relax, so I had to take them for a longer stroll to Piaseczno. We inspected the reconstruction of ul. Wojska Polskiego. The scope of works is anything but overwhelming. The street will not be widened, but new asphalt will be laid, new pavements and parking spots built, two new pedestrian crossings marked out.

The major gain for local residents will be the newly built intersection with ul. Sikorskiego, which used to be a cul-de-sac since 2000. The new link might spare local car-ridden residents around one kilometre of detour. Note the florist’s and delicatessen grocery on the left side of my snap. The two facilities have not changed by a bit since 20 years (I lived a stone’s throw to this spot until 2005), resisting competition from posh flower shops and Lidl and Kaufland shops opened nearby in early 2000s.

On Sunday afternoon we paid a visit to Warsaw Uprising Museum. This was my second trip to that establishment this year, so I served as a guide. The museum, as each public one is proscribed to open its doors free of charge once week. Here the day when visitors do not need to buy tickets is Sunday, hence a long queue to the entrance. The wait, fortunately, did not take long and after some 20 minutes we crossed the door of the building. After an hour and a half, as we were leaving, rain was pouring down heavily. Bang went plans of ambling around the new residential and commercial developments of Wola district.

On Monday and Tuesday I escaped to work (refused to take the whole week off and put my patience to such test, imagine my grin when I was driving off bound to be away from home for eleven hours) so my mother took care of the guests, showing them nooks and crannies linked to our family’s history in Piaseczno and on Tuesday they went to Warsaw to Królikarnia Park, Łazienki Park and to Palace of Culture’s observation deck.

On Wednesday morning we headed for Polish Jews’ Museum. The probably most magnificent museum in Warsaw was opened over three years ago, on 70th anniversary of the Ghetto Uprising outbreak. The exhibition strikes with modernity and gives visitors the chance not just to familiarise with the history of Jews on the territory of Poland (not sparing the shameful pieces of it), but also acquaints them with Jews’ culture and religion.

Walking quite carefully through the exhibition took us more than two hours and if I can hint those interested in visiting the museum (definitely worthwhile), go through the first part of the exhibition, until the end of eighteenth century faster and than slow down, since as you move towards the present, the story gets more appealing.

Having left the museum, we strolled around the very centre of the capital to let the relatives see the recently built skyscrapers (in Warsaw’s terms building having more than 20 storeys) – Q22, Warsaw Spire and Cosmopolitan.

After the lunch the family were tired enough to stay in, while I took a bike for a short trip around the neighbour- hood. In Nowa Iwiczna, next to the station, pavement south of ul. Krasickiego was under construction. Dwellers of roadside houses were overseeing workers to ensure driveways to their properties were assembled properly (i.e. without curbs and not too slippery).

Little was going on close the station in Nowa Iwiczna. The level crossing has been opened, target tracks have been laid therein, yet the old island platform remained nearly intact and the place seemed to be lagging behind in terms of work progress, compared to other sections of W-wa Okęcie – Piaseczno modernised section.

Further north, in Jeziorki, tarmac has been ripped off ul. Karczunkow- ska and literally nothing was going on. As I turned up there, it was just before 4 p.m. so I expected to observe construction crews bustling about. Instead, the only humans at the scene were two men next to gatekeeper’s hut, staring at the desolated place. Besides, not a living soul in sight. Closure of the level crossing is an inconvenience for locals therefore swift pace of works should be ensured to minimise it.

In Dawidy, rail-wise, same progress of works as one station south. However here the level crossing has been revamped, yet gates have not been put up. Passengers can use one new platform next to newly-laid track used currently by trains running in both directions. The northbound track has been ripped and no signs of further course of works could be witnessed.

Cycling home along ul. Baletowa I spotted a ZTM bus, operating a newly launched 737 service. Inhabitants of this part of Zielony Ursynów had been waiting for a bus connection to town for 20 years and had greeted the first bus a few days earlier with ribbon-cutting, bread and salt. Must ul. Karczunkowska have been closed to bring those people closer to civilisation and relieve them from dependence on cars and rarely running trains which do not reach Ursynów or Mokotów?

On Thursday morning we set off to take a walk through Krakowskie Przedmieście. My mother and aunt visited interiors of all churches by the street, then we strolled around Plac Zamkowy. End of August is still a height of holiday season, so majority of people around (just like in Polin Museum) were foreigners.

Then guests took us to a café in Old Town Square to enjoy “home-made” ice-cream. While waiting for my portion, I snapped a bird, plucking and pecking flower petals. Then, I accidentally caught the fellow flying away, shooed by a waiter.

While heading towards the castle to turn right in the direction of the Unkown Soldier’s Tomb and Ogród Saski, I took a picture of the National Stadium. The sport arena looks splendid, unlike my photo which rather resembles an advertisement of Skoda Fabia (I somehow failed to notice the car, whose driver probably did not give a damn about traffic restrictions).

On Thursday afternoon we took the last trip to Konstancin Jeziorna. The place, which I used to pop in on often as a child, has undergone a huge change since I last visited the sanatoria park in spring 2013 (documented visit in 2011). The most dilapidated area near Jeziorka river has been marvellously revitalised, since three years ago where the pavement lies you could see a narrow trampled path, and wild shrubs were overgrowing it on both sides. The old sanatoria building was demolished to give way to a spa facility.

Hugonówka café, opened in 2014, is now the main cultural house in Konstancin, serving both as eatery and as scene of theatre and open-air cinema. Compared to how badly it looked in 2013, the stride made here brings out joy. Konstancin now is one of excellent weekend trip destinations for Varsovians!

On Friday early morning another Pendolino took my cousin and his wife home, while my aunt took a bus to Legionowo to visit her another cousin. The remaining household members could finally have a sigh of relief and after a solid cleaning up could enjoy a slightly longer weekend. Today around noon I set off to the airport to pick up my acquaintance from Germany who played host to me and my friend during holidays in 2005. I promised her to drive her to Wólka cemetery to visit her daughter’s grave, then we are about to eat out and her another daughter should take her home.

The weather these days is truly summer-like, yet +30C heat this time is absolutely tolerable for me. Cool nights and brisk mornings help air out interiors which give shelter from the heat in the afternoons, while the very air is dry and breeze takes the edge off heat. Long-term forecasts predict such weather is to continue until the end of first decade of September and may they prove accurate!

Sunday, 14 August 2016

But a change of heart comes slow…

Taking note of my unchanged approach to Warsaw Uprising last week has motivated me to rediscover my pieces of writing from the early years of blogging. I have run PES for over seven years; despite several crises I have soldiered on, yet the period of most intense and inspiration-driven writing lasted for somewhat more than a year. Later on, since the summer of 2010 when I took up a full-time job, posts began to appear once a week and were far less often written on the spur of the moment. Over the first year of blogging I blurted out thoughts I most needed to share with the world, then I moved on and freshness went by… Now I genuinely miss those days when youngster’s zeal was filling me with energy and inspiration do the job I do not feel up to today.

The posts I’m revisiting today were written when I was 21 or 22 (vs. 28 today). One would claim I should have grown mature; should have undergone a process which involves reshaping one’s views on several matters. When I read my very first posts (from the first three or four months of blogging) I find them childish and clumsily written. After this formative period, my style seemed to have been brushed up on.

Time to find out how many times I have changed my mind. As I set off to take this journey, I safely bet my opinions have not evolved much.

The concept of shelving the public debt still sounds like a daydream. Deep down I agree with myself, yet the more rational parts of me reminds me the government to some extent functions like an enterprise for which there is an optimum level of debt below which borrowing is a cost-effective form of financing.

In 2009 media coverage was my once source of information on pathologies in retail banking in Poland. In 2016 it looks not more different. Today I could write more about the dark side of corporate banking, yet even though I am striving to withhold my identity I resist the temptation.

Five years after graduation, I hear from youngsters I know my university continues to be on decline. In international rankings SGH has been overtaken some time ago by Kozminski Academy, marking an imminent change in the higher education system in Poland where public universities have been superior to private poor and profit-oriented ones.

Returning to 2009 I can boast about being a critic of the bygone shape of pension system in Poland before Donald Tusk’s government decided to dismantle it. With hindsight, as the private-run pension fund business has been effectively pared down, I believe every word I wrote was justified and the two-stage (2011 and 2013/2014) crackdown on the pension funds was a move in the right direction.

My (modest) proposal of a flat-rate tax with a high allowance still sound appealing, yet I would slightly modify it by introducing a higher tax rate and a higher allowance and would add child allowances to it.

The purpose of that post was actually to mock at the late president Lech Kaczyński. In November 2009 no one thought in less than five months Mr Kaczyński would tragically die. Everyone thought his term would draw to a close in a year and he would be replaced by a candidate from PO entourage. Today when I observe conduct of Mr Duda I appreciate Lech Kaczyński was not that bad, particularly in comparison to the current “head of state”.

After the decease of general Jaruzelski in 2014 discussions on legitimacy and backdrop of declaring martial law in Poland in 1981 have somewhat faded. Still I argue the state of affairs in Poland was complicated at that time and I believe we will probably forever suffer from lack facts and documents helping historians fairly assess that decision.

My essay on dire effects of loose monetary policy was written after a year or so of pursuit of such policies by major central banks. From today’s perspective I still conceptually agree with my reasoning and could write the same again, yet I need to bear in mind ultra-loose monetary policies have been run for nearly eight years and unconventional tools have also been harnessed to keep economies afloat. Oddly enough, evils listed in paragraph (1) to (4) at the bottom of the post have not materialised or have materialised only to a marginal extent which should prompt me to rethink my approach.

In early 2010 I challenged the widespread theory the financial meltdown had been caused by greed, pointing out its major cause had been lack of fear. Today the theory still sounds alluring while I need to add another, definitely not mould-breaking, note. Economic actors will do whatever they are not prohibited from to pursue their goals. Therefore regulations and their proper enforcement are vital to prevent financial crises.

My critical look at various investment theories could today be enhanced by the experience of recent years. Theory of macroeconomics has been reshaped by unprecedented phenomena witnessed in post-crisis years (negative interest years, ultra-loose monetary policies fuelling no substantial asset bubbles, scrapping the paradigm of risk-free securities, etc.)

While my financial well-being has incomparably improved since 2010 I still think interns should be remunerated for their work. My approach is shared by an increasing number of employers who erased unpaid internships from their job openings as part of incorporating CSR agendas.

The take on Poland between 1945 and 1989 appears well-balanced. I find assertions that one occupier was swapped for another in 1945 out of place. Keeping in mind Poland was dependent on Soviet Union, its political system was far from democracy and its economic order was ineffective, between 1945 and 1989 warfare was generally not conducted on the territory on Poland, buildings and factories were erected rather than torn down, an ordinary man, as long as they kept their mouth shut, had no reason to be afraid of their life and the number of victims of 44 years of oppressive system was lower than of 6 years of Nazi occupation.

In July 2010 I had a heated post-Smolensk argument with Toyah and his fellows being on the other side of the political divide line. Today we stand where we stood then, while the end-justifies-the-means remains a motto of PiS and their advocates. I have to also boast here about my impeccable anti-PiS credentials. Never, ever, since I have been seriously interested in politics, i.e. since early 2005, have I ever been enchanted by PiS. In 2005, when PO was bound to win the parliamentary election by a tiny two of three percentage points and create coalition with PiS, I was not fond of vision of this right-wing coalition taking charge of Poland. I became the PO electorate after the party put itself in opposition to PiS and its social agenda drifted left.

The picture of today’s career-minded youngsters painted in this post is a piece of utter rubbish, I confess. Most young people I know strike work-life balance well and have no problems with relationships with people although I still feel sorry so few Michał’s friends turned up at his wedding. Having more important things to do than celebrating important moments in friends’ lives with them is still a plague with my peers.

In this post I foresaw the history will be rewritten sooner or later. Just recall that sentence: On Tuesday “Gazeta Polska” published an interview with Jarosław Kaczyński in which he envisages Lech Wałęsa will soon be discredited and after his name is dragged through the mud Lech Kaczyński will become a symbol of Solidarity. This is taking place, proving how determined politician Jarosław Kaczyński is.

Today, even more than then, I find current affairs in my life more important than politics. There are moments I feel sick, yet I am growing indifferent. On Thursday I returned frazzled from a two-day business trip and did not even feel like learning what the sentence of the Constitutional Tribunal on the new law governing the institution is (content was predictable) and what implications of it would be.

Today I no longer would write rants on linguistic competencies. Despite using English every day at work and making use of all four skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening), my use of English has been narrowed down to professional topics. I wonder when my fluency in English was at its height, but I am nearly confident that moment is behind me. Keeping up excellent command of non-native language if you do not live in the country where that language is widely used is a challenge indeed.

Next post in two weeks at best, in three weeks at worst. My family from Jelenia Góra are visiting the capital so I will be looking after them next weekend, while after they go home I will need to take care of another acquaintance coming over to Warsaw. Take care!