Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Exam in operational risk management

No, not the one at school, the one in life, this is the school of hard knocks! As some of you noticed I was absent in the blogosphere for a few days, to be precise from Thursday to Monday. The computer rehab was totally unplanned, I wrote here many times that mishaps always strike out of the blue and a few days ago this theory materialised.

For almost four years my computer had worked beyond reproach, but recently it began to work more and more slowly, in a word it became an ordeal to use. On Wednesday I had a bad day, the laptop also wasn’t in top form and eventually I lost my temper and spanked it in an attempt to persuade it to run faster. To no avail, it didn’t, but the other day when I turned it on the operating system didn’t want to load. After a few attempts I decided to run a recovery procedure and blithely left the room. After a quarter I was back just to see the hard disk had been formatted and the system was being restored. I thought it wasn’t a tragedy, I deluded myself everything could be recovered, it would be just a matter of money, but the problems were just setting in.

Firstly, the reinstalled system was overwritten on some of the sectors on hard disk, making it impossible to recover around 10 gigabytes of data saved on the disk. But the computer at least worked, I installed a modem and looked for a company which would help me get back my data collected for no apparent reason for many years.

When I found one, thins began to tangle up even more. It turned out the hard disks by Fujitsu-Siemens are generally vulnerable and fragile, to boot given that this one was not in pristine condition, it didn’t need much to conk out – my fault. On the course of recovery process in which they somehow managed to get back around 30% of my data the disk launched an auto-destruction procedure and gave up the ghost. Nice.

The only positive aspect of the whole story is the company I’ve found. Recovery Center is an excellent example of how customer service in Poland should look. The guy who runs it (not much older than me) proved himself to be a professional and reliable young entrepreneur. A normal company would recover more or less of my data, leave me with a worthless hard disk and quote me at least 500 PLN. At RC, not only they recovered as much data as they could, but also they fixed me up with a new hard disk and restored my original operating system, probably worth still around 200 PLN. And at the end they quoted me very favourably – I paid for the whole service 300 PLN and 170 PLN for the new hard disk. Maybe you wouldn’t call 470 PLN a snip, but somewhere else I’d have been charged probably around 1000 PLN. So if it happens to you that your hard disk, pendrive, digital camera or any other carrier packs up and you live in Warsaw or around, do not hesitate to contact them. The only drawback is the road leading up to their head office in Kierszek, south to Las Kabacki. I wouldn’t advise to try to get there by car. I made this mistake once, I managed not to damage any part of the vehicle but then I simply cycled there, road full of potholes, dangerous for undercarriage is not how the infrastructure on the perimeter of Warsaw should look.

But it would be best, if you learnt from my mistakes, so I appeal to you. Do back-ups. Buy a pendrive and store there all your important files, just in case. You don’t have to hit your hard disk, they break down for no reason.

Now I feel as if I was writing on someone else’s computer. It runs faster, work is more comfortable, but my digital belonging are lost or kept in 6 GB of miscellaneous chunks which will be brought into order for many weeks. All music is gone, but I hardly ever listen mp3 files on computer, I burn CDs right away. Six films downloaded and not yet saved on CDs or DVD are gone. Interestingly all photos I took since December were recovered. When it comes to the documents, many of them can be found in the random heap of data. I don’t even feel like sorting it out. Not a tragedy, but not a pleasure as well. Following my previous threads I compared my loss to the tragedy of the people who lost everything in the flood. The price of my folly was also quite reasonable – less than 500 PLN. Compare it to other people who out of their carelessness crash cars, or, Heaven forbid, injure or kill people in traffic accidents and you’ll see the scale of my damage is negligible. And I inflicted a damage only to myself. If you managed to read through the whole post, just draw some conclusions.

Sorry once again for a break in blogging. The next post will appear on Sunday, just after the exit poll results are announced. I’m somehow no longer afraid about the result, but the growing support for the candidate of the System, Russian Secret Services and other criminal organisations does not mean you can shrug off the vote. Go to the polls on Sunday!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The vote is over...

No major surprise and two minor surprises – my conclusion after the exit poll results were disclosed. There’s a considerable discrepancy between the preliminary results – Mr Komorowski earned between 40% and 46% of votes, Mr Kaczynski between 33% and 36%. However, the gaps between the winner and the runner-up significantly vary. In TVN it was 12.5 percentage points, in TVP only 5.5 percentage points. How come?

The biggest winner of this election is Mr Napieralski, he has a reason to be proud of his result – around 14 per cent of votes means he has won his “to be or not to be in politics” battle. Today’s vote might a beginning of his real political career and may turn over a new leaf for the left wing of Polish political scene. I have to congratulate to Mr Korwin-Mikke as well. The fourth score proves Poles are sick of typical politicians and long for a pinch of straightforwardness – this fills me with optimism.

Mr Komorowski in his speech thanked Mr Pawlak and congratulated to Mr Napieralski. I’m sure very soon I’ll see or hear somebody reproaching him over not mentioning Mr Kaczynski, what will surely be perceived as lack of good manners. Mr Kaczynski did congratulate to Mr Napieralski, as both candidates will be trying to garner Mr Napieralski’s votes and did not forget to say a few good words to Mr Komorowski.

I’ve had enough of the campaign and I can’t say I’m really happy to have to keep abreast of this for the next two weeks. I hope the candidates will focus on substantive discussion on the future of Poland and no skeletons will pop up from any cupboards. The last post in “Polish presidential election in 2010” will be published on July 4th.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Change of heart at the very end

Maybe I had too much time to mull over my political choices, maybe I read and argued too much recently, maybe emotions take over when the mind receives too many signals… Maybe? Under the spell of all those information I have been bombarded with I changed my mind. The chances of the candidate I was leaning towards to become a president are close to zero, but the polls suggest that another candidate might win on Sunday, if only enough people don’t shrug off the possibility of recurrence of IV RP. So the tactical voting is my ultimate choice.

The feeling that has accompanied me for the last two or three days is fear. I read the best Polish political blog of 2009 and I finally got what I wanted. I have insight into the mindset of who journalists of “Polityka” dubbed “acolyte of Mr Kaczynski”. Other parties cannot boast about such ardent voters, other parties cannot count on support of staunch electorate. Just look at the “couldn’t care less” Poles who cast their votes for PO. They choose Donek, Bronek and others fellows not because PO is a great party, has a plan to turn Poland around, crack down on officialdom, build infrastructure, cut swelling budget deficit, invest in social capital, etc. At least two third of the people who’ll vote for Bronek will, like me, do it just to prevent Mr Kaczynski’s comeback to power. Many of them, like me, are scared.

I do not doubt Poland is the most important for Mr Kaczynski, but the importance of welfare of Poland and its residents might make him block the government’s reform plans. A strong president needs to put his foot down whenever it’s necessary. After all the ones who does not agree with him are not true Poles, legitimate patriots. My experience tells me Mr Kaczynski’s views can be summarised by five words: “a dissenter is a foe”.

Or not necessarily. Another variant is that if Mr Kaczynski wins, he will ease up and tone down the public discourse. The “change” campaign will carry on and the new president will stay mild, warm and ready to cooperate with the government. Meanwhile the good atmosphere will allow PiS to garner more supporters and win the parliamentary elections in 2010. I don’t know who would run the party after Mr Kaczynski has to lay down his membership card and who would become a prime minister then, but I hope they just will not try to tamper with the economy. Am I not going too far ahead???

I thought what “hostile media” wrote after the Smolensk disaster about bloggers who advocate PiS smacked of exaggeration. Now I see I was wrong; the best Polish political blogger and his mates from Polish political blogosphere are well-organised and determined soldiers. I wanted to use also the word “obedient”, but I pressed ‘backspace’ key and deleted it. They are not told what to do, they do it off their own bat, totally voluntarily. My diagnosis of their mindsets is that they have an idea, a clear and coherent vision of Poland. But on the other hand those zealots seem to me dangerous. They don’t try to be objective, to see nor appreciate the point the other side may have. They are glad to put up a fight, to hurl stones, just to win, end justifies the means. If this is how the presidency of Mr Kaczynski is going to look like, it will be a far belated eye-opener for thousands of Poles.

The admiration for the caucus of Mr Kaczynski leaves me speechless. Was the health-care privatisation case a lost cause from the beginning? Did the henchmen of Mr Kaczynski know he would have to apologise? Quite possibly, they wanted to highlight the problem and resort a pristine feeling humans are influenced by – the fear. Many PiS voters are lost in the modern world, so invoking the fear bears fruits…

Or maybe I’m blinkered, narrow-minded, I don’t understand what the damned lies on which Poland is built are, who is appallingly insolent, who laugsh in true Poles’ faces. Maybe I’m manipulated by the forces of evil, the System, the murderers of late president and his wife. If so, name them precisely and persuade why I should change my views.

Keep the faith and go to the polls on Sunday. Vote for a candidate who would be in your opinion the best president of Poland, this is what you should do. On Sunday evening when the silence is over I’ll try to comment on the exit poll.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The campaign hots up

The beginning of my fortnight-long holidays accidentally concurs with the run-up of the presidential campaign. This very unfavourable coincidence means I have to overcome the irresistible desire to make the most of free days by lazing away. It’s not the right time to lie about on the sofa and wait for the vote. Actually there’s nothing to wait for, the weather on Sunday is forecast to be awful, so my plans of having a barbecue and devouring merrily kiełbasa wyborcza fell through. Tough luck!

I had a feeling, I somehow sensed the week before the election would be exciting, unlike the previous dreary days. And indeed, pressure is on the rise, emotions are running high, something is going on, finally.

Mr Napieralski had a slip-up. His beautiful, but still hollow words were put to a test by one ordinary old lady. It’s not that easy to answer a question how to raise money to the state budget. Actually a question where the state takes money from might be inconvenient for most of the candidates. But after all it’s reassuring – it bears a good testimony of Poles’ rising economic awareness. On the other hand Mr Napieralski had a great performance during the Sunday’s debate; in terms of image – he spoke adroitly and a lot, but said little, like other candidates.

Mr Komorowski continued his never-ending series of gaffes. After his last slip of tongue Poland is still weighing its decision whether to leave NATO or not. Endeared by the scale and frequency of brick-dropping, Mr Kaczynski’s caucus prepared a compilation of gaffes Mr Komorowski had made. Enjoy the read.

I found for you an anthology of Jarosław Kaczynski’s “quote unquote”. Enjoy the read!

Warsaw court ruled today that Mr Kaczynski has to apologise to Mr Komorowski for saying that the fellow runner is in favour of privatisation of health service and take back his words. Mr Komorowski doesn’t have to apologise to Mr Kaczynski for calling him a liar. Mr Kaczynski can appeal against the ruling. I don’t know what he’s going to do about it, nevertheless it was a blow for late president’s brother. Is it going to tip the balance for Mr Komorowski? I’d be wary of speculating…

And the turnout. I really fear it, because as the latest news say, for younger Poles holidays are more important than casting a ballot. If lying on a beach or hanging around anywhere else is more important than influencing the future of our country, I’m ashamed of my peers. Low turnout will be a catastrophe of Polish democracy – five years ago Poles were sick of tired of politics and we remember what happened. Today Poles want to have fun, but aftermath may be the same.

The recent polls show Mr Komorowski can get 48 per cent of votes in first round. The support Mr Cimoszewski has thrown behind him and today’s court ruling may persuade some voters to choose him or might give food for thought to those who believed Mr Kaczynski has changed. And last but not least – the run-off would set us back around fifty million PLN. Come to think of it – wouldn’t it be practical to save on the election?

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Good time in bad times

In the previous post I tried to put my worries into a broader perspective and I strongly feel this thread deserves some elaboration.

On Friday, while damning the deadly heat I looked back on one of the coolest days of January 2010. On that day, despite all troubles I strongly and clearly felt under my skin this year would be exceptionally good for me. I had an intense inkling of bright days ahead, rosy time against all odds. I don’t know what prompted that unbidden bout of optimism, but it was the first time I felt such a wave of confidence and unfortunately it hasn’t happened since then. Next weeks and months brought ups and downs, luckily the latter prevailed. If somebody asked me if 2010 (hitherto) has been a good year for me, my answer would be positive. I achieved one roaring success, I did only one stupid thing (in fact I paid the price of trusting a fellow man and according to my rules I’m suffering the consequences of my own recklessness and getting over the loss), but the reason for me to be happy is that nothing bad happened. I wasn’t affected by any misery, I’ve been feeling safe, I could easily pursue my goals and broaden my horizons. Everything seems to indicate the second half of the year should be no worse than the first one, but beware… I wrote on this blog a few times the worst strikes us out of the blue. Whenever we take it for granted nothing bad can happen to us we lay ourselves open to mishaps. The very awareness of mishaps is what prompts us to take precautions to avoid them.

The paragraph above was on a micro level. I am anonymous man in the crowd, if you pass me by on a street you may not recognise me, I am a part of a nation, a group of people from different backgrounds, from all walks of life, with different social status and, what is the most important, with different problems. Now let’s ask the same question again – has 2010 been a good year for Poland / Poles? Here the answers would vary.

Sometimes (and more and more often as the time goes by), in spite of my sanity I ditch the concept that everything can be justified rationally and ask myself if there is a plan, a deity that looks at us from above, rewards and punishes human beings for their deeds and misdeeds. Was there a punishment?

Just look back at 2010 in Poland. It started with harsh winter. No matter if you like severe snowfalls and long-lasting cold snaps it hit you. How many times did you have to trudge through the snow, wait for a train or bus that didn’t come? How much more did you have to pay for heating your house or flat? Harsh winter affected our wallets, affected dynamics of Polish (and not only) GDP, but after all it happens once in several years and in comparison to what followed it was really unimportant…

In March I thought Poland was in the luck. Heavy snowfalls didn’t cause a flood because snow was melting rather slowly and the ground wasn’t frozen and could absorb litres of water. We got away with a flood, not for long…

Then 10 April came as a shock. A string of human errors, negligence and bad weather led up to the biggest tragedy in post-war history of Poland. Was it planned? No, I don’t mean if Russian secret services planned to assassinate Polish president and liquidate some other inconvenient statesmen. Was it a sign from providence? Should it guide us, prompt us to change? The tragic accident was soon built up with a myth of outstanding president who passed away in cursed Katyn ground. Was the ash cloud a sign of what once was called “God’s displeasure”? For me it was a sign, though not from the providence that we should not build our national identity on cult of death in tragic circumstances. A Pole should not be associated with a martyr. We cannot forget about our history, full of ups and downs, unfortunately the downs prevail, but isn’t is the opportunity to learn from our ancestor’s mistakes? Should we be more forward-looking and less past-oriented?

After the last bodies of fatalities of Smolensk crash were buried the rains began to fell and here we have another disaster – the worst flood in this millennium. Thousands of people lost their belongings and property, the have to pull themselves together and start a new life, from scratch. The flood gives room for fault-finding (who gave the planning permission?) and makes us wiser after the event. For how long, I’d ask. As an economist I also try to foresee the implications for the economy. At the moment there are no plans of budget amendments, but the deficit is one the rise. Temporarily rebuilding damaged infrastructure and roads may create jobs and stimulate demand, but in the long run it will bring it down. People, local and national governments will have to run up debts to finance the reconstruction and then pay it off. The money they’ll use to repay debts won’t be spent – won’t give someone else a job, won’t boost VAT revenues, etc.

Next Sunday we’ll go to the polls to elect a new president. I look at the campaign, at candidates and like never before I wish Lech Kaczynski was alive and could end his term in December. I don’t know anyone who was in seventh heaven when they heard the news of late president’s decease. I suppose there were few and far between such people. In truth those who didn’t like Mr Kaczynski remained indifferent, not elated.

Yes, I fear Mr Kaczynski wins the election. And I won’t be surprised if it happens. If nothing changes during the coming week no candidate stands a chance to win on 20 June, so we’ll have a run-off in which some voters will vote for and many against. The funny thing that the target for both groups is the same candidate. Jarosław Kaczynski has a group of stalwart supporters and a group of adversaries, both are numbered in millions. Mr Komorowski’s plight will be fully deserved. Look at the list of his slip-ups. The caucus of Mr Komorowski could prepare a similar list of blunders made by Mr Kaczynski and his twin brother, but hey, Mr Komorowski campaign is a string of cock-ups, while Mr Kaczynski doesn’t appear publicly often and his campaign is an excellent example of nifty political marketing. Right now I’m sure no matter who becomes a president I won’t be proud of him. Mr Kaczynski will surely be continuing the aborted mission of his brother, Mr Komorowski has no makings of head of state who could be active in international politics. If he becomes a president we will just avoid rows between government and head of state and he won’t veto the laws Civic Platform would like to pass.

Over. If there’s something remarkable I could mention at the end, I read somewhere (I tried to find and substantiate it, but search engine let me down) someone’s vision, also dated January 2010. They said in April there would be a very tragic accident in which many official would die, in July there will be another national mourning and in September a reputable and famous Pole would die. For 99.9 per cent it doesn’t happen, but just in case I’m warning you in advance.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Problems always around

Everyone has them and it can’t be helped. For PO-voters these are mistrust, bureaucracy and limiting civil liberties, for PiS-voters conspiracies, manipulations, ookwud, lies, distortions, dependence. For PSL-voters privileges in pension system, for SLD-voters social welfare privileges. For one of the readers of this blog a key problem are gay rights. Everyone has different priorities, some are serious, other not even worthwhile. And finally we should draw a thick line between the serious and diminutive ones.

Look at what has been making the headlines for the last weeks. Actually there are two topics: accursed presidential campaign and the flood. Under the former ten candidates run for the office of the head of state, but only two of them stand a real chance to win. Many Poles are put on the spot and can’t settle on who to vote for. For many educated and open-minded ones none of the two candidates has making of an outstanding stateman. Many voters will put a cross against Mr Komorowski only to prevent comeback of Kaczynski’s presidency. A funny sacrifice – choose lesser of two evils just not to face a disaster. Choose a mediocre one just to fend off the mistrustful one. I made a decision to not to vote for Mr Komorowski in the first round. I have a certain vision of Poland and its president so I’ll vote for Mr Olechowski even if he’s going to get two per cent of votes.

The former is much worse. Candidates put on their shiny shoes and stroll around the embankments built of sandsacks. They come and go and the flooded are left with their problems, damaged houses, washed away belongings and no hope for the future. Whenever my thoughts are with them I discern how negligible everything what bothers me is. I have no reason to be unhappy – I’m healthy, quite well-off, study for taxpayers’ money at one of allegedly best schools of economics, I got a decently-paid job, my future prospects seem bright despite the wobbly labour market.

Yesterday I rode home a 709 bus and almost lost my temper listening to a conversation between two stupid teenagers for whom the biggest problem was what to wear for a Friday party. The generation pampered by welfare is unable to distinguish between real problems and what we make up whenever we don’t have real problems. Did they think about people whose houses collapsed in a landslide on Ursynów escarpment? Did they think about tens or hundreds of local residents whose houses in Jeziorki, Pyry or Nowa Iwiczna were flooded?

We help the flooded and the hype is over we forget, they have to carry on and their trauma lasts months or years. On Sunday TVN Warszawa crew was in Jeziorki to film houses under water. Yesterday they turned up to my school alerted by the students appalled by a recent scandal that had broken at SGH. I usually advocate the system which gives students a lot of freedom, but somehow it also creates anarchy, dilutes responsibility and secures jobs for the untouchable academic staff. The problem is that rule of law is not what can be observed at SGH. The untouchable do whatever they want, are not familiar with what they deal with and make flawed decision that wind up students and waste their efforts. That chaos has reached its ultimate limits – incensed students decided to contact TVN Warszawa and TOK FM to let the rest of the world know their university is run (partly) by incompetent people. Just try to imagine – you complete a course, pass exam in it and then you find out it has been deleted, God knows why exactly. Watch the footage I’m linking to above, read the article in today’s Gazeta Stołeczna. This is not the first time such things happen and not the first time we tell on our authorities to media just to claim our rights.

Beware, there are two sides of the story. On there is a totally incompetent Mrs Dean who cocks up everything she does and shirks responsibility for the mess she creates. Mrs Dean is accompanied by an incompetent spokesman, both have no idea what’s going on around, what’s in the curriculum and even where the heart of the problems lies. On the other side there are some other representatives of school’s authorities and student council who pull all-nighters to straighten the matter out – it’s always heartening. I deeply believe everything will shape up and students won’t have to get credits in many courses once again. The courses will be returned to their study documentations but the problem will actually be swept under the carpet. In private company someone responsible for such a mess would be fired right away. In a state-run university guilty of this mayhem won’t be dismissed, heads won’t roll as they should. We have plenty of untouchable, complacent people and “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” system under which pathologies thrive…

There’s always a glimmer of hope – reporters of “hostile” media want to pay attention to students’ problems. Unfortunately I couldn’t be present at the rally they filmed as I had to attend another event (look out for my name in Monday’s Gazeta Wyborcza, insert Gazeta Praca), but I wish I could have been there – there should be no indifference and no tolerance for professional misconduct…

Come to think of it – look at your tribulations, put yourself in a certain perspective, don’t get carried away, life’s too short to worry about trifles…

Sunday, 6 June 2010

From the dried-up suburb...

After the terrible downpour that caused numerous ponds and brooks to wreak havoc in the neighbourhood we have enjoyed three days of sunshine and warmth. The weather has been conducive to the ground which could absorb more water. Yesterday I didn’t go out anywhere, as every decent PO-voter I just had a barbecue and gobbled up grilled sausages as the fire engines were pumping the water out of flooded gardens. Today I cycled to see the scale of destruction in the southern suburbs of Warsaw…

Here’s the most awful aftermath of the severe rainfalls. The wall of this not that new building collapsed. I don’t know when exactly, but last weekend it was unspoilt and on Friday it looked like this. My version of event is that the land beneath the building slid, foundations sagged and the wall collapsed… Note that the building was put up some forty years ago and for four decades nothing comparable to the Corpus Christi downpour happened. Yes, I know, I should have stopped a bike and then snap. That’s why it’s blurred.

One of many “ponds” in Nowa Wola, I counted around a dozen of similar XXL-puddles. Still one can see there many hoses piping out waters from garages, basements and gardens. Fortunately I saw only one household where the water must have got inside and furniture were put out and drying on a backyard.

I didn’t notice any damages caused by water in Zgorzała, but in Jeziorki things look worse (at first sight and three days after the actual flooding). Here you can see another “temporary lake”, across the tracks, beyond ul. Gogolińska.

A more comprehensive report from this area can be found on W-wa Jeziorki blog – part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5. One of the pictures, taken from the platform of W-wa Jeziorki station shows the same Skoda Favorit, waterlogged. I wonder if the engine of hapless car kicks in.

To the right – culprit of flooding on ul. Puławska on Friday morning – an inconspicuous pond on ul. Pozytywki. Who’d suppose its waters could spill over…? Today ul. Pozytywki is passable, I noticed some houses had been underwater as their dwellers put out some of their belongings…

Ul. Puławska is entirely dry. The green cult Tico is still there. On TVN Warszawa I saw a post of a guy who claimed to be the owner of that car. I doesn’t look like a vehicle whose engine wouldn’t start right away… I wanted to photograph the marks of water level in green office building, but a security guard threatened to take away my camera and I had to dash off without snapping the building.

Pond in Mysiadło still floods the area around, but the water on the pavement was shallow enough to cycle through it. What’s going to happen next? Forecasters are issuing warnings against new storms and heavy rainfalls from tomorrow on. Plus we are quite likely to face another disaster, unbearable heat – the temperature in Warsaw may reach +32C on Friday. Needless to say such weather is very conducive to formation of storm clouds…

Friday, 4 June 2010

From the flooded suburb

Until yesterday I thought if you live far from a river you won’t be underwater. Until yesterday I was wrong. The Wednesday downpour was ghastly, yesterday the rain was pelting down for around four hours. The electricity was cut off, so around quarter past nine I decided to go to bed. In the morning I woke up, my father and I checked if there was no water in the garage and in the basement. Fortunately we didn’t notice a single droplet of water since three years ago after our garage was flooded, my father got the permission to revamp the draining system and the rainwater can flow into the sewage drains.

As it turned out, in the neighbourhood there were very few people lucky like us. Many gardens and basements are flooded, some 100 metres away on one of the backyards water reached a level of 40 centimetres. As the media report, the situation is really alarming in Piaseczno, where a small brook unexpectedly turned into a big lake. Dirty water reaches there a level of around one metre, dwellers of local houses and blocks are being evacuated…

At my school no one thought it would be a nice idea to let the students enjoy the long weekend before the actual exam period, so I decided to try to get there. To no avail, as you might have surmised…
On my way to the bus stop I saw nothing more disturbing than flooded street and gardens. Having closed in on ul. Puławska I beheld the pond in Mysiadło in a size I’ve never seen before – usually the pavement is three metres away from the pond. The attempt to get somehow to Warsaw would have been a total mistake, if it hadn’t been for the photo coverage I could prepare.

In spite of the long weekend and non-peak hours the traffic jam on ul. Puławska was worse than usual. The bus on the photo to the right departed from the bus stop in Mysiadło just a few seconds before I get there and decided to walk towards the junction of ul. Puławska and ul. Karczunkowska which had been underwater. By the time I got there the bus didn’t even reach the stop in Dąbrówka, I walked around three times faster than the vehicles moved. The sight was really dreadful – both lanes were flooded, some desperate guys driving towards Piaseczno were trying to get through the great puddle. I decided to give up on the abortive idea of getting anywhere and returned home. On my way I snapped once again the pond in Mysiadło and one of the willows, struck by a lightening yesterday. I marked the “normal” shore with yellow dotted line.

Back home I found out the situation was getting worse. Neighbours said the sewage treatment plant in Piaseczno has also been flooded and doesn’t work. If it’s not fixed soon the sewage may blow up and start pouring into garages, basements and to the streets.

I didn’t take photos where the tragedy is really big and where the dwellers were fighting the water. Above you can see only a flooded field, one third of the village look like this. I heard landline phones also don’t work after the water washed the switchboard box… I hope this was the last rainfall and in the coming two days the misery of those who suffered losses won’t be aggravated…

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Catch-up post

After three weeks of plugging away and being busy handling some stuff I’m back and since now new posts will appear rather regularly. Now it’s all downhill – I took seven out of ten exams in this exam period and did my bit where I should have done. Today, on Corpus Christi I decided not to pore over any books nor notes, plus in the afternoon I’m stranded at home as the procession’s route this year is my street and one of the altars has been put in my neighbours’ gate. Time to sum up what has happened recently.

1) The PZU IPO…
…has turned out to be roaring success, not only in terms of bridging the gap between government’s spending and revenues but also in many other facets. This has been the biggest IPO this year and the triumph of new approach to privatisation taken by PO-PSL government. Leaving out the protracting conflict with Eureko which had hampered the IPO for years, this time it was a really “civic privatisation”. The flotation was mostly aimed at individual buyers (I deliberately don’t use the word ‘investors’), each of them could subscribe for maximum 30 stock, 312.50 PLN per each, what totalled to over 9,000 PLN per subscriber. This means that beneficiaries of the operation were 250,000 ordinary people, not only big foreign companies which many times bought Polish enterprises for a song.
PZU was floated on Warsaw Stock Exchange on Wednesday, 12 May, I sold my stocks within three days for no less than 355 PLN. I have to say minister Grad offered 250,000 subscribers something what should not occur in economics – a free lunch or in simple words the chance to reap high profits by taking relatively low risk. I’m looking forward to a next free lunch which will be the Tauron IPO, you can subscribe for the stocks in the value up to 9,450 PLN by 18 June and sell them on 30 June at the earliest, according to current plans.

2) The tension on financial markets…
…was moderately relieved. Risky asset markets bottomed out robustly on 26 May from the levels unseen for many weeks. The problem of Greece has been swept under the carpet, fears of fiscal crises in Europe eased, nobody mentions the imminent burst of property bubble in China. However, I’m wary of the situation when I look at some indicators. Stock markets climbed giving some (not missed) opportunities for quick profits, crude oil prices also picked up but the Zloty remains week, EUR/USD is still in the doldrums and doesn’t give much hope for a recovery. I predict a sideways trend as the greed and fear seem to balance each other out.

3) Flood in Poland.
It seems 2010 is giving Poland a rough ride. The bogey of first months was a harsh winter that impacted economic rebound (though it was observed across the whole northern hemisphere), then Poles suffered a shock after 96 people, including high-rank state officials died in plane crash near Smolensk. May brought frequent rainfalls that led up to the biggest flood since 1997. Thousands of people lost their property, several died and the presidential campaign began to revolve around the natural disaster. Will we be wiser after the event? I suppose there’s no other way of preventing the losses than not giving planning permissions for housing and any other type of development in the areas than might be flooded.

4) The record of flight recorders from presidential TU-154 was released to the public two days ago. The Polish government decided it would be best if everyone could read those documents. The full transparency of the investigation is essential for one crucial reason – to curb conspiracy theories, even though they will never be rooted out and even though there will always be those who don’t believe and know better. The record seems to indicate it was pilots’ recklessness that caused a tragedy, some also point at Russian flight controller’s belated warnings. This story is rather unlikely to be unravelled, also because much of the content is indecipherable. The pilots hoped there would be no tragedy, realised the touchdown would be horrific, the second pilot screamed out the most popular Polish word at the very end of the drama. Many Poles will probably utter the same word on 4 July 2010.

5) Cycling to school remained in the realm of declarations. I have four lame excuses why I didn’t commute to school by bike: either I had to wear a suit, or someone gave me a lift and I went by car, or it was dark the time I was returning home, or the rain was pouring down or forecasters had predicted rainfalls. Nevertheless I liked the weather, at least it wasn’t hot, but yesterday’s humid air (combined with broken down air conditioning in my school’s new building) and subsequent storm were the last straw. I’d be longing for some moderately warm (around +18C) and sunny days…