Sunday, 30 July 2017

One swallow does not make a summer

President Duda’s veto to two out of three new laws overturning the justice system in Poland came as a shock to all participant of Polish political arena and to nearly all by-standers. PiS politicians have been left speechless, as they had believed a set of three signatures should have been a formality. Voice of the opposition was barely audible since they had not prepared speeches for the possibility of vetoing scenario.

Over nearly two years in office, Mr Duda obediently used to sign off all laws coming the parliament dominated by the party he owes his current position. For many months the incumbent president seemed deaf to doubts raised by lawyers and international organisations; only recently he called into question the amended laws on Regional Accountancy Chambers (according to opponents of PiS meant to facilitate overpowering local governments).

The recent double-veto, a painful blow to a grouping which raised Mr Duda to presidency was preceded by intense civic protests (of course those who took to the streets were descendants of communist secret service agents, thieves, traitors and other scoundrels), however I doubt thousands of people giving vent to their disapproval in major cities of Poland were capable of making the president change his mind. Most probably the veto was influenced by voices of people who are deemed to be authorities to Mr Duda.

Alternative theories say the whole veto story might be just a set-up clash devised by Mr Kaczynski or that Mr Duda has decided to finally build a reputation of an independent representative of executive power, not just a notary of his partisans from PiS.

By the way, the verbal clash between representatives of Mr Duda and PiS-run ministry of justice has been probably the biggest split in the crew of Dobra Zmiana since it has got hold of power. Beware though, the crack is not so deep to tear apart the faction which is in charge of the country.

This situation is a crucial reminder the office of president is theoretically independent from any political party and acts as a separate public functionary. In practice, as each of the presidents of Poland after 1989 won the election thanks to his political entourage, the common measure of independence is the number of draft laws coming from a president’s political comrades vetoed or number of draft laws put forward by a president’s political opponents signed off without a murmur.

I find it hard to assess drivers of Mr Duda’s resistance. One swallow does not make a summer, yet I am keeping fingers crossed for him as a constitution guardian. He would need to strain a lot and show a lot of independence to make up for two years of submission to his political henchmen and to erase the track record of signing off whatever comes around.

Off to Wielkopolska for the next weekend, so expect a new note around 13 August.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Pokolenia Ikea - book review

Though the series of books by Piotr C., an anonymous (a coincidence?) writer has received some publicity a few years ago when they hit bookshops’ shelves, I somehow missed out on them. Then, in recent months, via links on fejsbuk I have run across the Pokolenie Ikea blog. Posts out there appear infrequently, yet when a note is posted you can be sure it will be lengthy, yet carefully-written, well-thought-out and will hit the nail in the head of the topic it cracks down on.

Reading of the blog has turned my attention into the series of books written by the same author, born in 1976, allegedly a lawyer in one of wicked offices of multinational corporations in Warsaw. So far I have read the first and shortest one Pokolenie Ikea and around one-third of Pokolenie Ikea. Kobiety. The third one, Brud is still ahead of me. The decision to get familiar with Mr Piotr C.’s literature was swift and spontaneous, so I came by books in pdf, but later on, as I shared my first impressions with one of my friends, it turned out she was in possession of paperbacks and keen to lend them to me.

My first impression after going through first chapters of the first book was that I was waddling in filth and that it must have been a mistake, since this could not have been written by the same guy who publishes sensible stuff on Pokolenie Ikea blog. Actually my impression was much shaped by lack of proper distance towards reality I had at the very moment of starting out to read. If you do not belong to the world depicted in the book, keeping your distance to characters and their misbehaviours is the only way to safely endure it from cover to cover.

I still wonder how many people’s everyday existences look akin to how characters of the book live like. How many corpo-workers instead of raising families sacrifice over 50 hours per week to toil away for their employers, get well-paid but spend all their money on partying, boozing, dating and focus their all attention on looking for opportunities to have an intercourse with a first-met chick in her mid-twenties. My friends and workmates do not live like this. They have families, their spouses and children are priorities for them, they claim to have never lived like this, even in their mid-twenties, let alone around the age of 35 as characters of Pokolenie Ikea. Then I took a broader look and found such people working somewhere at the New Factory. I had few chances to work on something in collaboration with them, yet enough to find out I would not like to have anything in common with them. With my rather orderly life, I feel a sort of contempt for people whose (hollow) lives revolve around corporate treadmill, wild partying, casual sex, drugs and alcohol. Apologies, I got the order wrong, their lives ooze with perverse sexual adventures, everything else is just an addition.

But all in all, taking the picture of crazy folks in their 30s with a pinch of salt, I have found the story amusing, though the broader picture is rather bitter. Looking at characters, you see immature men in their thirties who desperately try to avoid facing adultness and shun responsibility. On the other hand you see women either sex-starved and resembling four female individuals from “Sex and the City” or desperately trying to latch into a guy having all makings of an ideal husband and father before their biological clock tells them it is too late.

Had it not been for the fact the author has claimed to be one of such kidults, I would have pointed out the whole series had been intended to ridicule the immature generation who cannot see further then the ends of their noses. But had it not been for the fact I have shared with you some episodes from my life I cannot be entirely proud of, I might interpret the book as a catharsis, an attempt to make up for all silly deeds, a penance consisting in guiding others not to take that path.

Conceivably I am scratching beneath the surface and struggling to find something beyond the straightforward purport of the books. Conceivably in vain, yet despite occasional disdain, I will make it to the end cover of the last, just to satisfy my curiosity.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Venture - adventure

Had a few longer bike rides this year, so after an 83-kilometre-long trip beyond Puszcza Kampinoska and back (with a stopover at my friend’s), I decided to seize the opportunity to try out whether I was fit enough for a two-day cycling trip.

The planning was quite simple. While driving through Puszcza Bolimowska in business some two weeks earlier, I had discovered how picturesque the place was and it had occurred to me the place would have been a nice destination of a cycling trip. Next steps were finding an affordable accommodation for an overnight stay and marking out a route.

Setting off from Piaseczno, we cycled through Nadarzyn, then to Żyrardów and onwards through forests to Bolimów where lodgings was booked. Total distance cycled: 95 kilometres. The next day we headed towards Sochaczew, rode through Kampinos, then on the edges of Puszcza Kampinowska to reach the finish line at Stare Bielany underground station. Total distance cycled (including a ride from W-wa Jeziorki station to NI): 82 kilometres. So in total, 177 kilometres in two days. Looks impressive as you read, in fact no big deal.

According to a popular belief, to be able to boast about such distance cycled you need to be damn fit and have professional equipment. I would argue both the former and the latter are gross overstatements.

If you ride a bike recreationally and cover no more than 20 kilometres a day, a two-day over 150-kilometre trip is a wild goose chase, but after a few rides longer than 50 kilometres each, the task in entirely doable. The only piece of advice to be given is to set yourself a moderate pace not to overstrain yourself and to spread out powers evenly.

I have a no-frill bike from Decathlon with few upgrades, I do not possess cycling outfit (saddle gel pad makes up for civil clothes), I only wore a helmet. A supermarket bike would to be advisable equipment, but plain equipment, as long as properly maintained and prepared is absolutely sufficient.

When talking about distance cycled, do bear in mind 50 kilometres do not equal 50 kilometres in terms of effort put into covering such distance. On plain asphalt 50 kilometres is a two-hour ride, while when ascents are on your way, each kilometre adds up to an even bigger challenge. If you cycle through a forest, especially in bumpy or sandy terrain, each kilometres wears you down more and more, hence 100 kilometres on asphalt might be taken in one’s stride, while 30 kilometres in a sandy forest could be far more tiresome.

Lastly, good to know how to fend for oneself during long-distance cycling, as your body will not be indifferent to such physical strain.
Firstly, drink a lot, I would argue one litre per twenty kilometres is a bare minimum.
Secondly, do stopovers every twenty kilometres or so
Thirdly, eat to bring your body calories you would burn.
Fourthly, enjoy the endorphins your body will produce!

Sunday, 2 July 2017


I can’t recall when we first met. It must have been during one of Area meetings in 2015 in Warsaw. We’d meet several times, I knew who you were, you knew who I was.

Ten months ago you relocated to Warsaw. Somebody suggested I could try and ask you out, somebody unaware I had been tangled up with someone else. I replied I would not overreach myself just to try and let time bring it on, or not.

In early March while at the off-site corpo-booze-up we had a longer chat in your room. We behaved innocently as children. Last week you told me back then you’d had in mind to make use of the fact your room-mate had not arrived…

7 April
After a workshop we both attended I approached you and asked whether you would eat out with my fellow workmates and me. So casually, just not to make an impression that I care at all…

14 April
I walked to your floor to wish happy Easter to your team-mates, but particularly to you. As we parted I felt I wanted to touch you and to kiss you. The tension was felt in the air, but we did nothing to relieve it.

Just look up this post to get the picture of how hopeless I felt. In conversations with some close friends I mentioned there came the moment to brace myself for being alone by the end of my days, or at best stop taking it for granted I would get married and have children. They all in unison rebuked me over my disheartened state of mind.

26 April
Death of someone else’s father turned out to disentangle me from the weird relationship or rather loosened it up to the level of a healthily distanced friendship by reminding someone else her husband was a caring man not deserving to have his wife looking out for a substitute at times. The drastic termination pushed me closed to the verge of despair. Oddly enough, your presence helped me not to think about someone else.

5 May
The reality overpowered me. I needed to give in, I couldn’t care less. Out of this blues I came forward with a proposal you went with me to pick up a gift for my friend’s newly born child. I intended to take you out to an eatery, then maybe to see you off home. Instead you asked whether I would go with you to see vacuum cleaners. I confess the moment you asked that question I knew what it meant. I carried the vacuum cleaner to your flat for three kilometres, for some reasons I didn’t break sweat even though it was the first really warm day since many weeks. I put down the box on the floor. I knew it was your territory and expected you to deal out the cards. In didn’t take you long to grab my hand to push my body close to yours… (…) Around an hour later, as the door phone bell signalled your flatmate was returning, I made off in a rush. Until today opinions who had provoked that situation vary. At that moment the course and dynamics of events, though utterly predictable, was a surprise to me.

Next week I had absolutely no idea how to handle it, nor what direction I wanted it to take. Friday’s adventure loomed as one-off thing of the past. I perceived the situation as an attempt to seduce or manipulate me and therefore stayed cautious…

12 May
You asked me to talk over what happened a week earlier. My perception of what had happened began to evolve, but at that moment I could not tell her we would be together or not. I acted as an indecisive prat, yet I needed to think things over…

A few days later I asked you out for a lunch. At that moment the outcome of my ponderings was straightforward – if I had given up on you, I would have certainly hurt you, if I had given it a try, I could have hurt you. I was ready for being turned down. You were determined to give it a second chance. Then it went on quite smoothly and swiftly.

The next weeks did not resemble the magnificent state of infatuation, crush or fascination. It was the attraction we felt for each other that kept it together. I missed the emotional element back then. While sharing my doubts with friends, I coined an offensive term ciało obce (an alien body) to call you and to define the essence of what our relationship rested on…

Over the first weeks we both had quite many occasions to break up, including my trip to Germany, returning from which I didn’t know whether there was anything nor anyone to return to. On the other hand, we both kept fighting for it and there were equally many occasions to make up. I guess this bodes well for next months…

I still wonder, whether what now burns it just the desire or something more. I am noticing nascent friendship between us, an emerging emotional bond.

Though you attract me and turn me on so good, you are not a woman of my dreams. I can’t imagine you are my wife, a mother of my children, a shoulder to cry on when I’m in trouble. Friends have told me these are the reasons to give up on you, but something inside me tells me to keep it going.

I am letting things drift. Desire will burn down in a few months and what is left then will clinch whether what is between us falls apart or is worth fostering.

Oddly enough, since we have been together, my popularity with women increased so much that I‘ve grown nearly sick of it. And despite my numerous doubts I resist all temptations. For professional reasons we’ve decided to keep it secret. I know there is no better way, but I‘m also fed up with pretending to be a single on a constant lookout. After all we both deceive people around us.

No matter how it all ends, the whole set-up is an excellent example that instead of striving, trying hard, wanting badly, the best you can do is to follow the simple piece of advice: Miej wy***ane, a będzie ci dane.

Off for a weekend next week, so next note due in two weeks.