Friday, 7 July 2017

change in Xpat community

I've been here in Czech since 2004, a lot has changed in that time. When i first arrived, Prague had a totally different X-pat community. Because Czech was not a part of the Schengen countries, yet a part of the EU, foreigners were able to travel outside Czech for one day and then come back for another 3 months. In 2007 the x-pat community changed (the year that Czech joined Schengen), unless the xpat had a business or a Czech partner, to stay was not so easy. Many moved further east or back to their home countries. Kind of sad in a way. Now the x-pat community from developed third countries is made up mostly of those working in high end corporate jobs, people with a Czech partner or people that teach English. The Czech republic offered no amnesty to people that had lived here a long time under the old laws. Some since the 1990's.

Recently Prague has really changed, as far as urban culture for younger people. A lot of alternative cafe's have started, that resemble those in Western Europe, UK, US, Australia and Canada. Prague has its own coffee culture. My thoughts are that this evolution might have happened sooner and have more integrity, if more of those foreigners had stayed. 

Airbnb Group From Celebration of 17th November

A couple of weeks back i had a group of 10 people staying through the aribnb from an NGO that organises the celebrations for the 17th of November, on the internet this public holiday is written as the "Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day." They hold the event at Národní Třída. link here

On the 17th of November 1939, nine Czech students were Executed by Nazi forces that occupied the then Czechoslovakia. Link here The 9th of November is also International Students' Day.

The group were positive, full of energy and enthusiasm for Czech and its future. Was kind of refreshing to see this.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

repair of table that broke in the post

I bought this table for one of the airbnb flats. Table was really badly smashed in the delivery by GLS, its been quite a huge job to bring it back it back to its better days. This table is a kind of hack of a halabala table, and something else. Sometime in the last 20 years two tables were put together. Probably 1950's. Quite abstract, want find it in any design catalogue. Yet will find parts in a halabala catalogue. 

Table dispute.

Table was broken by GLS, i paid for the table and delivery and then 5 minuets latter when i looked at the box, saw that it was broken. In Germany (GLS) when a package is sent, and its not fit for travel the courier will inform the sender that the package was not packed properly. Yet in Czech, no such rule exists. Subsequently the person that picks up and delivers packages can treat an object as he chooses. I tried to get the funds back from the seller through Aukro, (Aukro is a kind of Czech eBay) run by a Polish company called Allegro. Anyway, as the seller refused to file a claim with GLS, it was assumed that it was my fault the damage. Because i signed for the goods without inspecting them. With the paypal the seller has many more rights. Its interesting how the Czech state has done all it can to keep paypal out of Czech, Paypal offers buyers a better deal, and gives the option of broader sales to sellers. Czech postal tracking is not recognised by eBay, because Czech post fail to comply with international norms with shipping times. This means that Czech in most instances are forced to use the domestic market for selling. Prices are lower, this in turn gives a lower value to quite cool furniture, and thus insures that a lot of nice things from Czech culture get put in the trash. Historically Czech's haves created some really interesting furniture, before and during communism. Mostly the bigger transport companies like Czech post, GLS and PPL in Czech are able to get around the consumer laws here. The democracy mostly fails here (i think??), as the Czech people don't demand the service and very few mid to small sized business offer accessible services, within the transport industry.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Tree falling down

A couple of weeks back, a tree fell down at the station. Looks like well have a good amount of wood for the winter also thinking to making some chairs that people might sit in. Tree look as if it had no root system, i guess it had just rotted. This year has been really dry with a couple of days of wind. Was lucky that no-one was hurt by the falling tree, it fell directly onto the main road and had to be cleared by the council. Thank you and thanks to volunteers that cleaned up all the mess and brought these heavy logs onto the platform. 


Restoration of Windows

Over the last weeks I have been spending a lot of time with the windows in the building in conjunction with a local tradesman and volunteers, taking all the layers of old paint off and then re-painting. The most efficient way seems to be to use a heat gun/ with gas bottle in conjunction with a scraper. As the building is a monument, I have limited choices of what colour's I can paint the outside windows, I had a different bunch of blues and also a different bunch of cream colours. I've chosen a blue, it seems to fit well. For every different process with the buiding a new permit is needed from the monument preservation society.

Initially I wanted to apply for funding from the local council to restore the windows, yet the bureaucracy was thick, and it really did not make sense when i have volunteers. As an owner of a monument your able to get 60-70 percent back on what you pay for work & materials from the local council or ministry of culture. The accountability is complicated though, and often has a big element of idocracy to it.  Often i see buildings that are very old, that look perfect, for me this kind of spoils the old buildings atmosphere. Fortunately i have found a local man that was previously a registered  architect working mostly in Prague, he understands materials and the way of old buildings. For now he likes the project and is not so expensive to employ. He's able to show the volunteers how to do the jobs, guide them through any process's and make sure that all is ok.

Bellow are pictures of the restoration of windows we have done so far.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Plaque Restored

Between 2012 and 2015 (before i was here at the station) the plaque that commemorated the life of the station master Václav Hajduk, went missing from the platform. It took about two years of negotiations with different authorities to get the plaque restored to the building. It was strange that the plaque was taken, as it was stone, not metal. Anyway, The Organisation against fascism (CŠBP) that installed the memorial plaque in 1971, were back for a ceremony in conjunction with the major of Zbiroh and representatives from the local historic society last week. Thank you CŠBP for putting the sign back. The platform feels much more comfortable to have the plaque back in place. 

Translation of what is written on the sign.
For the freedom of his country he sacrifised his life in the antifascist resistance. Vaclav Hejduk Station master of Zbiroh Nadrazi born 20.7.1900, arrested 22.12.1943, in-prisoned in Pilsen, Wroclaw, Dresden, missing since 14.2.1945 -people be awake.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Agriculture in Czech

As far as agricultural production goes in Czech, as i understand the story goes something like this in Czech. During the communist times, the agriculture in Czech was centralised and each town or city had co-operative, that controlled the lands. After the communism had finished, the lands were given back to the owners of the lands before the communism started and the co-operatives were privatised into companies. The problem now seems that its not easy to have a small production and get into the "milk chain" for example, the co-operatives have a kind of monopoly still on the collection. There opinion is that its not possible to control the quality of the small farms produce. The only option that a small owner of the land really has around Zbiroh it seems, is to rent the land to the co-operative, who then would use it to produce milk.  At christmas i was in South Tyrol, the system is different. The co-operatives in South Tyrol is owned by the farmers, the amount of production and services the farmer uses of the co-operative, for apple is juice production for example, is what they pay for the use of the co-operaive. I'm not sure what is more effective, yet for sure in South Tyrol they have a lot of diversity in the production and high production. In Czech they don't have much diversity, and the production although it might be high, its got very few players, so the distribution of the rewards from the farming is not so good. I see these kind of situations more and more in Czech. I suggested to the local co-operative that they might start collection for organic produce for small farms and sell the produce in Germany. Most organic farming is done best by people that have smaller farms and a passion for it, the private corporate  ex "co-operatives" I don't think would be able to get that kind of quality. So the regions are really missing out, because of the old system that is still in place. You can find the website for the local co-operaive here in Zbiroh. I don't think they are looking to sell anything to anyone other than the same buyers point since 1990, the site at least looks this way.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Flowers between the tracks

Have just cut the grass in front of the station, I want to see over the next year if I cut the grass in different places, what the effect will be. On different flowers that pop up at different times..I'm told though that a more fertile soil is bad though, as some plants thrive in bad soil. So when you cut the grass, it creates compost. guess this patch work mowing I do will make different things grow, be interesting to see what flowers at what time, evolve. When I arrived at the station. my mum spent 200 pounds on seed from the U.K., of wild flowers, for medows...and we threw it in the middle of the tracks.. maybe it takes some years for all the different things to evolve. It looked like he just sent a bag of grass seed, as it all looked kind of the same, yet my knowledge has got a little better since then.  

Old diesel generator

I was introduced to the man who is called Mr Happy at Bagger, in myto where the compost is made from the trees and things that the local council create. He is the mechanic at this place, anyway, he offered to help me fix this old diesel generator. It's a military one, bought at kolbenova market, Prague a couple of years back for 1000 crowns. It started without a lot of fuss, he said the generator had not been used at all. Just sitting somewhere in czech waiting for the Cold War to escalate into Western Europe. Czech built, he also said that a new generator built today, in 60 years. & Not used, no way in the world would it work.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

immigration for people from Third countries without the capacity to employ commercial legal advice.

My thoughts on the issue.
I feel that if i had paid a commercial lawyer, this problem would not have happened. From my view the situation I was in shows a bigger problem with immigration in Czech. Example. That problem being that immigrants from third countries that can't afford commercial lawyers might be treated in a similar way to me, if they would use a lawyer, from a non-profit organization. If this is true then people who can't afford commercial lawyers from third countries might be using agents to get them here, those agents could potentially be making deals with your administration. If so. I think this situation gives those immigrants brought here by agents living here in Czech far less rights, than those that use commercial lawyers..  My experience tells me this is what is happening, yet i sincerely hope i'm wrong.

I wrote this to the ombudsman office. Using NGO services and the result and consequences for Czech state ministry of interior being the biggest funder of no-profit organisations involved in immigration. Biggest example. SUZ.  Most employers i have met seem directly or at least partly paid for by the ministry interior. 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Dealing with Czech railways and parking place for the Czech legion train.

Its quite a complicated thing to deal with any aspect of a part state part corporate company here in Czech, like Czech railways and the company that owns the tracks, two separate companies. When i started here at the station, a couple of years back i started to want to buy the land around the station. The land is available and should be sold, as they have no plan for it. After quite a while they put together a proposal, in order for me to continue with the proposal i had to get a special engineer from the railway company to come here and use a special device to find the cables that were that were active, as they did not know.  They said these cables were right in the middle of the lawn. I had to pay the company to have this man arrive here. The strange thing was that I had seen people when i first arrive, take all these copper cables without permission of the railway company. As they had quite good value. The man at the station assured me that active cables were here, and this land is very sensitive. In other words, I'm sorry, you can't buy this land. Anyway, now I find out that the Plzen steam train club is interested to be in charge of a train on these tracks, the Czech legion train is looking at the possibility of parking their train here permanently in 2020. This is great news, as it would be fun to have this great train here. The last time i spoke with this steam train club, I asked them how much it would cost to bring a train here to shoot a film, and they said 100,000 Czech crowns per day. I was little stumped by that price, as the club is a non-profit. Yet then i realised this was my price. Anyway, the steam train club eventually arrived at the station, after saying they might visit for a couple of years. They arrived without a word, on the same day that i wrote this email to the Czech railway company, asking if they had an ombudsman. Bellow is the email. They seemed like nice people, and i was kind of surprised about it all, this amazing train wanting to have its home here at the station. Yet then i got to thinking, if this steam train club is behaving as they have towards me, in conjunction with the railway company, is this such a good thing to have them in charge of a train parked at the station. Maybe all these mistakes are just co-incidences, yet today the line workers were at the new switch board for the electric tracks. They showed me a map, that showed me exactly where the active cables for the station are, they are right next to the track. It was not necessary for the railway companies to have come to my property and for me to pay for this measure. No cables exist bellow 30 year old ones.  I'll do all I can to get this train here, yet I don't think these companies with non-profits are acting under very democratic principles. I'd like the area's around the station, to be public park lands owned by the council for recreation and well being of wild flowers. Yet I'm not sure the local council is much interested in that, would be nice though.

What the legion train writes on the site.

"Our freedom today was bought many victims and heralded by many battles on the beginning stood Czechoslovak legionaries. Discover with us the way to victory!"

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Czech Ministry of interior

The Czech Ministry of Interior is making plans to change the way foreigners from third countries integrate into the Czech republic. Obstacles include the removal of the courts oversight to the ministry interior currently in place, more restrictions on the rights of family members and further restrictions within the labour market. The ministry is not pushing their bill forward with any of the standard legislative process, instead deputy Klučka proposals are seeking to circumnavigate standard interdepartmental discussion on the proposal.

NGOs working closely with migrants in the Czech republic has called on MPs to reject the proposal, explaining that the bill is not in the economic interests of the Czech Republic, goes against the European law and does not take into consideration the constitution. The proposal restricts both the rights of migrants living and working in the Czech Republic, as well as Czech citizens with their family members.

The main objections to deputy Klučka proposals are:

1) Discrimination towards family members of both Czech and EU citizens.

­ Not allowing the employed person to change their reason for being here to that of a family member.


An employed foreigner who becomes pregnant with her husband who legally resides in the Czech Republic and loses her job due to pregnancy, would have to leave the territory of the Czech Republic. (Point A of the proposal) A third country foreigner who has a child with a Czech citizen would not be able to apply for a resident permit after being given a departure order. (Point B)

2) Domestic companies need labour. Creating further obstacles for the migrant worker in a period of economic growth is not in the interest of the Czech republic.


­ Non­payment of road tax would lead to restrictions for the company, announcing the company as an "unreliable employer." Consequently a rejection of current and future employee's application of foreigners. Effectively punishing the foreign workers for the offences of the employers. Reduce the possibility of an employed foreigner to start their own business, increasing it from 2 years to 5 years.

(Point G)

3) Cancelation of the courts surveillance over decisions of the ministry.

­ One of the most serious of all attacks within the proposal (Point I and L) is to take away the independent judicial controls that are currently in place over the courts in the Czech Republic.

Example. A migrant whose application for permanent residence that is rejected will not be able to seek a review through an independent court. The amendments to the law within deputy Klučka proposal on the whole are in conflict with the European law, the European Court of Human Rights and the Czech Constitutional Court. Deputy Klučka proposal limits the possibility of an application for a residence permit, complicates integration for a foreigner already here with their application for a permanent residence and restricts the rights of lawyers and representatives of the rights for foreigners to come to the aid of the foreigner. The third reading of the amendment will take place in the house of commons over the next months. NGO’s are ready to provide comment on all aspects of the proposal.

...I did a re-translation of this document. Shows quite dark direction of Czech ministry of interior towards foreign people, agree? Unfortunately i can't find anywhere where the organisation i did this for would publish it online, maybe because of their association with the ministry of interior, and internal politics with funding they are unable to promote this view. Anyway, so in the end I self publish. Attached are documents I was initially sent and the first translation, I found it so hard to read I wrote it again, i guess they did not ask me to re-do it, so i should not expect them to use it. I don't see how they could have promoted the problem outside the Czech republic effectively with it written in English the way it was.

Jackhammer work