New Drawer

It all started with a reasonably small box arriving from the USA. It grew into chaos.

I must say, we are not tidy people. There are folks who are tidy by nature, or who work hard on being tidy, but we are neither. Our time is scarce and we both agree that it can be spent on much better things than cleaning, so we usually put things into the big plastic boxes we use for shopping and every other week I empty them cussing like a sailor. Every once in a while I try out a new system to make being tidier easier, to various degrees of success.

With the resin supplies, I tried different ideas. The last one was putting the stuff into those decorative cardboard boxes you get at Ikea and storing those in an old book chest, but it was too much and also came with lots of searching, so I made another attempt with an Ikea Malm drawer:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Everything nice and clean, at least for now.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Resin, tools, cups. The small scrollsaw that I use for cutting resin is right next to the drawer. Yes, it is full. Much has happened since that first small box.

Behind the Iron Curtain part 29 – Crime

These are my recollections of a life behind the iron curtain. I do not aim to give perfect and objective evaluation of anything, but to share my personal experiences and memories. It will explain why I just cannot get misty eyed over some ideas on the political left and why I loathe many ideas on the right.

Today, if I want to see the official crime rate in my country, I can just go to google and look it up. There are even handy pre-made comparisons with USA to be found. When I was a child, this was not the case, and essentially nobody knew what crime rate the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic actually has.

But it was not due to the nonexistence of internet as some might think. It was due to state’s secrecy about matters that might speak unfavourably about the regime.

Part of our education were occasional visits of schools by party dignitaries, local law-enforcement officers or border patrol officers etcetera. On several such occasions the talks veered into the territory of law trespassers and sometimes some kid has asked “how much crime X happens”? Invariably, the answer to this was “that is a state secret”. So nobody, except a few officials, had a chance to know pretty much anything specific.

But I do not want to talk about some generic crime rates today, I want to concentrate on one specific crime and how it was used to control people – unemployment, or, as it was officially called, “the crime of parasitism”. Under the regime, everyone had a right to a job, but that came with the duty to have a job. Every able person had a duty to work and it was literally against the law to not fulfill this duty.

And whilst it is reasonable to have measures to discourage or perhaps even punish slackers and hangers-on in a social state, that was not the only purpose and the only use of the law. Because since jobs were to great extent assigned centrally, the state had a huge control over what kind of job one can get, or whether one can get a job at all. And therefore political dissidents were sometimes pushed to jobs where it was clear that they are at odds with their qualifications and needs, so they could eventually be pushed towards joblessness – and thus criminalized. It was also a way to completely criminalize any form of sex work, which officialy did not exist so any sex worker was automatically a parasite without the regime having to acknowledge even the existence of sex workers publicly.

In TV there was a regular broadcast “Federal Criminal Headquarters Searches, Advises, Informats” where names and faces of searched criminals were shown so that general populace can help in finding them. I did not give it too much thought at the time – it was just one adult thing in the background – but I do remember hearing the phrase “is searched for the crime of parasitism” quite often. In retrospect today I wonder how many of those people actually were real moochers and how many were slowly and deliberately pushed out of society for being inconvenient to the reigning powers.

Slavic Saturday

My oral graduation exam in highschool* was not looked forward to by my Czech language and literature teacher.  All the others (Biology, Chemistry, German language) have expected me to do reasonably well or even excel, but he had some reservations. I already had a 1 for my essay writing, but the oral exam was essentially going to be about history of Czech literature, and I had great dislike towards learning that history.

The reasons for this were multiple. Firstly history was taught as a sequence of dates  and names to memorize, and I have always had very, very poor memory for numbers and names, despite having excellent memory in general. It is extremely difficult for me to remember birth dates, even of the closest people I know. Secondly I was never convinced by the argument that learning history is important in order to avoid repeating mistakes, because I saw very early on that the whole of history actualy consists of repeating said mistakes by people who knew about them. And thirdly I did not go on well with that teacher on personal level.

So my knowledge of Czech literary history and theory was very, very sketchy. I have honestly tried my best to memorize all the dull and unpalatable shit that I was supposed to know for the exam, but it just did not hold. About the only thing I had a really detailed knowledge about was Karel Čapek, because I liked his books and I have read everything he wrote that I could get my hands on. The teacher knew this and later on I learned that he actually expressly said that he is apprehensive of my exam because “Čapek is all (Charly) knows”.

I was lucky during my exam. I have drawn a question where the main component was some poetry shit I knew nearly nothing about, and secondary question was something vaguely connected to Karel Čapek. I took my chance when preparing my notes and during talking I managed to drift to Čapeks works just after a few sentences and I stayed there talking in minute detail for the whole 15 minutes the exam took. The teacher, relieved, has let me. The observing teacher (an independent assessor from another school) did not intervene either, for whatever reason. And so I got lucky and passed.

Actually, to say that I liked Čapek is an understatement, I admired him greatly. Čapek is in my opinion unsurpassed in Czech literature. Very progressive for his time, and, above all, a fervent pacifist. In today’s world he would probably be left of Bernie Sanders, but he would not be radical leftist in a real sense of the word “radical” not how it is viewed in Anglophone world today, where anyone arguing that not everything should be privatized is labeled as radical leftie. He might even be accused of centrism by true radicals.

Čapek was very outspoken critic of Nazi Germany and its policies, so much so that his personal safety was threatened by local Nazi sympathisers. Allegedly some friends recommended to him to carry a weapon for self-defense after he received death threats, but his commitment to pacifism was such that all he could manage to do was to carry a small starter pistol and when confronted about it he replied “I know that I won’t hurt anyone this way”. Many of his works center around criticizing authoritarian regimes, social injustices and war horrors, and there is absolutely no uncertainty about where he stood on social issues.

But he did not like Marx and communism. And neither do I. And to this day I think his essay “Why I am not a communist” bears weight. Some parts are of course not well aged after nearly a hundred years (the casual sexism f.e.), some parts can be seen as predictive of the massive social and scientific failure that was Russia under Stalin. If we are to learn from the mistakes of the past, I would everyone recommend to go, read that essay and think about it.

*the closest translation I can get to anglophone equivalents)


Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack had so much fun swimming yesterday that we went back to the civic center pond today. The water here is clean and clear and Jack doesn’t mind that bit of ice at all. This is the place where Jack caught his fish and he wants to catch another one. A bigger one and he even had a strategy. First he swam in a slow zig-zag skirting the edge of the ice, then he meandered near the shore until he found the right spot and planted himself like a post and just stood still……for about 5 minutes. I found a bench, drank my coffee, got up and took a few photos, sat down again and still Jack didn’t move. The spell was finally broken by the rattling sound of his cookie box when I put my hand in my pocket. After that we walked down to the soccer fields and back and Jack took one last dip before heading home where the boy is happily napping in a sunbeam.

Friday Feathers: The Birds of Spring

First, a solemn fellow or two. Or proof that life is fucking disappointing, because whenever in  a fantasy novel a crow or raven lands in front of you they have a message from some overlord or lady that sends you off on an interesting quest. All I got was being croaked at.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Full Fish Ahead: Part 3

The new aquarium is full of life and it’s all adorable. Let’s check in with Avalus.

Part 3 – Cuties and Questions

The tank on Tuesday 28th of March. Bought a filter, forgot blue paper. ©Avalus, all rights reserved

The new filter arrived and now the Daphnia’s reign over the tank is due. They can swim but they cannot fight any stronger currents. So I fished as many as I could out, thanked them for their service … and fed them to the inhabitants of my main tank. Ah, the circle of life. I will try to get access to a microscope and try my hand at video editing and then do a post about them. You need to see them move and you need to see them up closer than I can do with my Magnificator (notr). So today there will be some random photos with blurbs. [Read more…]

What the storm did

You may remember that I talked about a storm about two weeks ago, and when I went for a walk last week, I could see the devastation in parts of the forest. In one spot, the gnarly pines paid a high tribute and their trunks are lying there, ready to be removed (that part is not part of the nature reserve), with the branches being left to the wilderness.

A look at the trees shows you the power of the storm.

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This fellow was already hollowed out by rot.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Well, I got some loot to take home, but I would have preferred the trees alive.

Precious Tulips

From Nightjar,

These photos were taken in the last day of winter, just before the equinox. I brought these little red tulips from my grandma’s garden after she died and I planted them in a pot to be sure I wouldn’t lose them. It turned out to be a great idea and by moving it around I was able to capture them in different light conditions.

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

Jacks Walk

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It’s a cold and gloomy day here with drizzly rain and lots of mud. Jack doesn’t seem to mind, but I’m finding it a bit grim. Everything looks so dirty. The sidewalks are coated with gritty sand, the grass is grey and the landscape is devoid of colour. I tried to keep a cheerful outlook thinking perhaps I could find a few snowdrops or an early hyacinth, but nope, I could not find any flowers today. I did find a pretty piece of turkey tail fungus, though, pretending to be a flower. It will have to do until the real thing comes along.

In which Marcus enters uncanny territory

It’s no secret that Marcus sends parcels of wonder across the globe, but by now I think he’s a mind reader. You all know that wood and resin is about my favourite combination ever, as in my latest necklace and earrings:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

But nothing surpasses the beauty of burl in resin projects, which I have been looking for for ages without much luck. You can imagine the look on my face when yesterday a parcel arrived and instead of being my husband’s new phone battery, it was these gorgeous pieces of burl:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

How did Marcus know? I have no clue, but I’m glad he did.

Thank you very much again, Marcus.