Herman Haiku


cherry blossoms on šmarna gora
photo by dr. fil

peace is important
compromise brings cohesion
cherries will blossom


The Shoeshine Boy Act


Shoeshine Boy

Jose Miguel caught my attention in the Dominican Republic a year ago with that sunny smile and entrepreneurial spirit. Which is not even a tiny fraction of the attention the Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor is getting exactly on the one-year-in-office anniversary. What has he done? Apparently, he made good on his promise to clean the national football team’s shoes if they won in the decisive match against Russia, which took place last Wednesday. It was stated immediately that the PM kept his word, but no material evidence was provided, except for a sad-looking shoe brush, which immediately raised doubts regarding the claims of the PM cleaning up.

Now, a video was released, which has or has not put those doubts to rest. Whether you think the whole thing is cool, that it’s a populist stunt or that it never actually happened, one thing is sure. It feels good to argue about something of this calibre for a change and not yet another aspect of macroeconomics. Comforting, even.

Gotta love the circuses. Tough to enjoy them without the bread, though.

Slovenia Shall Indeed Carry On


We qualified… yeah! The movie above is more about the audio than the visuals, but you get the picture… err sound… err whatever, we WON!

Way to go, team!



Keep it up, guys! Rooting for you in Luxembourg…

Carry On… Slovenia

Rooting for the Slovenian team
Slovenians & friends rooting for the national team at a Luxembourgish bar last Saturday (photo by dr. fil)

Regardless of what most folks in the US and Australia may think, football (soccer for some) is the world’s most popular sport. Come to think of it, we met several enthusiasts in the US this summer, among them a young kid who’s on his school’s soccer team and never misses an important game on TV.

Tonight, Slovenia will be attempting to qualify for the Football World Cup 2010 in South Africa in a match against Russia. If you’re anywhere near Luxembourg, you’re welcome to come and join a group of Slovenia supporters at the Britannia Pub. Not everyone may end up watching the game very attentively, but our hearts will be in the right place :mrgreen:

I Danced With Swines. Possibly.


Malaruda the chaperone was taking good care of me.

As all my friends and probably their friends know by now, I have just been through a particularly nasty illness, which was diagnosed as the swine flu, or in politically correct terms, the H1N1 flu. Having already explained the symptoms endured h+n times over, I might as well write them down.

To be quite honest, I may have overdone it a bit with the stress on my immune system. Something I tend to do as a true-blooded Aries.  Except that I never get sick. As in, I don’t have colds. I get sick hearing some politicians talk. Or when I am inadvertently exposed to commercials for the latest reality shows. That’s pretty much it. Or, I should say, that used to be pretty much that.

If you must go down, go down with style.

After a strenuous week of exercise, work, seminars and classes as well as putting more than 3,000 km on my car in 7 days and sharing two long rides with a sick guy on antibiotics who failed to mention being unwell, the dance began.

The high fever would come down after paracetamol, only to climb right up again. I went to see a doctor here in Luxembourg whom I picked for her office’s sheer proximity. One block away. It was actually not easy to walk that far and my lungs were not very cooperative in the oxygen-supply department. Having measured my blood pressure and eavesdropped on my lungs, she put on a mask and told me I should not have come to her office as I probably contaminated the entire area and that I should have warned her that I had the swine flu. Ahem? I dragged myself out of there straight to the pharmacy that’s another block away, put on a freshly purchased mask and went back to my pig stall armed with medicines. Never had any blood work done.

All in all, I went through seven days straight of yoyoing between 39°C and 37°C. Reach 39, take a pill that brings it down within one hour, spend the next five hours feeling it rise, then kill it off with another pill. I felt very weak. My entire body was in pain and it was painful to try and breath normally. Taking a deep breath would cause a sharp pain cutting through the lungs and chest, making me cough, which led to more deep breaths and more pain. Sweet. The last three days I spent the second half of the night changing my jammies for something not quite as soaked in sweat.

After a total seven days of this torture, the temp came down and stayed at around 37.5°C for another three days. The swine or whatever she cares to call herself was growing weary. Hurrah for the white blood cells! I think they finally used the big guns and did the polka. They’re fairly secretive and don’t like to share their secret methods of combat.

Not to make this all too dull, my head then decided that it had to spin. And spin it did. Remember those extra-fast merry-go-rounds at the playground? Imagine riding one for three days without getting off. And you don’t even have to get out of bed for the sensation. What fun! Doctor claimed it was the uncivilised dancer leaning in for a closer look at my inner ear. These particular ungulates never have been known for good manners, have they.

I do not recommend this dance-a-thlon to friends. Or to foes, for that matter. It has left me tired and weak. I can tell that it will take me a few weeks to fully recover, but the one consolation I have is that it’s a one-time-only affair and the inconsiderate virus will now have to stay at bay.

It seems that among friends and colleagues I have been promoted to the position of a question box for all inquiries related to the H1N1 flu. Honestly, guys, I know about as much as you do. Since my blood was never tested, I cannot even be entirely certain that the diagnosis was correct. The one thing everyone seems to be asking me is “should I get vaccinated”. Hey, it’s your call. It depends on your own personal circumstances and the state of your health and you would do well to discuss it with your physician. Given a choice between enduring the possible side effects of the vaccine that might include a slight fever for a few days and the truly uncomfortable ordeal I have endured, I know exactly what my choice would have been. Regardless of any and all pharmaceutical-industry-related conspiracy theories. But hey, hindsight has always been 20-20.

EDIT: I must add my thanks here. To all my cats, feline and human, for the bountiful TLC, to Tina for doing my grocery shopping and cooking chicken soup for me, to my family for calling and checking up on me (actually made me think I should get sick more often), to friends writing e-mails and Facebook messages. You all made such a difference. Thanks!

Blogs Are Not Media


Lights in Versailles
Versailles, France (photo by dr. fil)

Granted, the term media comes with various meanings. Still, while looking for a definition, this one came close to what we arguably think of first:

media (usually used with a plural verb): the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, and magazines, that reach or influence people widely (source)

Now I do understand that blogs are perceived by some as “new media” and we often hear the term of citizen journalism. Well, crap.

As I see it, blogs are convenient places to vent, to share with others one’s experience and opinions, opinions, opinions. Have I mentioned opinions? They are as different as the people who write them. Without editors in place to censor or instil common sense and without owners to set goals to be achieved by their hired managers. Yes, it’s great. Hey, I play the game on occasion. It can be fun, yes. But are they media?

Let’s take a look at citizen journalism. Sure, it can be a wonderful learning experience for an aspiring journalist. It can, again, provide a vent to folks with an axe to grind. It can certainly help rally support for various causes, not least political parties in electoral campaigns. But more than that? Take a look at the Citizen Journalism Standards as published by the Huffington Post, for example. Err, journalism 101, anyone? Come to think of it, some regular do-it-for-a-living journalists might do well to re-read that set of rules.

So what’s my point? Who knows, I’m just venting. Seriously, blogging is not journalism and blogs are not media as in relatively reliable professional productions. Those blogs and bloggers who come close to what we perceive as such, will either be transformed into real grown-up media with real responsibilities and accountability and try to make a living with it or they will lose heart.

Unless they’re actually part of some sort of estabished media, bloggers, in my opinion, simply lack the resources and most of them lack the knowledge and training to be reckoned with as media of wide reach with an actual influence on the public.  Just as importantly or more, as far as I am concerned, they lack accountability. Which brings us to the reason why I went on this ramble parade. Not that long ago, one of the first and probably best-known Slovenian bloggers allowed a guest poster to publish a certain text that I found upsetting.

In the midst of a particularly sensitive period of relations between Slovenia and Croatia, theguest poster published a note about an online strategy game, in which the faux Slovenian President declared war on Croatia. He was in effect drafting people to join the game and go to (online) war on the Slovenian side. Now you may think I’m being anal about this, but violence, even one that seems benign, has always been my pet peeve. The blog’s owner told me everyone has a right to their own opinion. Right. But would such a call to join an online war on a neighbouring countries, drawing on the real-life disputes and tensions, be published and advocated in mainstream media? One would hope not.