07 stycznia 2012

Winter Torpor

As usual, I have lots of ideas for new posts, but when I sit down to write something in Polish, my motivation quickly drains away. I haven't done any serious Polish study in months now, and I really notice my skills wasting away. Lots of room for improvement in 2012! I have decided to write a post in English (I never promised this blog would be all Polish anyway) to help get the blogging motivation going again.

Not exactly 'winter torpor,' but I think it conveys the mood. Al. Zieleniecka, October.
Living in Canada, winter was always my favourite season. I don't just say that to be contrary. In my memory, Alberta winters were always snowy and cold. The snow sharpens things up and covers the lingering browns and yellows of fall in a bright blanket. I wear sunglasses more in the winter than any time of year. Also relatively dry (as in humidity), the cold is tolerable if you dress properly and keep moving. Nothing beats that deep creaky sound of packed snow under your boots. The bonus is that there seems a lot of sunshine. Crisp, sparkly winter sun draws you outdoors. I was last home a little over a year ago and could use a dose of Alberta snow and sun about now. The series of photos below was taken in and around Red Deer, Alberta in December 2010. We had a light snow fall that year.

No strings attached . . .

Sunglasses, please!

Fine ice crystals in the the air this cold day create this lovely effect.

Blue sky winter.

Canadian winter is not without its hazards. I have experienced serious frostbite (due more to stupidity than weather), treacherous driving conditions, and mountains of snow to be shovelled from the driveway. At least it provides good exercise!

In contrast, Polish winter for me feels much colder than home. I know its not. This winter in Poland is much milder than last. For me, Polish winter means dark, wet, and cold. This winter in Warsaw has so far been free of that disgusting, salty, dog shit and cigarette butt ridden slush that we work to keep off our boots all winter. I was never much a believer in the winter blues, but I understand the feeling better now. Sunshine, please!

There are lots of ways to get outside and enjoy the available sunlight. The days are getting longer! This winter I have not been as good at it as other years. My 'inside nights' have been totally unproductive either. This leads me back to language. . .

My students frequently seek more ways to engage with the English language in their daily lives, as do I. I already read widely, but my infantile understanding of Polish has driven me to explore other forms of mental stimulation in English. Over the past few months, I have discovered many useful podcasts I now listen to regularly. The great thing about being relatively isolated from what the North American mass media thinks I should listen to, is that I have pursued my own topics and interests. I'll share with you now what are, in no particular order, some of my favourite podcasts. I don't use an internet connected mobile device or 'i-Something,' so I usually listen to these around home from the computer. I'm sure all of them are available for subscription on Apple's proprietary service, but the links below should work with any audio program capable of streaming. Paste the url in parentheses directly into your audio player.

CBC The World at 6 (http://www.cbc.ca/podcasting/includes/w6.xml)
  • The World at 6 gives me a good enough dose of world news from a Canadian perspective. Paradoxically, 'The World at 6' is published at 1900, 2000, and 2100 EST every day. The CBC website has many many other podcasts on different topics. Highly recommended. http://www.cbc.ca/podcasting/
Freakonomics Radio (http://podcasts.nytimes.com/services/xml/rss/nyt/podcasts/freakonomicsradio.xml)
  • Freakonomics Radio is produced by economists Levitt and Dubner, who brought us the books 'Freakonomics' and 'Superfreakonomics.' Listen here for 'the hidden side of everything.' This is not your regular 'egghead' economics podcast. http://www.freakonomics.com/
The New Yorker: The Political Scene (http://feeds.newyorker.com/services/rss/feeds/campaign_trail.xml)
CFR: The World Next Week (http://feeds.cfr.org/publication/twnw)
  • This CFR (Council on Foreign Relations) production is top notch. CFR also have recordings of conference calls between top experts on world issues, but the audio quality is sometimes intolerable. If you like lots of old man lip-smacking and throat-clearing, however, you may enjoy the conference calls. http://www.cfr.org/thinktank/cgs/podcasts.html
Photography Tips from the Top Floor (http://www.tipsfromthetopfloor.com/wp-rss2.php)
  • There are loads of photography podcasts out there. I especially recommend this one because the host, is NOT a native English speaker. He enunciates with crystal clarity and at an understandable speed. You, too can learn to speak English this well. http://www.tipsfromthetopfloor.com/
This Week in Photo (http://feeds.feedburner.com/ThisWeekInPhoto)
The Two Hosers Photo Show (http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheTwoHosersPhotoShow)
  • I include this not not because it is an especially good photography podcast, but because it is an excellent example of a particular variety of Canadian English. More 'art' than the tech podcast above. See if you can catch all the jokes in the repartee between these two Canadian hosers. http://twohosers.com/
Slate's Negotiation Academy (http://feeds.feedburner.com/SlateNegotiationAcademy)
WTF with Marc Maron (http://www.wtfpod.com/podcast/rss)
  • 'What The Fuck' with Marc Maron is a great comedy and general podcast. Marc seems a little harsh at first, but you'll certainly pick up some fantastic vocabulary. He's a good interviewer, and very funny. There is a lot more depth here than other 'light' comedy topics - it will grow on you. A friend begged me to listen to this one for a long time and I finally understand why. http://www.wtfpod.com/
So, what do you do to beat the winter blues? Have any podcasts of your own to recommend? There must be some good podcasts in Polish, but I haven't really researched them. Share your favourites in any language in the comments below. Comments welcome in Polish or English!

Choosing photos for this blog post has reminded me I have a significant backlog of photos from the year I'd like to share someplace. Choosing a list of favourites is the hardest thing and is a project I need to start and finish. Watch for them here or in a Google+ gallery coming soon. Also, BnP may have a special guest post in the coming weeks, so check back spoon for more.

24 października 2011



Dawno temu nie pisałem nic. Przepraszam. Ostatnio robię dużo ale często unikałem pisanie blog. Kiedy potrzebuję pięć minut żeby napisać jedno zdanię, jest trudno robić postęp. Jeśli masz blog już wiesz o co mi chodzi.

Niedawno, mieliśmy gości w domu. To oczywiste, że czasami mamy gości, ale kilku gości są bardziej interesujący niż inny. Lubimy wszyscy! Rozmawiam o specjalnym gośćie - był sierściuch! Już wiesz? Chcesz zgadnąć jaki sierściuch? Może potrzebujesz więcej informację. Napomykam aluzję . . .

Był mały. Miał cztery nogi i dwa oczy. Ogon też miał. Hmm. Może jeśli chcesz zgadnąć, chcesz oglądać zdjęcie?

Masz dość? Nie mam. Chciałbym powiedzieć więcej. Kiedy mały sierściuch przychodził, był w małej klatke. On też miał specjalnie jedzenie, ale może jesć różny rzeczy. Teraz na pewno wiesz jaki gryzoń . . .  albo . . .  zwierząt był?

On ma bardzo miękki włosy i śliczny nos. Nie, nie była moją zonę! On ma imię, ale nie mogę powiedzieć bo jest bardzo nieciekawy. Co chcesz wiedzieć?

On ma duży uszy i duży nogi. Kiedy on boje się, wali w podłogę. Ciągle nie wiesz?? Jest królik! On ma na imię "Królik." Nie wiem, dlaczego on ma taki nieciekawy imię, bo jego właścicieli są inteligentny i kreatywny. On ma zabawny historię, bo mój przyjaciel znalazł go w parku w Warszawie.

Kiedy on był zrelaksowany, zaczynał badać mieszkanie. . .

Daliśmy go pietruszka. Niestety, on ma problem bo nie ma przedni zębów. Czasami potrzebuje pomoc.

Daliśmy mu jedzenie i miłość i dał nam kilka małych, brązowych prezentów. Nie zachowaliśmy ich.

Jestem zmęczony. Koniec!

One last point . . . who wants to translate 'sierściuch' into English? Any takers?

Borsuk Żyje

Wow. It's been a while. I realised today that it has been far too long since I've blogged. In my absence, the blogger interface has even changed. Indeed I am still alive, living in Poland, and learning Polish. I have been busy . . . "going places, meeting people, working on projects." My approach to blogging in Polish takes the same form as other work avoidance activities. The floor gets cleaned, laundry hung up, bathroom cleaned, everything! Any of you who have been a student know that there is nothing like an assignment or project to create a clean house.

Polish progress? Yes, I'm making some. Still not enough. I have one or two Polish lessons a week now with private teachers. We also have Polish days at home now - it works better than any system we've devised to date - that is until there is a communication breakdown and we lapse into English for the rest of the day. But there IS progress. See for yourself - check back in a few hours for my next post: "Sierściuch."

06 sierpnia 2011

Translation Challenge

Zuzia Buszewicz (Desperate Polish Housewife in Exile) has challenged me to do a little poetry translation. I have to admit that I'm not usually big on translation but I decided I would give it a go. I have just now finished a quick and dirty translation, using only a dictionary - no Googling or Google translating.

Here is the original Polish (find the song on Youtube here):

W pięciu smakach - Monika Brodka

Jadę miastem szybciej niż się da
Dynda głową sztuczny pies
Świateł, znaków udaję, że nie widzę
GPS-em mały bies

Tuż za rzeką drugi, trzeci most
Rzędy skaryszewskich drzew
Las żurawi poharatał niebo
Słyszę Twój anielski śpiew

W pięciu smakach kaczka tapla się
Mija soję, tofu, ryż
Uduszona latająca ryba
Ćwiczy w piwie skoki wzwyż

Słodko-kwaśnych słów rozumiem kilka
Kiedy do mnie mówisz - drżę
Śpiewasz pięknie wtedy gdy gotujesz
Chciałam byś nauczył mni

I'm a little embarrassed about the quality of the translation that is to follow. . . but I am trying to be fearless so here is my rudimentary translation as best I can understand it:

The Fifth Taste - Monika Brodka

I go through the city faster than possible
The artificial dog's head dangles
The light gives a signal that I don't see
Using a GPS, the little devil

Right behind the river, the second, third bridge
A line of trees in Skaryszewski Park
A forest of cranes cuts up the sky
I hear your angel's song

The fifth taste of duck sloshes about in the pot
It's missing soybeans, tofu, and rice
Choking on a flying fish
Training with beer, long and high jumping

I understand some sweet and sour words
When you speak to me I shudder
You sing beautifully when you cook
I wanted you to teach me

Now I'll look to see what Google translate says, and see if there are other English translations around.

How did I do? Enter your comments below!

Note: after reading your feedback and checking a couple existing translations on the web, (here and here) I have tweaked my translation a bit. A few lines that sounded just right have been copied directly from these sources. Here it is one more time in what is I hope a more faithful version.

Five Spice - Monika Brodka

I drive through the city faster than allowed
The artificial dog's head dangles
I pretend not to see the lights, the signs
Using a GPS, the little devil

Right behind the river, the second, third bridge
A line of trees in Skaryszewski
A forest of cranes cuts the sky
I hear your angelic voice

The duck sloshes about in five spices
Passing soybeans, tofu, and rice
The flying fish is high jumping
In a beer stew

I understand some sweet and sour words
When you speak to me I shudder
You sing beautifully when you cook
I'd like you to teach me

I now have a much greater respect for all translators. What a challenge!

28 lipca 2011



jestem ekspertem parkingowym
budzę się wcześnie z humorem dobrym
ludzie starają się znaleść miejsce
wiem gdzie na ulicy
mam garnitur, stare buty
pracuję cały zimny luty
daję znaki ręką najwidoczniej
mam dość teraz piwo gdzie?

This is my first attempt at writing any kind of poetry in a foreign language. It's difficult! Trying to find simple rhymes in another language really demonstrates my paltry vocabulary. If I sit in silence and try to think of rhymes in English, they fade in and out of my mind automatically. This morning when I tried to think of Polish rhymes I sat looking at the table with an empty head!

Bloggers guilt is a real thing, you might think that I have given up on my Polish but you would be wrong. I'm not in a formal class these days but I continue to work away at improving my Polish in fits and starts. Don't give up on Borsuk na Pradze!

Any suggestions for the topic for my next poem? Let me know what you think in the comments below, and come back soon for an update on my pomidory!