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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, December 21, 2005 - 10:48 am:   

I'm going to the Czech Republic in early February, meeting Pat Cadigan and our friend Konrad there for about 6 days.

Has anyone traveled there with a digital camera?
I have the canon elph SD100, which comes with its own battery pack and recharger. Usually I just plug the charger into a wall socket. I've done this in NZ and Australia with only the proper plug and have had no problems. But the voltage in Czech is 220 and I don't really know if I've got the right plug--will it work (if I can find the plug) without damaging the camera? Help! I've checked on line and can't find any way to do this correctly.
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Bruce
Posted on Wednesday, December 21, 2005 - 11:43 am:   

Hi Ellen,

I do a fair bit of traveling and don't go anywhere without my trusty Targus adapter kit, or at least the right plug. I haven't been to the Czech Republic but it looks like you'd be covered by fairly generic European adapters...here's a link with a couple of pictures.

http://www.targus.com/us/Downloads/Targus_Europe_Pack.PDF

What do the specs on your recharger say? I'm betting 110-240 VAC.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, December 21, 2005 - 12:07 pm:   

Duh. Of course; I did the same thing when I took my laptop to oz for the first time--I forget to check the charger itself. Yes, the voltage is fine. Now I just have to figure out which plug is right for Czech...
thank you. One problem down :-)
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, December 21, 2005 - 12:39 pm:   

I think I'll spring for the APC Universal Plug Adaptor. It looks like it has every configuration and it's lightweight. Easier to carry around than the four plugs I have.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, January 29, 2006 - 10:05 am:   

I'm off to Prague on Thursday. I've been tracking the weather reports for weeks and it's been bitter cold. But it looks like by Thursday the temperature will be up to 40 degrees F, so maybe there's hope.

Pat Cadigan is meeting me in Prague on Friday (I have an overnight flight, something I despise, but there were no other alternatives) and Konrad and Ala are arriving by train from Poland on Saturday evening. We are meeting with a book publisher Sunday morning and with my agent's Czech rep on Tuesday, so I can probably write at least some of the trip off.

We're staying in the Lesser Town on Kampa Island, which is just across the river from the Old Town and the old Jewish district. I've gotten lots of recommendations from my sister, who was in Prague last year, and of a wonderful sounding restaurant from Gardner Dozois and Susan Casper (although it sounds like it might be too pricy for all of us).

We were warned to be alert for expert pickpockets, but because we'll all be bundled up, it may be less of a problem than in warmer weather. (I hope)

I bought the Universal Plug Adaptor to use with my digital camera. The hotel has free access to the internet so I figure I can check my email from there, once in awhile.


So I leave the 2nd, get there the 3rd and return the 9th.
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Bruce
Posted on Sunday, January 29, 2006 - 08:21 pm:   

Have a fine, safe trip, Ellen.
Bug Pat to post once in a while :0)
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, January 30, 2006 - 08:41 am:   

She's got her own blog and goes there now.
http://fastfwd.livejournal.com/
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Bruce
Posted on Monday, January 30, 2006 - 10:01 am:   

Thanks...
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 08:56 am:   

Ellen:

When you get back, I'd be very interested to know what proportion of the Czechs you met spoke English. Prague is one of the places I'd like to try living, but I don't want to have to master a new language to make it feasible.

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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 10:34 am:   

Matt: Since I don't speak a word of Czech, I'll be interested too ;-)--and am a little nervous. I haven't been alone in a place where I speak not a word of the language for a very long time. Pat arrives in the evening and Konrad and Ala don't arrive till a day later (not that any of them speak Czech).
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Saturday, February 11, 2006 - 12:38 pm:   

So, Ellen, welcome back. Did you hear much English spoken?

Matt Hughes
www.archonate.com
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Christopher Barzak
Posted on Saturday, February 11, 2006 - 05:46 pm:   

It's a huge ESL country, so I imagine a lot of them know a little bit of English, at least to aid in purchasing items and finding lost people's ways, etc. Useful English rather than conversational, at least. At least that's how it is in Japan with many people. And I've been considering Prague too, because there's ESL work there and you can get by without learning Czech apparently. Though I've lived in Japan a year and a half and can have conversations in Japanese now. It's not so bad learning another language if you're immersed in it everyday and study a little bit earnestly. In some ways, it's hard, if your immersed, not to pick some up without even trying.
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Saturday, February 11, 2006 - 07:21 pm:   

True. When I was up in northern Alberta in the sixties, living in a Metis settlement, I picked up some basic Cree.

Of course, it was easier when I was eighteen. But I hear that one can communicate a great deal just by pointing and smiling.

Matt Hughes
www.archonate.com
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Saturday, February 11, 2006 - 10:42 pm:   

Most people spoke a little English but I was suprised that there also seemed many who didn't at all. I did think everyone took ESL.

Matt,
Yup, that's what I did.

Chris, in Japan I find that "arragota doma" (sp) goes a long way.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, February 12, 2006 - 06:34 am:   

I've started to put up my Prague photos. The first batch, (which we actually end up on the bottom) are of Prague Castle, and the Cathedral on its grounds.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/35025258@N00/sets/72057594062992579/

More tk.
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Jason D. Wittman
Posted on Sunday, February 12, 2006 - 09:09 am:   

So ESL stands for European Sign Language?

Jason
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, February 12, 2006 - 10:44 am:   

English as a second language :-)

Btw, I just posted the rest of the photos.
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PM
Posted on Sunday, February 12, 2006 - 10:46 am:   

I'd like a "Skull head on" but just don't have anywhere to put it.

ESL --- English as Second Language.

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Christopher Barzak
Posted on Sunday, February 12, 2006 - 04:59 pm:   

Yep, it's a nice phrase to use, Ellen, this is it's spelling "Doumo arigatou" and just means thank you very much. There's also "sumimasen" which is a big favorite. It's a way of saying Excuse me, although this is such a favored sentiment here that there are plenty of varied phrases for saying you are sorry or excuse me and thank you.

There are many people here who don't understand English at all, too. But about 30% of the country has either a fluency or some knowledge of it, and English is introduced at an early age here and taught manditorily in all public schools from grade seven to twelve. Even with all of this, there is that 70% of the population that, even with this schooling, may understand when you speak, but have no practice at speaking it back, or become so nervous that they are afraid to communicate for fear of making mistakes. And from my own experience of learning Japanese, my comprehension of someone else speaking far exceeds the speed at which I put my own words together when speaking, which sometimes will be enough to make me avoid a conversation if I'm feeling particularly tired that day especially, because it really is a draining thing to speak another language. Though it gets easier the more you do it. This weekend my friends and I went to a new karaoke parlor and I took care of getting a membership for us and answering all the receiptionist's questions, and then we were given a room with a broken sound system and I took care of telling the desk man about it and asking for a new room. All went well. But I always worry I'll get stuck trying to figure out the best way to communicate something and if I get stuck in that sort of thinking, I'll freeze up for a few seconds until I can regroup my thoughts. It's a really fragile process. Sort of like walking in boots two or three sizes too big for you. You can trip and fall over your feet real easy that way. ;-)
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, February 12, 2006 - 07:45 pm:   

Thanks for letting me know the correct spelling (I already knew its meaning :-) )

When I was in Japan in 1990 I had dinner with a married Japanese couple I know and although the woman listened very politely, I'm not convinced she understood a word I was saying.
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Christopher Barzak
Posted on Sunday, February 12, 2006 - 09:35 pm:   

It's quite possible she didn't understand. I've had dinner with various people and while I spoke everyone listened intently, then afterward turned to one or two of the people who turned out to be the ones who really understood English better and asked what was just said. Most of them will be able to pick out vocabulary but have lost or never really acquired during their school years a true understanding of the grammars. Sometimes I look at English now and wonder why it's arranged the way it is. Japanese leaves so much information out and yet somehow everything is still communicated. I doubted this so much at the beginning, but the more I studied and came to understand, the more I understood all the gaps in what is said. One of the problems, and the biggest one in my opinion, in why it is difficult for Japanese people to learn English and for English speakers to learn Japanese, is that you can study the language till you cry and beat your head against the wall and it still might not make sense when you try to speak to someone. It's the cultures we both have to study alongside of the languages in order to really get what is being said. But culture is harder to teach than language, and the best way to learn it is to go and live in it. That's why I think I've picked up Japanese faster than most of my students are picking up English. Also I get to hear a variety of natural expressions everyday, whereas they don't. Immersion is the best way to learn a language, I think. But don't be surprised if that politely listening lady, if not understanding the totality of what you said, understood individual words or set expressions and just wasn't able to compose them altogether in her head into an orderly narrative. I remember what that felt like. Oh! I heard him say turn right, but what was all the rest of that gibberish? Damn it, can you say it once more? Oh a big building. But where? Lots of static because your brain hasn't built enough connectors to make it all understood quickly enough. It zips along faster and faster the more chances you have to listen to and speak with native speakers though.

And if she didn't understand a word you were saying, yes, she would have still listened to you very politely. Otherwise she would have been a horrible hostess. ;-)

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