Magazine

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What's in that bottle? The Pilsner brewery hides away a few cans and bottles for future generations. Chihuahua Ondra - long dead but still making headlines. And, making an omelette? No, just renovating Charles Bridge! Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

Is your baby late in coming? Apparently there's nothing like a windstorm to hurry it along. Czech doctors and midwives say that when the hurricane-force winds started blowing last week the number of newborn babies who arrived on the scene ahead of their time was three times higher than usual. Statistics show that climatic changes are often known to start premature labour. It is not yet clear how many babies were born in the snowstorm that arrived hot on hurricane Cyril's heels - but Czech maternity wards are now said to be bursting at the seams.


Czech thieves have been known to steal the most bizarre things just for the value of scrap metal - including copper-wires and road signs - but this week they broke all existing records with an overnight theft of 211 manhole covers -weighing over 6 tons - from the D8 motorway. Road operators have had to replace the stolen metal bars with plastic ones -to prevent repeated thefts, which is already the case with many road signs. At this rate, give it a few more months and everything along Czech highways will be plastic!


The brewer Vaclav Berka shows the time capsules, photo: CTK
Time capsules with messages to future generations are buried in various historic buildings in Prague. But you would also find them in unexpected places. Deep underground in the cellars of the famous Pilsner beer brewery messages from famous Czechs lie hidden in air-tight beer cans and beer bottles. They were placed there recently and the message from President Klaus begins: "I write to you in times when people in the Czech lands still enjoy top-quality, trade-mark beer. When you read these lines you will know whether this heritage has been preserved or whether it was smothered by supra-national concerns". If the latter case turns out to be true - think how disappointed future generations will be at finding messages instead of Pilsner beer in all those cans and bottles!


Charles Bridge
As you may have already heard Prague's famous Charles Bridge is about to be renovated and for months construction experts had one big headache - how to find top quality sandstone for the bridge - at least as good as that used in its making 650 years ago. All the original sandstone quarries which were used for this purpose have long been closed down and the sandstone used in the 1970s reconstruction is already ravaged by time - just 30 years later. Paradoxically, the original sandstone - 650 years old - has withstood the test of time much better. But finding sandstone of such quality has not proved easy. A months-long search of possible sites around the Czech Republic has finally brought results - sandstone of the best quality is only available in two Czech towns - Kamena Zehrovice and Brezin. Although it will mean opening a new quarry the inhabitants of both towns are practically vying for the honour of supplying Charles Bridge with the best sandstone! Now legend has it that, when they built the bridge over six centuries ago, workers added eggs, milk and some say even flour and wine to the mortar in order to bind the stone blocks better - ingredients which are said to be the secret of its longevity. It is not clear whether today's construction teams will want to add these special ingredients as well - but if they do - maybe those towns who will not get the privilege of sending sandstone could deliver a few eggs or some milk and thus make their own tiny contribution to the city's most famous landmark.


The smallest-ever dog Ondra, photo: CTK
The smallest-ever dog in the world - a 15-centimetre Chihuahua named Ondra is long dead but he's still making headlines and giving lawyers and canine experts a hard time. Ondra had to be put down in 2001 due to rapidly deteriorating health and his owner took the matter to court claiming medical malpractice and demanding one million crowns (43,000 dollars) in damages. When the court in Olomouc ruled that Ondra died of natural causes due to congenital defects the owner appealed and the case was re-opened. A regional court has now confirmed the verdict but the owner is not giving up and says she'll take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The Chihuahua, was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's smallest dog in 1999, and the owner is claiming damages for lost earnings from advertisements and other deals that were set up. Poor Ondra had very little time in which to enjoy his fame and even after his death he was not allowed to rest in peace - he is probably the first dog in the world to have been exhumed because of a court case.


LifeGem - a company that offers high-quality memorial diamonds created from the ashes of your loved-one - be it your husband or your pet dog -is expected to arrive in the Czech Republic later this year. But will Czechs want to use its services? At over 70 000 crowns per diamond - the interest is not likely to be huge. The rival Swiss firm Algondanza which came on the Czech market in 2005 has only had two commissions from Czechs in all that time. Julius Mlcoch, head of a Czech cremation company, says that he is skeptical regarding this field of business. In recent years, Mlcoch says, people have spent less and less on their departed relatives - the high prices of traditional burials are the reason why many Czechs choose cremation instead.

But LifeGem is flexible - offering its memorial diamonds for happier occasions - such as weddings, in which case the newly-weds would exchange rings made from each other's hair. However - there's more bad news for Life-Gem - what with Czechs having one of the highest divorce rates in the world - people would most likely think twice before pouring their hard-earned money into something that might not last. Every second marriage in the Czech Republic ends in divorce -and 40 percent of divorcees re-marry. So even if you wanted to keep your ex on your finger - how would your new partner like the idea? No offense to LifeGem - but maybe Czechs had better wait for the other option.