Around Slovakia

Smallest book exhibited
Potato fair shows massive spud
Dogs eat owner's corpse
Tarantulas go on show
Bird clinic closes after 20 years
Lawyer attacks judge
Woman takes mariáš title

Smallest book exhibited

THE SMALLEST book in Slovakia, which is even smaller than a matchbox, was exhibited at a recent fair in Bratislava.
The hardcover book is 35 millimetres wide, 45 millimetres long and 14 millimetres thick, reported the daily Nový Čas.
"The book comes from a private collection. Its contents include several prints of cameo glass watermarks," said the Slovak secretary for the Guinness Book of Records, Igor Svitok.
"The first watermark is from Kremnica, dating back to 1604 and the final one is a glass cameo of the village of Visolaje, from 1837," Svitok said.
He also mentioned that 2,000 copies of the micro book were published in 1978.
"According to our information, this book is the only one left from that issue. Its value is estimated at around Sk3,000 (€75)," said Svitok.

Spišská Belá
Potato fair shows massive spud

THE SECOND annual potato fair took place in the eastern Slovak village of Spišská Belá. There were numerous varieties of potatoes for visitors to pick through and they could also admire the biggest spud on display, which weighed in at a whacking 1.4 kilograms, the daily Nový Čas reported.
Potatoes are a traditional part of Slovakia's diet, and the fair enabled potato growers to share their experiences of effective cultivation. To add to the fun were various competitions, including a potato-peeling event. A panel of experts also elected this year's Miss Potato (not the human variety), and tasted various potato-based dishes, including the Slovak speciality, potato pancakes.
Ladislav Abos from Spišská Belá, the man responsible for growing the monster spud, said, "I have dug up bigger potatoes than this one, but this is the most recent around this size. So I brought it here."

Dogs eat owner's corpse

HUMAN remains found in a house in the eastern Slovak town of Kežmarok are believed to be the remnants of a corpse eaten by dogs.
Local police think that the corpse was that of a 78-year-old local man named Gabriel S. Two dogs were found beside the remains, which police suspect had eaten their owner after he died.
The daily Nový Čas reported that the last time anyone saw Gabriel S alive was in May this year. According to the paper, he was a recluse, who rarely communicated with his family; he was often in conflict with his neighbours and the police.
"The plaster on the outside of his house kept falling off, endangering passers-by. We appealed to him to do something about it but he just mumbled that he had no money and constantly ignored warnings," said the head of the Kežmarok police Peter Višňovský.
The gruesome find occurred when a local energy supplier attempted to get into the premises. When there was no reply, he called the police, who forced their way in.

Tarantulas go on show

SLOVAKIA's largest collection of tarantulas, comprising 40 different varieties, is on display at the Andrej Kmeť Museum in the city of Martin.
The collection consists of 77 examples of the scary spider, and is owned by two Slovaks, Ján Bittner and Roman Prídavka, who gathered the creatures from Asia, Africa and South America, the Nový Čas daily wrote on September 29.
According to Bittner, tarantulas are easy creatures to handle. "I feed them cockroaches and cicadas once every two or three weeks," Bittner told the daily.
At birth, tarantulas measure approximately one centimetre long, but can grow to a considerable size on maturity, depending on the species. The biggest variety of tarantula, Theraposa Blondi, measures as much as 30 centimetres at full stretch.
Female tarantulas have a lifespan of around 15 years, but males only survive a mere one year to 18 months.
Tarantulas are poisonous. "However, the idea that they can kill people is not true," said Bitner. A tarantula bite is comparable to a bee sting, according to biologists.

IN THE POPULAR, male-dominated game mariáš, Ľubica Rísová holds all the cards.
photo: SME - Veronika Janušková

Bird clinic closes after 20 years

A CENTRE for healing sick birds in Košice has closed after 20 years.
Juliana Ondrejková, who recently found an injured bird in the street, was unable to take it to the clinic in Rozhanovce. With no comparable facility in the city, the bird died, the daily SME reported.
The avian clinic in Rozhanovce, which was attached to Košice's Veterinary Medicine University, saved the lives of hundreds of birds until it was shut by the Environment Ministry.
The head of the centre, Ján Miško, said that he considered the ministry's decision cruel.
"They have been threatening to close our workplace for years," Miško told the daily.
"What makes matters worse is the fact that almost all the injured birds found are protected by law," said Ján Lipták, who worked at the clinic.
Over time the refuge centre had treated birds for all manner of injuries and ailments - from gunshot wounds to exhaustion. Many had been rescued from smugglers trafficking in rare species, such as six eagles worth around Sk600,000 (€14,906) that police confiscated from a thief who was planning to remove them to Ukraine.
The rector of the Veterinary Medicine University, Rudolf Cabadaj, now fears that a falcon breeding station, also based in Rozhanovce, will be next in line for closure.
"That would be another tragedy," Cabadaj said.

Lawyer attacks judge

A LAWYER who was angry at a judge's verdict attacked him in his office, the daily SME reported September 29.
The lawyer, identified only as Juraj U, disagreed with the verdict the Košice judge delivered in his case and demanded it be changed within 24 hours.
The judge filed a criminal complaint against the lawyer who, in addition to being charged with attacking a public official, has been charged with blackmail.

IN THE POPULAR, male-dominated game mariáš, Ľubica Rísová holds all the cards.
photo: SME - Veronika Janušková

Woman takes mariáš title

AROUND 70 mariáš card players from the central Slovak village of Lučatín, near Banská Bystrica held a competition recently. And although the game is more commonly played in male-dominated Slovak bars, the new mariáš champion is a woman.
Ľubica Rísová, a teacher and department head at the Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica, won the championships, the daily SME reported.
Mariáš, the most popular card game in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, is played with a 32-card pack, the winner being decided by a complicated points trick system. The more common version of the game involves three players.
Pavel Arvai, an accomplished 25-year-old player from Banská Bystrica, drew comparisons between mariáš and another sophisticated game.
"Like chess, mariáš is about psychology and math," he told SME.
Ľubica Rísová said that she often played mariáš with her two sisters and that formerly men stopped women from competing at events.
"I learned mariáš on my travels. I used to do gymnastics, and when travelling away to sports competitions we played mariáš," Rísová said. In the past she also took part at the world mariáš championships where she picked up a bronze medal.

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