What I Hated the Least Today 174/365: Home(land)

What I Hated the Least Today 174/365: Home(land)

Familiar homescape
Familiar homescape

I’m extremely unpatriotic. The arbitrary circumstance of me being born and living in one country rather than another isn’t enough to inspire any attachment to my homeland. I have my sentimental moments though. For instance, when the national sports team wins a world championship, I may experience a vague sense of pride—being proud of nothing related to me really, especially since I don’t follow any sports.

The older, I mean the wiser, I get, the more I consider it fortunate to find myself in the second world. I believe it balances the extremes of the first world and the third world rather nicely. I don’t do anything coming close to a collective national pride, but I enjoy the comfort of familiarity. It’s the familiar, not the alien, that makes one feel at ease and, by extension, at home.

What works for me as a marker of home is the characteristic Eastern European socialist architecture. It’s a soothing sight, and whenever I see, say, a fellow blogger posting pictures of tall concrete tenements, it triggers an immediate sense of shared heritage in my mind. When I went out on the terrace tonight and saw the sun setting behind the blocks of flats—as captured in this post’s featured image—I had a weak moment when I was almost defiantly proud of my background.

I still deny any accusations of patriotism though and if you ask me, I will also deny having authored this sentimental post. It was the cat who hijacked my laptop and tried to embarrass me by blogging about feelings. I don’t do feelings, of course—unless related to the cat, who is currently sitting on the window, staring at the darkened tenements across the street and plotting how to taunt me next.

What I Hated the Least Today 173/365: Orange Is the New Black

What I Hated the Least Today 173/365: Orange Is the New Black

Orange & Black
Orange & Black

A whole new series of Orange Is the New Black has been released a few days ago. Since I act like I had no work to do and since I like a challenge, I challenged myself to watch all the thirteen episodes in a single sitting. I failed, but it was a borderline fail:

  • day one: was warming up and saw three episodes
  • day two: saw eight episodes and consequently went to bed at seven am
  • day three: finished off the two remaining episodes

I arrived at several conclusions:

  • Binge watching is harder than it looks. Even sitting is harder than it looks.
  • People are getting increasingly weird. As I was searching on YouTube for some clips of my favourite scenes, I found plenty of videos recording individual viewers’ immediate reactions when watching an episode. That’s even less interesting than watching someone unpacking an iPhone. It made me feel extremely embarrassed for them. It was mostly millennial kids, who are notorious for doing awkward things online. This is currently my number one on the list of lame things to do online (says a lame blogger who posts pictures of her shoes).
  • All TV shows, even those that are supposed to entertain rather than educate, have an annoying moral. The moral of the last series of Orange Is the New Black, pressed hard in heart-to-heart talks and would-be-teary scenes repeatedly throughout each episode, is that people are persons. I like neither moral lessons, nor statements of the obvious, nor pointless talk. An idealist man will spend time vainly asserting that he is entitled to something on the grounds of his being a person; a practical man, seeing that being a human doesn’t entail that one lives under humane conditions, will zip it up and deal with it.

I enjoyed the series more than it probably looks. I would even go so far as to say I hate it the least (at least for today). Despite the inevitable presence of ideology, the series has redeeming features, such as my absolute favourite character of the Russian-born Red, whose quote from the previous series that I saw a year ago is so to the point that I still remember it and recycle it in conversation: “Nice is for weak people and democrats.” You can’t argue with her.

What I Hated the Least Today 172/365: Not WYSIWYG

What I Hated the Least Today 172/365: Not WYSIWYG

Not nice
Not nice

*Disclaimer: This post might give a misleading impression that it’s informed. It’s not.*

I admit to writing this in the WordPress Visual Editor, which is a WYSIWYG editor. WYSIWYG is from What you see is what you get, which isn’t entirely the case. While I’m usually quite happy not having to code when I write, occasionally I get fancy ideas and wish to do extravagant things in my posts, like writing code or inserting a table. If you ever fancied a table, you would have noticed that this option is missing from the Visual Editor, so you have to tabulate from scratch.

Elsewhere than on this blog, I’m working with a particularly nasty species of a WYSIWYG editor. It does what other WYSIWYGs do—making a huge mess when switching between WYSIWYG and HTML—and a little extra on top. On one hand, I’m flattered that it writes much worse code than me. On the other hand, I’m scared to publish the code it produces. I recommend to your attention the screenshot above, especially the very curious non-breaking space inserted in between paragraph tags (why?) and the very inelegant way it uses the span tag where no span tag is needed.

I mean, why do it like this…

<ul>
<li><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva,sans-serif;">Item one</span></li>
<li><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva,sans-serif;">Item two</span></li>
<li><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva,sans-serif;">Item three</span></li>
</ul>

… when you could do it like this?

<ul style="font-family: verdana,geneva,sans-serif;">
<li>Item one</li>
<li>Item two</li>
<li>Item three</li>
</ul>

Of course, I’m probably missing something because I have no clue what I’m talking about. This doesn’t make me less upset though. I think that WYSIWYGs and OCD people with a sense for detail (= me) shouldn’t co-exist in the same universe. One of us must go. Therefore, I declare a war on WYSIWYGs and shall henceforth write all my blog posts in HTML. Just because. And since this is supposed to be a post about what I hated the least, not the most, let’s say that I’ll write in HTML because I can, and that’s what I hated the least today. Not much to be proud of, but it’s more than WYSIWYGs can be.

What I Hated the Least Today 171/365: Complimentary Spam

What I Hated the Least Today 171/365: Complimentary Spam

Is that a legit language?
Is that a legit language?

Do you read spam comments on your blog? You probably should. One reason is that occasionally, a perfectly good comment from a perfectly good fellow blogger ends up in the spam queue. Another reason is that spam can be hilarious, which is great for mood boost, and complimentary, which is great for ego boost.

Here are some of my favourite spam comments, all duly caught by the Akismet filter:

You are so cute.

Why, thanks, I know. My Lena the laptop, at which this spam comment was aimed, is also cute and she also knows it because I tell her every so often.

I don’t know.

Well, neither do I. The good thing is that we both know that we don’t know. The question remains why let other people know that we don’t know?

I’ll take care of it.

Is this a threat? This thread looks like a threat to me. Or it could be a promise, since this comment would have landed on my coffee post, so it might just as well be a promise of coffee. In which case I’m in.

What I Hated the Least Today 170/365: Zombies Want to Have Fun Too

What I Hated the Least Today 170/365: Zombies Want to Have Fun Too

Zombie home
Zombie home

I live next to a hospital complex; more accurately, next to a mortuary. I find that appropriate because I might be a zombie, considering that I shun daylight and only get any work done at nighttime. Today I woke up to find the mortuary under reconstruction. While I was sleeping, which was a significant part of other people’s workday, what looked like the foundations of an amusement maze were dug up behind the building. I figure that zombies want to have some fun too.

On a related note, my landlord might have become zombified too. I wonder if it’s a cause for concern or joy, since as an undead person, he might resign at earthly possessions and stop demanding that I pay my rent. What leads me to doubt his live status is that he started to keep the lights on in his house throughout the night. I know because I’m so unfortunate as to have my landlord living across the street. We spy on each other because our windows are facing, which makes random sightings hard to avoid.

I monitor my surroundings religiously about once an hour, when I go out on the terrace to smoke. So, unless smoking kills me first, I shall keep you posted about further developments regarding the zombie amusement arcade being built under my windows (I live in a bedsit but I have two windows, which is cool, right?) and regarding the possible zombie threat across the street. This is such a great neighbourhood to live in. It’s really lively here, you know.

What I Hated the Least Today 169/365: Little Finger

What I Hated the Least Today 169/365: Little Finger

When in doubt, blame Enter
When in doubt, blame Enter

My little finger is a little bastard. It certainly hurts like a bastard. While it is not particularly pleasant to experience, it is a great deal of fun to wonder how come that it came to hurt. I’ve come up with several working hypotheses.

  1. The Blame the Mouse Hypothesis: I’ve spent the last few days working hard on a paper. Since I hate writing (even more fiercely than other things) and I suck at it (about the same as in other things), I often found myself working hardly rather than hard. I was probably spending hours on end with my little finger tentatively hovering over my mouse, waiting for inspiration not coming, hence I could have caused myself a repetitive strain injury.
  2. The Blame the Enter Hypothesis: As part of my research, I was naturally searching on Google. A lot. I use my little finger to hit the Enter key after I type my search. I have the tendency to get physically very expressive when hitting Enter. In verbally expressive terms, I punch the living shit out of it. It’s probably a reflex from my early years of typing on a mechanical typewriter. I could have hurt my finger by excessive Entering.
  3. The Blame the Exercise Hypothesis: There’s a saying in my language which translates poorly into English, but it’s along the lines that regular exercise will cripple you for life. It’s possible that I crippled my little finger as I was trying to levitate myself into one yoga pose or another. It could be argued that I would have noticed, but I wouldn’t have had to notice because I make a point of not doing yoga mindfully, so it follows that I must be doing it mindlessly.

Whichever of the hypotheses is correct, if any, typing (and the attendant fiddling with the mouse and hitting Enter) doesn’t make much to alleviate the pain. I should probably stop typing. Now.

What I Hated the Least Today 168/365: Not Pigeons

What I Hated the Least Today 168/365: Not Pigeons

I can do it. But I don't feel like it.
I can do it. But I don’t feel like it.

By virtue of the negative operator not, I can blog about, instead what I hated the least, what I hated the most today and still comply with the format of my challenge. Neat, not? I’ve blog-ranted about my hatred for pigeons before and, in the last paragraph of my post, asked, in all seriousness, for pigeon poop removal tricks. Now, it occurred to me that I’d rather go to the source, so I’m asking for pigeon removal tricks.

The trouble with pigeons it, among other things, that they desecrate my terrace to an indecent degree (I know about degrees, I have three) like they have no better job to do (I don’t know about jobs, I have none). The results of their ravage are impossible to remove by conventional means. So I got me a badass scrubbing brush (and haven’t used it yet, but now that I have it, I could). Instead, I painted my nails duo colour (like I have no better job to do).


* The rest of this post contains a denouement (of sorts), but is so disgusting that you’ll want to pass (if not pass out). *


While waiting for my nails to dry (while my feet were freezing off, as I painted my toes as well), I noticed that my (landlord’s) terrace prides itself in a brand new poop acquisition. It was such a severe case that it collaterally splashed on the glass door in proximity (if you’re queasy, I assure you I’m too, but the pigeon didn’t double check with my feelings). The most interesting characteristics of my new terrace branding was not so much the violet colour of the poop, as the fact that it contained five cherry stones.

It means that 1) there are cherries somewhere already! 2) pigeons are really like winged rats, as they were called in one discussion forum for pigeon removal, because they apparently devour anything. I researched into means of pigeon repelling but didn’t find anything suitable. I was however greatly (greatly inappropriately) amused when reading about a pigeon repellent device that gives the bastards electrical shocks. I am very mean when it comes to pigeons. Or I’m just mean.

What I Hated the Least Today 167/365: Don’t Worry, I’m Not Gay

What I Hated the Least Today 167/365: Don’t Worry, I’m Not Gay

No flowers by request
No flowers by request

I went to replenish my smokes supply at a petrol station. This might not be the most logical place to buy cigarettes at, but it’s conveniently located, carries my brand and, unlike my nearest tobacco shop, employs staff that doesn’t let on how annoying it is that a customer has come to disturb them. Hardly did I enter the station area when a toothless man in a Shell shirt approached me and gave me a white rose. I inquired what day it was that flowers were freely distributed. He explained that it was just like that. Alright. That explains it.

With my purchase, on which the seller didn’t really earn anything because tobacco is heavily taxed, I got a complimentary pink cookie saying, Thank you, Your Shell. That was weird, I was thinking as I was leaving the building, and bumped into another customer holding awkwardly a white rose and coming in for his very own pink cookie. Don’t worry, I’m not gay, he exclaimed immediately on seeing me. That escalated quickly.

I’m not sure what sense it makes. If he were gay, then I’d have no reason to worry that he might rape me. His uninvited declaration of his sexual preferences therefore increased rather than diminished my concern. Besides me overthinking things, nothing else happened. I resisted the urge to throw the funeral flower in a bin straight away and brought it home against my better judgement. I checked that it didn’t contain a surveillance camera and put it in a shot glass, pictured below.

Funeral flower feel

What I Hated the Least Today 166/365: Status Satisfactory

What I Hated the Least Today 166/365: Status Satisfactory

All quiet on the eastern front
All quiet on the eastern front

I’m against an excessive application of mindfulness, but so as to confirm this rule of thumb, I took a mindful look at my phone today. There was nothing to see there—which is the point. There were no notifications to act on, which was strangely comforting as it matched my momentary mood of wanting to be undisturbed and get some work done in peace. As long as to work and in peace should even occur in the same sentence.

What there was to see on my phone’s screen was that civilisation was up and running. By civilisation, I mean this:

  • Wi-Fi status: full bars, check.
  • Signal status: four out of five, fine.
  • Weather: current alright and forecast alright.

Finally, please take note of my battery: 100% charged. If I wanted to be graphic, I’d say that a fully charged phone connected to all the appropriate networks is better than sex. But I don’t want to be graphic, so I’ll only observe that my phone felt highly satisfactory and appealed to the core of my geek being on a deeply metaphysical level. Also, I should probably get a life.

What I Hated the Least Today 165/365: Meeting

What I Hated the Least Today 165/365: Meeting

Computers and code
Computers and code

I’ve been to a one-to-one to one-to-two meeting today where I was being advised on how to use a marketing software by the company who made it. That’s the short story. The long story follows, starting with disclaimers:

  1. As to the advising part, I read the software manual—that’s what I do, I read manuals—prior to the meeting. Twice. I tried out all functions available and came to the meeting with just a few questions that were not covered by the manual.
  2. As to the one-to-one to one-to-two part, my meeting was with a person who tests and uses the application, but my questions about its functions were so searching that she needed to summon the app programmer for help. Repeatedly.
  3. As to the marketing software, I hate marketing and I find it perverse that I found myself using a marketing application. But apparently, a marketing application has a marketing potential, and I don’t care what I do to pay the bills.

The meeting was taxing for everyone concerned and enjoyable for me in retrospect. Because—a) blogging material and b) it’s amusing to replay the meeting in my mind and see how perfectly socially inadequate I am.

Scarcely had I acted on the invitation to sit down when I asked whether I could get the company’s Wi-Fi password or whether I had to set up a hot spot from my phone’s 4G to get my tablet online. I was granted the password. Good. I didn’t have the presence of mind earlier to save my Excel spreadsheet with my questions offline, so I needed to connect to the cloud.

When my warm-up questions were answered, I moved on to more intricate ones, on which the testing person called in the programming person. I loved the engineer at first sight. He clearly hated me at first sight—because I’m people and he obviously hates people. So do I, which is why I loved the guy. He didn’t talk to me much—once again, because people—and he was obviously relieved when dismissed. So was I.

That I call a meeting of soulmates (provided we put aside that I don’t believe in souls). I mean, I didn’t even look at the person properly (I don’t look at people to avoid the risk of accidental eye contact), but I know a socially awkward fellow when I see him, which establishes a sort of connection in disconnection (provided this even makes sense).