A Quick Question: Do I Want a Sofa?

A Quick Question: Do I Want a Sofa?

You’re my last resort. I don’t know if I should buy a sofa or not. I’ve been trying to decide for months. Please advise.

Pros: a sofa!

Cons: costs money.

Also, I’m totally serious. I shall either purchase or abstain from purchasing a piece of furniture based on advice from my readers. And why, yes, I see my therapist regularly and take my pills. They haven’t invented pills for decision paralysis yet though.

Here’s the sofa.

Here’s the poll.

Vote responsibly. You can make my home a better place. Or you can save my bank account from getting a blow in the face. Thank you!


Portraits of Mara Eastern

I blog anonymously but I make a shitty job out of it. I never post full frontal selfies (not as in nudes but as in whole face selfies), but I do post various disjointed body parts. I was thinking, Man, this is stupid, what if someone glued the parts together to make a whole? And then I thought, Don’t be paranoid, no sane person would bother. I forgot about Max though. Hilariousness ensues.


Unlimited Premium Themes Now Included in the Premium Plan

Awesome news. Particularly now I’ve just cancelled my Premium subscription. *shrug*

WordPress.com News

Finding just the right look for your site can be a fun task. If you’re on the Premium plan, it’s about to get a lot more fun: the Premium plan now includes unlimited access to all our premium themes.

With over 200 premium themes on WordPress.com — and new themes added regularly — that’s more than $16,000 worth of premium themes. We bring the best premium theme designs to WordPress.com, meaning you get new, unique themes to choose from more often. From niche- and industry-specific themes like Aperitive and Marquee to beautiful blogging themes like Radiate to themes with colorful, stylish touches like Gema or Jason, you have more chances than ever of finding your perfect style.

This new addition to the Premium plan gives more of you the opportunity to try our great premium themes and make your sites shine!

Visit the Plans page to learn more about what WordPress.com Premium has to offer…

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Fire in Progress

Fire in Progress

Around 1:30 a.m., uncomfortably close
Around 1:30 a.m., uncomfortably close

I should be working, but I find the mushroom cloud of smoke outside of my window slightly distracting. The above was snapped with my not-iPhone from my flat’s terrace at 1:30 a.m. when I first noticed that the sky got itself smokey eyes. (I’m entitled to treat a fire in a flippant tone when I’m sitting 800 metres away from it.)

In retrospect I recalled that I did hear sirens earlier, but since it’s Friday night and since I live next to a hospital, that’s a perfectly normal background noise. I’m mildly discomforted by the fact that I’m siren-deaf—I physically perceive them but I don’t mentally notice them. I’m also somewhat disappointed in my cat. Just before I saw there was a fire, the cat acted weird, hid in a closet and then came out for a cuddle. And I thought she was just happy to have me.

Two hours later, the local fire brigade tweeted that it’s a textile warehouse on fire—before that, there was no information anywhere to be found. It’s cool that they added photos and even a video, but I’d rather know if I should pack my emergency bag (and if my favourite supermarket next to the warehouse is burning too). A storm just started—the cat retired to the closet again, she’s scared of rain for no reasonable reason, especially when considering that she used to live outdoors.

I guess being almost a kilometre away and with the rain now, I should be safe enough, but I’ll probably stay up to see what’s up—or more to the point, what’s burning down. Should you be concerned about my morbid humour (but you should surely be used to it by now), let me state for the record that no casualties were reported and given that it’s a warehouse that caught fire in the middle of the night, casualties are unlikely. I’m not even freaking out by now (too much).

Around 4 a.m., hopefully under control
Around 4 a.m., hopefully under control
WordPress Theme Rowling

WordPress Theme Rowling

We're on it
We’re on it

My blog is using one of the latest WordPress themes, Rowling, the WP-hosted version (here is the self-hosted Rowling). From the start, the theme manifested a bunch of bugs, or, as they are euphemistically referred to, theme features. This apparent malfunctioning moved me to contact Support, though I usually can’t be bothered to bother them.

Threaded Comments

One of the issues was solved quite fast and was acknowledged to have been a bug. Threaded comments, advertised as a theme feature (not theme feature in its depreciative meaning here), did not work. Well, now they do, thanks to Support figuring it out. That’s the good news.

Gallery Post Format

The mixed (or outright bad) news is the gallery post format that is the theme feature (pejorative meaning intended here). As you can see in action for example in this post, the gallery format will by default display your gallery as a slider in the featured image of the post. The individual images cannot be enlarged or viewed in carousel. This can’t be overridden—unless you re-programme the theme, I imagine, which you can’t do on WP-hosted. Support tried to help me with this, but concluded that it was—yes, a theme feature.

Previous/Next Post

Another detail, on which Support probably didn’t quite see what I wanted, is the way Previous/Next Post navigation is displayed. On this WP-hosted blog, it shows under the post. Good. But—on my self-hosted private test blog, the navigation shows beautifully in the left-most column, right under the post metadata, including not only a link to the next post but also its featured image. It looks quite nice. It’s a shame that I don’t have this feature, and it’s curious that the same theme is actually not the same on WP-hosted versus self-hosted.

Mobile Menu

The last point is relevant to Rowling on mobile. If you’re particular about your menus and want to use the top header menu but not the bottom header menu (refer to theme specifications to see which is which and where), then you should check how and if the menu displays on mobile. Unless it has been fixed, the top header menu won’t show on mobile. If you have the CSS upgrade on WP-hosted or if you are self-hosted, the issue can be solved by adding a bottom header menu that will show on mobile but not on larger screens, which is achieved by adding this CSS:

@media screen and (min-width: 850px) {
 .header-wrapper .navigation {
 display: none;

If you’re neither, bad luck.

As I’m an OCD nit-pick, these things bother me. On a more positive note, they don’t bother me so much as to make me abandon Rowling, which I think is gorgeous. That is, until a new theme is released that I’ll think is even more gorgeous.

Unable to Add Links in Your Posts? Try HTML

Unable to Add Links in Your Posts? Try HTML

Text editor
Text editor

If you, like me and fellow bloggers, as Rebekah and John, have trouble adding links to your posts with the new (and improved) inline link tool, HTML might help. It did help me, after I spent an hour troubleshooting (to no avail), then went (swearing profusely) to have a smoke, on which the solution occurred to me. I’m as presumptuous as to think that I might be telling you something useful.

When you are unable to add a link using the Insert/edit link tool in the Visual editor, you might want to switch to the Text editor. In there, locate the word or phrase that you want to make a link. Apply this easy HTML (the bits in angular brackets), in fact so easy that I can do it, so you can too. Just replace the contents of the quotes with the link that you’re trying to add:

<a href="https://www.maraeastern.com/tag/rants/">Click this to read all my rants.</a>

Where I was previously unable to add a link at all, this did the trick just fine. If you feel fancy and want to open the link in a new window, try this:

<a href="https://www.maraeastern.com/tag/rants/" target="_blank">Click this to read all my rants.</a>

And you get this:

Click this to read all my rants.

Should you wish to read more about what else is new and improved in the latest WordPress Coleman release, go here. Have fun. Wait. Don’t go away yet. Please tell me in the comments that I’m brave because I (mostly) refrained from sharing any evaluative comments on the inline link tool in particular or the (dis)functionality of things in general. Thank you and you’re welcome.

Using Windows 10: A Pie Chart

Using Windows 10: A Pie Chart

I’ve Been Painting (but Shouldn’t Quit My Day Job)

I’ve Been Painting (but Shouldn’t Quit My Day Job)

Once in about five years, I get a crafty fit. It’s a condition to beware of, as I’m exceptionally unskilled. That doesn’t prevent me from attempting, pentannually, dyeing, crocheting or (visual artists forbid) painting.

Today I sat down with the determination to paint something. More precisely, to paint nothing, since I can’t paint anything that would look like something, preferably itself. So, to the natural question as to what my artwork represents, I respond nothing.

The mission starts with painting and drinking supplies spread on a plastic bag and a doubtful cat.

painting (1)

I’m attempting the first shaky strokes, while the cat is making free use of my drinks.

painting (2)

Half the coffee is gone, and I’m wondering what the heck I’m doing.

painting (3)

The cat is severely critical of the result so far.

painting (4)

I ran out of coffee and of straight lines, so I’m starting on curly ones.

painting (5)

I want to get all the white space covered with paint.

painting (6)

Soak brush in water, smear it all over the paper and, tada, white space is gone!

painting (7)

P.S. After this painting and photo-taking session, I realised that the reason the photos turned out so poor is that I had my flash turned off all the time. And why, no, I never noticed that the flash wasn’t flashing. That pretty much explains everything.


Box It; or, Organising with the Mara Method

Recently I read an interesting post on My Messy World about organising with the Konmari Method. When I saw that Karla used Curver boxes to store her things, I felt compelled to come out to her as an organising freak, Curver ware fan and general box lover. (I love boxes even more than my cat does, which is a lot.)

Not knowing what she was asking for, Karla suggested that I share my own ideas for organising. In keeping with the mood of the Boxing Day, here’s my own take on it. It’s organising with the Mara Method, or, when in doubt, box it.

While this is not a sponsored post, I encourage the Curver manufacturer to pay me for this endorsement – preferably with boxes. Also, if you wish to use a free version of the box-it method, cardboard boxes will do just fine. Though the images below may be misleading, please note that a cat is not required for the Mara Method.

A White Mouse Ate My Blogging Schedule

A White Mouse Ate My Blogging Schedule

You may have noticed that in lieu of my avatar, a white mouse has started to appear all over the internet. Don’t stop drinking now, it’s not you, it’s me. I grew bored with looking at my head anytime I go online and see my unsightly self in my avatar picture. So I discarded myself and introduced the White Mouse, if only just to annoy my cat.

In related news, I recently became a doctor. Since I’m not a real doctor (as I’m repeatedly told) but a PhD, I don’t venture to operate on live subjects yet. For starters, I doctored my blog because it annoyed me how hyper-organised, super-streamlined and impeccably neat it was. So I broke it for the kick out of it.

I certainly hope you don’t hate the face of my broken blog, on the other hand, it looks now more or less as I intended. I wanted bright reds and blues (same as the colours of my national flag and about a gazillion other national flags) and greys and whites for balance (same as the colour of my face, especially the healthy-looking grey). It’s not like I gave it a thought.

As further proof that I haven’t been giving my blog a thought for the last week, I attach a gallery of runners for my blog header. My favourite tenement, booze and cigarette shots didn’t quite work out, so I settled on the current messy splashes of colour. With the header, you might see I changed my tagline too, which calls for a disclaimer: if I had a unicorn, I assure you I wouldn’t eat it. (I’d sell it on eBay.)

Besides documenting social housing life and not lunching on unicorns, I gave up on my blogging schedule. *gasp and dramatic pause* I put down my meticulously alliterative categories mostly because I no longer want to be limited to posting cat pictures only when it’s the day of Caturday Cuteness. Now I have just a few simple, generic categories, and I’ll be posting in them as I choose. In your face.

I can’t claim that a scheduless schedule will sit better with my life, as I of course don’t have one, but it will definitely work better with my work. Speaking of what works, I’ll be happy to hear your thoughts on my new blog look and functionality, especially when you discover that something isn’t working. Such as me, I should be working now.