What I Hated the Least Today 266/365: Freeedooom!!!

What I Hated the Least Today 266/365: Freeedooom!!!

I put the nation in procrastination. (That’s smart, no? Did you even notice there was a nation in procrastination? Now you know! You’re welcome.) I hate YouTube. (Wait for it, the link between procrastination and YouTube will shortly manifest itself, if it’s not already clear.)

So I go to YouTube to play some super focus brain food study music and—half an hour later I find myself watching cat videos. That’s where the procrastination comes in. It’s a guest that overstays its welcome, lives on your wi-fi, eats up your energy (if you had any to start with) and leaves you brain dead (if you had a brain to start with). Another half an hour later, I find myself watching:

  • Cultural differences between Korea and Japan. (Why the fuck would I watch that? What do I know about Korea or Japan? What do I get out of learning about their differences when I hardly tell them apart? I’m so dumb.)
  • Make-up tutorials for hooded eyelids. (What on earth are hooded eyelids? Is that a rare genetic disease? Do I have it? Why do I watch make-up tutorials when I’m intent on doing make-up my way anyway? [I just slash around with a black eye pencil and call it make-up.])
  • Weird things about the Czech Republic. (Seriously, though, what can I possibly be up to? I am a bloody native and I know the good stuff and the weird stuff already. Am I letting someone who’s clearly not a native educate me about my country? Phew.)

Where the nation in YouTube procrastination comes in is that two thirds of my time-wasting videos are about nations. I’m not sure how the YouTube algorithm came to believe that I’m keen on geography, but now I’m inclined to believe it myself. And since you’re now deep in the dark loop of the Mara algorithm (insert evil synthetic laughter), I suggest that you watch the following video purportedly about my country (it’s pretty accurate, actually). But don’t dare go away after you watch! I have more shit to say after that.

Hey, you’re still there? You’d better. I’ll cut this ridiculously branched-out post short already. By virtue (or vice) of free association (and YouTube suggestions), I ended up watching (several times) a video I’ve seen a while ago and still adore. I’ll post it below so you could partake at my pleasure (don’t think anything nasty, in all decency, of course). It’s about my favourite nation, which are the Scottish (duh).

When you think Scotland, you should think Freeedooom because stereotypes. Stereotypes are fine with me, they help us make sense of this fuckup (pardon me please, plus, credit me with this neologism) which is the world. And when I was thinking freedom, I thought, Wait, I’m still doing this self-imposed What I Hated (the Least) Today blogging challenge, what the heck, why do I even?

Well, I know well why I even, it’s because I’m unreasonably obstinate. I don’t know when to abandon the sinking ship because I’m no rat. I should learn from the rats. I hear they’re smart. Smarter than my dumb ass, clearly. The point of my rambling about freedom and rats is that I’m thinking the unthinkable: abandoning the challenge and getting myself some Freeedooom!!! You know, the challenge of blogging whatever I want whenever I wantever (that’s not a typo, that’s a feature, I mean, neologism).

So what do you think? Yeah, you probably can’t think right now because you’ve read so many words. Sorry about that. Please do soothe your nerves with the following hilarious (I promise!) video while allowing me one last love declaration: I absolutely adore the Scottish accent. Can you imagine the awkward moments I’ve had at numerous conferences when a fellow Scottish academic (especially when male) asked me a question and I wasn’t listening because I was just melting away in the beauty of the accent? Don’t even get me started.

Watch the video until the end so you don’t cheat yourself of the best!

 

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What I Hated the Least Today 265/365: My Mother Tongue

What I Hated the Least Today 265/365: My Mother Tongue

Her mother-tongue clung to her mouth’s roof
in terror, dumbing her and he came with a name
that was none of her making.
—Liz Lochhead, “Dreaming Frankenstein”

Yesterday I wrote about the priceless confusions of English, today I’ll do the same for my mother tongue: Czech. It also has a huge potential for comic situations and so many things about it are just plain weird. Looking at it from a foreigner’s perspective as I imagine it, it must come across as staggeringly confusing. It’s a complex language on all levels, including the bloated grammar and devilish pronunciation.

A Czech-Czech dictionary (of loan words)

To start with, how many letters in the alphabet does your language have? English has 26, Czech has 42. Yep. We think that the more, the better. We have twice the number of vowels because each vowel comes also in a variant with an accent (and the u vowel comes with two versions of accents, ú and ů). Cool, isn’t it? But wait, that’s not all! Some consonants come with accents too, when it comes to it. (My least favourite are ďň and ť  because the poor things don’t have a keyboard key of their own and you have to press two keys to create them.) Oh, and also, ch is a letter of its own.

To make it more fun, we have decided that each noun will be either a he, a she or an it. I’m talking about grammatical gender. If you wish to use a noun, you need to know its gender so you could pick the correct ending. Have I mentioned yet that all nouns and verbs and some other words are assigned a plethora of different endings, based on how they’re used in a sentence? Czech is an excessively inflected language. (Inflected, not infected, but maybe infected with inflection?)

For example, the neutral word for cat in Czech is kočka. It refers to cats of any sex. The word itself, however, is feminine—for grammar purposes, this word is a girl. There’s another word for the tom cat (kocour), however, there is no special word for a pussy cat. We just use the basic neutral form. So when I want to say, My cat is a pussy cat, I’d say, Moje kočka je kočka, which sounds obviously like a tautology.

Here comes the real twist though. You know personal pronouns? It’s heshe, they and others. So, when talking about the female cat, we use the pronoun she (ona). Pretty straightforward. When talking about the male cat, we use the pronoun he (on). However, when talking about kittens (koťata), do you think that we use the pronoun they (oni)? Nope. We use the exact same word that we use to refer to females (ona). So, in Czech, when you have a bunch of kittens, they’re all female to our grammar.

Did it blow your mind?

What I Hated the Least Today 264/365: That September Feeling

What I Hated the Least Today 264/365: That September Feeling

Fellow blogger Amy’s post on her ambivalent feelings about September made me think about what I think about the end of summer. My September perceptions split in two opposing groups: those happening on the 1st September and those anytime after that.

Last year’s September

1st September

Oh my god, I mean, oh my universe, it’s September! Yay-you. What do I do? I want to do something new. Start a new blogging challenge! Start a new life! Get a new kitten! *I’m excitedly pacing around the flat and wondering what to start first.*

Anyone knows if the kids are at school today or if they’re going only on Monday? At any rate, serve them well. They’ll be removed from the streets, won’t make so much noise and maybe get educated in the process.

I think I want to go to school again. School must be different now. I am different now. I want to learn stuff. Gain an encyclopaedic knowledge of irrelevant trivia. Maybe I’d pick up some Maths. I nearly failed it but this time I’d rock it.

2nd+ September

Oh fuck, it’s September. Woke up all drenched after a nightmare when I was sick, missed classes and got hopelessly and forever lost. Once for all, my stupid mind, you’re done with school. No last exams. No last theses. No last anything. You’re good.

Except it’s got so cold. And getting colder. Constantly cold feet, hands and nose for the next nine months or so. Time to take out the oil heater. I’ve already put on layered clothes. I’m taking out scarves and mittens. I’m terrified of winter.

 

What I Hated the Least Today 263/365: Overheard on TV

What I Hated the Least Today 263/365: Overheard on TV

I haven’t owned a TV for many years. Therefore, whenever I happen to find myself in the proximity of a switched-on TV, I am fascinated. I find these infrequent encounters with TV programming highly entertaining, but the charm would quickly be lost if I had one of these things at home.

I listen to the TV a lot because my upstairs neighbour is a 24/7 viewer. Actually, he would be less of a viewer and more of a professional ignorant because I suspect he just sleeps with the TV on. Also, he has his window permanently open, so I can (have to) eavesdrop on the programme of his choice anytime I go to the balcony to take a sip of fresh air (*smoker’s cough*).

I like it the most when the neighbour has a nature documentary on because the commentator’s voice is always so soothing. Think of The lion attacks the gazela announced in a smooth, velvety voice with absolutely no sympathy for the gazela and no cheers for the lion either.

A gratuitous weirdly filtered snap

Today’s programme was particularly varied. The first words I heard when I emerged at the balcony with my morning coffee were The body was found… I didn’t hear the rest but instantly started to compose in my head a blog post on how you shouldn’t watch TV unless you love bad news. Curiously, audience laughter followed shortly after this. It was apparently some morbid sitcom.

Mostly, there are commercials. Like Imagine how it would be to drive the perfect car, blah, blah… I started to imagine it. My imagination was put to a premature end when I drove into a bridge because I can’t really drive. The ad wasn’t thought through properly. And I clearly wasn’t the target audience.

In the evening, I went out to hear Interrupted intercourse isn’t a safe planned parenthood method, blah, blah… I was all ears, wondering where this would go. At that point, the neighbour, a poor fellow smoker, got a fit of smoker’s cough, so the next I heard was only [brand name]—The National Condom Manufacturer. I’m not sure it makes sense. If the whole nation was using their condoms, there would be no nation, no?

I’m glad I don’t have a TV. I’d never enjoy it because I’d spend all the time overanalysing insensible ads and possibly sensible ads whose only two faults are a) they are ads, b) they are not targeted at me. I mean, give me cat food and cookies ads anytime, but car and condom ads? Whatever.

What I Hated the Least Today 262/365: Concrete Poetry

What I Hated the Least Today 262/365: Concrete Poetry

Be warned. This is extremely dumb.

I’ve been thinking about concrete poetry. Not concretely, just generally. It happened after I snapped a snap of concrete. I thought I’d produce a concrete concrete poem.

Concrete poetry
P
 o
   u
      r
        i
          n
            g

               c  o
                     n  c  r
                              e  t  e  ___

Yeah. I know. Shoot me and pour me with concrete.

What I Hated the Least Today 261/365: MS Paint and the Practice of Ensō

What I Hated the Least Today 261/365: MS Paint and the Practice of Ensō

Recently I noticed a huge discussion sparkled about MS Paint, which was announced to be retired but the decision was promptly withdrawn because people are sentimental about it and not ready to let it go yet. I’m pretty unsentimental and don’t give a shit.

But—this was the first app (then called programme) that I ever used on a computer. I was in my early teens and among the first at school who got a computer at home and later, dial-up internet. I was allowed an hour of computer time per day and spent it drawing wildly coloured zig-zags in Paint because I couldn’t draw a straight line if the life of my dog depended on it (yes, I was a dog person as a kid).

For the sake of reminiscing, for the sake of trying something new (something so old that it is new again) and just for the kick out of it, I opened Paint today on my laptop. I selected a thick painting brush and started to draw circles. My mouse movements, though I thought them quite precise, translated into very shaky and jagged  lines.

I’ve always been attracted to warm colours and to the shape of the circle. I find warm colours soothing and the circle is the only shape that doesn’t have edges. I feel edges as threatening. Whenever I attempt anything with a brush or a colour pencil (which is rarely), I do circles, semi-circles or waves. I am aware that I suck at being creative and I can’t produce anything even approaching a realistic depiction, so I always do abstract crap.

Drawing ensō (no, these are not onion rings)

Since I started doing yoga a few years ago or so, and especially since I started meditating, I became a bit interested in the philosophy of the whole thing. It’s not that there is any unified philosophy, and I’m not really looking for one either. However, I came across a number of concepts which appeal to me and to which I can relate. It’s best described as a personal eclectic selection from Zen Buddhism.

The traditional symbol of zen is ensō, a circle which is hand-drawn in one stroke and not corrected once it’s complete. I prefer an open circle, whose openness implies development, movement and is associated with the beauty of imperfection. The practise of drawing ensō is a self-expression of the creator at one particular moment, which is transient. It allows for the release of the mind, letting go of the need to be in control, allowing oneself to be imperfect. This is obviously helpful for anyone with mental health issues.

During my yoga practice, I have been experimenting with mantras, which is like positive affirmations, but more specifically, it’s an idea you keep in mind while doing things on the yoga mat and, perhaps, off the mat too. At first it sounded like mambo jumbo to me. Then, I had to admit that for your mindset, it is more beneficial to be telling yourself something positive than to be imprinting on your mind that you’re a loser (the latter of which is what I’m naturally inclined to do).

What I have ultimately learned from yoga are some generally applicable values which I’m trying to cultivate. I’m not saying I’m any successful at it, just that I have discovered and pinned down the words for some values that are important to me. I’ve never been religious or spiritual, and I still keep it pretty secular, but it’s a new experience all the same. In case you wonder, among the things I’m working on are: generosity, patience, gratitude, acceptance, fearlessness, focus, flow and others. Also, I’m practising creativity—I mean, I just made a connection between MS Paint and Zen Buddhism.

 

What I Hated the Least Today 260/365: The Lexaurin Effect

What I Hated the Least Today 260/365: The Lexaurin Effect

Pills. Also, here’s the bloody tin foil I was looking for the other day!

I was doing more poorly than usual today, mental-health-wise. I took measures accordingly. First, against my better reasonable judgement, I took a day off. I am workoholic and I feel shitty, as in guilty, when I don’t work. Second, I did my usual natural anti-anxiety techniques: yoga, meditation and breathing exercises, relaxation music. Didn’t work well this time.

It wasn’t as much anxiety itself as the psychosomatic pain that accompanies it that bothered me most. My shoulder and neck were killing me. So, the last resort: I look Lexaurin. I only do this once or twice a month. It’s an addictive first-and-last-aid pill from the benzodiazepine family. You don’t want to overdo it with it.

The Lexaurin effect is funny:

  • After 5 mins:  Fuck, it’s not working, when will it work, I knew it, I’m getting addicted to it, and now it doesn’t work anymore, bloody hell.
  • After 15 mins: Hmm. The pain is actually better. So nice. It’s weird that I’m still shaking though, but okay, I take the deal.
  • After 30 mins. Aww. So fuzzy and warm and soft and mellow and slightly unreal. I mean, I feel no pain whatsoever. How awesome is it? I just want to lie down, dissolve and die from happiness.

Also, don’t mind me. I’m typing this intoxicated (after 2 hours from Lexaurin). And, since it’s my day off, I’m spending it blogging. Sorry about the flood of shitty posts. Oh, and sorry about the language.

 

What I Hated the Least Today 259/365: Real-Life X-Files

What I Hated the Least Today 259/365: Real-Life X-Files

259
Mandala lighter: smoking with Zen

Mysterious things are happening to me. Or I’m just going nuts. (I like nuts.)

My lighter has been abducted by aliens. Don’t even think of suggesting that I simply lost it. I don’t lose anything. (Though I may sometimes lose my shit.) Several weeks ago, I dropped my lighter from the balcony. (Don’t ask me how you drop a lighter from the balcony, it was a momentary loss of shit and movement coordination.) The lighter has been lying down there since then. I dropped it in an enclosed area belonging to a pub downstairs which shut down months ago. Today, I noticed the lighter was gone.

I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation. Like, a cat got it. Or a pigeon got it and now we’re facing a pigeon apocalypse. Or, possibly, it was a James Bond lighter and it evaporated. Or it was a ninja lighter and it ninjaed its way out through the fence. Or, being a lighter, it spontaneously combusted. (Why does my spellcheck underline combusted in red? And why does my spellcheck underline underline? I’m telling you, the aliens are up to something.) I’m scared. And I want my lighter back.

What I Hated the Least Today 258/365: Anti-slip Sink Pad

What I Hated the Least Today 258/365: Anti-slip Sink Pad

258
Yep, that’s my filthyish sink.

Today I bought something nice for myself. Cookies. But, also, and more importantly, an anti-slip sink pad. It’s a thing and it’s legit.

I never thought about what this stock item in Eastern European kitchens was for, all I knew is that it’s a thing you put in the sink, no questions asked. I’ve always had it, but recently my old one fell apart, probably because I didn’t give a shit and repeatedly placed hot pots on it. When I saw this cute specimen in the shop, I immediately put it in my basket. I’ve never had such a fancy sink pad with flowers and butterflies.

This also led me to serious metaphysical thoughts on the purpose of a sink pad. The package of the product said it was anti-slip and included an illustration of glasses having a pool party in the sink and not being able to slide around, which clearly put a damper on the party. I’ve never experienced issues with slipping glasses—the pad isn’t particularly helpful when a glass slips out of your hands—but then, I’ve always had a sink pad.

I suspect it does in fact more harm than good. You must wash it (okay, you are supposed to, I shall say no more), bits and pieces of ugly things get caught under it, plus it partially blocks the drain. I only have it because I maintain my national tradition. A sink pad can be such a noble thing. Please do tell me if there are sink pads where you live! If so, you’re probably being colonised by the Slavs.

What I Hated the Least Today 257/365: Instagram

What I Hated the Least Today 257/365: Instagram

I use Instagram in waves. Like a tsunami, more exactly. I barge in out of nowhere, leave a mess and then disappear like I had nothing to do with it. I post pictures in big batches always when I’m travelling somewhere. Sitting on public transport is boring. I scroll through the feed always when I’m on the phone with my parents. Shoot me, but my parents bore me too. They have a stream-of-consciousness approach to conversation which doesn’t particularly grab my attention. Also, it is not uncommon for them to rant for an hour—a social call with my father today, 53.16 mins. So, out of nowhere, here comes nothing. I mean, a few of my recent Instagram snaps. (Note how they are not square but iconoclastically round.)