A “Shocking” Revelation of Why I’m MIA

Disclaimers

I’m not even Mia.

Mia is my dumb smartphone. But not even she is a Mia really. (Why, yes, of course I personalise and gender my phone.) My phone is a Xiaomi. That’s an actual brand. And since she’s called Xiaomi by the factory, I didn’t want to confuse her and so I called her Mia.

Mia is also my cat. No, not really. My cat is a tabby by default and an Ella by name, but since she goes miaow, I call her Mia sometimes.

But I’m not a Mia in any way. Except for one. I’m MIA. As in Missing in Action. As in not blogging. Why would I do it? I wouldn’t know. Until today when I was struck by a striking epiphany. (Which is a dumb thing to say because an epiphany is always striking by definition.) But before I expose myself (I mean, before I reveal my revelation to you as well), more disclaimers.

The shocking revelation is not shocking.

Neither shocking, nor revealing, if you must know. It is arguable whether it is anything at all. That will largely depend on which school of philosophical thought you subscribe to. I subscribe to nothing, so my revelation is not a thing to me. Neither is it a thought, since it’s obviously thoughtless. It’s also mindless because I have nothing on my mind.

Enough.

Non-shocking Non-revelation

I don’t have fucking time!

You didn’t see that coming, right? Seriously though. Consider it, since I’m so inconsiderate that you have to do so on my behalf. My blogging started its downward spiral when I started my own downward spiral when I started freelancing when I finished my half-life-long studies when I divorced (shock) and moved (twice) and when etcetera. That’s all obviously quite time-consuming, no? (I’m not asking, I’m saying.)

About the same time, also WordPress started its downward spiral. Since WordPress abolished all community features and challenges, I have not only zero will to live (unrelated to WordPress, I assume, although… hmm) but also zero will to blog. Because there’s zero stimulus. No more getting a catchword in a photo challenge, whipping up a crappy phone pic in response and call it a post.

But mostly, I don’t have time. Fucking time. It never occurred to me until today. Like I really don’t have time. I’m obviously doing something wrong. Possibly everything. There’s also likely something wrong with me, which is somewhat corroborated by my psychiatric diagnoses.

The Idea, the Point and the Moral

You didn’t fall for it, right?

I mean, you didn’t actually expect there to be an idea, a point and a moral in a threesome? I’m clearly idea-less, possibly point-less (even moral-less, since you mention it). So the idea is that I’m out of ideas. I sort of depressed myself by this ridiculous excuse of a blog post. I guess the moral should then be that I should be working. Or something.

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WordPress Reinvents Gutenberg and I Can’t—

WordPress invented the printing press for the post-printing age. They called it Gutenberg, thus positively impacting people’s factual knowledge in the post-factual age, while adversely impacting search trends on Google. Every idiot is searching for keyword Gutenberg and the more enlightened ones for phrase whats the difference between gutenberg and hewlett packard. Apart from circa half a millennium, none.

As for me, who was brought up at the height of the trivia age (aka let’s-see-how-much-encyclopaedic-facts-we-can-input-in-a-schoolkid’s-head-before-it-implodes age), I have a more interesting question. What’s the difference between Gutenberg à la WordPress and Shakespeare? Apart from a few random centuries, none. Both are much ado about nothing. Also, I tend to disapprove of both of them, while everyone else seems to be shitting themselves with enthusiasm, and I’m thinking what the heck I’m missing.

What is this thing, then, this Gutenberg by WordPress? Well. Since we’re on the literary note, let me whip up a simile (worry not, that’s the shit that is easier than the metaphor, or even the oxymoron). Just as WordPress allows you to make a website without actually knowing how to code, so Gutenberg allows you to produce content without knowing how to write. Okay. I might be exaggerating, but not much. Gutenberg is a kind of an upgraded visual editor. Like Word is an upgraded Notepad.

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This may or may not be my make-up (see below for [ir]relevance)
I have literally (not to be confused with literary) no idea (I could just as well finish the sentence here, right?)—no idea what my problem with visual editors is. A childhood trauma, perhaps? Hardly, unless my traumatising encounters with MS Dos count. (To my schoolteacher of IT, who never graded me better than a B: Dude, wanna see my latest bit of JavaScript? Or my new CSS tricks? You know, I happen to be a coder now. So fuck you, in yer face. [Not literally, please.])

I love new stuff and shit that makes other shit easier. I’m not the fashionable weirdo who bakes her own bread though she can buy it courtesy of the supermarket. I suspect I’ve had too much experience with visual editors not doing their one job and me ending up just coding the job, which, as it happened, was more efficient on all fronts. Whenever I hear visual builder, I’m getting measles. I’m kidding. I’m not getting measles at any time because my mother wasn’t a militant bio-mother, so I’m fully vaccinated.

I’m not sure whether the vaccine is the reason I’m semi-autistic. Maybe I was born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline. It could be Rimmel, too. But not Sephora. I’m not a Sephora person. I know a person who is a Sephora person, which is why I researched what the fuck. It appears that Sephora sells overpriced make-up to those dumb enough to buy it. Which didn’t really answer my what the fuck question. I wear make-up once a week at most (not coincidentally, it coincides with the equally rare occasions when I leave the flat), and so I’m still wearing the glossy red lip gloss I bought five years ago.

Glossy lip gloss is no more fashionable, I hear (and deem it irrelevant), but I no more like it. Trouble is, as is the case with all things you don’t like any more, that the product is bottomless. I assume it’s also past its expiry date; fortunately, I don’t believe in expiry dates. Nothing but propaganda. I shall keep on using and/or eating any expired thing until it manifests highly visible signs of mould which I evaluate as severe enough to justify throwing the shit out. Don’t even try to argue with me. See above for post-factual age. You’re welcome.

On Blogkeeping and Changes

The only change that doesn’t change is change. Duh.

I’ve been up to no good, as always when I’m up to something. In the unlikely scenario that you’re a professional stalker and stalk me proficiently, you would have noticed a few months ago that I went sort of off-the-grid. Not because it’s fashionable and the internet is full of it—see the irony? how can you report your off-grid experience when you’re off-the-grid, huh?—but because I woke up one day with the excellent idea to remove myself off of the face of the earth. (Is there any linguist or language user who would explain to me how to use off of? Or is it of off? Does it even make any sense, language-economy-wise?)

This time, I wasn’t thinking of a literal removal of my person from among the living—though it is indeed my favourite image to dwell upon—but a partial removal of my online persona from among the asocial people who socialise online. I’m kidding, as per usual. Or am I? In any case, in a rare moment of deployment of common sense, it occurred to me that since I’m not using the gazillion social media I senselessly subscribed to, I could just as well delete my accounts. Following this logic, I killed myself on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Blogloving, Vine (the latter was a step ahead and had killed itself before I did) and probably elsewhere I don’t even remember now.

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My blog in 2014 according to the WayBack Machine,  which is terribly wrong about the design

I only kept this blog—should you wonder whether I kept the blog that you’re currently reading, you know—and my Instagram, both of which I hardly use anyway, but anyway. My point is that if you happened to notice me having disappeared, it’s not you—neither is it me; it is what it is. (I understand that a point should be deep, hence the populist and Buddhist crap respectively.) My killing spree also affected the blog as I took down some images that I in retrospect evaluated as too revealing. Keep your pants on, I don’t mean revealing in the good way, as in nudes, but in the indifferent way, as in showing too much of my real-life person, as opposed to my blogging persona.

Please don’t refute this point by arguing that I don’t have a life, less so a real life. I’m aware of this fallacy. Also, no need to point out that once shit gets on the internet, shit gets real; in other words, once online, always online. I’m aware of that, too. My message here is that you may see some images on the blog that you can’t see. See? As in the classic rectangular outline with no content but a cross in it and a message that the image can’t be displayed. Duh. As to the thought of preserving my blog for posterity—though I don’t intend to multiply, so I won’t produce any posterity of my own—the WayBack Machine does this job. Even if poorly, as you can see in the snapshot of my blog from four years ago.

WordPress’s Daily Post Quits—Now What?

In case you haven’t heard yet, the Daily Post is a goner. It bothers me more than it should. As we say in the second world, it’s not like bread is gonna be cheaper for that, so why care. As I hear is legit in the first world, though, one has the privilege to rant about things. Let’s do this!

Stages of Grief

I’ve gone through the five stages of grief regarding the Daily Post’s demise.

  1. Denial (“What? Nooo—!!!”)
  2. Anger (“Losers! Quitters! Traitors! Class enemies!” — Please note that “class enemy” is a cultural thing and it’s a bad thing to be. The worst, actually.)
  3. Bargaining (“How hard is it to keep the thing running, huh? As Ben admits in his post on the Daily Post, WordPress servers shall be chugging along for the next 14,320,078 years, so come on!”)
  4. Depression (“Can’t even…”)
  5. Acceptance (“As you wish.” — That means I strongly disagree with you but currently can’t think of any means to bring you to senses.)

I even added an extra stage, just for the fun of grieving.

  1. Resistance (“You won’t take responsibility? Fine. I’ll take it myself. In yer face.”)

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Random picture

Stages of Feelings

I notoriously suck at connecting with my feelings because I read on Freud’s virtues of repression in an impressionable age and it stuck. I perfected the art of not admitting to feeling anything to the point of actually not feeling anything. That is, besides a single uniform formless emotion, whose name I don’t know but which is dull and depressing. I think it’s a constant lack of will to live. Is that an emotion? I need to practise naming emotions, so let’s identify how I feel about the Daily Post’s decease.

  1. Disappointment — I was dumb enough to form some expectations and to believe that at least over at WordPress, everything will be as it should be. That’s disappointing on so many levels. (Which I’m too lazy to describe, so trust me—and you shall be betrayed! See below.)
  2. Betrayal — Well, I didn’t sign up for this. For WordPress quitting on me.
  3. Guilt — I should have had more sense than to be trustful and end up cheated, so serve me just right.
  4. Anger — I was totally triggered by the mention of the discontinuation of the Daily Post being “a hard decision” in the post bringing this news. Saying “a hard decision” means avoiding telling the real reason.
  5. Loss of faith in humanity — See above. I wonder what the real reason for this “hard decision” was. Kidding, I don’t wonder, we live in a capitalist society (even me), so it’s an easy guess.
  6. Affirmation — The Daily Post challenges kept me blogging and connected with the world when I was too depressed and/or busy to even—  But we’re ultimately all alone, so it’s up to me to do shit. You know, like to blog about it. Incidentally, I just did that.

I’m an Asshole (and a Fire Hazard)

Currently in depths of depression slash anxiety, earlier today I was considering slashing my wrists but as per usual, I reconsidered because I don’t have my hair and nails freshly done and we must consider the feelings of those who find my body. Sorry for this killer intro, but it’s important to establish that I’m even more unbalanced than my normal unbalanced in order to gain insight into my following actions, which, I promise, are quite amusing (unless you’re the one taking the actions, of course, but that only makes it the funnier for you).

Working wasn’t working out for me today, so I resorted to the consolation of my disconsolate blog and checked out my notifications. (On a side note, if you’re anything like me [I hope for your own sake you’re not] and love tinkering around with new nifty features, go ahead and take the new post notification option in the Reader for a test ride.) So here I am, reading the comments on my blog and finding a note from Ellen, who expressed a mild interest in my curious capability of pulling a poem out of three random words. On this note I noted that the next thing I know, I’ll be pulling a poem out of my ass.

I thought to act on this dubious promise (threat?) and to gather inspiration, I went to check out my ass in the mirror. Kidding. I went to empty my ashtray, which is what I call a jar with a lid sitting at my balcony, which I religiously fill up with butts (not butts as in asses but butts as in, you know, butts). I usually throw the whole thing out when it’s full, but I’ve run out of jars, hence I had to keep the jar and relieve it of its contents only. I did this, on which I realised I’m such an asshole.

My anxiety agrees with this evaluation. I’m not only an asshole, I’m also a fire hazard. I emptied a jar full of fag ends into the dust bin, which obviously contains flammable materials. What if one of the dead fag ends wasn’t entirely dead and ended? What if I burn the building down? (And in case I don’t, for future reference, what’s even the correct and safe way of disposing of fag ends?) Now I’m terrified, courtesy of my assholeness and anxiety, and I’m periodically going down to check whether the bin has flamed up yet. So far, it hasn’t. Doesn’t make me any less anxious. Would you believe my stupidity? Please do nominate me for the post-mortem Darwin Award.

Random Suggestions Poetry

I’ve been fascinated with the relatively recent feature of the WordPress Reader: the Suggestions that show at the top, just above the feed. What’s so curious about them is:

  1. I often have no idea what the suggested keywords mean. Homesteading? Sous vide? Come on, don’t swear at me! Don’t tell me what that is though, I already Googled and confirmed that I’m highly uninterested in these subjects.
  2.  The suggestions are extremely random. I would’ve thought that as all other advertising (which is what suggested content really means), the keywords would be personalised. I don’t think they are, otherwise I couldn’t have been offered Homeschooling, Politics and Toddlers, all of which I intensely don’t care about.
  3. The whole thing is so hilarious! I waste time taking the three words suggested and using them in a poem or something. Like the thing below, which incorporates my latest incongruous suggestions of Beauty, yoga and Batman.

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Beauty, yoga, batman 

Beauty is—not a thing
But if it were
   real

It would be
   me
With my arms up
   in a flying V
In the position
   of a tree

Doing yoga
Flying—
Like a fucking
Batman

My WordPress Highlights of the Year

Those ill-advised individuals who follow my blog know that I don’t have a life. It won’t therefore come as a surprise that in the balancing act, my highs of the last year are pretty low. Perhaps not incidentally, they are all associated with WordPress in one way or another.

In 2017 I did not get featured on Discover, or whatever they call Freshly Pressed now. I used to covet this caveat before I discovered (and freshly pressed) that I’m too subversive to get publicised anywhere (unless I invite myself, see further below).

On a side note, I’m so wiped these days that I spent five minutes trying to remember the word subversive. It’s ridiculous because, as I rarely fail to mention, I have a PhD in literature (in-yer-face), and, furthermore (and is the same as furthermore, hence it’s pleonasm—I am aware of it and yes, I just spent five more minutes trying to remember the word pleonasm), subversive is my middle name. (Kidding. Slavs don’t get middle names.)

What I did in 2017, however, was WordPress user testing. You might or might not remember my enthusiastic, carefully crafted (and subversive) post on my experience. If you missed it, read it (because I wasted so much time and effort making the post), and if you’re not up to it, please be advised that user testing didn’t involve testing on humans (or pets). Wait. It did. Never mind.

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Picking my poison

What I got from this user testing (no humans or cats were harmed in the process, or not too much anyway), was an Amazon gift card (I’ll be buying self-help books on how to make myself, the world and the web a better place) and a one-year extension of my WordPress subscription. Hey, I got to do what I love and I got rewarded for that! Now, that I call a sweet deal.

My another not-too-dazzling highlight was when I was a speaker at WordCamp. Keep your pants on, though, it’s not what it looks. There indeed was a national WordCamp in my area and I did actually speak on the stage, but it was part of lightning talks, a free-form session in which volunteers from the audience were encouraged to come up and talk. No one volunteered but I invited myself (see above for not getting invited anywhere unless I invite myself).

I blame the great coffee that they offered for free (well, included in the price of the ticket) at the event. Considerably better than my generic brand coffee. IT people are known for their coffee after all. (I’ll start buying better coffee when I earn as much as IT people.) Well, where was I? I took the microphone fearlessly (I was high on caffeine and anti-anxiety meds) and said: “They say that each day, you should do something you’re scared of. So I guess I can check this box for today.”

The audience was well pleased and applauded me, but, much to their dismay, I went on and couldn’t be stopped. I have photos to prove it. I won’t be posting them here because that would not be exactly in keeping with my idea of blogging anonymously and enjoying the privileges that come with it. Duh. Huh. So these were my WordPress highlights. That’s all, guys. I’m going to get high on caffeine or benzodiazepine, I’m not sure which yet.

Making the World a Better Place

Because that’s what you say in tech, right?

I’ve always wanted to be a software tester. (Always means ever since I got sense and shifted my flaming passion for Scottish Literature—why, yes, Scotland has a literature—to all things tech. After all, it is a truth universally acknowledged that code is poetry.) If you’re, like me, deeply in love with WordPress and testing, I have a secret to tell you. You can totally test WordPress! Check out WP Horizon testing environment! (This so deserves exclamation marks in two consecutive sentences.)

That’s however not how I got to be a WP tester myself. (No, I’m not really a WP tester, but I had a go at it, twice!—another excited exclamation mark.) A few days ago I received an email from WP offering me to take for a test drive a new commenting interface. I nearly spammed the message (because, hello, if it’s too good to be true, then it must be spam). Then I googled the sender, who actually appeared to be WP staff. (Either that, or I’m the victim of a conspiracy scheme. Or I’m just paranoid.)

I replied not at my earliest convenience, not even ASAP, but immediately. I jumped at the opportunity, obviously, and reserved my slot for a video call straight away. Another day, I found another email from WP in my inbox. It was an invitation to do user testing of WP’s new editor. (Yep. That’s how popular I am.) I tried to act casual. It didn’t work out because I replied in the affirmative (What’s more than affirmative? Superlative?) and hastily signed up for a slot for another video call. (Whew!)

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WordPress swag ❤

I got instructions that I didn’t need to prepare for the testing in any way. So I took a day off to prepare for the testing. (Yes, I know.) On D day, as the H hour was approaching, I started to panic. For no good reason, but try telling that to my anxiety. I ended up medicating. (Perfectly legit and prescription sanctioned.) Shaking just a bit, as the Lexaurin was starting to take effect, I opened the link for the video call as my clock struck five. (Kidding, I don’t have a clock, this is the 21st century.)

A youngish good-lookish male face popped up on my screen (the youngish good-lookish guy would surely prefer not to be named here and I can’t vouch for the youngish and good-lookish part because the picture was small and blurry). But, that was a reason to panic. I know what a video call is but it didn’t occur to me that we’d be exchanging faces. I thought we’d be exchanging screens (screen is not an euphemism). Damn it. Seriously. I wasn’t presentable. I was wearing pants, but a hairband and no make-up isn’t presentable. (Of course that no one cares, but I do. Full stop.)

For convenience, let me call the youngish and good-lookish guy GOD. (At the uni, I’d idolise professors, now I idolise tech people, so GOD it is.)  God spoke to me: I can’t see you. I talk back: It’s a good thing you can’t (not what I said). Of course God can’t see me, I have my camera covered for paranoia security reasons. (Also, I didn’t switch on the video function in the app—duh.)

After initial ice-breakers (Hello, I’m God and I am who I am. — Hello, I’m Mara and I don’t have a life and you’re the first person I’m speaking to in days, so please excuse my, uh, everything.), we got down to the testing. I opened the new commenting interface and went aww. Seriously, guys, it’s pretty and practical and when I love it, you’ll love it too. I wouldn’t bother praising something I don’t adore.

I was being extremely helpful. Such as: Oh, the Spam icon is the same red colour as the Bin icon, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. On which I went to my desktop to check what colour my Windows bin is, and it was grey. God, shall we make the bin grey, pretty please? I got an hour to play around with the new interface. According to God, it should roll out in a few weeks. Also, I was granted permission to blog about it because it’s apparently not secret. (Unless it is, and I’m an Edward Snowden.)

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Packed with Jetpack

The testing was awesome and thoroughly enjoyable. I even got excited. (I never get excited unless there are kittens involved.) I was so excited I could hardly talk. You’d never believe they gave me a doctorate in English Literature if you heard me struggling with conditionals and spontaneously constructing new, never heard-of tenses at the spot. (*shrug*) At the end, I was asked for some general feedback on WP. I complained that with my second-world earnings, the cost of the paid plans is a small fortune. (Another greatly helpful feedback. Not.)

We said goodbyes. And God will never know I’m pretty. (Does one qualify as pretty when one is only pretty when made-up and dressed-up?) Anyway.

Cut. Enters God2. That’s the nickname for the other youngish and good-lookish WP guy whom I had a video session with. This testing was about the new editor. (But really, it was all about me. Better than therapy.) God2 says that he isn’t testing me and that there aren’t right and wrong answers. I say: Sure. (And I think: Sure, that’s what you say, but I’m prepared, and I start: “WP was founded in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg and is currently running on more than 60 million websites etc. etc.” Because I’m a Wikipedia.)

To start off on the right foot, I immediately offend God2’s professional pride by confessing how I disapprove of the new editor. However, I blame myself. (I’m not sure why but I say so, and that’s enough.) God2 is visibly upset and blames himself. On which I’m sincerely sorry, from the depth of my cold black heart, and I mention kittens. Not related to anything whatsoever, but kittens! God2 cheers up because he has three of them. Kittens. I cheer up because he’s a cat gentleman (the male mutation of a cat lady).

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I have a rainbow WP sticker and the cat isn’t impressed

I beg God2 to outlaw hamburger menus and toggle options. Because I WANT TO SEE IT ALL. At once. That’s how greedy I am. In exchange, I promise God2 that I will give the new editor yet another chance. I mean it. For God2’s sake, I’m writing this in the new editor! Also, to give the impression that I’m knowledgeable (and to pass the test which isn’t a test but it is), I throw around random terms: Calypso. Framework. CMS. target_blank. White screen of death (no, seriously, that’s a thing!).

I wanted to conclude with something deep and important but I forgot what. Instead, I’d like to thank everyone involved, that is, WP staff, particularly God1 and God2, my laptop Lena and myself, who collectively made all this possible. Also, I’d like to thank my cat (who makes the world a better place too). The testing opportunity was a geek girl’s dream come true. So you know, WP people are really trying to do their job, as I’ve seen for myself. Let’s gloat in that. Here’s to WordPress (*raises her mug of generic brand coffee*)!

Developing Your Eye I: Monochrome Architecture

Part of WordPress’s photography course Developing Your Eye I.

The final task in this photo non-challenge is to paint architecture black and white. That’s a bit too obvious. So let’s twist it a little, pick a non-architecture and add some grunge. Now, much better.

Developing Your Eye I: Popping Colours

Part of WordPress’s photography course Developing Your Eye I.

Shooting a pop of colour in autumn is a no-brainer. That’s good, since I’m basically brain-dead. Instead of a brain then, here is a leaf.