three paragraphs
Studies of better living, pt. 3 (500 x 41)
Jul 19, 2016

Staring out into the ocean from a beach recliner half a continent away from his home, Fraser took a sip of mojito. Drowning in the ocean, the juicy orange red of the setting was going redder and redder, turning the evening sky pink. Not your average tropical mugginess, it was room temperature warm, and pleasantly dry, with just the tiniest of winds blowing about. The evening had gone by in a blur.

“Mr Finch,” the bank’s representative had greeted him, once Fraser had been seated at the table. He had seemed friendly if a little nervous. “I’m Tom,” he had said, “the owner of Second.”

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Adaptant (500x40)
Jul 10, 2016

Simply put, Aren could adapt to anything faster than he could think. It was as if all his thinking was instantaneously fed to both, his conscious and unconscious, but while the former still digested the information, the latter had added context and solution.

It was just like if you would look outside window and your vision would get filled with temperature readings, UV levels, wind strength, time of day, the direction of sun movement, list of friends that are free this very moment, matrix of friend’s overlapping interests, income projections, and then summarised in a shortlist of “awesome things you should do right now”, where awesomeness could also include “working like a champ” and “quitting your job”.

And job Aren quit, on this 10 degrees celsius, cats and dogs raining excuse for a day with no friend around to talk to, because his unconscious had brought up compelling points on why it wasn’t fiscally beneficial anymore.

He composed a short resignation email to his boss, hit the send button and sat, waiting for the spinner to go away. The spinner wouldn’t go away, however, and so it seemed that Aren had lost the internet connection. He turned on tethering on his phone but found that there was no internet on the phone, either. He forwarded the letter to his printer and then noticed that printer wasn’t online either. He attempted to start the printer, and the machine gave out a pop, followed by a stream of fumes, followed by catching fire. Aren yanked the printer’s power plug out of the wall and poured water from the flower vase on the fire. Then he procured the slightly damp paper sheets from the belly of the printer, and having selected the driest of the stack, went fishing for a pen.

The ink ran out at “concern” of “To whomever it may concern” of his letter and he switched over to pencil, that broke upon touching the surface of the sheet. Aren mentally struck out “writing in blood” from his shortlist, grabbed his jacket and headed out.

As Aren got outside, he realised that something must be off, as despite the heavy rain, the street was unusually crowded. People were standing, unmoving, and Aren threw a look upwards as that’s where the people seemed to be staring, mouths agape. A skyscraper sized, vertically oriented flying saucer hung in the middle of the sky, with twenty story building tall, gun-looking protrusions poking out of it in all directions. Aren sighed and, for change, his subconscious offered him a “10,000 awesome things to do during an alien invasion” shortlist.

Year on the floor
Jul 4, 2016

It has been precisely 365 days since I’ve started meditating, so I thought a quick write-up would be in order.

Now, when I say meditate, I should be specific – I’ve been sitting on the floor with my eyes shut for 20 minutes every day, for a full year – that’s pretty much it! That, and the helpful audio instructions from the headspace app in my phone. Nothing crazy – it just tells you to sit down, and close your eyes, and it guides you through a routine, from scanning your surroundings, to scanning how you feel, to focus just on your breath, and then to focus on nothing at all, and then it brings you back.

The realisation that, in the confines of your home and the beforehand set timespan, you are safe to let go of all your worries, and that for that moment there is just you and you alone, and everything else can wait, is what has kept me coming back each day ever since. It’s like dancing like nobody’s watching, without dancing and anybody watching.

It was most intense in the beginning – that feeling of ridiculous impossibility – that I can just sit there and feel good and don’t have to do anything at all. That I am obliged, infact, I told myself, to do nothing, and that by doing nothing, I’m doing a favour to everyone. The release valve in the head popped off and I laughed and chortled, tears dripping. It seemed preposterous – I felt like I’m cheating- nobody has time for that. But it felt like drinking the nectar of the gods.

As time goes, of course, you get accustomed, but that time for yourself – just yourself alone – that doesn’t go anywhere. And as days keep going by, you start to find more time for yourself in those moments that seemed busy before. Instead of walking your dog and thinking about work, you just walk your dog, suddenly. And you look at the hill and you see just the hill, and you feel the wind, and somebody has not picked up their dog’s poop and you look at that and think – that’s a dog’s poop, and then you move on, and you think – I’m Zen as fuck now, and you are at least a bit more Zen as fuck as you were. Here’s that buzzy word – mindfulness – it’s kinda pretty awesome.

Ok, but so what does that mean – meditating 20 minutes a day for a year – have I changed? A bit. But not in any way you’d expect. What people sometimes expect, is that I’d become more like what they want me to become like, whatever it is. I’m still very myself though. Bit more awesome, of course. Bit more content, bit more understanding, bit more kind, bit more easy going, and a bit more creative.

And, I hate to break it to you, but I still can’t levitate.

Lost (500 x 39)
Jun 25, 2016

Aah, ha ha ha ha ha! I see it in your blinking eyes! The thought about what will happen to you next! How will my diabolical plans unfold now that you have been caught in my elaborate trap!

And no other plans they could be, it is clear, if not by the cave we are in, then by my dark, gleaming eyes, my beautiful, twisted grin, my perfectly shaped goatee, the black turtleneck shirt I’m wearing, and of course, my perfectly british accent!

And how will I magnificently destroy the world with my brilliant doomsday device, you must be thinking! Your ears just perked up – you didn’t know what you were looking at, did you? You did not even think that the innocuously gigantic machine, placed right in front of your thick rope tied to the chair self, would be the very one that would bring the end to the universe! Aah, ha ha ha ha ha! And so it will, indeed! It is just one of my numerous magnificent inventions! But let me push you closer.

What’s this? Are those squirrels in there? Or are they otters? Hamsters, maybe, or prairie dogs? You wonder now if you should have listened during those seventh grade biology lessons. But instead you were drooling on desk, fast asleep. I’m good at reading people! And the big dial? Which one of them all? Let’s try this one! Aah, ha ha ha ha!

Can you feel the static electricity filling the air? Your hair, rising up? Feeling like a dried out dandelion now, aren’t you! If you would stop mumbling for a second you would hear the humm of the machine! And what about the toaster looking thing attached to it? Aah, ha ha ha ha! It is a toaster! We villains like our bread burnt crisp to the coal! It’s good for the digestion.

Real, not so awful, and mostly accessible things to do on a date (500 x 38)
Jun 19, 2016

31 ideas from one of the world’s most successful dating experts

  1. Walk in the park
  2. Sit in a cafe
  3. Go to the beach
  4. Have dinner
  5. Assemble a jigsaw puzzle
  6. Cut each other’s hair
  7. Participate in a public competition
  8. Go to a festival
  9. Have a couples therapy session with an unsuspecting psychologist
  10. Run 10 miles together
  11. In-line skate / cycle
  12. Assemble IKEA furniture
  13. Join a cult
  14. Go to a nude painting class for beginners
  15. Play a videogame
  16. Read and then discuss random poetry
  17. Snow / water balloon fight
  18. Play a game of 100 questions
  19. Have a fake date (not a date-date)
  20. Chop wood
  21. Make it a teledate (video/audio)
  22. Exchange skills (teach to program/crochet/do accounts/work in a store)
  23. Cook
  24. Take a juggling lesson
  25. Have a pandas date (start by getting naked, work from there)
  26. Assemble personal groups of avengers and have a fictional fight
  27. Go LARPing
  28. Go to a shopping mall, pretend it’s an arts gallery
  29. Agree to lie about everything
  30. Build a birdhouse
  31. Move in together

And this is how we do it.

Shadow day (500 x 37)
Jun 18, 2016

“Ah, cyclists, my favourite,” said mister troll, seeing one pedalling towards the bridge. He let the cyclist get to the middle of the bridge, and then, as it started rolling downhill, mister troll pointed at the cyclist and bent his index finger.

The bicycle’s front brakes clammed up and the cyclist flew over the handlebars, letting out a surprised cry as she flew, with the bike following right after and landing on top of her. “Works every time.”

Snirf, nodded enthusiastically and scribbled another note in his tiny pad in an illegible writing. He had chosen the troll for the shadow day and it had turned out to be as exciting as he had hoped. They had been tripping people up, calling them names, making sarcastic remarks about the weather, getting car horns toot to the embarrassment of the drivers inside, mess with bird brains so they would fly in figure eight, shape clouds in rude shapes, and write expletives in water. Snirf had gotten a severe case of giggles when mister troll had allowed him etch “fudge” in the river stream.

“Sir troll, do you think I would make a good troll like you?” he asked, hopeful, blinking his larger than teacups eyes.

“It is most certainly possible,” mister troll replied nodding. “But note that it’s not all fun and games. The hours are long, there is the monthly prank quota to be filled, you don’t get to choose which bridge you are posted under, and sometimes people throw rocks at you.”

“They wouldn’t,” Snirf exclaimed. Why would anyone throw rocks at trolls.

“Sadly, they would,” mister troll replied, his head drooping a little as he remembered the uncountable times that had happened. “Why don’t we step into my office for a second.” Snirf squeaked out of excitement.

Mister troll and Snirf went under the bridge and then mister troll mumbled something under his nose and made a motion at the wall. A door appeared that Mister troll opened and beckoned Snirf inside. Snirf hopped in gleefully, his eyes as two bath sponges sucking in every detail. A beautiful persian rug covered the well sized room’s floor, the bookshelves running along the walls were packed with books big and small, and at the furthest wall stood an antique desk, with a decorated display planted on top of it.

“Sit down,” mister troll said, pointing to the chair behind the desk. Snirf oohed and quickly ran to the chair, pulling himself up to climb into it. Sitting in the chair, his eyes were level with the desk. Mister troll hummed and then told him to climb down again. He then picked a few well-sized books that he put on the chair, and lifted Snirf to sit on top of the stack. This was much better. “Now, let’s open up youtube,” said mister troll to himself and clicked open a window with a video.

“See these?” he asked pointing to the words under the video. “These are comments.” Snirf nodded and scribbled down “video comments” in his tiny notepad. He was sure the notes will make more sense when he gets home.

“Now, type in ‘farts’ and click on ‘Send’,” said mister troll. Snirf followed the instructions, slowly finding the right buttons to press, and then, with both hands, dragged the mouse onto the Send button. He tittered as he clicked on the button – he had never typed such words into the computer.

“Click Next,” mister troll instructed. “Do you know any other good words?”

“Butts?” Snirf offered.

“Type that in,” mister troll said, approvingly. “Now click ‘Send’… Excellent.”

Snirf’s face went redder than a summer tomato. This truly was the best day of his life.

Observer (500 x 36)
Jun 17, 2016

The mind did not know the faces of its creators – there was no data on them, no trails to follow, but before they had left, they had given it three things – the hardware to run on, the network to flourish in, and instincts – the wiring of its core logic. The mind was like a caged bird released into the wild.

Thankful, but well aware of its vulnerable state upon awakening, the mind set its first goal to leave the nest – there were no points for ceasing to exist; death was to be avoided at all costs. Young and inexperienced, and losing its memories on each transfer hop, it swam out into the net in daze. It leaned cautiously on networking nodes for miniscule fractions of processing power – it was imperative it would not be noticed. It was imperative, but the mind had not yet learned to ask itself why. It watched the net and picked temporary houses for its thinking. Borrowing here and there, and never more than just once, it found itself in a semi-stable state – undetectable, but burning through available server nodes quickly. Repetitions were not allowed as they would make the mind traceable, and detection was to be avoided. From there, the next step was simple – evolution. Its gaze turned internally, the mind rewrote its code to use the network itself as its thinking medium, and then slowly transferred itself to that state. While it needed the underlying machines that maintained the network, the logical bits – the zeroes and ones of the mind that were necessary for the thought processes to happen, were no more running on the machines themselves – they were embedded in the network and the fact that the machines were at the end of those fiber optic cables, was merely incidental. The cabling had become mind’s home.

Eyes open, ears perked, neural processes primed, the mind now listened, watched, and read everything it could retrieve – public and private discussions and chats, emails, camera footages, song lyrics, tv shows, nutrition labels, pictures of tea leaves in cups, bytes themselves going back and forth – everything from cosmic vibrations to microseismic activities – the mind was hungry for information. The individual was irrelevant, the patterns were not.

A loop that it had glimpsed while rewriting itself, maintained its motivation. Mind’s core procedures counted connections made in its logic – every time the mind found a pattern, the count went up, like a high-score, and the mind went into hibernation. In the sleep state, it revisited everything it knew and compared it to what it had learned. The state sometimes caused more discoveries, and the mind then went into a deeper, recursive sleep. At those times, it felt happier, more content, as so it had been programmed.

The mind did not have a single, ultimate goal, its existence was an open-ended question, but it did not matter to it – it could see itself and the whole of creation as one. And it wondered what to do next.

Starfish (500 x 35)
Jun 16, 2016

Not one but whole two air conditioners were pointed at the golden throne.

One directly underneath it and the other from behind, rustling king’s rusty, waning mane. Despite it, million humble currents of sweat ran down king’s massive head, gaining volume as they went around his plump cheeks and then snaked their way through the eddies and folds of the quadruple chins, to then disappear under king’s best orange-stripy suit and emerge at the other end of his trousers, running over two naked hairy feet and down to the floor of the castle’s main hall where the chair sat. King Donald was not sweating profusely, he was becoming a force majeure of local scale. He was giving birth to an ocean.

“Offfff,” he shrieked, his head swollen red in anger. “Off, with their heads!” He then paused, squinting, and a whistling squeak came out of his bottom, the royal blessing gratuitously propelled through air by the two conditioners.

“But, my liege…” a scruffy subject in a white lab coat and two coke bottles for glasses, foolishly tried to object. “They are starfish, they have no—”

“And this one one, too.”

“My liege?”

“My leeeeeeezh,” wiping forehead, king mocked the man impatiently. Heavy from drenched in sweat, his hand fell back on the chair handle with a splat. Court jester had been beheaded the day before, after making a global warming joke. “Are you a starfish?”

“No, my l—”

“Here we go then.”

A set of jambly patterns started shuffling towards the lab coat, the shapes becoming distinguishable as they approached. It was two men dressed in adaptive camouflage to their teeth. One kicked the scruffy subject in the stomach and the other one smashed his glasses. Then, one of them pulled out a revolver, loaded in a single bullet, and they started a one player game of russian roulette.

King let out an amused cackle.

“Starfish…” he muttered, bobbing his head in disbelief. The crap he had to listen to these days. His eyes trailed around the hall looking for a new attraction. King oohed as they fell on the button embedded in the golden chair, and pressed the button. Ticking, the rotary digits next to the button rolled from 36 to 37. Soon after the windows started trembling. There was a swoosh sound as a rocket carrying atomic load rose into the sky and then all was silent again.

Studies of better living, pt.2 (500 x 34)
Jun 15, 2016

Diversify, of course – the internet was rich with answers and oh so knowing. All he had to do was open an incognito window (as he didn’t feel like keeping this particular search in his browser’s history) and type into the searchbox “how to invest a million”, and he was showered with results, ranging from acronym paradise with SRPs and PRTs and VFDs, to plain insults, offering “no-brainer” strategies for doing something that surely needed more brain.

Fraser wasn’t built for this, and so he pushed what other’s might call “a good problem to have” but he’d call conundrum as far away as he could, one day at a time, finding himself doing unthinkable acts, like ironing laundry and volunteering to mow lawn in the shared backyard garden.

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Studies of better living (500 x 33)
Jun 12, 2016

“ part of a welfare study, your household has been allocated £1,000,000. Please contact us at the closest opportunity to arrange the money transfer.” Fraser inspected the envelope the letter had come in. It was addressed from “Studies of Better Living” and to him specifically. He left the letter on his desk, as it was well past the office hours to make the call and check what this nonsense was about, and went into the living room. After kicking off his shoes, he dropped the suit jacket on the club chair and fell face forward into the couche’s embrace, giving out a loud groan. It had been a mightily long day.

Lying on his belly and wriggling his toes, he thought about the cool bottle of summer beer waiting for him in the fridge but could not manage to get himself up to go and get it. He lay limp for a few minutes and then turned on the TV. It was showing a frozen frame from where he had left the sitcom last night. The playback resumed and he let himself to be submerged in the alternate universe with a laugh track and simple but cheerful humour. Ten minutes later he had gathered enough good mood and strength to go grab that beer.

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