three paragraphs
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

“..as 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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Pull over (500 x 32)
Jun 11, 2016

“Pull over!” Black yelled through the car’s loudspeaker for the third time but the suspect’s Miata didn’t slow down.

They were going through the city all too fast, shop storefronts zipping by in rapid succession, blues and reds of the tailing police lights bouncing off the windows. Black floored the gas pedal and, as he rammed the suspect’s car, the airbags of his Mustang bloomed in slow motion. He yanked his hands off the wheel a split second before the airbags erupted as he had suddenly remembered that he was driving a commandeered vehicle. The time resumed. Cursing under his breath, he looked over the slowly deflating airbag. Miata was still going strong. He hit the throttle again and aimed to squeeze himself in on the right side. Then he swerved hard to the left, pushing Miata off the road and on to the pavement. The driver tried to fight her way out of the bind, but the Miata was now almost perpendicular to the road. A rusty portable dumpster of a construction site ahead came into the view through the side windows of the Miata and Black pumped the breaks, leaving the other car to negotiate physics with the container alone. It smacked into the container with an anticlimactic crunch and the vehicle finally came to a halt. Dazed, the driver staggered out of the car, dropping her jacket and revealing an explosive vest.

A muted crack came from Black’s Mustang, as the bullet left his gun, then shattered the window, going straight into the perp’s head and then out the other end, then through the green traffic light at the crossing 200 yards further, then through the second floor apartment’s street-facing wall, through the radiator, through the designer coffee table, through the faux fireplace, through the side wall plaster and the wiring embedded in it, triggering a spark that would put the flat on fire a few minutes later, through the hallway and into the staircase, through the door of the apartment across, through the window on the opposite side, into the fourth floor window 300 yards away, through another 20 buildings, the floor count growing till it was above and then clipped a pigeon and then through tropo, strato, meso, and thermosphere, then out into the the space, but before that, right throught the moon.

Adventure time (500 x 31)
Jun 10, 2016

It was the middle of a blazing hot summer, the sun scorching the fields all throughout the month of June with dry, violent winds scurrying the surface and tearing away anything that hadn’t been fastened well enough, from roof tiles and post signs, to spaced out cows. The heat was abnormal for this high up north, but Johnson had given up on normal a good while ago, what with the global warming and everything. So it was even stranger when she awoke the next morning to a complete silence.

She did not register the absence of the howling and rattling at first. Rubbing her eyes and and yawning, she staggered into the kitchen still in her jammies. With an accustomed move, she flipped on the coffee maker, sat down on the stool and slumped onto the counter. With the countertop cooling her one cheek and sunlight from the roof window warming the other, she closed her eyes for a second.

“What time … is it?” she asked eyes shut, over the guttural noises produced by the machine making the world’s best diarrhetic.

“8 A.M., July,” her assistant AI replied through the kitchen loudspeaker in a husky english accent. She had named it Sean after Mr. Sean Connery, the original owner of the voice. She swore that choosing him for the AI had been one of the best decisions of her life.

“Wah, that’s early… What’s up?” she commanded.

“I have not been able to connect to the network this morning, but here are the most recent news before I lost the connection around 2 A.M.,” the AI replied, sending the output to the countertop that Johnson was lying on. Shoddy router must be acting up again. She lazily blinked her eyes open and slowly peeled herself off the screen. While scanning the news feed, she stretched out and grabbed the mug from the coffee maker that in the meanwhile had went silent.

Her news feed was a mix of instagram, twitter, facebook, snapchat, and every other microchannel, combined in one big multi-column list for her to peruse. There were no news in there, just updates on the people she knew. Slurping coffee, she leisurely went through the list until all that was left was the network indicator, complaining about lack of connection.

“Remind me to get a new router,” she said.

“Noted,” the AI replied, “but it’s not the router, July … You might want to take a look outside.”

With a huh, she turned to look at the window. Her mind did one of those reality checks where for a second she wasn’t sure anymore what month it was, and then put her back into context. The world outside was covered in a thick blanket of snow, with trees looking like humongous white candy cotton sticks, sprinkled with peppermint. The snow had to be at least up to her waist, if not higher.

“Any ideas what’s this all about,” she asked.

“None whatsoever, July.”

“Sean?”

“Yes, July?”

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

The AI quickly formulated a response with 98.5% acceptance certainty rate.

“Your e-book is behind the couch.”

“Bingo,” Johnson replied, making a shooting gun gesture as she said it.

“There is enough food for a fortnight, there are biscuits in the cupboard, and you are fully stocked on tea, cocoa, and coffee.”

“Powering down,” the AI added, anticipating the command at 99.7% acceptance certainty rate, and shortly after the shutdown chime indicated that AI had gone into suspend and would require manual reactivation later.

Johnson was now completely alone. She made another cup of coffee, fished out her e-book from behind the couch, grabbed the throw, and crawled into her favourite club chair at the window. It was adventure time.