Throwback – Polaroid 2004

I keep this photograph among my important possessions.

I’ve never personally used an instant camera–never even held one in my hand. The shot is from an event in my home town of Bratislava, organised by Kia, the car manufacturers, when they opened their first plant in Slovakia.

It was in one of the squares in city centre, where they set up a stage for traditional Korean performances (I remember we watched some cool drummers). Among the promotional material they were giving away, like key rings and stickers and bags, that sort of stuff, I don’t really recall exactly, they did Polaroid shots for people.

As you can observe, there is a Kia car in the picture and those two people in front of it are myself and my younger brother! I was 23 and he was 12. I had already left for UK by then, but was back for a visit.

So, the year was 2004. An interesting year, because that was when Slovakia (with 9 other countries) joined the EU. Here in UK, you bet they had a lot to say about that and not in a good way. But on one news program they also said that with Kia now establishing themselves in Slovakia, potential other car manufacturers will follow and the country might one day become a second Detroit. Amazingly, to this day, it was the only positive thing I heard about my country on British TV ever. Now fifteen years later, we have Brexit and car manufacturers are leaving Britain.

And that thing with second Detroit became true.

Obviously I wasn’t the one who took this pic, but I was the one who took the pic of the pic, so is it my pic or is it not my pic?

Stop Brexit March, Leeds

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I attended a Stop Brexit March in Leeds on Saturday, my second march of this kind. I’m posting about it somewhat late; I felt exhausted all day Sunday as I also went to a friend’s son first birthday party when I got back to Manchester. I normally barely set a foot outside on weekends if I don’t have to. My body can’t quite handle so much action!

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This march was one of similar marches taking place around the country to mark the first anniversary of the triggering of the Article 50. The Leeds march represented North.

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This was my first time visiting Leeds and I will definitely visit again, properly with my camera; this time my attention was dedicated solely to the march. All pictures were taken with my smartphone.

It all started on the train:

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I caught the same train as some fellow protesters, who hung EU flag on the window.

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Of course the giant EU flag wasn’t missing.

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More pics and signs and banners:

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One of the speakers at the march was Richard Corbett MEP, you can see him on the above picture on the very left, talking to the woman with blond hair. I’ve met him before at a Q&A session he did at the University of Manchester last year.

I suppose the next picture should come with a trigger warning!

brexit monster in leeds

I was pleased I got to photograph the Brexit Monster up close, it was too far away from me at the Manchester march.

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Will this message get across?

What’s been frustrating to me recently is not the events that are happening, it’s the fact that people don’t seem to care a bit. They’re going about their lives, probably thinking it’ll all work out or possibly believing that Brexit won’t happen, whilst doing nothing towards it not to happen. It’s this apathy that that’s the worst. I’ve not heard anyone outside my circle even mention the Cambridge Analytica story. Even Remainers say we should just “get on with it”. Um, no.

One day they’ll wake up in the morning into a first day of dictatorship and will keep asking, how did this happen? Like this, motherfuckers. Sigh.

samuel jackson wakethefuckup
Image credit: YouTube caption mine

To end the post on a positive note, it’s been great seeing news about March for Life in USA. To all the people that came out to the streets, I want to say: you absolutely rock!

Bridge

Bridges are one my favourite things to photograph. In fact, they are one of my favourite things ever. Bridges are great, really. I even like the word bridge. It looks nice written down (or typed) and is easy to pronounce for a non-native English speaker.

I decided to go for this one for this week’s photo challenge.

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The bridge is a Metrolink bridge in inner city Manchester. Not quite aesthetically pleasing, perhaps, but that’s the point. If it wasn’t for all that glorious sunshine, it would be a proper grim shot!

Inspiration for this photo came from a scene in The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I’ve taken a few similar shots after reading the book.

I’ve also been listening to my mega 90s playlist, which of course features the Red Hot Chili Peppers song Under the Bridge; probably one of the most iconic tunes of the decade. The song deals with feelings of loneliness and past drug abuse.

Under the bridge downtown
Is where I drew some blood
Under the bridge downtown
I could not get enough
Under the bridge downtown
Forgot about my love
Under the bridge downtown
I gave my life away

-lyrics by Anthony Kiedis

Speaking of music, a bridge is also a section of a song, but I have no idea what exactly it means. If you know, please do enlighten me in the comments.

Another bridge that comes to mind is captain’s bridge on a ship. Or better–a spaceship.

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Starship Enterprise NCC-1701-D from Star Trek The Next Generation – Image credit Tested.com

So that would be it regarding the bridge. Have a great week/month/year and remember:

Bridge

I Heart EU

25 March 2017 marks 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome – which eventually led to the formation of European Union

This entry is unapologetically Eurocentric.

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Construction of a new Metrolink line in Manchester, which has now completed

EU has always meant a lot to me. I was born on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, in former Czechoslovakia. I was nine when Velvet Revolution that overthrew the Communists happened. I still remember bits of it; my mum taking me with her out to the streets, the banners, the slogans. This was 1989. Mere fifteen years later, both Slovakia and Czech Republic joined the EU–an astonishing achievement. It enabled me to make something of myself in UK, where I first came to in 2003 as an au pair. As 2003 was before we joined EU, I still had to wait a line outside the British Embassy early in the morning to obtain a visa.

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Development in Manchester – Allied London

I’ve never been patriotic, I’m just not wired that way. I’m a European. I am fiercely loyal to my home city of Bratislava (don’t let me hear anyone badmouthing it!) but that’s about it. People usually call me Eastern European, however I reject that label because that’s not what I am.

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Side of a bench on Market Street, Manchester

Bratislava sits on the border of both Austria and Hungary, the only capital city in the world located at a tripoint. You can easily walk between the three countries as you would in your favourite park. Some people even pass the border twice a day on their commute to work.

blava map

I came across this article by Guy Verhofstadt published in Guardian. Guy Verhofstadt is a former Prime Minister of Belgium, a Member of European Parliament and the leader of Alliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

In the decades since [the Treaty of Rome] was signed, European countries have worked successfully to fight against the return of the rampant nationalism that led to two world wars and the slaughter of millions of Europeans, finding a way to work together to create a largely peaceful, free and prosperous continent.

In 2017, the EU stands at a crossroads. Our common project is consistently attacked and denigrated by nationalists, often working with authoritarian regimes outside the EU, who wish to destroy the EU and once again set our communities and societies against each other.

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Sign at Victoria Station, Manchester

It is ironic that, as we saw in the Brexit referendum, the postwar generation that benefited so much from European integration is now driving an explosion of Eurosceptic nationalism. Young people, a majority of whom deeply value their European citizenship, too often face barriers to full political participation.

Ah, but Brussels demanded they use low-energy light bulbs… or something.

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EU flag above the Midland Hotel entrance, Manchester

Nationalists tell us that the nation state is best placed to deal with common challenges, but their argument fails the test of reason and ignores the nature of the trans-national threats we face. Climate change, international terrorism and the negative consequences of globalisation cannot be tackled by individual countries acting independently. If the European Union of today did not exist, we would have to create it.

And you know what’s funny? You can argue that UK is NOT a nation state. England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland.

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Media City, Salford Quays, Salford

Ultimately, nationalism will be rejected because its politicians are incapable of resolving the challenges we face. It is time for those who believe in a united Europe to stand up and be counted.

Beautifully put. I hope he’s right.

28 Members of EU

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • UK (for now)

Image credit: Pixabay

I love you all.

Beethoven’s Ode To Joy, an Anthem of Europe, performed by Banco Sabadell Flashmob:

A Good Match

In this week’s photo challenge post, Ben posts a photograph of a donut, a cup of coffee and a glass of sparkling water, but tells us not to limit ourselves to edible stuff–but this is exactly what I’m going to do, even though I don’t normally blog about food or post pictures of food.

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The colours are a good match too

Let me introduce you to my favourite breakfast. Bacon sandwich + a cup of black coffee = heaven. For me bacon sandwich is the second best thing in the world (the first is pizza). But there is more to this shot.

We hear of things typically British and we hear of things typically Continental European. Nothing more essentially British than a bacon sandwich, I’m sure you agree. On the other hand, coffee is continental, whereas the Brits like their tea.

Best of both worlds then. Imagine if referendums never existed, we could have breakfast instead of Brexit. Sigh.

Speaking of which…

Image credit: IMDb

A very Belgian private detective with his very British sidekick.

A Good Match

ETA: At the time of the posting, there was a different image of Poirot and Hastings. This has been replaced by the current one, as I couldn’t find the source of the first one so couldn’t credit it.

Love is Somewhere Around Me

For this Valentine’s Day, let me talk about about my favourite fictional couples (or, as is the fandom term these days “ships”).

Originally I was planning to post just one photo for Valentine’s–a shot of two figures from my favourite series with a simple card in the background–but a comment I made on this Goodreads Facebook post inspired me to expand it a bit more. At least this gives me an opportunity to blog about my favourite things.

The Couple That Gives Me All the Feels

“You’re mine,” she whispered. “Mine, as I’m yours. And if we die, we die. All men must die, Jon Snow. But first, we’ll live.”

Jon Snow and Ygritte (Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin). Equally good in books and in TV show. And the only love story that can truly melt my cold, cynical heart.

The series has a lot of memorable quotes, such as All Men Must Die (which inspired my blog’s tagline) and Winter is Coming and–You know nothing, Jon Snow. She’s the one with the common sense, he’s the one with the  formal education. She teaches him about the Wildling ways, he shows her castles.

If I could show her Winterfell… give her a flower from the glass gardens, feast her in the Great Hall and show her the stone kings on their thrones. We could bathe in the hot pools and love beneath the heart tree while the old gods watched over us.

~A Storm of Swords

It was not meant to be, but I like to think there is an alternate universe where they stayed in that cave. And there is–Kit Harington and Rose Leslie are dating in real life.

Here’s the photo that I mentioned earlier:

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Not Your Typical Couple

Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist from The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (the Millennium series). But not together as in together.

Lisbeth is one my most favourite fictional characters ever. She’s a brilliant hacker and she kicks ass. And she always look out for the vulnerable and the abused. I don’t ship her with Blomkvist in the normal way, instead I like to think of them as BFFs with benefits slash partners in crime. Besides, Blomkvist is a womaniser and Lisbeth is too much of a free spirit to settle down.

It was absurd to pretend that he did not exist. It no longer hurt her to see him. She opened the door wide and let him into her life again.  

~The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest

In the English version they are played by Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. I once saw a comment on YouTube video of the trailer saying “Lisbeth Salander is so badass, James Bond is her sidekick.

The Couple That Should Have Been

Jo March and Laurie, aka Teddy Lawrence from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, who ended up not together because the author threw a tantrum.

“O Jo, can’t you?”

“Teddy, dear, I wish I could!”

Then do, for god’s sake. Ugh.

I recently read Little Women for the first time in English. I love Jo, but I’m not a fan of the book. Some passages made me want to throw my (quite new) Kindle against the wall and it’s not because of the obvious mismatching of couples. It’s the constant preaching. Dog forbid you want to have fun once in a blue moon or a day off work… but I’m not here to talk about that.

If readers and Alcott’s publishers wanted Jo and Laurie to marry, there was a reason for it and that reason was that she wrote them that way. Apparently Alcott meant for Jo to remain single but the publisher was against it, so okay, 3/4 through he story Alcott introduces some German professor or other who would become Jo’s match but why, why oh why oh why OH WHY pair Laurie with Amy? Amy, that frivolous little shit that burned Jo’s book? Gosh, I hate her. She should have died instead of the loving, kind Beth.

Some fans say that Laurie was too immature for Jo. But he could have grown up, done something with his life and then come back and try asking her again. Like, character development, you know.

I can somewhat accept Jo with her professor but I will never be able to accept Laurie with Amy. Ah, what the hell, in my mind he never stopped loving Jo.

Forever and Ever and Ever…

Of course, it’s got to be them. The One True Pairing–OTP.

the back of the DVD – films are in English, I don’t know why the cover is in Dutch

Anne and Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables series.

Poor Gilbert, though. It took years of suffering and almost dying for her to finally realise he was the one for her. The romantic hero she had dreamed about since her childhood didn’t belong to her life the way Gil did… and turned out not to be very interesting after all. Gilbert may not have written poetry but he could make her laugh, he comforted her. He got her.

There was nobody else–there never could be anybody else for me but you. I’ve loved you ever since that day you broke your slate over my head in school.

~Anne of the Island

There was that time in Anne of the Island when Anne’s bosom friend Diana secretly entered Anne’s story into a competition for the best story featuring a baking powder Rollings. Diana simply took Anne’s story Averil’s Atonement, which failed to get published in magazines, added a line or two advertising the baking powder and sent it–and the story won the prize. Twenty-five dollars, which must have been a lot of money then. Anne felt very ashamed because she thought it meant, how we would say now, selling out. So when Gilbert came to congratulate her and she confided in him and told him she was afraid that her fellow students at Redmond will tease her for it, he had this to say:

The Reds will think just as I thought–that you, being like nine out of ten of us, not overburdened with worldly wealth, had taken this way of earning a honest penny to help yourself through the year. I don’t see that there’s anything low or unworthy about that, or anything ridiculous either. One would rather write masterpieces of literature no doubt–but meanwhile board and tuition fees have to be paid.

Contrast this with Jo March’s professor who got all superior over Jo’s silly stories. Jo wrote them to earn some money and thus help her family, the point that completely escaped the educated professor. (Maybe that’s why he’s penniless in his forties.) What’s interesting is, when Anne rejects Gilbert’s first proposal, her feelings are very similar to what Jo goes through when she says no to Laurie. At least one writer with initials LM knew how to satisfy her readers!

Boys Love Boys

Barca and Pietros from Spartacus: Blood and Sand.

I know Spartacus is not to everyone’s taste but I loved it. It has everything; profanity, violence, nudity, sex. It makes Game of Thrones look like a weak tea.

From what I’ve seen on Tumblr, another m/m couple from Spartacus: War of the Damned, Agron and Nasir seems to be the more popular one but I prefer these two. I was rooting for them so much and they had such a tragic end.

I do what I must, Pietros. I’ll return soon.

Girls Love Girls

Look who I just remembered:

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Image credit: IMDb

Xena and Gabrielle. Friends? Sure, they were friends. That’s how it started.

Quote by the Warrior Princess herself, Lucy Lawless:

Now it wasn’t just that Xena was bisexual and kinda liked her gal pal and they kind of fooled around sometimes, it was “Nope, they’re married, man.”

They were.

You know what, I changed my mind. I think Xena and Gabrielle are my OTP after all.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Spaniards in UK, post Brexit feels (Edge of Humanity Magazine)

via Spaniards Living In UK – Their Accomplishments, Experiences & Hope After Brexit | Edge of Humanity Magazine

In the aftermath of the EU referendum, many UK-based Europeans have been left with feelings of insecurity and anxiety about what the future might hold for them and their families.

This project offers a snapshot of their experiences, capturing their thoughts and emotions following this momentous and potentially life-changing political decision.

“On the day of the referendum, I [Simon] was working at a theatre workshop in London with people from all over the world. We were all devastated. Then out came the stories in the press about people telling European waiters to go home. It was disgraceful.

Some people say that the Leave vote was a vote of punishment against Cameron and the Tories, but I think the voters are only punishing themselves. I see no positives at all in this situation. Things seem to have calmed down but you can already see some repercussions.”

“I [Maria] experienced a lot of sadness and anxiety at the beginning. It [Brexit] made me question whether this was really the place for me in the long term. I felt left out at a time when I was working hard to fit in and adapt to British culture.

However, I have had a lot of support from some sectors of society, like work colleagues and my own students. This has made me feel a bit better. I am not sure where I will end up, I’m young and there’s a whole world out there to explore.”

“It was sad to see how most of the Leave campaign was focused on immigration, blaming people like us for some of the biggest problems of this country.
After the referendum we experienced a mixture of emotions – fear, frustration, anger, a strong feeling of being unwanted.
We felt it was very irresponsible of politicians to pit one section of the population against another for their own interests, not valuing foreign workers like us for the contribution we make to the development of this country.
We are worried that this could greatly affect the peaceful coexistence between nationalities in this diverse and multicultural country. ”

“I believe in a world without borders and think this [Brexit] is a step backwards from that.
I am not concerned about my situation as a EU National in the UK, perhaps because I have been here for longer than the London Eye and I am both practical and resourceful, or it could be that I am still a bit in denial, I wouldn’t know.
As Murakami says in one of my favorite books, sometimes “You have to wait until tomorrow to find out what tomorrow will bring.”

Me: At least I’m not on my own. Even though I haven’t got a PhD, Master’s degree, nor do I run my own business.

Image credit: Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Throwback Thursday – Ultimate 90s Playlist

In one of my first posts this year, I mentioned I was working on a mega-super-all genre playlist of the 90s. Why 90s? Because that was the time I listened to music a lot and it seems to be cool again now. My intention was to include as many tunes as possible representing all the genres.

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image from Unsplash, words mine

What I ended up with was 400 songs of almost 29 hours.

Well, there was just so much good stuff, what can I say. I titled it Ultimate 90s – The Good, The Bad and The Cheesy.

I have no idea whether anyone reading this is even interested (as music is not what I usually blog about or know anything about or have any taste in anyway) but I thought I would share here because why not.

The embedded link only goes to 200 for some reason, so click here to see the full playlist on Spotify’s web site.

Big thanks to my brother for giving me some tips!

*Waves*

Isaac Asimov Quoted

I thought I’d try a bit of experimenting with my blog. So I linked to an article that picked my interest, using Press This and hereby I share with you quotes from one of my favourite authors. In picture form.

via Isaac Asimov wrote almost 500 books in his lifetime—these are the six ways he did it — Quartz

I found the article thanks to a tweet by the @wordpressdotcom. Mentioning Isaac Asimov is sure to attract my attention, even though I only discovered his works about 4 years ago. (Well, I had been oblivious to many a cool thing until four-five years back.)  Apart from being a prolific writer, Asimov was a humanist, a liberal, argued in favour of women’s rights and gay rights. In an interview with Bill Moyers in 1988 he suggested a system of learning which would involve computers hooked up to large libraries where people could find information on any topic they wanted. Sounds familiar?

In the above article, Charles Chu breaks down Asimov incredible productivity into six points. My most favourite is the first one:

Never stop learning

I couldn’t possibly write the variety of books I manage to do out of the knowledge I had gained in school alone. I had to keep a program of self-education in process. My library of reference books grew and I found I had to sweat over them in my constant fear that I might misunderstand a point that to someone knowledgeable in the subject would be a ludicrously simple one.

I agree with this so much. I’m a college dropout but learning and knowledge have always been important to me. I like to know stuff. When I was younger, it was mostly humanities, especially history. I’d learned about atoms, protons, electrons and neutrons from a children’s encyclopedia way before we started physics classes at school, but I regret to say that the school system at home killed any interest in science I could have developed. It is what it is.

The following quote describes Isaac’s approach perfectly:

An astronomer is only an astronomer and his vision is naturally limited. I am a science fiction writer and more is expected of me.

It’s from an introduction of his short story collection Robot Dreams, where he basically calls himself stupid for getting it wrong about the rings of Saturn.

To be sure, no astronomer saw the truth about the rings in 1952, but what of that? An astronomer is only an astronomer and his vision is naturally limited. I am a science fiction writer and more is expected of me.

The story in question is The Martian Way–probably my most favourite in this collection and one of my most favourite ever. It just.. blew my mind how relevant it is today!

The remaining five points are also worth checking out, not just for writers but artists in general.

Before Star Trek’s Data, there was  R. Daneel Olivaw

In fact I imagine Daneel Olivaw looking like Data, except with red hair.

Image credit: Amazon

Image credit: Memory Alpha

The following is a speech by Elijah Baley to Daneel in the novel Caves of Steel:

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Original image from Unsplash, words added by me

Ah yes, the Medievalists. Nostalgic optimism sufferers, as my brother calls them. The good old days. *Eyeroll* Flushing toilet was once a new invention, you know.

The robot stories were my introduction to Asimov and they’re absolute gems, a joy to read. A quote by a recurring character, the amazing robopsychologist Susan Calvin, from the short story Evidence:

I like robots. I like them considerably better than I do human beings.

I get you, girlfriend.

Foundation

Probably his famous work, which I will not pretend to have read past the first book. And even that I got to know via audiobook (does that count as reading, I wonder?) I liked it so much I bought the trilogy on hardback, as the series is not available on Kindle. Makes no sense to me, considering the aforementioned interview. Anyway, I give you a piece of wisdom from Salvor Hardin:

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Someone definitely needs to give the publisher a big kick to make them release the series digitally. I do like my hardback edition though.

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Numbers

Let me tell you about number Four.

4

Why do I think number 4 is significant?

Firstly, it’s nicely symmetrical. 2+2 and 2×2 and 2^2. Human beings like symmetry. Symmetrical objects are usually considered beautiful and symmetrical features attractive.

Now let’s have a look at how many things there are four of:

Four seasons

| spring | summer | autumn | winter |

4seasons
images are from Unsplash

Four cardinal directions

| north | south | east | west |

Four elements

| air | water | earth | fire |

Four states of matter

| solid | liquid | gas | plasma |

Four arithmetic operators

| addition | subtraction | multiplication | division |

Four card suits

| hearts | spades | diamonds | clubs |

And corresponding tarot versions

| cups | swords | pentacles | wands |

Four basic tastes

| bitter | sour | salty | sweet |

Google always uses the same four colours in their logo – red, blue, yellow and green

4colours

Four Renaissance artists (or Ninja turtles if you wish)

| Leonardo | Michelangelo | Donatello | Raphael |

Examples from pop culture include Fantastic Four, the four hobbits from Lord of the Rings, four members of Beatles, four women on Sex and the City and four Hogwarts houses.

Examples from sports are the four tennis grand slams and the big four sports in America.

Also, every four years we get an extra day. The leap year, such as this year for example, is dividable by four.

Every four years, on a leap year, we get Olympic Games.

And every four years, also in the same year, a US Presidential election takes place. Better not talk about the current one… anyway, I only realised about two weeks ago that not only was I born in the leap year, my brother was too and so were my two nephews by marriage, whom I love very much.

So that’s it.

And here are four red tealights.

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Bonus: the main male character in the Divergent series, Tobias Eaton, is nicknamed Four, because he only has four fears (whereas average is between ten and fifteen).  He’s played by Theo James in the movies.

Numbers