Koniec nevinnosti

Standard

Koniec nevinnosti

Neustále čítam a počúvam o prítomnom okamihu a o žití v ňom. A s trochou prikrášlenia by som sa mohol nazvať skeptikom prežívania prítomnosti. Teda niežeby žitie v minulosti, či budúcnosti bolo lepšie, ono je to všetko totiž postavené len na našom naučenom vnímaní času. Aj to prehnané zdôrazňovanie života v prítomnosti.

Na krátke vysvetlenie by som si dovolil použiť ukážku z knihy od Sarah Manguso, Dva Druhy Rozkladu.

~ Meranie

Obdobie deviatich rokov začalo a skončilo. Meriam čas podľa pohybu tejto planéty. Tak ako to robí každý, kto je pri zmysloch.

Občas zabúdam, že meranie času je tu aby ma odpútalo od toho, čo sa skutočne deje.

Občas zabúdam, že kráčam po povrchu mäkkej hmoty, ktorá kdesi veľmi hlboko horí, po povrchu ohrievanom a osvetlovanom explóziami vzdialenými deväťdesiattri miliónov míľ. Explóziami, ktoré v nejakom bode začali a rovnako v nejakom bode skončia.

Občas zabúdam, že som vznikla z tejto explózie a – napriek môjmu pocitu, že som od nej oddelená – zase sa do nej vrátim.

Prečo deväť rokov?

Prečo si ráno musím 60 minút čítať, poobede zaplávať dvadsať dĺžok v bazéne a večer napísať tisíc slov aby som mala pocit, že som svojich 24 hodín dňa prežila zmysluplne?

Čo znamenajú tieto čísla? Čo nimi vlastne meriame? Čo si myslím, že objasňujem aktom merania? Stáva sa niečo meraním jasnejšie?

Na začiatku je počatie, tehotenstvo, rast nového mozgu v lone, zjavenie hlavičky, prvý nádych, pomenovanie.

Na konci, ak sa náhodou nevyparíme v explózii, zastane srdce, ale krv ešte tečie žilami, potom krv prestane tiecť, ale tkanivá ešte žijú, potom tkanivá odumrú, až nakoniec zomrie posledný neurón v mozgu. Ako dlho to presne trvá závisí od príliš veľa premenných.

Moja židovská stará mama sa dožila osemdesiat-päť rokov. Myslela si, že sa narodila desiateho decembra, ale keď sme našli jej rodný list, ukázalo sa, že sa narodila ôsmeho, alebo deviateho. Boston bol totiž vtedy zavalený snehom a to bol prvý deň kedy mohol niekto nahlásiť jej narodenie.

Mám od nej dva listy, ktoré mi napísala do letného tábora v 1980. Jeden je z utorka 29. júna a druhý, zo 4. júla ku Dňu Nezávislosti.

Aké dátumy nemožno spochybniť? Aké časy sú jednoznačné? O konci vojen sa často píše s udávaním presného dátumu. Končia vtedy keď sa podpíše deklarácia o ich konci. Končia v okamihu v ktorom sa dá deklarácia považovaná za podpísanú.

Ale nie je to náhodou tak, že vojny ani tak nekončia v tom okamihu, ale ľudia sa proste iba dohodnú ich za skončené v tom okamihu pokladať? A tak sa meranie stáva neuskutočniteľným. Nepresným. Proste neuskutočniteľným.

Vlastne nič sa nedeje v okamihu. Nič sa nedeje rýchlo. Ak sa vám niekedy zdá, že sa niečo deje rýchlo, je to preto že sa pozeráte iba na malý úsek diania.

Výstrel z brokovnice sa zdá byť vykonaný rýchlo, ale čo pohyb prsta k spúšti? Čo s myšlienkou ktorá viedla k rozhodnutiu vystreliť? Čo so všetkým tým tréningom pred tým? Čo vlastne so všetkým, čo sa stalo pred tým než uchopíme tú pušku? Ako môžeme oddeliť samotné stlačenie spúšte od toho, čo bolo nevyhnutné pre to aby sa to stalo?

Nie, nič sa nedeje v okamihu. Nič sa nezačína a nič sa neprestáva stávať. História nikde nezačína. A rovnako nikde nekončí.

Prečo by som teda ja musela nájsť začiatok a koniec tohoto rozkladu o ktorom píšem – ktorý napokon je aj tak len menším rozkladom môjho väčšieho osobného rozkladu?

A nemá celý ten rozklad náhodou aj iné mená – napríklad aj život?

 ~ Koniec

Sú dva druhy rozkladu – môj a rozklad tých ostatných. Toto je len celkom obyčajná kniha o chorobe, niekto sa uzdraví, niekto ochorie.

Tí, ktorí tvrdia že píšu o niečom väčšom a dôležitejšom ako o sebe samých len zlyhávajú pochopiť svoj skutočný rozmer.

Väčšina ľudí považuje svoje vlastné utrpenie za akýsi široko aplikovateľný model a ja nie som výnimka.

Utrpenie skrýva poučenie: sústreďte sa. Dôležitá časť nemusí prísť tak, že ju okamžite rozoznáte.

Nemusíte ani vedieť ako ju milovať. Ale sústrediť sa je milovať všetko. Vidieť budúcnosť ako svetlo.

Čokoľvek sa deje, sa deje len vtedy, raz a naposledy. Vidíme veci len ako ich vlastné svetlo a za tým svetlom už nie je nič.

Nemôžeme sa nič naučiť z pamätania si, nemôžeme sa nič naučiť z hádania.

Jediné učenie je v pohybe vpred, akým sme vpred posúvaný, ako svetlo pohybujúce sa do svetla.

(Kniha Dva Druhy Rozkladu je vskutku úžasná a odporúčam ju.) >>>


Podnetom na napísanie tejto úvahy bolo ono zistenie, že nič sa v skutočnosti nedeje v okamihu. Ako je vysvetlené v ukážke z knihy. Ku všetkému, čo sa deje sa viaže nejaká udalosť v minulosti, často viac udalostí, okamihov, všetko sa teda deje “naraz”. To iba my vnímame čas ako rôzne okamihy tým, že ho delíme na minulosť, prítomnosť a budúcnosť.

Povedzme, že za okamih budeme považovať milióntinu sekundy. Naše zmysly a mozog sú schopné spracovávať javy určitou rýchlosťou, ak sa ale veci dejú príliš rýchlo, nemusíme na ne reagovať v prítomnom okamihu, viacmenej teda vždy reagujeme na veci, čo sa už stali, nie na veci čo sa dejú. Sotva si na niečo pomyslíme, už je to minulosť. Prítomnosť sa proste deje príliš rýchlo aby sme v nej mohli skutočne žiť. Prežívame teda život ako minulosť, prítomnosť a budúcnosť zároveň. Možno je teda naše pátranie po žití v prítomnosti založené len na nepochopení času. Že sa jeho tri zložky snažíme oddeliť.

Je to ako s tou Božou trojicou, nikdy som tomu nechápal. Otec, syn a Duch Svätý. A jeden Boh, ktorý ich všetkých obsahuje. Niežeby som tomu teda chápal oveľa viac než vtedy v detských rokoch keď som o trojjedinečnosti Boha počul prvý krát. Ale ono je to všetko v tom, že sa snažíme veci chápať rozumom, ktorý je síce skvelý nástroj v rukách človeka, ale skrátka nemôžeme ním odhaliť všetky tajomstvá života.

 ~ 6,400,099,980

V knihe Hľadanie prítomného okamihu (A Tale For The Time Being), od Ruth Ozeki, som sa dočítal o učení majstra Dōgena, ktorý vo svojom učení spomína číslo 6,400,099,980. Hovorí, že toľko krát za deň prežívame prítomný okamih, v toľkých úsekoch času vieme zmeniť smer svojej cesty, zmeniť myšlienku, ktorú máme. Svojich žiakov učil navráteniu sa do prítomnosti lusknutím prstov, ak im myseľ zablúdila príliš ďaleko od prítomného okamihu.

Dá sa teda jednoduchou rovnicou zistiť aký časový okamih by tomuto číslu zodpovedal:

24 hodín (86,400 sekúnd) / 6,400,099,980 =

>>> 0.0000135 sekundy!!!

Veľmi krátky časový úsek.

Čiže taká krátka je prítomnosť ako ju vieme prežiť. Neviem či je ale možné žiť iba v prítomnosti a byť si jej neustále vedomý.

No a v rámci hľadania definície prítomnosti som si dal takú úlohu, nájsť bod, okamih, v ktorom dieťa stráca nevinnosť. Niečo ako okamih v ktorom Adam a Eva zistili, že sú nahí. Iste, niečo k tomu všetkému vedie, rôzne predošlé udalosti, ale ono spoznanie vlastnej nahoty sa odohrá v jednom okamihu. No a mňa zaujalo, či je možné ho zachytiť. Možno všetko to, čím prechádzame sú kvapky do pohára, ktorý má svoj limit.

A ako žijeme >>>

kvap ‘

kvap ”

KVAP “‘

Až kým prvá kvapka nepretečie.

Malá má šesť rokov a stále je to nevinné dieťa. Niečo, čo sa oplatí pozorovať, všímať si a z toho všetkého sa učiť. Učiť tej nevinnosti s akou žije. Možno aby si ju človek mohol pripomenúť, spomenúť si na svoju vlastnú nevinnosť, a možno neskôr, i tomu druhému ju pripomenúť.

Ešte stále sa malá nebráni svojej nahote a sotva si uvedomuje, že jej na jej malých chudých nožičkách začínajú rásť chĺpky. Svet je pre ňu jedno veľké ihrisko.

Neviem tú jej nevinnosť opísať, ale intenzívne ju vnímam. V tom ako pozoruje svet a reaguje. Iste, od mnohého je uchránená, ako aj my a iné šťastné deti sme boli uchránení našimi rodičmi. Jedného dňa však zistí, že svet, hoci možno stále ihrisko, občas vyžaduje ísť na dno síl a ani tak víťazstvo nie je zaručené.

Ako teda opísať tú nevinnosť a ako si všimnúť jej koniec?

Je to iskra v očiach?

Chuť zobudiť sa každý deň a myslieť na hry?

Úprimné sa tešenie z malých vecí ako časopis s lacnou hračkou a nálepkami, či sladká limonáda z obchodu na rohu?

Naivná dôvera v dobro ľudí?

A kedy sa to stratí?

Bude to vidno v jej očiach?

Spoznám to podľa jej slov?

Dotyku?

Neviem.

Naozaj neviem.

Sám neviem kedy som prišiel o tú detskú nevinnosť, kedy začalo moje dospievanie.

Možno by sa to dalo napísať takto:

Ako dieťa rastie a dospieva,

srdce pripravuje sa na moment,

kedy pieseň nevinnosti bude musieť dospievať.

A tak vedomý si toho, čo sa nevyhnutne stane, možno viac než striehnuť na ten moment, by som mal počúvať tú tichú pieseň jej malého srdiečka. Kým spieva nevinne.

little feet

How I struggled to remove PayPal from Google Play Store

Standard

So,

in the past few weeks I started to let my 6 year old daughter to play on my tablet, which had my credit card and my PayPal account linked to the Google Play store. And although it is not always connected to WiFi, today, when I saw her pressing a shop button in this game with “in-app purchases” I reconsidered my Google account settings and I decided to delete all my lined payment methods and only use the store credit, which I planned to purchase locally in the shops, keeping my account balance in the area of £5-10, as I don’t tend to make many purchases there (I already purchased the items/apps I really wanted, or needed and there is simply no need to have another connection to my bank account.

So I went and removed credit card, but when I looked in the PayPal option, it all became slightly strange. PayPal wasn’t showing as a method on my Google Payments page.

04 Not showing PayPal

So I tried to purchase an app by selecting PayPal as an option trying to see how it will go and to my shock, after I confirmed the Google password (remember this, not the PayPal account password), the purchase was successful and the app started to download.

I didn’t like this as I was hoping to have a “double security” on my account, where in the first step, every purchase would have my approval by confirming Google password, and then, in the case of PayPal payment, confirming PayPal password. (I will now fast forward and will provide you with what I learned from PayPal employee, which was really really helpful. She said, that there is a MERCHANT on my PayPal account, which is Google, and somehow I must have entered into a BILLING AGREEMENT with this merchant, Google, which means, if I am purchasing anything on Google Play Store using PayPal as a method, I am billed to my linked PayPal account and even the change of the password on that PayPal account wouldn’t stop this billing, as the billing is linked to the account, completely ignoring what password I have on that account. So then she kindly cancelled this agreement, which means Google cannot bill my PayPal account anymore.)

This is what is on Google website about PayPal method:

01 PayPal method

And this is the information they have to assist users with removing a payment method from Google Play Store:

03 Remove a Payment method

So I rang Google and asked them to remove my PayPal account from my Play Store account. After a few emails and phone calls, they successfully erased my PayPal account and it is now showing this method as “blank”.

Everyone was helpful and I experienced top quality customer service from both, Google and PayPal, although the second person I spoke to about my PayPal account was much more knowledgeable tham the first one, as the first PayPal employee didn’t even mention something like “a billing agreement”, which would save me time explaining to Google what is wrong. After the other PayPal employee, Sam, told me about this, within a few minutes I knew what is going on and she simply cancelled it and as Google already erased all my PayPal account details I achieved what I wanted.

Google has verification control process, as below, but the verification in case of PayPal, doesn’t provide user with extra verification by requesting PayPal login details:

02 Verification options

The issue is, PayPal is a very popular payment method. And from the above it seems that its users are somehow mislead (well, at least I was) when selecting it as an option when signing up for Google Play Store services, that this will provide them with usual security (by requiring password approval, I mean PayPal password) when they are making Google Play purchases. But instead, if the user will set up PayPal as a method, and they pay by it, Google Play store will ask for Google password (if set up to ask) and then the purchase will happen. Which means that PayPal password is not requested. (Apparently this is achieved by the “billing agreement”, that somehow the user agrees for Google to take payments of his/her PayPal account without confirming the PayPal account details – PASSWORD. Which I think is a security loop hole.)

 

SUMMARY:

I am coming from a financial background (workwise) and it is all about security and I was always reminded to watch out for any weaknesses in the system. Now this might not be a big issue to some, but as I am longtime PayPal user and I really like using their service (as opposed to using credit card which I hate) and it was really disappointing to find out that if I decide to use PayPal on Google purchases, it will not, like it is normal on my eBay purchases, ask me to loginto the actual PayPal to complete the transaction, it will just PROCESS IT, robbing me of the extra layer of security, which as confirmed by PayPal agent, is what PayPal is for, providing extra secure payment processing.

Please let me know what you think about this. I have escalated this to Google and I hope to have some sort of update in future. For now, I am not linking PayPal to my Google Play store.

Some links that users can try (UK):

Request a call back from Google >>>

PayPal contact information >>>

Learning Excel #3, Designing Math Challenge For Young Children, Template #3

Standard

Hello again,

 

We have finally got some summer weather here in England and although many of you won’t associate summer with Excel designing, I have decided to keep bravely going strong with it even on these hot days. (Correction: The days are quite hot, but the weather isn’t exactly great for outdoor activities due to summer storms hanging in the air, ready to hit as soon as you would delve into some enjoyable outdoor activity.)j

 

This is my third attempt at creating a simple, clean and visually appealing math challenge template for young children and this is the first one where I had a play with automated macro.

 

During the designing process I had to ask my Excel guru for a little advice on handling error messages from VBA (so thank you Gary), but apart from that, it is all my work. Well, mine and Internet’s. But I managed to find all the answers myself. I even found and corrected an error in processing the automated macros, which was causing conflict with the selection of the next field for next user’s input. This is not to show that after a month of designing little Math challenges I am a know-it-all Excel expert, it’s simply my attempt to describe my learning development with as much details as I can, so it’s also a bit of storytelling and contains an evidence of my progress and skills, should someone someday ask my what my Excel skills are like.

 

So what have we got here?

 

1, The idea

 

Once again the aim was to create a visually appealing file for young children (our daughter is almost six) and try something new (automated macro). As I was searching for a way to do this, I came across the following command:

 

Private Sub Worksheet_Change (ByVal Target As Range)

 

I am not 100% sure what exactly it does (many of you surely know) but I used it to run automated macro. (Code to follow.) Since I am learning all of this as I go, I don’t want to give anybody any advice as I myself feel a bit unsure when it comes to VBA and commands, and the logic of statements.

But I will be happy to provide what I can.

During the designing of the long code I had a struggle with the order of “If statements”, but in the end I got there. So I guess I must be doing something right.

 

This time I designed the layout to match the character of Ferda, the ant, and I quite like the red and black Kurt Cobain sweater design of it.

 

The automated macro moves the user from cell where he provided the answer into a cell where a new answer is required until the last answer is provided.

It took me a long time to write the correct code (and sometimes I think there might be errors in it, but as far as I can tell – it works! Yay!)

I have written the code in a way that also allows the user to change the numbers in the equations manually, without breaking what it does (previously I didn’t consider the user’s request to be able to change things in the file, something my guru told me to always consider, and also making the code as flexible as possible).

 

Here’s an example of above:

 If Range(“D6”) = Range(“F6”) – Range(“B6”) Then
    Call Cell3

– This means that as long as user changes pre-populated numbers and keeps the empty space for answers, he can adjust the equations as he wishes.

2, How does it work?

 

~ Checking the answers

Unlike in previous challenge, the incorrect answer doesn’t unhide a picture (at the time of writing the code this seemed to be a lot of work and I wanted to create this file quickly. But this is listed as possible improvement.)

The answers are checked by macro and once the answer is checked, macro moves user to next cell. The macro that checks the answer also lifts the white rectangle cover off the “thumbs up Ferda” if the answer is correct.

 

~ Checking whether all answers are correct

As in previous challenge, this is achieved by calculating the difference between the answer provided by user and between the correct answer checked by Excel itself. If the difference is 0, the answer is correct.

Then all zeroes are counted in a  master cell, which if all answers are correct shows 10, then for some reason I added -10 to get 0. If master check shows 0 a macro enabled button with Show Reward is made visible, in the case that not all answers are correct, button to show reward remains invisible.

 

~ Commands/Macros

 

There’s 10 macros to lift the white background under which the picture of “Thumbs up Ferda” is hiding.

 

Then there’s a long code that calls the macros one by one as user makes his/her way down the challenge. This code is (at least for me), stupidly long and easy to get lost within, but ultimately it can be broken into ten “commandments” consisting of 3 logical statements below:

 

1, If the cell with answer is blank, do nothing, exit

2, If the cell contains the correct answer, call macro to life the picture in referencing cell and move user to next cell where answer is required

3, Don’t unhide anything, just move user to next cell where answer is required

 

Once all answers are provided, user is either rewarded by a “Congratulations” message and picture of happy Ferda, or a message with “I’m sure you’ll do better next time.” is given.

Pictures:

Ferda 1

Ferda 2

Ferda 3

Ferda 4

~ Coding

Here’s the coding for the challenge:

 

> > >  Sheet 1 Code:

 

Private Sub Worksheet_Change(ByVal Target As Range)

If Range(“D2”) = Range(“F2”) – Range(“B2”) Then

Call Cell1

End If

If Range(“D2”) <> Range(“F2”) – Range(“B2”) Then

Range(“B4”).Select

End If

If Range(“B4”) = Range(“F4”) – Range(“D4”) Then

Call Cell2

End If

If IsEmpty(Range(“B4”).Value) = True Then

Exit Sub

End If

If Range(“B4”) <> Range(“F4”) – Range(“D4”) Then

Range(“D6”).Select

End If

If IsEmpty(Range(“D6”).Value) = True Then

Exit Sub

End If

If Range(“D6”) = Range(“F6”) – Range(“B6”) Then

Call Cell3

End If

If Range(“D6”) <> Range(“F6”) – Range(“B6”) Then

Range(“B8”).Select

End If

If IsEmpty(Range(“B8”).Value) = True Then

Exit Sub

End If

If Range(“B8”) = Range(“F8”) – Range(“D8”) Then

Call Cell4

End If

If Range(“B8”) <> Range(“F8”) – Range(“D8”) Then

Range(“D10”).Select

End If

If IsEmpty(Range(“D10”).Value) = True Then

Exit Sub

End If

If Range(“D10”) = Range(“F10”) – Range(“B10”) Then

Call Cell5

End If

If Range(“D10”) <> Range(“F10”) – Range(“B10”) Then

Range(“B12”).Select

End If

If IsEmpty(Range(“B12”).Value) = True Then

Exit Sub

End If

If Range(“B12”) = Range(“F12”) – Range(“D12”) Then

Call Cell6

End If

If Range(“B12”) <> Range(“F12”) – Range(“D12”) Then

Range(“D14”).Select

End If

If IsEmpty(Range(“D14”).Value) = True Then

Exit Sub

End If

If Range(“D14”) = Range(“F14”) – Range(“B14”) Then

Call Cell7

End If

If Range(“D14”) <> Range(“F14”) – Range(“B14”) Then

Range(“B16”).Select

End If

If IsEmpty(Range(“B16”).Value) = True Then

Exit Sub

End If

If Range(“B16”) = Range(“F16”) – Range(“D16”) Then

Call Cell8

End If

If Range(“B16”) <> Range(“F16”) – Range(“D16”) Then

Range(“D18”).Select

End If

If IsEmpty(Range(“D18”).Value) = True Then

Exit Sub

End If

If Range(“D18”) = Range(“F18”) – Range(“B18”) Then

Call Cell9

End If

If Range(“D18”) <> Range(“F18”) – Range(“B18”) Then

Range(“B20”).Select

End If

If Range(“B20”) = Range(“F20”) – Range(“D20”) Then

Call Cell10

End If

If Range(“Y22”) = 0 Then

ActiveSheet.Shapes(“Rectangle 3”).Visible = True

End If

If Range(“Y23”) = 10 And Range(“Y22”) <> 0 Then

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Ferda 1”).Visible = False

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Ferda 2”).Visible = False

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Ferda 3”).Visible = True

End If

End Sub

 

> > > This Workbook code

 

Private Sub Workbook_Open()

 

Range(“D2”).Select

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 1A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 2A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 3A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 4A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 5A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 6A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 7A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 8A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 9A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 10A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Ferda 1”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Ferda 2”).Visible = False

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Ferda 3”).Visible = False

ActiveSheet.Shapes(“Rectangle 3”).Visible = False

 

End Sub

 

> >> Macros to lift cover pictures

 

Sub Cell1()

‘ Cell1 Macro

 

On Error GoTo ErrorHandler

 

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 1A”).Visible = False

Range(“B4”).Select

 

ErrorHandler:

Exit Sub

 

End Sub

Sub Cell2()

‘ Cell2 Macro

 

On Error GoTo ErrorHandler

 

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 2A”).Visible = False

Range(“D6”).Select

 

ErrorHandler:

Exit Sub

 

End Sub

Sub Cell3()

‘ Cell3 Macro

 

On Error GoTo ErrorHandler

 

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 3A”).Visible = False

Range(“B8”).Select

 

ErrorHandler:

Exit Sub

End Sub

Sub Cell4()

‘ Cell4 Macro

 

On Error GoTo ErrorHandler

 

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 4A”).Visible = False

Range(“D10”).Select

 

ErrorHandler:

Exit Sub

 

End Sub

Sub Cell5()

‘ Cell5 Macro

 

On Error GoTo ErrorHandler

 

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 5A”).Visible = False

Range(“B12”).Select

 

ErrorHandler:

Exit Sub

 

End Sub

Sub Cell6()

‘ Cell6 Macro

 

On Error GoTo ErrorHandler

 

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 6A”).Visible = False

Range(“D14”).Select

 

ErrorHandler:

Exit Sub

End Sub

Sub Cell7()

‘ Cell7 Macro

 

On Error GoTo ErrorHandler

 

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 7A”).Visible = False

Range(“B16”).Select

 

ErrorHandler:

Exit Sub

End Sub

Sub Cell8()

‘ Cell8 Macro

 

On Error GoTo ErrorHandler

 

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 8A”).Visible = False

Range(“D18”).Select

 

ErrorHandler:

Exit Sub

End Sub

Sub Cell9()

‘ Cell9 Macro

 

On Error GoTo ErrorHandler

 

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 9A”).Visible = False

Range(“B20”).Select

 

ErrorHandler:

Exit Sub

End Sub

Sub Cell10()

‘ Cell10 Macro

 

On Error GoTo ErrorHandler

 

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 10A”).Visible = False

 

ErrorHandler:

Exit Sub

End Sub

 

> > > Show Reward macro

 

Sub ShowReward()

‘ ShowReward Macro

 

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Ferda 1”).Visible = False

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Ferda 2”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Ferda 3”).Visible = False

Range(“A1”).Select

 

End Sub

 

> > > Start Again Macro

Sub StartAgain()

‘ StartAgain

 

Selection.ClearContents

Range(“D2”).Select

Selection.ClearContents

Range(“B4”).Select

Selection.ClearContents

Range(“D6”).Select

Selection.ClearContents

Range(“B8”).Select

Selection.ClearContents

Range(“D10”).Select

Selection.ClearContents

Range(“B12”).Select

Selection.ClearContents

Range(“D14”).Select

Selection.ClearContents

Range(“B16”).Select

Selection.ClearContents

Range(“D18”).Select

Selection.ClearContents

Range(“B20”).Select

Selection.ClearContents

Range(“D2”).Select

Range(“D2”).Select

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 1A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 2A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 3A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 4A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 5A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 6A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 7A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 8A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 9A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Pic 10A”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Ferda 1”).Visible = True

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Ferda 2”).Visible = False

ActiveSheet.Pictures(“Ferda 3”).Visible = False

ActiveSheet.Shapes(“Rectangle 3”).Visible = False

 

End Sub

 

~ Possible improvements

 

1,

Assign an action/macro to run when incorrect answer is provided

 

2, Randomised equations each time challenge is restarted

 

 

~

 

 

Download:

Full Excel file can be downloaded from here >>>

Learning Excel #2, Designing Math Challenge For Young Children, Template #2

Standard

Hello all,

 

As I was pleased with the achievement on the previous Math challenge for young children I have designed, motivated, I immediately went to design a new template.

 

Once again, I set up the challenge with two goals in mind:

– pleasing design with some lovely cartoon character

– interesting layout with some visual verification of the answers

 

I have to say that I really like this template and I hope you will like it too. Please have a read and download the file and try it. (Download at the end.)

 

1, The idea

The idea is pretty simple again.

What I have changed from the previous template is the layout.

This time the file after opening only displays one equation.

Once the answer is provided, the new equation is given by running a macro assigned to a button right of the equation, unhiding row above the starting task and new tasks continue to be given one by one until the last one is uncovered.

 

The answers are confirmed in a form of a picture. The correct answer gets Doc McStuffins and the incorrect a plaster. On top of this, the answer is filled with green, if correct, and with red, if incorrect.

 

And as a final reward for all answers being correct, there is a picture saying “Congratulations.”

 

2, How does it work?

~ Checking the answers

Each answer is checked through a macro. Next to each answer are four pictures laid one on each other, the top picture being a white background hiding all others underneath. The correct answer runs macro that removes the top white square uncovering the Doc McStuffins picture as a reward. The macro that runs after incorrect answer deletes the top white square, the Doc McStuffins underneath it, and also the white square floating above the plaster. So basically it removes three layers of pictures.

 

Both macros then unhide the row above and give user new task.

 

In the cells where answers are provided, conditional formatting is used to give the cell appropriate fill, either green, or red.

 

~ Checking whether all answers are correct

This is achieved by calculating the difference between the answer provided by user and between the correct answer checked by Excel itself. If the difference is 0, the answer is correct.

Then the SUM of all differences is pulled into the master cell, which again, if all differences are 0, means all answers are correct, and in case its value is different than 0, at least one answer is incorrect, in which case the reward picture message won’t be displayed.

 

~ Commands/Macros

Again, I decided to execute the checks by user. So there are macro enabled buttons next to each equation to execute this.

 

Within the last macro there’s also a code that checks whether all answers are correct and unhides the message with congratulations text.

 

~ Coding

Here’s the full code for the challenge:

Macro to delete pictures based on answer being either correct, or incorrect:

Sub Delete_White1()

‘ Delete_White1 Macro


If (Range(“F16”).Value = 9) Then
ActiveSheet.Shapes.Range(Array(“Pic 3A”)).Select
Selection.Delete
Range(“G2”).Select
Rows(“15:15”).Select
Selection.EntireRow.Hidden = False
Range(“F16”).Select
With Selection.Interior
.Pattern = xlSolid
.PatternColorIndex = xlAutomatic
.Color = 5296274
.TintAndShade = 0
.PatternTintAndShade = 0
End With
Range(“F15”).Select

End If


If (Range(“F16”).Value <> 9) Then
ActiveSheet.Shapes.Range(Array(“Pic 3A”)).Select
Selection.Delete
Range(“G2”).Select
ActiveSheet.Shapes.Range(Array(“Picture 43”)).Select
Selection.Delete
Range(“G2”).Select
ActiveSheet.Shapes.Range(Array(“Pic 3”)).Select
Selection.Delete
Range(“G2”).Select
Rows(“15:15”).Select
Selection.EntireRow.Hidden = False
Range(“F16”).Select
With Selection.Interior
.Pattern = xlSolid
.PatternColorIndex = xlAutomatic
.Color = 255
.TintAndShade = 0
.PatternTintAndShade = 0
End With
Range(“F15”).Select

End If

Rows(“15:15”).Select
Selection.EntireRow.Hidden = False
Range(“F15”).Select
End Sub

And this is macro that uncoveres the Well done! message:

Sub WellDone()

‘ WellDone Macro


ActiveSheet.Shapes.Range(Array(“Picture 101”)).Select
Selection.Delete
End Sub
Sub HideAll()

‘ HideAll Macro


Rows(“2:17”).Select
Selection.EntireRow.Hidden = True
End Sub

 

Sample pictures

doc mc stuffin math 1

doc mc stuffin math 2

correct incorrect

doc mc stuffin math 4

doc mc stuffin math 3

 

~ Possible improvements

 

1, It was suggested that instead of deleting the white background pictures covering the pictures I want to display I could use a True / False statement code to make whichever of the two I need visible, or invisible. (This wouldn’t make a difference for user, but would be easier to write and would give possibility to restart the challenge.)

 

2, Randomization of the equations automatically as soon as the file is open

 

~

 

So,

 

this is my second attempt at designing a Math challenge for young children. I might have explained this in previous post, but I will explain it again (just in case). The idea of designing these challenges comes from a chat with my Excel guru, who cleverly suggested that the best way is fine learning Excel is to play with it. Now to play with it, it’s probably good if one can have some challenge on mind. So to give myself a motivation I decided to kill two birds with one stone and I set up a target of creating a few math challenge templates for young children, including my daughter, which, in the end, could be used by any user who wants to teach his/her children math and computer skills in a simple, but visually appealing way.

 

I also wanted to create a little Excel portfolio of my own designs to be able to give anyone about idea about my Excel skills. So that’s why this blog.  And I also want to have a little platform for sharing creative Excel ideas with others.

So if you have any, please get in touch.

 

Download:

Full Excel file can be downloaded from here >>>

Learning Excel #1, Designing Math Challenge For Young Children, Template #1

Standard

Hello all,

It is a long time since I have written something and I kind of miss writing and while I am waiting for some brilliant idea for some short story, I decided to create a little section on my blog where I will be writing about my progress on learning new Excel skills.

One of the reasons why I am doing that is my obsession with documentation of what I do and also, to have some platform where I can get some feedback from more knowledgeable folks. Because I’m only a beginner in visual basic and it takes me a while to get appropriate advice from forums. Plus, apparently, journaling is good method of feeling good about one’s life.

That should be enough for brief introduction.

Now let me present you my first work. A simple math template that I have created for my daughter.

1, The idea
The idea is pretty simple. Although to execute it took me quite a while. But I learned a lot during the process.

The template is based on 10 simple equations, each of which has got a reference cell to show whether the answer is correct, or not. The correct answer gets a green smiley face and an incorrect answer gets a red frown face.
On top of that, if all 10 answers are correct, a nice picture is displayed as a “reward”.

2, How does it work?
~ Checking the answers
Each answer is checked through the conditional formatting. If the answer is correct, the cell with answer is filled with green, if not the fill is red. Next to each cell with answer is another cell into which a smiley, or frown face is pulled from a hidden referencing column. In those cells, again, conditional formatting is used to give the cell matching filling, again, either green, or red.

~ Checking whether all answers are correct
This is achieved by calculating the difference between the answer provided by user and between the correct answer checked by Excel itself. If the difference is 0, the answer is correct.
Then the SUM of all differences is pulled into the master cell, which again, if all differences are 0, means all answers are correct, and in case its value is different than 0, at least one answer is incorrect, in which case the reward picture won’t be displayed.

~ Commands/Macros
I decided to execute the checks by user. It was suggested to me, that I could have had an automated check run as soon as the last answer is provided, which I have to admit, was a relevant suggestion. I however wanted my daughter to get used to using a mouse and check it herself. I also wanted her to be able to restart the challenge manually. So there are two macro enabled buttons to execute this. One that checks the answers, and one that restarts the task.

~ Coding
Here’s the full code for the challenge:

Sub Check_Answers()

‘ Check_Answers Macro


Columns(“G:G”).Select
Selection.EntireColumn.Hidden = False
Range(“E14”).Select
If (Range(“L12”).Value = 0) Then

Columns(“K:K”).Select
Selection.EntireColumn.Hidden = False
Range(“E14”).Select

End If

End Sub
Sub Start_Again()

‘ Start_Again Macro


Range(“F2:F11”).Select
Selection.ClearContents
Columns(“G:G”).Select
Selection.EntireColumn.Hidden = True
Columns(“K:K”).Select
Selection.EntireColumn.Hidden = True
Range(“F2”).Select
End Sub

~ Pictures to give idea

image

image

image

image

image

image

~ Possible improvements

1, Automated macro to check all the answers and display the final result as soon as the last answer is provided

2, Randomization of the equations automatically as soon as the file is open

~

So this is my first post about my learning using VBA and designing in Excel. If you have any comments, or suggestions please let me know in comments.
Please remember that I am not an expert, but I hope that at some point in future, I will be. I couldn’t imagine Excel being fun, but surprisingly it is.

Download:
Full Excel file can be downloaded from here >>>

Who are you?

Standard

Who am I?

Recently, my brother asked me this (seemingly) simple question – Who are you?
Same question that a caterpillar asked Alice in the famous book by Lewis Carroll.

The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.
‘Who are you?’ said the Caterpillar.

This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, ‘I — I hardly know, sir, just at present — at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.’
‘What do you mean by that?’ said the Caterpillar sternly. ‘Explain yourself!’

I obviously didn’t go through anything like Alice in the book about her adventures in Wonderland, but this rather important question (because does not all knowledge start with self-knowledge?) still leaves me puzzled and I promised to my brother, that I will come back to him once I figure it out.

It seems that the trickiest part is, that we are so many things, sometimes at once. Although I am sure that underneath of all the things that we are, is our true identity, something that doesn’t change, something that always is. And ours is the search for the master key that unlocks not only all the doors leading to this true self, but also the final door opening the chamber where our self resides.
I can tell you honestly, that I am still not in possession of my master key to my self. I recognise my roles sometimes, but it seems that I am not what I do, or don’t do, what I feel, or don’t feel, those things are something I experience through being (myself), but I am not them. So, would it be easier to start putting down the things that I am not and whatever is left after I found what I am not, must be what I am? It could be an interesting investigation, but there definitely is more things that I’m not than those that I am.

By the worldwide recognised agreement of identification I am Slovakian male, born on 15th February 1978 and I am pretty sure many institutions know a lot about my work, life, financial situation, browsing habits and so on. If I wanted to be paranoid, I could probably imagine that somewhere our there, there is my file with information about my person. But again, I am not that file. If such file exists, it barely touches the surface of who I am. I am probably just a number to them. But as I said before, it’s not about what they label me as, it is all about what I see myself as. (I think I am good at avoiding answering questions I don’t like answering. But I found this one to be very interesting and so I decided to write a bit more about it.) And that is something I am trying to understand.

I just remembered how we were told in a philosophy class on the high school, that one shall know his self. The search for self-knowledge was already common in the ancient Greece.

The Ancient Greek aphorism “know thyself” (Greek: γνῶθι σεαυτόν, transliterated: gnōthi seauton; also … σαυτόν … sauton with the ε contracted), is one of the Delphic maxims and was inscribed in the pronaos (forecourt) of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi according to the Greek periegetic (travelogue) writer Pausanias (10.24.1).

But to know one’s self is a never-ending task because one’s self, same as the proverbial river is never the same.

But why is it important to know who we are? And could it be that there would be time when we know exactly who we are and then, something happens and we no longer know? As little as I know about myself (how little I don’t know, but let’s say that agree with Socratic view that to know is to know we don’t know anything), I still appreciate my own consciousness, able to observe and be aware of itself. How sad it must be to completely forget who we are? And yet it happens.

I am (amongst others) reading a book by Oliver Sacks “Man who mistook his wife for a hat” and there, in almost every story, is an ever-present sense of forgetting who one once was. Probably, the same we are dying every day a little, we forget every day a little. Probably it’s all just shedding layers of who we aren’t until there’s no more to shed and only who we are remains. And I guess until I have shed all the layers of what I am not, I will not know myself fully.

Recently I read an obituary of my big inspiration Zina Nicole Lahr, where it said Zina Nicole (Gambitsky) Lahr went to see her Lord. I try not to bee too religious, although I do believe in God, but something in that short sentence made me realise that it might as well be that we the will never know who we are until we meet our Maker. And it is probably good this way.

PS: “Dear brother, look how much I had to write to find out who I am? But right now, after I deleted the last paragraph, I got an idea of who I am, and I can honestly say, that I believe it. I am a soul on its way home. It might not be the answer you are expected, but you probably know by know, that sometimes, well more often than not, life doesn’t give you what you expect.”

~ I will be intrigued to hear from you who you think, or feel you are. Please comment or email to: thequietfurnace@googlemail.com

On being human amongst human

Standard

A re-view of a journey there and back

16-17. February 2015

Last three days (from 13th till 15th February) have been really interesting for me and I am unsure how to describe their magic in words. I feel like I can only miserably fail in attempting to do so, but I will try anyway. Although I’m not a fan of cheesy motivational quotes, I will use one now, it’s from Bob Proctor and it’s actually a good one (and not too cheesy either):

“If you know what to do to reach your goal, it’s not a big enough goal.”

So, here’s to attempting the impossible…

On Friday, the 13th, on the way home from work, I mind-travelled back to the moment I learned about Zina Nicole Lahr as it would have been her 25th birthday that day and after reading her essay Contrast And Catalyst (Click to download pdf. It’s beautiful, beautiful, beautiful and as far as I know it has disappeared from internet ) for about tenth time I felt the same connection to her as I felt back then (The only difference was, that this time I had a conscious knowledge of who she was and I was desperately trying to figure out why do I feel connected to her and why she occasionally comes to haunt my day dreams with her fragile, aetheric, otherworldly beauty.)

I wanted to celebrate her birthday, but I didn’t know how. (Not long ago I met a girl who told me to fucking forget about Zina and to concentrate on the real life instead. In a way it felt like an insult, like if she didn’t understand that every thought we think is real and that a person can be dead and still be a catalyst, an agent that provokes changes and actions and we should not be judged if we somehow found ourselves attracted to such being. Because what if each life silently continues after it disappears from this world, where we can witness and measure it? It might go unnoticed, unobserved, unsung, but so what? It might as well be, that it is simply us who don’t pay enough attention to what goes around us, after all who knows? … )

In a painful moment of realization that I will never meet her, I sort of promised myself to remember her through creativity. Through manifestation of myself via any act of creating, whether it’s writing, drawing, photography, or a paper modelling. And it was shortly after all this happened that I found another beautiful American, Jennifer Pastiloff. Once again, my moth like personality felt attracted to her flame immediately. It too happened through her writing. But this time it wasn’t as much about what she has written, or how (although its beauty and power is undisputed and I loved everything she has written). It was the courage with which she has written it. The rawness of her essays. The willingness to look the pain in the eye and the humility which shone through her after she came victorious from what must have been exhaustively tiring staring contest. I just love female warriors. I decided I must meet her. And talk to her, like one human being to another. I wanted to see her, not visually, I wanted to witness the poetry of her being.

And soon she pulled a workshop in London and although the yoga bit and the seemingly feminine character of it all scared me, I booked it immediately. That was in November 2014.

~

“No agenda, no conspiracy, no manipulation. Just work, work, work. The Great Work. It is not a safe place. But it is the safest place that has left for us on Mirrodin.”

~ Shaan, Mirran refugee on The Quiet Furnace

~

During that time I created this blog, The Quiet Furnace. Finally, after years of trying to come up with the idea of the virtual world, where I could create and manifest myself, I got the name for my domain. A name I loved and that I felt describes my deepest beliefs. Once again I had a reason to write.

So I followed Jen and I began to wonder what it tells about me. It appeared that no one from my friends understood what I felt to her and I started to doubt myself in my silent, almost obsessive, observation of her activities. Although I always believed in trying to tell others about the way we see the world and sharing each other’s stories, it seemed that no one listens. But that is when we have to keep going and believing. When we lose the reason to go further. It is then when we discover the truth behind ourselves. And who we are. The motive behind what we do.

During Christmas I got lost. Totally lost. I suffered from insomnia and everything seemed dark. It was then when I felt like a Void Stalker (if I will ever form a band, it will be called The Void Stalkers). But I was reminded, that not all who wander are lost. So I accepted, that I am just a wanderer.

There were hundreds of quotes I read during January and early February, but they didn’t resonate as much as their creators intended to. I got fed up with them, with all the attempts to tell me to be happy. I, as everyone else, want to be happy. We deserve that, sure. But I don’t believe in some sort of switch that you just turn on and voilà, you’re happy. Although it was said in the workshop I attended and I am going to describe it later on, there’s one thing I would like to tell you right now, it is human and perfectly fine to feel sad for a while every day. Even every single day. It is the contrast between the happiness and sadness that moves us forward. It felt so refreshingly liberating to hear this. That the moment of sadness, each and every day is ok, because it fucking is.

~

“I was there when they asked him about the refugees. I have seen his hesitation and the pain the question have caused him. But what he said after three days of thinking about it, didn’t surprise me at all. I believe he already knew his fate and that even if he decided the opposite, it would make no difference. It was then when I witnessed his truest leadership and majesty.”

~ Hezrig, The Furnace Chief Designer on Urabrask’s Decree

~

The day of the workshop finally arrived. Since I am an anti-Valentine and I hate the stereotype that is associated with February the 14th, it felt wonderful to be able to do something random and unrelated on this day. I left Nottingham at 8:50 and the journey to London was nice and peaceful. The event page on Facebook started to fill up with comments from those who were attending and I felt I am becoming a part of the tribe. This might be slightly against me, but I have to confess that I always adored the tribes led by females. Even in Magic The Gathering (the card game I love playing), the only male character I was really able to connect with was Urabrask. It was always the angels and elvish female warriors I felt strongest about. Is that wrong? Well, judge me if you want, I don’t feel bad about it. It seems that when a woman decides to stand up against something with a weapon in her hand, it is a not because she wants to conquer, or enslave, but it is because she wants to protect and preserve. That’s the only fight I believe in. Men and weapons, that’s completely different story if you ask me… And that’s why I love Urabrask, despite his monstrous appearance and terrifying, deadly power he is not an ultimate killing machine. His true task is not to fight and kill, but to work, work, work. Tirelessly and efficiently. I can connect with that.

I arrived to London at 12 o’clock and I managed to find the studio where the workshop was to be held at shortly after 1pm. I decided to spend the time until it starts in a near pub, Hammersmith Ram. Sitting in the comfy leather chair, drinking local ale, I began to feel really alive and on a journey. I forgot how good does that feel! To go out of the door and into the unknown.

This started to feel like a journal entry, rather then an essay (but I am not going to apologize for that dear reader), which is what I was going to write, but I hope you will enjoy it nevertheless. It’s pretty simple story and you might find it boring, but maybe, maybe when you look deep into your own soul you will, same as I did, decide to go somewhere, meet someone and let the life lead you out of your comfort zone. Because it seems, that that’s where the best things are happening.

When I heard Jennifer’s voice walking upstairs into the studio, I had a moment of hesitation. I didn’t want to turn back, but it was then when the reality hit me.

I’m here. It is happening.

And the I saw her and she was every inch as beautiful and charming as she was in her Don’t be an asshole posts. (For those who don’t know me, I have a history of following celebrities and I sort of travel to see them. I think of it as my own little social experiment to prove that underneath all that gold and glitter is the same human fragility as in the rest of us. And when I see that the person, who I admire, or respect, already knows this and shows no superiority over the others, I feel connected and I move on knowing I met a beautiful human being. I guess in a way this is how I train my sense of feeling connected, exposing myself to a situation where I either realize I was following a total idiot, or someone who is truly worth my attention. There seems to be no middle ground.)

It felt good to be able to greet Jennifer as an old friend. I am not saying that that’s what we are, we are friends, at the time of writing this, I feel like I can say we are very good friends, but I fully understand that our lives are different and we won’t be hanging out together frequently. But that’s not the only thing that friends do. They inspire, encourage and motivate each other. Then there’s trust, openness, freedom. And work, work, work. On improving what is. Especially one’s self.

After the greeting with Jen I changed into my shorts and went into the room where whatever it was that we came there for, was going to happen.

It was one thing to greet Jennifer and another thing to meet another forty other women. I surprisingly didn’t panic at all. Although, I was a bit nervous. I was definitely out of my comfort zone. But it felt good. I felt accepted. Although I couldn’t help to feel like a visitor, an observer, rather than the true part of the tribe. I felt like an explorer who discovered a new species of birds and had a rare opportunity to watch them closely, very closely. They danced, they sang, they laughed, they cried. But most of all, they manifested the nature’s strongest message – be who you are and be proud of it.

~

We all know what the F word is, right? But in this workshop I learned that it actually isn’t Fuck, if that’s what you thought. It is…

F E A R…

We all realized that it is fear that is stopping us from being who we truly are. We also discovered, that fear is not going to go away. It is imprinted onto our hearts and souls. The trick isn’t to fight with fear, the trick is in accepting it and doing things despite being afraid. So the fight I was getting ready for all this time isn’t necessary. It’s consuming, tiring and futile. We cannot conquer our fears. (If someone thinks he, or she can, that’s fine. I don’t think I can, or want to.)

I think giving up fighting the fear will give us more power and energy to focus on life and its beauty instead.

I believe in beauty hunting. I truly and passionately do. Beauty will not come to to you and disclose itself. You have to hunt it. Imagine if a game came to a hunter and lied down solemnly to be shot. That’s bullshit, right? It is the hunter who must go and find it. In this sense, I am a beauty hunter. It is a tribe I am proud to belong to.

image

~

So what else happened in the workshop?

Well, I guess we were telling stories. We were listening to each other and oh, happy birthday was sang to me with Jennifer sitting right next to me, whole room sang me the happy birthday song. That was pretty awesome. Thank you.

I have seen the beauty in everyone around me. Each one of us trusted the rest. When we were told to write a letter to ourselves from someone who loves us, Jennifer told us, that it will be intense and we might cry. Fuck that, I thought. Boy, I couldn’t be more wrong…

I chose to write this letter as if it was my daughter Anneke who was writing it. Two minutes after my pen touched the paper I was sobbing. So was more than half of the room. I tried do fight it and then gave up. So I cried in front of, or better, amongst forty-fifty other human beings. It felt good. Strange, but good. Relieving.

After the workshop, there was wine. It was all so unconventional. I think Jen’s only rule she politely gave us at the beginning of the workshop was:

“Do what you want, just be human.”

We ended up in the restaurant right next to the studio and we had a little bit of food and some drinks. I made some new friends and with one of them I left and wandered the night streets of London. She accompanied me all the way to the Victoria Coach Station (we managed to get lost, thanks to my ridiculously poor navigation skills and we had to be saved by a Spanish girl to which I am eternally grateful for not missing my coach) and we had a quick beer in the near pub.

I haven’t been capable of understanding the importance of what I have been to, but even in my mildly intoxicated mind I knew I have witnessed beauty. An extraordinary beauty. I normally reserve the word beautiful for children and the fascinating manifestations of nature’s creativity, but I feel like I could actually use it to describe everyone who came to the workshop. It would feel right. Oh yes it would…

~

“Never let your child come this close to me again Mirran! I have no intention of killing any of you, but I also won’t let any of you to halt even the smallest of my works. We work, we don’t fight. But that doesn’t mean we can’t kill.”

~ Urabrask to unknown Mirran refugee

~

image

PS: Thank you to all who turned up. I am glad I could have been part of it. Jennifer, I am not sure if I deserved to be called an angel of this tribe by you, but I will resist my urge to prove you wrong. If that’s what you think and feel, I might as well try to live up to your high expectations of me.

 

Here’s to attempting the impossible…

I am a worrier, not a warrior

Standard

I think one of my weakest (if not the weakest) points is worrying. I worry a lot. In Slovakia we have a beautiful metaphor for worrying (or for thinking negatively) – to paint a devil on the wall. If there would be a competition in painting the devil on the wall I’ll be probably getting the first prize without much of an effort. I’m so natural in this highly unappreciated craft. Oh God, I probably painted a whole hell over the years of worrying!

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse (because we can get used to almost anything, so I got accustomed to my obsession with worrying), it did. I don’t remember that moment precisely, but it felt so unbelievably dreadful when I read that what we think creates our reality in return. I immediately found myself in one huge vicious circle:

I worry >>> it creates negative reality >>> negative reality makes me worry >>> so I worry and it starts again…

Almost every book about improving life I read since then says: “Change the way you think and your whole life will change”. I believe that this is the way to go, to change the thinking. I’m just not sure how exactly. Sometimes I feel like a fish that was told that the only way to enjoy the beauty of the world is from the above. And that fish somehow believed that and instead of focusing on improving its watery life, concentrating on enjoying its beautiful surroundings, it speculates about getting up there so it can make its dull life meaningful, because nothing worth living for hides in the cold depths of the waters it inhabits.

Now of course that’s a bullshit. But just because something is a total bullshit, it doesn’t mean that someone will not fall into believing it. And I don’t think it is about being stupid, naive or uneducated. As I was finishing the last sentence and I wasn’t sure how to continue a picture came into my mind. It was an idea of a parasite infected mind, which after being intruded simply needs some sort of host to survive, it needs some sort of belief that it can hold onto, suck it. I dwould want to hope that symbiotic relationship between mind, body, spirit and the world of ideas does exist and it’s possible to build and maintain, but same as in the outer world, such relationship requires almost ideal conditions. Of which there aren’t many for no species on this planet.

Even now, after reading the draft of this post I feel slightly pessimistic about my writing. I almost wanted to close the file unsaved, asking myself what is the point of all of this? It is as if I was constantly doubting myself and needed to be assured that what I do matters. Somewhere deep, in the place where the roots of whatever parasite my mind was infiltrated by haven’t reached yet, I believe that what I do matters. That this writing matters. I might not know exactly how and I might not be capable of appreciating it fully, but the idea of reaching out to the world of ideas and trying to bring some of them into this world always intrigued me and I always felt truly alive after I have been there and back. So maybe every text anyone has written is a memory of some vaguely remembered travel into the world of ideas and same as with travelling here, what will we discover and what stories will we bring back depends on how well we are looking around us and how far (hight, deep) we dare to wander.

This morning I saw a post on Facebook saying “Overthinking is the biggest cause of our unhappiness.” Well, it seems to be the same thing as worrying. It robs us of the present. And it eventually creates a future we didn’t want. I think I painted more than enough devils already. It probably would be impossible to erase them all, to wash all the walls clean, but I could try to re-paint them with some more positive pictures.

I think it sounds like a plan…

We all are our own canvas

Standard

~ Dedicated to beautiful and aetheric Zina Nicole Lahr, thank you for being here…  (*13/02/1990 †20/11/2013)

It is a couple of months ago since I found out who was Zina Nicole Lahr. After discovering who she was I went through a period of intense exploration of her works and writings and I felt like there is some sort of hidden message, craftily, but delicately encrypted, written just for me. There was something familiar in almost every single word she has written (some sentences made me stop and just breathe for a while), it was as if I recognised the very essence of life so close to mine in each and one of them. It wasn’t about what she was doing, or the way she was doing it, it was why she was doing it. And her self diagnosis of Creative Compulsive Disorder was just hilarious. How many times have you heard about someone making up a new name for his own condition? Now if that’s not great storytelling than I don’t know what is. 

The force behind her creativity seemed to be the same that has been at the beginning of everything. (I am not a religious person, although I respect almost every single religion without a harsh judgment (because who am I to judge anyway?). But I find it difficult to completely follow any of them. What I however firmly believe in, is The Creator. It is simply unimaginable to me that I, a conscious being, would have come here as a mere result of a long chain of unconscious accidents. It is like in Jim Holt’s book, I cannot imagine how something could have come out of nothing. And although this something at the very beginning of everything is not much more imaginable than nothing, I have found the concept of an absolute consciousness and creativity being the reason why the world(s) exists more believable.) And it’s this simple belief through which I immediately felt attracted to Zina. Her way of feeling here, in body, to which she almost always referred to as a vessel, her testimony of absolute necessity to create to escape the heaviness of her body simply mesmerised me.

I avoided calling it love, because it felt confusing, but every other word was falling short of describing it so I decided to accept that what I felt towards her was love. I think that love has got nothing to do with being attracted physically to someone, or something, but instead, it is all about recognising something otherworldly familiar in a person, or an action. It’s like remembering. And it is creative… I think you’re in love when you want to make things (happen)…

We’re all just walking each other home.
~ Ram Dass

Although I think I can be quite creative in a few areas, it was her writing which I immediately fell in love with and without trying to replicate any of it, I somehow felt called to write my soul out in the similar way she did. I think it was the first time in a very long time that I realised how important and sacred it is to be authentic. And that, as it was Zina’s case, we each should be our own canvas. We are here to be our own masterpieces. And we are here to witness beauty, in everything. Because if each of us would become his own canvas, this Earth would become one big gallery. (To some enlightened masters it already is.)

Without art, the Earth is just Eh…
~ unknown

I am fully aware of the fact that there are so many blogs and pages on the internet these days, that the best I can hope for is a few trusty readers, but that’s probably all I need. At this point I am not aiming to achieve anything more. This is my stomping ground. My little empire. My gallery. I don’t want to pathetically copycat Zina, but I almost feel like I want to diagnose myself with Writing Compulsive Disorder. I somehow have to write. It might not be to everyone’s liking, but nothing ever is to everyone’s liking. I would dare to think that no great writer was writing to gain fame, or any perishable riches. It is exactly as an amazing writer Rainer Maria Rilke puts it in his first letter to a young poet:

Paris
February 17, 1903
Dear Sir,

     Your letter arrived just a few days ago. I want to thank you for the great confidence you have placed in me. That is all I can do. I cannot discuss your verses; for any attempt at criticism would be foreign to me. Nothing touches a work of art so little as words of criticism: they always result in more or less fortunate misunderstandings. Things aren’t all so tangible and sayable as people would usually have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered, and more unsay able than all other things are works of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life.

     With this note as a preface, may I just tell you that your verses have no style of their own, although they do have silent and hidden beginnings of something personal. I feel this most clearly in the last poem, “My Soul.” There, some thing of your own is trying to become word and melody. And in the lovely poem “To Leopardi” a kind of kinship with that great, solitary figure does perhaps appear. Nevertheless, the poems are not yet anything in themselves, not yet any thing independent, even the last one and the one to Leopardi. Your kind letter, which accompanied them managed to make clear to me various faults that I felt in reading your verses, though I am not able to name them specifically.

     You ask whether your verses are any good. You ask me. You have asked others before this. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are upset when certain editors reject your work. Now (since you have said you want my advice) I beg you to stop doing that sort of thing. You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you – no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must”, then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose. Don’t write love poems; avoid those forms that are too facile and ordinary: they are the hardest to work with, and it takes a great, fully ripened power to create something individual where good, even glorious, traditions exist in abundance. So rescue yourself from these general themes and write about what your everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty Describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty and no poor, indifferent place. And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world’s sound – wouldn’t you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attention to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance. And if out of , this turning within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to interest magazines in these works: for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it. So, dear Sir, I can’t give you any advice but this: to go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows; at its source you will find the answer to, the question of whether you must create. Accept that answer, just as it is given to you, without trying to interpret it. Perhaps you will discover that you are called to be an artist. Then take that destiny upon yourself, and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without ever asking what reward might come from outside. For the creator must be a world for himself and must find everything in himself and in Nature, to whom his whole life is devoted.

     But after this descent into yourself and into your solitude, perhaps you will have to renounce becoming a poet (if, as I have said, one feels one could live without writing, then one shouldn’t write at all). Nevertheless, even then, this self searching that I ask of you will not have been for nothing. Your life will still find its own paths from there, and that they may be good, rich, and wide is what I wish for you, more than I can say.

     What else can I tell you? It seems to me that everything has its proper emphasis; and finally I want to add just one more bit of advice: to keep growing, silently and earnestly, through your whole development; you couldn’t disturb it any more violently than by looking outside and waiting for outside answers to questions that only your innermost feeling, in your quietest hour, can perhaps answer.

     It was a pleasure for me to find in your letter the name of Professor Horacek; I have great reverence for that kind, learned man, and a gratitude that has lasted through the years. Will you please tell him how I feel; it is very good of him to still think of me, and I appreciate it.

     The poem that you entrusted me with, I am sending back to you. And I thank you once more for your questions and sincere trust, of which, by answering as honestly as I can, I have tried to make myself a little worthier than I, as a stranger, really am.

Yours very truly,

Rainer Maria Rilke

PS: I was thinking of inserting links to Zina’s blogs and some other pages at the end of this post, but I decided to let you explore her beautiful personality (if you want to) through your own personal journey like I did. Sometimes (like today), I just type her name in Google and I click on any interesting result that’s brought up, or I just have a look at one of her blogs (sadly I just discovered her normallyodd.com page is awaiting renewal, or deletion and I know which if the two it’s going to be…). I understand that we live in the times when people want to know things about others and I am ok with that (I’m no different), but sometimes I think that the vast majority of those in who’s lives are people interested is not worth half of the publicity they get. And although I am not a fan of any massively popular celebrity, or a public figure (to the content that would classify me as one), I have my favourite people, writers, bloggers, musicians (you probably haven’t heard of them, I try to connect with the lesser tribes). But from all of them, writers are my most favourite. As much as I can appreciate a beautiful painting, or a photograph, I found the pictures, that a great storytelling creates in my mind, much more intriguing. So this post is also a kind of thank you message to any person who’s writing has affected and inspired me. My dream is to say this thank you in person to you. Sadly, I will not be able to say it to Zina… I’m still sad about that…

image

Dear Jennifer (28. January 2015)

Standard

Dear Jennifer,

I couldn’t think of a better way of reaching out to you than to try to write you a letter, in which I will attempt to capture certain moments of the past few months that seem to be shifting me away from what I find secure. I am unsure if I am scared (maybe a little, you’re welcome to reply back with your own insight after you read my letter, I would love that), or if I’m just ridiculously unfamiliar with what’s happening at the moment, but I certainly am a different person than the one I was when I first met you. The things that were moving me then, don’t seem to move me as much now. Not that they don’t matter, they do, but it feels like there’s some figuring out ahead of me and… I am sort of lost, or, let’s use a hobbit language, that seems appropriate, wandering.

I just purchased a yoga mat for the London workshop with you and I thought of you immediately. I’m not a yoga person and I am not sure if I will ever become one (I would probably love to, but I would also love to become a vegan and also many other things and I can’t see any of them happening any time soon, it’s like an ideal I wouldn’t like to aspire to, but there’s few other things I need to sort out first).

~ Since you’re coming to the country where hobbits were born, I would dare to make a parallel here; I almost feel like Frodo on his journey to the Mount Doom and I imagined you as Galadriel. I have absolutely no idea how I will really feel when we  will meet, but I somehow feel that this little journey is important to me. I’m not expecting any help, or advice from you (“Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill.”
― Gildor Inglorion), but I feel that meeting you and me making my little journey to London will mean something, although it’s impossible to say what exactly (it’s quite a long time since I felt this excited about going somewhere and it is a great thing to feel!). ~

I had a bit of a writer’s block you see. As much as I am excited about writing and I constantly draft posts and stories in my head, I wasn’t able to sit down to actually let them appear on the screen of my computer. I have gone through a short, but intense period of depression and insomnia during Christmas holiday and I had some health issues that made me feel very anxious and because they still persist, my mind is still not at peace and casts shadows on my days. But I am writing you this letter to see what it’s like to write, even when it doesn’t feel as easy as I hope it would. I want to witness myself being able to walk through this dark wood of uncertainty. For we never only walk in the light of the sun and some beauty is only found after we have crossed some darkness (and the darkness is not only found outside, some of the darkest darkness can be found inside and it’s probably this darkness that we must fight and conquer to come to terms with to become the beautiful beings we are meant to be).

~ ‘It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered, full of darkness and danger they were. Sometimes you didn’t want to know the end, because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when there’s so much bad that had happened? But in the end it’s only a passing thing, this shadow; even darkness must pass.’ – Samwise Gamgee ~

You know, one of the questions I ask myself lately (which I would like to be answered in your Dear life section, please remind me later to submit it there, or just share this post with whoever manages it) is:

If all that you love and like doing will suddenly become impossible to do, what if things you were once doing with passion and freedom and without much effort will become very difficult, painful and scary to do? What if you would lose some important part of yourself, or forget something profound about your own being? What if you will find yourself in the middle of darkness so great that the mere idea of getting out seems so foolish, what if it’s actually unimaginable? Where to look for the strength, hope and beauty to enjoy life, can we actually enjoy life while we wander in the dark?

(I’m not saying I am in such place, but I have to confess that I experienced a short glimpse into the Sauron’s eye and it was enough to bring me to my knees. But eventually, I rose and accepted that I must carry on… )

So you see Jennifer, I haven’t forgotten about you. Every day I couldn’t write, because of my block, I was thinking of you (almost every day). I know I owe this to me, that I myself must be my own reason to write and although I chose to write you a letter, rather than coming up with a story, or an essay, I am sure you will understand. One of the most beautiful things I learnt from you is not to be afraid to connect with people who I feel connection to. To go out and seek the same kindred spirit. I think this is the true beauty of being human, to keep untangling the invisible threads of web that connects us all.

~  I always loved the way you communicated yourself out on social networks. I always loved your “Don’t be an asshole” agenda. Some people around me think you’re crazy. I have to apologise for not trying to argue with them. I don’t know whether you’re crazy or not, and I don’t care, I think I have seen what I needed to see in you and I fell in love with it. I think I loved you from the first post I read from you. (I hope I don’t need to explain this any further. I think I recognised something profound in you. I think in you I found a long lost friend.) ~

~ I think I’ll end my letter, it started to snow and it’s windy like hell. I have a few more stops on the bus till I get off and in my Osprey backpack I’m carrying four beers to enjoy later (not all four). I hope you get nicer winter in US than we get over here in UK. It’s pretty rubbish winter here if you ask me. But anyway, I hope you’re doing well and I shall see you soon. Until then …  keep hunting the beauty as you always do, you’re pretty damn good at it girl!

PS: After reading one of the posts you shared (Pajama Soup; Part 1), I felt a bit ashamed for not feeling happy with what I have got. I almost wanted to ask myself “Why the fuck aren’t you happy?”, but I didn’t ask that. I guess we each carry our own cross and it’s almost impossible to judge one another (and it’s a very unwise thing to do – judging). So I sort of accepted that I am who I am and I feel what I feel. No one can be me, only I can do that. So I won’t punish myself for feeling shit about things that seem so pathetic and little now, also a bit less painful after I read about someone else’s battle. I don’t control how I feel. I can probably work on how I react to what’s happening, but it seems impossible to control feelings. Can you do that?

As this is a letter and not a post, that I want to polish until it’s perfect and shining with wisdom and beauty, I would like to dare to keep it a bit raw. If there’s one thing I always loved about you, it’s the pure rawness of your beauty, your attitude of unstoppable effort of finding a beauty in everything. Even in the most painful moments. For this, I will always respect you like no one else.