You are now writing about portals

I’d like to note that I am not a gamer. I can’t seem to manage to be chronically addicted to video games, as do most of my male peers. Sure I have had periods where I played a few certain games, but this persistence in playing them was probably because I managed beat a level, and I was beginning to feel skilled. No matter why, those times are rare; I can’t get hooked to Diablo, NFS, Fifa, Counter Strike, Call of Duty, Warcraft, Starcraft, Minecraft. However, there is one game that I adore more than any other: Portal.

When it came out, I wanted to play it for it looked cool and minimalistic, and, of course, I could portal myself (almost) elsewhere on the map. The first few hours, I was engrossed by the games design, and the portals, and didn’t pay much or any attention the details of the environment or the GLaDOS updates after completion of the test chambers. I played to a certain stage, after which I didn’t play for a good two months. It failed to hook me at first, but when I got bored at times, I turned the game on, and something occurred to me: GLaDOS is a rather silly and evil character. I played a YouTube video featuring quotes from the game, and clarity ensued. I paid attention to what she was saying, and it was hilarious at time, and at other times she sounded quite diabolical, and I finally became a fan of the franchise.

Several years later Portal 2 came out, and it easily became my favorite game, not to mention it is the only game I have ever been able to play until the very end. The game was an exquisite piece of art, the same way the prequel was, and the puzzles and settings were quite engaging. The thing about the game that I liked the most though, was how sticky it was. The funny names of the devices (Thermal Discouragement Beam; Aerial Faith Plate; Material Emancipation Grill; Redemption Line; Unstationary Scaffold), the intricate, grimly humorous ways in which GLaDOS expressed herself, the childish voices of the sentry turrets trying to kill me, the references to potatoes and lemons (which I view as uncommon for things taking action in a state of the art research facilitiy, such as Aperture). It’s a huge breath of fresh air in this genre of games.

Three days ago, when the idea to transform my excitement and admiration for Portal in text came, I was reading its wiki page, and something caught my attention.

The clean, spartan look to the chambers was influenced by the film The Island.

Portal had its own influences, not to mention the notion of portal usage is not entirely original.

In the end, I interpret the whole experience as the game Portal teaching me two words, which for me bear the meaning of thousands of pages: story matters.

vain

Today I deleted every entry in the field “movies” of my Facebook account, followed by every other field for sharing my favorite books, TV shows, etc. All I left is a completely blank “Likes” page. I’m not sure if it will bring any change, but yet I did it hoping so. The reason is a mini-obsession I myself became aware not too long ago. On multiple occasions when I watched movies I had one expectation: “I hope this movie is good enough for me to like it, so I can add it to my favorite movies on Facebook”.

At times I feel uneasy and unhappy that I haven’t seen a plethora of highly praised and renowned movies, not to mention when a topic relevant to some movie pops up, I would feel distinguishingly better when able to immerse myself in it with ease.

What I was trying to accomplish is to see as many meaningful, original, well scripted movies, and not too many generic combat, superhero or supernatural movies such as “JIJOE: Rise of Cobra”, “Transformers”, “Twilight”, etc. For a short period of time I was well satisfied by seeing some brilliant and genuinely stunning productions, and the first thing I did after seeing the movie, was the action of “Like”-ing it on my Facebook “Movies” section.

The downside of following this procedure was developing the mini-obsession I mention in the beginning: whenever I was seeing a movie, I shortly found myself thinking “Oh sweet, this is probably going to my favorite-movies list”. I didn’t receive the whole pleasure of seeing the film, because there were expectations regarding its quality to be met, ridiculously set by myself. I suppose, it wouldn’t be incorrect to say I wanted to add them to my FB account in order to seem more profound and open-minded towards not so popular movies. I was so happy when I finished watching Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times (which I truly liked), because it was a silent black and white movie, and usually those features aren’t ones that would appeal to most of my peers. Yet, the movie appealed quite strongly to me, and I felt compelled to share it with the miniscule number of potential people checking out my “Movies” section.

I want to see movies without expecting to add them to any public lists. I simply want to enjoy somebody’s creation, without spoiling the experience because of conceit. The root of this modest evil was the list I had created; therefore I deleted every single item in it. I don’t want to follow this pattern with the other lists, so I cleared them too. Admitting that I indulged in looking at how unique and unconventional stuff I had added to my favorites, I value genuinely liking things over contemplating them in a listed fashion.

“let’s start a riot, a riot”

My idea was to post my thoughts here so people could understand what kind of person I am and to know my views, and since English is the language that most people understand, I tried to write only in it. However, this post is about a conflict in Bulgaria, so I think the most concerned people would be Bulgarians, so I will right this post in Bulgarian.

Става въпрос за случилото се преди няколко дни убийство в Катуница. Аз лично рзбрах за събитието от гневни коментари в the social network (Facebook) и се разрових да видя от къде иде пушека. Гледах няколко репортажа, и прочетох сравнително приемливо количество коментари по темата.

Ето какво разбрах

“Фамилията на “Цар” Киро + други цигани са сгазили умишлено 19 годишно момче (аз съм на 19, и леко изтръпнах), което било влачено петнадесеттина метра. В последствие то издъхва в линейката. Живущите хора в село Катуница по един или друг начин са се чувствали застрашени/потискани от “Цар” Киро и фамилия няколко години преди настоящите събития. Това убийтво се явява като искра, даваща началото на бунт насочен срещу фамилия Рашкови. У хората се е насъбрала такова количество неприязън към беззаконието, че накрая взимат властта в свои ръце, което се изразява в подпалването на къщата на Рашкови и потрушаването на техни автомобили.” Яко накой намира нещо нередно в написаното между кавичките, да не се срамува да ме поправи.

За да бъда напълно откровен, бях изплашен колко е лесно човек да си замине по такъв начин (дори си помислих какво биха изпитали моито майка, баща, баба и дядо, ако същото би се случило с мен), но не ме обвзе омраза към цялото циганско малцинство; дори до този момент, за мен няма значение, че са цигани; има значение, че някои индивиди от това семейство може да са причината за предумишлено убийство

След това четох коментари на хора, които следя във Facebook и Google+, които са на доста по-висока стълба на интелектуалното си развитие от мен. Та тези хора не подкрепяха, дори някои бяха до известна степен отвратени от това, как може хората да изпътва такава дълбока ненавист/омраза/нетърпимост. Споменаваха, че хората изпитват такава силна омраза към Рашкови, не само поради факта, че част от тях са причина за смъртта на момчето, а също така и защото са цигани. Най-трагикомичното нещо ми се стори фактът, че една част от тези хора индирекно бяха отправили заплахи за блокиране към своите контакти, дръзнали да правят “расистки” и националистически изявления по темата; един вид не търпят толератност към мнението на хора, които имат различни от техните възгледи. (парадокс?) Щом нетолерантността по отношение на мнението МИ може да е причина някой да ме блокне, с какво право такъв човек може да прави забележки на друг за липса на толерантност? Това леко ми напомня на модата сред контакти ми на моя и по-ниска възраст да правят чистки на приятелите си: някой си е адднал 800 приятели, от които вероятно познава не повече от 200, и след известно време премахне 150-250 контакта и си постна на стената “Честито на печелившите :)” чувствайки се като Рокфелер.

Третата фаза беше разговорът, който проведох с майка си. Отначало ми се стори твърде остра, защото каза “Ами какво да мисля: циганите на сапун”. Малко се смутих, но това беше плод на недоразумение; тя е имала предвид семейство Рашкови, а аз бях разбрал въобще българските цигани. Ето какво ми каза тя: „Аз имам колеги цигани, и не изпитвам омраза към тях, или други цигани из България. Когато обаче един клан издевателства над цяло село в дълъг период от време безнаказано се достига точка на насищане. Не подкрепям хулиганството като цяло, но подкрепям опожаряването на къщата му.“

Осъзнавам, че може да има още аспекти на историята, които не са ми ясни. Въпреки всичко обаче, в момента правя обучено предположение (educated guess), че селяните казват по-голяма част от истината, а Цар Киро – не (нищо не му пречи да излъже, щом е в подобна напечена ситуация). Възоснова на информацията, която имам, и на предположението, което правя (защото нямам начин да съм сигурен в момента), съм съгласен и управдавам действията на хората запалили къщата на Кирил Рашков и фамилия.

Въпреки това, съм против събитията в Катуница да са причина за анти-цигански протести из цяла България. Не трябва да има значение, че Цар Киро и фамилия са цигани. Дори и да бяха българи, пак бих подкрепил запалването на имота им, ако това, в което ги обвинява селото, е истина. Смятам за погрешно насочването на омраза към всички цигани из мой‘та мила рОдина като цяло, когато действащото лице е един клан.

Най-малкото: знам, че няма да изключвам който и да е от моите контакти във Facebook или Google+, само заради позицията, която защитава по въпроса. Новак съм в блогването, затова съм отворен (и имам намерение да остана такъв) към критики или поправки по отношение на написаното, стига да имате правдоподобни факти, които да ги подкрепят.

SYS

Capital rev.s

It’s time for yet another of my late-bloomed revelations…hurrah!

On august 14th I had to go to Sofia so I could buy this camera – I just couldn’t let this offer slip, because the previous camera I had in mind was double the price, and I liked this one at least twice as much. I considered ordering it online, but then I thought I could travel to Sofia, just because of the fun of traveling with a train and experiencing the life and motion in the capital (and if I have to justify this choice of mine in a financial manner – it is cheaper for me to travel to the capital and buy the camera there, than it is to have it shipped in Dimitrovgrad) The trip was quite interesting, but the reason I write this article is that I had a complex I was unaware of – the small-town complex.

I woke up in the morning and had a shower and some breakfast, and finally I had to pick the clothes I was going to wear. Contrary to the hot summer weather (and contrary to logical reasoning) I decided to wear long jeans and an almost new pair of trainers. “WHY THE HELL DID I DO THIS?!” First of all, I want to mention that I do like both the jeans and the trainers. However, I wore them for a reason other than liking them too much. It was because I thought I would… (I am ashamed to say it)…look cooler. I imagined I would look better this way, rather than if I went with a casual t-shirt, short pants and my worn out four-year-old trainers (which, by the way, I like more than I should).

I don’t need mention that I didn’t feel as comfortable as I would have if I had gone dressed normally. However, that wasn’t the reason for me finding this complex; the reason was the people I met on my way.  Indeed, there were some that cared about their looks, but the majority of them were dressed in ways that they could feel comfortable, and that’s only normal. Because of this stupid way of thinking, I felt like someone wearing a mask, someone fake. I say people with outfits likely to be mocked in my town, but there it was only normal to wear something that makes you feel comfortable, and it should be normal not only there.

Despite all this, the most compelling event occurred while I was waiting for the tram to come and take me to the train station. I say a beautiful girl walking on the street with a 1.25L bottle of Coca-Cola, and it was so cool! But why do I think it is cool? Because in my cozy little town such an action is not looked upon with a good eye.

The 1.25L bottle is just a few stotinki (the Bulgarian equivalent of cents) more expensive, but the person gets double the quantity of delicious Cola he craves so much. But if one has the audacity to do this, he is very likely to be called a cheapskate. What is more – some people drunk Cola and the similar only at the mainstream cafes (where, of course, the prices a higher) only because it’s “cooler”.

I suppose there is a reason for this kind of mentality; Dimitrovgrad is a small town, where one knows quite a decent portion of the rest of the citizens, so it is easy a conversation about one’s look or behavior to spark up. And since people generally prefer being liked by others, they, to a great extent, conform to the expectations of the speculators.

In the end, no matter how well-reasoned this behavior is in the context of the small town, it actually stands as an enormous hurdle, at least for me. I have absolutely nothing against sitting on the ground, on pavements, on soil, against trees, and almost any surface that is not wet or sticky. I feel most comfortable when I sit in a yoga-like position, and not in the casual way with the feet touching the ground. I like people who do not have prejudice against such manifested preferences, but the substance of this view of mine is lost when the small-town complex calls. In the worst case scenario – to the people feeling the way I do about such things, I may look like a fashion slave, caring too much about outside approval. I felt awful when I saw some boys and girls sitting on the pavement and chatting, while I was with my overly fancy shoes and long thick jeans.

Said shortly, in my subliminal quest to fit in the eyes of others, I felt like I was pulled further from the people who I would care about much more.  Finding this flaw is the reason I liked the whole experience so much.

Presentation of Dimitrovgrad

I officially hate making presentations. It may look like just clicking and arranging text and images, but when I start paying a tad too much attention to the alignment of images and blocks of text, two and a half hours are guaranteed. However, yesterday I finished a very important one.

In brief, I had been given a task from the municipality to create a presentation with information on Dimitrovgrad Municipality that includes its geographic location, population, industry, recreational recourses, cultural heritage, etc. I was said it was going to act as an extended brochure that will present Dimitrovgrad to foreign people. I was given the information that needed to be included and the current (now obsolete) presentation; I can say the old version was made just for the sake of having something to present in front of foreigners. The reason I laughed the most was that in a list with the names of fourteen banks having offices in Dimitrovgrad, probably six had a mistake in their name (perhaps because no one cared to research the proper spelling). I used PowerPoint 2010 to create the new version, this being my first time using this version of the software (previously I only had experience with PowerPoint 2003), and I was pleased with the quite intuitive user interface.

The main reason I’m writing this post, however, is that I’m so happy with the final result. When I make presentations, I always use one type of background (gradient from white to very light grey), always use dark grey coloration of the fonts (because it matches the main color-scheme of the background much better while not standing out too much, as black does) and always use on type of transition (the next slide rolls over from the top of the screen). Also in the 2010 version there is a feature that makes the images round, thus integrating them more smoothly in the body of the presentation. The effects may be pretty simple, but the consistency in their usage and the fact they are fast and fancy-looking, adds a feel of a product made solid and with care. I always strive to achieve a solid and smooth look when creating a picture in Photoshop, making presentation in PowerPoint, formatting a document in Word, etc.

I am including both versions, the old one and the new one, if somebody would like to judge if what I have written above is true for them, too.

 

Summer through nixp’s eyes

I’m excited, for tomorrow I’m holding my first exhibition in the town’s Art Gallery “Petko Churchuliev”, but I guess I should start from the very beginning.
I decided that my first try should be the local art gallery; I’m a bit interested in art, but I only know art as computer-generated images and the most famous pieces of art, that every person from my social stratus should know. Also, since the gallery is operated by only one woman, I thought I could be of some help there, and so I started my quest…
To this day (5.7.2011) I have been a volunteer at the gallery for three weeks, and have been helping the curator to organize the posters that were still not documented. To be exact, what we do is place a poster on a tripod and shoot it so it could be included in the gallery’s database of works of art. Also, the repository where all the framed pictures hang was too messy and unordered, so my “job” consisted in arranging the pictures according to their author and labeling them. It wasn’t the most creative work, but at least I grew more confident about climbing a ladder.
An interesting part of my experience in the gallery was the fact that I convinced a friend of mine to come with me and get her to know what I do and spread awareness about the gallery. I was very happy about her coming, for I must admit it – things often tend to get boring after an hour, when there is only two people (me and the curator, who, by the way, is the age of my grandma).
And now the reason why I’m excited. It happened that the exhibition that the gallery was hosting ended, and the gallery had to stay empty, since there was no other exhibition to be hosted. Then I and my friend came up with the idea to make and exhibition using the pictures from the gallery’s repository united under the common theme “summer”. We picked up 49 pictures of which we used 34. The curator came up with a name for the exhibition – “Лятото в другите очи” – (it’s the Bulgarian equivalent of “Summer through the other eyes”). The interesting part of all this, for me, was that the curator offered us to make a public event where we announce the exhibition in front of an audience. For the first half an hour I wasn’t really sure this was I wanted, but then again, there was no better way to get over my fear of organizing people in activities. Also I got to create the poster promoting the event, which made me immensely happy, for this is the first time I’m getting exposure for an official public event.
Tomorrow I’m going to update this post with photos and my opinion on how the event went. For now, I’d like to share the poster promoting the exhibition.

Update #1:

I should say that the opening went quite well. There were more than thirty people and they all seemed to enjoy the event. We had an impromptu speech, and I was content with my part. Here’s an image of my friend volunteering along with me, myself and the curator of the gallery (and a random cameraman):

And here are some photos of the pictures exhibited:

=)

Normal

While I was on my way home from my grandparents’ apartment, I started reflecting on what should be considered normal. Surely, there are some standardized understandings about, say, hair due, clothes, music we often listen to, behavior towards others, worldly view, etc. However, if I see a person with blue Mohawk haircut and lots of piercing, listening to Psyclon Nine and preaching that Jesus is a c**t, does this necessarily make him not-normal? Perhaps 99 per cent of the people who see him (including me) will think he’s not normal, because of his pronounced differentiation from what society considers “normal”. But when I was thinking about it, what should really be considered normal? I guess normal is considered to be the most common way of behaving/looking/thinking/etc. All of us, however, are not really able to be uniform in our opinions and we all have differences, so according to every individual, normal should have different meaning than it does for another one. Furthermore, isn’t it not-normal to behave and act out of accordance with your beliefs and understandings? If a person has a clear idea of what he is doing, what are the up and down sides of his choice, then society shouldn’t judge that person for not being similar to others.

I think that if, hypothetically, in future there is a way to retrieve memory from an organic body in a digital storage drive that could be implemented in an human-like-android that could represent the dead person, I would be a keen supporter. I even thought that if I and a friend of mine die, we could continue our lives in mechanical bodies, because the tissues and organs are not important to me; my memory and ability to reason and think logically are.

I imagine that if I share this with people, they will condemn me for such blasphemous thought. “How would you even dare thinking to manipulate life that God himself has given? What has gotten in to you? Are you crazy?!” My imaginary answer would be “We manipulate life in hospital through surgeons, life supporting systems, vaccines, x-rays, etc. Plus, I don’t consider the idea that God has given life adequate at all; I regard life as a mere coincidence, and thus, I think we are free to manipulate it as we see fit.”

“The dead are gone, and they shouldn’t be bothered in their afterlife” – at least that’s what movies say. And now my perspective; isn’t the thing that really matters to people the communication between each other? I think that if science is able prolong that communication, it should. My fear the people will condemn me, is because I suppose they will think that converting a consciousness from living to mechanical body is utterly unethical. Sure, it sounds strange, but as long as there is an interesting, personal conversation, things like body shouldn’t matter. I believe it’s similar to the example when someone tries to explain the difference between a house and a home. The place we make a permanent living is a type of projection we associate with our experiences and feelings. Likewise, the body is just an avatar that we use to indicate that we interact with another person. However, as we know from the web, avatars can change, but the user himself remains the same.

Note: The whole thing is just in my head – I haven’t brought up the topic in front of anyone; it was just an interesting situation for me to think about. The human-like-android is used in context because that’s the only way I could lay down the ethical issue of manipulating living organisms.

Layers Of Truth

“Layers of truth” is the name of an idea that I had a few months ago. We define truth, or right and wrong, based on the knowledge we have of circumstances comprising a situation. However, this knowledge we have may expand, as the tiny little interior blue ring expands in the outermost pink ring. Through this expansion, as more circumstances become know, truth, or right and wrong, may vary. For example, I present you with the statement “I’m not guilty – You are!” There are some circumstances, or reasons, on which I base this statement. Nevertheless, as people are imperfect, there is no guarantee that the circumstances I have highlighted in the first statement are all the circumstances that are important in the situation: there may be some that I have overlooked. Later, when some these circumstances become known, they may alter the first statement, and could make it look like “I’m guilty – You are not!”

I think this process may continue on and on, and every new fact or circumstance concerning a hypothetical situation may alter people’s perception of truth, or right and wrong.

There are two reasons, because of which I was able to think of the idea: the first reason is quarrels between people at school, and the second is action movies.

When I’m having classes, sometimes an argument between two or more of my classmates arises over some deed. Basically, one person blames another for having undermined the former’s performance or image in front of others. Anton is angry, because another one, Maria, diminished the chances of Anton to look good, smart, handsome, etc. Anton blames the latter person of evil deed; Maria is the evil doer in the eyes of Anton. However, Maria doesn’t regard herself as a bad person, and thinks Anton is accusing her for unreal things. Of course, there may be circumstances with which Anton is not acquainted, which pushed Maria to act in a certain manner. If later these circumstances become known, Anton understands that he was in the wrong: there is a shift – Anton becomes the bad guy, for having accused Maria. Nevertheless, even later on, it may become clear, that the circumstances that forced Maria to act in some way, were actually her fault, and that Anton was actually in the right, and the whole thing could go on indefinitely, in theory.

The second source of the idea is the number of action movies, in which the backgrounds of the protagonists and antagonists are revealed gradually.

The pattern, I believe, is as follows: Everyone is living peacefully in the city, while the villain is plotting his master plan for making the carefree people suffer. The villain is on the loose, when finally a hero appears to stop him. However, later we understand that the villain’s father was a good-willed person that eventually was swindled by some of the antecedents of the people living in the city in question. In that case, the villain is in his right to be angry and to want a payback, and then there is a series of plot-twists.

All I want to say with this article, is that I believe that there is no way a person can be one hundred per cent sure if he is in the right (unless speaking of truths accepted by convention, such as the order of digits, or the names of the colors).

A thing to do

As I come to think of it. I don’t have many friends that have a hobby they like doing just for the fun of it. Almost all the people I know are not really ready to sacrifice so much time in some activity that has no apparent benefit.

There are two reasons I write this article. The first is a friend of mine who likes playing the guitar, for which I admire him a lot. He has been playing for 5 or 6 years and he’s pretty skilled as I watch and hear him. However, a recent video that he posted on YouTube just stunned me:

I’m just amazed how good he has gotten at playing the guitar, just because of the love of music. He never boasts about being a good guitar player, because the thing he brings him joy the most, as he once said to me, is “shredding”.

The second reason is another friend of mine, a classmate, who had seen this picture I had made recently. The conversation was around the borders of this:

-Sooooo, did you do this picture?

-Yup. It was me all right.

-And how long did it take to finish it?

-Well, I think five or six days.

-:expression relaxes: OK. I was worried you were going to say several weeks.

-Uum, it took me five days, because I had already created the mask; if I hadn’t, it would have taken me weeks.

I was happy that he recognized and liked my picture, and also that he recognized me as someone able to make it. Making pictures is my hobby, for which I’m ready to sacrifice a lot of time and nerves, just so I can visualize the idea that is floating in my head.

In real life I don’t like keeping things only for myself; I like to share objects and experiences with other people, so I could have pleasant memories later. The same holds true when it comes up to my art. It’s true that I like getting exposure and hearing nice things from people about how they like my work. Hearing the compliments feels good, but I don’t want to boast; I want to share my work because I don’t see a point in keeping it for myself. I’m able to make these pictures because I was inspired by a whole lot of other artists, that had shared their work.