What lurks behind a ‘selfie’

There is something magical about waking up early on a Sunday morning and it is more than the idea of a work-free day . The best part is the discovery of the New York Times sitting, and might I add, impatiently waiting by the front door of my building provided that no newspaper thief had reached it before I could. (Note: I used to get the Ottawa Citizen stolen all the time but NYT remains untouched. Newspaper readers these days don’t even know what good journalism is – in this case, thank God!).  The NYT on Sunday contains many sections I always look forward to reading, with the exception of .. you know.. the stocks and bonds section which, don’t get me wrong, is surely very enlightening but to a financial market amateur like myself just a bunch of gibberish and numbers I cannot comprehend.

In any case, my most favourite section is Sunday Review with plenty of opinion and analytical pieces on current events, latest discoveries, lifestyle advice, etc. In last weekend’s version, there was one article that really caught my attention because it touched on a phenomenon I thought I had my mind definitely made up on: the so-called “selphie” craze. I am generally fairly open-minded about self-images (from time to time I post them too) on FB  or via Instagram as long as people don’t overdo it. And even overdoing it is a matter of one’s subjective perception so it is always open to much interpretation.

Given that my family lives in Europe while I am stationed in Ottawa for the time being, I have gotten into the habit of sending my parents ‘selfies’ and occasionally receive some from them in return. One of them arrived just a few days ago when my mom and dad were working in the garden and sent me a photo titled “apple picking” below which was the display of my dad standing on a ladder with a basket and a big grin on his face. A picture says a thousand words, or so they say, and in this case, the image did even more than that: it brought me closer to home and to those I hold dearest to my heart. The NYT opinion piece on ‘selfies’ pointed out an important feature of photographs: we react to a photo, a graphic, or an image more strongly than we do to written word. In other words, when browsing Facebook for instance, we are instinctively more drawn towards photos such as ‘selfies’ of our friends than their half-page long status describing what they got up to that day. The article also stood up for people who post selfies very often and are thus accused of being narcissistic.  The author states that by posting a self-image in whatever situation one might find him/herself – standing on the glass floor of the CN Tower, smelling the tulips by the Rideau Canal, or tasting a gourmet meal – we can more easily connect and share with others and convey the emotions we are feeling in the given moment. It is simply about spreading a little bit of joy. Again, I am fairly neutral but 20 selfies a day might be a bit too much; even 10 or 5. Well, you get the idea.

The reason I found the article and issue it was addressing extremely topical was because just two days before I read it, I had received a selfie via text message – not from my dad, not from my mom, n0t from any relative, not even from a friend. To put things into a little bit more context without getting into too much detail (for everyone’s sake), here is the long story short. In May, I agreed to succumb to date invitations from a certain male I had met about 8 months prior. He cancelled the first date half an hour before we were supposed to meet and we rescheduled for an evening a few days later. Only, he never confirmed what time or where. So on that evening at about 9 o’clock when I was of course convinced the date was no longer happening, I got a text asking if I was still game for the date. When I responded that I hadn’t heard from him in two days and therefore assumed the date was off, he blamed me for not having contacted him to confirm. (PPPLEASE!!!) At this point, I was rather frustrated and let him know that I was not interested as he was clearly a flake.

Needless to say, last Friday evening (so almost 5 months after we last texted) I received a text message with a photo of him in front of a mirror (you know, ’cause it’s a selfie) with his doberman sitting next to him accompanied with “Hey, how’s it going? I am taking Duke out for a walk.”I know what you might be thinking – he accidentally texted the wrong person. But he didn’t – I was the target audience of this – hmm, how shall I put it politely – rather UNWELCOME intrusion of my cell phone. I will call this incident “The ghost of morons past” inhabiting my new smartphone for a very brief period of time.

It is important to mention that this man is not on Facebook – why, I will never know, because it seems like the perfect venue for someone like him. Nevertheless, all the context aside, were we friends, or family, or even dating (God forbid!), the selfie text message would do exactly what NYT article said it was meant to do (at least most of the time) – share the love for one’s pet and simple joy of going for a nice autumn stroll (or however else you’d like to interpret it).

Inserting the context, however, makes it just a very weak attempt at relighting the spark that never existed in the first place.


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Only in Prague :)

I promised you back in February when I started my blog that it will also be about the moments of hilarity in my life. While the hilarity of a moment is a matter of everyone’s subjective perspective, I really do not think anyone will disagree with me on this one 😉

One thing that really bothers me about Prague and Europe in general is the absence of a no-smoking-in-public-spaces laws. In Canada, I have gotten so used to going out without having to wash everything I had worn as soon as I got home that it’s become a fact of life I now take for granted. It’s always a stinky smokey return back to European smokers-everywhere reality whenever I visit my mother continent.

Not too long ago, a bill on this issue was proposed in the Czech parliament but has very little chance of succeeding. The reasons are numerous: loss of customers, less business resulting in lower profits, discrimination against smokers (I’m sorry but..seriously??!), etc.

Due to the unpleasant breathing conditions in local bars and restaurants, I tend to avoid the bar and pub scene. However, I did let my best friend convince me to come to the Beer Museum which is basically a place where you can taste different kinds of beers of exotic and odd flavors such as raspberry or dark chocolate from all around the world.

While I did expect to be engulfed in a cloud of smoke as soon as I walked in (which is exactly what happened), I did not expect to see a family with two little kids at a table next to ours (apparently they don’t card you in bars here…wait a minute, I grew up in Slovakia, I knew that!). The girl was wearing a cute summer dress even though it was 5 degrees outside (kids! lol) and the boy a T-shirt that was pub-scene appropriate but I am not sure if it was suitable for his age (he couldn’t have been older than 5 years).

It said “Hey girls, I’m single!”

If you are still not 100% convinced that this is a hilarious story, there is more. Because the kids’ parents obviously didn’t let them have any beer (duh?! my first experience with alcohol wasn’t until I was 12, 5 is just way too young 😉 ), the little Casanova and his little sister decided to take initiative and went to see the waitress themselves.

At first I was not sure what they were so secretively discussing with her (it was adorable how they made her lean down towards them so she could hear them whisper 😀 ), but when the waitress looked at them quizzically and walked over to their parents to ask if the two sneaky troublemakers are really allowed to have a a beer sampler it became clear what they were up to 😀

Just priceless! Everyone burst out laughing and the little boy turned to his mom, threw his hands up in the air and sighed: “Oh well, it didn’t work out this time.”

Cheers to creative kids and moments of hilarity that inevitably come with them!


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Just a small reminder to all of us ;)

There are a lot of useless posts on facebook most of the time but this one I must admit absolutely hit the nail on the head.

“Never apologize for having high standards. People who really want to be in your life will rise to meet them.”

No further explanation is needed.

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Introductions are the polite way to begin


Greetings, everyone!

I’ve been meaning to start my own blog for a while now and even created an account somewhere in the virtual world but it must have been a long time ago because I can no longer remember what blogging website I used or what my username let alone password were.

Today, I revisited the idea of starting a blog when I was sitting in a lecture about energy interests and future of the Middle East. While energy security does fall under my research interests, this blog will have nothing to do with it  (sorry to disappoint ;)).  Why then did the idea of starting a blog come to me while listening to the guest speaker talk about developments the global community should not ignore regarding Iran’s nuclear program and increasing demand for oil in China? Simply because I allowed myself to doze off into my own little world for mere 10 minutes and pay attention to nothing else but the thought processes in my head after having sat through 10 presentations on global energy in the last 2 days and a half.

It’s funny how our mind works. In those 10 minutes when I wasn’t paying attention to the speaker, my mind managed to remind me how much I miss Canada even though I am really enjoying my internship in Prague and being so close to my family in Slovakia, replayed the end of the last episode of Touch – that new TV show I became absolutely addicted to last week, proceeded to show me some photos from the reading week trip to Taipei last October, and then it took me as far back in time as the summer 2005. I’d like to think that it was my lucky number 8 (2005 was 8 years ago) that triggered the memory of this truly memorable and eventful time in my life.

A lot happened that summer that certainly changed me in many ways but what stood out in my memory today I definitely did not expect. We were visiting my father’s friend and a well-known Slovak actor in the mountains where he and his theater colleagues like to spend most of their summers – in wooden cottages which were actually reconstructed cowsheds, far away from civilization, and so high you could see all the way to Poland. On our way back to the civilized world, we stopped by a cottage where a woman lived with two partners off of whatever the land managed to provide them with and as we were chatting with her, two other men with donkeys passed by. It turned out they were coming all the way from the Himalayas – on foot, or donkey back rather. “What a story this could be. I’ll write about them.” Marian turned to me and said: “Don’t write about what others experienced; write about your stories, your heartbreaks, your perceptions.”

I was reading Three Comrades by Erich Maria Remarque for school at the time and truly admired Remarque’s ability to portray the world in such a painful yet at the same time beautiful way. You could say he had a great sense for reality.  Having remembered all this today, I decided I could try to learn something from Mr. Remarque, write about my own reality and also take the words of Marian to heart and share my stories instead of describing those of others. I don’t know if I am a good writer; I don’t even know if I’m a writer at all for that matter. But I do know that I love to read and they say that a condition to become a (good) writer is to have been a great reader first.

Let this blog be an experiment to see if I was/am a good reader then.


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