Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Dream

So I am having this dream. Or I am so having a dream? Anyway, weird fucking dream, like Coscarelli meets Happy! via those explaining videos where someone talks very fast while drawing what is going on while an obnoxiously and totally unnecessary music plays joyfully in the background. Although that was mostly a way to graphically depict my inner thoughts... in the dream... so that I could understand what I was thinking. The dream concerned altered states of mind, biology, physics, logic, anything really.

Everything was altered, but also very real. It was all real. One moment I am doing something horrible, like killing innocent bystanders by throwing them from a tall place onto other people that were trying to make me stop killing people or pushing terrified (and annoying) kindergarten kids out of my way, my wife in tow, enjoying every second, the other I am home, waiting for the cops to show up, amazed that I got away, only for someone to force very strong psychiatric meds down my throat and make me realize that it was all a fantasy of someone who isn't even who I thought I was. Then I wake up and I am a terrible (and amusing) force of evil trying to understand both who I am and why do the people that force feed me medicine look like my parents, while they clearly are not. I terrify them and so I can tell them what to do, maybe they won't discover I am as terrified of not knowing what the hell is going on. But I will be having fun, as a God given right.

And then it switches again, with a good friend arranging the trip that will take us out of the country, on a touristic toury tour that me and the wife will use to escape the authorities that no doubt are looking for us right now because we killed all those people in probably the very tour we are organizing because they were standing in our way and we were bored. And in the dream I realize that every such permutation of reality is part of the dream, but also very real. I could stop at any moment and that would be reality for a while. So I switch again, I escape, barely conscious of where or who I am, I jump some stairs, a dog is chasing me, but I know he knows me and wants to play, I get out of the building, pretend to be a PTSD affected veteran to get clothes and stuff, including guns, until someone asks me where I served. So I just have to take out the guns and commandeer a vehicle. The fact that the people in the car are sexy women who can't help feeling terrified and also strangely excited by this display of violence is surely coincidence. And then cops show up and the girls run away. I shoot after them until the bullets run out, while the cops are weirdly apathetic, standing next to me on the hood of their car. "Are you done?" they ask, and I sigh and acknowledge and give up, allowing to be handcuffed and thrown into a car that doesn't seem to be a police car. And a woman is there, old, crow feet eyes, one of those people who can laugh at anything, you know, smoking nonchalantly.

I realize it is all part of the great machine that revolves reality, like one of those game machines that gives you a prize on TV when they rotate it, only it seems the real good prizes are never chosen. And I know now what this is and I look into her eyes and I know that she knows I know, but maybe she could stop smoking, since it irritates me, and she laughs. Told you she could laugh at anything. I am proud of not panicking, of taking it all in and being cool with it, I can see the old woman nodding appreciatively, too. "So what now?", I ask, but I already know the answer.

It is clear to me that anything could happen, and it does happen, the whole world dies and I get that fast talking graphic that explains why everything alive is not alive anymore except one thing, me. And it doesn't make any sense at all other than what if it could happen and if it could happen why wouldn't it and I am it, the thing that can breathe what nothing else can and still draw fancy pictures of what happened while explaining itself how it survived. But then surely I could animate one of the dead, just for fun, so it can be irritated (as I was) at how fast I am talking when depicting my inner monologue. And I try variations on the same theme, all wonderful and terrifying and apparently dangerous, only that I can change them even after something bad happened to me, so they're not. I especially enjoy the ones where I am enjoying what I am doing, even if it doesn't seem like something anyone would enjoy. I congratulate myself for choosing a reality I enjoy what I am doing so much that I need to congratulate myself about it.

I am trying to describe the experience as accurately as possible while fully knowing that the memory of it is fading and that even if I would still be part of it I couldn't express it fully. It stank of multidimensionality, it purposely lacked any purpose, anything at all was possible and it was, overlapping and existing at the same time and space. It had a soundtrack, and even if I knew, for example, that Come Together was taken directly from my recent viewing of Justice League, I also knew that it had a completely different meaning in this context, except maybe for the YouTube bots who would flag my whole life as copyrighted. There was no moral to it, no catharsis, no epiphany. It refused definition and I relished it. It was the polar opposite of a spiritual experience: no hope, but infinite potential, no lessons to be learned, but filled to the brim with experience, no gods other than myself.

I could have been anyone, anything, everything, but I chose the reality where I would wake up, recognize the room, the laptop, and blog about it. Maybe only then see life extinguished, just for the kicks of knowing that everything I spent horrible confused lonely moments (while aware of the singleminded and boring nature of this chosen reality) typing was pointless, no one would read it, even attempt to understand it and fail miserably, because the Internet would still work for a bit, but everybody would be dead. Fortunately it was all a dream, and you will read and fail to understand this post, not even the least bit grateful for being all alive and shit and not the punchline to a joke that I alone (pardon the pun) would find funny.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Using SVG images in Internet Explorer

I am sure I've tested this, but for some reason the icons in my blog disappeared for Internet Explorer. They are using Font Awesome SVG background images, declared something like this:
.fas-comment {
    background-image: url("data:image/svg+xml;utf8,<svg height='511.6' version='1.1' viewBox='0 0 511.6 511.6' width='511.6' x='0' xml:space='preserve' xmlns='http://www.w3.org/2000/svg' y='0'><g fill='#2f5faa'><path d='M477.4 127.4c-22.8-28.1-53.9-50.2-93.1-66.5 -39.2-16.3-82-24.4-128.5-24.4 -34.6 0-67.8 4.8-99.4 14.4 -31.6 9.6-58.8 22.6-81.7 39 -22.8 16.4-41 35.8-54.5 58.4C6.8 170.8 0 194.5 0 219.2c0 28.5 8.6 55.3 25.8 80.2 17.2 24.9 40.8 45.9 70.7 62.8 -2.1 7.6-4.6 14.8-7.4 21.7 -2.9 6.9-5.4 12.5-7.7 16.9 -2.3 4.4-5.4 9.2-9.3 14.6 -3.9 5.3-6.8 9.1-8.8 11.3 -2 2.2-5.3 5.8-9.9 10.8 -4.6 5-7.5 8.3-8.8 9.9 -0.2 0.1-1 1-2.3 2.6 -1.3 1.6-2 2.4-2 2.4l-1.7 2.6c-1 1.4-1.4 2.3-1.3 2.7 0.1 0.4-0.1 1.3-0.6 2.9 -0.5 1.5-0.4 2.7 0.1 3.4v0.3c0.8 3.4 2.4 6.2 5 8.3 2.6 2.1 5.5 3 8.7 2.6 12.4-1.5 23.2-3.6 32.5-6.3 49.9-12.8 93.6-35.8 131.3-69.1 14.3 1.5 28.1 2.3 41.4 2.3 46.4 0 89.3-8.1 128.5-24.4 39.2-16.3 70.2-38.4 93.1-66.5 22.8-28.1 34.3-58.7 34.3-91.8C511.6 186.1 500.2 155.5 477.4 127.4z'/></g></svg>");
}

I had to try several things, but in the end, I found out that there are three steps in order to make this compatible with Internet Explorer (and still work in other browsers):
  1. The definition of the utf8 charset must be explicit: data:image/svg+xml;charset=utf8 instead of data:image/svg+xml;utf8
  2. The SVG code needs to be URL encoded: so turn all double quotes into single quotes and then replace < and > with %3C and %3E or use some URL encoder
  3. The colors need to be in rbg() format: so instead of fill='#2f5faa' use fill='rgb(47,95,170)' (same in style tags in the SVG, if any)


So now the result is:
.fas-comment {
    background-image: url("data:image/svg+xml;charset=utf8,%3Csvg height='511.6' version='1.1' viewBox='0 0 511.6 511.6' width='511.6' x='0' xml:space='preserve' xmlns='http://www.w3.org/2000/svg' y='0'%3E%3Cg fill='rgb(47,95,170)'%3E%3Cpath d='M477.4 127.4c-22.8-28.1-53.9-50.2-93.1-66.5 -39.2-16.3-82-24.4-128.5-24.4 -34.6 0-67.8 4.8-99.4 14.4 -31.6 9.6-58.8 22.6-81.7 39 -22.8 16.4-41 35.8-54.5 58.4C6.8 170.8 0 194.5 0 219.2c0 28.5 8.6 55.3 25.8 80.2 17.2 24.9 40.8 45.9 70.7 62.8 -2.1 7.6-4.6 14.8-7.4 21.7 -2.9 6.9-5.4 12.5-7.7 16.9 -2.3 4.4-5.4 9.2-9.3 14.6 -3.9 5.3-6.8 9.1-8.8 11.3 -2 2.2-5.3 5.8-9.9 10.8 -4.6 5-7.5 8.3-8.8 9.9 -0.2 0.1-1 1-2.3 2.6 -1.3 1.6-2 2.4-2 2.4l-1.7 2.6c-1 1.4-1.4 2.3-1.3 2.7 0.1 0.4-0.1 1.3-0.6 2.9 -0.5 1.5-0.4 2.7 0.1 3.4v0.3c0.8 3.4 2.4 6.2 5 8.3 2.6 2.1 5.5 3 8.7 2.6 12.4-1.5 23.2-3.6 32.5-6.3 49.9-12.8 93.6-35.8 131.3-69.1 14.3 1.5 28.1 2.3 41.4 2.3 46.4 0 89.3-8.1 128.5-24.4 39.2-16.3 70.2-38.4 93.1-66.5 22.8-28.1 34.3-58.7 34.3-91.8C511.6 186.1 500.2 155.5 477.4 127.4z'/%3E%3C/g%3E%3C/svg%3E");
}

Friday, December 29, 2017

White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World, by Geoff Dyer

White Sands is a collection of essays that try hard to come together as a coherent book. Some are short travel anecdotes, examining places that are either too touristic to be anything or too artistic to be objective and needing a critical analysis from a cultured person like Geoff Dyer. I liked these the most, since they were both teaching something about places I probably will never visit and also showing the sarcastic internal thoughts of the author, complete with interesting references and in depth research. Well written, too.

Two chapters try to explore not just short visits to distant places, but places Dyer lived in, like Los Angeles. These are so packed with references and quotes and longer than the others and I almost didn't finish the book, short as it is. One chapter is about a mild brain stroke he had, almost robbing him of the thing he identifies with most: his brain. It is weirdly distant, like it happens to another person, as probably during those times he was either in complete shock or some kind of denial. I couldn't believe that neither he nor his wife recognized the medical signs of a stroke and chose to go for a coffee and a croissant before going to the hospital. Then again, he was probably listening to jazz while reading artsy books when I was watching Dr. House.

Bottom line: I recommended the book to a friend while reading the first chapters. I found it fresh, funny and intellectual in the same time. I wouldn't recommend the book now that I have finished it. As I was saying, it is hardly a book and more a collection of various things Geoff Dyer wrote during his life, different in style, scope and how much they interested me. It is not by any means a bad book, and probably people that enjoy a different sort of art and culture will love it, it just wasn't for me, in the end. Since the chapters are unrelated, one can take whatever part of it they enjoy most and discard the rest, though.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Religion

There are two girls standing right in front of me on the subway escalator, riding up towards the gray, unforgiving, cold Bucharest weather. I am standing there, looking at their backs and my mind starts to wander. I imagine their long young hair hiding one of those smiles to yearn for, expressing both calm and potential, contentment and desire, purity and mischief. I imagine the skin on their back and neck, clean and unmarred, smelling faintly floral, not because of some stupid perfume, but coming from its rose petal smoothness and their very inner nature, tasting like heaven. The long coat and pants hide the perfect ass, not fat and not muscular, not big and not small, not even sexual, the ideal origin for two perfect legs. One of them turns to the other and they start talking and in a completely involuntary act of political correctness they become human, ordinary, just like me, and I resent them for that. Why couldn't you remain goddesses? What is wrong with you?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

[Solved]Samsung phone keeps restarting and drains the battery to empty when enabling Mobile data

I am a pretty constant guy. I've repaired and used my computers well after it was cheaper to buy new, much better ones, and the same thing applies to my smartphone, which has now the venerable age of four years (yeah, it was sarcasm. My Nokia phone still worked for a week on a single charge after 8 years of use). Anyway, my problem is not actually the phone as it is the battery, which is "spent" and for which I need to buy a new one. Good luck finding anything for four year old hardware!

Ridiculously, the problem only occurs in a specific situation which I am going to detail next. For the rest of the usage, the battery, as it is, is good enough. I can talk, I can read books, I can watch movies, I can use WiFi. But when I am turning on Mobile Data, it first lags, then freezes, then restarts and keeps restarting until it gets to 0% charge in a matter of minutes. The only solution to stop this is to remove the battery or plug in the charger.

So what is going on here? When you turn on Mobile Data, all the apps you have installed are trying to access the Internet - some want to load data, some to load ads, some to check for updates - the problem is that they are all doing it at the same time. The phone is trying to use too much power and it fails in ways no one had predicted (or bothered to fix). Funny that it doesn't happen with the Wifi, which is probably more optimized for power use. The solution, then, it to prevent the apps for using the internet on mobile connections.



For me, the worst was Google Play Store and Google Services, together with Facebook, Twitter, WhatsUp and TripAdvisor, but also some unexpected applications that have nothing to do with Internet use, such as Alarm Clock or Office Suite. This also has unexpected secondary benefits: stops you from going to Facebook or Twitter in places without Wifi, which are usually transit zones or transportation vehicles. Instead, read a book.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Gotta give it to Travelers

The main cast of the show There is this TV show out there, called Travelers, already well into its second season, that no one seems to be talking about. It's not based on comic book characters, it is actual original content (gasp!). It's Canadian, of course. With no flashy budget and subtle acting, it manages to slip through some ingenious ideas. For one, it is the only show I've seen so far where humanity's fate is controlled by a benevolent artificial intelligence, something I feel it is inevitable.

Groups of people are being "directed" to do things, using the huge computational resources of the AI called The Director and the convenient fact that it resides in the future. Its role is to change the past as to avert the horrible future humanity got to. So called Travelers are being sent to inhabit the bodies of people in the present, essentially killing them and taking over their lives. Very interesting dynamics based on the merging of the traveler personalities and the connections of the people they replaced, too. Considering changing enough of the past would change the circumstances that created The Director, it is a fine line that the show needs to thread. I also find it amazing that a show involving time travel can actually be good, considering most stories break horribly when exposed to the cheap time travel stuff they usually employ for movies and TV.

The cast is great, too, with talented actors in strong roles. You probably know Eric McCormack, Patrick Gilmore, Jennifer Spence or Leah Cairns, but all the others have shows to their belt. The individual episode stories feel fresh, too. They could have gone with the tired storylines of the "team" that solves problems used in a zillion shows before, but instead they go their own way, with a different feel that reminds me of European sci-fi, rather than American.

My recommendation is to give it a go, watch a few episodes, see if it grows on you. It is not something that people see a few scenes of and fall in love, but something that needs a bit of a grind before you become a fan. It is worth it.