Sunday, 30 April 2017


Struggling to come up with accurate English equivalents of family of words related to the concept of ogarniać, a Polish verb describing getting around something, keeping grip of things, being well-organised or well-versed in something. Whatever the most suitable translation is, my impatience with people who do not exhibit the set of qualities which have the common denominator of ogarnięcie is rising.

The confession is inspired by a recent moving. As part of relocations within the office building, my team had to move to an area on a lower floor which involved packing all the stuff into cardboard boxes last Friday (and subsequent unpacking due on Tuesday). Everyone who changed dwellings at least once in a lifetime knows moving belongs to rather stressful processes and it takes some effort and a lot of composure to bring it over smoothly. Usually moving is more traumatic and tiresome if you possess lots of clutter – the more you accumulate and the less you dispose of, the bigger load you have to carry with you.

I managed to pack all my stuff (a pair of shoes, two bottles of wine, a briefcase, some documents, some stationery, etc.) into one cardboard box and was assigned to pack stuff of my female colleague (one year younger than me) currently in the middle of two-week holidays. Instructed by my team leader, I threw away several binders of her papers that had been scanned and kept in electronic directories (the New Factory has gone digital some time ago, meaning use (also printing) of storage of paper has been whittled down to a bare minimum), but had to pack all her personal belongings which all fit into nine (yes, nine) cardboard boxes (after disposing of lots of clutter). Everyone around was so dazed at the sight of me filling yet another box in a row that they even put up with and laughed every time I shouted out a bunch of expletives.

I actually like my colleague, though she is kind of nieogarnięta, sluggish, disorganised, lacks dynamics a young person should beam with (before you ask, yes, she is married, has no children).

I am the only male in the team and I do feel like a misfit, not just on account of being the only one of the opposite sex or having no-one to engage in locker-room conversations with. We differ in every aspect of style of work. When I turn up to the office I can start working effectively within one minute from reaching my desk. I simply unlock my computer and open the mailbox and while going through e-mail that arrived overnight, I change my shoes and unpack my stuff (wallet, phones, packed lunch) to a desk. For them, it usually takes around 15 minutes before they reach their working capacity, which involves combing hair, changing not only shoes but also socks or stockings, yawning, choosing which tea to drink, chatting, complaining, etc.

The lethargic mode means a worker falls behind with her (not their, I observe men tend to be better-organised and more efficient at work) assignments and then hurries and stays overtime to meet deadlines. If you work overtime, the reason might be that you have too much on your plate, but this can also indicate work is badly organised by managers or that you fail to organise your assignments. I have noticed as long as external factors do not turn my work upside down, even if I am burdened with plenty of urgent tasks, I usually can handle them with eight working hours, just because I plan my work ahead with the horizon of up to three months and do lots of things in advance, circumstances permit. Needless to say, though this is appreciated by managers, I pay the price of being allocated with more stuff, because I am most likely to complete them duly and timely.

While having exorbitant expectations towards myself in terms of ogarnięcie, my tolerance for people who:
- fall back on their promises,
- fail to meet deadlines,
- deliver work of poor quality,
- are indecisive,
- do not control things happening around them,
- are poor in planning,
- fool about well ahead of deadline and then rush to make it in time,
is on constant decline.

The same, horrifyingly, applies to daily life. I have been sick of my listening to my currently-holidaying workmate wondering one day before setting off to a trip around south-eastern Europe whether the third-party liability car insurance is valid outside EU and whether to take her husband’s car for inspection before starting a five-thousand-kilometre trip. Another co-worker was moaning on Friday since she had decided to have her car checked in a garage on the day of leaving for the long weekend, some defect was found and did not know what to do.

An ogarnięty individual has their car inspected some two or three weeks before a longer trip, since in case mechanics detect something which needs to be fixed there is headroom for ordering a spare part and booking a repair slot in a garage…

I could carry on with several such examples, but I see little point in flogging a dead horse. Life is too short to do things slowly, to get stuck in analysis to reach paralysis, to dither ten times before taking a decision. I am growing fond if idea of lean life. There are people who are older than me and today live in one country, while in a month they might move into another country. Their all belongings could fit into a few suitcases, they do not own a flat nor a car, because both assets are burdens. Compare them to owners of terraced houses in the suburbs – contents of their garages would not fit into suitcases of their peers who have not settled down yet.

I have learnt to think twice before buying something which I would use once or twice and now I try to borrow it or have it shared. Actually if you rent a well-equipped flat, you do not need to possess other stuff than a portable computer, clothes, footwear, cosmetics, documents and a mobile phone. Thanks to technological progress documents books and photos can be stored in an electronic form and the only concern is to have them properly stored and backed up. This also mean you do not get attached to stuff such as mugs, cutlery, etc. To live like this you need to learn to treat objects which facilitate your life instrumentally and decrease your expectations towards them. If you use an iron, a washing machine, a TV, a shared car, this will not be the one with all functions you would choose but in turn one which is not a burden for you.

The first step towards lean life? Rationalise the content of your dwelling, basement, attic, garage and find out which stuff you can get rid of! Analyse how much clutter you store in case they come in handy. Most people, as long as they do not move frequently, tend to accumulate things they bought on the spur of the moment, made use of them a few times and then put them away for a future use. Some of them have made a step forward and put up some of their stuff on Allegro or OLX, alternatively, they exchange stuff with similar folks who also do not need various stuff. But the step towards a deeper changes must be taken at the stage of buying and thinking twice whether an item would indeed be used repeatedly; the step which people who take pleasure in shopping might find difficult.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

The new laptop - first impressions

I am writing this post from the third (counting out company one) computer I have had in my life. Given the fact my parents bought me my first one in 1999 (and I was one of the last children at school to have come into possession of a PC) that the most recent one is a brand-new one, jaw might drop open.

My first PC was the one I would tamper with, could take it apart and put together again, swapped components with my classmates etc. After seven years of service it gave way to a belated 18th birthday gift, a brand-new HP notebook bought in summer of 2006, prior to the outset of my studies. It broke down once, in 2010, then in 2014 I had it thoroughly cleaned of dust, the operation which cost under less than a hundred zloty that gave the notebook a second life and a speed boost. It served me really well, despite running on obsolete Windows XP and crying out for more RAM and faster processor at times. It has not given up a ghost typically; instead, its cover’s wear and tear reached its limits and the right hinge cracked. The estimated cost of repair was at least PLN 200 which prompted me to look for a new notebook, rather than sinking money in a device which on account of its age could pack up any time soon.

Since I have had good experience with HP devices (the one many not share) and having heard several times of badly defective Acer notebooks plus being fed up with my company Lenovo laptop, I decided to focus on HP portable computers only, knowing I would not repeat such good purchase as the previous computer had been. After all, more than a decade has elapsed and in terms of IT hardware, this is an era. For the sake of good order, I have not bought a state-of-the-art computer, since as I use it as Internet browser, a mailbox, a typing or calculating machine, a simple photo editor or a media player, the most advanced components would bring little marginal benefit and measurable marginal cost. I spent two thousand zloty on the new machine and after three weeks of using it, I do not regret not expending more money.

Though the technology has moved forward, in terms of ergonomics a step backwards has been made. I confess not to be fond of 16:9 screen proportions (I have got used to it) and I found 4:3 much more practical. Also all today’s notebooks have much less ergonomic mousepads. While choosing a laptop I paid much attention towards the pad (I have learnt not to use a separate mouse), bearing in mind how impractically it is designed in my company Lenovo and how it winds me up every time I use it outside the office. The pad in my new laptop has two separate buttons (not being a part of the pad as in lousy Lenovo), however lacks the scrolling surface to the right the previous one had. Well, one can get used to everything.

Using Windows 7 at work and Windows XP at home I did not observe much difference between the two operating systems. Upgrading to Windows 10 was thus a shock, yet I wanted to buy the most recent version of Microsoft’s operating system to avoid seeing it being rendered obsolete before long. Functionalities of Windows 10 best illustrate what stride has been made in terms of IT and what is the direction of changes. I would best call it a shift from owning to sharing and a shift from offline to online. Needless to say, my first steps with the new computer were dealings with privacy settings and turning off several spies built into the system and turned on in default mode.

Configuring and personalising the system is far more intuitive than in its previous versions. It seems the contemporary devices and operating systems are designed to be fool-proof. If you need a device to run, after a few clicks it is in the operational mode, while if you desire it to run the way you want it to, it takes a longer moment to tweak with all the settings and to disactivate the redundant functions. Though I appreciate how the modern devices take care of themselves, I actually lean towards being an aware technology user who gives up on convenience and prefers to retain control over his machinery rather than lets them look after themselves.

Hope the new device will serve me well for years to come, however I realise no matter how much I care about this device with limited durability, another decade in service looms out of reach.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

No man is an island

While the whole world pretends to be an endless ocean, through which humans sail, lacking direction.

First such Easter. I spent over twenty previous ones either at my grandparents’ until my grandma was fit enough to prepare Easter breakfast for around ten guests, or, then, at my aunt and uncle’s. Over the last year bonds within the family have further loosened, fuelled by argument between my father and his brother over the duty of looking after my grandpa. Without going into details, everyone spends this day at home alone; a circumstance which spares all parties stress, insincere smiling, inevitable disputes, mutual taunting and other nasty stuff. Instead I get a modest breakfast with my parents only and plenty of free time to take a precious break from work. Unfortunately, the weather is not conducive to outdoor activities which I long to enjoy; had Easter fallen two weeks ago, over+20C temperature and sunshine would have lifted my spirits in the festive season rather on an usual weekend.

This makes me ponder upon the pain threshold linked to days when families traditionally meet up. Some prefer to spend such days on their own, others strain to endure family gatherings even if they do not belong to pleasant events. The choice depends on the extent to which you feel good in your own company. For some loneliness means sadness, for others freedom. For the former being hurt by fellow men is the price to pay to avoid loneliness. If somebody asked me about my preference, I would answer I opt for loneliness. This is the theory, while actual events prove my answer could be my wish rather than preference.

Remember the story of one toxic relationship I had just given up? Do you realise how many times I was breaking it up “forever” after that post? Not that many, but the upshot is that I have gotten even more involved in it, though I seem to be keeping my distance, aware how emotionally draining it is. I have lost some self-respect for keeping this going, but I realise the dead-end delusion I am stuck in is the price to pay for having somebody who at times shows care and interest.

Oddly enough, while being stuck in the toxic mire, I have not stopped looking for opportunities to get involved in a normal relationship for a single moment. The endeavours have however, led me to the conviction that getting married and having children one day is just an option, not a certainty coming into life in unknown future. Don’t get me wrong, I am now just talking about taking things for granted, just like many happy spouses do not take for granted they will grow old with their partners just because fate brings accidents and illnesses to pull people apart. If finding self-fulfilment in being a husband and father might be out of reach for reasons beyond my control (more about in next paragraphs) then I should strive to seek other stuff (other than work-related, though job should give at least satisfaction, but being too committed to it, or even addicted is a trap) that would bring me happiness achievable on my own only. The bar is raised high, since except for my parents, I practically have no family and because my all long-lasting and newly-made friendships are with people who either have families or are in long-lasting relationships, therefore I cannot reckon on anybody to be a greater part of any plan.

Why the odds to get my life arranged happily have statistically decreased? If you were to answer the questions, most likely you would claim that…

1. With time I have grown more demanding and few women can meet my requirements. I would argue with time I have grown aware of what I definitely do not want and unlike one friend of mine thought, I do not have a picture of what the ideal girl would be like, but I know which traits I would not put up with. I want a normal girl, who would not be selfish, greedy, materialistic, insincere, not straightforward, judge book by the cover, think end justifies the means, etc. Maybe that’s still too much to ask.

2. Statistically, most women of my age are already in relationships and it is not a coincidence usually those deserving the most attention are already taken. This is called a natural selection – males are not stupid and once they have grabbed a sensible female they take the effort not to let her go. There is also the secondary market, yet as I observe the divorced women around if I were their husband, I would hurry to divorce them too ;-)

3. Opportunities to meet somebody are less frequent than before finishing studies. In fact workplace (and events associated therewith such as business travels, conferences, workshops and parties) is the main place where I meet new people and stay in their company long enough to get to know them good enough to lay foundations to build a closer relationship. Sometimes after one or two chats with a woman I realise she is worth getting to know her better, but realise the paths we tread have very little chance to cross again. The only chance to keep up getting to know each other is then simply to ask a woman out (otherwise I lose it), which means showing at least of a bit of interest in her. Many times this has turned out to be a step too far, yet worth taking, since otherwise I would have been kicking myself for wasting an opportunity.

At the certain age, as one develops habits and gets accustomed to independence offered by living on one’s own, making concessions being in a relationships involves looms as stepping out of the comfort one. Also tolerance for other people’s habits declines. Some time ago I though women reach that stage of life after they turn around 35. My observations from recent months fill me with (some degree of) confidence such perception of relationships with men develops with many girls around the age of 25 (horrifying).

The very belief there are many single women and nearly as many single men therefore they should pair up and the problem of sad singles will be gone is a fallacy, since it fails to take into account the structural mismatch between highly demanding and independent single women and single men simply afraid of them. Anyone who advises me to stop bleating and look around since there are plenty of single women in the world may read the below…

1. The stereotypical exorbitant requirements women allegedly set towards men (should be tall, handsome, well-built, well-travelled, have a good job, earn a lot, have his own flat and a car, dress stylishly, read books, be caring and resourceful and so on and so forth) are as I notice, not far cry from reality and oddly enough deter those men who meet majority of requirements, but are simply afraid women would not accept their imperfections and hold back. Frankly speaking I am also wary when I meet a woman who apparently waits for a knight on a white horse.

2. A woman who has been single for a few years is usually too habituated to freedom being single offers to her that she is unwilling to give up on it. Building a relationship is a matter of give and take, a person who wonders whether to benefits of being with somebody outweigh the costs should make a mature decision. I theoretically respect such decisions, although when some two months ago I heard from a girl with who I had broken the ice that the relationship would take away from her the freedom she cherished and actually she was not yet ready for a relationship, my instant reply was that being in a relationship does not deprive one of freedom and with each next day she would be even less ready for a relationship.

3. Coming to that point, readiness to let another person into one’s orderly little world declines with age. After years of being single, starting a relationship means a huge and abrupt exit from the comfort zone. I realise this sounds absurdly, as this is definitely not a description of the utterly pleasant state of falling in love. I would point out the fear of being pushed out of the comfort zone, the fear of losing control (falling in love is about getting carried away by emotions, isn’t it) keeps a tight rein on some single women’s emotions and does not let them reach the point when they have a crush with a man.

The theme of comfort zone brings to my mind two other observations. Firstly, I know women younger than me desperately hold on to their partners, no matter how imperfect they are and now little they care, out of pure fear of loneliness and not finding anyone better. Secondly, I heard many women aged over thirty telling me if their husbands died, they would remain widows until the end of their days, since they have grown so intolerant of men’s drawback that they would be reluctant to learn to live with someone new and all his habits and shortcomings.

If you have reached the very end, so probably think now I am totally downtrodden, grumpy and acrimonious, lacking hope and faith. Maybe, but today I am exercising my right to feel down and by sharing my sorrows with you I help them get them off my chest, I set myself free of them and distance myself from them. Besides, it saves my today’s mood for posterity, so it does what blogging is all about, just like a year ago, when a similar plea was posted in the eve of a breaking point…

Keep on hoping a for a brighter tomorrow! :-)))))

Sunday, 9 April 2017

A LIttle Life - book review

Spotted the book on someone’s desk while roaming around the office, recalled had heard some time earlier it had been a bestseller in the USA in 2015 and instantly grew curious whether A Little Life deserved that much attention.

The bookowner  (with whom I orally shared my thoughts beforehand) warned me I would struggle to waddle through first pages, as the narrative in first chapter is quite chaotic and a reader needs to take some effort to find his way around characters, links between them and the plot in general. Besides, my second impression was that I was becoming engrossed in a novel on gay community. While I carried on reading, this turned out to be just a misgiving and although the book does not centre around homosexuals, they and their relationships play a vital role in it.

Critics in their reviews claim A Little Life is a novel on manifold aspects of growing up, shirking it, deferring it, holding it back. Indeed, at the certain time, main characters have turned 30, however refuse to act like full-blown adults, yet I believe it is untrue they insist to remain adolescent over their lifetime. They just reach certain milestones in life (such as engaging a mature romantic relationship) later than their peers and later than proscribed by generally accepted social norms.

The book carries some general messages that virtually everyone who has read the book (it has become all-the-rage, changing hands often, around the office) has received. These are universal truths on life one should know in tackling what fate brings.

Firstly, the balance of evil and good one receives over lifetime stays close to zero. I have noticed it myself that the more misfortunes fall on a human, the more emphatic people are induced to lend them a helping hand. The main character of the book, Jude, also gets the evil and the good balanced over his lifetime, however though the proportions are in order, they are spread over time unfairly. His childhood is filled with evil and this impacts his ability and receive good in his adult life.

Secondly, while a reader encounters so much evil Jude is bestowed in his childhood, they learn appreciate what they have and what they have been spared. The story of Jude looks like an example how much suffering one man can be bestowed with and although his testimony proves he has survived, damages done to his psyche are irreversible.

A Little Life is also an in-depth study of depression. The illness is not a single time named in the book, but symptoms the main character exhibits clearly indicate his adult life is a losing battle against the mental ailment. The book plays up the important fact about depression many fail to accept, namely that a human can come down with it no matter how good their life is (though factors conducive to development of the illness must not be played down).

For those who still believe a human can be shaped throughout their entire life, the novel is a reminder that formative years, which end around the time one becomes adult, have tremendous impact on the whole adult life. Harms inflicted in childhood and teenage years stand no chance to be erased from one’s memory and are bound to continue to be a drag on one’s psyche, no matter how firmly one cuts off the past.

All in all, I would recommend the book to a patient and open-minded reader who is not afraid of 800-pages-long journey from cover to cover. The story could have been squeezed into by one-third lower number of pages, hence sometimes a reader might have to resist the temptation to skip passages which bring little value added to the plot. The ones, however I wanted to omit were either abhorrent, detailed descriptions of Jude’s self-injuries, or far too long and emotional deep insights into romantic relationship between men, however the latter I would put down to simple lack of affinity with homosexuals.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

The spring explodes

Just for the record – last days of March 2017 and the very beginning of April 2017 brought temperatures in excess of +20C, accompanied by marvellous sunshine. Early first spells of short-sleeve weather have been witnessed in abundance in Warsaw in the last decade; a similar mass of African air came over Poland around the spring equinox in 2014, in 2016 first days of April also saw temperatures well above +20C. While four years ago winter kept Poland in its grip…

Since such weather is conducive to spending time outdoor and I am grappling with piled-up work-related and home-related stuff, computer in recent days has not been the object I have approached frequently. I promise to catch up next with a review of one of most poignant books I have ever read.

Besides, for the record – this is the last post written from my 18th birthday gift. The excellent HP Compaq nx6310 has not given up the ghost but after ten years and seven months in service, one of two hinges of the screen cover virtually cracked (my neglect) and the quoted cost of repair (PLN 200 after haggling) was above my budget for an investment in the device which may break down any time on account of its age. The old notebook still works (wires have not been cut up), but with fractured hinge laying bare wires its days are numbered. I have already purchased a new laptop, but at first encounter, I am not enchanted by it. Pressed by circumstances, I will have to get used to it and then review it, sometime around Easter.