The Obvious

things that make me happy

Posted in good by theobvious on December 10, 2010

1. Lists: when I want to say something but can’t bring myself to put it into paragraphs.

2. These photos of Europe in snow: they’re beautiful and I actually like snow. In fact, I believe most people like snow. It’s the paraphernalia that’s sickening—the dirty slush when the temperature rises, the cold ears when you’re just trying to avoid hat hair, the itchy skin when you come in from the frost and start thawing…

2a. The fake snow on my blog: I switched it on last year, and apparently this year it restarted automatically, so I came on here and suddenly it’s fake-snowing!

3. This comic: it’s set in a world where mythical creatures are a reality, karma is a serious issue, and crazy preachers in the street yell about evolution. It’s well-written, and I love the pet manticore, too.

4. This cartoon: touching and funny, and check out the smile on that eel’s face! [Update: it’s been removed from YouTube, but if you look for “Partly Cloudy” you should find a copy.]

5. Yoga: I do not believe in chakras and am not going to start referring to air as prana, the essence of life, any time soon, but it does me good to spend three hours a week doing good strong stretches and having five-minute naps (I always fall asleep when the instructor starts waxing on about Sat Chit Ananda during final relaxation).

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our couch is good for surfing

Posted in food, good, people, vilnius by theobvious on November 19, 2010

The couchsurfers are here, and I expected it to be weird, because we’ve never been in a situation where we have to meet completely new people in our house with nobody to introduce us. Surprisingly, we quite hit it off, it seems, unless these are very polite people who’ll hang out with you because they don’t want to offend.

It’s a nice feeling to get to know someone with no shared background at all: not a new member in an existing group, or a new addition to an old team, or someone we got to meet because they’re Jewish. The only thing that unites us is that they were interested in seeing this town, and we happen to live here and have an open home.

For a while now, we’ve been a bit isolated in our own house. Many of our friends moved abroad this year, and in two couples the boys turned out to have severe allergies to cats, so hardly anyone comes to visit, and when we go out, it’s usually either the two of us, or us and my parents, or us and one other couple. We love them, but it does get monotonous.

Despite my social phobia and the anxiety I feel each time when there may be new people to meet, it feels quite nice to just sit there with someone I know nothing about and chat about Morocco and cats and thesis advisors and tourists. And pie, A. baked a pie!

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great advertising

Posted in advertising, good, link by theobvious on June 26, 2008

Of the numerous design and advertising websites that I follow religiously, not one has mentioned http://www.thisistheindexpage.com, which is Converse’s new web campaign. It is, in fact, true to its name – an index of other websites with transparent names.

One of them is http://www.onashoestringfilms.com – one of the best cinematic efforts I’ve seen in a long time. Maybe the best one.
Another is http://www.iseverythinggoingtobeokay.com – I encourage you to visit this website if you are in need of passionate, unconditional support.
And of course there’s http://www.youshoulddoitnow.com – a wonderfully inspirational message, unmarred even by the giant Converse logo at the end.

All of them are short, most of them are funny, they made my day, which was otherwise packed with grim things such as the House season finale (made me weep), and a book from my childhood which I re-read, oblivious to the fact that everyone dies in it (made me weep too).

In short, I recommend.

chanticleer – wow!

Posted in good, music by theobvious on February 13, 2008

Mom and I went to see these gorgeous men sing in their angelic voices at the Philharmonic yesterday. I, for one, am delighted that Vilnius was included in their European tour this year, because the concert was outstanding. They began with early music and ended with gospels, and we audience clapped our palms raw. They took about a hundred bows, and then decided to sing one last song, and the whole thing was a blast!

I’m sorry we couldn’t buy their CD, especially after reading the section on their website dedicated to their Merch Team, where they describe the painstaking process of lugging the huge suitcases full of CDs back and forth. Well, at least those things were definitely lighter after yesterday’s performance, even if through no merit of mine.

If ever you get a chance to hear these people perform, I wholeheartedly recommend you hurry up and buy a ticket for everyone you know and want to make very happy. Also, seriously, they are a treat to behold! Check out their nice and friendly website, featuring their music, and even some photos of the Vilnius Philharmonic right here.

good news and even gooder

Posted in good, sports, the thrilling goings-on by theobvious on February 7, 2008

I went shoe-shopping today. Wait, come back, this is not girl-speak for ‘stop listening’! In fact, this is pretty much as un-girly as it comes. I went to an Adidas store, trying to find a non-pink non-glittering pair of sneakers. I browsed the shelves for half an hour. Every goddamn pair was either lousy or metallic-coloured with patches of neon.

However, we prevailed. The shoes I bought in the end are a very nice pair with just a bit of extremely bright orange on the heel. When asked whether they would be good for training, the man behind the counter looked me up and down and smiled: ‘They’re not good enough for professional aerobics, but they will do for the amateur stuff.’

And just like that, I’m ready to sign up for a gym membership for the first time in my life. No worries. We were there today, and they have green walls. I’ll be in good hands and to tell you the truth, I couldn’t be more excited. Oh wait, yeah I can – a friend is taking me to a screening of the Cannes Lions in two hours! Life is truly awesome.

something completely different

Posted in film, good, important by theobvious on February 2, 2008

This is seriously exciting. I was browsing YouTube, looking for something good to watch, and I came across this. Some things are so obvious that it never crosses your mind to even look for them, and when you find them accidentally you couldn’t be happier, so without any further ado I bring you the Hedgehog in the Fog!

It’s a 1975 Russian cartoon by Yuri Norshteyn (the link is to his Wikipedia page), and most of my friends grew up with it, as did I. It has received a number of well-deserved awards over the years, and so did Norshteyn’s other famous work – the Tale of Tales. And what do you know, that one is also on YouTube.

Watching both of these will barely take half an hour out of your life, but it just might be thirty very well spent minutes, so I encourage you to watch and then let me know how you liked it.

cool video

Posted in film, good by theobvious on January 14, 2008

This is seriously neat:

It can also give you an idea of the kind of video project I appreciate. Drums – not obligatory.

it pays to have friends

Posted in good, important, love by theobvious on January 11, 2008

The most awesome thing that happened to me today was when someone said ‘It’s great that it’s going so well for you and A.’ – and I was like, is it? Oh well, I guess it is. Thanks man, you made me think.

And now you might go all House-slash-Cox M.D. on me and say ‘Did I accidentally make you think I had human feelings? That I cared a tiny rat’s ass? You know me better than that.’ Yeah. I still love you.

new year, new start

Posted in books, good, studies by theobvious on January 3, 2008

Hi! Guess what I’ve been doing! Ahem. Reading. To illustrate, here’s a photo of part of the books I need to have read and studied thoroughly by the 9th:

On top there you can see part of my notes, and on the left – my calendar, which is filled exclusively with studying until the 22nd. And you can’t really tell, but I’ve marked every exam date with a little skull and crossed bones. Just as a symbol of my enthusiasm, see.

So anyway, our New Year’s Eve was kind of nice. In fact, it was better than the last couple of times. We paid a short visit to my great aunt, brought her a cake and all that, and then, inspired by our own goodness, we returned home to exchange gifts with the family.

New Year’s Eve is the local Jewish version of Christmas morning. So there’s presents. And boy, was there a lot of them! I got so much cool stuff, including a fluffy teddy bear / hot water bottle, which – in sickness and in health till death do us part, indeed.

Also, I’m sure you’ll all be excited to know that I’ve been showing marvels of restraint, reading a >500 page book daily, spending hardly any time at the computer, even did my good old Turbo Jam workout today! And, um, showered. For the first time in almost a week.

It feels good to be bragging here, instead of calling myself names and whining. No more pseudo-depression and comfort food. Well, maybe a little comfort food. But definitely more showering! And I have another, less self-centered post planned, so stay tuned.

too soon to relax, there’s still new year!

Posted in bad, good, i don't know, me myself, new year, news by theobvious on December 29, 2007

First of all, sorry for the long absence. I was busy making a ‘my year in pictures’ post over at LiveJournal. I won’t repost it here to avoid boring the most faithful reader of both these blogs (duh, me), but here’s a link. No fear, it’ll open in a new window, you won’t be distracted from reading on.

Here’s something else that happened in the last few days. I have managed not to drag a long-overdue work assignment over into the new year. My untraditional way of avoiding that unpleasant scenario was… to quit. A. will finish the job. Meanwhile, I am more than a little humbled by this experience.

See, I’m not a quitter by nature. Quite the opposite, in fact. I’m renowned for my (often annoying) persistence. Yet this was something I just couldn’t finish – every time I’d sit down to do it, I’d get this wringing feeling in my belly. And let me tell you – it’s not very nice to have your belly wrung.

Now, as we’re getting ready to enter the year 2008 A.D., I find myself in the new role of a giver-upper. Or, to give it a more refined name – a sissy. Uh-oh, as the Teletubbies used to say. Incidentally, have you ever watched a whole episode of those? I have. Man, there’s some true wisdom in there!

Where was I… Well, the message of this embarrassing post is – there will be no New Year’s resolutions, because I’m a wimp, so no use. However, I want to wish all of you that all of your resolutions would come true. Also, if you’re to assume any new roles in the coming year, let them only be pleasant, i.e., Marie Curie or Clint Eastwood. Let nobody surprise you in disagreeable ways, least of all – yourself. And let every blog you read be exciting and updated every day. Twice.

Hooray for new beginnings!

recommendations

Posted in books, good, important, link, vilnius, websites by theobvious on December 18, 2007

I was happy today. Because of little things, like peeling a tangerine at the bus stop and having a woman smile at me, but mainly because I got a new copy of ‘Up the Down Staircase’ and laughed out loud in the street reading my favourite passage, translated perfectly into Lithuanian (I think I should start translating my favourite books pronto, before they are all translated better than I ever could).

I believe every educator should read, and preferably own, this book. No, screw that. I believe every sane person should read and preferably own this book. This is why I’ve made most everyone I know read it, and now I’m giving it to a friend for Christmas. What? He’s a teacher. Have you read this book? You ought to. I hear there’s also a movie, but don’t watch that instead of reading! It’s not the Odyssey after all.

And now that I’m already bossing you around (don’t I have a talent for segues), let me direct you to several websites you might find nice, especially around this time of year, which is all about being charitable and giving others what you have enough of and they haven’t got any. Like food. I can only use some of them for want of a credit card, but at least I can spread the word.

1. FreeRice – a very nice campaign. It’s a word game that lets you expand your vocabulary while giving rice to the poor. Best part – it’s free both for you and the people at the receiving end. It’s also educational, yay!

2. Kiva – this lets you support an entrepreneur of your choice in a developing country. It’s basically a loan program with a smart follow-up system, so you can help someone out of poverty and then watch their progress.

3. Donors Choose – a totally awesome website where teachers submit their educational projects and you can choose which of them to fund with your donation. You will then receive feedback from the students.

4. Of course, there’s always the Red Cross. They are doing an amazing job and need all the help they can get. You get to choose whether to donate to their poverty fund, their disaster relief fund, or plenty other funds.

There’s a nice, albeit less dramatic, project on the web called Streetclash. It’s a street fashion competition. Vilnius is one of the last two finalists, and I encourage you to vote if you like it. There’s a different photo daily.

And then, if you just want to be doing good things for the world, you can give me a paid Flickr account. Just kidding. Instead, always recycle, choose handmade, organic, and fair-trade products, smile to people, and pass these links along.

polka dots

Posted in good by theobvious on November 29, 2007

The city is lighting its Christmas tree on Saturday. It used to be ‘the biggest, prettiest tree in the country’ (to quote their ads), fresh from the forest. Then a couple years ago our Mayor went to Korea and saw this modern eco-friendly tree, basically a cone-shaped Eiffel tower covered in branches. That first year it was a creepy walk-in affair. With stairs. Then last year I wasn’t here to see it. This year it’s the tower alright, but its insides aren’t showing. We’ll try to go see the lighting show.

Also, there’s a Santa Claus assaulting people at the biggest mall while cheesy music is blasting from huge speakers at the entrance. We saw him today while shopping for gifts (got me an insanely expensive uber-cute jacket, yay!) and taking pictures of festive decorations. It’s that time of year.

sense this

Posted in good, important by theobvious on November 26, 2007

Once I’m on the subject of gratitude, here are six more things I’m thankful for:

Sight, because I need all the information I can soak up, and it’s quickest through the eyes. Beauty is also something I couldn’t live without. That is why I love photography.

Sound, because my life is powered by music. And because through words, the world is changed and people are found. We express our love by speaking it, and, more importantly, listening to it.

Smell, because coffee and cinnamon, oranges and grass, paper and ink, water and shampoo, laundry, cats, babies, and friends all smell different. I’m not a dog, but I do follow my nose sometimes.

Texture, because it’s soothing. A bar of soap with little rough particles wakes me up to a new day. There is sensuality in texture – it can be better to touch once than spend hours looking and wishing.

Taste, because life revolves around food and drink. Ultimately, anything that’s done is done around the table. Deals are made, love is born, fights thunder – all between the menu and the check.

Thought, because where would I be without it.

i need a happy post title

Posted in bad, good by theobvious on November 14, 2007

There is no proper shower in this house right now. Nor is there condensed milk. I had eight hours of class yesterday and six today, beginning at 9 am. Tomorrow there’s just one class, but it’s at 11 am and extremely boring, and I need to go all the way downtown for that. I have heaps of homework. The weather is cold and slushy. And A. is still away.

This picture was found here. My mom thinks it looks just like me. I think it looks like Evil Kitty from Powerpuff Girls.

On the other hand, I actually like the snow, I’m wrapped up warm and drinking great tea, I spent a perfect two hours today with one of my best friends, I talked to A. for several hours yesterday, there’s a pile of money coming our way, a great photographer included several of my pictures into his own set, I have two seasons of House on DVD, all ready for my pleasure, and I made my girlfriend a perfect gift.

Once again, the good things outweigh the bad things. Ugh, how trite. There is not nearly enough teenage emo drama in my life.