Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Best of 2014, Not from 2014

It's the end of another arbitrary year, as if you hadn't noticed, and an opportunity for pathetic blogs to beg for desperate clicks by publishing banal end-of-year lists of some things they are aware were broadly popular within the previous 12 months, without risking revealing too much about their individual taste and putting off the clickers with obscure choices.

This isn't one of those blogs. I'm not interested in your clicks or your opinions, and I don't much care whether something's new as long as it's new to me. I barely bothered to keep up with what the kids were into even when I was one, and now that I live in exile under the tyranny of an 800MB daily download limit, my entertainment options of late have been limited. It's been the year of the low-bandwidth BBC Radio 4 iPlayer and occasionally being spoiled by the fuzzy textures and barely legible text of 240p YouTube videos when my standard 144p isn't available.

So here's a list of things I can remember happening to like in 2014, which invariably weren't made this year. I did enjoy some things made this year too - some of them quite a lot - but what chance does a single year have to stand out among all those multiple decades that preceded it (depending on the medium)?

I was going to do this last year, but abandoned it because it seemed a bit like a pointless waste of time. You can judge whether that means I've grown or shrunk as a person over the past year. You can also let me know your anachronistic picks if you like, I do care a bit.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thieving Bastards VII: You Didn't Seriously Do This Again?

 photo thieving7_zps739cfd8f.jpg

It's the festive season! Which means it's that time of year when a hiatus from work is forced upon me and I have to desperately seek ways to fill that void with even more tedious projects than the ones I'm financially compensated for and drive myself insane. Two years after I scoured the backwaters of the internet to find my plundered photos being used for nefarious purposes without my consent or credit given, I finally put myself through this again.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

...and justice for me

In what may seem like an unlikely development for harsh realists, I took my Korean debtor to court over the money she "borrowed" three years ago, and despite my case resting entirely on an incomplete record of bank statements and apologetic emails, I actually won.

It's not really a cause for celebration, yet, as crucially I still haven't had a single ₩ of my money back and the legal costs aren't over. Thanks to her THE LOSER's customary refusal to communicate during any of this (she THE LOSER had plenty of chances to contest it, or settle things out of court, but didn't bother), I'm about to move on to the tedious process of executing her THE LOSER's assets to retrieve what's now legally recognised as mine. Assuming she THE LOSER has any assets and I won't have to settle for being proved right, because isn't that what's important at the end of the day?

Not really. I'd rather have all money back, to be honest. I want to buy a house.

But it is still satisfying and comforting to be validated as right and deserving of full financial retribution (plus legal costs and some generous, mandatory interest I wasn't expecting) in the impartial eyes of foreign law, rather than being laughed out of the courtroom. I didn't even have to go to the courtroom, as my friendly Korean lawyer did all that for me. She's already getting her 8%, but what's the etiquette on tips?

Suwon District Court might be somewhere in this picture? Didn't go.

South Korea was already my favourite country in Asia (that one bad apple and several drunk English teachers aside), and this has only further affirmed my admiration for the place. It certainly scores above Thailand, where I've been told that making a case against my other major debtor would require physical appearances and plenty of spurious fees for the shady lawyers. Maybe next time I'm in town.

The lesson is: if you're going to help out someone of dubious moral fibre when they spin fables of woe and promise to pay you back within an unrealistic time window, at least do that in a developed country with a reputable judicial system and whose chief export isn't human traffic. Yes, that's definitely the lesson I should take away from all of this.

Today's irrelevant soundtrack: Metallica, '...And Justice for All'

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

...and Dublin isn't much closer

A week after I learned I was apparently born in Ireland, and expressed regret at my laziness for never having bothered to visit that country in all the years I lived next door (at least the way I look at the world now), I was offered a chance out of the blue to enjoy an all-expenses-paid holiday to Dublin by the good people at

As you are one of our top customers, I’d like to invite you to participate in our 2015 Hostel Conference in Dublin, Ireland in January.

We’d love you to join us as part of a group of our best customers to participate in a panel discussion with hostel owners.

We will pay for your airfare and accommodation in Dublin, as well as provide your meals at the conference itself.

Ideally, we would fly you into Dublin on Saturday, January 24 or Sunday, January 25 and fly you back home on the evening of Tuesday, January 27.

Your input into our conference would be much appreciated --- is this something you would consider doing?

All I had to do to qualify for this generous offer was to book practically every place I've stayed over the last four-and-a-bit years through the same hostel website, for reasons of familiarity and laziness, and to diligently review all 122 of them, because it's nice to have a good moan. There should actually be a lot more than that - it looks like the ones from January 2011 and earlier have been eroded by the time winds.

As my home country is listed as 'England' on their website (I thought I was Irish? I'm so confused), I assumed their already generous offer wouldn't stretch to the 23,798-kilometre round trip from the Philippines (we'll probably be elsewhere in Asia in January, but not much closer), so I gratefully declined. Which is a shame, as I would have enjoyed the opportunity to deliver my arrogant critiques of Wi-Fi and backhanded compliments about staff to the owners in person, rather than just reading their aggressive replies online.

Why did they want me? Maybe they heard the news that I'm Irish and figured they could save on the transport if I was already in the area. I'm still flattered though - I'd probably get nice offers like this all the time if I'd ever made the effort to network or was generally friendly online, but then I'd be a sell-out to the People Who Hate People cause.