Binmen’s great job

Shortly before moving to Brighton, I joined a facebook group where people share photos of Brighton, just for the sake of sharing the beauty and all of Brighton with other people. Someone posted a gorgeous series of photos called “Bins at sunrise”. It was really gorgeous and makes you think, are bins really that ugly? What makes them ugly?

Well, bins stink. Bins are sticky. Overflowing bins make it difficult to move around the street. Bins show you what you don’t need to see, which is the unwanted bits of humans’ material creations: empty pizza boxes, drink bottles, cardboard and foil that cans come in into stores, worn out items of clothing, spare shoes.

Binmen working for the Brighton and Hove council have been on strike caused by poor working conditions and low salaries.

But this makes no sense. If after only a few weeks city streets become a health hazard to those living in the city, something’s off. And I don’t mean the milk in that half-empty bottle someone discarded in the street (like a) they couldn’t drink it b) they couldn’t pour it out c) they couldn’t put the bottle in the recycling bin instead). How do we end up producing so much rubbish?

Rubbish has always fascinated me, because there’s so much of it (or maybe that scene from Judy Moody saves the world just got stuck in my brain a little bit too deep). And yet, some people don’t seem to care. They get all frantic about TikTok ’cause it’s everywhere (particularly on Instagram) but not about rubbish! Rubbish has been around for way longer. But we don’t see it because it’s usually magically picked up by the invisible binmen who work for little less than minimum wage.

As for someone who makes us feel better about ourselves by removing the highly visible and smelly consequences of our actions, they should surely be paid more – what they’re doing is little short of magic.

Where I was going with this is that binmen have been doing a great job striking. Finally we get a chance to see just how awful we are at consuming the goods we’ve been given in this contemporary western world. And, if you ask me, they might as well get paid much more while not carrying out their jobs. The world could be better off for it, ’cause maybe we’d see how much rubbish we’re actually making, and maybe cut our unsustainable consumption habits a little… or a lot.


The problem is not the striking binmen. The problem is not their low salaries. The problem is us.

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Visit to University of Sussex campus

Omg, so this was completely incidental. It would’ve been not incidental had I remembered more from second year architectural history lectures. Last Thursday I went to Sussex University campus to sign up at a dental practice, and the architecture there… struck me. I was honestly baffled wondering how anyone could build something so beautiful and functional. The vast green spaces between the buildings and the beauty of the shapes and sizes and configurations of forms are overwhelming. In the golden hour the campus was too pretty; it was that sort of space where you could just exist and take in the stuff around you and not think of anything else. This kind of focus and distraction at the same time that is the ultimate joy; not feeling anything, just kind of being content, and it could even be cold outside but the beauty would be so numbing that you wouldn’t feel it anyway.

Anyway, only afterwards did I look up who designed this campus and, as I suspected, it was Sir Basil Spence, in the 1960s. He allegedly said:

“The whole precinct should have the ‘sense of a university’ and should, if possible, grow out of the soil of Sussex to become a natural part of this beautiful site.”

University of Sussex, Preserving our architecture and heritage

He clearly was a British incarnation of Frank Lloyd Wright, just way better because he’s not so mainstream overrated.

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You can just wonder about connection and continuity; separation and whole; nature and industry (which I’d be way more in favour of juxtaposing than nature and culture); earth and sky. I could tell you more about what it reminds me of, and it obviously reminds me of my alma mater which isn’t my alma mater as such but it is my spiritual alma mater, namely Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland (the twin city of Philadelphia, USA; Goettingen, Germany; Angers, France; Swindon, England; and Leiden, The Netherlands, among others).

It also, obviously, brings to mind the Barbican Estate in London. I visited it in April 2019 and wrote about it… well, I meant to write about it in April 2019, but it turns out I never finished the post. So in the meantime, here are some photos of Barbican that I posted on Instagram.

And when it comes to Nicolaus Copernicus University, here’s a picture of little me on its main campus in Bielany, Torun, Poland.

Summer 1999

All photographs in this post were taken by me, except for the last one, which was taken by one of my parents.

Visit to Shoreham-by-Sea

Shoreham in West Sussex is one of those funny places that have two hyphens in their name. To distinguish it from other Shorehams, Shoreham in West Sussex is the one by the sea. There’s a Shoreham in Kent, in the Sevenoaks District (I’ve always loved the name Sevenoaks, I don’t know exactly why).

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So that I don’t go straight into my short piece of travel writing, I’ll give you a squeezed-in life update. I’m often feeling confused and tired, I have trouble sleeping at night, and I sweat a lot at night – the latter being the strangest because that never happened to me. I blamed my polyester duvet from Asda, but yesterday I picked up a new, 4.5 tog, “hydrocool” duvet from Dunelm in Shoreham, and I sweated last night again under this new cover. So I don’t know. Is it my sheets? But I picked the 100% cotton ones exactly to prevent night sweats. Is it my mattress topper? But without it my mattress feels like a slab of wood. I really don’t know. Is this my fault? The heating, after all, is always off, and my window open as wide as possible (which isn’t VERY wide, if that’s what you’re thinking – I think the windows in student dorms are chosen in such way as to prevent drunk students from leaping out of them).

That’s been my biggest issue of late. Now, skipping this to my travel piece. I took the bus nr 2 from Brighton to Steyning and got off at Bramber. Went up the hill to Bramber Castle which is basically just a big lawn on a hill with some castle ruins sticking out. Not much to see. I made my way through Bramber village and past St Mary’s House (a 15th century lived-in house which is closed to visitors past September) and into Upper Beeding. In Upper Beeding I followed a public footpath to the little river flowing through it. The vast stretches of rural land in Sussex are really quite calming. It’s a tiny bit like North Yorkshire, but not really like North Yorkshire because those hills in NY are much bigger and there’s more sheep than cows and the coast is very different and, after all, it’s a different sea where the land ends. I picked a lot of blackberries on my way down the river. Then I went back to Bramber to catch the bus nr 2 into Shoreham.

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Shoreham is nice but the high street didn’t impress me as it did in Seaford. Seaford seemed much friendlier, but maybe I just, I don’t know. My favourite part of Shoreham is the River Ader estuary and the RSPB reserve, and the airport where I saw a small plane and a helicopter land. There were two groups of people watching the helicopter land and taking pictures, one in the airport and one on the path that runs along the estuary. I have no clue why they were photographing that helicopter, I thought maybe a member of the Royal Family was in that helicopter, but this time I didn’t stop to ask. The main reason is I don’t know what the reputation of non-British people is down here in Sussex and I suppose I’m a bit too self-conscious at the moment to risk exposure and stuff.

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That was my trip to Shoreham. But my favourite bits was looking at all the English architecture, from 19th century English townhouses to the picturesque cottages to the postwar modernism in Hove, and the disused industrial building of cement works between Upper Beeding and Shoreham. The bus was too quick for me to take a picture but it’s really an impressive place. Apparently there are talks to use it and turn into some sort of, something, not sure what, but to scrap off all the postindustrial charm that urbex people like so much. I’m not an urbex person but I do like the sight of things like that. They’re interesting to think about.

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More pictures to come later; they’re still in my camera and I’m at the library.

Visit to Seaford

Last Saturday I took a day trip out to Seaford, a small-ish town to the east of Brighton. It takes half an hour on the train to get there. The weather that day was: cloudless blue sky, just very warm, seriously, not a cloud in sight. I was very warm the whole time and, having forgotten sunscreen, I was a bit concerned that I’d get tanned. (I really don’t like getting tanned).

Seaford’s nice, just quite calm, maybe with the exception of the main shopping streets which can get quite busy, probably more so at the weekend. There was also a bi-weekly street market where I chatted to some woman who was selling handmade soap. We had a good chat about how mass-produced soap strips you of the “good stuff” while natural soap leaves the “good stuff” on your skin, keeping it healthier and moisturised. At least that’s what she said. I honestly don’t know, I’m certainly not an authority on skincare or cosmetic chemistry.

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After hanging out at the beach for a while I made the great decision to visit Seaford Museum. Entry’s only £2.50 (or less if you’re concessions) and there is a HUGE AMOUNT of stuff to see in the basement. It’s all old stuff, like cameras, TVs, radios, typing machines, computers, vinyl players, washing machines, sewing machines… one of my favourite items on display were a Canadian “ice box” (like a fridge) from the late 19th century, I think, and the “bathing machine”. The bathing machine was a wooden cart that you would reel down the beach and into the sea and then you’d bathe in there. The purpose was that no one could see you bathing. Of course now it’s not in use, otherwise the swimsuit industry would be dead (why would you care to buy the cutest swimsuit if no one can see you? would you wear one at all?).

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I also really enjoyed looking at the old music equipment, and playing with the slate boards that kids used in school in the 19th century. You can simply use a slate pen to write on the slate board and then use your finger to write everything off. Suddenly that scene with Anne and Gilbert where she slams the slate over his head makes sense.

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Now, I thought that the little “timelines” for things like washing machines and toasters were probably a bit euro-, if not British-centric. They must be. Aren’t they? Don’t you think?

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I also finally managed to find a mug that I’d like to keep with myself this year. It’s clear glass and it was £1 in a nice Oxfam shop in the Seaford high street. The lady that worked there was very talkative. If she wasn’t, I wouldn’t have bought it. She also wrapped the mug in brown paper which I appreciated – it meant I’d carry it home safely.

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The beach is just as rocky in Seaford as it is in Brighton. Some people were swimming in the sea. It made me jealous.

Oh, and yeah, I did see the Seven Sisters. You might get some photos later.

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Cheap hummus reviews

Sitting in our common room and drinking tea (black), just had lunch sponsored by Aldi so I thought I’d review the hummus I bought there.

We all know what hummus is, well probably the three cheapest hummuses I was able to get were Lidl, Asda, and Aldi own-brand. This time I’m obviously having wonky carrots with Aldi hummus. Aldi hummus (reduced fat) is much more garlic-y than Asda, but you can also taste the chickpeas. The garlic hits you first, then the chickpeas, slightly bitter chickpea flavour, but not bitter-bitter. It’s a good hummus.

Well, at least compared with Asda (reduced fat) hummus, Aldi wins. Asda isn’t bad, but this doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste like cardboard hummus. I.e. imagine you made hummus but replaced chickpeas with cardboard, and probably did so with every other ingredient. Asda hummus is still good because (a) it’s hummus and (b) it’s cheap, but if I were to choose, I’d choose Aldi.

Lidl hummus is also an alright hummus. I haven’t had it in a while but I don’t have terrible memories about that hummus, so I’m assuming it’s not terrible. It’s also cheap because it’s from Lidl, and it’s a hummus because it’s a hummus.

In summary, all three hummuses are pretty good to have with your wonky carrots.

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Free advertisement of BSU (Brighton Student Union) Support. Drop in – don’t drop out! If you think you might have made a mistake choosing your course or are worried that uni isn’t right for you, drop in. And, I mean, I don’t mind doing this free BSUS ad because I agree with this. I myself was in a situation before where I wanted to drop out (and eventually I did, well), but do know that support is available and so are many options. You’ve got many options. So yeah, drop in first before you drop out, and drop in numerous times if you have to. Whatever you need to do to work out your issues!

Supriya took the dog, the son, and left…

Listen. Tumblr isn’t my natural habitat. I prefer WordPress.

But also, it’s difficult for me to run two WordPresses at once. So you’ll have to put up with my Sim content showing up on this very serious domain of mine called kotersey.com.

And so today I’m bringing you my narration of the Delgato family story.

The pre-made Delgato household, living in Brindleton Bay. Made by Maxis.

So the Maxis description of the Delgato family reads:

While Supriya loves her full-time job as a stay-at-home mom, it’s been getting harder and harder to suppress her dreams of being a full-fledged veterinarian. Especially now that the owner of the Brindleton Pawspital is looking to sell the business. Her husband Justin has always been supportive, and keeps offering to take a break from work so she can follow her dream. But can Supriya really trust him to keep the peace at home between Blue and Bartholomew? Not to mention Pierce and Evie too!

The Delgato family is extremely wealthy – they start off with over §45,000 in their budget and a house worth almost §180,000. So together they own about §225,000. Over 11 times the worth of a starter home.

From the Maxis description we learn that Supriya’s dream is to become a professional vet, and there are some trust issues between Supriya and her husband Justin. They also have two children – Pierce and Stevie, and two pets – a dog, Blue, and a cat, Bartholomew A. Bittlebun, Sr.

Justin’s working in the business career, which is probably where the household got all of their money. Either way, they have enough funds to purchase the pet hospital for Supriya and run it…

BUT!

This was actually funny because the game prompted the direction of my gameplay. Blue was sick so Supriya took him to the pawspital (pet hospital in the Brindleton Bay world). And then, while Blue was being taken care of (with the most expensive treatment, of course), some random townie came out of the blue (sic) and kissed Supriya. And I was like, ok. Let’s hope Justin doesn’t find out about this.

But then I thought… why not? What a great opportunity to break down a marriage!

Supriya could no longer be the life partner of Justin…

Supriya thought that if Justin really loved her, he would have quit his business career a long time ago. She decided she deserved better and told Justin that it’s all over.

Justin wasn’t expecting that. He really wanted to have this beautiful family life with Supriya and it never even crossed his mind that she thought he didn’t support her dreams. He wanted to make things work, but Supriya was unwavering – the marriage was over. She had to leave Justin, Justin’s house, and Brindleton Bay, ideally. She decided greener pastures would be a better choice than staying in the rainy, humdrum Bay.

Supriya took Pierce and Blue and moved into a… moderate-sized apartment in Evergreen Harbor. Which neighbourhood? Well, the Green Footprint one. Though once they moved in, the Footprint changed to Neutral. I might do something about this… or not.

Pierce’s a kid now, he goes to school in Evergreen Harbor and considering his self-assurance, he’s had no trouble finding his ways around the new place. Supriya divided the space in the apartment equally between her and her son’s living quarters and her freshly started, semi-improvised (and semi-professional) veterinarian practice. She’s had a few patients already, mostly minor stuff, but considering the lack of competition in the area, she might develop a strong business as she gradually builds up trust among the locals.

When feeling blue, Supriya takes Blue and goes jogging along the ocean front.

Whenever Supriya’s feeling down (because of her marriage breakup) or overwhelmed (because of her entirely new practice), she tries to clear her mind by jogging, usually with Blue. She’s naturally active – i.e. Active’s one of her personality traits (next to Genius and Dog-Lover, the latter being the reason why she took Blue and not Bartholomew A. Bittlebun, Sr.), so physical exercise is one of her favourite things to do, anyway. So it’s a good thing it releases endorphins and is good for your heart. It’s a side benefit, right?

But sometimes even jogging isn’t enough to make Supriya feel better.

But still, it’s not always easy to be a self-employed single mother in a new place.


By the way, here’s an interesting article from The Guardian about mixed-race people’s experiences. I suppose Justin Delgato could be from an Hispanic background, and Supriya’s likely to have Indian parents, so Evie and Pierce would be Hispanic/Indian mixed race. I can imagine Evie could look like this when she’s a grown up (she’d obviously wear contact lenses when she’s older): well you have to click the link because I’m not authorised to post Shutterstock pictures on this site.

I sadly don’t have any pictures of the kids at the moment, and I’m separated from my PC with The Sims 4. We’ll both have to wait for the next episodes of the Delgato family story.

Catch US if you can

I mean the United States, of course, because that’s what this is about – catching the West.

You should see what a circus of a country Poland has become. But so have the US, too! You don’t need to know a lot about politics to know that the US is messed up, and so is Poland. Seems like we’ve caught up with the West after all.

Another reason why we’ve caught up with it is that the trend of suburbanisation, i.e. building monofunctional housing estates on the outskirts of town so that you have trouble commuting to basically anywhere on a daily basis and use up huge amounts of resources as a result, BUT you live ‘away from’ the ‘messy’ ‘city centre’.

It’s not good to always try to be like someone else. It’d be good to, perhaps, look at other countries’ history and figure out if we could avoid some bad things that happened to them. Well, whatever. I suppose you’ll need your car after all.

Games, my man

‘So, games can tell you all sorts of things,’ said Austin, pulling up the The Sims window. The Sims was really an archaic game, 21 years old by then, but Alaska knew that Austin always had a thing for old things.

‘So, the furniture catalog. All of your Sims have a panel of needs and life satisfaction that you have to take care of. You can send them to work to earn Simoleons for your household. With those Simoleons you can buy whatever’s in the catalog, if you have enough money.’ The little sticky people on the screen froze and a catalog of chairs, beds, and toilets appeared at the bottom of the screen. ‘You can buy a cheap toilet or an expensive toilet, or both, but the expensive toilet will satisfy your Sim’s bladder need better. So it’ll make your Sim happier overall. Same if you buy a more expensive bed or a more expensive painting for your wall. Get it?’ Austin said as he moved around the digital domestic environment of his imaginary Sim-family. ‘The game insists that the objects that cost more money will satisfy you better, thus pushing you into the cycle of labour and consumption, which promises you happiness and fulfillment.’

‘That’s very interesting,’ said Alaska. ‘So that’s what you’re doing in that game studies module?’

‘Yes, and I have to tell you, it’s been really enlightening,’ Austin answered.

‘Have you spoken to Nevada about it at all?’ Alaska asked.

‘No, I haven’t spoken to her in a while. She seems pretty busy with making that cosplay thing for her competition at GeekCon in San Myshuno.’

Austin was in his third year of college. Ever since he entered Britechester University, he could not be happier. He was finally fulfilling his lifetime aspiration of becoming a real academic – nothing made him feel more himself than spending hours in the library, expanding his horizons. Besides, everything was going well with his high school best friend Morgan. At that point they were long more than friends.

Alaska just started college. She went to Britechester University, just like Austin. Their older sister Sydney was going to graduate that year from Foxbury College; she was a biology major and her dream was to move as close to the ocean as possible and carry out environmental work. Alaska had no doubt Sydney would do that as soon as she was free from the responsibilities of college.

Alaska herself really enjoyed painting, reading, and doing other creative and literate activities. She picked a few courses in Simlish literature, but she was also very close to nature, just as she always had been. So Austin and her always got along well, and once they were in the same town again, they could go on hiking or fishing excursions into the lakes and forests, which were abundant in and around the Britechester area. Their parents, Summer and Travis, lived back in their Willow Creek house, together with Nevada, Alaska’s twin sister, who was doing classes online alongside developing her career as a professional gamer. In that aspect, Nevada and Alaska were complete opposites – Alaska couldn’t stay indoors for too long, while Nevada could stay in her basement bedroom for however long, just playing video games.

My drawings from 2012

Today’s a treat. I’ve got my historical pendrive with me and I found some really, well, you name it, drawings from early 2012. They were all scanned and, I believe, some of them found their way onto Deviantart.

The black-and-white ones are my self-portrait, and the drawings of dying Boromir from The Fellowship of the Ring, which I was pretty obsessed with. I was in second year of middle school and had just finished reading the first LOTR volume and also got the fanciest camera ever which I still have, so I was a pretty artsy kid at the time.

I wanted to post something today so something it is. Have you got any embarrassing drawings from when you were in middle school?

end of september update

The last day of September deserves an update!

I’m in Brighton, it’s 9.30am and when I woke up this morning I turned my head to the right and looked out the window and saw hills and trees and green grass and a cloudy sky. I see this first thing in the morning every day, only that the sky changes. And I’m assuming the trees will lose their leaves in the next two months or so, so the view will change again. Yesterday was a brilliant sunny day, the day before – cloudy and rainy, the day before that – warm and sunny, and so it really feels like England now. I mean, I really am in England this time, but go any more south and you’ll be in the water and a bit further you’ll be in France. How awesome is that?

I don’t know, I always preferred living in England to Scotland. My bet is that architecture is different. I much prefer the brick English houses, semi-detached or terraced or the big blocks of flats, to the sandstone architecture of Scotland. It might be the colour palette, it might be the overall shape, or just the building material – I’ve always liked brick, and England is a brick paradise. Anyway, I love being here.

The sea’s so close and all I need is a half-an-hour bus trip to be right on the beach. Fun fact, the first time I took the uni bus into town (on Monday), I went to Brighton Pier and some young men stopped me and asked me for £1 coin so they could play arcade games. After a bit of a chat I gave them the £1 coin and they gave me five £20 notes. I laughed, thinking they were fake, but I thanked them and went on my way. I had a lot of charity shops to tour that day to find pots, bowls, cutlery etc. for the kitchen, so that I could eat something other than sandwiches off pieces of cardboard.

But I had to go to the bank as well that day, and so I asked them to check if the money was real. It was. That was my LOL of the day. Shit, crazy shit happens sometimes when you don’t expect it. Anyway, let’s say those guys funded equipping my dorm.

Speaking about dorms, my uni flat is incredibly nice – all of it – the kitchen/living area, the bathrooms, my bedroom (it has a sink! I absolutely love a bedroom with a sink), and the common spaces like the lounge up the stairs in ‘the Hub’. The Hub is the main building with the reception where you registered and got your student card when you first arrived, and where you can pick up your post. They’ve also got a lounge area upstairs, toilets, table tennis, and they said they might get a pool table in the future. They’ve also got vending machines, in case you needed a Snickers in the middle of the night ’cause you forgot to get groceries… and I think they’ve got the ensuite dorms on the upper floors, too.

There’s very little around my halls. There’s the woods and a construction site, a small residential village across the road (where I should definitely go register with a doctor soon, ’cause I’m still registered at the practice in Edinburgh), and on the other side of the woods there’s a big road. Inter-county or whatever. It’s in a pretty deep valley and there are a few bridges that go over it, the height of the bridges is really pretty big. If you walk for 30 minutes along the smaller road or through the woods you’ll get to the Asda Superstore, where they have almost everything.

Brighton is really pretty and I’ll tell you more about it in the coming posts. For now, take care and I’ll take care then, too.

Blind vs constructive patriotism – notes

I have a tablet I can draw with now, so here’s some notes I transcribed from my summer 2019 notebook that I took with me to America. I made these notes using a handbook on patriotism in modern America, I don’t remember exactly what that book was, what I know is I passed it onto someone in the coop, someone who’s studying history. Best of luck in his final year of undergraduate studies.