poniedziałek, 26 sierpnia 2013

How to be a Very Good Couchsurfer (in 3 simple steps and plenty of pictures).

Constructive criticism involves both, negative and positive comments, so all right, here we go. Before, long long ago, when Couch Surfing was still a non-for-profit organisation it used to hire volunteers, who'd welcome newbies. I still remember the guy who introduced me to CS, his name was Stergios, he was from Greece and I could ask him any question I wanted. Now there are no volunteer anymore, we just have a really fucked up interface and request system, so we have to deal with it. Here is a bunch of tips of how to enjoy CS and not to damage it from inside:

1. Community. In the past year I went for a spontaneous road-trip to Lithuania with a bunch of strangers, I was skinny dipping in a pond in the night of summer solstice, and a reportage about me was published in a Norwegian magazine Aftenposten. All those things (And many more) happened because of Warsaw community and people I found there. Facebook has users, Microsoft has clients and CS has members, because it's a community. It's called Couch Surfing, so people tend to underestimate the community part, but trust me, it's important. Community develops on local dashboards, and the less spammed they are, the more space for community to develop there is. That's why it's so important not to write couch request at a dashboard. In Warsaw it grows beautifully, we have bridge club, Regular CS Volleyball Games, book club, Alternative Meetings, Dead Drinker Society, Weekly Meetings, Monthly Meetings and the whole bunch of other gatherings. The cool thing about it, is that you can just approach anyone, introduce yourself, make it a beginning of a wonderful friendship and no one is going to give you weird stares.

Here is my tip: find out if there is a meeting in your neighborhood (or organize it yourself) and just meet people. Trust me, at least some of them are cool. 

Summer solstice! (Not enough mead to do stupid things yet)

2. Surfing. On the other hand, yeah. CS is a lot about surfing as well. In the past years it went trough a lot of changes. First of all, it went for profit, then the number of members grew from 2 million in 2009 to 5.5 million in 2013 and then the media started writing about yay, how cool it is to crash couches for free, because, oh my God, people, you can save up 10$ on a hostel!  

Which is just a huge misunderstanding. 

Because CS is a place of cultural exchange. It's a gift economy. The fact that you don't pay with money, doesn't mean you come to your host empty-handed. You come to your host to meet a person, to be closer to everyday life in the visited destination. You come to your host, to give something and to take something. You don't come with money, you come with time, respect, patience and curiosity. And it's not just cliche talking, you don't pay with money, you pay with another currency.

That's why, as a good surfer you don't write come-one, come-all request on a dashboard. A good surfer wants to meet this particular host. A good surfer reads the profile carefully and then writes a personal, non copy-paste couch request. But first of all, a good surfer thinks about what he can give before thinking what he can get.

My tip for you is: before using Couch Surfing, think if you feel like you have enough time and patience. Sometimes you just don't and it's okay, in this case just book a hostel. There is of course a whole set of common-sense guidelines: bring a small gift from your country, adjust to your hosts schedule, bring your own food, keep the place clean, save water and electricity and so on. But first of all, for God's sake, don't write in your request 'I'm looking for a couch, because I don't have money for a hostel'. It's just wrong on so many levels. 

3. How it all works? Okay, I may be naive, but I assume, that there are people, who aren't lazy, just technologically handicapped and they need extra instructions on how to use Couch Surfing, because otherwise they will be posting couch requests on a dashboard, which is, let me remind you, a big no-no. If you're one of them, there is no reason to feel bad, it took me few hours to figure out how to install Facebook Like Box on my blog as well, I feel your pain. Here we go:

Here is the homepage of CS. In the top left corner there is a field where you type your destination:

Let's make it Paris. Click and voila, here is CS Paris community. Click "Plan a trip":

Now you see a simple 3-steps form. It's kinda obvious.Remember to fill all the fields

Step number two is writing a request that will be visible to everyone in the city, including your host. It's called "open request", because everyone who looks for a surfer can see it and invite you. Make it nice, if you are travelling in a group, describe your friends and add links to their CS accounts, write a bit about yourself, about your plans. Use "please", "thank you" and a proper punctuation. Click "continue".

Now you see the list of your potential host. Every host has some additional information:
  • Availability. In upper right corner there is a symbol of a coffee cup (he/she can't host but can meet you), a couch (he/she can host you), a couch with a question mark (maybe he/she can host you) or a plane (he's/she's travelling at the moment.
  • Reply rate. If someone declines most of the requests, he's obviously not a very active host. Look for people with a reply rate close to 100%
  • Reply time. If it takes 6 days for this particular host to reply, you may have to wait for the response from him/her. The shorter reply time, the better. 
On the left side there is a menu that lets you customize the list:
  • You can use the browser to look for hosts (specifying the number of people in your group will narrow down the search only to those who are available to host all of you), other surfers or locals, who can't host you.
  • If you click "Search by map", the browser will display a map, by zooming in and out you can change the list of hosts - the ones who will appear on the list are the ones who live in the area displayed on the map. 
  • You can also use the browser to find people with similar interests ('keyword'), at particular age or particular gender. 

After you click someone's picture, you'll see his/her profile. Read it carefully. Is this person cool? Does he/she have a reliable profile? Does he/she have (a) negative reference(s)? Above the profile picture there is a button "Send a couch request to...". Click it. What you see now is the last form. In the bottom window write why did you choose this particular person, and why he or she should host you. Make sure it's a personal request and it's clear that you read his or her profile. Ask when can you come and don't forget leaving your mobile number. Add your arrival and departure date and how you're going to reach his/her place. Done? Click "Send couch request"

You can write as many requests as you want, but my experience says that 10 nice, elaborate ones is more than enough to find a great host. If you get invitations from two people simultaneously, it's okay to say that you already found a host. Some people like to make sure that you read their profile. My last host in Graz asked surfers to include the name of her cat, hidden somewhere in the text of her profile, to a request. Remember to bring your own food and a sleeping bag, unless your host makes it clear that he has linen for you. Before you arrive, ask if he or she wants to spend some time with you, sometimes the only thing that a host can offer is a couch. After you say goodbye, remember to leave a reference. If your stay was great, just say it out loud, if your host was rude or behaved in an inappropriate way, you can always leave a negative reference.

If a couch request is written properly, it's REALLY the quickest way to find a host and, making your surfing safer, funnier and more enriching. 

wtorek, 20 sierpnia 2013

Biało-czerwona w sosie tabasco / White-and-red flag in tabasco sauce.

Wszyscy wiemy, co się zdarzyło w Gdyni. Według opowieści świadków wyglądało to tak, że 18 sierpnia nad ranem przybyli do miasta dżentelmeni-sportowcy z Chorzowa w liczbie paru setek. Ranek był rześki, do meczu zostało jeszcze trochę czasu, młodzież z Chorzowa, znana głównie z rozlicznych akcji charytatywnych wyległa na plażę. Na plaży przywitali ich liczni lokalni plażowicze, z którymi miłośnicy naszego sportu narodowego śpiewali patriotyczne piosenki. Sielski dzień na plaży upływał leniwie, młodzieńcy zorganizowali pokaz pirotechniczny dla dzieci, maluchy były zachwycone, aż wtem... na plażę wtargnęła banda pokrytych tatuażami meksykańskich żołnierzy z nożami sprężynowymi w zębach, gotowych gwałcić, mordować i rabować. Ale głównie gwałcić. Bandyci rzucili się na nadobne niewiasty, już, już miało dojść do obscenicznych aktów na plażowiczkach, gdy polscy dżentelmeni, brzydzący się przemocą, wobec kobiet zwłaszcza, powiedzieli basta. (zupełnie przypadkowo w dla obu stron zrozumiałym języku). Potem powiedzieli 'kurwa' i jeszcze parę innych rzeczy, które tym razem nie były zrozumiałe i tak rozpętało się piekło. W powietrzu fruwały sombreros i husarskie skrzydła, pierogi i butelki tabasco, kurwy i pendejos. Na szczęście dzięki niewielkiej przewadze liczebnej, jakieś 300 do 17, nasi dzielni dżentelmeni wygrali, cnota słowianek została ocalona, a nad plażą załopotała (fakt, że trochę poplamiona tabasco) biało-czerwona flaga.

Taka przynajmniej jest wersja kiboli. Mimo tak wiarygodnych przesłanek, skłonna jestem uwierzyć w to, że siedemnastu wysportowanych latynoskich marynarzy, creme de la creme meksykańskiej Heroica Escuela Naval Militar, przyciągało damskie spojrzenia. Wiadomo, latynosi są hot, marynarze są hot, latynoscy marynarze są tak hot, że na ich klatach można smażyć boczek. Kibice Ruchu Chorzów natomiast... powiedzmy, że są tak hot jak syberyjskie bory w lutym. Wiadomo też, że przy brakach lingwistycznych jedynym sposobem wyrażenia niezadowolenia z bycia pominiętym na matrymonialnym rynku jest spuszczenie wpierdolu. Dalej wszyscy wiemy co się stało, u nas dym, za oceanem jeszcze do dziś rana myślałam, że mając poważniejsze problemy zleją całą historię. Nie zlali, pisze o tym nawet CNN Mexico. 

Najciekawsze jest jednak to, co zdarzyło się później. Doszły mnie słuchy, że wszystkiemu winne są puszczalskie Polki, zwłaszcza te ze Szczecina, które, ponoć dawały się pukać w każdym hotelu i rozochociły marynarzy, którzy do Gdyni przypłynęli w wiadomym celu. A przecież tak nie można. Puszczalskie Polki mają się puszczać tylko z Polakami (cnotliwymi jak Bolesław Wstydliwy), inaczej przyjdzie chorzowska policja obyczajowa i zbije bezwstydników. Rynek matrymonialny jest mocno liberalny, więc jeśli na towar jest mały popyt to należy go poprawić, bo inaczej można będzie się pocieszać tym, że najlepsza baba to własna graba. Można zacząć od wyrzucenia z wokabularza słowa 'puszczalska'.

Miałam okazję mieszkać w Meksyku przez pół roku. Chamski podryw zdarzał mi się sporadycznie, głównie od wąsatych wujaszków stojących w korku na Paseo de la Reforma, którzy robili to chyba, żeby nie wyjść z wprawy. Całkiem często zdarzało mi się za to dostawać komplementy i spotykać bardzo dobrych tancerzy. Nie wiem czy dla tych, którzy płaczą, że Polki ich nie chcą ta aluzja jest dość czytelna. Wracając do kiboli Chorzowa, to chciałabym zobaczyć statystyki przemocy domowej z Cwajki, Chorzowa II, zagłębia fanów Ruchu. Ogromnie mnie fascynuje to, czy dżentelmenami są w domu czy tylko na wyjeździe. 

Komiksiarz proponuje inne wytłumaczenie tej sytuacji i chociaż mam mu za złe to, że musiałam przez niego czyścić laptopa z kawy, to myślę, że jest ono bardzo prawdopodobne:


We all know what happened in Gdynia. According to the witnesses, in the morning of August 18th a group of few hundreds of athletes-gentlemen from Chorzów arrived to the city. The morning was brisk, there was still some time left to the football match between Arka Gdynia and Ruch Chorzów, so young people, known mostly of numerous charity activities, decided to go to the beach. On the beach local sunbathers welcomed them joyfully and all together they started singing patriotic songs. The day was idyllic, the fans of our national sport organized a pyrotechnic show for kids, who were delighted with it. Suddenly, the beach was invaded by a bunch of tatoos-covered Mexican soldiers, with knives in their teeth, ready to rape, kill and plunder. Mostly rape, as it turned out. Bandits pounced on the ladies, and they were about to perform obscene acts on them, when Polish gentlemen, abhorring violence, especially towards women said basta. (Coincidentially in a language, that was understandable for both sides, since the word means the same in Polish and Spanish). Then they said kurwa and some other things about bandits' mothers, which were not understandable, and that's how the hell was raised. There were somberos and hussar wings in the air, pierogi and bottles of tabasco sauce, kurwas and pendejos. Luckilly, thanks to a small preponderance, something like 300 versus 17, our brave gentlemen won, virtue of slavic ladies was defended and a red-and-white flag (a bit stained with tabasco sauce though) fluttered over the empty beach.

At least this is what hooligans say. Despite having such convincing arguments, I'd be more eager to believe in the fact, that seventeen fit, dark, latino marineros, who happen to be creme de la creme of Mexican Heroica Escuela Naval Militar, coming back home from Szczecin, where they were participating in famous Tall Ship Races on their stunning vessel 'Cuauhtemoc' were turning ladies' heads. Let's face it, marines are hot. Latinos are hot. Latino marines are so hot that one could fry bacon on their chests. Ruch Chorzów football fans are on the other hand... they are hot as deep Siberian forest in mid-February. It's kind of obvious, that with their lack of linguistic skills, the only way of expressing dissatisfaction caused by being omitted at the matrimonial market was beating the shit out of the ones who weren't. We all know what happened next. Till today's morning I was hoping that Mexico has more serious problems and they would ignore all this incident. They didn't, CNN Mexico already writes about it. 

The most important thing is however, what happened on the Polish Internet later. I was quite surprised to hear, that Polish permissive slutty girls are to blame, especially the ones from Szczecin, where Tall Ship Races took place. They were 'letting those Mexican dudes shag 'em in every hotel in the city', so they upped an appetite of Mexican boys, who came to Gdynia for one purpose. And it's not supposed to be like this, right? Slutty Polish girls should be permissive to Polish guys only, otherwise vice squads from Chorzów will come and beat the shit out of profligates. The matrimonial market is quite a liberal one, so if your product has no demand, you should pimp it up a bit, otherwise you'll get blisters on your right hand. You can start with crossing out the word slutty from your vocabulary. 

I was lucky to live in Mexico for half a year, and no one treated me disrespectfully. The worse pick-up line I encountered was eeey, gringa guerita! shouted by moustached old cab drivers, getting bored in the traffic jam at Paseo de la Reforma. I think they were considering it as some kind of a pick-up training and had little to no hope for success. Quite often though, I was getting compliments and I was meeting excellent dancers. I'm not sure if this hint is clear for dudes, who are whining, because they are invisible for girls. Compliments and dance, boys! By the way, I'd like to see domestic violence statistics from Cwajka, Chorzów II, the infamous home of Ruch Chorzów hooligans. I'm curious if they are gentlemen at home as well as at away tie. 

Komiksiarz offers a different view on this situation, and I think it's quite convincing, even though I had to wipe my laptop after I laughed while drinking coffee. The point is that Ola is a female name, coming from Alexandra, and it's pronounced like Spanish hola.

- Łukasz, please, chill out, you don't look like a girl
- I know,  but they  call me  Ola once again and I'm
gonna beat the shit out of them

niedziela, 18 sierpnia 2013

How to become a Very Bad Couchsurfer in seven simple steps

You have no money, but you want to travel to some overpriced super touristy city in a high season. Barcelona. Or Venice. Or Paris. A friend of yours told you once about a website called Couch Surfing, which is basically about having free accommodation, and, if you're lucky, you can even get laid. Yay! What do you do? Obviously, you become a Very Bad Couchsurfer.

Check out a CS group called Funny Negative References, you'll find there
 ideas on how to be a Very Bad Couchsurfer!

1. First of all, you need a profile, but ain't nobody got time for that, so just add a picture of your dog, who cares. Or add a group picture, your hosts will have fun guessing which one is you. Or, if you really think you're ugly, upload a 100 x 150 px picture of you wearing huge sunglasses. Or just don't add a picture at all, your personality beaming from your profile should be enough. If you're a girl, set a half-naked selfie as your profile pic (boobs or GTFO), this will prevent you from getting invitations from other girls and will encourage dudes who want to score you. If you are a guy, make sure to upload every picture of you accompanied by hot chicks, that you have on your hard drive, it surely won't make you look like a creepo. Describe yourself as an open-minded and easy-going person. Don't include your age, after all, you value your privacy. Include some really cool and unique hobbies, like reading books, sport and music, so people would see that you're a very interesting person. Don't forget about travelling, because it may not be obvious, when you're using a travel-related website. You get three points if you manage to create your profile within 3 minutes. 

2. Now you have a profile. Excellent. You chose a city. Barcelona! There will be many tourists there, and you need to get a free couch. CouchSurfing system will be trying to suggest using a Couch Request functionality every now and then. IGNORE IT. Otherwise you'll have to spend hours on looking for a host, and you keep your motto in the back of your head. Post your request right on a dashboard, it doesn't matter that the Barcelona dashboard is flooded with requests like yours and nobody really reads them. Your sparkling personality will beam from your post anyway! Just write that you are coming and that you are looking for a couch. Here is a tip - you are looking for a couch, not a host. We don't want somebody to get a stupid idea that you want anything more than just a free hotel, amirite? If you're coming with friends, don't attach links to their CS of Facebook profiles, your potential host should trust you enough to let you bring to his house pretty much anybody! 

You may not get many responses for your message. Actually, after 5 minutes, you may find your message lonely, forgotten and relegated to the 4th page of a dashboard by eleventy billion new messages from other very bad couch surfers. Shit happens, you'll probably need to go back to that ridiculous Couch Request functionality. 

3. The nosy system will ask you about what are you going to do in Barcelona. Remember that you value your privacy, so write something very general. You have to use at least 100 characters. If you use words such as 'party', 'hang out' and 'drink', you'll need to use only 83 characters for all 'hahahah' and 'lol' that you'd like to use! Now, the system shows you a list of your potential hosts. Choose randomly. Reading their profiles? Come on, ain't nobody... Once you choose a person and want to send a request, this goddamn system will ask you why do you want to meet this person. Duh, because you have no money? (bonus 5 points for including this) And you're looking for a couch? (next 5 points) Really Couch Surfing, is it that difficult to guess? Click a 'send couch request' button and wait.

4. Wait 5 minutes more

5. No response. Go back to the dashboard, repeat numbers 3, 4 and 5 till you get an invitation (as an additional argument for hosting you, you may add that nobody wants to host you and you have nowhere to go. Add a very sad emoticon). Yay! Some very naive and potentially masochistic barceloni wants to host you, even though you gave more than enough signals of being a Very Bad Couchsurfer. Make an appointment with him, don't bother with exchanging phone numbers though. Get late (don't apologize!). During your stay, keep your things all over the place. Take a very long hot shower. Twice. Don't turn off the light. Eat something from his fridge (+ 10 points), after all you are the guest here. Make some noise in the night. If you're with your girlfriend or boyfriend, have sex on a couch and make sure that not only your host, but also all his neighbors (the ones from across the street too) know about it . (If you leave a condom behind a couch, you get additional 15 points). In the morning take an extra long shower, making sure that your host not only pays huge bills for water, but also gets late for work. If your barceloni host is not particularly smart, make him take you for a party. Get piss drunk, pass out in the middle of the party, it will provide him some additional adventures. (If you manage to puke on his shoes, you get additional 10 points, if you hit on his girlfriend, you get 15 points more)

6. After your surfing don't leave the references, unless you were hosted by a chick and you scored her (+ 5 points). In this case, make sure to include this detail in your reference!

7. Did you get more than 40 points? Congratulations! Go to the mirror, raise your right hand and tap your back. You've just became a Very Bad Couchsurfer. Some people may not like it, but don't worry, you're not alone!

wtorek, 13 sierpnia 2013

Waking up full of awesome

I found this manifesto long ago, trough Pinterest. The author is a very brave mom, Melissa Atkins Wardy, who decided to give her kids proper childhood. A childhood, that lets girls grow up in their own pace, that lets them be girls, not small, eroticized lolitas. That allows them to play with Matchbox cars if they want or with LEGO bricks or with dolls. A childhood that is about respect and raising kids, who are healthy, bold and full of awesome. I absolutely love it, so I decided to create a small fan-art. Feel free to check out her website.

Znalazłam ten tekst dawno temu, przez Pinterest. Autorką jest pewna bardzo dzielna mama, Melissa Atkins Wardy, która zdecydowała, że da swoim dzieciom cudowne dzieciństwo. Takie, które pozwala dzieciom na dorastanie w ich własnym tempie, i które pozwala dziewczynkom na bycie dziewczynkami a nie rozerotyzowanymi lolitkami. Dzieciństwo, w którym jeśli chcą, mogą się bawić matchboxami, albo klockami LEGO albo lalkami. Takie, które opiera się na szacunku i na wychowywaniu dzieci, które są zdrowe, pewne siebie i pełne zachwytu. Absolutnie uwielbiam ten tekst, dlatego postanowiłam stworzyć mały fan-art. Rzućcie okiem na jej stronę.

Był taki czas, kiedy miałaś pięć lat i budziłaś się pełna zachwytu.

Wiedziałaś, że jesteś wspaniała.

Kochałaś samą siebie.

Sądziłaś, że jesteś piękna, nawet, jeśli byłaś szczerbata, miałaś potargane włosy a skarpetki w twoich utytłanych trampkach były nie od pary.

Kochałaś swoje ciało i rzeczy, które potrafiło robić.

Sądziłaś, że jesteś silna.

Wiedziałaś, że jesteś mądra.

Ciągle to masz, ten zachwyt?

Ktoś ci go zabrał? Pozwoliłaś mu?
Dałaś go sobie odebrać, bo ktoś powiedziać, że nie jesteś wystarczająco piękna, szczupła, inteligentna, dobra? Dlaczego do cholery miałabyś ich słuchać? Wzięłaś pod uwagę, że mogą gadać farmazony?

Czy to nie byłoby zupełnie bez sensu, gdybym powiedziała mojej córce, że za pięć albo dziesięć lat może nienawidzić się za to, że nie wygląda jak głodująca modelka po Photoshopie? Albo jeszcze dziaczniej: że powinna być raczej seksowna niż mądra, raczej piękna niż pewna siebie? Żartujesz sobie?

Popatrz na nią. Jest pełna zachwytu.

Ty też kiedyś byłaś. Może dalej jesteś. Może jesteś w trakcie odzyskiwania go.

Wiem tyle, że jeśli nie wstajesz codziennie rano czując się w ten sposób, to bardzo dużo tracisz.