Freshly Pressed: Why WordPress won’t pop my blog’s cherry

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This gallery contains 5 photos.

If you’re like me, a former couch potato who once innocently surfed the internet one boring evening for free platforms where I could start my own blog, you would agree that WordPress is the Nokia of blogs in its simplicity, theme variety … Continue reading

First Blood: The dance-off

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You and your geeky friends are at a nightclub chatting away about Sylvester Stallone movies and then suddenly you can see ‘her’ looking at you from across the room. In fact, she’s been watching you all night. She’s all by herself in that … Continue reading

My Interview With Santa Claus

Me: Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. 

Santa: Ho ho ho! The pleasure is all mine, my boy.

Me: There’s so much I’ve been dying to ask you…like why don’t you ever come to Nigeria?

Santa: Oh, all the houses there don’t have any chimneys.

Me: But you can’t expect chimneys in a country that’s hot virtually all year round!

Santa: Sorry my boy, I can’t change a century-old tradition.

Me: Okaaay…After Christmas, what do you do for the next 364 days?

Santa: Mostly online shopping on Amazon, though I think it should be called ‘Amazing’. Now I have more time to go through my excel sheets – you know, kids who’ve been good and kids who’ve been bad.

Me: That’s interesting. I never imagined you’d use computers…no offence.

Santa: None taken. I do it all on my iPad.

Me: Since you’re online a lot, how come you’re not on Facebook?

Santa: My oh my, I used to have a Facebook account but then it got hacked! After so many complaints from other users about spreading Christmas ‘sneer’ I was banned. This idea of a sick joke would’ve been none other than the Grinch…or Jim Carrey

Me: So what’s been the most popular Christmas gift request in 2011?

Santa: Ah, that will have to be the iPad 2, though I’m quite happy with my iPad.

Me: Wow! What’s the weirdest Christmas wish you’ve ever gotten?

Santa: Hmm…that’s like picking a needle from a haystack, hehehe…er..,I mean ho-ho-ho. But recently a 7-year old boy wished Ben-10 could spend Christmas with him and his family. Bless him.

 Me: If you don’t mind me asking, are you married?

Santa: I…I was…a long long time ago…but she left me. She said I was too involved in my work and that I was better off marrying Rudolph.

Me: Oh, sorry to hear that. Do you ever think of retirement?

Santa: “Absolutely not! Think about the kids”, would be my answer. But the truth is…well…let’s just say my pension plan is like a baby with a pacifier (wink)

Me: I understand. Do you really like Coca-cola?

Santa: I actually prefer Pepsi but a contract is a contract, you know?

Me: Santa, it’s been great talking to you. Before you go could you just grant me one wish this Christmas?

Santa: As long it’s not to have Ben-10 over for Christmas, ho-ho-ho!

Me: No no no. I want to get Freshly Pressed on WordPress. This year would be nice 🙂

Santa: Freshly pressed? Well if you’re sure you don’t want an iPad 2 like everyone else then I’ll see what I can do. Merry Christmas everyone!  

Lagos Life – A guide to choosing stuff

Grab your trolley and lets go shopping around for…stuff in Lagos, Nigeria. I’ll show you the top choices of the average Lagosian but note that the list is not exhaustive.

Mobile phone network/line:

  • MTN
  • Zain
  • Glo
  • Starcomms
  • Visafone

Bank account opening:

  • GTB
  • Zenith
  • UBA
  • First Bank
  • Stanbic IBTC

Eateries:

  • Tasty Fried Chicken
  • Barcelos
  • Nandos
  • Big Treat
  • Mr. Biggs

Alcohol/Beer:

  • Star
  • Guinness
  • Gulder
  • Heineken
  • Satzenbrau

Malt drinks:

  • Malta Guinness
  • Maltina
  • Amstel Malta
  • Maltex
  • Power Malt

Chinese cuisine:

  • Jade Garden
  • Golden Gate
  • Mr. Wang’s
  • China Town
  • Flamingo

Flat Screen TVs:

  • LG
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • Phillips
  • Panasonic

Cable/Satellite Television

  • DSTV
  • HiTV
  • MiTV

Cinemas:

  • Silverbird (V.I & Yaba)
  • Shoprite
  • City Mall

Generators:

  • Honda Elemax
  • Tiger
  • Hyundai
  • Mikano
  • Suzuki

Domestic airlines:

  • Virgin Nigeria (soon to be ‘Eagle Flyer’)
  • Aero Contractors
  • Arik
  • Dana Air
  • Chanchangi

Recreational centres:

  • Ikoyi Club
  • Lagos Country Club
  • The Beach (Island)
  • Shoprite, Lekki
  • Metropark

Bars/Nite Clubs:

  • Soul Lounge (News Cafe)
  • Club Towers Prive
  • Black Pearl
  • Bacchus (formerly ‘11.45’)
  • 10 (JJ Okocha’s)

Okay, that’s enough shopping for one day. Let’s proceed to the checkout! Show me the monaaay!!!

Entry #54 – Don’t panic…it’s only a card!

…my examination card, that is. After leaving the examination centre yesterday I could have sworn it left with me and got into my car as I drove home. I was gravely dissappointed when I started looking through my folder close to 15times. I must have checked the ins and outs of my car to the point that a passerby would have thought I was clearly under the influence of some class-A drugs…or that I was looking for a stash of the same.

What can I say? I’m careless. And so the inevitable torture cycle begins:

Anxiety – Which I’ve already pointed out. Accelerated heartbeat, dry mouth, struggling to study for the next exam…reading the words but they’re just not sinking in (because you lost you’re f***ing examination card, that’s why)

Time-travel – Retracing my steps (in my mind) and seeing that card when it last rested between my fingers…yes, I could see myself dropping it on a table as I submitted my answer sheet. The invigilator must be keeping it safe for me…yay! 😀

Doubt – What if I took it out of the exam centre, carelessly dropped it outside the premises before I zoomed off and its sitting by in an algae-infested gutter somewhere with my passport pic getting a slimy makeover? nay! 😦

Self-blame – Well there’s no one else to blame but me. It was all my fault, no blonde-girl distraction, no ice-cream truck, and certainly no facebook mobile update. This was pure, unadulterated, crazy nigerian- carelessness!

And after all this what comes next? What other ordeal do I need to go through in order to move on with my life?

Hope?. I hoped I would still be let into the exam centre the following day to do the exam anyway (even though entry without the card is strictly forbidden). I hoped that I could probably bribe one of the invigilators with a stripper (or two) if that was what was required. I hoped I would look in my folder for the 16th time and maybe, just maybe, I would mysteriously find it. I did a lot of hoping…but no, the answer was Prayer, and at precisely 8am today (an hour before the exam) I had an epiphany.

I was staring at the same page of my study pack for the last 20mins (quietly worrying) when something said to me ‘Look again around the passenger’s seat and look carefully this time’. I pulled the lever underneath and pulled the chair forward and at the side of the chair facing the car door, a white half-A4 sized card stuck out. ‘HALLELUJAH! Thank you Lord, God thank you thank you thank you I love you….oh man…whooo!…where’s my phone…Mum, guess what? I found it!…’

Well let’s say that the words I read started to sink in a bit better and now that my exams are over all I can do is sit and wait…ok…sit, blog and wait 😉

Entry #52 – The bullet in my bathroom

Just when I thought life was becoming a little bit boring and predictable I experienced a sudden rush of adrenaline 2 nights ago around 8pm when I heard a loud bang in my bathroom. There wasn’t any electricity at the time and I was alone in my flat. I walked past the bathroom (which serves as a spare for guests and is separate from my ensuite) and for a second I thought it was a gun-shot. The next I thought was that my sink had fallen apart or the shower curtain rail came crashing down…but surely it must have been a fire cracker or something. With the light from my Nokia E75 I sneaked into the bathroom and inspected the surroundings and then I tripped on something metallic. I picked it up and at first I thought it might have been part of a heavy duty nail but on closer inspection I realized it was a bullet.

The first thing I would have done at this point is call in the CSI (Las Vegas) team to do their nifty forensic work. I would let Grisham bamboozle me with words like ‘Trajectory’ and ‘Ricochet’ and the watch them as they scamper around looking for the ‘Entry point’. That night I barely slept because I felt this wasn’t random. I’ve lived in this flat for close to 6months and nothing like this has ever happened. I couldn’t help but ask myself, ‘Was someone trying to kill me?’

I had a mental list of people I suspected I had ticked-off and probably wanted my blood as payback:

  1. My recent ex-girlfriend – Looks innocent but is capable of something like this now that I think about it.
  2. My neighbour – I told her off for shouting like she was the only one living in the compound going ‘MAAARIAAA!!!’ repeatedly
  3. The Security Guard’s mate – They wine and dine with my security guard outside the compound and I don’t like the dodgy ‘I kill you!’ looks I get from them sometimes.

I found later the following day that there was a hole in my bathroom ceiling. Part of  the shape was an exact replica of the bullet lying horizontally. I expected the shape to be round. There were no holes in my window or walls so I got Googling…asking the seemingly dumb question, ‘Can a bullet go off by itself?’

I was pleasantly suprised indeed when I came across the following answer from Yahoo! Answers: “No. Something has to make contact with the primer or cause the primer to get really hot. Dropping or hitting a round, or throwing it into a fire can cause it ignite.”  So it was actually possible for the bullet to have just gone off without being in a gun chamber. By the looks of the photo above, the bullet must have been lying flat when it suddenly penetrated the ceiling unto my bathroom floor. So how could this be explained further?

If you observe in the diagram opposite, my bullet is very similar and there is actually a primer at the back of the bullet (labelled ‘5’). What could have triggered it? Heat? If so why didn’t it go off in the peak of the hot afternoon? Why in the evening after dark? Could a mouse or rat have been tampering with the primer before the bullet went off? I didn’t see any rodent body parts or blood around the crime scene. This bullet just descended by its own free will.

Thankfully I wasn’t doing a ‘Number 2’ when this near-homicide took place. Just imagine, being found dead with a bullet in your head, pants halfway down, toilet unflushed and no trace of a killer. That’s what I call a freak accident – Perhaps this can be used for the next Final Destination movie installment ( …I think they should be working on part 5 now.) But this begs the question, what kind of tenants where living in this apartment before I moved in? Drug barons?, Assassins? Ex-military mercenaries? Are there anymore bullets lying up there in my ceiling. Even worse, is there gun cache up there? a dead body? If I start to smell something funny (and I know it’s not me) then I’m going up there to investigate…

 

N.B – That black spot in the celing is the bullet hole…crikey!

Entry #47 – Remember September

chaseWell how can I forget September 2008 when my bank was having its financial year end (which in the Nigerian Banking industry means every bank starts to scramble around for large money deposits in order to claim the no.1 spot for having the largest liability base…the grand prize being that you get to keep your job!).

I remember how fellow colleagues would genuinely fall ill with stress, some with high blood pressure, and why? All because they got SMS/text messages at odd hours of the day (including weekends) from bosses who taunt them to AGGRESSIVELY PURSUE current accounts and fixed term deposits or to REALIZE GROWTH in their account portfolio. I remember when each week would be inundated with impromptu meetings – meetings with other bank branches’ marketing team and their respective managers. Such gruelling sessions were like the ‘Show and Tell’ in Elementary/Primary School…only, you were showing to the whole audience how you planned to leap from a balance sheet of N100m (One Hundred Million Naira) to N250m in under 3weeks. I remember the tall tales marketing staff used to tell…stories of fat cheques that were due the following week…and then the following week…and then the following week. I remember how they had to defend their jobs by justifying why they should still be paid their salary.

I remember how the boldest and most confident of marketers would suddenly be reduced to a bucket of nerves as they stuttered through their cock and bull Deposit Mobilization strategies. Of course their bosses were quick to ridicule and threaten them with a letter of displeasure – that’s a prelude to a sack, in simple English. I remember how some marketers avoided the subsequent meetings especially when the millions they promised the previous week never materialized. Oh, how I remember how some banks would accept to pay to willing Fixed Deposit customers outrageous rates well above that of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and in some cases staff would make up the interest difference from their own personal funds to pay to the oblivious, greedy customer. I remember the pressure got so much that you could cut the tension in bank branches with a knife. You were almost driven to the point of holding customers at gunpoint just so they took you more seriously and coughed out the millions that we so stupidly thought they were hiding at home under their matresses.

I remember how some marketing staff would encourage their known customers to move funds from competitor banks into ours. Even worse was when a branch within the bank moved funds from another bank branch, meaning the bank as a whole wasn’t actually growing but suffering a bout of indigestible cannibalization of accounts. I remember hearing stories of female marketers who would ‘stoop so low’ just to get a measly million into their account portfolio…and in some unfortuante cases were given dud cheques: a classic Lose-Lose situation.

I remember how the month would draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaag and your demanour was truly tested. Some who couldn’t take the heat or the humiliation any longer dropped their resignation letters and stayed at home waiting for the grass to get greener somewhere else…anywhere else. I remember how some skilled marketers would turn on the waterworks when a customer came into the branch to make a portfolio-shattering withdrawal in this ’ember’ month. I remember how I almost uttered to my superior ‘What are YOU doing to ensure that we grow our deposit base? Show me YOUR prospect list! How much money have YOU brought today? How many phone calls have YOU made? Why should the bank still be paying YOUR salary???’ I remember it all too well and now I have another 13days to go before I can even begin to forget September 2009. “Lord, give me strength…”

Entry #40 – Recess is over but the Recession continues

recession21.37pm – As I sit here in this corporate prison, choked by my own Finelli necktie and nauseated by this cologne that I use predominantly for this ‘Five to Nine’ (No typo – I wake up 5am and get back by 9pm), I already dread the impending road congestion parade and the utter disregard of the highway code by notorious ‘motorpsycholists’ (Again, no typo).

I begin to analyze the principle of Cause and Effect with relevance to the current state of economic affairs. Most Nigerian banks have been exposed to risk by careless lending (Cause) which may potentially lead to colossal money losses (Effect). Some banks go on a defensive and start to cut their ‘losses’ by cutting jobs. Cutting jobs leads to lowered morale within the retained workforce, but jobhunting and high blood pressure for the booted. Jobhunting for 1month = Anticipation. Jobhunting for 2-3months = Frustration. Jobhunting for 4-6months = Desperation. Jobhunting for over 6-8months =  (Possible) Suicide contemplation. Jobhunting for 8-10months = Partial transformation to Schemer/Scammer. Jobhunting for over 1year = Complete transformation to Schemer/Scammer.

Everyday you are thankful that  you still have a job…a reason to get dressed in the morning…a reason to smile at the end of each month. The hard-hitting reality is a pill too bitter to swallow – the Recession is the new stealth virus whose only close rival is Swine flu. But the Recession doesn’t just stop at cutting jobs, deteriorating health and inducing paranoia about job security. It goes on to have an adverse effect on the economy. With the rise in unemployment comes the surge in crime and there are bound to be casualties.

Alas, my lunch break is over. I see my work before me and the ghost of Recession hovering in the distance with a dark cloak and a razor-sharp sickle. It is ready to harvest jobs but I am not ready to yield it any fruit. I am armed with my product knowledge, I.T and Marketing skills, an excellent appraisal, and a prayer. I must remain relevant in the system to avoid being weeded out. I must avoid the weeds around me who harbor toxic attiitudes. I will not be choked up. I will loosen my Finelli necktie and switch to another cologne. I will take control of my destiny, look the 8-foot Grim Recession Reaper in the eye and say, “You want my job? You’re going to have to get past me first!”

Entry #29 – Poker face

poker-dad_ThumbI went gaga over her but who wouldn’t! She’s like a  Christiana Aguilera but only sexier. But what’s with that song…so catchy…kinky yet satisfying. Poker face? What would a poker face look like? I’ve got this image of a face made out of cards or one in the shape of a heart (alien), spade (conehead), diamond (Kate Moss) or…a club (now that one would look downrightshamrock scary). Anyway, when I first heard the song I thought she was saying poke-her-face! It even got more saucy when she went ‘p-p-p-poke her face, p-p-p-poker her face, mum mum mum ma – What! now you want your mum to do it! Oh boy. And then I thought ‘How vulgar!’ Poke her face with what? Definitely not lipgloss. I like the way the expression gets you thinking…I mean, if someone you offended suddenly snapped and called you Poker face then I don’t think you’d be thanking ’em for the compliment. On the other hand, if you play poker then you’d probably just think the expression is a kind of face you find difficult to read or intepret. Hmm…it just occurred to me that the lizard in my header for this page has a poker face that is pretty confusing. I think he’s happy 😀

Entry #28 – The Best Man

moi 060

Today was not just any ordinary day. Today I was decked up in a dashing dickie-bow tie, tux and bad-ass chelsea boots – The ideal gentleman if I do say so myself. But it wasn’t quite the picnic I expected it to be. Being the best man (at least back here in Nigeria) is a bit like being the errand boy/houseboy/servant…call it what you want. I was at their service – holding the sweaty hankies, fetching the relatives who were scattered across the hall, picking up ALL the money sprayed unto the couple whilst they were dancing…yes, all in my £150  tuxedo. My head was drenched in sweat but I was armed with 2 hankies. I didn’t get a chance to eat – moi 061all I had was bottled water for breakfast, sweets during the church service and a malt drink during the reception (my stomach and I kissed and made up when I got back home to chow down). But it was all worth it. In fact, I feel like wearing it once in a while just for the look of it. And then I look in the mirror, adjusting my cuffs which obviously dont need adjusting like they do in the movies, with a smirk on my face and then I go ‘The name is Nigerian…Crazy Nigerian 😀

Entry #10 – Unfaithful

I have to come clean on this because it’s been eating me deep inside. I used to have an affair with Facebook. It was fun at first – the pics, the applications, the groups, and of course friends from my teenage years. But recently I’ve been seeing WordPress.com. She seems to understand me better. She gives me everything I need (widgets, stats, HTML shortcuts) to make me happy. I’ve introduced some of my friends to her and they like the effect she’s had on me. Sometimes when I’m busy at work she gathers up all the statistical data I need to analyze my blog performance. I hope Facebook can understand. It’s nothing personal but I can’t change how I feel. We can still be friends and I’ll visit once in a while…but I’m with WordPress.com now – no hard feelings FB J