Jan 01 2021

End of fucking 2020

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 4:24

Every year, I write a post where I tell you what went wrong and what went right and how I’ve grown. It’s 2020 darlings…so I got nothing. I tried writing something, but I ended up with a weird word document. I tried recording a video, but I watched it. Believe me, you do not want to watch it.

January was the sunshine of the year…
Dori & Marius came over from Romania for a few days and I’ve managed to help them experience Scotland. Or at least I tried.

February was meh…
I read Graham Norton’s book, A Keeper, awesome read, broke my heart. And made me miss Ireland.
I also decided to buy a blender, that came with a grinder and so… I now buy coffee beans in bulk and grind them myself.
Also, I went to a Goo Goo Dolls concert in Glasgow. From what I understand those guys are still singing because of a bad contract deal done in their youth. My heart aches for them, but on the other hand, I have to admit: these guys are still damn good.

March was disappointing …
I had a 4-week trip to Romania that got cancelled because of COVID. Also, I might have had COVID. That, or my brains just decided to shut down for three days out of sadness.

April was colorful…
I drowned myself in work and sport. I rode my bike every chance I got. Also, my robot vacuum cleaner decided to stop functioning. This damn robot has its own storyline on my blog.
Also, I shaved my eyebrows out of curiosity.
But, did I tell you how beautiful is Scotland in Spring?

May was sunny…
Aside from biking everywhere, I also participated as a speaker at the Spring I/O Virtual conference.  I was scared shitless, but the sky did not fall on me and the internet did not shun me, so eat shit, imposter syndrome!

June was … gone fast…
The eyebrows were back entirely.
I’ve started making my own fermented elderberry juice.
I’ve bought myself a woodchipper, a new lawnmower and a composter. I was really serious about gardening and learning to produce my own food in case… you know… apocalypse and shit.
And the Git master branch shitstorm happened. I will still repeat my objection. Calling a branch master has nothing to do with slavery and discrimination against black people. And renaming it does not help their cause at all. It’s just one of those corporate moves that is worth shit.

July was … pretty dull…
But I’ve started making kombucha too.

August was, the most beautiful month of the year…
Because it’s my birthday.  I just can’t trash this month.

September was… active …
I’ve been to Aberlady and Dunbar. And I’ve visited the Fortress of Solitude which is a very bland monument. And honestly, I think it’s unfair. On behalf of the people that embraced solitude an actually enjoy it, I must protest. Solitude deserves a more interesting monument.
Also I’ve sprained my knee walking on the beach, doing nothing extreme which reminded me that I am getting old.
Well, at least I’m getting wise too, so that’s nice.

October was dark…

Divorces, people killing themselves, family traumas getting brought to the surface…
Also I’ve discovered biking along the Union canal. Just wow… how could I miss this until now?
And I got blocked on Twitter because of a Trump related tweet. Just… wow …

November was interesting…
I wanted to bike to Dalgety Bay, and came back home with a backpack full of apples. There was a random apple tree in the middle of nowhere and most apples have fallen on the ground (because they were ripe, maybe?) And I just hated myself for not having a bigger backpack.
I went to see Aberdour castle and came back home with two huge apples.
And I’ve found out that Victoria Sponge Cake exists and I can rock it.
There are not many entries for November on my blog, so it must have been pretty boring as well.

December is … ending…
I started the process of buying my own house. How the hell did this happen? It still seems ureal to me. If the deal does not fall through and I move there, I’ll let you know.
This year has been weird. COVID proved George Carlin right: the average person is stupid, and half of them are stupider than that.
I don’t have many anti vaxxers or/and ani-mask friends, so there’s that. I guess.

Overall …
My piano playing had improved.
I have a new book coming out in February.
I’ve already started writing the next book.
I’ve slept more.
I’ve played more Starcraft.
But most if all, I’ve appreciated the little that I have, because compared to dying from COVID, this is a fucking lot.

What are my hopes for 2021?

I hope the world overall gets better. I hope my house deal does not fall through and I lose the house of my dreams.
I have only best wishes for the people I love. I wish them health, happiness and love.
And if I’m lucky enough, I really hope I get those too.

Stay safe, stay happy!

Later edit: I just celebrated the beginning of 2021 by drinking a whole bottle of champagne. So, any typos and grammar mistakes can be a consequence of that. Don’t you judge me!

Dec 25 2020

Somewhere I belong

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 8:23

People are so good at hurting other people, and one of the most efficient ways to make somebody doubt themselves and basically stunt them in whatever they are trying to do, is to make them feel like they don’t belong.

Because of multiple circumstances, most of my childhood, adolescence and a big piece of my adulthood might as well have the following song as an anthem:

When I was fighting depression and suicidal thoughts in high school, if somebody would have asked me to explain how I felt this is what I would have said.

I feel like I do not fit. I do not feel comfortable when I am at home. I do not feel comfortable when I am at school. I do not feel comfortable with my friends. I do not feel comfortable when I am alone. I feel detached from everything and everyone. I feel like everybody knows how to live their lives but me. I just feel like a piece of puzzle that has been forced into a place it doesn’t belong.

Every time my parents moved, every time I moved into a new place, there was at least one person that felt the need to remind me that I was either weird, that I did not live there, that I do not belong and that I should get back to where I came from. When I was young, I felt hurt every time I had to deal with this shit, because I had no idea where I belonged. I was born in Romania, but I’ve never felt like I belonged there.

But here I am, an adult, living in Scotland. And I finally feel like I belong. I came to this country because I did not like my own. I’m not blind, and I’m not stupid. I know that the overall image of Romanians here is more than a little tarnished because of Romanian Gypsies. I can’t be upset with the UK for not liking Romanians. It’s human to generalize. But should I assume every UK person is a disrespectful, cold-hearted stingy alcoholic snob? Because I don’t. Thus, I would be very grateful not to be treated as a typical Romanian would be treated here. Because I am not a typical Romanian. I left my country because I did not fit there. I had the courage and the resources to leave and go out looking for the place where I would fit.

People are not trees; they are not rooted in a single place on the ground with no choice. People can move and find the place where they feel like they belong.  And when they do, they bloom, they become the best version of themselves and everything and everyone around them benefits. Nobody can tell you where you belong, because it’s someting you feel.

A month ago, a neighbor and I had fight with over a public parking spot – a fight I did not start, a fight that could have been avoided – repeated what I have heard in one way or another all my life so far, that I do not belong here. Well, tough luck sir. I have the pre-settled status, so Scotland officials say I am allowed to be here until 2025. Because of the fight we had, I decided nobody ever again will get to tell me where I belong. So, I am currently in the process of buying an apartment with its own parking space in an underground garage.

It was a long time coming, and I have avoided the moment of buying a house for a long time, because I am a very peculiar person. And no matter how beautiful a house or an apartment is, I want to feel comfortable with the area, I am pretentions about the infrastructure and there was never an ideal combination that I would feel comfortable to lock myself into a 25-year contract with a bank for.

But the moment is here, I have found a place and a location that checks all my boxes, and I am doing this. I received the news of my offer was accepted on the 23rd of December, so I guess I’ve just made myself the most amazing Christmas gift. I have finally found the place where I belong and I am ready to put down roots, in Kirkcaldy, Scotland.

Talk about ending 2020 with a bang, right?

Stay safe, stay happy! And Merry Christmas!

Dec 25 2020

It’s not the one that asks that is stupid …

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 7:17

… it’s the one that gives.

This long title is a typical Romanian expression regarding trade. In case it is not clear, when somebody trying to sell something at a higher price than the item is worth, the person that decides to pay that price is considered stupid. Or they try to buy something at a lower price than the item is worth it.

I always hated this expression especially since for most of my life I’ve been quite poor.  In spite of that, I’ve always been quite aware of the value of things and I’ve been raised to be honest and fair.  When I wanted to sell something, the persons I dealt with always assumed I was asking more than the item was worth and tried to drag the price down. This made me hate the idea of selling things, and for most of my life when I had to move, I’ve either donated my things or sold them to my friends for very low prices, just to avoid the whole negotiating with strangers part. Because it’s very frustrating to me and it always makes me feel like I’m being conned.

I’ve remembered this Romanian expression because of the last job offer that I received on LinkedIN. This entry has been a long time coming, but I guess it is time.

When I decided to move to Scotland, I knew UK was not praised for its fairness towards women in the workforce. There is this rumor on the internet, that for the same position a woman is payed up to 25% less than a man. I took that into consideration when I moved. I thought maybe that I will be able to work for a long time for a company and make my expertise and dedication noticed and they will pay my worth. And if they don’t, as long as I can pay my rent, keep my cat well taken care of and save some, I’ll still be content enough.

One year after I left Romania, I had to change jobs. And I’ve participated to interviews for three months or more hoping to get a salary bigger than the one I had. The most I got offered was 60.000 a year. A friend of mine told me a while ago that I do not know how to sell myself and to negotiate. But if the maximum I get offered is 60.000, and I know that is less than I am worth, what is there to negotiate? How am I supposed to accept a job offer without feeling like I am conned and how am I supposed to give 100% for a company that is taking advantage of me?

Also, if somebody with 14 years of experience in the field and that wrote 6 books, is barely work 60.000 a year (before taxes), how much are juniors payed here? How do they actually live of these salaries, especially if they do not live with thier parents?

Even after 2 years in the UK, I get offered jobs that pay as little as 45.000. And I know friends, MEN friends that get offers that pay a lot more. Assuming gender is not a criterion and I am just being paranoid, what else could there be? Is it because I am Romanian? Who knows? I would prefer a little bit of honesty and bluntness from recruiters. I would appreciate 1000 times more a recruiter with the balls to tell me: “Look, you won’t get more than 60.000 a year because you are a woman and a god damned immigrant from a country that UK pretty much loathes. So, take it or leave it.” Instead of the typical: “I have come across your profile and was interested in reaching out about an opportunity with us.” It’s not an opportunity, if you are not improving my current situation.

99% of messages from recruiters assume I don’t like my place of work or I’m not payed enough, and they present themselves heroes extending a salvation hand to me. (I wonder how would those messages look like if they were written on the assumption that I am happily employed?)

Guess what? I don’t need saving. I actually like my current job and the people I work with. And unless the offered salary is so big, I would be stupid to refuse, there is no chance I will ever consider another job offer.

When dealing with recruiters, the job offer is not an opportunity they give to you. They are asking to buy moments of your life at a certain price. If they offer less than you deserve and you accept, you are the stupid one that gives.

Stay safe, stay happy!

Dec 23 2020

This blog’s paradox

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 3:31

This blog is hosted on an EC2 AWS machine. Why? Because I wanted it so. I know there are cheaper options available. But I work in software development and I like having good control over my tools. Plus, I use that VM for … other things.

I’ve written in the past about the cost of the cloud. That is why the “Send me a Beer” button appeared. The least some of you that enjoy reading my thoughts can do, is make it up to me by providing inspiration liquid. :)

AWS prides itself with the fact that “less is more”, so the more of their services you use, the cheaper it is. Are you using S3 buckets to store data? The more GB you need, the price decreases. If you think about it, it is the same with any product, when you buy in bulk, the price per unit decreases. But there is a threshold. Below that threshold, you pay the normal price. When you have a simple application, as blog in AWS, you will probably not reach that threshold, since that threshold is quite high.

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Dec 15 2020

A spinster’s crushes

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 16:05

My romantic history has not been great. Growing up in a toxic family has given me a malformed notion about what a normal relationship looks like, and this has affected every romantic relationship I had in a bad way. After my last relationship ended, it took me a long time to heal, and learn not think of the people that hurt me with hate and angst. I mean, they hurt me because they were just as broken as I was, or maybe more. And growing up in a society that keeps matters of the heart under covers, we had no idea how to identify problems nor how to fix them. Putting all that aside, here I am, a single woman that is very close to 40, with a lot of issues and probably impossible standards. But, hey, I have no absurdly romantic expectations, so I think I’ll be fine from now on.

I was talking with a friend of mine today, and he mentioned his girlfriend was making him watch Outlander. And I jokingly said that there is one reason why women watch that series and his name is Sam Heughan. I can tell you for sure that is why I was watching it. Well, that and because now that I live in Scotland, I was trying to identify castles and places I recognized in it. I did not make it past the season where they tried to convince me his character and Caitriona’s are almost 60 years old, and they still have amazing sex and are parents of a 27-year-old. But I must confess that man was gifted by nature with a very good-looking piece of meatsuit for his brains and I did have a few kinky dreams about him.
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Dec 15 2020

The end of an era

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 1:01

A long time ago I bought my first cellphone app. It was called Runtastic PRO and I used it to time my runs and check on my progress. I don’t even remember when I decided to buy it or why, but I opted for the PRO version to get rid of ads and get some detailed statistics about my runs. I really do not remember when I bought it, but I got it right around the time I got my first smart-phone between 2010 and 2014.  It was about that time  that I decided Runtastic PRO was an app that was worth the money.

A few months ago, I noticed my Runtastic PRO glitching. Then it started recommending me to install the Adidas running app. Which I was not interested in. So, I postponed the moment, knowing what will come next.

If you’ve read Jeffrey Paul’s article Your Computer Isn’t Yours, well as turns out, your phone isn’t yours either. Compared to Apple, where you are left with some choice of upgrading your software, on my Android phone, the app got deactivated in secret and my credentials were invalidated. I tried my credentials, but they do not work. The forgot password option doesn’t work either and their recommendation is to contact their support team. Which I do not intend to do, because I know what the recommendation is: to install the new Adidas running app.

I like Runtastic PRO. It has been my running pal for a long time. I paid for that app and it was doing the job it was supposed to do, perfectly. That is the app I paid for, that is the app I want to use. If I can’t have that I will run just listening to my music. I was never interested in how fast I was anyway. It was just a nice feature Runtastic PRO provided, but I won’t die without it.
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Dec 13 2020

How to make a majestic Victoria Sponge Cake

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 1:53

I love to cook, and my friends say I do it quite well. I owe it all to my mom. She wasn’t perfect, but she knew how to motivate me to learn. Her main goal has been to turn me and my sister into perfect wives and because of her simple life, she thought that meant keeping an exemplary house. An important part of keeping a house is cooking and what can I say, I excel at it.

A month or so ago, I have found myself in a small coffee shop for the first time since March. Although I wasn’t hungry and I definitely had tea at home, I ordered myself a tea and a piece of Victoria Sponge Cake, just to celebrate the occasion. And I really, really liked the cake and decided to make it myself soon.

It is now the 3rd time I made this cake, I have ordered myself special cake tins for it and I still love the cake, so much I have to stop myself from eating more than a portion a day. So, here I am, giving you the recipe and instructions for the most epic Victoria Sponge Cake. You know… just so we can get fat together. :D

Continue reading “How to make a majestic Victoria Sponge Cake”