Mar 05 2019

The case of online harassment and cyber-bullying

Category: English posts,MiscellaneousIuliana @ 22:08

When I was a kid/adolescent, from 6 to 14 years old  I was most of the time the quite type. I don’t remember many details, or my filters might be distorted by now but I don’t remember bullying being so bad. There were the usual fucked up kids that would say nasty things to you, maybe shove you here and there, but nothing traumatic. At least I don’t view those experience as being traumatic through my now adult eyes. But I do remember crying and asking my mom “why they won’t just leave me alone?” and my mother brushing it off and just saying that I should ignore them. Seriously, I had some intervals in my childhood when all I wanted was to be invisible. Problem with real life bullies is that you cannot ignore them. Ignoring them, only makes them desire to be noticed and be on your way.  With real-life bullying the only two possible solutions are to involve serious adults that will use any tool necessary including therapy for the bully to fix the problems in his or her life that cause violent outbursts or … and you won’t like this probably, become the bully yourself.

But online harassment and cyber-bullying, have much easier solutions. Remove yourself from the medium where the bullying happens, or put your accounts private, or block or limit access to people even trying to be assholes. I know it seems difficult or even impossible, because social networks seem like the place to be for anybody these days, but believe me it is easier than you think. Be brave and detach yourself from anything that hurts you. If somebody would call you on the phone and insult you, you would end their call and block the number, right?  Believe me, you can do the same thing on the internet.

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Mar 04 2019

When real life copies art

Category: English posts,FunnyIuliana @ 1:27

I haven’t been sick too many times in my life, at least not many of the problems I’ve had required me going to the hospital. So I think I can be considered quite lucky. I was hospitalized as a child only once for the treatment of measles. And I remember having a lot of fun. I will never understand why my parents did not leave me in there with a lot of books to keep me occupied. And since I was in a room with four other kids, all with measles we found ways to keep ourselves busy. We had one cupboard with a broken door. I managed to get myself locked in it. I saved the syringes, filled them with water and attacked nurses and doctors from our window. Until we got caught and nurses would not leave the syringes in our garbage bin anymore. And many more. Although sick, I was bored out of my mind and very creative. But I digress.

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Feb 17 2019

Brave New World

Category: English postsIuliana @ 1:41

No, this entry is not about the dystopian novel that we all know and love. This post is about how me, a person that has lived more than 30 years of life in eastern Europe just clashed with the reality of a more civilized country.

When I lived in Romania I never had to justify my income. I started writing books for Apress and I started receiving payments form US in my ING account and nobody from the bank called to ask me where is that money coming from and if it was taxed. The reason for that is that Eastern Europe is quite relaxed when it comes to a lot of rules, which gives people a sense of freedom, but people with bad intentions use this to their advantage, that is why there is so much corruption in the official institutions.

Well, here I am in the UK. And things have changed. As I’ve probably mentioned here, before I left Romania I installed Revolut, the wonder money-management application that helped me swim across the turbulent and diverse system that is the banking system. Until yesterday 4:00 am I was their biggest fan and preached to everyone who wanted to listen how advantageous using Revolut is. But, all good things come to an end. Go get yourself a big coffee, because this will be a loooong read.

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Jan 30 2019

Technical Muse

Category: English posts,PersonalIuliana @ 2:35

If you do not know what a muse is, here are a few definitions:

1. Greek Mythology: Any of the nine daughters of Mnemosyne and Zeus, each of whom presided over a different art or science.
2. muse
a. A guiding spirit.
b. A source of inspiration: the lover who was the painter’s muse.
3. muse Archaic:A poet.
(source:https://www.thefreedictionary.com/muse)

The most wide spread meaning, aside the band of course, is a source of inspiration. And it is usually used when talking about artists. The Romanian national poet had quite a few muses, and being a heterosexual white men, clearly they were women. His romantic poems are hymns to their beauty and how they made him feel. Ask the members of Fleetwood Mac who their songs are about, or ask The Beatles members or John Mayer. Their best creations are about a person that they either loved or admired so much that the overall feeling was one of worship. The subject has been even approached in Californication series in season six. The best creations of artists are born when a muse is involved. It is not always have to be a woman, it can be a heart-shattering event or a drop of rain if the artist is in the right state of mind(or high enough :D). But, in my later years I noticed that muses are not present(and necessary) only in the art world.

Fortunately I don’t need a muse for my work, but I do need discipline, time and the right state of mind. But I’ve had an epiphany recently, while talking to a good friend of mine.

You know how in IT there’s a technique called Rubber Duck Debugging, which involves talking to another person or a rubber duck if there’s no one available trying to explain the problem you are having in multiple ways, to gain new perspectives with the final goal of finding a solution? Well, that rubber duck, or the person can only help you so much, it cannot really inspire you, or maybe they cannot ask the right questions, or provide the incentive you need for you to properly focus on solving the problem. But you know who can do all that? A muse.

Well, for this friend of mine, I’ve always been a technical muse. The irony is that even if we both work in IT, he is working in a slightly different area, but I still can ask the right technical questions, provide the appropriate advice and inspiration that help him find solutions and keep him engaged in his work. He is the one that made me realize I am good at this. And because of my strong technical background, I can actually provide some real technical assistance too. He started joking that he will hire me as a muse and pay for my services, but I am still like… what the actual fuck?

That is until another person asked me for help with a project. Initially I was, like: No, I don’t have the time, Don’t pay me, let’s see if I have any idea of what you are trying to do here, etc. But slowly, I was able to provide the technical help and advice necessary to make the project happen. And because he was in a difficult situation at work, a lot of managers and architects involved, each with their opinion and reasons for putting their mark on his solution, with little valid technical arguments I might say, I also advised him what to say in order to make things happen his way. And apparently it worked.

So here I am, apparently I am a technical muse. I know how this sounds. And I know this sounds just as ridiculous as Technical –  Evangelist, Monk, Champion or Guru. I never liked those terms, because IT is a logical domain. And regarding those terms – it’s not a religion, it’s not a belief.

For me it’s something I enjoy a lot doing.I ‘m passionate about it, I am engaged, I am driven. But I would never try to “convert” someone to this domain or to the programming language I work in. Mozart made music for people to listen and enjoy, not to transform everybody into the genius that he was. He could probably teach someone his songs, but their interpretation and creations would be their own, and marked by their own inspiration and talent. I’m a bad ass at what I do. And it’s not just Java. It’s Software Engineering. I can share insights, I can direct a person in the right direction, but their path is their own. And I’m very good at this too.

So yeah, I’m a technical muse. Apparently. But I won’t use this term in the technical world until I get more than two people to recommend me as such. ;) So anybody out there needs a technical muse? :D

Stay safe, stay happy!


Jan 25 2019

Mental health

Category: English posts,MiscellaneousIuliana @ 3:14

A few days ago the company I work for organized a mental health workshop with the purpose of teaching people how to recognize signs of depressions and other mental disorders and how to provide support to their colleagues. Although the workshop should have been more interactive, because you cannot recognize signs of mental ill health in somebody if you do not talk to the person, it did its job.

One of the nice ladies started the workshop telling us that Mental health is important. Well, we were all functional adults, some of us with kids, outside and inside(one of my colleagues was pregnant)   and most of us were probably engineers so dhooh! we know how important it is.

Although in a very diplomatic manner, the other nice lady said what I’ve been believing for years: to support people with mental issues, you have to start by accepting that you might not be sane yourself. Because it is the only way you can empathize and be less incline to be judgy and avoidant. The nice lady actually said: if it were up to her the whole world would be in therapy.

It is important to prevent mental problems from appearing, but at 20+ years it is a little too late. Gratitude and kindness are always good for people, but sometime people also need a mental reset. And a reset is not always pleasant. I’m all for rainbows, and happiness and good things, but they don’t always get you where you need to be mentally. Especially when your mind is already broken. And I am sane enough to admit that there is a likely possibility.

We can nurture our mental health through exercise, nutrition, hydration, medical self care and rest. But you know how else we can nurture it? By learning to care less, just don’t give a fuck once in a while, especially when it does not directly affect you and you cannot affect it; whatever that it is. Chances are if you are reading this blog entry you are already 80% luckier then the rest of the planes population. So just allow yourself to dwell in that for a moment.

Work is stressful and stress can lead to mental disorders, but the solution is not always green walls, ambient music and more light. The solution is to make the work itself more engaging, make it so it brings satisfaction and makes people feel like they are doing something meaningful.  Because we all want to leave a mark on this world, and sometimes just spreading our genes is not enough. But hey, we all know that is rarely possible, so yeah, a green wall will do.

The stigma of having mental issues was discussed. Would you mention at your interview that you are fighting depression? Would you mention you are bipolar? Would you mention you have ADHD? Probably not. Because any company wants employees that most times can work at their full capacity and are predictable. A mental illness can make you unpredictable. So we all lie, because one cannot declare himself mentally healthy. And we take the commitment of a contract and then we support each other through any storm that comes our way. The key to mental health in the workplace is to be there for each other, in our best days and in our worst days.  The key to mental health is to treat each other as children. Children get a lot of free passes because they are children and do not know any better. Guess what? Adults are just kids with big hairy bodies.

I would have like to see more interactive exercises, that enables require us to know each other better. Because even if I speak to some people in the office quite often, I still do not know their names. I can tell you the color of their eyes and what they like to do, but names – nope. The bonus here is that when I find out their names by embarrassing myself, it will never leave my brains. I would have liked to see more emphasis on people behavioral patterns and how we should pay attention when they change, because this means that person is going through something. But then again, the whole workshop was only four hours long.

My conclusion is that, we are all mad one way or another and we do not have to feel guilty about it. We are what this society enabled us to be. So, be kind to one another, do not put the asshole label on a person forever just because they happen to have one bad day or more of them.  Do your best to listen and show some support, and the world might be a more tranquil place for all of us.

Stay safe, stay happy!

(Image source)


Jan 04 2019

Is there a country where the health system is not a mess?

Category: English posts,Miscellaneous,PersonalIuliana @ 1:37

…because if there is, and you know which it is, just share the secret with me, because I want to move there. Anyway, this blog entry is a rant against the UK health system, so at this point you might be interested in reading something else while having your coffee.

I mentioned a few entries ago that I have sprained my knee while playing football. Because I was still able to drive and walk I postponed going to a doctor, especially since I just moved to a new country and I did not have a family doctor yet. The knee was swollen for a bit, but then the swelling started going down and I could put my weight on my knee, it did not feel unstable or anything really worrisome, so I just paused all challenging physical activities to give it time to fix itself.

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Dec 12 2018

Of living in fear

Category: English posts,MiscellaneousIuliana @ 1:22

When I was a child I was afraid of God. Seriously, I was afraid of God. My mother was very religious and made sure I was raised in the arms of the loving Catholic Church. Don’t get me wrong, all the church people were great and fortunately, I did not get molested. The good-natured person I am today and my integrity I owe them both to them. But while learning the ways of the church, at some point I reached the conclusion that you could not avoid being a sinner no matter what. I mean there are three ways to sin: with your acts, with your words, and with your mind. And well, we all know kids are so great at self-control, right?

Anyway, back to the topic, for a while I was afraid of burning in hell and I was afraid of all the bad things that could happen to me or the ones I love because I was a sinner. Because we all know, God punishes sinners sometimes by hurting their loved ones.

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