Jun 03 2020

The choice

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 1:05

I have a writer’s block again when it comes to technical stuff, so here I am on a Scotland rainy day thinking again about my past relationships and drawing new conclusions.

When somebody asks me these days how come I am still single I do not have an answer ready. I could list a lot of reasons, but this world is so big, and there is so many of us that if I look, I would probably find at least one person with similar background and circumstances that is not single. So… I have to admit to myself that it is a choice now. And I should have made this choice many years ago when I first had my heart broken in the worst way. Instead, I chose to believe that there is a soul mate out there, that there is somebody that would love me and will want to spend their life with me. And because of that belief I had my heart broken again and I broke a few hearts too, and I cannot take that back.

I grew up in a family that was disorganized, chaotic, with a lot of conflicts and passive aggressiveness. I was never in denial about my home environment, but for a long time I used to think that when not seen by anyone all families were like that. And although I hoped the family I will start will be better than that, I was also terrified that in time it might become exactly like that.  So exactly like a time traveler caught in a time paradox, I probably caused the demise of my previous relationships while trying to avoid it.

The sad truth is that the place where we receive our training for being part of a family is within the families we are born in. What we see happening between our parents we tend to replay with our partners. It’s not really about love really, it’s more about creating and maintaining a partnership. Because you can love somebody to the moon and back but maintaining a partnership has more to do which your behavior than with your feelings.

It should be obvious that early family dynamics influence the way you yourself will behave in your adult relationships because it teaches you to communicate to people close to you. And it does it in a natural way, without forcing you, without testing your understanding. Since you are living with the same people for a long time, you get contaminated with certain elements and do not even realize it.

A personal example: for a long time I was unable to deal with criticism in a healthy way. Code reviews and professional evaluations used to give me nightmares. Where did I learned to react like that? In the arms of my toxic family of course. Both my mother and father were very critical, and when I say critical, I mean abusive. How I did in school never satisfied them, how I behaved was not acceptable and so on. I finished university with the words of my father haunting me: “You are not beautiful, and you are not smart, if you marry a guy that doesn’t drink and doesn’t beat you, consider yourself lucky!” Any mistake had as a consequence either some verbal/physical abuse, either some mockery. So I learned criticism was bad, and dreaded it for years. But having to survive, I swallowed my feelings, cried in the bathroom, whatever was needed to get the job done. And in time I learned to appreciate negative feedback and criticism. Because you cannot improve if nobody tells you that you are “doing it wrong”.

But my dread in the face of criticism/ negative feedback was probably the root cause of the cancer that destroyed my previous relationships. I would take criticism way to seriously and I would try to change. I would fail and feel like shit and end up despising the person next to me for making me feel that way. Or, I would never provide feedback, never criticize until the glass was full. And by that time it was almost always too late. Because the time when the glass was full, it was the time when in my mind I would have decided the relationship is not worth saving anyway.

Another thing that saddens me about growing up in such a difficult family, is that I have no idea how a healthy relationship feels like. I know what it looks like, but I do not know how it feels like, and instinctively I choose partners whth who I can recreate a familiar environment. Which obviously, in my case … it’s not a healthy one.

Once I became aware of how my past family life has affected my adult relationships, I made the choice of staying celibate until the toxic persons and toxic relationships will not be familiar to me anymore.

And this year, on the 20th of May I made it to six years of celibacy. And I am not feeling lonely, I’m not miserable and I’m definitely not feeling like I’m missing something. My only regret is that I did not have the knowledge and I was not brave enough to make this choice earlier. I would have avoided a lot of heartbreak for me and for others, and also prevented myself from losing some friends by turning them into partners and then into nothing.

Stay safe, stay happy!

Jun 01 2020

The curse of the USA

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 23:59

When I was growing up, USA was the dream destination for every Romanian that just evaded communism. Each and every adolescent I knew dreamed about surf, Coca Cola, freedom and rock and roll. I never really saw USA as the dream country. And now that we are all adults and have access to internet, we all probably think the same.

The first time that I decided USA is not the dream country is when I was about 14. I was insomniac even then and listened to the radio to fall asleep. Sometime about midnight some American radio station took over the frequency of my favourite Romanian radio station. It was amazing to have early access to the most recent hits long before it reached Europe or be able to listen to music that would never become “a thing” on my continent. But beside the music there was a show that I was listening to as well. It was a horror show. This show was about sexual abuse and the host was reading letters send by kids and adolescents. Some of them were putting into words the nightmares they lived at the hands of older brothers, cousins, uncles, fathers, neighbours, anybody that was an adult in their life really. And I was horrified, because I could not understand how the hell all those horrifying things happened and there was not at least one kind adult those kids were able to reach for help.

So yeah, after listening to that radio late at night, I decided that USA was the country where most adults sexually abuse kids and I am lucky not to be born there.

And then I grew up and learned what racism exists and was blooming in the USA. It wasn’t hard really; you just need to watch some news here and there and just pay attention to most American movies. The hints are there.

And then Monica Lewinsky happened. And as a woman I was baffled about how she was treated by the media. She was considered a tramp and a succubus when clearly, she was that one that was taken advantage of by the leader of the most powerful country in the world.

And then Irak, Afghanistan, etc happened. USA just had to show the whole world that they really want their oil and I was relieved Romania did not have enough to pique its interest.

And school shootings…those are horrifying and heartbreaking over and over again.

I joined Reddit and came in contact with horror stories about the American health system and its educational system. And about people having three jobs and barely affording rent. I mean … what the actual fuck? How can politicians have the audacity to call this the greatest country in the world?

And then Trump happened. And I get it, Hillary was not really an option. She was just as corrupt as him. But Trump… really?

And since we got to Trump… fucking Epstein. I promised myself I will not watch that Netflix documentary. I thought I was going to be sick. But surprisingly, the documentary is very light. In my opinion there is a lot of focus on clean/comfortable abuse stories, and an abuse story should not be comfortable. How the hell they managed to make a documentary about sexual abuse without an R rating? Also if you are smart enough to read through the lines, you can understand that there is a whole broken system that facilitated him to be the monster that he was. The victims were poor, so poor that they would sell themselves and others just as poor as them to this monster and his monster network. They were young girls from broken homes with poor education and no idea of self worth or self preservation.  In what world massaging a creepy old guy when you are not a masseuse for 200$ is considered normal?  The documentary underlines something that has been obvious about USA for years, but for some reason its population doesn’t realize it: USA is the country where the system favours the rich. Listening to Epstein refusing to respond to accusations, hiding behind amendments, only an idiot would think that that damn constitution their politicians like to mention all the time is made for the little people. Let me write that with a bigger font, and in color.

The USA is 99% little people, the rich represent only about 1% of the population and the constituion was written for them.

USA is a country that was born from the genocide of the native population and it grew by feeding on the blood of slaves. If there would be a God, that country would be cursed forever.

I do not want to offend anyone with this entry. America did produce some amazing people, and I’m sure current generations have nothing in common with their horrible ancestors except a bit of DNA. But it is time for a change. And I’m not saying you should burn every millionaire at the stake in the same way you used to burn witches, but absolute power corrupts absolutely and money is power.

So, I don’t know, but maybe a law limiting how rich someone can be is not such a bad idea. If it were up to me, you should be allowed to have about 10 milion dollars in assets and savings per individual. If you end up making more than that, it should go to the national fund for public services like health and education.

Stay safe, stay happy, stay good!

May 16 2020

The aftermath

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 14:24

The Spring I/O Virtual conference was a success. Sergi Almar, the organizer did an amazing job, and his decision to stream it on YouTube while the speakers were Zoom-ing each other made sure everybody would got a very good experience. Discord was used to communicate between the 2500+ plus participants, to submit and answer questions, which was yet another amazing decision, because it made sure no message was was missed. I enjoyed the experience, even if, like I said in my previous entry I was very anxious about it.

Here is my presentation if you are interested.

There is more than one reason for being anxious about it and I decided it would be a good idea to write here about what it took to get this ready.

Continue reading “The aftermath”

May 12 2020

I know it’s late but…

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 2:32

… here it goes: I am speaking at an online Spring conference. I always feel uneasy talking about important things for me. I feel like if I give them too much importance, others won’t. Or if I am too enchanted by them, something wrong will happen and they will be taken away. A psychologist would probably have a field day trying to discover the root cause of the way I feel.

When I first received the email from Steve Anglin asking me if I want to write for Apress, I thought it was an internet scam and I was waiting for him to ask me for money. After six months of email exchanges and when the contract appeared I finally let myself believe it was happening so I started writing.

It was quite similar with the Spring I/O Virtual conference. I created the presentation, did a demo with my colleagues and friends, but I was still doubtful about it. I was almost expecting an email telling me that some other important speaker was given my spot. Also, I have never spoken at an event as important as this. It is overwhelming and paralysing. And I will have to speak in English and it is not my first language and when I panic I tend to babble. But fuck it, it was about time for me to do something like this. If it goes well, kudos to me. If it doesn’t I will just go back to my hermit’s cave. However it goes, if you want to see my presentation and hear me make make an ass of myself, register now. So far, there are 2500+ people registered. I am very curious if Youtube will bare it. :D

Stay safe, stay happy and stay inside!

May 05 2020

My 52nd day of lockdown

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 2:12

I’ve never been a fan of routine. Not sure why, maybe it’s the fear rooted in me when I was a student, when me and my friends were drinking beer sitting on our asses on dirty concrete hallways dreaming of travelling and being free from society rules.

That is why I’ve looked for flexible jobs. The benefit of me juggling the working interval and the location where I work from are worth more to me than money. Maybe that is why I cannot get fit, because I cannot for the life of me follow a routine of good alimentation and exercises regimen. I am the kind of person that has pancakes for dinner and that runs a 7 in the morning and then at 7 in the evening. I do things when I feel like doing them. And feeling cannot be disciplined.

But lockdown has enforced a routine on me which I do not feel combative about. I wake up between 7 and 10 every day, without an alarm. I’m not sure exactly which parameters influence how much I sleep. But sometimes I’m all fine with 5 hours, sometimes 9 hours are not enough.

I make my coffee and work until 1 pm, when I have lunch. Then I work some more until 5 pm, sometimes 6 pm, sometimes 7pm. It depends on when I actually start working really. After work I go for a run. I usually run between 2 and 4 miles, depending again on how I feel. After that I need a shower. The shower makes me hungry usually, so sometimes I have dinner. Sometimes I just grab a beer and play StarCraft with my friends. Or play the piano.

When I don’t play StarCraft, nor play the piano, I write blog entries as this one, or work on some personal projects. And sometimes, like after I post this, I work on a presentation for some Zoom coding event. Or have a video conference with friends or mentees. Because I’ve registered as a mentor to some programming group and now I have to put in the foot work.

When I get in my bed, I open a book and read from it until I fall asleep.

Weekends are a little bit special. After I drink my coffee, if it’s cloudy outside I do some cleaning. If it’s sunny I do some gardening. After that, if it is sunny outside I go for a bike ride around the city. Otherwise, I’ll just play the piano or play some Starcraft campaigns, because my team mates are more experienced than me and I feel like a noob when I play with them. I want to be useful at some point. Also, if I don’t end up cycling, I still go for a run.

Honestly I think this lockdown has actually made me embrace a certain routine. Never in my life I’ve had such a long period where I exercised almost daily. Well… there was a period in my life after a breakup where I exercised every day for three months. But that doesn’t really count, that was me overdoing it, so I would feel pain in my other muscles except my heart.

If this lockdown ends up being the norm until September, I won’t be sorry. Because this routine of eating healthy and exercising will do me a loot of good. And if I keep doing it for so long, it may end up as a personal lifestyle.

Except the daily activities that I’ve listed previously and that are all quite mundane, mentally I seem to be fine. The eyebrows are growing back, work is a little slow, the cat is a little too demanding and last week I had that weird dystopia dream which involved John Mayer and now I can’t stop listening to his music. And a little bit of sadness has crept in because there is no way to properly estimate when I will hear this man singing live again.

I do feel a little frustrated that I was unable to go to Romania this year. Although my parents were not the best, I somehow managed to see them once per year since I’ve left home. It’s like a yearlycheckup: “You’re still alive? Good. I’m still alive as well and I’ve published a new book. See you next year!

I realized today that there is one thing that I won’t be able to do until lockdown is over: I won’t be able to go to the sauna. And I love going to the sauna.

Also, I miss the Five Guys fries like crazy. A complete meal at  the Five Guys that included: normal portion of cajun fries, a cheeseburger with mushrooms and pickles and a salted caramel milkshake was my monthly dirty pleasure.

And I miss the macaroni and cheese from The Scottish Engineer, the pub close to my house. The irony is that before the lockdown, for a week I have considered daily going for a pint and macaroni and cheese, but postponed because I had food and beer at home. Now I really wish I should have went ahead and gorge myself. This simple story is perfect for a motivational talk: you lose all the chances you do not take. Every day for a week I drove home and the idea popped in, and I just postponed it. And now, who knows when that pub will open again or if it will open.

Anyway, this is my 52th lockdown day. I am really blessed to have the cat and the garden. It feels like I have some company and I still have the ability to go out whenever I want to.

Stay safe, stay happy and stay inside!

May 02 2020

The last concert

Category: MusicIuliana @ 12:31

On the 19th of February I left my house in a hurry. It was dark and it was raining, but I had to get to Glasgow. I’ve sang at least one of thier songs more times than I can count. I’ve even translated the chorus to Iris to a very nice Romanian version.
The song Iris is so famous that the Youtube search algorithm knows exactly what you are looking for without typing the name of the band.

So, there was never a question is I should go or not to see and hear The Goo Goo Dolls live.

The Goo Goo Dolls have been singing since 1987 and they have released 13 albums. Their most famous song is Iris. This song is a gem from the Dizzy Up the Girl album that was included in the City of Angels soundtrack. For some reason, when I was in highschool I used to associate this song with The Crow series because I saw an alternate video for it with scenes from the series. Also, if you’ve seen The Crow movies and series you know that the chorus of this song fits them so well.
This song is the peak of their career. No other song they have created has ever raised to the hype that Iris had produced. This song is a masterpiece, is probably the best they would ever produce, and this song was born in the 11’th year of thier career. Still they continued singing another 22 years after that and they are still going strong. Most bands are not able to go on after having a song or an album with such traction that defines them so much that they doubt they will ever create something as good. But not The Goo Goo Dolls, they are enjoying the music and they are still writing great songs. And I really hope they will end up producing another song that becomes more famous than Iris.

How do I know they are still good? Because I have been actually following their career (I love the internet for allowing me to do this so easily).

What else can I say, the venue was great, full of people of all ages, which is a testament that this band’s talent is one of the most evelasting in the industry. I had a very good time, I enjoyed it. As always when it comes to concerts, it feels like time goes by so fast, although these guys sang for almost 3 hours. It was an amazing experience and it would have been perfect if not for the two cunts gossiping next to me. Who the hell goes to a concert to gossip and shout at each other for three hours straight? If there is any reason to shout at a concert is to sing with the band you love. I would have loved to get away from them but there was no place to go unfortunately. Also, I happen to be short and that was a place that provided a decent view of the scene.

This being said, I filmed them singing Iris with my phone. It is not the best quality, but you have to admit thier performace is magnificent. There is a whole huge room of people singing the lyrics which can only be considered yet another proof of how marvellous this song really is.

I took me so long to post this because a lot of things have happened since then. Most of us are most locked in our houses during a pandemic that is taking its tool on every level of our society and while organizing my pictures I’ve realized I did not write about this concert. And it hit me that this is the last concert I’ve been to and it will be the last  for a long while. Unless this thing blows over and I can safely go in November to Birmingham for Elton John’s retiring concert.

Stay safe, stay happy and stay inside!

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Apr 29 2020

Et tu, Brute? (2)

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 23:10

If you’ve read this entry here, you know that now my robot vacuum cleaner is named Brute.

And I could probably get a job as medium because about one month ago I got to look at it disappointed and say “Et tu, Brute?”.

What happened to Brute? Brute was alive and well, meaning – it would charge just fine. But it refused to communicate with the iPad and to do its job. So yeah, out of the blue, it decided to disconnect from WiFi and refuse manual commands too. So, I had to call the Neato support again and half an hour later I was packing it and sending it to Glasgow.

One month, yesterday it was back. I unpacked it and tried to convince it to talk to my iPad again. No chance. Tried to install its app on the phone, nothing. Being desperate with all the dust and cat hair in my house, I started it manually and went out for a run. 40 minutes later I receive a notification on my phone from Brute, telling me that it finished cleaning and there is a map in the application for me if I’m interested.

I was puzzled, because the damn thing did not want to connect when I left my house, and now is sending me messages? So I hurry home, and try again to connect the bastard to the iPad and this time it works.

So now, Brute is back, my house is clean and I did not have to choose a name for my next robot. Because, I already had a name in mind. Since nobody betrayed Brute, I would have named it as a person that betrayed me, my ex from a long, long time ago. :D

That would have perplexed some of my friends that did not know the full story. :)

These days I’m pretty busy working on a personal project, so there won’t be any blog entries for about two weeks. Unless I get really panic and avoid the work by writing on my blog.

Also, if you get a Neato Vacuum Robot, avoid the D7 model, get any of the other ones. This one is really sensitive and breaks down for no reason.

Stay safe, stay happy and stay inside!