Feb 06 2019

Maybe you too choosy

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 14:18

The title is not grammatically correct, I know, but I did not come up with it. How did that title come to be? Well, it was the reply to one of my tweets. I know, who still uses Twitter these days? Well, a lot of people that do not like Facebook. And I do not like Facebook. Here is the thread.

I posted on twitter the following sarcastic affirmation:

If men would be as attracted to me as IT recruiters are, I would either have a very active sex life or I would have been married with a lot of kids by now.

Yes, I know I fucked up the grammar on twitter. When I wrote that tweet, I was actually positioning myself in a post-very active sex life timeline. :D Between then and now I realize that I might have been mistaken. Anyway, ignore the grammar, let’s discuss the reactions. Actually there is one reaction I want to focus on, the reaction that is now missing from the thread, because the tweet reply made me so sick that I blocked the author.

The tweet reply did not upset me, or made me mad, it’s just the sort of thinking I do not want to allow to propagate via my twitter account. A person from an underdeveloped country(Zimbabwe), calling himself educated replied to my joke with, you guessed it: “Maybe you too choosy”. I underlined the underdeveloped country idea, because on some level, the country I am originally from(Romania) is considered underdeveloped too. But deciding to be a decent person is not influenced by how undeveloped your country is. So yeah, your origin is not an excuse for being a narrow minded cunt.

So, I am too choosy because I do not have a very active sex life or I am not married with kids by my age, in his narrow, traditionalist, sexist mind. Let me tell you why I am in this situation. I might not have been born in Zimbabwe, but that does not mean I do not know what being poor feels like. Being poor and  being treated differently by people around me for being so is what motivated me as a child to do all I could to well.. not be poor someday. Being poor and being born a girl, meant I had to do house chores at a very young age. So I learned what work was and the value of money very early. So I worked. I worked to support my family and put food on the table. I worked to win some little extra money so I could buy myself an extra pair of pants from the thrift store down the road. I learned to sew so I could fix the said pants when they were torn because of being worn too much. During college while my other female colleagues were hitting the pubs and going on dates, I was washing my clothes by hand and I was doing projects for extra money hoping that one day I would save enough to buy my own computer so I would not have to spend my weekends freezing my ass off in the faculty laboratories anymore.

And then I graduated. And I got myself a full development job and a part time teaching job, because I wanted to save money to buy a car. And I ended up not buying a car but fixing my teeth, that were in very poor shape because of the poverty in my childhood and adolescence. And even if I had two jobs, I decided to spend my weekends helping take care of animals for a non profit organization, instead of, I don’t know … going out I guess.

After a lot of time working two jobs, I could afford the car as well. And that opened up the possibility to travel.  Mind you, I did all these above things while keeping a house  and practicing some sports as well, because to healthy body, healthy mind, right?

And then I moved to Sibiu and when the satisfaction of working in IT started diminishing, I bought a piano and started learning to play it, because I needed a constant hobby and music was always it. It was about damn time I would invest some time in it.  While living in Sibiu, my job kept me occupied, sometimes delegated to various places and I also started writing technical books.

So, when was I supposed to meet somebody and dedicated the time to nurturing a sane relationship? Well, there was time for that, but looking at my romantic history, the only conclusion is that I was not choosy enough.

And then I moved to Edinburgh. I am still keeping a house, I commute for about  1h a day, I am still writing technical books, I am still having a full time job as a software engineer, I am still learning to play piano and I am playing football once a week. And every weekend now and then I spend it with friends.

How am I choosy? What does that even mean in his mind? Because to me it seems the only thing I am is … a fucking adult, a quite grounded one if you ask me. So yeah, apparently living a normal adult life makes you choosy. And you know what really grinds my gears? He could have said that maybe I am a workaholic, maybe I’m too selfish with my time. And although none of those sounds like a compliment either, I would have not have blocked him for any of those. Because those two are closer to the reality than being choosy. You narrow minded, simple thinking shadow of a human being! You can shove your opinion where the sun don’t shine.

So, the conclusion is, if somebody ever tells you that you are “choosy” and uses it to judge your marital status, fuck them. You go live your life the way you want to.

Stay safe, stay happy!

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.

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 22 2019

The flaming hair

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 2:53

Most of my life I’ve had long hair. Long, light-brown hair. It got a little darker after thirty years of age, but right about that time white hairs appeared as well. I really don’t care for them that much, but there is not enough of them to make my hair look silver, it’s just enough of them to make my hair look… well… not dark. So I’ve started coloring my hair to a flaming auburn shade. I did not want blonde, because it was too much of a contrast with my dark eyebrows.

I’ve had my hair flaming auburn since 2016 and I’ve been coloring my roots every 4-5weeks. Apparently I managed to find the best  shade ever, because I keep receiving compliments about it. First, it felt weird to have people complimenting my fake color. But I kinda’ started feeling proud of being able to dye my own hair and doing such a good job. If people would compliment my real color, they wouldn’t be really complimenting me, but my genetic inheritance.  I did not work for that, I had no contribution. It’s the same thing when people compliment the color of your eyes. Sure, they are beautiful, but nature made them like that. You had little contribution. But when people compliment the way you look in a dress or your shoes, that is a compliment to a decision you made, to an action you did and the consequence that was good enough that caught somebody’s eye.

As for my hair, except for its color, I am doing other changes lately. I started washing it less. Why? Well, the story is not really short. I started washing my hair every two days when I hit puberty. I had a little bit of acne and a lot of dandruff, so I was washing it and scrubbing my scalp like crazy. It was also getting oily quite often. So since 1997 I washed my hair every two days. And for all these years it has been my routine. Until I started questioning it. My best friend and mother of my godson noticed that her children did not really need their hair washed that much. And that made me think, why do we adults do it so often? Well I was doing it during puberty for obvious reasons. Then I was washing it because of routine, or because I was out a lot and apparently a lot of dust got caught in my hair. I was also washing it because I was going to the gym or to the pool, so I felt the need to.

But I’m not doing that anymore, at least not now, when it is cold outside and I am still recovering from a sprained knee. I mostly stay inside my home and go to work by car, where again I stay inside. Yoga does not make me sweat so much, so there is no reason to wash it. So here I am after twenty years or so of washing my hair every two days, I am now washing it once a week. And my hair still looks fabulous and I’m getting compliments for it.

I have no doubt once I’ll be able to do serious sports again, I’ll have to change this routine, but until then, I am reducing my spending on shampoo and gas while my hair looks amazing. And since I’ve mentioned sports, I’m seeing a physiotherapist and apparently my knee is quite well, the muscles around it are atrophied and that is why it hurts. So, all I have to do now, is … work out and all will be well. :D

Also … I  know I haven’t been writing for a while. I am sorry, but I am working like crazy on some side projects. After this tumultuous period is done, I promise to make it up to you.

Stay safe, stay happy!

Jan 14 2019

Bloody insomnia

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 2:37

When people tell me I look tired, and I justify it by telling them I have insomnia, the following question is about the things that keep me awake at night. I’m probably not the only insomniac that is being guilt-tricked into justifying their insomnia. If I knew what keeps me up at night it would not keep me up for long, because I would find a solution for it. If there would be a clear reason for my insomnia, that reason would probably be of a personal nature, so I will not answer the question anyway. So why ask?

Honestly I wish my insomnia had a cause that it is easier to identify and treat. Unfortunately it doesn’t. I go to bed at 12 am or 1 am every night and I close my eyes, sometimes I meditate and sometimes it works, I actually fall asleep and wake up rested. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work. And when it doesn’t it’s brutal. Because I end up not sleeping at all, or falling asleep at 4 or 5 am which still makes me feel and look like a train wreck. And the irony is , when I manage to fall asleep at those crazy hours I have the weirdest dreams. A few days ago I dreamed that a friend of mine was mugged and I set on a mission to punish the muggers, the cops that let them go, prosecutors, the judge, everyone. And when the alarm rang in the morning, my first thought in the dream was: No, I can’t wake up now; I still have a few of them to punish! And by punish, I mean torture and beating people to an inch of their lives; also the fights scenes would make a very awesome action movie.

So here I am preparing to go to bed, and although I’ve only slept about two hours the previous night, I do not feel asleep yet. Last night I managed to fall asleep at 4 am. I went to bet as 12 am. As I was staying in my bed, eyes closed, trying no to move to trick my brain into entering sleep mode, I realized is not going to happen. So I changed my position in bed a few times. Then I started getting annoyed because I couldn’t sleep and I had some plans for Sunday that required me to be fully functional. And once I enter the annoyance loop there is little chance I will be able to sleep. Because I keep cursing my brains that does not want to enter sleep mode, I probably get anxious because the plans for the next day might need to be delayed or their outcome becomes unpredictable because of me not operating at my full capacity.

I’ve been fighting insomnia for years. Until now I managed to function decently with it. I was even brave enough at time to try to use the sleepless nights into making something productive. (Now you know how I had time to write technical books while having a full time job.) But as I’m getting older I am starting to get worried. And I might just be paranoid here, but to me it seems as I make more mistakes, I have more lapsus moments, replace words with other words in my phrases, that definitely do not fit or pronounce them backwards.

Don’t know what else to write here. Fellow insomniacs, I understand your pain. You do not need to justify your insomnia to anyone. But seek treatment if the situation persists. That’s what I’m going to do pretty soon.

Stay safe, stay happy and sleep well!

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.

Continue reading “Is there a country where the health system is not a mess?”

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Dec 31 2018

It’s been a good year

Category: Miscellaneous,PersonalIuliana @ 3:54

I started the year with a loner retreat to my favorite spa in Brasov. I continued with a visit to Valea Oltului.

In February I’ve travelled twice to Ramnicu Valcea, to meet some more childhood friends.

Then in march, I went to Edinburgh for my interview and after that I flew to London to celebrate my new job. I baptised my first godson in April, then flew to Stockholm for a few days of relaxation. I then started packing to move to Edinburgh and took a break to fly to Barcelona for my first Spring IO conference. At the end of May I left Romania for Scotland. I think I’ve made the best decision of my life.

In June I participated to my first Codefest, in July I continued enjoying my homelife while decorating the house I rented. In August my dearest childhood friend came visiting and I’ve met the guys from Foil Arms & Hog.  In September I kept enjoying my homelife and Friday evening company boardgames and finished my fourth book. In October I kept walking everywhere in Edinburgh and took amazing pictures. I also went to Glasgow for a Three Days Grace concert. In November, my cousin visited, I met Daniel Sloss and sprained my knee while playing football.  Also, a dear friend from Sibiu visited and I drove him to my favorite places around here. He gifted me a steampunk hat, still not sure where I can wear that.

And December, what could be said about December? I’ve re-visited Annecy(yes with a sprained knee). I’ve won Codefest with a carpool application. I’ve participated to the Christmas eating competition and lost. I’ve spent  Christmas with a very nice male friend. I’ve been to the Christmas market and had cheese fondue in a bun and drank mulled cider. And bought myself a jar of Moonshine. And my cat seems to like the Christmas tree.

Eastern Europe is going back to communism, Trump is president and global warming made Scotland feel hot. But, nevertheless all is well with the world.

Thank you for still reading me, I know I’m not doing such a good job entertaining you lately. I wish you all the best and a Happy New Year!

And my blog is slowly taking over the UK. :D

Stay safe, stay happy!