March 27, 2009

Assorted randomness

Filed under: canuckia,eire,meatspace — SiKing @ 6:08 am

It’s been a while since I dropped something non-techie in here. Stuff was happening, I was just not sure if I wanted to air everything out. Then I figured: what’s the point of having a blog if you can’t bitch about stuff? 😈

I have roughly an hour bus ride to and from work every day, so plenty of time to ponder stuff’n’things. It occurred to me the other day that I seem to, completely unintentionally, pick my women and my jobs about the same way. Actually, pick is not the right word, more like they pick me. Anyway, usually if I have a very positive first impression of the target(?), then it never works out! My first impression of the ones that do work out is usually firmly neutral. Over time, as I familiarize myself with the situation, my impression and whole outlook turn out positive. But in the end, so far 100% of the time, something happens and I have to move on. Wonder what does that say about my sense of first impression? Well, at the moment I am trying to break this trend, in both areas.

I have been gone from Canada for over five years, returned just this past December – just before the middle of winter hits: the worst time of the year for most people. There is snow, like lost of snow, it’s cold, like really cold, and a lot of people are bitter about it. Over the past four months I realized that I really love Canada, specifically Calgary. Sure it’s got issues, who doesn’t, but overall I feel really good here even at the worst of times.

On my daily bus ride I also do a lot of reading. Currently it’s Lion of Ireland by Morgan Llywelyn; she has an amazing talent for storytelling. Ireland, out of all the places that I have been so far, has the greatest people; still have several good friends there, whom I very much hope I will see again. As much as I love living in Canada, I loved visiting Ireland. Here is a passage from the book that I particularly liked:

The green land, the passionate, intensely alive people, the great weight of their history together that stretched back through memory to myth, to some prehistoric dawn he could not even imagine.
A need to love which could not be fearlessly bestowed on any mortal being could be satisfied by the country herself. She could not die. If a man could weave himself into her very fabric she would be his forever, capable of absorbing all his passion, his to safeguard and cherish.

I got this story I tell my children to try and convince them to study hard. When I tell them, I dress it up a little, but the gist of it goes something like this. At the end of school, everyone will get divided into five groups, based on their grades. Then they are going to take the first group aside and show them all the jobs that are out there, and ask them to pick any job they like. The second group will get a choice of the leftovers from the first group. The third group will essentially be left with a pick of jobs that nobody wanted. The fourth group end up on welfare, and the last group become street urchins. I also leave out the fact that popularity and who your daddy is plays a big role in the initial selection. I personally seem to fluctuate between the third and fourth group. The story continues that about once per year your employer evaluates how well you are doing, this includes performance as well as how/if you are liked by your coworkers. Depending on the outcome you may move up or down, or out. I think when I was last in California, I really let things slip. I got overconfident, cocky, and just a plain pain-in-the-ass. So regardless of how good my skillz might have been, I got the boot. Yes, this last part I also tell my children.

I am pretending to be a writer, again. I have always wanted to write a book. It’s a bit of a vanity thing for me, I think – just to have a physical stack of paper bound together with my name on the cover. Unfortunately, I am not quite committed to what it is going to be about, not even fiction versus non-fiction. This is not the first time I tried to write. I wrote the character Cali in Child of the Moon. It was a collaborative fantasy piece, which did not go anywhere because each of the writers had their own selfish idea of where they wanted their character to go, and none of us had any idea (or even care) how we will contribute to the overall story. I played Catlyn (Katlyn) in Radiantsphere, a Traveller campaign; I did not write those mission logs, but man that was a lot of fun! Currently, I am writing my autobiography (in Czech). Two good friends, on separate occasions, previously suggested that I do this. Actually my first autobiographical attempt was this blog, but that seems to be now leaning more toward technobabble. I have some ideas for two other books that I would like to try: one a fantasy trilogy (leftovers from my D&D days) and one a technical howto. But so far those are just ideas …


August 7, 2008

My Last Days of the Celtic Tiger

Filed under: eire — SiKing @ 2:03 pm
Tags: ,

Apologies if you’re expecting some summary of the play, but I thought the title fitting for my situation.

I have only a few days left in Dublin and last night I took one last stroll on the Boardwalk along the Liffey. I thought about past two years of my life. On the personal side of things, completely unrelated to Ireland, things did not work out as I had hoped or even anticipated; but life is like that sometime – that’s what keeps it interesting. Overall I am very glad of my time in Ireland, but after two years it is time for me to move on. Ireland is beautiful, but it’s a country that “only a mother could love.” :mrgreen:

One thing that I must clear up. Lots of people have mentioned that the weather, specifically the rain, is what forced me out. That is not true. I must be probably the only person on this island that did not mind the weather. I actually like a cooler climate. I like that once in a while it rains, it gives you constant green grass and (afterwards) clear blue skies. Joking aside: my top three are at the bottom of the following list.

Things I will miss

  • Guinness! Unfortunately, the black stuff does not travel. Just as I no longer drink Sam Adams outside of Boston, or Staropramen outside of Prague, I don’t think I will enjoy a Guinness outside of Dublin. It’s not just the local atmosphere, it actually tastes different.
  • Irish people. I am normally no good with people, but Ireland was the easiest place for me to make new friends – I don’t know what that says about the Irish. 😆 They are some of the most tolerant and friendly people that I have met anywhere.
  • Lots of very kool things to see. I thought it was great, that most (not all!) of the historic sites have free admission and you can actually climb all over them. The kids especially loved this.
  • The country. Dingle peninsula, Wexford, Giant’s Causeway, and others. Apparently I have seen more of Ireland than most Irish. 😀 Sorry I did not make it out to Achill Island, but I guess I gotta save something for next time?
  • For their size (of the country, not talkin’ ’bout obesity here) the Irish will not be just swept under a carpet. The recent Lisbon Treaty vote in Ireland proved that they are a serious contributor to the EU, and they will voice their opinion.

Things I will do without

  • Bulmers – sorry Paul, but this stuff is mangy.
  • Irish drivers. One thing that the Irish are very bad at, and they will be the first to admit it, is driving. Horse and cart, not a problem. Once you remove the reins, and replace them with a wheel and pedals, that becomes a huge conundrum. The department of transportation tries to help them out a bit, with things like putting traffic lights at roundabouts, which only confuses the heck out of foreigners. Even parking is a mystery to the Irish. As far as I can tell, the rules are as follows. No lines on the road: it’s a free for all. White lines along the side, usually painted in the shape of a box: paid parking. Once you pay, do not let yourself be restricted by the white lines, be creative, see if you can cover as many lines as possible with the car, after all you paid for it! Single-yellow line along the side of the road: no parking. Double-yellow: seriously, no parking! OK, you can park here, but only if all the available space designated by the single-yellow line is already taken up by parked cars. Zig-zag yellow: this time we really, really, really mean it, please don’t park here … for too long. Exemptions are: mamys wielding an SUV who really have talk to their girl friend about the fabulous new sweater they just saw in the store for sale yesterday when coming home from a Mary’s house oh and did you see how much weight she gained….. Rich snooty people driving expensive Mercedes. Anyone who would be inconvenienced by walking the extra distance. And lastly, anyone who is just plain lazy.
  • Constant wailing of alarms in the background. Several people tried to convince me, that house and car alarms are a theft deterrent, while standing in front of a bank, alarms blaring, police cars idly driving by as if nothing is happening. They were unsuccessful at convincing me. Alarms in Ireland, or at least in Dublin, serve only one purpose that I can see: very effective noise pollution.
  • Dublin sidewalks. They actually created concrete tiles, that are slippery when wet (did I mention it rains here often?), and they build the entire sidewalks in Dublin centre out of this stuff!?!? Not sure what is wrong with pouring concrete on the spot and then ruffing up the surface before it sets, but someone in Dublin apparently thought they could invent a rounder wheel. 😕
  • Irish cost of living. It’s an island, it’s out of the way, it is expensive. Buying a new house here today, is simply out of the question.
  • Irish medical system. Don’t get sick here! You will be worse off coming out of a hospital, then going in. Visit to a GP: €50 on the spot. Visit to a specialist: €150 just to see you; don’t forget that a GP had to refer you … for a €50 of course. The Irish think it’s a good deal, when the insurance kicks in €30 for that visit! I actually got given out to about bringing healthy children to doctor for an annual checkup! “We don’t see healthy children here, we don’t have time to see all the sick children!”
  • Irish school system. It’s the 21st century people, there is no place for the church in a public school system! Schools are overcrowded and underfunded, staff is young and inexperienced.

Slan agus beannacht

August 1, 2008

Bus Átha Cliath – bring a crash helmet and swim trunks

Filed under: eire — SiKing @ 5:24 pm
Tags: , ,

Bus Átha CliathSo I recently moved a little further away from the DART (and a little further away from the coast). The choice was financially necessitated, not a voluntary one. By coincidence, although anticipated, my work office moved as well, also further away from the DART. The total physical distance between me and work now is approximately the same as it was before, however I am forced into a new form of transport: the Dublin Bus. I won’t even get into the three months I have left on my DART annual pass. The DART is like VIP Royal treatment compared to the Dublin Bus. My commute to work used to take approximately 1 hour 30 minutes door-to-door, out of which 1 hour was spent walking (by choice, ’cause I do need the exercise). Now my commute takes approximately the same 1 hour and 30 minutes, however my Slí na Sláinte is now less than 10 minutes!

The first thing that you will notice when getting on the bus, is the attitude of the driver. As I have stated many times before, the Irish IMHO are a wonderful people, extremely friendly, helpful, and generally very polite. The Dublin drivers (I don’t have experience with any other Irish city) are a major exception to this rule. These are some of the most bitter people you will ever meet. I am not sure if new employees have to go to special training to become assholes, or if during the hiring process they hand pick the most caustic people they can find, and then brainwash them to absolutely hate all of humanity. These fiends are then given a massive double-decker, and ordered to drive it as fast as possible skimming along the sidewalks crowded with pedestrians that have no sense of self-preservation!

As an added union benefit they have no timetable and no strict route to follow. Yes, they do have something published on their site. But in the morning on my way to work, like most other tax contributors, I’m not checking the Internet. Majority of the bus stops around Dublin are only marked with a yellow pole with the company emblem at the top – no indication of what bus actually stops there, where it goes, or what time it may get there. That’s because they get to make it up as they go along! If you want to see Dublin, screw the local travel agencies. Just take a bus someplace and (try to) take the same one back. In both directions you will get to see completely different sites. After doing a little research to find which buses go to where I now live, I discovered that “heck, the 41 goes up there.” There are, all together, six 41’s. However, besides the number they do not have much else in common. The plain 41 takes the longest route, and because it goes through the airport where there is a good possibility of meeting first time visitors to Dublin, this route has the most vile of the drivers. Then there are the 41a and 41b; after a month I still have not discovered where they go or where they stop. But I have seen both of them drive by, and with people on board, so I can only assume they stop at some point somewhere. Then there is the 41c, which actually ends up being the most convenient one for me as it often stops closest to my house. It also has the distinguishing feature that most of the passengers do not speak English. In Dublin this means it is frequented by cute Polish chicks, and nackers who may be Irish but certainly do not speak either of the official languages. At least to make things fair, the drivers on this route do not speak English either. Then there is the 41x, the XpressO. This is suppose to be the fastest way to get to Dublin centre; an assumption based on the restriction that this route must go through the Dublin tunnel, other than that the driver is actually actively encouraged to “make it up” as he goes. Unfortunately, the tunnel dumps the bus out on completely opposite side of the city centre then where the bus must go. The morning commute traffic ensures, that although the buses depart 10 minutes apart, they all get to the destination at exactly the same time! On the way back this bus does not take the tunnel, so it is actually faster getting home. To offset this, there are fewer 41x’s in the evening than in the morning. 😕 Lastly there is the 41n, the Nitelink. This bus takes all the drunks home after they get ejected from the pubs. It is the average of all the other 41’s in terms of its route, but the sum in terms of its cost to board. Also, volume discount tickets cannot be used on the Nitelink routes.

The other day, though, I had the best experience. My day started off with me sleeping right through my morning alarm … and continuing right through lunch. But I also slept through the heavy morning rainstorm. When I got on the bus I immediately noticed that the floors are particularly wet, significantly more so than the sidewalk outside. OK, so maybe the sun outside is drying the sidewalks faster than inside the bus? As I made it onto the upper deck, there was actually water running, not dripping, down the stairs – fuck, some idiot must have left the windows open overnight. By this time the bus was already moving along the road at a pretty good pace, so I did not spend too much time pondering the situation and made for a seat, unless I find myself on the floor as the driver dodges another cyclist. Sat down, the bus was almost empty, so I got a nice window seat. However, as the bus came to a stop at the next red light, a torrent of water washed over my feet from behind. I swear, there was double-digit inches of water on the upper deck! “Well you need to take one of them new buses, they don’t leak as much!”, a colleague told me afterwards. Now first off, I did not even realize that one has a choice of what model bus will come, and second this was a new bus. The floor of the upper deck is nicely convex shaped so that all water will stay upstairs and pool along the walls, and not go down the stairs except in the case of really creative manoeuvring on the driver’s part. To prove I’m not pulling your leg, I am including a short video I shot.

Warning: we apologize to our viewers for the poor quality of the upcoming video. It was shot by an incompetent amateur using his camera phone for the first time. 😛

June 18, 2008

Češi tady a Češi tam – kulturní šok

Filed under: cechy,eire — SiKing @ 1:52 pm
Tags: ,

Už jsem z Česka přes tisíc kilometrů a přes dva roky pryč, a stále mi tam hejbaj žlučí!

Jak už jsem jednou psal, já v Čechách nesmím vlastnit auto (nebo cokoliv jiného). Prostě a stručně: jsem sice rozený Čech, mám pas a občanství (i s kulatým razítkem!), ale nemám Český nejdebilnější vejmysl: trvalý pobyt! Nemám trvalý pobyt, protože legálně jsem ho jednou ztratil a dnes odmítám podplatit nějakého Čecháčka abych se u něho mohl napsat. Existuje možnost, že se přihlásím někde na radnici, ale tam mají kecy, že napřed potřebuji nějaký jiný kus hadru (s kulatým razítkem samozřejmě) z místa kde jsem byl naposledy vedený. Já se jim na to vysral. Takže nesmím nic vlastnit, jako třeba auto. Čechy jsou jediný národ na světě, o kterém vím, který si vymyslel takovouhle píčovinu! Všude jinde na světě smíte přijet, koupit si auto, přihlásit si ho, pojistit si ho, a jezdit. Potom ho prodat a pokračovat dál v cestách.

Takže já mám teď auto, registrované v Čechách na “kámoše”, a jezdím s nim v Irsku. Teď už je to vrak, kterého se jenom chci zbavit, protože je dražší to dovést zpátky do Čech na likvidaci než kolik to má hodnotu. Tady v Irsku to nikomu nedokážu prodat, ale klidně to můžu tady odvést na vrakoviště kde si to rádi vezmou. V pár případech mi za to možná daj i stovku. Problém je, že Čecháčci potřebují doklad o ekologické likvidaci vozidla, nebo to prostě neodhlásí a bude se nadále muset platit povinné ručení na auto které neexistuje, ale bohužel jenom prakticky a Češi hrají jedině na teorii. Takovejhle protokol, s razítkama, překladama, a já nevím co ještě, se jen tak v zahraničí nesežene. V zahraničí je většina lidí slušných, a dá se jim věřit. Hlavně když se jedná o něco jako zlikvidovat vrak auta. Možná mi napíšou ručně něco jako dopis, kde bude ruční podpis, a v lepším případě i nějaké razítko které si možná zakoupili někde přes Internet aby jako vypadali důležitě. Ale s Českým “protokolem” se to nedá srovnávat. Samozřejmě to můžu někde svalit ze skály a nahlásit to na policii jako ukradené, ale proč musím podvádět? Prostě i slušnej občan, musí mít správné známé a musí různě obcházet systém aby dokázal vyřídit něco co potřebuje. V Čechách nic normální legální cestou nejde!!!

Tohle si myslím, že je jádro nedorozumění, mezi Čechy kteří utekli a už delší dobu bydlí na západě a Čechy kteří přežili komunismus a nadále žijí v Čechách. Jedna skupina nerozumí proč druhá nechce zpátky do toho blaha, a druhá skupina nerozumí proč ta první chce dobrovolně žít v takovém neuvěřitelném bordelu.

May 13, 2008

Just another day for Iarnród Éireann

Filed under: eire — SiKing @ 12:20 am
Tags: ,

Iarnród Éireann logo

That’s Irish Rail. First a little background for out-of-towners. The Dublin public transport is one of the worst in the civilized world: it’s expensive, inefficient, and unreliable. With the unexpected population boom due to the Celtic Tiger economy, the public transport system was caught off guard and is completely unable to cope with the volume of daily commuters. Now that the Celtic Tiger is dying, and foreigners are leaving the country, the system upgrades are finally getting caught up. However, it’s a work in progress.

A map of the stops should help with the following tale.

On my way home from work today the DART stopped somewhere between Grand Canal Dock and Pearse. It was an unusually sunny day, 19°, and as is usual most of the windows in the car were closed. After a few minutes wait, the friendly voice of the driver came over the PA telling us there is a problem with the “points” (that’s DART-speak for electrical system) and that it will be a few more minutes. After the few more minutes, the same voice announced that it will be at least another hour, and that immediately the train is changing from a Malahide train to a Bray train (essentially turning around)! Back at Grand Canal then, everybody got out of the train. Grand Canal is not one of the bigger stops, and it is not capable of fully-loaded peak traffic train being unloaded there. After several minutes, all the one available exist was completely blocked. In the meantime, a Drogheda Commuter arrived. More information for out-of-towners: the DARTs are cheaper, non air conditioned (why bother in Ireland), short distance, slower, electric trains; compared with the Commuters which are more expensive, air conditioned, long distance, faster, and most importantly diesel trains. We, along with a fully packed platform, figured that the diesel train can get through Pearse which has no electricity, and hopefully on the other side at Connolly all the Malahide-Bray DARTs are being turned around and going to Malahide again. So everyone, including the poor souls which genuinely needed to take the one-per-hour Drogheda train packed in. The train moved about as far as the previous DART and stopped. Obviously there was a DART stuck at Pearse, with no electricity, thereby leaving only one track available for two way train traffic. At this point, it is worth revisiting the previously mentioned benefit of air conditioning. Since the train is air conditioned, unlike the DART, it has no need to have windows that open, unlike the DART. Unfortunately, the air conditioning is able to effectively cool the air only during Irish winters and only if there are people comfortably seated. In this case, it was an unusually warm Irish summer day, and the train was absolutely packed wall to wall. The air conditioning was simply not coping. People were calling loved ones at home, with news that they have no idea when or if they will be home. Some even joked over the phone, with gems like: “Hunny, please have the squeegee ready for my face when I get home.”

Eventually we passed the work crew, which consisted of five guys in glow-in-the-dark vests leaning on one shovel. After about half an hour we reached Connolly. Malahidians stumbled out of the train, while the Droghedians immediately filled the gaps between the remaining bodies. We chcked the red LED signs for hints of where to catch the next train headed to Malahide. As it turned out, Irish Rail in their kindness added an extra stop to the train that we just got out of: Malahide. So we rushed back into the already overflowing train. After several warning beeps, a stern warning, and couple of pokes from a cattle prod, the driver somehow managed to close the door. Even thought the train was going non-stop from Connolly to Malahide, it was moving along rather slowly. Someone pointed out that the driver was probably being careful and making sure there were no leaves on the tracks – referring to an earlier incident, where trains in the morning had to move at a snail’s pace, due to “tracks being slippery because they are covered with leaves.” I’m not making this up! Anyway, this got a light-hearted chuckle out of everybody, easing a tense situation. Once the train picked up speed, people again started calling their loved ones at home again, that they might not be home as late as they originally thought. One gentleman, however, announced to his wife: “I will be in Malahide in about 10 minutes darling. Yea, I just happen to catch a travelling sauna that was going that way!”

This is what I love about the Irish – everything with a sense of humour and a grain of salt!

January 2, 2008

2007: a short summary

Filed under: cyberspace,eire,meatspace — SiKing @ 9:18 pm

Well another disastrous Xmas has gone by. If you imagine life as a river and all the troubles that life throws your way are crap discarded into the river, then for me Xmas has always represented a sieve of a sorts where all the shit accumulates and plugs up the normal flow of things. Some of the stuff (especially things that I saw coming for a while now) I have cleared up relatively quickly, but some things (stuff that I have been putting off for some time) I still have to deal with.

My ideal Xmas is to go away somewhere, anywhere, away from everything. I have managed this only once that I can remember (went to Leavenworth, WA); it was, by far, my best Xmas ever.

Let see; here is my 2007 highlights:

  • The switch from Windows to Linux did not happen. Unfortunately, my home computer clanked out so I could not make the full move. Since $JOB provides me with a laptop I really have no incentive to dish out the cash for a new machine, or to dish out the time to fix up my old machine. In the end, I have decided that desktops are no longer worth it, and in the future I am going laptop for the portability.
  • This year I actually started getting bored of computers and technology. This has of course taken a toll on my two hobbies, which I have ignored a lot. I am at least starting to take the time to teach basic computer skills to my children, which kills several birds with one stone: spend more time with the kids, impart some good computer habits in them, and spend some time exploring new software.
  • At the very end of the year I found out that I am a hopeless case when it comes to building long-term relationships. Things were kinda shaky over the summer. We pulled out of that OK, but then hit a major bump in the fall. Unfortunately, I am terrified of the idea of being alone. It’s not that I cannot handle life alone, it’s that I will have nobody to share life’s ups and downs with, and what is the point in that.
  • Public schooling still sucks. When I myself finally made it to university, I found out to my horror that basic education did not prepare me at all for what is coming. I am sensing that my children are headed for the exact same level of unpreparedness. As an example: they are supposed to write a research project. Unfortunately, they have no idea how to do research, how to organize the information, or how to present the information. So I am teaching them what I myself found out the hard way teachers like to see under the heading “research paper”. Primary school is just a very expensive babysitting service!

Very quiet New Year. First time in like 20+ years that I did not have a single drink the whole day … totally unintentional too! Wanted to go see the Dublin fireworks from top of Howth, but it was completely covered by fog. Drove down to Sutton, and saw the entire bay: from Clontarf to Dun Laoghaire. Fireworks on the entire horizon. It was quite beautiful, and in true Irish spirit, it rained. Toasted the new year with hot chocolate with the kids.

Yea, that’s it, rant over.

December 18, 2007

So happy new year

Filed under: eire,etanol,meatspace — SiKing @ 4:12 pm
Tags: ,

Things have been kinda agitated past few weeks, but are settling down now in time for the end of the year. Just kinda clearing my head here.

First I have calmed down at $JOB, as I have determined that all the stuff they were trying to fill my head with is mostly irrelevant. In testing, it’s all just software with inputs that are suppose to satisfy some predefined outputs, and it either works or not. Simple as that! Tests written in Java suck as I am spending more time chasing bugs in the test framework than I am in the application; but hey at least I have an endless amount of work available. Everything here is done using Eclipse a very lazy IDE, and source is maintained mostly using Subclipse a flaky piece of crap that at least once a week screws up my workspace. After trying to fix up the F-up for a few hours, usually in frustration, I just blow everything away and start all over with a fresh checkout. I still get a kick out of the Java developer telling me that this is an inefficient use of computer resources, because the source tree is very big. I thought that one of the basic assumptions of Java is that resources are unlimited.

The team that I am currently assigned to, is called Team A.

Apparently I am the first one ever that has put a wallpaper like on their desktop.
Nobody here has a sense of humour , but it sure does put bread on the table .

Anyway, the above clip has brought back some memories of my good ‘ol days, when life was naive and uncomplicated and the world was a much smaller place.

etanol is now officially dead – the motherboard clunked out. I am not really interested in getting another desktop right now, maybe a laptop. Anyway, I tried to figure out how much I could sell the parts off for. I discovered that my €3000 komp is now worth about €300 on the open market – not even worth the hassle. Well, I still do have a couple of other toys to play with, and I have been neglecting those for too long.

My love life is still on the rocks. But there was some good news in the personal life area. Yesterday I found out that there is an actual ice ring in Ireland. My younger boy loves (ice) hockey, and when I left Czech Rep. him having to abandon this sport was my biggest (perhaps only?) disappointment. Do you believe in fate or is it all just coincidence?

October 24, 2007

Time to move on

Filed under: eire,meatspace — SiKing @ 3:20 pm

My old desk

So it’s time for me to make some changes in my life again.

Things got kinda stagnant where I work now: same ol’ same ol’ every day, not much of a career growth that I could see going forward, and the money was falling sharply below the industry average. Once again I am reminded of the great divide between management mentality and the front-line ranks (or at least myself). By coincidence (or perhaps not) I had my annual performance review at the same time. At the end of the review, there was a place where I could speak my mind. I stated that it looks to me like people here get promoted more based on their soft skills rather than their technical skills – we’re talking about software QA. On top of that, I pointed out, the money is much better elsewhere. This, it would seem to me, has the tendency to drive talent out. After hading in my resignation a week later, my boss pleaded that he wanted to keep me at least in the company and he was trying to get me transfered to development where they have more money available. After I thought the offer through, I decided that he was just trying to be polite, because purely from management point of view this did not make sense to me. A company that has no QA (to speak of), is going to burn out their developers too fast, ’cause someone has to test the stuff. Then I thought more about a top-management decision to financially choke QA. Why even bother? I mean, if you are serious about building a good product, you need to invest in QA – I assume everyone in a decision-making position would know that, and if they don’t then the person who placed them there is a serious liability to the company. On the other hand, let’s pretend that someone at the top is intentionally just trying to make things look good so that they could pull an Enron. In that case, again, they are incompetent, because they are wasting good money on a front that could be done by one competent, but significantly cheaper, person. I’m probably too stupid to understand the greater meaning in all of this. As my daughter (8 y.o.) pointed out the other day: “How hard can it be to just push buttons all day dad?”

I normally start off my mornings reading the Metro on the way to work. One of the sections that I particularly enjoy is the letters section. However, recently there seems to be a huge increase of complaints: “I can’t get a seat on the train”, “litter in the streets”, “people spitting”, “ladies putting on makeup”, “I get fined when I don’t purchase a ticket for the train”, “rowdy teenagers”, and I don’t know what else. It’s freakin’ depressing! Sure Ireland has it’s share of problems: the health care system might as well not even exist for all the good it’s doing, and the education system, especially at the primary level, is not far behind. With over ten years of continuous economic growth Dublin is becoming a real metropolis, with all the problems of a big city. But you know what? Overall Ireland is a great place to live! Unemployment is still very low, people here are extremely welcoming of the “new Irish” and other cultures, and you have one of the cleanest environments in Europe. Colourful history in this country, lots of fantastic places to visit, not to mention great beer. I am very grateful for the opportunities that Ireland has provided for me and my children over the last year and half, and I am glad about all the people that I have met here. And for you whiners: if you don’t like it, do something about it. I am: tomorrow morning it’s the Herald for me!

A good friend of mine wrote about an interesting conjecture (in Czech!) a while back. It is a contemplation about computer games and other obsessions. At the end, he suggests that one of the best games, or playing fields, that one should try an excel at is your own self. Perhaps your own mind. I have always worked in computers, because I had that kind of logical mind. I always really liked, almost got an adrenalin rush out of, pushing systems beyond what they were designed to do – this is one of the definitions of computer hacking, the definition that I subscribe to. Psychology has always fascinated me, even though I had very little idea of what it is all about. There are a lot of others out there that share this same mindset, and recently I discovered that there are even several books. So I got this list of books together that I intend to read, and see if they will open (hack?) my mind. Funny thing: while I was putting the list together, searching for the books, Amazon suggested that from my browsing history perhaps I might like The Anarchist Cookbook! I wonder what that says about me … perhaps I don’t want to know.

August 11, 2007

Úvaha: sám nad sebou

Filed under: cechy,eire — SiKing @ 12:06 pm

Tak jsem se tento týden vrátil z dovolené v Čechách. Musím se přiznat, že to určitě nebyla jedna z lepších dovolených. Ze dvou týdnů jsem nakonec měl necelé tři dny co jsem mohl strávit s kamarády. Zbytek času jsem trávil s dětmi a budoucím příbuzenstvem. Ne že by mě nějak vadili, ale plánoval jsem to úplně jinak. No nic. Mohl jsem strávit alespoň pár hodin s bráchou – to není biologický bratr, ale čestný titul ocenění našeho kamarádství. Než jsem odjel z Čech před rokem tak jsme mluvily, že začneme psát. Vlastně tohle nebylo poprvé co jsem o tom přemýšlel. Brácha píše bezvadný věci na netu! Ale já pro to nemám ten správný quip, jak nakonec můžete poznat i z tohoto blogu. Brácha mi teď naposledy přesvědčil abych sepsal něco o tom, co my vlastně vyhovuje tady na Irsku. Jako logický ajťák jsem nejprve začal rozebírat co mi nevyhovuje na Čechách. Kdykoliv začnu debatu na tohle téma, tak mi nejprve lidi začnou dávat za pravdu, ale rychle se to dostane do mezí kdy začnu lidi urážet a oni jsou samozřejmě nasraní. Když jsem přijel zpátky poslal jsem bráchovi odkaz na Český šok který jsem shodou okolností nedávno nalezl. “Články docela dobře vystihují naše přednosti a slabosti obecně,” povídá on. Já jsem mu odepsal: “nejvzpovídavější [je to vůbec slovo?] o České nátuře jsou ty diskuse co tam píšou sami Češi. Zatím každý který jsem Četl, tak někdo držkuje na ten názor, raději než aby se zamysleli sami nad sebou…” Brácha mi odpověděl: “Je asi pravdou, že to je jeden z Českých rysů. Pozoruji ho i na tobě.” Je to opravdu tak! Dost Často se soustředím na negativní věci a negativní vlastnosti situace / kolegů / přátel a dost často tím lidi odstrkuji od sebe a nasírám. To je věc kterou bych chtěl na sobě změnit! Začnu omluvou: Na posledním sezení co jsem měl s přáteli ze starého TCC, tak diskuze se také odebrala tímto směrem, a jako vždy mám dojem, že jsem přátele nasral. Omlouvám se za to; vůbec jsem nechtěl abychom tak skončili, hlavně když jsme se tak dlouho neviděli. Sorry MS, LL, VS, a LF! UkonČím to tedy tím, že Čechy mě prostě nevyhovují. Každá země je jiná, a každá má svůj způsob běžného chování a vůbec fungování – není ani špatný ani dobrý, prostě je takový. Já už jsem asi rozmazlený časem stráveným v Americe, nebo ve stáří méně adaptabilní na rozlišené názory, nebo čistě neochotný akceptovat jiný způsob. Prostě cítil jsem se v Čechách jako ryba z vody. Ale spíše to bude nějaká kombinace těchto vlastností.

Před rokem při mém odjezdu z Čech mi jeden přítel povídal, že v Irsku určitě také nenajdu uspokojení, určitě tam také budou problémy, a já se budu honit někam dál. Měl pravdu, ale jenom z části. Irsko samozřejmě má požehnaně svých problémů. Ovšem já jsem sem nejel hledat nějakou utopii kde budu žít do konce života, já jsem sem jel za poznáním. Když se mě Irové ptají proč jsem se rozhodl právě pro Irsko, odpovím většinou: “protože jsem tu ještě nikdy nebyl”. Poznání nového kraje, jiných lidí, vůbec poznání čehokoliv nového o tom je vlastně život. Nemám pravdu? Hmmm, to začíná znít jako kontradikce toho čím jsem uzavřel předešlý odstavec. Určitě jsem sem nejel zbohatnout; několik kamarádů v Česku se mi marně snažilo vyčíslit, že jsem se vlastně měl daleko lépe v Čechách. Čistě z finančního pohledu mají absolutní pravdu. Takže otázka vlastně není co se mi tady líbí, ale co jsem tady vlastně tedy poznal? Tady je můj Irský šok.

Irové jsou za prvé jeden z nejtolerantnějších národů co jsem zatím poznal. Také se tady mluví o rasismu, ale veliká většina Irů vítá přistěhovalce s otevřeným náručím. Jejich názor je, že během Bramborového hladomoru je přivítal celý svět, a teď je jejich možnost tu laskavost vrátit. Například Čechy vítali i před vstupem do Evropské Unie. Irové si dost potrpí na tradici, někdy by člověk řekl, že jsou dokonce líní něco změnit. Je například dost běžné, že umyvadla mají dva kohoutky se studenou a teplou vodou zvlášť. Dále, Irsko má docela dlouhou ale krutou historii, byly i doby kdy válčili jeden proti druhému. Dnes už mají docela konservativní politiku (během obou Světových válek byli neutrální), ale za svou historii nejsou zrovna hrdí. Náboženství tu je také zajímavá věc. Já osobně náboženský nejsem, takže to pro mě je vlastně těžké posoudit. Náboženství se vyučuje skoro ve všech školách, a každou neděli se musí chodit do kostela. Ale zbytek týdne náboženství do denního života moc nepřijde. Připadá mi to jako takové duševní čistění na konci těžkého týdne, něco jako mentální uvolnění u piva v pátek po práci. Nakonec jsem postřehl, že Irové nedokážou udělat nic správně na poprvé (v nějakých případech i na podesáté), ale stejně nikdy nehází flintu do žita. Změna do Irska přichází pomalu a tedy dlouho. Například jejich zdravotní systém je v katastrofálním stavu, i když to už řeší posledních deset let ekonomické prosperity.

No toť vše. Jestli mi něco dalšího napadne, tak to sem zase šoupnu. Teď jdu spát.

February 9, 2007

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow …

Filed under: eire,meatspace — SiKing @ 3:16 pm

20 cm or in of snow

So it finally snowed in Ireland!!! Yea I know, the text above says 20 inches and the picture shows only 20 centimeters. It’s still funny, tho’!

What else? I am, after a very long hiatus, going through the rest of the show Alias. It was a very kool show while it lasted! This show also prompted me originally to start a Usenet group, just to see if I could do it. The group is still alive, so I guess I could do it. I even started some periodic postings: the Episode Guides, that I need to update!

December 21, 2006

December 21, 2006

Filed under: eire,meatspace — SiKing @ 10:43 am

So my favourite part of winter has come. No it’s not Christmas (I’m one of those people that does not like – dare I say “hates” – the over-materialised absolutely stressed-out modernised version of X-mas), it’s snow! Temperatures in Dublin finally got close enough to zero to freeze the dew on the ground overnight, making it seem like there is a 1mm snow cover. My walk to work this morning was great – I love the crunching of snow under my shoes, even if it is only so tiny. Even when I lived in Canada I could not get enough of it.

September 12, 2006

Security in a modern world – is there such a thing?

Filed under: eire,meatspace — SiKing @ 9:36 am

Warning: another soapbox entry.

I love the security here in Ireland. Significant majority of houses and cars here have non-silent alarms. They go off all the time (day or night) everywhere, and nobody cares. Not one single Irish person, after hearing an alarm, has jumped up and said: “I had better call the garda, there might be someone breaking in there.” Not one, not ever! They have, however, uttered on occasion: “I hope that thief hurries up and steals that car already, so that the noise will stop.” So the only purpose that alarms serve is as an annoyance to your neighbours, but certainly not as a deterrent to thieves.

Yesterday, my amazement / annoyance reached a new high. My mother locked her keys in the house. When she returned home, she discovered that she left one of the second storey windows in the back open. She then set about trying to borrow a ladder from one of the neighbours, so that she could break into our own house. Thank ghod none of them had a ladder and she did not discover the one in our own back yard, as my mother is not one of the nimblest people that I know. However, one of the nice ladies next door, in a very neighbourly way of course, tells my mom: “Well, our neighbour’s keys open our house. So here, try ours and see if they will work.” Guess what? Of course they worked! Image

When I lived in New Hampshire, they took this same simple problem and solved it in a very simple way. First off, do not annoy your neighbours with stupid alarms. Nobody, including the thieves, cares! If you are worried, buy a gun. Second, to prevent yourself from locking your keys in the house, don’t lock the house. It’s that simple! In fact, when I owned a house out there, the back door lock did not ever work the one time I tried it. When I moved in, on the first day, my next door neighbour told me: “Anything you need feel free to borrow, whether I’m here or not. We don’t lock the doors. Just please put it back in the same place when you return it, so that I can find it again.” Another neighbour there, I have an open invitation to this day, to sleep over at their house anytime I am in the area, whether they are home or not! I will confess, that this was way out in the country and not in the city. I do not actually believe the city folk adopted this, admittedly extreme, solution.

Just in case you’re wondering: both my car and our house have dummies: pretty blinking lights, but that is about all. Image

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