Apr 5, 2014

Going Through Some Changes... Again

I knew it had been a long time since the last time I wrote, I just wasn't aware that it had passed such a long time! Which is bad, because if I think of all the penpals I've neglected, it means that I've become a legendary Bad Penpal. Of course I won't go here whining about how all of them took their time and effort to write to me, and what a meanie I am for not writing back to them, not letting them know how things are... please. Delays in replies are one of the many, many risks all penpals take when they step upon the path of Penpalhood. Plus, I send postcards here and there to let them know I'm alove, though not enough to sit down and write to them.

So, what has happened since I was here last? Well, I came back to Costa Rica, as you all know, since I was in Hungary for the holidays with the family. This trip offered me a unique chance to gain some perspective on a lot of things about life and life choices and got me thinking about the next steps I should take regarding my future. No, I did not came up with a plan for total world domination. Geez, I would never do that! Too many tasks, too much hassle and the responsability alone! No, no, no I don't want to build my very own Panem. No, the decisions and plans I came up with actually are falling more in the line of the expectations I had some six or seven years ago, concentrated mainly on procuring ease, leisure, fun, stability and professional growth - the way I understand it, of course, not the way the world understands it, which is wrong, by the way. Sorry world, I'm the one who's right, as always.

One of the most important lessons I re-learned was that Integrity should always be above everything. Altruism is overrated, and sometimes you have to stop being good, stop being understanding and stop trying to help others out of the fucking shithole they dig themselves into. I learned that, as ugly as it soulds, Altruism isn't in my nature and shouldn't be in my nature. I'm just too good at what I do and at what I can achieve to afford any altruism. You see, when you are good or you are doing well - be it in life, at school, at work, or whatever project you are in - it may happen that people who are doing less than well ask for your help or start relying on you to get their own load on. Sometimes then, these people - counting on your help or support - start taking more than what they can affort and keep piling on your "because you can help them". Perhaps you helped them but where also expecting to get on with your own program, your own projects, and that stops happening out of the blue because these other people are stopping you from moving forward. I know a penpal of mine with whom this happens more often than not. Well, believe it or not, this happened to me too. Yep, world known Wicked Witch Me. And believe it or not, I actually was wondering whether I should continue helping them in any capacity or leave them in the crap. Honestly, I wished to leave them in the crap, just drop the weight off my shoulders and look at them and tell them: "You wanted this, now you have to shoulder it. I have my own life to live and my is way to amazing to miss out of it". My life is amazing, actually, and I would hate missing a single minute out of it. As usually, I ran a Consulting with some of my friends, just to make sure I was covering all of my basis, getting other P.O.V.s, and then reached a decision: it's time to dig myself out of the situation.

And this is how change begins.

After pretty much a year working at the Legal Department of my company as an Economical Adviser, I've realized that this position doesn't really fulfill my needs. Yes, it is exciting, I love my cubicle in the Central Building overlooking the city, with my ceiling-to-floor windows, kind coworkers (even though they are weird, too "Christians" to my liking, quite close minded, give much to appearances, and tend to be back stabbing, attention whores and their shabbiness in certain aspects that mean a lot to me is getting to my nerves [like why can't they drop the flourish-peppered language when their grammar and spelling SUCKS big time]), and some parts of the job are truly fabulous, BUT there's no maths involved, and after a year, I realized that I'm still a Finance-girl at heart, my mind goes that way, and it's disgusting to try and make me think like a lawyer when that's not what I learned, that's not what I should be doing (understand this: one thing is to learn the laws and how they work, and yet another to give an opinion as if I were a lawyer. I can understand the law and see that as my frame and make my economical analysis considering that scenario, and yet another is to see an economical scenario and give my opinoin about which laws apply and how should a lawsuit be issued. I am not entitled to do so. By Law.), nor is what I want to do. I am an Economist, and that's what I love being, what I love doing and what I want to continue doing.

Las year, when I moved to the area, everything was about getting settled. Things were strange to me but I thought that with time I would settle into them, find my niche in things and be happy. However this year, as my perspective changed, I realized that I was fooling myself. Just because I'm friends with my boss and I love the location of my office, it doesn't mean that what I'm doing is satisfying. I actually felt my brain shrink due to the lack of mathematical thinking. It hit me as a bucket of cold ice to realize that the only type of maths and Excel sheet working I was doing was for my Accounting homework. In the few price-related cases I received, I realized that I was trying to do the analysis of the calculations, the cost construction evaluation, not reviewing whether these were legally regulated or non-regulated services. More than once I was scolded for "butting into stuff that don't belong to us", namely the financial analysis, so in the end I didn't quite understand what they wanted me to do with these documents that a lawyer couldn't do. Yes, it's most upsetting. The style is also completely different, though that's a mostly management question (at one point I was actually asked to say the least possible. It seems I make too many observations for the liking of the others. In plain English, I was asked to do a more shallow work, instead of my bone-cutting disecting style of analysis).

On the other hand, ever since I moved to Legal, my old boss - whom I love to madness, as you all know - has been asking me to go back to him, now that he's in the Financial Management Area. Also, from the same Area but in different departments, people has been asking me to join them. What can I say? People, whatever you go and whatever you do DO ALWAYS A GOOD JOB, BECAUSE PEOPLE WILL ALWAYS NOTICE IT! Never, never let anyone - no boss, no directive, not anyone - drag you into doing a lesser job. Even if you have to swipe the floor, do the best floor swiping you are capable of. That's why I get the requests, that's why departments want me with them, that's why not one of the bosses I've ever worked with (including Moron Lady) has ever let me go willingly. I stand out because of the quality of my work. So, after receiving offers, and also after knowing from the Director of my current department that the new politics for this Area include a need to cut the budget, thus anyone wishing to leave can do so freely with the fix postion we have, I started thinking harder about this whole thing. And so I did a Balance.

I Would Move Because:
1. Working in the Legal Department isn't adding to my career. I had the experience but now my skills are suffering. I know what I am good that, what I'm perfect and top-notch at, and that's not something I can do where I am now. My mind doesn't work the same way with laws as it does with numbers. I can't remember and interpret laws the way I do accounts and costs and figures. That many words and changing rules and illogical fixings and even that "it doesn't matter if it's mathematically or logical wrong, if we can use it to win, we should"-kind of thinking irks me.
2. Going back to my old boss (if I can manage so) would help me continue improving my experience, knowledge and skills in Fees, Costs and Economical Analysis of Service Projects, which happens to be a passion of mine.
3. I don't want to become one of those people who gain some haphazard knowledge of a career they have no paper to prove, and yet loose all their experience and skills of the career they have papers of. Many people agree into that, and consider it becoming "experts in many areas", and never stop to consider the kind of professional suicide it becomes. If I were to look for a job, could I apply for a post as an economist when my working experience is in law? Or could I look for a job as a lawyer when I haven't passed the Bar (the only bar I've ever passed is the Pub kind of bar), and have no diploma that says I am a lawyer? See my point? I am an economist, and I want to put a lot of experience behind that diploma. I believe I have earned enough insight in the law to continue my job as an economist, anymore iddling around would become a waste of perfectly good time.
4. This job doesn't make me happy. I have never before realized how much I need maths and Excel sheets in my life to feel accomplished. I need to put my mind to work in numbers, to find the logical connections between numbers, reseach costs, find the ways to make numbers fit together and get a good result.

I Should Stay Because:
1. They saved me when I needed saving. Yeah, except that I don't do "gratitude" that costs me my personal growth, so fuck that reason.
2. If I go my boss won't have enough people to tackle all the tasks they have to shoulder. Yeah, except that that's my boss' problem, not mine. I am not HHRR, so the lack of employees isn't mine to solve. I'm not Finance to manage their budget problems, and I'm not her boss to manage the workload issues. In other words, yes I know it is a freaking bad situation, but you know what it isn't? My Problem. So fuck that reason too.
3. They do work with two topics I love. Yeah, except that my boss gave those two topics to my other coworker (who has bad spelling, grammar and does a sloppy job compared to me). So that reason also gets fucked.
4. I really like the building.
5. Staying in Legal I'm sure I would never have to work with Moron Lady again.

So, after my balancing of my reasons to stay and to leave, I realized that the only reason for me to stay is the building, and that's the worse reason of all! Yes, I hate the building in which my dear boss - okay, former boss - is located, and the parking there is a nightmare, but isn't it worth it to suffer a little for it in order to do soemthing I really like? The fifth reason, though, is one that really gets me thinking, that really has me considering the whole thing, and I wonder if it is powerful enough to ruin my whole career for. I've been investigating, for as a new change comes to our Government, and thus a change in our Company (we are a public company after all, and the President of the Country always handpicks the people who would manage us, and their friends get to all the power places, thus chips change and fall as result of it), I believe that Moron Lady would be shifted soon, and I would really not want her in Finance in any capacity.

On Monday I'll talk to my old boss, lay the cards for him, and talk it over. I'll be honest and tell him that I had to realize that he's not God, I can't expect him to protect me always from her, and I can't work with her, so if he can give me a fair certainly that we will be away from her, and if he still wants me in his team, he can count on me as fast as HHRR can arrange the move.

I want to go back to Finance, and one way or the other, I will.

Jan 1, 2014

Welcoming A New Year

Well, here it is 2014, and I haven't even been able to catch up with my new filofax, the segments and all the new plans and ideas one has as soon as December 31st becomes January 1st. I'm still on vacations, which is a big, big plus right now as I need time and patience to map out this new year. Already have some Resolutions, to call them somehow (wrote more in depth about them in my Hungarian blog), which could be quickly resumed as it follows:

1. Continue my studies to get my degree in Accounting.
2. Work harder at the office, which in this particular case is a Resolution more oriented to the organizing of my work, which I haven't been able to figure out just quite yet.
3. Keep working on my Filofax. Basically, it means to make it more functional to my needs, and this time add two (maybe three) definitive sections: Work and University (and Finances).
4. Keep practincing archery. My goal hear is to get to 2015 shooting at 70 meters.
5. Read 24 books.
6. Keep doing the List of 13.

Yes, it would have been magical to make 13 of them, but 6 is quite enough, wouldn't you agree?

In this spirit, I have spend my whole day trying to organize in some fashion the files I keep in my computer and erase everything I don't need... and the work isn't even finished yet! To my horror, I realized I had created similar folders for the same thing in different locations and none of them made any particular sense. That's also something I want to tackle, but I won't make it into a Resolution, because it could take years and years of my life. I just know the way I do things. Then worked on some templates and some inserts for my filofax, and haven't even finished and already realized that I've planned so much this new binder would be again bursting at the seams. Hopefully the paper I purchased from filofax will be thin enought to make it manageable.

January is pretty much a month of hope, of dreams, of energy, of plans, where the year seems full of attainable possibilities. Hopefully we won't forget about that. It is, indeed a chance to make things better, to try harder, to make something different, to change something, to get rid of something or gain something. As we have artificially created these cycles, we have in our hands a way to measure our actions and our efforts. What can we manage in a year? Well, let's try it out. It didn't work last year? Well, it could very well work this year! Who knows? Now we at least have the experience we gained in 2013, right? So let's use it!

Now, there's something I would like to take from last year, a little something, a comment really, that could work as a warning for all of us. By the end of the year I came across some people with whom I've had a sort of disagreement years ago - and whom I haven't seen since then. The dispute had been unpleasant, but nothing nearly mortal, or so I thought. They were - how should I say this - well, determinated to ignore my presence, but in a way that came a bit... childish. I was taken aback by their actual effforts to ignore me in a group where the rest of the people wasn't doing so, which, well, came out quite awkward. I did greet, did smile - don't like them at all, but you know, there's a certain level of "hypocrisy obligued by politeness" you must exercise from time to time - but they didn't. Oh well, that's them, life goes on, and everyone behaves the way that makes them feel better. More power to them. Anyway, the next day they talked to someone who was in the previous event and apologized to them (weird, right? Because that person wasn't even the host!), and said that they behaved the way they did because they couldn't forget what I posted about them maybe some five or ten years ago in one of my many, many blogs (actually, not in this, but in one that's hardly read).

Now, I'll be generous and assume that they came up with the first thing that came to mind to cover up some other, shameful reason for their behavior (got into a fight and didn't want to admit to it, had a terrible setback, are under a lot of stress, etc.). However, I must say that my first reaction was disbelief. Could it be that my simple, subjective, humble opinion is so powerful that it actually has the power to mark other people's lives? Because in order to do that, it would mean that my opinion has much more strenght than the opinion people have of themselves. Am I perceived as a sort of Guru of Life? Am I an Oracle of Personality? Or perhaps a Conjurer of Tempers? Actually, no, I am not, but you all know that. Nobody can simply talk someone into change, or alter their selves by simply speaking words. Some words can be hurtful at time, or astonishing, or flattering, or even surprising, but the effect they have on you depend only on you. People only have the power you give them.

They made me think of the Moron Lady, you know, the terrible Director I had in my previous department, the one that harrassed us all. When I was under duress, I did send all politeness out of the window and ignored her as much as I could, even refused to look in her direction when I wasn't speaking or spoken to, basically to be able to keep my composure, and got to the point where stress went to my jaw and I couldn't open it to talk or eat. However, now that I moved on and happy at my new department, I see no reason why not to greet her or smile at her politely. It doesn't mean I like her or that I agree with the way she manages her team - and as a unionist, I plan to work forward to help people under her and other bosses like her to get free of their reign of terror. You don't have to agree with some people or the ideas some people uphold, and you don't have to ignore the damage done to you, but that doesn't mean you must let that harm, those words or that episode take over your whole life. If you do, then that event, those words, that opinion, those actions will become your reality, and you will make them more true than they were ever meant to be.

Well, thing is that this happens all the time: we let publicity convince us and shape our lives in ways that take it out of our hands to become something that suits the needs of a company that leeches on us. We let magazines tell us what to think about our body, let them rearrange our priorities to their convenience, often going against what would be best for our own lives and our plans for it. Sometimes we hold so much and get hung up on something someone said and dwell in it. How many times had it hurt us when some acquintance or just anyone tells us something like "you are fat" or "your hair is quite messy" or "those clothes make you look ugly" or "your nose is too big"? Someone says we are stupid and we fall for it. Then person we have a crush on says we are not attractive (or start dating someone else) and we believe we are no good and nobody will ever love us. We tend to make opinions into inmutable, absolute truths, when they are not. They are simply a point of view of a person. Not true or false, simply a subjective, personal appreciation. Think of the following: just because I say blue is an ugly color, it doesn't make blue an ugly color. Blue is a color, just as lovely as any other color in the chromatic scheme, so my opinion of blue doesn't define the truth about it. Same with everything else. Same with everybody else.

In this sense, I'd like to call upon this curious situation for all of us to reflect on, to take a moment to analize those elements that seem to define us so much, and think of them, determinate if they are really such milestones, or if we have blown them out of proportion, giving them a power taht do not belong to them.

2014, sounds like a good year to recover our power over ourselves and our lives.

Dec 28, 2013

Trip to Bratislava

Yes, this post was due a couple of days ago, but if you go to Bratislava, you will understand why I had taken me this long to write. I actually started to write the entry in my Blackberry, but later on I realized I have no idea how to upload things from my Blackberry to my computer. Indeed, smarphones are too smart for dumb people like me. And they are not helpful. Predictive features? Yeah, not for the smartphones. You seem to need a PhD on Artificial Intelligence so that you are worthy of interacting with them. (Okay, I know my BB wants me to sign up and do all this "protocol" so things can get synched up, but I would love if it would have done the simple stuff without all that electronical or digital red tape.) I'm currently at my favotite place in the world, about to run out of battery in my laptop, while nursing my second Black Magic. Boy, this cocktail should be available everywhere in the planet!

But back to Bratislava. Oh, and prior warner, this post won't be as complete and fabulous as the ones my friend Trish usually does. She's an expert in traveling, and I am not, so bare with me.

Anyway, in order to celebrate our aniversary - kinda, because everything was booked for New Year - my boyfriend and I decided to go spend three days (the usual extent of our holidays, as I tend to get bored too fast) in Bratislava. We did had other options in mind, but when it came to deciding on the destination, Bratislava was not only the most affortable, but also  the best place, considering that it wouldn't mean an extenuating trip, such as Munchen would have... which was the place I really, really wanted to go to (because Meise is too far, and I would have spend all my time with a friend of mine and not my boyfriend, and that wasn't the point of it). Neither of us knew much about Bratislava, so I did some research to know what was there to be seen, and quickly found something that caught my attention: the Grassalkovich Castle. By itselt if may say nothing to you, but for me - having visited the Royal Castle of Gödöllő more times than I care to count, I knew it was a castle that had been built by the noble family that had built the castle that later became one of the favorite places of Empress Sissi. So yes, I had to go there and see it.

Our trips usually don't involve much planning, as we go, get to the hotel, and either start with a nice, refreshing bubble bath or raiding the minibar (that would be me, of course). However I knew I wanted to go and see the Castle. And next time we did. Yeah... don't make that same mistake. The Castle seems to be the private residence of the President of Slovakia, so it's not open for the public, though they nicely fill the streets with informative signs telling you how really beautiful it is inside. Too bad you can't go in and see it.

Well, there are really nice churches, but they are all very, very small. Much like the churches in Sofia. Very ornated but only one small room, that would hardly make 20 square meters, to my rough calculations. You enter, pivot, exit, and you have seen the whole thing.

There is the Hrad Castle, a nice place where the ticket must be paid in cash, and the lady tending the cashier is really pissed at all the tourists. The walk to the castle is quite easy to be made, you can walk it in 20 minutes comfortably, going pretty much around the hill. Through the walk you notice that there's hardly anyone on the streets. Where are the Slovakians in the middle of the day? Not many cars and nrealy no people. Stores are empty as well, and many are strangely luxurious, like too luxurious to belong there, do you know what I mean? Like finding a Carolina Herrera store in a University District: it doesn't mean that there won't be people there with enough money to buy stuff in there, but rather it's not the place for such a store. To be more specific, you really don't expect to see a high fashion shoestore, with shoes that normal people would hardly use or even think of spending on right next to a Tesco or a Spar (or a Walmart, in American terms). Now you get what I mean? It was down right off.

But let's go back to the Hrad Castle. This castle is quite nicely mounted on top of a hill that looks over the Danube and Bratislava, getting quite a magical air through the day, either hued by the hazy lights of dusk and dawn, or sparkling in the crips light of broad daylight. If you are a silly Western child like me and you thought you could pay the entrance with a card, then don't sweat it - there's an ATM 50 meters down the road from the main entrance. But what do you get for your 6€? Well, three floors of... um. Well, there's one floor with big photo signs telling the history of the castle and also a little bit of Slovakia. There's like half a floor dedicated to historical documents where you can see all sorts of old, preserved documents, including old books and certificates (like wanderer certificates) complete with their many hanging seals. Then there's a floor with portraits of a whole bunch of people. Nothing but portraits, and then there's another floor dedicated to an exposition called "How time is measured" and includes calendars and all sorts of devices and old clocks. For many people, this part of the exposition could be terribly boring, but for a filofax enthusiast it's kind of exciting to check these old calendars, and wonder abotu what life could have been in those days when calendars didn't really had any space for you to write down any appointments. No to-do lists, no sections, no alarms set, no deadlines written in, no days divided in hours, no decisions about whether you need a "page per day" or a "week on two pages" to be able to keep all things going on in your life organized.

Then there was an exposition I didn't understand very well. It showed a collection of things, but non of them belonged to the castle or even to Slovakia, or there was any particular explanation at what they did there.

The souvenir store had nothing that would relate particularly to the Castle, save for some magnets, which I sadly lost somewhere. There aren't many souvenir stores, but even in then you hardly see much "typically Slovakian" stuff. Yes, you can get the t-shirt and the postcards, but if you wanted to get some embroidery, dolls dressed in typical costumes, or anything you could call "traditionally Slovakian" you would be looking for a long, looooooong time.

However, one GREAT thing that needs to be acknowledged is the food. Yes, it could be pretty much German, or quite Austrian or even very Hungarian, but their cuisine is FA-BU-LOUS! It's one million calories packed into a hearty meal, it's two years of severe dieting, but it worths it!

Bacon, sour cream, sheep cheese, handmade noodles, it's too delicious for words. And you'll need to bring a friend to help you eat the portions they serve you! So be warned, NEVER enter a Slovakian restaurant alone! This is a battle of Man vs Food where Food will always win, unless Man comes with reinforcements. And not only it never looks little  - it's almost as if a nuclear cuisine sized portion would be considered a national offense - but it doesn't matter how big the dish looks like, when you eat it you realized it's far bigger! For instance, we tried a dish of "samples". Samples won, because the two of us couldn't battle with it! But it was delicious :-D

So, what to do, what to go see in Bratislava? Well, try and find out how the tramways and trolley buses work, and tell us about it, because we couldn't figure them out. Also, go, look around, walk a lot and prepare all day for food.

Dec 10, 2013

Intense Envy and Hatred of Empathy

Everybody hits rough patches. Really. Some people have more rough patches along their way, or rougher ones, or ones that extend quite a lot, but in whatever measure they appear, everybody has them. Throuogh the life of a person, also these patches come in an array of shapes, sizes and frequencies. So what do we do with them? Well, we see through them. It's kinda like the basic Human 101: Take the Hardships and Deal With Them. And how do we deal with them? Well, two ways are to Solve them, or Lay Low and Wait For Them To Pass. Problems with a friend, you Solve, war breaking out in your country, you lay low and wait for them to pass (kind of). But you get the drill, right? Now, you would think that this simple rule is of common knowledge to all of mankind, but you would be surprised at howmany people seems to not have gotten "the memo". Those people act as if in the face of a rough patch, be it the Crisis in Europe or a zip in their face can only be solved through making it someone else's problem, or at least by creating problems around.

Googled Picture. Not Mine.
Someone feels bad because the company they work at seems like in the verge of bankrupcy. What do they do? Quickly! Find someone with job or a small company and trash them! Do that keep them from becoming unemployed? No. Then what was the purpose of it? Oh, just to make someone feel crappier than they do. Hn, curious, because rational people would say "Well, not only are you to become unemployed, but a) you just made yourself a worse person and b) may have lost a chance at being recommended at the place where that person works for a job". Then there's someone who's in a really crappy relationship, or simply has been "looking for love" and haven't been able to find any (wonder why?). Then they meet this new coworker, or this nice friend of a friend, or someone at a hobby gathering, and this person is so nice and so happy and lovable and has been in a very good relationship or is currently single but doesn't mind it because thsi person has a full life, with friends that love them and all. And what the Bitter Bug does? Rushes to say something nasty like "So many years together? Yeah, he/she must be cheating on you", or "That old and alone? Something must be wrong with you then".

When it happens it often takes us by surprise, as well as many other tiny little sparks of passive aggressive behavior, such as when you are suddenly made the butt of every joke, but when you joke back the reply is something in the line of "That was rude" - and I'm talking here about jokes in pretty much the same line, worse when you actually reuse one of the very jokes they have used against you or against each other! Yes, yes, yes, I know it rings a bell - or the (and this one has actually happened to me!) time when you are supposed to go to a lunch with them and then they happen to "forget" because they "thought you were going to eat with your friend". (Word of advise? Do try to look a bit hurt and don't reply with "Oh, it's okay! Actually better, because I really wanted to read my book undisturbed". Trust me, sounds like a nice comeback, but then the office-war goes worse.) However, after a moment, once the surprise for the attitude has passed one thing we must always remember is that this sort of behavior is often prompted by envy. Yep, envy.

People hurting you are often people who resent the fact that you are something they want to be, or you have something they crave. They will look forward to hurt you because they might perceive you as more successful than they are. They will hurt you because you seem happier than they are. Often also, they will try and diminish you because you are not struggling for the same goals they do, and yet you seem satisfied with your life and even happy! You are happy even without being a boss and you have no intention in being a boss. They must crush you. You are happy and don't seem preocuppied for getting married or having kids, and they are unhappy after rushing into marriage and dealing with children that give them more headaches than anything. They must destroy you. You go on happily eating carbs and whatever fancy thing catches your eye and enjoy it, while they try all sorts of restrictive diets and still stay fat. They must nuke you out of the planet.

We must understand something: when someone hurt you or insult you like this, they are actually telling you what they think about themselves. They know their jokes are out of place and born from ill feelings. They want your life, they are unhappy with theirs. The question still remains: why don't they look forward to tackle these things? Solve what can be solved? Well, that still remains a mystery. But meanwhile, if I may suggest something, you smile and picture in your head a little rag doll with their shape... and fill it with pins!

Oct 31, 2013

Blessed Samhain!

Where is the year? What has happened to 2013 and how come we are not two months away from saying good-bye to it and welcome the new year? Well, for once, I've been gone for a while, submerged in studies and work and feeling terribly guilty about all the letters that I haven't replied. I think I have officially earned my "Bad Penpal" badge. :-( Sorry girls! Not that I have forgotten about you - I actually think more about you than I probably should, yet still thinking about you seems to produce no letter for it's own.

I'm also painfully aware of the fact that I didn't post for Mabon, though I wanted to because I really like Mabon, but here I am - late - for Samhain, because the world might end, but I must have my Halloween/Samhain. I don't really feel about talking to you about job or about my studies, because they are currently my main sources of stress - and not for the traditional reasons, but for reasons that really get to my nerves and are product of things that shouldn't be happening AT ALL! so please forgive me if I just go another way with this for a moment.

Well, Samhain is a Pagan celebration also know as the Third Harvest. It's the final harvest of the year, when you clean the land, save up for the winter and sort of retire to rest, and also put the land to rest. It's the moment you stop working and make due with the results of your labor, or in other words, when you face the music. In this sense, what is the music I'm facing now?

That Music

Well, up to this point, I have realized that even the best plans can fall through, that when you go through a change in life - change your job, start studying again, get a new hobby, start a family - things also need to be settled in a different way. It would be delusional to think that you can take a new project, like starting a new business, and still have the same time to dedicate to the activites you pursued before.  I think I have been carrying around some of the projects and expectations I had when I was in Hungary and wasn't working, and filled my day with sending out job applications, and visiting movie theatres and museums. This Samhain makes me realize that I need to actually take my planner, review my current programs, my activities and the time I have to comply with them, and then start making arrangements for all the other stuff.

My creative vein has been kicking in too, with two smashbook projects and then some writing (fanfics mostly, as I'm using them to tone up my skills before hacking into a couple of original stories I have in mind), and also I'm rediscovering the experience of studying, and meeting again with Accounting, something that might stand closer to me that I had already imagined. Discovering the accounting side of me has been interesting. I still have some classes to take, and still have to finish the ones I'm taking now, but I look forward to get ahead with this project and add a second diploma to my CV. This is something I have forgotten, and something that returns to remind me that we are never off the loop whn it comes to learning.

This year I have let myself go in the sense of feeling more free about expressing myself, which hasn't been the best in many cases. Though I am a Christian, being surrounded by very radical Christians at my job, made me aware of other types of hypocrisy and social masks than the ones I was more used to. I also realized once again that since my trip to Hungary, I have severely lost my hard earn capability to be hypocritical and keep my thoughts to myself. My recovered sincerity has proven to be less than adequate in a world that craves and demands sincerity but can't stand it. I need to re-train my hipocrisy in order to properly navigate through 2014.

The Halloween aspect of the celebration has been revealing. I never expected my boss to be horrified by it and down right awkward and concerned. When she saw my Halloween stuff (thanks Hyne I didn't go Pagan and hung pentagrams and Horned Gods and Tripple Goddesses at the cubicle!), she had no idea what to do, and asked if anyone had said anything. Other than people saying I'm crazy, no, they have said nothing... in my face. (One of them was actually aggressive when I referred to myself as "witch" today. She was vehement in denying that I could be a witch, and I didn't have the heart to tell her that I see myself as one, specially because a witch is a person who dares to be different, who works on instinct, seeks knowledge by their own means, and feels drown to seek it in places other consider taboo or stupid.) She was quick to mention a costume party she attended once, where everybody dressed up as the thing they fear the most. She said it in a way where she wondered if that was what all the spooky things were about. I let her follow that line of thought, however this got me thinking about my fears. What do I fear? Poverty? Well, not really. Perhaps being vulnerable, though then again that's a temporal stage for sooner or later you grow confident and strong enough to be able and defend yourself. Death is not part of my fears. Of course I don't want to die, nor I want any of my loved ones to die, but I have no terror of death. If anything, death makes me curious. I feel drown to death.

So, my fear? I realized it might be commitment. But you already knew that, didn't you? :-)

Blessed Samhain!

Sep 17, 2013

Whine me a River

Ok, let's say it again: I hate whiners. I do. Yep, and there's nothing I can do about it. Sure, I could try to understand them, empathize with them, accept them, tolerate them... but I won't. They irk me, and they irk me to the core. Of course, you could say that this is just an outburst after something that recently happened at the office (oh, I'll go about that in a minute), but no. If you know me (and chances are that you do, but in case you don't, boy you are missing something that could make your life a tad more fun, or at least add a new flavor of "interesting" to it), you know that no, that's not the case. I'm deeply idiot-intolerant, and whiners are just another type of idiot.

So let's go with the classical "situation that triggers the bitching" case. (Note that bitching isn't the same as whining, because those who bitch have enough strenght in them to change cases, in case they can change something, and if they don't, bitching goes into "venting" and they are both ok in my book.) So there's this person who will remain unnamed to protect the innocent. This person - let's call him Kevin - has a little issue with something that has happened through the normal course of things. Let's pretend that it's an office issue. Let's say, just to give this cover story a little context, that Kevin have been working at this office and he likes to get attention, which is why he has normally tended to help out other people with their jobs, and he's good at it. Good for Kevin. Now, his superiors have noticed this and decide that since a lot of people is really lazy at what they do, and Kevin has been kind of slacking at his own job - as it often happens with people like this - to move him to another area and make him responsible of the kind of activities he's already working at. To put it more simple: Kevin is an accountant and should be working on registering the movements of the accounts assigned to him, faithfully registering purchases and expenses, but he has been working a lot with the budget people - by his own volition - allowing for registers to accumulate, while he does a good job helping people in budget at their job. So the bosses decide to move him to budget, and ask Pat to do his job.

And what do our Kevin does? Yes, you guessed it right: he whines. Booo hooo, they want to demote him, he's an accountant and not a financist, and Pat is really sucking up to the boss because she's an evil woman who wants his position, and blah, blah, blah. Now, the rational person would probably vent at first - if they don't really want to move to Budget, which is weird, because why would they help with budget in the first place (oh riiiiight! Because in their delusional mind they actually THINK that the others BEGGED them to HELP them! Not the other way around! Because they THINK they were asked and conveniently forget that they OFFERED!) - and then would go to the boss and tell them that they don't want to move to Budget. They would own the fact that they slacked at their own job and take the necesary steps to correct the situation and avoid a similar one in the future. Because let's be honest for a moment, if they were bored and helped out Budget, is because they enjoy Budget, so the move wouldn't be bad at all. But that's not the case of our Kevin.

So once Kevin does the whining, what steps he takes to solve the situation? And here comes the best part: None. Maybe Kevin's whining touched Jack's heart and he decides to help his buddy, and they prepare a not to send it to the boss, asking him to let Kevin stay at Accounting, and maybe even add a few suggestions of what could make Accounting better for Kevin, and also good for the company. Maybe Kevin's new understanding of Budget could make him ideal to work on a bridge project that would allow more realistic budgets, or a system for easier track of the real expenses compared with the budget. Hey! It's all in! And what does Kevin does? When it's all done, when Jack has invested heart and soul to help Kevin, Kevin says "Nah, I think I better say nothing, because they might think ill of me".

Now, a quick evil note: these useless whiners are the easier to manipulate. They are incredibly annoying, but if you use a pushing technique (meaning that you manipulate them by forcing them into a prepared scenario, like saying "Kevin, it's all arranged: tomorrow you'll give me your office"), or down right bullying, they yield every time. Naturally manipulating and bullying people is wrong, but so that you know that they are like this, so when they whine, beware, they might be being manipulated and might try to drag you in with them.

I have friends who vent with me, and we bitch for hours, but they actually do something about it. They either face the music and try to change it, and when things don't change (when they don't), they quit or dump the son-of-a-bitch/bitch and move on. In these cases the previous venting is a safety measure to keep a cool head and avoid running your car on the s.o.b. that's making your life miserable, or blow up the entire block - depending on what your favorite murder method is. But those who whine for the pleasure of it, because it's another way to get attention, those... well, those should be put away, perhaps in a whiners-prison. In solitary!

As for the case that has my inner murderer running around and climbing the walls, well, that one really got to my nerves.

You see, I have this coworker of mine who's a bit difficult to work with. He's the kind of person who loves complications, who procrastinates and signs in for everything so that he can say that he has a lot of things to do, who seems atomically unable to do anything efficiently and who has a visceral need to use as much flourish as he can. And then some. Of course this is annoying, but on top of that, his flourish-full language is full to the brim with spelling mistakes in even the simplest words (Say, where you and I would say "that's a difficult question" he would write "I belive we have arived at a connundroom" - all spelling mistakes are intentional!), he forgets the commitments he makes, and tries so much to please others that ends up complicating things and promising things that can't be offered.

Now, ever since I arrived to this department, I've been taking care of different projects and reports, and ruling with pretty much an iron fist. Those who comply and get with the program, receive public praises and my unquestioning support and defense. Those who fail, receive my much feared chasing, e-mail nagging and then - if they don't fall in line - my wrath, which normally includes escalating my complains up their bosses until someone answers, then as I go higher and higher I involve my bosses so that there's a boss-to-boss level of pressure, and I'm not afraid to take things all the way up to Ban-Ki-Moon if needed. (No, I do not work at the U.N., so yes, imagine how far would I go.) This has, naturally, earned me a reputation, where my bosses love me because my efficiency and commitment to the project, and those who get on the wrong end of my chasing instincts... well, they are probably trying to find out a way to burn me as a witch.

There's a Division that has be particularly lazy and this laziness has had very serious consequences with third parties. I had exercised my might on them, and since my boss is just as wicked a witch as I am, she helped me on our Bad Cop rutine, which ended up with them getting royally berated. Of course, now they hate me, because I've got them exposed, so they have been doing all they can to prove that they weren't the ones fucking it up, but we. Well, sadly I have tons of e-mails to prove otherwise, but that hasn't stopped them from indirectly hinting at third parties that we were the culprits. Naturally, due to common decency, we don't go exposing them before our third parties.

Now, the case in question is that we had this meeting on Friday with our most important third party. THE third party. Problematic Division was there, and they did their job at pretending that they were so good, so wonderful and did all in time, though have system limitations for which everybody should make allowances for them. My coworker - who had summoned the meeting - was a bit off all meeting, while I was armed with my wonderful livescribe and trying really hard not to snap at Problematic Division, but present a united front. By the end of the meeting, in a joking manner (but really in order to have my coworker do something or show he has payed attention), I suggested that he should prepare the minute of the meeting and send it to all of us. Too many meetings have gone by with this Third Party without a minute and that has been the source of many issues, so yes, we needed a minute. He agreed, and upon our Third Party's question, he promised to send it that same day, otherwise - in his own words - he would forget it.

Yeah well, after leaving me at the office, he took the company car we used to go to the meeting, to run his own personal errands. Oh, yes, let's note here that he always arrives late at the office, and my late I mean around 30 minutes late, and that Friday wasn't an exception to his rule. So anyway, he didn't pay attention to the meeting he summoned and took a company car to do his errands at the other end of the city. When I got off the car I asked him about the minute, whether he had all the notes or if he would like me to send him my notes, maybe build up the bones of the minute, so that all he had to do later was to complete them with his own notes. He said no, that he had everything under control.

30 minutes before the end of the day our Third Party sent us all an e-mail reminding us that they were still waiting for the minute, and kindly offered their input. My heart started pumping wildly, hoping my coworker were about to send a supreme minute. Instead, ten minutes later (and 20 minutes before the end of our work-day) he passed before my cubicle with his backpack and punched out. In absolute panic I called after him, but he was gone faster than people actually can. I called him on his phone and asked him what was the status with the minute, reminding him that it HAD to be send that day. He promised to send it from home once he got there.

I imagined he had the minute done, and would send it from his home. Today at the office I realized that a) today he was on vacations and never told me, and b) he never sent the minute. He, who can't let a holiday or a weekend pass without sending e-mails to prove just how hard working he is. I was boiling with rage. This, of course playede well for Problematic Division, who would use this eternally to prove how we are the source of all delays.

Quickly as I could I prepared the most detailed minute of the meeting and sent it to all involved parties, apologizing profusely for the delay. Not in his name, but in the name of our tiny department. All the parties reacted well - thanks Hyne - and there was much interaction, with additions and corrections to the minute, which is good, because that means that everybody read it and felt drawn to improve it. He was copied on the e-mail, but it wasn't until 11 that he actually dared to send me an e-mail with a simple "thank you". If he would have added his notes I would have gone cool about it, but his attitude of "thanks buddy for saving my ass" pissed me off. So I chewed him out. Told him not to thank me anything. It was him who should have done the job, that I had offered help and he refused, that all the way to the end he insisted he would do it and not even once told me to help him out, which ended in us taking a hit for his ineptitude, and that the next time he must talk to me if he sees he can't get things going, so that the both of us can find a way out.

I was so fired up, and since my e-mail wasn't the sweetest thing in the planet, I thought he might take it to the boss, so I wrote to her and explained her the situation. I admited that I might be too upset to see straight, but that I had to let her know what was going on. All up to the leaving early, save the compay car perusing, because that really didn't have direct impact on the matter. She replied to me that I did right in telling her, specially since she's taking vacations soon and someone else will take charge of the department while she's out, and that person (I know her and like her) doesn't take stuff like this lightly. Besides this type of issues must be dealt at once. She promised me she will talk to him.

Now, aside from the venting, why does this goes into here? To show you the difference between useless whining and venting. I was upset, and I dealt with the situation. I confronted him and informed my boss, so to make sure this type of situation doesn't arrive again. I have had similar situations in the past (past five months, that is) with this guy, where I haven't told my boss, though I have confronted him about it, and have decided that the next time he pulls another stunt on me I would tell the boss. This time I could have gone without it, but I felt his irresponsability and his shameless attitude have gone too far (This is the same guy who once asked me for a ride home and spent the entire trip - and we were in a traffic jam! - talking on the phone and making me feel like a cab driver).

I have also devised ways to deal with the situation and the past situations to avoid similar problems. For once, I'll either nag him constantly to get the minutes done, or I'll take charge of them from now on. The second option would be my last option as I don't want him to then shrugg off the responsability, and assume I'll take care of the administrative matters from now on, so pestering will be my first choice (and have a minute prepared just in case). Similarly, I have made sure to be on top of all my projects - not easy but I'm working my system - and try to know some of his projects, in case he suddenly takes vacations AGAIN on the deadline date and leave everything hanging, as he has done it already TWICE.

It can be tiresome and Hyne I wish he were more responsible! but I can't let the department sink because he can't do his job and is rather occupied with sending his CV to other companies and making flashy websites to promote himself and "his image". Yeah, because companies are more interested in the logo you create for yourself than showing up the actual work you do. Yeah, because my boss and my former boss and basically all bosses I've had (except the Moron Lady, who would never admit it), have fought bloodbattles for me just because I can braid my hair so prettily.

He's a liability, and a liability that can reflect poorly on my own job, as at some areas my work goes invisible, and seen only as a whole along with the rest of the input of the company or the department. Due to this, I need to minimize his action, his effect, and make sure he doesn't come and fuck up my work. Either he falls in step with my standards and my expectations, or I'll have to make sure to shun him. And that's how you solve things.

Aug 22, 2013


Pic from Google. Designed by Patrick Ng.
In the struggle to find better and better ways to keep track of appointments and have an easier glance at the time distribution of the day, some rather curious "contraptions" have been designed by very, very ingenious people. One of them is the Chronodex, whom I believe is Patrick Ng. So what is the Chronodex? Umm... it's the thing you can see there at the left. "But what is that?" That's where the fun starts! ^_^

Based on the idea of a clockface (you know, the old fashioned ones you see at different institutions, with three little sticks going round and round?), and it offers you a view of your day's activities at one glance. The way it works is as follows:

1. First, don't let the odd shape of "spikes" confuse you. No hour is "more important" than another. What it does is basically "mark" three concentric circles around the full circle at the core. It basically shows a 12 hour day, from 9h to 21h (or 9 am to 9 pm). The creator kept within the core 6h, 7h and 8h, but the idea is that people don't really use those hours (so much), however, if you need them you can use them too. The chronodex is actually really flexible, and easy to adapt to your schedule and your needs.

Pic found through Google Search
2. Now, assuming we really only need a 9-to-9 type of daily schedule what you do with the Chronodex is simply to color or shade in the segments of the clock where you have a given activity, task, meeting, appointment... you name it. You can color code if that's your liking, or simply shade it in any way you prefer. Using colors is quite pretty and visually nice, but if you prefer the more solid look, you can simply shade it with a pencil, a pen and separate different blocks that might touch by - say - changing the direction of the lines you draw into the shading, or the lightness-darkness of the shading. It's really up to you. 

Awesome but not mine. Pic found through Google.
If you color code, you probably don't need to add any comments, as you's know that blue is for your work schedule, yellow for meeting your best friend, pink is the book club, purple is time with the kids, red is some home chore related nightmare... and so on. Still whether color coding or not, with lines or arrows you can write around the Chronodex what the shaded block is about. If you print out a large enough Chronodex, or your handwriting is small enough, you could also  write into the time slots, or use codes, symbols or whatever you prefer.

Pic found through Google.
3. About the spikes, well, as I told you earlier, the spikes  work as markers that allow you to create up to three concentric circles, if you need them. Four, if you count the shaded inner blocks in the core. What that does it help you make the Chronodex more flexible and adapt to your needs. For instance, if your day starts at 7h or 8h... or 5h... whatever, you can use the spikes to draw an inner circle that will mark your a.m. hours, and leave the outer  portion for your p.m. hours... or the other way around. Really, whatever suits you. That way you get a 24 hour planning frame where you can add anything your want.

The concentric circles the spikes create also allow you to plan or keep track of simultaneous things. For instance, you could shade in a friend or a relative's program ("yoga from 9 to 12") in one circle, and in another you add the tasks you and your friends/family have to complete to prepare the surprise party you are planning.  And stuff like that happen often! Make sure you finish homework and send it while the teacher is occupied with another class, or the extra time you have to finish a project at the office, because the boss will be busy at a meeting from 2 to 4. Or stuff as important like mark in that TV show you can't miss, so you remember to set the recorder!

Honestly, the more you think about it, the more you wonder how come you ever managed to organize your life with a linear planner.

Pic found through Google. Design of Kent from Oz.
The beauty of Chronodex is that it drives people to think in a different way, but also to be creative. Kent from Oz, an Australian guy, took the Chronodex and designed his own version, taking out the spikes and creating an 18 hour spiral. The principle is the same, but this is a bit better for people with longer schedules. It's visually less "architectural", to call it someway, and it has the advantage of giving you an even flow through the 18 hours, as you don't have to break into a.m. and p.m. circles.

In this Chronodex, your day starts at 6h and ends at midnight, but additional hours can be drawn into as needed. Also, the simultaneous activities can be marked in simply by dividing the blocks in any way you prefer.

I've started experimenting with this system, and after the initial struggle, it has pretty much caught on me. I made myself a test page for my filofax fitting both types of Chronodexes on a week-on-two-pages format, and also checking three positions on the day slots: left, center and right.  The central position is pretty much the best, though that eliminates my task section.  From this test page some handmade Chronodexes have started spilling on ym regular pages, drawn all on the "appointment side" of the slots (and killing the task side), and by doing so my own Chronodexes have morphed to my own version.

Original picture, except from the small element pics on the corners.
It's a rather simplified version yet with two concentric circles with an inner a.m. and an outer p.m. disc. The point of it was to allow the potential use of a 24 hour Chronodex (by drawing in with plenty of space the missing time slots). Not like you'd use them all the time - which is why they aren't drawn into it permanently - but there are times when you need to schedule something at that time. Catching a plane, a game you don't want to miss that's being played at the other end of the world, picking up a friend arriving at an unholy hour or leaving to a trip. 

The flow isn't as smooth as Kent's spiral, and the general look isn't as neat as Patrick's, and I guess it will have to evolve some more, but I like it and so far it's working really well for me.

How about you? Would you Chronodex your schedule?