This or That

I promised I'd write about my 3rd month at work, but nah, I'll do it someday later, perhaps when I complete 6 months or a year. :)

Back to regular programming, this is the Blog of Eternal Worries. It is not the Blog of How's my Life in Australia.

I'd like to share with you one of my favorite tricks (I don't have that many, actually). I just named it 'This or That', because it didn't have a name before and I thought it would be a good idea to give it a name.

First, let's introduce a problem. Do you find yourself with a pile of stuff to do and not knowing what to do first? Do you ever find yourself unable to choose what to do? Dear Reader, if you never have this sort of problem, you are blessed.

I have moments like these all time. To put it in simple examples: Should I wash the dishes, play PS4, go outside and walk a little, study, wash my laundry, buy groceries? What should I do first? That's just an example, but you can easily apply that to your work routine.

We usually have dozens of mini tasks to complete, which, if you are like me, you procrastinate. Sometimes you are good at procrastinating (Is it a good thing?) and you simply hit the most urgent stuff first and let the others become urgent then you have no choice other than do it.

Classic procrastination is horrible planning. You might get a boost of productivity, but you usually cannot make mistakes. You cut corners and you do a lousy job. You get a guilty feeling that once again you pulled at the last moment and it will eventually lead to your doom. Of course I digress, I love doing that.

The 'This or That' technique applies exactly when you are stuck in complex choices. Sometimes choosing between two is as hard as choosing among 4, 8, 20! You are still stuck and you can't decide what to do. Either you sit frustrated and unable to do any, or you forget about it and turn Netflix on again and leave the tasks for another day (that's procrastination, in case you didn't notice).

Get two choices - any two. And just ask yourself. Should I do this or should I do that? I mean, are you serious? All this talk to get this stupid question? Yeah. Ignore the rest for the moment. Compare the two choices. Understand what is behind each, what are you trying to accomplish, what is more important on the long run. And then, ta-da, just do it.

This is about making snap choices, and getting things done. This is about reducing your amplitude of vision and eyeing just a part of the bigger problem. And checking that item off your list. The trick is about momentum. Getting a decision made and doing something about it. If you lose momentum, if you make a decision and do nothing about it, you lost. That is why this is a trick. Of course you have a lot of things to do, and you are leaving the others behind. That is quite obvious that if one of the tasks should be done first because it is urgent, this is not the time to think about 'This or That', that would be misusing the technique.

'This or That' is a technique I use to hit lists of non-urgent tasks that must be done anyway.

How do you cope with your log of eternal tasks? Don't answer, because I don't have a comments field. hehe But ask yourself. Think about it.

Three Months

I've completed three months in Australia this week, on April 11. I realized I was completing 3 months when I was doing some head math about how many days since I last kissed Ju.

The days without Ju pass slow and slowly. Every where I go I miss holding her hand and hearing her voice. I even miss our little petty arguments and those little things that piss me off every time but make me love her just because of that.

But I digress, this is not the 3 months alone post, this is about my 3 months in Australia.

Put it shortly, life is good (albeit incomplete). I've been adapting really well to the new way of life. The changes are subtle. What I buy for groceries, when I go out for groceries, what I eat for breakfast (Yes, I am eating breakfast).

I'm walking home everyday now, except when I don't feel like it. It's a 3 km walk, very nice and quite beautiful, cutting it through Hyde Park, a little stroll and then finally a lovely full of trees walk through Bourke St, with old style Englishman townhouses and English style buildings. It is a stark difference from the the tall buildings in the CBD.

Walking home also opened a new sort of entertainment, I've never really enjoyed audiobooks until now. I must admit I probably walk a little blank-faced, because I walk paying close attention to the audio, as if I was walking with a friend besides me telling the story. It's really a great part of the day and I wait the whole day to pass just for that newfound moment of solitary delight (I'm listening to American Gods, narrated by Sir Neil Gaiman himself).

Dinner was very interesting in the beginning, but it's rather boring to eat meat and veggies everyday. (#firstworldproblems), I am varying between salad and beef, salad and pork, salad and fish, salad and kangaroo and salad and lamb (yeah, it's good, I admit), I've also began trying to cook kangaroo different ways. Grilled I didn't really enjoy, but for pasta sauce and Brazilian style strogonoff it goes quite well. I am trying to avoid pasta and rice at dinner, so I keep it to once a week at best. Perhaps it's time to try different veggies...

I will purposely skip saying anything about work. Next week I'll complete 3 months at work and it will deserve a post of its own.

Last but not lastly, Australians are an incredible people. I've met a few really repulsive people. Outright racists that eye everyone "un-Australian" with a contemptuous gaze, treating you like an invisible person. They step in front of you to enter the bus or train, they outright enter in front of you in cashier lines (can you believe it?) and they simply don't enter the elevator when you are in. Yes, it's that bad.

But these are so few, and I'm kinda glad these people exist. They remind me that even in a place so incredible as this, some people live hateful lives, probably feeling invaded by thousands and thousands of immigrants from everywhere. These are probably the same people that despise the First Australians and I'm sure they are homophobic.

Enough about these people, they got more words than they deserved. Now to true Australians. The hardworking people of this nation, some of them behave absurdly polite, to a point of perfection. Some of them are extremely pragmatic, with a very, very well tempered sense of humor. I do love all of them. These people show to me a Culture can work. Works gets done. People care about their work. Yes, they go home at the end of the day. They have their lives. They take vacations, they enjoy a beer after the day (sometimes during the day too).

I have a very strong feeling that anyone coming into this country willing to be like that will be welcome. I feel welcome here, I begin to feel at home again. The beginning of every relationship is always such a marvelous moment where everything is magic. Love is great, rain is great, pain is great. Yeah I feel like that, let me savor it.

Now to some curiosities:
- When I enter a Chinese restaurant, I am asked what I want in Cantonese (or Mandarim);
- When I enter a Korean restaurant, I am asked in Korean;
- I've been occasionally greeted in Japanese as well;
- I've been asked if I am a Brazilian Indian (that was a first for me, quite amusing, not without logic at all);
- Coffee is great here;
- No one understands my name. I've been called Michael, Marty, Marco, Markus...
- Everyone knows Brazil, of course. And they ask me where I come from... when I say Curitiba I get all sorts of funny looks. Except for one guy from Philippines that knew Curitiba because of our bus stops;
- I've not seen a huntsman spider yet. When I was living in Kingsgrove I saw a tiny child Redback, which I promptly killed. If it was a Huntsman I'd probably bring it home to pet;
- Living Down Under sucks timezone wise. Everyone is asleep when you're wide awake. You're asleep when everyone is wide awake. I want to talk to Ju, but she's either sleepy because she just woke up or wants to go to sleep, the same with me. We both hate talking to each other when we're sleepy.
- Sometimes it feels I'm living in some Asian country. My neighborhood is mostly Korean/Chinese, though I've heard Portuguese spoken. Sometimes I hear English too (j/k, there are really Asian neighborhoods here, this is not one).
- Vegemite is good, you don't like it, you're eating it wrong. In the toast with butter, Vegemite and something to sweeten it (honey, jam or maple syrup), you're gold.

I could keep writing tons of things... This is rather large, and maybe I'll write some more later. Maybe not.
A few months ago I had myself one weekend to rethink Life, the Universe and Everything.

I kinda hid myself (as if I am not recluse enough) and meditated in my own way about how I view people, friends, my love, even my dog. I reviewed how I am doing in my profession, my current employer, colleagues, past mistakes... It was a chance to try to review everything. To better understand who I am today and who I was.

It is the culmination of visiting Japan, you could say. That impacted so strongly in me, it took months for the ideas to settle.

In Japan, at least the part I saw, I saw something that I long thought lost. People that work happy. People happy to offer you a restaurant menu, of registering your soda on the market. Happy to direct people outside of the danger zone of a construction. I was perplexed beyond imagination.

Yes, we do see people like this everywhere. But I was shocked to see that was a whole different level. That made me look into the mirror and ask myself, are you that dedicated to your job as that old lady mopping the floor of that Tokyo station subway? I was shocked to look into the mirror and realize that I was not.

I was already used to the idea that people around me aren't into that level of dedication. That is pretty evident on almost all posts I write here. I make it a personal principle to not trust into people that hate their jobs. Yet, I saw that to the outside, I could be being seen as one of these guys. What happened to me?

Although I can put it in words right now, in that weekend, that happened without almost one word being thought. It is only now that I can understand a bit of what that weekend meant.

I should continue writing later about this. I hope I remember, right now I put a lot of good stuff out.

Before I leave the Log, I should say that sometimes I wonder how hard would it be to mop floors. You get the idea, you know what I mean.

(Although published today, this post is from last year, I was not sure it should be)

Friends

It's not every day I am in the mood I am today. Feeling grateful is one of the rarest moods for me actually. Most of the times I am in an acid mood, even when I am seemingly happy... Most of the times I have my own witty comments, basically a distillation of sarcasm and irony worked out over the years to be harmless and fun.

Of course my social traits are not so good, and as such, I am more adept at configuring network devices than using words properly.

But today I am grateful. Grateful for the friends I made over the years, of the friends I was able to keep besides me being very bad at keeping friendships. I can call myself lucky (hence grateful) for making so many great friends over the years. But being able to give out the love and effort to keep them is very hard for me. You could say, thoughtful reader, that I am easy to make new friends but hard to keep them. That is a horrible thing to say. Yet, that is me. It is part of my nature. Part of how I view the world and how I treat people around me. I am not a do-gooder. I am not one to easily forgive what I consider to be wrong. I am not one that stays calm and quiet when I believe something should be said and done. That puts me far away from being a popular guy.

Yet I managed to find people that like me. People that like me enough to call me and treat me like a friend. And for that I am deeply grateful. I sometimes am months away, without exchanging one email or message, and believe me I almost never call someone. It will be either IM or an email, go figure how someone can enjoy my company.

The feeling from being able to 'talk' (chat to use a more appropriate term) and yet being able to see the distance barrier go away... that feeling is magic. That in itself fills me with this cheesy gratitude feeling.

However, having months apart, and yet having a friend say (or chat) oh, I was thinking about you. That is awesome.

Having said that, can you imagine how I feel when out of nowhere, those friends offer a hand. When they open a door to you (figuratively speaking, of course), and you see a new path available. Yes, it’s that good.

So today I gloat, and I give myself the right to be cheesy. I love my friends. And I am grateful.

(Now back to our regular programming)

On the Log of Eternal Worries, the only really eternal thing are my worries.

Buddha teaches us that exterior happiness lasts very little. Worries are perhaps (amongst other things), the fear of seeing that happiness end.

The golden team I wrote about in the last post is no more. There are very few of us now, the other members left the company in pursue of personal goals and those left are burdened with so much work, we can barely work eat lunch together.

Yet, I still feel we look for each other, I still feel we want what is best for the Network. It's only that we are tired. We are too few to be able to meet our own expectations. We set such a high level of results a year ago and right now we do not have enough hands on deck to meet those expectations.

The pressure for results is high and so the rush to meet deadlines and basic project goals has been nicking our standards, a nick each day.

Although I spoke that out loud, that we are barely hitting our marks and delivering results with shortcuts that may have a cost tomorrow, I feel entrapped and taking shortcuts too. A few months ago I was so angry with myself for letting me do it I almost quit!

We do not have spare time for our own projects - the ones that show our love for our profession. Good documentation, periodic maintenance, config cleanups, roadmaps for improvements. All of our time is spent rushing one project after another, fixing things as they break, barely detecting severe issues before they blow. Sometimes we do get explosions and the shrapnel hits us hot and leaving scars.

All that drama aside, this is one of the best places to be, in Brazil. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else, unless of course I get an offer abroad, who knows? A lot of people are leaving Brazil, our country is so deep in shit I cannot say that anyone that left has had a bad idea. But I digress.

We're still one heck of a good team. Were we better? Yeah, nobody replaced the ones that left. We are part of a bigger team now, but the core problems we face now we need to solve without the rest of the big team, because the big team also has its hands full and less people. I do understand how hard it is for them to help us. It's not that they don't want. They're being dragged as we are.

Anyway, this is the Log of Eternal Worries. And even when I am happy (and tired), I am worried about something.


Reviewing the past few months

On December 6, 2014 I closed a chapter in my life that was worst than all of the other bad chapters in my life together.

On December 13, exactly one week after, I had a new job, renewed hope and the recognition of the reputation I built over these years.

The last months were the best months of my professional life ever. That is not so easily said when you have worked with so many many great people. So many people I admire and so many incredible, awesome people, some of them I even have the privilege of calling them friends.

However the thing I missed most the past few years was working in a team where, as we say in Brazil, "vestimos a camisa", a concept that basically means that the team really wants to work together, where the job, excellency and ethics are more important than closing the ticket and moving on to the next project.

Is that so rare nowadays? Is it so hard to find a team where people really want to team-up and work towards a goal? I knew for sure such teams didn't exist anymore. They were utopic. They were things from management books, they were fairy tales told at university and training courses to make us want to work in IT (work at all). I had lost hope such teams could exist, after this harsh nightmare I lived.

Well, it is not a fairy tale. Such teams exist, and I am very proud to say I am working in one. Do we have problems? Yes. Do we fight? Yes! Is there competition amonst ourselves? Yes, it has to be.

But when you have a Network (yeah, in my case, of course, I am a network guy) that you care about, and your team cares about, things are simpler. There is no conflict of interests. We work towards the Sacred Holy Network.

Yes, it's that good, I am gloating, who cares?

Another very important detail. Some of you may believe I have a grudge against bosses. You are so wrong. I just happened to have a lot of bad bosses (and perhaps, the worst of all bosses ever). And I had my share of good bosses too. This time, as you would expect, I do have a good boss. Aye, he's got a good team, that is because he's a good boss, of course.

That last guy, man that's one that's really fucked up. Not only he is fucked up, but he fucks everybody's minds while at it, making everyone around him miserable, suspicious and unmotivated. He's that bad folks. I wonder how a guy like that sleeps. How does a guy like that even have some happiness in his life? I am sure he's a happy guy. (ha, no I am sure he's as miserable as he likes to make people feel).

But what I want to remember from these last six months (already half a year?) is that life can still exist at work. It takes luck. It took tough luck to get my job. Reputation helped, yes, it did, but it was luck that gave me my current job position. I could have ended in a bad team again, with a boss even worst than the last one. Well, that's life, right? This time life smiled a little. And I cannot help smiling back.

The End of this Chapter.

Yesterday I finished the hardest 3 years of my life.

Childhood was tough. My teen years were tougher. Living out my father's last years were even tougher. I had many moments in my life where I felt I was having to prove myself yet again.

I do not want to diminish all those past events as they all contributed to the person I am today.

But the last 3 years... They were and most probably will be the hardest 3 years ever. Never before I had to fight myself this hard. Never before I had to understand people so different from my beliefs, from what I believe is Right. 

We are beings of infinite possibilities. We can be our best and our worst. These 3 last years brought out my best. I feel the best I have ever been. But to get there I had to face the worst people I never imagined would exist in real life. I can imagine some people's actions in Game of Thrones or a Stephen King novel. But I saw things that fiction cannot mimic. People so low and dark that no writer would ever dare to create.

That showed me that it is our choice to be what we want. The choice is quick. It's a quanta long. The repercussions are huge and span lifetimes. They will mark your soul, they will mark people's souls forever. Yet some people are not aware of the incredible effect they can impress on other people's lives. It takes a nanosecond to choose to be the your best or your worst. To be better or simply say whatever...

We can never hope to fully understand other people's actions. Sometimes all we are left with are the consequences. And one thing I learned is that sometimes judging people by the consequences is not fair. A part of me wants to believe people do have good intentions. We are not created equally. We do not mature equally. Some people are full of good intentions, even if the results are bad. Some people... as always, some people fail my understanding. I can only label them as evil, repulsive beings, unable to touch the person if front of them. Unable to connect with our core. Some people are dead inside. They lost the touch of goodness. They forgot that good feeling you get from a smile of someone touched by your good actions. They forgot what our life is about. I pity these people, I pity the fact that they exist at all, they would be good examples in fiction but it seems the Cosmic Powers that be need that they physically exist. Perhaps they exist simply to give us something to strive about. Perhaps they are proof that Karma is real. Perhaps they are part of our One-ness that somehow disconnected trying to make sense of it all and now are wailing, screaming, bitching, angry and desperate, resentfull and small, hitting their fists on the table frustrated they cannot escape their very incompetence. Projecting unto others the smallness of their own beings, the flaws so evident that people can only fear being the next target, fearing they will lose their wits and reduce themselves to that empty shell of meat and bones. Fearing the future is a bleak thing where we are imprisoned until our retirement days. Buddha teaches us about compassion. This post is my act of compassion. I hope you can feel the same way as I am feeling now. I mix of frustration and anger of the three years of living with this people. 

I am of course way happier now. I am finally free from them. If I ever have to face people like this in the future, I will be stronger. I will feel better prepared. They are everywhere and I know they are a minority. Yet I end this chapter in my life sure that I am a kinder person, someone much better than the person I was three years before.