Diary - Spring to Summer

This post was written 8 days ago.
Sun, 12 May 2019
This is going to be a short entry. I am mainly writing it so as to start this blog again at all. I like the idea to have a diary with frequent entries again for a while, as I have done a few times before.

There is a lot going on, in so many departments. I mostly feel fine, even elated. The past year has been exciting, often quite challenging, sometimes frightening, but also rewarding. In short, it felt like an adventure. Just occasionally, like today, something else is mixed in, some kind of weariness.

My main challenge is, always, that I am interested in so many things. With regards to programming, but also beyond that. Sometimes I start reading a lot, and all over the place. On Saturday I went into town around 3pm, I wanted to buy some presents for my daughter whose birthday was today. In Waterstones, I saw a pyramid of copies of a book on display. The book was called "Moneyland". I could not help but enter the store. I picked up the said Moneyland, but then also "Maintains Pereira" by Antonio Tabucchi, and a book called "Awakening" (from 1899) by Kate Chopin. I settled at a little table with the three books and got so sucked into all three of them in turn, that I forgot everything around me. In the end I bought Maintains Pereira.

I thought I had forgotten my phone, and actually liked being blissfully unaware of the time. When I emerged I found the phone in my coat pocket, and was a bit shocked to realise it was 5 past 6. I had just sat there for three hours flat, no break, no drinks, just reading. Luckily a lot of the shops were still open and I got the presents I wanted in the end.

The night before, I had equally been drawn into reading a lot online, this time about programming and in particular functional programming, but also one post with guidelines about learning to program that had lots of useful links: https://medium.com/zerotomastery/learn-to-code-in-2019-get-hired-and-have-fun-along-the-way-d4197f96be27.

There is a balance to strike between being pulled in many directions — explore —, and more systematic approaches to spending your time; to read and to learn. I sometimes wonder if I spend too much on the first!

There's lots of things I wanted to post about Codehub, to various Slack channels, and in direct messages. There's new things we are planning to do, and if I don't post about them soon it will become more and more difficult.

And also, I need to put something together for tomorrow, documenting how I deploy to a dev site with Ansistrano, so I can show somebody else.

Today was completely dedicated to my daughter, we went down to the harbour and later to Brendan Hill, where I had a go on the swing, something I haven't done for ages! In the evening we went out eating and afterwards played a game of Catan. This again had not been planned, and I'd thought I might spend some time on the computer despite the birthday. But it was good that way, and I have no regrets.

Just now, of course, there is a bit of pressure. Sticking to something I committed to.

So, this is a snapshot of my life right now. There is much more though, and some I might write about. Most will be about programming, CodeHub, ideas and things I read, and how to balance everything :)

For now, good night.

Tags: diary /

New Start

This post was written 4 months ago.
Wed, 30 Jan 2019
The self-censorship machine has been at work again and I removed my last post, as too self-indulgent and irrelevant. ( - For anyone wondering about the rabbit, it did return after 4 days and is alive and well :))

I am in fact thinking of moving all my previous blog posts into some kind of archive that is still accessible, but will not be the main blog.

I used to have aspirations to have a technical blog. I don't think it will ever be that, but I don't want it to be a personal diary either, and in the past it did sometimes look like that.

I will still write personal things, it is difficult for me not to. I am glad to see quite personal writing styles in professional writers, too (e.g. Laurie Penny, also Robert Sapolsky in his book Behave). I think it is something like a character trait.

There is a lot going on at the moment both in my personal life, and - I don't think anybody would disagree here - in the UK, Europe, the world. Crossroads everywhere.

I think a lot about what one could call collective mental health. I used to think mine was a bit precarious, but it is not just me, not at all! It is such a widespread problem. And so many people are feeling insecure these days.

It is a bit like when women read Betty Friedan and realised that they were not the only ones feeling so unhappy, that it was not them but the the structures they were living in that made them unhappy.

These days it's not just the women, but many men too. And I just hope we all wake up to it and manage to create something better.

I was reminded of this post from 2014 recently. I had mentioned it on my blog twice before! I had forgotten how good it is. 4 and a half years on, and we are still dealing with the fallout from all he's describing, though I have a feeling things are changing now. But in which direction?

This is exactly what I feel like: "I feel like I need to figure this out, like figuring all of this out and finding new ways to live has become the most important thing I could possibly do, not just for myself and the people I love but for the entire human race."

Than he carries on:

"I don't mean me alone — I'm far too self-loathing to have a messiah complex — but I feel like, for me, this is the best use of my time. Because the world is making me crazy and sad and wanting to just put a gun in my mouth, and it's doing the same thing to a lot of people who shouldn't have to feel this way.

I don't believe anymore that the answer lies in more or better tech, or even awareness. I think the only thing that can save us is us. I think we need to find ways to tribe up again, to find each other and put our arms around each other and make that charm against the dark. I don't mean in any hateful or exclusionary way, of course. But I think like minds need to pull together and pool our resources and rage against the dying of the light. And I do think rage is a component that's necessary here: a final fundamental fed-up-ness with the bullshit and an unwillingness to give any more ground to the things that are doing us in. To stop being reasonable. To stop being well-behaved. Not to hate those who are hurting us with their greed and psychopathic self-interest, but to simply stop letting them do it. The best way to defeat an enemy is not to destroy them, but to make them irrelevant."

Making the charm against the dark, that's what I want to help doing. And figuring out new ways to live.

This is where I am starting from.

Tags: mind_stuff / blog /

January Blues

This post was written 4 months ago.
Tue, 08 Jan 2019
I am starting up this blog again with a little heartache.

One of our two rabbits has gone, vanished without a trace. I let them out in the garden, as I often do, but I did not check as frequently as I used to, and when Alex was back from school I did not get them back into their house because I thought it was alright as long as he was there.

It could be that we'll get the rabbit back. Our garden is surrounded by a high fence except for one spot where it is still very high, but not totally unthinkable for them to get over. If he did manage, we should have spotted him in that garden, the neighbours weren't there, but the children jumped over, and they couldn't find him. A garden further? Did somebody take him inside perhaps?

All the while I was at hack night and had no clue this was going on.

And here is heartache number two. I cannot even explain it, and I don't want to analyse too much.

It is funny because I would say it was a success, in that some people really got something out of it, and one person who'd not been before got good pointers for his future career and he thanked me in a message, and gave me a tip for my job search as well. People got talking and had a good time.

This is always my main concern, that people feel comfortable and get something out of it.

But I felt kind of stupid afterwards for a variety of reasons, and they don't even have to do just with the hack night. There's also the never-ending men vs women ruminating.

And it's as if I deliberately tried not to progress, stay a junior forever, a beginner. It is good to keep being a beginner, at new things. But not at everything.

I just read a book called "The Courage to be Disliked" which is about the psychology of Adler. I did not completely buy it all, I found it was idealising Adler's approach too much and not talking about the difficulties, but it was really interesting, it did turn things on its head. Especially this point: Usually, as Freud did, people look at the causality of things. I behave this way because in my childhood this and that thing happened. Adler looked at the purpose. I behave this way because I want to achieve a certain result. - And this can be something quite negative. You might just create certain circumstances because you are afraid of changing, you don't have the courage to break out of a situation.

In any case, I hit a wall once again. It's evolve-or-die time, baby.

Tags: family / codehub /

Armistice Day

This post was written 6 months ago.
Sun, 11 Nov 2018
The first time I became aware of a fundamental truth about war was when I was watching Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004. At the end, Michael Moore is quoting George Orwell (this is put together from various pieces of a chapter in 1984):

"It's not a matter on whether the war is real, or if it is, Victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past, and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against it's own subjects and object is not the victory over Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact."

How many lives are lost in war, how much money is sucked into it that could so much better be spent elsewhere, how much are the wealthy benefiting from it?

I wonder if reason will prevail one day, and make war obsolete. I still believe in the ability of the Internet to connect people, and make them see that almost everybody just wants to live in peace. And bit by bit stop manipulation and dominance by those profiting from war.

We just watched a documentary made by Peter Jackson, who directed Lord of the Rings. It used real footage from WW1 large pieces of which were coloured in, and underlayed with realistic sound. At the beginning there were interviews and mostly black and white stills, or sometimes black and white video footage.

Matin made me watch it, I had not been aware of it and was also unsure if I wanted to see it. I think it was good I did though. You still cannot imagine what it must have been like, but you got a little closer. One thing it made me see was that a lot of time in the war was spent on preparation, or sitting in the trenches, the actual time fighting must have not been so much. And there were things like trench foot and sinking into mud (some boys and men died that way) that were horrific even without the fighting. But when they did fight it was absolute horror.

Watching this it seemed to me like a computer game come to live, and of course it is the other way round, computer games are modeled on this. But they really were players in a game, they did not even have something against the Germans in particular, they got along with them even (more the Bavarians and Saxons, not so much the Prussians which were disliked by their own countrymen it seems). They just did a job.

There are some uncomfortable truths in there. Even after having come through the war, men spoke of excitement and not wanting to have missed it. One also remembered that when news of the armistice broke they did not celebrate, they were too exhausted, and some didn't know what to do now, it was as if they had lost their job (this was one record, I wonder if it was different for some.) In effect, they did. They were often not wanted in jobs when they came back to their home towns. Some shops had signs that said "War veterans need not apply".

A lot of young men seemed to partly have signed on because they found their jobs boring. The war promised excitement.

I have written stuff in the past few days, but discarded it, so there is now a little hole in my November diary, but I think it is acceptable.

I have peen putting together my document on Codehub, I hope I will be able to finish it tomorrow. I had two nice chats today with Codehub people too. There is something about it that it has attracted the right people, and hopefully keeps attracting them. More to be written soon, I hope.

Tags: war /

This post was written 6 months ago.
Fri, 09 Nov 2018
What a weird day! For a substantial part of it I was quite downtrodden. It looks like I might have moved out of that now. We'll see.

Yesterday evening we did a workshop on TDD, and I thought it went well. But I think I might have missed some things. Also, it is always so very difficult to get feedback from people. That's probably part of the reason I did not like running workshops so much anymore.

I also really really hope I can finally sum up something like proposals for a future CodeHub and put it in front of some people. It is driving me mad. I cannot even explain it. For a long time it felt like I was giving birth to something. Now I just think I am nuts. And I would like to hand this over to others in the most elegant way possible and hope they will make something good out of it.

The thing is, there is obviously such a demand for it, we have people signing up every day. But I still think it promises too much. In a way that is not really my problem, if people don't feel it helps or they don't like it, they can just stay away. But still, I wish it helped them.

And a big thing about it is both the company, and feeling okay with where you are at. I want to model that as well. But I fear in the end I just look like a clueless fan girl that shouts "hooray, how great" at everything.

My daughter came home from a one day trip to Tyne Cot in Belgium, the site of World War I soldier cemeteries. It made a huge impression on her. One thing she noticed was how there was only a very small monument for the Indian soldiers while so many of them had faught in the war as well.

But when we were sitting at the dinner table and heard her talking about the trip, it was the sheer scale of the carnage that struck me again, and I find it so difficult to grasp. How could this ever happen? How do wars happen, how are young made to fight in them, I don't understand. This is the real madness.

Diary 6 and 7 November

This post was written 6 months ago.
Wed, 07 Nov 2018

Tuesday 6 November

I just enabled web monetization on two Codehub sites.

Wednesday 7 November

The above was all I wrote in the end for yesterday :) It again got really late, and it is late now, too! Today I spent about two hours this morning in a chat about a book and related topics. I am grateful that I have the freedom to do that.

Tomorrow we will have a TDD workshop with Codehub, and after that I hope I will be able to write a lot about plans and ideas for Codehub. I had been wanting to do that for a long time. I think this might be a good moment.

And, good night.

Tags: diary / november /

November diary

This post was written 7 months ago.
Mon, 05 Nov 2018
So I have just about managed to keep my resolution to write every day, but at the moment it is not more than a personal diary.

Friday 2 November

A book called Emergent Strategy, written by Adrienne Maree Brown, arrived today and I started reading it in the evening. It is very powerful and different from anything else I've read this year. And there's so much which I've always felt and known to be right.

It is happening a lot to me these days, reading things that somewhere deep down I knew to be true, but did not dare to believe when the competitive overzealous and violent spirit of our times tried to fuck with my brain over and over again.

Our only chance as humanity is the positive sum game instead of zero sum. Collaboration over competition.

Also, harm reduction versus Doing Good on your own privileged terms.

And as I'm at it, stop co-opting feminism and other activism for your elitist means and to make you feel better. Sometimes when I see 'for good' in an initiative's name, I want to run a mile, though I think I am wrong, I am sure they really do good things.

Saturday 3 November

It became late night again. I worked on a Haskell exercise that was not that complicated, and still it took me ages. But I don't mind so much. Each time certain pathways are made deeper and stronger in my brain.

The day before — with some help from Eleni — I dockerized my hatchling Django up which made me happy.

Sunday 4 November

It got so late again.

Of today I know exactly what I did. In the morning I drove my son and two mates from his football team to Bristol Manor Farm, then watched them play (a defeat unfortunately).

Then I spent about three hours (not exaggerating) in the bath tub reading Emergent Strategy.

Then I continued reading the book outside the bath, only interrupted by dinner, an episode of Dr Who and later reading from Harry Potter, which my daughter has returned to recently.

I have now finished Emergent Strategy. It is an extraordinary book. There is so much to take from it, and so much where I feel reaffirmed, but then it goes much further, into territory I had not even considered.

Something that has happened a lot in the past two years: Scales falling from my eyes. Again and again. Or I could say. I've got red-pilled, though that would happen only once :) maybe I got red-pilled and I'm just recognising more and more. Or do I? There must be so much more. In any case this book has further contributed to it.

Monday 5 November

It was bonfire night today, and also my 16th anniversary of moving to this country, and to Bristol.

We saw beautiful fireworks at Abbots Leigh. I had two cups of mulled cider.

Later I learned that my grand-uncle had died. He was 96. I had briefly visited him in the summer, on my way down to Munich. I am glad I saw him. I could hardly understand him when he talked, but I knew he recognised me and before I left he squeezed my hands and wished me all the best. 96 years. He has been there all my life, not always in my life so much, but this is another person from my past gone, and especially my mum's. And so many memories, there are people that nobody will remember anymore now, because he is gone. He could talk so lively about our ancestors, he was a keen researcher of our family history as well. I wish now I had recorded what he told us a few years ago when we all visited and he was still in good health.

Otherwise, I am still thinking a lot about Codehub and I want to write more about it.

Not tonight though.. Past 3 am AGAIN!

Tags: diary / november /

Sleepy Kat

This post was written 7 months ago.
Thu, 01 Nov 2018
To be honest, I am only writing this because I have set myself the target to write every day in November. And I cannot miss the first one! I cannot miss any of the days!

I will not create a new post for each day, but collect them in one post per week.

As always, there would be so much to write!

Re-reading the thing I wrote 10 days ago, I wish I was in that mood again. I whish I was in the presence of the spirit of Emma Goldman and fantasizing about anarchy in the UK.

There's never going to be anarchy or even minarchy, and I cannot even imagine what it would look like. I mean on the big scale. At the same time, you can get anarchic bubbles, where a group of people live in that way, independent of the state.

I recently read about a place in Catalonia created by Amir Taaki in "The Dark Net" by Jamie Bartlett. Then there is Rojava in Syria.

I quite admire David Graeber who actually tweets a lot about Rojava. He has also recently published a book called 'Bullshit Jobs' which started as an article. The article is enough for me, I don't think I need the book. It is weird, I think part of my huge inner resistance to look for a job is a, the fear I might land a bullshit job and b, I don't feel like working too many hours. You can call me lazy, I don't think I am. I just have a lot of interests, especially I like to read. I think it's what we all should do more, and think independently if such a thing is possible.

Then tonight I was at an event about "Reinventing work" which is about Teal organisations, and the ideas from the book Reinventing organisations by Frederic Laloux. It was very interesting. As to be expected it does not all look as rosy as Laloux depicts it in his book. It is sure good to have self-organising teams and less hierarchy, but the process of moving towards that can be quite difficult. It was an "open space" style, with no pre-set agenda, people suggested at the start what they wanted to talk about. In my group we talked about fear and the need to cover up your needs at work, and it was mainly about experiences some people had with their co-workers who were negative about the whole new "self-managing" style.

It is certainly true that work "is not working" for a lot of people, with huge levels of stress and impact on mental health; also a lot of terrible decisions get made at companies.

But I wonder if telling people to work more independently is going to cut it. What if we simply need more meaning in what we do as well? How do we move towards that? In a lot of industries, especially the PR and marketing ones, meaning is not a priority.

At the moment I see more meaning outside the world of work -- though there are jobs that have meaning, including in the tech industry, and I am going to look for them. But on the whole, could we not just work fewer hours in our paid jobs, and do more voluntary work besides it?

Night night - after 3am now, yawn

Tags: work / anarchy /

Free woman's perspective

This post was written 7 months ago.
Sun, 21 Oct 2018
Never have I felt a stronger need for these two things: To write, and to acquire this thing called "self-discipline" (it does not feel the accurate name for it, but is one that people have converged on) -- I think I begin to understand my apparent, almost life-long, lack of it better now, for one thing. Which means there might be a chance of improvement.

I am acquiring such a different perspective on things. History, that of the world, of nations, but then also my family's and my own.

Looking at my life: Along with the apparent lack of self-discipline, there's a lack of notable accomplishments or competencies. That's what I've felt for a long time, and boy, how much it used to bother me.

Now I think, this lack is a sign of our times, and it is also due to an interplay of various constellations in my early history. It is as if I've been a ball in a pinball machine, and the way I have hit against the objects on the table have always kept me on a trajectory of dependency, doubtfulness, indecisiveness and so on.

I was successful at school, I managed to complete a degree equivalent to a Master's, and I have managed to hold down a few jobs, though my first ones pretty badly. But that was it. Am I too harsh? I think I pitch it against what people would have expected of me.

The important thing is, it does not bother me so much anymore, and I have never had more of an appetite for learning and working on things. No paid work at the moment, and I am glad for it. I plan to look at that again soon, but not yet.

I have developed a great interest in all the things that as a young girl I did not understand and therefore found boring. History, economics, social structures. I recently read Frederic Laloux's book
'Reinventing Organisations' (illustrated version) and I just spent several hours browsing arcticles about anarchism and anarchists. I ended up reading the wikipedia article on Emma Goldman.

This is adding more puzzle pieces to a changed picture I have of polictics, democracy and so on. And the state. There is too much good in what "the state" provides for me to say, doing away with it would be good. But then, it might be worth looking at where these things are coming from. State-run schools. They could be run independently, and would work just as well, or better? The good thing about state schools is that kids come from very diverse backgrounds (certainly the case with the school my kids attend), and most of the teachers are really good and care -- true for private schools as well. It's called a state school, but do you need the state for it?

The NHS, which I love. Now being sold off by the lovely representatives of our state to the highest private bidders. The people who work in its hospitals and practices would need no state to do their work. We just don't know it any other way than it being under control of the state.

These are just thoughts whitout much background, and yet to even just think that way would not have occured to me a few years back. There could be a difference between something 'communal' (or 'the Commons') and 'run by the state' while we often don't differentiate.

I've come to all this partly from reading and watching videos about cryptoanarchy, which perhaps is not even anarchy. But fascinating in its own right. I have not made my mind up about it yet, and don't know if that's even possible.

And anarchism - while I bet you'd associate that mainly with men, is a very female, and feminist affair. Of the latter article, I like this in particular: "And this is something that we tend to forget: patriarchy is oppressive for everybody, not only for women."


This post was written 8 months ago.
Mon, 17 Sep 2018
The last blog post took me very long to write, now I am trying the opposite, writing something fast. And that is something I want to do more. Because I want to document what I am doing. A bit like the "weeknotes" that some people write, but I know in my case it won't likely be exactly each week.

I want it to be a mixture of documenting what I have actually done — especially in terms of learning new things — and commenting on books, articles and current events as well as occasionally jotting down all kinds of thoughts. A lot is in flux, with my life (my work life much more than my family life, though I have to admit the children becoming teens has an impact!) and with society at large.

Plan till the end of the year

Learning new things and organising Codehub, these constitute my — unpaid — "job" at the moment, which I take seriously and so far have managed to treat as such. And the documenting, I'd like that to become part of the job, too.

Job description:
  • Learn (and build)
  • Organise CodeHub events
  • Write about both

With learning my focus will be on:
  • Python
  • DevOps with Vagrant, Docker, Ansible; also simply learn more about Linux
I would like to carry on learning Haskell, but it will be difficult to invest a lot of time in it.

And these are currently my projects
  1. The main one will be a Django app with the working title "Book exchange"
  2. Build and manage "Codehub servers" where members can put projects up
  3. Building a mini website for a friend of mine, with a CMS called Pico and text files managed via Github and prose.io
  4. Trying some web scraping (shared interest with Lewis, who's in Malta)

I have decided that Mon, Tues, Wed I will each day do at least 4 full hours on Python, the app, or related DevOps. Thursday was going to be reserved for Haskell (but last week showed in practice this will be difficult), then Friday for reading, writing, communicating, philosophising. A day where I'd also purposefully allow myself to "drift off". - The minisite and web scraping I will do in other slots of time, late afternoon, evenings, weekend…

So I decided to set myself a minimal target per day, but then be rigorous about those 4 hours. Apparently you can not be very focused for more than 4 hours per day anyway. Still I will work for more on most days.

I will have to write about plans for Codehub organising another time.

One and a half weeks in

I'd also would have liked to write about what I have done so far! Maybe I will try a very brief summary:
  • Set up a Vagrant and using Ansible installed relevant Python modules and Postgres on it, created Postgres db and user
  • Then, for now, carried on manually with a Digital Ocean tutorial on setting up Django with Nginx and Gunicorn
  • Started working through the Django tutorial
  • Before all that, for my mini site, I worked out how to create a webhook from Github, so that on updating content via https://prose.io, a PHP script is run on the server to pull in the changes from the repo
This list is uncomplete. I am anyway pleased I got a fully functioning production server set up on my Vagrant, though I realise that this is doing things backwards. You can just start with using the development server — and I will use that to go through the tutorial. But somehow I wanted to solve the challenge of setting up a production environment first!

As so often when I start to write, there would be so much more. But at least I have made a start. I hope it is the start of things!

As to books, I am reading "The Guilty Feminist" by Deborah Frances-White at the moment. I have so much respect for her. Here is somebody who speaks her mind, and you can tell that it is simply what she thinks, and there's some really original thoughts in there that you would not hear from many other feminists. I also like her pointing out that the "calling out" and language-policing can quite quickly itself become dogmatic and then not much is gained. (She said this differently.)

The book and some of the thoughts in it is also something I will want to write more about!

For now good night, so late now, 4 am. Tomorrow is hack night…