Category Archives: sad

Holy cow, that was a lot of mail. So sorry!

I was checking out a few things on my blog today, and I came across my WordPress Post Notification administration page. “Hmm,” I said. “I seem to have misconfigured this.” No e-mail had been sent out since August 2009. I figured out that the configuration directory didn’t have write permissions, enabled it, and went on with the rest of my day.

In the evening, I checked my personal mail on my iPod Touch. Inbox…

323 unread messages. That wasn’t right. I read the e-mail subjects. Holy cow, my blog had sent out every single one of my posts in the past half-year.

Granted, the only people on the list had double-opted-in, but still. I’d be annoyed if that many messages showed up in my inbox too, instead of one at a time.


First step: Control the damage. I moved post-notification out of the way, automatically disabling the plugin.

Second: Figure out the impact. 50 e-mail addresses left. Two nasty-notes.

Third: Gingerly re-enable the plugin after removing the locking directory.

Fourth: E-mail everyone an apology.

Fifth: Write about what happened. Tradeoff: Personal embarrassment versus possibility of saving other people from doing this kind of stuff. Worth it.

Looking at the bright side (because there always is a bright side)… At least I’m learning this now instead of later. And with my blog instead of a customer site. And with a smaller list instead of a megafan community. And… umm… it’s e-mail instead of text messages. Which has happened before. I was writing a Perl script that sent messages, and I had a bug, and there was an infinite loop, and poof! there went the balance on my prepaid card.


I’m sorry.

Low energy day

I didn't have a lot of energy today, and even my IBM team mate noticed it. Perhaps it was the stress of fighting with the wiki I was using this morning. Perhaps information overload from trying to organize so many case studies and thoughts. Perhaps it was last night's high-energy DemoCamp, when I was out until 11. Perhaps it was the embarrassment of being late and needing help finding the meeting room this afternoon. Perhaps it was the effort of forcing myself to stay awake (or at least not nod off too obviously) during the conference-call interview. (I have to get better at sitting still in one spot and listening actively.) Whatever the reason—or combinations of reasons—today wasn't one of my best days.

I did find the energy, though, to give one of my friends a big warm virtual hug and a pep talk that she much appreciated. There's always energy for the important things in life.

Good thing I learned: many people don't mind helping if you ask them nicely. It makes them smile, too, remembering what it was like when they were new. =)

How can I make this better in the future?

  • No more late nights. No matter how much fun hanging out with the DemoCamp folks is, I need to set a curfew and stick to it.
  • After stressful episodes, I can give myself some re-centering time.
  • Shifting between writing on the computer and writing by hand helps me push myself awake.
  • I shouldn't be embarrassed about excusing myself for a stretch, a glass of water, or other kinds of breaks.
  • Maybe I can bring mints or sour candies to stimulate my senses.
  • More active participation in interviews can help. Maybe I can ask Kathryn if I can take the lead in asking the questions based on the outline, so that it forces me to learn how to ask questions and logical follow-up questions.

What do you do during low-energy days?

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Random Emacs symbol: x-uses-old-gtk-dialog - Function: Return t if the old Gtk+ file selection dialog is used.

The universe does not tolerate a chocolate deficiency

I was feeling down because of the lack of progress on my thesis and because I felt that I didn't have control over some things that mattered to me. I talked to my dad (see earlier blog post). Not only did he solve my immediate problem of Internet access, but he also took me to my favorite deli and treated me to my favorite lasagna, then took me to Max Brenner (a high-end chocolate bar) and bought me the best classic dark chocolate cocoa powder you can find in Manila.

I hadn't talked to my mom about it, though. She must've either read my blog or listened to the universe telling her I felt sad (parents have a sixth sense for these things!), because she also bought me several different kinds of chocolate mix, this time for Spanish-style hot chocolate.

Nature abhors a vacuum, I guess. The universe will not tolerate a chocolate deficiency... =)

Happy girl. And when I'm happy, it's so much easier to learn stuff. I got almost all my AJAX/Rails to-learns finished today!

Random Emacs symbol: calendar-setup - Variable: The frame setup of the calendar.

Sometimes I just get homesick

I sometimes forget that I've only been here for a year and that it's perfectly normal for me to feel homesick from time to time. Sometimes it can be almost paralyzing.

We spent Labour Day weekend with Simon's parents. The conversation turned to the Philippines. I told them about the idea of a barkada - the close, mutually supportive group of friends that I often hung out with. I told them stories from my grandmother's colorful past. I told them about my parents, about the new house, about these little facets of life—and I found myself silently crying, wondering once again what I was doing in Canada, wondering whether I couldn't have just stayed home and made a difference anyway.

Simon stood up, walked over, and held me until I felt better. He promised that we'd talk afterwards. His dad looked at me with compassion and quietly asked me if I was feeling homesick. I nodded, and then joined Simon's mom in feeding peanuts to the raccoons that come to their deck - a little bit of serenity as I cleared my thoughts.

On the drive back, Simon helped me sort through not only what I was feeling but also how I might make the most of my talents and skills. I hurt because I care, Simon said, and that's a good thing. It's particularly difficult because my homesickness is also bound up in a sense of responsibility and a desire to help. Sometimes I get paralyzed by the thought that if I'm going to be away, I need to be doing something absolutely spectacular.

Yeah, sometimes that can be really scary.

I need to make sure that what I'm doing here is worth the sacrifice. Most of the time, I can see that. Most of the time, I remember that through luck or circumstance or work, I have more opportunities than most people would, and I can share those opportunities with other people. I have a good-karma file of the changes I've made to people's lives and the encouraging messages I've received. I sometimes need help remembering, though.

To all the people who remind me when I forget why I'm here: thank you.

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More thoughts on Barcamp, no answers

Dominique helpfully offered suggestions on adapting BarCamp to the Philippines. He said that it was doable, but challenging. He asked me the top five people I'd like to be there. He suggested having interdisciplinary talks by invited speakers on entrepreneurship, physics, biology, etc. Many of the Linux geeks who regularly speak at events would no doubt turn up, too.

I had such a strong reaction against his ideas that I had to stop myself from being frustrated. I recognized that I felt he didn't understand what unconferences were about. I also recognized that I couldn't yet articulate the differences between unconferences and conferences in a way that would make the changes and benefits clear. I was frustrated, yes, but I was frustrated with myself for being unable to figure out how to hack unconferences into Filipino culture without turning the event into yet another thing that divides speakers from audience instead of creating a community of participants.

I knew Dominique wanted to help me think things through, but the strength and irrationality of my reaction made me realize that I needed to first think things over with people who know the unconference culture and who may have insights into helping a new community adapt.

I need more insight from people like Chris Messina and David Crow. How does one hack unconferences into a society's culture? How can I help people go from a strongly hierarchical culture to a flatter one? Must ask Don Marti, too...

I don't have answers. I don't even know where to start. One good thing is that I can recognize when I'm hitting a wall, though. When I heard Dominique repeat his suggestion for inviting talks from outside disciplines and I knew I just couldn't listen well enough to do him credit, I thanked Dominique for sharing his thoughts and confessed my inability to discuss things further at this time. I need to talk to the others first. I need to figure things out.

You know, it's just _so_ tempting to not think about how to hack something like unconferences into Philippine society. It would be so easy to just enjoy the fruits of other people's labor in a tech culture that's starting to take off. But I want to bring these ideas home...

And you know what? Maybe I don't need to figure out how to get people out of their chairs and into the conversation. Maybe I can focus on just meeting the Web 2.0 entrepreneurs, the connectors who are reaching out to me and to each other. I'd like to meet them in person and get them to talk to each other. Maybe I don't have to think about doing that this August. Maybe I can do that this December, if I can afford to go home.

I don't feel bad about being asked tough questions. I feel bad about not knowing the answers and not even being able to explain why something doesn't feel right. I just need to talk to more people and try more things in order to figure out what to do.

And I seriously need hot chocolate and a hug, but that's just because I'm feeling all lost again... I'll try to postpone thinking about it until Friday, as I'm booked until then.

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Random Japanese sentence: うちの猫って甘えん坊で、どこでも私のあと着いて来るのよね。 My cat is such a baby, she follows me around wherever I go.