Category Archives: News

20 years later… (or: the ends justify the means)

20 years ago, on this day, Romania’s president at the time, Nicolae Ceauşescu, fled under pressure from the large popular uprise which we call The Revolution.

Three days later, they were executed, after something that pretended to be a trial. Over the past days, a Romanian newspaper ran the timeline of the events, tracking the movements of Ceauşescu and his wife. The trial was filmed, and it exposed the truth about “revolutions”: in order to gain legitimacy, both for the Romanian people and for the foreign governments, they needed to show there was a trial. They also needed the former president executed, partly as an attempt to stop the attacks from terrorists (special forces allegedly trained by the former president as elite units that would protect him) against the population and the military forces.

20 years later, said terrorists are still nowhere to be found. The attacks were just various branches of the military not knowing what to do, and pulling the trigger against each other.

20 years later, the goal of the trial is ever more obvious: the new political class (which was really not that new to begin with) needed no roadblocks from the old president; they wanted the president eliminated, and they came up with a plan that would help their recognition from the rest of the world as a legitimate government.

The accusations against Ceauşescu were not sustainable in a real court. 20 years tend to erase some of the bad memories from the terrible times of his reign, so I may be missing a lot of the details about how bad it used to be (and, believe me, communist Romania was bad). But the new political class decided that the ends justify the means.

In the end, I personally believe that people give the institution of presidency too much credit. (And this applies not just to Romania, pre or post December 1989). I believe Ceauşescu was being presented with a very rosy picture about Romania, by the people around him, some of them who eventually were the ones to kill him. He was an old man, some argue he was senile, and the powers behind the curtain liked the status quo, until it became non-profitable. He was merely a symbol – the symbol of the extreme-left communism, in a Europe that was trying to get rid of the East-West separation. He probably truly believed in his ideas, completely oblivious to the real economic and social facts. His ignorance could be blamed on his age or medical conditions, but I would much rather blame it on his entourage that handled the smoke and mirrors.

December 22, 1989 – I remember that my parents were coming back from a visit from my grandparents, and I was home, alone, vacuuming and cleaning up for Christmas. And, for some unknown reason, I turned on the TV. This makes very little sense now for me, just like it probably does not make any sense for you – but we were only having 2 hours of TV per day, and most of it was just news anyway. There usually was nothing (as in no signal) on a Friday morning. And yet, there he was, talking about something I did not pay attention to. And then the audience (which was normally cheerful and would acclaim him after each sentence) started booing him. That was unheard of! An hour or so later, when my parents came home, they would not believe me.

And from that point on, Romania was glued to the TV – the same thing we all ignored for the most part until that day.

End of the summer

You know it’s the end of the summer when the kids are back in school. With our oldest being in a year-round school, that doesn’t quite make as much of a distinction as the “traditional” school does.

But this year the kids had a great summer. They spent 5 weeks with their grandparents (my parents), and then my parents visited us for another five weeks. My sister also visited us for a bit over 3 weeks, so we had a nice family reunion going on. Too bad I was so busy I didn’t get to spend enough time with them.

My parents left on Saturday, my sister left on Monday. My daughter was very sad that her aunt is going back home, to the point where we couldn’t make her stop crying – both Sunday night and Monday morning when she woke up extra early to say bye to my sister. Very emotional.

We’re now adjusting to being by ourselves with the kids (with the young one growing up, it’s a lot more exciting and challenging, since he’s very creative).

In other news: I decided to decline Todd and Monica‘s invitation to join them for the Rock’n'Roll half-marathon in Virginia Beach, VA. Too many people in the same place scare me (the race is supposed to have 20k participants). I’ll try to do the Asheville half-marathon, mid-September, instead.

There are lots of other things happening that keep me busy; just like in my previous post 3 months ago, I promise I will write about them in the near future :-P

Also in some future post, more about our own vacation in Paris and Munchen.

Random bits

Apparently I didn’t get in the habit of blogging short entries often.

Today liferea notified me there is a new release of WordPress that I should upgrade, so I figured I might as well post something.

First off, liferea is slowly becoming a habit. I use it to track announcements about new software (see paragraph above), keep in touch with my friends, read news from ./ and some other news sites. To the point that I have now to see how I can replicate the feeds on all of my computers. Maybe I should try a news reader from yahoo.

A lot of exciting things happened. We’ve finished upgrading rPath’s issue tracker, Jira, to the latest version. And we did it in a eat-your-own-dogfood way: it’s a software appliance living on a Xen machine, as a domU. I was involved in this initially just for the Mercurial plugin for Jira, but figured we might as well go to the latest version of Jira. I had to fix several other plugins that were broken by API change (yes I wish you didn’t have to touch plugins to make them work on newer versions). It’s pretty cool, if your reference a Jira issue in your mercurial commit message, it will get indexed by Jira and linked to the issue (viewable as the Mercurial Commits tab). This link is an example.

The software appliance lets you isolate the application from the base operating system, and it makes it trivial to update it. No mess left on the host operating system either. I know package managers are supposed to help there, I’ve been installing rpm packages for almost 10 years now, trying to achieve that. But the very moment you deploy the system in a production environment, you know things get installed that you didn’t plan for. Conary helps a lot here.

I am looking forward to version 0.45 of Inkscape to land in Foresight. The screenshots look awesome. Ken promises he’ll have it committed in a couple of hours. It’s very nice to have the latest and greatest software, and Foresight is doing a great job there. A big thanks to the Foresight community and to Ken for making Foresight a great distribution – which DistroWatch reviewed yesterday.

On the personal front, we’ve been unhappy with my daughter’s school (or maybe looking for a reason to move into a larger home). At any rate, we’re in negotiations for the repairs the seller has to perform before we close. This is exciting. Except for the hour I spent today with the heating technician inspecting the gas pack in a chilly 18 degrees Fahrenheit. And for the amount of siding that has to be fixed. Hopefully we’ll get to an agreement on this. But I had to spend a lot of time on the phone with lenders, insurance agencies, inspectors, real estate agents and the such.

Christmas Tree Weekend

One weekend with lots of alcohol.

First, Todd graciously threw a farewell party for him and me (mine being way overdue since I left Red Hat more than 2 months ago). I think everybody had a great time. Thanks Todd!

Then, on Saturday I went and got a Christmas tree, and we decorated it yesterday. Saturday afternoon we were invited to some friends, and that was another alcohol-laden evening.

The same friends told us about Disney on Ice. Being princess-themed, it almost meant mandatory presence. Cristian being only 2 years and 7 months old, we decided it will be only me and Ioana that would attend.

I couldn’t quite understand why the RBC center had to charge for parking when you already pay for the ticket, but then again that’s how the entertainment industry works, I guess. A bag of cotton candy was $10, just because it had a princess/prince crown with Mickey Mouse ears that couldn’t be adjusted for size – so most kids were wearing it as a neck gaiter.

The show was pretty impressive though. I’ve never seen a live performance on ice, and I was impressed with the quality of their artists – they must be competitive figure skaters turned pro. My daughter had a blast, especially when the dragon to be slain by the prince threw flames on the ice (more alcohol, I suppose – my weekend’s theme).

They even had miniature fireworks at the end.

Abulafia is no more

Before you jump at me and say “dude, you’re a bit late, Abulafia died more than 7 centuries ago”, breathe, drink a glass of water, and read on.

I so happened to name my workstation with the same name used by Umberto Eco for the word processor of one of his characters in Foucault’s Pendulum. I guess I could have come up with something better. Anyway.

Friday was my last day at Red Hat. As I was about to reinstall my machines, I noticed that Abulafia’s uptime is 99 days. Too bad.

I am taking this week off to play “the home dad” (to some extent since both kids are in school), finish some long-standing home improvement projects, most likely get a new LCD monitor since my 5 years old ViewSonic 17″ CRT is slowly dying apparently, and trying to relax before I get on a new adventure.

Finally, I’m a blogger…

Although I reserved quite some time ago, I didn’t have the chance to upload content to it. I wouldn’t necessarily call this content either, but at least it’s something.

In other news, leaving the company after more than 5 and a half years is not an easy thing to do. I seem to get attached to things and places. I remember feeling the same when I quit my first and second employers. Now I have to pack all the junk I accumulated in the past 5 years, and discard everthing I don’t need anymore.

On the bright side: I will take next week off, and among other things I have to install a new flooring in the kitchen. After going back and forth, we finally settled for vinyl tiles. They should be fairly easy to install, although I still haven’t figured out if I’m supposed to rip out the old vinyl floor, and what to do to seal the spacing between the tiles. More about that later, I promise.