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[ 18th Jun 2003 ] summer nights | 3 comments | leave a comment |

This winter a friend of mine from Kharkov told me how fun it was to go to clubs and other fun places alone. Then I got his words with a bit of scepticism. Why should I go there alone, -- I thought, -- if I can go with my friends and have a good time in a nice company? Yesterday quite suddenly on my way home I stepped to the "Old times" club in the Baia Mare downtown to have one little beer..

Super Bugs

When the evening was only beginning, the our from Canada asked a tester and me to remain at work so that we fixed a major problem in one of our products for Windows. The responsible programmer who had been trying to fix it during whole the last week already went home, and it really didn't make sense to expect him to come out with a quick solution. Thus, he wasn't even called back to the office. The release of the product was postponed because the program didn't function well under all the flavours of Windows operating system. So as an "experienced developer" I was asked to fix it asap, as usual. I had to remain in any case, but in order to make the time pass easier, the tester colleague and I, each one we ordered two bottles of beer and a pizza on firm. Then we got to work.

The error was of the programmers' favourite type of bugs, a "blinking" one appearing here and there randomly. In such conditions it's impossible to track an exact sequence of actions that cause the program to work improperly and finally the whole OS to hang. For example, myself I couldn't reproduce the bug at all. However, the tester managed to do it all the time: in a crazy rythm he was opening and closing windows and dialogs, causing the program to crash. The next time the application was launched it used to say "Access violation in SKINBOXER.DLL" and didn't run any further before the next reboot. Rest of programs, including the Microsoft Visual Studio, worked unstable and after a couple of minutes whole the system went to hell.

From all of this crap I only managed to figure out the following thing: the program was crashing because of the skins library we actively used in our products. It's a set of ActiveSkin and SkinBoxer. As soon as I commented out the library calls the evil tester guy couldn't reproduce it anymore and the program worked just perfectly. Since we were registered customers of the skin engine, the only suitable solution was to write to the tech support of the company who created it. Looking for their e-mail address, I found out that the guys were Romanians and their office was located in Sibiu. So I wrote a bug-report in Romanian. And it meant the end of the work.

Continuation

By 12pm the idea to spend the evening at home in front of my computer turned out into a nonsense. After 15 hours in front of the monitor I didn't feel like writing or programming anything. Colleagues, however, were not too enthusiastic about having more beer: the one we stayed in the office with went home, and another one didn't want to go out, at least he told me so when I phoned him. When I saw the "Old times" club on my way home I realized that here I'd definitely drink a beer. Also it was a place we went out with the guys quite often.

Hope you can imagine what a night club in a small city means. "Old times" here is one of 5 decent places. By decent I mean no "manele" (aka gipsy pop) music, and its listeners -- guys dressed in jumpsuits. They rarely are likely to hurt you, but the music is quite awful. That's the reason.

As to the music, "Old times" is the most advanced place here. You can hear rock, rock'n'roll, country a bit of pop here, but never "manele" or "house". Plus there is an age limitation on the entrance -- under 18 not welcome. The interior is not that great: there is a bar, a room where people dance between tables (no special floor for dancing), the half of all chairs are made of plastic. Yeah, quite a provincial look, but the city itself is far from being captial, having only about 150 thousand people population. Under the ceiling there is the American (!) flag. It's a part of the Romanian mentality, so there is nothing to be surprised about. Now all of them are Amerians. The fact that they live in Romania is not important, because virtually they are already There. The flag is the only thing that really exasperates me in the club. Finally I sat on the bar and ordered a beer. Then looking at the dancing ones, was thinking about local root exploits in Unix and enjoying the taste of the best dark beer in Romania called "Ursus".

Staying aside without active participation in the happening, it's possible to make many interesting observations. I wouldn't had noticed such a lot of interesting details if I was having fun with my friends. However, on my own I could notice many funny things.

For example, there are girls who go to the club almost all the time. If they woudln't be that "starish" (like movie stars or something) I could say hi to them every time we met. Really, every time I come they're there. And every time with different guys. As far as I understood the majority of their "friends" are Italians, who are on business here. Something related to factories of clothing, co-owners or something like that. Besides them there are not a lot of foreigners in the city. Maybe only another one, an American who's a "Pease corps" (peace corpse :) member. I read an interview with him in a local news-paper, and the next they saw him in the street. Then I realised what it's like to leave in a small place. As to the starishness of the ladies from "Old times", it's just infinite. Just like an experiment, once I decided to try to talk to them during one of my previous visist to the club. Actually I suspected it before that I was an empty place and a complete nonentity, but I didn't really think it was that bad.. Just one glance was enough to confirm my worst anxieties..

Nothing new about the regular goers ladies. That time they didn't even dance. But also, there was a much more interesting observation, after which I decided to give a free of charge advice to all party girls. Dear ladies, if you want to attract attention, do not excel in various dresses. There is no need to spend money on such stupid things. Man is made so that power of attraction is inversely proportional to the amount of clothes you have on. This means just come to clubs naked! It works. Believe me.

And here's how it was. Two girls entered, one of them was dressed in a close sports shirt and minimal shorts. On her legs she had sandals. That was all, and there was no need for anything else, because all the men's stares are already yours (mine too, for I'm just a human). By the way, it's important that sitting on a chair you should put your foot on it too, so that all could see how nice your legs look without cellulite. Nice girl, good and original approach to dressing. 100 points.

Volunteer

Here I would appologize for physiological details, but just after the second beer was open, I had to think about going to the toilet. Since there were a lot of people already in the club, it was possible that by the moment of my return the chair would be occupied by someone else. That's why I talked to a guy who was sitting next to me at the bar and asked him to watch my chair and beer. He replied me in a very twised Romanian saying he didn't actually speak Romanian, because he was English. Ok, Englishmen, -- I thought. "Please watch my chair and the beer while I'm away".

In the toilet my cell rang. On the phone there was a Romanian girl who I decided not to meet with anymore because of her passivity. I really cannot communicate with people who cannot maintain a small talk. It's just the same as saying various pathetic monologues. Maybe she's too shy or maybe thinks slowly, but I had enough. But then she phoned me to say she was sorry and she apologized for such a behaviour. I answered that if she really wanted to aplologize she had to come. No problem.

After coming back to the bar I decided to find out what such an exotic human being did in a small Romanian city in Carpathians. For as I said it before, usually there are not a lot of foreigners in such places. For example, in Iasi we had a big company which we were calling General Assembly of the ONU. But here all the time I'm among Romanians. The guy said his name was Ben and he was a volunteer developing some social programs and teaching management to the locals. As to the social programs, it commented it immediately the following way: "Now I understand why their society sucks" (was kidding, of course). Because of such an answer Ben could hardly help falling down the bar laughing. I was in good spirits and we continued talking. When it came to the foreign languages, Ben said that Russian was the language he'd like to learn how to shout it. Shout. Strange guy. I told him about my friends from London who seriously thought that they didn't have to learn languages, and even opposite, whole the world had to know English. Then Ben said he agreed with that, and I propsed him to try to talk English to anyone in the place. He became sad, said "Yes, I know I'm an alien here" and sipped beer.

During some more time I was making some fun of the Englishman accidentally met in a club with various jokes about the West. He didn't feel offended. Then the strange Romanian lady came, and we exchanged our phone numbers with Ben. It was late, and the next day was Friday, still a working one. And that's actually how one of my evenings here was.



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