Well, about 9 months ago I made a move and took up a job in my old country, Hungary. I would like to write a couple of posts about my experiences; not to trash my country but to put a mirror up from the perspective of someone who has been away for 16 years.

Let’s start with the main issue here that will surely come up: bureaucracy.

The company I am working for decided to make a leap, and enter into the 20th century, and institute the option for home office working. It is a big leap; we still are clocked in and out as if we were factory workers, and our overtime is not actually paid. (But you do get hell in a handbasket if you are below your time. It is also expected to put in about 5-10 extra hours a month. It’s all charmingly antiquated and socialist, I have to say. I feel as if I was in this weird mixture of a strict highschool and the ’80s Hungary.)

Anyhow.

Home office. 6 months of trials.

First, you need to fill out a risk assessment form. The first thing on that form is the need for a complete examination and certification of your home’s electrical systems. Which costs a lot of money. And it’s not as if you were doing anything else but sitting in front of your computer, anyhow. (This was not a deal-breaker; apparently they did treat it flexibly, even though they did say going to be enforced with an iron fist. I guess the outrage made them double down.)

We got a 10 page of document detailing all the rules concerning home office; this is normal for this place. There is a weird disconnect between the whole point of home office, and how my company sees it, though. Home office is supposed to be a flexible option for you to do your work from home when/if needed or wanted. It implies trust, and allows you to actually have a better life quality. It also makes sure you don’t come into the office sick since you can just work from home, and don’t have to get sick days off (for which you would need a doctor’s note even for one day, so it is a pain in the ass to handle. As I said: bureaucracy.) So the company’s idea is that you only get two of these day a month, and you have to file a request two weeks prior of these days. Let’s make the flexible option as inflexible as possible.

And then the kicker: I did get the permission to work, but not the VDI option. (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure: the thing that allows you to actually work from home, and connect to the system at work. Why this antiquated system? Well, because, unlike other places, we have desktops, not laptops, so no option of taking the laptop home. As I said: antiquated. We can be happy we don’t have to use telegrams any more.)

In fact, all VDI requests were suspended, because of the home office initiative.

Yes. You read it right. This is the email I got from the IT:

“Dear User. Your ticket 22321 was suspended for the following reasons:

Dear (Fossilyellifish)! We would like to notify you that your home office request has been accepted! As you might have read on the Intranet the IT department currently will not fulfill new orders, but we thank you nevertheless for supporting the home office initiative with your request. This will help us to survey the infrastructure needed for the system. As the capacity is extended we will gradually grant requests, until then we would ask for your patience. If you have any more questions, please contact us at …” and so on and so forth.

So they actually did not do an assessment prior of setting up the whole system; on the other hand they explicitly said it would run for 6 months. So, in other words, the system is set up for failure – after the six month period, they are free to point at the low number of people actually taking the opportunity and declare the whole thing a failure.

To make matters even more interesting, they actually took away the VDI access of a new starter (returning from maternity leave) upon her request for home office (she did get a permission for the home office, though), and granted VDI for the deputy of my boss, who does not even have a home office permission yet, since he did not submit the paperwork. He submitted a request on all our behalf I might add. So his was approved, the rest were not.

Interesting.

Somewhat Kafkian, but interesting nevertheless.

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Gmail has recently added an autofinish option to their mail service, which is annoying as hell. It does a pretty good job anticipating what you intend to write, and suggesting it, but I keep myself trying to reword my sentences so that I do not have to write the suggestion down.

It might sound childish to do so, I do not want to be spoon fed my lines by a freaking program.

This is a pretty old story, but funny, nevertheless. I attended to one of the largest university in Budapest, the Eötvös Loránd University. Unlike most Western European and American universities it was, well, big. (Eleven thousand students attending only the STEM sciences; Biology was an entire faculty, with several departments (Molecular biology, biochemistry, Immunology, Plant taxonomy, and so on and so forth), not just one department. In this, it was not unique among Hungarian universities; I was surpised to find how small most institutions were in the US and Western Europe later.

Because of the size, our programs tended to be reasonably large, too. There were several over the school year, one of them is an orineteering course in the Pilis mountains around Budapest. Because it was a popular event, ‘sister’ universities sometimes joined us; such as teams from the University of Veterinary Medicine.

Anyhow, the orineteering was pretty silly to begin with mixed with a large amount of disgusting stuff -just to live up to the expectations of crazy biologists. At one station, for example, you had to “set your eyes on David Hasselhoff”, which, in practice, meant you had to throw actual cow eyes at his poster with your bare hands. (That was the worst of the tasks. Others involved identifying plants or animals, and whatnot.)

Anyhow, it was a fun event, and some took it even more seriously, than others- one of the groups in the Vet groups had a guy dressed as a pre-Christian Shaman with furs and antlers- the whole shebang.

Something like this plus the antlers:

samanok

(By the way, it is from is a pretty cool painting, worth checking it out.)

I was sitting with my group on a rock, waiting for our turn by a station. The rock was also frequented by rock climbers, so the forests were quite busy that day for sure. A climber with about ten kilos of facial piercings and tattoos was chilling next to me. And I mean he really took piercings seriously: all along his eyebrows, his nostrils, his lips- metal everywhere. When he set his eyes on the shaman, he looks at me, and say, quite unironically:

“There are some serious weirdos out there today, aren’t there?”

 

Well, since last December I became a dad. Which is kind of awesome and frightening at the same time. I’m trying to do my best, though, so I do follow all the advice I get about reading and talking to the baby.

They say it does not matter what, it just matters that you do read to your baby. So now I’m reading the Collected Tales of Conan in our free time together.

So we were watching Anonymus (great movie, by the way), and someone mentioned “The Queen hasn’t slept for three days”. Sitting next to my wife and my six week old daughter (important detail) I just looked up, and asked “is this even possible”?

My wife without even skipping a beat responded “totally”.

 

 

Along with three collegues (all in possession of PhDs in life sciences) I was going to a meeting in a building of my company I’ve never been to.

A colleague tries the card reader at the entrance, and gets a red light – rejected. We all tried our cards in turn. A guy turns up, sees us trying to get in, and he tries his as well – no luck. He walks away, and we are about to turn away as well, when one of my colleagues at a fit of insipration tries the door.

It is unlocked.

So yeah. We just trolled a guy to turn back -at least this is the story we are going with presently. The alternative would be that four PhDs were almost defeated by an unlocked door and a card reader.