Big update e-mail

2009-01-08 01:47 +01:00
Happy 2009 -- accompanied by a life update

Hi all,

Happy 2009! May all plans that you take on, come true as you wish them.

I have been planning to write to some people about what has happened to me, for over a year. But my English-speaking friends always come last... and most of you I have already told parts of the story.

Since this covers over a year and is meant to update every English speaking acquaintance, it's long. Most of you can actually ignore part #1 unless you want to reread it...

part #1: unemployed until august

I've been planning to document what happened in 2007, for a multitude of reasons. But it doesn't look like it's working out. So people who want more background, I can only give one text: The basic story is that I, after a chain of events, ended up defending a 'pedophile organisation' in court. The two main reasons being:
* the charges in the court case (which was full of lies back to front) looked like they could have more effect on websites in general
* I was the only one who dared to go to court to read a statement to that effect, on such a short notice.

Part of the second reason is that I seem to be one of the very few people these days who doesn't want to hide his attraction to younger boys like a big death-threatening secret. Which does not mean that I choose to mention it to a lot of people, because this attraction is not defining my (love) life or anything, and therefore there is no reason to tell it to most people. But I have seen the detrimental effect that 'regarding it as a big threatening secret' can have on people and have experience with the positive effect that can be generated by people who treat the subject with some sense & town the hype about it down, instead of generating panic/anger/anxiety/whatever.

Enough about that -- the thing is that I categorically refuse to hide from false allegiations out of fear.

But I've experienced to my surprise what effect this can have, even on someone as impervious to gossip as I am.

A 'gossip' program showed 5 seconds of me (giving a totally harmless quote) on national TV that night. After two resulting days of nervousness, it seemed like everyone -not a single exception- was still acting normal and friendly at work. And THEN, a week afterwards, I was booted from my work. My then-current client (Tommy Hilfiger Europe) was contractually perfectly allowed to do this; that comes with my line of work (doing IT consultancy projects through intermediary companies). However, what I find nasty, is that they fired me through the intermediary company and told me that the exact reason would be outlined in a letter -- which they never sent. And I will never know who made the decision to kick me out -- though it is probably some management/legal department which does not know about my situation at all (and cannot even make a reason clear to fire me) but just considers me some undefined "image risk".

After this episode, I received surprisingly few phonecalls from intermediary companies wanting to put me to work, where I was used to getting a lot of phonecalls.

I have spent several months (actually, 7) undecisive, planning to document/publicize what happened to me, in some way. (It was, on - but only to a small extent and only in Dutch.) But truthfully, I was mostly just hanging at home being lazy, surfing the internet, watching TV, and other things I can fill whole weeks with. I was living on my savings.

I almost got a job at Fortis Bank in Brussels, halfway july... In fact, I was the only candidate and I 'knew' I was hired one minute into the job interview. But it took about 2 weeks to arrange my contract, at the end of which some intermediary company told me that some higher-up Fortis manager 'un-hired' me because of "my opinion on pedophilia" that they read on the internet. (Ofcourse noone told me what they think that opinion is...)

#2 the change

After the Fortis debacle, I decided I should quit this world of interim personnel companies renting me out to big anonymous institiutions, and get a job in 'another world'. And I knew where I wanted to start: Drupal is an Open Source PHP 'Content Management Framework' (basically: a set of 'lego-like blocks' with which a skilled programmer can create big interactive websites). I had some experience with as a website user, and the sense of an 'open source community' appealed to me. I also knew the means: at the end of August there would be a big Drupal conference in Hungary.

I asked for some feedback on a Drupal forum, about whether there would be work for me... and got a "yes"... AND an immediate phonecall from someone who wanted to hire me. So I went to the conference and met him (a German who wanted to set up a new office for his company in Budapest). He hired me -- also after I told him that my name was associated with the subject of 'pedophilia' on the internet/google -- which is in essence just a matter of 'freedom of speech' and 'freedom of fear from complaints by dumb people' since I've never done anything wrong, ever.

So... after more than a month of wrapping things up in Amsterdam (a.o. finding a temporary tennant for my apartment)... I am living in Budapest, Hungary, since October 11th.

It's an adventure without a fixed outcome, work-wise. I suspected from the start, that this would not be a 'standard' company and that my boss's words do not always match reality. And indeed... In the remainder of 2008 I have been confronted with LOTS of unmanaged crappy projects, and people quitting their involvement this company or just disappearing into thin air. I've been getting used to my boss's personality (living in the same two-room appartment) and working very hard to get rid of the existing (badly managed) workload, without much pay. However, I've gotten help from new/future Hungarian colleagues too, who are very knowledgeable and dependable. Underneath all the mess (which has been largely but not fully cleaned up by now) is a promise of new projects from well-paying customers in 2009, and more stable working relationships, in a programming area that I like.

Also, in the past weeks I've gone out more and started to get some friends here. So the first signs are that 2009 holds a promising future for me here in Budapest, although I can't be fully sure of that yet...

More to follow, some time later...

Until then,