Recently in workstuff Category

in eating and drinking , workstuff |


This was on fb. It is a sort of dream job, if I had some training. A few years ago I looked into culinary schools, they are expensive. I know that lots of people dream about cooking jobs, when in reality it’s tough, low paid and with little career progression. Stil, a little café or a catering business is a sort of dream.

in workstuff |


The last time I went into the office was May 2012. I was then on garden leave and started my officially unemployed status 3 months later. I guess the better term is sabbatical or semi-retirement, although I’m too young to look retired. In financial services it’s not uncommon for people to retire young though.

Earlier this year, I did have some discussions with a couple of companies on the job front. One I turned down because first they had a hiring freeze and then the manager managed to unfreeze the headcount but only if it’s shared with another department. I’ve done this long enough to know that sharing doesn’t work — the EE is still expected to perform as if they are 100% in both departments, which leads to double the workload. Plus, the politics, ack. The second job was with a consultant firm, it was going well until we started talking packages and timesheets and client marketing. Not for me.

I’m quite happy to exist without a job for the time being, bumming along at my parents’ place. But an opportunity came my way, and it suits my current circumstances.

So now I’m a researcher and case writer at the university’s business school. The university is 100+ years old, and enjoys a high global/regional ranking. The position is freelance, where I work with one of the professors on a particular case. It’s paid on a per case basis too; each case can take 3-6 months to finalise but I can work whenever I like, and from home. No need to be at any office aside from a few meetings with the professor or, if the case is about a company, the company’s staff. Some case writers work on multiple concurrent cases, but for now I have just the one.

Anyone who went to business school will remember case studies. We didn’t have case studies in every single subject but they were definitely used in Marketing and Strategic Management. Harvard is the pioneer of using case studies, apparently their MBA students study and analyse over 500 cases during their time there. It’s a tried a tested method for teaching MBAs, although there are some criticism of the case study method, that it’s not suited for all subjects (eg accounting and statistics), that some cases are too old and outdated, and other methods that mix lectures with real time cases may be the way to go.

Nevertheless, the wheels of academia turn very slowly and case studies will be used and in demand for a long time to come. They have become big business, with the three largest case study publishers (Harvard, Richard Ivey in Canada and ECCH at Cranfield) selling more than 10 million cases every year. Cases are priced per student, so even at $3 each, that’s $30 million in revenue.

I’d never really thought about who physically wrote these case studies. If anyone asked me a few months ago, I would have said that they are like academic papers, right? Even though I was the one who did the experiment and synthesised those compounds, my PhD supervisor wrote all our published JOC papers, so I would assume that business school professors wrote these case studies too.

Apparently not.

Sometimes their students wrote them, but there is a whole cottage industry of case writers. So far it’s a lot of research. Trawling through a company’s website, reading their annual statements, figuring out their org structure from public information. Then there are the academic theories that the professor wants to incorporate into the case — for someone in the field like I have been, they seem to be a lot of big words to describe a small thing that I already know, but I have to remember that the students may not know these things. There’s quite a lot of writing involved too: not just the case study itself, which can run to 20-30 pages; there’s also the accompanying teaching notes, which is another 20-30 pages.

Can I make a living out of it? Not at the moment, with just one case. It has potential to become more, I hope. Already the prof I’m working with is talking about a series of cases; and then there are a couple of ideas I have that I’ll wait till the right time to pitch. There are even case writing competitions around the world with fairly lucrative prize money. Wow.

in challenges , random words , workstuff |

3675 words | 20084 words total

I signed and sent back a service agreement and spent almost the whole day researching. Because I’ve now been hired as a researcher for the business school at the local university to research and write a case study abot a large conglomerate. The service agreement is per case, so I don’t know if there will be any more after this. The morning was spent looking for background information on the company and the afternoon writing the case synopsis. It’s slow-going. I’ve never written an MBA case study before and I find I have to think about what to write and how to write it. I’m only halfway through the case synopsis.

So after 5-6hrs of internet searching, clicking around and typing what did I do for the rest of the day? I typed some more. Wrote a bit before dinner, had dinner, showered then wrote some more. It’s great to reach another milestone, 20k in 5 days is pretty good. I’m now on chapter 5 and they are putting the walls up on the house. I learned about the difference between plywood and OSB (which I typed out fully as oriented strand board every time — 3 words vs 1 word, it’s a cardinal nano rule), that 16” on center is the standard spacing between 2x4s in the frame, and the importance of studs in giving support for large windows. Paradoxically, although the walls of the house are going up, the personal walls between the MCs are starting to break down, they actually went for dinner together after work. That’s the writing for tomorrow, to write the dinner conversation and interactions.

Oh, and Happy Guy Fawkes Night!! Since nano and bonfire night will always overlap, I thought I’d combine the two and make an avatar.

in workstuff |


I can barely believe it. A whole year with nothing happening in terms of opportunities and work/business stuff and two things happen at the same time in just one week. It’s as if I’m either blessed or being tested. I hope the former.

in workstuff |


I walked 2 hours in very heavy rain to see this. It’s an empty shopfront. More to come, perhaps, may be.

in workstuff |

I went for an interview with a consultancy for a role of senior consultant. I think, I believe, I have the experience and technical ability to do it. But talking to the director, it seems like they have a certain idea of the type of candidate they want and I’m not entirely sure I fit. There were 2 hypothetical ad hoc case studies and I’m not sure I gave them the answer they were looking for. I hate these scenarios where there is not enough information and I’m told to make assumptions.

I hate interviews anyway. I hate the process of selling myself, and one of the things you have to do in professional services firms is to do business development and say “yes, of course” to clients. It makes me uncomfortable. I’m not a strategist, not a pioneer, not an ideas person. Give me a problem, I’ll solve it. I’ll think of ways to help you, I’ll even be creative. But don’t ask me to butter people up, or even be nice to them when they’re not nice to me.

So, yeah. I’m not sure about this job. I went into the interview with the attitude that it doesn’t matter, if I don’t succeed it’s because of different culture. But as I came out and got on the bus, I realised that success matters more to me than I thought. I don’t want to fail because they perceive that I don’t have the knowledge of ability. Mutually deciding it’s a different fit, yes. It’s an ego thing, I suppose.

in workstuff |


I had another interview with Regional Bank. We agreed that the role is really too junior and I’d be bored, although on the other hand it means an easy workload! That said, the manager mentioned that I’m more suited to another role, a “change the bank” type that sounded far, far more interesting. The only thing is, it means another move. Gulp.

in workstuff |


Went for an interview with a regional bank that the headhunter set up. It’s quite a large bank, mainly in wholesale and consumer banking but with some sales and trading. The role is quite good, although everyone agrees that I’m probably overqualified for it. Thing is, I’m okay with doing something I’ve done before, I’m not in a place where I’m overly ambitious and want to get up the career ladder. We’ll see.


in workstuff |


So I finally got off my butt and sent off my cv to a headhunter. Within 2 hours I’d gotten a call back and a meeting set up for tomorrow. She has a couple of assignments at hand already. Okay, this doesn’t count the agent who contacted me through linkedin, this one is a “proper” headhunter. I’m not sure I want to get back into working mode yet, it’s been almost 10 months since I worked, and even though I’m bored sometimes, it will be tough to get back to office hours.

in workstuff |


The end of an era. It’s been an interesting road.

in workstuff |

I’ve been in limbo for a few days, waiting for other people to finish their work before I can proceed. The anticipation is frustrating.

in eating and drinking , workstuff |

teamxmas06choctorte teamxmas05beef

The departmental christmas dinner was at the dispensary which is about 15mins walk from the office. It being a work dinner, the atmosphere was quiet although everyone was quite relaxed. We’d chosen our menu before, so there were no surprises. I had pumpkin soup, roast sirloin with trimmings and chocolate torte with raspberry sorbet. A few people couldn’t make it at the last minute so their meal was shared between those of us who could manage a second helping, which is how I came to also finish a plate of figs & ham.

At best, I would describe the food as mediocre. We think it’s because we’d been watching too much Masterchef and gotten spoiled. Or that the menu for a large group is different (and more mass produced?) than for regular diners. But both SM and I agreed that we ourselves could cook equivalent or better. The problem was that the food tasted like they came from Sainsbury’s instead of cooked at the restaurant. I liked the pumpkin soup, but then again I like New Covent Garden soup, and the two were suspiciously similar. The beef wasn’t steak, more like a prime rib, tasted ok but the gravy was think and had no taste. The chocolate torte was definitely shop bought. SM had a creme brulee and it came with 2 bourbon biscuits, straight from the packet. Argh!

in techtalk , workstuff |


An interesting, and true, graphic at smarterware that shows the difference between design by a visionary (Steve Jobs) vs by committee (google). Substitute “design” with “work” and google with every other company and the picture is still correct.

More and more I’m seeing the lack of vision and ownership at work, even for the simplest thing. Very frustrating.

in mind babble , workstuff |


This idea came from Michael Arrington’s rant at being tied up by bureaucracy within his own company when he asked for a phone. It’s an amusing read and for most of us who work in the corporate world, touches a nerve far too closely.

Towards the end, he mentioned something that a mentor told him, “I’m lazy, so I do things right the first time.” Oddly very very true for me. I even made a tacky funny bumper sticker.

in workstuff |

Since I’ve been in London, I’ve stopped going to the weekly big group meeting. Today I was asked to represent our group and update them on a website that is going live later this week. Boy, am I glad it’s only once in a blue moon. It’s one thing being on the phone, it’s another being in the meeting room. I much prefer being on the phone.

in workstuff |

Department Christmas dinner tonight, I took pictures but too dark = blurry. It was at beach blanket babylon. Menu was pre-ordered, which I’d already done so several weeks ago. I had scallops (tiny, tiny), roast turkey with all the trimmings, christmas pudding with custard. Yeah, when I made those choices I was in a traditional Christmas food mood. We had secret santa and I got an instant hyancith plant set.

in on the relationship front , workstuff |

Drove in to work, cos of the weather and so it’s easier for mm. Showed her around and left her with her dept. She had lots of meetings and it was surreal to see her at odd times between her meetings. I got us sushi for lunch which we both ate in my office. Early night.

in workstuff |

I’m working on another project at work, I’ve been pulled in kinda at the last moment. I have to learn and become an expert at this app in 2 days. It’s very doable.

in workstuff |

I did it.

Not resolved or finalised. Wait.

in workstuff |

There’s a small respite today, but it won’t last. I haven’t been running.

in workstuff |

Over the last week, everything’s gone pear-shaped. The weekend can’t come fast enough. I had a lot to do tonight. Had to stay at work later than usual. Need to go to supermarket, do laundry and make lamb shank for tomorrow.

in workstuff |

Worked really intensely and quickly today, last minute stuff to get done before I’m off.

in workstuff |

ldn100greenpark ldn103elephant

I promised the london team I’d do a demo for them, and I did. Took IT a long while to set it up, so I had to talk through a cheat sheet before launching into the demo. Seemed to have been well received.

Back in the hotel room, I ate the whole packet of chicken wings from last night. It’s not the chinese chicken wings that mm and I love, those aren’t available anymore. Still, I ate the whole thing. Heh.

Tube to Victoria to get a ticket for wicked. Bus to Hard Rock Café, and yes there was a new polo shirt for this year. Walked all the way via Green Park and Buck House to belgo, not intentionally, just that i’m all about going to familiar places. At last, after 20 years, I managed to sample the beat-the-clock offer — between 5pm and 6.30pm pay the price shown on the clock for several menu items. I had a bowl of moules traditionale, which cost me £5.50. And a beer. I just made it by about 5-10mins, cos after I ordered, what feels like a whole school of german teenagers trooped in and occupied all but one row of that section. Boy was it noisy.

Back to the apollo victoria for wicked. My seat was in the middle of the stalls. A little spoiled by the tall guy sitting in front of me. Anyway, that’s a separate 101.1001 post.

in workstuff |

Meeting continued. My part was right at the end and I got progressively more nervous as the afternoon wore on. I’m not usually like this, it’s the circumstances.

There was a cocktail party afterwards. I couldn’t keep my eyes open so I didn’t go. Went to m&s to get chicken wings, and couldn’t resist salt beef sandwich again. Should have gone running, was too tired and lazy.

in workstuff |

The purpose of the trip is to attend the global team meeting. The composition of the team has changed a great deal since my first meeting. I have my thoughts on how things seem to be going, and some people share those thoughts. However it’s not the way the wind is blowing, so I have to go with the flow.

Dinner was at the hotel restaurant, which was super convenient and very thoughtful of the home team. Menu was pre-selected: artichoke mousse, sea bass, raspberry dessert — safe and suitable for a group of almost 20. A few of us stayed behind to chat, and moved downstairs to the bar for a final drink.

in workstuff |

The thing I hate about project managers is their obsession with project plans, gantt charts and the continual cycle of updates, updates, updates. I’m not a literal project manager, I don’t have MS Project on my PC, I prefer to mindmap. So when our internal project committee people kept asking me to update the project costs, I told them no can do. I don’t track my time using timesheets, and if they start asking me to do that, I think I need to escalate.


in workstuff |

Numerically it’s less than last year’s but everybody’s is down. Mine’s not as much reduced comparatively so I’m okay about it.

in workstuff |

I spent most of today with a parade of people in and out of my office. If they are to be believed, I was missed at work. That’s so nice of them to say so. I’m jetlagged so just able to function. Easing back to routine slowly.

in workstuff |

I was at work all afternoon. Joined them for lunch, then showed a few of them a demo of the new system. Talked with R for over an hour. Didn’t leave till 7.30pm. Lots to think about.

in workstuff |

Three days of workday training complete. Lots of information to absorb. Very hands-on training. I was forever playing with the training system and doing exercises a step ahead. Heehee. The most important takeaways:

  • unlearn everything about past systems
  • challenge status quo and ingrained bias
  • keep it simple
  • everything is an object, there is no backend setup database
  • tenants
  • it all comes down to clear planning and knowing how to configure
  • supervisory org rules
  • use the search bar

in workstuff |

Workwise, I’m done for the year. I went in today and all I did was read 2 emails. I went running in the gym at 10.30am, and left at noon. Gonna be out till 2010, I can monitor things via the blackberry.

So, what have I done this year at work? Can’t believe I started the year as “just moved to the Chicago office” then had to go straight into the YE08 process, functioning as the human total comp machine for 3 months. Then I got into this workday project — issue rfp, go through project committee approval, deal with other departments, run rfp, select vendor, deal with other departments again, negotiate with vendor, get a million approvals. But we are in a good shape to start next year. It’ll be a long, tough ride.

in eating and drinking , workstuff |

workxmas0901ham workxmas0905pecan

We had a potluck at work today. Just simple food, no competition or anything complicated. Normally I’d make dessert but other people signed up for it already. So I made salmon egg roll. It was okay.

Some of the other dishes include: a whole ham, cold cuts and sandwiches, meat pasta, pasta salad, taquitos, taffy apple salad, pecan bars, fruit.

in workstuff |

We have overseas visitors this week from our team. It’s been an intense few days but we covered a lot. What I can say is, meeting the people face to face is 5000% better when it comes to working together. With a global company we end up emailing or conference calling a lot, but there’s something different about eye contact.

in workstuff |

may be i’m being naïve, or too optimistic. But i feel like i made some progress with a situation at work this week.

in how the day went , workstuff |

Even though it wasn’t exactly under my authority, I let the C&B team out this afternoon. There doesn’t seem to be any official rules (that i know of), but in practice people can leave when the market closed. So some of them left at 2.30pm, some left around 3pm. I had a conference call at 1pm, then I had to work on a document as a result of that call. But I was able to leave around 3pm too.

It’s the start of the long weekend. Yippee.

in how the day went , workstuff |

The big meeting was finished by lunchtime, then I had other meetings in the afternoon. Those were done by 4pm, so I was able to get back to the hotel. Called mm, then went running, then went to get dinner — salt beef bagels from Brick Lane, of course. The rest of the evening was watching tv, nothing special.

in workstuff |

Long day of meetings and a full agenda. Working lunch too. Different team dynamics from before, with new additions. The old team still stuck together, which was good.

Dinner at Devonshire Terrace, where for cocktails we had Pimm’s. ahhhhhh, Pimm’s. I had pea and mint soup (very large bowl, too salty), salmon fishcakes (niiice) and apple & blackberry crumble (also too large portion). Then J, P and I sat at the hotel lobby bar, with free wine and olives, and talked till we were ready to drop. It was great to chat. Some good news, but not the right time to disclose.

in how the day went , workstuff |

It was a crappy, crappy day at work. It’s been a while since I entertained thoughts of resigning.

And then in the afternoon I got an email

Dear Mrs [redacted], Your shipment has now arrived and has already cleared customs.

Yeah, I know, “Mrs” — reminds me of Switzerland.

in challenges , workstuff |

so I did the corporate challenge today. Almost 25% of our Chicago office people showed up, most of them participants. There were also lots of volunteers. We had a big tent, and the atmosphere was nice.

The start was a bit crowded, it took a while for me to get to the starting line. But I used my nike+ as timer, starting only when I crossed the start line. It was a nice run. Officially 3.5miles, or 5.63km. I got 5.80km. I was looking out for our company’s shirt throughout but didn’t see many.

When I crossed the finish line my time was 37mins, but my nike+ gave me 35.17 so I’m taking that. Of course there were people faster, our fastest runner clocked 20mins.

There was a nice barbeque, beer and fruit. I even took away some leftovers. It was a great event, i’d do it again next year.

in workstuff |

We rounded the week with a meeting. On Saturday. Blah.

It went okay though. We had room service and I ordered mediterranean salad.

in workstuff |

cspring020room cspring023room

The company event is at the crystal springs resort in the middle of nowhere in new jersey. The limo picked us up at JFK and the ride was over an hour. The hotel is too new and the signage pretty bad, we got there eventually. The room was huge, with a kitchen, strange. I went running and skipped dinner.

Tired. It’ll be intensive the rest of the week.

in workstuff |


I had alluded to it before, but since I got word about the visa today here’s the official ‘announcement’ — I’m going to be transferred to the Chicago office, to be Group Head of my function. Heh, what function, there’s only one person ie me. Still, fancy title for what I’ve been doing for the last 6 months.

People at work ask if I’m excited. I have to answer truthfully that since it’s been in the works for so long, I’m over it. Careerwise it’s a great opportunity. Personally it’ll be an adventure. Those are the positives. The biggest negative is why am I signing up for all this additional work stress when I can retire and get a low level data entry job that pays the bills. There’s so much expectation, and I have so little motivation.

The other negative is I’m no longer there to support mm. We can talk on the phone, but I’m putting her through potentially another 2-3 years of separation. Sigh, our timing’s off, again.

So December I have to start packing and getting shippers in. Not the best time, but it’s never the best time. Wish me luck.

in workstuff |

chi416catranch chi417catranch
Our team building meeting was at the Catalyst Ranch which turned out to be 10mins’ walk from the apartment. I was so pleasantly surprised when I walked in, it was nothing like the usual corporate event venue.

For a start, it is colourful, more like a fantasy toy shop. Vintage furniture and kitsch Americana knick-knacks are everywhere. The idea is to escape the humdrum of the office and introduce creativity.

Here you can imagine, collaborate, play, exchange, discover, innovate, unleash, pollinate, experiment, ignite, percolate, connect. Or meet, retreat, congregate, discuss, teach, organize, coach, exhibit, train, ideate, brainstorm, team-build. Our space, your activities.

The group thoroughly enjoyed the meeting, the space, the meals. I wonder if they franchise. Hmm.

in workstuff |

We had a couple of new colleagues join today, so we took them out for lunch. It’s kinda traditional, this take new colleagues out to lunch business, isn’t it? All my team members are nice people, they work hard and they are knowledgeable in their areas. But I wonder if I’d socialise with them outside of work?

The answer is obvious. No.

Absolutely not because I don’t like them. But cos … work is work and outside of work is outside.

Which is a weird declaration considering I had dinner with ex-colleagues today. I guess when the work relationship ends, you really keep in touch with people whose friendships you value. There is a common topic, of ex-work, but to sustain the relationship, there has to be other topics to keep the group gelled.

in workstuff |

An interesting article by Keith LaFerriere on A List Apart: Why did you hire me — the intro caught my eye cos I can so relate to it.

Congratulations! You won the gig (or new role, for you internal folks). Now you’re ready to begin the roller-coaster ride of a new endeavor.

Remembering why you were hired—and identifying whether or not you belong—is just as important as getting the gig. To sustain career and mental health, you must work within your means and know how to navigate ambiguous workplace situations.

The “strategy” is to ensure both you and your employer get the most of, well, you.

  1. right rate — money is never an incentive but will become a disincentive if not right
  2. structure — project manage the job: list out deliverables and mission, keep yourself on track and not end up directing traffic instead of being innovative
  3. information is power
  4. know when to exit

I think about why I go to work each day, and the conclusion is pretty consistent. At this stage and if I’m careful I don’t need to work, so that provides a very cushy safety net. I guess if the job ever becomes not fun and I’m becoming too stressed out, I have to be sure to find the courage to walk away.

in workstuff |

There is a Very Important Project going on. But I’m a little lost. I don’t think it’s intellectual, I’m just trying to wrap my head around the reason and desired output.


in going places , workstuff |

This time last week I was getting ready to leave Chicago; now I find myself at the ANA Intercontinental in Tokyo. The trip was planned before my vacation but I had kinda hoped it wouldn’t happen. It’s not that I don’t want to be here, it’s just flying again so soon … sigh.

I watched Enchanted on the plane and enjoyed it. It’s an amalgamation of all the fairy tales we know well, but the human element made a change. We took the Airport limo to the TCAT station and a taxi the rest of the way.

It was almost 5pm but we made our way to the office anyway. It’s only next doors. Did a little work, had some meetings, made some plans for this trip. Dinner was nearby too, of fried pork chops. Showered and checked in with Car. I brought 4 books, so I’m all set.

in thing-a-day , workstuff |

mindmap01 mindmap02
I read a recent bb post about a diagram on how to cook chicken. The commenters pointed out that it was a mind map. And so true. Mind maps have been used to graphically present semantic information in a non-linear fashion.

I use it a lot in presentations. On one page it shows information in a easy to digest format that may take 5 or 6 (or more) slides full of bullet points. And how many of us have been guilty about using too many bullet points in too many slides? Anyway I went into the office today and gave a little update for the Chicago staff and I made a few mind maps.

in workstuff |

We need to hire an intern to write us a database — the poor man’s version of PeopleSoft or Oracle. My colleague and I interviewed 3 candidates this week and it was so obvious. All candidates had relevant IT background, all had the necessary qualifications. But the chemistry with the one we chose was so palpable that we didn’t need to communicate — 5 minutes into the interview and we both decided, unanimously and without needing to even look at the other, that this was the one we wanted.

Sometimes when picking a team, it’s not just what is on paper, it’s how comfortable we all feel in each other’s company. This candidate has a slightly unusual background, but his enthusiasm and thoughtfulness won us over. He actually commented that this didn’t feel like an interview, more like meeting new friends. We felt the chemistry was both ways.

We made the offer in the afternoon, and already received a thank you email. I want this to work. We only have approval for a fixed term, but if the product is good, I’m sure we can sell it to management to continue development.

in workstuff |

not gonna write that much today, cos I’m marginally unhappy at work. Not the work environment, but there’s a nagging doubt about what I am doing there, at NewJob. We got new business cards today, and they look nice. But really, why am I going through the same I-can-do-all-jobs gig as before, but for a smaller outfit? And why, when I swore TWICE before that I’d never do IAM again, am I getting slowly involved? Oh right, my experience is … teh pwned.

in workstuff |

We moved to our new offices today. It’s a merger situation and we are the smaller group (16 vs 180 on the other side) so it stands to reason that we move there. We were unpacked within an hour and IT sent someone from Singapore especially to help us get connected.

The space is not very great. It’s a cubicle in a recessed space. They can’t put a door because the back of the “room” is a fire exit. The other desks are very close together and close to us. My colleague is VERY unhappy about it. At OldJob both of us had window offices, and although I moved to the corner space with no door later it was a very good seat with lots of window, storage and sunshine. This is the worst seats I’ve had in the last 10 years.

The absolute pits is … we can hear the toilet flushing through the walls. This is no way to treat a regional Director and a VP. My colleague shot an email to her boss immediately. Let’s hope there is some improvement.

in going places , workstuff |

Went to bed at 9.30pm last night. Only woke up briefly at around 2am but otherwise slept through. Still tired though.

First meeting was in another area that needed taxiing, no big deal. Lunch with ex-colleagues and I was so happy to see them. One more meeting in the afternoon and I was done by 4pm.

It was cold. And a part of me wanted to stay in and read. Another part felt like a little adventure. In the end the need for a walk won out. surprisingly the walk to Namdemun was short, the hotel was nearer than I thought. I remembered many of the stalls and found the one that sold these delicious sweet flatbreads. Also had a small bowl of noodles at one of those streetside stalls.

Dinner was a toss up between room service and the hotel restaurant. Again, adventure won out and I found myself seated at the buffet. Oh joy, they had raw beef with pear. And lots of sashimi, salad and king crabs. Didn’t have too many of the hot food, preferring to have the more special items. Tried not to get too full.

Conference call at 9pm that lasted 1.5hrs. Tired. Still.

in going places , workstuff |

sigh. guess what. I’m not home again.

This time it’s Seoul. Flight and everything was nothing special although my neighbour struck up a conversation with me. She’s an American lady who lives in Korea and she was curious about my accent, so we got talking about culture, technology and language. Normally I don’t talk to people on the plane but it turned out to be a nice chat.

Immigration was quick. I’m staying at the Westin Chosun hotel. Once out into the arrivals hall, all I had to do was to go to the hotel counter and the lady there took me to the airport bus. She actually gave me a choice of transportation — airport bus, hotel car or taxi. I mean, the bus is so convenient there is no point going for more expensive transport.

She must have called it in because I was greeted off the bus by the check-in staff. No need to check-in at the desk either, he took me right up to my room and I did all my signatures in the room. It was done in 2 minutes, very efficient.

I actually did not bring enough KRW in cash with me. I thought I had some leftover from the previous trip but it turned out to be only $50 in total. Yikes. There was enough for the bus and to go th 7-eleven to get some drinks. But dinner had to be room service. I had beef rib soup which came with kimchi and rice. Seriously, i don’t like room service it’s not value for money. ah well, I went to the supermarket in Sydney and lived off bread, ham and yogurt for 3 days, the company can pay for my room service for a few days here.

Of course the room is nice. The bathroom is nice. The bed is great. I’d rather be home though.

in workstuff |

All my Singapore meetings should be finished. It’s been tiring and intensive — because I wasn’t sure of the office / meeting room situation, I’d arranged to have all my meetings at the other party’s premises. This means I was running around the CBD constantly, literally. Luckily all the places are in the Robinson Road / Shenton Way area rather than Suntec.

I was trying to write up the proposal after my last meeting and managed to get a fair bit done. Originally I wanted to have dinner at Lau Pa Sat but a) I was tired; b) it was too early and c) I was hungry. I ended up getting chicken rice from a nearby café.

Yesterday on tv they showed Episode II and today it was Episode III. In the absence of other choices, I left it on. The “clever” hotel room arrangement means the desk faces the window and the tv is on the wall behind me. Yes it’s good for watching in bed but no use to me when I’m sitting at the desk. How come all hotel room designers simply don’t get this?

Tomorrow is a Singapore public holiday. Looks like I’ll join CL for lunch and we’ll go to the big Challenger later. I missed a couple of public holidays when in Chicago and Tokyo so it’s an opportunity to catch up on some R&R.

in how the day went , workstuff |

I met with a couple of vendors and have a different impression of both — one is very sales pitch and the other is more practical, we talked more about implementation. Guess which one I like up to now? I know that evaluating vendors should be logical and systematic … but needless to say emotions come into it.

This has also been a productive trip in terms of meeting with friends. I had lunch on Monday with ex-ex-colleagues, reminiscing how we’ve known each other for almost 12 years. My ex-ex-colleague is now the head of the Singapore department, and it’s good to see her where she is now. Last night dinner was with SC friends, I’ve known them for 4 years. Today I had lunch with more-recent-ex-colleague who couldn’t make dinner. It was very touching to see all the friends. One of the SC friends is pregnant and I got the news that she went into hospital in the morning. Hopefully her labour is short and she’s given birth by now.

Most of the socialising is done now. Dinner was a takeaway of chicken teriyaki on rice. Tomorrow it’ll be meals on my own, which I’m looking forward to actually.

in workstuff |

It’s been a long few days at work. Getting very busy, with lots of deadlines looming and work being done coming back for review and further action. Going to Singapore next week, then straight down to Sydney. Plus conference calls are getting later in the day (worse next week when the US clocks fall back). And I even have a blackberry, remember when I refused to have one?

But it’s still interesting and enjoyable. PL had a convo with our global head this morning and Global Head talked about me fairly early in the discussion. As soon as they can, they’ll change my contract terms to more favourable. Woot!

There’s a lot of talk in the news about OldJob, some of it not of the good. It’s sad, but I’m riveted, I’m on marketwatch, bloomberg, wsj and nyt all the time. Still have friends there, hoping they’re not too affected.

in going places , workstuff |

I just got back from a week in Chicago, this time for work. My new global head is located there, as is the global team. I went over Friday night because Car’s Grandma had her 93rd birthday on Saturday. She didn’t know I was coming so we had to detour to iHop after the airport to make sure she was asleep and I was sneaked in through the back door. It was a nice surprise for her in the morning.

Most of the rest of the weekend was either birthday party or shopping. I bought a couple of new shirts and a ton of sweets.

It was a change, having to shift from being at the house to being at the hotel. The work meetings were long and intense. In a merger situation there will always be degrees of acceptance by the people affected and after the meeting it was pretty clear, even to me as a newcomer, who were in and who were less committed.

Out host, my global head, was super hospitable. We had dinner at Roy’s — nice starters, I had seared ahi for mains and a fab dessert — and at Ballo — family style Italian food with very nice salmon and ribeye steak. On Wednesday when the official meeting has finished, a group of us were still in the office visiting and they had a pizza lunch with the entire department.

What I took away from the meeting was that it will be massively busy in the next year or so. But that providing I work hard, they’ll want to keep me. There are knowledge and experience that the team members don’t have because they haven’t been exposed to such an environment and not because of their ability.

As a side note, this visit I found myself feeling familiar with Chicago. So much so that I didn’t take my camera, and I was able to point out landmarks for my colleagues.

I wasn’t online for almost a week (yes, really!) because I was so tired after I got back to the hotel, by the time I showered I had enough energy to read one chapter of my book and that was it. Next time I go back, I’ll find surveillance cameras. If I miss the place, I can build my own 3D models of the famous skyscrapers or even the Metra trains.


in about me , techtalk , workstuff |

I was chatting with Car (literally just 5 minutes ago) and she was telling me about the books I should be reading. I said I have little time for reading right now, cos of the 80-20 rule — I’m now at the time-consuming 20% part of the Great Website Redesign project.

She said, and I’ll quote:

80-20 rule? is that something you’ve made up in your anal little mind? lol

Oh my friend, it’s real alright. It’s called the Pareto Principle and was used originally to describe the distribution of wealth. In project management terms, it means that 80% of the work uses up 20% of time / resources.

As anyone who’s spent splodges of time putting the final touch on any project — baking, planning a holiday, building an office block — it’s the last litty bitty details that take up most time, energy and frustration. In terms of the website stuff, it means I’m spending time on the css details before moving onto the static pages.

I tried to explain all this, and the response was still:

car: I think that’s something you’ve made up
me: HA! it’s on wikipedia
car: oh whatever…it simply justifies your need to spend hours changing the color and margins of your website. LOL

Who’s a skeptic now? (Or she’s pulling my very anal legs.)

in workstuff |

The people were nice, the office seemed relaxed. I don’t have an NT login or email account yet — needs to go to Chicago for approval. So I spent the day at brief orientation, reading files and surfing the internet. Well, I attended a conference call too so it wasn’t a complete slackerific day.

in workstuff |

Today was my last day of play. Tomorrow I start my new job. So that was it; 2 months off. It flew by quickly! I won’t mind another 2 months, heehee.

I should be grateful. I got this job without half trying. I didn’t contact any headhunters and the meetings / conference calls with the senior managers were more like get-to-know-each-other chats than real hard-sell meetings where I was up against other candidates. It’s a win-win situation — I had a job fall into my lap and the company saved on search fee and managers’ time.

In a way I’m looking forward to it. Let’s see how it goes, eh?

in workstuff |

I swear, this is the last time I’ll talk about end of this job. For a while anyway.

It was so weird today. I sent out a goodbye email, called around personal friends individually and attended a diversity seminar. Not much work because there’s no point.

I guess I simply don’t have enough experience of leaving a job. Not that I want to experience this too many times going forward.

Holiday tomorrow. Think about that instead.

in workstuff |

The uncertainty persists. Today my colleague, the one I’m helping with a project this month, had a panic attack and called me incessantly at lunch. Talk about insensitive — it’s my last 2 days of course I will have farewell lunches. Turns out it’s a straightforward data matter, so simple I wonder why the panic.

Took some stuff home and went out again. Met mm for foot massage. Unusual for mid-week but it’ll be weeks till we see each other. We were both tired. Dinner at a Singaporean restaurant she recommended.

I’m waiting for the apple crumble in my oven to cook. We have fruit at work but no one eats the green apples, so I said I’d take them home and make crumble. Kinda a farewell treat. I made 2 trays but the oven can only take one tray at a time. Tray #1 is inside now. Who knows when I’ll get to go to bed.

in mind babble , workstuff |

I’ve been trying to organise thoughts in my mind. So much seems to be happening, yet I feel my time is dragging on.

More people resigned at work. Last Friday marked the last day of the final two people of “my” team — I’m close to one of them, we’re similar workwise and we’ve been going to breakfast together often. The other person I’m less friendly with but still …

My last day is this Wednesday. It’s creeping up fast, yet not fast enough. Work hasn’t slowed down, seems like they want to squeeze me dry until the end, sigh. If I were an optimist I’d say they value me so much that they give stuff for me to do that no one else can. And it’s pretty true — almost 150 people in our department regionally and I’m the only one who can take a bunch of crappy spreadsheet and make a coherent summary. Okay, Ricky helped with the array formula but the concept was mine.

Our farewell lunch had over 30 people, including our friends who have left. I was very touched. Friday night we had dinner with a few other close friends, and we talked till almost 11pm. They aren’t colleagues anymore; not even ex-colleagues; they’re friends. I hope I can keep in touch with them. I’m notoriously bad at keeping in touch.

It’s just been a weird feeling the last few days.

It’s also really really hot. I can sit at my desk doing very little and I break out in sweat. mm and I went to the funeral of a college friend’s dad on saturday, then we went for seafood dinner at the local place near her home. I stayed over. But I was too tired and fell asleep even when mm was taking her shower. Sunday I went to various shops to buy presents for people — books, sweets and small souvenirs. The rest of the day was spent playing tennis on the wii for hours! I was so hot and sticky I had to go swimming before taking a shower.

I’m flying out on Thursday. For a whole month. It’s incredible and the trip of a lifetime. I’ll hit Chicago first, but almost immediately we’re going on a roadtrip to Fort Worth and Washington DC. It’ll be fun but right now I’m obsessing about the amount of clothes I have to bring. Back in Chicago for a week then I’m heading for Chile to visit K and P. Woot! There’ll be skiing, beaches and vineyard tours.

But right now my brain is in a state of frozen limbo shock. I can’t believe I quit my job. I can’t believe I quit my job with no new job to go do. I can’t believe the things that our new management team is getting away with. I can’t believe I’m going on such a long trip. I can’t believe I basically have no plans beyond this July trip.

None of this is new. Nor is it a surprise. Like I said, it’s been a weird few days.

in workstuff |

My last day was supposed to be next Friday. But like I reported before they asked me to stay behind. And I said yes, though with conditions — I work only on that project, I take a laptop and work some from home, one month only.

I also asked them to issue an announcement, so expectations are set and people stop asking me to do stuff. I’m already telling people that I’m transitioning out at the end of next week. And some of the email traffic flowing around has made me think I need to set parameters about what I’m supposed to be doing too. When they sold it to me, it’s analysing a bunch of data, coming up with conclusions and recommending what to do with the data. Now it seems like it’s already twisted so I’m going to be responsible for looking at new reporting requirements and working system enhancements. I mean, in one month? What do they think I am, magic miracle worker?

Some people are possibly quitting too. It’s so sad how the team is breaking up this way.

in workstuff |

Work wants me to stay. I already had the Singapore offer which I turned down by resigning. Last week the head of Japan asked if I wanted to go to Tokyo, presumably either to work for her (she now looks after M&As, initiatives and countries) or to continue what I do but over there.

Yesterday the recruiting head asked if I was interested in staying behind for a bit to help her with a data analysis project. Fixed term, as flexible as I want.

That’s because they have no one to replace me. No, I’m not being cocky or arrogant but it’s hard to find someone with my profile in the market, who is as unconcerned about money and promotion as me. I just get stuff done, and I’m happy if people leave me alone with my targets.

Pros — an extra month of salary & benefits, I know I can do that project, they’re kinda desperate. Cons — have to stick around an extra month and … the biggest concern, no clean break as I get asked to do stuff, teach people things etc as if I’d never left.

I have till Friday.

in workstuff |

No, I’m not thinking about my next job yet. But I remember this article that talks about how even salaries have gone web 2.0. Payscale is an online database where people upload and share their compensation information. They also enter basic demographics like location (mostly US, naturally), qualifications and industry. They claim to have over 7 million profiles and gets more than 1.5 million unique visitors a month.

So I tried it out, and it looks like someone from my company also put their comp out there. Though it’s not shabby at all.

in workstuff |

I turned in my resignation today. I’d never done this — sprung a resignation on someone — before, so it was heart-thumpingly harrowing. There’s still some discussion remaining, as they want me to reconsider, or consider a no-pay leave. Let’s see how things go the next couple of days.

in workstuff |

Well, the thing at [competitor] hasn’t worked out. They’re think that job’s a step back for me. Sigh, I end up being too experienced for my own good. What can I say?

in workstuff |

yahoo finance had an article called “four ways to make a bad job good.” The first one is: Make a friend at work.

People with one friend at work are much more likely to find their work interesting. And people with three friends at work are virtually guaranteed to be very satisfied with their life, according to extensive research from Gallup published in the book “Vital Friends” by Tom Rath.

Not surprising because of the amount of time we spend at work. If we have to sit there in the office for 8, 10 hours and the environment is unfriendly and hostile, we’re not likely to feel comfortable. I think the message is that we need friends at work as well outside of work; and work friends have a lot in common.

Feeling it recently. I’ve been at my present company for almost 5 years now, and it’s only been the last year or so that I’ve made close friends. And it’s made such a huge difference. The team worked really well, and we had fun.

Problem is, since the recent management change, morale is low and many of us “oldies” have been sidelined, whether deliberately or unintentionally it’s hard to judge. We’ve had a few resignations, and it’s the friends I made. Several of them will be leaving in the course of the next few weeks and I’m sad to see them go. I support their leaving because they have good reasons, but it only means life in the office will only get worse.

In related news, I met a few people at [competitor] today. Don’t want to jinx things or think about it too much, I’m approaching it with a positive and wait-and-see attitude.

in workstuff |

I left the office at 9pm. It’s been a while since I’ve done that. I have to get mentally prepared for doing it again if people I’ve been talking to recently goes ahead with what we’ve been discussing.

in workstuff |

The new office is at Harbourfront, overlooking Sentosa. They are building a brand new building that will be ready end of next year — right now that space is a construction site.

Next to Harbourfront is vivo city, yet another huge shopping mall. Lots and lots of shops, and not all the usual chain stores. Okay, some are chain stores, but I haven’t seen them elsewhere in Singapore.

A couple of interesting places — a Japanese homeware $2 shop with anything you can think of under the sun. And one of the foodcourts is designed differently with a Chinese tea house look. Food was a combination of the usual, but with some variations. Had bak kueh teh and iced kacang for lunch. For dinner my colleague and I shared a laksa (served with french bread), kway chap (mixed braised pork) and some fried sausages / fish ball snack dish.

I had wanted to go to Chinatown but it’s been raining almost all day. Sigh.

in workstuff |

Went to my new boss’ place for a dinner party tonight, altogether there were seven of us. Her helper made curry — chicken with coconut and beef with lemongrass and I think red curry. The chicken was spicier actually. I made chocolate mousse — both dark and white chocolate versions, which went down very well.

I like this social aspect of my new boss. She’s from the UK and has worked all over the world. Since she’s also been hired to head up diversity she places a high value on work life balance. It was an enjoyable dinner party.

in workstuff |

From here is city news. For Operations, substitute any back office function like Finance, Tax, Corporate Services, HR, IT.

A man flying in a hot air balloon realised that he was lost. He spots a man down below and descends. “Excuse me,” he shouts. “Can you help me ? I promised a friend that I’d meet him half hour ago, but I’m lost. Where am I?”

“You are in a hot air balloon,” the man below replied. “You are hovering approximately 30 feet above this field. You are between 40 and 42 degrees north latitude, and between 58 and 60 degrees west longitude.”

“Thanks,” replied the lost balloonist. “You must work in Operations.”

“I do,” said the man below. “But how did you know?”

“Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of it all, and the fact is that I’m still lost!”

“And you my friend,” said the man below, “must work in Front Office.”

“I do,” said the balloonist. “But how come you knew that?”

“Well,” replied the man with his feet on the ground, “you don’t know where you are, or where you are going. You made a promise which you are not going to keep, and you are now looking to me to solve your problems. And the fact is that you are in exactly the same predicament you were in before we meet, yet somehow all the blame is now being laid on me!”

in workstuff |

Originally I was supposed to fly off to India today. The trip was postponed, since my colleagues didn’t have time.

I’m sooooooo relieved.

in workstuff |

The only time I visited the NY office of my current company was when I was still in Stamford and I went for breakfast with my current boss, and met with another senior person. It was 6 yrs ago, and they were trying to hire me. I turned them down because I was on my way to Zurich.

It was interesting to meet with all the people in the office. The dept is huge and occupies a few floors but the people are all spread out and because the dept is so large not everyone know where everyone else sits. I feel they don’t even know each other. It’s funny.

The office is impressive, which is expected for the headquarters of a major company. Had to sign in and out all the time. There was also a shop and a large cafeteria.

Today, I met with a bunch of managers, it was great to meet with them. There were also several people I email and go on conference calls with, and it was good to put a face to a name.

Also walked from one office to another. On the way I passed through the WTC site. It’s all fenced off, they’d rebuilt the PATH station, but ground level is only concrete. It’ll take a while for anything to be built. There were hawkers selling souvenirs, it was a bit tacky.

in workstuff |

Was at the other office. Had a conference call but the other party didn’t show up. Had a meeting with the staff there. Then we decided to have a half day. Went back to the hotel and I watched TV and surfed.

Dinner at the restaurant next to the Marriott. Lots and lots of seafood! Crabs, king prawns, pomfret, prawn currry. And a bottle of wine. We splurged out.

No sleep tonight, plane leaves at 4.50am.

in workstuff |

Met some vendors, did training, answered email. Another routine day in the Mumbai office.

Left late again. Took my colleagues to Crawford Market to buy wine and nuts and mangos. Then a very long traffic jam car journey to the Marriott, at the top end of the city. Two hours or more?

I didn’t even feel like dinner, I had the 2 bananas in the room, that’s it.

in workstuff |

Boring day at the office, trying to get work done. It’s actually a holiday for them but most people have come in. Ordered lunch in, vegetarian curry, fish, naan. Excellent food.

Left quite late, around 8pm. Went to the pashmina shop from last time and bought a whole lot of pashminas for everyone.

Then to the Chinese restaurant next door. Three of us had tiger prawns, mixed veg and claypot rice.

I’m tired.

in workstuff |

If you hear me talk about blackrock in the next 6 months, you might wonder what it means. It’s my new project. Read a little background.

in workstuff |

I was lucky enough to be given a last minute place at the Project Management training course that started today. It’s 2 full days, so it’ll be on tomorrow too. It was good to have traveled to India with the head of training, heehee.

One of the best thing about this training is that it’s held offsite at a club near to where I live. In fact, it would have been quite a chore to get a taxi there — at that time in the morning taxis are hard to flag down and they won’t like going such a short distance. I took the bus for 3 stops and walked the rest of the way, up a very steep hill.

The course, as they tend to be, is full of jargon and pretty pictures that management consultants “invent” to tell us what we intrinsically know. To plan a project, one must have a PDD that encompasses a POS, which can be broken down to FM and MDs. We further break down the MDs into CCs using WBS and Is/Is not lists. Also we must consider COVs before reaching the target. Let me see if I can remember them all:

PDD = Project Definition Document
POS = Project Objective Statement
FM = Flexiblity Matrix
MD = Major Deliverables
CC = Commitment Criteria
WBS = Work Breakdown Structure
CoV = Cycle of validation (I think)

It’s useful. And the funniest part is, if I want to, I can get certified as a pimp … aka Project Management Professional (PMP). Heehee.

in workstuff |

The other office is in an older office building, but the district is so much busier than where we were before. They have a lot of service people, people to open the lift doors, people to press the buttons, and lots of busboys. They come round every few hours and serve tea / coffee, it’s very colonial.

Our colleagues are very friendly. They took us to a buffet at lunch (restaurant called Indian Summer) but unfortunately I couldn’t eat a lot. I think that I’m suffering from over-eating lately — too many meals out. I want some home cooked food.

Meetings and work in the afternoon. We didn’t want to eat anything, so I went back to the room. Did order some tandoori prawns, but it was a small portion that came with roti and a small salad. That was enough for me.

in all about people , workstuff | | comments (1)

My poor boss asked me if there’s anything wrong with her. Apparently some people made not so stellar remarks about her and commented that she suffers from favoritism.

What rubbish. She manages a whole team of people, and cannot possibly give equal attention to everyone. People need to realize bosses are people too.

in workstuff |

In the grand scheme of things, 271 emails over 2 weeks isn’t a lot. Once I sift through announcements and read receipts there were only about 100 to deal with. Manageable.

Quiet day at work, people are probably out on holiday. Only about 2/3 people in the office. Had to get back to my routine.

My fridge is still full of food.

in going places , workstuff |

In the end I only ate some fruit in the hotel room. 9pm I was down at the reception, all checked out, waiting for my car to come. Significantly more cars at that hour than earlier in the afternoon, I guess night-time is a popular time to go out. The way to the airport was also heavier with traffic.

The airport itself is nothing to write home about. They went through my luggage cos of the alarm clock, they want the battery removed during transit. Whatever. There seems to be a hell of a lot of security, but to me it seems like security for the sake of security. The Clipper Lounge is small. And crowded, there were people at every single seat, felt nothing like a business class lounge. I did have some sandwiches which helped.

As soon as the seatbelt sign came off most people immediately went to sleep. I was still hungry so I was one of about 5 people in my section who opted to have food. Lamb curry and some fruit, quite good for my purpose. Watched a little of Batman Begins, then fell asleep. Must have slept for an hour or two, then it was time for the lights to come back on. All in all, not much sleep I’m afraid.

Arrived at Singapore around 8am. Heh, I’m glad I’m changing planes at Changi, that’s one airport I know like the back of my hand. Had to take the Skytrain from T2 to T1, quickly got my boarding pass and went in search of pandan cake. The Bengawan Solo inside the gates is new, and I was happy about that. Bought one for mm, she likes the pandan cake, it is really good. Then it was off to the lounge to play on the internet for about half an hour.

Flight from Singapore was uneventful. Ended up watching The Skeleton Key, which at places, seems more scary than the PG-13 rating it has. Hmmm. Interesting film.

By the time I got home it was around 3.30pm and I was tired and sticky. Unpacked, then a much needed shower.

Really wanted to stay home but I had departmental Christmas dinner to attend. And I’m in charge. Yes, even though I was away all week, I was remote controlling the function. Food was good, not as good as last year’s. We had gift exchange again and I got a Christmas scented candle. I did away with the big prize draw and grab bag … combined them and decided that everyone will get vouchers, of varying amounts. So I gave the secretary a total amount and amount in each envelope. She and another lady went out and bought a selection of vouchers, so each envelope will have a mix’n’match set. I got the second prize, whoo-hoo! Now I can treat mm to a nice steak dinner with one of the vouchers, at a gourmet supermarket.

Finished at 10.30pm, walked home, took another shower. Now I’m debating whether to wait for mm, cos she’s STILL AT WORK!

in going places , workstuff |

I’m so used to the road now, the kamikaze driving doesn’t bother me that much. I got my camera out and snapped some roadside pictures today. There are still moments, when a car, a couple of rickshaws, a bike, a motorbike and 5 pedestrians are all vying for the same tiny space that I get a little tense.

Flight at midnight tonight, sheesh. Car will come at 9pm, I’m thinking whether it’s too early, and I’ll be bored at the airport. Trying to find out if there are lounges there, but the airport website isn’t that helpful. I need to think about whether it’s worth eating at the hotel or waiting till I get to the airport. Oh the dilemma. Anyway I’m not that hungry, I still need to take a shower, I’ll see how it goes.

in going places , workstuff | | comments (1)

No breakfast this morning, didn’t feel like it. Car showed up early at 8am (had booked it at 8.30am), but traffic that time of the morning was better. May be I’m getting used to it, the madness, I’m more relaxed for the journey. Oh, those tricycles are called rickshaws, not tuk-tuks, that’s the Thai term.

Another busy day, lunch at the canteen again — rice, dal, okra, veggie in coconut sauce, and one of those sweet Indian desserts. Also had a savoury lassi, which they call buttermilk.

My colleague took me to a restaurant, Mang(something), which is next to my hotel. Pomfret tikka and prawns in garlic sauce, naan. Shared a bottle of Indian shiraz. Now that’s one up and coming industry — Indian wines. If we have any money, we should invest in a vineyard, the wine was as good as any of those that come out of Australia or Chile or South Africa.

Had to change rooms. Wow, this is a junior suite, which means … living room, 2 bathrooms, walk-in closet. But too big for me. And there was hassle about moving my luggage, should have stayed at that little twin room.

I’m warming up to Mumbai. I had no expectations coming, actually I had poor expectations. Yes the roads are bad, crowded, polluted and I don’t get some behaviour. But I’m not against the idea of visiting again, provided certain conditions are met, most importantly driver and translator. mm will be pleased, no?

in going places , workstuff | | comments (1)

I woke up at 5am — body clock telling me it’s time to wake up. But I managed to sleep again and woke up at 7.30am as planned. I had breakfast coming between 7.30 and 7.45. Then I noticed that I had a blinking red light on my phone. Argh, remember how I hate any sort of voicemail? Turned out to be a text message from my colleague, who was gonna pick me up at 9.30am. Alamak! Why did I order breakfast so early???

The drive to the office was about 30-40 mins. It’s confirmed, I cannot drive there, at all. There are no road markings and cars pass each other with inches to spare. Help.

The office is a modern building, still under construction. The surrounding area is dirt and more dirt. The office spaces are large, but no windows. Brand new computers, but many seats are empty, some without phone extensions. Young staff, very lively and friendly though. My colleague is almost like a mom to them.

Lunch at the staff canteen. A rice flour cake dipped in curry sauce and yogurt sauce. Wholesome and nice food. Mid-afternoon we had a vegetarian burger — curry veg in a roll, nothing like a burger but much nicer. I left at 7.15pm, a driver picked me up, one who didn’t speak English at all. The 40min ride back to the hotel was like an adventure in itself. He was an even more aggressive driver than my colleague and there were times when the tuktuks or other cars were right next to the car. Man, was I glad when I got back to the hotel.

Wanted something local, and intended to go to the Indian restaurant downstairs. But that looked far too posh, so I ended up at the buffet. Now the buffet probably was more expensive than the restaurant, but I got to try many different dishes, including this lamb on the bone in mint and coriander. Now I hate coriander, but there’s only the barest whiff, the mint takes over.

Only had a little dessert, the portions were too big and offputting. Had a bottle of water plus a beer and the bill came to just over Rs. 1,100 (US$25), that’s really good.

Tomorrow I have to change rooms, meaning tonight I have to pack everything up. No more rooms at this rate, I have to move to a junior suite. Oh the hardship!

in eating and drinking , workstuff | | comments (2)

Last Thursday my boss said to me, “ooops, we have to organize the month end drinks, it’s our turn.” Oh great, us again. First, talk to the people at corporate services, they were helpful but constantly wanting to shift the decision-making elsewhere. Man, they do this every month, why do they need to ask every time?

Decide on a theme. Get in touch with caterers. Agree on menu. Get decorations. Talk to Communications. Keep within the $2,500 budget.

And then the smaller things like “do you need warmers?” “just want to know we’re not ordering ice because the beer already comes to us chilled, but towards the end of the event, they’ll get cold.” “how would you want us to set the food up on the table?” “do the caterers have large serving spoons?” And then everyone asks “what is the menu like?”, worse, they all have an opinion. I got seriously pissed off, cos 1) people who aren’t helping should shut up cos their suggestions are not helpful; 2) use common sense and don’t expect me to give minute instructions because 3) this is not my full time job.

I even designed the artwork that goes out with the email communication. Theme is Halloween, but I didn’t want to use the traditional ghosts and pumpkin look, want something sleeker. So I nicked the Wicked poster. The font is Dracula from dafont.

in easily amused , workstuff |

Another amusing article from here is the city news.

Throwing A Sickie - Your Excuses

According to a new survey undertaken for website, 35% of workers in the US throw a sickie when they are perfectly OK. 20% of the 1,600 polled said that they called in sick just because they didn’t feel like going in to work. 10% admitted that they bunked off work fairly regularly.

Detailed below are some of the more imaginative excuses for not rocking up:

‘My cat unplugged my alarm clock’

‘I had to be there for my husband’s grand jury trial’

‘My curlers burned my hair and I had to go to the hairdresser’

‘A hitman was looking for me’

‘I was spit on by a venomous snake’

‘I forgot to come back to work after lunch’

‘I tripped over my dog and was knocked unconscious’

‘My bus broke down and was held up by robbers’

‘I was arrested as a result of mistaken identity’

But the winner goes to - ‘I was sprayed by a skunk’.

in workstuff |

Been a little stressed out at work cos it’s getting towards another milestone in the global program I’m regional co-ordinator for. Deadline was today. People were expecting an extension until next week and they were bummed out that the deadline is really a deadline. Whine, whine, whine. What do they expect me to do? I have no influence! The decision was made from the top.

Anyway, it’s over now. Managed to work it through, at 6pm I ran stats and we had a 82% completion rate and I expect it to reach may by 85-90% by the time the system closes. We’ll never get 100% and considering we were at 28% on Tuesday we’ve come a long way. I’m reasonably pleased.

Reporting phase next. Oh the fun and games.

in easily amused , workstuff |

From Here is the City News, which I get at work. It's usually full of serious financial news, but occasionally its tongue is firmly in its cheek.

Memo To All Firm Employees

It has been brought to our attention that some individuals throughout the firm have been using foul language during the course of normal business conversations with their co-workers.

Due to the high number of complaints from our more sensitive employees, this type of language will no longer be tolerated in the office.

We do, however, appreciate the critical importance for staff to accurately express their feelings in discussions with fellow employees. With this in mind, we have come up with a 'Try Saying' list of phrases, in order that staff can exchange their ideas in an effective manner without offending their colleagues.

Try Saying - 'Perhaps I can work late'
Instead of - 'And when the f... do you expect me to do this ?'

Try Saying - 'I'm certain it isn't feasible'
Instead of - 'No' way'

Try Saying - 'Perhaps you should check with....'
Instead of - 'Try telling someone who could give a sh.t'

Try Saying - 'I wasn't involved in this project'
Instead of - 'It's not my' problem'

Try Saying - 'He's not familiar with the issues'
Instead of - 'He's got his head up his ar.e'

Try Saying - 'I'm a bit overloaded at the moment'
Instead of - 'F... it, my bonus will be cr.p this year anyway'

Try Saying - 'You want me to take care of that ?'
Instead of - 'Who the Hell died and made you boss ?'

Try Saying - 'He's somewhat insensitive'
Instead of - 'He's a'

Try Saying - 'Perhaps you need a coach'
Instead of - 'You don't know what the f... you're doing'

Please note that staff who do not adhere to these guidelines will be told to clear their desks and f... off.

Thank You,
Human Resources

It has come to our attention that some members of staff are making politically incorrect comments to fellow employees, and even business contacts. Detailed below are some general guidelines in this matter, together with a short-form 'dictionary' of politically correct sayings.

Staff are asked to assess the group of people you're speaking with and at least make some effort to gauge who might be offended by what.

If employees insist on cracking jokes, please select jokes which seem appropriate for the group at hand. Avoid racial, ethnic, se.ual or any other types of humour that may make certain audience members feel uncomfortable. The firm will no longer accept the often used excuse that your immediate line manager was the one who told you the joke in the first place.

Staff are asked to make an extra effort to be politically correct around people you have not met before, especially potential new clients and future employees of the company.

Politically Correct Dictionary

Please note that you should not describe an employee as 'lazy'. The person concerned should be referred to as 'motivationally deficient'.

Someone does not 'fail' - they 'acheive a deficiency'.

A colleague is not 'dishonest' - he or she is 'ethically disoriented'.

Please do not use the word 'wrong' - try 'differently logical'.

Instead of 'ugly', try saying 'cosmetically different'.

For 'unemployed, say 'involuntarily leisured'.

Other examples are:

'Dead' - 'living impaired'.

'Spendthrift' - 'negative saver'.

'Ignorant' - 'knowledge-based non-possessor'.

'Unsophisticated' - 'socially malformed'.

Some of our male colleagues have complained of being referred to in a politically incorrect manner, and staff are asked to adhere to the following:

A male member of staff does not have 'a fat beer gut'. He has developed a 'liquid grain storage facility'.

He does not 'sleep around', he is merely 'horizontally over-generous'.

He is not a 'cradle snatcher', but simply prefers 'generationally differential relationships'.

He does not 'stink', he suffers from 'hygiene aversion syndrome'.

He is not a 'groping perv.rt', but merely suffers from 'compulsive hand movement disorder'.

He does not tell 'endless, boring, unfunny jokes', but is simply 'humourly over-confident'.

He doesn't 'eat like a pig', but has 'reverse bulimia'.

And finally, staff should be respectful when speaking to female colleagues too.

Please note that a female staffer is not a 'moaner', she is merely vocally appreciative'.

She does not have 'brea.t implants', but is 'medically enhanced'.

She is not a 'nag', she simply becomes 'orally repetitive'.

Thank you for your co-operation.

in workstuff |

I hate it when it's 5.30pm on a friday afternoon and I'm all set to wind down and an issue crops up. Because the other party is in a later timezone they have a few hours to play around with the issue, but don't they realise I don't? Annoying.

It's on par with people who organise conference calls and meetings at unsociable hours, because they want to show they're working, or they're in another timezone and they don't care. It's the perils of working in an international company.

in workstuff |

Tough day at work, project deadline. The aim was to get as many people to participate in an annual evaluation initiative. I ran regional statistics, I ran statistics by country, by business, even name by name. Did a whole lot of manual input, administrator overrides. Overall non-participation rate was under 10% and that is very good.

It was tough, but oddly satisfying. My temper was short though.

The worst part was someone calling me in the late part of the afternoon and wanting me to do something that is completely outside the project. It was distracting, and I was sick of doing that thing. One of the transactions didn’t go through and they were going on and on about it. I pretty much shouted at them to go away cos I don’t have time for them.

Conference call at 8.30pm, and what do I hear? Deadline has been extended till next Tuesday. Blah. No, not bitter, cos that gives me time to get to 100% participation.

in workstuff |

I’m a floater. I don’t belong to any team, group or function. Being project based means I’m not attached to any particular area, and I have very little day to day contact with all but a few people. It’s great. But then again it’s a little lonely and people wonder what I do (well, I post here and I write stuff, to be honest :) ).

But recently I’ve been semi-adopted by the C&B / Operations team, yay! They’re really great, and we’re all specialists anyway. They include me in their social gatherings, and today I went to their lunchtime team meeting so I can talk about one of my projects. I can return to the next meetings! It’s good, cos I don’t exactly report to the head, but I work closely with her. We’re in different cost centres so no conflict but I’m excited about working closer with them.

in being healthy , workstuff |

Long day today, started with a 8.30am training that went on for 2 hours. When I got into the office there were people milling about outside in the corridor, turns out the aircon was out for the entire building. It was stuffy. Luckily it came back on in a short while.

More meetings in the morning. Had to do a long presentation in the afternoon. Then another meeting and more work. It’s good to be busy I guess.

Conference call at 8pm. So the day ended late.

In the middle of it, I heard from the recruiter for that job in DC — they decided to go for someone more experienced. Sigh. What can I do, I was looking forward to a lot of things, even though it meant a move. It’s nearly time for a change anyway.

in workstuff |

so I went to meet some people today for a potential job. When the recruiter contacted me, it sounded interesting, very interesting, and worthwhile. I was excited. But I met the people today and I’m a little anti-climatic. I expected earnest, more relaxed individuals, instead I got impersonal and questions on an area not in my expertise. Were they looking for what I do or are they fishing?

I still want this job, it’s in an organization I only had periphically aware, but the more I read about it, the more I like the idea. My friend Car told me that interviews are two way processes, now they need to sell themselves to me.

Plus it will involve moving continents again. I’d been reticence before, cos I don’t want to do the leaving each other while I gallivant all over the world thing again. She told me off for not asking, cos as of tonight she is considering jettisoning her high powered job and coming with me. It worries me (can I make enough to support both of us) but is strangely comforting (we can be together, just the two of us).

I don’t want to think too much about it right now, in case I’m disappointed.

in going places , workstuff |

I managed to squeeze all my meetings in the morning and I was done by lunchtime. Was in two minds about what to do for lunch, my intention is always to skive off but didn’t want to be too obvious. At the end I went with a colleague to the company canteen and had gyo-don — beef on rice. Very nice. Great to have a company canteen, really.

At the end I left at around 2.30pm. Took the subway to the Tsukiji Fish Market, I knew it’s going to be closed tomorrow so I want to get the salmon eggs today. By the time I got there the majority of the shops have closed already :( definitely the sushi place we tried last time was closed. But you know what they say? All you need is one, and there was still one stall not fully closed, though they were still packing. I quickly bought the eggs, JPY900 for one container.

Took the metro back to the hotel area and bought some “people-shaped” red bean cakes. Played on the free internet for a while :) and then went out at around 6pm in search of the rotating sushi place we visited last time. It’s still there! Each plate still JPY100 (+5% tax), I had 8 plates, coming to JPY840. Had salmon, some white fish, clams, egg. Nice.

That’s really it for this trip. Nothing spectacular.

in going places , workstuff |

Actually nothing much to report today. Mostly meetings.

Our regional head took me to lunch, a small shop behind the office building serving tempura, called Benkei, I think. The reception has photos of a famous Japanese baseball player who is playing in the US, afraid I’m totally out of the loop as far as baseball is concerned I have no idea who this guy is.

The tempura is made by a very serious looking chef. One of the waitresses almost dropped some plates and he looked at her so fiercely! Our regional head is an American, but he’s lived in Japan for a number of years and his wife is Japanese, he can speak the language fluently, although he tells me that when he has visitors from other parts of Asia, the Japanese always talk to the Asian person instead of him.

Walked another route back to the hotel, this time passing the Water Shrine and “Human-shaped” biscuit shop we are so familiar with during our last visit. Bought sushi from another store, it’s nice.

I hear that the fish market will be closed on Friday, so I’m thinking of sneaking out tomorrow to buy the caviar for our weekend meals. I’m wondering if she’s coming over Friday night?

in workstuff |

Training week was hectic, we learnt 4 different types of reporting tools, some are quite hard to grasp. Didn’t get enough opportunity for hands on exercises, that’s why.

Most evenings were spent with my colleagues, usually out for dinner. Had East Coast seafood, shark’s fin at Chinatown, and stuff like that. So by the time I get back to the hotel it’s past 10pm. Not a lot of relax time, sigh.

It’ll be better next trip cos I’m on my own, not so many needs for ‘entertainment’. Yeah, back in Singapore on Wednesday for 2 weeks. Feel like I’m forever on a plane.

in workstuff |

From yahoo news, Wal-Mart expandes definition of Immediate Family.

For the purposes of employee ethics, the biggest retail chain in the world expanded the definition to include same-sex partners. But haven't revealed whether it includes benefits coverage.

My current employer already does that, which is quite gratifying, considering we are as global and on the same sort of scale as Wal-Mart (though employing a different type of employees, not so many casual workers).

An immediate family member, or a "qualified adult" is covered for benefits provided certain conditions are met and the employee makes a declaration. This includes living together at least one year and have demonstrable means of showing an exclusive relationship such as joint account and mortgage. It's very fair, and the language of the policy doesn't make any reference to gender, so it applies to both same- and different-sex relationships.

in workstuff |

Been working on India stuff recently, which is why this caught my eye.

christmas outsource

in workstuff |

It was our dept's Christmas dinner today, which I organised. As in, I found the restaurant, decided on the menu, got all the grab bag presents, bought all the lucky draw presents, worked with the restaurant people. bought the wine, paid for the place, basically evetything.

People seemed to have enjoyed it. Afterwards some of us went for a drink and I'm extremely drunk now. Waiting for the hot water to boil so I can have a shower a bed.

Not thinking so clearing, typing very badly. Leave it till later lah.

in eating and drinking , workstuff |

I'm organising the annual department pot luck lunch, my second year "in charge". Don't know why I end up playing this role.

Almost everyone who can come, has said they would come. Majority are bringing food, one kind or other. Those who can cook, or who has family members who can, are bringing something homemade. Others are buying.

I have the 3 top prizes already. More money this year cos we have a new boss and I got money from both old and new bosses.

I'm making pork chops with apple sauce. Marinaded the pork last night, apple sauce is made fresh, from whole apples. I'm also making toblerone chocolate mousse and apple crumble. Probably too much dessert but what the hell.

in how the day went , workstuff |

It's been quiet at work, then Friday comes along and I expect an easy day and we have an IT disaster. Just great. Spent the morning running around and dragging people out of bed to fix our problem.

Month end drinks was Halloween theme, had a bit of wine, that's all.

Was able to leave and meet mm by 6.30. Had a simple dinner -- just what we like, simple, just us, being together, yum. Walked for a while, home by 10pm. Shower, she's watching TV, I'm online.

And in about 10-15 mins time I'll log off and we'll retire to bed and snuggle.

I'm feeling mighty fine.

in workstuff |

It doesn't feel that familiar, the office I've been away for 3 weeks. The routines were semi-familiar, usually when I get in I only need one trip to the kitchen to put my diet cokes and lunch in the fridge, make a cup of tea and fill up my water mug. But I had to run back and forth cos I kept forgetting things.

I gave out some souvenirs, small plastic coasters with Aus animals, and put the chocolate and timtams in the kitchen for all to enjoy.

Most people were still around, some had left, no new faces, luckily.

A slow first day back.

in going places , workstuff |

I'm back in Singapore again, 10 days this time. All so familiar - getting out of the airport, checking into the hotel, the hotel room is exactly the same as last time, except everything is a mirror image.

I didn't have anything for dinner last night cos I had 2 lunches and the whole meal on the plane already. I had some noodles after I checked in but by the time I got to the airport I was hungry again so I had a portion of Popeye's fried chicken - 2 pieces, 1 biscuit and coleslaw. Their buttermilk biscuit is supposed to be really famous but it's no different from the KFC one, just another scone.

The low calorie meal on the flight was the same as before - pork and pasta. I'm wondering if that's the only option. It was ok though. Watched "Mona Lisa Smile" and flipped through the magazines. The take-off was delayed cos there were like 4-5 passengers who checked in but didn't board, so they had to take their luggage off. Not sure why so many.

It's quite hot here but strangely everything is so familiar. Had nasi lemak for lunch. After work I'll go to Carrefour to stock up on drinks and snacks.

in workstuff |

Bonuses were announced today. I had no expectations. Never have. Deep down I knew it would be less than last year's cos, well, last year's was a guarantee / sign-on (look at these technical terms). I wasn't wrong, it was down. But I wasn't, I came out of my meeting and I couldn't stop grinning, isn't that a strange reaction? That's the best thing about having no expectations, whatever I receive is good news.

I also received a Special Achievement Award, $1,000. I think it gets awarded once a quarter to around 10-ish people around the world. In the scheme of things it's a small amount. But I'm most pleased with this. It's the recognition factor. It's not announced yet but I've been secretly checking the intranet for it. The majority of me wants it to be low profile cos I can't stand the embarassment that will ensue once somebody in the department finds out. But a small part wants them to notice it, for me to have my tiny 15 seconds of fame.