Wednesday, 31 December 2008

New cat on the blog

Just had to share my latest Photoshop piece of work :o). Rrrreeeuw!

The new Catwoman.


Versus the old.


Halle Berry, step aside ;o).

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

We spent Christmas this year at Martin's parents' home, and it is always a cosy time with lots of delicious Christmas food. Here in Denmark, there are traditional Christmas food, with the main dish being roast pork and/or roast duck.


There are other traditions too, such as celebrating on the 24th instead of the 25th. It's not that Danes are impatient people who cannot wait 1 day more to celebrate, eat and open their gifts...nor is it to get 1 more day off from work (25th and 26th are official public holidays, but companies tend to give the 24th free as well). The main reason is that Danes used to celebrate Yule - a pagan celebration. However, after Christianity came to the country, they decided to incorporated this into Christmas...and I as I understand, compromised to celebrate it on the 24th instead of the 25th.


Anyway, Christ wasn't born on 25th December, so whether Christmas is celebrated on 24th or 25th December doesn't really matter. The main thing is to remember what we're celebrating, enjoy being with friends and family, and keeping the spirit of giving.

Here are some traditional Danish Christmas food:


Æbleskriver - eaten with icing sugar and/or jam. Usually, you'd drink a warm wine drink called "glögg" as well, with raisins and chopped almonds in it.


Flæskesteg - roast pork with crispy crusts, eaten with brown sauce, red cabbage, and some berry thingy. The picture above shows the roasted pork in the background (with crispy crusts on top) and apple filled with berry thingy in the foreground.


Here's my plate of roasted duck, caramelised potatoes on the left (yummy!), a couple of prunes, and red cabbage at the very back.


And Christmas dessert! This is called ris alamand, and it is basically a cold and sweet rice pudding chopped almonds in it. Eaten with cherry sauce. There is usually a whole almond inside the big bowl of pudding, and if you're lucky enough to get a serving with this almond in your plate, then you get a gift. I didn't get the almond this year :o(.


The whole family at dinner :o). My mother-in-law at the left, followed by her mum, her sister, her brother, her man and me.


IQ puzzle thingy, where the aim is to get the red car out of the jam. Was quite fun actually, and I managed to solve all the challenges that were given to me :o).


Martin's gift to me - a B&O BeoCom 6000 phone :o). This is the one that is often seen in Hollywood movies.


Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas! Or, as you would say in Danish: God Jul!

Here's one of my favourite Christmas songs by some Danish artistes. The first 2 girls who you see in the music video are actually 2 sisters who are ½ Malaysians and ½ Danish, and were the singing duo called S.O.A.P


Sunday, 21 December 2008

2 chapters in 1 day

Many things are official now. For one, I will not be stepping into my current office anymore - last day of work was last Friday, and my desk has been cleared of all my personal belongings. It's going to be strange indeed not to have to go to that office again... .


Time to...say goodbye. *Sob* *Sob* There are actually 2 more who are not in the picture because they couldn't be at the office on Friday.


On another note, I am pleased to announce that I've signed my contract with my new company also on Friday :o)! Kinda symbolic that the ending of one chapter and the start of another happened on the same day. But yes, I will have a new job from February next year :o)! It's going to be in the travel industry still, and it's going to be more challenging for me. I'll be starting as a Project and Sales Manager there, so as you can imagine, I'm quite excited :o).


Anyway, I would like to thank all my colleagues for a wonderful professional relationship and friendship all these years - am gonna miss working with all of you indeed! And all the best in your future! Will make it a point to organise a reunion at least once a year, so that we can keep ourselves updated with each other, expecially with those who stubbornly refuse to join Facebook ;o).

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

I felt the Earth, move, under my bed...

...and it was measured 4.7 on the Richter scale. Denmark experienced an earthquake this morning at 06:20hrs, and this is a flat country that does not have any natural disasters. Much like in Singapore.

I received an sms from a friend this morning at 08:35hrs, about shaking, earthquake, 4.7 level, scary, fragile and precious life, etc... . It was around 2hrs later that I read it, while still half-asleep. I was thinking "WTH is he babbling about?" Nothing in his message was making sense to me, and I did seriously think he was delusional or something.

I mean, hello? Earthquake? In DENMARK? Gotta be kidding, right? What drug was he on? Or maybe he had just snored so loudly that he thought it was an earthquake? Besides, if it was true, I would have heard something from Martin about it by then, but no... .

Then less than 5 mins after thinking this thought, Martin sent an sms asking if I felt an earthquake this morning. Now THAT finally got me wide awake. So there really WAS one? I was starting to feel disappointed that I had slept right through it! My mum used to say that even if an atomic bomb exploded, I would not wake up...and if I had slept right through an earthquake, then her words would certainly hold true... .

I laid in bed, soaking this all in. Looked around the bedroom...looked at the wardrobes...and then BAM! It suddenly hit me (a realisation, not the wardrobe), and my memory was jolted! I remembered waking up during the night to the sound of wardrobes that were violently shaking! Those few seconds became clear to me again, and things started to make sense at last.

I had woken up during the Danish royal rumble, heard my wardrobes banging each other (wardrobes need sexy time too, I guess), and the very first thought I had was "Wtf is Martin making so much noise for when he's preparing to go to work, and so exceptionally LOUD this time?" I was about to tell him to "SHUSH, lah!" until I saw that he was actually still innocently snoring sleeping away. My Martin(i) was shaken, not stirred... .

That really had me rather confused about the noisy wardrobes then, but it kinda ended almost as soon as it started (5 secs), so before I had more time to speculate what the din was all about, I fell right back into deep sleep. If there had been no news about this earthquake, I swear that I'd not have remembered this incident at all! Like a dream that you forget about as soon as you wake up.

But yay! I did experience this somewhat consciously, and it was kinda cool. Something to talk about indeed. If we ever have kids + grandkids, I can now say "You know...mummy/grandma experienced and survived an earthquake in 2008." ;o) Perhaps I should even get one of these t-shirts ;o).

Maybe I'll get them as Christmas gifts for all survivors I meet this Christmas! Hee...hee... .

Good there weren't any damages nor loss of lives though. Otherwise, the tone of this post will of course be much different. Earthquakes that can be measured but not felt are apprantly often registered in Denmark. This is the strongest one felt in Denmark since 23 years ago, where there was a similar sized one with the epicentre in the North Zealand part of Denmark.

The one this morning had its epicentre in South Sweden, and Copenhagen was around 65km away from it, as shown in the picture below:


The epicentre of the earthquake (Photo: USGS.com)


Seismic activity shown on DMI's magnetometre. Time shown is UTC time - 1hr earlier than Danish time. (Photo: dmi.dk)


Had sent an sms to my sister to ask if she felt anything, and no...she slept right through it too. I guess I'm not the one anymore who is capable of sleeping right through an atomic bomb explosion, huh? I also guess that I'll be the one who is going to be bringing Martin to safety instead of the other way around, should something disasterous happen during the night... ;o).

Btw, I'm wondering about this (as written in the article): "...concerned members of the public across the country telephoning police... ." Seriously? The police? For a crime the Earth committed? Or do they really have a "Stop Earthquake" button somewhere that they can push?

Sunday, 14 December 2008

I don't trust big banks

Anyone familiar with the energy company, Enron, scandal in the US in 2001? Despite being named by Fortune magazine as "America's Most Innovative Company" for six consecutive years, it was later revealed that its reported financial condition was sustained substantially by institutionalized, systematic, and creatively planned accounting fraud.

Denmark is now having an Enron scandal of its own, in the name of a company called IT-Factory. Although the scale of the fraud is much lower than that of Enron, the similarities are quite similar. For one thing, IT-Factory was awarded "Denmark's Best IT-company" in September last year, and CEO Stein Bagger had himself recently been named Danish Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young, after seemingly miraculously rescuing the company from crumbling.

Read the story here.

What I want to talk about though, is the way the banks involved handled giving out loans to IT-Factory. Danske Bank (Denmarks biggest) is expected to have lost 350 million DKK (S$100 million) because of this fraud. Other banks like Nordea Bank and Jyske Bank had also lost some money, but not on such a large scale (10 million DKK - 25 million DKK).

I'm no expert in finance and the like, but it does make me (and many others) wonder how banks can agree to loan out huge amounts of money to companies just like that without doing thorough checks. When we requested for a loan of around 1 million DKK for our apartment, they required several papers from us such as our pay slips for the last 3 months, and our tax papers from the previous year.

When my VISA card from Jyske Bank was eaten up by the ATM in Rome last year, and I wanted to re-apply a new one, Jyske Bank didn't want to send me the same type of card with the same credit terms because I was not having much savings in my account there anymore. They can only offer something else that was worse than what I had. I had decided to just close my account there in the end, because it would be their loss anyway for losing a customer.

So yeah, one would expect more stringent and scrutinizing checks on companies who want to borrow hundreds of millions of kroners, right? Apparantly, fake contracts, invoices, statements of accounts, etc seem to be accepted too. Note to self on that... .


There should be a law that banks can only use money that they have for investments and loans. This applies on a private and personal scale too - never spend more than you have, and if you do, make sure you can afford to pay back.

Anyway, we received a mail from Danske Bank 3 days ago, inviting us for a meeting with them for a couple of hours where they can give us suggestions on making our private finances better, easier or cheaper, in the areas of our daily finances, investing and pension.


First line says: "We are happy to have you as a customer of Danske Bank." I don't seriously believe that. Not when we have peanuts in our Danske Bank account amounting to no more than 100kr a month, because all our savings after paying off the monthly loan payments to them are transferred over to another non-Danske Bank account.


1st paragraph says: At Danske Bank, we work with advise teams that are made up of advisers with competence within daily economy, investing, pension and housing economy. That means, you can get light on your private economy from several angles and improve your total economic situation.


They have got to be kidding, right? These are the guys who just lost 350 million DKK on one really bad investment. These are the same guys who advised Danish entertainer, Finn Nørbygård, to invest in IT-Factory, so he borrowed some millions from them to invest in this company's stocks, only to end up losing up to 700 million DKK on this bad advice.

It would have been more appropriate for them to send out this invitation on 01 April, so that if anyone questions them, they could just turn around and say it was an April Fool's joke... .

But yeah, since when did the big banks care about their customers' interests anyway? I've given up on these big guys a long time ago. We did manage to get a good loan agreement out of them for our apartment (20 years with 4% fixed interest), but that's it. The smaller banks are the ones with better interest rates on the savings account, and they provide better service too.


The bank I use now for my salary/savings account gives an interest of 4.5% on the very first kroner you put in. Interests earned this year alone from this account will amount to around 5800 DKK (S$1660). This is money "earned" simply by saving up. Sure, it's not giving any high returns compared to if we invest our savings in stocks, etc...but then again, the saying "easy come, easy go" still holds true till today. I'd rather sleep well at night.


The big banks though, they don't give you back a single kroner. Even if you, as an average customer, have a LOT of savings, you'll earn at most 2.75% interest. While of course, they make millions in profits.


So to Danske Bank, I say: Thanks, guys...but no thanks. I know you need money now, but you ain't gettin' it out of me.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

My piano debut - Apologize by One Republic

I'm almost done learning this song. Still some mistakes here and there, but well...you can watch this video on my progress first. Practice makes perfect anyway...and since I've never had any real piano lessons before, I think I've accomplished quite a lot already... .


So...what do you think? All this learnt from a tutorial online by David Sides :o). Btw, I think my fingers look like crazy spider legs jumping around ;o).

Friday, 12 December 2008

Lazy me

I should be a bear. One who hibernates throughout the winter season. I've been clearing my vacation days before my company closes our Copenhagen office, which means that I've been off pretty much for 1½ months in Nov + Dec, and it's wonderful not to have to get out into the cold to go to work during these months.

The problem is, it makes it so much easier to just waste the "day" away (I say "day" because right now, the "day" seems like "night" anyway since there is no sun shining in the morning/afternoon - just gray clouds). When I say "waste", I mean "sleep". I'm a night person, so I tend to be more active and awake at night, but very lazy in the day if I don't have any activity to get me out of the house.

Good that I've started Danish lessons then. Gives me reason to pull myself out of Dreamland. Gosh! I miss the sun! Who stole it?!?! I get up when it's dark, and I go to bed when it's dark. See, told you I should just be a bear and sleep for 4 months a year... .

I would make a good bum, if that was a "job". Just exist in the world. What a waste, huh? But ok, I've been working hard for 11 years, so I guess deserve a couple of relaxing months before I start a new job again.

There's a guy who lives at the ground floor of one of the apartments in our estate. I walk pass his window pretty much every day, to and from work. He would be sitting by his kitchen window when I pass him in the morning, and again when I pass him in the evening. It doesn't matter what time of the day it is, he'll be there. Also weekends.

We've been living here for 4½ years already. That's at least how long he's been wasting his life away staring out his window! I don't dare to know how long exactly he's been doing that. Our estate was built in 1991, so I don't hope it's been almost 2 decades that he's been doing this.

A neighbour who has been living here since almost the beginning told us that this guy broke down after his wife died. Ever since then, he's just been existing, not living. It's really sad, because he's probably in his early or mid-50's, so he still has many years left of his life. Too many to waste away like that. Hmm...well, he's a heavy smoker so maybe he won't have that many in the end. You can smell the thick smoke whenever you walk pass his open window, and the one side of his kitchen walls is literally yellow from his heavy smoking.

Anyway...what do you do really, if you don't have friends, family...even a purpose in life? What can you do? Well, this guy...despite being the unofficial neighbourhood watchdog, has shown me what I never want to be for as long as I am still alive as a human being.

Now, if I evolve into a vampire after my tendency to be more awake and active at night than during the day during these couple of months, then that's a different story. I'll just be living/existing then to hunt, drink blood and sleep. Oh, and make vampire armies ;o).

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Big love!

This video clip (true story, by the way) never fails to bring tears to my eyes every time I watch it... . Well ok, maybe not by the 10th time in a row...but you know what I mean... .

I'm more of a dog person than a cat person, but there's something about big cats that really makes me like them...especially tigers. Nice that I'm a Leo ;o).

Anyway, get some Kleenex ready! True friendship knows no boundaries... .

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Mit første post på dansk

Ja, jeg starter intensive dansk undervisning i morgen, så skal jeg begynde at skrive lidt mere dansk her, ikke ;o)? Jeg synes at det er nu på tide at jeg forbedre både mit talt og skrevet dansk, især når jeg har boet her i næsten 12 år allerede... . Og nu har jeg også masser af tid til at lære rigtigt dansk, før jeg starter på arbejder igen.

Men hvorfor taler jeg ikke flydende dansk efter så mange år her, spørger du. Det er en godt spørgsmål, og jeg har nogle grunde...ok, ok...undskyldninger for det. Først og fremmest, lad mig siger at jeg kan godt forstår og læser dansk. Måske ikke 100% (80%), men jeg kan godt klar det. Det er bare sværere for mig til at tale og skrive på dansk, og det er derfor at jeg vil gerne have undervisning til det nu.

Sagen er, at jeg arbejder i et firma som bruger engelsk som arbejssporg i næsten 11 år. Der er kun 2 ud af 10 kolleger som er dansk, og 2 mere som er dansk talere. Derfor, taler vi mest på engelsk i kontoret. De fleste af mine venner er internationale mennesker, eller er danskere, som taler godt engelsk. Så er det bare nemmere for os til at taler på engelsk, og mine dansk venner vil også gerner forbedre deres engelsk. Martin hjælper ikke så meget i den her afdeling også. Vi taler dansk til hindanden for ca. 10-15min om dagen, og så skifter vi ubevidst tilbage til engelsk. Det er bare nemmere, og der er ingen grunde til stor misforståelse, da engelsk er mit første sporg alligevel.

Jeg ved godt, at mit skrevet dansk i denne post er ikke 100% korrect dansk, men jeg håber at du, som en dansker eller en som kan forstår dansk, kan godt forstår hvad jeg skrive nu. Det er et svært sprog, men jeg er tillid at jeg vil blive godt nok til det en dag, for at arbejder i et firma som kræver flydende talt og skrevet dansk.

Ønske mig held og lykke til det!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

United Nations of friends

Anyway...moving on from Trollie news (it was fun to poke it for a while, but now that it's sitting under the bridge licking its wounds, it would be human for me to ignore its existance).

I was just looking at my "Friend's List" on Facebook, and it's amazing to see how many people I know from around the world! Of course, we have different degrees of friendship, but I'll just use this term loosely for now to simply mean "people I know".

If I do an alphabetical list of countries of where my friends come from, it would look something like this (numbers indicate how many from each country):


Australia, Austria = 5, 1
Belerus, Belgium, Brazil = 1, 1, 5
Cambodia, Canada, China, Croatia = 1, 3, 7, 1
Denmark = 88
England, Estonia = 10, 1
Finland, France = 6, 4
Germany, Ghana = 2, 3
H = Hmm...no, no one from Hungary.
India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast = 3, 6, 1, 2, 3, 1
Japan = 5
Kenya, Korea (South) = 2, 4
Latvia = 1
Malaysia, Morocco = 5, 1
The Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway = 3, 3, 3
O = Nope, don't know anyone from Oman... .
The Philippines, Poland, Portugal = 9, 2, 2
Q = Don't know anyone from Qatar either.
R = Nor Russia.
Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden = 77, 2, 1, 6
Thailand = 5
Uganda, USA = 1, 13
V = 0 from Venezuela, nor am I friends with the Pope from the Vatican.
W = 0 from West Virginia
X = I challenge anyone to find a country starting with X.
Y =0 from Yemen nor Yugoslavia.
Z = 0 from Zimbabwe nor Zaire. Well, I know 1 from Zaire, but he's not on Facebook.

A whole United Nations of friends :o). Well, at least every continent except the North and South Poles is represented... .

Monday, 1 December 2008

Why do trolls do this?

Interesting...

In profiling my personal pet troll, beefsoup69 and all his/her other split personalities, I'm starting to see a more clear picture of him/her:


  • Some lead boring lives.

  • Some suffer from severe depression or other conditions, and have a need to cause trouble to make themselves feel better.

  • Low self-esteem causes many people to hate their lives or feel they are not exciting enough to be liked or loved...

  • Some trolls are deeply disturbed, filled with hate and resentment.

  • Some feel they have no control over their own lives, and it gives them pleasure to feel they have control over others.

Conclusion: such people really have no life, and do suffer from a mental disorder called "Internet Troll Personality Disorder". I wasn't wrong in my previous assessment of him/her at all! Damn...I should be a psychologist or something! Call me Doctor.


Anyway, I have sent Trollie crying back under its bridge where it belongs, and where it won't be bothering me anymore. Let's see it itch to comment more on my blog when it can't find the comment button anymore. Let's see it read all my posts...and do nothing more than just read. Let's see if it will still come back for more...and if it does, I'll be very honoured because it means that it actually LIKES what I write. As one blogger said, "You're doing something right if trolls think you're important enough to annoy."


And as Robbie Williams sings: Let meeeee...ENTERTAIN you!!!


Infinity points to Sheila, minus infinity points to Trollie.


Btw, Trollie boy, here are some dating tips for you, as it would appear that you're lacking a lot of love, either from someone from the female species (probably never kissed one before), or from your mama (probably never got kissed yourself):


1. STOP SITTING BEHIND YOUR COMPUTER ALREADY!


2. Look into the mirror and say: "I'm good enough, I like myself, I'm smart enough, I look good, I'm not going to be a coward anymore, and I'm going to give people a chance to like me!" I recommend chanting this at least 10 times a day.


3. Now, go take a shower, put on some clean clothes...yes, that includes clean underwear, put on some deodorant, shave...under your armpits too if you have to, and put on a smile!


4. You're now set and ready to meet a girl and go on your very first date! If you keep good behaviour, you might get lucky and get your very first kiss!


5. Seriously...didn't I already tell you to get that trunk of yours off that chair? NOW, boy NOW!


Good luck!


Aww...look - aren't they sweet??? Trollie success.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

"I am self centered and envy fat people"

Damn...some people (Beefsoup69, I'm talking to you!) really can't handle losing a discussion, that they have to take time to create an account somewhere, use proxy servers and fake identities, just so that they can malign me. Tsk, tsk... .

I am self centered and envy fat people indeed.


The "man" himself.

My GOODNESS! Get a bloody LIFE, won't you? Mr Germania Scientisimo (germanscientist) who joined Digg on November 30th 2008 (today) just to post a "news" story link to my blog at around 11:15hrs in the morning, with my profile picture and all.

You do know what a LIFE is, right? L...I...F....E....life?

Oh, don't tell me it wasn't you, Beefy... . I can see activity on my blog MORE than you think, and I can see that you've been coming to it via German proxies like:

Host Name rbi0332.giga-dns.com
IP Address 193.37.152.232
ISP GIGA-HOSTING.BIZ GBR
Domain GIGA-DNS.COM
City MUNICH
Region BAYERN
Country GERMANY


and the one you used around the time of posting "news" at Digg:

Host Name www.websnapr.com
IP Address 88.80.205.219
ISP CONSTRUKTIV GMBH
Domain -
City BREMEN
Region BREMEN
CountryGERMANY


Wouldn't surprise me at all if you are Spanky the troll... .

You're becoming a sadder and sadder human being the more I get to "know" you...and I am starting to feel more pity for you than I do for a starving dog down the streets.

But whatever makes your sorry life happier, I am glad I can be of therapeutic help. Now I can understand why you say that "mental problems" is the cause of obesity. Mental problems indeed, especially when speaking from personal experience.

Oh, and thanks for some extra traffic to my blog :o). The more the merrier!

Update! 01 Dec 2008

Justice is served. That "news" link has been removed by Digg after report of abuse had been sent as it was in violation of their terms of use. Mr Germania Scientisimo's (aka Beefsoup69) profile has been removed as well. Not that he would be needing it anyway since the only reason why he made it was to show what a sore loser he was.


Saturday, 29 November 2008

The icing on the cake

This topic is getting more and more obese, so I'll feed it one more time with dessert, and then call a close to it because it needs to go on a diet.

Beefsoup69 has responded to my previous post, so I'll give him/her one final airtime here in relation to this topic.

"Most obese are obese not because of physical problems, but because of mental problems."

I'll have to disagree with that. Most obese people have mental (and physical) problems BECAUSE of their obseity. They're not obese BECAUSE of mental problems. Don't put the cart before the horse...or you'll not go anywhere... .

Unhealthy eating + lack of exercise ---> Obesity ---> physical problems ---> mental problems

NOT

Mental problems ---> physical problems ---> Unhealthy eating + lack of exercise ---> Obesity

Once you can see the pattern for what it really is, then you can solve the problem...or better still, prevent it. And once again, I'm talking about the norm, not the exceptions... .

"Just because things are easy for you, it doesn't mean they are easy for others, no matter how stupid that seems to you (lack of empathy)."

Yes, things are somewhat easy for me, yet I still don't just sit around doing nothing. I make it a point to play tennis two to three times a week in the summer, and this does require some effort on my side, especially when I have to get up early in the morning to do so before starting work.

I can EASILY eat burgers and fries at McDonald's 3 times a week without putting on weight so quickly due to my high metabolic rate, but the last time I ate a meal at McDonald's was in March this year...in Australia. I have chosen not to eat McJunk, but opt for more home-cooked food even though my household is a double-income one with both me and my husband working full-time.

Like I said before, if you really want something badly (to stay healthy in this case), there is ALWAYS a call for effort involved no matter who you are. The key words here are RESPONSIBILITY and SELF-CONTROL, and it's about time people start taking responsibility for themselves.

Therefore, I acknowledge that it's not easy for some as it is for others, but I do think it's "stupid" when people shirk responsibility and not exercise (excuse the pun) self-control.

"Look up the meaning empathy. You have it confused with sympathy."

Not quite. I know fully well what empathy means. Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone as an external viewer. Empathy is putting yourself in that person's shoe even if you have not experienced before what he/she is going through.

When I put myself in an obese person's shoe, I am unable to empathise anymore because all I will think about is WHY DID YOU NOT TAKE THE RESPONSIBILITY TO CHANGE YOUR DIET AND START EXERCISING WHEN YOU WERE MANY KGS LIGHTER SOME YEARS AGO?!?

"They are often raised into that state of mind, often lower class on low income (if any), which only makes it so much harder to get out of their "condition"."

Raised into that state of mind = VERY bad parenting. You can still be a single parent and raise your kid well with a healthy lifestyle. I know several who were able to do this. My good friend, Sandra, is one of them. Parents who think it's cute to have a Happy Buddha deity-like child, or who are too lazy to properly take care of them, should be reported to child protective services.

Lower class on low income (if any) = not good reason for opting fast food instead of healthier food. Beans and rice with fruits & veggies on the side can make a healthy diet, along with tortillas or bread, store-brand cheese, and healthy (small) servings of meat. It's not rocket science.

And then there are those families in Africa with absolutely no income...but don't have obese kids. The point of mentioning this is to show that "low class" or "low income" should not be used as an excuse as to why people are obese. They are not correlated, even though statistics wants you to think they are. There are obese middle+upper-class people too. What's their excuse then?

Also, exercise does not need to cost anything, so again, having low income is not a good reason not to do push ups/sit ups at home, or jog in the park. It boils down to taking responsibility for your own body.

As for time to prepare a home-cooked meal rather than just buying fast food, again, there is no excuse. No one is asking you to make a sumptous Michelin meal that takes hours to prepare. A simple meal takes not more than an hour to prepare and cook, and with some help from your kids (if any), it'll take less time PLUS you spend quality time with them. And it would mean 1hr less watching TV or surfing the net, which is actually a good thing.

makes it so much harder to get out of their "condition" = harder, yes (to some extent). Impossible, no - so "giving up" on trying is not an option.

Let me add my own personal story. For 10 years of my childhood life, my family didn't have it easy. We were considered a low income (if any) family. My dad was in and out of jobs, usually out. My mum did not have a good education, so she couldn't get a job in the early years. She started working with low pay only much later, when she realised that my dad had "given up" looking for work.

They had 2 children to take care of - me and my brother. Borrowing money from friends and family was sometimes a temporary solution, but such favours eventually ran out.

There were several occasions when I remember having dinner by candlelight. Not because it was "Romantic Night", but because we did not pay the electricity bill over the last few months so the electric company cut off our supply after several warnings.

During really hard times, we had plain rice, fried eggs and baked beans for dinner. And plain water to drink. My grandmother (mum's mum) came by once or twice a month bringing fish, vegetables, fruits and some meat fresh from the market to ensure that we had something nutritious to eat now and then.

McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and other junk food was a "treat" for us, never part of our daily/regular diet. You can also forget about soft drinks or sugary juices - costs more than plain water.

When my brother and I were home alone, we had no access to junk like crisps, candy, chocolate, etc. Such things were not even locked behind a closet - they just weren't there.

We didn't sit in front of the TV all day - we played with each other! We had some toys, we had our bikes that we could bike up and down our street on, sometimes with the neighbour's kids. We were running around the house, inventing games in order not to get bored. We also had compulsory physical ed. twice a week in school, totalling 2hrs per week.

Despite living at such a low income level, my brother and I were NEVER obese. Heck, my PARENTS were never obese! Not even close to being overweight. In fact, we were underweight...but healthily underweight. We didn't have any health problems apart from the occasional flu.

So please...don't come and tell me that it's hard for people in the low income bracket to get out of their "condition", when it is actually VERY EASY for them not to get into that "condition" in the first place. Again, responsibility and self-control.

Making contrived excuses for people does not help them. At all.

"I actually can't say that I have much sympathy for a lot of them, but I am not going whine about some people having a hard enough time already, getting a chance to travel. Even if it should end up costing me a tiny bit, if I chose to travel with that airline."

If you don't mind getting squashed up between 2 obese people on a long haul flight, that's your sainthood call. However, I do mind, and I'm sure MOST people mind...and have good reason for that. We have the right to comfort too, and I don't want a "hard time" travelling either. Better still, I don't want OTHERS to have a hard time travelling/losing their comfort because of me, and that is why I take the responsibility to keep myself fit instead of making things inconvenient and more expensive for them.

" "if you weigh less than 45kg, you cannot do a worthy cause like donate blood." "
What is wrong with it, is that you are using it to say that skinny people are discriminated against. It's a matter of health and safety, not discrimination.


Again, you missed the sarcasm in its context... . Let me bring you back to my original text and "spell it out":

This is not discrimination at all - no, not at all. (in making an obese person pay for 2 seats when necessary)
......
The same way that smokers make their choice to smoke, and now have to smoke outside a restaurant or bar here in Copenhagen. Not discrimination at all.

Otherwise, we can say that really skinny people are discriminated against too. For example, if you weigh less than 45kg, you cannot do a worthy cause like donate blood... .

And then, my text again in the next post...this time more crystal clear:

But I can't call that "discrimination against skinny people", can I?

So...tell me again what I'm using it for??? That's right - to show that we can't go around pulling out the discrimination card every time there's an issue with weight - whether obese or skinny. Bravo! You get it now :o).

"Airlines can always give extra seats up with no cost, even when they are overbooked (In fact they overbook in an attempt to avoid this). Airlines already charge different amounts for each seat, even if it's the exact same class, location and service.

If half the people were obese enough to get 2 seats, you would see it on the prices. With the amount that currently travels, you won't."

*Sigh*...why do I always have to go back to my original post to spell things out yet again... . Didn't I write: "On a pretty full flight, at least, since it goes without saying that there can be more flexibility on more empty flights."

Let me go back and check...(pauses to check). Oh, yes - I DID write that! I'd be damned!

I'm sure you know...as well as I know...that when you book a flight, you're not asked about your weight. The airline carrier cannot tell how obese you are until you're CHECKING in.

In the same way, they cannot tell how much overweight luggage (I'm talking about literal luggages now, not fats. Just so we're clear, since they can be inter-changeable if you think about it) you are going to put on their flight until the point of CHECK-IN.

Now, we agree that especially on a fully booked flight, they make you pay a LOT of money for your overweight luggage. If the flight is empty, they're more lenient about it. Nobody WANTS to pay for overweight luggage, but we do know that the limit in general is 20kg in economy class. Isn't it fair then that if we go much over that limit, we just have to pay for it? I think it's very fair. I may not agree with the cost/kg, but it's still fair for them to charge.

So, in the same way, when the flight is fully booked, it can happen that people are asked if they can take another flight with some compensation given. I don't know how often you travel, but I've travelled enough to know that overbooking DOES come at a risk, because on a "good" day, EVERYONE shows up to take that flight, so even after bumping people up to business class, it still won't be enough to take in everyone. I've personally experienced 2 such incidents already.

In these cases, SEATS ARE VALUABLE. An obese person who is going to take up 2 seats would be stealing that extra seat from another person who had paid for it and needs it. If the airline gives 2 seats to the obese passenger for the price of 1, it has to compensate the other passenger for not being able to put him on that flight.

I think it's very fair therefore, that the obese person pays for 2 seats then instead of 1, instead of getting it "for free". The limit is afterall, ONE seat PER PASSENGER, just like the limit is 20kg luggage weight per passenger. Anything EXTRA, you pay for - obese or otherwise.

"You're going to charge me extra because I'm fat?!"
"No, madam. We're going to charge you extra because you're going to be using 2 seats instead of 1 on this very fully booked flight. Would you prefer another flight instead?"

And that is how it should be.

"Above average IQ (wow),"

Yup, you should indeed go "wow" (again).

"...does not negate stupidity."

Stupid is as stupid does. You do realise that people who call others "stupid" usually do so so that they can feel better about themselves by making others feel worse? In other words, such people have very low self-esteem. Hmm...obese people usually have low self-esteem. Not that I'm implying you could be obese, but since you still won't say who you are, I can only try to put the pieces of the puzzle together with whatever information I can get... .

Fortunately for me though, I know my worth, and it's not built upon other people's opinions of me...and especially not a "stranger's" opinion like yours.

I can only feel sorry for (I believe "sympathise" is the word here) people who call others "ignorant" or "stupid" or "selfish" while cowardly hiding behind their computer screens.

Despite the lack of courtesy from you, it has nevertheless been an interesting discussion...and I do enjoy engaging in discussions, if we can agree to be civil about it, while we agree to disagree.

"Let me just make a comment on Sheila's blog and call her 'shallow', 'airhead', 'bimbo' and 'heartless'. She'll never know who I am anyway, so I can apply the 'Coward's Code of Conduct.'" - S.I.S.I (Some Incredibly Scared Internet-user).

Friday, 28 November 2008

To fatten up my previous post...

Someone called "beefsoup69" (who has also been known as "inthefaceofearth" and "inthemistofdk" of IP 130.225.165.18 - Danish network for research and education) had several statements in a comment made to my previous post that I'd like to address here, point by point:

"You really think that people who are that obese just chose their lifestyle. Wow."

Yes, to a large and general extent, I do. Nobody is born obese, and nobody wakes up overnight to suddenly find him/herself obese. If that was the case, then that's when you should really go "Wow". And if one has been obese since childhood, then I blame it hugely on bad parenting.

Causes of Obesity
Weight gain and obesity are caused by consuming more calories than the body needs – most commonly by eating a diet high in fat and calories, being sedentary (not physically active) or both.

"You wanna be obese to get two seats!"

No...you obviously don't read what I write very well...even when words are highlighted. It's not that I want to be obese to get two seats, but rather, to get two seats for the price of one. Value for money, right? And in pretty much the same breath, I did also write (in reference to the court ruling) "Talk about sending out the wrong message"...so perhaps there was a hint of sacarsm that you missed when I wrote that "I wanna be obese too!!!"?

"You think that you might pay part of their ticket."

Hmm...not sure what you're trying to say, but if I take your words as they are, then no, I don't think that I might (be) pay(ing) part of their ticket. In fact, if they take up ½ of my seat/personal space, then I think that they're stealing from me. There's a difference.

If I pay for something, I do it willingly or consciously. If someone steals from me, it's taking something from me forcefully against my will/permission.

In a simple equation:
Stealing
I pays $X.
U pays $X.
If U takes ½ of I's seat, then U is stealing from I the amount of $½X.

Paying
I pays $X.
U pays $X.
If I pays ½ of U's ticket so that U can use ½ of I's seat, then I is payng $X + $½X = $1½X.
(this is so illogical because in reality, I will only pay $X not $1½X when the price for a seat is only $X...therefore, you can see why I don't understand your statement as it is written).

"You compare it to a restaurant giving double portion."

Yes. The point being the "right" of an obese person to have "2 for the price of 1" to either take more space than what he/she paid for, or to satisfy his/her gluttony extraordinary hunger.

" "More often than not, it's a conscious bunch of wrong choices " "

This is your quote of a sentence I had written on the previous post, for the purpose of pointing out my "ignorance" and "stupidity". Please refer to my response to statement 1 in this post, because I am standing by what I wrote, despite how "ignorant" or "stupid" it may sound to you.

Further, I'd like to display the "ignorance" and "stupidity" of medical experts in the area of making conscious right/wrong choices (key words emphasized by me):

PREVENTION
The best way to prevent obesity is to avoid a high intake of fats. The National Cholesterol Education Program suggests that no more than 30 percent of the calories people eat should come from fats. A good way to monitor one's diet is to keep a detailed food diary. That way, one will know exactly how many calories are consumed in a day and where those calories come from.

A program of vigorous exercise is also very important. Activity is the only way that calories are used up. The more active a person is, the less likely that calories will be converted into fat.

Finally, children should learn early in their lives the value of a healthful diet and exercise. By controlling their intake of calories and planning activities that will burn them up, the problems of obesity can usually be avoided.
--------------

So yes, for those who are prone to gain weight quickly, the main reason (not the only reason, but the main reason) for their obsesity is because they consciously (as opposed to accidentally) do the opposite of all the abovementioned right choices...and as we know, the opposite of "right" is not just "left", but also "wrong".

I can't say that I know of any obese people personally, but I do know of some who are overweight. If I think of 4 off the top of my head, I can say that all 4 know that they are overweight. However, despite knowing this, I've noticed them still doing as below:

Person A (who is also a vegetarian): had a HUGE bowl of chocolates on her living room table (easy access) and was able to almost empty it in a couple of hours. Was also known to empty bags of crisps in no time. Not known to be active in any forms of exercise.

Conscious bunch of wrong choices? Oh yes. Over a period of time, it will lead to obesity if not corrected. In fact, she actually wanted to remain fat because she liked the big boobs that (sometimes) come with being overweight. If she chooses to be fat, that's her prerogative...but don't come stealing my already limited airplane seat in economy.

Person B: had been seen often eating burgers and fries during lunch time over several years. Was not involved in any form of exercise. However, she eventually started eating more healthily and in smaller portions, but still could not lose weight. She found out that she had a disease that didn't break down her food intake (so choosing to eat burgers and fries while already overweight was quite a bad choice), got some prescribed pills, and has now visibly lost weight.

I don't see her as often now, but if she's still choosing to eat more healthily and avoiding too many burgers and fries compared to before, I'm sure she'll be able to maintain her healthier body. Not sure though, if she has also become more active.

So in her case, her conscious bunch of wrong choices before have become more right ones. If she didn't start making these better choices earlier on, she might never have found out about her disease and in turn, start losing weight. However, if she had had a healthy diet and lifestyle from the beginning, I'm sure her weight would not have been a problem anyway because even if your body chemicals can't break down your (healthy) food as normal, exercise can.

Person C: was able to give excuses reasons for not exercising while eating a big plate of tiramisu with an added scope of ice-cream to it.

Conscious bunch of wrong choices? Oh yes. Over a period of time, it will lead to obesity if not corrected. She did start making an effort to exercise, so I hope it continues, coupled with a healthier diet.

Person D: loves big, fat, juicy steaks, usually eaten with starchy potatoes. Has been active a handful of times a year in certain sports, but not regularly. It got to a point where his unhealthy wrong choices caused his doctor to get very worried for him, and he wasn't even obese (yet)!

Had to then consciously make right choices in relation to his diet, and I hope he's still consciously doing that.

" "if you weigh less than 45kg, you cannot do a worthy cause like donate blood." "

This is your quote of another sentence I had written on the previous post, for the purpose of pointing out my "ignorance" and "stupidity". I'm going to take it that you don't believe me about the min. weight requirement for donating blood, since you didn't really say what you thought was wrong about that statement (of fact).

But hey, don't take the words of ignorant and stupid person like me... . Take the words of the ignorant and stupid experts instead:

BASIC REQUIREMENTS


  • Be in generally good health and feeling well.
  • Be at least 17 years of age; upper age 60 (420d*).
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds (45 kg).
  • Pulse: 80 to 100 beats/min and regular.
  • Temperature: Should not exceed 99.5 (37.5c).
  • Blood Pressure: acceptable range is 160/90 to 110/60.
  • Skin: the venipuncture site should be free of any lesion or scar of needle pricks indicative of addiction to narcotics or frequent Blood donation (as in the case of professional Blood donors).
How do I know if I am eligible to donate blood?
You must be in good health, be at least 17 years old, and weigh at least 110 pounds.

Donor requirements - Weigh at least 45kg.

In some countries (like Denmark), the min weight is 50kg! That means, because of my less than 50kg weight...I *gasp* can't do a worthy cause like donate blood here! But I can't call that "discrimination against skinny people", can I?

Vægt
Man skal veje over 50 kg. Det skyldes, at man maksimalt må tappe 13% af den samlede blodvolumen i kroppen. Da man tapper 450 ml +/- 10%, er den nedre grænse sat til 50 kg.

(You have to weigh over 50 kg. It is because one may donate 13% of the total blood volume in the body as a maximum. Since one donates 450 ml + / - 10%, the lower limit set is 50 kg.)

And finally, your ending comment:

"Wow, the display of ignorance, stupidity, selfishness and total lack of empathy is scary."

Wow indeed... .
Ignorance: I am ignorant of the fact that...most obese people were really born obese? Or the fact that...most obese people really do wake up one bright and sunny day from a weight of say, 50kg to a weight of say, 100kg? And this is perhaps even when they eat really healthy food and exercise on a regular basis?

Stupidity: Quite a strong word to use, don't you think? Especially when you say that to someone who has an above average IQ. But oh...it is of course very easy to constructively call others "stupid" while you're cowardly hiding behind a pseudonym. *Applause*

Selfishness: Really? Because...I don't want to share ½ of my seat with someone who thinks he/she is entitled to it because he/she is not considerate enough to him/herself and society by eating healthily, exercising regularly and going for regular medical checkups if he/she knows that he/she has a weight problem? I guess next time I should just ask if he/she would like to sit on my lap then, huh? I would rather there be a law that all traffic should stop to allow a blind man to cross the road wherever he wants to since he can't see (and can't help it), than that obese people be allowed to have 2 seats for the price of 1 even though most of them can help it. I'd rather be a selfish skinny b*tch who is contented with what she has paid for, than a selfish obese b*tch who thinks she's entitled to more that what she has paid for.

Total lack of empathy: this is the only part in your comment that is the closest to being even partly true. I have very little empathy to give to the majority of obese people, and I don't apologise for that. At all. Whatever empathy that I had for you when you were overweight is gone the day you cross the line from being overweight to being obese, especially when you had all the time in the world to do something about it but was too unwilling to do so.

Only those who really do have a disease that causes obesity get my empathy, but sadly, if you take a group sample of obese people, only a minority are disease-related obesed. For these exceptional people, then yes, upon a production of a medical certificate to eg. an airline, I don't see any reason why they shouldn't be allowed to have "2 seats for the price of 1".

My previous post is more about those who have choices, but make the wrong ones despite knowing what's better for them.

It takes a LOT of effort for most people to eat healthily and exercise regularly because unhealthy food is usually the most tasty (and we all love tasty food), and it's easier to be lazy than to exercise. However, as I said before, nobody wakes up obese overnight, so I'm sure at some point along your widening road towards obesity, you will think to yourself "Damn! I think I'm putting on weight!"

Once you think that, then you have two choices: do something about it, or don't. Question is, how badly do you want to lose the extra luggage? As with most things in life, you have to make an effort to get what you want because things are not going to happen just by wishing upon a star.

Therefore, it is correct that I really don't have any empathy for those who just keep sitting on their trunk and say "I'm fat! I'm fat! I'm know I'm fat!" while having his/her hand still digging into the cookie jar.

Finally, to end this morbidly obese post, I've noticed how the one behind the Beefsoup69 (and other) pseudonym seems to like coming to my blog usually with a purpose of leaving behind a harsh comment (except when it was about toilet paper). As I've said in my blog before, if you want to attack me personally by calling me things like "ignorant", "stupid" or "selfish", then be man (or woman) enough to tell me who you really are. After all, you know who I am.

The display of cowardliness by this particular blog reader is staggeringly scary. Especially when he/she can start showing it already as early as 07:13hrs in the morning. Oh well...the more cowardliness that is displayed, the more it'll prove my assessment on this reader's character in this area, so just keep them cowardy comments coming because if you write something laughable enough, it could become a post "in honour" of you :o).

Monday, 24 November 2008

To be obese or not to be obese: that is the question.

Ok, what's up with this:

"Obese people have the right to two seats for the price of one on flights within Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Thursday."

Full article here.

What the?!?! I wanna be obese too!!! Talk about sending out the wrong message. Seriously, wouldn't it be fair that if an obese person is so obese that he/she takes up 1½ - 2 economy seats in an airplane, he/she should pay for 2? On a pretty full flight, at least, since it goes without saying that there can be more flexibility on more empty flights.

Why should I have to share "my" seat/personal space with someone who chooses a lifestyle of overeating and under-exercising? I pay full price too, right? If an obese person needs more room, there are bigger seats they can order instead - in business class.

Would a restaurant agree to give double portions to an obese person for the same price? No! Or what? Do they now have a right to that too?

This is not discrimination at all - no, not at all. It cannot be called "discrimination" when you're so-called "discriminated" against a choice you can make. It's not like being discriminated against because of your race or sex or age since these are categories you cannot choose. No doubt, there are some diseases that can cause you to be obese, but obsesity itself is not a disease. More often than not, it's a conscious bunch of wrong choices that people make over a period of time.

The same way that smokers make their choice to smoke, and now have to smoke outside a restaurant or bar here in Copenhagen. Not discrimination at all.

Otherwise, we can say that really skinny people are discriminated against too. For example, if you weigh less than 45kg, you cannot do a worthy cause like donate blood... .

I'd like to see 2 obese people sit next to each other in economy and see them blame each other for the lack of space. Anyway, I think the judge at that Supreme Court of Canada who made this ruling was probably obese himself... .

I now leave you with an excerpt from a song by Lazyboy called "Underwear goes inside the pants":




Lyrics
Americans, let's face it:
We've been a spoiled country for a long time.
Do you know what the number one health risk in America is?
Obesity. They say we're in the middle of an obesity epidemic.
An epidemic like it is polio.
Like we'll be telling our grand kids about it one day.
The Great Obesity Epidemic of 2004.
"How'd you get through it grandpa?"
"Oh, it was horrible Johnny, there was cheesecake and pork chops everywhere."

Sunday, 23 November 2008

I love bargains

Guess how much I paid for all this?

7 bags, 4 belts, 2 scarves, 1 pair of "leather" gloves, 1 leg warmer, 1 arm warmer, 1 hat, 1 necklace and 1 bracelet.


Arm warmer. I thought it was a leg warmer when I bought it, until I looked at it closer when I got home.

Anyway, total for all this = 375 DKK (S$107)! There was a warehouse sale in my office building that started on Friday, so I bought some stuff already then, but decided to take my sister there today so that she can find some bargains too. I ended up buying more myself.

The white bag in the middle (not the transparent one) would cost already 199 DKK (S$57) in the shop at normal price (price tag's still on it), so you can imagine what a bargain it is now.


Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la, la la la la. 'Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la, la la la la... .

My new baby!

I have adopted a new baby for our House of Love! It starts with "P", but it's not a puppy, it's not a Pleo, it's not any pet at all. It's a piano!!! A digital one... .


When I was around 4 years old, I had organ lessons at Yamaha in Singapore. If I remember correctly, it was probably for a year or so. After that was sort of over, my parents sent me for piano lessons. We had even bought a piano so that I could practice on at home. However, before I had even completed piano Grade 1, I had to stop due to the financial situation at home. I was probably relieved to stop anyway, at that time (now I wish I know more). We had to sell the piano too, since there wasn't any point to keep it at home when I couldn't play it.


So apart from the very basic notes and knowing where do, re, mi, fa, so, la and ti are on the piano, I know absolutely nothing about playing the piano. However, I'm a fast learner, I have a good memory, and I can hear a tune and usually be able to play out the the basic melody on the piano. Therefore, after being inspired by some people on Youtube, and seeing that people do put up tutorials for certain songs there too, I decided that I wanted a piano and learn how to play some songs "on my own" :o).


I found a great shop who allows you to rent a brand new piano for a minimum of 6 months before you buy it. You're not even obligated to buy it if you decide after 6 months that it's "not you". The best part is that the shop is close by to our home! A sign indeed ;o). The customer service there was also rather impressive.


Basically, I was inspired last Sunday, I got my piano on Monday, and I've been "addicted" to it since (hence, the lack of my online presence). I had the whole week off from work anyway (and many more off weeks to come), so with so much time on my hands, it was perfect timing to learn something new.


Meet Kawai!


All brand new.


Cords and stuff.



The owner's manual...that I've used so far only for assembling instructions.


3 pedals. I only know what the right pedal is for, and never use the other 2 pedals, so I decided not to remove the plastic cover on those 2 pedals.


More parts of Kawai.


Me putting the parts together.


Almost done!


Tada! Behold, a "child" is born!

And the first song that I am learning on Kawai is Rihanna's "Take A Bow". I've pretty much learnt all of it already, but just missing the bridge and the ending because I haven't found a tutorial on Youtube that really teaches that yet.

You'll get to hear the original song first. Maybe if I get better at playing it, then I would put up my version for you to hear ;o). I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so it'll take a bit of time before I am satisfied with my playing.



Rihanna - Take A Bow

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Cute puppies!!!

Aren't they like the CUTEST?!?! And yes, you are watching them live on webcam :o). So yeah, if webcam's offline, then you won't see any action, unfortunately. Or if they are sleeping soundly (and yes, puppies do sleep a lot...like human babies).

You can also toggle to fullscreen by clicking on the bottom right icon next to "Menu".

Havanese Harbour Puppies

Webcam chat at Ustream




Makes me want a puppy too... .

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Working in Denmark

I'm sure many of my Singaporean friends, and some friends in Denmark, are wondering if I have considered returning to Singapore to start a new chapter there. Martin would definitely pack up immediately if I just say the word. In fact, that was pretty much his first question when I told him the news of our Copenhagen office. "So we can move to Singapore now???" he asked enthusiastically.

Unfortunately, it's not quite an option for me. Ok, to be fair, I won't rule it out totally, but will only consider it as the really really last resort, as in, only after trying my luck at the casinos in Las Vegas, I still return home with empty pockets. Or, after robbing a bank here, I need a country to flee to ;o).

No, seriously - I will not consider returning to Spore for several reasons. Would you like a list ;o)? The essence of it is mainly job related.

1) Balanced life
The average work week in Denmark is 37 hrs, Mondays-Fridays, excluding the ½hr lunch per day. It's one of the lowest in the world, I'm sure.

2) Work politics
In Denmark, when you start at 9, you leave at 5. No one expects you to stay on 1 or 2 hrs more "just because" it'll make you seem more hardworking. In Spore, this is expected, otherwise your boss or colleagues will think that you don't have "enough" to do. Whoever said that staying extra hours at work = hardworking should get their brains examined. To me, staying extra works at work unnecessarily = being inefficient or total waste of time. Time that can be better spent with friends or family.

Also, in some companies in Spore, it will not look good if you leave the office before your boss. What kind of crap is that? I mean, the work of the boss is at a different level than yours, and should involve more necessary time put into it, so why should you have to stay back in the office just because he/she's not done with what he/she's been paid to do?

3) Vacation days
In Denmark, every salaried employee is entitled to 25 paid vacation days a year (5 x Mon-Fri weeks). We are also entitled to use 3 weeks in a row, as long as it fits the company's operations. Some people in other industries have 30 vacation days a year! That's a lot, if you ask me.

What is it in Spore? I don't know exactly, but I'm pretty sure it's less. 2 weeks (14 days)? If someone can write me a comment to tell me, I'd love to hear.

4) Sick days
We can be sick up to 14 days in a row without needing to show any medical certificates here in Denmark. Usually, people are sick for just 1-3 days in a row, and companies trust their employees enough not to ask for medical proof. Of course, it can be abused, but then it'll be in your conscience...and sometimes, you can be proven guilty so unless you really think you can get away with it, then it's better to be honest. Or unless you're already being terminated and are calling in sick while working your notice. I mean, what are they going to do to you anyway? Fire you? ;o)

5) Maternity/paternity leave
The mother is entitled to 1 year paid maternity leave in Denmark. Depending on how long you've been working at the company, you get paid accordingly. In my case, I would have 6 months of fully paid maternity leave by the company, and the other 6 months paid 75% by the government. It's really not bad at all.

The father gets 2 weeks fully paid paternity leave by law. He can use them whenever he wants, but within the year, I think. Also, if the mother doesn't want to take the full 1 year maternity leave, she may share it with the father, so she may eg. use 6 months, while daddy use the other 6 months (paid). I know fathers who take 3 months paternity leave, and they really get to build a closer relationship with their child during that time.

The company may also not terminate you unless they can prove that it has nothing to do with your pregnancy. That means, if you go on maternity leave for 1 year, come back to work for 1 month, then go on your 2nd maternity leave for another year, the company cannot fire you despite you not being at work for pretty much 2 years in a row.

I had 3 colleagues who did this, and there's absolutely nothing that the company can do, really. All 3 of them resigned on their own, eventually. Both of them resigned just before their 2nd maternity leave in a row ended.

6) Termination / resignation notices
By Danish law, if you're still under the 3 months probation period, you get 2 weeks notice if fired.

If you've been working up to 6 months in the company, you get 1 month notice if you're fired. After 6 months of work, you get 3 months notice if fired. The period of notice increases by 1 month for every 3 years of service after that, up to a maximum of 6 months notice.

If you've been working 12 years, 15 year or 18 years in a row, you get an extra 1 month, 2 months or 3 months respectively.

In my case, I get 6 months notice, plus my company will give an additional month, so 7 months full pay, so for me, it's actually almost as good as going on a maternity leave...without a lifetime of commitment to a child.

There are of course some exceptions to the rule, such as the nature of your termination. If you've been terminated on the grounds of theft, drugs, violence, etc, then don't expect to get your legal termination notice period.

On the other hand, if you're resigning, you just need to give 1 month's notice to your employer, no matter how many years you've been working there.

Again, I'm not sure how it is like in Spore, so if anyone knows, please do comment. I'm just pretty sure it's not as good as the Danish laws, to the benefit of the employees.

7) Change in contract terms
In Denmark, if there is a drastic change in your contract such as getting a pay cut, being demoted, being given a brand new area of responsibility, or even if the company moves to an address that is much further away, they will have to inform this to you in advance. Legally, they'll have to inform you about it in the same number of months as your termination notice.

If we say for example in my case, if I was told that I will now have to work from home instead of a physical office, my company will have to give me 6 months notice about it. If we come to a mutual agreement, this notice may be shortened.

However, if I disagree with it, then I will be able to work as usual for 6 months, and then resign at the end of my notice but giving my employer the legal 1 month notice entitled to them.

8) Union membership
At least 80% of the Danish workforce is a member of a union. That is the highest number anywhere in the world, I believe. Unions in Denmark are strong. If you have any disputes at work, you don't tell your employer "I'll speak to my lawyer." Instead, if you tell them "I'll speak to my union," that will make them shake more (presuming that you feel your rights have been breached, of course). That's how strong the union is here. The unions here are anyway able to provide members with free lawyers to fight their case if there is a case.

I was not a union member, but have been a part of the A-kasse since I started working. A-kasse is when you pay a certain amount to a union every month, so that in case you get unemployed, you get unemployment benefits paid to you, and they will also help you to find a new job, and you don't have to be a union member to be part of the A-kasse.

I have however, now joined as a union member after a recent situation at work in relation to my termination notice. They wanted me to work (from home) 1 month more than my other terminated colleagues, and that I didn't agree to. Legally, they do have the right to make me work more than my terminated colleagues in accordance to the company's business needs, but legally, in referance to point 7 above, they cannot make me work this extra month from home (the physical office closes after 24 DEC) because I'll then need 6 months notice for it. Therefore, my right overrules their right.

I told them that I'll have to check it with my union to see if what they ask of me is acceptable before I will sign anything. I wasn't a union member yet, actually...but that they didn't know, of course. Anyway, shortly after, I got a mail back saying that I won't have to work this extra month after all, and I will be released from my notice on 24 DEC like everybody else.

So you see, union power works in Denmark! Unions in Spore are not strong enough to fight for their members...if you're even allowed to be a union member. All employees here have that right.

I guess those are all the main points I can think of right now, in regards to why I'd rather stay and work in Denmark than in Spore. No doubt, I'll have a LOT more options and opportunities in Spore, but I don't want my life to just be all about work. I want to play too, I want to have time for myself, my friends, my family. That's what life is really about, isn't it? We should work to live, not live to work.

The only things that I'll miss out in Spore are food, shopping, Spore friends/family...and more food. Variety of activities too. But then again, if I have to slog at work all day, I won't have much time for many of these other non-work related aspects, right? So what's the point? I might as well just enjoy all these while on a real 2 weeks (or more) vacation there :o).

So no...I don't see myself returning to Spore for good anytime soon. Home for me right now is here in Denmark, and it's here where I'll take on all the challenges that come my way. Only if EVERYTHING fails, will I turn back towards the door that my Spore passport is key to. And that I think, is a BIG "if".

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

New poll!

Don't be shy to vote on whether or not I should take a 3 month vacation trip (on full salary) before I start searching for a new job.

Keep in mind, that if I embark on such a trip starting in January for 3 months, I'll still have 2 months of full pay when I get back... .

Martin could join for 1 month, but then he'll have to return to work after that.

Only serious votes accepted! The last poll on Obama vs McCain had 1 person voting McCain several times. Not that it matters in the end, since Obama won anyway :o).

Official end of a long history.

So, it is kinda official now that I am not going to continue working in the company that I have been working in for almost 11 years.

If you've been following my blog, you would know that sometime in late September, my company was contemplating the closing down of our Copenhagen office. At that time, it was 99% certain. Fast forward 1 month, and the decision has now been made, with 100% certainty of the closure.

I also informed that I had the choice of choosing whether or not to stay on in my position, but working from home. Or, if I want to be terminated like the rest of my colleagues. I did apply for the position, went for the interview for it (even though it went without saying that I'd be given the job anyway, so the interview was just for formality's sake), and was successful in getting the position.

However, when I went for the interview two Wednesdays ago with 2 of my Frankfurt office managers, I was already 80% certain that I didn't want the job. I wanted to hear more about it though, because it could be that I change my mind after the interview, so was being open to hear.

After the interview, I was 100% certain that I didn't want it. I have several reasons that I had informed my European manager about, and that I will now share with you:

1. Time already used:
- I have been in this position long enough, so it’s time for me to move on (while I’m still young).

2. Nature of the offered position:
- After the interview, it seems more of a Destination Service (DS) position than a ship position, and working in DS is not something I am at all interested in. I had been at DS for a short period of time many years ago before ship department and didn’t like it much. I had also helped out DS during last winter, and I still didn’t like it. Therefore, I can safely conclude that it is not something for me at all, even with a ship aspect to it.

3. Future growth and development:
- I don’t see any big future growth and development for myself in this position, both personally and career-wise. Though I’m still young, I am unfortunately also getting older, so I don’t want to waste precious years of my youth being stuck in the same position.

4. Leadership style in Frankfurt office:
- I won’t fit into the kind of “top-down” leadership style of Frankfurt office. When Frankfurt office manager told me during the interview that “How we work in Frankfurt is that when your manager tells you to do something, you just do it,” I felt right away that I would be treated like a blue collar factory worker at an assembly line whose opinions, ideas and feedback will not matter.

- Maybe I’m just spoilt by the flat structure in Scandinavia. I do fully understand that in big companies, there has to be some form of structure and organization, but within the department itself, I prefer working under a manager who values my opinions and ideas, who gives me some form of freedom and independence, and who trusts me in my work. As I said earlier, I had helped out DS with some tasks last winter, and therefore had a taste of the leadership there. Sadly, I can’t say many good things about it.

5. Homeworking:
- It has its pros and cons, but despite its pros, I really can’t see myself doing it for more than a year without going crazy. Once or twice a week is great, but five days a week for a long-term period would be too much for me.

- It’s not because I would lack the discipline, but because I’ll miss having people around me, and by that, I mean more people than the other 2 homeworkers whom I can maybe see once in a while. I had a personality test done during a recent interview I was at the previous week, and one of the things it showed was that I’m an outgoing person who feels energised when I have people around me. I think that reflects a lot in my apprehension towards the whole “homeworking” concept.

6. Job security:
- After all that has been happening over the years in CPH office, with departments slowly moving down to Frankfurt office, and now the whole CPH office being closed/decentralised to Frankfurt, it is very difficult for me to trust my company that I’ll still have my job in this position after 6 months or 1 year or 2 years. We had been promised before that there was no plan to close CPH office, but within a short time, that promise was broken.

- I understand that it’s not possible to predict the future of not just my company, but other companies as well. I can’t say much about other companies without being there, so I can only say what I feel about my future with my company itself, and what I feel is that if I continue in this position, I’ll just be putting my immediate future into an upturned hourglass with the sand slowly but surely running through to the other side and leaving me behind in an empty half. I could very well be deemed “useless” in just a matter of time, despite my good performance.

7. Luxury of time:
- Thanks to the Danish law protecting me with a good legal compensation for my many years of service in my company, I’ll be able to use the time I have to explore other opportunities outside of it. I may not get a stress free chance like this again (unless my company makes me redundant in the future before I decide to hand in my own resignation), so now is a good time for me to keep my door open to something better someplace else.

- It’s a big risk for me to take, I know. Especially in hard times like what we’re going through now globally. However, last time I checked, there are still companies out there who need people, and I could be one of them if I open my door, step out and knock on theirs. High risks usually mean high returns, and from where I am now, I have nothing to lose anyway. Not in the next few months, at least.

So yeah, these are the reasons why I have decided not to take the position offered in the end. I was actually asked if I would consider doing hotel contracting instead (another position). It seemed that my European manager really wanted to keep me, so if I didn't want the offered "ship" position, he'd be willing to check if another position can be "created" for me, if I'm interested.

It did get me thinking. I was not expecting it at all, but I guess it was also because they really thought I would continue with the offered "ship" position, so it took them by surprise that I rejected it in the end. I know that I'm a good performer at work, and I know that my European manager knows that and appreciates it, but somehow I still feel that the main reason why they really want me to stay is because I'm the only one who knows the inside-out of the ship department. I'm sitting on a pot of gold.

I feel that once they get all the knowledge from me, I'll be given so much crap work that could force me to resign on my own. After all, if I have to just do what my manager tells me to do, then when can I say "No! Enough!"? Therefore, now that I have a great opportunity to find a new job while still getting fully paid for several months, I'd be stupid not to do so.

Now back to the hotel contracting offer. Like I told said before, it had me thinking. It is indeed a new and exciting challenge for me, and that’s really what I’m looking for right now.

I had over the weekend also talked to former colleagues who had been in that position before to hear more firsthand what the job was like within my company, how they felt about it, and what I can expect from it. With their valued feedback and advises, I am now able to make yet another educated decision.

The job itself sounds fantastic and I’d love that challenge, but in the end, to accept it and do it within my company, it boils down to 2 things: how things are generally done/managed “my company's way”, and the overall job security feeling (or lack of it) that I’ll have by staying within my company based here in CPH.

My final decision:
After much thoughts, sadness and reluctance, I have decided to choose the termination notice over the offer letter. It is not an easy decision for me to make at all, but my journey onboard my company's ship has ended, and it has brought me to my destination. Where I want to go next, is not a destination where my company's ship can safely take me to, so I’ll have to disembark here and find a new ship.

Thus ends the chapter of a very long history at my company. I expect the new chapter to be challenging and exciting...and it is tempting to start that chapter with 3 months of vacation in Singapore while still getting my full salary ;o). Maybe I'll make a new poll on that, so you can vote for whether I should or not ;o).