duminică, 13 iunie 2010

Hard brake broke a heart

It is too hot to do anything, even to go to a concert. So, I missed the chances to watch a bored Eric Clapton and Sir Elton John, during one weekend. It was like the promotions offered by Carrefour, in an attempt to sell out stocks before they expire; buy one-get one free…I heard that Eric Clapton didn't offer what he used to be, but Sir John impressed everyone.

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The crisis talks are all over us, from TV news to pub-chats, a normal phenomenon as the financial difficulties hit all of us profoundly. But the good part of each crisis is that they pass as fast as they hit, without giving any lesson to any of us, leaving only memories.

1998 Asian crisis turned into a Russia-led Eastern Europe crisis (There were the same talks about the future of Europe, Japan, banks and financial systems etc etc…And I was happily living in Moscow then)

One year after the crisis, we were supposed to have our first Board meeting, trying to persuade our superiors that we should start the engines for growth and we should increase our risk appetite. We wanted to ask an increased budget for expenses, that we deemed highly necessary for the infrastructure of our company.

Especially on the information technologies side, we were stuck with an old core application, which was impossible to improve, so we needed to purchase and implement a new one, meaning a six zeros investment. Several departments prepared their reports, to justify the need for the new application and we were supposed to sing our song in harmony as a chorus in front of our bosses.

When the business doesn’t move in the desired direction, these meetings resemble excerpts from a Hitchcock movie, everything moving rapidly slow in a loud silence… Everybody suspects the horror waiting on the next page and nobody wants to be the first one looking at it…

One after another we have presented our case, defended it successfully and finally it was up to our Internal Audit Manager to touch the ball to score the goal.

Although a good professional and experienced auditor, she lacked the necessary level of English. Adding the tiredness and the degree of tension, once she recognized the importance of her presentation, she forgot all the rehearsed text of speech and started mumbling a verbal puzzle.

She needed to indicate that the complexity and the slow speed of the system led to manual interventions and inputs for financial reporting, which undermined the reliability of the outcomes (and of the decisions taken based on these outcomes). With continuously increased reporting requests in different formats from upper management, the reliability and historical tracking of the data was crucial for the institution and any human intervention should have been limited to avoid errors.

After 5 minutes of unintended humiliation of English as a foreign language, she paused and said,
 “Our colleagues are forced to provide a lot of hand-jobs to satisfy the managements' needs. At the current level of activity, they have time to do it, but still, we should avoid doing it often, not several times each day.” ... ... ... ... ... ...

A silence of 5 seconds offered sufficient time to everyone for imaginary thinking, cut by a burst of laughter. We obtained the approval…

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This one is a global one, it involves several economies and sectors but at the end it will become a textbook reference and in few years we will restart doing the same mistakes.  

joi, 10 iunie 2010

Warrior Princess Xena

I am trying to avoid glossy magazines. Page by page they try to convince me how ugly, poor and unfashionable I am as compared to the ones presented throughout the pages. However, few days ago I have received a digital copy of The One magazine by e-mail (thumbs-up for the lay-out) and clicked on a link, revealing an ugly truth; what men don’t like women to wear?
The 5-item list included my 2 all time favorites; gladiator sandals and baggy trousers.
This summer arrived with a stronger heat wave and humidity, so everyone has right to dress light and comfortable to resist. But why the Xena feet with Shrek pants? Especially when you don’t have the sex appeal of comic book Amazonian warrior princesses, who in the middle of the jungle could manage to get breast implants and Farah Fawcett hairdos, while having regular wax jobs and nail treatment during the fights with wild animals and men clans, all happening in the family jungle. Or at least when you don’t have Shrek’s sense of humor…
Most men don’t like to see a little toe fighting for independence. Also most men don’t like to see you carrying environmental friendly discharge bags between your legs (ever had a ride with a horse buggy? Remember the bags hang down under the horsetails to keep the dirt from falling?)
I am still old-fashioned, also thinking “if you’re not Jesus, don’t wear sandals” for my own gender.

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Having trouble in choosing where to go for a walk and then eating well? Go to Lipscani and try
Mes Amis http://www.gustos.ro/restaurante/mes-amis-bistro.html, successful French cuisine at decent prices or, 
Dinette www.dinette.ro (Amsterdam Café with new owners), or,
The Divan www.thedivan.ro (at the end a Romanian entrepreneur managed to open a decent Turkish Restaurant

joi, 18 februarie 2010

it's complicated

It is almost a week of dating her, already few thresholds have been passed (i.e. Gardens of Eden conquered) and the burst of happiness is burning your brain. You feel like Emperor Caesar, nothing can stand on your way… While driving, you try to overcome the urge of smiling.
She is sitting next to you but didn’t make a sound since entering the car. Her head is up and inclined to the other side, as if making a passport photo, the nose tip indicating the sky at the horizon. You should have done something, forgot to do something, but you can’t recall. Sticking to the “communication is the key to a solid relationship” principle you ask, “Babe, anything wrong?”
“Ii-iih..nope…not really…nothing important…” . The face muscles that you were trying to control not to smile, progress into the mimics of panic.
Not really? Nothing important? Shit. You have done it… You were wrong… but where? How? Any clues? You are ready to punish yourself but need the reason to proceed. “Babe, what happened? What’s wrong?”
“I said, it is not important… at least not for you...”
“C’moooon…” you can be cute and collaborative at the same time…
“You didn’t change your profile at Facebook… you are still listed as “single”, I don’t know why? “
The panic look is swiftly replaced by an expression of constipation…you do not have any answer for that…you cannot provide any reasonable reply… you are just an emperor penguin…

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I have seen some people profiling themselves, as “it’s complicated”… WTF?!? What does this really mean?
Possible meanings;
-       I don’t know how to get rid of him/her. It seems that I am stuck with this relationship
-       I am desperate but he/she doesn’t even like me
-       I am single but I better don’t mention it
-       I have multiple partners and Facebook doesn’t list the option of “In few relationships”
-       My partner is my horse/dog/cushion
-       The rest of the world is too dumb to understand if I would try explaining

You can add more…but most probably it is an implicit message to someone, or a hidden requiem, to come and grab you…
Why there is no listing as “it’s rather simple”? (What is not complicated in one’s life?)

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Bucharest is under the siege of Mother Nature, the crater lakes left after snow bombs eating our cars. Municipality is expecting the city to self-regenerate itself, spending time with talking, rather than repairing few things around. Shall we call for international aid?
To many question marks for a day, I am done here…

joi, 14 ianuarie 2010

Doggy style

As if the 2 members of four-legged species were not enough in our habitat, we have involuntarily adopted (again) a stray dog. Actually he infiltrated consecutively through the bars of garden gate and terrace door one evening, appearing suddenly with an asylum demand in the living room. The shock of meeting an unknown walking creature in one’s own house leads to a mixture of panic and anger. With a confused mind and defensive instincts, we have managed to convince the animal to go back to his planet and blocked the garden gate against further attempts.

However, the small and skinny pal, with a pink tag on his right ear as a courtesy of Municipality, has decided to try his chance at the stairs leading to the main door. Few days he just stayed under the stairs, ignoring our existence, as if we have built the house around him. Then he started emitting friendly gestures with his tail upon our arrival home. Finally, one evening, he was sleeping on the doormat, leaning at the door to absorb any heat leaking out of the house.

We already had 2 of his kind, one male golden retriever that was bought when he was 3 months 6 years ago and a kind of collie, looking like the underdeveloped, psychologically challenged, rape-victim sister of Lassie, which we have adopted from www.cutu-cutu.ro. Both of the resident animals are real life versions of Tasmanian Monster, eating every plant and flower, digging the grass, chewing any wood including their own cottages and producing sizeable amounts of fertilizer in an expired banana format, which they evenly distribute throughout the garden. Since their very first day…I love animals…Dogs are the men’s best friends….

After a few days on the doormat, the 3rd dog was also recruited and promoted with a job description of security guard. He got also improved fringe benefits, having access to dry dog food instead of digging our garbage for daily nutrition. All he had to do was to extend his ass on the doormat, occasionally bark on trespassers (or neighbors) and avoid pissing at a visible distance.

Unfortunately, the rapid increase of his life standards changed him. He is spending all his time by making extension exercises, licking own balls (ref. men’s best friend) and sleeping. He seems not to bother to bark at anyone (including that bastard driving a brand new Jaguar) unless that person steps on him. We have corrupted the small dark bastard…Probably we threw the first seeds of a global crisis in Dogs’ World…

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These days reading “The Darkness” comics series, strongly recommend…

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