March 24, 2011

Recreational days at work

In Finland almost all companies have recreational days for their employees. It means that the company pays it's workers for drinking and being idiots. I think the idea behind these days is very good - it COULD help employees get to know each other and maybe co-operate better afterwards. There are several reasons why this does not work in Finland. Here are few of them:

Alcohol - Finnish people like to drink. A lot. Free booze and Finnish people is possibly the worst combination you can think of. We become aggressive, horny and drooling idiots who have no self-control. I have seen awkward flirting, vomiting, terrible dancing etc. from my bosses (not my current boss, he's cool). I don't know if having sex with your secretary will help co-operating at work (or your marriage).

Finnish "small talk" - There are always people who for some reason don't drink. In these recreational happenings these people don't get noticed, at all. Nobody is interested in them. Finnish people really can't have relaxed conversations without alcohol.

Cliques - These probably exist in every country and workplace. Some examples: 
  • Housewives who talk about giving birth, how to raise your kids properly, etc. 
  • Nerds who talk about ... well, nerd stuff. 
  • Middle management who talk about money, business, sales, etc. 
  • Consultants who kiss each others asses
At all my previous jobs these cliques existed. I really felt like I don't belong.

I got the inspiration for this blog post from this comic. It's from Finnish magazine Myrkky and it's about what happens in Finnish "mini-Christmas" parties. That's quite accurate, actually. 

March 20, 2011

Time management and salary

"Come to us for free money!"
I'm very lucky to be living in Finland - we have very good social security and we get money from the government for all sorts of stuff. So I made some calculations: Let's assume that person studies approximately 5,5 years for a job title (3 years in vocational school or 3+5 years in university or 3+4 years in polytechnic). Usually you have to study like 6 hours a day, which makes 30 hours in a week and 130 in a month. You study for 9 months in a year and therefore you study roughly 1170 hours a year. So 1170 * years of studying is approximately the time you use to GET TO WORK.

Ok, so graduate and go to work. That's 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week and 160 hours a month. When you take off vacations and midweek holidays, you'll get something 10 months of working in a year. That's 1600 hours of work in a year, so if you graduate when you're 25, you're work career will probably last like 40 years. That's 64 000 hours of your life, working.

In Finland we have this bureuacracy office called Kela, which basically pays you money when you're unemployeed, studying, have a child, etc. They pay you 550 euros / month. In a year you get 6600 euros, and you pay ~10% tax off that (funny how in Finland we collect taxes to pay those unemployment support and when you get the money you pay taxes off of that...) So in the end you get 5940 euros / year. If you make around 3000 euros / month in your job, you make around 36 000 euros / year. About 1/4 goes to taxes so you're left with roughly 27 000 euros / year.

So, working for 40 years you make around million euros. That's crazy money! But check this out: if you DON'T work, you get 237 600 euros. That's not bad either! If you assume that Kela stuff takes around 5 hours a month from you, you get 110 euros / hour from them. At work you earn 16,50 euros / hour. I understand people who enjoy working and consider it as one of the greatest things in life. Some even call it their life (poor bastards...). After I did the calculations above, I'm even more convinced that working is not for ME.

Please comment.

March 18, 2011

Back in business

Sorry I haven't updated in a while, been very busy with work and other stuff. I'll write up longer blog post later today, until then I present you a comic that is so true it hurts:

March 10, 2011

Other blogs, part 1

I often read other blogs at work. It makes the day go faster, and I enjoy reading well written stuff. I'm going to recommend you few blogs that I read regularly. There are many others I read, but these I like the most.

Habitable zones of the Internet - I've always been kind of interested in astronomy, space and other stuff that I have hard time understanding. This guy writes about it so well that even I understand. He even asks people's questions once in a while. Good read.

I didn't know that! - Trivia stuff, things you probably didn't know about, etc. Articles are not too long and they are easy to digest. 

Diary of a future medical student (hopefully) - Jesse writes very well and his life is actually quite interesting. He also draws comics and drawings explaining chemistry, etc.

Mudcrabs; more fearsome than I. - I'm not very interested in gaming and I don't really play any games other than Freecell and Civ 4, but Rinns's blog is still a good read. She writes very well and also uses drawings.

All these blogs are updated regularly (almost daily) which is good for bored person like me. I suppose they're all native English speakers since they write so well and the text is easy to read and understand (unlike mine!). Check them out, you won't be disappointed.

March 8, 2011

Confessions of a job hater

I was having a conversation at this forum about working and I really liked what this one guy wrote. I asked for his permission to translate it to English and publish it in my blog and he said yes. Enjoy!

"I know how you feel, I was in a same situation few years back. For many years I listened to stuff about Nokia stock. At least in the beginning of the millenia this was very common topic among little yuppies. I thought it was superficial. Few years back there was this show on TV called The Apprentice by Donald Trump. My friend used to hum the tune of that show ("money, money, money" or something like that) while he told me that he had bought new speakers 50 000 € a piece. He told me that he had invested over 200 000 € into HiFi with golden cables. He also claimed to have spent 5000 € on men's fragrances. After that he mumbled something about his new Mercedes.

God I hate my job!

There are many reasons why I lost my enthusiasm to work. One was when I realized that succeeding in the IT was like playing the lottery - worth of one product could be billions, other's 0. Even thought both developer (or dev teams) may be equally good, success is usually based on good luck.

I started to hate my job even more when I realized that old phrase "Work is everything" doesn't apply. Harder I tried to work and build my career, more I felt like I was getting bogged down in the swamp of despair. More projects I had, more insecure I got. I didn't have any luck with the projects I did, even thought they were completed in time and without faults. In Finnish working culture you're nothing if you're at wrong side of the fence.

It's no surprise that people in Finland apply for governmental jobs with simple job description and good pensions without any profit responsibilities. The other option, working for the companies, is too risky and even then most of the profits go to business managers, investors and other people who did nothing for the results.

I visited a doctor some time ago saying that I can't get anything out of my job. He tried to prescribe me some antidepressants but I know that there are deeper, philosophical reasons for me hating working. I think I could work for few days a week and live a simple life, and for the rest of the time I could do something I love (procrastinating for example!). But as long as the system does not approve that, I will use every trick in the book and do nothing at work from now on."

I don't know if something crucial was lost in translation, but I think this guy is right: Working is not worth it anymore.

March 7, 2011

Work for yourself - part 2

Okay, I'm going to write more about stuff I know nothing of - working for yourself and actually making some money. Here are more guidelines for you to consider:

I mean, seriously?
Don't believe everything you read - If you Google (I love Google, can you tell?) "make money at home" you get over billion search results. "Make money on the Internet" returns 268 million results. Most of this stuff is crap - they are usually some sort of pyramid schemes or scams that aim for your wallet, not your success. You could always hop in the scam wagon and do the same, but that's not very sustainable business model, and it has it's risks (going to jail and get gangraped). Here are some sites that I have found useful during my shot career at Internet business:

Steve Pavlina - Personal development for smart people : That site has hundreds of quality articles about making money in the Interwebs, I highly recommend reading them.

ProBlogger : Very good tips for bloggers. Lots of long and informative articles about blogging and how to make money with it.

CozyFrog Academy : CozyFrog helps you start your own adult business, if you're interested in that sort of thing. Most of the tips and articles there can be applied for general websites too. You'll learn the basics here (niches, traffic, what you need for working at home, etc.)

Not all ideas are good
You can't force creativity - Good ideas usually when least expected. Don't try to force these, since you can't force creativity. Here's a quote from movie Pi:

"You remember Archimedes of Syracuse, eh? The king asks Archimedes to determine if a present he's received is actually solid gold. Unsolved problem at the time. It tortures the great Greek mathematician for weeks - insomnia haunts him and he twists and turns in his bed for nights on end. Finally, his equally exhausted wife - she's forced to share a bed with this genius - convinces him to take a bath to relax. While he's entering the tub, Archimedes notices the bath water rise. Displacement, a way to determine volume, and that's a way to determine density - weight over volume. And thus, Archimedes solves the problem. He screams "Eureka" and he is so overwhelmed he runs dripping naked through the streets to the king's palace to report his discovery."

Feel like your brain is dysfunctional? Take a day off, go to a spa, have a drink with friends, etc. You'll be surprised how those ideas start coming when you least expect them.

Outsource boring stuff - You don't have to do everything by yourself. Get some cheap labor from Asian countries (you can hire English-fluent article writers from Indonesia). Buy your web design from desperate university students who'll work cheaper than the Indonesian people. Blackmail your girlfriend/boyfriend/neighbor to do the boring, repetitive labor.

I really don't know if this stuff is interesting, so maybe you readers could tell me. Should I write more about working for yourself or just that regular bullshit about how I still hate my job and working in general? Comments, please.

March 6, 2011

Work for yourself

Ok, so you hate your job? Why do it then? You can always work for yourself. I'm going to start a new blog series rambling about how this can be achieved - less bullshit, more tips (dunno if they're any good, tho). You might ask if I have achieved anything in the entrepreneur business, and the answer is no. I have only made some scraps but I know the exact reasons for this: I'm lazy and I can't concentrate on things for a long period. So if you're like me, don't do it, it'll just be a waste of time.

Now that everything is in Internet you don't really have to invest a lot of money. You don't even have to sell anything. Take blogs for example: you can make thousands of dollars in a month with Blogger blog and AdSense. Of course this is not easy and there are only few people who live on it, but it is possible. Starting cost for this kind of business is the cost of your Internet Service Provider. Actually Google provides you with all the tools you need for monitoring your business. I'm not going to write about how to use these tools and how to make your blog/site popular with crazy traffic, because there are hundreds of blogs telling you how. If you don't know how to Google them, don't start your own business. Just don't.

Here are some pointers that you should consider when thinking of starting your own business:

Be original - Don't start selling imported gadgets from China or general t-shirts with "original" quotes. Google is again your friend here. Google "buy t-shirts" and you get 418 000 000 results. "buy quote t-shirts" gives you 92 700 000 results. You really wanna start competing with this? The market is saturated, there's no room for you anymore, unless you come up with great ideas. How long has there been clothes for dogs? And how big thing they are now? Exactly. Come up with an original idea, like clothes for birds or goats (there's actually at least one store that sells clothes and shoes for goats). Something that no one has done before. 

Steal... I mean loan ideas - There's nothing wrong with "loaning" ideas. Of course there's contradiction between being original and stealing but if you can't be original, steal. Check out this stolen picture which I found from the Interwebs, there's truth in it:
You can apply Jarmusch's tips to work too.

Think of Tarantino - he "loans" from old classic and cult movies and makes them better. Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds, both great movies but most of the stuff is stolen from other movies. IB is actually a remake of action movie from the 70's. Another example: World of Warcraft - not much original ideas there, they just took the best ideas from other games and made them better. Steal and make it better so they can't sue you!

Prepare to work a lot for no money - All businesses take time to start up and grow. Facebook and YouTube were not made in a day. You're probably going to spend more than gain in the first few months (or a lot longer) and there are not many industries where you can make money fast and easy. If you want fast results start a appealing pyramid scheme but also prepare for the consequences!

Ok, most of these are no-brainers for you guys but hopefully this is helpful to someone. Tomorrow I will write more guidelines and tips about starting your own business. I think I call this series "Guidelines for your own business from a guy who has never achieved anything in his life". Nah, too long. "Read this and do the exact opposite" is better I think.

Comments and questions are welcome.

March 5, 2011

Should everyone work?

This frog has nothing do with work.
Couldn't come up with any picture ideas on this, so here's
a picture of frog.
From Black's Law Dictionary page 471 (5th ed. 1979) on work: "A person in the service of another under any contract of hire, express or implied, oral or written, where the employer has the power or right to control and direct the employee in the material details of how the work is to be performed." I don't know why that sounds fucked up to me, but it does. Here in Finland we have very good social security and people actually get paid for doing nothing. In that case your only "job" is to fill up papers and take them to different bureaucratic organizations we have here. People get paid for doing nothing and still they complain. I suppose you can call me a commie or socialist or whatever but I think the system is good. I think poor people should be helped by the rich, and if it's not voluntary then it should be involuntary (paying taxes). So, here in Finland we pay crazy taxes - some people pay over 50% of their salaries as taxes. For that we get free health care and social services.

Okay, so why should I work? I don't enjoy it and I'm not giving anything to the community. I guess I could ask this question from all the people who really don't like working - why should you? Of course I understand that some other people pay for my living, but isn't that better situation than me working and taking job from someone who actually enjoys work? There are always rotten eggs and parasites but for some reason government doesn't want to admit it. Every election year members of parliament are talking about 100% employment rate and how they're going to achieve it. Well here's a wake up call for you - you're not. Because of people like me.

I wrote about this stuff back in 2008 and got a comment from a person who supports the Zeitgeist Movement. He asked my opinion on the movement and I never answered, so I answer now: I think it's communism with a little twist (technology). It's utopia and therefore it's never going to happen. Humans are brutal, self-centered assholes and most of them will never share money or other commodities with other people. Of course it would be nice if we could live without borders and work together towards a better world, but that's not going to happen. There's my answer, hope it satisfies you.

March 4, 2011

Coffee keeps us going

Coffee cup - heroin of the work place.
Mmm... drugs....
A large percentage of Finnish (and others, but let's narrow the scope) start their day by ingesting some sort of coffee beverage. As we all know, caffeine is a moderate stimulant. If coffee was invented today, it would probably be regulated and only available with prescription. Coffee is the fuel for the common white collar worker. It's a social drug, just like nicotine. But it also has positive effects on your health. These are my favorite effects of coffeine (I drink tea, but it contains coffeine too):

Laxative effects - I challenge you to stay away from toilet after three cups of coffee or 5 cups of tea in the morning. If you wanna go hardcore mode, smoke few cigs too.

Coffeine is a mild diuretic - More piss -> more toilet visits -> less work!

Caffeine causes sleep disturbances - Paper at school due tomorrow? Need to finish that report at work ASAP? Drink 12 cups of coffee and you're good to go.

Two cups of coffee reduce significantly post-gym muscle pain - Caffeine consumed one-hour before going to the gym induces a 48 % decrease in pain; those who drink caffeine before the near-maximum force test have 26 % drop in soreness. Useful for all you P90X people!

And the best for the last:

Caffeine gets women in the mood for sex, especially in moderate amounts and when the women are not heavy drinkers. The chemical is also known to increase excitability in men.

Nobody cares about the negative effects, right? Anyway, here are some.

Stereotypes at work

Hipster girl reading book at work.
Besserwisser: "This Dostojevski is like, soooo
During my working years I've noticed some stereotypes at work place. This is probably an universal phenomenon but here are some stereotypes I've seen in Finland:

Besserwisser from the graphics department - These always go with the latest fashion trends (I think it's hipster now...). At lunch break they discuss about jumpcut scenes of French avant-garde movies, why Mac is better than PC (well, it isn't so fuck you), shittiness of new progrock/freejazz album or opening of a new trendy cafe. About 80% of these are women, 10% gays and rest of them are - well, technically - men.

Middle aged engineers - At lunch break these guys discuss about building a new terrace, changing diapers, buying a new SUV, how fucking hot new Miss Finland looks and that trip to Lapland next summer with the wife and kids. Young people usually laugh at the engineers only to realize that in 5 years they are in similar situation. The society WILL convert you.

Middle aged women from the helpdesk - At lunch break they discuss about price of groceries, sex scandals of Prime Minister (this was happening already back in 2008, he decided to quit and take a better paying job. Still screwing with younger chicks, tho), Dancing with the Stars, brutality of school massacres, things they did with husband last weekend (sometimes gets a bit too intense and intimate!) and as a bonus - news from the tabloids. Sometimes it seems like these women live off the tabloids and misery of other people.

All the above groups will burn eternally in hell. Some other groups include:

Nerds - Well, I guess you all know these guys. Usually nerd don't speak to other people. If they do however, it's in code ("dedicated server linux ip address hosts iä iä cthulhu fhtagn!").

Interns - They don't speak and are not spoken to. You know the drill.

March 2, 2011

Short post for today

Sorry, not going to make long post today. I've had some serious insomnia issues for a week now, my head is a wee bit fucked up at the moment and I can't really think straight. This must be devastating news to all my 2 readers out there. I promise to write as soon as I feel better and can get some proper sleep.

March 1, 2011

Your job in one sentence

Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) asked people to describe their jobs with one sentence. These are some of the answers he got:

My job is...
... mostly looking out of a window (pilot)
... to run away and call the cops (guard/watchman)
... to make sure that stupid people stay in the gene pool (lifeguard)
... to cut and paste stuff from the Internet (student at the university)
... speak while people sleep (lecturer at the university)
... to surf the webs all day long (this one's mine!)

So i guess other people have boring jobs too. How would you describe your job (or life situation in case you're unemployed) with one sentence?
Student sleeping at lecture.
Studying is hard work