Nov 14, 2008

The week of November 10

No, that's not a typo. In Europe, the week starts on Monday and this week that was the 10th. I sometimes get American calendars and have to remember that on those Sunday is to the left. For some reason, it's not as confusing as I thought it would be.

This week, my arm is better, I did more core exercises (and enjoyed them), and I seem to be on the right path. Mac users trying to prevent RSI may want to try this little time-out app that reminds you to take both micro-breaks and regular ones.

I donated to Wikipedia. See badge at bottom right column. I keep linking to it so I figured why not.

Nazis are on the loose in Fyllingsdalen, my neck of the woods. They've tagged the church earlier, and on the 70th anniversary of Crystal Night, they tagged a kindergarten, an elementary school and an apartment building. Last night, there was a meeting between the youth of Fyllingsdalen and the municipal politicians, and I hope something concrete came out of it. The kids don't have anywhere to hang out except the shopping mall, and that lack of something useful to do tends to encourage extreme behaviors, said the police.

I was commenting at work on how the color is changing where I live. No, not on the trees, but on people. When I moved into my apartment 22 years ago, there were only white people. Now I know of at least four families in my immediate vicinity where the skin color is non-European. One of our steering committee members is a black woman, and one of the local constables interviewed in the paper regarding the swastika on the school is named Hernandez. Times sure have changed in Norway!

Which brings me to the Obama Effect: The Norwegians are probably more excited than I am that Obama won, but what got me was an interview with black kids in a school in Oslo (I told you times had changed!) and how they were encouraged by the US voting for a black man. Think about it: Every time we turn on the news and something about the US is on (and there always is; Europeans are very interested in what the US does), we'll now see a black man when they flash the picture of the president. What a powerful message to send not just to kids in Oslo (and Washington, DC), but to the whole world. I'm proud to be an American again. Really proud. This we did right. (And now dear Barry has to deliver on his promises, but that's another matter.)

It is time for wage evaluations at work, and my boss is one of the better ones when it comes to making sure to use the opportunities he has to give pay raises, one-time bonuses, etc., and he also distributes as evenly as he can. One may want to argue that this means those who do exceptional work don't get compensated correctly, but there are two things you should know: One is that we all do exceptional work because we all know we are all appreciated, and we are treated like a team and act like one. The other thing is that when I failed to meet the requirements for a raise in pay last fall, but then got myself back on track, my boss made sure to reward me with a one-time bonus. In April, he put in a request for a pay raise for me and got it. So we do get rewarded when we deserve it, and not just automatically.

There's another new boss in town: My boss's boss, who, among other duties, has the final say-so about how my boss uses part of the budget. Since the new guy is really new (been here only three weeks), he asks a lot of questions and makes requests that my boss isn't used to getting. Like written reasons for why my boss wants to give us all raises. So my boss asked us all to make our own employee reviews. One co-worker balked and said that was damn well the boss's job! He's right, but I wrote my own three-sentence review, anyway. In third person. And my boss said it was as if he'd written it himself! Heh.

The aforementioned new boss is just a couple of doors down from me (like four meters away), and the other day he started playing what sounded like Barbra Streisand and Andrea Bocelli airing their tonsils. It wasn't my kind of music, but it also wasn't disturbing enough for me to say anything right then. I did tell my new boss's boss, as I was leaving around 4:45 pm, that playing music in the office was actually forbidden, and he reached over to his iPod with external speakers, all in black, and turned up the music. He meant it only as a joke, but I got a bit annoyed and just bid him good evening. The next morning, he'd sent me an e-mail where he apologized for his reaction. I tried to get him in person, but he was busy, so I e-mailed back that the apology was accepted and that next time he wanted music to work to, to just walk around first and see if he was really alone. Or use headphones.

But you know, I'm so used to the one having to apologize, that I never expected to be on the receiving end in this case. The coolness factor of my new boss's boss did go up several notches.

Speaking of music, it has now been shown that music really does soothe the savage breast:

"Listening to your favorite music may be good for your cardiovascular system. Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore have shown for the first time that the emotions aroused by joyful music have a healthy effect on blood vessel function."

(Via the Norwegian article on same.)

And finally, from yesterday's walk, something for those of you who miss life in a temperate climate:

6 comments:

Sravana said...

You write: Speaking of music, it has now been shown that music really does soothe the savage breast:

"Listening to your favorite music may be good for your cardiovascular system. Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore have shown for the first time that the emotions aroused by joyful music have a healthy effect on blood vessel function."

Now I know why symphony orchestra musicians have a much shorter lifespan than conductors. We are forced (yes! forced!) to play some gawd-awful music fairly frequently for pops-style concerts, and it really REALLY grates. For instance, in Sept I played a concert of Pink Floyd music. Not only was most of it completely new to me, but the parts were so easy that a beginner could play it, it was INCREDIBLY LOUD on stage with lots of mics around, they also were flashing strobe-type lights to 'simulate' a rock concert experience. Try reading your music when it's being caught by same lights. It was enough to spark an epileptic seizure!

I heard part of an interview with one of the researchers on the radio just now, and from some of the questions he answered, it's obvious that being forced to listen to music you can't abide does the opposite - constricts your blood vessels. yikes.

I'm starting to remember why I didn't want to return to the symphony!

BTW - loved the rest of your poast! :)

Keera Ann Fox said...

I'd heard conductors lived longer because waving the arms is an aerobic work-out, but wasn't aware that s.o. musicians had shorter life spans. Now we have an explanation.

BTW, I heart that Pink Floyd bugged you. :-) To me, "Dark Side of the Moon" (which people always drag out when it comes PF) is one huge yawn.

Anonymous said...

Ugh! Sorry to hear of the neo-Nazi's in your neck of the woods. That's disturbing. Still, I always feel a little disappointed when I hear police trot out the "lack of something useful to do" explanation for kids acting poorly. I'm sure that 99% of the kids of Fyllingsdalen would never even consider doing hateful, racist tagging and I doubt that's because they have less free time than the few who did it. Hopefully the politician/youth meeting will do some good.

As to the Obama effect, I was in Norway just a couple of months ago and one of the things that really surprised me (I'm American) was the extent of the news coverage of the upcoming US election. I know that Europeans pay much more attention to US politics than vice versa, but this time it seemed different. Almost every other day I would see Obama's picture in Aftenposten or hear US election coverage on NRK. It was clear that Obama excitement was gloing global.

And I agree about the sense of hope and promise the election of a black US president signals. What an achievment it was for a country that still had Jim Crow laws only a handful of decades ago. As an American I'm proud of that too.

Congrats on what sounds like a great work environment. I'm truly envious. Cheers!

joseph

Keera Ann Fox said...

First of all: The police are right. Quite a few neighborhoods in Bergen have followed the pattern of kids with nothing better to do getting into trouble, but once they have some place to congregate in a constructive way, the problems go away. The nazi angle is unusual, though, and the police have found no evidence of anything organized. Which is good.

I never missed not having CNN because my newspaper and the TV were all about the US, but yes, it was more than usual.

Today's news tells me that there is racial backlash against Obama now, but I'm hoping for a happier outcome than what faced MLK. It's about time!

I do have a great work environment, yes. Thanks!

Protege said...

22 years in the same apartment! Wow, to me that is an incredible achievement. The longest I ever lived in the same place was 6 years.
I love the pictures.

Keera Ann Fox said...

Takk, Protege! I moved around a lot as a kid, and the longest I lived in any one place was five years. Never had more than two years at any one school (for various reasons), and for a while, never held a position at work for more than two years, either. After age 29, I settled down.