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Category Archives: Random

Start-ups run, corporations want days off

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How do you get people at the same organisation to get together and enjoy each other’s company. This is an age old question that all employers have wanted to answer, both because everybody naturally wants to foster a great spirit between co-workers, but also because it may pay off as a stronger commitment to the company, ultimately resulting in better overall results.

There are tonnes of different kinds of perks that companies offer their employees, and it seems like the perception of the different types vary from person to person. Would you rather that your employer sponsored a company trip, offered free massages, or would you rather have those expenses distributed as a cash bonus?

Startup vs. big corporations
It can be very difficult to determine as an employer, but obviously it also depends on the general corporate culture that you have, or you are trying to foster. To generalise, startup companies may have a (younger) staff that is more passionate about the company and the vision, and may work overtime simply because they care more. Here, perks that bring together people may provide more value, since people spend more time at the office, and the cold numbers on the pay check may matter less. Free beer on Fridays, or the mandatory ping pong table, anyone?

On the contrary, larger corporations with more senior staff may benefit from rewarding their staff with cash bonuses or flexible hours, perhaps because their employees to a larger degree have families and wish to be able to spend their free time there with additional opportunities to take days off, go in vacation paid via a bonus etc.

To repeat myself – I am generalising.

We just started with a couple of runs after work…
What we did at the company where I’m spending all my time, Graduateland, was to encourage our dear colleagues to join different organised runs. It all started during the spring of this year where some of us started to run together after a hard day’s work. Soon more joined, and we decided to participate in an upcoming half marathon in Copenhagen. Anybody who wanted to join would have their ticket paid for by the company, and we quickly organised the design and printing of company running t-shirts. 984033_721568151228134_6234580165882634764_n

Graduateland – The Usain Bolt of university recruitment

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Runners from all departments and 4 different countries
Ultimately we were 8 who joined out of 20 employees who decided to run. And that was a very heterogeneous group, consisting of both company founders, sales reps, our university managers, and coders, from Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Ukraine. That’s a pretty good ration of half marathon runners at a company that makes software!

The fact that everybody finished the race is not the point, though I think it is highly impressive. For most of us it was the first run of that distance. I was personally really happy that they simply thought it was fun to spend their time running.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 21.48.13The following months some of us have upped the distance, and we had one participating in the Copenhagen Marathon,1466105_10152207729819285_734447760699022656_n and two running the Stockholm Marathon. Again, for two of us it was the first time we ran marathons.

More efficient than beer
The obvious positive effects of getting into marathon shape are quickly realised, however it has been so much fun finishing all these work days with running trip across the Copenhagen area, in sun, wind, and rain. One way to get to know people is to get drunk with them – another is to go for a run together.

I think it has been a tremendously great initiative and I’m so pleased that so many of our guys and girls wanted to take part. Looking forward to the next challenge!

Patrick

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Posted by on 11 June, 2014 in Random

 

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Stream of Consciousness

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One book, a dozen of equations, a few scattered proofs. Matrices, vectors, eigenvalues. One big headache, if you ask me.

Sunrise. Early Monday morning. A warm cup of coffee and a dark blue scarf around my neck. Me, my thoughts, my calculations. My crusade. My sleep deprivation. Why am I doing this to myself?

And yet, the sky (life?) is not dark anymore. It gradually turns pink and orange, a new day is here. Birds start to sing.

Cute, fluffy and orange. A squirrel!

Linear combination of research and study. A graduate school prospectus on the table. With question marks. Blue question marks.

My eyelids are starting to feel heavy. Blink. Once, twice. Suddenly, my alarm goes off. Oh, so here we go again. It´s a brand new day…

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Posted by on 16 September, 2012 in Random

 

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Summer Has Come and Passed

… the innocent holidays can never last/Wake me up when September December ends (…) Here comes the rain semester again… /Green Day/

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It felt like a few seconds – exhausting packing, tearful goodbyes, a short flight, a yellow train and here I am, back in school again. Or actually, still at my desk, there are a couple of hours of my summer left. The sun goes down and the sky turns navy blue. My favourite shade of blue. I look out of the window, the street is empty. Tonight it is just me, my faithful dog laptop and my – huge – bed.

Refresh, refresh, refresh. No one is on-line – of course not. Just my semester starts _this_ early. Loneliness. So this is how it tastes. I have almost forgotten. A fake smile and a suppressed sigh.

My natural phlegmatism wins. “No news is good news.” I finish my tea and turn the light off. And the computer…

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Anyway. How does a new semester make you feel? Are you still free – or are you also being “jailed” tomorrow? Is there something special that awaits you at your school/uni? Feel free to share, your views are welcome 🙂

 
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Posted by on 26 August, 2012 in Random

 

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Tea-Rooms: Czech Peculiarity

Imagine a normal (“Western”?) café. Done? Good. Now throw away chairs and tables (coffee tables can stay). Shut all the windows and hide them behind dark curtains. Put a dark (red) carpet on the floor, add some cushions and little lamps (completely randomly). Play some meditation music, light colourful candles, hire a (“rasta”) weirdo to serve tea… and there you go, a nice Czech tea-room! (Or tea-house?)

Wait, one more thing: The menu, of course: A must is a minimum of 100 sorts of tea (white, green, black, yellow… you get the idea), some exotic (read: exotic for an average European) food (i.e. pita bread, couscous, halvah) and hookah (yes, this). Sure, you can offer some extras, but not that anybody cares anyway.

Sounds like a drug den to you? Well, let´s be honest here: You are not very likely to meet a businessperson politician in a suit here. (One more reason to try it out.) On the other hand, it is a great place to go with your buddies to relax (shisha is a brilliant invention, anyway) – or on a date (because it is dark in here, wink, wink).

However, what I find striking is that such a “café” exists practically nowhere else in the world! (OK, I know, there is one in Glasgow – but based on the Czech model of tea houses.) Why is that? Is this concept really that controversial? Or are other nations simply more conservative when it comes to the way their tea is served? …I don´t know. Do you?

At any rate, it is highly recommended to put it on your “to do” list should you come to the heart of Europe, my home country 🙂

 
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Posted by on 3 August, 2012 in Random

 

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Ethics: What Is Debatable?

What do the following statements have in common?

“I don´t support abortions. They are wrong.”

“I generally condemn embryo research – actually, I consider it murder, not _research_.”

“I believe that euthanasia should be illegal.”

Correct. They are all moral judgments without substantiation. Way too often do we hear that X or Y is “immoral” without being told why exactly. Sometimes people argue “but the Bible/Quran/insert-a-holy-book-here says so“, sometimes (especially when people run out of arguments – well, “arguments” – altogether) we are told that “yeah, it is just wrong, I know it“. Right?

No. I am sorry, but someone´s feeling of what is moral is not an argument I would buy. If you were able to explain why a) abortion is murder (i.e. life begins at conception), b) the right to live of a fetus is more important than the right to bodily integrity – then yes, that would be different. I am open to discussions about morality, but beware: I am rather allergic to those “somebody said so” claims.

I could go on and argue why I personally believe in certain things, but instead, I would like to pose a few questions, my dear Readers, for you to think about (feel free to comment below):

A) Are women able to achieve equality when they live in a non-secular society? [see here some provoking facts; but feel free to argue even that women should not be equal to men]

B) Would it be OK to pay poor people to have less kids? [a place to start for example here]

C) Is euthanasia acceptable? [I strongly recommend this blog with many useful moral analyses]

Alternatively – do you have something that is really eating you? Please comment. Why? Because nothing is 100% good or bad – and before we as a society make a definite moral judgment, all those various points of view should be heard and taken into account. Why? Because hopefully then our decisions will not harm others (yes, dogmatists, I am talking about you).

 
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Posted by on 29 July, 2012 in Education, Random

 

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Sexism and Football: Yo Girl, You Can´t Play

It was a sunny Friday evening and me and a couple of my friends went to play football. Since a lot of “friends of friends” came as well, we were quite a diverse group – and that´s where the problem emerged.

Side-note and a warning: I am not a feminist. But I won´t remain silent if a bigot is making someone´s life miserable. So here we go:

We had a newcomer (“a friend of friend of friend”) this time. Let´s call him Mike. We divided ourselves into teams and started to play. And guess who became patronizing girls to “stay rather in the back” and “not to bother trying to score”! He even went as far as to tell the girls that they should not be allowed to participate in penalty shootouts – well, because “girls aren´t good at it”.

While the other girl on my team started to cry and simply walked back to the building to have a shower, I was boiling with anger: How dare he assume someone´s inferiority or lack of skill or practice? How dare he be so insensitive? How dare he judge us on the basis of our gender? …

A (male, by the way) friend of mine caught the glimpse of my anger and rushed to rescue: “Well, Mike – I think you shouldn´t play because of what you said.” Needless to say, Mike´s smile froze. His sexism didn´t win him approval, rather, he became the odd one out.

I had my way – and missed. A girl´s pride that came before a fall? …I don´t think so. Sure, we lost – but that was because not a single person from our team managed to score, including me – and four boys. But the important lesson and take-away message is… that we didn´t care. We play football together because we want to have fun – not to win at the cost of offending a friend just because she happens to have the ability to breastfeed and give birth one day.

Final side-note: I would not have volunteered for the penalty shootout had Mike not been so arrogant – I am well aware that some of my friends are simply better than me (and am always ready to admit that).

 
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Posted by on 15 July, 2012 in Random

 

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Argumentation: By Definiton

Nothing in the world – at least as far as forensic matters are concerned – annoys me more than situations when people try to circumvent the issue by “cleverly” defining the controversial terms. For example, when somebody tells you that they cannot define the word “irrational” because there is no clear consensus on what it means – and hence, no discussion can be held. Or, when somebody refuses to talk about stem cells from embryos (“because those are CLEARLY wrong, right?” – no.). Or, when you want to discuss modern weapons and your conversation partner excludes drones, nukes, infra-red and smart missiles. (That´s sort of like talking about dogs, but being able to talk only about dachshund.)

The reason this annoys me so much is that it shows that adults (!) are unable to defend (or sometimes cannot even imagine someone else defending) a position they disagree with. In consequence, they, just like little stubborn kids, don´t look you in the eye, talk about the non-controversial parts and hope for you changing the topic. But that´s still not the worst thing.

The worst thing is that many people do it even when they are supposed to defend their own view! Sure, it can be difficult to look at things from the “other” perspective (although I still think that an educated human being should be able to do so), but the ability to stand up for one´s beliefs should be a basic skill in today´s world… hopefully?

Even scholars, students at prestigious schools, politicians or other public figures sometimes resort to this technique. The technique of “under my definition, your problem does not exist”. I agree – it makes the world much simpler. There are no unresolved clashes and everybody seems content. But not everybody is.

I won´t go deeper into my view of how progress comes about (i.e. by challenging other people´s views, confronting different opinions and gradually changing and adapting one´s perspective), but I would like to underscore the following: I honestly do not know of a problem that was solved by burying someone´s head in the sand. (Except perhaps for the play Titus Andronicus – but even there, the head of Aaron remained above the sand, while the body was buried.)

 
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Posted by on 1 July, 2012 in Random

 

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