onsdag 2. november 2011

Sloth and outright Sharp Practices

I need to get this one out of my system!

This year sloth, rude service and outright sharp practice have gone way over the mark in Norway.

It started with my new phone: when the teleseller didn't manage to upsell me over the basic package ( tenner a month !) then he sounded a bit neutral. He then didn't bother to do the admin for my new phone and I had to wait two weeks of course while I hassled them and got good service !Nothing in writing, he could probably blame it on friday..blah blah

Later it was with our old bank when I wondered if I could get a 20% rise in visa card limit to pay for some repairs to the car. I wasn't very hopeful, but the guy was so rude and blunt about the whole case- worse than your worst nightmare about rude council or railways employees - that I did complain and I got a new case adviser allocated. I wasn't all that fussed about the credit limit, but the rudeness incensed me.

Latley then it has been a loan from the council to cover the deposit on the new house, which is a great action to get people to live here. However we now sit with a bloody bridging loan - on the whole sum at higher interest- because of sloth at the council and they then are not 100% sure they will grant it to us! In fact it is then the bank's problem, as they did not grant us 100% and presumed we would get the 20%. So there is a good 500 quid GBP either down the drain or darn hard to recoop.

The thing that annoys me is that this was of course, taken to the wire and my other half was then left sitting looking a bit naive in trusting all to go smoothly given they had 8 weeks admin time.

So many times before there have been small sharp practices: less discount, an extra included cost not stated until you are on the line to sign and pay. Let alone those arseholes in oslo who tried to take us for all our deposits!! Next time I will always want to see that " flaps, mats, tank and plates" are inclusive and in writing before I go forward in the deal, and make a point of not delegating so much over to my other half unfortunetly .

fredag 12. august 2011

An ill wind which brings change.....Utøya and Oslo Tragedy

Everyone really agrees here that the bombing of the government quarter in Oslo and massacre on Utøya could only have been perpretrated because it was so unthinkable.

The heart shaped island became a trap as good as a cage in a distant forrest or a concentration camp in Nazi germany. This was beacause no one had really even conceived let a lone planned for such an attack.

The bombing in Oslo's own "whitehall" or "capitol hill" however was however outside this category 'unthinkable' - it appears the van packed with basic nitrate based explosives- the low tech', bulky, agriculturally derived favourite of the IRA in their time- had ten minutes parked illegally without raising suspicion or even a cursory inspection.That a police uniformed assailant walking out such a vehicle aroused no suspicion is maybe not so remarkable, even if it was driven through a no entry sign. The time span it went unchallenged there after, is very note worthy.

Hold on here though: How unthinkable is a terrorist attack which employs a lone gun man with several automatic weapons in a confined area with a concentrated amount of people? Or an attack on a school or college by a disgruntled pupil?

What is really unthinkable is that the attack was undertaken by a white, middle class, educated norwegian from the posher side of the Oslo conurbation. Dressed as a policeman he would have aroused no suspicion and that was all part of his cover. He knew he could get away with it. However he did raise suspicion of at least one passer by who saw him enter his second van and drive the wrong way up a one way street and he reported this and the van number to the police. 40 minutes later or so he was on the short ferry crossing to the island.

Our first reaction was probably unanimous with the rest of the country: middle eastern extremists had finally struck, biting the hand of the peace brokers in palastine. My thoughts also turned to the opposite: a mossad directed bombing under the cover of islamic terror to alienate Norway from the peace process and recognition og Palastine as a state with a democratically elected government.

TV2 the independent leader in national TV here, reported an ethnic norsk gunman and then actually unwittingly captured film of him actually still shooting as they flew over the scene. They arrived before the police and seemed to make no offer to allow police to commandere the helicopter: an oversight I hope plagues both pilot and journalists on board to their graves. They could have saved SOME lives, some injuries and lead to a perhaps the shooting of the gunman, which would have been a more satisfactory result on all sides than him living as some kind of imprisoned "bin laden" of the right.

Vital minutes were lost due to poorly informed local police whose"local knowledge" of boat availability at the nearest quays to the island lead to a fateful redirecting of the armed rapid response unit to a quay furter north. There they found few boats available and over burdoned an unsuitable craft to make a lone patrol, vulnerable assault on the island.

Meanwhile at the first quay on the lakeside, members of the public were using boats to rescue people swimming and coming under occaisional fire. The police came that far apparently and considered the prescence of a van and proxikity to gunfire too dangerous in an announcement before the latest information came through on plain ignorance.

What will happen now in the planning for response to such incidents? And amongst the population

Firstly people in general are going to be more sceptical about what right wing extremists are up to. They are going to look at who is in their gun club, who is a bit strange in their political ranks. Also who is blurring reality with the cyber game and social media world.

On the part of the police, there will have to be a review of airborne response, certainly in the Oslo- Akerhus area and for any otherwise lightly police large scale events and meetings on the entire national basis. Rappalering or fast-roping should be in the police repertoir with 5 minute scramble from bases with 20 minute radii in the Oslo-Akerhus area where over half the population lives. If this availability of 4 or five man teams and helicopters is lacking in the police then there should be an investment in this. Current helicopters can be utilised for some of these actions, plus availability of coast gaurd and military helicopters can be reviewed in order to provide operational radius to cover this area and major gathering of people further afield in the country. Commandeering of private helicopters and flight path perparation to return to pick up points for police helicopters in service should also be considered.

The police earlier this year announced their special forces based police reaction squad, filmed ironically enough, emerging out of water to secure an area in what looked like Oslo Fjord. So the will is there in the police to confront the danger with SAS style force and a military opinion on risk to personnel. The cold feet on the 22nd July was more a result of misinformation from leadership in the local police.

fredag 15. juli 2011

The Norwegian Social Highway Code

Having lived in the "best country in the world to live in" for the last seven years, the amateur and basically clumsy sociologist in me has been able to unravel much of the social code of how to get on as an immigrant. Just in time for me to consider throwing in the towel and leaving them to their own cabin-gloat, false modesty and small snob ways.

The FRP published a guide to getting on in Norway which included never going home to your own country. It didn't include things like, don't speak to the white nordman neighbours until they speak to you... The progress party are a weird bunch of neo thatcherites who are overtly anti immigration while having a substantial following from both Asian shopkeepers and Nordstrand racists.

So anyway, Siv Jensen's plan to deport me aside, what are my conclusions on the social codes here? The type of etiquette and conduct an immigrant should follow in order to well, fit in socially?

1) Consider yourself a guest here and not a true part of society.

This will help with your frustrations. Carry a positive attitude to being an outsider on a very prolonged visit, perhaps til death-do-us-part with the land. As a guest then, you should expect to be treated politely but not elbow your way in to social circles or god help us, a real career job. Let yourself be invited- a theme which runs through most of the soical codes

2) Use large amounts of false modesty.

Norwegians are absolute experts at this and also absolutely transparent in their falseness. They love putting forward a modest proposition or understating their capabilities such that the other party immediately flatters them on their actual abilities, or in say a job interview situation, infers that this understatement belies deep Jedi type ominpotent powers which will make you a brilliant candidate. Foriegners bomb out here in everything from job interviews, sports and past times to those travel-bore-stories yanks and Brits are so glad to force down your throat in their home countries or at holiday locations.

Saying "yes, I can do that very well and have many years experience" breaks both this rule and of course rule 1- be a polite guest and don't expect to be accepted on the same level terms here. A near literal translation of what you should have said " Hmm, no, but yes, maybe . I have had a bit to do with this, a few years perhaps this"

This false modesty stuff is really boring and is one reason Norwegians like to escape to their luxury cabins, ski appartments and 40 foot cruisers so they can actually gloat about how clever they are to earn heaps of money without working too hard. They have to put up with all this understatement posturing at work so they let out steam in being asshole materialist show offs in their many holiday opportunities.

In sports to give a further example : "yeah I can run a bit" , which would be a really smarmy and condescending reply from a former olympic 800m gold medalist who still trains regularily in the Uk or US. Saying it like-it-is, or maybe showing off a little, is just too much for Norwegians to stomach and this relates to the next law of social heirarchy:

3) Norwegians know best and are best

"best knowing norwegians" annoy even people in their own national ranks. Basically a much larger proportion of the population here behave like smart alecs who always correct you, or add something better they have done, or give a cynical put down to your claims. In your home land, these types are generally those no one buys drinks for or invites to parties, and generally they are considered a bad smell outside their own herd if they manage to gather critical mass, so to speak! Here this is typical behaviour.

Conversely though, all norwegians, like the French, the Yanks and the English hate when foreigners are better at something and look for opportunities to knock y ou off your pedestal. Remember you are in "guest limbo" for the rest of your life here if you emmigrated and you have to be a nice little camper in awe of the scenery and acheivements of the country.

Norwegians kind of have a point: they work the shortest working hours in europe for the highest pay. They have the longest holidays and they have probably the best work-life balance in the world. The encourage capitalism whjile the state is a major shareholder on the stock exchange. In a nutshell they have it very good, and make no mistake it was because they weren't stupid like we Scots- they taxed and owned oil companies in clever ways to reap the benefits of the massive reserves.

4) All Norwegians are equal: Just some are MORE Equal than others

Typically, in Oslo, this is represented in aspiring to drive a black Audi A4 estate. It is a safe bet, everyone has one. Put a sports pack badge on if you are cocky, but you are the same: they say A4 for "square" here actually.

This is also seen in sporting achievements on an amateur level where winning at something is seen as both a good effort while also a bit of luck in coming just in front of all the other competitors. Every dog has its day type thing.

Norway is now about as socialist as any democratic state in the world could possibly be, but this is not based much on the paternal, union and christian movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries as much as the basic mantra

"You are getting something I am not"

Once you understand this you will grasp that therein lies a dilema: both "keeping up with the jones's", the whole Black Audi A4 estate car thing AND the need to be seen to be modest, the false modesty.

Now of course Norway is like most democratic lands: the rich pay less than 25% tax on their income so they can sqaunder it and use it in the caribean and Swiss alps. Even there these rich twits like to show their common-ness by wearing grandad's shrunk wool snow flake jumper, or rennovating at old cow heards hut to original 15th century. They between themselves have some degree of the whole modesty shit, but are more into keeping up with the Goldbergs than the Jensens.

So as an immigrant you can expect to only aspire to being EQUAL, never achieving it and thoughts of becoming say a manager and being MORE EQUAL than others are dangerous indeed.

Another situation, while talking about bosses, is that there is a percieved need for a lot of consensus and apparent mutual decision by committee where as in reality those who are MORE EQUAL than others, ie managers and owners, pay lip service to all that and make the real decisions "fait acomplis" at the time they can take advantage of the actual lack of consensus over some actually useful actions.

4) Never criticise Norway or its Landsmen

Given all the preceeding rules, this would seem an ispo facto point. However it is worth putting it down in black and white because it offering criticism is a very quick way to find yourself being a little less guest status- the happy limbo you must endure - to being cheeky, unwanted immigrant.

However, it is a very good way to bond with other ex pats and people from more normal populations where the population are by in large more outgoing and less up their own asses.

5) Never invite - be invited

Well not never never ever, but to begin with. There is no point in having a house warming party and inviting your new neighbours. They will get to know you, perhaps enough to dislike you, but outside some of the more bohemian districts of Oslo, you will not get to know them and you won't get invited over their thresholds in return.

Most of all, never invite yourself! Hearing of a party or event or knowing they have a cabin or yacht you may like to have a tour to sets an alarm bell off! DO NOT INVITE YOURSELF. This is tantamount to saying " I see you have a really nice 16 year old daughter, and I wondered if I could break her in with a good hard shag" in our home lands. It is WAY over the line to invite yourself to anything.

Norwegians play a little coy ball on this too: because of their "equality " with other Nordmenn (look up jante's law) yet obvious superiority to all other nationals, they rub it in a little. " We are off to our cabin skiing this weekend" . " I am sailing for Jensen on his new XX 45 super carbon racing yacht ". They get a chance to show off and exclude you on this. They are less subtle when in their "MORE EQUAL" posturing with each other. In our countries mentioning things like this in normal, polite and well heeled company is a pre amble to an invitation. In the case it is neither family nor people you have known a long time, it is just cock-teasing and "significantly better off than thou' ". A chance for them to rub your crumby little immigrant nose into the lack of real material success you will continue to have the mispleasure of as a " wanderer-in" to the land.

Norwegians are a bit like this: if people are in their family then they have to talk to them, and if they have been freinds at school, uni or sports for many years earluer, then they will keep in touch. But a new neighbour falling outside these groups of social circles, will not get in for a very long time indeed.

Take our neighbours now: they are very ordinary, not snobbish really, and both of them are pretty left wing being in the public health sector. We get a long with them well now, but it took them a YEAR to say hello regularily and TWO years until we have a barbeque invitation. Then suddenly we were stamped " approved". I mean I thought they were really very rude for the first year. They were just sceptical and a little shy.

Actually as an immigrant you stand MORE chance of being inivited over within a short period than another norwegian! This is due to your guest status, so as soon as you break any of the other rules and indeed get the notion to make instant friends on the grounds of this neighgourly curiosity and national guest-welcoming behaviour, be prepared to be stung!

The basis for all this is that Norwegians are very private people really. Family is important and between christmans, weddings, births and confirmations they manage to squeeze in family cabin tours or "meets" at the drop of a hat. Men folk find this a little tiring sometimes, but it is safe and everyone accepts you for who you are. For immigrants marrying into a norsk family, expect this to be a major source of social life and a major source of frustration and boredom. You can only , after all, choose your friends but not your family.

I was very lucky when I moved here because I was accepted straight into a social circle of extrovert pals, who I had met many times actually on holiday. Then that all disintregrated with kids coming and pretentions of a career for me and moves for them.

Amongst Norwegians all this is a little bit more known: when they move to a place, they play a little hard to get: stand off a little to see who comes to them: they get the measure of people- are they worth haning out with? Do I have something to gain? They let curiosity get the better of others as a newly flytted neighbour.

Now, like many immigrants, I find it all just hell with the fact that you have to wait in some wierd dentists reception, looking at the fish tank in near silence for a couple of years before you finally start to get accepted and become "freinds". Here in the sticks, the problem is that once you are "in" with people you realise it wasn't worth the wait to get in there with them in the first place!


That is a very good point to stop this more sociological rant because that is the thing: Norwegians are by in large boring and stand off and you should spend time finding ones who are fun and stalk them carefully rather than trying to be particularily sociable.

I could add little faux pas, like mid week drinking or asking to crash out on a sofa, but I think this is the main core of the creation of all that discontent you will experience.

tirsdag 1. februar 2011

The Norwegian Bad Samaritans

Unemployment amongst Immigrants

I am faced with yet another amazing statistic.

First, during the last "uptime" in the economy, and therefore before the "speed bump" credit crunch here in Norway, there were 5000 unfilled positions in that uninspiring part of Norway, Østfold. Not known for more than agriculture, tourism and service industries. Yet there were 4000 unemployed of immigrant background registered "seeking work" at the national labour service NAV. Bunch of layabouts?

I blogged before, in Aust Agder while reading the local rag, unempolyment was up by 9% but amongst those with immigrant background, it was up three times that level.

Now on a recent tour to the town which boasts Agder Blad, Arendal, I buy the local smudgey snail-read and low and behold: unemployment amongst those with immigrant background is standing at 30%!

This included a given example of a young engineering graduate with 50 applications, who had a mixed norsk-islamabikakjan name, yet not even an interview.

The same was true for a nice pakistani girl I met in Oslo, who was getting CV help from my uncle-in-law. She was secondary school educated ( high school graduate) and wanted no more than a career in retail, starting at the bottom. She had lived all her 18 years in Norway. Yet she got no interviews.

When I talk to people in the public sector, or often family, there is fervent denial of "small racism". It seems the socialist middle classes, and also those in the oil industry who are used to multinational employees, are somewhat caught up in a false self-image of the lovely, liberal, peace-prize weilding norwegian : the good samaritan.

There is of course the well documented lack of worth ethic amongst Somalians, and norway has about 20 000 of them. However, in the North Sea, employers now run courses for managers dealing with the lack of work ethic for the 14-on, 12 hour days amongst the latest engineering graduates from the best universities in Norway. How they should be coaxed and normalised into the way it is. Pakistanis and the "Boat People" from vietnam have been amongst the hardest working first generation and now the second generation, espeically female according to one of my sources, are those who are driving the big management consultancies with hard work, sacrifice and innovation. The BI/NHH "boy's club" is no longer up for 14 hour days to get the job in the bag and done from all angles it would seem.

Is it really just the fact that out in the real world, away from universities and Quangos ( and even in some of them) that Norway is still a land of people who shy away from the new? Conservative with a small "c" to the point they daren't employ immigrants?

I have been offered enough temporary work to make me a bit sick of it, and work which "could lead somewhere" to just kind of start to give up a bit on pushing my career forward. However, this is not just a Norsk phenomenon: immigrants always have it tough, if they don't land with a case of dollar bills. They always have to try harder, both first, second and third generation, to get anywhere.

The trick is to utilise a social tool which is trite and superficial and false for people who come from anywhere but the rural bitty sticks of english speaking countries: that is to employ copious amounts of false modesty at interviews, and in general actually. This is one part of one key to getting accepted here- you play yourself down, you make yourself modest like the norsk, but maybe even a little bit more so. You swallow your own pride, sorry puke, in this false modesty. Like the answer to how's it going ? "Bare bare" ...only good.

fredag 28. januar 2011

Mulla Krenkar

Det er mange Nordmenn som vil at 'Mulla' Krekar blir utvist far landet. ;Mange påstår at det latterlig at et vestlig land gir han havn fra rettsaker i Iraq, og at han er på frifot her tross han er anmeldt som en terroristleder.

Men, jeg mener tvert i mot. Han bør forbli her i Norge. Til og med han kan tiltales under rettferdige behandling, forsvar og åpen domstol og dessuten, uten trussle av henrettelse. Hvorfor ? Fordi foreløpig er han i helvete!

Han er vel på frifot. Men han er egentlig fengslet i hans privat helvete.

For det første er det slikt at etteretningstjenster fra antakeligvis flere land, følge hver eneste bevegelse, samtale og e-post. For det andre er han ikke fritt å reise til utlands pga muligheter for utvisning til Iraq eller andre land, og angrep fra Mossad eller unevnte assasiner.

Men tenkte på dette: her er et land som betyr helvete til ham: det er djævlens ilder: Tar likestilling- Norge er blant de meste fremmkommet land i verden når det gjelder skjønnslikhet og kvinner er frie å utale seg, ha en karrier, velger partner, velg å være lesbiske, tar høye offentlige stillinger, bestemmer over sine egne liv, og selvsagt klær seg som de mener er passerlig, tiltrekende eller provokerende!

Norge er et land med både juris prudence og mye av det offentlig grunnlagt på kristelige rettningslinjer og tradisjoner. Shahira lov kommer aldri å ha mye å si i det offentlig, og dessuten hvis det er en høyre regjering snart, så skal bruk av shahira lov istedenfor eller til tross for norske lover blir like ulovlig som tvang ekteskap.

Min siste punktet er at det er hypokritisk å vurdere ham som så stort et fangst og mulig gevinst i kampen mot terror i midtøsten. Han var opprinelig en "freedom fighter" for de kurdiske islamiske folk. Jeg tipper på at han eller hans oganisasjon, IMK, fikk opplæring og våpen fra vestlige land imens de kjempet mot den Ba' thie regjeringen i Iraq. Men vesten er raskt å snu ryggen : Den Mujihadeenen, populært med CIAen tidlig på 80 tallet i deres kamp mot kommunister. Det var et forbilde for Al Qaeda. Og sjøl dem som førte til den største tap av amerikansk og allierte live siden 1960, Ho Chi Mihn. Han var opplært i guerilla krigsfaring, lederskap og strategi av CIA og den amerikanske militær under andre verdenskrig når han kjempt mot Japanere.

Dermed mener jeg at han er i faens egne ilder her på landet, at etteretningsfolk har bra oversikt, og at det er umulig for han å drive med noka mer farlige enn å irritere Siv Jensen og noen av hennes følgere.

søndag 23. januar 2011

Forth Language of the Norsk Force

There are actually four publically accepted language groupings in Norway.

Firstly we have pooko nuiko plokko to get out of the way , Samisk - what the misnomer "Lapps" speak: seems they struggle to find a phrase for "surplus mountain of reindeer meat because it is over priced" however, so they must go to Norsk to ask for more subsidies.

Then we have Bokmål: measured by the book norwegian, really written Danish with a bit of swedish in pronounciation. In Oslo many speak nearly this, but assume some kind of comic impression of a crow " Dææ varr ikka dææ daaa"

Then we have the Norwegian away from Danish and Swedish reign, perhaps nearest Norron or evolved longest, yes that's right Old Norwegian....sorry...erm, new norwegian "Ny Norsk" : much hated by the inhabitants of that geographic arm pit 'Oslo Akershus' who try to avoid learning it and will ignore speakers often like the French ignore the English....Actually the vast geographical majority of land areas speak this, it's just that the parasites with most power always infect the nerve centre of any body.

Both Bokmål and Ny Norsk are approximations, the latter taking larger liberties with vocab' and grammar due to who and how it was lexiconised by....

A much more precise language is however, adhered to by most Norwegians.....Langrennsk.

This is the common word use and semi formal conversations, which are repeated almost ritually between two Norwegians who meet each other on X country skis and care to talk. The ritual involves breaking the ice: if you are them whom shall partake in donning skis, it is customery to ask "good slide today?" as in good forward sliding on skis. The respondent will then answer in some fairly set ways: if they want to terminate the conversation, then a quick, "yes, yes not so bad" or "blinding, totally! " with little eye contact and continue right past #1. However they may decide to share their experiences further: the qeue for this is usually

a) The would be ski-er has the right gear on

b) The would be ski-er looks in need of advice.

So here we segment the society on snobbish verus egalitarian lines: or inverted snobbish.

Very quickly the conversation on the snow and the gliding forward moves to the heart of the matter: Wax, and waxing. More wax than a Manicurists shelf in Rio. You see in order to go forward on the level or uphill, you have to use a grippy wax on the mid part of your ski, and this unfortunetly needs to be

a) re-applied and rubbed down

b) changed in type and consistency for different temperatures and conditions.

Wax has evolved over the years, so now the range of conversation can spread out into discussing the precise type and range of conditions it was found ideal for.

I quite enjoy waxing actually: you do notice the difference in "kick" and glide, you get a nice extra minute or two breather and of course it is a good Ice Breaker, speaking langrennsk breaks down some of the usual Xenophobia here.

Eventually wax subsides into a tube of UHU called "klister" which is bloody awful shit to get off your skis: so much so that many a good pair of skis is destroyed by leaving it on through the summer. It is applied for slippy, wet conditions, usually easter and the end of the season, but right now we have rock hard ice : I am using a lillac coloured wax, well it seems half glue half wax, and rubbing in on every 4km or so to avoid having bloody UHU to chemically scrub off each time.

Now also I feel myself falling into a meta- use of Langrennsk, or actually a sub set of its use, neigh a dialect: "unskyldnings langrennsk" - the language of excusing your performance on wrong choice of wax or the wax going bare on the soles of your skis. I feel myself sliding into this when ever a grand mother goes past me now.

tirsdag 18. januar 2011


Outside the Oil Industry, being a foreigner in Norway with any ambition of a career is a frustrating and in fact scarey place to be.

Having had more time to organise myself before wife decided Norway was where unexpected bairn #1 would be born, then I would have explored what careers a non engineer can follow in Oil.

Anyway, here is my story, anonymised to protect the guilty, by means of another warning you may recieve: this is echoed by other people I have spoken to, but most are not A) as paranoid as me B) Any good at internet detective work. The main piece of advice is that if you have a spouse/girl/boy who wants you to move here, and you are not an engineer, then make them agree that you should have a good job offer BEFORE you emigrate. Here is why, by proxy, given my experiences as a man with a bit of a career at least:

When I first landed on these shores I had just decided to make a clear break and knowing even a shop job paid 14 quid an hour, I was okay with this. The fact it costs anout £12.50 an hour to eat and breath under a roof here was lost on me.

However, best foot forward, and after the initial stress of the move to a very hot summer with very long days, I found work within the magical five weeks of being in the land as an EU /EØS citizen: unbenkowingly this entitled me to get on the social security ladder which has had to bail us out when jobs evapourate. More on that soon.

In fact I got not one job, but I was industrious enough to land a non skilled labour job through my brother-in-law, and a 50% positioin as an internal business consultant in a university spin out still struggeling with the real world. Coupled to doing evening school in Norsk, I must have been a model "invandere".

Hmm, "invandere", norsk for immigrant : It kind of suggests to the english listener, that you are either an invader, or that you just casual wandered into Norway, a bit aimlessly. This is somewhat ironic, because in my experience and that of others, you are treated either like an "interloper" or a curious oddity, hopefully transient in nature.

Now both these jobs were contract, and that was hunky dory, becuase they paid well and let me window shop. The consultant job went 75%, the other one dried up with the potential work, and BINGO I should have cottoned on to this a lot earlier. As an "Invader" you are often offered wing-and-a-prayer contracts which are not seriously intended to go permanent. This is the same for many sectors, outside oil, but especially building and services.

Is there any truth or correspondence to my experience and this happening here? Well I was driving through Aust Agder, a region / state / district here, and I hear on the Arendal radio station that while unemployment had gone up by around 6 to 9% in the population as a whole, immigrant unemployment had risen by nearer 30%. Relatively speaking here, a lot more immigrants lost their job when the finance crisis hit than locals. This was largely explained as being the Polish/Baltic state construction workers who had been both a source of good margins and a top up labour force in the last little property bubble up to sept 2008.

So I digress to put the personal in conext of the bigger picture here.

Now the thing about these jobs being temporary, and I heard the word "Use" in pretty much the same "used and abused" tone of voice from managers in both firms, was actually not that bad. What was bad was what happened next, which also shafter a Norwegian cow too, but she was such a dry-shite that no one wanted to work with her.

There was a job through the university in helping start ups, I take it no further than that description to protect the guilty, and I and aforementioned PITA woman were invited to apply, coerced in my case. I was apparently in pole position, and now could speak a bit and read a lot of norsk. But a recruitment consultant got involved, I was told it was a formality, but it turned out to be very bad. They chose a girl, a 23 year old, for a job with masses of responsiblility which was looking for 5 years experience and a business masters, yours truly, almost over qualified. They then discuss some BS marketing comms temporary job for me, which evapourates anyway.

I went out with a bit of a shat on feeling from the whole thing: this job turned out to be the GOLD DUST that careers can be made of. The girl that got the job had some family connections to either the manager or the recruitment asshole, who called me an opportunist in an interview once too. What contract or favours were secured is unknown to me, but the PITA woman was buggered because she could not claim sexual discrimmination. She should have walked the job, but no one liked her. She should have complained and got a lawyer.

I then spent 14 fucking months unemployed! Okay I did get myself through a higher level of Norwegian, but I wasted huge amounts of energy hunting for jobs. Eventually I got a hot interview in the "smoke" that is Oslo, and after a bit of an uneasy feeling in the interview, I actually got the job: It fell on the right side of the summer- another topic for a blogg one day.

12 months was hard, but I had the interview in late April and the offer in June. A bit of waiting.

Now unfortunate my bidie-in (wife) decided I wasnt going to be allowed to weekly commute, and that rather she and kid #1 would also move, at once, before my trial period was even started. Also, against all advice from my friends, I accepted a loan instead of full relocation.

The first few weeks were weird: half the office still on holiday, and an manic boss who just talked alot and always said things of any problematic nature for any issue, woud sort itself out. The job turned out to be more admin than expected, and I had a really dumb assistant who thought she was my boss by virtue of long service at her shitty level. I tried very hard and kind of got a long for a while. She unbeknown to me, started on the same day as the MD, oops. A little ear to bend there.

Anyhows things went well, I got into the swing of it, but there was not ever going to be enough work or responsibility to keep me happy, but happy I had to be. The job was a lot smaller than advertised. But it was a permanent position.....after the trial period.

Here came the rub: the section boss seemed to like me, but he then postponed my three month review to four and half. This just seemed beneficial to me then, and I would actually show some fruits of my labour to the US sales specialists. But no, this was a symptom of shoving me out of the door.

Long story short: the review actually happened at 4 and a half months in, and was bad news: improve on your communication, attention to detail and enthusiasm. Now I was getting my head into attention to detail okay, it was slower than I would be as a young buck, but hell!

The follow up to this was just a carbon copy, they had checked with the coworkers and I still couldn't talk right to them, I couldn't get things that were 100% correct right, while other people made some mistakes around my product launches with no comments made.

Now this all seemed very unfair to me, and I blamed myself for it all. I went away with about 7 months wages and my tail between my legs and a lump in my throat. Until that is I decided to investigate a little....

I got in touch with a friend at the company, and got the name of my replacement and discovered she started 3 weeks after my demise. That was a bit hasty after the fact. So two minutes on the internet, I had her blog, and then I had who her father was.....on the board of non executive directors.

Couple this to a freexe on new positioins at the time, and I was WHACKED. Also I had signed a disclaminer on future legal action and anyway, was not angry enough about it until after the usual legal dispute period of currency.

After this I spent about 10 months, half on whcih just in a daze. I got a shitty PM job in a shitty little company, which actually was quite a good opportunity to be entrepreneurial in some new market sectors. And it paid less.

So we trooped on out to the sticks when we could no longer justify our 740 000 NOK pa being enough to survive the Oslo house market, both to buy or let. I let the job go.

Here then eventually I get into a little IT firm about an hour and a half away, and they not only give me a shit position, they dont let me be myself and do project management: this is what I do! Boo hoo, but anyhows, as far as "stacking shelves" went I got the back end of the shitty sticky which was triple dipped in the brown. A crap analytical project with a prick of a couple of bosses, one of whom saw me as a threat and wanted me out anyway. All this funded 50% by NAV, on the back of training, which boiled down to a day, hamburger-university would blush at, and a couple of ad hoc days and some hours here and there. When the wages support dried up, so did the job.

Now I am on the outside, and I need to drop my suspicious mind and just get on with it all: get a new job, and probably a new "career". I can postulate away about all the petty racism and jobs.for.the.boys here, but you know I just have to ignore that now. What I do need to do, is fight for a reasonably paid, permanent posiition: as do you if you have just landed here.

torsdag 13. januar 2011

To Wax or Wax-Free Skis for X-country

Waxing Ski-ryrical

Today was a new first for me, out on x-country skis which require waxing to both grip and glide properly. Until now I have been content with the one-way-pattern "waxless" skis.

Should new beginners go straight in for waxed skis and cut out this middle man?

Fish-scales as some people call them, save of course guessing the temperature and you are guaranteed fairly good grip on herring-bone ascents. They do slow your glide down though and there are limits to their effectiveness of grip, at below -9 and above 2'C. However you can actually combat this by using ....glide wax and "klister" wax, akin to UHU glue in consistency and adherence. Kind of defeating the purpose, but in fact in winter conditions and in the high hills at easter, wax free can give you a trouble free day and some good training.

Waxed x-country skis, ie normal, glide faster and you just adjust the wax to optimise the kick. However you do have to wax and re-rub off and occaisionally rewax the "sole" to a base wax. Problems come when conditions under foot are very variable, and this is the case where the sun or mild winds get access to part of the ski runs. Combine this with a gradient against you and it's time to stop up and do some major cosmetic surgery on the soles of your erstwhile sliding-shoes.

Incidentally, the very best wax free skis are available in carbon fibre, and are intended for both such tricky conditions in racing and training. So they're not just for poosies and lazy gits who can't read a thermometer.

Waxing is not only its own language and currency of conversation, it is its very own culture of excuses and denials. Like we brit's talk about the weather to break-the-ice with strangers, so Norwegians ( at least, if not scandinavians) will suddenly engage you in warm conversation which otherwise would, as is par for the course here, be lacking ( "No Banter" said one mate who lives in Oslo and works for GE Healthcare). Also any bad performance, slow progress on one part of the course or general bad mood can be explained away under the "wrong wax, failed wax" book of excuses. I find myself reaching for the first chapter now, unwittingly....

In general, wax less skis give you better kick but less glide: I think this is probably an area for debating their overall value to beginners: if you kick but don't glide enough then you are not learning the complete technique and you are wasting energy. If however, you ski in variable conditions, prepared and just ski-made-tracks, and have more of a walking style than "Jogging" then waxfree are all you will most likely ever need.

If you want to get the most exercise out of the sport, then in fact wax free can also help you in the beginning because of the rather unique "stride and hold" gape. If you are fit already, then you may find , as I did actually on carbon wax frees, that you end up injuring yourself because your quadracepts will be strong enough to work really hard while your little crotch and knee muscles engaged in x-country are not ready for the punishment your major abductors are giving them. Waxfree makes it easier to "hold" because the ski grips on the back foot better and the glide is somewhat "on the brakes". You could of course over-wax with higher temperature wax applied to a longer area under the ski onto a normal ski.

Waxing will allow you to really get into the swing of things, literally, because you will get the full benefit of the more jogging-come-striding style. This is faster and give's you argueably a better work out, both forcing you to keep a rythm and also rewarding you with faster progress.

There is one other good reason to buy an entry level set of waxfree skis is that even if you just get one holiday', course' or season's use out of them before you feel, like me, that they are braking your speed and limiting your technique. Keep these as your reserve skis for those difficult days, for those tours in certain hill and moor ski tracks but not prepared runs, easter, summer glaciers and when you venture to terra nova not knowing if the conditions and availability of tracks.