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Our class

Nasza klasa (“our class”) Polish social networking site meant to reunite former classmates, is getting much hype recently, judging from how many of my friends signed up.

At the moment 10 people of one of my former classes are represented, out of total of ca 30.

Thanks to the site, the 9 of them learned today that their colleague, and my co-worker, Magda, died yesterday in a car crash while driving back from her vacation.

Walk in Wroclaw

Maybe it was not the best day. Weather: cold and no sun. Made buildings stand for themselves, will all the graffiti and poor design. The early capitalism plastic artifacts, like Solpols, were even more disgusting than usual. Also people, because it is Eastern, might have been subject to natural negative selection, and that’s why pedestrians on the street were the ones who have no better place to spend their time.

Regardless the reason, the city looked quite ugly and the encounters were unpleasant. I couldn’t help but think if I wouldn’t feel better at Warsaw already, at least as far as lonely walking is concerned.

Paper checks

Today I was reading a blog post by Cedric Otaku, who lives in the US.

He had his new checks stolen from his mailbox (because he was too lazy to pick them up in the morning, but it’s a side issue) and described his experience with Wells Fargo when he tried to revoke them. Turned out that, according to the bank, he was supposed to close his account altogether in order to prevent fraud. That’s because checks come with data on them which allows to generate fraudulent operation, even if the check itself had been revoked.

What’s interesting is not the Wells Fargo level of service, but how different the payment infrastructure is in the US compared to, say, Poland. The whole business of paper checks with all its aspects mentioned in the comments (I’m not an expert in checks, caveat lector) – lack of signature validation, manual processing, triviality of fraud – seems incredible mess from the perspective of country where electronic money transfers are so prevalent.

All the women of Simon Mol

Simon Mol (Simon Moleke Njie), an exile from Cameroon, was accused of knowingly infecting his sexual partners with HIV and arrested. He is a writer, poet, and creator of an Migrator Theater. He lives in Poland since 1999.

His relations included young women fascinated by his poetry and human rights campaigns. Some of them allegedly informed him about the disease after learning that they were infected: African kind of a virus, with a very aggressive profile. Pharmaceuticals had to be used months after the infection, while normally it takes couple of years before it is necessary.

Gazeta Wyborcza:

Monika O., literature student who met with Simon Mol 11 months earlier, contacted the police in November this year.

– I was attracted by journalism, I wanted to write about Migrator Theater – she describes. – I was fascinated by human rights activist fighting with racial stereotypes. Soon we started to meet, went to bed. I didn’t suspect that he could infect me with HIV virus and even less, hide from me that he is infected. I also thought that suspecting him of being infected would equal giving way to stereotypes. Thus we made love unprotected.

Simon Mol on his web page:

Of Life & Death

Life, Death, Life.
Light, Darkness, Light, Darkness;
Light, Life?
Nothing Can Stop Nature.
Not even Nature Itself.

Maybe it’s immoral to feel for those affected (exact number unknown) more than for anonymous millions who die in Africa, but I do. They seem young and idealistic types who fell pray to a ruthless abuser. We emphasize empathize (thx Michal:) with ones that we identify ourselves with, I know. (read more…)

Polish harassment-gate

There had been bets whether or not PM Lyzwinski is a father of a child born after sexual harassment of his worker. Turns out he is not. A shocker. Money could have been easily made (people were clearly betting that he actually is the father).

Now it’s getting really interesting. I would say it’s even better that the Clinton-gate.

Lepper wants to close Gazeta Wyborcza for preparing this “coup”. And the woman wants to test Lepper for fatherhood.

Was she bluffing from the beginning?


Another Polish network site, and Linkedin clone, I guess. But quite cute. Recently I’m having special feelings for names with “golden” in it.

Anyway, I found it while looking up some unexpected contact of today. They had a salsa group so I registered out of curiosity (haven’t been to salsa for ages, I prefer horse riding lately because it’s in the open air, even if there are hardly any girls to be met).

Ok small update: after 5 minutes, while breaking from writing this to read some blog entry about unsolicited invitations in goldenline, I got unsolicited invitation from a headhunter. Heh.

Anyway check my profile, with the most dressed-up picture I got (scanned it today for a proposal).

Polish Web 2.0

I used not to pay much attention to Polish web 2.0 endeavours – and maybe not without a reason, since most of them seem clones of Western ideas anyway – but I took a second look, even if a brief one, after this post by Sebastian Kwiecien.

There is a presentation with the visual of web 2.0 companies’ logos in Poland. Compare to the US one.

Main message for me – there’s been hardly any innovation so far. But I didn’t have time to browse through all sites mentioned, maybe there are some nuggets to be found. Still it’s a sad situation. Someone’s gotto change it:)

Google Poland has a blog

Didn’t even notice, and it’s already a few weeks old: Google Polska blog.

I was looking for info when they are going to introduce search for Google Maps in Poland, but so far no clue.

You bet: a “Polish Nokia” will emerge

Article in Gazeta Wyborcza (Polish):

W Polsce narodzi się gigant high-tech?

A topic dear to my heart: will we at last have a high-tech startup with a brand known worldwide? Say, till 2008.

Dariusz Wiatr, former McKinsey and Andersen Consulting partner, says no.

Tomasz Czechowicz, who runs MCI Management fund, says yes (but means whole region rather than only Poland).

Home sweet home

One of crisp air, blue sky, and sweet bakery in the morning (bakery again more expensive since I departured, though).

Is labour market really getting better?

It is a matter of fact that the unemployment rate, as reported by the Statistical Office, keeps on declining, or even, if you compress the scale like below, seems to be falling like a stone:

Unemployment rate in Poland, 2003-2006

At it doesn’t yet take into account data from July, when the rate is reported to drop further from 16.0% to 15.7%.

What conclusions should follow is a matter of heated discussion and depends on whom you ask. The government will be happy to accept the credit for the positive trend, while the unemployed and casual nay-sayers will point at increasing migration as the main culprit for this statistical miracle.

If you dive into peculiarities of the unemployment rate definition, you might think the latter may have something to it, for the indicator is not exactly intuitive. It is a ratio of number of the unemployed to the total economically active population. Then, the unemployed are defined as non-working people aged 15-74 who are actively looking for job and are in position to accept it within following two weeks, while active population is a sum of employed and unemployed people.

From this you can easily imagine scenario when unemployment rate would fall but little good would come out of it. For example, when unemployed people simply reached retirement age and left the active population pool, lowering unemployment rate but hardly helping the economy anyhow. Same effect, I suspect, could take place in case of migrations, but here the picture is so blurred that the experts do not seem to know any better so I will leave the topic for now.

Nevertheless, to satisfy my curiosity as to the topic question I found it most intuitive to simply take a look at the other side of the picture, that is, the number of people employed. These are the people paying the bills. Also, in contrast to the unemployed and the others, the concept of people employed seems more tangible.

Below the chart on how the number of people working in Poland has been changing: (read more…)

Morning rush

Thursday morning, ascending from the subway.

Warsaw subway, Swietokrzyska

Time to start work.

SGH has a new pink building

It’s a shame but only today I noticed, from the taxi, that the Warsaw School of Economics has finished its new building on Madalinskiego street. Looks impressive!

Warsaw School of Economics (SGH) new building on Madalinskiego street in Warsaw

Now I know where all this money I paid for being late with master thesis ended up.

Touchscreen sportello

I just returned from the train station, where I bought a ticket to Warsaw for tomorrow. I had a peculiar experience at the ticket office and I didn?t have a camera with me, not even a crappy phone one, shame on me. The picture is worth thousand words, and video would be even better, but I don?t have neither, so I will go for words.

At the station, the ticket seller was sitting in front of a machine which instantly attracted my attention. Instead of the old ordinary computer that I got used to see there, it was a shiny, actually cream white, new piece of equipment with a monitor and a printer, but interestingly, no keyboard. (read more…)

Sushi incident

In how many ways can you screw sushi delivery? One of the Warsaw restaurants, Sushi 77 from Zelazna 41, is determined to find out.

Count to three

Sushi 77 gets into trouble whenever your order exceeds two sets. With three sets, there is 90% probability that you will receive only two soy sauces. You would expect that it would help if after couple of such cases you specifically demanded ex ante that they make sure about that, but you would be wrong.

Still, nothing compared to ordering even more sets – things are getting out of control then. Yesterday when we ordered 6 sets, we received 6 sets, 5 soy sauces and 0 sticks. On the second try to deliver 6 missing sticks and one sauce, the driver appeared with 5 sticks and, for some reason, 4 sauces, reaching required number of 6 sticks only after the third and final round.

Six sigma excellence

Jack Welch would find Sushi 77 to be an attentive listener to his six sigma preaching – one inconsistent product per 3 millions and all this stuff. We are still figuring out how to prevent octopus (no one likes it) from randomly appearing in our orders. According to the menu, it is not a part of the pieces we ask for, but it matters little. Composition of ?standard? sets seems quite flexible.

Streamlined invoicing

We order from a lot of places, but Sushi 77 is the only one not able to attach the invoice to the delivery ? instead, it is supposed to be sent by mail within a couple of days. It never is. I have a dedicated spreadsheet for tracking invoices flow. Average delay for booking invoice is one month.

Final verdict

Basing on the available evidences we can conclude that Sushi 77 has one of the worst, if not the worst, service in Warsaw.

Nevertheless, we are still ordering tons of food from them.

Others providers have sometimes faster delivery, often worse-tasting sushi, and always at least twice as high prices. It seems that if you have a good product and good pricing, you can fail in almost everything else. And with this optimistic conclusion I will leave you, thank you for your attention.

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