Thursday, 27 October 2011

Let go - the best way to check out...

If you love somebody, let them go. If they come back, they'll always be yours; if they don't, they've never been.

Years go by and some adages will never go outdated. I heard that quote for the first time some nine years when I fell in love seriously for the first time, but from time to time it resounda in my head.

Letting go is actually about giving up on somebody and seems to be an act of surrender, but giving the loved one freedom to pursue their happiness is, in each case of unreciprocated love, the best possible choice.

Life doesn't always turn out the way we expect, but life musn't rest on compelling and killing other people with kindness. Floating in a realm of lies and delusions is in the long run even more crippling than loneliness. Attempts to pursue one's own happiness heedless of other people's emotions and feeling can lead only nowhere.

We should mind other people's emotions but shouldn't be constrained by them. However, we have right to pursue our own happiness, sometimes we can't do it without hurting other people, but no matter how absurdly it sounds, we should hurt them with care, gently.

Heartaches are never pleasant, but in a way they develop our emotions. Every wound one day heals. But some wounds cease to ache but leave scars that bring back painful memories.

Love's not only about being together with the loved one. True love consists in craving for someone else's happiness.

No, no, nothing bad's happened. Written for posterity, in case I forget it...

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

A new member to Polish - English blogosphere

Slightly taken aback by the news that my high school class-mate from high school (VI LO im. Reytana) has just set up a bilingual blog on fashion. I can't sincerely declare I share Kasia's, interest in fashion trends, but whenever a young person takes up blogging, it's commendable. When the writer is not male and when she, as a Pole, decides to write in both Polish and English, the venture deserves even more glowing praise. Oddly enough, Kasia is the only person I know from the "real world" (i.e. except those I've got to know via Internet) to run a blog. Either blogging is not a popular hobby, or some people, like me, hide it from the rest of the world (although I made a progress, I showed the blog to my parents).

On the day she starts her "Fashion Corner" I wish Kasia thousands of bright ideas to commit to the blog and I hope she won't run out of energy and inspiration to keep on writing.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Me, the sluggish blogger

Again I buggered up. Faced with scarcity of time over the week and manifold activities piling up for the weekend, I set myself a routine of writing once a week. This time I almost didn't manage. I planned to write about "the outraged", Polish movement which rose up as a response to Occupy Wall Street and similar itiviatives across the world. Maybe the next weekend will be more merciful. Over the week, unlike "the outraged" I burnt the midnight oil at work and from Monday to Wednesday could not even find time and energy to turn the computer on. Over the weekend on top of being burdened with family duties and household chores I had the choice either to indulge in physical (swimming pool, walk) or social activity or to stare at computer screen, and eventually opted for the former. Obviously if I had chosen to stay in and conjure up a mind-blowing post about capitalist societies rousing up, but striking a balance between economics, banking and down-to-earth issues seems more important than satisfying my readers. So... Apologies.

Maybe over the weekend I'll finally follow out my plan.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The guilt

Student SGH? Me? I chose that nickname as I was setting up this blog in February 2009, because being a student was one of main social roles I would perform then and the easiest to put clearly into words. As someone rightly noticed, some time ago I graduated and no longer can call myself a student. Unlike many of my peers I have not struggled to find a job after I finished the studies, I do not work on "junk contract" (umowa śmieciowa), I have a permanent job. Someone said I am a banker. I think this sound misleading. I do not deal in high amounts of money, I just analyse credit risk, my job is to assure a company should be able to pay back the money it wants to borrow. I have worked too short to get it wrong at least once. I earn relatively well, though I was recently told my salary accounts for only 60% of average salary on my position in the whole industry. Unlike most of my compatriots, I have savings, given my age they are quite ample. I try to make even more money by speculating on stock exchange; sometimes I win, sometimes I lose. Plus the only asset I have is a car - a gift from my parents on occasion of graduating from SGH. And last Sunday I voted for Platforma Obywatelska because I was convinced, as almost 40% of voters, that things were quite alright.

Should I have remorse?

I something amiss in the short confession above? Let's dissect it.

Unlike many of my peers I have not struggled to find a job after I finished the studies - The whole debate can boil down to one question - is it true that a man's key to success lies in his own hands. Who are those young people who cannot get a job? Can anyone put together a profile of an unemployed graduate? What did they study? When choosing what to study, did they assess job prospects for graduates? During their studies did they engage in any student organizations? Did they do internships during summer holidays? What did they do to raise their qualifications? What earnings do they expect when entering the labour market?

It was a twist of fate that I work where I work. I partly owe it to luck. On Easter Monday last year I put in my application to Grasz o Staż contest. I cracked a three-page long case study and sent it, not holding out much hopes to be qualified to the next stage. Then out of the blue came a horribly tough interview at a bank. I was given ten minutes to prepare financial analysis of a company on a verge of bankruptcy. There was no space for luck, I had to prove my knowledge. I got in, what I later achieved was thanks to sheer hard work. And I never complained about my salary, employer's requirements, etc.

I do not work under a "junk contract" (umowa śmieciowa) - I cannot see the point in the fuss about junk contracts. For young people who still study they are excellent - no need to pay social security contributions, effective tax rate for such contracts for students is below 15%. Plus they offer more flexibility to both parties to such contracts...

I have a permanent job - now a different story. Despite having some job security (not only in contractual terms, but also at work, where I feel no one is going to lay me off), I am not creditworthy for banks. I do not plan to take out a mortgage, but if I wanted I would not get more than 140,000 PLN. This is... great news. The fewer people deserve, in banks' view, to be granted a loan, the more property prices fall and the sooner I can buy something for cash.

Someone said I am a banker. I think this sound misleading. I do not deal in high amounts of money, I just analyse credit risk, my job is to assure a company should be able to pay back the money it wants to borrow - maybe the case is that English does not distinguish between bankier and bankowiec (not to mention examples of rencista and rentier). I am a bankowiec - someone who works at a bank, but not someone who earns zillions and not, as many people tend to think, foist loans upon helpless clients. My job is to foster the bank's interests. In very simple words, my role is to check and analyse, which company will have capacity to repay a loan, which not, and to justify why. I do not rip anyone off and if a company does not get financing, it is not because I have it in for it. My employer pays me for taking care of quality of its portfolio, so I simply do my bit as good as I can.

I have worked too short to get it wrong at least once. But the economic slowdown is nearing and we are taking steps to prepare for it. One day I'll make a mistake, and I think this will be a valuable experience. One best learns from one's own mistakes...

I earn relatively well, though I was recently told my salary accounts for only 60% of average salary on my position in the whole industry. Many of my peers have inflated expectations regarding their starting salary. This one of main reasons why young people have problems on the labour market. My take on this is that they should, as I did, accept low salary at the beginning, and with time, through aforementioned sheer hard work, prove they deserve more. During the internship I had in summer last year I got paid peanuts, in February I started a three-month probation period over which I was paid more, than I got another pay raise and now I have no reasons to complain. I believe with time, provided the crisis does not spark off for good, my salary should go up again.

Unlike most of my compatriots, I have savings, given my age they are quite ample. - I do not understand why in this country people who are thrifty are at best scowled at. Being good at managing one's own finances is a virtue. Being able to amass some wealth, instead of squandering money does reflect well upon a man. Why those who save are punished, while those who borrow and live beyond their means are taken care of, helped out, etc.?

I try to make even more money by speculating on stock exchange; sometimes I win, sometimes I lose. - and those who buy and sell risk are now assaulted as well. Speculators are to blame for potential sovereign defaults? I know market participants are often insane, their decisions are driven by emotions, herd instinct, irrational, but after all many speculations are based on fundamentals (betting if Greece, Italy or Spain go bust is not unfounded) and on every speculation someone loses. Every speculator is sooner or later beaten in their own game. The only rule in that game that has to be obeyed is that no one should be bailed out. Once you take a risk, you should lose all hopes that anyone will give you helpind hand if things go wrong.

Plus the only assets I have is a car - a gift from my parents on occasion of graduating from SGH.. Yes, I do have remorse, when I pass by people tinned like sardines in a bus. Now I feel like shutting up.

And last Sunday I voted for Platforma Obywatelska because I was convinced, as almost 40% of voters, that things were quite alright. - and I voted for 'evildoers', 'traitors', I opted for the 'further downfall of Poland'. But for over a year I many times glanced at political decisions taken in Hungary and I am grateful to Jarosław Kaczyński for reminding me why I did not vote for his party...

Waiting for some waspich comments to crop up. Feel free to bash me!

Maybe next week about Wall Street occupiers...

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Peace, rather than PiS

We got the preliminary results, based on exit polls. Figures are still very approximate and may vary, but they clearly indicate PO is the party in the history of Poland to win the parliamentary election for the second time in a row. The same figures show is also will be able to keep on wielding power in coalition with PSL.

The victory of PO means no big change is in the offing, Poland is in for four years of predictable and pragmatic, yet sometimes mediocre and feckless rule.

Am I elated? I don't think there's a reason. Poles, including me, voted for PO, because there is no alternative, no better option. We have to make do with what we have. I wish they make wise decisions in the coming economic crisis. May they overhaul Polish public finances, as they have failed to do hitherto, may they utilise prudently EU funds, may they push this country forward.

I think Mr Kaczynski's speaking, not in the same manner as he did in 2007. I wonder how long before the first squabble breaks out...

Update, Monday 10 October
Winning PO scored over 39% of votes, runner-up - PiS, gained slightly less than 30%. The biggest winner is Palikot's movement that scored roughly every tenth vote. The election has brought about a considerable reshuffle in Polish politics...

In the meantime no one turned out to be well-brought-up enough to congratulate the winners. Soon after exit polles came to the light Jarosław Kaczyński threatened one day he would take the path of Hungary where Victor Orban's party won majority of seats in the parliament last year. I hope Poland will be faring well amid the economic slowdown and sovereign debt crisis. Politicians from the opposition already make a wish that the crisis wipes out Donald Tusk's government. Envy and hubris again take over. Those who want the crisis to overturn the prime minister want it to take its toll on Poles as well.

As long as they run Poland, may they do it prudently and mind the outcome.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Home straight

If there is anything I can appeal for three days before the election, it is the presence. Not only the presence of mind when casting a ballot, but presence in the polling stations. When Sunday comes, please, go to the polls, exercise your right to choose your representatives, to choose the shape of Poland in years to come. I do not conceal my political preferences, I will vote for the "servile party of evildoers who have driven Poland to ultimate downfall", but I am not going to exhort to vote for any party. I am calling for high turnout. And please do not scratch beneath the surface. I am not going to prove the rule that the more people go to the polls, the lower the percentage of votes scored by wacky candidates is. Higher turnout gives a stronger mandate to rule the country. Whoever wins, should be authorised by the nation to wield power.

Last days of the lacklustre campaign to my surprise abounded in twists of action. On Monday Tomasz Lis in his evening TV show attempted to drag down Jarosław Kaczyński, but inadvertently dragged himself down by assaulting the leader of PiS in way far cry from objectivity that befits a journalist. Then came the inept pronouncemnt of Mr Kaczynski concerning means by which chancellor Angela Merker rose to power.

In the last days of September it was quite clear to me that PiS would win the election; today this scenario is setting aside. There was a time when PiS had caught up with PO, but then it made one overriding mistake - it switched uncontrollably from deceptive image of peaceful party to its old good style marked by invoking resentments and hostility. I have also observed that so called "young, edcuated, from big cities" who had seemed so indifferent of politics somehow realised what was amiss and roused up. They simply realised PiS would win. Lots of people in Warsaw are so strongly convinced PiS will win this election. Discussions about politics, officially forbidden in my corporation are run every day in the office... Conclusion? If mishaps strike out of the blue... Will people take precautions?

And if PiS wins? Their victory itself will not be a disaster. It does not really matter who wins, what matters is how they rule. If PiS wins, they must get a chance to form a government and Mr Komorowski is duty bound to entrust this mission to Mr Kaczynski. I promise not to see red if Mr Kaczynski's party wins. I will wait for their first moves. And at the end of the day level of adrenaline in my body fell after cutting down on speculating on the stock market, so a reshuffle in politics might send it back up. And last but not least, I am sticking to my promise of setting up a political blog in Polish if PiS wins. That would be a challenge, but could it give pleasure?

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Beautiful late summer

A shame I haven’t illustrated this post with some photos. An egregious error…

The summer of 2011 did not pamper Poland with beautiful weather. It wasn’t actually cold, as average temperature of July was around long-term average and August was slightly warmer than average, but both months gave a rough ride to holidaymakers as both were much wetter than normally. For me, as I didn’t go on holiday, it was great – I was exempted from duty of watering the garden, plus the water bill was lower.

But September did a good job and made up for wet and moderately warm summer months. It was much drier and sunnier and even the typical September’s nuisance – big daily temperature amplitudes weren’t as bothersome as usually. In a word – weather was perfect.

Average temperature: +15.1C – 3 degrees warmer than last year, 0.4 degrees cooler than in 2009 and some 1.5 above long-term average.

Month-time high: 5 September, +26.5C

Month-time low: 17 September, +2.7C (I don’t recall it…)

The warmest day: 12 September – average temperature of +19.4C (typical for July)

The coolest day: 17 September – average temperature of +11.1C.

Two more facts bear out that this September was pleasantly warm: firstly on no single day I had to wear more than two layers of clothing in the morning, I always could do with a shirt and a jacket and quite often got sweat on my way to work (too hot in the underground trains) and this year until today we haven’t turned the heating on. In 2008, 2009 and 2010 we were forced to do it respectively on 16 September, 1 October and 29 September.

Two first days of October also brought a whiff of warm air, yet it wasn’t as warm as forecasters had predicted – yesterday day-time high hit +21C, in line with meteorologists’ forecasts, today it was no warmer than +16C, two degrees colder than what weather forecasts had said. Over the whole weekend the gloss of the sunshine was taken off by northerly winds and one had to find shelter to bask in the sun. Actually despite some chill the weather’s been up to the mark. I mown my lawn today in the afternoon and then cycled in a T-shirt only and during both activities I broke sweat it means it wasn’t cool. The bike ride was perfect, but again, shame on me, I didn’t take the camera and couldn’t take pictures of all the stuff I was taking delight in. But comes another warm and sunny Saturday or Sunday, shall I go there again and snap, snap, snap…

Such warmth is not really unusual for this time of year. On 8 October 2009 temperature in Poland’s capital hit +24C and Poland’s October heat record of +28.6C was set on 14 October 1966. The coming two days should be warmer, with temperatures in Warsaw up to +22C and sunshine (how lovely), then Wednesday is going to be cooler, Thursday again warmer, and true Autumn is predicted to hit on Friday and stay over the election weekend. Weather in the second decade of October is rather unforeseeable, I saw forecasts of both dull days with temperatures between +10C and +15C, as well as return of gold autumn with temperatures up to +20C. Hope the latter proves true. The later gloomy autumn comes, the longer will people be able to save on heating (how practical).

I hope the coming winter will be milder than two previous ones. Long-term forecasts, hardly ever reliable, say winter will come early and go early as well. The current predictions for the coming months are as follows:

October: chilly and windy, what anyway means is will be warmer than in 2010, the worst will be the last decade, when temperatures will be often dropping below +5C.

November: cold and wet, the author of the forecasts adds “just like last year”. Doesn’t she / he remember the beautiful warm and sunny long weekend in mid-November 2010?

December: frosty and dry, with white Christmas. This to some extent resembles December 2010. I’m alright with white Christmas. Afterwards the winter may go to Russia.

January: frosty, dry, with changeable weather.

February: should bring above-average temperatures and early spring.

March: spring in overdrive.

I personally hope the forecast proves true for February and March, the rest doesn’t fill me with optimism. I would prefer a warm winter for three reasons:
1. the aforementioned heating bill,
2. I’ll keeping the car outside the warm garage for the first time. I have to replace the battery, and with a new one I shouldn’t be afraid of temperatures above –20C as long as the car will be used every day and the battery will be charged up, but heavy snowfalls accompanied by low temperatures can play havoc with the battery and other sensitive elements of the car. But wait, so many people keep their cars in open air, so maybe I’m seeking out problems. But on the other hand I saw so many people having troubles with their cars kept in open air in winter…
3. I wish the builders of roads for Euro 2012: Niech im zima lekką będzie. If the weather allows them to press on with works, then there will be a chance that roads will be completed by the end of 2012 (the odds that they’ll be passable in June 2012 are negligibly low).

When trying to predict weather for the winter on my own, I tried to find correlation between politics, economy and weather. Take a look:

2005/2006 – winter is harsh and snowy. Polish economy enters the period of boom, power is wielded by Kaczynski brothers (some say it is a punishment for voting for PiS).

2006/2007 – until 24 January there is no snow, heat records are beaten in mid-January, then ensues a short, yet typical winter that ends for good in the last week of February. Polish economy still grows rapidly, Poles are sick of twin brothers wielding power.

2007/2008 – the warmest winter of the last decade. Snow lingers for less than ten days, on the coldest day the temperature drops to mere –14C. Polish economy is still doing well, but the power is taken over by PO.

2008/2009 – typical Polish winter, with frosts hitting –22C in Warsaw, periods of thaw and snowstorms. Nothing new in politics, but Poland is hit by world-wide economic crisis. Funnily enough, Warsaw is paralysed by a snowstorm exactly the day bear market on Warsaw stock exchange and zloty against other currencies hit their troughs.

2009/2010 – harsh and snowy winter. PO still wields power, economy is rebounding. When stock markets go up in the second half of January, Poland suffers in the fetters of winter. When in first week of February winter eases off, bringing sunshine and temperatures slightly above zero, stock market in Warsaw plummets by 4% for two days in a row.

2010/2011 – cold and snowy December, normal January, cold, but dry February. PO is still ruling, yet the party is falling into pieces, economy still grows, albeit the peak of the business cycle is near.

To recap, I couldn’t observe any significant correlation. If you see any linkages, feel free to share them with other readers and me.

And regardless of what future holds, expect another Winter timeline in March 2012.