Sunday, 27 March 2016

Winter timeline 2015/2016 (being the 500th post on PES)

According to long-term predictions issued in autumn 2015 by several forecasting bureaus, winter 2015/16 was supposed to be one the mildest ever in Poland… It turned out to be one of milder…

1 October 2015
First ground frost.

9 October 2015 – 11 October 2015
First whiff of winter – wave of Arctic air is blown in over Poland. Mornings bring regular sub-zero temperatures, down to –2C. Hard to believe just a few days earlier temperature topped at +22C.

12 October 2015
Wet, heavy snow covers south-east Poland for a few hours, yet flurry does not reach Warsaw.

Thereafter autumn returns.

First two decades of November 2015 were more than balmy, yet there were followed by rather chilly third one. All in all, the temperature over the whole month averaged out +5.3C, vs. long-term mean of +3.2, so November 2015 was categorised as warm. Stats:
- month-time high: +15.8C on 8 November 2015 (more than 3 degrees short of the record from 2001),
- month-time low: –5.9C on 27 November 2015 (could have been much worse),
- the warmest day: 11 November 2015 (daily average of +13.8C, as warm as in September),
- the coldest day: 27 November 2015 (daily average of –2.8C, as cold as in January).

1 December 2015
First snow in the morning. Temperature positive, +2C, but precipitation is dense enough for the thick, wet white powder to linger for a while. By midday it melts…

2 December 2015 – 14 December 2015
Late autumn lasts. Temperatures oscillate in single-digit positive territory, with frosts haunting only when it’s dawning. At times sunny, at times rainy. At times windy, at times foggy.

15 December 2015
Flurry comes out in the afternoon, +1C. After sunset temperature drops below zero, snow begins to linger on the warm ground. Its layer is thin and it will soon perish… By the next morning it disappears…

16 December 2015 – 28 December 2015
Extraordinarily warm late autumn, with temperatures ranging from 0C to +15C. All spells of weather are witnessed, except for signs of winter.

29 December 2015
One day it has to begin. –2C in the morning and light dusting of snow which melts only where sunbeams reach (daytime high of 0.0C, cloudless skies). Farewell to temperatures above freezing for a while.

30 December 2015 – 31 December 2015
A snow-free winter. Single-digit frost, moderate wind and sunshine from dawn to dusk.

December 2015 was anomalously warm, the warmest since records began. Average temperature in Warsaw was +4.7C (vs. long-term average of –0.7C and breaking the previous record of +4.0C set in 2006) Stats:
- month-time high: +14.4C on 23 December 2015 (warmer than on 19 December 1989 when temperature soared to +14.2C, yet still cooler than on 5 December 1961, when post-WW2 record for December of +15.0C was set; it needs to be emphasised there were 11 days in December 2015 when temperature peaked at double-digit Celsius degrees),
- month-time low: –8.3C on 31 December 2015 (the balmy month had a chilly ending),
- the warmest day: 23 December 2015 (daily average of +11.6C, as warm as in early October),
- the coldest day: 31 December 2015 (daily average of –5.6C).

Sunny and chilly. Slightly below –10C at dawn, near –8C in the early afternoon. Looking outside, seems spring is in the offing. Going outside, wind chill of –18C makes you change your mind. Few folks dare to venture outside.

3 January 2016
The coldest morning this winter so far, –16C . By midday skies get overcast and little snowflakes begin to fly around. Over the day unpleasant feeling of chill absent in earlier days… And no warmer than –13C in the afternoon.

Again –16C while the dawn is breaking. This time sunnier and temperature goes up to –11C in the second half of the day to drop to –14C in the evening.

5 January 2016
Was supposed to get warmer… Outturn: –17C just before sunrise, not above –10C in the afternoon, –13C in the evening.

6 January 2016
How lovely. Temperature rises overnight to –7C and light dusting of snow covers the frozen ground. The missing piece of winter gently falls into place.

7 January 2016
Noticeably warmer, around –6C and gloomy.

8 January 2016
Another snow shower, yet the one which does not play havoc with those in need to get about. Two centimetres do not impress Warsaw. From –6C in the morning into +2C in the evening.

9 January 2016 – 10 January 2016
Gloomy thaw, or actually temperatures hovering around 0C. No sun, no rain, no new supply of snow, but the ground is frozen up, so the old snow melts really slowly.

11 January 2016 – 12 January 2016
Light thaw continues. Dark, rainy, foggy days. Depressing weather.

13 January 2016
Overnight flurry melts quickly over the day. Rain in the evening. Last hours with positive temperatures before veritable winter commences for more than a week (unless forecasters get it wrong).

14 January 2016
Bleak, winter day. Just below freezing…

Has anyone warned of intense snow showers? It begins to snow around 2 p.m. and does not cease into the night. Upshot – more than 10 centimetres of thick, wet white powder. Winter brings road clearance services to their knees in afternoon rush hours. Precipitation is quite heavy and for many is a nuisance, but for the first time since late January 2014 winter wonderland impresses with its timeless beauty.

It ceased to snow late in the evening yesterday. Skies clear up and bear testimony to winter’s magnificence. Only those in need to move about are worse off. Thoroughfares have been cleared off snow overnight, but many other roads are full of slush, or simply icy… Shame! Around –5C.

17 January 2016 – 21 January 2016
Generally speaking the same weather pattern: single-digit frost regardless of time of a day, sometimes sunny, sometimes cloudy, sometimes foggy, sometimes a light dusting of snow. Boring winter.

Light, yet intense snow shower leaves two centimetres of fresh white powder and then gives way to sunshine for the whole day. –2C in the afternoon. A chilly night ahead and thaw in the offing.

Cloudless night followed by a frosty morning. Temperature drops to –14C shortly after sunrise. The chill is compensated by beautiful sunshine and diamond dust falling. Probably the last day (before thaw comes over) to cherish the magnificence of winter.

24 January 2016
Gently falling tiny snowflakes are probably the last seen during this January. Sky is overcast. Freezing drizzle in the afternoon, temperature rises above zero in the evening and will not drop below freezing by the end of the month.
Exactly ten years ago was the coldest morning in Warsaw in my lifetime – temperature fell to ghastly –27.1C.

25 January 2016
Thaw commences for good. Not more than +2C and drizzle.

26 January 2016
Temperature goes up to +5C. Drizzle at times turns into downpour. Snows melt quickly. Ghastly greyness takes over.

27 January 2016
Temperature increases to +8C. Snow, except for heaps, disappears, greyness is overwhelming. No winter on the horizon!

28 January 2016 – 31 January 2016
If the spell of warmth in the third decade of December 2015 was the lat gasp of autumn, these days bring the first whiff of spring. Temperatures above freezing, yet not hitting double-digits, sunny intervals each days. Long-term forecasts do not foresee winter by mid-February.

January 2016 was normal, although mean was featured by large positive and negative deviations. Average temperature in Warsaw was –2.9C (vs. long-term average of –1.9C) Stats:
- month-time high: +11.2C on 28 January 2016 (double-digit highs have not been so unusual during recent Januaries),
- month-time low: –17.1C on 5 January 2016 (a typical winter-time low),
- the warmest day: 28 January 2016 (daily average of +7.5C, as warm as in late October),
- the coldest day: 3 January 2016 (daily average of –15.0C).

1 February 2016 – 9 February 2016
Gentle pre-spring with no signs of winter, except for short hail shower on 4 February…

10 February 2016
After a rainy day in the evening it gets cold and rain turns into wet, dense snow. By midnight it covers the ground despite temperature above freezing.

11 February 2016
It snowed all night… Had it not been for the above-zero temperature, layer of snow would have reached even ten centimetres. But as the air and the ground were warmer, most of the snow melted. Result? Slush, a mixture of water, snow and ice all around, pedestrians have to wade in it. By the evening only big puddles remind of heavy snowfall.

12 February 2016 – 19 February 2016
Continuation of dull pre-spring. Not much above zero, usually cloudy with intermittent moments of sunshine and rain showers. Days are visibly longer…

20 February 2016
Little snow in the morning. Some one centimetre, precipitation which brings London or Paris to standstill and does not impress Warsaw at all. By early afternoon the white powder is gone…

21 February 2016 – 23 February 2016
Dull pre-spring goes on and on… I bet one month before first signs of proper spring come into sight (time proved me right!)

24 February 2016
An intense blizzard hits southern districts of Warsaw just after sunset. Temperature suddenly drops to –1C, but the heavy snowfall lasts no longer than twenty minutes and soon all traces of it are gone.

25 February 2016
Balancing between winter and pre-spring. A frosty morning gives way to a sunny, yet not really balmy day.

26 February 2016
Another morning with sub-zero temperatures, followed a cloudy day with intense, yet short snow showers. The fallen snow does not linger for long.

27 February 2016
Same pattern as two days earlier. By midday temperatures rises above zero, remnants of snow melt, sun breaks through the clouds…

28 February 2016
This time not a trace of winter… For a while only.

29 February 2016
The day sets off with a little blizzard. Snow melts quickly, but then comes another snow shower… Near zero.

February 2016 was very warm. Average temperature in Warsaw was +3.6C (vs. long-term average of –1.0C). It was the fourth warmest February since records began, after February 1990 (+4.6C), February 1991 (+4.1C) and February 1989 (+3.9C) and equally warm as February 2002. Stats:
- month-time high: +12.5C on 22 February 2016 (not extraordinarily warm),
- month-time low: –5.6C on 27 February 2016 (a similarly high low as in 2015),
- the warmest day: 2 February 2016 (daily average of +9.5C, as warm as in late April),
- the coldest day: 27 February 2016 (daily average of –1.7C, one of two days in February 2016 when mean temperature was negative).

1 March 2016 – 2 March 2016
Ghastly clash of winter and spring continues. Sleet and snow (melting quickly) keep being obtrusive. The recent abundant precipitation is a step towards solving the problem of long-term drought in Poland.

3 March 2016 – 12 March 2016
Dreary pre-spring with temperatures above freezing, infrequent rainfalls and not a single sunbeam reaching Warsaw. Depressing

13 March 2016
Sunshine! Clear blue skies. Slightly below +10C, but the gusty wind makes it still pre-spring.

14 March 2016
Yesterday’s weather turned out to be misleading for those hoping one sunny day was the first intimation of spring. Cloudless sky send temperature falling and before sunrise it dropped to –4C. A sunny morning followed by dull afternoon and in the evening it begins to snow heavily. Temperature hovers around zero so the snow lingers...

15 March 2016
By sunrise much of the snow fallen overnight melted; remnants disappear by midday. Dull and barely above zero.

16 March 2016 – 17 March 2016
Two sunny, yet definitely not balmy days. Some time will have to pass before spring takes over.

18 March 2016 – 20 March 2016
The last of the dull pre-spring. Unpleasant weather with little sunshine, chilly wind and intermittent showers.

21 March 2016 – today
The weather takes a turn for the better. Except for rainy Tuesday and Saturday, days are full of sunshine and getting warmer. Clear skies bring a price to pay, night-time frost! But since forecasts do not foresee even a short-lasting relapse of winter, time to sign off the timeline.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Safety first

I cannot get the accident of president’s limousine out of my head. I would have probably gotten over the affair, had journalists of Rzeczpospolita not cast a new light on the circumstances of the accident. Findings the journalists have come into possession (probably from Opole prosecutor’s office which runs investigation on the smash-up) paint an appalling picture of a string of wrongdoings that fortunately have not had tragic consequences.

The key takeaways are as follows:
1. The notorious six-year-old tyre was rendered out of use and waited in a warehouse for being recycled. Since the new tyres were not in place (previous tyres had been damaged on 20 January 2016 and new ones for some reasons have not come in), it was decided to put in the worn-out tyres, as the limousine was badly needed to be roadworthy.
2. On 4 March 2016 when the accident took place, the limousine covered a 100-metres long steep, icy, stony slope uphill to carry the president directly to a ski-lift in Karpacz. The terrain should not have been trespassed by any vehicle other than SUV of the Mountain Rescue Services (GOPR).
3. On the way from Karpacz to Wisła, on A4 motorway, the driver ignored warnings from the vehicle’s computer of too low pressure in the tyre. The quoted reason for the negligence was haste to make up for a one-hour delay in president’s trip schedule.
4. The problem with pressure in the tyre could have been ignored for a while, had the vehicle moved at the speed no higher than 80 kmph (the special tyres assembled in VIP-carrying cars are designed to withstand up to 100 kilometres nearly flat, provided the car does not exceed a specified velocity), while the actual speed was above 160 kmph.
5. The column of VIP vehicles was followed by a civil car, driven by a social media expert from the president’s office.

A few heads have rolled immediately after the accident, however senior management of BOR who oversee security of the most prominent officials, shirk responsibility for all the negligence that put the president’s life in jeopardy.

Who is then to blade for the accident? As always, the long-gone nominees of the previous government. Current executives of BOR have filed charges to prosecutor’s office against their predecessors (its content is confidential, but we know the a procedure of tyre maintenance, allegedly wrongful, had been set up in line with BMW’s guidelines).

It is beyond all doubt those no longer in service:
- crept into the garage in which the limousine was parked and installed the worn-out tyres,
- drove the BMW up the icy hill,
- ignored on-board computer signals,
- raced 170 kmph on a busy motorway.
The way BOR headship explain away the mess they have given assent for is ludicrous. PiS have managed to fire and hire thousands of people. PO- and PSL-affiliated henchmen were kicked out of their warm chairs and replaced by PiS partisans, but they have not managed to review safety procedures (which they claim were faulty) nor to come by a spare set of tyres. The pitiable blame-storming also bears testimony of competencies of new management of BOR. An average car user knows after buying a second-had car or taking over a car from someone else, it is within their best interest to have the car thoroughly inspected. An average driver also knows a tyre should be replaced after five years regardless of tread depth, since mixture from which it is made loses its properties. Exceptions to this might be taken by those who drive calmly around town, but not those travelling at high speeds on motorways. BOR’s primary responsibility is to make sure the statesmen are properly protected. The 4 March 2016 incident proves they have buggered it up all the way, sadly.

Semblances with the Smolensk tragedy spring to mind naturally. In both cases the list of irregularities that led up to the catastrophe is long and in both cases the tragic end was the aftermath of many, not one, misdeeds, including the crucial one – attempting to stick to the agenda at all cost. It finally needs to be spoken out – people responsible for security of the statesmen should always set safety procedures ahead of agendas, schedules, delays as well as comfort and whims of politicians. The (yet another) skiing foray of the president shows lesson from the Smolensk tragedy have not been learnt. I wonder what else the investigation reveals and how politicians of the ruling party, good at denying evident facts, react to those findings.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

ZaPiSki z czasów dobrej zmiany

Heard the purport of the controversial speech of president Duda in Otwock has been manipulated by the media hostile to PiS. I advise you listen the speech and shape an opinion on it on yourselves. Has Mr president gone too far in diagnosing the ailments plaguing Poland and in insulting his opponents? Is Mr Duda president of all Poles or of one particular party? Up to you to decide…

In February Mrs Szydło’s government celebrated first 100 days of work. Out of five priorities on the government’s agenda only one has been carried through.
1. The 500 plus child allowance programme has been launched and first payouts to parents will be made in April. Undeniable credit to the government for delivering the flagship project, however a truly impressive attainment will be making ends meet in budgets for 2017 and onwards without containing the scale of the program .
2. Decreasing retirement age to 60 for women and 65 for men remains in the realm of promises. Mr Duda promised to submit a relevant draft law and kept his promise, nothing beyond it.
3. In progress is the law setting up free-of-charge medicines for elderly people aged 75 or more. Needless to say the list of medicines will not be endless and only some medications will qualify for 100% reimbursement. According to some estimates, an average pensioner will save no more than 20 zlotys monthly thanks to generosity of PiS government. Wonder whether administrative expenses will be higher or lower than gains of all entitled old-aged citizens.
4. CIT rate cut to 15% for micro enterprises looms far on the horizon. A few PiS politicians brought up the topic, but right now the government is preoccupied with putting out other fires.
5. Raising tax allowance to PLN 8,000 per year also stands no chance of being accomplished in 2016 and feasibility of such move in 2017, given foreseen shortfall of budget revenues, is up in the air.

The festival of traducing Mr Wałęsa was rather short-lasting, but I am sure this has not been the last word. The game is up…

The former CEO of Bank Zachodni WBK has unveiled the Responsible Development Plan, a roadmap for Poland to catch up with the Western Europe and a set of measures to move Poland forward. It is beyond all doubt Poland badly needs a long-term development strategy, yet the strategy must be viable from cover to cover, i.e. it should identify what problems need to be overcome and with what means.
The diagnosis Mr Morawiecki sets is spot-on, but hang on… How do the notions underlying the plan square with PiS’ economic agenda? It is claimed public debt is a drag on Poland’s development, but PiS’ spending spree will sooner or later have to contribute to rising public debt. Demographics is bound to decrease labour force in Poland and to counteract it PiS deputies put forward decreasing retirement age and have raised schooling age from 6 to 7.
Besides, being familiar with specifics of some sectors (e.g. shipyards, automotive, transport, capital goods), I fear goals in the programme might be to beautiful to be realistic. Harnessing banking and corporate sectors’ over-liquidity to boost investment smacks of central planning. All in all, the plan makes a good impression, but I do not believe the government “knows better” than thousands of enterprises. Lending a helping hand and setting strategic objectives for the development should remain the core areas of government’s involvement in the economy. Let’s not go beyond them and let the free market do its job.

The cursed soldiers, for years forgotten, in the days surrounding 1 March were glorified more avidly than veterans of the Home Army (not to mentioned those out of luck to join the Home Army). I have not against commemorating victims of Stalinism, tortured and murdered between 1945 and 1956, they do deserve our remembrance, but the cursed soldiers are not a uniform group and historians (other than IPN-affiliated) vary in their assessments of cursed soldiers’ deeds after the Home Army was dissolved in January 1945. In 1945, as Poland became subjugated to the Soviet Union, warfare was officially over. Some people came to terms with the fact Poland could be at best a satellite country of the Soviet Union and under those circumstances began to rebuild the country from ruins, combat illiteracy, electrifying countryside, while others did not lay down guns. The problem I have with them is that they did not fight the Soviets, but they killed their compatriots, not only the ardent functionaries of the new systems in MO, UB, PPR uniforms, but also representatives of the ethnical minorities, Jews and civilians who did not resist the new order or benefited from it, e.g. peasants granted land as part of the agrarian reform.
Romuald Rajs “Bury” and Józef Kuraś “Ogień” are two most glaring examples of bandits venerated today. I would strongly prefer the whole truth is told about those people. Locals in Podhale or near Białowieża, especially ancestors of civilians killed by brigades of “the stalwart” put up the biggest resistance when IPN- and PiS affiliated , yet their voices are rarely audible.
Besides, come to think of it with cool head. Imagine someone hiding in a forest. What would they live off? How would the procure nutrition? How would they survive harsh winters in the second half of 1940s? Locals tired of six years of privations of war did not need to embrace the idea of helping out the forestmen by offering them board and lodging…

A tyre popped. Had it happened in an ordinary Pole’s passenger car, it would have passed unnoticed. But the tyre popped in a BMW carrying president Duda; consequently the vehicle went into a skid and landed in a roadside ditch. Fortunately, the head of state came of the accident safe and sound and after the voices of conspiracy theorists (assassination could not be ruled out) and vulgar haters faded, it transpired the tyre had been produced in 2010 and should have long been out of use. Jaw drops open. Within four months PiS have managed to replace most officials in ministries and state-controlled companies and launched several opening audits to reveal irregularities and havoc wreaked by their incompetent predecessors, but they have failed to inspect fleet of vehicles carrying the statesmen.

Why did this happen? The technical conditional of the vehicle is one side of the coin, the driving style of BOR being the other. Many doubt the column of vehicles, including with Mr Duda on board, was moving within the speed limit of 140 kmph, witnesses speak of the speed of 170 kmph or even 200 kmph. BOR vehicles according to the Polish law enjoy the status of privileged vehicles, just like ambulances, fire engines and police cars. This means they do not need to follow traffic regulations. Let’s have a glance at how the column of vehicles moved at National Road DK5 before turning into A4 motorway where the accident took place. 

I know the road well, its surface if flat, has not ruts, but the road is narrow, winding, hilly and on many sections visibility is poor. Does such way of moving around contribute to safety of Mr Duda (or whoever is a passengers) and other innocent road participants?

Last Sunday a supplementary election to the upper house was held in Łomża – Suwałki constituency. Anna Maria Anders, backed by PiS won the seat in the parliament, but if you bear in mind three facts:
1. Mrs Anders’ score (47%) was mere 6 percentage points ahead of PSL-affiliated, PO- and Nowoczesna-backed Mr Baginski’s result,
2. the turnout in the election was 17%, meaning only 8% of citizens entitled to vote cast their votes for Mrs Anders,
3. Mrs Anders had been endorsed by all prominent PiS politicians involved in her campaign, while PO, PSL and Nowoczesna had not lifted a little finger to support their candidate (shame on you, Mr Schetyna, Mr Petru and Mr Kosiniak-Kamysz),
the victory is anything but swingeing and should rather be interpreted as a warning sign than as declaration of strong support.

The VeniceCommission has issued a report on recent changes in law pertaining to the Constitutional Tribunal. The final document is somewhat toned down in comparison to the draft which had leaked to the media in February. The Commission blames both the previous and the current governments for paralysing the Tribunal and urges the Polish government to rectify the wrongdoing. Commentators keep on talking about the political compromise to be worked out to reverse the unfortunate legislation. This twaddle fills me with dread. There is no room for give-and-take, politicians from all parties present in the parliament have to make a concerted effort to bring the laws in line with constitution. The PiS government is slowly realising it cannot mess with everyone around. Hope the opposition realise this time for the benefit of Poland they will need to collaborate with the government, not to reach any compromise, but to restore the legal framework spoilt in two stages by PO-PSL, PiS and president Duda.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Corpo get-together…

Supplementary election to fill a vacant seat in the upper house is held today in one of the constituencies (a useful touchstone to sound out support for the ruling party in north-eastern Poland being one of its strongholds), so the best practice would be to hold over the monthly commentary on the pursuit of the dobra zmiana (will catch up next week). In the meantime I need to get off my chest some stuff that has mounted up…

Yesterday I returned from one of in-house annual conferences staged my the New Factory. By labelling it in-house I mean its participants were only employees of the New Factory and no one else. By labelling it conference I mean the part of the agenda was (indeed) a (tedious) conference panel, otherwise this operating expense (feel sorry for the shareholders…) would have undesired tax implications. Had it been straightforwardly named a lavish booze-up, it would not have been a tax-deductible expense for the company and employees would need to pay income tax on the (costly) benefit they would have received from the employer…

Myths around what happens during such events are old as hills, nevertheless the perception of corporate get-togethers varies considerably depending on particular people… Based on my own observations many stories on how hard workmates can party have little to do with reality, or simply parties for financiers are more expensive but less scandalous than those organised for staff from other industries.

The probably most widespread legend about the integration parties (with accommodation) is that they create the unsurpassed opportunity to cheat on your spouse or partner. Fortunately (and heaven forfend), I have never been a witness of such acts, nor have ever heard of them (not to mention participating!). I assume such adventures do not belong to achievements civilised humans would brag about, so only the involved parties are in the know. Moreover, such behaviours, if do happen, happen marginally. Besides, if somebody wants to cheat on their partner, they will not need to wait for the occasion of the corporate trip, but if somebody would not cheat on their partner, they would not do it anyway despite conducive circumstances.

The other story are the situations which plainly would not be classified as cheating, but rather fall into grey area and would rather not be approved by partners of parties involved. Most husbands would not be elated to see their wives sitting on a colleague’s laps, most wives would not be pleased to see their husband touching his workmate’s buttocks while dancing. For some people such behaviours are permissible part of the one-off fun, for some are a step way too far. As in this respect my conscience is not clean, I do not dare to assess those behaviours, nevertheless had I been in a relationship, I would have held back.

Alcohol is on-the-house in unlimited amounts is also an indispensable element of such events, hence participants want to make use of it. My observations are derived from parties with civilised people, so the incidences of over-using alcohol did happen, but were not frequent. I would rather witness tanked-up individuals rather than hoards. The very fact of drinking too much is, I believe, not condemnable; what you do, no matter how intoxicated you are, is what can bring shame on you. The most obnoxious situation I have witnessed was a guy running around in his boxers and shouting something out, but more common are situations of people whose true nature comes to the light and they begin to either backbite their workmates or tell them straightforwardly what they think about them. It brings clear evidence upbringing and social norms induce people to conduct themselves acceptably, while the confrontation with the worst, carefully hidden parts of some people’s nature may be dreadful… I can confess I have once drunk too much and upon realising it, I made off to my room on my own, though staggering. Fortunately, a huge hangover the next day was the only price to pay and thankful it had not got much worse, I promised myself not to repeat it. What I can advise is to know your limits, have a few drinks to get more relaxed (a teetotaller might be perceived as a sneak or as someone fighting problems with alcohol), but stay more sober than inebriated and… watch carefully what is going on around. Sometimes during one evening or night you will learn more about your workmates than during hundreds of hours spent together in the office.

The piece of advice above shifts the posting towards what the purpose of such parties for senior management is. They drink little alcohol and hardly ever step into a dance-floor. They know well this is the ideal occasion to rub shoulders, reinforce their position within the company, backbite others and observe their subordinates. All in all, they play a political game and actually work hard rather than party hard. While a rank-and-file can only end up wasting their reputation by doing silly things under the influence, senior managers and executives leverage on such events. Not attending them is like standing in one place while others move on…

I personally rather avoid senior managers during such parties and talk to them only if they approach me. I hang around with ordinary folks, as broadly expected and accepted. Nevertheless, I am not fond of people getting too effusive, especially after drinking a bit too much, but not enough to make a piss of themselves. Maybe fans of soap operas find pleasure in listening to other people’s secrets, including what frustrates people in their relationships and other aspects of personal life, what they have gone through with workmates, how much they earn (or how big gaps in salaries within one team are). I particularly blow a fuse (not only during parties, but in general) if I hear a woman being in a relationship confessing she is afraid of being lonely or enumerating traits of their partner which drive her mad. You can say a well-mannered person would not stoop so low to complain about their husband or boyfriend to anyone else than a close friend, but oddly enough if a friend grumbles about his wife, I do not find it annoying… Still, restraint is what I hold dear.

No matter what sins you happen to commit during an integration trip, the golden rule being a part of corporate culture is whatever happens during integration event, stays there. It might become a subject of gossips, but is never told in public. Of course as long as your misdemeanour is really glaring, then a company will force you to terminate a contract voluntarily (looks much better in documents than being fired for misconduct) and you will walk away in disgrace…

Actually, most people do not embrace such events, and many find sophisticated excuses to shun them or possibly shorten attendance to a bare minimum satisfactory for managerial teams. The recent event kicked off on Thursday midday and drew to a close on Saturday late morning. For me, not a problem to spend two nights in a four-star hotel near Warsaw partying, participating in excruciating meeting during the day and enjoying food and beverages on the house. For people having families, especially small children and generally to all folks having obligations, this is not a dreamt-up get-together and would rather do a nine-to-five job and return to their families that indulge in an exuberant event.

So if most people do not like, while such events are held anyway? Not to bring people together, I suppose. It is because apart from bread (salaries paid in time, perks and bonuses) people need circuses. Just like a man invites a woman for a dinner to a posh restaurant, he shows he cares, same goes with an employer who splurges a barely imaginable amount of money for a booze-up shows they care about their stuff. Who cares stakeholders of the company pay for it, either in form of lower net profit, or in form of increased prices of company’s products or in form of lower bonuses? I have dare to estimate total yearly cost of such events borne by the New Factory may account for around three percent of its before-tax earnings and if I got the equivalent of what has been paid for the most recent one, would buy me a detached house in my dreamt-up location. The other side of the coin is the profitable business of running venues specialising in hosting corporate events. And unlike individuals who seek holiday accommodation, corporate clients spend someone else’s money, so price does not matter most (paradoxically if a company throws out more money, it cares more). The business, unlike what many say, is not very cyclical, and provided occupancy rates are high (during holiday periods you can decrease prices and host individuals), the business model should ensure sustainable and high profits.