Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category

The Craft of Writing

In Thoughts, Travels, Treasures on October 10, 2015 at 12:04 pm

I wanted to share a story that I experienced during the past summer holidays. We visited York (old, not New), and in the middle of the shopping high street sat a guy with a folding table and a mechanical typewriter. Now in this day and age, that is an unusual sight, so I had a closer look. And as my son (8 yrs old now) had never seen a typewriter, I took him over to have a look.

The poet/writer/printer in York

The poet/writer/printer in York

Turns out he was a writer/poet, who for a negotiable fee would write you a poem to take home. So I explained to him how my son did not have a clue what a typewriter was, or what it was for, so I would pay him a tenner for a poem about a typewriter. He looked a bit puzzled, asked what my son’s name was, looked at him a bit more, and then set to it, while we started a walk around the city.

Here is what he came up with, typed on brown paper and folded neatly into a likewise brown envelope:

The poem of York

The poem of York

I found this approach a very nice idea: to treat writing as a true craft as well as an art, working a handwritten draft in his notebook and then transferring the finished product into true print. And the poem with an embedded invitation to join the guild was well worth the money spent, I thought.


Freedom lost

In Events, Thoughts, Travels, Treasures on April 1, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Hm, I suppose blogging, if not pursued as part of one’s main occupation is a luxury easily lost. The timestamp on the last posting shows me that it has almost been a year since my last post, and quite a bit has happened without finding any reflection here.

So in May-June of last year, I entered negotiations with the Scottish branch of my former employers, where an old colleague of mine was trying to rope me back in. In the end, he succeeded with that, heaving me into a position one level above my former one and with start date of 1 August 2011 in the beautiful world of well cementing. Reinstatement of seniority, 40% pay cut, and with about 5 months still to go on my studies. So now I was full-time student and full-time employee. Not a good introduction.

On the positive side, I got to travel to Mauritania for some exploratory negotiations, I got to travel to The Hague to discuss my favourite cementing subject Macondo, and I got to fly to France and Norway.

The Hague cannals

The nice end of Nouakchott, Mauritania

However the job is insane, and I cannot find any more suitable term. The responsibility is between the usual 24/7 drilling operations, which, with waning experience, need increasing support, and the Marketing and Sales department with plenty of tenderwork, presentations, trainings for clients etc. I could work 24/7 and not nearly catch up with all the things that I could do.

Secondly, the company, in a fit of megalomania has formulated a carefully crafted strategy, which consists of “outperforming the competition”, operating at an IBT of 20%, catchily phrased as “Club 20” membership, and all the while doubling the business in our line of work by 2015. All that with a goal to operate everywhere and chase every opportunity and “sell apples, if needed”. I have undoubtedly been spoilt by a book I recently read: “Good strategy, bad strategy – The difference and why it matters”┬áby Richard P. Rumelt. And looking at the guidelines coming out of both the geographic and the business line dimensions of our matrix organisation, they are easily identified as the second kind.

I also miss the freedom to read outside the core discipline, think, write focus on one task and do whatever I want. So I have a feeling that this job is not going to last long. I just need to find an opportunity that allows for focus, has a general approach and therefore allows me to escape the narrow corner, which is the world of the well cementing expert. Easier said than done, but nonetheless, I will try. And hopefully find the time to blog about it.

P. S. In spite of the double load, I managed to graduate with merit and even won a prize for my law dissertation. It is only now that I can fully appreciate how much more fun that was, even if it appeared stressful at times.