Wondering, wandering, and making sense of the world.


Archive for March, 2012

Daylight Saving Time

Style and delivery inspired by the always brilliant xkcd.

I had to change one wall hanging clock, two appliances, three standing clocks, and four watches. I also have three automatically adjusting time pieces (laptop, iPhone, iPod).


Cultural sense of change

Different cultures have different attitudes towards change with regards to certain things. For example, in Japan, change in technology and technological products is so expected that mobile phones are sold seasonally.

In Germany, stability of housing is so cherished that moving is an incredibly difficult and expensive proposition. Typical agency fees are two months rent plus tax and with the security deposit being three months rent, one needs six months of rent before moving into an apartment. Furthermore, furnished apartments are rare and unfurnished apartments don’t include closets, lighting, or sometimes even kitchens.

Where the kitchen is supposed to go in a German apartment

New tenants are expected to move in with their own kitchens or build a new one with everything including the kitchen sink. You can imagine that Ikea advertises their kitchen section heavily in Germany.

If one wants to move out, by law the landlord must be given a three-month notice (this can be circumvented if the old tenants find new tenants that the landlord agrees on). I find that in Europe, laws really do reflect the values that people have, and this is another example.

For me, I’ve found an apartment with a kitchen, but I still had to buy over half-ton of furniture.


What am I doing?

I now live in Frankfurt, Germany.

Recently I came to the realization that almost everyone answers the question “what do you do?” with their job description. I understand that this is the social norm, but when did our jobs become the most important element of what we do?

Interestingly enough, when I tried to answer this question without properly preparing my response and omitting my profession, I sounded unemployed. Luckily, on my blog, I can write and edit as much as I want.

So what am I doing now?

I am still living the adventure. When I was in high school, college, graduate school (part 1), I believed that there was some kind of set life path ahead of me because until that point in life, the next phases of life were fairly well defined. Now that I’m beyond that point, everything is so wide open, and scary as it is, I am navigating the nightscape with a very dim flashlight.

I am exploring, both literally and metaphorically, traveling the world and finding new experiences, figuring out what I am good at and what I like (and the intersection of the two), trying to understand how things work in this ever changing wicked world.

I am settling into Germany, making new friends and finding people I can trust or rely on, finding an awesome Frisbee team to play with, understanding the culture although that’s happening slower than I thought (I spoke much more French after eight months in Paris than I speak German now). I am also settling into my new job, and not surprisingly, the biggest challenges are not the ones I previously imagined.

So what am I doing for my job?

One year ago exactly on this day, I was in Frankfurt for a meeting with Panasonic to discuss the projects I was working on as a consultant. Before the day was over, they made me a job offer to join them once my contract in Paris was over. Having seen the limits of what I can do in my previous job in Paris, and after much painful deliberation, I decided to accept the job and hop on the train to the fifth country that I would live in.

I now work as a concept developer for Panasonic R&D Center Germany. I did not get a written job description like my previous two jobs (design instructor in Paris, executive director at Stanford) and I’m trying to figure out in the ambiguity what must be done to achieve the goals we want to accomplish. It’s not directly in line with what I did in Paris or learned at Stanford, but it’s very much related.

The keen or Japanese reader probably noticed that one year ago was also Japan’s greatest catastrophe since World War II. Like most people outside of Japan, I didn’t find out about the extent of the damage until well after the earthquake and the tsunami. Nevertheless, 3-11-11 will be a day I will always remember.

It’s been two years since I wrote my previous installment of “What am I doing?“, I wonder when I will write my next one.

What are you doing?


Hoteling beyond the hotel

Small idea inspired by my recent travels.

We often consider hoteling to be associated with a physical location, the hotel, and it’s related services. We rarely think of hoteling to go beyond what is offered at the hotel itself. Why not? After all, hospitality should have no boundaries.

So what if hotel guests were given access to airport lounges in the city they visited? This could be the hotel’s own lounge or more likely lounges of partner airlines. I could imagine this as a nice differentiator for business travelers who aren’t picking hotels with their own money.

In an age when airline margins are razor thin due to increased competition and rising fuel prices, this might be a nice side income for them.


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