Business with Pleasure

Posted by Analyse at 6:15 PM

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I’ll be boarding the plane again next week. To Thailand. For two weeks. Alone. Buti na lang.

When Frenchguy knew I was going to Thailand just before Christmas, he eagerly suggested that I hop and spend the holidays in the Philippines - and bring Louna with me. At first, I thought it was a wonderful idea. My eldest brother, who never met Louna in person, will be in the Philippines for Christmas too so it will be a great occasion.

But bringing Louna with me would mean:

- Managing a toddler on a long-haul flight - alone!

- Asking my sisters to join me in Bangkok so they could babysit Louna while I work (which means they have to ask for vacation leave and two weeks is quite a lot)

- Buying 4 air tickets: 2 for my sisters (MNL-BKK-MNL) and 2 for Louna and I (BKK-MNL-BKK). This is quite a mess considering I changed the dates twice (because of work constraints). And since I buy the tickets at the last minute, I was offered the highest price!

- Buying another ticket for Louna (CDG-BKK-CDG). Our travel agent proposed a huge 850€ enfant ticket on waiting list. I should be insane to accept that!

- Worrying about my daughter while I work. Not that I don’t trust my sisters. It’s just that Louna is quite hard-headed and doesn’t want to give her hands when she’s outside. And though she understands English, she expresses herself in French. Not to add, what if she fells sick while in Bangkok? I just can’t justify an Enfant Malade while I’m on work assignment outside of France because my daughter is sick.

- Spending Christmas with my family back in the Philippines, but leaving Frenchguy alone here in France.

That’s just too much to manage. And too much to pay. So after weighing things out, we finally decided to cancel Louna’s trip to the Philippines – and mine too. Finally, we will be spending Christmas together as a family here in France. There will always be next time.

But my sisters would still go to Bangkok for a week. That’s a promise of great fun and shopping. Girls just want to have fun!

Cebu Pacific E-Tickets

Anybody who tried buying tickets online? Is it normal that I have received the e-tickets by email but no payments have been collected so far (3 working days after)? I’m quite used to online reservations here in France where payments are collected in no time. I hope my sisters won’t have any problem boarding the plane.

Objective: Replace Car by 3Q 2008

Posted by Analyse at 9:15 PM

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Moolah management at home has always been a hot topic. Frenchguy is the kind who would look at his finances closely - I mean, looking at his bank account almost every night, afraid that Alibaba might discover his hidden euros. On the contrary, I hate talking about money matters to the point that I leave Frenchguy manage our finances.

Here's our trick. We have separate and common accounts at home. A certain portion of our salary would be transferred monthly to our common account - destined to pay mortgages, taxes, groceries, nanny and househelp salaries, vacation expenses - everything. Then another portion would be destined to buy company stock options - a good investment as long as the company is in good health. The graph shows the value of our stock options when I started to buy till today. Not a bad progression, right? That makes me virtually rich.

The remaining amount of our salary is considered as our pocket money. And mind you, my finance manager computed up to the last cents that I only have enough to pay the canteen and gas for my car. A bit exaggerated, okay. But reality is almost close to that, lol. So don't even try to borrow money from me. When I say I have no cash, I mean, no cash!

Frenchguy sent me a message this afternoon (he's in the US) saying: You have to start looking closer on your finances now if you want to change your car next year. Huwatt?!!?? Is that some kind of a joke or what? How in the world could I save for a car next year from the few euros left in my wallet every end of the month? And hello, haven't you seen oil prices? It's soaring high but my pocket money remained the same, blahblah here and blahblah there! And why should I pay it alone, aber? I swear, if I pay it with my own moolah, you will never touch it, except for car washing and changing tires. Mokong na 'to, hmp.

So after negociations and another negociation, we settled for a common accord that I contribute less in our account and buy less stock options. It's no way that we borrow money from the bank and pay interest for a product which depreciates its value the moment I turn the key. Anyway, it will be a small, not-so-expensive, most-probably-second-hand car* which I will use to go to work, do the groceries and shopping. No big deal.

P.S.: He still agrees to wash my car and change tires.

*Concessionnaire cars, mostly 3-6 months old, with very few km could be bought at a very interesting rate here in France. It's a widely responded market that, at a certain point, constructors started to offer a large discount for a purchase of a brand new car to compete with this market.

Graph from this site.

Bella Italia = Sad Louna

Posted by Analyse at 8:16 PM

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tho travelling has became a part of our so-called normal life, it was still funny to prepare 3 luggages for 3 different destinations. One for Frenchguy who left last Tuesday for Mexico and the US, another one for me for my Milan trip, and the last one for Louna who stayed two nights at her Nanny's place.

Time management at home has somewhat became a national sport. We normally try to organize our travels so as not to disturb Louna from her regular routine - which means, when one travels, the other one should stay at home. But work engagements sometimes get in the way and we find ourselves driving 600 long kilometers so we could leave Louna at her grandparent's place - a vacation in disguise.

Since my trip to Milan this week just took me 2 nights out of Dijon, we decided to leave Louna at her Nanny's place instead of bringing her back at her grandparent's place. So Tuesday morning, with her luggage in tow, I explained to her that she would sleep at her Nanny's place and that I won't be fetching her up in the afternoon but two days later. The teary-eyed darling started to cling on my legs and when I looked at her, her facial expression just broke my heart (the same expression in the picture). The little boy sharing the same Nanny with her took her hand to bring her to the playroom. There, she broke out into tears. I said goodbye and took the car. I drove teary-eyed on my way to work.

Tho I know that she would cry for barely a minute, her message was clear and I know, we have to reconsider our organization as soon as we can.

The Journey to Milan

6 hours drive up to Milan, sandwiched between 3 unfatiguable men talking about their ski adventures with their kids and their business travel sagas from one country to another was already an adventure in itself. We didn't really find the drive too long. There were some pauses, unable to find a new topic for discussion, but we were 4 in the car, and a simple remark or question could trigger an hour garanteed discussion.

We took the Mont Blanc tunnel to cross the border and I had a little apprehension and a bit of curiosity to cross this tunnel because of the 1999 fire which killed 39 people. Imagine crossing an 11.6 km tunnel having that image in mind. The temperature inside the tunnel reached 1000°C, a real inferno. But security was well in place and toll-fee was discouraging enough that truck drivers must take another route to cross the French-Italien border (> 400€ for trucks).

We stayed in a 4* hotel at the suburbs of Milan and 15 minutes after our arrival, we were already savouring a glorious Italian beer at the bar. Who says I can't do bar-hopping with the oldies?

After a sumptous meal, we decided to head off directly to our respective beds because tomorrow is a promise of a long day.

We had the meeting the whole day and honestly, at exactly 6:30pm, I was glad to end the exhausting brainstorming we had with the supplier. A dose of aspirin was the only source of energy which kept me going.

Our contact person was kind enough to invite us to dinner at a cozy place in Milan that night. Oh, I love Italian cuisine! After bottles of wine, loads of antipasti, and a mouth-watering main meal, the supplier offered us a free tour of Milan by night.

We just loved that Italian hospitality that after saying our goodbyes, we bid each other See you in January.

Back to Dijon

Louna's stay with the Nanny was A-Ok as always. We had a phonecall from Frenchguy last night and he's finally heading to Mexico City (from our production site lost in the Mexican desert hehe) to meet MY friend. Inggit ako. He would spend the weekend with her before he leaves to the US on Monday. That friend was a classmate in my French classes way back year 2003 and despite the distance, we succeeded to kept our contact. They're surely having lots of fun while I write this post.. while I wait for Louna to finish her siesta.

Hope you're having a great weekend too.

Milan Pictures: 1. My colleagues appreciating the beauty of Milan Cathedral 2. Teatro alla Scala 3. Inside the Galeria Vittorio Emanuel II.

Plant Design

Posted by Analyse at 3:40 PM

Saturday, November 10, 2007

This is probably my most hated subject when I was still a student. And to double the hate, there was Plant Design I and.. tadan.. Plant Design II. Of course, we will not halt the hate at that level. To triple the hate, I was under a terror instructor who happened to be the husband of our department’s dean. That explained, among others, why there were only 11 students during that batch.

If I remember it right (whew, that was 10 long years ago!), Plant Design I was more of a definition of the subject, market research and project preparation. Sounds simple? Okay, here’s an appetizer. During those times, my group mates and I were regulars at the UPLB Library to do some research. Luckily, we stumbled on a preliminary study on what came up as our subject (transforming wastewater to construction additives). We then contacted the authors of the study to get more details, contacted the company where we could buy our raw materials (eg; their wastewater) to check if it is indeed feasible, evaluated cost for building constructions near the company (to zero-out transportation cost), did some market research to draw a forecast of the commercialization of our product.. and so on, and so forth.

Plant Design II was the start of the technical aspect of the project - plant design as the word denotes (you know, technical computations on the defined process), and of course, its finalization. I still remember, we defended the subject before the juries three times. Yes, 3x! I can't remember all the reasons but one of them was because there was a certain discrepancy in our manpower forecast vs volume to be produced. Nothing linked to the technical aspect of the project, ever.

One thing which probably showed my work personality during that experience was that, I was criticized of doing all the work. Very poor in delegation, etc. I was the group leader and I felt responsible. But it's true that some of the members were not working at all or lacked in engagement in the task to be achieved that I almost hated some of them. I had 1.75. They’ve got 2.50. Fair deal.

Well, going on to real life. As I've mentionned in my previous post, I'm a Project Manager on one subject and with it, I get to re-live my plant design experience at a more exciting pace. Tho my stress level is at its maximum level at the moment, I start to appreciate the new function because I'm learning a lot. I get to see the different stages of a project which was not visible for me before. Tho they present as huge problems, the challenge is to find appropriate solutions.

Working with a Project Team is completely different. Here, each work expertise is represented by a team member who would ensure the accomplishment of his given task. So far, at the stage of the project, I regularly work with 6 experienced male colleagues. I talk, dress up and curse like a man now, darn.

This Tuesday, I, together with my 5 colleagues will drive up to Milan to have a meeting with our supplier (because there will be a huge strike in France starting Tuesday, better not take public transpo). We will spend 2 nights there. Exciting sana, kaya lang, their age ranges from 45-55 years old. Dyaheng gumimik at mag-bar hop. Lol.

Two-rific Louna

Posted by Analyse at 10:47 PM

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Celebrate with her here.

Halloween Frenched Style

Posted by Analyse at 1:40 PM

Monday, November 05, 2007

I was once telling the Frenchies how Filipinos celebrate All Saint's Day and they were quite amused about the story. Don't be surprised why. Where in the world would you see people celebrate this day like a real fiesta? Aber?

Here in France, All Saint's Day is just an ordinary day. Old people would probably go to the cemetery to offer a prayer and a bouquet of flowers. But that's it. No fiesta! Younger generations would not even bother to visit the tombs of their loveones. They would rather spend this holiday vacationing somewhere.

So how did we celebrate All Saint's Day?

My SIL and family drove up to Dijon to spend a 4-day weekend with us. We spent the day doing outdoor and indoor activities (while Louna was having her siesta). We did a lot of eating and sleeping activities. We laughed at all the silly things that Louna did. We took a lot of pictures. We had real fun.

Take a peek:

Here's my favorite:

Here's some picture updates of Louna - the model ;).