For Celia

Model exchange. I took all these pictures about 4 years ago and haven’t painted 28mm models since.

These are some Necromunda Enforcers – I modified them extensively from the stock. I themed them around my law lecturers. Hence the lawyers wigs on the robo-dog, and the books strapped to each dude.

 

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An army of Chaos Space marines that I went insane about. The glue hits you just right, and then you’re making models from scratch, kitbashing everything, and weathering them with anything you can find.

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Conversions, at which I was probably better.

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I even tried my hands at scratch building some anime figs. Varying degrees of cuteness.

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All told, I did about 4 years of it between 16 and 20. All my models are in storage because I move around so much. Had a lot of fun playing in college, but I moved on to pen and paper RPGs because lugging models around was a pain. Good times though.

Compliance

Asians in general don’t like foreigners working in audit and compliance. We tend to investigate too deeply and question relationships that are part of their business mores.

Even in an “international” business your chances of being promoted are far lower in Japan or China. If you are good enough to be promoted in China or Japan, why stay and fight entrenched xenophobia? I’m sure you could be making more money in Europe or in the US. I guess this is a reason I’m hesitant to return to China. A distant business pal of mine thought as much:

I worked on the nominations committee of an “international” firm in Japan for 1 years as a non-executive director. I was only imported because I was already established in the UK, where I was an executive director on one board and a non-executive director on another board (audit committee) until both companies went under during 2008/9.

While I was in the remuneration committee, I did recommend promoting a white guy, but the other Japanese on the board immediately shot down my recommendation with striking xenophobic/almost racist comments about the guy being too loud-mouthed/not understanding company culture, etc etc. It’s really how unabashed this xenophobia is and how much it’s tolerated that is surprising.

Basically, in Japan, the “Oh I don’t want to work with him because he’s a gaijin” line is an automatic reply and not frowned upon. At least that was my impression. Even in Japan, a lot of the members of international companies who decide whether you rise up or not are mostly Japanese and are mostly men who simply do not want a foreigner on their team.

I know Japan is very different to China, and is much more developed, but I did experience enough of that xenophobia for it to be a problem. Another basic assumption in China is “guanxi”. There’s material there for another post, but “guanxi” is/are your “connections” – your specific social cachet with a specific person. It works like a series of favours, that are sometime implicit, and that get developed over time. You swap favours for favours. A Chinese friend is really a friend – they’ll do anything for you. But they expect the same, and they expect much more than a Western friend would. And when you’re a foreigner, your “guanxi” always comes second to a Chinese person’s.

When I was in China, I worked in a compliance role for a European electronics company for a quarter. The data the European headquarters were getting back from China was poor – which meant that assessing governance risks, regulatory compliance and projecting growth was a dark art.

When I began, I was tasked with migrating their East China operation’s governance and compliance from an ad-hoc Excel workbook system to Sage’s SAP, a continuous monitoring tool for customer relationship management.  This improved data would be used internally and externally for forensic data analysis, assessing governance risks, regulatory compliance and growth projections. My position in the company required me to train 5 regional teams across East China in the use of this new software , and then monitor compliance on a weekly basis.

None of this was immediately apparent at the interview: I was 20, and I expected to be making coffee and photocopying, and then rolled out to be the token attractive foreigner at meetings. The last part was true, at least.
When I got there, I sat in on board meetings, was given guided tours of model factories, then banqueted. Excel spreadsheets were later released to me, and I wasn’t allowed to investigate manufacturing or sales in person. The team I helped run trained 5 provinces, who collectively sold about a quarter of a billion USD every year,  but, despite the obvious problems in dealing with that volume of data on adhoc spreadsheets with no security, I encountered a lot of resistance from the sales teams who fed the data into us. If you had a good thing going, a cozy relationship with buyer or government official, maybe some “immaterial” kickbacks, you really don’t want someone investigating every step of your sales. Especially not if they are a foreigner, and don’t “understand” Chinese business mores. Towards the end, I was told a lot that I didn’t understand how things worked in China, despite Europe wanting specific standard in place to avoid legitimate problems. At the time, the new headquarters they moved into at the previous period was falling apart, because it wasn’t built to European standards, and the air conditioning failed as a result. This caused the glue used in the tiling and carpets to degrade rapidly, which meant that the building had to be gutted floor by floor and rebuilt.

Not everyone knew how good my Chinese was, so I was able to “overhear” and identify some governance risks, and I reported these to management. I don’t know if the information made it back to Europe, but I led my team well, and we came top of the rankings all across China, despite being the largest in terms of numbers overseen and sales volume. The system I helped set up caught a few sales people who were non-compliant, but dealing with that was definitely outside my remit. Once sales kept coming in, and graft didn’t rot the place, I don’t think management cared. That was the Chinese way. Like the HQ building: once it was done, it was fine.

I finished the project in a quarter, ahead of schedule, but left China earlier than the full year. Things got less pleasant in the office when non-compliance was investigated, when previously it had been let slide. Sales people were a lot less welcome when I went from “handsome foreigner” to “auditor”. I knew something was up when people started coming in for interviews for a compliance role, and I was obliquely asked my opinion on them. I wasn’t staying forever, as I had to return home to finish college. Eventually, as I was due to finish, I was called in for a review. They were pleased with the project, but wanted someone Chinese to take over.

I wanted to be kept on, as I planned on working more and doing some traveling, but they weren’t open to that, because taking on someone Chinese was a priority over a foreigner. As Chinese as I hoped I sounded, I would never truly fit in with them.  I guess it aroused resentment that I was paid more than some experienced, older staff too.

Over the week, I dumped the last of my whiskey and Irish junk on them, and they called me in for one more meeting with the Chinese big boss. He advised me in a gnomic fashion to “know myself and how I appear.” I thanked him for his time and mentorship while I was there, and he said he’d act as a reference for me. Which was nice of him, and saved face for everyone involved. His English was terrible, and I don’t think he was ever called on to provide a reference for any interview I’ve ever had since.

The whole experience made me appreciate working back home in a country that was more individual and cosmopolitan.

Unit cost and utility

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So the woman has started to complain that I’m getting skinny and I’ve lost arm size. Everyone says as much to me. I guess it’s fine to comment on someone’s physical condition if they are athletic. Life hasn’t been as enjoyable either without going to the gym. So, I guess it’s time to stop moping and hop back on the wagon.

Neck mobility and pain have been good, as I have been off on study leave for nearly 4 weeks now. I can plank for 45 seconds without neck pain, and get about 10 pushups in without neck pain.

Banded dicksucks have eased the pain a lot, wall angels have improved. So now it’s a case of building up slowly, regaining thoracic mobility, quitting work and finding something else.

Protein-wise, I ate very little for much of Lent. I guess I didn’t need that much when I was out sick, not lifting.

I used to eat a 300g tub of cottage cheese a day, and did so in addition to big meals and whey. But I did some calculations and whey concentrate is always the cheapest, most complete protein for the money.

5kg whey at €56 gives me as much protein as much as 111 300g tubs of cottage cheese at 0.89c each. The cheese costs €100.

Assumption: 22g of protein per 30g scoop of proton powder, and 33g of protein per 300g tub.

So the price per gram of protein of whey powder is much lower than the cottage cheese. And cottage cheese is the cheapest, leanest protein source I can get.

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Study for the professional exams has majorly stalled. I usually avoid procrastination by convincing myself that the end is worth it, and that the reward is commensurate with the effort I put in. These last few months have really fucked that assumption in the ass.

Where I’m at now, it’s a perfect storm of a low or uncertain return on passing exams for a qualification I don’t want to complete, and that I can’t transfer to a different job, and trying to avoid pain caused by sitting and writing. The woman has convinced me to do a little every day, as it’s better than nothing. She’s right. She’s always right.

I’m rewarding myself for every 25 hours of study by buying a component of a €600 gaming PC, that will be complete at the end of the month when the exams finish. I hope I will be well enough to use it, and it doesn’t hang around gathering dust after my bonitis progresses.