Starting over (or a tale of moving, applying for work and relaxing)

It’s been 10 days since I exchanged me friends, my job and an oncoming winter for a new start on the opposite hemisphere.

Arriving on the Australian national day – aptly titled Australia Day – as a permanent resident happened without much fanfare. Seeing as I’ve been here many times before it shouldn’t be a surprise, yet it felt quite odd to to, in many aspects, be starting anew without any significant changes other than the weather.

Now a week and a half alter I’ve been on a road trip, that made me reminisce about the old days when I originally started this blog. I have also gotten around to sending of my first job application after receiving a helpful dose of advice from friends and acquaintances.

See to me the whole job hunting thing is actually the most unreal thing about this move. For well over 3 years I have been coming to Sydney on month long vacations, with the outlook of going back to a steady job. Now all of a sudden that’s not the case. So I have to look for work, write applications, update and continually improve my resume and all those others steps you go through in the process of changing your career. Yet I still feel somewhat distanced from the whole thing.

Instead I feel very much on vacation, enjoying the warm weather, the chance to get a tan and the delicious local brewskis.

Let’s see if reality kicks in when the temperature drops a bit and it starts raining!

18 hours in Dubai (as it happened in early July 2013)

After an eventful trip to Sydney I flew back to Denmark through Dubai and had arranged for a long layover in order to give myself a micro-vacation before heading back to work.

So after a 14 hour flight I found myself in Dubai airport excited to get out an explore. However my excitement didn’t last too long as I was waiting to pass through immigrations. I have occasionally complained about other airports and their less than perfect handling of certain things… I’m looking at you CPH and your luggage handling. That now seems like the smoothest experience after Dubai. In line in front of me was around 15 people, yet it still took about 45 min to get to the front of the line. Oh and my line was quick compared to some of the others. Makes me wonder what’s going on here! Anyway once I cleared immigrations I headed for the hotel shuttle to whisk me away to my very modest (for Dubai standards) accommodation for the night.
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To my surprise the view from my room was not too bad. I could even see one of the days goals in the distance.
I grabbed a quick lunch at the hotel buffet. Nothing spectacular, but a meal’s a meal, especially when you plan to venture out for a long day in 32-40 degree Celsius weather.
Instead of rushing to the new and flashy, I headed to the older part of town to check out the street life around the spice and gold souks. It didn’t quite have the charm and smells that I was expecting and there was a visible influx of tourists, which have put their mark on these markets.
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However some of the charm still remains and the older architectural elements can still be found, such as this old style cooling tower for the spice market.
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In an attempt to find a more untouched part of these markets I started veering down side streets, until men no longer came out of their shops to offer me copy watches and bags. This turned out to be a good choice as I found the real spice merchants whose shops were simple storefronts with a single desk and bags upon bags of spices spilling out into the street adding a distinct aroma of saffron to the warm summer air.
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It was also down these side streets that I managed to get a glimpse of what life seems to be like for the working man in Dubai.
After this small whiff of the less touristy side of town, I decided it was time to explore the newer, shinier, Las Vegasy area surrounding Burj Al Khalifa. Riding the high tech metro to get there, the city seems to stretch out as if the city itself was one big airstrip. Along the 10 lane highway are single buildings, one larger and more intimidating than the other, with only empty plots of land ready for development breaking up the monotony. I can see why some liken the city to Las Vegas with its never ending attempt to one-up the neighbouring building.
The crowning achievement in this race is the Burj Al Khalifa, the worlds tallest building. Towering over the Dubai Fountain and Dubai Mall each one also the biggest and baddest in their own field.
Going out of the metro you are carried straight into the heart of the Dubai Mall. Finding my way in here suddenly makes navigating the backstreets of Hong Kong look like child’s play. Walking through this gargantuan place it is hard not to get lured in by the sheer shimmer and showmanship these shops display. But having promised myself to get a glimpse of the BAK before the sun sets, I tell myself I can always come back later to the shops I pass along the way… If I’m able to find them again!
Just as I exit the mall I am greeted by the first of the evenings fountain shows.
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It is truly a majestical sight and the show is deservedly finished with a round of applause from the many onlookers.
Once the show is over I am left with a view that could as easily have been taken out of either LA or Miami, so I quickly snap a photo and put it through a few filters and voila!

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I doubt anyone would notice the difference.
But no matter, as this isn’t the reason I’m here. I’m here to see what the tallest building in the world looks like, and boy is it tall.
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After staring at this Tower of Babel like structure I snapped a few photos and then stared some more before succumbing to the heat. I turned around and walked back into the belly of the beast that is Dubai Mall.
I wondered restlessly for a few hours and managed to see about half of the place, including the huge indoor aquarium and this strangely exhilarating water sculpture.
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Having walked through what seemed like the better part of a medium sized town I turned back to the metro and headed back to the hotel for a beer by the pool and yet another mediocre meal before heading for bed.

Experimenting in the kitchen

Having already experimented with crating infused bourbon and tequila I thought it’d be fun to document my creation of a garlic infused olive oil.

To ensure the high quality of the finished product I decided to go to Torvehallerne, the local markets in Copenhagen. After wandering around and taking in the vibrant surroundings on this hot summer day I ended up buying an Italian olive oil, a Dutch fresh garlic and a pot of rosemary.

After a detour to the beach to go for a swim to cool myself down I got started on the oil.

Here’s what I did.

First I got out all the ingredients
20130728-202435.jpgThen I prepared the rosemary and garlic for infusing the oil20130728-201425.jpg
20130728-201442.jpgTime to get out the bottle.
20130728-201452.jpgNow all that’s left to do is the finishing touch.
Once this is done infusing all that’s left to do is get some nice focaccia bread and a four leave balsamic and dip away in this garlicky goodness.

What I think when I read Murakami

I just had a small but not insignificant epiphany.
For a while now I have wanted to do some writing. Whether this is caused by working with writers or a deeper desire I am still unsure, however the fact remains that I have a desire to do more serious writing than what I have done on this blog so far.

However I have keeps stumbling into the same issue that I always come across. I start writing an have a good flow and then suddenly I just stop. Very anticlimactic to say the least.

The issue is that I just make it up as I go along, without an underlying story to tell. I have described this in at least one other post. I tend to focus in the details rarer than the overall storyline.

And so my epiphany was this. How would I ever be able to write a story when I have no storyline!

I believe that once I actually have the storyline set the rest is just filling in the details which will be a lot easier than writing and then drawing out a story from the ashes of that.

Going back to an old theme

Personally I rarely go to sites I follow any more as I just read the rss feed. So I haven’t really given my own sites design much thought after I changed themes last time… however I just realized that it didn’t really work that well.

See the thing is I really enjoy all the themes that make use of the post photos and display them in a big prominent way on the front page. It makes it less like just another blog and more like an actual website (something I haven’t really had for quite a while).

However for some unknown reason when I don’t host my photos in wordpress’ own media section they do not show up. So that kind of throws the reasoning for my themes out the window.

So now I’ve gone back to one of the most basic layouts… but at least it works!

Enlightenment would be appreciated, if anyone out there know if there are alternatives, which allow me to host my photos on facebook, picasaweb, flickr etc. and still have them show up in the theme’s frontpage.

Sticks & Starbucks

As friends of this blog and blogger will know I have a certain fondness of visiting Starbucks. As much as I enjoy Starbucks I find it slightly sad that almost all cafés are more or less the same, so when I finally find one that’s distinct I get sort of excited as evidenced by my facebook photo album from London.

So I was quite excited to see this post from Architecture Daily: Starbucks Coffee / Kengo Kuma & Associates.

Starbucks Coffee Dazaifu
This is one very different Starbucks and I honestly wish there were more experimenting like this with the stores around the word.

Do you have a favorite Starbucks and is it a standard place or does it have something different about it?

Creative writing 2

So about that creative writing…

Thing is, as I’ve mentioned before, I have this desire to produce more writing.
However so far the only real outcome have been a few status updates and tweets along with 3 or 4 blog post drafts (my first ever drafts that haven’t actually materialized into anything concrete or been deleted).

But now I’m starting to feel the results of this lack of writing. At
Work I’m responsible for publishing a magazine in which I have to write a part of the stories. That in itself is sort of cool as I end up with published material, however I keep encountering the same issue as with everywhere else… I am a rather mediocre storyteller!

In an attempt to do something about it I recently started following a fiction video production course at open university at Copenhagen University. I obviously have other reasons as well, or I’d be better off taking a dedicated writing class.

So far the outcome has been negligible in regards to my story telling abilities but it has made me realize something else. I enjoy producing objects, be it film, magazine or other, but I want them to be of a high visual quality.

This puts me at a crossroad of sorts – a crossroad most managers have found themselves at when they became managers. Do I rely only on my own production to ensure the high quality or do I bring in others for the things I have no grasp on (like story)?
Most people will probably (or is it hopefully?) think it a stupid question. You of course go with the second option and bring in people who posses the specific skills you lack yourself and let rely in their expertise. However there can be certain challenges with this option.
Firstly you do not always have the resources to bring in the desired talent.
Secondly how do you figure out how much you can demand of them. This especially becomes relevant if you like me work a lot with volunteers.

So far I’ve gone with the first option for multiple reasons:
1) I like to challenge myself and learn new skills
2) I’m often quite late in starting my processes, which means it can be hard getting other people involved as they need a decent amount of time before a deadline and finally
3) I feel a greater pride in something that I have fully produced than something I’ve just lead the production of.

This brings me back to my original premise for this post, namely that of the creative writing.
With creative writing I do not just refer to the act of writing fiction but the act of telling a story that has an overall progressing storyline which has a beginning, a middle and an end.
And today it hit me while working and again during my fiction video production course. Even if I do not create all the pieces, the act of creating a high quality object like a magazine or a film does in fact still require my definition of creative writing as their high quality is mainly defined (as mostly everything else ) by their ability to tell an overarching story.

In fact I believe that this is also what characterizes a good manager. The ability to guide your employees enough that they will work towards creating a story where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Creative writing

This was actually supposed to be apost about writing fiction and telling a coherent story, but I will get back to that in another post.
See the thing is when I wrote the title of the post – Creative writing – it struck me that, while most lines of work do require you to be creative within your field, the only ones that brands you a creative are limited by the use of lingo. While being a creative writer is usually considered a good thing, doing creative bookkeeping will most likely see you end up in jail!

Why is that? Is our culture really so stuck up, that being a creative means that you are not a professional?

The stereotype of creatives being social people with all these great ideas and business people, accountants and so forth are these dry, somewhat ruthless people (or maybe it just says more about me that I believe that these are the stereotypes, but I will let you decide that) is in my opinion just plain wrong.

Some of the least interesting people I know are creatives, while some of the funniest and most aimable people I know are accountants… it definitely puts another light on the Monty Python sketch Vocational guidance counsellor.

iPad follow up

It’s been a while now since I handed my friends iPad back to him. After borrowing it for a weeks time or so, I wanted to wrap up my last post by passing my “final” judgement.

Overall using the iPad didn’t quite pan out as I had imagined. My imagined scenario was bringing it with me more or less everywhere I went, using it for a few central things like writing, browsing and photo and video editing.

Two things hindered me from doing this. 1) It being my friends iPad I wasn’t completely confident just throwing it in a bag and lugging it around. I didn’t want him to come home to a ruined iPad and 2) photo and video editing would probably be great, except I didn’t have much chance to try it out. All the apps I already owned were not iPad compatible, and not knowing when or if I’m getting one myself, I didn’t want to spend the money on these types of apps.

There are however a few scenarios that I did use it for, where it proved pretty suited for the task and actually made the job easier for me. That might warrant it’s existence in my gadget arsenal, but let’s examine.

The first scenario is as a complimentary browser and entertainment device at home. Not having a TV I’m “stuck” using my computer for any entertainment I consume. The iPad makes it easier to move this from my desktop to anywhere else, which is definitely more comfortable. It also seems to be one of the much described use cases for the iPad.

The other use I found for it was a companion for interviewing people. I performed two interviews while using the iPad, one of which was in the field. The iPad enabled me to bring along any documents, additional information and notes, while also serving as a note taking device.

This last scenario of actually using the iPad as a tool instead of just for entertainment is what I was actually intending to test it out for. One thing about this is that not many other people use a tablet (or smartphone for that matter) for this yet. This means that the opening remark from both the people I interviewed was about the iPad. In the moment it kind of threw me off, but if used correctly I’m thinking it could be used as a conversation starter, thereby easing the actual interview.

But is it any good you might be asking. Well I guess I’m still somewhat undecided. I can totally see myself using an iPad for vacations, where I’d like to be able to write and do light photo editing. Another place I could see myself using it is for casual work, like interviewing people or using as a document reader for meetings.
On the other hand most of these things can already be accomplished either using my phone or a simple notebook and pen. So then what the iPad seems to bring to the table is the longer battery life (useful for all those intercontinental flights) than the iPhone or laptop (but less than a notebook and pen), easier to bring than a laptop, and the added benefit of not having to retype what I’ve put in a notebook.

So in the end the question seems to be if I am willing to pay for a device, which for my usage only have some added benefits over a notebook, a pen and my phone? As of right now it’s a definite no but I am not sure it will continue to be.

The odd use of music

[This post was originally conceived and partially written on 16 August 2011]
Today was Tivoli gardens birthday and therefore they had a fireworks show. As a fan of fireworks displays I decided I’d go see it. Fireworks were pretty good, but one thing struck me as odd… their choice of musical backing.

Through my experiences at Disneyland I do know that music to go along with fireworks does enhance the experience and change it from a sight Ito a show. At Disneyland the music is tailored to the show to create a story.

So back to Tivoli and their choice of music – film scores! No doubt film scores can be very good and create emotional reactions, but what place do they have in a fireworks show… especially one in Tivoli gardens? In my opinion this is a wrong combination and is in some ways related to the anticlimactic ending of Tivoli’s illumination show which has a rather decent score, which ending just doesn’t keep up with the rest of the score. It basically doesn’t have an ending! It’s like a fireworks show without the three booms at the end… you don’t know whether it is over or not!

It seems the creator of the two shows would do well to take inspiration from the movies he obviously used took inspiration from and create a storyline instead of taking bits and pieces and stick them together in the hope they will make a show.