Sunday, December 17, 2006

The return of bad call quality

I remember when I got my first GSM mobile phone. Back then I accepted the low call quality and the occasional fall outs, and almost every call would have the following dialog at some point:

Hello... HelloOOoo... can you hear me? I hear you fine, can you hear me? Hello, Helloooo

Those days are over. The mobile is always excellent even if you are in different countries. But now Skype has started the next revolution in phone call flexibility and functionality, and now I find my self again:

Hello... HelloOOoo... can you hear me? I hear you fine, can you hear me? Hello, Helloooo... Wait, just a sec, I'll hang up and call you back... or maybe you should try calling me up, OK? OK? HelloooOOOooo!

By the way, I LOVE Skype. I spend more money on Skype now, than I do on landlines and mobiles!

Cooperate Cocktail Menu

At yesterdays Christmas party, the girls from HR had been really creative. That's a pretty cool menu for a party with 250 engineers. The prices were: $2 for a cocktail and $1 for a shot - pretty good!

And by the way, I won an award :-) I'm still not completely sure why, since everything was happening in Russian (really fast Russian), but my best guess is that the award was for being the biggest pain in the ass!

Later last night I found myself in an alley catching some fresh air. Then these Ukrainian guys offered me this:

JESUS CHRIST!!!!! I don't smoke weed, and even if I did, what makes you think I would put my lips on a burning peace of plastic and inhale???

I know who you are guys, but don't worry - your secret is safe with me! But seriously, I think they should use another pipe for their weed. Inhaling from a plastic container HAS to be toxic!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Ukrainians are RICH

I just walked through Pushkiskaya Street. I counted 2 Bentleys, 3 Hummers, 1 Masarati, about 10 Mercedes, maybe 5 BMW's, 4 Range Rovers, 4 Porsches and 1 flat red Ferrari. All cars were pretty new, and all in the same street.
I've been here too long to still notice the Ukrainians impressive cars. I heard Ukraine is the 11th biggest car market in Europe, and the number of sold Porsches has exceeded Poland. It is true that many people will choose to live in a tent and drive a Porsche, but the purchasing power is impressive. And it's mainly cash funded - not credit funded like in the West.

On Friday I was told by a Danish official, that what business forget about Ukraine, is the 2 million EXTREMELY rich and the 8 million with the same living standard and purchasing power as the Danes. Most people (me incl.) mainly thinks about the 37 million poor people.

But all this is about to change. Not by the government, not by the foreigners - but by the banks.

Many banks are beginning to give their customers credit lines without security for a fair interest (not Western fair, but Eastern fair).

This could be a breakthrough. Giving people the opportunity to consume their way out of poverty. I think it's plausible. I think it might be a great solution. The politicians are crooks anyway.

But thinking about what the Ukrainians have been able to do with their cash in 10 years, it's scary what they'll be able to with a credit line :-)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Danish inovation

Here's a new product that might be a clue about nothing is left to be invented:

The most famous Dane!

A few months ago I argued in this post that most people outside Europe don't know any Danes. They know about LEGO, but they don't know it's Danish. They know some of H.C. Andersens fairy tales, but they don't know he was Danish (or gay).

But I finally found a famous Dane who is VERY famous in the U.S general public. His name is Morten Andersen and he plays football (american football). Aperantly,he is about to break the all time record of scoring points. That's pretty cool, to have a Dane holding that record. Then we would be known for something else besides cartoons.

The ironic part is, that nobody in Denmark knows who he is.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Santa Claus Union of Kiev

I KNEW it wasn't over! A few weeks ago I posted this information about Santa Claus's retirement. At the time, I thought only the children would hurt from this event, but today I saw these guys demonstrating in downtown Kiev.

It seems the Santa Claus Labor Union Of Ukraine (SCLU) is performing a legal demonstration against missing paychecks from the last five months.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


There's a homeless drunk guy sleeping on our stairway right now. It happens too often!

Alcoholism is probably the greatest killer in Ukraine, and I usually feel sorry for these poor men and women who has no other choice than a $1 bottle of vodka. But if this guy is not gone by tomorrow morning, I'll make sure he never returns again (though I'll most likely chicken out).

One time I came home late, and a guy was sleeping right in front of my door - blocking the door. I had to kick him to wake him up. He smelled as if he hadn't had a shower in months, which was probably true because there had been no rain for a long time. He just mumbled something in Russian, walked down one floor and started to sleep again.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Product development

Here's something you don't see every day - BEER MIX:

What is that? Well, it's just product development in the wild wild east! How come nobody ever thought of mixing beer with oranges or lime fruits and sell it in a can?

This picture was taken in a Ukrainian mini market. Which brings me to another observation - juice:

In the supermarkets you can buy all sorts of juice. Weird ones too. It seems that the Ukrainian retailers are thinking more about getting as many different items on the shelves hoping to increase probability of customers finding something they want, in stead of figuring out exactly what customers want and then optimize sales on those products.

Again... juice:

In Danish supermarkets you can get orange juice, apple juice, grape juice, pineapple juice and a few others. Then you can get the more exotic mixes like orange/carrot.

In Ukrainian supermarkets you can get juice with all fruits and vegetables available in the world, and of course a mix of all available combinations. For example, you can buy green grape juice and you can buy blue grape juice. I would not be surprised at all if I found a mix of green and blue grape too.

That's one more difference between the boring West and the Wild Wild East, which by the way goes for other products as well in the supermarkets.

It seems pretty harmless, but I think theres a bit more to it. Our nanny is 28 years old, and she once told me a story from when she was 12; She stood in a line somewhere ALL DAY just to buy 12kg of salt. Not that her family needed 12kg of salt, but because they could trade some of it for bread, milk, butter, meat etc. In other words; buying basic groceries was very difficult and time consuming, but so important that families had to send their kids to wait in a line.
This is not more than 10-15 years ago, so EVERYBODY can remember the terrible food shortage.

I think it's plausible to argue that this fact from recent history is why Ukrainian retailers are OVER PACKING their stores with too many weird products.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Security guards

Just bought a new camcorder. It's always fun to buy electronics in Ukraine. Lots of papers with stamps, and lots of security guards.

I went in to the store and found the camera I wanted. Then I paid for it and got all the papers and stamps. Then I walked the 4-5 meters to the exit door and was stopped by the security guard who wanted to see ALL the papers that his colleague gave me. It not just me he checks - it's everyone leaving the store.

It's a waste of customers time, but the worst thing is, that they give paying customers a bad experience as they leave. It's bad retailing, that's what it is. I should know - I used to be in retail!

Anyway, security guards are everywhere. They just stand there and look evil, trying to make everybody scared. They are ugly elements in this country, and I'm sure that every dollar they prevent being stolen are lost tenfold in lost profit from customers not feeling welcome.

So here's my tip: IGNORE THEM!

"A thief thinks that every man steals"

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I'm seeing Denmark EVERYWHERE (in Kiev)

I'm getting used to explaining people what Denmark is. That goes for both Ukrainians and Americans. Most people knows it a country, but nobody knows where it is and who we are. Those who DO know something about Denmark usually mentions the Muhammad Crisis (that's the Americans) or they mention the soccer match from 1985 where Denmark beat The Soviet Union 4-2 (that's the Ukrainians). Biggest profiles from that match were Michael Laudrup from Denmark and goalie Desejev from Soviet.

Anyway, TODAY walking home on Gorkova Street, I suddenly saw a new shop called "Dan Mark", which is almost Danish for Denmark. Royal Danish Shop the sign says above the door. That's pretty cool. 100% owned by a Ukrainian by the way.

So what are they selling? Clothes! Very symptomatic, they sell the classical Danish brands, and not the trendy brands that are VERY popular in Asia.

It's a cool shop. Lot's of Danish flags. Hope they make it.

I think this is more a coincidence. But in the top left corner of this Ukrainian business journal, it says "Denn Mark". Strange.

A typical magazine. Mixed Roman and Cyrillic letters.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Book review: "Dostojevskijs sidste rejse"

This book is GREAT! Written by Danish journalist and author Leif Davidsen who spent several years in Moscow during the 80's and 90's.

This book is a must read for everybody who comes to these regions for business. Forget about Ernest & Young's annual "Doing business in Ukraine" or "Doing business in Russia" etc.
This book beautifully maps out the cultural differences and the attitude you'll meet when you start working here.

I guess in all businesses it's people who makes the difference. So it's a good idea to look in the recent past if you want to understand why people act and react the way they do. And that's what Mr. Davidsen does.

Sorry, couldn't find it in English :-)

Dostojevskijs sidste rejse

DotComeBack for online media

I like this logo. It's one of the new newspapers in Denmark's online version. The domain name is pretty cool too. Directly translated it would be

Notice the "BETA" sign. For those of you who are not familiar with all the hype around the online industry, BETA means that this service is not completely finished yet but apparently good enough for us to use it.

I like BETA's. They give an insight in tomorrows trends. But in this case... I mean: BETA NEWS? What is that? News that hasn't happened yet? Test news maybe? News that'll change? Come on! It's a do over :-)

Or check this out:

Supply status

November is almost over and here's a status on the basic supplies:
  • Power outs: 3 times
  • Heating "outs": 1 time
  • Water "outs": 4 times
There was no water today, so we used bottled water to flush the toilet. That's a $2 flush. Then our bottled water delivery company called us - very conveniently - and asked if we needed a few extra bottles. Maybe they work together; cut the water pipes and supply the customers with expensive bottled water!
Damn, now I'm seeing conspiracies everywhere too...

By the way, WHY do they deliver water in 18,9 liter bottles? Who came up with that number?

Santa Claus has retired

It's both sad and true. Santa Claus has lost his funding for his non-profit business. Since World War II, children could send a letter to Santa, and he would always reply. Sometimes a reply with a small gift. I remember that from when I was a child.

But now, the post office in Greenland (YES, that's where he lives), has stopped helping Santa replying all of those letters from hopeful young children.

Why would anybody do something that cruel? Well, the Greenland (or Nuuk) municipal said they wanted to spend the money on something else in stead, and I'm sure they can find something.

But COME ON. This is just plain stupid. I think Greenland has just gotten used to Denmark paying all their bills. Denmark actually owns Greenland or something, but we are not really profiting from that partnership (I guess we expect to find some oil under the ice one day). In stead of looking at all those money from Denmark as support money, they should look at it as venture capital and start doing some business!

It's pretty simple. Parents (we) are stupid. They would rather pay $50 for a stupid toy knowing that the tots would rather play with the laundry or anything from the top drawers in the kitchen. I GUARANTEE that there's plenty of parents who would gladly pay $10 for a reply letter from Santa. What's the alternative. Should we tell our children that Santa died?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Danes do it again

I don't think there's ANYTHING you can't do in Denmark.

I think this displays the innovation power of the Danes, and I don't think anybody ever again will wonder why the Muhammed Cartoons was published in a DANISH newspaper.

Danish Christmas Party

The Danish Christmas is loaded with traditions. Most of them are about food - lot's of pig and lots of schnapps.
Luckily there's a Danish community of about 50 people in Kiev, and some of them hosted a traditional Danish Christmas party last weekend.

Take a look at this mighty feast

We had to leave the party early though. A surprise party for Dorit (just had her birthday) was planned at Arena. She really was surprised, and all her girlfriends with husbands were there to celebrate. Here's a picture. I'll post some more pictures from that event later.

We have one more Christmas party in December, and next Saturday we are going to our very first Thanksgiving with 8-10 American families. This should be fun. From what they tell me, Thanksgiving is all about eating - just like a Danish Christmas party.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Frejas first Halloween

An agreement was made in the toddler group: no scary outfits for Halloween. The kids are all in that age where clowns are scary. That's what Freja thinks anyway! Maybe I shouldn't have let her watch Stephen King's "It"?

Click the picture for... well more pictures.

From Halloween 2006

Friday, November 10, 2006

New Muhammad crisis

This is an ad from one of the largest shopping centers in DK. The joke would be lost in translation if I tried translate it to English, so this is only for my Danish readers (which is about 56% of you).

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Anders on the trampoline. He's actually training for Beijing 2008 - but in a different sport. Jorgen is cheering.

Book review: "I'm knitting clothes for dolls"

Found this book at my mums house. It seems pretty good. My mum is having a good time knitting, and my daughter LOVES to play with her dolls. win win.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Gartner Highlights Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2007

The following list from Gartner is supposed to enlighten us with the top 10 most important technologies for 2007:
  1. Open Source
  2. Virtualisation
  3. Service Registries and Repositories
  4. Business Process Management Suites
  5. Enterprise Information Management
  6. Ubiquitous Computing
  7. Information Access
  8. Web 2.0 – AJAX Rich Clients
  9. Web 2.0 - Mashup Composite Model
  10. Communities and Collective Intelligence
That's just great! I think I'll focus on "Information Access". Or how about "Ubiquitous Computing"? A renaissance for public libraries and ATM's!

Anyway, I don't see any surprises on this very generalized list. Most of these tendencies are already happening or has already proven their capabilities. So I feel pretty confident in adding a few more items that will certainly have an impact next year:
  1. Seasons
  2. Sunday brunch
  3. Airport security
  4. Phone calls
  5. etc... (feel free to comment)
Back to the original list:

I think that especially point 8 (AJAX clients) will have significant impact on turning internet users into internet buyers. More responsive websites will keep consumers locked to the screen, and give them fewer exit options during "the buy".

And I think point 10 (communities) will continue to grow into even more niches reaching even more internet user groups. There's no doubt that the community sites are on to something. People spend HOURS in these communities doing nothing besides interacting with others. It's an interesting behavior.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Skype is illegal

I heard a rumor from Belarus, that a guy had been arrested for using Skype. Obviously the use of Skype is the same as stealing from the state owned tele companies - everybody knows that!

I thought that it was just a rumor, but apparently others are talking about it too: skype-is-a-threat-to-the-regime-in-belarus.html

A LOT OF RUMORS exists in these regions.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Overcoming traffic

On my way home from work a few weeks ago, the traffic was - as always, completely grid locked. This "van" was coming at me with about 20-30km/h. No room for me I guess!

Monday, October 30, 2006

About Ukrainian privatization

The days are gone when the state owned everything. A lot of privatization has been carried out the last several years - which is good.
Sometimes, the privatization process resulted in friends and family of powerful politicians could buy state owned companies for far less than they were worth - but I guess that was just a transition phase. I mean, privatization was new concept for everybody?

Private property (like apartment buildings) has also been privatized. But only the apartments, and not the staircases and courtyards etc. The result is obvious. We are living in pretty decent and modernized apartments, but everything around it is falling apart. NOBODY is interested in maintaining our roof for example, which is highly overdue! And why would anybody be interested - it's not theirs.

Take a look at the guy in the picture. OK, it's pretty funny that he's painting in his suit and tie. It's actually very funny :-) But the fact that he's painting the building only on the surface that he owns says something about lack of community thinking in this country!


Arena is one of the hottest entertainment facilities in Kiev. You can get a decent Mojito and a home brewed beer in a boot glass. YES, they have their own micro brewery, and it's a damn good beer.
It's also a place where lot's of expats hang out, which attracts lot's of hopeful young Ukrainian women - or maybe it's the other way around?

Too cute

Seen in a a Kharkov magazine

Ukrainian law firm. I would want those guys on my side!

Is that mustache a joke?

Hotel Kharkov limo service

I got a ride this morning from the hotel to the airport in this retro limo (it's a Volga).

The driver proudly told me that it was the only one of it's kind in Kharkov - I believe that!

Anyway, a standard Volga weighs about 4 Ton, and I guess adding another meter or so doesn't look good on the gas bill. So I tipped the driver an extra $2.

Kindergarten autumn show

I'm so proud of my daughter

Saturday, October 14, 2006

It's getting cold

I just checked the weather forecast for next week. It seems we are going as low as 4 degrees celsius (39 F) during the daytime. Just 14 days ago we had around 28 degrees (82 F).

I guess Ukraine does not have traditions for smooth transitions!

They will probably also turn on the heat next week. I don't know exactly who "they" are, but heating is done from a central location. I imagine they have a big switch (on/off), and when the temperature drops significantly they switch it on and leave it there for 6 months.
So how do we regulate the heat in our apartments? Answer: we use the windows!

Maybe some of you remember the huge gas crisis between Ukraine and Russia last year. The same crisis is expected this year.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I'm NOT kidding

The Ukrainian coffee machine ripped my note in two and returned only one half without at least giving me credit for the other half.

I don't know if the Ukrainian note or the Ukrainian coffee machine was bad! Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Water Melon Mafia

I just heard about the Water Melon Mafia in Ukraine which is not organized by Ukrainians by the way. This is the Uzbekistons teritory, and they control everything (all water melons). Of course the local Ukrainians are pretty angry with them (for keeping locals out of this lucrative market), so activists frequently sabotages the water melons by... stabbing them.

I don't know if the story is true - but it's fun!

It's my wife in the picture. She's not involved in organized crime. She's just a happy customer.

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Bullshit generator

I like this tool:

If you want to spice up a proposal or business plan - this is where you get the inspiration!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Frejas 2nd birthday

Here's a clip from (one of) Frejas 2nd birthday parties. She is the cutest ever!

Monday, September 25, 2006

For you, Dennis

We need to start working on our walk again...

Thursday, September 21, 2006


We finally got rid of Teletubbies. Now this guy is starting to bug me!

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Famous Danes

Yesterday we had dinner with an American couple who couldn't name a single Dane they ever heard about!!!

Well, here it is, the list of famous Danes: Famous Danes according to Google

It's funny that high profiles like Brigitte Nielsen, Bjørn Lomborg and Whigfield (yes, WHIGFIELD) are ranked higher than any of our royalties.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Back in DK for team building

This is me and a ranger (Carsten Mørk). It seems that he is trying to teach me something about teamwork, but I can't really remember.

Anyway, I was back in DK for a team building thing with the company. Great weekend! A lot of new faces. Must have been 20-25 people I didn't know because they started after I left for Ukraine. This company is GROWING!!! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Womens club in Kiev

The International Womens Club in Kiev (IWCK) finally got a website:

This club is fantastic. My wife is a happy member, and most of our social network and activities are related to the people we've meet in this club.

They do a lot of charity as well. Check out their site!

If you are planning to stay in Kiev for more than a week, I seriously recommend the book: "Kyiv Survival Guide". It's simply a must-have if you haven't learned the local language yet!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Happy birthday

We were at Mattias' and Lucas' 3 year birthday party yesterday. About 30 internationals showed up to celebrate. It's always fun at these events. The kids are having fun, the adults are socializing and networking. It's just a great way to spend the Saturday afternoon.Liz and Dan were hosts at this great party. Thanks guys. We had a lot fun.

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My wife and I in our creepy elevator.
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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Kindergarten in 5 languages

My daughter started in her new kindergarten this week. It's sort of a French/Ukrainian kindergarten and it is NOT allowed to speak Russian. So, we basicly added two more languages for her to handle. She's good at Danish, good at English, she knows some Russian and now they are going to speak French and Ukrainian to her too!!! I think I would be confused, but she seems allright.

Most of the kids there are internationals, and it is very impressive to expirience how all these small people handles languages.

Book review: "Raising a daughter"

I just finished reading the book "Raising a daughter", which is kind of a study on the difference between boys and girls and some guidelines on what to be aware of when raising your daughter.

One of the main points made in the book is that boys need to act more where girls need to talk more - the book itself is an excellent example of that fact (400 pages)!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Our nanny stays!!!

The day before we left for Egypt, Frejas nanny (Olga) told us that she had been offered a great teaching job at Kyiv International School. A wonderful oppertunity for her, but as you can imagine, sadness immediately spread in the family.

But guess what, when we came back to Kiev, the phone rang, and Olga told us that she really wanted to stay with Freja because she just likes her so much.

I'm on your side Olga. Freja is just the greatest kid in the world, and she could also make me pause clever career moves.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Relaxing in Egypt

Just came back from a great week’s vacation in Egypt. Finally a hotel that’s actually better than the marketing brochure.

Click here for pictures

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Independance day postponed

Today is Ukraines independance day. I was hoping to witness a huge "Soviet style" military parade, and a lot of activity in the city center.

The event has been overshadowed by a plane crash earlier this week killing 170 people. Therefore all independance day related activites has been postponed untill Saturday, and today is used as a national day of mourning to honour the victims. That's what I heard anyway.

I'll try to get some pictures from the military parade this Saturday.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Cutest pirate in the world

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Killing time Saturday afternoon

Yesterday I went to a Ukrainian shooting range with a couple of friends. I never really tried shooting before, but this really was fun! AK-47 (Kalashnikov), 9mm pistol, semi-automatic assault rifle, shot gun, sniper rifle and an authentic German rifle manufactored in 1939 with bullets from 1936, that's what I tried shooting with.

The only time I got nervous, was when I pulled the trigger with a 1936 bullet in the chamber - I'll never do that again!

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Watch out!

This picture is taken from the train to Lviv. I wonder what happend to the guy in front of the other train?

By the way, there's about 600km from Kiev to Lviv - the train ride was 14 hours!

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Kiev pictures

I've added some pictures of Kiev for you to look at, although the picture below probably illustrates the currently most important tourist attraction in Kiev.
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