Monday, August 2, 2010

Pink *is* theft-proof

A study of car colour and theft in the Netherlands found that Pink cars in their sample of 109 vehicles that were Pink (and many other of other colours) had a o% theft rate!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Frequent Flyers

Well, looking at booking our flights out to China soon and unfortunately it looks like the cheapest option will probably be with a different airline than our preview trip so building up miles on one frequent flyer programme won't happen. This time it looks like a BMI/Air China combo via LHR rather than KLM via Amsterdam. Shame, as Schipol is a nicer airport and we'll probably have a long walk from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3.

However, I thought I'd sign up the family with the BMI frequent flyer programme. But you have to be at least 18 to join. However, it turns out that Star Alliance programmes are interchangable so I checked out Air China's (minimum age 12) and Lufthansa's Miles and More (minimum age 2). So Miles and More it is. How odd. FlyingBlue (Air France/KLM/SkyTeam's) one seems much more coherent.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Something's been approved, anyway

Dear Andrew MacCormack,
We received authorization today regarding your relocation to Beijing, China. We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with you and look forward to assisting you with your relocation.
One of our International Assignment Consultants from our office in Singapore will contact you within 24 business hours and provide you with all the information relative to your relocation and the benefits we will be coordinating for you.

I still haven't signed anything, though...

Physical Examinations

It's quite a palaver trying to sort out what needs to be done for the medical examinations that are needed when applying for a Z-Visa in China. Googling doesn't really throw much light on it because everyone's experience seems to be different and some types of visa, length of stay etc don't need the examination and perhaps the rules have changed over the past few years.

The thing is, I've asked questions about this to my company's Chinese office's Chinese Visa consultant and they don't seem to understand the problems: they seem used to the bureaucracy and so can't understand why I wouldn't just walk into a hospital and ask for an physical examination. Probably they've only dealt with Americans needing these Visas before: hospitals in the UK don't work like that, apart from Accident and Emergency you need a referral to go to a hospital.

What my GP will make of the form I wonder. In the UK , you just know that such a form would have a 172-page accompanying document with a Crystal Mark explaining exactly what was required. But the Chinese form is all you get. Little boxes with headings like "Nose" and "Ears". No clue what they are expecting as an answer: "Yes" perhaps, or maybe a quantity "1", "2"... but then what is supposed to be in the box marked "Abdomen", surely this must be "Yes" and/or "1" or the person would be dead...

Then there's the section on disorders endangering the public: Do you have Mental confusion? Not until I tried to fill out this form...

With all of this, apparently all they really care about is that you're not a psycho and you don't have a venereal disease. So why all the other badly-put questions?

And then there's the officialness of it. Some places suggest the doctor needs to sign, stamp with an official stamp, seal it (!) then you need to get it notarized and legalized by the FCO.

And you have to do this for all adults in the party. Or perhaps just me. Or perhaps everyone over 12, or over 18 or everyone but kids don't have to have the AIDS test.

I think we should probably just make a best guess and then be prepared to have to redo it if they don't accept it.

So this is all before I can get the Z Visa invitation letter and employment permit. Then I have to provide 10 copies of my passport photo, a CV, Degree certificate and an "employment certificate for past 2 years". Sorry, but you just don't get such things in the UK... what do you mean? "Errr.. just a standard certificate of employment." Arrragh! Give us an example of one, then!

And perhaps all those need to be notarized. And legalized. Maybe.

And then when you get to China, the internet seems to tell me that you may have to go through the whole palaver of the medical again as they won't accept foreign medicals for residence permits or something. Grrr. Oh, and I need my Marriage Certificate and the children's Birth Certificates then.

At least the relocation company/my company will be paying for it all, but goodness knows how much time and money is wasted with all this. Nice little earner for the notaries and medical exam places, though.

And then you read stories like this one about the Police coming around and checking up that all your documentation is in order for no apparent reason and nitpicking: making you do it all again!

Friday, September 11, 2009


So, its still not signed yet, but all probability looks like we'll be moving to Beijing for 2 years from January 2010. My division in Agilent is closing down all R&D at the South Queensferry site and my department's work is moving to Beijing. Since neitehr the boss, test lead not anyone else in the department wanted to move to Beijing, I got the job. Its a great opportunity, but somewhat scary too.

So, we are trying to fix the house up ready to rent it out for 2 years. Lots to do. Keep finding extra jobs that need doing too. There's so many things in a house that one doesn't relly mind but need fixing up for a rental. And soon we'll need to start doing all the medicals, application forms for visas, vaccinations, etc.

Marian and I had a preview trip in June and throught it was great. We're currently thinking of getting a place close to Chao Yang Park in eastern Beijing and of course we'll carry on homeschooling while we are there. This saves Agilent about £25000 a year in fees so I hope they are grateful!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cold Turkey

Uggh, just had my work Christmas lunch from the canteen. This must be the 5th turkey dinner I've had so far in December and its getting too much!

The festive spirit was dampened somewhat by the fact that on Tuesday they asked everyone in the company worldwide to take a 10% pay cut. At least UK law means that it has to be voluntary. A colleague has just relocated to America and will have arrived on Tuesday with his family to find that his pay has gone down by 10% and now being a US employee means he has no choice.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Haiku Musical

Well, my daughters just got a birthday present of a High School Musical 3 dance mat. Now I can stamp on Troy's face and have an excuse!