DutchGirl's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
DutchGirl
Posts: 1271
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

Thanks, Rube :) I'll do my best to stay safe.

I'm glad that many people here in the NL are smart about social distancing. I really hope that in a week or so we'll see the new infections go down.

DutchGirl
Posts: 1271
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

The number of new infections per day is slowly going down here in the Netherlands, and even the number of people on ventilators is going down slightly, so regarding that, things are looking up a bit. I'm more or less deliberately choosing to look more to the things that give me hope.

At work, things are quite okay, too. Management took measures to protect us as much as possible. Although working with random other people can never be a 100% safe, I think we're quite safe and I feel safe.

I spent less money in March than previously planned. I spent more on charity (food bank), less on going out and restaurants.

Yesterday I calculated my current net worth. It went down by roughly 15% in the last three months, of course due to the stock market depression. With me buying some more shares I am actually hoping to come out an extra 10% ahead after the stock market recovers, but for now my net worth is down. So I'm further away from my goal. Even though that may not be rational, I feel less "almost there" than I felt a few months ago. I think I was at 75%, now I'm back at 60%, and my goal feels waaaaay further away now.

The situation also makes me think about my work and my future a bit more. With the current crisis I am very glad that I can do something positive in this world. I'm not an intensive care worker and I think it's better for everyone that I'm not. I was very okay with not working in such high profile or critical care roles and leaving that to others before.
But at least I'm doing something. How will I feel if during the next pandemic or other healthcare crisis I am no longer working in healthcare and will be fully on the sidelines? Or: what does this mean for the work I'm normally doing? I value it more currently; should I also value it more during regular times? More than others I should realize that also during normal years, the blood that is donated goes to people who really need it. The blood recipients in say 2019 were not part of a nationwide health crisis. But they still had their own personal health crisis that they needed help with, and my work contributed to that. Should I value it more and keep working? (Or at least parttime...). I'm thinking about this. I could see it as some type of volunteer work which pays some money, ha.

I'll keep you guys up to date, because I'll be thinking about this some more.

Otherwise, it's a lovely quiet sunday afternoon in the spring. Birds are chirping, the grass is green, tulips are blooming. My guy is typing away on his computer, I am on mine. Things currently are good.

kevib
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Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:29 pm

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by kevib »

Hi, do you test the donors for Covid-antibody and if so, how many have had asymptomatic infection?

DutchGirl
Posts: 1271
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

Hi kevib, I am not working in that department but the Dutch blood bank will indeed test a group of blood donors for COVID-antibodies to say something about how many people have had an asymptomatic infection. No known results yet.

DutchGirl
Posts: 1271
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

First results are in. Roughly 3% of blood donors who donated in the first week of April had already developed antibodies against the Coronavirus. While blood donors are not a complete accurate representation of the Dutch population since they are between ages 18 and ages 73 or so and generally healthy, it's one of the best estimates we've had so far; and blood donors aren't protected against getting this infection.

The tests in the first week of April reflects infection status back around 5-15 March, given that it takes a couple of weeks to build up antibodies and given that people with any possible Corona-caused symptoms in the last two weeks weren't allowed to step into a blood bank, let alone donate.

On the one hand I thought that 3% was low. I had hoped for it to be higher (assuming that you also have immunity when you have antibodies, which may or may not be the case).

On the other hand, 3% is quite high. It would be about 500,000 Dutch people, where by March 15 there had only been 1400 known infections in the Netherlands. So in that case, it would mean that the disease was only tested in roughly 1 in 350 patients. (Partly people who had symptoms but weren't tested, likely also a lot of people who never had any recognizable symptoms).

March 15 is also when the social distancing began in the Netherlands, so when tests will be run again half May we will see what effect these have had on the infection rate, at least until roughly the end of April. (Again, because the tests will only show infections that happened over 2 weeks ago).

DutchGirl
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Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

Life is still good here for me and mine. And I'm very grateful for that. We have visited my parents once at the end of April, staying outdoors in their garden, using the bathroom once and disinfecting everything I touched before I left it again (and yes, the door knob too). They stayed healthy so far. We're going to visit them again tomorrow and will also see my siblings and their kids then; but we'll still stay in the garden and maintain 1.5 meters of distance between the households when it comes to the adults. Here in the Netherlands, kids under age 12 are allowed to go to school and to play with each other, because so far research here in the Netherlands has shown that the infection risk in children is low and the risk of them transmitting the disease to adults is also low. Schools reopened on May 11 for children under age 12 and so far the new infections stay steady at a low rate since the end of April. Of course, nothing is sure regarding this disease, not yet, but so far so good.

As for money, I have spent less over the last months. Finally I stay within my "spend freely"-budget, because I just can't buy a snack-on-the-go or be tempted by a book in a bookshop where I'm browsing while waiting for my train. We have spent some money on take-out meals and on food deliveries, but most days we have cooked from scratch and of course that's cheaper.

Total income for the year so far roughly 18k posttax. Of that, 1k went to investments, 2k went to house equity, 6k went to charities (I'll see roughly 2.5k of that returned in income tax refunds next year - I will get a 3.5k return this year but it hasn't processed yet), and the rest was spent on things like mortgage interest, transport, food, fun, gifts. So lumping the 1k investments, the 2k house equity, and the 2.5k tax refund together, I saved 5.5k/18k or close to 30%. I hope to be able to put more into investments over the next months, as my planned charitable giving is clustered in the first couple of months of the year and is now almost over. I'm also working extra hours and will see a higher salary over the next couple of months, too.

I'm still at a 4% loss for the year so far on my investments, but that's quite okay of course. I'm not sure where the stock market is headed over the next months and years, but we'll see. I intend to put more in there whenever I can.

DutchGirl
Posts: 1271
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

I've got a work decision coming up. I might try to become the head of my little department, managing roughly 25 people. I have no real experience with managing people, except for a few volunteer project and student groups (where I did okay at least). These people are trained professionals, so managing them will mostly involve hiring people, creating the shift schedule, and some other HR work. Not micromanaging them or checking on them all the time.

I see pros and cons.

Pros:
1. It's a new challenge
2. It's a slightly higher salary ( + 15% or so)
3. It would be more regular hours
4. It would involve less getting-out-of-bed at early hours to be somewhere exactly on time - and there would be more work from home opportunities
5. There's a current job responsibility that is weighing on me, and that I would get rid off with the new job
6. I would hopefully be able to provide my now-colleagues with a decent work environment so that they can enjoy their work (more) - within this organisation I've seen some examples of good, mediocre and bad managers; I'd definitely hope to be mediocre or up and it makes a world of difference to you what type you get.

Cons:

4. It would be more hours (36 or so instead of the current 28)
5. Currently my goals at work are quite clear, I like that. I know when I've done a good job. I like that about my current work. I assume that this will be way more fuzzy with the new job.
6. I'm quite good at my current job, if I say so myself. The new one is going to be quite different, asking for different talents. Not sure whether I've got enough of those.
7. I don't like conflict. There will be conflict every once in a while.
7. I'd become something like middle management. What I definitely see with middle management in our organisation is that you're kind of stuck between two groups demanding things: upper management putting pressure on you to implement their new ideas, the people doing the actual work telling you they're ridiculous ideas (and sometimes they are) and that they want more salary, less work pressure, et cetera.

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Egg
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Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2014 10:59 am

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by Egg »

Hey. Only you know what's right for you, so I won't presume to give advice on the work situation, but I have trodden a path with some parallels, managing anywhere between 0 and 35 people.

I was struck by the 15% payrise, yet almost 30% increase in working hours. Assume the payrise is hourly, else that sounds like a bum deal...?

As to the rest, my experience of management is that there's no such thing as hands-off. The teams I have now mostly do their thing at the level of granular tasking (and have their own sub-managers) but I spend loads of time sorting out HR issues stemming from a small subset of the team and doing the more 'pastoral' side of management. Mileage varies, of course.

The advice I'd usually give other people is "if it's not broken, don't fix it". That is also the opposite approach to the one I take in my own career. So yeah, dunno, but at least you have a pretty solid list of pros and cons to weigh up.

1taskaday
Posts: 461
Joined: Wed Dec 04, 2013 11:45 am
Location: England

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by 1taskaday »

As Egg said only you know what's right for you.

You sound like you might relish the challenge.

The nub of the issue really is :
Do you want your work life to consume you? Both in terms of time and energy drainage.

You sound like the type of person who takes responsibilities towards others seriously... therefore managing staff will consume you.

I love minimum work hours for maximum pay...the price of this is less job satisfaction.

That is a price I'm willing to pay...for a job that allows me to live a very full life outside of work ie loads of energy, creativity and zest to pursue many interests.

Getting the balance right for you is the secret.

Quadalupe
Posts: 156
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:56 am
Location: the Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by Quadalupe »

DutchGirl, I'd try to negotiate some kind of 'terugkeergarantie', guarantee that you can return to your previous role if management doesn't work out. Maybe you can do some kind of trial run for six months. After six months, both sides can evaluate if you are a good fit for the position.

Also, what does your gut say?

Frita
Posts: 594
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:43 pm

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by Frita »

DutchGirl wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:57 am
These people are trained professionals, so managing them will mostly involve hiring people, creating the shift schedule, and some other HR work. Not micromanaging them or checking on them.
Hm, if you’ve had competent managers, you may not realize how much managing you will be doing. Agreed, hiring is important. Dealing with other people’s hires is what may eat up your time.

DutchGirl
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Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

It took some time to decide on this one! But in the end, I'm not doing it. My gut is nice and quiet now, so it's probably the right decision for me. :-)

1taskaday
Posts: 461
Joined: Wed Dec 04, 2013 11:45 am
Location: England

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by 1taskaday »

Good for you, it's always a relief to make a decision.
Remember life/work keeps throwing up opportunities.
Just because you passed on this one doesn't mean full time work in a more involved role won't be the correct decision for you in the future.

This is the way I now look at things ... change is continuous.

Right now I am going back to the person I was pre-kids.
I am no longer exhausted and no longer want to live in a remote area.
This is amazing to me...I have gone full circle...and back to wanting to live in the thick of things like I did in my twenties...who knows if the right opportunity comes up I may want to work full-time again.
After the changes I have seen occurring in myself I "never say never"anymore about anything.

rube
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Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:54 pm
Location: Europe (NL)

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by rube »

Sounds like you made the right decision for yourself at this moment. Well done.

DutchGirl
Posts: 1271
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

Yup, definitely a good decision. Meanwhile, I'm working hard and for now I've found a task to do at work that was made for me, so to speak. It fills up a quarter of my work week and I'm appreciated for it. And I like that :-) . Maybe, just maybe, I can slowly mold my current job more into a job I like (even) more; even if it's not with a higher salary or more (or less) work hours than what I have now.

I work more hours than what my contract dictates, as well. Normally I have my extra work hours paid out to me (after all: who better than me to use that money to create more money?), but since this month I let those hours accumulate to hopefully use them by October/November for some free time. If that doesn't work out (due to there still being too much work to let me take time off), then I'll have those hours paid out in November or so. I hope it does work out, though. It could mean things like having a couple of two-day-workweeks in November or so, and I am already looking forward to being able to stay in when it's cold and wet outside! Well, we'll see which one it'll be: more money or more time off...

I've spent a little over 1000 euros less this year so far than planned, mostly due to spending less on eating out and stuff like that; and I earned over 10% more than expected at the beginning of the year due to working more hours.

DutchGirl
Posts: 1271
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

I had an educated aunt and uncle, who had studied at universities, and who had chosen not to have kids of their own, and who would give me a book every year for my birthday. I love books, but looking back the books they gave me were a bit too difficult for the age I was at. Who can blame them?

I remember one book where the girl gets lost in the big city (I assume Amsterdam) and meets up with all kinds of funny and strange people and has all kinds of adventures. But for 8-year-old me, that book gave me lots of nightmares. That book probably got all the children's books' awards that year, but it wasn't good for me.

I now also remember another book that they gave me. It was a book with lots of pictures and relavitely little text. Maybe I was six or seven when they gave it to me? The pictures looked medieval in style and were very colorful.

The story was of a boy who some time long ago in a country far away (Italy or so, ha ha) grew up and loved throwing balls in the air. He ended up being a juggler (I had to look this word up, long live the internet) and he juggled for lots of people. He became an entertainer by profession and a very successful one. He jugled for kings, queens, bishops, rich people, and he was famous and richly rewarded in his youth. But he became old, still wandering the earth and performing his art, although he had lost his edge a bit. Then one day when it was cold out, he entered a church to find shelter. In the church was a statue of the child Jesus in the arms of this mother Mary. The child looked very unhappy and unsatisfied. The juggler started juggling for the statue (grown me thinks: why??? What did he expect?). He did his best, and he performed as in his best days. He juggled more and more balls, and higher and higher they went. At the height of his performance, though, his old heart stopped, and he died. The next morning, they found his body below the statue, with a smiling baby Jesus holding one of the juggler's juggling balls. The end.

This story haunted me when I was little (statue baby Jesus moved! Spooky!) and it haunted me for different reasons a few weeks ago.

Maybe my aunt and uncle (religious folks) wanted me to know this story to tell me to give my best to the world (and to God). And the suggestion in the story was that the juggler went to heaven for performing for statue baby Jesus.
But to me these last couple of weeks I've sometimes felt like I'm giving it my all these days (I'm working hard, folks), and I'm like that poor juggler dying (slash losing my precious time) to entertain (or in my case help) others. And after that, it's The End for the poor juggler. And sometimes I felt the same way: giving it my all, and what will that do for me / how will I end up?

(Googling tells me that the book is called The Clown of God by Tomie de Paola; I read a translation of course).

I think I've shaken off this feeling now, now that things are calming down a bit at work. A few more colleagues have arrived, and it means that I won't be working as many hours anymore.
Also, with a lot of happiness and anticipation I am looking forward to the last work council meeting that I'll (have to) attend in two weeks, after which the new work council will be installed of which I will no longer be a part. I wish them luck. I learned some new things, gained some more insights, but I decided to not sign up for the next three years of it.

Forskaren
Posts: 189
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2015 4:04 pm

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by Forskaren »

Do you enjoy more spare time and less responsibilities? I guess most people can enjoy that in the short term, and some also longterm.

DutchGirl
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Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

I hope so, Forskaren. I think I am atypical in how I can enjoy the simple things in life and some spare hours to spend on my own. No need for alcohol or fancy locations. So I hope that I can also adapt to a simpler lifestyle all in all.

I do like being useful, but I don't think it should get in my way to be happy and balanced. So I'm looking for some more balance, I guess.

DutchGirl
Posts: 1271
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

No free time so far, due to people falling ill and me needing to replace them. Mostly people have just gotten a cold, so far, but with the current government advice (and common sense) having a cold definitely means staying home and not working, and probably getting tested for COVID as well. One colleague actually has caught COVID (probably in his home), but he's recovering nicely.

I have a week of holiday in 1.5 weeks, and that's going to be a nice quiet week of relaxing, I hope. Also, I will probably have a few months off at the beginning of 2021 (Jan until March), partially paid (I'll be on holiday during a couple of weeks), partially unpaid leave. I'm definitely looking forward to that as well!

Oh, and I'm done with the work council, hurrah! That already makes work a whole lot more relaxing.

Mendes
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Oct 23, 2020 7:15 am

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by Mendes »

Just discovered this site a few days ago and spent time by reading your complete journal. Wauw! What incredible journey and persistance do you have. Reading the journal was addictive and a great joy. And as fellow Dutch you triggered me to look at my life(funeral?) insurances. Apparently i have two... thanks and looking forward to your next update

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