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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Hijab today, gone tomorrow?


According to the Australian Business Review, Westpac has called in fashion ­queen Carla Zampatti to design a corporate hijab as the bank joins a growing trend to expand workwear to accommodate Muslim headgear.

Takes me right back to my days with the ANZ when, as a young migrant from Germany, I used to wear 'Lederhosen' and suspenders to work ☺.


Introducing, from left to right ...


Rover, Elmo, Kermit, and Teddy who are taking time out at the 'Clubhouse" by the pond (Pink Panther is napping in the hammock) while I get on with spring-cleaning the workshop.

It may look like Sesame Street but it's more like Easy Street, what with spring in the air which is a comfortable 23℃ right now.

I'll get busy with the veggie garden in a couple of weeks and chances are that I'll be full of beans again in a few months' time. Here's a snap of last year's crop:

Spring is nature’s way of saying, "Let’s party!"


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

15 years later


Click here to open in separate window


On September 11, 2001, the world witnessed the total collapse of three large steel-framed high-rises. Since then, scientists and engineers have been working to understand why and how these unprecedented structural failures occurred.

This article, which was published in Europhysics News, the magazine of the European physics community, arrives at the conclusion that "all three buildings were destroyed by controlled demolition. Given the far-reaching implications, it is morally imperative that this hypothesis be the subject of a truly scientific and impartial investigation by responsible authorities."

So, how could it have been done? Here's one take on it:

And here's another one:

Will we ever be told the truth?


Saturday, August 27, 2016

... and here's something funny to start the weekend on:


Early-morning visitors


As I walked, cup of tea in hand, to the back of "Riverbend", I had to stop short so as not to disturb two early-morning visitors. Can't see them? Click on the second image for a close-up.

And now it's time to get ready for a quick dash into town. Just finished putting on my socks - which I don't do often as life at "Riverbend" is decidedly 'underdressed' - and noticed that either my legs are getting longer or my arms shorter, or both. Another age-related thing, I guess.

I'll see you after I've got back from town.


Happy Birthday to Rina


Happy Birthday, Rina, from all of us at Riverbend!

P.S. You may have to learn some German



Friday, August 26, 2016

Read the book Donald Trump referenced and read in his major anti-Hillary Clinton speech

In 2000, Bill and Hillary Clinton owed millions of dollars in legal debt. Since then, they’ve earned over $130 million. Where did the money come from?

Most people assume that the Clintons amassed their wealth through lucrative book deals and high-six figure fees for speaking gigs. Now, Peter Schweizer shows who is really behind those enormous payments.

In his New York Times bestselling books Extortion and Throw Them All Out, Schweizer detailed patterns of official corruption in Washington that led to congressional resignations and new ethics laws. In Clinton Cash, he follows the Clinton money trail, revealing the connection between their personal fortune, their "close personal friends", the Clinton Foundation, foreign nations, and some of the highest ranks of government.

Schweizer reveals the Clinton’s troubling dealings in Kazakhstan, Colombia, Haiti, and other places at the "wild west" fringe of the global economy. In this blockbuster exposé, Schweizer merely presents the troubling facts he’s uncovered. Meticulously researched and scrupulously sourced, filled with headline-making revelations, Clinton Cash raises serious questions of judgment, of possible indebtedness to an array of foreign interests, and ultimately, of fitness for high public office. As for Bill, who could ever forget his "I did not have sexual relations with that woman...".

We live in interesting times. By the way, would you like to make a donation to the Goerman Foundation? It's fully tax-deductible - in Germany, of course! ☺


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Happy stumbling!


Sometimes just reading about happiness makes me happy! ☺ - and Daniel Gilbert's highly entertaining book "Stumbling on Happiness" certainly made me happy.

Despite the third word of the title, this is not an instruction manual that will tell you anything useful about how to be happy. Those books are located in the self-help section. Instead, this is a book that describes what science has to tell us about how and how well the human brain can imagine its own future, and about how and how well it can predict which of those futures it will most enjoy. This book is about a puzzle that many thinkers have pondered over the last two millennia.

Not knowing what makes other people happy is one thing. But shouldn't we be able to figure out what will make ourselves happy? No, Gilbert argues, because we change over time; the person you are when you are imagining what it would be like to have that fancy new car is not the person you will be when you actually have that fancy new car.

He's also funny. "When we have an experience on successive occasions, we quickly begin to adapt to it, and the experience yields less pleasure each time," he writes. "Psychologists call this habituation, economists call it declining marginal utility, and the rest of us call it marriage."

It is such a well reasoned and written book on such an elusive subject that I thought I had better give you this appetiser before you rush out to buy it yourself:

For better readability click here to open in separate window

Some of you are not big on reading, so have a listen instead:



Thumps up to Batemans Bay Registration Centre


I know where to put the petrol in and how to swipe my credit card at the end of each service but that's about the extent of my automotive knowledge. And don't the mechanics love me!

The last one I've been with for the past six years kept scheduling my car for another service every three months or so, and he would always find something to replace or repair or simply add to the bill.

At his last service in April at 105,761km, he stuck a label in the upper corner of the windshield to remind me to let him vandalise my credit card again in June or when the odometer reading reached 115,000km, whichever came sooner.

What with the few kilometres we do, June came much sooner than the 115,000km and, despite putting off the suggested service by weeks and even a couple of months, we were still only on 109,000km yesterday when I finally pulled in at another mechanic's place to ask him about the need to service the car almost as often as I fill up with petrol.

He looked at the logbook and the rego - which is due in December - and said, "Come back then and we'll do the rego check and service all in one. After that, I only want to see you here once a year when the oil, which goes off after twelve months, needs replacing."

How refreshing to meet an auto mechanic who doesn't lie when his lips are moving! Thumbs up to Batemans Bay Registration Centre who are my mechanics of choice from now on.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Vedi Napoli e poi muori!


Every time Padma urges me to visit Europe one last time, this suggestive hint to the satiated tourist that, having beheld the beauties of Naples, there was nothing left to live for comes to my mind - but for quite different reasons.

I lived long enough in Saudi Arabia to wanted to leave, so why spend good money to see an even more chaotic and lawless version of it in Europe? To see scenes like these in Calais and Paris would really make my blood boil.

The old saying 'See Naples and die!' may well need to be changed to 'See Naples - and the rest of Europe - before it dies!'

'Der Tod des Abendlandes' indeed!


Monday, August 22, 2016

Mission Brown accomplished


Just finished my first bitsa-bench which is the straight-up-and-down German version. I used left-over timber and screws and bolts but had to lash out on another pot of Mission Brown.


It's all finished now and survived its baptism by the fire.

After all the hard work, I think I now engage in some wishful drinking.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything


Our ancestors were always just one failed hunting session away from starvation. What did this fear do? It drove our survival.

We survived at all costs. We were paranoid. We were fighters. We were ruthless. We were brutal. We were murderous. And because of it . . . we got here. And because of it . . . we took over the planet. And because of it . . . we have everything in the world.

Today, we still have the same brain we’ve always had over the two hundred thousand years our species has existed on this planet. It didn’t just suddenly change when we got printing presses, airplanes, and the Internet.

It still follows this paranoid model every day, and is the recipe for our dissatisfaction and unhappiness which is nature’s way of keeping us on our toes. It’s a crude system which has worked for thousands of years but it is no longer needed.

Which is where this book comes in. Look, I don't usually go in for self-help books. I mean, if taken to their logical conclusion, self-help books would be just a collection of blank pages and a pen. But this one is different. Read it and find out (or have a listen to this YouTube talk).


Saturday, August 20, 2016

If relaxing were an Olympic event, I'd require neck surgery from all my gold medals


Like my dental appointments, the Olympic Games only command my attention every four years which is just as well because I simply can't get myself interested in ribbon-waving rhythmic gymnasts and shuttlecock-chasing badminton players (although I'm beginning to develop a taste for female beach volleyball ☺).

Why not include poker players as well? They already have drug cheats, ticket scalpers and faked robberies, so why not include poker players?


Friday, August 19, 2016

Another day in Paradise


Another glorious day, sunny, quiet and peaceful, and the only neighbour in sight is a houseboat at anchor on the other side of the river. They waved; I waved; a distant voice; then silence again. Very Longfellow-ish.

Time to catch up on what I hadn't finished yesterday - doing nothing!


Thursday, August 18, 2016

You're invited to an al fresco lunch
at 23 Carrington Parade, Freshwater


But only if they draw the right ticket number on Wednesday, the 12th October 2016.

I'm no sucker for raffles or lotteries; I don't even touch the pokies. However, someone send me an invite to the RSL Art Union Draw 339 and I found the view too hard to resist.

So here are my tickets:

Keep the day open just in case! ☺

Flamme empor


When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And when you're surrounded by lots of wooden offcuts, every one of them looks like another bench.

And so I've started on two more bitsa-benches made from bits o' this and bits o' that, to replace the sawn-off sleeper-logs around the fireplace.

Flamme empor, Flamme empor.
Steige mit loderndem Scheine
auf die Gebirge vom Rheine
glühend empor, glühend empor.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Monday, August 15, 2016

A convenience truth


I'm no user of public conveniences, mainly because I don't have to as I seldom leave "Riverbend", but also because I don't want to. However, on today's trip to Ulladulla the 'I don't want to' became an urgent 'I have to' and I used one.

Nothing out of the ordinary except for the huge padlock on the rolls of toilet paper which, in this country of abundant wealth, I would hardly have thought worth stealing but who knows what goes on behind closed doors: when opportunity knocks, people knock things off.

After this roadside education, I went for even more when I chose the books at my favourite bookshop Vinnies: George Soros' The Age of Fallibility - The Consequences of the War on Terror and Buffet - The Making of an American Capitalist by Roger Lowenstein plus The (MIS)BEHAVIOUR OF MARKETS - A Fractal View of Risk, Ruin and Reward by Benoit B. Mandelbrot and Richard L. Hudson. And, for some light relief (the second time today), A.C. Grayling's The Challenge of Things - Thinking Through Troubled Times and E. Annie Proulx's Postcards (she of The Shipping News fame).

Enough reading material to spend some quiet time on the recently built benches.