Thursday, 15 April 2021

Hanging out in Zurich

Having a place to stay really makes a holiday, you can spend time in a city relaxing and getting to actually know a little bit about the city. The days spent on the top floor of the building hanging out on the balcony in the afternoon and evenings sipping on Bordeaux were memorable.

Looking out from the balcony over the street, a morning coffee leaning against the rail being careful not to dislodge the plants, it was a quiet street for vehicles but had plenty of interesting pedestrian traffic.

When Iris headed out to work, it was time to wander around the city of Zurich exploring; although her apartment was not in the city centre, I really enjoyed the daily walk to get to my destination - the longer the better and I enjoyed the exercise.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

No camera

When I started travelling in a serious manner, it was before the internet, mobile phones and digital cameras. I never took a camera with me, there were rolls of film to carry around with you to later develop. It was a hassle I didn't need.

My philosophy was back then that I would keep travelling and not worry about past trips, that way I would always be seeking new adventures and destinations to visit. That was when I was young, fit and muscular, I was in pretty good condition - this is no longer the case.

My memory is still good, I admit, I don't remember every day of a trip as those trips went for three to six months at a time. Back then, a two week trip was just a short break from work before getting back into it. A three to six month trip meant resigning from my job before returning to Perth to earn some money to pay for the next trip.

As I was either working flat out, well over eighty hours per week when I returned, I never much thought about photography or where I had just been - there was just work and rest. When I was away overseas - I was living. I felt back then I was too busy doing it to ever bother photographing these activities.

Funnily enough, the rare photographs I had of this period were taken by other people and mailed to my parent’s address in Perth, they then had an idea where I was and what I was up to, who I was with and what I was doing. This is the only records I have of these trips. Apart from passport entries and stamps, I have no other record of these trips.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Never rely on the age pension

The pension age in Australia has been bumped up to age 67 previously from age 65, it was expected to be further hiked to age 70 but the new Morrison government in one of their first moves was to resist pressure - at least for the time being.

One suspects this was more a political move than a financial consideration, they are acutely aware of their voting cohort and likely poll results in 2019. For this very reason, they decided to reverse the previous decision to raise the retirement age to 70. Blue collar workers such as shearers, welders, construction workers and labourers will really struggle those final 5 years and need all the assistance available.

This is exactly the reason I believe all blue collar workers need to educate themselves on the intricacies of superannuation and retirement options. They above all should be organising their retirement plans and seeking financial advice or alternately getting involved in educational programs to learn retirement planning as an important life skill.

One should never rely on the age pension, this is purely a contingency plan for those unable to support themselves once their employment life has ended. The 9.5 superannuation levy imposed upon employers is really our money, we were forced to forego current pay rises for future retirement planning.

Really, all employees should at least match employer contributions and/or negotiate improved retirement plan participation. One can not rely on the age pension, this is especially true when Australia has an aging population that can either be remedied by increasing migration or providing greater conditions for families.

The age pension was never designed to provide a quality of life expected by many, this is a payment to protect vulnerable older people who do not possess enough assets to support themselves. It is not a right for years of paying tax through work, people who have never worked a day in their life are still eligible for the age pension once they hit the age requirements.

Pension payments for a large portion of the federal budget and governments are unlikely to be raised to levels expected. The age pension is a payment that keeps the majority of pensioners on or slightly below the poverty line, it has served its purpose and I can't see it raised to levels pensioners desire or expect.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Paid toilets

I still can't get used to paying for toilets, coming from Perth, this just isn't something that we are really used to. I understand running facilities comes at a cost, but every property owner pays rates in their locality. I don't think we should start back charging non-locals is the answer.

I recall a line up at the train station in Cologne, there was a long line for the toilets with an entry barrier requiring €1 to enter. There was even a change machine at the entrance where a separate line was required to have the right change ready, then for the women, a new line existed.

This was a serious money making exercise, I didn't hang around long enough to do the maths, but if 15 people went through in the minute I was lining up and I multiply by sixty, we can see they are turning over €900 per hour - this is a pretty decent little business.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Setting my nephew in the right direction

After my nephew turned eighteen, he completed secondary school better known as high school here. He won't be attending university, I was looking to help get him an apprenticeship in a technical trade as soon as he completes high school, that didn't happen right away unfortunately, but he got there.

Now he has an apprenticeship, I will be making sure he signs up to an industry superannuation fund. I would choose Australian Super for him and will advise him on such matters. I will hope he will match employer contributions so he won't face the issues his father or myself faced when we began paid employment.

He will initially complain about a lack of disposable income no doubt, this especially hurts on apprentice wages. But setting the foundation of saving for retirement at the beginning of his working life will pay dividends in the long-term. A little short-term pain for long-term gain is required, setting him on a path of saving that will change his life.

He enjoys the folly of youth, he has a pretty full social calendar. Sure, he spends a little too much on the party lifestyle, he burns through his money. As his uncle, I need to exert some influence making sure he is headed in the right direction in life. Ultimately, it is his life to lead - I am pretty sure he will strike a balance between living and saving. 

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Countering cyber attacks

When the Australian government announced during the covid-19 pandemic Australia was under cyber attack by a state based actor, it didn't take a great deal of detective work to identify the potential culprits.

Firstly, you need to ask yourself which country has both the capability and motivation to launch these cyber attacks. The state based actors with the capability and motivation include Russia, North Korea, Iran and China and without too much analysis you can narrow it down to two potential adversaries.

As China has been displeased with Australia for demanding, then succeeding in organising an official investigation into the origins of coronavirus, so there is pretty much one potential state based actor.

Ok, cyber attacks have previously been traced back to a location in China, so we need to ask ourselves, what is next? The Australian government didn't name the country launching these attacks in what can be viewed as a diplomatic protocol.

The government was sending a clear message, we know who it is but we won't yet name you in a public forum just yet. We do reserve the right to publically name and shame the regime in the future if these attacks do not stop.

Apart from the international humiliation, what options does Australia have? Is it possible for Australia to retaliate and coordinate a cyber attack on this facility? If so, what are the ramifications?

Is this an act of war? Pretty much future conflicts will include taking out assets and infrastructure and rendering them inoperative. What about another scenario, we know China has been engaging in cyber attacks and intellectual property theft of private corporations, universities and government agencies.

So, if we retaliate, what don't we target Chinese businesses, facilities such as educational institutions and scientific organisations? The question has been asked of us, what are we going to do about this?

Thursday, 1 April 2021

The TAG Heuer S/el

I have been a fan of TAG Heuer for a while, my friend Steve owned a magnificent example of a gold TAG Heuer and I decided I wanted one too. 

We were working on the island of Guam in the mid to late 1990s, the local shops were happy to do deals with locals who could provide proof of living on the island and an addition discount if you were employed on the island too, I was pretty happy as I met both criteria.

Being a diver, an S/el chronograph was my choice of timepiece at the time. Back then we were decompression diving from tables and needed to accurately monitor the time of each decompression stop and the S/el was an excellent choice of timer.