r.i.p. dj ajax

I’ve always admired all of DJ Ajax’s stuff, especially his Bang Gang DJs stuff (like the Light Sound Dance Grey Disc). I was saddened to read this tonight:

“DJ Ajax was crossing a road in Parkville, an inner-Melbourne suburb, in the early hours of 28 February 2013 when he was hit by a truck and died at the scene.”

RIP dude.

rules for travel

“Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.”

~ Peter De Vries

I’ve been thinking about travel a lot lately. In the past I have made a big mistake of returning to places overseas I’ve already been to, and inevitably they were never as good as the first time. So, I’m proposing some new rules for travel:

  1. I will never return to an overseas destination that I’ve already been to before. It will never be the same so I should go somewhere else!
  2. I will never travel to an overseas destination to relax on a beach. We have some of the best, and cleanest, beaches in the world on the east coast of Australia and it feels kinda criminal to fly across the world when we can drive 50 minutes in the car to experience the same thing.
  3. I will never travel to an overseas destination to do ‘cheap’ shopping: that’s what the Internet is for.
  4. I will seek an experience overseas that I won’t forget and can’t replicate at home: I don’t really want to just surf the net or watch movies in a hotel room on the other side of the world.
  5. I will do it for the experience rather than the memories. I once read an article about how we’d all be better off it we treated a holiday as if our memory of it would be erased when it was over. That way we’d actually experience it, rather than just try to accumulate memories of it for later.
  6. I will turn off the work email on my phone: and not check twitter either.
  7. I will eat local: no food like you get at home, or fast food like McDonalds either.
  8. I will focus on enjoying the travel rather than taking photos of it.

“Didn’t have a camera by my side this time

Hoping I would see the world through both my eyes

Today I finally overcame trying to fit the world inside a picture frame

Maybe you should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes

It brought me back to life”

~ John Mayer:  ‘3×5’

Update: 8 October 2012

I probably should clarify: traveling domestically to the same place, eg. Byron Bay, to relax is good, and preferable. Traveling overseas for adventures should be to different places and traveling overseas for relaxation is not on.

alan greenspan can print more money

This is screwed up:

“This is not an issue of credit rating. The United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that”

Alan Greenspan on the USA’s credit rating being downgraded on the weekend.

Print more money? Seriously? Is that really the solution to the whole world, Australia included, being addicted to debt and having been on one huge debt binge for the last decade? Confidence inspiring.

Video here.

fat freddys drop @ the tivoli 27 may 2011

We went to see Fat Freddy’s Drop tonight at the Tivoli in Brisbane. It was one of two Australian shows this month, so we felt pretty special to see them live again. We had choice spot on the upper right balcony which meant the view was especially awesome.

Their new material was especially enjoyable, I look forward to their new album later this year.

sydney

I’ve spent a number of weeks in Sydney for work, and I’ve grown to love the place. I’ve been working in North Sydney, and staying in a serviced apartment in Miller’s Point (near Darling Habour). On occasions, I walk home admiring the spectacular harbour view the whole way.

Walking Home - Opera House

Walking home - Sydney Harbour Bridge from Millers Point

Because of daylight savings (something we don’t have in Brisbane) I’ve walked to Bondi Beach from Miller’s Point after work (about 10km), and ate fish and chips on the beach.

The view from my office isn’t bad either.

I also managed to find some street art around the city, but it was part of an exhibition, which kinda isn’t the same.

what happened to us?

I love this quote I found by someone who has recently migrated to Australia from Switzerland.

I live here now since October 2008 and I still haven’t a house but I didn’t expect this to happen anyway.

What concerns me more is that I had to over think my decade-long statement. Where is [sic] the Aussie lifestyle gone to?… Nowadays Australians are under a lot of pressure seems to me that they now live to work as well. And no wonder – look at your prices – one example :

  • I live in a Mango tree town – they are just everywhere – why does Wollies sell them for 2 Dollar each?

In fact I have a lot of “why” questions!

  • Why do healthy things like Broccoli cost 8 Dollars a kilo when MacDonalds gives you the Supersize-me deal for 4.95?
  • Why did Australians overtake Americans on the scales?
  • Why is everything “mobil” (phones, internet) so expensive?
  • Why can I buy things “No Deposit – No interest – till 2015”?
  • Why is Joyce Maine and Harvey Norman shouting at me in their ads?
  • Why do the Good Guys not dance when I step into their Establishment?
  • Why do I have to drive 130 km for a simple Ultrasonic scan?
  • Why are houses priced and not valued?
  • Why can Australians afford so much with so little pay?

I love quotes lie this because it shows how quickly we’ve lost our shoshin and have forgot to question things. An example is how stupidly houses are in Australia. While the world laughs at us, we just accept that houses are ridiculously expensive, instead of asking why, and doing something to correct it.

It won’t be too long before people clue-on and find somewhere where things make sense.

our housing bubble

“I think it is a mistake to assume that a riskless, easy guaranteed way to prosperity is just to be leveraged up into property. It isn’t going to be that easy.”

~ Glenn Stevens: Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia (the guy in charge of all our money) finally raises the red flag on Australia’s debt driven housing bubble. Australia’s housing debt is over 160% of our entire combined disposable income. In 1977, it was less than 40%.

our urban paradise

Despite the negative connotations about city living, we love it, especially because of our urban balcony garden which has been extra special this past summer. Our frangipanis are continuing to flower into autumn, our succulents are thriving, and we’ve got two birds who visit about once a day to say hi. One of the birds is a beautiful shiny Australian Raven (we don’t have crows in Australia), and the other is a Grey Currawong. I found a shiny black feather from the Raven today when taking some photos of the frangipani flowers.

redefining wealth

It’s definitely a confusing time for many people at the moment. I’m sure that a lot of people have started to realize their so called wealth during the boom years was really just an illusion, and like any illusion, it can quickly vanish. Many people who used to feel wealthy no longer actually are. Many people have started to question why they’re working longer, doing less things they enjoy and spending less time with their family and yet they’re no better off.

Most definitions of wealth are about abundant valuable material possessions, all of which are worth a lot less now. One of the positive outcomes of these times is that I think we’ll see a better definition of wealth emerge, wealth meaning we can lead a better life instead of just having a lot more shit.

rose-in-hands

In my opinion, being wealthy isn’t about:

  • owning heaps of shit and having to work 70 hours a week just to afford to pay for it all;
  • working so much that you need to pay others to care for your family whilst you work;
  • having a hugely expensive house that requires multiple incomes just to pay it off and constantly worrying about how much it is worth;
  • using your home equity as an constant ATM because it is suddenly worth so much;
  • owning the biggest and latest SUV to drive your children around in, polluting the planet and ripping up the roads whilst doing so;
  • having absolutely no savings, but heaps of assets (and debt) that supposedly only ever go up in value;
  • having no control over your life because all the decisions you make are financial and are about getting ahead.

To me, being wealthy is actually about:

  • having just enough to live comfortably;
  • having savings that enable you to make decisions about what is right/wrong;
  • being generous with your time and money, to make others lives better;
  • being able to spend time with your family;
  • being able to do things you enjoy as much as you like;
  • not trying to continually compare how much you own to others, just being happy with what you’ve got and what you do;
  • being happy that the value of your house stays the same, so you only make improvements for yourself rather than what you think will make it worth more to others.

So hopefully out of these tough times we will see  a new definition of wealth emerge, and once the dust settles, we can actually work at becoming truly wealthy, the kind of wealth that can’t disappear overnight.

Photo by Hamed Saber (Creative Commons)

really good tattoos

I was in Coles at West End this afternoon and I saw this guy with a really good tattoo. I could tell that it was well thought out, and that it would have been designed and then inked. It was a mid-arm piece of a bright coloured flower neatly contained by a contrasting monotone background. Completely cool.

got ink 3.0

I pondered and realised that really good tattoos actually shit me. And the reason? They’re too good. All of my tattoos, you see, aren’t that good. Sure, I love them, but they weren’t ever planned, nor designed. They were done as part of my life at the time and done because they meant (and mean) something to me.

It’s weird that something that’s too good can sometimes not actually be that good. Because Kitty and I are flying to Canberra tomorrow for the long weekend, I’ll try to explain this concept with the story of two different Australian cities.

Canberra, Australia’s capital, is a purpose built, planned city of 334,000 that began in 1913. Canberra was extremely well thought out, planned and then built to be Australia’s capital city. Canberra, by the books, is too good. The 2006 census showed that the average weekly wage in Canberra is $600-$699 which is almost 50% higher than the Australian average. Also, 4.5% of Canberrians have a postgraduate degree, compared with the national average of 1.8%. Driving around Canberra is a breeze because of the planned nature of the roads and there’s no tolls and little pollution. Unemployment is also very low. But it’s really quite hard to tell the various suburbs apart so it all feels the same. That’s why people get lost driving around, even though the roads are great.

Sydney, the state capital of NSW, was established in 1788 with a population of 1300 odd people and has since grown to be home to about 4,280,000. Sydney is by no means planned and by the books, not that good. Traffic is congested and housing is very expensive. The trains don’t often run on time and you hear people say that it is very polluted. Many tourists actually mistake Sydney to be the Australian capital, and often haven’t even heard of Canberra.

But if you were to ask Australians whether they prefer Canberra or Sydney, I imagine that most would they’d say Sydney. Sydney is an amazing city. The Sydney Harbor and its Bridge, the Opera House, the city beaches, and the surrounding geography are stunning. You can be in one part of Sydney in the morning and in another completely different part that same day. And that’s because it wasn’t planned.

So, Canberra did all the right things to be a perfect city, but almost four million more Australians prefer to live in crazy, congested and polluted Sydney.

The Minister for Roads in NSW, Eric Roozendaal, recently said it best. Whilst responding to the ‘like traffic that moves? move to canberra” advertisements found on Sydney buses he said:

“Anyone who goes to Canberra knows Canberra is even more boring than Adelaide, and Sydney is the greatest city in the country.”

Because I don’t have any really good tattoos, I’m hoping that my collection of will grow into a Sydney rather than a Canberra.

Photo by theointarifa (creative commons).

know how much your neighbours paid for their home (for free)

In the past, in Australia, it has been expensive and difficult to find out how much people have paid for their home because real estate agents have tightly held onto this data.

A new website has been launched called ‘on the house‘ that provides this data to anyone, for free. That’s right, free. At the moment data from QLD and NSW is available but other states will be added soon.

It is very interesting looking at the data, even if you don’t want to buy a property any time soon. It does debunk the myth that property prices only ever go up.