It is seven years later and not much has changed in the financial world. The next financial crisis will be worse. Happy New Year!

Down Under

Wall street’s implosion has brought an economic thinker by the name of Nassim Nicholas Taleb back in the news.  A little over a year ago, his book, “The Black Swan:  The Impact of the Highly Improbable”  garnered a certain amount of attention in North America because of its startling implications on an American mental landscape dominated by ideology.  Taleb’s thesis was that we humans are highly susceptible to getting caught out by random events because we have such a strong tendency to discount their existence.

If you have spent your entire life in the northern hemisphere, you will conclude that swans are white.  And that will be true as long as you never go to Australia, where swans are black.  The difficulty is that we seem to be psychologically programmed to confuse improbability with impossibility.  Taleb suggests that this may be because evolution does not favor probabilistic thinking.  Not every…

View original post 490 more words

Advertisements

I am reposting this from the tiny country of Brunei, of all places. My good wife was asked to look into things legislative and financial. Always eager to tag along, yours truly is living in a hotel/resort very much like Versailles at the moment. Hence the pics that don’t seem very wintry. The roads are good and the petrol is inexpensive. Taxis are few. Enjoy this post from 2008.

Down Under

The architecture of Melbourne is to be found in buildings which are, quite literally, all over the map.  I have mentioned before that this city is spread out, but it only sinks in when you see the suburbs light up one by one on an illuminated map which reveals them according to the dates each was founded.  The map is to be found at the ultra modern Melbourne Museum, right next door to one of the city’s architectural showpieces, the Royal Exhibition Building, 1879-1880.

Melbourne was founded in 1835 without the approval of the British administration of London or Sydney.  Free settlers from Tasmania stumbled upon the grazing lands along the Yarra River and set up a small, pastoral settlement producing wool.  The settlement grew slowly for the first sixteen years.  In 1837, the government in Sydney accepted the inevitable and sent surveyors over to establish a grid of streets. …

View original post 345 more words


For reasons which elude me but may be hinted at in this post, I never was invited back to join the group on any subsequent winter camping expedition.  Maybe it was the snoring, maybe it was clambering across Alan in the middle of the night, or the fact that my stove didn’t work or the fact that I didn’t bring any food….  I could go on.   Never mind.  Any time my crazy Aussie friends wish to experience some real winter, all they have to do is come to see us in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the Great White North.

Down Under

You might think that a seven-hour drive and three hour ski in gale-force winds would go a long way toward ensuring that our home away from home was less than crowded. That we would, in effect, have the place pretty much to ourselves. Such was not the case. We weren’t even the first to arrive for the long weekend. Three other snow campers caught up with us at the dam and made it to the hut before we arrived.

Then there was Basil, a dusky antechinus. He/She seemed to be a regular at Edmondson’s hut and was entirely blase about human intruders. We heard the next morning that that Basil had curled up inside the hearth of the fireplace with a fire going. It sounded almost suicidal, but none of us was an expert.

According to Wikepedia, the Dusky Antechinus is active at many times of the day. It mostly…

View original post 453 more words


I am currently experiencing the beginning of winter in one of Canada’s colder provinces– Saskatchewan. I’m looking forward to getting out the X country skis soon. It is hard to believe that this adventure happened seven years ago. It feels like yesterday.

Down Under

There are a number of reasons why I was not looking forward to the outbound trek. My cycling and exercise routine had fallen by the wayside during our recent sojourn in North America. I had not shouldered a backpack in years or been on cross-country skis in a decade. My gear consisted of rented boots and borrowed skis, downhill skis that had been modified for back country touring.

I regarded my companions as mountain men. They had all done this before. The group had come together over the years through work connections. I was the only one who was not working or going to school. We were a demographic oddity, covering a considerable age–span sixties, fifties, forties, thirties, and fifteen.

We were heading into the great white unknown in gale-force winds. All I knew was that it was roughly 8 kilometers (5 miles) distant and that the climb was not…

View original post 507 more words


I ended up doing four posts about this trip, which was memorable for a homebody who likes his creature comforts. I am writing this update from the Prairie city of Saskatoon, Canada, where we are heading into winter. The temperatures here promise to make this adventure seem like a walk in the park.

Down Under

Our destination for the winter camping trip was a place called Falls Creek, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) to the northeast, on the way to Sydney. A good part of the travel there is on the Hume Highway, one of the most heavily trafficked stretches of bitumen (asphalt) in all of Australia. That part is fast. The last section, when you head toward the Alpine region, makes up for it. It is a slow, two-lane road, threading its way through farm country, gradually climbing into the Alpine National Park.

Our foray into the snow began long before we set out. For me it started on June 24 with a casual email from Alan, my cycling friend, alerting me to the fact that a winter adventure was in the works. It would likely happen the second week of August. Would I like to come?

Like a small snowball accumulating size and…

View original post 485 more words


This is seven years old already, but I doubt if it has been put out-of-date by any shift in attire among the workers of Australia. They have to dress down for Halloween.

Down Under

Even the briefest visit to Australia will make one thing blindingly obvious to the visitor: the most colorful people in this country are not rap musicians, artists, gay activists, pimps or drug dealers; they are the men and women who work with tools and trucks.

Anyone who drives a ‘ute” (utility vehicle), works at a construction site, paves a driveway, plants trees or darts up the sidewalk on a motorbike delivering the mail, (delivering anything for that matter), must be dressed in a shade of yellow, orange or green that would make a butterfly blush.

It’s a safety thing.

I’ve been told by one of my eccentric cycling companions that some tool users are very, very touchy about their tools. So, the colorful plumage may also be one way of saying, “back off, mate.” If the Aussie equivalent of Homer Simpson was in the middle of a nuclear meltdown, he…

View original post 317 more words


This is a unique, Australian product that should be sold on supermarket shelves in North America.

Down Under

This may be the only place on the planet I can say that I am sick of being crook and expect some degree of understanding and sympathy.  “Crook” has taken an evolutionary twist on its way to the Southern hemisphere, its meaning leaning towards “ill” or out of sorts. I am guessing now that what I thought was a cold or an allergic reaction may, in fact, have been the flu.  I probably picked it up at the Writer’s Festival.  Everyone knows that writers are solitary creatures and should never get together except in bars or at Irish pubs. Only bad things can come of it.

The strain that latched itself on to me came on like Sarah Palin’s proverbial bulldog and I am still suffering from the symptoms, which seems hardly fair.  I eat right, exercise, and usually start each day with Uncle Toby.  For those of you unlucky…

View original post 505 more words


Strange to read this after all these years. I have moved on to an IPod and Bluetooth earbuds. Yuval Noah Harari’s book, “Sapiens,” is keeping me intellectually stimulated these days. He is a polymath up there with Jared Diamond. There are another dozen books loaded up, ready to entertain, exasperate and captivate me for hours on end.

Down Under

Yesterday was a red letter day in more ways than one. The weather, first of all. Melbourne goes through more weather in an afternoon than Florida gets in a year. Take a look at the forecast on any given day and you are likely to see a dozen different predictions that would, in an ordinary place, be mutually exclusive. Heavy rain, sunshine, high winds, gentle breezes.

Cloudy with meatballs. On April fool’s day, you would expect the weather gods to have conjured up something strange and spectacular–lightning, thunder, hail, hurricanes, a snow storm or two. Instead, we got a wonderful day– a long day of late summer sun at its finest.

It was a perfect day for a ride but I’m attempting to condition body and brain to a workout routine, so I made my way to the gym instead. The one device that makes a workout (or dentist appointment…

View original post 542 more words


We did return to Tasmania, but only the one time. It was for a kayaking trip on the Freycinet Peninsula. The island has some wonderful scenery, friendly faces, good food and great bubbly. Just like Nova Scotia!

Down Under

Take a look at a globe, if you’ve got one handy. Or launch Google Earth and point it toward Australia. Due south of Melbourne is an island about the size of Ireland. Originally called Van Diemen’s Land, it is now known as Tasmania. To mainland Australians, it is affectionately called “Tassie.”

As we slipped away from Melbourne the morning of February 8th aboard the “Spirit of Tasmania” I got a plaintive text message from my daughter–“please take the chocolate with you.” My penchant for Cadbury’s dark chocolate with almonds has not made this blog to date, but there it is. She needn’t have worried that I would leave it behind.

Since our only packing restriction was the size of the Subaru, we were equipped for an expedition to the Antarctic. Even in summer, Tasmania can require everything from ponchos to mittens. We had camping gear, hiking clothes, paddling gear, city…

View original post 602 more words


It hardly seems like seven and a half years since I wrote this. i’m re-posting this from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, a relatively small city dominated by a big river– the South Saskatchewan. You see canoes and paddle boards and jet skis on this river, but I doubt if it hosts anything like the Henley regatta.

Down Under

Despite my recent rant against the Grand Prix, I am as addicted to the convenience of the automobile as anyone else. I use our car for errands, occasional grocery shopping, carrying my bicycle to the starting point of group rides, and, (here comes the hard part) going for walks.

Two or three times a week my wife will hold out an imaginary leash and do her best Barbara Woodhouse imitation of “walkies.” For those of you too young to have seen Barbara on TV, suffice it to say that she was the Margaret Thatcher of dog training. Viewers sat up straighter when her show came on. Dog owners knew instinctively that they were the ones being trained; not the dogs. My wife doesn’t drive, so if she is to have her favorite walk, I’m part of the deal.

The walk she has in mind is a four-kilometer loop down along…

View original post 308 more words

Flickr Photos

Categories

Blog Stats

  • 41,345 hits
August 2019
M T W T F S S
« Dec    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 143 other followers

Top Rated

August 2019
M T W T F S S
« Dec    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  
August 2019
M T W T F S S
« Dec    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Categories

Advertisements