Thursday, May 29, 2014

Support Local People

No, not again! Working for peanuts...

When we spend, what an average Balinese needs two years to earn, for enjoying two weeks of our holidays, we like to think we are also spreading our wealth to those not born with a silver spoon in their mouth.
How we achieve the maximum benefit for local population?

a) we buy a flight ticket
b) book accommodation through a booking system
c) choose only locally owned services
d) avoid using services provided by foreign owned businesses

Great! Mission accomplished! Mission – our holidays, yes – our altruistic goal not so much.

For getting to a faraway destination there is no way around – we have to buy a ticket. How the money spend for the ticket is distributed we know.
Maybe an Euro or two trickles down to baggage handler, cleaner, check in staff in Bali.

When you book your accommodation a nice commission will be diverted to the booking system. As a Balinese owner with no tax number, no bank account, no legal paper work can not cooperate directly with this booking system, he uses a friendly help offered some time ago by a clever guest. A tourist who knew how to profit from his stay in Bali is doing this for him (and several others). And of course extracts a fat friendly commission from the Balinese owner. As owner of the Balinese accommodation is in the end getting way less than expected, and his profit margin is sacred – the only solution is to cut a little more on already meager salaries of local staff.
Each employed at the place you enjoy hospitality at gets maybe 20 to 30 cents of your money per day. Cents, not Euros.

Avoid foreign owned businesses and help Balinese people by going straight to a local business, paying in cash, and people employed there will enjoy full benefits of your payment.
And in many cases services come at cheaper price, so it's a pure win-win situation.
There is just a minor catch here.
Local owner pockets more profit than foreign one. At lower prices for the services.
Should we declare him a spiritual guru of the new-age multidimensional economics?
Or a self-centered, egoistic guru leading a permanent “Working for peanuts” sweatshop?

Some facts are not overly advertised. As for instance much longer hours for staff when working for a local owner. Much lower salary when working for a local owner. Much less (or none) benefits for staff working for local businessman.

Similar to anywhere else in the world. Try to estimate if people working at an establishment seem happy – if so, good chances are, a decent part of your money is coming to them as well.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Killing Software

Trust old Abe.

Information is knowledge. Knowledge is power.
And ignorance is strength, Eric A. Blair would add.

when I hack and download a designing software I'm a designer

b) with translating software I'm a translator
c) downloading a manual for heart transplantation makes me equal to DeBakey
d) following the instructions from you tube I become a rocket scientist

We all know the names of Shakespeare, Newton, da Vinci, Paracelsus, Mozart, Aristotle, Einstein, Gutenberg, Michelangelo … All of them were brilliant in specific areas.

For ages people were excelling in various specialties. In one, maybe another one or two, related to their basic field of expertise, however, they were smart enough not to try to be geniuses in all aspects of human endeavors.
They allowed cooks to cook, gardeners to garden, politicians to lie, teachers to teach.

Today all the e-connected people are excelling in all the areas of human endeavors. If you are internet savvy, you do not need experts for anything anymore.
If you are a brilliant lawyer and your client who's a medical doctor is explaining to you the finer points of the law, as he has read on the Holy Internet, yes, it's a horrible feeling. But when you as a lawyer are trying to enlighten your car mechanic with your internet wisdom on viscous coupling unit service procedure, this is just completing the circle of a blissful ignorance.

So we have an immense amount of information available to anyone at any time. However, we should be aware of a caveat to this information. As anybody is allowed to add to the treasure chest of human knowledge, the modest sum of useful information is more and more hidden in the exponentially growing garbage – a true proverbial needle in a haystack.
How does it reflect on everyday life?
For too many contemporary designs a better choice of word would be disasters.
Too many contemporary translations are mainly used only for people with constipation problems.

A rather old saying, used by a Slovenian poet as an answer to ignorant critics, is still very much in place today:
“Let the cobbler stick to his last.”
Or in modern translation:
“Shoes only belong to equine.”

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Divers. Expatriates. Friends.

Can you imagine how many skills each of us posses? Add to this number all the skills we are acquiring day after day. To cope with our jobs. With businesses we run. The skills needed to make our leisure time good.
Yet so frequently we are stonewalled on our paths due to the lack of certain skills.
What should we do?

use every moment of our time to master some more skills

b) declare ourselves as incompetents
c) lock ourselves in the room and cry in the dark corner
d) or
to learn when it is time to ask for some help

Some skills of today differ significantly from skills of yesterday. How to track a deer is not so important when visiting a supermarket. The skill how of making a canoe from a log fades compared to the negotiating skill when you are renting a canoe on the lake.
However, some skills remain same essential as they used to be.
How to interact with other living creatures and with yourself – without these skills people were doomed to the hollowness of their souls. And still are. The most neglected skill, how to accept yourself for what you are and through this to accept anything you encounter for what it is, is maybe even more important than the skill of how to operate your new ENIAC hand-phone.

When it comes to understanding of density, turbulence, temperature changes, partial pressures of air and other mixtures of gases I'm OK. Lecturing on the significance of Bernoulli equation and explaining why a hundred ton airplane doesn't fall from the sky as a brick used to be my profession.
Reading a diagram is fine by me.
However, when a small, devious mechanical part develops a tiny leak under the pressure all my skills of understanding are blown out of the window. How to dismantle the little monster without destroying half of the machinery, what to service and what not, why to change this and not that – I feel like a PhD in Comparative Philosophy trying to figure out his new state of the art coffee machine.

After weighing two remaining options, to either bang my head into the brick wall until I'm enlightened or call a friend who is a master of this and similar issues I decided for later.
I know he is overburdened with his work, he hardly gets any time to rest – but he came with a smile, checked the system and found a solution in a few minutes.

The meaning of the overused, too many times abused phrase “That's what friends are for” is clear. Yet, if your best friend doesn't have a clue what kind of help you need, do not whine nobody cares about you.
Speak up.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Marry a Balinese Woman

John, do you want to be an ATM for this woman?

Reasons to marry a woman with whom you can not share irrelevant things like ideas, thoughts, jokes, beliefs etc. are: she is so cute, modest, undemanding, eternally grateful for being taken from poverty to well-being by you.
And on top of that you will marry half of Balinese population. The half that is not willing to work, but is willing to enjoy the spoils of successful marriage. You will soon discover her extended family is obviously big enough to start a new country.
Reasons why a Western guy would marry a local woman:

a) she will follow you humbly and with a radiant smile to any boutique
b) she will find 1000 ways to thank you for all the gifts
c) she will be your pride and joy, shining as her new diamond ring
d) she will milk you dry as successfully as any Western woman

One important reason could be also all the help your local wife and her family can provide when you want to do some business in Bali.
They will explain to you, that as a foreigner, you will have to pay horrible taxes, license fees, contributions and another zillion of expenses. Probably you do not want to be a foreign owner of a small business and pay outrageous 15% of your income all the time for this.

But your loving wife and her cooperative family have a solution for you.
They will be so kind and allow you to put your business in their name and expenses of running the business will drop down to amazing 2% - as they are local people and there is a different set of rules for locals. In any case your goal is not to own something in Bali, you simply wish to put some of your money into some business and have the right to work. As a decent member of your new family you will give maybe just one percent of your income to each of those 30 family members who are helping you with lowering the costs.
As they cannot afford to rent cars for their necessary office visits you will cut the expenses for renting the vehicles down to zero by buying three cars and a couple of motorbikes for them and this problem is solved.

Because of the huge savings (dramatically lowered expenses) they will also try to help you out with ideas what to do with the rest (if any) of your money.

There is always at least one member of the family who is terminally ill and desperately needs money for the doctor.
There are always some underprivileged children in the family who cannot go to school as nobody can buy them new motorbikes.
There are always extremely important ceremonies going on – the only problem is, somebody has to foot the bill.

This is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. What's below the surface would better describe Edward J. Smith - the captain of the Titanic.

Girls, please don't laugh your heads off. Western ladies falling for a Balinese guy hit just a little bigger iceberg.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

SCUBA Diving Wisdom

Great Masters after a good dive

What, usually not advertised, benefits you can expect from some good, serious diving? Is it revealing wisdom hidden deep inside of you? Is it unleashing the child in you? Is it reminding you of the memory of freedom? Do you simply fall in love with the overall sensation of diving? Or …?

air users: nitrogen narcosis will stone you all the way into the stone age
b) nitrox fans: oxygen will rot your brain
c) trimix hard core divers: helium will make you speak funny
d) any kind of diving: you go gaga

A nice example are these two divers on the photo. Not overly young, not overly old – average age 34 years, together they speak 8 languages (when excited at the same time) and they have more than 7000 dives under their weight belts.
OK, distribution of years, language skills etc. is not exactly even, matter of fact, not even getting close to fifty-fifty, but our goal is not to split the hairs, neither to determine how many divers can dance on one regulator – we are looking for some of the hidden benefits of diving.

For a week we were exchanging the roles of a teacher and a student. We mastered some new diving techniques, a few interesting points of view on life, philosophy and culinary ideas were exchanged – and who benefited more is hard to say.

We were using a little more vivid descriptions for certain diving related phenomena, we tackled some issues from the left field – and all the time immensely enjoyed. We enjoyed in sharing experience, knowledge, ability to think way out of the box, ability to find humor on the boat trip, below the surface, chatting on the beach …

During the workshop “Age, Diving, Chili and Life” we concluded that scuba diving can be even more entertaining than preparing for a CPA exam. It can be even more relaxing than visiting your dentist and even more pleasant than working in a coal mine. Participants of the workshop also stated that properly conducted scuba diving can be less stressful than driving certain Lebanese trucks to American embassies.

We are still searching for the answer, why despite all these conclusions people still crave for diving.