Brother Solutions Centre in Sydney brightens the day

Just when you start to wonder if there is any good service out there,  along comes Richard at the Brother Solutions Centre.

He was was so pleasant and helpful this afternoon that I feel compelled to sing his praises. He spent a patient 40 minutes helping us set up our Brother Printer after we had a bit of a problem with a previous WiFi connection.

Methodical, kind and oh so easy to understand,  Richard should not remain an unsung hero,  so thank you Richard for your help.

How I wish there were more people like you !

Dear Aldi, please don’t call us “Dear Customer”.

I realise that in the German language as well as in other European languages it is acceptable to refer to someone as “My dear…whatever”.

In Australia, however,  this sounds patronising and sarcastic.

Our Australian culture is much more casual than the German one and even irreverent at times. We don’t bow and scrape and act obsequiously even when we are courteous.  So being called “”Dear Customer” is strange to our ears, especially when the announcement is “Dear Customer we are closing Checkout 2. We  are opening Checkout 3”   and you feel like clicking your heels together  and saluting  “Jawohl”.

Dear Aldi, you can always simply announce that you are closing a checkout by saying  “We are now closing Checkout 2 and opening Checkout 3. Thank you.”

In Australia the only thing that matters is sport.

I continue to be amazed by the Australian obsession with sport.  This is to the detriment of other fields of endeavour such as academic achievement,  culture,  business prowess,  for example.

Football, tennis, swimming and cricket take up half the news broadcasts.  Yes, it’s nice to be active and run and jump fast or whatever, but that does not make a nation great, in my opinion.  After all, these are just games and yet in Australia they take the place of  all other achievements.

In fact, if someone is talented in medicine or learning, then that success is disregarded. But if that same person can score a few runs in cricket, then he or she is venerated. This explains why so many  “Australians of the Year” have been sportsmen and women.

The disappointing feature of all this obsession is that there is lots of scandal and drug cheating with performance enhancing products,  so that it becomes  difficult to respect and trust the whole business.

Moreover,   if a sportsman behaves abominably then he is forgiven whereas if that same person were to behave like that in the business world he would have been fired.  I’m referring,  of course, to some of our footballers and currently to some of our better known tennis players.

In my opinion,  Bernard Tomic and  Nick Kyrgios bring shame to our country.  They may play tennis quite well but what a couple of spoilt brats they are!  They are short on sportsmanship or dignity in their playing.

What a contrast to the tennis players of the past who made us proud and did not embarrass our nation!

In all seriousness,  I am so disgusted by their lack of character that I barrack for their opponents whenever they play a match.

For crying out loud,   sport is sport and life is something else,  but when sport adopts the mantle of religious fanaticism,  it becomes ludicrous.  I hope that one day we will value the important fields of human achievement more than some foolish bugger’s ability to kick or catch or chase a ball.

It does remind me of Emperor Vespasian’s dictum that one should keep the masses amused,  hence the Colosseum

Why I won’t be seeing the movie called “The Walk”

There are many reasons for not going to see  “The Walk”.  Quite frankly, one man’s ego-driven ambition to risk his life walking on a  tightrope between the Twin Towers of  the World Trade Center  does not impress me one bit. But hey, who cares if he falls?  So let him do it.

I’m very rarely moved by what I call the Richard Branson restlessness syndrome.  Life is dull so let’s makes it dangerous and exciting. You wanna bang your head against a wall to see how it feels,  be my guest.

The main reason, however,  which will prevent me from going to that particular film,  is that I become furious when I see a mock-up of the now destroyed Twin Towers in New York.

Ever since  September 2001, my hatred of the perpetrators of that horrific crime has made it impossible for me to trust and respect people like them.

I remember how the Palestinians rejoiced and whooped joyfully in the streets following the attack.  I remember how the rest of the Muslim world failed to condemn such bestiality.

And that left a scar in me.

Why “the migrants” should thank Hitler

Hundreds of thousands of migrants are coming to Germany as I write. They do not want to go to Hungary nor do they want to stay in Greece where they often come ashore.  They don’t even want to remain in Turkey, a Muslim country,  even though the migrants themselves are (mostly) Muslims.

For them,  Germany is the land of plenty, the land of people who are friendly to foreigners who are not Aryan.

It is hard to reconcile this Germany with the Germany of of the Thirties,  the Germany of Hitler who was determined to create a pure race of perfect human beings who would rule the world for the next thousand years.

Well,  that did not happen and Germany was left with a rotten reputation to say the least.

For years, the Germans pretended that they were unaware of what was going on under their very noses. Those who had an “inkling” claimed they were only following orders.

To give the current Germans their due,  they have gone out of their way to make amends and it would be wrong to blame the children and grandchildren for the horrors perpetrated during the Holocaust.

In my opinion,  therefore,  I regard their expressions of welcome as a desire to further distance themselves from the evil deeds of their grandparents.

I also suspect that had the Syrian war occurred thirty years ago, the Germans would not have been ready to acknowledge the reality of their monstrous past,  not while the Nazi perpetrators were still alive and kicking amongst them.  And while that was the situation,  the migrants would not have been welcomed with balloons and streamers as they are at the moment.

How long this elation lasts, however,  remains to be seen.

 

Bald men are in

While hanging out at Chadstone, the Fashion Capital of  Melbourne,  I was struck by the number of men who are now sporting a totally shaved head.  And so I began to wonder why that is so.

Since they looked quite fit I dismissed the idea that they were on chemo.  Some of them might have been, of course,  but by far the greater proportion of them seem to have shaved their heads on purpose.

A few of them had even grown a beard as if to demonstrate that they were indeed capable of growing hair somewhere, should they so desire. That was not such a sexy look,  in my opinion.

The majority of the intentionally bald men had dark patterns around their scalps where hair would have been if they had not decided to shave it.

The ratio of  totally shaved balding men to ordinary balding men was 6 to 4.  An amazing statistic, I thought.

It’s an interesting phenomenon.  As if to anticipate gradual balding,  these shaved men have chosen to go all the way and declare,  okay,  so I’m losing my hair,  so what?

Let’s see what this thing called baldness, which men fear so much that they get wigs and pay for expensive lotions and even hormone treatment,  looks like.

So they shave their hair off completely and defy that fear.  They are bald and it looks fine. The world has not come to an end.  In fact,  some of them look even better then they did while they were in the process of going sparse up top.

No more shampoos and gels,  no more comb-overs,  no more silly caps to conceal a bald spot. What a relief that must be.

 

Middle East students at the Holocaust Museum

A few years ago I was a volunteer  guide at the Holocaust Museum in Melbourne.  It is a very solemn museum  devoted to the memory of the Jews who were exterminated by the Nazis during the Second World War.

Among the many visitors to the museum were school children of high-school age. They would come with their teachers to learn about the Holocaust and most of the time they were very well-behaved.

Some were visibly affected by what they saw.  It was an excursion that was part of their education and it was meant to teach them about the dangers of bigotry  and racial hatred so that the world would be a better place in the future.

We can all live in hope and we have to try to improve things, don’t we?

I remember one particular occasion,  however,  which depressed and horrified me.

It concerned a school visit from one of the Northern suburbs of Melbourne.  I was walking around the exhibit as was my role as a guide when I heard a couple of Lebanese boys making fun of the photos of Jews being tortured by the Nazis.  I know they were Lebanese because I overheard them talking and then they spoke in English.

This is what they said as they stood in front of a particularly horrible photo.

“We could learn a lot from the Nazis about how to deal with the Jews.”

Those two boys were about 15 at the time and that was five years ago.

I can’t help wondering where these boys ended up.