Who is my neighbour?


Do you know the names of the people who live next door? Would you recognise your neighbours if you saw them at the local shopping centre?

Growing up in the suburbs of Perth, I knew most of the people in our street. We didn’t live in each other’s pockets but there was a great sense of community, children playing with those from across the road and up the street, tea and biscuits or maybe a beer together for the adults. It was relatively common to be sent to a neighbour’s house to ask for an ingredient or two if mum discovered she’d run out half way through a recipe, with neighbours dropping in from time to time to borrow a cup of sugar or whatever else they needed.

Things have certainly changed.

A survey of a thousand Australians, conducted by Jigsaw Research on behalf of Nabo, a social network for neighbourhoods and communities, recently revealed more than 50% of Aussies aren’t connected with their neighbours beyond a chat over the fence. Less than 30% are know their neighbours’ phone number or email. The research also revealed that those who spend more time on social media platforms spend less time with their neighbours, and find it more challenging to reach out to them.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Nabo’s founder and chief executive, Adam Rigby, pointed out that while there’s a desire to know our neighbours, we’re just not that good at it.

It typically takes about five years for people to properly get to know their neighbours, Mr Rigby said, often developing over a series of minor exchanges while taking out the bins or coming home from work. But modern families were often too busy to make these connections, he said, and moves toward higher-density living reduced the opportunities for neighbours to meet.

Mr Rigby also pointed to safety concerns among those who were alienated from their neighbourhood. The research found almost one in three women did not feel safe walking down their street, while 76 per cent of respondents said knowing their neighbours better made them feel more secure.

These days we find garage doors opening, cars disappearing inside, then the door closing again as those around us enter their secret worlds. Sure, we wave if we’re leaving our houses at the same time, but most of the time we don’t really know who we’re waving at.

I know some of our neighbours but most might as well be living on the other side of the world. Come to think of it, there are many people living half way around the world that I know far better than those around me. I wouldn’t recognise them if we met on the street and I certainly wouldn’t be invited over for a coffee.

So is this trend a concern or do we just do life differently these days? Do we prefer to live in a community that expects little from us and in which we expect little from others? If someone a few houses away really needed help would they feel confident to approach me? Would I feel confident knocking on their door in an emergency?

It’s been said that good fences make good neighbours, but is it time for some of those fences to come down?

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Winding Down the Weekend

Today I thought I’d share a handful of photos from around Fremantle, Western Australia, taken as the sun was going down last night. I’m not a great photographer but I do like trying to capture a reasonable image.

Click on any of the photos to see the larger versions of the photos.

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Who is our newest millionaire?


This week we heard that someone in Western Australia has won 50 million dollars. The Lotto winners have yet to claim their prize and so the search is on to discover who has become an instant multi-millionaire. It’s the largest amount ever to be won in Western Australia and Lotterywest tells us it wasn’t a syndicate but a single ticket, meaning that one person is the winner. I reckon people all over WA should be a little nicer to those around them in case they’re talking to a new millionaire without knowing it.

I can assure you that it wasn’t me who won. The fact that I’ve never bought a ticket in my life kind of guarantees that.

Obviously there are winners in all kinds of lotteries but the odds of winning a big prize aren’t all that good. I’ve done a little research and you’ve got a much better chance of being killed by lightning, being blackmailed or seriously injuring yourself while shaving. While I’d prefer to have 50 million dollars in my pocket than the other three options, I know that the chances aren’t all that great so I don’t bother buying tickets.

Mind you, that doesn’t stop me from thinking of what I would do with the 50 million if someone gave it to me. I’d be able to secure my financial future, help out some friends, and give some substantial funding to a number of causes I’m passionate about.

What would you do if you were suddenly 50 million dollars richer?

I know that most people would spend their money in the same way, whether they had a lot or very little. If you are generous when you don’t have much you’re likely to be generous if a large sum ever comes your way. If you’re the kind of person who only spends on themselves, you’re unlikely to become generous to others if you suddenly become rich. All the talk of giving to good causes if people ever get the money to do so generally comes to nothing unless we’ve set the pattern with the little or much that we already have.

I don’t have a lot of money but I do try to support causes that I believe in as much as possible. I’m very unlikely to ever find myself swimming in cash but if that ever happened, I hope that I would be generous with my money.

So, dream a little. How would you use $50 000 000?

UPDATE:The winners, a family in Perth’s southern suburbs, have now claimed their prize.

One of the winners, whose names have not been revealed, said she started “seriously shaking” seeing all the numbers line up.

“I thought I must have been seeing things,” she said in a statement.

“We’re just a hard battling family and we don’t want this win to change us.

“This never happens to people like us!”

The family will use the money to undertake home renovations and pay down their debt.

“Now we can pay off debt, take care of our family and do some much needed home renovations,” they said.

“We also want to donate to charity and we can with this amount.” – ABC News

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Does your musical taste define you?


If you’ve been in the workforce for any length of time you’ve probably taken a myriad of personality and work style tests. There are tests such as Myers Briggs, Strengths Finder, Big Five Factors and many others designed to help us understand ourselves better.

Now comes a new idea in determining the kind of person we are. The Public Library of Science has recently released their research on musical preferences and personality type. In an article titled, Musical Preferences are Linked to Cognitive Styles, they suggest that there are strong links between what’s on our stereo and the kind of people we are.

Why do we like the music we do? Research has shown that musical preferences and personality are linked, yet little is known about other influences on preferences such as cognitive styles. To address this gap, we investigated how individual differences in musical preferences are explained by the empathizing-systemizing (E-S) theory.

Reporting on the study for ABC Science, Bianca Nogrady highlighted the key findings of the research.

Their work shows people who are more empathetic — have a greater ability to identify, predict and respond to the emotions of others — are drawn to more mellow, sad, poetic and sensual music, such as R&B, adult contemporary and soft rock.

However people with more analytical tendencies (called ‘systemisers’) go in the opposite direction, seeking punk, heavy metal, avant garde jazz and hard rock.

“Systemising … is this drive to look at patterns and deconstruct and analyse the rules in the world,” says lead author David Greenberg, psychology PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge.

“So if you’re looking at a mountain, you’re curious about how the mountain is formed and how it’s developed over a period of time, [while] an empathiser may focus more on the aesthetics of it or the feeling of awe.”

The study emerged from an ongoing effort to understand why people like the music they do; why some people love the music of Joni Mitchell while others can’t stand it. – ABC Science

The studies are quite extensive and worth reading through but I’m left with the bigger question of what my musical taste might be saying about me.

Considering my iPod has music from a wide range of genres, from rock to jazz to very mellow, I’m confused as to where I fit. Does my eclectic taste mean that I have elements of both the empathiser and the systemiser or does it mean I’m neither? Does the fact that I’m even asking these questions mean that I lean more towards one than the other?

What do you think? According to the study are you an empathiser or a systemiser? Does the study seem to fit with your experience? I’ve love your input.

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Well … that was a surprise


To be honest, I was more surprised than anyone. I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t really think I’d hit 30, let alone 52. Not due to any sickness or disease, rather that in my late teens and early twenties I really couldn’t imagine what could possibly lay beyond the age of 30 for me. I certainly wasn’t going to do anything to hasten my demise, I just had an underdeveloped sense of imagination.

I am more than pleased I got over that idea. I now have more than enough plans and dreams to last me until about 120. Whether I’ll last that long or not is still up for debate.

I reached the age of 52 yesterday. I celebrated the milestone with my amazing wife and incredible children, with birthday greetings from friends and family around the world. I’m truly blessed.

While I’m not particularly thrilled about the toll ageing takes on us all, it’s not all bad. At least the fact that my eyes don’t work as well as they once did means I can’t see how old I’m looking.

You may have noticed that I don’t get to write here as much as I once did. I’d like to say that I’ll put up more posts in the coming days and weeks but while that’s my desire, life often gets in the way and that’s not such a bad thing. I do hope to write here a lot more because I enjoy it so much but we’ll wait and see what happens.

If you’d like to find a way to say happy birthday for yesterday from wherever you are in the world here are a few suggestions.

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