Omar´s Outlook - Nov 2019
Staying Happy By Reading & Eating Well
(Author: Trish Maude)
Between low to no interest rates on one’s savings, the so called “climate emergency”, deciding what “gender” one may be today, and the hate and loathing towards our coal and meat producers, who happen to pay for a large part of the government’s bills, one could be forgiven for not wanting to get out of bed each morning.
Hence, when I was invited to put together an article for Omar's Outlook, what came to mind was along the lines of "How does one stay happy amidst what is potentially a rather grim global outlook?"
I probably have a distinct advantage when it comes to being happy – I was, after all, born with my glass half full with New Zealand’s milk and honey. And the All Blacks of course; sorry, Aussies, for the walloping the Wallabies recently suffered at the Rugby World Cup!
Whereas Omar was born into a land of comrades, secret police and virtually no travel options other than to equally depressing Eastern Bloc countries, so it is understandable that at times he does despair with where the world may be heading, at what he sees as a “deja-vu” in so many ways.
Listening to a radio article recently on the topic of the Cold War, it made me wonder how today's social media addicts and Greta Thunbergs of the world, playing at Chicken Little, would respond to what was then a very real threat to humanity, with the clock that predicted how many minutes the world was from likely nuclear destruction.
So perhaps it is more important for Omar to escape at times and shut off. He does this through books and in my opinion, it is one way of “how one stays happy”.
Escape into something that you love doing. Whether it be reading, art, craft, exercise or music, we all need a diet varied from work!
Recently I have rediscovered the Rockhampton library and the pleasure of roaming the shelves and having titles jump out at me, seeking to be read. While Omar, apart from dry topics of markets and economics, likes to escape into science fiction and a select few detective authors on his Kindle, I struggle to read anything other than non-fiction.
This month's article is sharing with you some of the books I have enjoyed.
I read an article recently about how in Australia we are all living longer - women to 84 and men to 80, on average. But the thrust of the article was the fact that while we may be living longer, we are not living all that well. For many, this occurs in their last decade, but for quite a few this unhappy state of affairs commences much sooner; sometimes even early into their retirement.
If you are interested in attaining a longer, but better quality life, then I can suggest that you should think about your diet and to do that, do read a book by a New Zealand author Grant Schofield, called 'What the Fat'.
Grant, who is now a professor at the Auckland Institute of Technology, incidentally worked at Central Queensland University between 1995 and 2002 and was, in his younger days, a pretty decent triathlete. To write this book, he has teamed up with a dietician and a chef to produce what I think is a very credible and well-researched publication that looks at how we need to turn the so-called “food pyramid” on its head (click to enlarge picture).
I note here that, in line with many health professionals, Nutrition Australia, who according to their website is a “a non-government, non-profit, community based-organisation with offices throughout Australia...an independent, member organisation that aims to promote the health and well-being of all Australians” (emphasis mine), continues to promote the pyramid. They have apparently been doing so since 1980, without bothering to explain the scientific rationale behind it, and without, one would presume, taking much note of the actual results attained over the years…!
In contrast, the above book has the science and observational data backing it up, showing conclusively just why most of us should be eating a low carbohydrate & high-fat diet, rather than grains and pasta. The chef then puts together recipes to help us with what for some will be a new way of eating. The aim is to train the body to burn fat as fuel, as opposed to relying on the likes of bread and potatoes, which spike insulin levels and play havoc with our minds and bodies.
It mentions that generally we eat around 21 meals a week, and that of those 21 meals, it is OK if 3 include any type of food that you may feel like. I think that would go some ways towards assisting those who feel this healthier way of eating may be too limiting for their palate.
The previous article that I wrote for Omar's Outlook was also about a book - 'The End of Alzheimer's Disease'. Now I would like to introduce you to another one related to Alzheimer's – one of several forms of dementia.
This latest one is called 'The Alzheimer's Prevention and Treatment Diet'.
It was recommended by a friend, who is a regular runner and also happens to be a semi-retired psychiatrist. Written by American authors, Dr Richard Isaacson and Christopher Ochner, it is an evidence-based guide to foods and supplements that help protect all of us against Alzheimer's disease. It comes with a 9-week eating program, so makes it easy for a person to consider the necessary dietary changes.
Now that your diet is being looked after and you are going to be leading a healthy, full life, I can recommend you have a read of 'Home Sweet Anywhere' by Lynne Martin.
Take a retired 72-year old, whose husband died from Alzheimers, mix in a 68-year old childhood friend, leading to a second marriage, and then decide to sell off your house, leave your kids and grandchildren behind, for a life living in rented apartments and villas around the world!
Mexico, Argentina, Portugal and Ireland to name a few of the countries they spent time in.
Don't be daunted by the fact that your ability to speak other languages is limited, or that you are going to be living without your precious life-long belongings, because the rewards of spending 6 weeks to a couple of months in different parts of the world that you have always wished to explore, will provide you with much more than what you have left behind.
And in doing so, you even end up as minor celebrities, because living as they both did was such an unusual thing for many older people to consider, that it spurred television interviews and a successful book!
It certainly puts a new spin on our concept of 'grey nomads'.
On a more sobering note, and also quite relevant to a financial blog, while on a trip interstate recently, I was looking for something to read at the airport and came across 'Bad Blood - Secret and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup'.
One may shake one’s head at the likes of Tesla Inc, with its many billions of dollars in subsidies and dodgy – to put it mildly - accounting practices (here’s an opinion on that company written by a successful hedge fund manager), We Work, a business with billions of dollars in ongoing losses, whose founder and CEO sold to his own company the “right” to use the word “We” for $5 million, and Uber, who also continues to lose lots of money and has not been able to show any real path to future profitability.
These are all businesses that have not turned a profit, but are supposedly valued at tens of billions of dollars - also sometimes known as “unicorns” over in USA.
If you wonder just how this can be possible, then I suggest you read ‘Bad Blood’.
Maybe it was because Elizabeth Holmes was young and attractive, with piercing blue eyes, that helped her accrue crazy amounts of money for her company Theranos, supposedly for her “too good to be true” gadget for testing blood. From a minute amount of the red stuff, the gadget was apparently able to come up with multiple diagnoses.
Fascinating reading - how she managed to entice even people like Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corporation, to back her with a cool $125 million. It was his single biggest investment outside of the media assets he controlled. And he lost $100 million dollars on this not so good investment…!
I guess it’s lucky that at least Rupert, unlike most mum & dad investors, can afford it! Alas, Theranos is neither the first nor the last of its kind – as the “everything bubble” and the various “unicorns” it has produced are bound to yet demonstrate in the near future.
It is not often I read about an adventurer and find myself asking “...why do this?” but that happened as I read Sarah Marquis's 'Wild by Nature' - her account of walking from Siberia to Australia and across a good part of the Australian continent itself, to reach her final destination in the Nullarbor Plain.
Maybe it was her numerous not so pleasant experiences with the locals in Mongolia which hit against my belief that the world is mostly filled with good people. Or maybe it was just more wondering “what is the point” and could the sponsorship dollars she received have been put to better use somehow?
She certainly portrayed her love of nature and satisfaction with her own company very well and I don't regret the time reading it, but still I am unsure just why one would dedicate over 3 years of one’s life to walk across the globe?
I just had a look at Sarah’s You Tube channel and heard her say that she undertook this walking around the globe twice, so as to see whether there is a link between nature and humans!
I suppose as long as it does not hurt or inconvenience others, then if such an endeavour makes one happy, why not?
Being drawn to reading about other people's adventures, following on from Sarah I read one I enjoyed more - about an Air NZ pilot, who discovered he loved the challenge of mountaineering. The book’s name is 'High Altitude'.
While he loved adventures, he also loved his life plus his wife and 3 children, hence he took his preparations for getting to the top of the world seriously. He undertook the amount of training that is probably required to climb above 8000 metres responsibly - unlike many others who pay the price, often the ultimate one, to be taken to the summit with plenty of money but minimal experience.
But before Mike Allsop takes to Everest, he attained one of the world's records that he could have well lived without - surviving the ditching of a Twin Otter plane into the Pacific en-route from San Francisco to Hawaii. Certainly no fault on the part of the three pilots...an oversight in the fuel system that had been added to the plane to enable it to fly such a great distance caused the crash.
Mike is very good with words so his descriptions of their desperate attempts to manually top up the fuel tanks and their eventual rescue made for good reading.
Some of you will know that I am rather fond of birds - and we have four chooks as pets to show it - so it was an easy choice to take from the library shelf 'Penguin Bloom - The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family'.
This one is for those who don't like reading too much. It is a photo book by Cameron Bloom, who is also a photographer. I vaguely recall the story from maybe something on ABC TV or radio, about a young mum who fell due to a balcony collapsing, while with her husband and 3 children in Thailand. This tragic accident left Sam a paraplegic. Understandably she struggled to adapt to needing to be dependent on others for many aspects of her life and depression took hold. And then in a similar situation, a baby magpie fell many meters from its nest and was rescued by one of Sam's young children.
It is a delightful tale of two injured characters recovering together, and the short story is accompanied by excellent photos of Penguin the magpie. And maybe Sarah Marquis could have saved herself some miles of slowly walking around the globe by reading ‘Penguin Bloom’ as on page 152 Cameron writes: “Penguin constantly reminds us that we are all part of nature. And the more connected with nature, the happier we feel.”
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