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Showing posts from 2014

Talks About Foreign Property Investors in Australia

There is no surprise that amid property price growth in Australia (especially in Sydney) some people would be interested in explaining the reasons of it. Beyond market conditions (demand higher than supply, low interest rates, higher income than many other places) there is also a tendency to blame foreign investors in influence on the property prices.
I have personally heard sentiments about this from persons who couldn't afford to buy property for themselves to live.

For some it is possibly easy to mark people who they see as competitors on the property market as foreigners. As an illustration you might consider this quote:

... I think it is hard to deny. If you imagine an auction on a weekend where you throw in an extra buyer who is willing to pay a little bit more than everyone else there, if that buyer happens to be foreign, maybe as a temporary resident, and they are buying the single place that they are able to get approval for, it is hard to deny that it would not push up …

Construction issues resolution in Sydney - Part 14

It's 37 days (1.25 months) past since the builder refused to finish the defective work on 28/10. Fair Trading inspector spent three weeks calling to the builder trying to get them back to fix the issue. All that time the bathroom/shower couldn't be used midst 30+ degree heat.

The builder started blaming the owner that it's the owner's fault that the work is unfinished.
However all the evidence was against the builder. They also said they are not coming back and that other company should fix it.

In the meantime the owner and strata decided to organise for other company to finish the work and reported that to the Fair Trading inspector. In a couple of days the builder called to strata manager and said they can come and finish the job!

Long story short the builder came out on 21/11 and 22/11 and almost completed the work, but left some sealing unfinished and the floorboards removed.
They also left the site without letting the owner know. The owner needed to take a day off…

Transform Unemployment Into New Houses

On 18/11/2014 I stumbled upon this newspaper cover:


There is a report in the newspaper regarding situation in Central Coast, NSW. In a snapshot it is:
- 7.4% unemployment
- 28% youth unemployment
- 1753 businesses lost in 5 years
- 2000(!) homeless people
- 12 years waiting time for public housing


I see an interesting opportunity here - a project to convince those unemployed and homeless people to build housing and infrastructure around it for those 2000 in need (which for homeless would be effectively building places to live for themselves) and to reduce waiting time from 12 years to a number of years required to build a house/unit.

There are obvious benefits:
Provide housing for those in need - great opportunity for those who appreciate good causes and charity. 
Employ people who are possibly financially dependent at the moment, because they are unemployed/homeless - that would also make them learn new trade, broaden their knowledge and increase their confidence when they will work to…

Review: Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

My rating: 2 of 5 stars



I heard about this book a while ago and recently the time has come to read it. It looks like a set of posts randomly compiled to make a book. The little bits of information that are helpful in regards to "tribes" seem to be buried under the thick layer of sometimes quite controversial examples and conclusions.
However the book is considered as inspirational by many.



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Review: Questions and Answers: Property Law

Questions and Answers: Property Law by Laura-Leigh Cameron-Dow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Very good book for everybody interested in Australian law. The format is very convenient to understand how different principles are applied and what steps to follow when working on particular matters regarding property.
It would be good if the book also contained Q&A in regards to strata titles from legal perspective, because this area is very poorly implemented and controlled at the moment.



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Empirical Knowledge

I like the idea of experiential knowledge:


"I have specifically gone out with PhDs, MDs, JDs, [and] CEOs because I have always thought they were out of my league. Thinking they are so much smarter than I am because of a degree. I really wanted to know what makes them tick and what makes them better than I am. I have slept with all of them. I learned they are no different than a mechanic or factory worker; they just have more money. - heterosexual woman, age 42"


Education - Introduction to Key Constitutional Concepts and Supreme Court Cases

Have just completed a very interesting online course about US constitutional concepts, how it has been developed and different perspectives of its content and interpretations in regards to law.

Professor Kermit Roosevelt provides several controversial points of view on constitutional topics with judges decisions and history in regards to it. In the context of contemporary chatter about freedom, democracy etc. this course should be able to help making an informed opinion based on existing knowledge and research up to date.

The course is provided by University of Pennsylvania, in my opinion it's one of the best universities in the area of free online (MOOC) education so far.

Course info.

Australian Stories - First Day - Food

I was walking down the street to get to work. My first working day in Australia. As I didn't know how the public transport work and merely out of curiosity I decided to walk from the place we stayed in Chippendale to The Rocks.

Everything looked completely unusual to me.

On the day we arrived to Australia, we went to try Thai restaurant which was near our hotel. Looking at the menu without any knowledge of what it is - apart from word "noodles" - we chose some dish. "Is it spicy?" we asked. "No, not spicy at all!" was the answer.
When we brought it home and started eating tears ran out of my eyes! Then I thought - what is "spicy" then?
With that experience in mind I walked past the numerous Asian eateries that populate George Street starting from Central Station and up to Town Hall. I was thinking what would I eat here? At that time I didn't know that "hotel" doesn't always mean accommodation, but a place to eat in majorit…

Review: Fast Forward: Acquisition Strategies For Entrepreneurs

Fast Forward: Acquisition Strategies For Entrepreneurs by Tom McKaskill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Interesting and very detailed book. I think it can be used as a textbook when preparing and executing acquisitions. The author didn't do many acquisitions, but has been personally involved in several and it is good to read information from somebody who has experience.



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Construction issues resolution in Sydney - Part 13

The builder started demolishing the bathroom and shower 07/10/2014 (three weeks ago) and then proceeded to do waterproofing, bedding, tiling etc.

As appeared, from the words of tradesmen who worked on the site there was barely any waterproofing originally.
This is a question to original sub-contractors and certifiers who did the original work - how that might have happened?

Anyway until last week everything went well when I went to check the shower drain and found that the water stays there on one side and doesn't flow out completely.


The builders closed it with the grate and were about to finish the whole job, but I pointed that problem to them and said it should be rectified before they finish everything.
They started saying that "it's normal and the water will evaporate". Then they started saying that they couldn't do another drain and this is the only possible solution. The whole floor and shower walls were ripped off - why the hell didn't they find the …

Review: Plato. Works. Vol. 1

Plato. Works. Vol. 1 by Plato

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Very interesting to read what Plato/Socrates said and discussed at their time. It was actually quite surprising to discover many of the views that we currently have about various things originated from Socrates and Plato. Also I have found (as usual) philosophical ground for some of my personal ideas and views in those dialogues.
It is worth reading as well from a perspective of knowing the original Plato works and not from the tales or interpretations of others.



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Review: Excel at Business: Essential Nlp & Coaching Skills for Business Success

Excel at Business: Essential Nlp & Coaching Skills for Business Success by Jimmy Petruzzi

My rating: 2 of 5 stars



I have heard "NLP" for a long time, but have never had time before to read a book about it. Last week I saw this book and decided to check it out. When I read it I had a feeling that I knew all this and even how to apply these different methods. The book has got a lot of unnecessary information and also too much of an interlude for every topic before going into proper detail.
Some of the topics are only touching the surface and lack detail or even proper examples.



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Construction issues resolution in Sydney - Part 12

As per last DFT inspection with the builder on 30/07 (1.5 months ago) the rectification order came out to rectify all defects by 07/09. The builder sent out a communication that they will come for three days 22/09-24/09 to do rectification.

So for waterproofing from the outside and floorboards damage the builder did re-seal in a couple of spots and then sprinkle the water to make impression they are testing something - without actual floor removal to see exactly whether the water is coming in or not.

For the bathroom leakage problems the builder said they have to demolish the bathroom to find a root cause. This issue was ordered by the tribunal to be rectified before 18/04/2014! Now 6 months of constant delays and trying to slow down the process by suggesting small steps to test the water leakage and at least two weeks of waiting between those steps the builder "decided" to demolish the bathroom. That still means the issue is not fixed despite the tribunal order.

Hoping it&…

Advice for young career focused folk based on "choosing between poverty and debt"

Have read an ambiguous article today about "Young People in the UK to Choose Between Poverty and Debt".

What is apparent, there are socio-economical issues that the UK people would like to resolve:
growing unemploymentgrowing povertyyoung people sitting on welfare paymentscompetition from skilled people from other countries
The initiative David Cameron announced sounds very interesting, especially in it's part where jobless "would have to accept mandatory 'community work'" if failing to find employment within reasonable timeframe.

I would like to highlight some failing points in the article that are presenting the initiative as "predictably vindictive" and with permission from a reader to provide advice to "young" persons like me.

One of the complaints is low level of payment for apprenticeship and for young men and women who just finished studies. This claim is based on presumption that every business owner (and in modern world ever…

Review: Taxation for Australian Businesses: Understanding Australian Business Taxation Concessions

Taxation for Australian Businesses: Understanding Australian Business Taxation Concessions by Rod Caldwell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



The book contains useful information about taxation concessions for small businesses and is an easy read. I'd expect more examples that would illustrate the ideas described in the book. However it is a decent work and is worth reading to know how to manage a company.



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Review: Concise Australian Commercial Law

О цитатах в процессе общения

Начну с гипотетических примеров.

Пример 1. Вам скорее всего попадались высказывания типа: Цель оправдывает средства (Макиавелли), или "Как сказал Макиавелли - цель оправдывает средства".

Пример 2. Если ты хочешь перемену в будущем — стань этой переменой в настоящем. (Ганди)

Пример 3. Проблема этого мира в том, что глупцы и фанатики слишком уверены в себе, а умные люди полны сомнений. (Бертран Рассел). Или: Не спорь с идиотом, он сначала опустит до своего уровня, а потом задавит опытом. (Грег Кинг)

Пример 4. На самом деле, жизнь проста, но мы настойчиво её усложняем. (Конфуций). Или: Всё что ни делается - всё к лучшему.

Уверен, некоторые из нас встречались с вышеизложенными примерами цитат или с похожими. Предлагаю рассмотреть их поближе и понять как пословицы обычно используются, и как можно ситуацию улучшить.

Обычно цитаты применяются (осознанно, или нет) по нескольким причинам, которые иногда случаются по отдельности, или комбинируются:
Для поддержки позиции высказывающего…

On Quotations in Communicational Process

I’d like to start with some hypothetical examples.

Example 1. You might have seen somebody saying: “Machiavelli: The end justifies the means” or “As Machiavelli said: The end justifies the means”.

Example 2. “Be the change you wish to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi”

Example 3. “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. – Bertrand Russell”. Or “Don’t argue with idiots because they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience. — Greg King”

Example 4. “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. – Confucius” or “Everything comes to you at the right time. Just be patient.”

I am sure some of us are faced with the examples above or similar quotes quite often. Let’s look at them in detail and see how the quotes are usually used and how it can be improved.

Usually there are several reasons to use a quote that appear separately or in combination with each other:

a) Support a speaker's curre…

Alcibiades One and Contemporary Applications

I have just finished reading Alcibiades I, by Plato. In that dialog I found very good part that may illustrate many events that happen constantly when someone deals with people in regards to influence, politics, problem solving, negotiations etc.

Here’s the text I’d like to quote:
---
SOCRATES: Then let us compare our antecedents with those of the Lacedaemonian and Persian kings; are they inferior to us in descent? Have we not heard that the former are sprung from Heracles, and the latter from Achaemenes, and that the race of Heracles and the race of Achaemenes go back to Perseus, son of Zeus?  ALCIBIADES: Why, so does mine go back to Eurysaces, and he to Zeus!   SOCRATES: And mine, noble Alcibiades, to Daedalus, and he to Hephaestus, son of Zeus. But, for all that, we are far inferior to them. For they are descended 'from Zeus,' … whereas, we and our fathers were but private persons.   How ridiculous would you be thought if you were to make a display of your ancestors … befo…

Development Application Approval Without Owner's Consent - New South Wales

This post is a follow up on the earlier article Development Application for Strata Common Wall.

Residential owners corporation reached out to surveyor and found out deposited plans that show the boundary is face of the wall on the commercial strata side. That means the applicant (commercial strata) submitted development application without consent from the owners of the wall.

This was pointed out to the Council and the applicant as follows:

"Section 78A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW) provides for the making of a development application (DA) subject to compliance with the requirements of the regulation.  Clause 49 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (NSW) (regulation) mandates that a DA needs to be either made by the ‘owner’ of the land affected by the DA or any other person so long as the owner has provided consent in writing.

DA Number was made by Applicant_Name and the owner specified is Proprietors of Strata Plan Commercial

Construction issues resolution in Sydney - Part 11

Yet another important milestone in the long process of fixing the building defects in the strata block - Fair Trading came out for second inspection last Wednesday 30/07/2014.

New defects and old defects that were not yet fixed have been on the list.
Major defect types are:

- Water leakage in bathrooms/showers into bedrooms in 100% of reported units;
- Cheap material used for tiling in bathrooms/showers that last only for 6 months and then require re-sealing;
- Flooring issues - timber/bamboo laid out incorrectly, color mismatch;
- Water leakage from the outside into units;
- Efflorescence in tiling work in courtyards and pathways;
- Negligent manner of work and absence of quality material and control of work - many defects have been somehow addressed by the sub-contractors sent by the builder, but without proper result.

Some units have got tenants so it was not easy to organise for an inspection for them. Here I'd suggest to identify and report all the defects before you rent ou…

Paying mortgage faster

An article about Canadian problems regarding mortgage, but advice is international though http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/paying-off-your-mortgage-faster-can-pay-huge-dividends-1.2719753

However, in Canada the level of household debt relative to disposable income was a near record 163.2% this year. That means majority of people just don't have money to implement the strategies outlined in the article.

Seafood Chowder with Bacon and Corn

This delicious soup is a good idea for dinner or lunch in cold weather. Also it's a good way to convince children to eat fish by disguising it with other seafood that they prefer more.



A while ago I cooked a chowder using the following recipe http://notwithoutsalt.com/chanterelle-chowder-with-bacon-and-corn/, however I couldn't find raw chanterelle mushrooms here in Sydney and therefore used normal mushrooms instead. It was also very tasty, but I thought to cook seafood this way as well.

So I had to modify the original recipe to adapt for seafood instead of mushrooms.

Here's how it looks.

Seafood Chowder with Bacon and Corn

Serves 4 for two days or 7-8 people one off

Ingredients:

250 grams diced bacon
1 onion, diced
1/2 large bulb fennel, diced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon miso paste
4 cups prawn or fish stock
2 cups cubed yellow potatoes (3 medium/large)
1 can corn kernels
1 1/2 cup pure cream
mixed raw seafood about 700-900 grams (I usually get 400 grams of fish fi…

Documentary "Four Horsemen" - Review

Have recently watched "Four Horsemen" - documentary on current global economic issues. It was interesting, because I have recently read a book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins who is also featured in the documentary.



What I found is that though the general idea towards "greater good" is natural, the ways how issues are explained in the movie and the reasons and solutions that are briefly outlined are not consistent sometimes with either logic or obvious observations.

33:00 - The narrator states that the inflow of lending money into the housing market led to an unprecedent inflation. "House prices rose and rose."
This completely satisfies the classical economic theory that guys just praised a bit earlier in the video.
Because interest rates were low and people borrowed more and more to buy properties.
But is it not because there is always a demand for property? People have to live somewhere.

At 33:40 Prof. Simon Johnson (former IMF Chief…

Development Application for Strata Common Wall Increase

There is a building that is constituted by Residential strata (28 units) and Commercial strata (2 offices and 2 retail shops).
Residential block and Commercial block face each other and have got shared walls between courtyards as per following figure:


Commercial Strata decided to enclose their courtyards (Courtyard 1 & 2 on the figure above). Enclosure would increase existing shared walls by 60 cm. Their floor level is lower therefore from their side it is about 25% increase, but from the Residential side it is about 40% increase:


Commercial strata owner sent a proposal for wall increase to Residential strata. Residential strata had a meeting and didn't consent to the proposed enclosures. A letter from Residential was sent to Commercial with "No" for proposed enclosures outlining the reasons.
Part of the proposed structure will encroach to private property - residential owners' courtyards.
Therefore written consent from the owners of either common wall or individ…

Construction issues resolution in Sydney - Part 10

Got some positive results - one of the major defects was fixed!

The issue was scratches on all glass panels - sliding doors to the balcony, windows etc. All of them were scratched during construction phase.
As per contract of sale it has been responsibility of vendor to rectify. They first denied it and tried to impose it on the builder. The builder insisted that it's not their problem.

In January 2014 the owner took a right approach and contacted the vendor every week until finally 24/06/2014 the glass has been replaced!

It took 2.5 years to fix the issue!

Some people say that it might have been easier to replace it at the owners's expense than to wait for so long.
I disagree with this, because the owner paid money already for a quality product. The vendor signed a contract where obligations and responsibilities are outlined.
What surprise me is that how easy it is for people to not comply with their duties in a hope that the other party will just give up.

Other defects recti…

Soaring childcare prices in Australia

Interesting article regarding increasing childcare prices in Australia:

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/06/22/rocketing-childcare-fees-sees-parents-lose-60-salary

In my opinion, the explanation by principal researcher of rising prices is not all valid.

I agree with lack of supply though. This is due to following reasons:
Too much regulation and red-tape before a childcare facility can start operating. This is reasonable, because not everybody should be allowed to open a childcare facility. 
High wages that childcare centres have to pay to a high number of employees. It's not high salary that each childcare worker receives - in reality it's indeed opposite. There is a requirement that children per teacher ratio should be 4 or 5. Therefore many teachers are required. 
High rent.  I accept the items 1 & 2, because it's is valid to keep the regulations high and keep proper basic childcare at a good level of compliance.

However "high standards" is something y…

Review: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



I expected a bit more of this book looking at the title. During reading I couldn't help but thinking about how simplified and one-sided the view of the author is. Especially in regards to the advice that he gives at the end of the book - I found it is a bit naive. Taking to account experience the author has got working at all those projects I'd expect something else.



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Review: Rules of Sociological Method

Rules of Sociological Method by Émile Durkheim

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Interesting book. some of the ideas I found similar to what I have known before or thought of already. that was good to see.



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Macroeconomic Studies - Applied Economic Policymaking

I am about to complete the "Understanding economic policymaking" course from IE Business School.

Done the assignment - develop an ideal policy program for the hypothetical country with the following indicators in the past 4 years: high inflation, increasing unemployment, slow GDP growth, growing public debt and other similar nice things in addition to very high business regulations. I offered a policy program for two years.
Results: Year 1 – economic boom, GDP grew up to the potential level, unemployment decreased; Year 2 – economy growth with increase in aggregate supply, unemployment decrease, GDP growth and public debt decrease (extra bonus).
Now looking for a real country that would agree to implement this practically.

Robbie to Dorie: Lt Col John Robertson's letters from Malaya 1941–42

Interesting book for those engaged in Australian and World War 2 history.


Lt Colonel John Robertson of the 2/29th Battalion AIF, a decorated veteran of the First World War, was killed in action in Malaya on 17 January 1942, the first day of his Battalion’s encounter with Japanese forces.
His death devastated his men but they continued to revere Robbie as they endured more than three years of captivity. By contrast, some historians have described him as too old and hide-bound for command, as having lost the confidence of General Gordon Bennett, and as having imperilled his troops by refusing to co-operate with the battery from the 4th Anti-Tank Regiment. Grandson Andrew Warland asks whether the evidence supports such views.

Reproducing the letters Robbie wrote home to his family in 1940–42, he presents a fascinating study of a man who left his family and his business, and ultimately gave his life, to make (in his own words) ‘a better world for us all’.

http://www.scholarly.info/boo…

Energy Business Case - Coal Mine in West Virginia

Situation Coal in Africa: An opportunity is available to invest in a coal mine in West Virginia. The mine’s value is less than in past years because of actual and anticipated restrictions on coal-fired power generation in the United States. However, the mine has a chance to sell its coal on contract to a public utility in West Africa. The utility is working through the World Bank for financing to build a number of coal-fired power plants. If they obtain World Bank financing, then a customer for the coal mine is assured, at least for the duration of the contracts. The power plants will employ the best current technology for burning coal, which exceeds all current air quality standards for the region. However, the power plants will not be designed to attempt carbon capture. The area of Africa the plants will serve suffers from extreme energy poverty, with some of the lowest per capita energy consumption in the world.

Overview of the Region West Africa is the westernmost region …

Libraries in a Wake of Technology

Today I am going to discuss an interesting topic related to libraries.

In a wake of various technologies like personal computers, Internet, smart phones and other gadgets there is an argument that traditional libraries are no longer necessary.

Technological advancements have made libraries unnecessary. This is the thesis we hear today.
It may seem the more we use online and electronic devices to get the information instantly or almost straight away the less we need library to go for that.

However I’d argue against this.

I have been an avid library visitor since 7 years old. My grandmother worked in a library and I spent days there being on school holidays. Then at high school and university I still saw a lot of demand for library services.
Today the necessity for libraries doesn't seem to decrease despite of significant rise in technology.

I think it is because of two main reasons:

1. New technologies allow to extend library offerings making them more attractive than before.

Commu…

1 May - Labour Day

Happy Labour Day to all workers!




Chinese Property Market

Very interesting article 'China aims to build over 7 million public homes this year'

There is a couple of questions in this regard:

1. How those properties will be distributed among the tenants? Would it be an income test, need based or merit based system? All all of that together in some proportion?

2. How the property rights will be established? Would the tenant of such a property be an owner with the right of disposition, just a tenant on a lease with payments made by government or something else?

How this will work in China where communist and capitalist principles seem to work very well together.

We'll see.

"Волк с Уолл-стрит" (Wolf of Wall Street) - рецензия

Отсмотрел кино «Волк с Уолл-стрит». Как обычно возникло несколько мыслей по ходу.

Вот ради чего всё это напряжение, наёбка большого количества человек, покупка гигантских домов и кораблей? Ради порева и наркоты? Ради своих личных амбиций?

В конце фильма два прекрасных по силе момента – фбровец, едущий домой на метро после успешной операции по закрытию успешного человека, и толпа жаждущих того, что их научат успеху мошенники! Первый момент указывает нам на то, что чисто человеческое стремление к Справедливости и Правосудию никого не впечатляет, и невзирая на размер отбитого у мошенников основным действующим лицам достаётся хуй с маслом. Второй момент о том, что если речь идёт про Деньги, то неважно мразь ты, или нет. Люди тебя оправдают и придут на твои лекции, потому что основная цель существования – как можно больше денег.

Скорсезе даёт понять, что то, ради чего люди готовы жертвовать честью и совестью, семьёй, человеческим обликом – это беспорядочная ебля и употребление наркотиков …