My retirement is still multiple decades away but there is one thing I am pretty sure about. Social security will be completely different. You don’t have to be a scientist in order to see that amenities provided by the government have been decreasing over the past years and there are no signs that the will improve on the short or long term. I assume that they are to a large extend related to the levels of economic growth, and there are no signs of significant improvement there either. One could debate whether we will ever return to growth rates we know from the past (or recent years, if you have been living in China), but I may do that in another blog. For now, let us just assume it won’t change.
As a result, I think individuals should increase their level of control over their retirement. Making sure you save enough money for your old day is very important of course, but I would like to focus on how I would spent it, instead of where I saved it.
I believe that by the time I will retire, there will be no retirement homes anymore. Instead, parents will live with their children, with or without periodic reimbursements. I doubt whether I want to place such a load on my kids when I am old. Most likely, they will have their own careers, their own kids, friends, hobbies and whatsoever. I don’t want them to also have their own parents to look after. They will always be welcome, but I have no intention of raising a family for that purpose.
The Retirement Idea
So here’s the idea that has been on my mind for a few years now. Why don’t we get together with a bunch of people from the same age and buy ourselves a retirement home, including staff. I suggest a max group size of ten, in order to have a reasonable financial power without loosing span of control. Those people should be from the same era, will hopefully share some interests and there is a good chance they will have similar welfare levels. When all the individuals sell their own properties in order to put those funds into one single piece, that may provide sufficient funds for a proper new place to live together, including some funds to remodel the place to live there with multiple families. I did not do the math but it would be interesting to see if there would be funds available staff the place.
Again, my retirement is still decades away but the least I could do is give it a thought.
I recently spent a few weeks up in the cold in Norway. Flying to Tromsø and driving down over the Vesteralen and the Lofoten islands, I was surprised by the speeding limits they stick to. Seldom was I allowed to drive at more than eighty km’s per hour. More often, it was like sixty or seventy outside towns and thirty or fifty inside towns. More interesting though was that everybody sticked to the speeding limits. My wife and I have been describing Norwegians as careful drivers (or non competent at times) but the fact is that they are not really over speeding. They actually “under speed”. So whenever the max is set at sixty, they will drive fifty five or sixty. Not sixty five, or seventy.
The second thing I noticed was the relaxed attitude among people. There is always time for a chat, nobody worries if you’re a few minutes late as they will just wait for you. Take for example one of the ferry’s we have been on. It was supposed to leave at 14.00 hours. We rushed, as it was 13.52 and we had not found the right dock yet. But when we got there at 13.57, nobody was stressed or in a real hurry. Instead, they patiently greeted us, let us pay for the fare and showed us where to park the car. No stress.
A third point that surprised us was the service level that they maintained all over the country. In the Netherlands, which is a densely populated but very small country where distances are short and roads allow you to get from one end of the country to the other in a few hours, banks and supermarkets in smaller villages are closing due to their lack of profitability. Norway on the other side is a huge country. And people seem to be living everywhere. They apparently do not care whether they are close to a big town (and the facilities connected to it). Instead, they feel perfectly fine somewhere on the countryside, at least 45 minutes driving from the nearest supermarket.
Nienke and I spent some time in Andenes, a small town in the north of Andøya which is famous for its whale safari’s. The village was so quiet and remote that it felt like the end of the world to us. Still, there were three supermarkets (of reasonable size and properly staffed). They also had a bank, two gas stations, an airstrip, a pet-care shop, a few hotels and some other businesses. While I haven’t asked anybody whether their business was profitable, I think the supermarkets are the best example. If I would be supermarket two or three, I would definitely question myself whether this was a feasible business case or not. Rather would I suggest to merge the supermarkets into one bigger that served all, with reduced overhead costs.
The supermarkets in Andenes choose not to. They maintained their service level and Norway is regarded as one of the most wealthy and happy countries in the world. The message of this whole thing? Don’t always just look at the costs, the efficiency and the short-term profitability. Dive in for the long term, try to get to know people and look for the bigger picture. Oh, and don’t overspeed.
Last Thursday, I read the news that another shooting took place in the US. And during breakfast on Friday morning, I listed to president Obama’s statement. I saw his frustration. His anger. And decided I would write this blog post.
I happen to live in the Netherlands. We happen to have gun laws in place. And still, shootings happen. Unfortunately. I am glad to say though that in most cases, shootings in the Netherlands are related to criminals and criminal organizations trying to get ahead of each other.
Is my country a safer place than the US? I don’t necessarily think so. You probably know that we recently had an attempt of a terrorist attack in the Thalys train on its way to Paris. And you’re right. Paris itself was a terrorist attack quite recently. And we still have these criminal shootings that happen every now and then.
However, it makes me feel quite safe to know that not everybody in the Netherlands can simply walk into a store and buy himself a gun. I am lucky to have many friends and I am almost sure that none of them has a gun, which to some extent, is equal to the Dutch society. It gives me a safer feeling to walk on the streets without the thoughts that every third person I come across may carry or own a gun or something similar.
Bringing in place gun laws won’t solve the problem but it may reduce the number of shootings over a longer period of time. The US, like the Netherlands has a legal system in place that is meant to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes. Fight them that way, not by posting heavily guarded guards in front of every public building or learning your kids how to use a weapon.
Yes, I did it again. A week after its launch in the Netherlands, I bought myself an Apple Watch. So after using the device for little over two weeks, I wanted to jot down my thoughts on the new device.
To start of… Battery life is good. At least, for me. For the past two weeks, I never had to switch to low power mode as there has always been more than 25% of battery life left when I went to bed at night. I still have quite some notifications on but I am not one of those highly social media engaged people. What comes in is basically iMessage, WhatsApp and a few apps. Be aware that I don’t have facebook installed on my iPhone and thus do not get any notifications of likes and comments.
The feature I wanted the watch for most was health. Most of the week, I am seated down in an office and therefore do not move that much. An app that tells me to stand each hour works really well, especially as it also reminds me to do some back exercises. And indeed, you will want to complete those rings each day. It happened on several occasions that I went for a walk at night and my wife would ask me if I completed the rings or if we needed to walk another block. The workout app works well for running. I also tried it for a game of squash, which was okay, I believe. I have to admit though that the workout app crashed a few times, fifteen minutes into my game of squash.
One feature that is missing here is the ability of third party apps to write directly to the activity app. This will be solved with WatchOS 2 though.
When it comes to apps, I believe the community can do better. I put great trust in version two of the OS that will allow for native apps. In the meantime, apps at at this stage are often just extensions of an iPhone app, or another way of listing the same information on a small display. The screen is too small to work on, so don’t build your app that way. Build it for quick interactions, showing people exactly what they need. Speed is an issue for many of the third-party apps, but again, that is supposed to be solved with WatchOS 2.
In addition to the above, the watch is also just a really beautiful watch. Most of the times, I have really simple watchface, although I hope that apple will come up with some more traditional ones, as I miss that from time to time. A leather band is currently on its way to replace my white sports band as that isn’t very classy after all but great for sports.
It feels like summer already here but I wanted to share the video of our last winter holiday.
I am no native speaker either but pretend to speak the anglo language pretty well, which is confirmed by people around me. As such, it frustrates me to hear well-educated people make silly mistakes, such as the one below.
“And you see at the same time …”
Stop. Period. You’re wrong. This is what it is supposed to be:
“And, at the same time, you see …”
Another blog. Really? In the post-plus-140-characters era?
Last year, I concluded that my agenda did not work well with a blog. So I took it down. That was kinda frustrating however, as I still had ideas to write about from time to time. So here it is again. A blog. Don’t expect magic, Don’t expect much. And if you do not, you may find some nice stuff here every now and then.