Of Spaces and Objects

Anyone who watched Hsieh Su-Wei playing in the Autralian Open Tennis Championships at the beginning of the year shouldn’t find it in the least surprising that she knocked out the world number one Simona Halep at the Wimbledon championships.

What distinguishes her play from virtually any other tennis player on the circuit is that her tennis is not based on brute force but on intelligence.

She hits the ball where the other player isn’t.

To understand the importance of this, it is perhaps interesting to reflect a little on the way we perceive things.

Way back when we were hunter gatherers, I imagine that our main visual concern was objects, and in particular objects that moved. A space would not have been threatening. A moving animal might well have been. Or a source of food. Hence our vision historically more attuned to moving objects than still ones and our lack of concern over spaces.

Have you ever been behind a driver on the road who brakes every time there is a vehicle coming in the opposite direction ? This is particularly flagrant with a large vehicle like a lorry or a bus. The driver in this case is concentrating on the object rather than the space available, which is usually more than sufficient. If the driver was concentrating on the space on the road ahead, he would not even be braking.

The same thing happens when a vehicle slows down to turn right (left if you are in the UK). 99% of the time, the car behind will slow right down as well. The left side of the road may be completely clear and overtaking the car no problem at all, but the car stays behind the car turning off until the road is completely clear. No end of time is wasted because of this. Again, the driver behind is concentrating on the object and not the space available.

Now, I’m not an expert in tennis. But in the last couple of years, I have watched quite a lot of highlights of matches on YouTube. I don’t have a TV and life is too short to sit through two and three hour matches most of the time anyway.

But through watching these highlights, one thing becomes clear.

The person who usually wins the point is the one who gets the opponent to run. And this involves hitting the ball where the other person isn’t.

Which brings us back to Hsieh Su-Wei.

If I was coaching a female tennis player, I would look very closely at those matches in the Australian Open. As things stand, there are far too many women trying to play tennis like men. There’s a lot of bashing away from the baseline, hitting directly to the opponent, with no real strategy at work at all. It may have something to do with the fact that the majority of tennis coaches for women seem to be men. I don’t know.

But from my point of view, any repetitive rally back and forth hitting the ball as hard as possible to the other player is a pure waste of energy on the part of both players. Sure, one or other of the players will eventually make a mistake, but it’s a very energy inefficient way of winning a point. The error rate is usually too low for this to be a viable « strategy. » They are professional players, after all.

Hsieh Su-Wei doesn’t play tennis like a man. She is not a power player. She uses her intelligence, varies her shots and exploits spaces. Watching her play is a pure delight. She usually breaks a baseline power rally very quickly, after a couple of shots.

Some players have immense presence on court. Serena Williams, for example.

Remember that driver who kept braking every time he saw a truck coming the other way.

I see her opponents behaving in exactly the same way. It’s as if all they see is the tennis player – their respect or awe prevents them from seeing and exploiting the spaces.

Serena Williams is a very fit player indeed. But she isn’t the best mover about the court. And the times when people beat her are the times when they really get her to run about.

And it’s strange because afterwards, those same players who managed to beat her by using the spaces don’t seem to understand why they won and the next time, there they are bashing away at her from the baseline again and dumbfounded because it doesn’t work.

No one can trade power strokes from the baseline better than Serena Williams. The outcome is a foregone conclusion.

All this to underline the importance of watching spaces, even if our vision is more drawn to objects.

Have a great week.

And may your life never become an endurance test.

2018 and Manhole Covers

I’ve had several ideas for posts to kick off the new year but nothing seemed quite right until I saw this story on the BBC app:

http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-42685022/japan-s-elaborate-manhole-covers

I share this because I thought it was fascinating and I hope you do too.

There is something really encouraging about taking an everyday object that is disregarded and even despised and turning it into a work of art.

Sneaky Japanese!

And just at the end, we learn that they’ve been doing this for 40 years.

How come nobody else has cottoned on?

It’s a lesson to all of us.

Perhaps we too could take our everyday lives and turn them into works of art in this year of 2018….

Have a great year!

And may your life never become an endurance test!

Love

Richard

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!

Our 2017 Christmas Card

Here’s wishing you a pleasant hassle- and argument-free Christmas and a 2018 full of good health and positive thoughts.

The above is our Christmas card for this year, painted by my wife, Brigitte. For the last ten years, we’ve sent out cards with one of my photos on, so it’s a break with tradition. She’s a clever girl!

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our readers.

We’ve just broken the 30,000 visitor barrier with almost 40,000 pages consulted in the two years of this site’s existence.

We hope that the posts have stimulated you and helped make your life less of an endurance test.

Apparently, according to marketing experts, the title of the site lends itself to brand confusion.

Is it about exercise?

Is it about getting fit?

Is it about keeping it up for longer?

It doesn’t deliver what people expect, so I’m told.

I’ve been advised to change it.

However, for the moment we’ll go with the flow.

May your life never become an endurance test!

Love,

Richard

P.S. It’s Christmas. If you’ve enjoyed reading any or all of the posts on the site or been helped in any way, and you feel like making a contribution to keep the site running and put a smile on my face, then please by all means make a donation, however small. Just click on the button below:

No pressure!





Many thanks!

Rental Car Problem

The scratches of dissension (where the dust has been wiped off.)

In October 2016, I had a problem with a car rental company at Manchester Airport, England.

Now I rent a car several times a year and have done so for decades, but this was the first time I really had a problem with a car rental company.

When my wife and I returned the car, the checker would not close the agreement because of the scratches you can see in the above image on the rear left corner of the car where the dust has been wiped off.

We were subsequently billed £449.00 for the damage.

Yes, you read that correctly: four hundred and forty-nine pounds sterling. I once bought a car for that amount.

No invoice was sent. No justification for the amount was given. The amount was just charged.

I had seen the scratches on the car when we took possession of it at the beginning of the rental, but had deemed them so small as not to be worth reporting. A splash of dried mud also disguised them when I checked the car.

I was in any case absolutely sure that we had not caused them.

What to do in a situation like that?

Well, you can talk to the car rental company, of course.

I should say at this point that research on the internet revealed that this was standard practice for this particular company. I found a number of reviews where clients had been charged astronomical amounts for so-called damages by this same company, in England and elsewhere.

Naturally, they didn’t budge. My fault for not informing them of the damage to begin with.

The next thing you can do if your rental is in England is complain to the BVRLA (bvrla.co.uk), the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association by writing to complaint@bvla.co.uk. Other such associations exist on the continent and elsewhere, I imagine.

This was a disappointing experience as the gentleman I had contact with upheld the rental company in every particular.

The thing that really got me was that I was billed for damages without any proof that the repairs had been carried out or that the costs were real.

The gentleman at the BVLA informed me that there is no legal obligation for the rental company to repair the car.

Which is a bit like a licence to print money.

You charge the client as much as you like for damages that you never repair because the damages are so slight that you can continue renting out the car and who knows, maybe bill more clients for the same damages.

After all, would you bother to repair the damage to the car above?

Of course, you wouldn’t.

You wouldn’t even if it was your own car, the scratches are so insignificant. You might retouch with a little pot of paint but certainly no more than that.

And that got me to thinking.

I’d been charged for repairs that hadn’t been done.

And here we come to the real reason for this post.

What about opposing the charges with the credit card company, I thought?

In theory, a credit card transaction requires a service or a product transaction. I reasoned that as no product or service had been performed for this sum that I might be able to get the money back.

My credit card was credited with the amount and the car rental company was given forty-five days to justify the billing.

They never replied.

So I got my money back.

Now I do not guarantee that this will work for you or 100% of the time, but it’s worth bearing in mind if you run into similar problems.

And I thought it was worth sharing….

May your life never become an endurance test!

Love

Richard

The Truth About Cancer Symposium 14th-16th October 2016

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Just a heads up about the latest event organized by Ty Bolliger and featuring numerous authorities on cancer and health in general.

The Truth About Cancer first live Symposium is taking place from 14th October to 16th October 2016. There will be input from all sorts of experts about cancer and in particular about preventing and curing the disease by natural means.

The event features over 40 of today’s most popular and in-demand health luminaries… including Dr. Joe Mercola, Mike Adams, Dr. Josh Axe, Ocean Robbins, Chris Wark, Sayer Ji, Dr. Eric Zielinski and many others!

Well worth checking out:

TTAC Symposium

Just to refresh your memory, Ty started to look into the disease after not one but seven members of his family died from the disease and its conventional treatments.

He has made it his mission to inform everybody about natural ways of preventing and treating the disease and the dangers of the traditional approach to dealing with cancer – namely, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

He has made a series of remarkable documentaries about these issues.

So here’s the link again:

TTAC Symposium

Hope you find it useful.

Have a great weekend.

Love

Richard

P.S. The links above are affiliate links.

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The Oil in the Machine

A long time ago in the early 1980s, I was studying at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton NB, Canada. The university is on top of a hill and I used to negotiate a wooden stairway from the road where I was living to get up the first part of the climb.

One day, some people were at the top of the stairway, so I waited patiently at the bottom to let them come down. They took their time and then walked past me calmly without the hint of a thank you.

I was flabbergasted.

“That would never happen in England,” I said to myself.

Chistmas 1982 found me in England, and guess what? Exactly the same thing happened to me.

I made a careful mental note then and there that I would never again assume that behaviour in the land of my birth was superior to or different from the country in which I happened to be while abroad. The last thing I wanted to be was an ex-patriate living in a dream of a country that never was.

I have now been living in Switzerland for thirty years.

In July, I went to England with my wife Brigitte to visit my mother who is the same age as the Queen.

One day we went to the beach at Holywell, Eastbourne. It was very pleasant indeed. A light breeze, a little cloud, a hint of sun, neither too hot nor too cold.

We’d been there a while when a number of children in school uniform started to arrive at the beach. Some of them went swimming. One even went into the water in her school uniform. Three boys, probably aged somewhere between ten and twelve started playing with a ball somewhere behind us up the beach.

Suddenly a tennis ball whizzed out of nowhere and hit my wife extremely hard in the back. She was both shocked and physically hurt. Understandably, she was angry, but the boy responsible ran away and the other two just laughed.

I suggested that we hang on to the ball until she got an apology. Sooner or later, someone would have to come and ask for the ball back, I reasoned.

Nothing happened.

Only when we got up to leave the beach did two adults come up to us. One was the father of one of the children, the other a teacher from the school.

We explained what had happened and that an apology was in order. The teacher tried to convince us that the boys didn’t know what they were doing and hadn’t hurt my wife deliberately. The father said that it was the last day of school and the children were just blowing off steam. At no point did either of the adults in charge show any sign that an apology was in order.

I said that we weren’t going to give the ball back until the boy who had thrown it gave my wife some sort of apology. A third adult came up and asked for the ball informing us that we couldn’t walk away with other people’s property.

I repeated what I’d said before.

The father eventually came up with the boy who simply said, ‘Sorry,’ without any grace or sincerity at all. I felt it was probably the best we could do and we gave the ball back.

I must admit that I was shocked by the attitude of the adults present and saddened to think that basic manners in England had sunk to such a low point.

Boy hits adult with ball on beach: apology. End of discussion.

Here, we had adults going to any length to justify the behaviour of children with no hint of an assumption of responsibility. We were the culprits because we were walking off the beach with the ball.

I would like to be able to say that this was an isolated incident, but in the last six months I have been in several situations where similar things have happened – and in different countries too.

There is a growing refusal on the part of parents generally to accept responsibility for the behaviour of their children in public or to admit that they might be at fault. Indeed, if you indicate in any way that the behaviour of their child is bothersome, the parents use emotional blackmail to give the impression that they are the victims and you the one at fault. They also become very aggressive, very quickly.

I do not think that parents who continually try to find excuses for their children are doing them any favours.

We live in a society that has become so ego-driven that even the golden rule of civilization has been eroded.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Or in other words, don’t do something to someone else that you wouldn’t want done to you.

Without this rule, there is no civilization.

Why is it so difficult for people these days to apologize?

They will go to any lengths to try and present the other person in a bad light and make a crisis out of something that would be forgotten almost instantaneously with a quick apology. They argue that black is white and that white is black. It is the world upside-down.

We’re talking basic politeness here.

It is my belief that politeness is the oil in the machine of human society. Without oil, what happens to a machine? After a while, it doesn’t work anymore.

And don’t make the mistake of thinking that ‘polite’ equals ‘weak.’ The very fact that you are capable of standing back from yourself long enough to think about somebody else indicates that you are far stronger than the many impolite people around you.

It’s simply a question of offering basic respect to other people.

It doesn’t cost anything.

It doesn’t take up a lot of time.

And it helps considerably to improve human relations in general.

Have a great week.

Love

Richard

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Welcome To Endurance Free Living !

Welcome to Endurance Free Living!  As the name suggests, the idea is to give you tips, suggestions and info designed to make your life simpler, healthier and more fun.

It’s my belief that a lot of people make life much more complicated than it needs to be.  Life isn’t meant to be an endurance test, but it seems to become so for too many of us.  So I’m hoping, in my small way, to help improve your standard of living and show you that IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE LIKE THAT!

So do sign up.

We’ll have a lot of laughs along the way and anyway, what have you got to lose?

Love,

Richard