Speed-shopping answer to richer, productive life
THE supermarket is an odd place to have a moment of profound thought.
Shoppers jostling, lights blazing, people hurrying ... hardly an environment conducive to quiet reflection.
But there I was in front of shelves full of washing powder, wondering how many wasted hours I'd spent choosing household needs when I could have been doing something more productive.
If I wasn't presented with a bewildering array of different brands that clean whiter than white each time I go shopping, perhaps I could have realised my life's dream and paddled down the Amazon.
Consider the possibilities.
If we were restricted to only two brands for every product we pile into our trolleys each week, I reckon we'd be through the bucket list in double-quick time.
Supermarkets would be smaller too, cutting down the distances we need to travel and saving more time.
Maybe a university research team with time on their hands could do a study on speed-shopping and how much richer life could be if only half-an-hour was saved on every spending trip.
Of course if we deliberately develop a strategy to "save" time so that we can pursue more meaningful activities, then it follows that we have to decide how to spend those extra hours.
Lying on the sofa in front of the telly is a mighty fine option - scoffing chocolates, stroking the cat and sampling a bottle of red.
Not terribly productive, nor health-enriching, I hear you say.
Come to think of it, I bump into lots of friends while I'm out shopping - some I haven't seen for years.
It occurs to me that online shoppers miss out on that little treat.
Instead of talking face-to-face with a real, animated person, they'll be e-chatting through a cold computer screen.
Online shopping can certainly save time.
That's probably why half the Australian population is plugged into it.
Be warned though - researchers have detected danger in computer consumerism. It's called "drunk shopping".
Too much of that red wine can make on-screen goods super-appealing, albeit fuzzy.
Therapist Anna Badini has studied the appeal of online buying among women shoppers.
"If you're bored and have nothing to do at the moment, or are feeling needy, empty or depressed, online shopping can be a picker-upper," she says.
"If you're not happy with the way you look, or if you feel you need to keep up with other women, you may spend too much time shopping.
"It can become an addiction if it makes you feel better, and you do it again and again."
Ms Badini suggests that profligate shoppers can break the cycle by taking a good look at what's missing in their lives.
"Some women feel empty in their relationships and want to fill that space up.
"They may need to make connections with other people. That's what really needs to be addressed."
It sounds like they'd be better off in the supermarket.
Indonesia smokes out those next door
NEIGHBOURS can be a blessing or a curse.
I've had some wonderful ones and others that I prefer to forget.
Disputes between neighbours are all too common, arising often from annoyances like barking dogs, overhanging trees, noisy parties...
Neighbours, in the worst-case scenario, can make your life hell.
Carry that across to a global situation and neighbourhood disputes can escalate into war.
In our region, close neighbour Indonesia is currently in diplomatic strife for causing devastating air pollution over Malaysia and Singapore.
Smog from slash-and-burn agricultural fires on Sumatra has even been blamed for killing an asthmatic woman.
Joint exercises between the Thai and Indonesian air forces have been postponed.
The haze was so thick in Singapore that train times were put back and school events were cancelled.
For years Indonesia has brushed off condemnation of its environmentally destructive policy of forest-burning.
The country's president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has apologised for the pollution and that's a step forward.
But burning forest is illegal according to Indonesian law and this has been poorly enforced, so the president needs to do more than just say "sorry".
The Australian Government should demand that Indonesia clamp down on this unneighbourly practice.